tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 30, 2014 2:00am-4:01am EDT
inhumane conditions they have suffered in those camps. of this syria's readiness of all efforts to deliver aid from an international organization to all citizens without any discrimination whatsoever, whatever they are and within the framework of national sovereignty. confirms its adherence to full restoration of syrians to land in 1967. also the rejection of all actions taken by israel, the occupying power, to change its natural demographic -- in clear violation of the resolutions in
particular resolutions 497 of 1981 and 465 of 1980. syria confirms also that the palestinian issue is a central issue of the syrian people which supports the inalienable and legitimate rights of the palestinian people, particularly to return and self-determination and to establish an independent state on its land with jerusalem as its capital. last september, syria accepted the initiative of the president of the russian federation, his excellency vladimir putin, and joined the convention of the prohibition of chemical weapons based on the establishment in the middle east, a free zone of all nuclear weapons, and all weapons of mass destruction. it also wanted to prove to the whole world its commitment to stand firm against any use of chemical weapons.
syria can prove its obligation resulting from the convention and completed its commitment despite the prevailing hard conditions. were it not for the syrian cooperation with the u.n. opcw joint mission, it would have not been possible to complete the tasks of the mission. the special -- she expressed her happiness and gratitude for the fruitful and constructive cooperation of the syrian government which led to the completion of this unprecedented work. syria is committed to the full implementation of the provisions of the convention and within the framework of the opcw. as a party to this convention, however, the big question remains whether those who are supplying the terrorists with
these weapons and other types of weapons, will they stop their actions and abide by international law? especially the convention of the prohibition of chemical weapons and security council resolution related to terrorism. mr. president, syria stresses that establishing a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction is unachievable with the ack session of israel, the only nuclear power in the region to all treaties banning such, the proliferation of such weapons and to put its nuclear facilities under supervision with the national atomic energy agency. at the same time, we support the right of all countries to acquire and develop nuclear technology for peaceful means, for peaceful uses. mr. president, in closing, unilateral coercion, economic measures by the united states
and the european union contradict the rules of international law and the principle of free trade. on this basis, we call for the lifting of the blocking imposed by the united states against cuba. and we renew our call to lift all the unilateral coercion measures imposed on syria and the peoples of other countries a chance, the republic of korea, venezuela, and belarus. unilateral coercive measures imposed on syria and the people of other countries suggest iran and the people's republic of korea as well as belarus. in conclusion, we look forward that the united nations would become able to achieve the cause for people to live in dignity and development and sufficiency far away from all forms of terrorism, tension, and confirmation. in particular, the safeguarding
the sovereignty of states and the equality rise and obligation. and that priorities should be given to work on the insurgent efforts of the community to combat the terrorism of isis and other al qaeda affiliates. then we would prevail in the region and the entire world. thank you, mr. president. [applause] >> i think the deputy prime minister and prime minister of foreign affairs an >> coming up on c-span, william burns talks about middle east peace policy. then a discussion on middle east peace policy.
later, an air force update on strikes in syria and iraq. eastern,ight at 9:00 we will have live coverage of the second debate between the candidates for texas governor. democrat wendy davis and the republican. wayne slater gives us an update on the race. >> with governor rick perry stepping down at the end of the year, it is an open seat in texas. state senator wendy davis the democratic nominee and attorney general greg abbott are running. >> great to be with you. >> what do the polls tell you in this race? >> the polls are all over the place except in the regard, the republican is in ahead, now is the republican ahead by double digits maybe as many as 15, 16
points? some polls indicate that. there are some internal polls the race may be in single digits. but in every case the republican greg abbott is ahead, has held a durable lead and frankly in a state where every statewide official is a republican and where no democrat has won the governor's race since ann richards in 1990. it would be an enormous feat if a democrat won this year. >> there is a third party on the ballot. does that have any impact on the race thus far? >> probably not. that's not really what's happening here. the funny thing was with respect to 1990, that was the year ann richards did win, a lot of people at least on the democratic side saw a year ago
that there was some expectation that this could be the year that a new ann richards, wendy davis, this woman who stood up last year in a filibuster against some abortion regulations became a national celebrity on the left. was this going to be the new ann richards, the new person who could begin the process of turning the very red state of texas blue? that has not happened for a whole lot of reasons. it's not impossible for her to win. but she's had real problems in her campaign. they've had two or three shake ups. again, it's a long shot, not impossible, but a long shot that she could do this in november. >> what is her message to voters? and consider do you think she resonated up until this point
the way you and many others thought she might have? >> i think part of the reason she's not ann richards. she's very smart, harvard educated attorney who frankly when you see her in the first televised debate and the upcoming debate comes across as scripted. even when she's not scripted, she's extraordinarily reserved, confident but that doesn't make for good red meat politics. the strategy that she decided to push was first a personal narrative. she was up from the boot straps woman who was living in a trailer with a child and sort of earned her way through harvard law school. that was going to be the secret of her success. when some stories raised question about not the fundamental legitimacy of that story, but some questions whether some of the facts in this narrative were blurred a bit, it took the shine off that campaign.
the campaign also has chosen fundamentally to offer as a message that the republican opponent is a political insider, part of the rick perry republican machine that's been in power for 15 years in texas and they help themselves but have not helped you. it's a message that kind of sounds good, at least the consultants thought it sounded good, but there's very little indication in the polling and many texas voters that it has resonated very successfully. >> in terms of a personal narrative, greg abbott has been very open about his condition. he's a paraplegic. he was injured in 1984 after an accident when a tree fell on him when he was running following a severe storm in texas, and he has used that in part of his campaign ads. >> he has. here is a person in a wheelchair to the extent and that any voter
might wonder if he has the physical ability, has the stamina, as has the ability to be the governor, he has demonstrated absolutely that he can. in one of his cam feign ads, he not only showcases the fact that he is in a wheelchair, he is taking the wheelchair up, up in a parking garage as a kind of metaphor about how he has overcome odds in his life and he hasn't given up. one of the issues in the campaign, education, transportation, and others, overcrowding highways, one of his ads he is in a wheelchair along a gridlock section of highway going faster than the cars and making the promise that if he's elected governor he would fix all this gridlock, and
that's a brilliant way of dealing with his personal issue and also an issue in the campaign. >> bottom line based on what you saw in this first debate, wayne slater, what do you expect to see in this second and final debate? >> there's only two things that are going to happen, one, greg abbott was very successful and appearing very likeable. he will try to ignore wendy davis as much as possible. he will try to talk about what he wants to do, fix education, do things for highways, make texas great, the economic success that the state has. wendy davis has no choice but to go after abbott on issues, especially ethics issues, questions about money he's gotten from campaign contributors and the benefits that he's gotten in office. it's not the best route for wendy davis because when she does that, she hurts her
likeability quotient, but she has no choice. she must attack. he must appear to be above the fray. >> wayne slater joining us from austin. senior political writer for the dallas morning news. thank you very much for joining us. >> great to be with you. >> tuesday, a look at secret service operations and procedures. testified in front of a house oversight committee after breaches in the white house. tuesday, the director of the white house economic council is the featured speaker at the economic club of washington dc. we will have live coverage on jobs and the economy live at 8:25 eastern on c-span two.
2014 debateign coverage continues on tuesday at 9:00 eastern on c-span. live coverage of wendy davis and state attorney general greg abbott. wednesday night, live coverage of the minnesota governor's debate the tween the incumbent governor, republican candidate jeff johnson, and independent ccollet.e hannah ni we will have coverage of the oklahoma governor's debate. also on thursday, the nebraska governor's debate between chuck hassell brooke and pete ricketts . we will have live coverage of the montana u.s. house debate between john lewis and ryan's inky. more than 100 debates for the control of congress.
>> the washington institute hosted an event monday talking about middle east policy. william burns spoke about foreign policy challenges and u.s. strategy against isis. this is half an hour. >> we are very pleased to have the deputy secretary of state. it is impossible for me to call bill anything but bill burns. you want to hear me as well. can you hear me now? ok. welcome deputy secretary of state bill burns here. it's an honor and a privilege.
it we have known each other a short time, only since the mid-1980's. he is the kind of consummate diplomat. he has had an extraordinary array of different experiences. he has been ambassador in jordan and in russia. he has been the undersecretary of state the deputy secretary of state. he's had different kinds of diplomatic missions where he has been entrusted by presidents of all parties. parties.h and he is not just someone who is knowledgeable of how to make policy, but he is one of those rare people that approaches issues from the standpoint of thinking about them and conceptualizing about them and acting on the ideas.
the ability to conceptualize and implement is a schedule that is too rare that bill very much embodies. it's a pleasure to welcome him here. ff who is of rob satlo very pleased for us to be hosting this event, and in the presence of sally lewis and richard, we are pleased to welcome you here. i know you get no awards as you get ready to end your tenure as deputy secretary of state. that is the diplomat strategist and recognition of your distinguished service in 2014. the washington institute, it has anicture of bill in front of
mines behindve live him. far and away, the best rise is a chance to work hard. i can't think of anybody who is more deserving. [applause] >> thank you very much, dennis. you how both touched and honored i am by that. of a time in our lives when we worked together and neither of us had gray hair. it is always an honor to be here at the washington institute and is a special honor to be introduced by dennis, someone for whom i have had great respect over many years. i have learned an enormous amount from you about what it is to be a diplomat and what it is
to pursue our country's interests and our country's how to do it with integrity and decency. i am also deeply honored to join all of you in celebrating the wonderful life and career of one of our country's most admired diplomats and peacemakers. naples to the 1973 afghanistan to and from camp david to oslo, sam lived a life of significance and adventure. most diplomats can only dream of it. and he lived a life of friendship and romance that would make woody allen weep. his texan charm and candor earned him the respect of countless leaders both abroad and here at home. he was as comfortable going jaw to jaw with counterparts as he was going cheap to cheek with sharks. he was the man who didn't just know where he and the country he
loved needed to go, he knew how to get there and how to get things done. he once called the peace treaty between egypt and israel in a stork achievement in which he played an indispensable part. a mountain peak in the sea of sand. generations of american diplomats have tried to learn from his example, following his footsteps, and the diplomatic peaks he conquered so skillfully , none of us have been terribly successful. all of us learned a great deal about our profession, the middle east, and the promise of american leadership. through the remarkable journey and my own checkered 33 year career, i learned that the middle east is a place where pessimists seldom lack for either company or validation. where skeptics hardly ever seem wrong. it's a place where american
policymakers learn humility the hard way. a place for you can easily see winston churchill's famous comment that what he liked about americans is they usually do the right thing in the end but they like to exhaust all the other alternatives first. regimes that do not offer their citizens a sense of political dignity and economic possibility ultimately become riddle and break. i have learned that change is rarely need or linear but often messy and cruel and deeply unpredictable. i have learned not to underestimate the depth of mistrust of american motives that animates that many people in the region. i have learned we often get far more credit than we deserve for complicated conspiracies. the middle east is a place where they are capable of great things and american diplomacy with all of its own occasional
dysfunction can make a real and enduring difference. incredible moment of testing, we missed sam's judgment and good counsel more than ever. if you were with us i would suspect he would be the first to say that we can't afford to neglect what is at stake. and shaping within the limits of our influence the greatest acrossion of struggle the middle east today. nothing embodies that struggle in starker terms that the threat posed by isil. not the onlyously source of disorder in the middle east today but it is one of the most immediate and most poisonous. and it is the most dramatic symptom of the later changed unleashed by the awakening. within a number of states we have seen the collapse of a half-century old political order. societies that had known far too little freedom and far too
little dignity. werehat also spilled out all the demons of sectarian and communal tension that authoritarian rulers had suppressed. that dynamic set off uncertainties and friction among states in the region as political rivalry, sectarian triples and old passions spilled across borders still not firmly rooted a century after the post-world war i formation. beyond arab states, violent extra miss groups were quick to try to fill emerging vacuums and take advantage of post-revolutionary chaos. isil took advantage of state collapse, proliferation, and sectarian polarization. what all of these leaders of change at up to is the most significant transition since the
revolution of the 1950's. and whether the air at center as my friend has described it, can eventually replace the old order. gradually establishing institutions to manage sectarian differences and provide an outlet for political tools and individual dignity. it will prove more resilient. state in that complex competition. strategyng a careful for enhancing the long-term chances for a new moderate order that best protects our interests and protects our values. no short of of obstacles for a moderate order in the middle east today. an arc of instability, complicated transition and stagnant economies run uninterrupted.
and the deadline for the comprehensive deal. if we needed any reminder, the conflict underscored how unsustainable and combustible the status quo remains. and i will have the opportunity to touch on a number in our conversation but let me make a couple of points upfront about what i am sure is on everyone's mind this afternoon. the challenge posed by our strategy to degrade and ultimately defeat it. it is important to keep perspective. it has been to unite the entire region and the world against it. it demands a serious response. if unchecked, they would control more territory. it destabilizing an already deeply unstable region.
and over time, posing a growing threat. as president obama and kerry kerry have made clear. a successful strategy to counter isil and strengthen the forces of moderation. this is why president obama made the united and inclusive a rocky government -- iraqi government. we help our partners on the ground. it is why they have placed so much focus on building and leading a broad-based coalition that have a stake in this fight and the means to provide practical support. my third point is about the coalition and comprehensive strategy it is pursuing. beginning this month and following meetings in baghdad,
last week at the u n general toembly, we have worked hard build a coalition unified around shared goals and objectives. president obama appointed john allen, a retired four-star general. , more than 50 countries from all corners of the globe have joined the coalition and we expect others to join in the weeks and months ahead. together, we will deny the safe haven by continuing to conduct carefully targeted airstrikes and we the leadership will impede the ability to prepare and execute attacks. we have conducted such airstrikes and saudi arabia and the united arab emirates joined in strikes among isolate targets in syria. we will strengthen the capacity of our partners to push back against eiffel -- isil on the
ground. they sent advisers to iraq this month to help with training and equipment and help the government stand up national guard units. we will also continue and step up our support. the train and equip program recently authorized by bipartisan majority to both chambers of commerce. this is far more than just a military effort. flowso need to cut off the of foreign terrorist fighters into and out of the region. from nearly 80 countries including over 100 americans. these fighters pose an immediate threat to the region and a real and growing terrorism threat. the un security council unanimously passed a binding resolution requiring countries require transporting and
equipping of foreign fighters. resolution received the second-most cosponsors in the history of the united nations. the coalition will press hard to accelerate global efforts including by reducing revenue from oil and other assets. kidnapping for ransom and external donors. we will also continue to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to states and societies carrying the heaviest burden from this conflict. before the advance this spring, the scale and scope of the human tragedy in syria was staggering. the campaign of terror has only transbated this tragedy se isplacing iraqis and
syrians from their homes. nearly $3 billion in contributions since the start of the conflict. and we have led the way in preventing mass atrocities in iraq. we will continue to assist includings in need, vulnerable religious and ethnic minorities. we will coordinate efforts to expose their crude nature and undercut their ideological appeal. they have denounced the false claim to be acting in the name of a great religion. it worked to amplify their efforts. they said the future belongs to those who build, not to those who destroy. all these steps are critical to success but would not have any sustainable effect on their own. the political paralysis that has failed to answer the regions rising aspirations for dignity
and clinical participation and economic opportunity. the prime minister and iraqi government have outlined a program that has received broad sectarian support and deserves international support as well. we'll continue to engage diplomatically and find resolution to long-standing aspirations and increase the neighbors.aq's and we will continue to pursue a political transition to end this crisis once and for all. if this sounds like a tall order, it is. but it is not impossible. the advance can be blunted and can be rolled black. -- rolled back. anyoneis knew as well as how unforgiving the middle east can be for american policymakers and diplomats. but he also knew we can't afford to pull back. there is too much at issue right
now. -- degrade isil and succeed in the years ahead. they can succeed in the greater generational struggle to open up space for pluralism and economic opportunity. he will be the first to understand we can't get every judgment right. but we understood profoundly that we are far better off working to help shape events rather than wait for them to be shaped for us. sam lewis led a life of extraordinary significance in the service of our country and all of us have been hugely honored to follow in his remarkable footsteps. thank you very much. [applause] >> bill and i will have a chance for a conversation for the next few minutes before he has to go off to his other responsibilities.
comprehensive overview of what is a region characterized by turmoil and upheaval. with one question, one thing you said in your comments. you've talked about what has been our long-term objective in syria. , what step at that is necessary to be able to move us along that transition? crucial toy, it is do everything we can to step up , both as a political entity and a military one. the immediate challenge as i said, is isil. and the threat it imposes to order and potentially across the region.
i think it is absolutely essential to build up a moderate thee, particularly one community can rally around that can help in the conflict. i don't think there is any chance of rolling back the advance in iraq unless we strike at the support in syria. it provides a counterweight to the assad regime. they can seek a new transition to leadership. enough to enter into that. and the critical element building that leverage is the strength and moderate opposition. i think that is the logic at this point. jessica was speaking
earlier today, she raised an interesting issue. i will paraphrase that this might be a moment of some bothtial opportunity with assad regime and the syrian opposition being threatened by isil, is there a possibility that it is a common threat? >> a little bit skeptical to be honest with you. the tenure as the u.n. -- thetor as well as regime proved stubbornly resistant. i am skeptical that kind of space is going to open up. and i am skeptical that the calculus is going to change
unless you begin to see this kind of counterweight and leverage built up in syria. i am not naive about how complicated this is to do, but i think it is the essential ingredient setting the stage for any potential leadership. >> i want to cover the potential hotspots in the region. let me ask a question about iran. you were certainly involved in helping establish a channel to the iranian negotiations here .n there has been plenty of speculation about the agreement and people being able to restrain their optimism. how would you define the iranian approach to communications at this point? >> first, in terms of the ,nteraction with negotiators
almost a year and a half with the secret bilateral negotiations and later wrapped up have been tough and professional, not surprisingly. they have moved able to ,egotiate the first agreement for aprovided six months space of the conference of agreement. they proved to be able to implement that and follow on on commitments they made. the copperheads of negotiations -- they guess that to be aain comprehensive agreement.
we understand that iran can pursue a nuclear program, a peaceful nuclear program. the is at issue is reaching agreement that creates mutually agreed limitations on that program over a substantial period with significant monitoring measures to give all the rest of us confidence that this is an exclusively peaceful program. and more than two decades of unresolved questions to put it diplomatically, it's essential to have a substantial period of time where you can do that. there are significant gaps right now on the issues that are going to be critical to overcoming those problems.
>> this is obviously a diplomatic term, a complex time in our relationship with the russians. ,ne question that occurs to me it given what is going on with ukraine, have you been surprised that the russians at this point have this point held to the consensus position of the five plus one? and do you think it might change? >> the russian leadership tends to be pretty unsentimental about pursuing ilts interest in the middle east. values its role in leading the negotiations. and so far there's been a fair
amount of cohesion in that the russians g to and we're thinking through how to negotiate these challenges. there have been other areas as well in the middle east in the work through the quartet and at least a portion on the destruction of syrian chemical weapons. russia has played a recently constructive role. there have been differences over syria and other interests in the middle east and the russian leadership has a zero sum view of our relationship in the middle east. as russia looks at the challenge, he's got to be conscious of their own extremist challenges in the north caucuses. and so i think objectively there's a shared interest in
dealing with that threat. it doesn't mean that we're going to have cooperation on every issue. you look at other extremist groups objectively, i think the russians have an interest in trying to take on those kind of challenges. >> would you see -- would you be looking at that as one of the indicators that would suggest -- if they were to be -- should we say constructive in taking a political view in syria, would you view that in a broader independence cation of -- indication of where russia might be going? >> it might be a welcome step if russia was prepared to put its leverage behind the serious effort in putting a political effort in syria which ultimately would produce a new and inclusive leadership because it's hard to see how
you defeat isil and syria unless you defeat that kind of environment. in iraq it's essential to have the government and take steps sect in more inclusive iraq. but certainly a russia that was prepared to play that kind of role would be contributing to that solution they think would erve its interest as well. reaching that kind of a settlement over the last two or three years i think that's a tall order. >> you're going to have to go in a minute. let me ask you one more question. i've known you a long time. ou did a distation on egypt -- dissertation on egypt. followed egypt for a long time. we clearly have a common interest when it comes to
fighting terror. how do you see the u.s.-egyptian relationship at this point? where are things headed and what are the opportunities and are the potential problems still there? >> i'm still waiting for the tv movie version of my dissertation. i'll be waiting for a long time. the truth is the united states government has been engaged in a very complicated balancing act. i think with egypt -- egyptian society and leadership since the revolution -- i'd be the first to admit that in most balancing acts you don't always get the balance exactly right in every instance. you know, balancing on the one hand and some obvious and strategic interest in partnership with egypt whose significant has under been underscored by the emergence of isil and various threats and sinai underscored in egypt in
helping to produce the cease-fire and the crisis in gaza. obviously important for a lot of security and important reasons and because of syria's political weight in the arab world in a region that matters a lot to the united states. having said that we've made no secret of their concerns about some of the aspects of the transition in egypt since the revolution. had made no secret of the importance that we attach to respect for pleuralism, respect for freedom of speech. not as a favor to the united states or any outsider but very much in the self-interest of egypt as it tries to build the kind of stability that will be essential for economic modernization attracting foreign investment and attracting tourists back to egypt. so we haven't always seen eye
to eye on those issues. with the egyptian leadership i think it was very important that the president have a chance to talk to their resident about this. the president was very clear both in public and in private about both the significance we attached the strategic partnership but also our concerns about some aspects of whether it's the tension of journalists or, you know, instances of human rights violations in egypt as well. we will not be shy about expressing those concerns in the future. but i think it's very important for us to engage directly with egyptian leadership to take stock of its sniffs around the whole range of issues and see if over time we can't build a healthier relationship and realize the full potential of
that partnership. the president's meeting with their president was a good step in that direction. >> well, thank you. i don't want us to overstay your welcome, our welcome and really appreciate you coming. i know given the nature of your schedule that under other circumstances you probably would not have been here except for one thing. it really was a tribute to sam lewis and what he respected for all of us. when you look at bill and when you look at me, you're looking at two people who spent a lot o time studying in the best sense of the word under the tutelage of sam lewis. even after he was no longer in government he was still a guide for both of us. so thank you, bill, and thank you for coming today. [applause] >> now more from the washington
symposium. as my friend said at the start of the symposium. we will have two panels. one of which is looking backward and one of which is looking forward. as we said a moving target the art and science of middle east policy planning. and couldn't be a better moment for discussion that issue as we hear from important sources like the president of the united states, the difficulties of formulating a strategy for the middle east and to discuss those issues we've assembled, i think a stellar panel of the first speaker. you've got their bios in their little brochure. and i'm sure you know them anyway. but paul wolfowitz and the former deputy of defense and he was also the director of the state department in the early
1990's. we have jessica mathews. she's a foreman director of the council on foreign relations office. and she was the deputy under secretary of state for global affairs and also the director of the office of global issues on the national security council staff. and finally commenting on their two remarks is going to be my colleague david moss who is the distinguished fellow here at the washington institute. he has served for more than 25 years in high level of government with white house and in the regan, bush, obama administration. with that, let me ask paul to egin with a few remarks.
>> i want you to now that i wouldn't be foolish enough to talk about the middle east if it wasn't out of enormous respect for sam and really wishing we had some of this wisdom for us now. he was a great man and did great work. excuse me. i was ahead of the policy staff from 1981 to 1982. during that time as dennis knows it seemed as though 80 to 90% of our time was spent on middle east issues. i had a fantastic time. i had dennis, frank foriama and don forte who became deputy much ty advise who died too soon. i did my own pivot to southeast ashafment it was like moving from darkness into light, like moving from a par of the world where all people can create problems to a part of the world
for the last 20 years they began to simply solve them. nd it was so refreshing. so i can understand very well the administrations reason to pivot. but i think by can see no matter how much we try to see the middle east, the middle east will not leave us unfortunately. and we have a role until that part of the world that no other country can play in a role that i think is critical for american security and critical for energy security of the entire world no matter how much oil the united states produces, but one of those countrys that critically dependent on the middle east. a wonderful man named sam lewis whom i got to know during that time. sam was always the voice of calm and balance in an area where so many of the year issues were loaded with tension. tension is kind of an
understatement. it got kind of vicious at times. and not just in the middle east but back in washington as well. but sam was always wise, always open to discussion and able which wasn't always that easy in a foreign service establishment which was fair to say not very friendly to israel to be able to express views that explained what the israeli outlook was. she was always the ambassador to israel. he never made that mistake of becoming that ambassador to israel which i hope i didn't do when i was in indonesia. it's an occupational hazard as an ambassador. .nd sam never succumbed to it i believe that at that time we ve in one of his hardest
times but in 1982 as israel was be sieging beirut and george schultz was negotiating to get beirut he out of asked others to help develop a peace proposal that could be launched at the time that p.l.o. left beirut which is remarkable of what policy doing.g -- should be as soon as the crisis was over, everyone would be be sieging us. and he wanted to have his own. so the next eight weeks or so were spent in a very vigorous internal debate with sam intervening by cable from time to time to develop -- this is incident.an
resurrecting the alumn plan. you're dating yourself if you do. it seemed like applauseable idea at the time. and but it became a difficult job for sam because in this case he was outraged that we hadn't consulted with him before telling anyone else on the principle that if we did consult with him before everyone else would no before they were supposed to. am took it well and handled it brilliantly. i'm going to first talk about challenges and policy planning which are considerable. it's a great position in theory. .ou have enormous flexibility i've already mentioned denise and frank and steve, and charles and a number of really outstanding people.
in theory you have the license to weigh in on the most important issues facing the department. but that's part of the problem. anywhere that you way in is someone else's turf. you never welcome bureaucracy if people think they welcome intruders to their turf. all of this hit me hard when schultz asked me to do a memo forum on how to restore the policy plan to the position of mitsva.e under paul so i reread that history which this particular question chi hadn't thought before. one of the first things that struck me the hard zest to realize that george canon had quit in frustration. the same kind of frustration that we were feeling through much of the hague years -- sorry hague year and a half. it felt like years [laughter]
when in fact, we did seriously a graph of the number noted cables, you know the most restricted cables in the department. it started out at a very high number and start declining and then it shot back up briefly again. what canon says in his book regional s that the bureau would never welcome anything coming from the outside. if they come from the secretary of state they feel an obligation to respond. but if you don't have the ability to debate clearly so that he ask the question, the reaction will be this came from a bunch of amateurs dreamily long range thinkers and has no application to our present situation. the other thing i still remember from that bit of historical research was describing being invited to the white house to meet with truman
who told me the single biggest secret in washington probably in d world. the fact that the united states had developed a hydrogen bomb. he said i need to develop a strategy for me for how we build a policy of this. and he said i went back to the state department and met with the policy planning staff, the policy planning staff, not the director of policy planning, the entire staff which i think at the time were only seven people. but the idea that the secretary of state would bring a group of seven people in its confidence a that way was a -- i took lesson from that when i was in the pentagon when we were looking at the prospect of liberating kuwait and the military plan at the time was what prince cocroft thought it was going to go right up the middle. it was going to go up the
kuwaiti border which was the most formidable plan that they had. it's possible to go around kuwait and come around from the western side. it's a good idea. let's try to develop it. because but you have to swear in blood that you won't talk to anyone outside of our policy unit because as soon as the joint staff learns that a bunch of civilians came up with this idea they will -- all over it. we took the idea to cheney who liked it. and energized the joint staff. i felt enormous satisfaction a couple of years later when i happen to be sitting next to tom kelly, a remarkable general who had been in charge of planning ifer that period. and he said without realizing that i -- our planning staff had anything to do it. he said cheney had these crazy eas and we had to be putting salt on his tail but it
produced a much better result in the end. also looking back on it and i guess it's a sort of example in this case of not going to bureaucracy but to the secretary of state maybe so accidentally. be i recall when regan was -- came into office. there was enormous dislike for the bureau of human rights which had been created under jimmy carter and ran those four years by fat darian who was unfairly blamed by many people in our administration to help destabilize friendly governments which one was iran who as bad as he was what came after him made him look like a golden agent away. so there was no eagerness to have that office and hague nominated one of the first assistant secretarys that i
know of to be turned down by the senate. i won't name him. it's unkind. but you can go look it up. and as soon as that nomination was rejected hague decided, ok. his is a good opportunity to abolish the office of human rights. this is a crazy idea if we're going to have any kind of support for the helsinki process, any kind of opposition of the soviet union on political grounds. we can't abandon the support for democracy. he said there's a better way to do it than going around and harassing individual governments and that is to work on systemic change. so we produced a memo. and gave it to the deputy secretary judge clark, a very inegg mat k man. never said much. but he took it. he must have taken it to his best friend the president of the united states. came back a couple of weeks later saying we want to keep
the bureau. help me with some people who can run it. i think it was a good institution that was important to save. when george marshall became secretary of state, he both created the policy planning staff as a way to produce planning. and he did something that tends to neutral lies the policy planning staff which forgive me for saying this. it's the state secretary. they see it as their job to protect the secretary for uncoordinated recommendations hence the idea of private advice to the secretary becomes almost impossible. and they also see it as their job to restrict sensitive documents and the difficulty of getting access to all this information when you're in that job. as we enter into what i think has to be called a three-sided world or i guess there's an issue whether the war applies,
with the assad regime a war that may last for a long time, think policy planning needs two critical things. they need the best intelligence possible although even our best intelligence seems be fairly limited. but you have to be access to the very best stuff and they need access to our friends and partners in the region as reflected in diplomatic conversations. if i had one statement to make as opposed to speck policies i would say the secretary of state should form a very high level very, very qualified policy advisory group. maybe it should be advised. but it has to be small like tchison's was. you're able to talk to him without anything going outside
to the press or anything going outside to the bureaucracy. i think that's a critical need that point because i think anyone would have to admit that we really aren't all clear where we're going. i think we need a paradigm shift in the middle east. we need to try to figure out who our friends are. do we really have friends? can we find genuine moderates in the middle east? are we limited to the dictum that some people think might apply to us although i think it's shocking to do that, that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. if they want to do that they should remember the qualifier that the great middle east historian albert harani applied to that dictum, policy in the middle east comes down to the enemies of my enemies. he said it a little more colorfully. but you have to remember is the current australian ambassador said when he was a rhodes scholar. what you have to remember, mr.
beasley is that the principle enemy at 9:00 is never the same as the principle enemy at 9:00 in the evening to which he replied how can you do politics like that? which he replied exactly, mr. beasley, exactly. have to do our best to a better handle on. in the battle days of the sothe union in the cold war we could distinguish at least but semantically between communism and democratic socialism, not all socialists were bad. not all muslims were bad but if the extremists i think can properly characterize as islamists which to me means
someone who believes that islam should be imposed to others but not justice lamb but their version including on other muslims but unfortunately i'm not sure that works. i got lectured once that i was being anti-muslim because i talked about the threat from islamist ideology. it's a threat in a country with the largest muslim country where i was privileged to be ambassador and that's indonesia. their simple institutions there were very, very basic. you find one with a three-story dormitory if a fancy gymnasium. ideology.ing mohave for many years we followed a policy of the lesser evil. at seemed to bebreed rrorists that seemed to be
creatures of policy. and it fell into the wrong hands. i think it was -- it was obviously premature to prefer to the arab spring as a brand-new season. but i think it's also premature to refer to an arab winter. i think we can't afford -- there's an upheaval in the arab world and we need to find ways to influence i. what that demonstrated is the willingness of arabs to be free from tyrants but that's not the same as being ready to embrace the responsibilities of democracy. i think we lost an opportunity in libra. there have been two elections both which returned pro-western and moderate parties with a resounding defeats with the islamists but those are the people that had the guns, guns that came from qatar and
principally from qatar and the persian gulf in other ways. and it's now the law of the gun and not the law of the ballot. i think perhaps libya would still be salvage able -- certainly would have been salvageable if more would have been done in the beginning to help create effective security forces. tunisia i think is the most hopeful of all those arab spring countries. it's reflected some sensible reaction from the electorate and deserves as much support as we could give. and the europeans should step up to the plate on this issue. but syria will take many years recover. the real mistake we walked to into syria was not the mistake that was so feared that we would somehow repeat the bad
experience of iraq. instead we repeated the bad experience of bosnia where for three years we allowed the bloodshed while the weaker side lacked for weapons and the end result was 200,000 people dead. it is partitions in all that name. i will leave it to my wiser panelist to see if there's a quicker way to pick up on this. if you're looking for allies in the middle east and certainly israel is the only reliable ally in certain critical ways but it's also critically important because of our closeness to israel we end up >> i don't think everything p israel does -- is their way to get to better understanding and more restraint. i would just offer this one example that came during the
gulf war when i remember if we were thinking ahead to the possibility of war, it was attacked israel were by iraq, israel would respond militarily. there was no way you could prevent that. the fact that israel was attacked pretty much continuously for 54 days and did not respond. and the reason it didn't respond is because we convinced them we would do everything necessary to take care of israel's security. and even at moment when's it seemed as though maybe we weren't doing quite as much as we should have that bargain held. 've never forgotten being with -- shamir said you're treating
us like a disease. you're asking us to give up our right of sd? need to d out, no, you understand first of all we don't send our -- we're not treating israel like an outcast. if you want to know why mubearic said what he said about israel is because we asked him to do so. you should the rest of that sentence where he said i don't think there will be much left to retaliate against after the americans are finished. thank you very much. [applause] >> just before i begin i would like to say that sam lewis was , of a man of deep wisdom
overfloge common sense and of very good humor. i think that is a rare combination and one to be admired, and if we can immolate. and so i don't really feel deserving to be here but i feel privileged to be. our assignment was to think about planning in the context or the middle east in the contest of policy planning which to me means what are the big questions? what are the ones that underlie day-to-day policymaking? let me offer a few thoughts. i should add that before i begin that listening to paul talk about the difficulties and the downside of working in policy planning, i remember a time when i was forn between accepting an offer to take that job and what was my current job.
paul is one of the people that i asked advice of, and i don't remember any of the negative stuff. [laughter] so the first question would be for me would be how engaged is the american public prepared to be now in the middle east? the common wisdom is that war worry -- weariness. but i've looked hard at the polls and i don't see any evident that that's actually what this country is suffering from. i think what we're suffering from is weariness of interventions that don't succeed. and that's a very different thing. and i think what you've seen this summer after the beheadings and this massive shift in public opinion so quickly is some evidence for the view on -- i'm suggesting that there is a
llingness to stay engaged if there is clarity -- convincing clarity about what it is we're setting off to do. remember that afghanistan is not only our longest war, but we have spent in real dollars more money in afghanistan than we spent on the marshall plan. and americans may not know that figure, but they have a feeling for how much we spent and how much there is to show for it on the ground. so my sense is the willingness to be engaged is there if our president and the secretary of state can capture it. a second question or a need is that i think we're very short now on strategic patience in the
middle east. and paul referred to this, but i put a lot of the blame in this case on the word arab spring, on the phrase arab spring. phrases as we saw with the pivot can do enormous damage to policy. in china it's amazing to me how a word that had so little content can have so much outcome on the ground. but arab spring did leave people with a sense that things were going to change for the better fast, and in a linear kind of fashion. and undoing that is going to that some of doing director of policy planning needs to think hard about. third, we are going to need -- i think we badly need more diplomatic energy and i think probably most people here have
found and i discovered to my surprise that we have more people in military vans than we do career diplomats. that's been a trend now in both republican and democratic administrations for at least three decades, and it's something we have to work to unwind. that said, i think our -- how we behave abroad, what we do -- what we attempt to do has everything to do with how we think of ourselves at home. and when we can make positive change at home we're more inclined to think we can do so abroad and vice versa. it has been a very long time since we had very much to celebrate in terms of how constructive we can be on our only domestic policies.
obviously no director of policy planning, month secretary of state can undo that, but i think -- in office making policy right now would be very much on my mind, how far we can stretch ourselves given our record at ome. we need a better listening ear worldwide. in particular, we need it in the middle east. we have far too few people whose expertise is the arab, israeli conflict as opposed to the arab whose and we need people principles pal expertise is that. there's an awful lot of history happening and is going to happen
in the coming years, a lot of difficult history that we need to be better prepared than we are now in my view to deal with. and finally the president has shown in the last few weeks with the right threat it is possible to build quite fast an extraordinarily ad hoc coalition, and we've seen before. it's also true that ad hoc coalitions are your third choice in international coordination, cooperation. your first place is institution. one of the disappointing features of the last 15 years has been the steady decline of what we hoped for from the u.n. in the 1990's. and your second choice is established partnership. so your third choice is ad hoc coalition. and ad hoc coalitions now are
pretty much the best we can do outside of the u.s., israeli relationship. of the time. ious about me just say a word that relationship. i do think we need to get a more realistic relationship with israel. e've gotten unable politically to distinguish u.s. interests from israeli interests and to prioritize u.s. interests. and i think too often for too long our policy has protected israel from the consequences of its own choices and that's a formula that doesn't have a happy ending in my view. let me say a word about syria
which i think is the biggest immediate challenge for this region. the achilles heel of the president's new policy is obvious, and that's the lack of boots on the ground in syria. we can see three sources of boots on the ground in iraq, iraqi army, the kurds, the peshmerga and the sunni tribes. serious set see a of boots on the ground in syria. the syrian opposition that we're talking about training, the time scale is, according to the pentagon, a year and a half, three to five months to that, a year to train. so what happens in the interim? i think that there is a piece of good poe ten -- a piece of good news if we can discard the
guiding assumptions that have directed our policy for the last three years, which is that we need an outline of the political settlement before we can take steps to cease-fire and agreement. ' extraordinarily accomplishments in the last several months has shifted it ty so differently that is m possible to imagine two separate parallel cease-fires by the assad regime and by the moderate opposition, both of which are stretched badly and bleeding badly and both of which would enormously profit from such a truce, vis-a-vis each other so they can focus on a common threat. what makes me think this is
onseefable is that the same change in priorities now holds rue for saudi arabia and iran. they fear each other and distrust each other but recognize they now face a common threat that they would like to deal with before it gets to their borders. so i think that there is an as a last comment i will say this. the other thange that would be -- isuch on my mind where our relationship with iran. if we lose the opportunity with this deal, we lose so much more than that, and i think a deal is there. a deal is in the room.
it may not be on capitol hill. may not be in tehran, but it's in the room to do a good deal, an acceptable deal. -- if we can get it indiscernible] >> thank you. i think paul and jessica's comments were interesting and created a kind of broad kn september yule framework -- conceptual framework. i think jessica raised some provocative thoughts at the end and maybe we'll get into some of that. i want to do it a little bit differently just because i want to do it in a way that would
reflect, if sam were here, what would be the questions that sam would ask. and i feel like i can do that in part because i used to spend a lot of time with sam and sam used to ask a lot of hard questions. typically when i was our negotiator and i would see him, he wouldn't have to offer his judgments because he would ask the kind of questions that would make me question my own assumptions. of all the people i worked with over the years, i don't know that i ever dealt with anybody who are more consistently would ask us to question our own assumptions. and i suspect at a time like we're in right now in the middle east, i can't think of a better time to be questioning our own assumptions. there are a lot of assumptions about this region that have taken on a life of their own and if there were ever a point in which they seemed to be in doubt, this is it.
so if sam were here the first thing he would say as a policy planning person, he would say, look, be sure that the decisions you're going to make in the coming days will be decisions that will move you where you wanting to over time. don't make the decision that seems comfortable because this is the easiest path or the path of least resistance because maybe six months from now or a year from thousand you're going to regret the fact that you did that. that's the emphasis with policy planning, how to be sure your -- if we decisions take a step back and i want to do it sort of -- i'll do it on two things. we didn't talk about the arab israeli issue actually for good reasons because the reason today
rieflecting, i think, a reality is challenging what has been assumption that is one that was embedded in the national security establishment for a long time. it's true, i finished a draft of a new book on the u.s. and israel. and every administration from truman to obama had a stit constituency that had an assumption guided about the middle east which is if you solve the israeli issue you'd region. by the way, if you solve it today, it wouldn't stop one barrel bomb from being dropped in syria. it wouldn't have -- soist wouldn't change its approach. you can go through country by country. i rack's problems today and so forth. so it's important to realize that.
but that can't be an argument for not dealing with the issue. and by the way, if you looked at the video, sam's preoccupation with this issue was driven by how we defined american interests, how we defined the region, but also how we defined israel's interest. and so i do want to deal with that issue at the end because we haven't really dealt with it. but let me sort of deal with two broad sort of questions, in effect, and i won't belabor it too long because we'll have some time for questions. in the first case, how do we look at the region? i think sam would say what do we learn by looking at the landscape of the region right now? he would probably sayers dennis, did you pay attention to what went on in gaza? you know, i notice that there were demonstrations against europe but i didn't see demonstrations in the middle east. what does that tell us about the landscape right now? and i would say, well, it tells
us that the gulf states and egypt and probably morocco and algeria view the muslim brotherhood as their first threat. now that doesn't immediate that the saudis don't view iran as a threat, because they do. and in effect what it says is used u have -- and paul this term -- he said it wasn't shoe isthmus was the right term. you have a spectrum. they are defined as extremists. there are those who don't much respect the idea of civil authority. they don't really respect the idea of individual states. in effect in ieve the very concept of pluralism because they reject the very ida
of tolerance. they don't accept anybody else's interpretation of islam. and that might be an interesting sarting point for us to think about how we decide who we want to be working with. the problem is -- and same sam would be the first to come back and say this -- that's an interesting way of thinking about the region. it's probably conceptually a very important place to start from. but if we approach it that way, we're still going to be faced with dilemmas because if you save those who aren't the extremists, we're still going to have those countries or leaderships who might respect individual states who are athor tearian in character and they challenge our values. so how are you going to reconcile on the fact we have those and then we have those who
may be with us right now but still challenge our values? how are you could going to reconcile that? and i would say that's a tough one. i don't have an easy answer for that. but i guess if we hope for pluralism over time, we first have to deal with those who will never accept it under any circumstances. we first have to establish that security and order are a baseline because there's no pluralism without it. and that might mean that, yes, i would work with the egyptians and others who i think at this point may challenge us on some of our values but at least i may be lining up with us in terms of who threaten the basic principle of pluralism over time. i don't think i -- i know we can't surrender our voice. i know we have to be honest with them. and sam, he was the embodiment as an ambassador who would lay
out what was important to us even as he was working with those who were our friends. and so i think one of the challenges may be how on the one hand to establish as a clear priority that we're going to deal with order and security first. and that's in effect what the president is doing right now. even while we recognize that we will have partners in this coalition who we have differences with, but it's a kind of first thing's first approach, and that's going to be the basis in which we'll approach things. i think on the issue of syria which, jessica, i think you put your finger on. it is true today you can see the strategy in iraq. by the way, it's kind of consistent with what i just outlined. in syria it becomes much more complicated because, yeah, you have to deal with isis because their the first thing's first.
e idea that we can in anyway -- in any way pard partner with -- he's gone beyond anything acceptable. the question is can you follow the path jessica was raising? is the fatigue and the threat from isis, is it enough to create some kind of convergence there? the short answer is i don't know the answer. i'm a big believer -- this goes back to the point sam used to rain, if there's one thing that guided him more than anything else is don't fall in love with your own idas, and if you think you're right that's fine. but why don't you test your ideas. why what do you lose by testing your own ideas? i would be quite open to testing
certain things, but i also know if it looks like we shouldn't assume necessarily that having the sunnis with us is a given if it looks like we're draug too close to the iranians which has clearly been a sensitivity for the obama administration, if we want sunni tribes by the way not just in iraq but in syria, because, yes, you have a syrian opposition that is completely fractured, but it's still largely based on sunni tribes to the extent to which they're going to be part of this, they also have to be integrated into this. if they are prepared to accept some kind of cease-fire that would be one thing. at this point i know one thing about assad. assad seems to be using our going after isis as an opportunity to go after the syrian opposition that is not isis. he continues to did that.
throughout this conflict he has been much more willing to drop barrel bombs on those who are not isis than those who are. he was willing to buy oil from those who were isis. so while we think about this idea, i think we have to do it very clearly. that's again the point. you know, whatever your idea is, be clear about it but also have a hedge built in. you better have a hedge and think about the consequences of it if it's going to move us in the wrong direction as opposed to the right. that gets back to the idea of policy planning. if you make a decision, don't just think about the order of consequence, the second order of consequence and the third order of consequence, think about where it's going to leave you over time. the say something about sraeli, palestinian issue.
and i could actually envision sam saying this very clearly. when you look at your options, don't create two polar on sits. don't -- polar op sits. don't put your self in the position where you're going to solve the problem or you're going to do nothing. if you can't solve the problem you're going to be left doing nothing. one thing we've seen is that you have vacuums and the vacuums get filled. and we know who fills the vacuums. they're all the worst forces. the choice we have cannot be that if we can't solve the whole conflict right now, well, there's nothing to be done, we're going to wash our hands of it. because the one thing we know that will produce is a much worse situation which later on if we try to do sbhg it, the challenge to us, the test to us, the problem for us will be
worse. in some ways i would say that's what happened in syria. we applied that principle of we're not going to put boots on the ground so there isn't much to be done and we've seen what happened. well, i would say in dip -- diplomacy when you do nothing, the vacuum gets filled. so where are we today? well, i would say that it would be really desighable to be able to resolve the conflict. i say the prospect of solving the conflict rite now to be pretty close to nil. i don't see -- i with say even before what happened in gaza i was actually in the region the end of june and i was struck very much by two different realities. you can be between jerusalem and ramallah, you're talking about less than 10 miles and it might have been -- might as well have
been from here to the moon, at least psychologically. i was there right after the cud knapping of the three israeli teenagers which turned out to be the murder of the three israeli teenagers. i was there before the murder of the palestinian teenager but what i saw in israel was a cundy that was under a sense of national -- national trauma because of the kidnappings. and what i saw in ram alla were they fingers being held up to celebrate the idea of the kidnapping. it was profound -- from the time hen i was our negotiating -- negotiator it was never close -- the gap between the two sides is as wide as i've seen it. where it'sall a time been like this. the one hand if you look at
his approach towards hamas these days seems to reflect, shall we say a very high degree of except six. he's not -- skept six. he's not israeli has the same view but the idea that the israelis at this point are prepared to take a big leap given what they see around them, the idea at this point that he's in a position where he can make what amounts to fundamental concessions, given what i think the mood of palestinians is and how he sees it, i think it just doesn't pass the test of being realistic. and if there's one thing that guided sam, it was don't tell me about what you'd like to do. tell me what you can do. i mean if you listen to that video, he focused very clearly on the ida -- idea you don't
give up. that gets back to the notion of if you can't solve the whole thing, you don't give up and wash your hands of. so the question now becomes what can you do? i would focus very heavily on at i have for a long time is coordinated unilateralism. focus on those things that could actually begin to make a difference practically, meaningful. yes, on the israeli side i would like to see them make their policy consistent with the two-state approach. if you say you build in two states, don't build in what you think is the palestinian threat. it jury cuts your credibility. not to mention the fact it does a great deal to foster the lenlity massey of israel internationally. and if you're serious about two states, then what about opening area c, which is 60% of the west
bank and if it were opened up for eckcommomic -- economic active it could have a democrat atic effect. if you go back to the poll that was taken, throughout the whole middle east between 18 and 24 year olds wrrks it shows -- it -- it took 18 to 20 year olds from north africa and the gulf and the one thing they were all focused on was not the idea of political transformation, which is where they were a couple years ago. this poll has been done over the last several years. they were focused on having a job. what was their economic future? the country they most wanted to live in anywhere in the world -- ctually the imritz emirates because they saw an economic future there. you can have an effect among the 18 to 24 year olds if they
thought it was going to be an economic future. there's not going to be an economic future if you don't ease some restrictions. i could sit here and say it's in your strategic to do this. but the israeli psychology will be if you give something for nothing, all it does is foster givedea that you confantly and you've -- constantly give and you'll never get. the role for the united states is let's see what you can broker between the two. if you can get the israelis on these two kind of steps, then what could you get the palestinians to do because these would be things that would be measurable. today if you look at the polling , he's standing -- his standing with palestinians isn't so great. he need to deliver something. going to the u.n. is symbolically good and practically nonproductive. ,hen he went to the u.n. before
he was celebrated when he returned and a week later people said, ok, what changed? so the point is do something where people will see that there's a change and i don't just mean economically but a change that begins to signal something will get significantly better in the future. that's the kind of approach that sam would emphasize because he would say don't do something that makes you feel good for a day. do something that puts you on a path that gives you a chance to change things over time. it's not only good policy planning, it's good voice. when i sit and i ask myself questions about how we should be proceeding, i ask must self what questions would sam be asking? [applause] >> now is our chance to ask questions and i get to go first. first, this weekend president
obama said that the united states had underestimated the strength of isil and underestimated the weaknesses of the iraqee army and that's how -- iraqi army and that's how he got to this current quandary. talk to me about how to do you sniff out what strategic surprises might be on the horizon. jessica matthews mentioned that an iran deal might not happen. how do you do planning for plan b without making it look like you've already given up on plan a? how do you make it look like you're thinking about the possibilities if your plan a doesn't work out without at the same time undermining the plan a?
it's not obvious this administration has got a planning -- it's not obvious during all those months that secretary kerry was putting the effort into the israeli, palestinian talks that he had a plan for what to do if that didn't work out. so how realistic is it to think you can do some policy planning about plan b? >> all three of you. >> just very quickly on the iran deal. he don't think that's so obscure or so difficult. i think everything will depend if it does fail on how it fails and why it fails. i don't believe we'll go back to the status quo. i believe there will be some kind of a muddling through framework, and that's something that that's possible to be thinking about and working on
right now, and i would guess it is being thought on and thought about and worked on. i think plan b is the sort of thing you need need to work on with some degree of privacy and confidentiality, which is maybe he's hoping for peace in the middle east in washington but it's a reason to have that kind of private channel to people who .re working on planning i'm sorry your first question was? >> strategic surprise. >> it seems to me this should not have been such a surprise. there was so much evidence that extremists were growing in strength among the syrian opposition. maybe sometimes you need to read products that are not just from the intelligence community.
but i don't think that really should have been such a surprise. and the weakness of the iraqi army was something had been jumping up and down now with their hair on fire for a couple of years because practically every colonel who served with pa tray yuss has been watching the firing of capable generals because they were the wrong confessional persuasion. i thought it was a strikeing when the president said the united states underestimated, i'm in the sure who did, but maybe the white house did. i think this is something we could have seen coming. that doesn't entirely answer your question how do you prepare for surprise. having plan b -- it goes to one of the questions usually if you
bring up the idea of a surprise, people say that's not likely to happen. of course, that's how we got surprised in suez in 1973 and that's how we got surprised in pearl harbor. surprises are almost historically something that didn't seem plausible for some reason. i think what dennis described, what are you assuming when you say the egyptians couldn't hope to cross the canal or what are you assuming when you're assuming the japanese couldn't attack the u.s. fleet? what are those sum sthun shuns and how reliable are they? sometimes i mean i think there were some very deep secrets in japanese military planning we plobble probably could not have penetrated, but we should have been thinking given we were putting the pressure on japan at that point, and i don't think we did.
>> i think it picks up where i would answer, one of the things you have to do is be asking yourself where did thing -- where could things go wrong and if they go wrong, what do they look like? when i was head of policy planning with baker, i had the advantage of also being part of a very closely knit group with him where he would ask, among sit down and go over where the opportunities we haven't talked about and where are the dangers that no one is talking about and thinking about. that doesn't prevent you from being surprised because the administration was surprised when saddam hussein went into iraq. one of the reasons for that is because the top -- they were concerned he concerned with
german yune fiction and and nato . even if you sort of try to constitutionalize the issue, you have to ensure it gets to the heart of what you're raising, those who are raising these questions have a pipeline into the leadership. so the leadership if it's consumed because there's an use -- there's a limit on the bandwith. somehow there has to be access for those who are asking hard questions. they can't be discounted. i recall after 1973 one of the lessons the israelis learned is they need to create the equivalent what we call a red team. the problem is when you create that kind of group, the minute they walk in with something, everyone discity and countys -- december counts them. no one can ever guarantee against surprises but i think the more you try to anticipate where could things go wrong so
that you are positioned for that and also, by the way, where could thing goes right? because the benefit of doing things where you actually produce, the payoff is really disproportionate. agree with jessica said -- on the issue of iran, i find it hard to believe that the administration isn't thinking about the all tern tiffs in no small part because the administration has been quite pessimistic in public about the prospect of a deal. that was not the case on the israeli palestinians talks where i think secretary kerry actually was hopeful and there were certain points where he had a reason to be hopeful. so where you're pessimist eck, presumably you are already thinking about what are the choices if this doesn't work out. i do think some kind of muddling approach is likely.
i also think the iranians may have a default strategy. i don't buy those who say if there's no deal the iranians will go all out. i think the iranians will say we're going to continue with some of the transparency, we are it -- o show you how >> let's turn to the audience. your question, please. let's start over here. >> hi. thanks for the panel. dan with cbs. i'm wondering the independence of state department policy planning because it's not a university symposium and it's not a think tank. do you work for the current administration? can you really -- if you're doing that job think outside the box things the president ouldn't even want to hear?
>> the answer is yes and no. and aswer is yes, you can lot of it depends on relationships. if the relationship that the secretary of state has with the president, if those around the secretary of state have been given the kind of charter, if those on the national security council staff have been given a kind of charter, you can come in there and raise ideas. i say the no because if you do that too many times then the odds of you being able to pursue the things you most want to pursue goes down. but the fact is you're not excluded from doing that and i have been a ir i political apointee for four presidents and had access to three of them, i would say the
three that i worked for there was never a prohibition on raising new ideas. in fact, i actually found frequently a readiness and openness to that. as i said, if you overdo it, you might not find the openness there on a continuing basis. >> i remember something that anderson said in his memoirs that basically says if you want to have new ideas received by the president, you need to understand how he thinks and you need to speak a language that speak to him. if you tell him this is what we experts know, you have to trust us, the state department will become irrelevant, as it has at frequent times. >> the only thing i would add is that we all three have talked about the importance of being able to reexamine core assumptions. and i just want to underline how incredibly hard that is to do, whether you're in the government or outside it.
core assumptions, it is just by definition, psychologically it -- it often d to tends to be the stuff that gives you insight. it's just rare. . keep it short, ed [laughter] >> fair enough. >> i did not hear the phrase, of course. sam lewis did say to many, including myself on several occasions that one should start by questioning one's assumptions. the united states [indiscernible] the islamic state, the islamic state enemy or the shiites. the shiite who ruled in mess tame yaw for the first time in
history. so united states is now for the third time in a row deploying its forces, sending its allies to fight an enemy of iran. we did that in iraq by removing saddam. we did that in afghanistan. now we're doing it for the third time. now, on the iran side on the other hand, they're worry against the united states is relentless. the first thing they came out saying we have to become eant american. that was there -- ant american. the question is this, are we simply going right ahead with a notion -- i heard the panel, let's go right ahead. let's make the deal with iran because naturally let us not question the assumption that the deal is a mistake.
let's try to enforce boots on the ground to fighting isis which happens to be an enemy of iran, and to do so with allies such as turkey which is still a nato ally and qatar and saudi pumping out ideology in place ke bermingham, england and 37,000 schools there -- so the question is are we questioning our assumptions? i think not. i think we ought to. and the united states -- american public has seen us intervene in the middle east again and again with very scant information. we are persisting in the sand. >> as usual, provocative. >> i take it more as a comment than a question. who's we? stion is
i think some of us up here are actually prepared to question assumptions. you know, i think from my standpoint i was trying to suggest to take a different view of the landscape of the region and then begin to shape your policies in light of that. that landscape i was trying to suggest was not a sunni shiite landscape, i was suggesting the contrary. if you look at it from the standpoint of who are the extremists, who are on both sides of that spectrum and build your policies with an eye towards competing with them. you should be trying to strengthen those who help you reestablish order without losing sight of the fact that you have to be -- you have to recognize there's a tension between your interests and your values, but if you don't have some security to start with you are not going to be able to promote pluralism later on. >> i think we certainly
shouldn't be lining up sunni against sunni. i think we often reduce it to that. never forget shall forgot secretary baker. i in the first gulf war when he met with the saudis, the two of them spent the entire meeting saying the worst thing you could do now would be to leave saddam hussein in power. you should support them. they say they're arabs and not persians, which is true. and they fought loyally for iraq for eight years through a bloody war. unfortunately i think we ignored that advice. and when the chance came for the saudis to support a more pluralist iraq in the last 10 years what they did instead was try to reimpose sunni dominance
over the country. i would not give up on trying to get the saudis to develop influence in baghdad that would counter the influence of iran, which is obviously pernicious and it's helped to bring us to this situation. it's just a time when they could have done some good there. that's an example of what seems to me dennis is talking about working closely across the divide with people who share our interests, if in the our values. >> and one last question right here in front. , brash raw. >> -- barbara. thank you for the interesting discussion. i want to probe more on the divide that you perceive over iran policy with the sunnis, dennis, why can does it have to be -- especially now with the
common threat of the islamic state. we've seen high level meetings between the saudis and iranians. we have a team in place in iran that has had reconciliation with the saudis in the past. is it possible to have an iranian nuclear deal and a common fight against the islamic state? thanks. >> barbara, i would say that's my point. my concern up front i know what the instincts are but we need to know has something changed? if they have then you're in a different place. if it hasn't, then you have to figure out how you manage that. >> if i could just add one thought to that. i don't think a nuclear deal with iran makes them our friends at all. but what it certainly does do is t gives greater domestic
credibility legitimacy to the government, which is very -- it's in a very dicey position right now. they need to deliver. and their ability to interact ith the saudis will be greater if they can deliver a deal and substantially less if they can't. and with that, i'm afraid we're running out of time because secretary burns' schedule is quite tight. may i ask you please to grab a drink and grab a box lunch. in fact, come back to your seat and we will be starting promptly. an update on airstrikes against isis in syria and iraq. remarks by house minority leader on the 2014 and midterm