tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN January 20, 2016 6:00pm-8:01pm EST
we have differences with some of them, particularly with saudi arabia over yemen. but we have to take a stand here, mr. chairman. the russians have taken a stand and they are all in with iran and assad. i think we all know they are not there to fight islamic state. they do not care about islamic state, nor does iran. they care about shoring up assad. that axis, damascus, tehran, moscow, is perceived in the region as an axis. the more we don't take sides. take sides,we don't the more that perception takes hold among the sunni arabs, the considerable minority of the population of that volatile region. the more islamic state can make may out of it -- hay out of it. you i would mention several specific steps we need to take.
i would agree with general keen on the importance of establishing a no-fly zone. it has gotten harder now that the russians are there. i would like to see us pursue it . i would imagine this committee is heavily engaged with the administration, looking at its feasibility. it is important politically. signal to sunni arabs in syria and beyond that we stand with budgetary --the the butchery of bashar al-assad. as knows a prize moderate sunni resistance groups in syria -- it is no surprise that moderate sunni resistance groups in syria are more focused on assad than islamic state. butto drive him from power,
to weaken him and change the calculations in damascus and tehran and moscow as to what prolonging this conflict will achieve. then, but only then, might me get to the table -- we get to the table. we will not get to the table under these current conditions. i have talked to russians in the middle east, they are on a roll. we are not interested in trying to negotiate the transitional regime. we have to change the facts on the ground, this would be one way to do it. there are several other things we can do to indicate we are serious. we have an anti-isis envoy with whom i worked in iraq. it should be a presidential envoy. we should reinstitute the deputy national security adviser that
general douglas so ably filled during my time in iraq, to coordinate and interagency effort against islamic state. and, from a political and i -- i would argue we should -- governor patrice made this point -- we should move our headquarters from kuwait to baghdad. it made a lot of difference to me to have my military counterpart in the next room and not in the next country. these are small steps, some of them, but symbolically important , showing that we are in this fight, we are serious about it and we're going to work with our develop the comprehensive strategy that general keen indicates is so important. i hope that in the wake of the events of the last week, we can take a deep breath, understand where our long-term strategic
thatests are, realize relationship with iran is transactional, they are pursuing their agenda with full force, we need to refine -- we need to pursue hours with equal force with our allies. >> thank you. mr. gordon, welcome. thank you for having me back before the committee. i'm honored to be here and testify along with my two distinguished colleague spirit given the vastness of the topic, i submitted a few articles in more detail. i would like to ask that they be i canted in the record so use my time here to make three broad points about the region. the first is that the middle east today is going through a time of powerful tectonic change that the united states did not create and cannot fully control. in the wake of the arab spring in 2011, the state institutions
have crumpled in syria, libya, yemen, and elsewhere. honest, we have two at knowledge those institutions are unlikely to be put back together anytime soon. on top of that, you have sectarian tensions that are rising across the region. this issue has persisted for decades or centuries, boost by the iranian revolution in 1979, it got a further boost by the 2003 iraq war, which gave iran and prodded aaq sunni response. even in the past years, even more than those two developments, and the result of the arab spring where the question of state institutions and control is up in the air, has created space for even more sectarian tensions and just last we saw thosely, tensions inflamed further with the saudi execution of a permanent shia cleric and iran's violent response.
saudi irani and is a geopolitical conflict that is on top of a sectarian conflict, and as long as it persists, the biggest conflicts in the region in iraq and syria and yemen which have sectarian conflict will be difficult to resolve. tophould also remember on of that that the sunni population across the middle east is itself equally divided. sunni terrorist groups such as are aligned isis against sunni regimes, and the sunni regimes themselves are deeply divided between those who embrace political islam such as turkey and qatar, and those who are threatened by it, including saudi arabia, jordan, united arab emirates, and egypt under president lcc. -- al-sisi. majoritygh most sunni states stand together when it comes to sectarian conflicts
like iraq and syria and yemen, where the sunni states are aligned together, when you face conflict in places without sectarian dimension, like libya or egypt, the sunni states divide amongst themselves. i mentioned all of these points and complexities at the beginning not to suggest that the region is so complex and unstable that there is nothing underscore theto in normandy of the challenge we face, and frankly the need for humility, as we consider our policy options. we should be extraordinarily careful about assuming there are quick fixes to any of these and veryproblems, cognizant of the potential for unintended consequences of the actions that we take. i expect we will talk more fully about that during the hearing. that innd main point is the context of this immense regional turmoil, the implementation of the iran
nuclear agreement last week by valuable time and presents a real opportunity if we use that time wisely. whenerybody here knows, the united states initiated the talks with iran in early 2013, iran was essentially on the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability. and now with the mothballing of 2/3 of its centrifuges, the shipping out of it uranium stockpile, the ending of its production of 20% uranium, wholesale design of the heavy water reactor in iraq which would have by now been capable of producing weapons grade uranium for one or two bombs per year, we are no longer faced with the terrible choice between using military force to set back the program for a couple of years, less time than it has now been set back i the agreement, or effectively acquiescing to its further development.
none of this is to say, it may be clear the nuclear deal solves the iran problem. even proponents of the jcpoa should admit that in some ways it makes the problem worse. we've heard some of the consequences referred to here, including concerns about the long-term and the concerns of some of the key players and our friends in the region, others -- and those are real and we shouldn't knowledge them. -- we should acknowledge them. i think the right response to these realities is not to deny them, and it is not to scrap the because doing so would isolate the united states, impede our ability to impose effective sanctions, and frankly leave us with no good options for stopping the iranian new their program. which iout north korea,
was in the news just the other day, the other week for testing of a nuclear weapon. think about that situation where we indeed isolated, sanctioned, contained, but the result is not it's aclear north korea, crazy dictatorship with its hands on numerous nuclear real possibility of potential u.s. responses. that is why we're in a better position with the jcpoa and in iran. to denyrnative is not these problems, but to rigorously enforce the deal, use all the tools at our disposal to confront and contain iran in the region, and use the time it eyes us to cautiously explore whether a better relationship with iran as possible in the long-term. my third and final point concerns the war in syria. my bottom line is we have enormous national interest in prioritizing the, de-escalation
of this conflict. you really need to think through the strategic consequences of the status quo. the conflict in syria is killing or maiming hundreds of thousands of people, innocents, forcing millions of syrians to flee their homes, destabilizing radicalizingtates, an entire generation of young muslims, provoking a far right backlash in europe and problems with the european union, fostering religious intolerance in the united states and beyond. given these in norman's strategic costs, i think you could say that almost any piece in syria at present would be war.r than the current to reach this objective, i believe it's necessary to decouple our attempts to reach a comprehensive political settlement in syria, one that includes assad's immediate departure. while we would all like to see the immediate departure of assad
and his cronies who should face justice for their atrocities, and we would like to see the installation of an inclusive moderate regime, there is almost no prospect for near-term agreement on a new detailed institutional arrangement in syria, let alone knew leadership. we have to be honest about that. the probable delay this week and the syrian talks that were scheduled for the 25th of this month is disappointing, but not surprising. some argue and we've heard previews of that today, and i suspect we will discuss it, that we can produce political transition in syria that we seek by providing more military support to the opposition, or even by intervening military ourselves. however, given the strong commitments by russia and iran to support the regime, we have maintained significant support among syria's minorities and majority sunnis. would leadalation
not to the regime's capitulation that we want to see, but rather to a new counter-escalation which after all has been the pattern for nearly five years. we should not underestimate the degree of force it would take to displace the regime, and that is what we're talking about, we're not talking about modest concessions by the regime, we're talking about it agreeing to disappear. i do not think we should underestimate what it would take unintendedr the consequences of doing so. as an alternative, i put forward a plan along with two colleagues in the rand corporation, one of the publications i admitted for seek a nationwide cease-fire in place that would defer the ultimate disposition of political power in syria, including the question of ass ad's fate, and include the and include regional
save zones. the resumption of humanitarian deliveries, and a collective focus on destroying isis -- i will be the first to admit even this outcome would be a norm is achieve and when not be without downsides and risks. i do believe it is a more realistic gold than the current one of a comprehensive political agreement, i think it's far better than the status quo, and it's more practical than any of the available alternatives. i fear if we just persist with the status oh, -- quo, we could be having a hearing infour years, talking about even more strategic consequences. i look forward to discussing these questions. mccain: i wish the american people and all members of congress could have heard
that testimony and discussion we are about to have. transcendent,is a and our direct threats to the united states of america is evidenced in san bernardino and other places. it's a very complex situation, and one that requires a lot of understanding. and i respect the views of all the witnesses. ambassador crocker, i especially am grateful for your incredible service as well as other witnesses, but i will never forget your testimony before at a cruciale time in american history. on the issue of how we take care of isis, before we get into syria, there are many of us that have been advocating for a long several additional
thousand in iraq to retake isis, includingk elements of air power. that, the force mainly composed of sunni arab countries, including turkey and saudi arabia and others, with the attention not just of defeating isis but also replacing bashar assad. we have proven to anyone's satisfaction that if the object is only isis, you will not find more than 4 or 5 young men who are willing to fight. that was the testimony before this committee. question, whats is our priority?
and should we try to assemble that force to go? and take it out? pretty obvious that they are developing chemical weapons. we have seen films in a published of bomb factories. they are directing acts of terror throughout the world, using the internet, and as long as rocca remains in isis' hands, they are going to be able to foster terrorism throughout the entire world. at the same time, we are seeing a situation involved and i mentioned in my opening statement this morning that russian airpower is having an effect of reducing any capability we might have, to prevail on the battlefield, thereby hardening the position of bashar assad in power, who is the godfather of isis.
it's a very complex situation -- has evolved over the years. ambassador crocker: thank you, mr. chairman. you have outlined the complexity of what is truly a problem from hell. we have never really seen the formation of a collective arab combat force. israermies fought against l, 1948, 1967, did not go well.
was an effort to create an arab deterrent force in lebanon. in the 1970's, it became a syrian force. the other states with through their contingents. -- withdrew their contingents. my expectations are under control, let me pu tit that way. it would be possible to build such a force. certainly not without substantial u.s. engagement. then we would have to ask ourselves since islamic state has said repeatedly in its propaganda, the crusaders will come and we will destroy them, whether that would be a further rallying cry for them and their recruiting. we would have to think that through, which is what i started .
in terms of weakening the regime, stopping a humanitarian and signaling to sunnis in syria as well as outside that we stand with them. right now, i do not think they are persuaded. to get support in or the region for an effort against isis, we will have to deal with what is the number one threat, which in syria for the sunnis is assad, and in the region it is iran backed by russia. we are going to have to stand up and show we mean it before we get any serious sunnion for a serious
effort in syria or iraq. i see my time is up. yes, sir. the russians are in syria for basreason only, to support har al-assad. they talk the talk about confronting islamic state. state does not really threaten assad. they have almost a tacit understanding to leave each other alone. it is the groups we would like to support, should support, that are really locked in with assad, bearing the brunt of russian airpower. they are all in on this. us, but all in against we are not doing anything to demonstrate to anyone that we are pushing back.
>> that was a great question, senator. i agree with much of what the ambassador said. center of gravity. what they're doing in iraq is occupying sunni lands. theyria, it is from syria have expanded into those affiliates i described on those maps, and from syria they are creating a worldwide following. syria truly matters, but it is a much more complex problem. leaders, sunnio leaders, unequivocally they will tell you that iran is her number one problem. that is their issue. of theret that map because sometimes a visual picture tells an incredible
story of what their concern is. that is the number one a sister jill threat to the state's stability and security of their nation. isis is a threat, but it is second. when you enter into a discussion with them about we want to do something about isis in syria and we will need your forces to do it, they said what they will do is defer that and come back with, we have to do something about assad first. we have to do something about assad. assad is being propped up by the iranians. that is why the ambassador and i both agree that while there are no military solutions to syria, military action does play a role in getting political solutions, it has since the beginning of time.
our thought is that it's reasonable to establish safe zones and no-fly zones to turn the momentum against the regime. means 10e is by no foot tall. this is an organization that used to be joined by thousands. they have been narrowed down to 21% of syria is what they control, and after a four-year civil war, the initial year they nearly lost a war to the rebels. hezbollah -- good they were about to lose the state. that was four years ago. unbeknownst to many -- we were tracking this daily at isw -- -- so is theces
cia trained rebel force that we can't talk about in terms of equipment, but that also is a powerful player on the battlefield. they put this regime in a precarious situation. we have got to take some action. nuclearted until that deal was almost finalized and the russians put their base into syria, for one reason only -- was the aloe white enclave being threatened, and that would force the collapse of the regime. forces, fourbel years later, putting that kind of pressure on the regime. the russians thought this would be easy. later they had been making some progress. they will eventually wear down these rebels.
it is not possible for the military assisted by russians and the iranians to reclaim syria. all they can get is a security buffer for themselves, and that's it. they may go to palmira. also, because of the significance palmira has. military action against this regime fortunately still has a practicality of its own, if you shut down airpower and establish a no-fly zone. that then can move to some kind of transition of power. i'm not saying assad has to go tomorrow. there's no way the rebels are going to stop fighting until you get some promise that this regime is going to go. dead and many of
their families displaced, these are pretty tough fighters and they are not giving up on what they have been trying to achieve for 4 years. a different situation. the political component in iraq is paramount importance. we need to deter the influence the irradiance have with prime minister of body. we are after the same goal. political unity. i'm frustrated here because we spent so much time on this nuclear deal. we should have been out -- in and out of baghdad with officials routinely working with this new administration to achieve the political unity of the united states said was their political objective, but were not even close to achieving that. the kurds are still looking for
money and the weapons they need and we are not even close on the tribal force that we need from the sunnis. isis is occupying sunni lands exclusively. sense tellsommon you, sunni tribal force -- tribal force will be able to hold the territory even if the iraqi army was able to reclaim it. that is why i've said give got to put more devices, more trainers in their. -- there. antee got to up our considerably, but convince the sunnis we are serious about this and move the political situation in that direction as well. then you start to get some answers in terms of how you're going to take mosul. thank you, mr. chairman. i agree you summarize the challenges and complexities very well. your first point about 1000 more
troops for iraq -- there are serious legitimate military things that we can and should be looking at to strengthen our ability to deal with isis in ira q. they usually come in the categories of more joint werecal controllers, company missions, more special operations forces. and apaches. those ision of each of the balance of benefit versus risk. there are risks, and there are risks of americans dying on the battlefield or being captured rate if the military advisers on the ground think there would be significant benefit, they should be made because as you mosul or, retaking some big accomplishment like that would do a lot about the propaganda campaign and messaging, visible defeat for
isis on the ground like in ramadi but followed by mosul would be important. that cost benefit should be assessed and potentially revised. on the question of taking rocca and taking territory directly by the united there i think it goes without saying that we have the military power to do that. the question there is would the benefit of doing so outweigh the cost of the consequences, and here is one of the unintended consequence areas i was referring to. one, of course, is the lack of .obile if the same fighters and all --ers move to most postal or aleppo, then you have the problemlaced and you have troops on the ground as a recruiting poster for isis without having really
dealt with the problem. i am not confident in the prospect of an arab force doing this for us. foras been on the table some time and we tried to work and others tos create it, but let's just say they are a long way from being able to deliver it. you look at yemen where you have a coalition of 10 muslim countries, arab countries, led by the saudis, willing to fight with and support the saudis, but no ground force or political willingness to deploy that ground force in yemen. and that's just yemen. let alone the ability of these forces to go into syria or iraq. i think we should be really cautious in thinking we don't have to do it, we will get some arab forces to do it for us. finally, perhaps most essentially, i think most of us t the heartsyria is a
of most of these questions. i am more skeptical than others that modest steps will lead to the solution we would all like to see, whether it be special forces or a no-fly zone. politically, i think we have to recall that we are not talking about a compromise from the regime. we are not talking about a goal of getting it quote unquote to the table. we are talking about getting reading -- getting rid of it and raising all sorts of questions about their livelihood. i do not think we should underestimate what it would take . again, a modest amount of support to the opposition is what we have been doing for our most five years, and there have been significant amounts of arms and support that have gone to the opposition, and the result has been a doubling down of iran and russia, and we should acknowledge that to deal with it. we would have to directly
confront them and apply, i think, a lot more military force that has been considered. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you gentlemen. let me start with ambassador cocker. the issue of a no-fly zone u implies to me the issue of an adjacent country. there are really only two, jordan and turkey. the impression i have is that the jordanians feel they have a de facto no-fly zone because they have worked out an arrangement in the south and therefore are not subject to aerial attack, more or less. and the turks are the most problematic. in fact, their behavior sometimes is totally unpredictable. what they have done in iraq with sending troops there, what they have done in terms of helping were not helping us to close the
last 50 or 60 kilometers on their border. zone ifld be the no-fly you get limited buy-in by the , as seems to be the case right now? right now? point,ker: it's a great senator. no-fly zones would have to have the full support of jordan and self turkey in the north. -- and turkey in the north. again, the general is more confident than i am to speak of we would have to enforce a no-fly zone over turkish airspace, and probably from patriot missile batteries in turkey. they would have to do it. the turks have said and have been saying for some time now that they favor a no-fly zone and a safe zone.
i certainly would like to call that bluff if indeed it is a bluff. they have said publicly that they would like to work with us fighters to take care of that .ap -- gap i would like to explore putting the two of them together, doing both. again, do i think this is easy? obviously not. i'm not even sure it's possible. but as we look at a horrific thescape out there, and politics inside syria and the region that make it highly unlikely there is going to be any sustained effort i anyone against islamic state under the current dynamics, i think we have to seriously look at it. >> first of all, the humanitarian situation is such that we should constantly review
whether anything we can do to -- whether there is anything we can do to stop it. it should be on the table constantly. would say three things. first, you have to think about where you are doing the no-fly zone. support ite who limited to just the sort of northeast of the country or maybe a sliver in the south to avoid coming into direct and the with the regime russians. but if you only put it in areas where the regime is not really flying any way, it will have limited effect. isis doesn't have air power and the regime is not significantly flying in those parts of the country. an effect, you would have to put it much further west, including over places like aleppo, and then, if you are going to do that, you
have to possibly take out their defenses and you now have a pretty huge problem with the russians. get yourturn, to question about turkey, has been the problem with the turks. again, when i spoke with the administration, we spoke extensively with turkey and try to figure out a way to do it together. they actually had an interest in us getting into a direct military conflict with the regime. the slippery slope many here were concerned about was their objective, in some ways. we would be in conflict with the regime. the last point, essentially, is what are we trying to accomplish with it? i am skeptical. again, if there is a way to do it that helps people and -- protects people and helps the humanitarian situation great.
that theems unlikely russians and uranian's would somehow come around to the view give upbe they should letting assad have control. senator mccain: you would think after 250 killed you would seriously consider interventions. consider the political ramifications. what happening in europe as a result of refugee flows is incredible. we have seen european officials told me the european union is threatened by the very existence of it. would you agree it has -- i think perhaps the military is a little less focused because they are not recognizing the enormity of the political danger.
>> it's a great point, senator. what we are watching with the worse than atis any time since world war ii, far worse. it isn't a regional problem. it isn't a european problem. it is a global problem, but it .s falling on the region obviously, the syrians themselves, but turkey, lebanon, and jordan, with the norm us enormous refugee populations, and, as you say, in europe, where the european union as a political construct, not economic, but a political construct, is threatened. we have seen germany, which i consider one of our strongest nato allies under angela merkel, she has now been weakened by , by trying to do the right thing.
so, taking steps in syria that can save lives and reduce flows of people out of syria, i think, is an imperative. it's a humanitarian issue, but it's also a political issue. military assets for political and humanitarian purposes. i wish we could get on with it. they are obviously very complex questions as to how far you have .o go to make a difference i am all for taking out air defenses. you know, this is not going to take us to total war. if that's what's required, you know, should look at it. delightful in the position of total irresponsibility since i represent nothing but myself, but i think these are questions for this congress and this committee to look very, very seriously at. felt -- owan i have
have felt the difference from north korea since they got a nuclear weapon than before. they are in a position to lob seoul, at least, if not the united states. an enormous objective to prevent iran from getting a nuclear weapon? >> absolutely. it will lead to the proliferation in the middle east. the middle east will just go nuclear. i take heed of secretary kissinger's warning that he believes iran with a nuclear weapon is the most calamitous event in his lifetime in terms of its threat to global security , because it would likely lead to the first nuclear exchange
ever. certainly, and i think there is common ground on that. , nobody wants to have iran acquire a nuclear weapon. the issue we have all been arguing about is what is the best method to stop that from happening? senator cowan ambassador crocker, let me -- : ambassador, you said something hugely important. you said we need to take sides with our traditional allies. there are those who believe iran can somehow be brought in from the cold, this revolutionary regime. is andould just get she persians to be moderate, the world would be better and we cut -- shia and persians to
moderate, the world would be better and we could transform the middle east. how do you respond to that? >> it is a series of hot wars and cold wars. the iranians have taken sides with the russians and with bashar al-assad in syria. that's not the side we want to be on. they have taken sides in iraq with the shia militias who have, , kidnapped remember and executed americans. sides iranians have taken. russia and syria have taken sides. we need to be clear that we stand against them and that we stand with our allies. saudi arabia, yes, we have differences, no doubt. but saudi arabia has been kind
of the bedrock of our regional security policies since fdr met siloed on the deck of the quincy on the decket saud of the quincy in 1945. the saudis went into yemen without consulting us. they told us a little bit in advance, but they didn't consult us. we have to shore up some of these relationships. you start with your traditional yourds, then you move to adversaries, not the other way around. >> it's an important question. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and then queue for bringing a tremendous amount -- and thank you for bringing a tremendous amount of wisdom and experience to the table. i think we have learned a tremendous amount about how we approach this. i am concerned basically since
9/11, basically, when most people in america think we started our gauge min in that area. i am sure it started many years before that and this thing has been brewing for some time. that said, 9/11 seems to be the start of it. all three of you, hindsight being 2020, what's the greatest as a country since 9/11? my concern we have now is that -- mr. gordon, you said even our allies -- and i think as they arer coker said, willing to take the fight on the ground and if we don't do it it's still going to be done. if you could just give me an on ourht very quickly greatest mistakes and the surplus traction for rude to make sure we do not repeat those mistakes -- simplest direction
forward to make sure we do not repeat those mistakes again. i think the strategic mistake we have made as to not develop a strategy for dealing with radical islam and not just focus , ande particular group embrace the intellectual challenge that this ideology presents to us, embrace a politically, embrace it in terms of what we need to do financially, economically, and militarily, and bring nations together that have a common, vested interest in this and deal with it. we will defeat isis. there is going to be something after isis that will threaten our national interest in the middle east or someplace else that is going to get us involved and concerned and we will have meetings about it and people will follow me here and tell you how to deal with that problem. the single biggest problem i see is that we have not faced this problem strategically to deal with radical islam itself and stop -- well, we have to stop
and defeat isis as we had to stop and defeat al qaeda senior leadership in pakistan. until we deal with a comprehensive strategy, we're going to find ourselves in the same situation we're in now with isis. generational problem. we have to form, and military political alliances to come together to deal with -- we have militaryommon political alliances to come together to deal with the problem. >> that is a profound question and i have thought a lot about it. i opened our embassy in afghanistan shortly after the fall of the taliban and. the force on the ground then was special forces, the cia, and one marine expeditionary unit. that was it. was after 9/11?
>> after 9/11. that time wast absolutely opposed to introducing anymore forces to help karzai secure cities outside of kabul. i think the biggest mistake we the is not understanding reach of time and the resilience of those who are our adversaries. >> just watching what happened being there for 10 years, you would think we would have had some insight into the resilience these people have. >> which may have been behind the thinking of the pentagon at the time in not wanting additional forces. you.ot t >> and of course, our resilient enemy came at us, as it subsequently did in iraq -- different enemy.
but it's a way of saying there are not any easy answers. it's hard to say -- i mean, i will not go to the extreme position of saying that the overthrow of the taliban and and the expulsion of al qaeda was a mistake. as an american, i cannot bring myself to say that. >> what about the war in iraq? >> i'm coming to the mistakes. worthghanistan is spending some time on because it's hard to argue that we should not have taken military action after what came to us out of afghanistan. but the mistake, if there was one, was not understanding that , and the kill them all effort to create a strong, stable state in afghanistan probably wasn't going to happen.
so then what? in iraq, senator, i have learned maybe two things in all most four years in the middle east. i thought one lesson every couple of decades was a pace i could sustain. the first lesson is be careful what you get into in the middle east. and the first time i learned that lesson was in lebanon in 1982, the israeli invasion. we all thought it was a good idea. get rid of the plo. well, we got rid of the plo and we got hezbollah, and we led to -- we got a chain of events that led to the bombing of my embassy with me and it and the bombing of a marine barracks. be careful what you get into. the second thing i learned is be careful what you get out of. can have ast great a consequences as what you get into and we did not learn
those lessons well at all in iraq. is a profound question, a hard question, and with respect, it may not even be a helpful question. i think many would argue and identify a single thing, but it would be the iraq war, not just because of the financial and human cost, but because it tipped the strategic balance in the region. it put iran in charge in iraq. it led to sunni empowerment, which is feeling al qaeda in iraq and isis. it made people wary of our engagement in the middle east. arguably over wary. but i think we have to acknowledge that for every mistake of action, there would of interaction. had we not done it, we might be
sitting here talking about the mistake of leaving saddam hussein in power. i am reluctant to identify single things. you think about the region, in iraq, we intervened and occupied, it turns out, very badly. in libya we intervened but did not occupy. up very badly. in syria we neither intervened nor occupied and it has turned out very badly. for how wemodel should deal with these governments? again, i would say there is not a single mistake just as there is not a single answer for what we should do going forward. you, chairman. i want to thank all of you for being here. general, i want to ask you, we twice testran ballistic missiles this fall, and we know that recently the
administration has issued minimal sanctions, frankly, recently after the hostage released to address people's stick missile test. do you think the response to the testing -- to address the ballistic missile test. do you think the response to the testing has been sufficient and as i hear all of you say that no matter where you stand on the iran agreement we have to be quite vigilant going forward, what do you make of this? >> to directly answer your question, i think it is a response.adequate this is a violation of a u.n. resolution. the united states should lead an effort in the security council to impose tough economic sanctions and set that as a bar, certainly, because the a rainy
and have already told us that they are going to continue to test -- iranians have already told us they're going to continue to test ballistic missiles. the iranians are totally capable of moving to intercontinental ballistic missiles. here is a 30 year pattern of not doing anything, and look where we are with the iranians. i am of the mind that we have to have tough-minded economic sanctions. they have worked. it is what brought the iranians to the negotiating table over the nuclear deal, primarily, in my judgment. so, yes, i think every time they take a hostage, there should be .ome kind of sanction and we have refused to do that. we have incentivized hostage , as the ambassador is well aware. they have been taking hostages since the 1980's.
this is a cottage industry for them. they take hostages. we scream and holler. we eventually get our hostages back. but we have not stood up to them. and that gets their attention. , yes, we have to take a stand on this and demonstrate to the iranians and to our allies in the region that despite the nuclear deal we made with the iranians, we are not standing up against their malign behavior in the ouron and as it impacts interest and the stability and security of the region. we are going to be there, and when we don't do that, then we do what we just did, these unilateral sanctions for missile testing. that's inviting more missile testing. senator: can i also ask, ambassador, i was very curious
about your statement about where .oes the united states stand as we look at allies like saudi arabia that, right now, we are giving them the impression that we are not standing with them. in fact, we have seen that iran and russia, you very clearly laid out, have taken aside here, and it is against our interests, ultimately, and against peace and stability in the region, which is, of course, in all of our interest. in terms of what we should be see this as connected. when the iranians act badly and we don't respond, i think this also gives a message to some of our allies in iran who are concerned about hegemonic he havey you're in the region. what would you like -- hegemonic behavior in the region. what would you like to see us do to reassure our allies and also
andddress the isis threat how to address iran with their malign behavior going forward. first, make it clear that we are going to stand against malign iranian activity. give you some suggestions on what we might look at doing in syria. , i would like to see john kerry go out -- anybody but spend a prolonged time there. condoleezza rice did this when i was out there. in this administration i think there have been to secretary of state visits in seven years -- two secretary of state visits in seven years to iraq, one by
secretary clinton and one by secretary kerry. >> that's telling. ambassador: the space we vacated, the iranians stole. a unifiedot seeking iraqi state that is friendly with iran. they are seeking the destruction of an iraqi state and division shia-stan,tan, she is istan that islamic state can control and who cares? there is a prime minister we can work with. when the secretary needed a move from baghdad, he can to a mann, tel aviv, ankara,
cairo, riyadh, repeat as necessary, and it will be necessary. hill andness on this the business i left has one thing at the center of both. it's about relationships. let concerned that we have our relationships after fee the region. and we to show resolve need to take them seriously and engage with them. finally, i would say with respect to the ballistic missile would agree with general keane -- and maybe we are doing active inat we are the united nations with the security council. it's probably a good time to be a little bit quiet while we do the prep work, but i think we should make the same effort there that we did on the nuclear issue.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. first, general keane, i agree with you completely that a general strategy that involves everything from military force to information, to ideology, to ideas, is needed. isis,l with the threat of which is the long run threat. so i appreciate your testimony on that. i think you are exactly right. just a small question. ambassador, you noted you thought prime minister merkel was suffering politically for doing the right thing. an syrian refugees. i presume you think that this country has some responsibility to take in syrian refugees. i do., sir, more profoundly, i believe this country has an obligation to lead on a global crisis. europeansve it to the
-- >> you are talking about the refugee crisis. >> the refugee crisis. we have a broad responsibility, i believe, as america, as a global leader, to lead on a global crisis, to help the european sort out what they are doing with these people, to support as holy and accurately -- actively -- to support as actively as we can the lebanese and the jordanians, and part of that -- you know, we are not going to be able to lead effectively if we don't walk the walk. >> that was going to be my question. means taking, that in a significant number of refugees. to take ust going very seriously in europe. angela merkel has a million and we have 2100. i'm all for the vetting process. it's essential.
i would just like to see it be more of a priority to move refugees faster. again, this crisis is an to get any better. to see the kind of approach of emergedwith it that has of every state stepping forward and getting together to say let's how we are going -- let's see how we are going to deal with it, i think we need to do more than this. >> i am sitting in a seat that by a senator whose father was an immigrant from poland and mother an immigrant from lebanon. we have sort of talked about this. where does the ground force come from? i think i heard agreement that it shouldn't be us because that is a recruiting poster, that's what isis once, that would be a gift. then i'm hearing that the
muslim countries don't want to step forward with ground troops. this has been the problem with the strategy for three years. where do the ground troops come from in syria to confront isis? syria much like isis in iraq is occupying sunni land. theland we are dealing with kurds on. the kurds have for effectively -- have effectively reclaimed it in syria as well as in iraq. either way, we should use that as evidence that isis is not 10 feet tall. they have put together a decent ground force supported by some air power. we can certainly defeat isis. the problem is that the ground force is fighting a side. it is the largest force fighting a sunni syrian arabs. >> therefore, getting rid of assad should be a priority.
>> that is what i have been saying. .ssad remains a priority certainly, to get off the status quo and the humanitarian catastrophe we are facing, which is contributing to migration challenges, but it also enables thrive, because sunni arabs are not going to cross the border and fight isis while the iranians are propping up the assad regime. without assad the syrian army in the moderate opposition would be able to focus on isis. i not being argumentative here. you have all in torsten no-fly zone. itt was a lot easier when was just the syrian air force. the testimony is -- we talk about a no-fly zone. you talk about shooting down russian airplanes.
>> this is the problem we have had from the cold war to the present. because the russians have the capability and we have the that usey, and we fear of that capability. it paralyzes us from taking action. we are taking a knee. quite frankly, i would have demonstrated america's resolved right at the beginning. when they first bombed moderates we trained, we should have bombed the runway. not killed a single russian, but bombed the runway and said if you do that again, more of that runway is going to go away. this is something we learned in the cold war. the russians have stepped up. they have brought to the table a very limited russian capability. been active in 35 years since they went to
afghanistan, a failed operation, as we are all aware of. they are an inferior military to the united states. they know that. they have select capabilities that are good. if we make a no-fly zone and put people there to protect them, i don't see the russians coming in to bomb it. they would be a pariah on the world stage for doing something like that. likely attempt at protecting a saves zone would be cache saison would be from suicide bombers or something like that where you would need a -- would be from suicide bombers or something like that where you would need a ground force to protect it or file a missile at it -- fire a missile at it. you would need jordan turkey to provide missile defense systems protect theelp no-fly zone. i don't think russian intervention in a no-fly zone should paralyze us from
establishing that very thing. >> i share your analysis. going back to the soviet union, analogy i ever heard is that they are like a hotel thief. they try all the doors until they find one that is open. by not showing any level of resistance, they are going to maintain their presence. of course, the danger is some kind of counter escalation, and i wrote down, "be careful what you get into." that so is a good piece of advice. >> russia began significant operations in syria in late september. they had small incursions into turkish airspace in october and november. in late november, turkey shot down run of -- one of russia's aircraft. do you know how many times russia has invaded turkish
airspace since then? >> i would suspect none. >> what do you think that says connection between those two events and to their willingness to respect a inonstration of force airspace rights? turkey was protecting their sovereign airspace. they took what they thought was reasonable action to do that, and the russians have stayed away from it. i think it would be the same situation dealing with a no-fly zone. the russians at the end of the day are not fools. they are practical. there in syria for one reason only, to prop up the assad regime. that is their goal. extending thatem to bomb a place where we are trying to protect innocent people. >> ambassador crocker, would you agree?
>> i would, and i would extend it to iran. ton and russia are going push into syria until somebody like us pushes back. >> if we could stick with turkey , they are the linchpin in our efforts there as far as the refugee flows. based on past conduct, how would turkishss that the government prioritizes the various fights they are engaged regime,kurds, the assad and the islamic state? >> that's a great question because it highlights something we have been talking about this morning. syrian the non-jihadi groups to fight islamic state.
their arch enemy is not islamic state. it's assad. we want the arab states to come into fight islamic state. that's not their biggest issue. it's a ran. the same thing applies with turkey. -- it's iran. the same thing applies with turkey. the united states is clearly a threat to them, and they know it. we have seen that in syria. but in their calculus, the kurds are a much greater threat. we have the dilemma that the most effective on the ground force we have found in syria the ,ne the turks fear the most particularly since the syrian are affiliated and thousands have died in that conflict inside turkey. , this is the problem from hell at every dimension.
it is an going to get better on its own. startling revelation, i know. it's going to take sustained dialogue and engagement with all of our traditional allies in that area. we just need to be having that conversation. continuing on priorities, which sunni arab state views the islamic state as a greater threat than it views iran and shia aggression in the region? >> i am not totally current on .his i would say based on my last interactions -- and king abdulla was just here so you may have had that interaction with him, i thinking of dollar would put .slamic state ahead of iran the arabian peninsula states, it would be iran. get much notice that
the kuwaitis made some arrests in the last week or so of individuals accused in a massive terror plot involving tons of explosives that they traced to iran. it's an exit essential -- existential threat. ran freshis and a iran, the iraqi leadership would probably put them on part -- between isis and iran, the iraqi leadership would probably put .hem on par >> i agree with his assessment. i think the united arab emirates, jordan, egypt and iraq --h a isis is the greatest would say isis is the greatest
threat. the rest would be focused on iran. >> thank you, john woman. gentlemen.u, >> i want to continue on this issue of priority and scale because we are heard a lot today about the threat of iran and its influence in the region, the threat of assad in syria. on scale, we have heard a lot less about isis. secretary gordon, how would you prioritize or rank in scale those three threats in the region in terms of our greatest -- the greatest threats to our current interest and security? know, iy gordon: you don't like the choice, but we haved acknowledge that we
major problems in iran and we have an interest in containing iran. we also have a strategic interest in defeating and destroying isis. i don't like the choice. they are all related, so i am not necessarily asking for a 1, 2, three, but how do we prioritize to address these threats? >> i think we have to do them all at the same time. the question of security, i think we made clear that are were priorities asia and should be to de-escalate the conflict. would -- made clear that the should be 2-d escalate the conflict. what i like to get rid of assad? de-escalate the conflict. would i like to get rid of assad? absolutely. into ahat resolve
unified syria turning on isis or against dozensle of other groups? bepriority would de-escalating the war rather than getting rid of assad. the other question is undermining russia and iran. is it in our interest? absolutely. top ofd put it at the our list and do whatever it takes to a comp was that, but i think the consequences of that, the on -- to a that, but i think the consequences -- to that, but i think the consequences outweighs it. >> one of the challenges we have, especially regards to isis
, is that while we all recognize that turkey can play a strong and geostrategic role in all of this, their approach has been oftentimes ambiguous. focus we leverage greater on isis from turkey given their concerns about the kurds and other priorities, and what do you think, secretary gordon, primary sir -- prime minister strategic goals and objectives are in this engagement? >> the problem is we'll have different adversaries in the region and we prioritize them differently. turkey is internally threatened and has lost 30,000 people in a conflict over three decades. .ext is assad after that is isis, which they don't like, but they have a
strategic interest in avoiding a conflict with, so they have been reluctant to poke too much. only lowerre not down, they are actually a partner. alone, we havek seen turkey oppose kurdish representation in the group it tried to meet, and it's hard to imagine excluding kurds from the opposition. it really underscores the differences we have with turkey on some of these and how to deal with it. i think you used the word leverage. turkey is an ally and a partner, and we need to have an absolutely frank conversation. we have different priorities. only trade-offs on some of these issues can head us on the same page. germanyointed out that
has a million refugees. jordan has a million. the u.s. is willing to take 2100. do you have an opinion on the house bill, the safe act, and its impact on being able to deal with refugees from iraq and syria? i appreciate the fears in this country in the wake of terrorism, particularly san bernardino. these are real fears. i just think the legislation is aiming in the wrong direction. the refugees are not the source of the problem or terror, they are the victims of it. again,so very important, to keep a regional perspective. i follow islamic state media as closely as i can.
back in september, chancellor merkel made a statement that refugees were welcome in germany. islamic state social media went nuts. don't believe it. it's a trap. they are trying to lure you in so they can imprison you or worse. on it went. a key part of the islamic state narrative if the west, including the u.s., is seen as welcoming of the refugees that they are helping to create, that we are the protectors of muslims, not them. are the perpetrator, we are the protector. that's the message we want to get out there. i hope we do it. i understand what the legislation is intending to do. i think it's counterproductive. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
ambassador crocker, you noted that we need to stand with the because others, iran, has taken a position. what concrete steps do we need to take to reaffirm our relationship with saudi arabia and turkey? there are internal issues going on in both of these countries that make it difficult. for example, in turkey, they are very concerned that we are depending on kurds to fight. in syria, that is the biggest concern that president erdogan has. in saudi arabia, there are succession issues. how do we shore up our relationships with these two important allies and let them know we stand with them?
what concrete steps would you suggest? sets of issues, senator. that, taking actions demonstrate that we are on the same side of issues critical to them as well as us. why i have been saying it is important to take a stand against what iraq -- what iran is doing in the region. both in syria and iraq in particular -- they are slightly different cases, but to show the wedis and others that yes, are serious about the same thing they are serious about. .urkey is a nato ally it's in a special category. it stood with us in korea. we should be having the kind of high level, sustained dialogue
that befits a critical treaty alliance. to listen to them, to understand their concerns, to see how the region looks to erdogan in some detail and depth. it starts with that kind of engagement. we also need to be careful, i understanding the very real limits of how helpful the kurds can be. when you get outside of areas of their traditional influence -- and we saw this when they led the effort to retake the singe our region in northern iraq from , some realte frictions developed. that was not a traditional kurdish area. --addition to turkish years
ears, trying to push the kurds into traditional arab areas is not a good idea. one additional point, i followed saudi affairs for a long time. i am never going to figure out how their internal political dynamics work. mosti do know is that for of the last four decades, elements of the west have been predicting the collapse of the house of saud. it still there. i think it's going to be there for a good long time. let them worry about how their internal politics are organized. let's deal with them is a government. , there is theudis potential for a 30 year old to take over leadership. the middle east is fraught with peril. saidordon, you de-escalating the conflict in syria is a more immediate concern than getting rid of the sod. isn't that the path the u.s. is
taking right now? think the u.s. is trying to find some middle ground between what might have been and ideal initial objective of complete regime and looking at could you have a certain amount of time he could say or reduce his powers in the meantime question mark i do think all of these things are important to explore diplomatically. -- in the meantime? these thingsl of are important to explore diplomatically. but i think it perpetuates the war. tole it would not be ideal have a sod in place, if you could offer them what has never --lly -- a sod in place bashar al-assad in place, if you could offer them what has never
really been offered, area control, humanitarian assistance, prisoner releases, and a path to deal with syria more generally, i think it would be better than where we are right now. that, aserstanding is ambassador crocker said, because the what you get into and what you get out of, i do not think that is what we are doing. i think we are trying to figure out a way to achieve a .ease-fire that would go a long way toward addressing the humanitarian crisis. think you very much, mr. chairman. -- thank you very mr. chairman. senator mccain: where is our moral compass? where are we satisfied to leave some of them power who has men, women, and
children and send millions into refugee status? ambassador crocker has addressed the results of this failure. let's leave him in power for a while. so what? so he can kill more people? so he can starve them? so he can slaughter them with poison gas question mark is that the moral compass that the united states has followed -- ?oison gas question ma of the moral compass the united states has followed? i don't think so. i think the greatest example of our moral compass is the reagan administration. where is our moral compass? senator kaine. senator kaine: thank you. long supported your proposals with respect to the humanitarian or no-fly zone i thinkern syria, and
you are prescient in calling for that. a couple of questions. i apologize for stepping out but we are having a foreign relations committee hearing on exactly the same topic so i am going back and forth. who is a greater enemy to the united states, isil or syrian refugees? well, clearly, isil is a bigger enemy and i surly don't think syrian refugees are an enemy at all. don't think syrian refugees are an enemy at all. >> agree. something ofwe had a conversation on that before you came back in. i agree completely. >> the reason i ask is we are debating a bill this afternoon titled securing america against enemiesenemies, and the
referred to are refugees from syria and iraq. or ave not had a debate vote about eyes full. the president sent a draft authorization to congress -- about isil. the president sent a draft authorization to congress in february. they should've sent it sooner. i am not that thrilled about the content of it. and not only have we not voted on it, there has not been a debate or vote in committee or on the floor in either house about the president's authorization in 11 months since the president sent it. are you aware of any other time in history when the president asked congress for a war authorization, sent a proposed authorization to congress, but it was not even taken up for debate in committee or on the floor of either house? >> i am not aware of any president like that.
i provided testimony on this there he subject, and i believe it should be taken up, should be debated, and should be voted on and i think it was appropriate of the president to send it. senator kaine: other thoughts? >> i think it was important to send it. as a civilian, i would look at it in practical terms. are there contingencies out there to which we could not respond militarily because the existing a umf is not adequate question mark if the answer to that is yes, then, just speaking as a citizen, i would find it incredible that congress has not acted on it in almost a year. >> i am also not aware of any precedent, but i agree it is a problem. i think we have a legal
the basis onnk which we are asking is mushy and far removed from what we are trying to do. we've done here about slippery slopes or military slippery slopes. this is the legal slippery slope. notget in the habit of having a specific authorization. then you are years away from the authorization that you have. i don't think that's the habit the united states would want to develop. >> mr. crocker, i wanted to ask itemast question about the in yours. i'm grappling with this. candid in the arabia tension which has really now accelerated that a side.y need to pick what i've been worried about is there a -- are there unfortunate consequences of not want?side we may one analysis of the conflict is
sunni-shiite divide. the u.s. doesn't have a side which strand of islam we would prefer. we'll picksomething a side. it is a nation-state battle. cultural be a arab-persian component, economic the iran and competitiveness and the military and monarchy. there's a lot of layers to this. a side without making it look to that region of the world that we're just sort feet on theour sunni-shiite a sectarian violence. question. great we shouldn't be in the position side,ing to pick a senator, in that area. we should be leading. fighting what the
is and thenenda lining up support for us where it is most appropriate. we're playingnow catch up. the sides have been formed. we're very late to a very critical game. and our position is having to choose a side. when we do, i hope we do, then we need to work and start shaping that side. because there are some things going on there now. for our alliesod and for the region as a whole or for our long-term interest. but just sitting on the really let you't affect how this is going to play. >> maybe to be clear on this, let's be clear. we do pick a side. nobody should misunderstand.
we do have allies and partner. eastern, even after the nuclear deal we have the u.s. iranions, we'll confront in terms of terrorism, human won't, other issues, we have diplomatic relations with iran. whereas with the other side we have extensive relationships, faces, ships, missile defense cooperation, millions of dollars worth of weapons, and strategic partnership. i think the starting point weuld be to understand that have partners and adversaries. that's clear. is -- i do agree with my colleague that knot withstanding everything i said we have a perception problem. with it.o deal we should. should misunderstand that we're right between iran and the gulf partners. tos picking a side take you doing things not in your interest like nothing have a or goingeal with iran
directly to war in syria. i think there's a limit. we have our own national interest. that has to be a part of the dialogue with our friends and partners. >> yeah. motto of the soviet union is a good one. we clearly took a side and we felt it was an threat to the country. not the united states' ally'sl interest or interest. clearly it lines up against that. i don't think we've done enough. the same time deal, the soviet union, we obviously formed a political military alliances against it. but it never stopped us from seeking opportunities to work the soviet union for common purpose and common interest. when you do -- when you operate from a position of it actuallye that,
enables you to get more done with your adversary. i think that's what ambassador crocker and i are arguing for. this train has already left the station. we have disengaged from the region. involvement in it, verycould get to be a dangerous situation between saudi arabia and the iranians and their supporters. we have to get back in it. we have to rally our allies. political ande diplomatic objectives to what we're trying to achieve to iranians in the region. >> thank you for your service and testimony. shaheen? >> thank you, senator kaene. back and forth. thank you for holding on until i could get down here. allt of all, let me thank three of you, both being for service to theur country. it is impressive. and your willingness to continue to engage is also impressive.
i wanted to just follow up on some of the specifics that you in your testimony. ambassador crocker, one of the said -- i may not be putting this exactly accurately, it i think from what understand you to say is the more we appear to take sides the moreian and iran difficult it becomes to get a people whowith those have been our friends in the middle east, did i understand that correctly? and i ask you this because it as i look at syria that if we're going to get any of a political pollution solution that iran and russia have got to be at the table. with that?gree they do have to be at the table. my concern is with the current dynamic in syria where russia on aran both feel they are
roll here, that their is being quite propping up assad aat not only will we not have successful negotiation, we're not even going to get to the table. that's what i think we're seeing now with these talks scheduled for next week sort of slip away from it. yeah, that has to be an the conflict. to it is my belief that for that eveniation to succeed or take place we've got to change some of the dynamics on the ground. both to back up assad, iran, and sunni, to reinforce our friends inside syria, and to send a signal to the larger region.
so absolutely, there has to be negotiations. we just don't have the temples for it now. >> i don't -- i agree basically with what all of you have said with respect with the need to to try to force assad tos supporting the table to come up with some resolution. the question that i still have is based on what each of you had to say. it is still not clear to me how do that. because the -- i like the idea no-fly zone. i think that sounds like one of that wetive things could do. on the other hand, we've had testimony from members of our military, some of our military leaders that that would require a significant military presence. we would take casualties. difficult time defenseng syria's air
system. i've also heard from refugeetatives of the community who say it would put a target on refugees because it where theyplace would be forced to go because they felt like they were safe then they would become targets of isis. i'm not sure how that works significant military presence. i do think -- you know, the involvement of special operations forces -- that seems to me one of the things that trying to do more of. i think there's -- i certainly that there's been some success with that and with air defenses. but again it is -- it is just not clear to me how we thatplish the successes each of you talked about in reality without putting back on the kind of military force that we had in iraq and nowanistan and we are seeing the impact of withdrawing of forces.
so enlighten me, if you would. general keene, i'll ask you first. >> sure. i think you are talking about two things. assad and syria and also isis. gives you a headache through it. reasonable people can disagree on it. we've beenent, and discussing this on and off most of the morning, the political syria is critical, and we have to change the the regime tost get a political solution. the russians are there and the upnians are there to prop and reserve the regime in their own national interest. >> right. testimony.t of the >> so that is critical. the no-fly zone i disagree with military colleagues who may
have made it appear too difficult to achieve. i don't think for a minute that we're going to have an issue with syrian air defense systems, if we did, we would destroy them all. quite frankly. know that. i also don't -- don't wantust -- i to be argumentative. i'm out of time. a final point,e because you raised that. and maybe circumstances have had directt we've system from military leadership theessing concern about losses that would be incurred if in from the syrian air defenses. so maybe the situation has changed. can you speak to that? >> no. that's their job to lay out the level of risk that's associated with any option that takes place. there's a level of risk. that doesn't mean we don't do
it. always potential for casualties. that's the reality of it. i've also spent a lot of time on this issue. i'm very convinced that we can establish a no-fly zone with minimum interference with the syrians to be sure. listen if we're going to put innocent people in there, i russians ore syrians bombing that, frankly. certainly not the russians. have bombed their own people in the past, but they would pay a price for it. secondly i think the threat could come largely from the ground. oft would be in the case suicide bombers and others. so you have to have some kind of force on the ground to protect that site. i think we've got a history with past. zones in the we've done them successfully. i think we could do it here. it would have been better to do it a long time ago. certainly. as it would have been better to syrian-arabs in terms of helping them a long time ago.
still a realistic option that should be on the table for implementation to help move forward a political solution. >> senator, could i add a word on this? toust think it is important remember that it is all about the political objective. objectiveitical remains that the regime is giving up power, do you think changing the balance on the ground modestly or even putting unlikely-fly zone is to bring about the objective. if you think about precedence, there's not a lot of precedence operation where you gradually increase support opposition and then the regime decides to hand over power certainly not when it by major powers like iran and russia. think about libya. it wasn't backed by anyone. we started with a no-fly zone. allies parting the arms. it didn't end with the peaceful thesition of power and regime giving up its leader. it ended with the death of
gaddafi and everything we've seen since. kosovo, we weren't asking for the regime to give up power portions out of the country. threat ofnd the ground invasion. there may be other reasons to do these things. i would be awfully careful about those steps will lead to the political transition that we're trying to bring about. >> well, thank you all again. ambassadorery much, crocker, for your statements with respect to refugees. willingness tour speak out on that. gillibrand. >> thank you, senator shaheen. i'm going to continue the line of questioning. i hear the answers about the difficulties of the response. turkey has the second largest standing military and nato is almost 700,000 active
personnel and 400,000 reserves, most arabia is the powerful army of any arab nation troops,r 200,000 active 70,000anks, jordan has active troops and 60,000 reserves. iran has been the most active in supporting ground troops fighting isil. what can we do or should we do engage a allies to bear a larger burden in the fight against isil? do to encourage them spade on theut the ground? >> senator, the first thing we need to do is indicate that we and as such take strategic insecurity concerns seriously. isil isn't thea, primary threat. it is iran.
for turkey, isil isn't the primary threat. it is the kurds. allies. >> but not all of the kurds. met, and he said we have lots of kurds that are friends. the kurds voted for me. he will take the kurds as not a monolith and say we get along with these kurds, we just don't get along with pkk. assertive about that. >> right, the kurds in question ypg in northern syria. they are affiliated with the pkk. it is a problem. advocated why i have a reinvigorated u.s. engagement with traditional allies and partners. have differences clearly. we had differences with riyadh. concerned about is that we're not talking about the differences as friends and
the view to developing common ground and common understandings, and a common strategy. because without that, any notion regional forces intervening stateia againstist lammic vengeful. going to do it. >> we took a code. that's what we heard meeting with the saudi defense forces. they were grateful for all of the our intelligence efforts. to amplify everything that we're doing together. from some of the more anecdotal are lookings, they for more engagement, not less. turkey. thing true with he wants to increase trade. the united states to engage on a far more aggressive level. be asking at least senators to come to visit them
tot's happening with regard the u.s. policy? what are we not doing that we be doing? i understand all too well the pressures on any administration, its senior members, the president, the secretary of so forth. but i think at that level we got to be more involved in the region. done by this can be telephone calls. but there's nothing like a state visit. earlier in the hearing i -- >> as opposed to a congressional visit. >> yeah. we're just the senators. all over the country. chicken feed. --i was going to say particularly codels are really important. i know they are -- it is probably hard for you as members gethe administration to
away. having hosted many of them over particularly in iraq, i saw a whole lot of the chairman, that's just crucial. >> so you recommendation that the secretary of state goes to the region and engage more aggressively? >> yes, ma'am. i do. that i -- the iranians have kind of filled the in iraq. it is a very, very bad situation. i would like to see the secretary go camp out. needed a break he could go to riyadh and tel aviv. we've got to ramp this up. now,d as this situation is i'll try to save something uplifting, we're going to look with fondnessay know stalag.
>> you said we should not be dealing with the systems of the isil but go straight to the cause. i would be interested. i'm past my time, but maybe you can submit it for the record. how can the united states have the causes? message orhe approach? >> that would be a longer answer that we have time for. one.give a brief focus on the causes more than the systems what i meant is that and need to dold all of the things that people normally talk about in a onprehensive isis strategy foreign fighters and finances and the border and opposition and instruct u.s. action. all of those things can and need to be done. it as really zero in on long as the 20 million sunnies between damascus and
baghdad are feeling killed byged and shiite leaders, we are going to face the troubles. they are going to be radicalized the region and beyond. it is the longer conversation of how we do that in iraq. consensus there needs to be done more politically for the sunnies of iraq to empower them and make them feel they are part of the country. in syria the idea about deescalating the war. it is true assad is a magnet. it is even more true that the war and the daily bombing and isis.g is the cause of if we can empower the sunnies in deescalate the war i think we'd make more of a contribution than any number of forward air controllers or special forces. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. chairman.ou, mr. thank you for continuing this very significant and
illuminating hearings. i want to thank all three of our witnesses, particularly ambassador crawford, thank you for hosting us when you have in afghanistan and for your insights and advise to this me afterwards.to i know a lot of ground has been covered. in and out of the hearing and had an opportunity to follow it as well remotely. to focus for the moment issue.refugee on traffickingly refugee,rvivors particularly women and children. a youngcently with trafficking survivor who told me her escape. from rapegeous escape
and brutality. many women and children have ofured this at the hands isil. it has been -- the situation has detailed by a number of the media as well. been increasing lose terrorism tol of destabilize communities and exercise control over women and girls in communities there. and in the case of isil, thousands ofhold the men, women, and children in captivity. so i think we should try to find way to expense and intensify our efforts. let me begin by asking you, mr. gordon, what role the united states and the coalition securingshould have in the state's release of these women and children.
still head by isl and how it maybe open to the other witnesses and ensure that the training exercise is being iraq are taking another agency approach to fix it? senator, thank you. i couldn't -- it had been to overstate the humanitarian consequences of the refugee crisis. humanitariant in stand point. millione more than 10 displaced. strategicallyn't liketen the neighbors lebanon. a quarter of his population are syrian refugees. has spilled over to the u.s. and the european union as well. we are already doing a lot. the u.s. has been a leader. i think we provided more than $4 billion. and they are implying, that's not even close what is necessary.
so we need to do even more. we need to lead. the arguments for america's embrace and islingness to take refugees not just the humanitarian one which is enormous otherwise leaving them to their face in the region but showing us america is a welcoming country and not anti-muslim is a -- i think it is a big tool in the werall struggle beyond what can do to the individuals and then finally coming back to the are alll points that we talking about. whatever we can do to individual is obviously hugely important. we need to stop the flow. the sources the problem that we just discussed and senator gillibrand's questions. i fear too if we don't deal with those causes we're going to have two or three years from now on the same problem. it is going to be many times is now.han it >> ambassador crocker?
thank you, senator. community you are talking about are neither muslim refugees. they would love to be refugees. bad that, at least they would be out of the hands of the islamic state. they are right now captives. >> they are captives. they are slaves. slaves. sex that islamicder state is evil. exists, as as it is ground, theynday purposes.t for evil whether that is attacks in paris, planning the attacks in enslavement of innocents, execution of others, do it.ll i'm grateful to you for
recalling that there is a -- there's such a thing in the world as evil. evil.is isis is evil. and as the chairman said in a different context earlier, we need to keep a moral compass on things for america. >> thank you. >> i thank the witnesses. extremely helpful i'm sure to all of us and those who observing on c-span. i don't think we could have had members of the -- group of people who have served their country with honor and distinction. proud to have all three of you before the committee today. >> mr. chairman, this is a very timely and important hearing. for theirwitnesses time and thoughtful comments. >> adjourned.
>> the senate armed services is holding another hearing tomorrow. they write the committee will take up the nomination of eric fanning to be the next army secretary. nominated inas september. exit tee members have dragged background check process and assist that he step down as ating secretary because of potential conflict with his confirmation. live coverage of the hearing c-span beginning at 9:30 a.m. eastern. >> tonight on c-span loretta lynch testifies at a senator hearing about the president's executive actions on guns. the annual winter meeting of the u.s. conference of mayors in and the u.s. strategy in the middle