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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  January 15, 2016 12:00pm-2:01pm EST

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the foundation for the sense of democracies. , who is an, phillips adjunct fellow at the washington institute. philip and i have known each other for a wild. philip also owns a blog. to his left is my hudson institute colleague, michael durham. again, this is an extraordinary panel. i thank you for coming. let's open it up right now. >> thank you so much for your words, your invitation, and for providing me the opportunity to present my analysis. the detaining of american soldiers in the gulf by the
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revolutionary guard came as a surprise by some cash to some, and the relatively fast release some, and the relatively fast release has been declared ominous like a victory by the secretary of state and the u.s. government -- almost like a victory by the secretary of state and the government of the run -- of iran. admit that this is hardly surprising, and it's because of the revolutionary nature of tehran. i will talk for a few minutes about the revolutionary nature, and after that, i will try to argue why some in the gulf mistreating the population, are indirectly helping tehran. in that way, i will probably put myself in a position to be
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attacked. so, for most americans, the was anion in iran historical event that took place in 1979, 77 years ago -- 37 years ago. washington, here in 37 years is a long time. well have been when the pyramids were built. it's an historical event. no one has a long memory. the an ongoing process for government of iran, the , and thenary guard supreme leader. the revolution is a permanent air he -- permanent revolution. it is not historical. it is an ongoing process. and the one institution with is the permanence of
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that revolution is, of course, the revolutionary guard. by engaging in acts against the u.s. navy, by staging and attacking diplomatic missions in iran, and by constantly attacking the institutions of state, because there are such institutions. it is to safeguard the ,erritorial integrity of iran to safeguard the revolution and its achievement. it is abstract, and it has to do with ideology. if you compare the mission of with the mission of the revolutionary guard, the
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police are charged with upholding law and order in the country and with protecting the ,iplomatic missions in tehran the permanence of the revolution. this is the duality. this is the parallel structure that we have in iran. so, what tools do the revolutionary guard have at to continueal spreading the revolution in the entire middle east? that is by reaching out to shia populations in the persian gulf and beyond. most unfortunately, some sunni governments are making the job of the revolutionary guard easier rather than more difficult. particularly when you look at the kingdom of saudi arabia, where the shia population is practically treated as second-class citizens. you make it easier for the revolutionary guards to appeal to them. chasing saudi
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shia into the arms of the supreme leader. the same thing is happening in bahrain. if you look at other countries -- kuwait. shia are loyal citizens. they participate in the political process. they are good citizens. emirates,nited arab and many other places. if there is what policy recommendation that we should i hope our good friends in saudi arabia and bahrain will listen to -- if you treat your shia populations as citizens, they will be good citizens. but if you look at them with suspicion, if you suppress them, if you suppress their demand's for being treated in a dignified way, you end up chasing them
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into the arms of the revolutionary guard, into the arms of the supreme leader, and you end up contributing to the permanence of the revolution in iran. thank you. that was fantastic. thank you very much. there are a number of things i want to circle back to later, especially the point you made about the parallel structure of the revolution. i want to talk about our democratic revolution and the these parallel structures at odds with each other. philip. phillip: i got into studying what was going on with certain shia armed groups, particularly in bahrain, because i was following social networks that are completely controlled by the iranians and the revolutionary guard. i found this fascinating. i am going to try to go into that and demonstrate what this means for the region and how we
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are supposed to be looking at this. i don't want to remove agency from certain actors on the ground. ali is correct by saying that certain sunni moves to put shia in a position where they have to or want to reach out to the iranians and will much more quickly by into their propaganda , be trained by the revolutionary guard, do this, do that. i think there is a broader sectarian narrative here that has been played out due to the war in iraq, the war in syria. , again, theyria sectarian narrative was driven by the iranians, so we have now come full circle. a few other things attack what's going on in the gulf. one of the big issues i noticed was with bahrain. in bahrain, i have counted around 15-22 groups that have declared they want to use a
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militant message to depose the monarchy. this has direct implications for u.s. security policy, and some of these groups have actually called for attacks against americans. one of them actually openly announced two days ago that they had links to certain iraqi militias very publicly on their facebook page. they came out and said they would want to launch rockets. rocket -- they said they wanted to launch these rockets back in 2014. have taken bombings place due to these shia elements in bahrain. usually they target security, any security target they can get , or government targets. the message is very clear.
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it's to send a message not simply to bahrain and the gulf, thatlso to the americans, they can start a low-level war if they want to in the backyard of an american military base. there is a very close saudi shiap between who live in the eastern province and bahraini shia. a lot of these factions are , so you will see, when arms transports are going through, magically, some will get dropped off in saudi arabia, and some will get dropped off in bahrain. going forward from there, there have been a number of developments in the past year. one group, which has links to , and ahia and iraqi shia very active militant element
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within bahrain, was essentially smashed by bahrain security services. there have been a number of found. and arms caches about 1.5 metric tons of explosives were seized by bahraini authority in addition to what we call an esp manufacturing plant. if you look at the bombs and some of the firearms confiscated, if you look at the cells that were formed, they were very similar to the cells forming in southern iraq back when the united states was there. , when you see this upsurge in technological capabilities, it is obvious this outside hand has .ad some sort of presence does iran want to escalate the conflict? i am of the believe that they are long-term thinkers, strategic. this is a long-term goal.
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i have heard arguments from different policy makers and different policy makers in the bef that have said may americans during negotiations have said why don't you take a break from military activities in bahrain and saudi? again, i don't have any proof to that effect, but you can still see action going on. i do believe iran wants to keep it on a low burn for now. there werely enough, arms seized going into bahrain. i think there is military activity, but it is on the low burn. host: thank you very much. mike, if you would pick this up and round off our introduction. mike: thanks. i would like to talk a little bit about the u.s. reading of and the dilemma.
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i would start by imagining a between the united states and the saudi's to on a recommendation that ali made --t the saudi's should saudis should treat their shia population differently. i think that conversation today would be unfruitful. a mostd be unfruitful in any circumstances, but particularly today. the saudis would listen politely, say thank you for the lecture, and then ignore it. for me, there are many different reasons, but especially now, i -- especially now, because from the saudi point of the region has tilted toward iran and away from saudi arabia.
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that is with respect to the from 30,000 feet of what is the proper regional in the middle east? the number one question for everyone in the region is syria. is theflict in syria center of gravity of all that is happening. as regional actors are concerned, the united states has taken the side of bashar al-assad. that's not the rhetorical position, but it's the defect a position based on what they are doing on the ground. if you look at u.s. policy anywhere from baghdad to beirut, the united states is in alignment with the iranians or
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that arer actors hostile to the established order .n the sunni areas the united states is arming kurds in syria who are, for all purposes, anerp extension of the pkk, who are separatists in turkey. if you are sitting in ankara and looking at u.s. policy in syria, the americans have a policy that is leading toward a new order in syria in which turkish separatists are going to have a safe haven. if you are saudi arabia, you see a syria with a revitalized iranian role in the country and the shar al-assad in power in perpetuity. if you are the israelis and you
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are looking at what the united states is doing, you see that eventually what is going to happen is that the russians and iranians are going to help bashar al-assad reassert control, and you are going to groundgc members on the right on the israeli border. if you're the saudis and you look at what the united states is doing in iraq, the united states is the air force of the shiite militias armed, trained, equipped, and effectively led by iran inside iraq. thisf you look at the way is going and imagine the conversation that ali suggested we had, from the saudi point of view, you can say hey, washington, what about all these militias iran is arming, training, and equipping and four or five different arab
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countries? what is your policy for stopping that? and of course, there is no policy for stopping that. thisthe saudi's executed shiite cleric inside saudi , that was preceded by conversations between the united states, u.s. officials and saudi officials, in which the u.s. said don't do this, this is a provocation, a sectarian provocation that is going to cause difficulty with iran. from the saudi point of view, this was the united states effectively reinforcing iran's voice as a representative of around the region. it was the united states saying the iranians have a legitimate say in how we act with the shiites in our country. i think leend actually wrote this in one of his columns, this was a death
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sentence to nimr baqir al-nimr. the only way our voice with the saudis about the way they treat the shiite is going to have any resonance is if they believe we are building a regional order in which they are larger security concerns are going to be addressed and their fear of an expanding iran is going to be addressed. if they believe we are going to help roll back a rainy and militias,- iranian then we might be able to have a fruitful conversation with them about what's going on inside their country. but under the current context, it is impossible. thank you, mike. one of the things i want to come back to that you brought up, which will play on a point i
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wanted to come back to with ali is about revolution and the state and if it is possible for the white house to integrate a revolution into regional order. a lot of what we are seeing right now is the result or the function of trying to integrate into the regional order. but i believe all he wanted to respond to something you said -- i wanted to respond to something you said. see in the middle oft is mostly because indecisiveness in the white house and the middle east policy that is wrong. this disentanglement militarily from iraq, completely
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prematurely, before the iraqi state was capable of defending itself, before it had the institutions to take care of its own security. i think there is a vacuum of power in the entire middle east was in a better position to take advantage of. institutions, the revolutionary guard, and other institutions which serves the purpose of exporting the revolution. this, of course, creates a lot of concern among sunni regimes, particularly in saudi arabia , in this case, is justly concerned about what the united states is doing because it's changing the balance of power in the middle east. arabia and bahrain continue treating their own populations as second-class
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citizens when it comes to shia would be morehey open to watch propaganda from the iranian regime. i am not arguing that the obama administration has had the correct policy. i think some of the problems we are seeing are consequences of that. something thats henry kissinger said a while ago, that iran has to decide if it's going to be a state or a revolution? we are comingngs up against is the fact that in iran, it's really a revolution. and the revolution overwhelms the state. : yes, that is the case, and
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whenever the iranian government is facing exes tension threats, it begins to behave -- you have existential threats, you people who can charm washington, but whenever that need is no longer there, they are expendable. happeninghat what is now and what happened with taking the sailors? of course, because the revolution survived. the revolution, in particular, has to survive. there are two objectives. first, to humiliate the united states, and second, to tell the world that the revolutionary guard, which is in charge of
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iran's foreign policy -- and the fact that they were released faster than the british sailors, it's honestly no cause for celebration in washington. if secretary kerry wants to build and arc de triomphe for himself in washington, fine, but -- he did say the diplomatic channel is open and see how productive it has already proven. the revolutionary guard is the one in iran making the decisions. ast: philip, could you give little more detail about how the revolution -- i was reading an by one of our colleagues, and she was talking sheik,the nigerian
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and i just went to get a little more detail about how the revolution dictates various structures around the world. if you could give us a little how ittail about replicates itself. philip: there is a model they follow, and it is the lebanese-hezbollah model. there is a military section. there is an ideology of resistance that is always embedded in there. it is anti-american, anti-israel . thingse all of these wrapped in the anti-western sentiment they have. the ideology the islamic republic is based upon, often
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these groups will have that incorporated in the structure. it doesn't necessarily mean they are public about it. in bahrain, groups don't necessarily announce where they are ideologically. you will see inklings of it at .imes the fed if 14 views movement, which has moved in a military direction -- february 14th youth as aent, which started peaceful movement, now they are throwing molotov's. day had a protest of a invented by ayatollah khomeini -- they had a parade on a day invented by ayatollah khomeini to celebrate the downfall of israel. in bahrain, you have to remember the shia population, these are
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ists running around. many of these people are independent in terms of who they prefer for their leadership. in iran, what they are attempting to do is co-opt that. they co-opt the anger that comes -- with theirict distrust and dislike for the regime because of how they are mistreated and they say iran will address our interest. say byt iran will do is the way, why don't you learn weapons? why don't you do an ideological training seminar? i think this gets passed over quite a bit and a lot of analysis. i focus a lot on iraqi-shia militias being formed.
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group follows khomeini. there are around 200 and 50, like a new one every week, but beyond that, what they are doing they feelght now, secure enough to say they are with the islamic revolution in the region. same with syria. there is a group that a few irgc leaders are calling syrian hezbollah. when you see something like that, they feel far more secure in those environments. in other environments, they are far more patient. host: in the gulf, you mean. philip: yes. they want to pull in numbers. hezbollah -- i mean, i love the propaganda music.
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i'm assessed with it. , they had a song about the victory of the arabs. they were playing the air of narrative on this. then they have another one where they are talking about the cedars of lebanon. switch to syria, they switch the narrative when they need to to pull in more people. covert because the government has a very effective security apparatus, with american assistance. you don't always want to come out and show all your cards and say hey, by the way, did you know that khomeini was the best guy ever? they don't want to do that. it's interesting how they
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use different messages in different communities. to -- if youwant are coming back to this question , orevolution versus state pick up another thread. mike: they specifically say they want an international revolution in the middle east. they want the american dominated system to disappear, and a new system, in which they are the central player, to replace it. first of all, i should point out for the audience about the different articles you have written, especially the one , did then policy administration see that they were effectively tilting toward a revolution, or did they think
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they were going to turn the revolution into a real state? mike: i believe the obama administration sees iran as a partner instability -- in stability and understands that it is turning toward iran in syria. this tilt toward iran is happening in kind of a fit of absentmindedness on the part of the americans, or the americans might say we don't what to get involved in syria, so we are hanging back, and iran is the vacuum. it doesn't matter, in a sense, when we are trying to understand the dynamics in the region, whether the united states is
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thinking about the invasion from is actuallyther it thinking consciously about aligning with iran. the same dynamic is taking place so correctlyi pointed out, iran has these institutions and the ability to project its power by building proxies on the ground that look after its interest is. the policy is facilitating expansion of iranian power throughout the region both directly -- i mean, the iranians intervened directly with the russians as part of a military .oalition to prop up al-assad they are also using proxies.
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as early as saturday or sunday, we are going to have implementation day, when we to 150eleasing up billion dollars to the iranians. if you are sitting in saudi arabia or israel and you see the unitedou see states about to drop $150 billion on the iranians, it looks like the united states is tilting toward iran. maybe it's not. i believe it is. i read plays this game that i the united states plays this game of being both the arsonist and the firemen. -- i rtc stirs up problems iran plays this game of being both the arsonist and the firemen. talented aty sitting behind closed doors with secretary kerry and the americans and saying you know,
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we understand each other. you haventerests. interests. we have overlapping interests. asy present themselves consummate players. they say we have overlapping interests. we can cut a deal. right? and the americans believe they are domesticating the iranians, that they are showing them that a partnership is possible, and in doing so, they are elevating defensiveragmatic and elements in iranian society. fiasco,omplete basically. what's amazing to me -- and i will stop on this point, is that every time something happens in the middle east where there is some kind of outrageous provocation from the iranians, ignore it or put a ridiculous interpretation on it. right now, hezbollah and the are starving the
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citizens in syria. to000 people are starving death. this is a policy of the al-assad regime, a policy of iran. this is going on while the saudis executed nimr baqir .l-nimr which did we decide was a provocation? the execution, and not the starvation. in the regionnni sees as a sectarian provocation, of course. nobody in the american media -- very few people in the american media are even aware of the perception of people in the region about this and reporting on it. same thing with the sailors, right? ali described a very accurately how the navy put out to the region that we are in charge of what goes on.
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this as ahouse paints tremendous diplomatic victory because we got the hostages released within hours. the message the i rtc you -- irt c is sending to the region is very clear, and our news media repeats the talking points of john kerry as if it's a deep analysis of what happened without suggesting there's any other way to see this. host: is this the incorrect interpretation? are you telling me the white house has not really succeeded in empowering moderates who will take more time? will it ever happen -- empowering moderates question mark will it take more time? will it ever happen? -- empowering moderates? will it take more time? will it ever happen? think what we are most likely to see is that the
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supreme leader is going to block or disqualify many people to run for parliament. probably not rouhani himself, but his network. will see is rouhani being an isolated president, and that will appoint the next supreme leader is going to be dominated by regime loyalists , and then you have technocrats going back into the shadows. going toy the way, benefit from the money being released because of the sanctions relief? likely scenario is that the money is going to be transferred to the economic business empire of the revolutionary guard. that base is going to get the contracts. it's not going to be the private sector.
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they are arguing if you give us the money, we can make the intote sector come back the economy. than notmore likely going to be soft contracts to the revolutionary guard. irtcould strengthen the control with the business elites of iran. that calculation by the white house, i think has been completely wrong. this is how the white house speaks about a publicly. you would look very strange if you said we don't care about empowering moderates. we are dealing with extremist's. these are hard men around the region. as the president apparently said to a number of arab officials at camp david in may, he spoke of the guys who get
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things done around the region. you wouldn't really be able to speak publicly and say look, we have done a deal with the , but in fact, a nuclear agreement locks in the irgc. do they actually believe they ?re empowering moderates mike: i believe both. it's a deep aspect of international thinking to gradual,n the moderating influence of international markets. there's a model they have in their heads, and the model is china. .he chinese are our rivals
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they are building their military. but we have an economic , so we havency changed the calculus in beijing about how much it's worthwhile change the united states because there are so many things happening in beijing. they understand that in the short term, it's going to lead to a strengthening of some of the more hardline elements, but over time, once the money starts penetrating and there is this interdependency, this will change the calculation. are twoere interpretations of a ran in washington. one sees it as an aggressive --
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of iran in washington. one sees it as an aggressive revolutionary power. the other says nobody in iran really believes that anymore. the system was set up so they have to pay lip service to it, actual fact they are pragmatic actors. president obama has said this in a number of interviews. they are pragmatic. we can cut a deal with them. that is what he is banking on in the end. host: have they lost their taste for revolution? : the revolution and revolutionary behavior serves their corporate interests. it is still a single party system, and the people's liberation army was under total political control.
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the iranian case, if there is a one-party system, the party is the party of the revolutionary guard. it is in the interest of the revolutionary guard to be paylutionary, not only to lip service, but to practice it once in a while. the threat from the outside or in the threat from economic, they do engage in pragmatic solutions. but it's highly ideological and it serves their interests. not to deliberate too long , but what to you think will happen next? what is the regime likely to do
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next in the persian gulf? philip: i think we are on a low burn trajectory until they want to turn up the flame. they are building groups of the .uture host: what would turning up the flame look like? do they have a vested interest in getting the persian gulf hot right now, or is this more like throwing matches at the persian gulf? everyone's and a while getting people a little upset and then walking it back. -- everyone's in a while getting people a little upset and then inking it back -- every once a while getting people upset and then walking it act. -- back. what will the next few months, the next year of the obama presidency look like? philip: for starters, i think it
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will be throwing matches. you have to look at this from a strategic angle and from messaging angles. groups have been expressing their support for groups like hezbollah. right now, forming a rhetorical , the islamicble resistance is growing. beyond that, the attacks they are doing, which are in good measure due to -- good part due to security measures that have not been that effective, but they are continuing. but it's the low burn. the low burn is effective for now. again, i'm not asking you to -- philip: most randomly. i look at timing. a lot of these groups were
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sending anti-american threats. target a starbucks. target a chili's. target the ritz-carlton hotel. fire rockets at the u.s. naval base. but those didn't really coincide with a big push by the americans in the region. sometimes, they might just want to press the button a say, all right, let's see how they react to this. year, we are in the last of the obama administration, and this is kind of the trajectory of where it's going. i think they may be emboldened. you look at what's going on in iraq and syria, ground battles are not that great for them right now, but if they feel emboldened, they might try to do something a little more spectacular. but again, i think we are on a
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low burn trajectory and they will keep it like that. there are elements on the ground converging with irgc saying we really need to do it now. not yet. will be a little more pragmatic about our revolutionary militarism. but just because you have a revolutionary mindset doesn't mean you can't pursue it pragmatically. have revolutionary actors who say ok, maybe we need to be a little more patient -- on pushingry big supplication when it comes to launching their revolutionary goals. : keeping the region on a
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level of low intensity crisis serves the interest of the revolutionary guard. see that some sunni leaders are playing into the hands of the revolutionary guard. keeping someone detained in prison in bahrain, and there is not a sentence. butee not only a beheading, i hear he was also crucified. these are the policies of some sunni leaders. surprising that the revolutionary guard and radical leaders in iran have an easier time persuading the shia people to follow the path of the iranian revolution. host: why is it in the interest of the revolution of the islamic republic to keep the region in a state of low intensity conflict
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and anxiety? anti-status quo power? is it about the united states? order to increase and spread the influence of the islamic republic, in order to operate more freely, you need a crisis. if they are a well ordered society in which there is no political crisis or social upheaval or suppression of the then thes, revolutionary guard has a much more difficult time operating. were not happyy with the overthrow of saddam hussein. they want a state of crisis in iraq so they can replace the old order with their own people. so that the moderate saudi shia do not cooperate with the saudi regime. so a state of permanent crisis
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helps them to attract the support of the shia populations. again, without asking you to use your crystal ball, what do you see happening over the next year in the gulf region? mike: let me just start by saying how much i agree with what ali said. i do believe the obama administration is looking at frommess stretching , and it looksrut at tehran and sees a stable country that behind closed doors talks the language of regional stability to it, and it thinks wow, if we could just incorporate a iranians into the security architecture, they will work with us to stabilize the region. we don't have to call them
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revolutionary. they have an interest in stability. the way to think of them is not as pillars of stability, but as actors who are carrying out protection. it's a protection racket. they develop instruments to blow things up, and they tell you if you work with us, we won't blow it up. work with us, we will blow stuff up. that's how they operate. they don't have the money. they don't have the political skill. they don't have the institutions to work to stabilize any of these regions. they sold us a bill of goods. we've convinced ourselves that they do. i don't want to move to far from the subject at hand, but i believe one of the arguments the administration would make, quietly, about syria, is that they don't like
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bashar al-assad, but the fact is that without him there will be more chaos. secretary kerry -- that's why the iranians and that's why the tosians have been invited negotiate over serious future. they could be a potentially stabilizing influence. mike: again, we have sold ourselves a bill of goods. of whatt their argument the problem is -- mike: i understand the argument they are making, but it's false. let's say our number one interest is to defeat isis. i actually think our number one interest is to defeat iran and isis is number two. we cannot defeat isis unless we have sunni allies on the ground who can help us to take and hold -- that's the important part -- these areas that isis now controls.
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when we are in alignment with iran and iraq and with the shiite militias in iraq, when we are in alignment with russia and all assad in syria -- and a all assad in syria, we alienate all those forces on the ground. what is russia doing? what is syria doing? they are not attacking isis. women,e starving men, and children. they are dropping bombs on them. the placesrgeting the united states has contained. the russians consciously bombed elements that the u.s. trained. what was the u.s. response? john kerry met with the russian foreign minister and started
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talking about de-conflicting. a message to all american allies in the region that we are not going to back up sunnis on the grounds that we had designated previously as our allies. not going to achieve -- and i can say this confidently -- we are not going to achieve our strategic goal of stabilizing the region, and i don't think we are going to defeat isis. all of these countries -- it's not that saudi arabia once isis there or turkey once isis there wants isis there or that there, it's isis that the alternative is an iranian dominated order. if that's the choice, they will muddle through with isis. a 65 memberama has coalition with the most powerful countries in the world working to defeat isis for a year now.
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this is 20,000-30,000 nasty guys with pickup trucks against the most powerful countries in the world, and we don't have a significant victory to show for it, and why? because we don't have a regime that is attractive to any of the major actors in the region that we used to call our allies. host: let me ask you one more question before i go to questions from the audience. to is going to come back something you were speaking of before regarding the gulf states and their treatment of the shiite communities. i believe the administration has handled this incorrectly, spoken too much about sectarianism, spoken too much about sunni and shia, and , it should see at the way american foreign-policy
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makers have most successfully seen the middle east, in terms of strategic interest, rather than in terms of sect, right? so, saudi arabia is problematic, but an ally. ,ran, a revolutionary regime instead of sunni power or shia power. is there a way, given the way going, is is there a way to take away some of the sectarian tension or even to reduce the way we talk about it here in the united states, which i think is not helpful? the stability of the states, the stability of u.s. on how theydepends treat their citizens. that was, by the way, one of the reasons the shaw's regime collapsed in 1979. the problem with the saudi's is not that they are not modernizers.
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they have been modernizing their , butties extremely fast the path to modernization has not had a parallel process of providing the citizenry with powers to control the government of their own -- a process of democratization. this is why the shaw's in 1979.t collapsed and unfortunately, we see this all over the middle east. this is what the arab spring was all about. the argument makes sense, but we also should pay attention to the dynamics of the regimes inside the states. host: i certainly agree with that. i guess i'm thinking specifically about -- ali: shia versus sunni. host: exactly. languageld take that away. this is a classical part of u.s.
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foreign-policy and seems like a good idea. how do we move away from the sectarian language? you need to promote democracy rather than talking s because itent sect is all so sunni citizens being -- also sunni citizens being persecuted by the state. freedom suppression of of religion. those issues make u.s. allies much weaker. and these are good allies. they want to modernize society. that process, the parallel process, that is creating huge problems for them. in the long term, it's also a problem for the u.s. because they are good allies. that is what we should emphasize, not the sectarian nature of the issues but the issue of human rights and democratization.
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philip: i think both actors in the region, how they are projecting, they are playing the sectarian message whether we like it or not. ort: in the regional press in our press? philip: i am not so concerned about that. cutsorry, i didn't mean to you off or inflame my colleagues in the press. when it comes to journalism, there is a lot of repetition that happens. people want a narrative and it's easier to convey. an 850have to produce word article for a woman living in denver, how are you going to describe it? it's very hard to get in all the nuances. also, those two entities
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are promoting their own sectarian interests, kind of promoting that message anyway. i think now what we are seeing with the region -- with the iranians, this is something we follow closely, jihad in syria, i ran essentially manufactured this jihad as if they were defending a holy shrine. this, it's a very hard to pull it back when it starts to embed itself within the populace. even these crazy anti-american thrownacies they have out -- america is supplying islamic state. this is what they are doing. out with oney, go of your man pads and parade around with it and this will send a message to the populace. this is coming from the
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administration as well. when you're kind of stuck in analysis paralysis, how do we handle it and how do we address ando the american people, when you are dealing with entities, particularly the craftns, who know how to a message -- boy, do they know how to do it. boy, do they know how to get a message out. the way they released martyrdom information, the timing, everything is well thought out. want to say we should have another government department that should handle , how are theyk presenting it and how do we counter? do we just roll with it? i don't think that's always the best idea. host: that is something mike worked on in the bush administration. i don't know if that is something you want to pick up. takeere a way, again, to
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down the level of sectarian discourse in the region that is very bad for the region and empowers bad actors, whether it is the islamic republic or the islamic state? mike: i think there's anyway we can avoid sectarianism, but i don't think we should base our strategy on it. i think the starting point for a sound, american approach to the region is to focus on states, not sect. but you have to be aware of the sectarian issues. effectively, what we are doing right now -- in the united states, everyone would understand if we had riots in harlem and the united states worked together with the ku klux ,lan to try to stabilize harlem and the we said to the people of
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harlem listen, we all have an interest of stability here. that's not going to work, right? and that's effectively what we are doing. we are aligning ourselves that g sunnis in syria, and then getting angry with the saudi's when they don't like it. it is ridiculous. we have defined a sectarianism in the public discourse of the u.s. government -- sectarianism is sunnis sectarianism, not shia sectarianism. there's been no public discussion at all, and very little awareness of what philip was describing as the shiite jihad. which is a sectarianism, but it's also the spread of iranian government influence. militias,create these the arm them, they train them, they quit them, they offer them ideological support. as philip said, they indoctrinate them.
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ultimately, what it means practically as submission in tehran. what they are supposed to do is follow the orders given to them by tehran. it's very much like the comintern in the days of the soviet union. the job of the united states, in that context, if it wants to tap down sectarianism is to cheat -- teach geography to iran. there is a ron, and not iran. , in can have its forces iran, but not iran. syria, not iran. let's not talk about sectarianism, let's talk about geography. let's open it up to questions from the audience. we have at least one microphone. you can wait for the microphone to get to. the gentleman here in the blue
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shirt. she does wait for the microphone. last hour, the talk is been about iran. the sort of neglected saudi arabia. the question is -- is the saudi regime strong enough, or is it too brittle to confront iran. michael? mike: the saudi's are in a difficult situation. you see they have declining oil prices, they have taken on a number of projects, including the intervention in yemen and so forth, which are costly and have no end in sight. the saudi's are not going to handed the region to the iranians.
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that's the signal they are trying to send us, very clearly. they're going to fight wherever they are going to fight were really have the resources and the ability to counter this rising iranian power. so how they are going to deploy those resources exactly is unclear. but the idea that they are just going to fold up and look out for saudi arabia alone and have no interest in what happens in syria or neighboring iraq and so it would be ank mistake to assume that. you philip, you spent time, look pretty clear sense of some of their capabilities. phillip: what worries me is the longer term. i think as much as touching on this a little bit, where do they put those resources? we are looking at yemen, it's not simply with the f-15s that are bombing. what happens if they say a qad, al qaeda in the arabian pencil a -- we've executed a bunch of
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them. but they are an effective fighting force. the same thing happens in syria. what happens with that? nusra, syrian al qaeda in there. the saudi's and a number of other gulf states were facilitating that trade when we leave a vacuum, the vacuum needs to get filled. they're going to look for actors who are strong, no matter project and get things done, and also kill their enemies. if it's not going to be the united states with our happy moderation, we might as well turn to them, because they know how to kill iranians. comes? second order that al qaeda does not like the united states. if they feel like they have been completely abandoned, going back to your question -- is it brittle? i think they are scared out of their minds. we have very good security relationship with them for decades. and now, what is happening?
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it's collapsing from within. i have been to so many meetings in the gulf where i rented a policymakers, and they just say they screwed us. they are no longer our friends. and what is the end result? you share a cigarette outside and you ask them where you go? they say i don't know, but we have to build our own forces. they don't always do so well, they know this. is that whole second order of what happens next and what is the end effect for the united states? they are going to be less considerate about the american point of view the more we pull out. they're going to be more worried about what's going to happen to the saudi's? we just watched another stud into saudi arabia. so fine, we are going to back these guys because they get the job done. the americans want to cut deals elsewhere. that is something that really worries me. i've talked to a lot of different saudi policymakers. it's not as if they are saying
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yeah, al qaeda is an effective tool we really like that, we love what happened on 9/11. they are not. but when you are presented with certain options, you are trying to pick the worst one, i worried unfortunately, they may come to that decision if they feel pushed into a corner enough by the iranians, and maybe feel they have been completely left alone by the united ways. lee: mike, did you want to follow up on something? mike: i want to make one more point. i agree with every thing philip just said. i just want to say that i feel that washington's attitude right now is to point out some of the hardships that the saudi's are saying, and to hector the saudi's and to suggest that they don't understand their own interests, and that they are going on a bandpass. the bad things are going to happen to them if they continue. the tube was i would to that are number one, iran is an accidental threat saudi arabia. it is. it's a mistake to think it's not. to take meccae
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and medina, as it could. we should keep that in mind, because the saudi's cnx essential threat, they are going to act try and prevent it. if they fail at that, we will then have the crackup of saudi arabia. and what will the united states to? will they sit back and do nothing, and let chaos ensue? or will the united states feel compelled to send in troops? we are to be thinking about that now, and thinking about that doesn't mean hectoring the saudi's, it means developing a vision of regional order that would prevent some of the saudi's from being compelled to take some of these actions that we feel are deleterious to our interests. lee: i have a colleague here at hudson who we spoke before, he has a lot of information about
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detaining the 10 american sailors. navy, and bill understands the details. if you could hand the microphone right around here. thank you. the gentleman right here. thank you, bill. am a former current numeral officer, and i've a question, general question for the panel about the administration's response to the seizure of the marine boats and 10 sailors. there appears to be considerable unhappiness in the military, , and they in the navy weighted administration is handling the response to the detention of our sailors. given the secretary of defense has confirmed that the two -- hadboats conducted a a navigation area -- were and
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when into iranian waters, it appears the seizure by the iranians violates several, two or three well-established principles of international and maritime law. the first one being of course, innocent passage, where ships of all states, whether coastal or landlocked, have the right of innocent passage or territorial waters. in this case, the u.s. marine boats were headed from kuwait to bahrain to change their command base. irrespective of the navigation error of the secretary defense hasn't been issued, they were conducting innocent passage. havemal country would rendered assistance at sea, instructed them to leave and sent them on their way. the second principle the naval commanders rely on, and i relied on when i was committing a ship in the gulf is the principal of sovereign immunity of warships. vesselsn immunity will
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-- naval vessels are not subject to search, seizure, or detention of the crew. again, even in traveling -- even import or in territorial waters. again, normal country would have rendered assistance, instructed them to leave. the third principle, while we are not technically a war with iran, are the 1949 geneva conventions of the protocols one and two of 1977, which clearly prohibit the filming, photographing, or otherwise using videotape or audiotaped confessions or apologies for propaganda purposes. this, if not a literal violation of the law, is certainly a violation of the spirit. blair believe that tony in 2007, when the iranians took ,ritish sailors for 13 days then pry mr. blair made the exact same case, that it was a violation of geneva.
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>> given those three long-held principles, these rules are extremely important to u.s. naval commanders. they are vital to the safety of their crews, to the safety and efficiency of their operations and u.s. naval commanders rely on the enforcement and adherence to these rules. so my question is, why do you think the administration hasn't even touched it, or formally fronted a even marshmallow towards the iranians? lee: thanks. mike: the implementation day, the nuclear deal is about to going to force with a couple of days. you can rest assured that any discussion in the white house or state department when this thing broke was of no, this might endanger the iran deal. the nuclear deal.
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we got to make sure to tab everything down for this deal to go through. the question we should have been asking ourselves was not how come the iranians released those sailors so quickly, compared to other incidents? the answer to that is they want their $150 billion. it's not because there's a fantastic channel, it's because they want their hundred $50 million. -- $150 million. without hanging in the balance, happen they risk -- how can they put that at risk? the answer is twofold. shown time we have and time again that we will not -- we are so hell-bent on achieving the nuclear deal that we will not take any kind of retaliatory action. and number two, it's the revolutionary guards showing iranians and everyone in the region, and us, but they are in
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charge. that's the message that we all have sort taken away from this thing, is that even with $150 billion within days of release, they still went ahead and behave like this. you think they're going to moderate over the next six months, i think you are mistaken. phillip: it has to do with protecting the joint plan of action. i do believe -- mike and i have spoken of this as well. lee: the president believes his role is to have extricated the united states from the middle east, that to overcommit us again to war and turmoil. i believe the president sees it, whenever there's an iranian provocation, he turns the other cheek. he says these guys are not going to get the united states involved in another war. i know they are doing that stuff, but i'm not going to take the bait. this will be a really bad thing. the problem is, i think that
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this encouragement behavior. -- does encourage that behavior. say, 1988, how with the reagan administration check aggressive interactions? >> i was on the uss enterprise at the time when the iranian side were laying mines in the international waters. president reagan ordered us to sink two major combatants. that's how we responded. lee: there's a question and back. thanks. >> i have a question picking up on something that mike alluded to a couple of different times. forhere realistic vision restoring stability in the middle east?
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at our allies in the region can really commit themselves to that doesn't require reversing the extension of iranian hegemony over the shiite part of a rock? -- iraq? withoutdo we do that the u.s. assuming the central dominant presence that it has in 2008, when obama was elected? unfortunately, i think this is one of those lost opportunities. ,fter the u.s. invasion of iraq it was a true sense of optimism. not only in washington, but also among many she is -- shia's. movedd the grandson who because he is critical of the regime in iran. under u.s. protection, he was preaching a very different type
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hearingogy that we are from the mouth of the supreme leader. and other iraqi shia, iranian shia not speak freely in iran because they engage the theology of state, and states takeover of religion and authorization of the right to be repressed under divine law, who sought asylum in iraq. they canee place, think freely, they can speak freely. but most importantly, because of the machinations of the revolutionary guard in iraq, it sank into disorder and chaos and the u.s. has returned from iraq, and unfortunately, we see more or less domination. many of the proud schools of lessogy are now more or directly or indirectly dominated by money, ideology, and the
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politics which is dominant also in tehran. it's very unfortunate. if iraq is too late, this is why am saying that even in the sunni sphere of influence, there should be schools for shia, you should be madrasahs, the should be media, they should be debate. where many of those shia who are critical of the regime in iran can find a safe haven, and can debate freely, and can develop shia theology. if iraq is too late, saudi arabia is not too late. even bahrain is not too late. and all those societies, what we need is just a little bit of freedom for debate. where the shia who are critical can express themselves. >> you run a big point. bigillip: you brought up a point. if you allow for more independent shia voices to grow,
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it makes a lot of the radicals crazier because they believe their interpretation of how shia organized, and everyone else is either crazy or not following the religion correctly. i was looking at has block, actually wrote an article when barry rubin was still alive about the independent shia in lebanon. lebanese that drove hezbollah crazy was the whole thought that there could be independence centers for scholarship that could be developed in lebanon they could teach new scholars how to do the jobs. hezbollah tried to control -- the still do this now, they find some competition from a group still aligned with them in parliament, where they are trying to vie for control of all of the clerical voices and all the clerical leadership with force,sometimes through people are afraid to leave, even if they disagree, they are still promoting absolute reliance.
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i would like to see the united states try and promote this kind of semi-quieted form of thinking among shia. this was the normative form of shiism that was going on right up until the islamic resolution. we know what the administration has done. i believe that different civil society organizations in iran, the administration cut back various forms of funding. i know for sure in lebanon, our friends -- the administration cutoff funding for different programs they had. they were very opposed to has block, that's an independent shia organization and their entire thing is about the opposed to hezbollah. phillip: what do you think this is going to mean for the future? it's not very sunny. i look at iraq, they still have a very good level of control, even has his own militia structure.
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but when you are competing against 100 something iranian backed shia militias that are pushing, they have all the cash and nobody else's coming in and saying hey, here's extra money, here's extra political support, it makes things very hard. we are now heading in the direction that how many was literally plotting what shiism was supposed to become, was supposed to be this model. how we counter that? i hate saying this, but i would rather just get it out there. it means the united states, if we are actually interested in this, it means we have to play kind of dirty. it means sometimes backing certain radical shia elements. there are other radical shia elements, some even we won't talk to. problems plenty of with the iranians, i wouldn't mind to try to co-opt him, even if he's not in welcome to it, that means he's going to cause problems for the iranians and how they are spreading their ideology. then again, do we really have
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the stomach for that? we get into every little microcosm of shia jurisprudence to save iraq from their domination? i think we dropped the ball and let it roll downhill. lee: mike, did you want to add something? how easy itt know would be to pry southern rock away from iran at this point, but iran is vulnerable across the region. -- itk about it now like is the rising power in the region, it does have a lot of influence. as because we decided not to contest it in any way. if we decided to contest it, it has huge vulnerabilities and we could make it burn out that $150 million we are about to give it to them very quickly. the place to do it is in syria. assad regime is vulnerable, has a lot is vulnerable. they are siamese twins that share the same organs. we topple one, we topple the other. would you give a huge strategic
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defeat to iran if we started turning up the heat on them in syria. how many fighters does have a spot -- hezbollah have? not much more than 2000 or 3000 guys. sometimes you hear 10,000, i think that's an exaggeration. we could start causing hezbollah and enormous amount of pain in syria if that was our goal. it doesn't have to be our direct and. we just have to train and equip syrian forces, and deploy them in areas where they can cause hezbollah pain. that was sent a message to tehran in two seconds. >> have a question about iran. is that when the deal goes through and the money is released that the iranian people are going to benefit. an economic trickle-down would
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make movement stronger in iran would open up. is there anyl us hope that this theory has any credence? ali: we political scientist have a poor record of predicting revolutions. we didn't predict but the revolution of 1979, we didn't predict the fall of the berlin wall. we not in the best position to make that kind of production. important think it's that the iranian society, yes, it is vibrant and every once in a while, it surprises. because you will go to the streets and they protested against the regime, just like the green movement. theexiting thing is that regime managers, and the security services, intelligence services of the regime managed to infiltrate organized opposition activities. -- if opposition activity people go to the streets because
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there's a general sense of anger towards the regime, you cannot predict it, and therefore, cannot concentrated in a particular way. it's why the green movement became a green movement. i'm not sure the menstruation argument, because the money which is supposed to benefit the iranian public, the people in the middle class, is in the end going to strengthen the security. it's one to strengthen the revolutionary guard. we've seen the budget of the military, particularly the militia was increased with 20%. this is even before the government got a hold of the money. is a 26% increase in the military. thate also likely to see many of the infrastructure development projects which the yemeni government will start when they have the money, which will be given to the contracting firms of the revolutionary guard, and they are hiring the
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private sector actors as subcontractors. control toives more the revolutionary guard, rather than less. the spread of technology, i debated some time ago here in town was perceived as something good for civil society and democracy. thertunately, in iran, spread of technology means more control. everyone has a mobile phone, the system can control you more efficiently than ever before in the entire history of iran. when you to look at these things very quickly. do not make rash predictions that this is going to liberalize the population. i believe mr. rouhani is perceived as expendable. the technocratic elites of iran are perceived as external and rituals. now that the time is over, they are no longer needed. you can activate the , this isnary elements
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going to continue for a long time in the future. when the iranian public is going to rise against these types of mechanisms, we cannot predict. i remember we spoke about this, he said rouhani has to be careful because if this deal actually comes through and he manages the negotiations, it becomes obviously more expendable. is not useful anymore. they don't need him to serve that function. -- gentleman in the back thank you. if you can stand and identify yourself. >> josh london with his eoa. -- with zoa. in the short term, the duration of the obama administration, it's a pretty good guess that nothing is going to change. in terms of u.s. policy in the
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region. what is the time horizon between now and then of things reaching some kind of conclusion? where is large or small, rather than folks just treading water and occasionally fletching -- flicking matches. they may decide here's an opportunity to seize and hold an advanced -- and advance. -- lee: you mean for the islamic republic? >> or for saudi arabia. to say here's our chance. does not want to get more involved, or for that matter, in terms of thinking signals, it becomes clear that the white house is going to move into hands that will differ. folk see here as primary horizons, given that. lee: we are going to shut down a couple of minutes, so let's make
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this our last round. the iranian party is more patient than most of us think. i do think that there is no sense of urgency from their point of view to start the revolution right now. they are playing a game which they believe is serving their interests. and also they perceive the united states as a gradually declining world power in the propaganda of the revolutionary guards. but also, in their weekly magazines and journals. the united states today is just like great britain in the 1950's after world war ii. it is weakened, and the entire empire is coming down. it has to be replaced. they are also being economical and their fights. the u.s. can get entangled in conflicts all over the world -- in asia, in the far east, then the u.s. cannot pay so much attention to what's happening in
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the middle east. and the best card that the saudi's and turks can play is al esh, the world is going to sympathize more with the islamic republic of iran. they believe time is working on their side, they can afford to selftient, to build their and expand gradually and slowly. saudi'swhy we see the in such a difficult project meant. i said iti think al perfectly. [laughter] phillip: mike m if you say the same thing, i'm going have a real problem. he did speak beautifully. i will add something to it. that is that priority for the iranians right now is shoring up
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a solid -- assad. he is still vulnerable, even with the russians there. and as i said, if said, if asidn the power of his well of influence is reduced. -- and their greatest effort will be on expanding his power, and expanding their influence within syria. are pretending that this is not going on. and the states around with the change the corner. we cannot see it yet, we will see it will happen. was outside of aside. what they cannot get rid of is the alloy structure of the regime. without that, they do not have
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influence in the region. they will keep the influence intact which will open up to the sunni majority. kkk in power. the assadhey will likely keep the grand wizard in power. >> what a lovely closing image. thank you. i want to thank you all for coming. thank you to c-span as well. applause,e a run of thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you. they do so much. -- thank you so much.
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>> the issue of ted cruz ability to service president came up during the debate. hill, attorney files a lawsuit, texas attorney has filed a lawsuit questioning
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his ability -- eligibility to serve as president the federal case filed in texas argues that the question must be presented to the supreme court for for adjudication. bloomberg news first reported on the suit which challenges his standing because he was born in canada to an american mother. meanwhile, great britain will consider whether to ban donald trump from the country in response to a nationwide petition signed by nearly 600,000 people. the u.k. will debate a proposal to ban donald trump from great britain. the house of commons will take it up monday morning. we will have live coverage on 11:30 eastern on c-span. >> monday as martin luther king jr. day. with congress not in session, we have featured programs on all networks. at 11:30 eastern, live coverage of the house of commons debate on whether to ban donald trump from their country. the debate should last three
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hours. coverage will you -- re-air. time30 p.m. eastern onliam p jones has the march washington. jobs, freedom and the confronting history of civil rights. >> when randolph went to reorganize the march, that hit called off in 1941, everybody said you better get martin luther king. you need his support. he want to martin luther king, and martin luther king said i will support you, but let's expand the goals. the march is not just about winning equal access to jobs. fighting employment discrimination. it is also about winning the right to vote the south. >> at 8:30, georgia representative john lewis discusses his involvement in the summer is minute. it was a second part of an illustrated adaptation of his life. on american history tv on c-span3. 2:00 p.m. eastern time. the international history professor at the london school of economics and clinical
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iran's on a rants -- cold war policy. they have to defend their solid -- sovereignty against the powers of britain and russia. in the 1930's they look to germany. war athe second world whole generation of iranians came looking to the united states. it was a country with no imperial ambitions. and no history of that in the region. railamerica, the 19 623 interview with the reverend dr. martin luther king jr. on his nonviolent approach to civil rights. his comments of president kennedy's civil rights bill, and how gandhi influenced his work. for the complete schedule, go to c-span.org. >> the retreat in baltimore wrapping up on producer craig capitals tweeting to baltimore this month. house and senate gop meeting. in twoemocrats here
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weeks. it ended with a news conference from paul ryan who outlined a new program agenda. national security, jobs, and economic growth. this 10 minutes. today is the anniversary of the packers first super bowl win. -- e is wrong good morning. we just completed a very important issue. with everything at stake in 2016, we have been talking about how do we grow ideas, and heavy make sure we offer the country a very clear and compelling choice. they deserve that. we want to earn their trust by offering an agenda that fixes their problems. if we do not like the direction the country is going come and we do not, we have an obligation to offer an alternative. today, we are beginning the work of developing a bold pro-growth agenda.
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this agenda will focus on five areas. first, national security. americans are very anxious right now. rightfully so. how did we go about making sure that we are security. home. how do we go about building a 21st-century military deco and make sure we're equipped to defeat isis and the threats posed by radical islamic terrorism. next, jobs and economic growth. our economy is far from reaching its potential. wages are stagnant. families are still hurting. people are working harder than ever before, but they feel their slipping behind. how we fix our cash code. how we rein in the regulatory state. had we maximize our energy potential? third, health care. obamacare has taken us down the wrong path. higher prices. higher doubles. your choices.
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restricted access. how do we not only repeal this costsut had we get lower and a truly patient centered health care system? number four, poverty and opportunity. there are 46 million americans living in poverty to take. -- poverty today. what will help get people out? right now, we have a safety net to help people falling into poverty, now we need something stopping people from -- helping people get out. how do we get them back in the workforce? how do we restore upward mobility? the last piece of this, it is so critical to the others. store the constitution. country founded on an idea. our rights do not come from government. our rights come from god.
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our rights are natural. the constitution is a beautiful system of rules. a beautiful system preserving liberty and freedom so that we can exercise those rights, so that we the people are sovereign and free. had we restore the constitution because the president's executive overreach has undermined the constitution. it has damage the people's trust. people more and more do not trust our government. it is because we have deviated from the constitution. what doing he to do to restore the separation of powers and protect our constitutional liberties? these are critical questions. these are questions we will be advancing. we will work with our colleagues who are committed to dealing with the task forces that means every member in the constituents will have a chance to provide their input. i suspect that will have a completed agenda by the time of a nominee. is nothing short of a
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generational defining moment. the country is crying out for solutions. the country is crying out to be unified. the country is crying out for a positive vision that brings us all together. we want a competent america. now is the time to get to work. >> questions. have -- eaker, you [indiscernible] suspect in been in dealing with health agenda will be he said it would be discussed at the conference. so, is there a resolution to whether this will be actual legislation deco -- legislation? >> we just watch the process. the four of us will not predetermine everything. that is not the style we have. we will do this together with our members. but believe me. people of the country will know
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who we are and what we stand for. they will begin with a choice in 2016. so, when get -- when they go to the poll, they will know what they are getting. >> some of us talked to bill flores, he said republicans should develop a strategy for weber be -- is the nominee. said, do you see it is unclear who the nominee might be? there is some people who are kind of concerned. maybe the tail could way the dog and influence them. ryan: i know everybody at the media is watching the contest. we are worried about the constitution. we are worried about solutions. we are putting together an agenda we think rises to the occasion. we are not worried about the nominee. we do not have time to think about that. >> that is not in the back of your mind? sen. ryan: no.
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>> i want to get your poverty program. how are you interpreting this program? is it how the administration would tackle party? or is it how you envision the program? >> it is a completely different division to the administration. sen. ryan: the obama administration? thinkingase voters are a poverty program, we're talking about trillions of dollars. sen. ryan: the status quo of the obama administration believes that measuring success in the war on poverty as spending more money and having washington dictate solutions. we reject that premise. we disagree with that. so, we believe the more efficient way of combating
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poverty is to go to the root cause. we need to break the cycle of party. that means take our principles and apply them to this problem. what are our principles." -- what are our principles? we believe in communities. we believe in federalism. welfare is a perfect example. work works. local communities work. washington does not work. we will take those principles we have and apply them to the biggest problems in america. people living in poverty and the lack of opportunity and upward mobility. we believe that is where principles are needed. it is very different than where the administration thinks we should go. >> i know you are a policy guide. sen. ryan: i did not see the debate. , the debateginning was about senator cruz his
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ability to run for president because of his birth in canada. sen. ryan: i will not comment on that. i do not know. >> mccain has said there are questions about it. what do you think? sen. ryan: i have not thought about it at all. thank you. i appreciate it.
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[indiscernible] >> as we work towards this, we do not want to prejudge this or roll it all out. the conference will decide that. >> will you elaborate what the speaker meant? >> he does not want to go around. when you take the five different buckets, there are different committees. health care has different committees. tax reform, the economic. groups have different working in these past forces in the committee. >> thank you. >> u.s. chamber of commerce president and ceo thomas. you
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held a press conference after his 2016 state of american business address in washington. the chamber's executive vice president for government affairs and taking questions from reporters. they spoke for an hour. >> thank you for finding your seats. i am part of the communication strategies division. it is my pleasure to welcome me to the chamber this morning. tom donohue state of american business address as become something of a tradition for us here. it is what we all look forward to. it is an opportunity to look at the year ahead from the perspective of america's job creators. the men and women running mainstream shops. large corporations. startups and everything in between. minute,ill outline in a doing business in today's landscape is not easy. challenges are stacking up. businesses face and underperforming economy. an overreaching government, and
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an uncertain world. to top it off, we're in the middle of one of the most unpredictable campaigns ever. many of the big debates over our economy and our country's position in the world are happening in the context of a critical election. the chamber will be at the center of much of that discussion. we do not do presidential will do, but, we policy. one of the major ways we engage in the election is through our year 45 campaign. this is a series of letters being written by a bipartisan group of business, civic, and political leaders. they highlight the policy issues that businesses care about and want the next president to focus on. you will find new entries being published right up to election day on the chamber's mere digital property above the polls. already, we have seen a number of pieces representing a range
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of industries and perspectives. today, we have a brand-new letter from tom donahue. i hope you will take a moment to check it out. for decades, tom has been the leading voice for business in washington. across the country, and around the world. a visionary, he is tough and effective. he is not afraid to tell it like it is. he is passionate and an advocate for free enterprise. his thoughtsrd to today. so, it is my pleasure to introduce the president and ceo of the u.s. chamber tom donahue. [applause] >> thank you very much. good morning ladies and gentlemen. welcome to what i hope will be an exciting morning.
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two days ago, president obama gave us his views on the state of the union. like any president would, he put the best possible face on the countries economic performance under his stewardship. what i would like to do this morning's look at how our economy and our country are doing through the eyes of american business people. the reality that they see is a little different than that for trade by our political leaders in washington. they see an economy with some strengths, but with many weaknesses. they see a country with a huge upside potential, but with many downside risks. isy see an america that stark in the worst economic recovery since the great depression. they have little forward momentum or dynamism.
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they know we could be doing much better. much better than we are today. corporate profits peak. some quarters ago. capital expenditures are down. prior years, new small businesses are forming at the lowest rate in many years. they cannot find the capital to get organized. for those who do have the capital, there is little reason to make new investments. the demand at home and especially abroad, just is not there. for the companies depending on theyts, those abroad, stand to be less competitive. for companies and countries that depend on the production, sale, and movement of energy, and commodities, they saw the bottom drop out last year. how much lower will they go this
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year? most of our businesses would like nothing better than to pay their employees more, hire more of them and provide better benefits. but, the current economy in the current government policies are making that very difficult. just one example, compliance with obamacare is costing companies a small fortune. it is significantly driving up overall health care costs. when you add together americans cannotnot find jobs: who find full-time work, or who have given up looking, we're talking about 10% of american workers. meanwhile, they workforce per to visit test precipitate -- participation rate is at a four decade low. congressthe failure of to pass commonsense immigration
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reform, it means that we are not only a nation -- or have people without jobs, with so many jobs in critical areas without people. i can tell you that business people in both large and small companies wake up each morning and wonder what the government is going to do to them today. the current administration is on a regulatory tear. this will continue to the day the moving van backs up to the door at the white house next january. how do we know this? they have been telling us every day since the first of the year. of -- unleashed a one runaway epa that stretching the law. in some cases, it is breaking it. in order to assume control over
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the local economic developments across america. has given usation a labor department and a national relations board that are both against american job creators and in favor of their union benefactors who now represent just 6.6% of the private workforce. regulators have been turned loose on our financial sector that banks have been distracted from their principal purpose. servicese credit and that enable our businesses to grow and our entrepreneurs to thrive. not just the federal government that concerns the business community. aree and local governments piling new mandates. taxes, and cost on the backs of the private sector.
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abusive enforcement system at the federal level, in many states, that is extorting billions of dollars from companies with little or no due process. meanwhile, governments at all levels are accumulating massive levels of debt and unfunded pensions and entitlement liability. reform, unless there is this whole house of cards can collapse. moment beyond a the shores of our great countries. our key trading partners are struggling. europe, our largest export in trading partner is barely keep its head above water. has appeared to hit
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another recession. brazil is dealing with a depression. the biggest? is china. global markets have been marred by a possible reduction in china's growth. high down 5%.l who says china could never have a recession? is a huge uncertainty for the global economy. it could also in here internal chinese stability in regards to geopolitics. speaking of geopolitics, business executives and owners read the said -- the same headlines that we all do. from eastern europe and russia to the south china sea to north korea, there are more geopolitical hotspots than any of us can remember at one time
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in our lifetime. which one will flare up tomorrow? which and will destruct economies, markets, consumer confidence, travel, and very importantly, the global supply chain. add to that, the threat of major terrorist attacks that could happen any time and any place. a nonstate terrorist group like isis has seized large groups of territories. controlled significant energy recruits that communicate through a significant social media strategy. threatsere are the many to our own cyber security. they have the potential to shut down companies critical infrastructure, and our very way of life. arenesses and governments
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already spending billions and billions of dollars to try to shore up the defenses of our cyber system. everyone knows, we still vulnerable. gentlemen,dies and we come to election-year politics. surprisinghe most and perplexing campaign in modern history. i would say in both parties. i used to call the lead up to the big national election as the silly season. given some of the rhetoric and proposals we are hearing from both parties, it is not silly, it is serious. sometimes, it is a little scary. on one side, we have candidates promising to double down on the current administration's policies, more spending, more
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entitlements, more taxes. more regulating. i guess they figured that if something is not working, just do more of it. does that make any sense? on the other side, we have the voices, sometimes very loud voices that talk about walling off america from talent and trade and to our attacking whole groups of people based not on their content, but on their ethnicity or religion. and is morally wrong politically stupid. what businesses want to see in this campaign is a long, overdue process on economic growth. growing the economy, the economic pie is the only realistic way to create jobs. to lift incomes, to reduce inequality and to expand
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opportunities for all americans. you know what? that is what the vast majority of voters, of both parties want to hear about. jobs, growth, and opportunity. thewhen you add it all up, state of american business since 2006 -- 2016 is filled with uncertainty, risks, and challenges. our businesses in job creators are facing extraordinary political and geopolitical uncertainty. economic weakness at home, and massive newbroad, a regulatory burden coming out of washington and out of the state capital. our countries unattached, unmatched potential and talent is going untapped. millions of the unemployed or
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underemployed, americans are sitting on the sidelines, for their sake, and for our sake, we have to get them back on the field, back to work. may be the coming year it looks a lot like the last 6.5 years, tepid growth of 2%. the upside factors are few. and while the chamber is not -- let me say again, not forecasting a recession, despite the many domestic and international difficulties, the last time we checked, no one had repealed the business cycle. the current weak recovery is getting a little long in the tooth. now, don't get me wrong. why it's a natural for business leaders to worry about the markets in which they most operate, my

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