tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN April 1, 2015 3:00am-5:01am EDT
i think people underestimate that at every level of government, the higher you get the more there are hurdles and the more it is difficult. begin to take over and get in the way of the intent that you're looking for. and you need to have a, you need to be dogged as much as possible so that you don't let those bureaucratic hurdles get in the way of real progress. nor let perfection get in the way of real progress. mike: not everybody gets as many emails as my colleague danielle lipman in the front row but everyone in the this room gets too many emails. what do you do to manage the incoming? admin. mccarthy: >> one of the good things is shift your position. then your email gets changed. [laughter] admin. mccarthy: but unfortunately, i still track my old email as well. but, you have to have a team of people working on it with you. but, i do the best i can to limit my response to emails to the ones where i really need to
get fully briefed on. and i make sure that my team works. i mean part of the challenge of management is not to intervene in everything going on in the agency and to be very focused. and i am a focused person. so, when i see something that i come in on email that is not one of my high priorities. i give it to one of my staff. i trust them to do it and i will track it. but i'm not doing my other folks jobs. i'm letting them do theirs. i have, mike, i have a great team. my management team is fabulous. my career staff knows exactly what they're doing. it doesn't mean that we don't have challenges like everybody else. but i couldn't be more proud of the people that work for that agency. and i don't feel like i need to micromanage anybody. mike: you recently got back from the vatican. what role does faith play in your work? admin. mccarthy: i actually think it is a big deal. me personally, my faith gets translated in a couple of ways. one is, i actually love people.
which is why, you know, i try to recognize that i'm not taking it personally but i'm allowing another personal to have a different opinion. i'm respecting that. how they deliver it sometimes is a little difficult but, it helps me to realize that everybody has a right to think differently because i think that's what faith brings to you. i'm not criticizing anybody else but i'm having my own beliefs and i think we all have our own idiosyncracies. in terms of my work, my substantive work and my choice of working for the environment you know i think it was my understanding that the natural resources are a gift given to us. they need to be protected. and i always come from the human standpoint. so i love natural resources. in terms of their beauty and variety of species. i recognize that is actually how
we live. that is part of our health. and if we don't protect it, we are damaging, you know our ability to continue as a species and to live healthy. i think my faith is a big part in just what i do for a living. and i think, the president's done a wonderful job at articulating challenge of climate change in a moral context, in a way that will engage the faith community. that is why i went to the vatican, was to, make sure that the vatican knew the united states of america was taking action. that our president had made this a moral commitment. we wanted to work with them to make sure this was a message of urgency and also one of tremendous hope. mike: what was the coolest thing you saw, the coolest moment at the vatican? admin. mccarthy: i had so many. i actually was privileged to go into what they call the room of tears which is where the cardinal, who is chosen to be pope, goes from the sistine
chapel to have a quiet moment before they actually, not an oath of office. whatever they take the pledge. [laughter] admin. mccarthy: that is awful isn't it? i should have listened a little more carefully rather than look around in awe. mike: maybe ordained. admin. mccarthy: just amazing to be there. all of the vestments worn by popes are all kept there and you can see the kneel where the pope says prayers beforehand. it was humbling moment and one that made me realize just how long a journey the catholic church has gone through. just how amazing and frightening it must be to take that challenge on. so it was just, very cool. mike: the other end of the spectrum of your life experiences, you've been on "the daily show." admin. mccarthy: i have been. that was really scary, too. [laughter] mike: what was that like?
admin. mccarthy: it was really fun. it actually turned out to be really fun. i was told not to be funny. which for me, sort of feels like it cuts my right arm off, in any serious situation i like, funny things come into my head and i try very hard at hearings not to let them come out of my mouth but other times i enjoy it. but it turned out to be a really fun opportunity. he is very funny and easy, hard not to engage with him in a humorous way. mike: just to explain, people may be us he would, they give you that advice, they want the host to be funny, right? admin. mccarthy: exactly. if you're naturally funny, it is ok. i think i'm pretty funny so it was ok. mike: now, you go to dunkin' donuts but you don't eat doughnuts. admin. mccarthy: that's the truth. mike: tell us your routine. admin. mccarthy: i love dunkin' donuts. i'm from massachusetts. that is the headquarters of dunkin' donuts. so i'm pretty obsessed with it. they should get away from styrofoam cups.
i will keep annoying them about that. but i have never been, when i was a little kid, my mother was a waitress. when i was about 13, she worked in a doughnut shop in town. and one of the gifts that keep on giving, she was training me about how to work. she would get me up at like 3:30 in the morning. me and my sister would go into the back room preparing all the food for the coffee shop. one of the lovely things was making the doughnuts. and it is not a pretty picture to make doughnuts. and it's sort of made me realize they can be wonderful but somebody else should eat them rather than me. they just were not, they kind of turn me off. mike: so what do you get there? admin. mccarthy: what do i get at dunkin'? coffee. coffee. and just some coffee that buy there. mike: we're about to get the hook here. but i can't let you go without reminding you of the red sox
fans motto, there is always last year. what's your level of optimism as we head towards opening day, a week from today? admin. mccarthy: well, we were last to first. now we're going to have to do it again. i think we can. i won't make any specific predictions because i'm still reeling from my march madness choices. not very good. mike: who, do you have anybody left in your final four? admin. mccarthy: no. [laughter] admin. mccarthy: which is probably makes it worse than not very good. mike: something you would share with people in this room. what does president obama like when you're just around the table? admin. mccarthy: he is incredibly engaging. he is funny. and he is more wonky than i ever thought he would be. he is sort of understands the substance of things going around which makes it challenging because i much prefer bosses who don't. [laughter] admin. mccarthy: just kidding.
mike: what have you learned from him? admin. mccarthy: i think washington is challenging to not take things personally. i've managed to keep my home life separate from my work life. people now everybody knows it and it makes it more challenging to meet the separate. he manages to do it and keep a smile on his face and keep focused on progress moving forward. not whether he won or lost but on what he has left to do and he reminds us this is the fourth quarter. mike: when you head home to
boston you taught southwest? admin. mccarthy: i do. it's cheaper. mike: you flow through bwi. admin. mccarthy: i do. it's cheaper. there's a theme here. mike: your guilty pleasure is? cooking shows. admin. mccarthy: yes -- mike: i should have let you answer. admin. mccarthy: if that was an open-ended question, i wasn't answering it. i love cooking shows. i do not know why, frankly. some of them i like better than others. i look to cook. mike: which cooking show do you like? admin. mccarthy: she is just -- how easy is that? i love someone who says that. you don't watch it, do you? it's straightforward. i can make her recipes at home and they actually come out well. that's -- julia childs i could never do it. mike: what else have you learned from a cooking show about life? admin. mccarthy: that's a good question. preparation, save steps. one thing i learned i didn't know before was you should get
all the stuff out before you need to use it, and then it saves time, and if you follow a recipe, it actually comes out good, and over time you can figure out how to wing it. mike: i'd like to thank all of you who joined us live, and bank of america for making this possible. thank my political colleagues who worked so hard on this event. thank all of you for coming out, and thank you for a fantastic conversation. admin. mccarthy: thank you. it was fun. [applause] >> wednesday, the alliance for health reform and the kaiser family foundation team up for a discussion on health care costs. topics include the impact of time private health insurance medicare on a long-range spending. you can see it five noon eastern
-- live at noon eastern on c-span. >> the c-span cities tour is learning about the history and literally life of oklahoma tulsa. >> he was very much more than that. he was born in 1912 in oklahoma. we are very proud to have his work back in oklahoma where we think it belongs. he was an advocate for people that were disenfranchised people that were migrant workers from oklahoma, kansas and texas during the dustbowl era. they would be found in california literally starving. he found this vast difference between those who were the haves and have-nots and became his spokesman -- the spokesman through his music. he recorded very few songs of his own. we have a listening station that
has 46 of his songs in his own voice. that is what makes the recordings he did so significant and important to us. >> ♪ this land is your land this land is my land from california to the new york islands ♪ >> watch all of our events saturday at noon eastern and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on c-sp an3. >> next, the council on foreign relations analyzes strategies for fighting isis. then a panel examines hillary clinton's views of a private e-mail account during her time as secretary of state. later, the news conference with indiana governor mike pence about the state's new religious freedom law. >> next, a forum examining the obama administration strategy for fighting isis.
speakers include the former deputy assistant defense secretary for plans. this hour and 15 minute event is hosted by the council on foreign relations. mike: welcome. today's meeting is one in a series of meetings called the what to do about. in today's case, isis. this meeting is designed to be a little different from our usual council on foreign relations meeting in that we are loosely simulating a national security council meeting. as the national security advisor i will try and interrupt , frequently, i will try and ask a lot of questions so we can discern a matter of answers so that we might be a able to put
policy prescriptions before the president. after all, that's our job on the national security council. so the way we'll structure this is that we'll begin with, i'll begin with what i believe to be the current u.s. policy vis-a-vis isis. we'll turn as a group to discuss what we believe the policy to be and the way it's working. we'll expand into a conversation about the strategic interests of the united states in the region, and then finally, we'll try and develop some policy options, assuming that we don't have consensus is and that these distinguished panelists have relations for the president, we'll try and hammer out what those are. and like any typical nsc meeting, i expect it inconclusively and e are resolve that we need more meetings to come up with a new policy.
our isis policy seems to begin with iraq first and then syria. it seems to be that we support the iraqi central government and we encourage them, especially through the departure of prime minister maliki to have an inclusive government. the heart of the policy seems to be military airstrikes upon isis , apparently to help on the ground and also the iraqi security forces in the ground part of this particular campaign. the u.s. is of course engaged in striking military targets today, and we should explore whether we need more, what that means, and
whether it should be expanded perhaps beyond the advisory role that our u.s. servicemen and women are in now, and whether we perhaps should even commit more ground troops, ground troops to the effort. finally, the state of the iraqi security forces is unclear. in many cases some of their success is at least in part attributed to the shiite militias operating across the region. we should discuss whether we think we are winning today and ultimately whether u.s. interests are being served when apparently if we believe it to be true that the u.s. is, as max has put it in an article, being the u.s., being the air force for the iraqi shiite militiamen. finally we need to discuss what our posture should be vis-a-vis
the kurds. they are very frustrated they haven't received armed directly from the united states, and they are angry about our policy that everything should be done by with and through the central government in baghdad. and, finally, we will turn to syria. we get some targets there but our policy is ostensibly to arm a moderate rebels so that they may become more of a fighting force to force a stalemate in syria so that eventually we will be able to get to peace talks. and then as i understand our policy to be, we will then insist on the departure of assad. we need to discuss also whether, in our campaign to defeat isis whether assad to go or whether we need to make greater common cause with him as we move forward on the campaign.
janine, let me start with you. you're a senior fellow for defense policy at the council on foreign relations. you're a former pilot and air force officer. when you were deputy assistant secretary in the obama administration you were charged with reviewing strategic plans and military plans. as recently as august you wrote america has no policy to stop isis. you used to believe that? and can you give us some sense of what is happening on the ground today? is our policy working, and are we making progress against isis? janine: well, thank you for presiding and for the overview. i think you pretty much hit the outline of what's happening pretty much correct. i think what's happening now is there is a recognition that there is no short-term, there is no purely military and there is no purely united states approach to this. that's going to solve it, that's going to win, going to defeat isis.
so what we have is we have a policy to defeat isis, but we have actions that have been sort of slow. so we may have missed some windows actually. we can get to that a little bit later, but to the extent that we need to arm moderate rebel force in syria, where are they? what's left. on the military side, i think that the outlines of the military strategy is about right for the iraqis but it's a bit of a rubic's cube because you can't just address the iraq issue. you have to address the isis issue, which is a cross-border issue. that's what i originally when i said we'd have a strategy against isis. we have an iraq strategy. we don't have much of a serious strategy. michael: as an air force officer, is the air campaign working? janine: the air campaign is working to the extent it's like resolve the problem. it is necessary but not
sufficient. the air campaign is but not sufficient to military action in general businesses are but not sufficient. what i mean is it's very clear that compared to last summer when it is lightning sweep across iraq of isis, that kind of activity has been put in a box. airstrikes can suppress that. they are not able to max forces and do what you need to do to continue to take territory. so it's like a band-aid on the problem. to get to the next step, however, in a military way you're going to go into the cities and that's where air power is a lot less definitive. you can't win wars with air power alone. michael: let's talk about that. max is a distinguished author and senior fellow at the council
on foreign relations. you've been a scholar on counterinsurgency activities and terrorism in general. from some of your writing you seem to be a skeptic of the air campaign. you wrote very recently that we are setting as iran's air force, as the individuals on the ground apparently doing most of the heavy lifting are the shiite militia forces, apparently armed and trained by iran. can you do this a sense of whether you believe the current policy of airstrikes is working, or are we ultimately going a self-defeating policy by enabling iran to exercise still more influence in iraq? max: well, if the objective is to increase the iranian strangle on iraq, and i would say the policy is working brilliantly but i would question whether that should be in fact our policy. in fact, i think we need to widen the aperture a little bit. one of the issues is a the administration has been so narrowly focused on trying to combat isis that it has lost sight of the bigger picture,
which is that if we can push isis out of iraq and theoretically maybe we're on a project you were that might be possible by the end of the year, knock on wood, fingers crossed et cetera, but if we're able to do that, if the price of doing that is to deliver iraq into the hands of the iranian quds force, that is a poor bargain in my mind. what we need is a strategy that is not just counter isis but counterradicalization extremism throughout the middle east of both the sunni and the shiite, and we should not be losing sight of the bigger picture here. in fact, what i think we're doing. because right now we are bombing certainly put if you look at for example, what's happening in tikrit, be the case that iraqi force that they can tikrit, who knows? they have named victory in the past but let's say that's true. you've got to be pretty credulous if you think iraqi are taking tikrit are actually the iraqi army forces. leaving aside the fact that the
iraqi army forces are affiliated with other militia groups to begin with, the reality is from everything i've read, the vast preponderance of those forces belong to various shiite militias, which basically report to the general who is the most powerful man in iraq in spite of actually not being iraqi. is the head of the iranian quds force. i think we need to be extremely careful about empowering bad guys like him as a price of trying to push back isis in a that is just the that is just direct out of the way of any policy in street. i don't think how we will push isis out of anywhere in syria on the current trajectory but as far as i know they've been expand their area of control since we started bombing them last summer. michael: but, max, so we will definitely in the course of beating get option towards the end, but am i hearing that you
would pause -- max: i'm getting more prescriptive than descriptive. michael: that's fine. would you possible bombing because apparently in your mind it has only been a fitting iran and wait until we have either retrained up iraqis agree forces so that they can play the lead which enough content is being led by general soleimani? max: >> i'm not sure that we are -- max: i'm not sure that we are just all the bombing to extent that the bomb is necessary to keep isis from advancing them to keep it in check but i think it may make sense and especially if we have good targets that we're act of servicing. it may make sense but i just don't think we have to be running close air support for an iranian directed offensive but that's what we should not be doing. what we got to be focusing on is, when we get into more options side of the meeting is without to be focusing on building up indigenous sunni forces that will oppose isis.
michael: audrey is a distinguished professor of international relations at george mason university and the author of how terrorism ends. you've made a great contribution to our understanding of terrorism. you published an essay in this months foreign affairs where you caution policymakers that isis is not al-qaeda. you wrote that it is a pseudo-state led by a conventional army. can you address this and what it means for our current policy and what policy might flow from it? audrey: sure. there are two different questions. one is specific about isis and the fact that the way we have treated isis since it arose as if it was just a new form of al-qaeda. so, therefore, we turn our very elaborate counterterrorism strategy and policy in the direction of isis and try to apply the same kinds of tools that we've used for counterterrorism isis. and they don't fit because
counterterrorism against al-qaeda was in part aimed at trying to undermine al-qaeda's narrative, and al-qaeda was very concerned about mobilizing forces in order to have that narrative attractive, where as isis have is very different isis -- different narrative different set of ways of going about it. to bed. and that is they want to shove brutality. they want to show strength, they want to show power. so when the united states is focused on the brutality that isis carries out, they are actually strengthening isis because isis ones to be intimidating. i don't think counterterrorism as a broad over all strategy or policy for the united states works well with isis. i also don't think that counterinsurgency is the right strategy or policy. counterinsurgency depends upon having a very powerful and to some degree in control of the territory government. the government in baghdad has underlined its own credibility
and to some degree i believe its legitimacy, and what is happening in iraq is more of a civil war than an insurgency. and so one of the developments that you did not mention is that what the iranian shiite forces who are called the popular mobilization forces by many iraqis are actually wanting the united states to step back so they can take a bigger role. and this is causing a problem for the current baghdad government because they want to win and it's not always clear exactly whether it matters who carries out the actions on their behalf. so counterinsurgency is the wrong strategy. a tendency to think about iraq as if we were still there in occupation. we spent a lot of resources and lost a lot of allies in that way of thinking about iraq. but that iraq is not the iraq of today. the iraq of 2006 is very different from the iraq of today.
so i would say that the best policy with respect to isis is containing their current advance, but also thinking about american interest in a broader sense. we've been talking a lot about policies and operations, and we are not thinking about what our american interest in the region. because you can't decide how exactly to respond to isis or how to respond to security or exactly how to respond to iraq and whether airstrikes are the right means unless you actually think about what it is that the united states to try to come push within the region. michael: all right. let's drill down on that. what are the u.s. strategic interests in the middle east right now? audrey: well, i think there are four. others will disagree but this is
where my thinking comes from. the first is that the united states should protect its homeland and its people, its citizens. the second is that the united states should protect its allies. the third is stability within the region. i think that is in interest for the united states. if the region has its wheels flying off, it's going to destabilize the whole world. and then finally and i would put forth now because of the change in the degree to which the united states is dependent upon energy from the region but nonetheless the fourth major interest is global access to energy. so i think developing our policy within the region becomes a little easier and more clear. our strategy. it's a broader strategy that has many layers and many players. michael: but your article and to writings about al-qaeda, is isis defeatable? audrey: of course, yes. well, i personally believe that it's likely to be defeated by the turn away from support of the extreme ideology that isis represents by many of the sunni
and baathist sort of tribal factions that are currently aligned with isis. i mean remember, isis didn't come into iraq without help. come into iraq without help. many of the people that were aligned with us during the surge, are the ones were actually leaving isis military operations. that's a bitter reality and that's what also i think makes it not a counterinsurgency. because if you had the very forces that we are working with before supporting isis now, that tells you that they feel that there's nowhere else to turn. michael: well, we will get back to this can insurgency issue but max, let me turn to you. he wrote a "wall street journal" editorial recently about the president's mideast policy. i wonder if you might tell us if
you agree with on audrey's prescriptions of our strategic interest are in the region or would you add or subtract? max: i agree with the way that audrey put it, but i would say that there's an overriding interest which goes back to, and i'm going to speak now, or speak well of a present i know we don't speak well of. jimmy carter. going back to the good old carter doctrine which may remember from 1979-1980s the reaction to the soviet invasion of afghanistan and the iranian hostage crisis that we were not going to allow any hostile powers to dominate the persian gulf region. at that time we envision a hostile power probably being the soviet union but today i think it applies equally well to iran and we should not be allowing iran to try to dominate the region. as they are well on the way to doing with proxies and control in beirut, damascus, baghdad and known much of yemen as well. there's an iranian power grab going on what you think we need to oppose at the same time as we
oppose the power grab, editing the important thing to keep in mind is that these extremists really feed off one another. this is part of the race what our current policy is so incredibly self-defeating because in the eyes of the region, we seem to be aligning ourselves with iran. iran seems to be a leader at least the anti-isis coalition which is literally true in the case of on the ground operations for example, in tikrit were iranian directed forces are in the lead. what do sunnis think we may see this? they go shrieking in horror and it drives them into the arms of isis which is the point that audrey was making about how there are a lot of our former awakening allies, a lot of former baathists who are in league now with isis because they essentially see isis not because they love of isis or its programs but because they see isis as the lesser evil which protects them from iranian domination and the kinds of abuses that iran and its allies
inflict upon the sunni community. to the extent we are seen as furthering iranian power grab, it's driving sunnis into the arms of the extremists like i sis and those two extremes are the quds force on one end and isis on the other. they feed off each other. mopar one gets, the more power the other gets in its community. michael: just to follow up on the iran question. the administration, the united states has had a policy of trying to arm some of our allies, especially the gulf arabs around the world notwithstanding the nuclear negotiations. we generally try to at least diplomatically opposed iran, but what more should the united states be doing to oppose iran as would say my lines influence around the regions? max: certainly if you talk to our allies in the region whether they are our allies in israel or saudi arabia or anywhere else it would not agree with that
assessment that we are trying to oppose iranian designs. they see us basically lying down to an iranian power grab because we don't want to mess up the nuclear negotiations going on now in geneva. i think if we're serious about opposing iranian designs we should have a counter iran strategy to not just can't isis but counter iran strategy. we are sort of being dragged willy-nilly into a convention in yemen because what the saudis and egyptians are doing but that is not being driven by us. you heard general austin testified he was barely getting any heads up before the saudi started bombing yemen. these sunni states are clearly taking the law into their own hands trying to do with iran as best they can because they see this complete power vacuum obviously. they don't see us mobilizing in this traditional anti-iran alliance which we been a leader ever since 1979. we need to reinvigorate that cannot be so sanguine about the fact that iranian allies have essentially taken over from smh and, not only in beirut but now in iraq, syria and yemen as well.
i think we need a strategy to empower our local allies to try to push back against iranian designs and to do some of the things we did, for example, in 2007-2008 during the surge putting successfully to use, especially our intelligence as well as our special operations assets to target iranian agents and to neutralize the influence of the greatest extent possible. i don't see us trying to do that right now. michael: janine, i want to get view. we do have, united states is a coalition, jordan and the uae, among others have supported us militarily. could you address a little bit about our standing in the region and whether we need a more aggressive diplomatic strategy to buttress the military strategy for isis?
janine: i think the diplomatic and the military thinks are related and i think also backs he gets the outlines of the iran problem right. a conundrum for america here is how to amp up our involvement to fill that vacuum and push back against iran, but not go so far, especially and also with respect to isis as to then turn this problem that is until about as more about us. which is also what audrey gets into. we're all focused on isis and their nasty and violent and brutal and the of in our community, but they are not an existential threat to us, right? iran is a bigger threat, but we can make the isis threat more of a problem for us. talking about u.s. interest, by overreacting, by taking the fight completely into our own hands and then we are once again occupying and invading and, in the region, which ends up fueling the narrative that isis has.
and so i think this is, you know, unfortunately there are few good options with respect to what america should do. i mean, you can say we can come with a strategy for it needs to be done to be the isis over the long run, but that isn't the same thing as what america needs to do in the region. and so to your point about building the coalition, so airstrikes create pressure on isis, and they hold in and so the weekend and deal with some of the political coalition building that needs to be done building the regional security forces, trying to un-farc all the problem, these are the who are you empowering more, the shia, the reigning supported shia militias, or the sunnis that we're trying to get back in the tent that we lost. and all of that has to happen in
a combination of military and -- michael: am i hearing consensus that most of you believe iran influence in the region is a greater threat than isis is? audrey, do you want -- audrey: well, i would only say that one of the reason why iran has gained influence is as a direct result of american policy over the last 12 years or so. so i think we deserved of a certain amount of humility when it comes to naming iran now as the broadest threat. i think that iran and isis are both threats, but i think we're operating at different levels of kind of a chessboard if you will. we have a global level we the iranian nuclear talks and some aspects of transnational terrorism. you've got a regional level where you've got the saudis and the arab coalition and the iranians, and there's a lot of jockeying going on between the two. i agree with max that that is a
serious concern and then at the local level, you've got yemen syria, iraq. these are conflicts that have, these are not completely discernible levels that are not intertwined but if you think about the fact that these are interest that occur at those levels, not every player plays at every level. so the united states' place at all three levels. there are other players that also played at two or three of the levels. let me just observe you're not going to solve the problem in syria, for example, without russia. and you are going to be deluding yourself if you think the future of iraq is going to leave aside any influence from iran. it's a political question. to getting back to your question what should the united states be doing, i think it needs to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. needs to have a complicated strategy that keeps the interest of a mention at the beginning at the heart of it.
michael: ok, let's tackle syria. we've got about five minutes and then we're going to do something quite novel. we're going to handle syria in five minutes. we're going to do something quite novel for a national security council meeting. in about 15 minutes, we're going to take questions from the audience, so please get your questions ready. let's talk a little bit about syria. max, is it absolutely necessary that assad be deposed for us to have a successful mideast strategy? max: yes. michael: why? what is, what is it that today the isis have to get rid of assad? max: it's because of this, a come as is that i don't think defeating isis should there only is your only objective. we need to defeat iran as well. but also the point i made earlier there's a dynamic where the more that iranian backed
shiite extremists are soon to be in control of these countries, more that sunnis will flock to groups like isis. there is no way to get the isis with that also defeating assad. what we are trying to do right now there's no way in hell it's going to work because what we're doing is essentially what trying to say for the free syrian army, ok, guys, sign up with us, and fight against isis, but don't fight against assad. we are not going to do anything to protect you from your homes and your loved ones from assad whose air force is dropping their bombs on your neighbor because we don't care about assad because we have gone from calling for assad's overthrow to essentially supporting his continuation in power. and we want syrians who hate assad to ignore him. this guy who was killed over 200,000 of his countrymen and has been responsible for forcing
at least half the population to leave their home. and we want to caution on the only group that we care about in syria, which is isis. that dog ain't going to hunt. michael: let me drill one more time down on this. i agree our policy has been that we need to remove assad. not within some of secretary kerry's comments in recent weeks weeks. max: make you put that in the past tense. our policy has been to remove assad but it don't look or is spent isis has come on the scene. we were going to arm the syrian rebels which is something i'm going to get to in the second, but tell me again just what is a straight line between, you know, if the aim is to defeat isis why do we have to take out assad to do that? max: well, because i think as long as assad and his iranian backers are on the scene to destroy sunni neighborhoods, that sunnis will continue to isis for protection. the only way you can defeat those jihadists organizations is by decoupling them from their sunni base of support which is what we do so successful in iraq
in 2007-2008 when we turned to sunni tribes against aqi, the predecessor organization of isis. right now, the dynamic which exists in both iraq and sunni -- iranian proxy. as long as that's the case you will not succeed in decoupling them from isis and there's not, i should hasten to add there's not an easy straight line from let's overthrow assad and two days later isis will be overthrown. .. there is no easy way to fix the situation in syria. if there was,, we should've backed the free syrian army. but right now, they have been
decimated because they have been squeezed by assad and isis. i'm not sure that syria could survive. if there's going to be any hope for long term of syria, it would involve getting rid of assad with some kind of large-scale, multinational peacekeeping force but hard for me how to imagine that would work in practice. so i don't have a whole heck of a lot of hope for the near term in syria. i don't have a magic policy prescription but i'm just observing i don't think that we can ignore assad and try to go after isis. that strategy has not worked and will not work. michael: ok. janine, going after assad, would that, you seem to worry a little while ago if we got too involved in the region that would be ultimately detrimental to u.s. interests. trying to topple assad, should that still be our aim in our counter isis strategy, or would that be going too far?
janine: i agree that assad is a criminal and that he is, you know, he doesn't deserve to be in control in syria. that said, you know, if there is one thing the last 10 years should have taught us it is that you can't just pop the top on these countries and expect magic to happen afterwards. so you have to be very careful especially if it will be us toppling assad. if you could have a massive, international, multinational peacekeeping force in there, that is, you know, governing the country, a la the balkans, you know but could we do that? i'm not so sure. but i also do agree that we missed some windows. 2012, free syrian army, where are they? everybody in that region is making a calculation on a day-to-day basis how to survive. and to the extent that isis was able to grow, in iraq and then
through into syria because of in iraq, maliki and in syria assad, ostracizing the sunni population, that is growing to continue to be the problem. so the sunnis are the key to defeating isis. say one more thing about isis and i don't know whether audrey will agree with this or not but you know isis is, i believe, a quasi-state. they're not a terrorist group. they're not an insurgency state but they're a lousy state right? they will not succeed in their large-scale caliphate as long as they are unable to continue to recruit. so we take a long-term approach to isis and we calm down a little bit, think about what are interests are in the region. that problem, i'm not saying it will take care of itself but it is definitely a state that is not going to be able to continue to do what it needs to do, it has to keep growing. it has to keep generating taxes in order to do it. it will not be able to keep doing that.
michael: audrey, do you want to respond with that? audrey: generally, i agree with that. i think it is a very long-term process because isis as a pseudo state is very good using extortion and channeling black market oil. having its own forms of self-sustainment. are also good attracting foreign fighters, what i would call migrants, females who go there to be brides and not actually fighting once they get there but there are a lot of people coming from the west who are flooding into syria and iraq, to some degree we've begun to manage that much better with the closing of the border by the turks but isis is a long-term problem. i don't think they will be effective governing their pseudo state. that is the hope in the longer term. if the united states thinks this is all about us fighting isis, we're leaving out all the other major players in the region and there are a lot of other people,
there is no government in the world that supports isis or islamic state. so to the degree that we are responding without thinking about the position of the turks, the russians, the other neighbors within the region, i think we're being very foolish and in fact we can if we're foolish enough, put ourselves right into the narrative that isis projects, which is that they are reaching end days, end times and that you know the westerners who would be americans, the so-called infidels are a force against more people should mobilize. max: just make a comment on that. this is a point that both audrey and janine have made. yes, there is the danger seeming to make this fight about the united states and allowing them to posture as adversaries of the great satan, that's true, that is a danger we should keep in mind. keep in mind, you're really choosing your poison, if we're not in there actively opposing
isis which we've not been doing, president obama has tried to pull back over the middle east over the course of his presidency. the result of that is to create a power vacuum they fill. isis is so successful in part because they have been successful in the past. they created this caliphate, unlike al qaeda, they control territories. everybody is saying now they're more or less a state. a lot of their attractiveness for recruits, the reason they're attracting 1000 foreign recruits a month because they do control territory. if they were suddenly to lose control of that territory, that would be a biggest blow they could possibly suffer, far more significant than counter radicalization things on twitter or anywhere else. what will destroy their appeal if they cease to control territory. and they're pretensions to be this modern-day caliphate are exposed. that is ultimately the way to, so in other words, way to defeat isis is pretty simple. you have to defeat isis. michael: in theory, we all agree efforts to arm the so-called
moderate opposition have not been successful. i think we all agree? audrey: i think basically a two-sided fight now. between the assad government. either death by assad or join isis for most people that live. max: keep in mind isis and assad have not been fighting directly one another that much. they have been observing more or less, defacto, not complete or defacto cease-fire. isis concentrates controlling sunni regions. assad has a stake building up isis. it is either me or isis. that way he gets the west on board with him. audrey: one thing i disagree with you, matt, i don't think it was power vacuum by the united states to enable to grow. i think it was power vacuum by maliki post. they were taking action against their own sunni minority to be undermined. max: which occurred after we pulled out all the troops out after we lost all ininfluence in iraq and refused to do anything
about the burgeoning civil war creating huge power vacuums on both sides of the border which isis expanded into. michael: in terms of what policy options we have left, do we believe the moderate syrian opposition is still viable? janine, can we salvage this as policy option, arming them? janine: i think in the long term, there may be some hope that you can gather you know fighters back but we definitely missed the more important window, like i said, back in 2012 when there were people quitting like crazy in assad's army. those guys were ready to go. and, where are they now? so it, i don't think that it is something we should necessarily give up on but it is definitely a much bigger mountain to climb now than it would have been. michael: janine, max, i think i hear a policy option there, yes, we should be cautious about this but over the long term we should try and continue to arm the syrian rebels.
max: not just, i would say not just arm them. i think we need to do i think we need to do stuff i and others have been arguing we need to do since 2011, creating no-fly zone so assad air force can't continue to bomb civilian areas and create safe zones on borders of jordan and turkey where syrian government exile can govern on syrian territory without fear of being annihilated by assad's forces. michael: so apparently president obama was against arming the syrian rebels in part because he didn't want to have proxy war in syria, perhaps with russia backing the assad regime and us backing the rebels. does that dissuade you at all from russia's involvement here? i think i know the answer. max: not too worried about the russian legions marching into syria. the russians, to me -- michael: proxy war? max: it is no the a proxy war with russia. it's a proxy war with iran.
the russians are a nuisance factor, i don't think they're major or decisive -- michael: we agree to redouble our efforts to find and arm and train and perhaps give safe havens to a moderate syrian opposition? do we agree on that? audrey: i would go along with max on a safe haven except i was slightly differently express it. moderates are not available to be armed right now that will be a rebuilding process. michael: we have to find them. audrey: if they exist, if they're not all dead. but more important, and or at least as important i think we need to seriously ramp up our humanitarian aid for that flood of humanity that are in lebanon, jordan, turkey. i think that is more important than this two years late effort to try to arm people that really -- i mean the cia has been in there trying to work with moderate syrians for a while. so you have this inneragency friction between cia and dod and there are not enough people there for them to work with as
it is. so we need to rethink what it is that we're doing in those countries that border. michael: ok, before we go to questions from the audience, janine, max wrote in "the wall street journal" recently, mr. obama is launching airstrikes against the islamic state but refusing to commit any ground troops even though they are essential to insuring the success of airstrikes. would you support the use of u.s. ground troops in iraq to defeat isis? janine: like i said, i think the more, our ground troops, we have to be very careful. ground troops to assist local forces i think it is helpful training, elping plan and there is a mushy line there. when we take the fight on unilateral that is when we make the fight about ourselves. that said. michael: are you either way for
boots on the ground? janine: it looks like a u.s. fight that will feed their narrative. i know it is uncomfortable, this is the uncomfortable thing about it. michael: take the shackles off. janine: i'm not as freaked out ground forces for various things in general. i agree with audrey. if we're serious about one of our core values in the region, which is, helping civilians who are, you know, massively displaced and hurting -- you have to put, you have to put people on the ground to help people and we have been hesitant to do that because there's risk involved. but i would take risk in order to do that. i would not be afraid to put some forces on the ground to assist the actual combat forces that need to go into these cities. i will say one more thing. i get the sense when i hear max talk about we need to defeat isis, yeah, it needs to be defeated, but people talk about
tikrit. they talk about mosul. when you take back these cities, there is a danger of catastrophic military success here, right? you go so quickly and then you have, you still have popped the top on this shia-sunni problem which i think you saw happening in tikrit which is why you see the u.s. holding back, right? then the iranians sort of failing in their ability to do it. now you see the u.s. going in. so the u.s. has a delicate balance to play to make sure they're not supporting the wrong sides. it is not going to be easy to do that. the best way to create even more chaos in the region i think is to, you know, very quickly and catastrophically overthrow tikrit and mosul and then have shia militia running all about. michael: let me, before we go to questions, max, i want to give you an opportunity to respond to audrey. general petraeus has written that what we need in iraq is a
coin strategy, not led by u.s. troops, in his estimation, but by iraqi troops, except audrey seems to say that coin is no longer applicable here because it is not like the uprising in iraq in 2006-2007. we need a strategy that is not coin-based. why should we would have a coin strategy? max: well, i mean, i think a coin strategy is basically the only strategy that has any track record of success. it is not an easy strategy but it is only strategy that has any track record of success in dealing with an enemy that is entrenched among the people. a counter terrorist strategy which is most commonly alternative not by audrey but by others, essentially picking off individual terrorists will not defeat an entrenched terrorist group. in this case a conventional offensive is not probably going to succeed either.
what will happen, even if you do the clear phase, even using massive firepower to clear cities like tikrit and mosul and push isis out for the time-being, at the risk of creating massive civilian casualties, you still have to be able to do the clear and hold phase because, when you do the clear, that's, that enables you to do the hold and build phase. and to do that, you have to have forces that are able to essential create some kind of governance on the ground. if you don't do that, then the terrorists will infiltrate right back in and you haven't really achieved anything. so fundamentally, i mean the solution to groups like isis is fundamentally, you have to offer better governance. i mean the reason why isis was able to step into syria and iraq because there wasn't any governance effective in those places. iraqi army fell apart because it iraqi army fell apart because it had been compromised by shiite secretarians and corrupt officers.
so there was no effective counter. the obvious counter to isis is effective governance, 24/7 in places likes anbar province and nineveh province where isis has root. obviously one option is u.s. forces which is what we did in 2007 and 2008 during the surge. there is obviously not the will to do that at this point. i think our best bet is working with local forces. if they are seen as legitimate they can then take out isis and replace its control with control that is more benign in u.s. eyes. but the, so the difficulty there we have have to create those forces because buy and large they don't list. very little left of the iraqi army. we should work with the small core that is left, iraqi special the fighting being done by shiite militias which have no effect in sunni areas and could not employ a coin strategy if
their lives depended on it because they're seen as enemies of local people. we need to mobilize the local sunnis into anti-isis coalition. once that happens, if you create awakening type forces they can dot counterinsurgency type operations with a good deal of credibility. michael: there are a host of issues we weren't able to get to, maybe we'll get to them in q&a and what to do about turkey and isis in libya. we'll return to that if we have a chance. we invite the audience members to join the discussion. please wait for the microphone and speak directly into it. please stand, state your name and affiliation. he questions and comments concise so we can allow as many attendees as possible to speak. i see two right here, the lady in the green, and the gentleman
right there in front. >> trudy rubin from the "philadelphia inquirer." the premise seems to be that iraq is in better shape than syriac but in order to train tribal forces in order to have forces on the ground. my question is why do we think that there would be any offensive even in the coming year in iraq that could take back muscle -- mosul? the iraqi army weren't be ready. the tribal forces won't rise because they don't trust a central government and shia can't and shouldn't do it. if that's the case, are we going to see isis in its state two years from now with nothing much changed and what would be the consequences of that? michael: jenin, do you want to take that?
janine: you know, it is interesting, because recently i was an at event where major general retired iraqi jabor. who was so-called mayor of califar, partnered with u.s. troops for the surge, gave a talk. and he said the sunnis that fought with you, americans, are ready to fight with you again. they would, but they can not be convinced until the iraqi government makes some assurances, gets rid of debaathification which is still in effect and on the books in many cases in iraq, oh, by the way, the original sin of the american invasion. then the de militarization they decided especially in iraq
that isis is lesser of two evils which they decided in 2005 al qaeda in iraq was until they were able to rise up against them. so there is a potential there but it's, i think i think we are forgetting to forget about coin. coin comes in lots of flavors and sizes and isn't always exactly what it looked like in 2007. it is counterinsurgency, the people in iraq feel like that this civil war has insurgency-like elements meaning people are embedded among the people. than there are counterinsurgency-like approaches. the thing we keep forgetting is the political element, right? you can govern with a heavy hand with military troops in a city and provide security to the people and economic development and all those other lines of operation you read in the counter insurgency handbook but if the leader of iraq like maliki did, continues to ostracize and crack down on one part of the population, you're never going to get there. you have a massive hole in your bucket.
michael: i could emphasize what janine just said because i violently agree that the decisive line of operations has to be political. essentially in order to get the sunnis to fight against isis which is only way you will defeat isis because the sunnis are the center of gravity in this operation. max: the only way you do it, offer them a better political deal. you will not do it, if you tell them, please help us fight isis, risk your next -- necks, and we'll leave again as we did in 2011 you have to deal with shiite sectarians in baghdad. that is not going to work. tough basically, and this will be very difficult to do, but this is what we have to do, we have to engineer some kind of a deal guaranties, sunni autonomy, similar to the kind of set up the kurds have in the krg. probably guaranteed with american defense guaranties in the future we'll station troops there or nearby, maybe in the krg or anbar, we will defend sunni rights and stand as gurantors of their freedom. if that were the case you might
see the current situation reversing quickly as you did in 2007 and 2008. you have to give the sunnis a reason to fight against isis and right now they don't have it. janine: i actually think you -- >> i actually think you nailed the situation reasonably well, trudy. and i agree with much of what has been said. the only thing, i would disagree with, is that if there is a political deal, it has to be political deal offered by the iraqi government, not by the united states. if we learned anything, it is that the united states does not have either the power or the consensus to single-handedly have an open-ended occupation of iraq. mac: ok but i'm not advocating open-ended occupation of iraq. remember that the iraqi government is not really in control of its fate right now. they're being dominated by the iranians. if we manage to achieve
something by getting maliki ousted from power, which was an advance. i think prime minister abadi is an improvement on prime minister maliki. but prime minister maliki is still not the most powerful hand man in the country. we have to serve to political counter weight to iranian influence. iranians won't offer a deal to the sunnis. why would they? >> let's go to the second question here. we another one right here. >> thank you. richard downey strategic consulting. thankthank you, really interesting discussion. i would like to touch on a point audrey made. you said that we don't need a counter isis strategy. we need a middle east strategy. martin indyk of brookings wrote a piece that essential essentially to achieve the objectives you mentioned audrey, for objectives. you said there were two ways to do it. you either work with iran as a dominant power in the region which max says we're effectually defacto doing, or work with the pillar nations, egypt, saudi arabia, israel, to work with either one of those. seems to me, my question is, do you think we are in fact as max suggests, going towards this
defacto relationship with iran? or are we just doing these things badly, all of these pieces badly? thank you. >> like to start? >> thought i heard your name invoked. >> yes, you did. audrey: i think you have identified a very key point which is that our relationship with the region depends upon a number of different actors. i do think that our handling of iran has been remarkably naive i would say in the last 12 years. and, that we need to develop a lot more complexity in how we look at major powers within the region. i do not think that the arab coalition led by the saudis and including what is it, nine other arab states taking action in yemen is a bad thing. i think that the fact that they are taking that action independently and are using force and are acting as a be to some degree a kind of a military counter balance with respect to this regional balance with iran,
is not a bad thing from the american point of view. because if you truly believe that stability is one of the american interests for the region, you have to have some tolerance for people within the region, developing that balance between them. janine: it is interesting because i agree with what you're saying. it's uncomfortable but you know it has been our policy for years not just obama but to, support local actors, to take responsibility for their region. this is why we do security force assistance. this is why we do foreign military sales. we spent the last 10 to 15 years arming up this region and helping them professionalize their militaries. it is sort of those be careful what you ask for type of things. you went to know what it looks like for the region to take control of their security? step back take a look. that makes you question what your role is. are we sideline coach? are we in there leading from the
front? what exactly is, does it look like? for this strategy that we've been focused on for a decade in the region to help them gain control of their own security? what does it look like? max: may i jump in quickly on the saudi intervention in yemen. i'm not necessarily opposed to it either. i just question whether the saudis actually know what they're doing. and whether to get back to our counterinsurgency question, do they have a coin strategy or bombing strategy. at the moment i see bombing strategy. they're blowing things up. which may be ok. how do they get from there to defeating houthis and al-qaeda in the arabian peninsula and pacifying yemen? i'm seeing the big question mark. i'm not sure saudis or egyptians know what the answers are. i'm not sure they thought it through. i'm concerned about where this is going. janine: i'm sure they had same question when we invaded iraq in 2003. do we know what we're doing. max: they had a good point. >> this lady right here around you in the backpack.
>> margaret monroe, booz allen. i study extremist groups online presents, including isis and social media which is everybody's favorite topic nowadays. as long as they can use social media and other online tools to attract foreign fighters throw themselves in the meat grinder they will be pretty hard to defeat. from what i have observed in the u.s. and other western governments countering that message online is laughable and at worse, galvanizes op line community to post propraganda. is there any group that has credibility to counter that online messaging? who is it and how would they go about it? michael: as i was trying to say earlier i don't think you will defeat them with online messaging no matter how effective it is no matter what groups it comes from? the way you end their appeal is defeating their ability to hold a huge chunk of territory in syria and iraq. that is where the basis of their
idealogical appeal is they have create ad caliphate. max if the hold on the caliphate : was destroyed i think you would see their idealogical appeal waning pretty fast. janine: a lot of people focus on social media and i think it is important. i'm not so sure it is the exact way the teenager decides to join, however. we were talking about the patterns of foreign fighters coming out of london for instance and or england. they go in threes. they join with their buddies. primarily are approached personally, face-to-face. i mean i think that the online probably helps on a greater, sort of level and it freaks us all out and maybe there is other things happening online where they are sharing information at a different level but in terms of actual recruitment of those for return fighters, that come from western countries especially, they're being approached individually, face-to-face and so my sense is,
that the way to counter it is actually at local level with some of those sorts of programs that they're developing now, if if you -- >> >> i actually think that having a better stratinti and policy with respect to how we respond to new media is important to degrading isis's attraction. i don't think this is either or. i think a key part of a broad american strategy towards isis an absolutely essential part is to use private actors and individuals that are not directly members of the u.s. government in subtle ways, not ngos. there are a number of great organizations working on this but they're not nearly well enough funded. there are also a lot of private actors working on taking down isis twitter accounts. this is happening but it isn't nearly sufficiently well enough funded and supported through
back channels by the u.s. government. so i think that is a key part of any kind of sophisticated strategy towards isis. >> that was good to raise. yes, sir, right here. and you're next. >> david, iic. thank you very much. one, let's make two assumptions of the first assumption, let's assume that iran is as much of a threat as any other threat in the region. i know one or maybe two of the panelists assumed that was so and it was so obvious really we don't have time to argue it. but for the moment let's assume it is right but let's assume one other thing. let's assume that given the arc of u.s. involvement in the middle east broadly, certainly in iraq, i don't see why anybody in the region would assume that the u.s. would sustain, i think this was a point you made, audrey, the u.s. would be able to sustain an occupation or something kind of like an occupation for any, even medium term period.
is the necessary implication of those two assumptions that ultimately we are seeking a partition of a rock? -- iraq? isn't that a necessary implication? and if that is a necessary implication of those two assumptions, then does it, do we still care how sunnis in that small sunni state above baghdad would defend themselves, whether it is with or with out generals from the region who defected to isis? are we ultimately seeking a partition of iraq? >> well, vice president biden right? let me first place take issue with loaded word of occupation. nobody is in favor of quote, unquote occupation. you tell me. u.s. troops have been in kuwait since 1991. are they occupying kuwait?
i don't view it that way. as stablizing force enhancing security. because we may have troops in the area doesn't necessarily mean we're occupying it. for example, there is a lot to be said for a long-term military presence in the krg where kurds would love to have us and a way for to us influence events in iraq, regardless of what the central government in baghdad thinks. but in terms of, should we be partitioning iraq? i don't know that a partition necessarily is, is the solution. and certainly by itself it is not going to solve anything because if isis remains in the control of the sunni part of iraq, and the quds force remains in control of the shiite part of iraq that's a problem. that's not the solution because you're basically handing iraqi oil wealth to iran and you're handing the sunni population over to isis. so, i think that there is an argument to be made now as i was making before, i think there is something to be said for greater
decentralization, greater autonomy in iraq especially for the sunni region for a way to get sunnies to fight against isis. we still have to be concerned, even if that were the case, we have to be concerned who governs in the shiite region which includes the vast majority of iraq's oil wealth. we can't simply hand that over to general sulimani and his proxies in iraq. so i think autonomy can be some kind of a greater autonomous relationship, and certainly we should be paying less heed to the central government in baghdad to the extent that it is under the iranian domination. we should certainly not funnel our military aid through them so it can help support shiite militias. we need to help sunnies in particular on our own if necessary, even if the government in baghdad is not in support of that. but, so i think, we should certainly should not, it is a complicated answer. we should not wrap ourselves around this totem pole of iraqi sovereignty and refuse to do
anything that undermines, quote, unquote, iraqi sovereignty which is more nominal than real at the moment. at the same time we should not realize that there is some magic partition solution that would make all the problems go away. >> yes, ma'am. >> hi, i'm penny starr. give iran and all the domination in this chaos, what kind of impact with the deal with iran which the obama administration is trying to broker very moment, today is the deadline, what impact will that have if they come to a deal on this whole scenario you've spoken about? thank you. >> what if there is a deal tonight, audrey? audrey: i think this is where that multilevel game comes into play. i think a deal at that global level is better than the alternative of no deal that allows the iranians to move even more quickly to being armed with a nuclear weapon.
i don't necessarily seeing it change, see it changing the dynamics in the region dramatically, the dynamics at other two levels, the regional and local level. that is my position. other folks in, up here may disagree but on the other question, on the question of occupation, i think there is a difference between having troops in a place and stationed in a base and having them in a conflict area where they're actually tearing out operations against domestic members of the indigenous population. that is what i personally mean by an occupation, something that is contested. i think that is something that would be more likely to be case -- the case in iraq than as is currently the case in kuwait. >> janine, would, would an iran nuclear deal that perhaps legitimatizes iran embolden then around the region?
or would they say, well, now we're semiadmitted back into the community of nations and we'll begin to pull back? janine: what we, the thing that would embolden iran the most around turn them into the most hostile actor is the alternative to the deal that people are promoting which is bombing iran. that sets the clock back three years at best, compared to the deal that everybody hates, everybody loves to hate, which puts 10 to 15 years on the clock. so best-case scenario, or would i say least worst-case scenario, all these options are bad, it is a difficult problem but is that it creates some space. if there is no deal, if, or if there's another drumbeat for bombing iran it is just going to make things a lot more heated in the region. it will give actors across the region even more justification for wanting to get their own nuclear weapons and it is just
i mean, i think that we're playing with fire. >> max, is it harder to fight iran's maligned influence if we have a nuclear deal with them? >> yes. max: because i think it will be seen as putting american impremateur on iranian power grab in the region. well a, they will announce a , real deal tonight. at most they announce some vague principles with all the hard stuff, remaining to be ironed out, the fact it has not been ironed out in 18 months, suggests that they may not reach a deal on extremely generous and liberal terms that the united states is offering iran. but if we were to reach some kind of a deal on terms that have been leaked, where it would maybe somewhat constrain the iranian program for a decade let them to allow thousands of centrifuge, not come clean about past nuclear activity, not allow unfettered inspections, not force them to take we processed fuel out of the country, on those terms, we agree to lift multilateral sanctions right away, this would be seen as
stunning capitulation not only not only in israel, but in the sunni states. it would make the situation first. the obvious countermove saudis will go nuclear themselves if united states is act key esing to a nuclear program in iran. that to my mind is pretty frightening scenario. michael: we have a little over five minutes. i thought i saw a question in here somewhere. does anybody, then i saw someone back there. i think you're next. you're willing to step up. >> dod. i find it interesting that you all kind of have this view of iran, iran bogeyman, stuck in my opinion, 1980s, areas that have stronger iranian influence, are most stable right now and have been for a while. my actual question why hasn't there been focus on saudi arabia as that salafist ideology coming from saudi and fueled isis and
lots of money from saudi what -- has been what has fueled isis. i find it interesting that no one mentioned saudi as part of the problem as opposed to part of the solution. max: well, i think the reason why we tend to focus on the iranian bogeyman as you call him, is because in iran, the customary chant of the leadership akin to "heil hitler," the in germany, the customary chant in iran is death to america. and in fact, fighting the united states has been a defining characteristic of the iranian revolution ever since that little incident you may recall even though it happened a while ago, called the iranian hostage crisis which was followed by unceasing iranian orchestrated attacks against u.s. targets in lebanon including the deaths of hundreds of our marines and embassy personnel in bombings of our embassy and marine barracks in beirut. kidnapping of our citizens followed by iranian terrorist
attacks on american and other targets throughout the region. most recently in the last decade when iran has been directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of american servicemen in iraq. an account remains to be squared. that is why i among others, am pretty concerned about so-called iranian bogeyman as you put it because iran has been waging war on the united states and has been doing so pretty successfully, as well as waging war on our ally israel as well as waging war on our moderate sunni-arab allies in the region, trying to undermine all of them, trying to achieve a position of predominant influence in the region. that is not to say i'm not worried about things that saudi arabia may do, although i think saudi arabia has done much better in countering terrorist financing and countering support for terrorist interests. they are, they're not 100% pure. neither are emiratis and others but by and large, saudi,
emiratis others are much more closely aligned with american interests in the region than iran which is revolutionary power which is trying to take over the region. and that is a clear and present danger tonights of our allies. -- to the united states and our allies. i hope that is clear enough explanation why i'm concerned about so-called iranian bogeyman. michael: janine, i feel like we would be remiss if we don't discuss turkey. what happened to turkey? at first they were gung-ho getting rid of assad. i haven't heard anybody really mention that they should play a role as one of the regional powerhouses here. what should they do about the rise of isis, especially in syria? what's happened to them? where are they? janine: that's a good question. at minimum they need to be worried about the border which is a bit of a, positive development of late and they have a spillover problem as well. they have refugees we could be helping them with. but on the other hand, erdogan
has not been exactly a big part of the solution here. if you, technically they're a nato ally. so what happens if there's -- >> why not? what calculation is making not to, seemingly play almost no role here besides taking care of janine: i don't know what is happening behind the scenes in terms of his pushing and pulling but his primary problem, and you guys can chime in here, is that, he, wasn't going to jump in with both feet unless the target was also assad. so again, we have a rubic's cube of, problems here with respect to america's interests. you can do one thing at a time. you can't do everything at the same time. and you can't get all of the coalition members lined up against the crocodile closest to the boat as my husband would say, if there's still having individual agendas. michael: we've got time for one more question. before we take it, this meeting has been on the record. did i see someone?
>> now we know. michael: should have been at the beginning. this will be last question. >> what effect does what happened in the middle east have on other allies especially japan, south korea, philippines and vietnam when they see what the middle east is put very shortly, we screw our friends and, yes, our friends and are nice to our enemies? max: i just, i actually coincidentally just happened to return from a trip to japan and meeting with government officials there about a week ago i think there is a lot of concern. i think when obama allowed the red line with syria to be crossed with impunity i think that was a devastating blow to american global leadership and credibility which resonates from ukraine to the south china sea everywhere i think our allies are wondering to what extent they can trust our security guaranties anymore. to some extent they can't trust us anymore has potentially a
positive impact. you're seeing japan, for example, spend a little more on defense and trying to do a little more for their own security when they're facing, intercepting something like 800 chinese flights a year bordering their airspace. they feel the threat pretty keenly there. they're starting to do more. i think overall, cards are on the table. i think that the united states role in leadership since 1945 has been a goal. i think about the reputation of the united states standing in the forefront of mobile security has tremendously been undermined . i think it makes the world a dangerous place. to say nothing of the incredible mess in the middle east, which
is almost beyond comprehension. michael: janine, do you have anything to like to add? audrey: i would not generalize how they react in the middle east with respect to how they react in asia. i think we do have to be clearer about what our interests are and pursuing them. i actually think if we were in tokyo, or soul, you probably would have more concerned about the degree to which we're squandering our economic resources in one region versus another. michael: janine, you have 30 seconds. janine: yes, sir. i also am a big believer in american leadership in the world. i do think we've been a force for good. that doesn't mean we haven't messed things up here and there and we're not sometimes ham-fisted when they do it.
that said being a leader is not , always the easiest thing. so, not acting in places like syria can resonate and have people question whether our security guaranty is as strong as it was. you hear that in japan and elsewhere. but then, also overreacting and being so heavily engaged in the middle east for 10 years also had an effect when i was in the pentagon. are you too bogged down? like you can't win, right? you can either go all-in accused of being defacto, or accused of -- being accused of being distracted. michael: i want to thank all of our panelists. this has been a very healthy spirited discussion. [applause] i think we got some good -- [applause] i think we've got some very good policies options to kick upstairs. thank you all for coming. and this concludes the event. announcer: today an update on
the iran nuclear discussions. speakers include a former member of the u.s. delegation to the iran delegations. that is following washington journal. later, the world affairs council hosts its own discussion on iran. see it at >> the most memorable moment was yesterday when hearing that you need to be first in principles. it reflects the polarization and the methodology of all the senators and congressmen and women. we should come to solve pertinent issues.
>> my favorite came from the secretary of the senate who said to be humble and have a strong work ethic. the people on the way up, you meet them on the way back down. >> often, there is a lack of true statesman. john mccain did something impressive. he committed to the veterans reform bill and maintained how staying away from torture is essential to the character of our democracy. we have people willing to make these decisions. that is essentially what we need to maintain the security and integrity. >> part of the united states senate's program sunday night on q&a
>> last friday, the house committee investigating benghazi announced hillary clinton had wiped clean her server with e-mails. next, a judicial watch discussion about her e-mail account to conduct business as secretary of state. this is an hour and forty minutes. >> we are going to begin now. if i could speak before we begin, if you cannot hear yourself on the speaker our audience on the internet and c-span cannot hear you. welcome to "judicial watch." i am tom. we are a conservative
non-partisan organization that is dedicated to security and accountability. we advocate high standards and ethics in the rally. we ensure public officials do not use our entrusted to them by the american people. we believe in the rule of law and a hearing to the limits of the constitution. the panel is entitled, "hillary clinton e-mail scandal." it is designed to inform you on issues that hillary clinton created with a secret e-mail account to conduct government business that no one knew about publicly until earlier this month. from judicial watch's
perspective, we have seen this before in the clinton administration. it came to our attention that 1.8 million e-mails were not being records managed properly and they were not being searched in response to subpoenas and document requests. we were focused on litigation over the mishandling of fbi files i hillary clinton and the white house. it turned out the office of independent counsel investigations were being impacted. it was a big mess. because the whistleblowers told us that, when they raised this with white house officials, this gap, they were told that if they told anyone about it, they would go to jail and lose their jobs.
so, we had a month-long hearing. it saw the testimony of white house officials, including john podesta, who was chief of staff. charles ruff, now deceased, then, white house counsel. cheryl mills a deputy counsel in the white house later became chief of staff to mrs. clinton in the state department. although the court did not unfortunately, find of structuring of justice, it was called lowathesome and he said that mills was responsible for the actions of the fiasco and were inadequate to address the problem.
millas is responsible to disclose to investigators about these e-mails. she had been highlighted for a special calling out by a federal court judge back during the clinton years in 1990 -- i guess the whole scandal took place in the late 90's and the ruling was more recent. i can tell you -- she was under oath back in the clinton administration. i don't think that was well understood. the judicial watch has been active in areas involving the freedom of information act and we have filed requests with the state department and have sued 20 times under the freedom of information act on issues ranging from mrs. clinton's
ability to raise money through her husband and her husband's conflict of interests at the state department. we have obtained and reported on with the washington examiner about all the money she was raising and the conflict of interest checks that were not being done. she was able to get benefits for her and the foundation while she was in the state department from virtually anyone who wanted to get influence with this administration or influence a successor president to obama. the litigation, by the way, is ongoing. we were involved in litigation involving benghazi. mrs. clinton notoriously, put out there with obama and rice
the fake talking points that the benghazi attack was in response to a spontaneous demonstration caused by people upset by an internet video that no one had seen. despite all the evidence to the contrary publicly, they continued to put this line out that was designed to help presidential campaigns. the president's reelection and her nascent presidential campaign. our document requests and freedom of information act lawsuits did much to uncover facts about benghazi, the security mess, the intelligence the administration, mrs. clinton, and the state department was getting. the intelligence they were
getting showed it was an attack and they knew it was from the get go. the information just came out over the last few weeks as a result of one of our lawsuits. that lawsuit was a follow on to another lawsuit that we filed that blue the scandal wide open last year. in that lawsuit, we were able to uncover white house documents showing the talking points susan rice used to get out to the american people on the sunday after the attack on all five of the sunday morning talk shows. it was a terrorist attack. it was not a terrorist attack. it was a spontaneous demonstration resulting from that internet video. the administration said, we are basing these on what intelligence is telling us and we have been investigated -- we have been investigating this and
getting document after document from the administration. we have gotten talking points for congress. they were false. they were for congress. finally, we get the documents from our lawsuit that shows it is the white house sending out the talking points to all of the people in the white house who are part of the political messaging of the administration and the planning was out of the white house for what susan rice would be saying on the and ghazi that sunday. -- on benghazi that sunday. the white house was lying about the attack and they were caught in the lie. they were lying about their involvement and the misleading information put out during the presidential campaign. that caused speaker boehner -- the document have been turned over during our foia lawsuit. it caused speaker boehner, who
had resisted appointment of a committee to say, thanks to digital watch, we are appointing a committee. the committee resulted in disclosure of this material. let me just say this. we got the materials out of the state department about the white house talking points and the smoking gun. we were curious that no hillary clinton e-mails were produced. of course, we were thinking, maybe we did something wrong and we did not do something the right way. maybe we only allowed one agency. to be sure we filed another foia request asking about this issue of the white house talking points. typical for the administration they told us they did not respond if they are required to
under law. we filed again and we got documents we were given last time. we asked "what did you get and where did you search?" when we did, that's only got the justice department essentially telling us, "there are other things we may need to look at." they told the court in the filing, we gave judicial watch everything we could and there may be other things we need to look at. they did not tell us that they had not searched hillary clinton's e-mail accounts. by the way, when they told us and give us a list of the
records they were withholding and the index involved, i few days before they had gotten the e-mails from clinton, the 55,000 records, they gave us this document and never told us that they had not even looked at these records. i do not think it is any coincidence that, a few weeks after, they have himem and haw to the court. these records were leaked in what i believe was a friendly leak to the new york times. we have lawsuits raised on representations the state department made that hillary clinton's records had been searched. they deemed judicial watch and the federal courts, who they had also assured they had conducted a diligent search.
to be clear, clinton began to cover up the day she came into office and it ended this month. when you are the head of an agency and you create e-mail and a secret way to conduct government business, with half to assume you are up to no good. -- we have to assume you are up to no good. think of the 20 or so cases in federal court. we have gone to a core asking for a hearing and another one to ask for a reopening. we are just one litigant. think of all the litigation the state department is engaged in. think of all the foia requests the administration gets. all of this has been distorted and obstructed. think of the congressional
requests for information and subpoenas the state department has gotten over the years that has been related to clinton's e-mails and would require a search of those records. in my view, there are significant criminal liabilities for clinton if there was an honest justice department. congress is unable and unwilling to enforce powers to obtain these records and overcome obama administration obstruction evidenced by the hillary clinton scandal. now, we see the president is taking steps to protect his e-mails and questions about them from being asked. his office, which 30 years prior to court action, had operated as if it was under the freedom of information act.
george bush decided he did not like the questions he was getting about e-mails and the courts said, you are not covered anymore. the obama administration continued that argument and was successful in the appellate court at getting that done. there are regulations out there after the ruling that are subject to foia. why, only after a few days, why after a few days of following obama's disclosure that he communicated with clinton on the secret e-mail account and people understood he used e-mails did the office issue regulations that tore up them. that would be the agency under
the freedom of information act that he would be asking questions about in terms of how white house e-mails are being maintained and organized. they cut off any possibility of questions under foiaq about the way obama kept his e-mails. by the way, we never received obamas e-mails in any of the freedom of information act requests. there are some questions there. this is a scandal not just about clinton. it is about the state department the justice department the obama white house, the failure of congress to conduct effective oversight and about the lack of interest in the media and in the institutions the government institutions that are charged with enforcing the law and making sure that there is at least enough of an helmet of accountability that the
secretary of not dare do what clinton has done. i will turn it over to our guests. we are lucky to have a former foia official who was in the justice department for many years and is as influential in setting up the system as anyone living today. a former prosecutor and independent prosecutor. he has overcome obstructions. we have our judicial watch council. i do not know if he will take this as a complement, but he is the number one foia litigator in the country. i'm going to go through the backgrounds of all of our guests and we will get their
presentations and allowed time for interaction with the audience. dan joined the faculty in 2007 and upon retiring from a career of government service, he now heads a law school and a nonpartisan project devoted to freedom of information and the study of government. for more than 25 years, he was the director of the justice department office of information and privacy, guiding all federal agencies on interpretation and interpretation of the freedom of information act and has supervised foia lawsuits in appellate courts. i do not want to know how many
times you were on the other side of our cases. he was in the dhs and the national security council. he testified on behalf of his group, the collaboration of government secrecy before the house committee on oversight and reform. he is an expert on government foia administration and implementation of foia policies. we are lucky to have him. joining us, at the end, is joe. he represents individuals, corporations and other entities. he was part of civil matters and
he and his wife have done great work on behalf of whistleblowers that should be commended. he has extensive experience as a litigator and investigator, having served as both an attorney and as an independent counsel in the clinton passport search matter. it was an investigation of bush administration appointees. he was named special counsel by the u.s. house of representatives. he was retained by the state of new york to investigate eliot spitzer and he has extensive experience in capitol hill. he is the counsel to the senate
judiciary affairs and intelligence committee. we cannot get better than joe in matters of prosecutions of government corruption. paul heads judicial watch's litigation department and has been with it since the inception. he has argued in front of the supreme court on behalf of judicial watch and clients. he has been a spokesman with legal commentary appearing in major media and print publications. in addition to managing day-to-day operations of the department, which lawyers understand is interesting, paul is the member of the board of directors for judicial watch. he is responsible for the work
we do, like folks like me. without his expertise, all of the success you read about, we would not have. he and his legal team deserve so much credit for our good work. he graduated from the university of illinois and received his jd from au in 1990. the guests are going to speak for a bit and we will collaborate a little bit and talk amongst ourselves. i will turn it over first to mr. metcalfe. dan: i should say three things. tom: speak more loudly. dan: i became involved in organizing this -- analyzing
this pattern with clinton at three quests of journalists who had participated in my academic programs. i felt an obligation to look at things and applied my expertise. -- apply my expertise under the freedom of information act and the federal records act. i do not claim to have expertise with respect to criminal law and whether things are a violation of law or illegal and the way that someone thinks of those words. when i talk about something being unlawful or being in violation of the law i am speaking of civil and not criminal statutes. i will defer to the former u.s.
attorney with that. i will base my remarks very heavily, if not exclusively, pun intended, on what has been omitted by clinton -- admitted by clinton or on her the half by her counsel. -- on her behalf by her counsel. we will start by looking at the first weeks she was in office. there are four time chapters here. she began in 2009 as secretary of state. she departed for years later in 2013. she did what ever she did do in 2014 in response to request that came from the state department. currently, when she is saying
and not saying at press conferences or other remarks made on her behalf. at the onset in 2009, as a new secretary of cabinet agency or a new agency, more generally would have a briefing with people at her agency. very likely, it would have been the undersecretary and others. they would have colored desk covered the basic do's and don'ts -- they would have covered the basic do's and don'ts of the privacy act procurement matters and things like that. evidently, out of that meeting or series of communications, i do not know how this went, it
developed that she began to use a personal e-mail account exclusively for all of her official business. that is something, right there is a typical -- atypical. the policies and practices is that it is absolutely prohibited to ever use a personal e-mail account in the conduct of business. if you are a busy secretary of state and you reach for a device and it is a personal e-mail account, no one is going to come and tell you, stop, you cannot address the problems of the world and represent the united
states because you're holding the wrong piece of equipment in your hand. the federal records act, as a practical matter, allows for occasional use of a personal e-mail account under exceptional circumstances. it does say, beyond that, when that is done on an exceptional basis, the official or a assistant has the responsibility to take the communication and transmit it, forward it, into the state department record keeping systems. however, clinton says clearly that she did not begin or ever use the official e-mail account or the state department e-mail account. she only used the personal e-mail account. moreover, she never took the
additional step in in the instance -- in any instance with respect to any of her communications. the next aspect of it, distinct but related is that rather than have her personal e-mail account be handled, for a lack of a better word, by an internet service provider like yahoo! or google, she made use of a private server at her home. that meant that, during the four years of her tenure, all of her official communications were outside of the official channels of the state department at her end as the sender or recipient. and, they resided purely in her personal control or property.
ownership, if that is the correct legal word. when she left the department in 2013 it is commonplace for government officials to have special attention paid to them and particular attention paid to them for purposes of records management and archival activity. i had the career appointee and the proper delineation made at what is personal and what is official. in the official category, what is a record and what is not a record. some things will be preserved through the archives and some will not. that, apparently, did not take place. what happened in 2014, acc