tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 20, 2015 11:00pm-12:01am EDT
they say they saw it a sort of expansion but not worrying expansion of what had gone on for the past several years. the russians had a base there and had a naval base. they had some aircraft stations there. they were constantly sending supplies in. they didn't see it as very troubling. they asked their allies to deny the rights. they particularly asked greece and bulgaria, the -- greece didn't have to really make a decision because the request went away after a while. bulgaria after a specific request to deny the overflight rights did deny them. but the administration in late august specifically asked the russians. what are you up to? what are you doing? they said quoting again to the administration, we are fortifying our interest there. we are just as scared of the islamic state as you are. we think something needs to be
gone. so the administration in response to all of this adopted a sort of watch and wait. again i think it is sort of wishful thinking posture. putin gave two speeches, one in early september and another in mid september. especially the second one he stated very specifically what it was he wanted to do. he wanted to form a new coalition that would fight against the islamic state. he felt that it had to include the syrian armed forces because they were the only ones capable of defeating on the ground to be the ground force to defeat the islamic state. there was some rational in this even to usi's. it is almost a mere image of the policy that the obama administration has had in iraq. which is to bolster the local forces and to use a lot of airstrikes to hit the bad guys
and go in and occupy a territory that you force the bad guys to vacate. of course the administration didn't see the wisdom of doing that with syrian military and especially not with assad in charge. but they decided as a result of this that it was worth talking to putin. you'll remember that the u.s. has subspended all military contacts with russia following the annexation of crimean and further actions in eastern ukraine. there hadn't been any high level contacts at all. there was a big meeting upcoming on ukraine. so they decided because of that and because of the serious situation, it was worth having a meeting with putin at the u.n. general assembly in early --
late september or early october? early october. yeah. so i think the assumption was able that perhaps the russians at some point would do some airstrikes. they were at this point bringing in a lot of aircraft and they were repaving a lot of runways expanding the airport that they were using along the mediterranean coast. it was pretty hard to continually say to ourselves that they weren't actually going to use these airplanes for something. again the assumption was that they most likely were going to use them against the islamic state, because that's what the russians had said. they had their meeting in new york. it did not go very well. the -- putin and obama each laid out their vision. putin sang, you know, let's go in this together. but it has to be with assad and with the syrian army and obama
saying, no, you are welcome to join our coalition if you like. assad has to go. and his military has to become part of negotiations for a transition in syria that would not include assad. of course putin came in early in the morning. it was monday. left as soon as he talked to obama that afghanistan. -- that afternoon. he didn't even spend the night. it started before he got back to moscow. it quickly become apparent he intended to bomb and the opposition of the forces in the civil war in syria which is primarily being fought in western syria and isis is in eastern syria and in the north. the administration said we still want to talk to the russian. we're doing to have decon nicks
talks. did not make any sharp statements. a week later, obama in talks with his national security advisors agreed to several proposals that had been on the table for sometime. one was to -- was to directly arm kurds and arab forces in eastern syria who were fighting against the islamic state. the other was to greatly expand u.s. airstrikes in the northwest corner of syria along the turkish border where the islamic state was coming from the east and assad forces were coming from the south basically. most of the city was being held by opposition forces. the air drops happened to the fighters in the east. they dropped 50 tons of ammunition and supplies last
week. the expanded flights have not started yet. but like so many things in syria, events on the ground have started to out pace what's happening in washington and the speed at which decisions are being made. now you see even the weak -- the iranian forces pouring in to north western syria along with hezbollah and basically taking over the fighting on the ground in that area from the syrian military while the russians bombed the area and moving in the second largest city. the islamic state also moving on from the east. i think a lot of worry among american friends and allies in the region that nobody seems to be doing anything about this. if it falls, they agree it will
increase exponentially. this will be an even bigger problem for europe. the americans say they are studying other alternatives. the turks are still pushing for a no fly zone. the russians don't seem to be paying any attention to what the americans have to say about it. elizabeth: okay. on that bright note, let me ask both of you the same question. a couple of weeks ago -- several weeks ago obama basically said putin was going to get into a quagmire and just basically -- sort of implied that this would be another afghanistan for him and bogged down there for ten years. is there any indication of that at this point? do you think -- that's my first question. second question would be just about there seems to be consensus they've made short-term military gains especially with their new
military that's on display here. do you agree with that? what do you think about obama's remarks? steven: is this working now? back to not working? okay. sorry. i think it is too soon to start talking about a quagmire or not. the important thing to understand is russia's intervention is still at this point fairly limited. what is striking about it is how much of an impact he's been able to have with a force that's really a tenth of the size of the coalition raid against the islamic state. i think that goes to somewhat what karen was saying. there's more of a clarity to the strategy that putin is employing right now. he knows exactly what the immediate goal is. which is to shore up assad's forces. by doing that, i know there's a lot of -- the russians blur the
distinction of what opposition groups there are. they've said this. again sometimes you just have to listen to what they say. everybody takes up a weapon against the assad government is a terrorists. they are going to kill them. even again today in the interview. there's something about what they are doing that makes it, i think, a clear -- at least short term strategy that has -- i think -- begun to change at least the battlefield. it is not to say that it is -- that he's won anything yet. it is still hard to know what the end game is. that's where you get to the question of the, you know, afghanistan. they poured 100,000 troops into afghanistan. they were there for eight or nine years. they haven't done that. putin, much like obama has ruled out boots on the ground. he want to exert with the air
force that does seem to have modernized. it is more effective. though still blunter than our strikes, which is another important factor i think. he's not that concerned about the civilian casualties that might also you know suffer in addition to the distinctions and rebel factions. quagmire i think, it is far too soon to say that. because at least right now it is a very decisive turn on the ground in syria. karen: i think that's true. it is all a question of time. what i think the administration is talking about when they say putin, you'll be sorry, is that what he's essentially doing is taking sides in what has become a very sectarian war in a very large country in the middle east. he's taken sides against the sunnies. the expectation is that if the
sunnies who are fighting against assad are driven out of the part, and if assad's forces with iran and with the russians end up fighting the islamic state in other words if they are the only two sides that are left there, it doesn't bode very well for what the sunni population is going to think of russia and that eventually russia will suffer for this. you know, one of the assumptions is that what they are trying to do is carve out a sort of lump state of syria in the western part of the country that can be where assad can have a little kingdom in the populated kind of string of cities and the russians can have the coast which is what they want and have their bases there. but i think the assumption by
the administration and it is probably a correct one is that the russians are letting themselves in for a whole lot of trouble eventually. the problem is as steve said, it is that right now toxically the russians strategy seem to be working. that establishes facts on the ground that then change the long term situation in ways that i think the americans haven't failured out how to deal with yet. >> on that topic, obama just abandoned his training program after his famous number of training four to five fighters who is actually fight. what do you think of the strategy now? it seems to be a containment strategy that will get obama through the end of the term. what happened with the next president if obama is just containing it and passing it on? karen: it could be problematic
long before that. you have tissue yes, the training program got nowhere. largely because the fighters who were recruited were asked to pledge that they would fight against the islamic state and they were not going to fight against assad. these are guys who are fighting for their own families and for their own countries. they see assad as the enemy. i think that it become very hard to find enough people who could survive this month's long vetting process. what they've done now is really sort of jabbed the vetting process altogether. they said we really like the kurds who are on the border. it managed to push the islamic state back. they have some arab forces, not huge, but a number of them from eastern syria who never had much to do with assad anyway who were willing to fight against theist lambic state. -- islamic state. they said we'll vet the leaders
and make sure they are okay. we'll ask them some questions. we'll take it from them their fighters are all good guys. they've dropped a lot of ammunition and weapons. this supports normally irritates the turks. who feel like the kurds are all of a part -- they consider the kurdish organization that we're now helping to be a terrorists organization along with kurds who are in iraq. at the same time you've got our other allies in the region, the saudis ataris, the uea who are throwing up their hands. look, we've been following your lead, united states. you've told us not to arm the other people. i mean they've done it under the table. they haven't done it as an official policy. perhaps we need to start rethinking this. i think the administration has a
lot of decisions to make. elizabeth: what are the chances that both of you think there's a collision in the air between the u.s. and russian air missile. it hasn't happened yet. how dangerous is this right now? steve: i think it is always dangerous whenever there's military operations going on, and with such a confounding array of tarts -- targets and forces involved on both sides. it is interesting one of the first things they did in reaching out to the military was to deconflict and make sure there was protocols. i'm not sure they hammered those out. i have a friend that worked far long time. a diplomatic friend who worked in russia. she put it to me this is sometime ago before the
conflict. we have decades of experience of avoiding a hot war with the russians. i think they are -- that is going to carry through now. i don't have a sense that, you know, this administration or any of our nato allies -- we've seen them encourage them into turkey. i don't think anybody wants to go toe to toe with the russians now even in the limited way. i think it will be a lot of effort made to make sure that doesn't happen. it is an enormous risk. karen: i think that's true. it becomes more of a risk as the two forces get closer together in the area north of alepo. it has stuck to the defining principle in this? what the interest? it is the islamic state.
that's who we are fighting against. we will help as much as we can. the other people who are fighting the civil war but i don't feel like they think that's justifiable. you have them moving farther to the west. if they are going to try to push them back, that's exactly the area where the russians are going to be operating on and where they have started operating as this campaign strikes to take the city. elizabeth: what is putin's relationship with assad? steve: the last time i know they met, it was 2005. medvedev went to da mas damascus
in 2010. there's clearly a lot of coordination going on on the military levels. that's where putin likes to operate. on the intelligence level, there's been a lot of information and long standing re-supply mission and training that's going on even before in terms of cooperating with the syrian government. personally somebody once describes to me their relationship is transactional. more than personal. you know, they see russia -- russia sees its interest there in the region. again as i said in the begin,ing they see the importance of checking, you know, the americans and the west and, you know toppling yet another government and unleashing the chaos. i wanted to add one thing about the sectarian thing. you know in russia, there are the estimates vary because they haven't done a census in a while
with the question. there's somewhere between 14 and 20% of russians are muslim. the vast majority of them are sunni. so the russians -- i don't think view this as a sectarian conflict or at least their role in it as siding in a sectarian way. which could be the fatal flaw in his strategy given how much the sectarian conflict is boiling over now in the middle east. again in their mind, i -- putin has addressed this. he didn't want to see a conflict. he thinks there needs to be a resolution. he's intervening not on behalf of one or the other, but the legitimate government in his mind whether you like it or not is the assad government. that's where russia is going to intervene. elizabeth: for both of you, what can you -- what have we
learned about the state of the russian military in the last two or three weeks looking at all of the cruise missiles going over there and coordination with the ground on airstrikes and so forth. either one. steve: i think it is easy to overstate it. because the russian military is a shadow of what the united states' military is and the nato allies, and combined they don't come close at all to the power of nato. after the war in georgia in 2008, which was a smashing victory for the russians in that they drove out the georgian forces they routed them almost back to their capitol. if they had wanted to, they could have taken but stopped short. it was a disaster for the russian military. they lost seven planes, four in the first day to the georgian air defenses. let alone nato air defenses. nonetheless they took away the lessons from that war and put
them to use. a lot of attention is paid to the, you know, the big ticket items. the showy aircraft and the new cruise missiles, and the new jet that is are now flying there. but in fact there's been a kind of quiet revolution in russian military affairs in the way they structure and organize their forces. it doesn't make them the red army again. nonetheless, they've shown a tremendous amount of improvement. some of the technological advances they may, i'm told, have leapfrogged our advances because we haven't paid as much attention to the cruise missiles and air defenses. this talk of a no-flight zone now is moot. they have a ship parked off of syria right now that will stop any no-fly zone from being established.
elizabeth: that was my question. ho do you establish a no-fly zone? karen: my question is how do they stop short of shooting down? steve: that's how you stop it. karen: that would be a challenge. steve: it comes back to the question: do we -- or in this city want to go to war with russia? we can do a show of hands. i don't think that there's an appetite for that. there's not to intervene forcefully in syria. i think it would be a catastrophe. no one wants that, i think. the notion of somehow forcefully stopping the russians in their intervention, that's what it means. that's what it would have taken to stop the annexation of crimean. there was not an appetite for anyone to do that. there's some people in nato who question if we have the appetite to defend our nato allies.
there's a lot of we are reness about our commitment to that. that's why we're in a dangerous phase. putin has re-asserted russia's role as a force to be reckoned with. elizabeth: back to administration at the white house. what is the administration's best scenario over the next year for what its doing now getting arms to the kurds, airstrikes -- karen: hopefully they will make progress against the islamic state and they can push the parties in syria into some kind of negotiation. that's been their strategy for a number of years. elizabeth: what do you think the chances are of a settlement before obama or beginning of talks before obama? karen: i think the chances are probably less favorable than they've been in a long time. i mean you have the opposition
group, the political opposition put out a statement about ten days ago says no way. we'll never talk to assad. we'll never agree to anyway that includes him. you have the americans, excuse me and the europeans say, well we're not saying he has to go immediately. they've basically sort of said that from the start. everyone refers to the geneva agreement which is an agreement that the russians signed. and the iranians in the summer of 2012 that said that all of the players in syria would get together to form a transitional government and that government would then -- will then decide on elections. it doesn't mention bashar assad. it doesn't -- it says that everyone in the transitional government has to be mutually
agreed to by all sides. the assumption was always that meant it wouldn't include assad because the guys on our side would never agree to that. now that the opposition feels that they've been sort of betrayed by the west, i think that their probably less likely to participate in the negotiations. good question, i think though is whether the -- if some kind of stability can be found in syria without assad's immediate departure. is that something that's going to be suitable for the west? are the europeans now that they've had the huge influx of refugees, are they just hoping for peace in syria so that people will go home or is everyone going to stick to their guns sort to speak?
i think we don't know the answer to that yet. elizabeth: one last question about putin and his fear of the mob. i thought it was so fascinating for the book and about how to go back to dresdin in 1991. i thought that was the mentality and fear of the chaos. steve: it is in 1989 right after the berlin wall fell. putin was kgp officer in dr dresdin. the euphoria of the division of germany was coming down. putin was in the outpost in dresdin which i went to visit. he describes the scene of the
night a few weeks after the wall came down where when the protesters in dresdin basically surrounded and overran the stazi head quarters on the river there a few hundred yards from where putin had worked for five years. you know at end of the 80's. they describe the scene of people. he describes it as deranged. he saw it as a mob. it was a fairly peaceful protest. it is fairly euphoric. even among -- certainly not the stazi.
the chief there in dresden realized he couldn't stop history. people were milling through the stazi headquarters. they were going through the files. putin was watching all of this in the kgp villa from a few feet away. a number of protesters went up the street. putin was the deputy. his boss was out in town. he couldn't reach him. he tried to call the military base nearby to ask for reinforcements because he was terrified. there were several thousand people at stasi thing. a few dozen had come up to his villa. there's a description that he recalls of the officer at the base saying that he couldn't help because he had called and asked for instructions from
moscow. moscow is silent. this infour rated putin. he felt abandoned by it. here are the people outside. he thinks of them as a crazed mass the horde of people. overthrowing the government. he had an amount of sympathy for him. it comes up again and again throughout his career. it came up with the soviet union fell. and then on through the 1990's as he rose to power. you saw it in ukraine. he had no instructions. a lot of legends grew out of the night that he had confronted the people at the top of the stairs waving a pistol. there was one version he had an
ak-47. no shirtless. it was the heroic pugh putin has it was told. one of the guys who was there describe to me how he came out and it was test. it is at night. he bluffed. it is a protected diplomatic facility. we have orders to protect it. we'll open fire if you seize the building. it kind of moved the crowd. they didn't want to pick a fight. they achieved their goals. they went away. putin, single handingly as he often dreamed and intelligence agents do, stood down the mob. you know, you see this again throughout even today.
the notion of the chaos. it affects people's thoughts. it is a fear of the uprising that courses through his entire political career. elizabeth: right. question. you get the first question, pat. >> okay. it was a very small protest. just the other day, there was a protest in moscow. again russian involvement in syria and i'm wondering if you could just talk about what it meant and what it means. does it have any significance? and to karen and maybe to both of you, in terms of the prospects for political settlement secretary kerry in the next few days is going to be speaking with the turks and saudi arabia and even with russia and jordan.
in some way, could perhaps this escalation and bombing lead to more talks and lead to more political settlements? steve: the protest i think speaks for itself. in its size, it is not very big. that said, there's an anti-war sentiment, i think in russia. i haven't been there since the strikes began. i was there last in july. you do hear people questioning the strategy the same way we are tonight. wondering what is the end game. i've heard some people that i was talking to the other day about the, you know, the economic pain that russia is going through right now. its economy is in terrible shape because of the sanctions and low oil prices. people questioning can russia afford this.
can they afford to lob a $500,000 missile at syria? what's really the fight? what's russia's national security interest? i think that's has very little influence on what putin does. last year there was a much larger protest against the war in ukraine. they had 50,000 people out on the street. but even the number that big is a fairly marginal one. i think in terms of influencing you know policymaking. they largely ignore that. it is ignored on tv. maybe, you know, make some of the opposition feel better or feel like they are at least registering their disapproval. but it is not that important. on your second question, to jump ahead, the thing that strikes me is that everybody seems to agree on two things: the islamic state is really bad, and only a
political solution is possible. putin has said it himself. he knows he can't bomb his way out of this situation. he can't keep assad in power by using force. i think at some point -- i think imagine a scenario, but it seems a long way off. there has to be a negotiated end. as there were in the conflicts in the balkans and ultimately as though they have to be in iraqi and in afghanistan and all wars come to an end through some kind of negotiation. that's the obama administration policy that's putin's policy. so the question is how do you find the process that allows that to happen. i really don't see it on the horizon. i think eventually it will come to that. karen: i completely agree with that. i think the americans say the russians are still giving them
signals they are not vetted to assad. i think that's true. i think if they could find someone to serve the same purpose and allow negotiations to go forward ultimately, that's probably the way out. although you've seen in the past couple of weeks a lot of senior of syrian military officers getting killed. just all of the sudden. there's some -- you know there's one theory this is assad and his backers getting rid of people who could play that role in order to protect his own position. i'm not vogueing for that interpretation. that's what some people think. eventually you are right. that's what has to happen. it is certainly much farther away than the administration thought it was going to be last summer. what's happening on the ground needs to play itself out.
i don't know again what happens to the opposition in that scenario. they have not managed through all of the years to really organization themselves cohesively into a political body that could sit across the table from anyone or convince the world, let alone assad, that they were capable of joining together to present a united political front completely separate from the military situation. >> how credible is the strategic link between putin's pressure in syria and the flow of refugees into europe such that the
europeans cry wave the white flag in the end of january that are end the sanctions as long as putin reduces the pressure on the lever and therefore reduces the flow of refugees? karen: i haven't heard that. it is entirely possible that i've missed something. as far as i can see for now, at least in their public statements the europeans are hanging pretty tough. i mean -- i don't -- if anything putin has increased the pressure on aleppo. i think things are moving very quickly there. you are drawing a link between syria and ukraine. yeah. >> the sanction. karen: right. right. i haven't seen that. steve: i think that's very much what putin would like to see happen. i'm not so sure that's a grand
bargain in anyone's interest to pursue right now. there's a notion in russia that i think is completely misguided. the world eventually will accept the annexation of crimean. i just don't think that's going to happen soon. eventually perhaps maybe we'll have to deal with him again on, you know, the iran nuclear talks that we did on this settlement. but i think that at least in this government, there's going to be a design to make sure the sanctions imposed because of the annexation remain in place. let alone the shoot down of the malaysian airliner. he's not out of the woods yet. i think in his mind, he sees those as punitive measures that, you know, eventually will just -- he'll wait out. whether that's part of some negotiated solution, you know, we'll see.
>> back to syria. oned -- on the kurds, how far can they go? will you expect -- again do you think the kurds will be there with the log and what kind of agreement and arrangement do you see between outside of the kurds. they are not being driven by assad. we'll see what the best scenario for the kurds in the future of syria and with whom they will have to work. they've expressed some reluctance to work with the division because they continue in the handling of the security interest. with whom the kurds can work in the scenario and structure.
elizabeth: could you state your name please? [inaudible] elizabeth: thank you. karen: you know, the americans believe that part of the deal for helping the beyond reasonable kurds was they would not move west of the euphrates river. the official position is they are not helping. i think they are all mixed together there. as you said, there are reports of kurdish pockets fights against aleppo. the church believed there are many, many many of them. they believe this is a betrayal in some ways. i don't know what the reality of that is. certainly the kurds have their own objective and have their own goals in terms of what they are fighting for in syria. for now, the americans believe because they've been -- really the only effective fighting force against the islamic state
in syria that they've been able to find and because they have struck a deal with their leadership and believe that for the moment they can trust them, that's the direction they are going in. again it is made the turks very unhappy. i don't know what the kurdish long term objectives are in syria. certainly the -- you know, the americans have tried to down play any link with the pkk with other groups that are actively fighting in turkey and against the turks. i think those links are there. it is a sort of tactical alliance right now with the americans whether -- over the long term -- it works to anybody's advantage, i don't know. as long as nobody wants to put troops on the ground to fight against the islamic state in
syria, it is sort of viewed as a good option let alone the only option that's available at moment. i agree with you. it does pose a lot of difficult questions for the future. steve: one of the things that i was stuck by when i was spending a lot of time with in iraq is it seems particularly relevant now is whether or not anybody has an appetite to re-open the issue of borders and partition. you know, there's a -- an enormous desire for independence among kurds in iraq certainly and essentially they have a sort of de facto autonomy. you wonder whether or not -- i've heard this in russian speculation and analysis of whether or not it is time that we look at partitions both iraq and syria as part of the longer
term solution. i don't hear that being taken very seriously in terms of policy right now. i think everybody knows that's an opening of pandora's box. it may be ultimately a kind of solution. i don't think it would be opposed by a lot of kurds. elizabeth: yes, up here. >> this is a follow up on what you were saying, steven. what does it take to prop up assad? is it the postal enclave where he's strong and -- what is putin's short-term objective? what does that actually mean? and secondly, why -- what is the non-islamic state opposition has more of the threat to assad than
the -- than isis? i guess finally to put it a little bit more stark, your last question that we've seen the end. steve: i think the russian calculation is that the people who are on the front lines with the fighting the syrian government are the people where you have to start bombing. those for the most part are not the islamic state fighters who as karen pointed out are in the other part of the country. they are intervening against the immediate threat to the government, at least government control of a lot of areas. you know, again, the -- with the airstrikes, being as deliberate as they are and as blunt as they are, not making a lot of discrimination about civilian casualties either, unfortunately.
i think they can quite a lot of impact. i mean we're only three weeks in. you know but it seems to have, you know, cleared the way for some advances by government forces backed up by the iranians hezbollah, and so forth. it does seem to be having an effect. whether or not it leads to re-opening decisions made when the ottoman empire came undone. it is pie in the sky speculation. could you envision an international agreement where gold to the u.n. and re-draw borders? >> they are de facto on the ground. steve: i think de facto is what's already happening in large areas. no one there has been willing to say let's talk about the independence.
maybe -- i think obama said that, you know, the 19th century power of politics are over when borders were drawn like this by force. you know putin re-draw the border of ukraine by force. you know, at least right now no one is prepared to stop that. they will sanction it. you wonder why there's not the notion which we thought we would move beyond is now back at least at the center of the discussion. karen: i think just -- i agree with that. what they are trying to do on the ground now is to re-gain control of the road between aleppo and atakiah to operate lines and transport among the large cities in the west. and that putin who has said this publicly, you know, the only force that can defeat the islamic state is the syrian
military on the ground. with help from abroad coalition. in order for the soviet military to turn the attention, it's got to get rid of the pesky opposition people first. that's what they are trying to do now. i think they believe -- you can correct me -- but i think what's putin's strategy is that once we get rid of the people, the fact that everybody agrees that the islamic state is bad really won't be any other option. we'll all have to join together to get rid of them. meanwhile we will preserve our equities in the region. >> up here. thank you. my name is sarah cobb. i'm at george mason. prior to that, i was the director of the program at the
harvard law school. i've had a lot of years thinking about negotiation processes. i'm interested in your view, steven, about the title of your book is about, you know, metaphor of bizarre; right? i wondered could you tell us a little bit about how he understands the way in which governments change? what's his view on how that works? because the fact that, you know, 1917 or something didn't happen, i don't know how he incorporates that into his own world view. because it would be possible to otherwise have a conversation with him, i can imagine, about the generation and creation of the process for the transformation over there. you know a political transformation. that would make sense to him. i don't know what kind of political transformation would make sense to him. simply the maintenance of a
given government is not a strategy for political transformation or political change. so i can see the status quo as something he would like. i would wonder what's his theory about how political transformation would or should happen. steve: you know, it is interesting that only recently, that's in the last few years i've begun to hear the argument that what happened in 1917 was a foreign invasion that corrupted russia the great imperial russia was taint the by a bunch of foreigners. it was plotted in the west. marxism was a foreign infection that came into russia from abroad. how does putin -- putin is not -- i don't think -- a great thinker in the sense that you are thinking about these kinds of issues. i think he's much more
instinctive. certainly his background not just as kgp officer but as a proud soviet boy. he grew up in the hay day of soviet power. they put a man in space. it was the period of rebuilding after the war and so forth. not, you know, -- it wasn't in his -- he -- i think in the end it is a very conservative person. he doesn't like abrupt change. he sees things being evolutionary. so, i mean himself i don't think he's trying to restore the soviet union. he is looking for a kind of creation of a stable political model for russia which draws on a lot of things. but instinctually almost. he's well read and read russian philosophers and so forth. it is kind of picking and choosing from each of them the elements of the state ideology.
it is really about him. it is about, you know, him as the leader of a new russia. which is not quite the empire, it is not the soviet union. it has no real ideology behind it other than the continuation of his own power and the central idea of the state being the stabilizing force that holds a society together. russia is a very multiethnic and confessional society. it needs something to hold it together. for a lot of years, it was the empire and czars. it was the communist ideology. they've been searching. i'm not sure it is the model you are talking about or he thinks so much how it applies to a country like syria.
except in each of the cases the pattern is clear. he sees when people take to the street that chaos follows. i think he sees elections as being dangerously destablizing. even his own experience the first election when he worked for the deputy mayor -- he was deputy mayor working for the mayor of st. petersburg. he was one of the great democrats that emerged. this is the guy he worked with during the early years. in 1996, he faced re-election. he was a huge personality. like yelson. he thought just by the sheer force of his charisma, he could cruise to re-election. another deputy on a level of putin challenged him in the election. putin was infuriated by this.
he thought it was an act of betrayal. he called him a judas. it seemed that, you know he couldn't conceive of the idea that people could get rid of the man he quite adored. he was almost a father figure. he lost the election fair and square. it was a real, vibrant election. with a campaign, american style you know, ads and so forth. so putin, it is a disaster. look what happens when you let the people decide. karen: i think to your specific question russians have said they believe in the geneva process. they believe there should be transitional government formed of all of the players followed by an election. they don't think that assad should be barred from the process however. think they if there's an
election he should run or someone who they feel equally confident will protect their interest there. so they, you know, -- their -- what they say is what's the problem? we all agree on what has to be done. we're here. we, you know, -- assad, the government is ready to talk. who is on your side? who are you speaking for? elizabeth: let me just -- one last question. no one has a question. okay. all right. >> i don't understand the idea that all wars are ended through negotiation. that's not what ended world war ii, it is not what end the civil war, it is not even what ended vietnam. we thought we had the paris piece of cords. two years later, north vietnam invades south vietnam and
conquers it. i don't see what you negotiate with the islamic state. they are the enemy. these people are so extreme would anybody outline what a negotiated solution would look like? karen: they are not part of the process. they are separate. the negotiations would be between assad and his government or assad's government and the opponents of his government. the islamic state is something completely separate. that, i think, is part of the russian point. they are saying we all agree that we have to fight against them. we all agree they are the bad guys. let's get this civil war finished to all go fight against them. nobody is arguing they should come to the negotiating table. it is the people around who are fighting over syria.
steve: i think you make an excellent point about world war ii certainly and even the civil war. both of those were followed by political processes. i agree about the islamic state. you can't negotiate with them. nonetheless, i think there has to be within syrian society a negotiation about how they are going to live together. you know, as a people and nation. or we go to the question of partitions. it is true in iraq as well. the islamic state isn't something you negotiate with. i don't think you can defeat islamic extremism by military power alone as well. i think in the end there has to be a political process, not so much in peace talks but isolating the elements so they don't have support in significant parts of the society.
you'll always have the people willing to blow themselves up for ideological reasons. the question is how you can incorporate the society that can completely marginalize the element of it. elizabeth: thank you both. steven thanks to you. >> coming up, house ways and mean chair, paul ryan, announces his decision on running for house speaker. heads of the house and senate armed services committee on the defense authorization bill. later the defense department briefing on the agreement between the u.s. and russia over syrian airspace. the house republican leaders meet wednesday to discussion their agenda and leadership objections. that's live at 10:00 a.m. eastern. after that the house homeland security committee holds a
hearing on homeland and security threats. james comby and jeh johnson are expected to testify. we'll join that in progress. later a house armed services subcommittee get an update on the joint strike fighter program from the federal's executive director. that's live at 3:30 p.m. eastern also on c-span3. >> c-span presents "landmark cases" the book, a guide to the series. it supports 12 supreme court decisions including marbury versus madison korematsu versus the united states, brown versus the board of education, and miranda versus arizona.
it feoffs the impact of the cases. it is published by c-span. it is available for $8.95 plus shipping. get your copy today at c-span.org/landmarkcases. >> house ways and means chair announced he is willing to run for speaker of the house if all three republican groups give them their endorsement. he will make a decision by friday. jason chaffetz has dropped out of the race. more on the decision on c-span's network.
mr. ryan: tonight i shared what i think it will have -- kick to have a unified conference. i made a few request for what i think is necessary. i asked to hear back from my colleagues by the end of the week. first, we need to move from being an opposition party to being a proposition party. second, we need to update our rules. we need to do this constant with leadership challenges. we should unify now and not