tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 1, 2015 12:00am-2:01am EDT
he supports is in power, i think that is putin's strategic goal. is ay has to bomb secondary -- who he has to bomb is a secondary matter to him. >> what do you think? >> i haven't seen reports of haverussian warplanes done. my understanding is that russia's interests in syria require that russia has a say the future of this country. notion that russia would , ib any of assad's opponents think, is mistaken. russia has hosted negotiations between some members of the syrian opposition and syrian officials. russia has discussed, according potentialfficials,
[indiscernible] in the future government. as long as russia's interest in syria, which is the presence of the russian navy and the taunus , continuing the military-industrial cooperation with syria and ensuring that there is no failed state in -- it would is the be open to accommodating potential transition to a coalition government in the long run. again, i have not seen -- >> the government would be in favor of russia. >> they would take into account russia's interests, which would include insurance stability in syria so it doesn't become a sit -- a failed say -- a failed
state and so it will not become a place for groups to attack russia and its allies. touring the russia continues trade with syria in goods that russia -- its economy, which .s mostly oil and gas russia is a major buyer of machinery. russia will remain open to the dialogue and the notion that it could borrow many of its opponents is mistaken. spokesperson for the foreign ministry said openly what has privately by russian officials for a long time, the russia is not married to the idea keeping assad necessarily in power. talk a little bit about the challenges that the russians military presence in
syria poses in terms of the conflict in syria. what challenge do you see for us there? infant -- if in fact has its bombing campaign, too, i think the main question is making sure the to where forces do not run into each other. this is a serious issue it seems to me. on the other hand, other than the russiant sure military presence can really be seen as a threat to the states. russia has fewer troops in syria than we now have in iraq. it strikes me now that our price -- our presence in iraq, we are not able to defeat isis with that. what russian that
presence we have seen in syria is going to enable russia to defeat isis, if in fact that is what it wants to do. if that is what they are there to do is to bolster the assad regime, i have to disagree with my colleague about who rushes and is not willing to bomb. is there to help this odd regime. very regime has certain urgent opponents. if is -- if that is what is necessary to attack, that is what they will attack and i don't think russia wants to get deeply involved in syria. i think putin may have bitten off a little more than he can shoot. i've heard people from the pentagon say that the u.s. can live with a russian naval facility off the coast of syria.
it doesn't really threaten us very much. i don't think that we are necessarily opposed to russia have a normal relations, even favored relations with syria. i think at the beginning of the syrian conflict, or thought was, well, just as moscow complained that, after assad, russia would not have any excellence in iraq because the iraqi government would be pro-american and what we have seen as increasing cooperation between iraq and russia, i think what we expected is, with the change of regime in syria, which did not happen, was that the new syrian government would eventually, after a certain pause, would have -- would restore relations with russia as well. but of course, this is not what is -- what has happened. >> aaron, what challenges do you think this poses? >> no comment on that. the actual topic, the threat of
islamic extremism in russia, i think syria does enter this. simply because syria has become a training ground for the , atdists from central asia north caucuses. but my point is that we may be seeing something much more threatening. and that is the russian muslim minorities in side russia are beginning to go that route. they have very sufficient, significant presence already in the troops of the jihadists in syria. frankly, if we thought that the sessions -- the chechens were a problem, there were only one million of them. and there are 6 million of the top tars and rushed years and there are 5 million to 6 million inside russia, including 2.5 million migrants from central asia who are constantly going
back and forth into central asia . central asia's neck completely penetrated by isis recruiters and isis propaganda. so talking of danger to the united states, those things are very real and contained within international borders. this is one of the offshoots, regardless of what putin does and what we do. i think that train is already in motion. >> do you agree or disagree? >> i agree. as i said in my recent they meant, the primary threat that isnates from that area whether violent jihadists can be contained and eliminated. >> challenges to our efforts in syria? >> at think whoever does
anything, it focuses on violent extremists, islamists, violent islamists in syria and iraq, whoever goes after them, it is in the interest of the united states and it does not pose a threat, just like it is in the interest of russia. >> thank you very much. we will have a series that will allow stress from our questions. would like to place in the record a letter from john quincy about hisis fellows observations about russia, even as far back as john quincy adams, who i billy was there first and basinger to russia -- was our first ambassador to russia. he pointed out in his letter in lengthy analysis that the russian character had been
developed in great part due to its constant fight with islam on its borders. the russian character of actually -- and their national spirit had been brought about by this fact that islam was in a time of expansion and russia -- and the russian people bore the brunt of that. thus the idea that something word happen in the islamic ld that would be a great threat to russians is not something believes, butn something ingrained in russian people who over the years have had tragic incidences with, for bislam. a school in i went to that area to see that school and to talk to the local
people. they end up with hundreds of the murdered,eing basically. but that's not only. you go through the years. this has been part of russia psyche. is or something -- i don't think there is anything wrong with a ruler whoing led by a wants the country to be a great country. remarksard mr. putin's to the united nations. he rarely admitted that russia unionscarded the soviet and this was a new situation and normale back to what countries should be judged by, not by standards that were established during the cold war when russia itself was being
directed by anita logical an ideological, zealous click in the communists party in the same way that radical islam has a radical type ofn a slam, that ability to impact on policies in large numbers of people through their violence. so i really reject the idea that, well, putin is only down there and russians are only down there to help aside, their friend. being part of a great country is to make sure, would you make a deal with somebody, that you keep the deal, even when he gets tough. and you don't leave your friends in a lurch after they risk everything for you. and it seems, in the last few years, the united states, as my colleague accidentally indicated
-- we've left a lot of people behind here. and also, the united states policy was, what? we had to get rid of saddam hussein. and now we feel compelled to make sure that aside -- that assad in some way doesn't hold power. i think that is a mistake on our part. i voted for that to support president bush when he went into iraq. that was a mistake. the dom hussein was not our enemy. and guess what? i don't think that assad is our enemy. and if russia's only their to help assad, even if assad is forces,wn with non-isil
i don't think it was the radicals that necessarily overthrew qadhafi. but when the moderates overthrew qadhafi with their help, we ended up with half of now being controlled by radical islam. and a threat to the stability of the whole region. isbe a sod -- maybe assad like that. no matter who overthrows him, as mr. putin was mentioning at his remarks at the u.n., maybe this will create an unintended consequence of total catastrophe, not just assad being overthrown by someone who isn't radical, but that you have a power vacuum that is exploited by these radical forces. i personally, number one, think we ought to start analyzing
russia. that's one of the reasons we have this hearing. take sure we understand what motives are going on here. and i don't think it's a motive that we had the same motive when khrushchev but the missiles into cuba. i don't think that is the type of attitude we are facing in the world today. and that is a lot different and that deserved the outrage that we had at that time. held byassad being russia in the face of this type of turmoil, i don't see that this should be on our list of things to thwart. it seems that our government is. back to the actual nature of russia and radical islam, do you think, with all the testimony we have heard today, it seems to me -- wouldn't a government of russia be justified in being concerned to hear that there are
whom i come people back home and start committing the types of terrorism that is being experienced in different parts of the world? isn't that a justified fear? >> the fact that russian languages now the third most popular. i have all kinds of stuff that you cannot fit in five minutes. reportse have been there were graffiti in russia , wesyria that says putin will pray in your palace. or one of the slogans of several groups. there is the islamic movement of uzbekistan. this is a very vulnerable area.
the taj each city was just taken over by the taliban. it is not that someone is worried that russia will fall to these radicals. the issue is whether or not emma because these radicals feel that they are now motivated and , that and have experience they might going to that country and start killing people in large numbers, whether it is hurting a bunch of kids into a school and surrounding them with explosives or whether it's setting off the type of explosions and things that we have seen in railroad cars in western europe. fewer in western europe than in russia and they are suffering from attacks, terrorist attacks. again, i think the threat to western civilization, to the non-muslim world from radical islam, islamic terrorists israel
-- islamic terrorists is real. at least try to find ways to cooperate. that is what this hearing is all about. my colleague will now have his questions. >> i am trying to associate the ukraine with what is going on in syria. do you think it has anything to do with putin's to go to syria, the fact that there is a stalemate there? >> the most interesting reactions i heard or read in the russian media -- because it was a surprise to everybody. part of the issue with russia's literally put his own
defense counsel, a very dangerous situation. crimea was a surprise to his ministers, his closest aides. and so was syria. so the reaction from the russian analysts -- remember i mentioned to you there is a domestic political dimension to this. putin is popular, not because of the russian economy anymore. he used to be popular because they grew 7% to 8% every year from 2000 to 2008. he is popular because he dream of russia becoming a superpower like the soviet union used to be. >> that is called patriotism, right? we all want our countries to be great. the question is how we achieve it. that is a separate issue.
>> call it something else. [laughter] is, somee bottom line of the analysts's, some of the most respected russian elements -- russian analysts say one of the reasons to go to syria is that ukraine is no longer generating enough of this that makes not all russians for quite a few to forget about the economic hardships, the 15% inflation, that the economy is probably going to strength 5% to 6% this year, that there is unemployment, that the pensions are growing smaller and smaller due to inflation, that food 20%, 30%are now 15%, more than they used to be because of the ban on the important because there is no import substitution anymore. the price of oil is down. the ruble lost half of its value. but you see the headlines.
we are in syria now. we are present in they listen to us. the are afraid of us. they respect us. this is all very important. this is answer a question. this could have been one of the motivations. and you said what is the connection to ukraine and i could talk to current -- talk to ukraine for a long time. it is a very just a subject. put on hold.putin but i forever. -- but not forever. but there is something else now. he is like a man on the bicycle, that thing that, you know, when you put all your eggs in what i call patriotic mobilization, you have to give people fresh meat. whiche writing the tiger, is great. but the tiger requires fresh meat. and bloody meat every now and then. syriaaine is on hold, but is in the headlines. >> anybody else want to take a
crack at that? >> thank you. yes, in addition to what dr. aaron had to say about domestic lyrical aspect of this, the link between ukraine and syria, think it's also an important aspect in terms of relations with the west. in other words, the sanctions that the west has imposed on russia as a result of actions in ukraine are hurting the rushing -- the russian economy. and for putin in particular, by making this argument that we can work together insight -- and syria against isis, this is a way to sort of restore relations with the west and to some extent i think we have seen it is starting to work. president francois hollande said maybe we should reduce the sanctions on russia now that we have to deal with syria together. what hey, this is wants. i did notice most recently, france or holland said that what he wants to see his russian actions against isis, not just
words about it. can -- putin is taking advantage of the migration crisis. when it comes down to it, which is more important to them? is it the migration crisis or what is happening in ukraine? it's the migration crisis. if putin is going to provide a way out of this, the russian is can he? i would also like to get back to something important that covers monroe walker indicated. in addition to the geopolitical competition between the u.s. and russia, there is a basic philosophical difference about how to deal with syria. the russian argument is that is, he isbad as he less worse than isis and so we should support assad. but the obama argument is that isis is so awful that he has contributed to the rise of isis.
trouble is that both might be right. in other words, both arguments have a degree of validity. and what that implies, whether or stays, isis is going to be a problem. that is the situation that we are really stuck in. we can argue about how to deal with the syrian situation. but the real bottom line is that neither we nor the russians really have an adequate response to this. it's gotten out of hand. whichever way we go, it's going to remain a problem. >> thank you. >> let's give our panelists each one minute to summarize on the issue. one minute. then the chairman, with his prerogative, will have a final statement as well.
>> yes, one minute is enough. think, if indeed -- and of course, i gave you the tip of the iceberg on the evidence -- if indeed we are witnessing a tipping point at which fundamentalist militant islam is migrating from north caucasus into russia itself, i think this is a huge threat to russia and the world. that, these types of things usually are enhanced by domestic political crises and .ressures and russia is in a very precarious state economically, politically, even though putin would not admit it.
there are all kinds of strange -- strains. we should also worry about how the terrorism could become an issue for russia and us. i would like to reiterate that u.s. and russia share common interest in countering proliferation threats that emanate from syria and iraq, meaning terrorist groups based there. ofhink regardless disagreements on the future of assad, both countries can and should work together to counter is much morewhich threatening, much more superior than intricacies of transition and syria. thank you. him --rise of jihad is jihadism in russia is not in the
best interest of russia or american os either. americat -- or in either. it is not happening in a void. they are not treated very well by russian government and russian society. part of the dilemma we face in facing this issue is we cannot either for circumvents vladimir putin to treat his muscles nicely. cannot convince vladimir putin to treat his muslims nicely. thank you. just a few short thoughts. that, whenmber saddam hussein was eliminated, it brought chaos.
when qadhafi was eliminated, it brought chaos. there were alternatives. in qadhafi in particular, but with saddam hussein. we were all told that this third force was an alternative to assad > i think the russians are very concerned th. if they are limited by this third force, the same happen as his other countries. there is -- this is a greater concern than it actually is in western europe. now we can see what is going on, the frantic way western europe is dealing with radical islam and the impact of it.
president putin gave several months ago, six months to a year ago now, went down and provided president ella cc of egypt $2 billion with the credit. of allion, even at a time weakness in the economy of russia. why did that happen? is that because he wants russia to dominate egypt? , like england and other great countries in the , in china come in japan come in india, these are great countries in the world that their leaders calculate what is good for the country. and in the long run, i believe billion,n why that $2 which helped general asisi, is because who technologies that
, if radical islam or to take over in egypt, that these other countries would be swept away in the gulf and you would have radical islam pouring into central asia and that would dramatically impact the security of his country and the future of the world. i think that there is some strategic thinking going on rather than simply he is a tough guy showing his muscles to the thug,and he is a gangster which is usually the answers you get when you're trying to come up with a real analysis of what the hell is going on with russia and these various parts of the world. so with that said, i think we i think the united states needs to cooperate with people. who are going to help us to feed radical islamic terrorism, whether it's putin or whether it's assad or whether who that
is. because those people especially have the united states on target for their terrorism. if a nuclear bomb goes off from a terrorist group in the united states, it won't be for russia -- from russia. it will be from assad. it probably won't be from japan or any of these other i appreciate the insight this panel has given us today. this hearing is adjourned.
announcer: russia's military carried out airstrikes on syria -- in today, coming up we get reaction from ashton carter and john mccain. then remarks from secretary of state john kerry and russia's foreign minister on the airstrikes. later we hear from senator bob corker who chairs the senate foreign relations committee. at the rolelook that the supreme court is playing in our society now, our history series had to have relevant. as we thought about what we could do to get relevance to our current programming, a series made all of the sensible world -- since in the world. init is the third branch government, it has fundamental
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what happens in the court, why they matter, why you should care. >> picking the 12 cases was a difficult task. it was fun because we learned a lot, but those 12 cases represent really our evolving understanding of rights in america. all you look at dread scott the way through roe versus wade, you really do learn not only about the history of the country, but evolving right. announcer: landmark cases, historic supreme court decisions, produced in part with the national constitution center, building into 12 supreme court cases that significantly influence our nation's story and our evolving understanding of rights in america. beginning october 5 on c-span and c-span3. as a companion to the new series, landmark cases, the book. if you teachers 12 cases we have selected for the series with a brief introduction into the
background, highlight, and impact of each case, written by tony mauro, published by c-span incorporation with cq press. formark cases is available $8.25 plus shipping. get your copy at c-span.org/landmark cases. announcer: this is secretary ashton carter told reporters that russian airstrikes in syria were like pouring gasoline on the fire, and questioned whether the strikes were hitting the group isis. this is 35 minutes.
ashton carter: good afternoon everyone. let me begin with syria. last week i observed from this podium, as i had observed privately with the russian minister the week prior there is , a logical contradiction in the russian position, and now actions in syria. intent tote and -- n fight isil on one hand and to , support bashar al-assad and his regime. fighting isil without pursuing a parallel political transition only risks escalating be civil war in syria, and with it the extremism and instability that moscow claims to be concerned about, and aspire to fighting. that approach is tantamount as i
said then, to pouring gasoline on the fire. in contrast, our position is clear that a lasting defeat of isil and extremism in syria can only be achieved in parallel with the political transition in syria. we will continue to insist on the importance of simultaneously pursuing these objectives. i would hope that russia would join us in pursuing these objectives, which they claim to share in parallel, rather than in a sequence that cannot succeed. during my phone call with the minister, i told him i was prepared to send a dod team to meet with russian defense counterparts at a location to be agreed upon to ensure we avoid any inadvertent incidence of -- over syrian airspace. yesterday i directed my team to
proceed with that meeting as soon as possible, that is in the next few days. our goals are the following -- to facilitate flow of information between coalition forces and russian elements that will help us maintain the safety of our personnel in the region, which is critical. to ensure that any additional russian action does not interfere with our coalition's efforts to degrade and defeat isil. and to clarify that broader u.s. security commitments in the region remain unchanged. as i said before, we will deliver a lasting defeat to isil with a global coalition of over 60 nations, we are taking the across theil virtual, physical, and ideological battle space. the coalition has constructed over 100 airstrikes, hampering
their movement and systematically targeting this terrorist group leadership. the coalition will continue to fly missions over iraq and syria as planned, as we did today, in support of our international mission to degrade and destroy isil. as a pursue the defense level talks on syria, i want to be clear that these talks will not diminish our strong condemnation of russian aggression in the ukraine, or change our sanctions and security support in response to those destabilizing actions. on that subject, and the fact that if russia was to end their international isolation, and be considered a global power, it must stop aggression in eastern ukraine and live up to its commitments under the agreements. let me say a few words about the immediate budget impasse that we
find ourselves facing here in washington today. it appears at this hour at least, that we will avoid the trauma of a government shutdown for now. , that is not enough. it is not enough for our troops or the defense of our country. this is more, this is about more than just the short-term damage of a temporary shutdown. it is also about the acute -- a humiliating and lasting --accumilating and lasting damage that comes from a paycheck to paycheck approach to budgeting for the defense of our country. we need to innovate. we need to continue to attract the best people. we need to develop the next generation of capabilities and meet the current generation of threats. again, we face the real risk that political gridlock will hold us back. without a negotiated budget solution in which everyone comes
together at last, we will again return to sequestration level funding, reducing discretionary spending to its lowest real level in a decade, despite the fact that members of both parties agree that this result will harm national security. the alternative to a budget deal, a long-term continuing resolution is merely sequester level funding under a different name. the longer the continuing resolution is, the worse it becomes. eventually resulting in a $38 billion deficit in resources for military if congress chooses to pursue this path for the full year. the department of defense has done its best to manage through this prolonged period of budget uncertainty seven years in a
row. they are making trade-offs between five, capabilities, and readiness. the world has not stood still. russia and china have advanced their new capabilities and imperatives, such as ensuring a lasting defeat of isil. in this kind of security environment we need to be , dynamic and responsive. what we have under sequestration or a long-term continuing resolution is a straitjacket. we would be forced to make irresponsible reductions when our choices should be selected carefully and strategically. making these kinds of cuts is managerial inefficient, and therefore wasteful to taxpayers and industry. it is dangerous for our strategy. frankly it is embarrassing in front of the world. most importantly -- most importantly to me, for our men and women serving in national defense and their families, it adds an undeserved element of
uncertainty about the future. finally, as we plan for the force of the future, i note the reports that will be submitted by service leaders today to the chairman with their recommendations on positions they plan to open women, as well as any exceptions to opening all combat specialties to women. when i myself review these reports over the coming months, i will be focused on the quality of information and analysis behind recommendations. i want to hear from everyone, but i am less interested in who said what, but why they are saying it. to be clear, i will carefully review the information and analysis from all four services and special operations command to make my final determination. as secretary of defense i am committed to seeing this through because attracting the best and staying the best means that
wherever possible we must open ourselves to the talents and strengths of all americans who can contribute with excellence to our force. as i said before, everyone is who is -- everyone who is able and willing to serve and meet , the standards required, should have the full opportunity to do so. thank you, i look forward to your questions on this and any other topics. >> mr. secretary, do you believe based on what you have seen and heard today that russia has been targeting isil, or do you believe instead that they attacked some other opposition forces that have been waging war against assad. ashton carter: we have been observing russian activities that we do not want to go into detail about at this time.
the reason -- one of the reasons why the russian position is contradictory is that exactly the potential for them to strike, as they may well have, fact isil isre in not present, others are. this is one of the reasons why the result of this kind of action will inevitably be to inflame the civil war in syria. therefore it is ill-advised to take this kind of action in support of assad only without pursuing a political transition their. that is why we are trying to get them in that same position. your question exposes exactly what is a fallacy in the russian approach and why it is doomed to failure.
>> i want to make sure i understand -- are you saying then that the strikes were in a place where you believe there were no isil fighters? therefore, leads you to that. ashton carter: i want to be careful about confirming information. it does appear that they were in areas where there were probably not isil forces, that is precisely one of the problems with this approach. >> you have been dealing with the russians for years, a russian general shows up at the embassy in baghdad, and apparently reads your people a note saying that airstrikes will begin in one hour. what do you make of that? as secretary of defense, is that acceptable military to military relations with you? where does this leave you if you sit down and talk to the russian
military about a way ahead? is this not a little bizarre. ashton carter: you are right, this is not the kind of behavior we should expect professionally from russian military. that is one reason why i think it is a good thing to have an avenue of communication that is less unprofessional than a drop-in, where we can talk about professional defense matters. i think also, this is something that will occur in diplomatic channels, it is important to see we can get russians in a position where they are coming to understand the contradiction in the position that they now have and the possibility that a , political transition and defeating extremism is something you have to pursue to succeed in syria, maybe they could make a constructive contribution, but they are not on the path to do
that. >> what are your concerns? what are your concerns for u.s. military pilots right now? ashton carter: we are always concerned about the possibility of inadvertent incidents, and a lack of communication. that is why it is important to have communication in the air. that is the reason for the talks. >> why have you not spoken to your russian counterpart? secretary kerry has been with his counterpart? getting back to barbara's question, given the fact that there is a considerable risk, are you taking action to circumvent a potential -- ashton carter: the next step and -- in the next dialogue will be in a professional defense channel.
that is precisely our next step. that is the next step that the defense minister and i discussed when we talked. it is one that our president and putin discussed. i think these discussions are good, it does not mean you will agree, it does mean you have the opportunity to clarify, in this case for the russians where i , think they are making a mistake. >> do they speak to your counterpart? ashton carter: i do not rule that out. of course not. i think these contacts are good, i have done that many years in the course of my career. that is not the next step, the the step will be the sox -- se talks. about --ed to asking ask about women in combat.
there are indications that the militant -- marines have asked for a waiver in barring some women from some infantry units, is that true? ashton carter: let me back up, i want to emphasize there were no recommendations made to me yet. remember the process, the services are doing analysis. what they owe to first the chairman, and ultimately to me by the end of the year is their analysis, their studies, and their thoughts both about which specialties, if any should be left closed to women, and importantly how they intend to make any adaptations that are required. there are many different aspects to this. it is all important. the only point i want to make at this juncture, since it will be several months before these things make their way to me, i
want to get the chairman time to -- of the time that has been planned. the only point i wanted to make is i am going to be very facts and analysis based. i want to see the grounds upon which any actions that we take at the first of the year will be made. that is the frame. >> in summary, women are less lethal. ashton carter: these things have not come to me. >> back to syria, the secretary -- as secretary of defense, did you have the intelligence that the russians were missing -- moving towards the target? ashton carter: we have been watching their -- i think it has been widely reported -- their deployment of aircraft, certainly both -- both conversations with our president and our secretary of state, and
in my conversations with the minister, they communicated a to conductintention operations -- that is the way we have learned. back to the -- -- back to the de conflition, is it important for us to communicate to russia that -- does that go both ways? ashton carter: let's see what comes out of these conversations about exactly the best way and the kind of information, that is the purpose of the talks, to decide what kind of information
it is important to exchange to avoid impotence. >> secretary kerry said that russia's involvement with syria could be an opportunity for the united states, do you agree? ashton carter: i said it could be, but not in the forum in -- form in which they now conceive. i tried to distill that into the contradiction between on the one hand saying we want to fight extremism, on the other hand, supporting assad. we believe that those are in contradiction. that a position that would sustain perhaps two of russia's objectives in a different way, but they would have to change their position is one in which they fought extremism, we also must be fought, but they backed
simultaneously a transition from assad to a government that can end the civil war, and preserve some level of decency and good order in the state of syria. those things cannot occur in sequence. if they came to the position of trying to achieve those two objectives, a political transition and a fight against extremism in parallel, i think our interest could have some overlap. whenever that happens you have the possibility of cooperating. i hope we get to that point, that would require a change from the current position which is as i said, just not logical. the pieces do not match up. >> mr. secretary -- going back to the timing. since you just announced the military to military talks were
going to begin, you announced a yesterday, were you not surprised that the russians began their airstrikes before the talks even started? secondly, when the talks to start how could that not slow start how could that not , slow down the us-led campaign against isis. you have to de-conflict. ashton carter: they have indicated for quite sometime they would begin to conduct air operations. we have agreed for quite some time that we would get these talks underway just as soon as we could agree on a mutually agreed-upon place and time. we have agreed upon it now. those will get underway within days. i think they will be constructive. to the second part, we intend to continue to conduct the air operations the entire coalition does to combat isil and other extremist in syria, as we have been doing. we do not intend to make changes in our air operations.
>> he said that the russian strikes were not in an area where isis was present, others were present. if those others were syrian opposition as we would assume from what you are saying what , responsibility does the coalition have protect those opposition forces and fighters from airstrikes? ashton carter: your question points up the whole contradiction here in the russian position, which is that by taking -- by supporting assad, and thereby seemingly taking on everyone who is fighting assad, you are taking on the whole country is syria. -- of syria. that is not our position we , believe that some parts of the anti-assad opposition belong as part of the political transition going forward.
that is one of the reasons -- that is the central reason why the russian approach is doomed to fail. i hope that they come over to a point of view where they try to pursue their objectives in a different way, that makes more sense first of all, and second of all, is one in which we can share to some extent, and therefore work in a common way, we are not there yet. i think it is worth trying to get to that point. >> what is the responsibility for that as we heard in the past? i believe you testified on the hill that the coalition has responsibility to protect the opposition forces, particularly those trained by the u.s.. but a larger forces, what is the coalition responsibility if they are under airstrikes that the russians -- by the russians? ashton carter: we have conducted air operations against isil, and every other target that is not our practice to conduct air
operations against all of those who are fighting assad for the reason that i keep coming back to, which is that to simply defend a sod -- assad, and not to pursue eight political transition is only going to fuel the opposition, and therefore the extremism and violence. >> get you on the record, on the national defense authorization, you laid out the budget, are you going to recommend to the president that he veto a bill? ashton carter: other advisors already have. he indicated it was present -- presented in the form it will be presented to him, it will be vetoed. this is the national defense authorization act, yes, that is unchanged.
same position. >> it was explained in a lot of ways, yet you are recommending vetoing the defense policy bill, isn't that a contradiction? ashton carter: no, what we need is an appropriations hill -- ll that funds and -- a department. at the moment, the authorization bill makes no appropriations at all, as you know. number two it attempts to again -- evade the question of overall fiscal responsibility with the o cole gimmick to me and other agencies, it is offensive. finally, it contains other provisions also objectionable. i will give you examples.
we have -- proposed for several years now changes in reforms. they extend from health care to poor structure to better spend the defense dollar in areas where better national security benefit is obtained. in the national defense authorization act some of those reforms are key reforms, billions of dollars of year worth reforms are disallowed. not authorized that is not ok , with me. that is taking dollars, which i already regard as short for national defense and using them in a way in which we, the department's leadership has for several years determined is not in the national interest.
i need to be able to say to the taxpayer both that we need every dollar we are given, and that we are using it in the best possible way. the national defense authorization act, several provisions of it -- this is not new, this is long-standing, several things do not take into account what has been the judgment of the department. there are actually several reasons why this is not a good bill. these are not mysteries, we have been clear. we have been clear about all of these things. i do not think there is a doubt about what our position as. -- is. with respect to a veto. >> i have two questions on syria, the opposition is saying that civilians were killed in the attack by russia today. coalitiontional president is encouraging a no-fly zone to protect civilians.
is that being discussed at the pentagon? you mentioned that he talks will be to avoid incidents and avoid actions that would interfere with the fight against isil. does that mean a russian general asked the u.s. to stay out of airspace, is that not already interfering with the fight against isil? ashton carter: you have several things there. to get the last part, i will say again, we intend to continue our air operations unimpeded. i think you are asking about the possibility that the russian airstrikes may have hit civilians. i cannot confirm that. that would be, yet again, reason why this kind of action by the russians is ill advised, and will backfire. we are, on the contrary as you know, very careful to make sure that those whom we are targeting
are isil or other extremist. we are very careful about trying to avoid civilian casualties. that is something we work hard at. it is something that requires a lot of care and practice and experience. i cannot confirm that that occurred, but if it occurred, it is another reason why this kind of russian action can and will backfire very badly on russia. i would like to get them in a different place. >> do you think the russians are acting in good faith, or do you think perhaps they might be messing with you? ashton carter: i take the russians at their word.
they are exceptionally clear about what they are saying their , actions now seem to reflect what they said they were can were going to do. my problem is not that i do not understand, my problem is i think what they are doing will backfire and is counterproductive. >> they said they would protect isil, do you believe they will? >> mr. secretary, aside from the sequencing aspect that you have talked about, the bombing of isil, and then working on a political transition -- putting that aside for a moment, would you and your leaders welcome bombing of isil and other groups that are state led?
ashton carter: i think it is clear -- it ought to be clear to anyone, if anyone wants to join in the fight against isil or join in the coalition, 60 countries have made that decision. this is something -- and evil that must be defeated. you are right, it is isil and other extremist groups, yes those are the ones that we and the coalition are combating. obviously, we welcome contributions to that. again, if the russians change their approach to one that is -- does not have the contradictions that this one does, that would be a basis of -- a welcome aces basis of cooperation.
it is easy to understand why the russians are concerned. they have extremism experience. i can well understand. on the other hand, i think that this kind of action is only going to exacerbate that tendency for them to find themselves the bull's-eye. >> when you are chief, you predicted there would be more mergers and acquisitions between -- were chief, you predicted there would be more mergers and acquisitions between defense companies. we have been seeing more that recently culminating, there have been concerns that deals like these will eliminate competition. i was wondering your assessment. ashton carter: i cannot comment on a particular case being determined at this time. i do remember back then what i said then, and still believe is that it was important to avoid excessive consolidation in the defense industry to the point
where we did not have multiple vendors who could compete with one another on many programs. to the point where we had so-called vertical integration and companies to an extent that made competition among subcontractors for work on primes less competitive. we do need a competitive marketplace to the extent possible within the defense industry. we think that then and now at , the time i indicated that i at that time, in that role, i feel the same way now did not welcome further consolidation amongst a large contractors. i do not think it was good for our defense market place. >> you have been saying -- i am giving you an opportunity to
clarify. i want to make sure we understand, you believe that the russians are being true to their word. these airstrikes you are taking , them as honest? ashton carter: let me be clear, there is no contradiction, they have said quite clearly that they intend to deploy forces in syria, and conduct strikes there. they have done that. if you're asking if i am surprised, i am not because they have been saying for a few weeks they were going to do that. as many in this room have reported, they have been a key bleeding the wherewithal to do it -- accumulating the wherewithal to do it. thank you. >> arizona senator john mccain was also critical of russian airstrikes in syria.
senator mccain spoke on the senate floor. mr. mccain: mr. president, we now have information that the russians have now launched airstrikes in syria, ostensibly against isis. in reality it is not clear. in fact, there is information that some of these strikes were at homes, and the latest information is that these syrian observatory -- the syrian observatory for human rights reports that at least 27 people were killed and that six children were among the dead. these strikes near the city of homs is not under control of isis of the islamic state. so already we are seeing the true intentions of vladimir putin, which is to maintain a
strong position in syria, his foothold in the middle east, and his propping up of bashar assad. bashar assad, who has killed at least 250,000 of his own citizens through the horrible process of barrel bombing, has driven millions into refugee status, with the full and complete support of iran and vladimir putin. i say to my colleagues, over the past six and a half years, president obama has sounded retreat across the middle east. in fact, it was one year ago at this time when the president of the united states said, our strategy is to degrade and destroy isis. a report yesterday, some 28,000
european and some americans have come into the fight on the side of isis. mosul and ramadi remain in the hands of isis and, of course, the continued advances of isis in syria are well known. in short, a year ago after the president made that statement, there is no strategy, there is no success, in fact we now see the result of this failure, which is a flood of refugees out of syria and iraq because they have given up hope of ever returning to their homeland. our hearts go out to those who are victims and have had to flee their homeland, and we see these refugees, and it breaks our heart when we see a little baby's body washed up on the beach. it didn't have to happen. it didn't have to happen. everybody knows that when the president of the united states
said that we've drawn a red line with syria and didn't do it, it had a profound effect on the middle east, including sunni-arab states as well as shia. everyone knows when the president turned down the recommendations of his secretary of defense, secretary of state, which happened to be secretary of clinton at the time and his secretary of defense, to arm the free cernin syrian army, and hed it down was another seminal moment. this is a series of decisions or nondecisions which has led to the situation we see today where vladimir putin may have inserted russia into the middle east in a way that russia has not enjoyed since 1973 when anwar i sadat, - anwar sadat threw the russians out of egypt.
we're still on course to continue this nightmare by withdrawing all forces from afghanistan as well as, as we see in the last couple of days, the taliban capturing the strategic city of kunduz. kunduz is in the northern part of afghanistan, where it was believed was fairly stable, showing the ability of the taliban and the effects of our withdrawal. but i come back to syria and the russian activities today. after four years in syria, the united states has stood by as bashar assad, his war on the syrian people goes on and on and on. and as it slaughter -- it's been the single-greatest contributor to the rise and continued success of isil. have no doubt, it was bashar assad that gave birth to isil. the president has said for years
-- for years -- that assad must go, but he has done nothing that has brought us any closer to achieving that outcome. my friends, i.t it's not that we have done nothing. but what it is, we have not done anything that would reverse the trend and in any way further the goal that the president articulated a year ago that we would destroy the great -- de-groidegradeand destroy isil. this administration has encouraged our enemies, mistaken an excess of caution for prudence and replaced the risk of action with the perils of inaction. into the wreckage -- into the wreckage of this administration's middle east policy has now stepped vladimir putin. as in ukraine, as elsewhere, he perceives the administration's inaction and caution as weakness, and he is taking full advantage. over the past few weeks,
vladimir putin has been engaged in a significant military buildup in western syria, deploying strike aircraft. and by the way, he's also deploying aircraft that are air-to-air, not air-to-ground. nigmy friends, isis has no air force. the buildup of russian tanks and military personnel. meameanwhile, our secretary of state calls va and asks what's going on? it was obvious when vladimir putin was doing and these airstrikes are a logical follow-on to his ambition, which he is realizing to, one, play a rage role in syria, re-serve the port of vladikia, prop of bashar assad, and play a major role in the middle east. all of this is not lost on countries in the region.
last time i -- today vladimir putin escalated his involvement as russian pilots carried out their first airstrikes in syria. initial reports, as i mentioned, that they are hitting targets which are not controlled by isil. that should control -- that should fool no one because vladimir putin's primary authority and responsibility and ambition is to prop up bashar a sad against all -- assad against all of his enemies. the white house has said -- quote -- "it's unclear exactly what russia's intentions are." my friends, i am not making that up. the white house has said, it's unclear exactly what russia's intentions are. if the white house is confused about putin's intentions and plans in syria, then the united states is in even worse trouble
than many fear because it is not hard -- it is not hard to discern what vladimir putin wants. in fact, from russia's military buildup in syria and i military coalition with syria, iran, and iraq -- remember, iraq is the country where we lost thousands of american lives and now the iraqi government announces sharing intelligence with syria and iran. amazing. amazing. putin's ambitions are obvious, my friends. he wants to prop up assad, play kingmaker and any trans-auction undermine the u.s., to a degree unseen since 1973. this week at the united nations president obama said -- quote -- "the united states is prepared to work with any nation including russia and iran to
resolve the syrian conflict." it requires self-delusion of tremendous scale to believe that russia and iran have any interest in resolving the syrian conflict. they seek only to keep the murderous assad regime in power. russia's intervention in syria will prolong and complicate this horrific war, and the main beneficiary will be isil, which has fed off the ethnic divisions fostered by the assad regime. it is tragic, my fellow men's, that -- my fellow americans, that we've reached this point. a syrian conflict that has killed more thank 200,000 people, celt created the worst refugee crisis in europe since world war ii, spawn add terrorist army of tens of thousands ages no and now creata
platform for a russian autocrat to join with a syrian theocrat to prop up a syrian dictator, it did not have to be this way. this is the inevitable consequence of hollow words, red lines crossed, tarnished moral influential, leading from behind, and a total lack of american leadership. my friends, today in the "washington post" is an article by david i ignacious. mr. ignacious quotes ryan crocker, one of the great diplomats that i have ever had the honor and privilege to know. ryan crocker says -- quote -- "russia has played a horrible hand brilliantly. we folded what could have been a pretty good hand, argues ryan crocker, a retired u.s. diplomat who has served in nearly every hot spot in the middle east and
is among the nation's wisest analysts of the region. 'the russians were able to turn a defensive position into an offensive one because we were so completely absent." ryan crocker is right. i would also remind my friends that because of american inaction, the countries in the region are making their own accommodations. syria -- excuse me, saudi arabia , u.a.e. and qatar have all been to russia in arms deals. the saudia arabians have bought $17 billion worth of republicans from russia. the u.a.e., $7 billion. qatar, $5 billion. would that have ever happened 10 years ago? of course not. but they see america leading and they are accommodating. -- but they see america leaving and they are accommodating. and we have -- and we have, of course, refused in many respects
to give the kind of weapons particularly that the -- that the kurds need. mr. president, i won't go on too much longer. i will -- i will summarize by saying that this is a very, very, very sad day for america in the world. the world is watching. it's not confined to the middle east. we see vladimir putin continue to dismember ukraine and now some phony separatist elections are going to be held in the area that he now controls. the chinese leader made some nice comments about how they would stop the hacking that is -- that they have been able to compromise our most important industrial, military and other secrets. we'll see if that happens. but they're also continuing their expansion of the islands in the south china sea. throughout the world, an absence
of american leadership is very visible and very understood by nations throughout the world. and today we see vladimir putin attacking with his airplanes not just isis but others who are enemies of bashar assad. but i would also like to add that these airstrikes are indiscriminate in nature and there has been no attempt whatsoever to stop the horrible barrel bombing, as general david pa tray -- david patreas just recommended before the armed services committee a few days ago. so this is a terrible day. and it's a time for american leadership. and it's time that president obama woke up to the realities in the world and reassert american leadership. and that does not mean that we're going to send thousands of
ground troops back into iraq or syria. but it does mean that we develop a policy. in the case of -- i am told that these bombings that the american government has said that american planes should not fly and that we have somehow approved of these airstrikes. i do not know if that's true or not. i hope that it's not true. what we should be saying to vladimir putin is that you fly but we fly anywhere we want to, when and how we want to and you'd better stay out of the way. that's the message that should be sent to vladimir putin. so i hope that the american people understand how serious this is and that this rogue dictator named vladimir putin, who is a thug and a bully, can only understand a steadfast and strong american policy that
brings american strength back to bear. we are still the strongest nation in the world. now it's time for us to act like it. mr. presiden >> secretary of state john kerry met with the minister of syria, we begin with remarks from john kerry. john kerry: thank you very much. i want to thank you for the chance to address this council. i appreciate the fact that russia's presidency has chosen to focus on this issue.
we have come together often to also toterrorism and counter extremist organizations. this is not a debate about goals, i do not think. we all of those the aggression -- aggressive ambitions of such organizations as al qaeda and groups that are imitating them. we all oppose the atrocities they commit, we all want to end the suffering they continue to inflict. there is no debate about that. the question that we face is, how do you best do it? there are basic principles that we believe should guide our strategy. first, when confronting terrorism, we have to take a -- comprehensive
approach that was quite eloquently talked about by the heads of state of the summit that president obama hosted. it was a great discussion, i thought there were very articulate statements about how one approaches the root causes. we have to deny safe haven, disrupt the flow of foreign fighters, block access to financing, and expose the lies that terrorist groups propagate. that is particularly challenging in this world of constant media and access. we are living in a different world. terrorist have learned how to exploit that media in all kinds of ways. we also need to exert pressure in support of peace. perhaps one of the most important components of our responsibility, in places like libya for instance where , instability feeds the chaos and fear in which extremist organizations thrive, we see
that now with the presence of isil in libya. this is the fundamental strategy that we have laid out for countering violent extremism. we have adapted this and are -- adopted the strategy and we are strongly engaged in implementation it -- and lamenting it. strongly engaged in it. we welcome the large number of nations that joined as international actors in the counter isil commission and other regional organizations. obviously, more needs to be done. we have been able to counter some foreign fighters and kept them from traveling, but still, too many have been able to travel and been able to reach the destination. we have been able to slow down and stop some of the elements of financing, there is still too much money that is able to reach terrorist activities and actors. our goal is to take urgent
actions against immediate threats, while also facing up to longer-term measures that prevent the recruitment of future generations of terrorist , and improve government and , enhance economic opportunities so that radicalization is less likely. this is an enormous challenge for all of us, we know it. there are countless countries where 60, 65% of the population in some cases are under the age of 30, under the age of 25, a vast majority, under the age of 18 in a majority of many countries. unless they find options, their minds will be stolen, their opportunities will be robbed forever by bad actors. we also need to improve government and enhance activities so radicalization is less likely.
too many places see too much corruption. corruption robs the populations of their due and possibility. in each of these areas we intend to work hard with all of you and others here to improve our chance for success by working with the concerned elements of civil society, including ngos, religious leaders and the private sector. meanwhile we have to continue our efforts to alleviate the immediate hardships that the terrorists are causing. while we have been pushing humanitarian relief in the areas, the international community absolutely has to do more. we are staring at the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding not in one or two places, but multiple places, simultaneous. the humanitarian disaster we are witnessing in and of itself should be enough reason to take on isil. this has been a major
topic of our discussions these past days, it has to remain a core concern. every nation can do more. two un security council resolutions, 2139 and 2165 clearly require, and everyone voted for it, clearly require humanitarian access to the siege areas -- besieged areas. they call for the use of starvation as a weapon of war. i would like to add some thoughts on syria specifically, isil and russia. the united states supports any genuine effort to fight isil and al qaeda affiliated groups. if russia's recent actions and
those now ongoing reflect a genuine commitment to defeat that organization, then we are prepared to welcome those toorts and find a way operations.ur we must not, and will not be confused in our fight against isil with support for assad. moreover, we have also made clear that we have grave concerns should russia strike areas where al qaeda targets are not operating. strikes of that kind would question russia's real intentions. we have informed russia that we are prepared to hold these talks as early as possible, this week. let me be clear, the united states and the coalition will
continue our ongoing air operations as we have from the beginning. we have conducted a number of strikes against isil targets in syria over the last 24 hours, including just an hour ago. these strikes will continue. let me be clear, the coalition that we have built, more than 60 countries strong, has been taking on isil for more than one year, by liberating kobani, tikrit, where now residents have been able to return to their homes. defending mosul dam, protecting endangered minorities, killing isil leaders and facilitators and taking away the northern border of syria for isil east of the euphrates. at the same time, we have
mounted a campaign to cut terrorist financing, and exposed lies that isil is perpetrating. today as we speak, some are heroically liberating villages from isil under the cover of coalition airstrikes. in addition, we continue to admire the courage over four long years of struggle by the opposition to assad. let me remind this council that the request of neighboring states for collective self-defense under article 51 of the u.n. charter. that foundation has not changed. we will continue our mission with the full sanction of international law. pursuant to these procedures in syria over the past year, the coalition has been conducting nearly 3000 airstrikes against isil targets.
we are now in position with france, australia, canada, and turkey, joining the campaign to dramatically accelerate our efforts. this is what we will do. over the coming weeks, we will continue our flights out of turkey to apply pressure on strategic areas held by isil in northwest syria. we will suspect -- we will sustain our support to fighters. this will put pressure on isis. we will ensure through airstrikes that i so leaders do not have any sanctuary anywhere on the ground in syria. i sold will soon face increasing pressure from multiple directions across the battlefield in syria and iraq. , this fightaid
cannot be one in the military sphere. it will require a political solution. one thing is certain, the vast majority of states around this , ile no that the isil forces sold itself, cannot be defeated as long as assad remains resident of syria. it cannot happen i definition of the lines of this battle. it cannot happen because who is lined up with whom. because of the nature of these protagonists. the reason for that is defined in the reason -- in the of how this strike began. this strike began when young syrians looking for a future, wanting nothing more than opportunity and jobs and education, they went out to demonstrate for the future.
to claim the aspirations of young people. just sent his thugs out sent his thugs out to beat them up. the parents were outraged at the fact that there children were beaten up. kidswent out with their and they were met with bullets. that is how this whole thing began. people in a country looking for a future who were instead met with repression, torture, gassing and bombs. assad will never be accepted by those he has harmed. never possible to become a legitimate leader. never possible to lead a reconciliation, nor a unification of a country. that cannot happen until he makes clear his willingness to heal the nation and end the war. today, we must be focused on
finding a solution that will stop the killing and lay the groundwork for a government that the syrian people themselves can support. we know that the terrorists can either unite the country nor govern it. we know that assad can either unite the country nor govern it. neither extreme offers the solution that we need and want. what is more, our ability to develop a credible political process would be a farce from a beginning -- from the beginning. incredible enough that it will not stop people from fighting. as president obama said, the united states is prepared to work with any nation, including russia and iran, to resolve the conflict, but we must recognize that there cannot be after so much bloodshed, so much carnage,
a simple return to prewar status quo. my colleagues, the government of russia has argued that we must support assad in order to defeat iso-. has really is assad chosen himself to fight iso-. -- fight isil. raping and enslaving, murdering civilians along the way. the syrian regime did not try to stop them. instead, it focus all of its military power on moderate opposition groups who were fighting for a voice in syria. make no mistake, the answer to the syrian civil war cannot be found in a military alliance with assad. i am convinced that it can be found. it can be found through a supported o-matic initiative aimed at a negotiated political transition. a transition that has been accepted by the security council
and participants. consistent with the geneva communique which would unite all syrians who reject dictatorship and want to build a stable and united society. call on alln, i concerned governments, including russia and the syria, to support a human initiative to broker a transition. further delay is unconscionable. opportunity is before us. if we can succeed in marginalizing the terrorist in syria and bringing that country do exactly what this was set up to do. we can strike a huge blow against violent extremism, not only an next -- not only in syria, but also in iraq. across the middle east and around the world. nothing would be more in keeping
of the high purpose for which this council was created 70 years ago. nothing would better serve the interest of the people that all of us represent. i hope we can achieve that. thank you. and sergeiohn kerry lavrov speak to reporters about the russian airstrikes in syria. he spoke at the united nations in new york.
mr. lavrov: today we devoted our .eeting our presidents agreed when they met on the 20th some test 28th of september. the first instruction to us was to make sure the military of the ,nited states, the coalition could engage at the request of the syrian government. established channels of communications to avoid any unintended incidents. shoulded the military get into contact very soon. number two, we discussed what the presidents told us about promoting lyrical process. democratic,syria
united, secular. syria's rights are guaranteed. we have some differences. we have some differences on how to get there. we agreed on some steps which we will undertake very soon. together with other countries, including the united nations on creating the conditions for applied,o be used and to promote the political process. as aieve this meeting follow-up to the discussion between the two presidents is a very useful occasion to promote constructive and safe approaches to the situation in syria. we agreed to remain in touch with john. we are available for contact
with each other. thank you very much. sergeyry kerry: as described the meeting which we would both occur -- with both concur was a constructive meeting. i reiterated the concerns that i expressed during the course of the un security council meeting which was led by russia today. that we have obviously about the nature of the targets, the type of targets and the need for clarity in respect -- it is iso-.ing to be targeting we are concerned if that is not what is happening. said to you, we agreed on the imperative of as soon as possible, as soon as tomorrow, having a military -to-military discussion.
urgency of the confliction -- deconfliction. we discussed a number of ways to adjust the conflict itself. were agreed to be further discussed. i need to take those back to washington to the president and to our team. will discussey them with president putin and his team. we will follow up. we also agreed that it is imperative to find a solution to this conflict and to avoid escalating it in any way, or seeing it intensify by forces beyond anyone's control. finally, the foreign minister is, eveneed that there
as we don't have yet a resolution in respect -- as we -- we think we have some specific steps that may be able to help lead in the right direction. that needs to be heartily explored. we finally agreed we have a lot of work to do. we are going to get to do that work as rapidly as possible, understanding how urgent this is in the context of refugees flowing out. the impact on europe, the region. we need tong also see syria kept whole, unified, secular, democratic. those are big agreements. we need to work on getting them. we will stay in close touch and continue to work on this. think you all very much. -- thank you all very much. >> next, bob corker talks about
the russian airstrikes in syria. syrian refugees and the iran nuclear deal. he was interviewed by national security adviser, ben rhodes at the washington ideas forum. >> good morning. -- mr. corker: texas would not exist without tennessee. susan: and an architect of the iran nuclear agreement vote. i believe we have to start with the situation in syria. we heard president obama talk about a managed transition for the assad regime.
a very different tone than he has taken when he said assad had to go. is there a shift? is it a smart thing to do this? accept aside as the leader of syria because of the battle with isis? mr. corker: there continues to be an evolution. assad is the singular poll for isis in the region. to deal with isis and leave assad in place is something that creates quite a conflict of goals. if you look at what is happening there, we had a hearing yesterday. all of us see the tragedy of what has occurred. in many ways we are reaping what we sowed as we were talking backstage. during the yugoslav tenure
episode, 100,000 people were killed. 4 million were displaced. we have blown by those numbers in a short time. 240,000 people are dead. 11 million people displaced. this is a human tragedy of epic proportions. the biggest since world war ii. obviously we have missed opportunities when it was evident we could make a difference relative to what happened on the ground. we have missed those opportunities particularly in , august and september of 2013. a was bipartisan support for ten-hour operation, no boots on the ground, no flags over syria that could've changed the being. there was a moment where there was some momentum by the free syrian army and it was real. i don't think anybody would debate that. it was real. by us not taking that action, it took the wind out of their
sails. we jumped in putin's lap. the administration talks about doing away with the declared weapons. assad has not declared them all. he is using chemical weapons now against his citizens. that was the biggest moment of opportunity. i think it was mishandled. in fairness, our friends in europe mishandled it also. they pushed back. i think that caused some consternation. the west, our friends in europe and ourselves, we could have taken some action that would have made a difference, and in most people's opinion we didn't. i will say something else that has been damaging, we have lost so much credibility.
i'm in the region constantly. it hurt us significantly as far as people believing they could rely on what we as a country say. i stood with the president. i believe when the president says there is a redline, it is something that whether you are republican or democrat, you should stand behind. i did it in committee. we passed an authorization during a recess. we came back at a high moment of the foreign relations committee. we did not take those steps. susan: one of the consequences is the flood of refugees we see in europe. given our role in the world, and the role in this conflict, does the united states have an obligation to do more to address this crisis? not only sending money and a but accepting a significantly increased number of refugees?
mr. corker: we are the largest contributor of aid. people need to understand that. the countries together in europe now have surpassed us. as a country, we are the largest conservator. we are the largest taker of -- we are the largest contributor. ofare the largest taker refugees each year. each year we taken 70,000 each year. the administration has proposed we take in 85,000 instead of 70,000. in the next your we taken 100,000 instead of 85,000. congress will look at that. the likelihood is it will be supported. but it is almost a facade. millions of people are flooding into europe. we are not dealing with people you are seeing on the tv
screens. this is a huge disconnect. it takes 18 months to two years to vet people and bring the men. -- bring them in. the amount of syrians that will be part of that 85,000 number is 2500. at the end of the day, what you would think is that we and others would want to do, the syrians are people like you and i. they want to raise families and -- raise their families in dignity. they have visions of hope for the future like people in this audience. you would think we would try to deal with the root cause. instead of this pittance that is occurring relative to people , actually coming in because of the procedures that take place, that we would want to you with -- want to deal with the root cause on the ground. no foreign entity will conmen and change the dynamic on the ground.
when you know that he is the root cause of all of this occurring, he is the one that is torturing people in manners that i have stop saying in public because it is so grotesque. things that took place a thousand years ago but he is inflicting that today as we sit here in this nice theater, he is doing that. i would hope our efforts would be more toward dealing with syria in such a fashion that syrians can live in their own country. susan: let's talk about afghanistan. the taliban have captured control in the north. it is their biggest military victory in a decade. we now have u.s. warplanes bombarding the positions. does this mean that the united states should reconsider the plan to withdraw most u.s.
forces from afghanistan by the end of next are given the lessons of iraq? is it going to be necessary to make a longer-term commitment? mr. corker: certainly, this was a major change on the ground. we have not had this activity in a long time. the military folks on the ground understand that if we take it down to 3000 to 4000 troops all , they are doing is the military has a huge footprint. they are there to protect their own people. that is their first concern. to ensure that when we send people overseas, we have the ability to protect and care for them if they have injuries. takes a big footprint. if you take it down to 3000 to 4000, all you are really doing is protecting yourself. we do have to rethink that. the turn of events on the ground that is being gained by the taliban is hugely disappointing.
but i think we have to rethink it, as we see the momentum taking place on the ground. susan: all the human resources, all the casualties, how does anything change so when we look forward, when one day we do withdraw, how do we make things different there? mr. corker: i visited where we have been training. i will tell you it is pretty -- when you look at the caliber of people that we are training and their allegiance to deal with the issues, it is disheartening to see the amount of dollars spent in those training operations. when you see sometimes that we care more about what happens relative to things on the ground and they do it is disheartening.
colin powell certainly -- if you break it you own it, he is going to be here later, our nation and others have learned a great deal from that. there is something to be learned from breaking it and leaving it, which is what the administration did in libya. we are in it. obviously the footprint is majorly different. the casualties are being taken on right now. i think more patience and persistence is warranted with the changes being taken place. susan: you negotiated a bipartisan bill that got through numberste in veto proof to approve numbers to provide congressional review of the iran nuclear deal. you were supportive of the disapproval, unable to get a vote on that. did you achieve what you had hoped to achieve when you devise