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tv   U.S. Russia and the Middle East  CSPAN  December 8, 2013 10:30am-1:01pm EST

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moment thatrious may or may not turn out. both sides are trying to act very upset about the whole thing. i think there's some posturing going on. >> you both asked about the mood in congress. do you weigh sequestration against unemployment benefits? >> we do not want to assess the mood. why have you heard? , you have the sense the feeling there is some slow walking going on. they do not do anything until they absolutely have to. we still have some time for this to play out before they have to reach a deal. dill was an artificial imposed by the appropriate are saying we needed to get one like now so we have time to do another. fantasyland right now. >> this friday is the deadline,
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december 13. we really are. thank you both. i appreciate it. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] well >> next, a recent event looking at u.s. interests in syria and iran. after that, house democrats review the possibility of extending long-term benefits. then the house education subcommittee on pell grants and college affordability. >> in a survey of major newspapers made in 19 nine -- 1909, the kansas city star was all0 more in favor over the other0 metropolitan newspapers in the united states kind. -- combined. not want this to
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you a lot of literary essay. i want to get things done. nelson followed up his strictures on past performance with an editorial that rejected the notion that roosevelt was a man on horseback. he is a builder recalled to his works. after his arrival from africa, there were even clubs formed back like napoleon. >> the impact of william rockefeller nelson on the progressive movement in the campaign to win back the white house. later today on c-span3's american history television. >> there are tables out in front with pamphlets prior to entering the gun show.
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they are all how the government is trying to move away. the government is doing this and obama is doing that. those are the guys i wanted to talk to. this. they said who are you? i am an academic. doing research on these organizations and ideas to try to understand this. i study many believe the stuff. they say you look at me suspiciously and asked me questions. i said, look. here is what i am. i do not get it. i want to understand how you see the world. to understand your worldview. i will not convince you. that is off the table. >> downward mobility. racial and gender equality. the fears and rage of angry
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white men. >> online, we want to know what your favorite books were in 2013. go to book tv.org and enter the classroom. >> mike rogers and chris van hollen talk about syria and iran. .his is part of a recent event >> thank you. let me begin with the theme of the conference. the cooperation between moscow and washington has led to the passage of a security council resolution about the destruction of syria's typical weapons. do you consider this a positive sign about russia's role in the middle east?
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>> it is a positive sign if you take it for what it is and where russia wants to go. we have to understand that russia is first and foremost at the head of the agenda at their own national security foreign policy interest. if this is good for russia, they will be at the table. that is a double edged sword. it can be a great way to solve some problems across the middle east, but we need to be extremely cautious of setting the table but so any agreement or arrangement with the russians also protects u.s., our allies interests in the region as well. the assad -- if you look at the tenets of the chemical agreement, great we got some chemical weapons off, but the russians cleaned up on us on exactly what they got in that particular field.
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and because of that we alienated our allies in the region. that is an important component. i am for getting that deal, but we are paying a price for that deal, but not only including the allies in negotiating that deal. >> let's consider this conversation on syria. we you were a sponsor in the summer of the free syria act, a bill to provide arms and support to the syrian rebels. when we interviewed the representative, he said he was pleased to have your co- sponsorship of the bill, a bipartisan effort. all this was overtaken with a threatened u.s. attack on syria that led up to the security council resolution. now we have a geneva ii conference supposing to happen
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on january 22. what is your thought on syria policy? do you support the geneva process? what else should the united states be doing in syria? >> this is the most complicated part of diplomacy. no one ever wants to believe the military has to be a part of any equation. i have never met a diplomat that does not want the 101st airborne and the seventh fleet -- one over the other. it is always a quicker way to yes. i think we have to set the table for a negotiated settlement in syria, and it has changed. the conditions of the ground have changed over the last two years. two years ago we had a set of options available to us. 18 months ago we had fewer options. 12 months ago we had fewer options. today our options are not that good. and so i argued then if you want to geneva talks to be successful at all, you have to have some
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skin in the game in syria. that is why i supported at least trying to have relations with the rebels in a way that was positive to the united states, that start crafting our ability to understand who are the folks that would be likely to support the united states on the ground when this thing was over and who would not and would shape the battlefield in a way that brought people to the way. here's what i think -- there was a mistake made. we did not do that. we dillydallied for a very long time. even the program that we talk about now is not robust enough to have an impact. tell me who goes in the geneva talks and has the credibility to get everybody at the table. the russians can bring assad. clearly they can do that. what the united states cannot ring the rebels the table. that is not a certainty. we have no skin in the game. i have all our allies you are candidly very upset with the united states today.
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i talked to them frequently and they have to say they're very upset at with how frustrated they are with u.s. policy in the middle east. it is just the u.s. and the russians on the ground, you will have no deal. you have to bring the rebels and the assad regime to the table and the russians will have to be transparent in what they're doing in syria. i do not see that for will lining up for the talks. >> you have the leadership and oversight of the intelligence community. why in your view did the intelligence community as well as many analysts misjudged assad's staying power with? in august 2011, president obama said he must step aside. why do you think that happened,
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because that may have attempted to some of the problems we have had on syria policy? >> they completely misread iran and russia's commitment to keeping assad in power. when you have intelligence providers to assad, the leverage that gave him and staying power was limited. i think both of those were not factored in. if you look at it from recent history lesson here, when you look at what happened in libya, you can see all the formulations of why he was going to go quickly. they took that, plopped it over in serious and said it was going to be syria. you have the same elements
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happening in serious that you had in libya with that huge exception of this commitment of iran not to let it go, and the russians cannot let it go. they needed a warm water port and it was their last toehold in the middle east. they ramped up their ability to protect assad and to try to at least increase the ability of the syrian regular army forces, the military forces in a way that you did not see in libya or anywhere else. because they did not lead what was going on, they completely missed the boat at how long he would stay. secondly what they did when they did the chemical agreement, because there was no component of assad involved in that agreement about any tenure in his regime, you have empowered russians to keep assad as long as they want to keep assad. that upset the apple cart and you talk about what the u.s. rules were against what the russians wanted, and i do not
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think the iranians would agree to in a thing. they need syria as a partner the first day, military strategy going forward in the middle east. >> and we spoke last month, you were concerned about a bad deal with iran in the geneva talks. the hill reported this week that house republicans are considering legislation about the deal. the senate may consider sections which the white house is arguing forcefully against. did the u.s. get a bad deal in geneva, and much of the congress do at this point? >> on iran. i think it is a bad deal, let me tell you why. there are three components to a nuclear program. the missile component, the weaponization components, and the enrichment component. you had six u.n. resolutions saying iran should not engage in enrichment because they had been a rational actor on the world stage. they are the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, including trying to kill the saudi ambassador there by bombing at a restaurant in washington, d.c. if you look at the behavior and the three components of the program, and i thought this was
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a serious mistake. they made this mistake in syria, if you do not include your allies you would create suspicion. he had these secret talks in oman which was a god awful idea, and even if you like the deal you have created a level of suspicion now on the deal that makes our allies wary and empowers our adversaries use. the missile part of the program is not touch in the deal. they can continue to do missile fulfillment. the weaponization of their program is not touched. they can continue that. the facility they think they do that is not open to inspection. if you're looking at triggers and for relation of all the modeling they need to do for weaponization, it has happened there.
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the last part on enrichment, which is shocking to me, it cannot be much of a great deal of the secretary of state is announcing there is nothing in the deal that says they can enrich the uranium while simultaneously saying that he'll allows us to continue to enrich. that is a problem. not that bright. i am an old fbi agent, and we would call that a clue that there's a problem in the deal. if you cannot deal on the most primary, central focus of what we are trying to accomplish, you cannot agree on that today. you walk out of that room, that is not a deal, and not very good deal. why that is so important, and they will try to sell the 20% enrichment that we are going to get them hold 20% enrichment and then convert to a power form,
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what uranium restrict they had at 20%. it takes 30 days to convert it. a significant scientific milestone for enriching up to weapons grade is that 20% number. 5% is tough to get to. 5% to 20% is harder to do. they have one very important scientific milestone in the region of weapons grade uranium. that is why they are not so bothered by the fact that they in their mind will pull a possum that they're doing because we keep all the elements of their nuclear weapon program. as chairman of intelligence, i am privy to other pieces of information. i believe that they are committed to buying time so that they can in plainest terms cheat on any portion of the deal they can cheat on. if i know that, i guarantee you the administration knows that. to walk into a deal where you know that is the framework and
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we got nothing, we dismantled pieces of sanctions. why that is important on this, if i may take a minute -- sanctions takes a long time. it does not always work, but can work. it takes a long time to corral our european allies. they have a lot of businesses in the middle east they want to protect. it takes a while to get everybody in. congress had to candidly force the president on the first round of sanctions. they had to force the president on the second round of sanctions. he does not support it. what happens is we finally got the buy-in. when you release that pressure, it is like a machine that is hardly hanging together, you take that first ball off, this then is likely to fall apart in a hurry. that was our concern. we finally got the pressure on sanctions, and what you want to have with pressure and sanctions is not us want them saying we are willing to release the
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sanctions, if you give us something, it is you want us knocking on their door saying we are ready to deal. and they got that backwards. i think that will prove dangerous to us. when you look at the gold and precious metals portion of the agreement, that is one of their biggest ways to get around sanctions. which is why the chinese and the russians like that part of the deal. that cash does not mean that much. $4 billion. it was the precious metals that allow them to go around the barter system and we have seen them do in the in the past. that is why do not think it is a good deal and it is dangerous. you do not deal with iran, with the region. i've never seen our allies so upset. i have gotten calls from just about every ambassador now from the region about how upset they
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were. first, that there were secret talks they were not invited to, number one, and, number two, if you look at our strongest allies in the middle east -- saudi arabia, uae, qatar, the jordanians -- the total investment of the united states, it is hundreds of billions of dollars a year. the common theme with our allies was let us get this right. you have endangered our national security for your allies that invests hundreds of billions is dollars in the united states for the iranians that have no friends in the region, other than the syrians, and invest how much in the united states? nothing. and so we have upset a very delicate long-term strategic alliance in the middle east for our allies, and israel as well. i think israel has made themselves known on the deal. when you talk to our middle eastern and arab allies, they are equally upset. by doing this deal that somebody is try to sell all avoiding
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conflict, you may have escalated the possibility that israelis have to do something and escalated possibility that the saudis and others believe they will have to acquire nuclear weapons in order to be a big a stabilizing factor against iran. we may have kicked off a nuclear arms race in the middle east which i cannot think of anything more dangerous than the middle east in an arms race trying to acquire nuclear weapons. >> what about the congress' role at this time? the white house is saying these are sensitive discussions, six- months or so, give it a chance, don't put any more sanctions in place at this time.
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how do you balance your concerns about the deal with sensitive negotiations with iran and it is a first of an agreement? >> i would push ahead with sanctions for this reason. we give the caveat to the president and the sanction regimes of making the decision not to move forward or putting a timeline on how you move forward or getting them the ability, as they have just done to peel back some of these sanctions. we have put ourselves in the worst possible position now, and when you say a have a six-month agreement, the other problem -- the clock has not started ticking yet. they have not agreed on when the clock starts ticking. you can imagine they have to have another round of negotiations to determine when the clock starts ticking in the six months. one thing that iran wanted in this whole thing was time. they needed more time.
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we just gave them -- probably not six months, close to a year. that is why the israelis are upset, because the whole debate in this whole thing between our intelligence services all around the world was something called the dash. how fast would it take to put the weaponization portion of the enrichment or should on the missile portion of their plan? they know they have the missile portion complete. we believe they are well underway under their weaponization. we know they have scientifically hit the 20% mark what it comes to enrichment. how fast when they put the program together? in intelligence circles, that is what everyone debates. the israelis will say they think it is 14 months and the united states may say it is eight months or whatever that number may be. other intelligence services would come in and say we think it is whatever, 12 months.
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guess what we are debating now is it 12, 14, 13, even after the deal? where debating when the dash is. if you give them 12 months for this thing, i'm concerned it will not stop any of the components of the program, and we may be in trouble. that's is what i would argue move forward, that the iranians understand that there is a big bunch of people -- the last sanctions regime passed with more than 400 votes, a bipartisan effort, and there's bipartisan angst in both the house and senate. our allies have angst. the israelis in the region, our air allies, the israelis have angst, the turks are not happy with the deal. we know some of the europeans, the french are not happy with the deal. our argument is let's push forward, but pressure on the array and so they understand if they do not comply there is at least something hanging over their head, the sword of damocles, that if you do not comply, something bad will happen. >> you said on cnn that the u.s. is not safer on the war on
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terrorism. senator feinstein, your counterpart in the senate challenges committee agreed on this point. as i mentioned in my opening remarks, we published a piece today by a person, the rise of al qaeda affiliated groups in sinai. what should the u.s. be doing to confront terrorism in the middle east, and what other threat should be seeing on the horizon? >> please do not alienate our allies in the middle east. we have done a fine job of it. some of our strongest allies in our counterterrorism efforts are not happy. and the saudi arabians announced that they are going to find a strategic shift away from the united states, when we have other friends in the region saying we do not believe we can count on united states anymore, these are allies, arab league partners, that is a huge
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problem. we need them in partnership in implementing counterterrorism programs. that frame is concerning to me. in their mind they are mad about withholding money from the folks in egypt who are going after the muslim brotherhood among which is a problem they face everyday in their own country and they do not understand it. he did not understand the red line in syria and then it turned out it was not a red line, it was a negotiation that was not concluded regarding russians in a place they do not agree with. we did not ever agree with the iranian deal. as they told me, in the iran deal was the straw that broke the camel's back for them. that is a problem, because what is happening in the sinai is when morsi was president, he withdrew all efforts to do
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counterterrorism efforts in the sinai. working with the israelis. we saw was he pulled back completely. the israelis try to re-kickstart some effort with the sinai, such a dangerous place. after the fall of libya, and the weapons flying across the egyptian border into the sinai, candidly, that place became the wild, wild middle east, a very dangerous place. once the military to back over, they initiated some effort to try to get in and get after these groups that were under arms, that are organized, clearly identified with al qaeda. that is part of that problem. we need to be aggressive in trying to help them, not condemn them, but help them get into the
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sinai and let them get control of the growing problem in the sinai. syria is a huge and growing problem for us. we cannot do syria, a deal with eastern provinces of syria without that help of the saudis, the united arab emirates, others. we cannot do this by ourselves, and we should not, and we should not be expected to do this by ourselves. that is why i am so concerned. i've never seen a cooling of the numbers of al qaeda. we did not see this in iraq at the height of the iraq war, from foreign fighters, from regional area attract migration into the eastern provinces of syria the western border area. it is very concerning. what you are seeing happening there is a debate amongst al qaeda affiliates, a smaller group, but growing, a syria-
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based route, with the al qaeda core in pakistan, afghanistan region, they are having this debate about where they target their resources in syria today. the al qaeda core says focus on syria today. we will worry about external operations later. they say we have so many westerners who are training who we are putting through their paces, and we are getting combatants, that we are ready to do external operations. that will cost me a week's night's sleep possibly. we have never seen this number before. you think about while i am nervous. the allies are looking for other partners in the region. we have this pooling of the al qaeda area. we do not have a good operation to try to vet rebels on the ground. this is a recipe for disaster. have i talked about aqim? al-shabaab's increase in
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activities? their interest in crossing borders? all these affiliates are being empowered in a way they have not felt before and are trying to engage in a notion of external effects. it might not be the united states right away. what we are seeing they are getting better. al-shabaab two years ago, three years ago, maybe four years ago, you would never see them do a project of that scope in kenya across the border. they would not have done it. they joined al qaeda, started to affiliate them with al qaeda, and they are being successful. that is why we are so concerned. >> mr. chairman. thank you. we have a just a few minutes for questions. i would like to open up the floor. keep your questions concise and
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to the point. time is short, and i want to get in as many as i can for the remainder. speak in the microphone and state your name, title, affiliation. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman, for your leadership. i am from georgetown law center. a question regarding intelligence. there have been a lot of fears about the participation of chinese companies in our telecommunications. i wonder whether we have similar fears that our service providers and telecommunication manufacturers are working out of a world telecommunication network? >> there is a difference in talking about -- and we did an intensive study of the committee. my ranking member and i decided that because of the sheer level of concern across the community
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that we were concerned that a company that was founded, run by a former chinese intelligence official, may be up to no good. the pricing models did not fit the market. their pricing models were designed to get in the markets at a place we do not believe they could make a profit. we did a full investigation, both in china and here off the committee and came to a conclusion that that particular company and other companies were affiliated with the military intelligence charge in china designed to run around the world, including the united states, to control the information running across. that is just a dangerous thing to allow to happen. we did our part. the huge difference is there is no relationship about that with
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our providers. what happens is because of the leaks, and this is the most frustrating thing, trying to get the truth versus how the facts are run, i will give you an example. if you remember a few months ago when they said the united states was spying on 70 million french citizens, and in 30 days, 70 million phone calls? then they said it happened to the spaniards, germans. that was exactly not what happened. in fact, trying to hire 4000 french interpreters to order a good wine and cheese in france? it did not make any sense. what happened was the snowden affair, they took a slide out of the slide deck and it says france -- this is why we have to be so careful about reporting -- it shows a map of the phone calls, and it has what we would understand operational codenames
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on the bottom. the reporter looked at that and said we got them, they are listening to french citizens in france for the days, 70 million phone calls. outrageous! it would be outrageous except for one small problem. the french were collecting in areas where they had french troops exposed to harm, where we had u.s. troops, they collected communications, and in the goodness of their heart they said we need to help your soldiers who are in harm's way. it was not the u.s. collecting it. the french collected it. it was where there were dangerous areas for soldiers. we spent three weeks trying to explain to people, the nsa is not listening to french phone calls, not listening to spanish phone calls. i just met with a group from the european union yesterday and there is a bipartisan group
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going to brussels in two weeks. i am leading the delegation. we will have these discussions, because what we do not want to happen is for them to use this as an excuse for excluding american companies from operating. there would be no reason to do that. candidly, and these are not companies run, owned, operated, or we do not plug into them as you might see in the press for our american i.t. companies. it's not happened. we have laws and protections and oversight. i told my allies, do you realize that we send our services to a court? before they can go and listen to a foreign. name another service and the world that sends their
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intelligence services to a third-party court to see if they can listen to the united states. do you think they are having this conversation in china or france or germany or italy? as a matter of fact, the europeans who are screaming the loudest do not even have access to their intelligence service. if you want to get this right, we have to understand what you think is happening and what is happening. we are going to try to have a conversation in a couple of weeks so that they do not use this as protection. remember, companies in france, germany's, they are saying, let's exclude these companies so that we can say this information is safe because it is in servers in france. france just put in a provision that said they do not even need to go to a judge to get private communications other server companies. this whole debate is so filled with hypocrisy it is almost laughable. we would never allow that. we have to go to court to listen to a foreigner.
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they just passed a provision, in their version of the senate and the house, the upper and lower chambers, that would remove their ability to have to go into to a judge to read your e-mail. it is very telling of where we are at. what we have argued is, every time we see a story in the paper, i guarantee 90% of it is wrong. we want to get the right data set so that we can let our companies compete. they should have separated themselves from the military and intelligence services and could have competed anywhere in the world but they chose not to do that. >> i want to get in one more question from john mclachlan. >> thanks, chairman rogers, for your bipartisan leadership of the committee.
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greatly appreciated. i want to ask you about afghanistan, which is not so much in the news every day. your assessment of how important it is we finalize this collateral security agreement and what are the consequences if for some reason we do not? >> we have to get a deal in afghanistan. the administration is trying to focus on getting a deal. we have got to get a deal. this notion that we are not going to do it. is dangerous for this and other regions. i think this would be a stain on our national character if we walk away from afghanistan, just arbitrarily pull out. we have asked them to participate in society, told them to come out of the back of their homes and engage in politics and be a part of the solution. for us to pack up and leave, knowing the taliban and in the eastern province has closed some 500 schools, the majority of
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which are girls schools, well over 100 girls trying to go to school. for us to walk away from that would be a travesty for us as a nation. we ought not allow ourselves to get caught up in the fast food society that would not allow our commitment to those women. secondly, we know in those eastern provinces, al qaeda is talking about coming back. even the pakistani taliban and is talking about holding territory in afghanistan on the eastern provinces. it is really important we have the ability to deny safe haven in afghanistan. that deal is really important for that. i think the administration gets that. they are working towards a deal. we are trying to offer them the help and support they need to get a deal. we will have to have some presence there for sometime but it is not about us rebuilding
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afghanistan but about providing a security environment that allows afghanistan to build itself. an independent, cell secured afghanistan is absolutely in the national security interest of the united it's of america. we forget that is where the planning, financing, recruiting, training have been for 9/11. i guarantee you they are licking their chops thinking they can get back into those eastern provinces. we cannot let that happen. i do not know if you are familiar with the status of forces agreement that would give function over the protection of our shoulders -- soldiers to operate there. these are good international agreements. karzai is playing a game. he is bickering that we want to deal more than he wants the deal, or he thinks we have to have a deal. i think we do not play this game of chicken and walk away. this deal is really important.
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by the way, it also sends a message to our adversaries and allies in the region. that is not helpful to us given what has happened in the middle east. >> on behalf of the audience year, thank you for being here to show us your depth and commands of these issues, and your bipartisan leadership in the congress and committee. thank you. >> thanks for having me. [applause] >> great to see you. thank you very much. >> if you could all stay seated, we are going to begin the next session right away with representative christopher van hollen.
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christopher van hollen was elected to the congress in 2002 representing maryland's eight district and quickly rose to become one of the youngest members of the democratic leadership, serving as chairman of the democratic congressional campaign committee and as assistant to the speaker of the house. in 2010, he was elected by his colleagues to be the top democrat in the house budget committee, a post he still holds today. guzman van hollen also has the distinction of being the only member of the congress who grew up in the u.s. foreign service. the other was john kerry who has now moved on to secretary of state. he was born in karachi, pakistan, went to grade school in pakistan and india. i would add that both of his parents were distinguished state department officials, his father a highly respected ambassador and member of the foreign service.
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his mother, one of the government's top analysts on afghanistan and the region. i would also add that, in addition to chairman rogers, congressman van hollen has shown himself to be a strong bipartisan leader looking for consensus and putting the issues of the country first. we are delighted to have you here today. [applause] >> thank you. great to see you. >> thank you for coming. >> thank you for your generous introduction. it is good to take a break from the budget negotiations, frankly. >> your bio says you are an arms control expert in the senate. i should add, as a former senate staffer who worked for senator hagel on the foreign relations committee, and someone who wrote my dissertation here on iraq, you are more than that on the
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committee. your report for the foreign relations committee in 1988, 1989, on chemical weapons use by saddam hussein, written by peter galbraith, that was an historic report, a gold standard in terms of foreign relation staff reports. you have been invested in these chemical weapons issue. something that you have spoken and written passionately about in your career, about how to control and rid the world of these terrible weapons. addressing the theme of the conference, put the u.s.-russia agreement on chemical weapons with syria in context. i remember when we spoke back in the spring, you were cautious about what you called the unintended consequences of the u.s. support for arming the syrian rebels. is this u.s.-russia deal a blueprint for dealing with
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nonproliferation and conflict resolution in syria? >> first of all, let me thank you for having me, all the organizers for putting this together. to answer the question, we need to look at how the whole situation evolved with our respect to chemical weapons in syria, and how it unfolded. number one, as you indicated, the united states and the international community have, ever since world war i, said that chemical weapons as weapons of mass destruction are particularly heinous forms of warfare, and numerous international conventions to prohibit their use. i believe it was absolutely appropriate for the president to draw a line on the use of chemical weapons in syria. yes, there are lots of terrible
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weapons used in syria, but the international community has recognized that that line is one that we want to prohibit from being crossed. i thought the president was right to establish that redline. when the assad regime crossed that line, it was also appropriate for the president to say that he was now prepared to use limited force for the purpose of making sure that we deterred any future use of chemical weapons in syria. he did that, and he was clearly prepared to move forward. it was at that point that the russians realized, in this case, we had a common interest. the russians had an interest in preventing the united states from taking military action against assad, they're close ally, but the russians also had an interest in making sure, in syria, those very dangerous weapon did not fall into the hands of some of the most
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extreme al qaeda elements. this is obviously one area in syria where we and the russians do have some common interest because we, the united states, also want to make sure that in the chaos of syria, you do not have al qaeda-type extremist elements taking root, which would certainly be dangerous for the u.s. and russia, to have chemical weapons fall into their hands. from my perspective, the russians made a virtue out of necessity, in a sense. we were prepared to take action and we found a way to achieve our mutual goal, which was to prevent these weapons from falling into the hands of extreme elements. in our case, getting those weapons out of the hands of assad, who had clearly demonstrated a willingness to use them. it is always hard to make large
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generalizations based on specific cases, but in this case, i do believe it was something that was in both our interests. i disagree with my friend mike rogers in this. the notion that somehow that the russians were the big winners at the expense of the united states in this deal is absurd. the president possible, with respect to the threat of force, was a very specific. he wanted to get rid of the chemical weapons. a lot of people who were upset that we did not end up using military force had a different goal in mind with respect to military force. they wanted to use it to change the power situation on the ground. the president did not indicate that was the purpose of force in
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this instance. if you look towards iran, the president's distinction between using force for the purpose of getting rid of weapons of mass destruction since it sends an important message. obviously we have divergent interests with respect to syria and to the assad regime. we want to make sure that whatever happens in syria that we do not have an al qaeda like situation. you have an influx of foreign fighters, so you have a toxic mix in syria now of these extreme elements. >> are you hopeful for the geneva process in syria? do see the russian collaboration
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as a step in the right direction in trying to bring the parties together to end of the war? >> i think most people recognize the only solution to the challenge in syria is through some kind of negotiated settlement. to the extent that we are trying to get people around the table to negotiate a settlement, that would be an important step. people recognize the challenges are huge in being able to bring people together and reach a settlement. i do believe this is another example where russian-u.s. cooperation could bear for. it bears on one common interest. to see a transition away from a
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current regime that does not create a vacuum that brings in what is an even worst-case scenario, which is allowing syria to become a base of operations for some of these extremist groups that are exploiting the situation. >> let me turn to iran for a moment. chairman rogers but we got a bad deal in iran. there has been some talk about passage of a resolution or some type of legislation in the house. there are some in the senate who may consider a further sanctions bill. the white house does not want
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that to happen and is weighing in strongly with congress. you cosponsored the angle bill, the iran nuclear prevention act. you have been a good friend and supporter of israel. is now the time for more sanctions and legislations on iran? >> i have been a big supporter of economic sanctions on iran. to bring iran to the negotiating table so that we could do everything possible to try to negotiate a diplomatic solution to prevent iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons -- those were the purpose of the sanctions. the more pressure we can bring to accomplish that goal, the
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better. i supported the sanctions in the house earlier this summer that went over to the united states senate. however, what was the purpose of the sanctions? the purpose was to have a serious negotiation. i disagree with mike's characterization of this six- month interim agreement. to suggest that it is somehow dangerous, to me, it is somewhat naïve. you have to compare this agreement to what the alternative is. what does this agreement do? it says that the iranians have to neutralize their stockpile of highly enriched uranium. they have to freeze their nuclear enrichment plant in other areas.
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on iraq, the reactor, a freeze. the sanctions that are in place, they remain in place. all of the sanctions on oil, the financial sector, they are all in place. in the next six months, iran will lose between $25 billion and $35 billion. they will have very little relief in some other areas. the sanctions regime remains in place during this period and everyone has said -- you mentioned the race to break out it adds time to the clock before you can have a uranium breakout. it is hard to argue that the situation is more dangerous. especially when you consider the fact that this is reversible.
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if there is any violation, the 8.8 billion dollars worth of relief can go back into place, the president has the authority to increase sanctions, and the united states congress would be the first to move quickly to impose additional sanctions. at this point in time, i would argue you have to move -- you would have to tread very carefully in this area with respect to new sanctions. the reasons the sanctions were
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successful was because they are international sanctions. the united states did not have a close economic relationship with iran. they're successful because we have european partners, the indians, chinese, turks, russians and others to participate. to the extent that our allies do not think that we are serious about pursuing a diplomatic solution first, we have a real risk that they will no longer participate in the sanctions. then you end up with the worst of two worlds -- no sanctions, so no more bite, and then the iranians can move forward without penalty of a nuclear program. second, this is not a question of trusting the iranians. it is a question of testing the iranians. we will be verifying every move. i cannot read the mind of the iranians.
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you have president rouhani who was elected on a platform to try to relieve the sanctions because of a terrible economic situation. you also have lots of folks in iran, the revolutionary guard and others, who would like to see this whole thing unravel. we take steps that give the revolutionary guard ammunition to try to undermine the effort than it seems to me that we harm ourselves. we are not going into this thinking that the iranian regime will change its --. there are rational reasons to do that.
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we should test that. ultimately, if this does not work, the only remaining option is the one of the president has said has been on the table. the use of force. opponents of this effort need to explain why they would want to skip over the diplomatic testing effort which would lead to iran continuing with its nuclear program. the only alternative is the one- way i have on the table but would like to avoid, which is the use of force. there is a big burden on the opponents of this agreement to let people know that that is their final position. >> what about the concerns of our allies? how should we manage that at this point? >> there are concerns, obviously.
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i would point out that if you look at the statements that came out from a lot of the gulf states, including the saudis after they read the final agreement, if you look at the statements, i would not characterize them the way mike has. if you look at the situation within israel, you have lots of these folks in the military and security establishments who said yes, this is something that is an important step. you have the former head of military intelligence, a lot of the leaders of political parties. i understand the prime minister's position. congress plays an important role in this debate as the bad cop.
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the prime minister is a good negotiator. i think he has turned his focus on what we should all be focused on -- the comprehensive agreement. what are the parameters? how can we design that to achieve our objectives here and find out whether or not the iranians are serious? the best way to reassure our allies is to try to keep them well informed. they share the goal of making sure that iran does not have a nuclear weapon. they recognize that doing nothing simply allows iran to proceed on its way.
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there are some that would say that they should proceed on its way in the united states should use force. our view is that remains on the table as an option, but it is not the preferred way to address this challenge. >> let me ask you about egypt. the difficult transition that has continued since tahrir square -- we still have violence in the streets. what should the u.s. policy be towards egypt and should congress be involved in giving assistance to egypt at this time? >> they are a tough case, as we know right now. i think the administration has done a good job under difficult circumstances.
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that has left our policy kind of murky. it is because of the situation in egypt -- it is murky. we are trying to balance interest. we have made both sides angry. the alternative is to come down strongly against the current government or to send a signal that the elections do not matter and we do not care about a free and open process. what we need to do is calibrate our response to say that we want egypt to move in the direction that we have all hoped they would move in.
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towards a more open process, rule of law, send a signal that we are worried about some of the recent measures that clamps down on the ability of people to gather and protest. you mention tahrir square. totally outlawed, the gathering of a couple of people. we support the law and the right of people to petition their government. we do not want to totally alienate the government. that is why i think a calibrated response that you have seen from the administration, which is we are going to withhold some military support and we want to continue to work with the government as a transition back towards the original aspirations of the arab spring there.
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that is the way to go. there is no easy answer. in egypt, it has been particularly challenging. >> let me ask you about iraq. terrorism there has been as bad as it has ever been. going back to the worst years during the u.s. occupation there. how do you see iraq at this point and what should the u.s. be doing there? to see the rise in terrorism as a link to syria and other problems that we are seeing? >> i think it has been exacerbated. it is interesting to hear some
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folks now who suggest this six- month interim agreement with iran is strengthening the iranians, when what most that strengthened iran was the war in iraq. you have iraq allowing iranian claims to overfly iraq on the way to syria. in terms of the balance of power, nothing strengthened iran more than the iraq war. did resulted in iraq
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in unleashing all of these tensions between the sunni and shia in iraq. you have the kurds in the north who have been an island of stability there. you have already had these tensions. they have been greatly exacerbated. now is an influx of foreign fighters into syria, so a lot of the al qaeda in iraq are now playing in syria. they are also plagued back into iraq. you see this terrible brutality. you have gotten the violence the shiites.ia --
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i guess that the short answer is yes. it is very concerning to see this spiral. it is related to syria. you are also seeing a spillover effect among the non-. deep is no doubt that this schism also reinforces the war with iran and hezbollah on the one hand. it is making a very difficult situation. that goes back to the earlier question on geneva. it is important to have high hopes. what is the alternative? negotiated to find a settlement to these issues. at the same time, we need to do
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everything that we can with our own resources to monitor on the counter terry is -- counterterrorism front. yes, you had the deep schisms that were already there. they are furthered by what is happening in the region. going to open the floor for questions at this point. please be concise in your question and state your name and affiliation when called upon. george mason university. thank you for a very interesting presentation. by the way, i knew your dad. this silver shows that im older. i remember that the soviet american rapprochement of the
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early 1970s appeared to succeed because we were able to agree on the nuclear issue. because ofred differences with regards to regional conflicts and soviet support for their allies. now, evenwondering, if we make progress with iran on the nuclear issue, is this possible if they continue to so strongly support serious and hezbollah and similar allies of theirs? are we bound to disagree on this? it does not seem to be part of our conversation. thank you. >> thank you. that is a good question. i would agree. during the cold war, the international competition between the united states and the soviet union was a zero-sum
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game. if we did well, they were on the short end of the stick. if they did well, we were on the losing end. that is how it was. the only exception was not the era of international cooperation. wewas an agreement that could enter into some arms control agreement and our mutual interest. in terms of the international arena, it was a zero sum game. what we have seen in some of these limited cases, there have been some opportunities where we have been able to work together. hopefully, with respect to the iranian nuclear program that will be another you are right. there are all of these other issues swirling around. russia has been -- has not been a helpful player in syria overall.
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they have not been helpful in a lot of other areas. i do believe the discussions should be broadened. i do not think we should put too much -- in terms of the negotiations on the nuclear program, i think we have to focus on that specific issue. that does not mean we cannot also be addressing other issues, but we have to avoid any suggestion that there are some how with respect to an agreement on policy issues in syria with respect to the negotiation over the nuclear program. the nuclear program, we have clear objectives. we want to make sure there is no way that iran can develop -- doesn't have a nuclear
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infrastructure that would allow any kind of short, medium path toward a nuclear weapon. they are not going to unlearn the technology they have learned. our goal has to be focused on that. that does not mean it couldn't possibly grow into a larger discussion. i would welcome that. we have to test this at every point. my concern is that people put high expectations on this discussion that they think in addition to trying to deal with the nuclear issue, if we do not change iran's spots on all of these other issues, we cannot go forward the nuclear question. it would be important to test the possibility on these other
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fronts, but not at the expense of moving forward with -- the next six months and beyond are going to be -- there are huge opportunities, but there are big risks. on the one end, iran got such a good deal because the people are happy about it, but what that tells me is that expectations among a lot of iranians are that they're going to have a greater opening with the west. they have to move forward on their economy. in that sense, there are pressures to try to make sure they relieved the full sanctions. we have to make sure we do not relieve the full sanctions until
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we get what we want in terms of narrowing the scope of their program and at the same time, you have a whole group in tehran that would like to see this process fail. it is going to be a very tense time. lots of hope, but a huge amount of things that can go wrong. i would argue that the danger of having anyone take action here that might send a signal that the united states did not want to fully test this during the six months would unwind the unity we have achieved in the sanctions, and then, if this does not work out and you have to look at the other alternatives that the president has kept on the table, you still want to have some kind of
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international support for any follow-up action. if the perception is that the united states did not give the full testing, that would be harmful for our interests. >> for full sanctions relief to take place on iran, one of the conditions is that iran is no longer a state sponsor of terrorism. all of their missile programs are accounted for, they are no longer a threat to u.s. interests and allies in the region. the conversation about hezbollah and other issues has to be had. it has to be a conversation i will go through congress or the president will have to certify to the congress that those
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issues have been satisfied. as we have talked about several times at al-monitor, that could pose the way for the opening of conversations that need to be had. >> if you look at the language of the sanctions, they do have requirements that the president makes certain certifications. there are also provisions that allow the president to make waivers on national interests. there is some amount of ambiguity to the degree of what the executive branch could do to waive sanctions on different findings. the political reality is that discussion will have to take place. we should be pushing the iranians at every juncture.
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the iranians don't get a more liberal infrastructure in exchange for that cooperation. we are not going to say you can keep your nuclear infrastructure because you are cooperating. that we will not do. it is fine to talk about these other issues, and it would be useful. >> hi. thank you, mr. congressman, for
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your interesting presentation. when i have the chance to meet iranians, they raise the question about double standards. why pakistan has nuclear power and all of the facilities that will be needed in order to arm missiles, while, as we know, they offer safe haven to bin laden. they will say that the future of pakistan does not look much better than the future of iran. there's no reason to trust the iranians more than the pakistani. the other is the linkage between the peace processes in the middle east.
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for the first time, it was admitted there was a linkage. the way the negotiations with the five plus one, if it will be satisfactory, it will help us move on the palestinian track. the israeli negotiator says the linkage goes the other way around. which one do you agree on? >> there is a saying in politics some of my friends really believe strongly in one position and some of my friends agree
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strongly in a different position. i am going to side with my friends. my point is, i think we should i applaud secretary kerry the president for trying to reengage on the israeli-palestinian negotiations. i think it is very important and the clock is ticking on the possibility for a settlement there. there are a lot of people who think that the clock has run out. i do not want to get into -- i think you can imagine different ways in which success in the israeli-palestinian discussions can have a positive influence in the negotiations with iran.
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the time tables, while we set the six-month deadline, there is some overlap in the time tables. regardless of what happens, we need to move ahead on the israeli-palestinian negotiations for a whole set of reasons. while there could be -- there are a number of different interactions. i do not think one is a justification for moving or not moving ahead on the other. that is all i'm going to say. with respect to what the iranians say about the pakistani, you have a special dynamic. you have the pakistan's and the indians. you have countries that never
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signed the n.p.t. that means that you have countries that signed it, means you have to abide by the terms of the n.p.t. they were clearly in violation of the agreement that they signed. that is why the international community has been so suspicious and why they have every right to pass the resolutions that the united nations passed. we need to hold them to it. they say it is not fair, we signed the n.p.t. and they did not, but they did sign the n.p.t. you also have the fact about their international behavior and conduct in iran.
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iran's conduct has made people fearful of what would happen. for all of those reasons, i think we are right to be as focused as we are on the iranian nuclear program. >> alan platt. i am teaching here now. in response to the question that was raised about congress' role my question concerns budget and funding. you are the ranking democrat on the house budget committee and we may have an agreement next
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week. do you see your colleagues, particularly the republican caucus, supporting the funding levels for the defense and intelligence communities that would seem to be indicated by the kinds of policies congressman rogers would like to see the united states follow? >> we are in the middle of budget negotiations. it would be great if we can get an agreement by next week. right now, it is up in the air. to your question, i think when it comes to providing the resources necessary for the defense and intelligence community, there is a bipartisan support for that part of the budget. with respect to other very important parts of our national security budget, we have had less success in convincing our
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republican colleagues. the other parts of what i think are important to a robust policy which includes other forms of assistance, development and economic assistance. other tools of foreign policy. the state department budget is puny in comparison to the defense budget. you get an awful lot of benefit from some of those investments that the state department, in terms of assistance, economic assistance and it is that part of the category of the budget where we have had a lot less success in getting bipartisan support. in the senate, we have more
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bipartisan support for that. lindsey graham, john mccain, they have been big supporters of a robust state department budget. in the house, some of our colleagues on the republican side, especially -- broadly defined as the tea party folks, it has been difficult trying to convince them of the important national security arguments in favor of that form of assistance. this is a constant back-and- forth. if you look at the house republican budget over the ten- year period, it would cut the category of the budget for those kind of state department operations. we going to have to work together to try and prevent it. if you want to do the kinds of things that mike rogers wants to do and i agree with most of what
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he says on afghanistan, it was a big mistake for the united states to disengage at the end of the -- when the soviets withdrew from afghanistan. we created a vacuum that led to al qaeda being able to exploit that vacuum. it is important that we maintain a presence there. if we're going to maintain a presence there, we need to provide the resources necessary for our folks. >> did you have a question? >> thank you. i am a fellow at the foreign policy institute here at sais. you mentioned one common interest the united states has with russia and syria is to
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prevent syria from becoming a base of operations for al qaeda. once we start changing the border regime in that part of the world, we are in for changes that will have many repercussions. my question is as follows -- do you foresee in the medium-term, a scenario where we see assad staying in power as being instrumental in that we share with the russians. >> i think the american position, which i support, has been that you had, in syria, at
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the beginning of the arab spring, a movement that represented the aspirations of the majority of the syrian people across the secretary and lines for more openness and change. the assad regime is a brutal regime that suppresses the rights of the people. we need to change the regime in syria. the challenge has been -- from our perspective we think be syrian the people deserve a government, one that represents their aspirations.
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we need to make sure that as we transition, which is the goal of any political negotiation, toward a different government, a negotiated alternative. it will have to be a negotiated agreement because otherwise, if you do not negotiate, the risk is that you have these other extreme al qaeda related elements taking advantage of the situation. we know that they are militarily strong. they are stronger than the other opposition elements. that, in some cases, is the worst-case. a total failed state where al qaeda is allowed to operate. we are quite rating and trying to get the negotiations going.
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the challenge to the negotiations as they perceive themselves to be in a different position power wise as they go into this negotiation that influences people's willingness to work towards the goal to transition to a negotiated government that better reflects the aspirations of the american people, the syrian people. that is evidenced by what we saw during the early days of the arab spring, at the end of that very hopeful period. >> we have time for one more question.
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>> thank you for your remarks. if we look at -- it is understandable, the emphasis on i ron by the united states and allies. the treaty was signed 50 years ago and was completely different than the national environment. five countries have decided they have rights to have this weapon and others do not. at that time there were able -- the soviet union was able to do liver to the u.s., to guarantee that this would be respected. completely different. we have several countries that abstained already. do you think it is still possible to stop any country -- to deny rights to have this
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weapon now since, only by force it does not work you and the moral base is nonexistent. all, i would make a couple of points. i certainly think russia and the united states agree that a world where more countries have nuclear weapons is a more dangerous world. i would argue the proliferation of nuclear weapons make its -- makes it a more dangerous world. for a world in which bad actors can get access to nuclear material that is not adequately safeguarded. indicated,y, as you those countries put in place the
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mpg and form that they did. it does not give you a right to enrich -- clearly it does provide a vehicle for the peaceful use of nuclear power under certain conditions. it has been part of this discussion over the agreement, the six-month interim agreement. theactual language in agreement is a mutually agreeable program. you have the right to free speech. i have a say over what you are going to be allowed to say, what the form of your speech would be.
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the reality is the language says it will be a mutually agreeable program. the reasons for that go back to the fact that iran was in violation. now you have a much broader question, which has to do with the overall architecture. provideshink that it an international architecture that makes the world a less dangerous place. obviously enforcing it is an ongoing challenge. there are many countries that have a civilian only nuclear power program. russia has an important role in this. you have the bushehr power --
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bushehr power plant. we are providing nuclear fuel with it. that is connected to the grid right now. one of the issues with the iranian nuclear program is the amount of material being enriched right now, the quantities are much larger than are justified by any civilian use. the number of centrifuges they have are justified by any current civilian use of nuclear power, which is why people question ifsk the what you say is true, that you want an exclusively peaceful civilian, why do you want this large infrastructure? the final agreement is going to have to get at that exactly --
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get exactly at that issue. as one of our questioners mentioned, the house budget committee right now, i know your commitment to leadership on that. i know you worked closely with chairman ryan and across the aisle to try to get the best deal possible. i know you are hard at it. i appreciate you taking the time . >> it is great to talk about something for a little while. very important issues, obviously, for the country and the international community. thank you. [applause] >> the john hopkins event on
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syria and iran. this is a little more than an hour. i would like to introduce the moderator for our next panel on the u.s.-russia in the middle east. margaret warner. i am pleased to say that our monitor and newshour have agreed to coproduce a show hosted by margaret warner. >> we have some fabulous participants. i know you know them all. i will give introductions in a minute. we are seeing growing russian
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engagement in the middle east, after quite a few decades of non-engagement, from assad's regime to helping broker the chemical deal and the nuclear agreement. we are seeing, for the first time, russian officials being welcomed in capitals that have been considered in the u.s. sphere of influence, most notably, egypt. is russia back in the middle east? if so, to what end? what is their objective? we are going to explore that today with zbigniew brzezinski. he is an author of a myriad of
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books. and a frequent guest on the newshour. fyodor lukyanov. he is the columnist for al- monitor. and fiona hill. she is head of the center on the u.s. and europe at brookings and co-author of a book. the review said it was not just another putin biography, but a psychological portrait. we only have an hour. we want to save 20 minutes or so
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for questions. is russia back? what are they up to in the middle east? >> they never left the middle east. the middle east is right next to russia's soft underbelly. they have a defensive interest. there is an explosion in the middle east that will spread. it may mean saying goodbye to the sochi olympics for a little while. several decades ago, it was much larger. i think russia wants to keep up. i think they would like to minimize american influence, but is not prepared to engage in some sort of dramatic effort to expel united states from the middle east. we have russia playing a game in which some motives are defensive
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and there is a trade up between russia's participation in a sense that engages russia and the top level of the negotiating process. >> how do you see it? is there greater russian engagement than a decade ago? >> i see greater russian engagement than even a year ago. if we look at a number of visitors from the region in moscow, just in the recent three or four weeks, prime minister of turkey, israel. the chief of saudi intelligence, russian foreign and defense ministers -- that is an incredible increase in contact. yes, i think the russian
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presence in the middle east is much bigger now than before. not to talk about 10 years ago. the paradox is it was not the aim by moscow. it wasn't about syria. it wasn't even about the middle east. it was about some principles and a willingness to stop interventions. to become normal in settling original problems. as it happened in libya before, that was a key driving force for russian position. no strategic interest in the middle east. we see the consistency in
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russian position, many people disliked it, but it was consistent. >> i want to get deeper into syria. let me get fiona hill's view. is the engagement greater in the last year? whatever comparison you want to use. what you think is driving at? >> russia never left. this is a re-engagement. rush is reaching out to countries that it has had long relationships with. in the case of egypt, moscow was perturbed by the u.s. decision to --. they have their own ties with the military that they are capitalizing on. there is a great deal of concern about the shift in what the
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russians see as a balance of power in the middle east with the arab spring. the shifts towards a more religiously inspired government. russians were keen on the secular authoritarian government. what we see is an interesting constellation. this is not the cold war anymore. the doctor mentioned the focus on trying to protect against extremism for domestic purposes but is also an effort to reach , out to natural alliances in israel. fyodor mentioned the relationship with israel. russia, like the u.s., has partners in the middle east. israel. youisrael.
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it is not have the same relationship as we do with the gulf arab state, but iran is a major partner for russia, and then also egypt and the assad regime in syria. these are not sunni muslim powers. all secular at least in their profile. that is what russia is really aiming at is trying to restore the bonds of power that is all shifting because of the concerns about the domestic politics and the problems that is served, putin and others are facing medicine the olympics with some of the blowback, not just the regime change aspects. it is a pretty complex picture for russia, and russia is trying to grapple with the way the picture has changed in the middle east. >> dr. brzezinski, do you think there is an overarching theme in the way russia is engaging in the middle east? is it opportunistic or trying to put out fires?
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>> i look at it differently. there was a time when russia was one of the better principal players in the middle east, potentially a dominant player. and today russia is not and russia knows that. the united states' predominance in the region is declining, and they know that. there are some unfortunate episode in the recent past which have contributed to the decline of american preeminence in the region. china is moving in gradually, quietly, but establishing its rhythm. china has never been a player in the middle east since probably the 14th century. now it is becoming a player, and it is becoming a player from a geopolitical vantage point that to the russians is not very reassuring because chinese influence is also spreading and central asia.
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now independent and finding a very useful that china is interested in them and investing in them and building up a political presence in them. they are diminishing russian influence. russia is trying to play for time, recoup some of its presence, hoping that our influence will continue to decline, and realizing that to some influence -- top -- to some extent that we need russia, we china, we need them more than we need to some extent britain or france. it has become a game, one of which no one will be preeminent, all are likely to suffer if things blow up, and therefore all of us have at least a marginal interest without the expectation that accommodation will make one of us or more than one dominant of in the region as a whole.
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that is very different from the game as being played in the 1960's, 1970's, and even the 1980's. >> so not a cold war rivalry, much more complicated -- >> a much more complicated game for which there is not a zero- sum outcome. each one could benefit from the others presents what they same time knowing that the other party's presence is not motivated by good intentions toward us, but marginal gains is what each is seeking. >> how do you think, fyodor, the russian government sees its overarching objective in the middle east and vis-a-vis the united states as well in that region? >> the general perception of american policy -- i would not pay strategy that strategy is
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not the right word in today's international relations -- but the general view is very confused because we frankly lost understanding what are objectives of u.s. policy in the middle east. as for he -- as for russia, the reason russia is relatively successful now in the region is not that russia initially had an objective, but because russia sticks to certain principles -- what should be done and what should not be done. we see that to have any kind of idea, process, even if this idea might be challenged by many, it is better not to have anything, any ideas. i absolutely agree with dr. brzezinski that the parts of russia's success is due to failure of the rest. the u.s. is confused. as for europe, the europe is not
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existing in the middle east, which is very strange. >> you mean you think that the consistency of russia's position, which is to oppose the undermining or the externally driven overthrow of sovereign states and leaders is appealing throughout the middle east or to certain actors in the gulf states at this point who themselves are fearing perhaps that prospect? >> i think appealing is any consistency, and those regimes in the gulf region, they want to understand. in the american case, they do not understand. as for idea, i think it is basically the approach, the assumption that regime change is not a solution. this is what russia is trying to say to americans.
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>> fiona hill, go back to your study of vladimir putin. do you feel that plays into the russian perspective here and russian actions here, and if so in what way? >> there are a couple of things that one has to bear in mind about putin himself. one of which is that his goal from taking the presidency in 1999-2000 was to restore russia as a state internally but also some of russia's power standing, not in a cold war since -- i think we have made it very we're here on the panel that is not a russian objective or a putin objective, but to basically make russia back of a player. he said he went to make sure there was a geopolitical demand for russia as well they geo- economical demand. that is something that russia and putin himself have affected, and as we are talking about here, there is certainly a
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demand for russia to play some kind of role in the middle east, even on our part of the u.s. we see russia as an important player. i have to -- i have to than the europeans here. the europeans have played a very important role in the negotiations of iran, even if they're not playing more broadly upon the middle east process. the other elements about putin is he wants to make sure that russia can defend itself from threats, and i think we have made clear here that there are threats. there are russian things he wants to seek to preserve. lots of the things we have seen in syria has been as much of an advertising campaign for the russian army, manufacturing sector. look, we will make sure your helicopters are repaired, you can rely on us, there is now a movement to try to take
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advantage of the fact that the u.s. is not exactly the flavor of the month of egyptian military. but these are all -- they are putting russia back of a player, in a very important region at a time when things are shifting and no one is really sure what the outcome is going to be. that is very much in system with putin's own view of how things should be done and how do defend and protect russia, which is take advantage of the opportunities you have, try to leverage them. >> fyodor, you have written that the westerly has misunderstood why russia has so consistently supported the assad regime and the security council. and you just said, it was not that the middle east -- it was really about syria. explain what you mean. >> after the cold war, the
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general spirit of international feeling changed. for example, the very idea of responsibility to protect and so-called humanitarian interventions, and not as a legitimate tool. unfortunately, very quickly they coincided with a regime change as a means to settle problems. in other words, and local conflicts, international community led by u.s. and european, decided which part was right, was progressive, which part was wrong and responsible for everything. the next step then we support, right?
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and then we settle the conflict. it is completely different from the conflict resolution practice of classical diplomacy. and the libya from russia point of view with lake, nation of this approach. from russian point of view, not only because it is an old- fashioned, classical approach, but also because of the conviction that it is not the way to settle anything. russia was extremely embarrassed by what happened in libya. that is another discussion why. syria became a turning point for russian diplomacy, and i think sergey lavrov, foreign minister, said once publicly that what was at stake in syria, the model how international conflicts will go in the future. >> dr. brzezinski, what is your view of that? >> i'm not troubled by that perspective because i do not
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think it is all that decisive. russia's role is limited. russia is not a superpower and putin would like to restore that. it will not be restored in the middle east area it will be restored if russia can -- recovers economic momentum, and the minimizes the negative outcomes of its own policies, which are making all of its neighbors increasingly hostile with russia. there is an enormous limitation on russia. >> do you think fyodor is correct when he says registering to stand against what had been something of a wave of interventions in the affairs of other countries or support for certain actors over other actors in a way that had not been done before?
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>> that is only possible because the u.s. decided -- in my view correctly -- not to intervene here it i think we stumbled in the position, which seems to imply intervention. those who started the whole game, which was never for democracy, it was always a sectarian conflict, but we would give them full backing when the going got rough, and we decided we did not want to go in. the holding was transformed which is something that could erupt either regionally or be contained on the basis of international accommodation with the countries that have more influence internationally than others is operating, but without any one of them considerably expecting that a positive outcome of the various assets of the peace process would produce tangible, decisive benefits for one of them. this is the nature of the game are now in the middle east. if we have peace with the iranians, and the next phase is successful.
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if there is some movement on the syrian negotiations. it will have to be a compromise. if there is an accommodation between the palestinians and the israelis, it will stabilize the region. all that will help us, but will not make us dominant or decisive. it will do much less for the russians, for the chinese it will give them one bit of it -- a continuing and secure source of oil. for the review, maybe some residual banking, financial interest. that is of secondary importance. so the stakes, the positive stakes are not so enticing or decisive. the negative stakes are potentially very destructive. we are playing a reinsurance came here. >> and you think the u.s. and russia have common interests now in resolving the syrian conflict? we have heard that from congressman van hollen, that
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preventing an extremist -- jihad extremist, all qaeda-like, however you want to describe it entity is something that the u.s. and russia are to term and that they can prevent. >> i think that is certainly the case. the question is how is this done? dr. brzezinski has already laid out that we do not know how we get to that endgame -- in fact we are not even sure what that endgame would even look like. will it end up with a partition of syria that make that possible? a version of what we had back in a day on the balkans? the situation that we are in right now is that russia would like to see some answers to that question, and it knows quite well that we do not have those
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answers. there is a great deal of confusion in moscow about where the u.s. stands. it is very difficult to make some sense out of this and to get some realistic plan underway. we have seen, however, that the u.s. and russia can work on something very concrete, which is the case of chemical weapons. whether we can translate that to the next theater of the geneva process on the civil war is another matter. in many respects, the chemical weapons issue as difficult as it was was different. we both worked on disarmament and dismantlement of nuclear weapons together, chemical weapons. we have a convention, we have a whole framework, we know where needed to be done. russia was very clear even if we
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are not clear on an agreement on who was using the chemical weapons, we are both very clear that we do not want the next scenario for that to be used again or those falling in the hands of opposition groups. all of that was straightforward. this is more complex. we have the same long-term interests, but we do not have an agreement on how we are going to approach this beyond the geneva agreement. there will be a lot of difficult discussions to be heard. no certainty that we'll end up in an outcome that both of us will be happy with. >> fyodor lukyanov, how do you see the prospects for this geneva ii agreement and u.s.- russia agreement on the chemical weapons issue any kind of agreement on getting the parties to the table? the chairman of the house intelligence committee said this morning -- the u.s. cannot really deliver its partners, allies, or favored force within syria to the table. russia can. >> that is the key problem, and
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i was surprised that the congressman said in such a blunt way. >> well, he was saying that is why we should still think about arming the record. >> yes. a little bit controversial, but ok. i think this is a key to the chemical weapons operation, which is surprisingly successful because we remember that in september when the idea came up, dimensionally explain why that is not -- why that is not possible. we see in the case of political will, we have technical capacity on both sides to deliver. i think that will be completed successfully. i do not see how that will be completed because that is a very nuclear issue. it is right that the influence on rebels on syria is a key factor. i had a recent conversation with a very important guy from saudi arabia who said that yes,
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americans cannot deliver, not at all, but we can. let's make a deal. geneva ii should be in russia, saudi arabia. there we can agree. >> meaning saudi arabia could deliver fighting forces. >> yes. i do not know whether it is true or not, but it is interesting for the first time we hear something like that because they sort of say this -- i think this is a very important issue. to what extent we cannot agree or we can agree, u.s. and russia can agree on syria. i'm not so sure -- dr.
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brzezinski is absolutely right. essential is they agree. they who fight there. it is not up to us to deliver. >> dr. brzezinski, what do you make of the way this administration has responded to the greater russian engagement? i think the point that it is reengagement and so on, but i mean, do you think it has been the right approach? should the u.s. be alarmed by this or see this as an opportunity to at least resolve some issues? >> i do not think they should be alarmed because i do not think the importance should be overestimated. it is desired, but it is another that will shape the outcome either negatively or positively. i think there is a chance that we can work with the russians regarding some sort of an arrangement for syria in which what russia objected to -- correct me -- in our loud insistence that assad has to us to go can be compromised in an arrangement in which assad does not have to go, but he does not
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have to stay. there is an opening for that. >> explain that. >> the second term expires next year, which is roughly the term we're talking about. i mention the fact that that gives us an opening, an arrangement whereby he "volunteers," perhaps with some encouragement including from the russians, that if he does not want a third term. der spiegel had a major interview on his position in general. finally the german journalist asked assad -- your second term expires next year. are you going to run again? do you know what assad responded? "i do not know. i have not decided." now we may not get a sunni-
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dominated power explicitly, but some formulas found to at least conciliate some significant elements in syrian society. i think that -- we and the russians have some common interest in collaborating, and on the sideline, the chinese prefer it because the overall regional consequences are what they wish to be -- stable. that would then depend on whether you can formulate some sort of an approach in which in effect something that preserves syria as such is attained. the real risk right now is the so-called revolutionary forces which a year and half ago we were describing as democratic, ultra-sectarian, very dangerous, dangerous to us, dangerous to the russians. they are the same groups that
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would probably operate any caucuses, already are to some extent. there is a recognition that somehow or other, neither of those groups, none of those groups, so there has to be some accommodation from within and also from the outside. >> fiona hill, do you want to chime in on that? how the u.s. and russia should look upon the syrian engagement? >> there are slightly different ways but the same outcomes in which there is certainly a degree of many factors to consider here. we are all essentially groping in the dark toward a similar outcome in the middle east. what we would like to restore some kind of balance whether that is sectarian, political, we
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were all like to see some solution that retains -- there is no benefit to any player in the region. the biggest difficulty looking at it is how do you factor in all of the other players? one thing russia will have to pay particular attention to in the future is how to in many respects restore its relationship with the goal say. russia is that a long troubled relationship with the gulf states. may people here may have forgotten, but i think the three of us and others will remember that in 2004, the russian -- not say necessarily the government, but russian operatives assassinated zelimkhan yandarbiyev, the former acting president of chechnya in doha.
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we were actually over there, it was a brookings conference, which is a coincidence. there's a long set of trouble connections between russia and the region, not just for the literary effects with the long- term -- russia will want to see whatever solution that has some kind of guarantee against the blowback from events in the middle east. when the russians raise this as i concerned, this is a real concern. this is not just a perception, this is not just something that they are trying to use as a political bargaining chip. this is something that putin and the people around him are generally concerned about. they have a strategic influence there. we have to have a really
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straightforward conversation with them about what we think the middle east and this region is going to look like in the future. >> before we go to audience questions, but do be getting them ready -- iran. what is russia's posture vis-a- vis iran today? when you have them supply weapons and other kinds of advanced technology to iran. they certainly voted for sanctions and then participated in this interim agreement. we will start with you, fyodor lukyanov. >> the relationship with iran has been quite complicated, actually. this is a quite a simplistic picture that i sometimes read. what you mentioned that russia actually voted for all sanctions in iran, and russia canceled a deal after 2010 sanctions.
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the previous made several nasty statements about russia. now i think a russian-iranian relationship has improved. it is helpful and great. there are different views and moscow on whether we should increase the -- encourage a u.s.-iranian interest or not. some people do not think it is an russian interest because if iran improves relationship with united states, it will immediately turn to the west and forget about everything we did for iran. and that is why we should try to prevent it. but i think it is very shortsighted because my position we will -- we should encourage this and we will benefit out of a u.s.-iranian healthy relationship because iran is an extremely important regional player.
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iran's influence is growing. the u.s. invasion in iraq created the opportunity for iran. and for russia, it is very important to keep a good working relationship with iran. more opportunities for iran and international affairs. it will be more important for moscow, and iran will never become a u.s. ally. iran will be an independent force. >> fiona, you were nodding. >> i agree with what fyodor says. here is speaking with some truth. lived in moscow, this is definitely the view. i think one thing just to remind
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the audience, pushed this is littler further, is there is a real change in russia's relationship with israel, which also means that russia, like the u.s., has to balance off its policies toward iran and to israel. in the cold war, russia seems very much in opposition for a whole variety of reasons. i think that has changed dramatically. you know, the kind of simplistic view of the analysis, but has an awful lot to do with the influx of russian speakers, soviet jews not just rush itself but from the fallen soviet republics. that affected the israeli foreign minister, who is a russian speaker along with many other languages that he speaks, originally from moldova. it really transformed israeli politics, at least for a period of time.
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as it will become more integrated and israelis society, there are still a russian speaking constituency that putin himself has really reached out to. he frequently talks about "our jews," and you never would've heard a soviet leader and make that comment. this is how he talks about this. he wants to reestablish the close ties with a critical population of engineers, intellectuals, great cultural achievement. he sees this as a huge lot to the tablet of russian society, and he has made great effort to establish that. benjamin netanyahu, putin himself going to israel, the rumors that putin has built himself a home there.
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just the fact that there was a rumor -- that shows you how much the relationship between russia and israel has been transformed. how do you balance off the religion with iran in this very important position -- and russia's relationship with israel? it could be very interesting to watch this about how russia balance is off all of these competing demands. >> i will make one brief comment. i think russia and the u.s. have the same interest so far as iran and nuclear weapons are concerned. nuclear powers that have nuclear weapons do not want additional powers to have nuclear weapons. it is as basic as that. i think we share that interest. this is why i think we will work together to see whether we can transform the interim agreement into something more binding. that is a good accommodation to pursue. i am a little less rosy about
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the overall historical relationship between russia and iran. we elected iran against russia on more than one occasion, and iran and russia have had some real problems, territorial problems throughout the years. imperial problems. so i think those who ignore history or geo-strategy would be too sanguine about the long- range prospects of that relationship because iran is a potential power, 80 million people, and intelligent, quite modern despite our image of them. i think they could be a challenger in the region. >> you think russia is thinking that way? from the people you talk to that as fyodor said, is very complicated -- if iran changes its relationship with the west
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and sort of emerges from isolation, that it could be threatening to russia? >> an interesting question which is far beyond the realm of our discussion -- it depends on what russia wants to be, but if russia remains dominated by what i consider to be a really unrealistic nostalgia for imperial status, however remains, eurasian union, and so forth. we see that in the current crisis with the ukraine. and i think the answer is quite obvious -- it is not going to be very accommodating in a relationship with its neighbors. in fact, i think what putin has done to a remarkable degree is to generate within the newly independent states that surround the current rush or part of the former soviet union genuine hostility toward russia. there is hardly any leader in the newly independent states who wants to be part of the eurasian
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union. some feel they have to be, and are playing lip service, but some are communicating to us, to the europeans into the chinese the things they would like to accomplish in the meantime to negate this significance of any such step. i think putin is being totally unrealistic and -- what i think is desirable and inevitable. russia as a senior partner, as a significant partner in europe, as a european state. this is what the issues currently are about, and they involve also the relationship with iran and others. >> into this complicated mist, add your questions. since this is a panel, address your question to the person. say your name, affiliation, and please keep your question brief. >> thank you, george mason university. my question is for fyodor lukyanov. one often hears russian officials, analysts indicate that it is important to keep a thought and power -- assad in
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power because of that as he is, it will be worth without him, and russia will be tracked by the jihadist that arise in syria. they will rebounded to russia itself. but if there any concern that in fact it is russian support for assad that is making russia a target of the jihadists? is russia in fact unnecessarily causing alienation in the middle east in the long run? in the long run, does russian support for assad actually help russia or does it hurt russia? thank you. >> russia is a target for jihadists anyway. that is a fact of life. as for support for assad, we can argue whether russia supports assad. it is a long discussion in a quite fruitless debate.
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i think what happened in the recent couple of years demonstrated one simple thing -- attempts to find the right side of history and us to change position don't work. in this particular situation where no one is ok, it is better to have a clear view and clear commitment, and that produces at least certain degree of respect. jihadists will try to undermine russia even if russia will change side in syria. i would remind you that in libya, actually, qaddafi was killed because of russia. if russia would veto a resolution, who knows what will happen?
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but it was no gratitude from the new power, the new government, and the first thing they said after overthrowing qaddafi, is russian and chinese company is not welcome in this country anymore. >> yes. >> thank you very much. dean of sais, yes. >> first of all, thank you very much for the very rich discussion. i wanted to ask in terms of russia's attitude where does oil fit in. we talk about iran, saudi arabia, even if you thought about the gas field in the
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eastern mediterranean and the way in which russia might look at europe, central asia, where does this strategic vision that you outline in a particular way, putin thinks about positioning russia has to do essentially with gas, or how does the energy resolution way into this discussion? >> from my point of you, would you have raised involves the ultimate refutation of the argument that russia can be a self isolated imperial power more or less within the geographical confines of the former soviet union or the former russian empire. in his era, the post-russia group was -- because of its post-monolithic posture on supplied energy. this is now coming to a rapid end, and russia's hope for future economics is as is increasingly dependent on the
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chinese being willing to buy all the energy that the russians have to offer the chinese. and the chinese do not get by part of it toward the middle east and toward iran. american position is respect. if all of the prognosis turn out to be right, and they are somewhat speculated still, involves great enhancement in american freedom to maneuver and american projection of its influence by economics and technology. so i think what you have raised is one of the ultimate challenges to the rationality of an effort to create an increasingly nationalistic, increasingly imperialistic russia that alienates all of its would-be members and neighbors. >> fyodor, you want to chime in on this? >> i think the oil and gas issue has been traditionally overestimated.
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i fully agree with dr. brzezinski that international markets change not because of the middle east, because of the shale gas revolution, because of many other things. and for russia, it was very important, say, 5, 10 years ago, for example, to prevent iranian gas to come to the european market. now, not so much. first because i do not think it will come. second, europeans do not need the gas. two different reasons. all of those calculations and interesting schemes that gas from qatar to syria -- i think it is extremely exciting, but as for a little to do with reality and the future. as for russia, yes, i agree. i can argue about the russian- chinese-eurasian relationship,
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it is an interesting topic, but not for this discussion. it is absolutely true that perspective for russian economic development is much more east oriented now. not necessarily china, but eurasia and eastern asia because those markets need russian supply much more than european markets. >> i would like to inject a word of caution into the whole discussion about russia and energy and be shifting patterns in the middle east as well as the shale gas because we have got ourselves now in the form of a euphoric state just thinking that the u.s. is completely independent of energy so we do not need to be in the middle east anymore on the one hand. russia is being able to release levers. that is not what dr. brzezinski said. that is not the case at all. russia actually sits on the world's largest potential deposits of shale gas. russia does not need to expand the because russia has enormous potential and conventional gas.
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russia also sits on the other big player, which is actually becoming increasingly important to the u.s. we shifted the game of the gas, but russia is still a major player in gas and oil, even if the u.s. for a certain period of time may outstrip about the russia and saudi arabia and production of gas and oil sometime in the next 10 years. all this means is the current business model has changed. russians are very good at adapting. they may be slow at adapting because of the huge size of the oil and gas industry being so important to the economy, but we have seen the russians adapt many times before. so they have some catch-up to do. they will not be able to have the big pipelines with 20-year, 30-year contract that they had before, but they're not finished. it is going to be again a more difficult, complex state fair with be careful of rushing out and thinking that everything has
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changed dramatically, and say that we are all in the process of catch-up. what the shale gas revolution reminds us is how quickly things can change, just like in the 1970's the whole game change because of the oil embargo, and in the u.s. and other countries played catch-up in the way that they change their own uses of energy and the whole issue of energy efficiency. we all had to be very careful of thinking that this changes russia's position even in europe. the man is different, but the russians are going to respond to occurred over the next of lawyers, we will have lots of discussions that women using look, how does that happen -- of discussions saying look, russia is back again, how did that happen? >> yes, right here, the woman in red. >> [inaudible] >> could you speak up a little bit?
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>> my question is for mr. lukyanov, and this is a very different topic. the energy crisis in syria. there are ethnic minorities of russia that except and help, but there is one minority, the indigenous people of sochi, the place where the olympic games will be. more than 100,000 people in syria, expelled by rush at some point to the middle east. those people want to come back to russia now, but there is no help from the russian authorities, and some are actually deported, whole families deported. go back to the north caucasus. do you see any change of policy regarding the refugees in syria?
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>> could you explain to us who this group is? >> this is a group of from the northern caucasus who left russia in the 19th century mostly during the fighting, or after fighting against russian empire, and they leave across the middle east, and many of them in syria. you know, i think it is a very complicated issue because on the one hand, yes, russia offered refuge to different nationalities who want to leave syria. as i read a couple of days ago, several hundred of those came to a territory which russia recognizes as an independent state. they try to live there.
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in the russian case, you know, it is such a difficult equilibrium between willingness to help those for refuge and those who are former russians of the region. and fear that that will be used by extremists as a way to come. and the security services -- they have to think in these terms, first of all. i think it will be a quite difficult situation. >> a question back there. >> hi. thank you. my name is sean nevin. i am with the voice of russia america. i have a question for dr. brzezinski. i wanted to ask if you could discuss the endgame for the u.s. and iran, especially concerning the fact that -- does it want to end sanctions? and considering the fact that hasn't taken regards the
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entrance of saudi arabia and israel, and you said in another article that obama backed down from netanyahu considering the settlements before. and also if you could discuss -- >> can we keep it to one question? if that is alright, just because we have other people with their hands up. >> excuse me, sir, so what is the question? >> what is the endgame in iran? >> it will be either the treaty being designed and approved through the same process that created the current six-month arrangement, or a breakdown in which case it will be in some phase of acute instability in the context of which i hope we do not lose our sense of rationality regarding our actions and therefore do not get sucked into war because they

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