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tv   Derek Chollet Discusses The Long Game  CSPAN  September 10, 2016 2:35pm-3:41pm EDT

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and in terms of "redefining america's role in the world," as you know, there has been a lot of criticism of the president for not talking enough about american exceptionalism. and when we got bogged down in that debate at various points, and now that debate has reemerged as hillary clinton has been trying to emphasize american exceptionalism. and there are people who are saying, "ah, look, she is emphasizing it because president obama didn't." so break this down for us. derek: sure. so first on the defying washington. one of the central themes of obama's presidency, and in fact if you go back to when he started to run for president in 2007, one of the central themes of his candidacy was to try to buck the conventional wisdom of washington. one of the most important moments in his political rise was his speech in 2002 against the war in iraq. and that was something that, of course, in 2004 when he ran for senate, but then as a candidate for president in 2007 and 2008 was a distinguishing feature of his candidacy. and certainly i experienced in
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the years that i served in the administration a sense of trying to resist what the washington wisdom was saying the u.s. should be doing or shouldn't be doing in the moment. i should first start with this disclaimer. i'm part of the washington establishment. i've worked in and out of government, worked in and out of think tank for 28 years. so i'm not writing this as an outsider looking in decrying all of what's happening in washington. there is plenty of books that do that. this book is trying to look at this from the inside and be a little self-critical of the way that the washington wisdom has said things should be done over the years. and president obama, you see this time and again in interviews that he gives throughout his presidency, not just recently, but from the day he took office, there was a sense of pride that he is willing to stand up to what editorial pages say he should be doing or what washington wise people say he should be doing.
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and i think there is a couple reasons for that. part of it is his background where he is from, how he emerged as a political figure. this is definitely part of his political character. but i also think it goes -- there is a deeper reason there. and this gets back to the title, "the long game." you think of you think of what the president has been trying to do in design a strategy and execute it over time. a strategy that both takes into account what america is trying to do in the world and our ability to influence outcomes around the world as well as the health of the united states here at home. which oftentimes in a foreign policy debate gets treated as sort of a zero-sum set of issues. whether you're concentrating too much on foreign policy, your domestic situation is bad, or vice versa. when in fact you have to look at it holistically. most presidents do, most successful presidents do. certainly that's the way president obama did. and so when he is trying to execute a long game, he's willing to be subjected to
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criticism in the moment and a sense of many doubters out there. but with the confidence that over time this is going to pay off. and the incentives in the washington debate are varied. particularly today. it's been this way for many years. but particularly given the new media environment, the more splintered and partisan media environment, you're rewarded for sort of the short-term time horizon. so the analogy i use is president obama has been trying to be like warren buffett, the financier, who of course made a pile of money thinking about long-term investments. making big transactions, by the way. so it's not as though he is trying to put all his money under the mattress. he is willing to take risks, but these are in the service of long-term payoffs. and the foreign policy debate tends to be more kind of day trading, which is reacting to every blip on the market, seeing what will get the most retweets in the moment.
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now i'm not trying to pass moral judgment on one or the other. both are trying to make money. it's just totally different ways about going about doing it. i think the way washington tends to look at things, when i say washington, i mean the press. i mean politicians. i mean folks in think tanks. i mean folks in congress is it's now. is there an instant answer? the president is very willing to be patient and wait and set us on a long-term course. then the second piece of this, which is redefining america's role in the world. obama in many ways has redefinition tapped into traditions of previous presidents. although they're traditions that might be surprising to some of you. if you think of -- i do at this the end of the book where i'm trying to puzzle about how we should think about obama historically, how he would compare with other presidents.
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if you look at or read how obama compares himself, it's to other presidents, it's interestingly not to the bright stars in the democratic presidential firmament. he usually doesn't talk about fdr or truman. he talks about george h.w. bush and dwight eisenhower. and the approach -- their approach to america and the world. he points to two republicans. it's an interesting statement, by the way, as an aside on our current political debate that the only person, political leader who would stand up and compare themself george h.w. bush and dwight eisenhower is barack obama. i do not think any republicans, even in the primary -- even george h.w. bush's son talked more about his brother than his father when it came to american foreign policy. and that's very telling. but it gets to this issue of exceptionalism. obama of course has been
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criticized since his first year in office of being an apologist for america, talking the united states down. i'm sure we'll hear another round of this in the next few days as folks read the news of the speech he gave earlier today in laos where he talked about the intensive bombing campaign the united states conducted against laos in the early 1970's, dropping more bombs on the small southeast asian country than we did in tonnage over germany and japan during world war ii. and as a way to talk about the hardship of that country, but also really to talk about our role and responsibility today in trying to help that country. and many of his critics will say this is just another example of him apologizing for the united states. and this idea that some have tried to suggest that he doesn't believe america's exceptional. i think it's actually the very opposite. he believes truly in american exceptionalism. i talk about this in the book. in fact, he would argue that the
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very fact that he is president is a testament to the exceptional nature of our country, and that the united states remains the indispensable nation. it is the country that others look to help solve problems, to come up with the answers, to organize the world to come around common solution to common problems. and his argument would be by acting in a certain way in previous years, particularly during the 2000's, we were actually losing what made us exceptional. we were losing the credibility in the eyes of the world. well were losing our moral stature. we were losing our ability to convince other countries to come by our side and try to come up with common solutions. so he believes in exceptionalism with every fiber of his being. and he has given, in my view, some of his most eloquent speeches one can challenge on american exceptionalism.
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in some cases, they are not about foreign policy directly, but they're everything about america and the world. one of the speeches i talk about in this book is a speech he gave in selma several years ago on the anniversary of the selma march. it's not exactly about american foreign policy, but if you go back and read it, it's all about what makes us unique in the world. and it's the reason why for so many around the world the united states remains a beacon of hope. so let's move into some jim: so let's move into some substantive foreign policy issues, and one that is getting a lot of attention because it just seems to continue to defy a solution, and has just been so horrific to see unfold is syria. your take on the issue that emerged several years ago with the red line and the decision not to use force against syria, and then the very remarkable agreement to get rid of syria's chemical weapons, which seemed
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to come out of nowhere. so i'll give you the opportunity to say a few words about that. but then also, what -- where, where do you see this going? it just -- the meeting that the president had with president putin didn't seem to yield anything. secretary kerry continues to meet with foreign minister lavrov. the violence continues. and it's just so horrific. and we don't seem -- and i realize not every problem in the world has an answer. but just this one, you know, the international community has let syria down. and i just wonder where you see that going and how you think what has unfolded in syria will affect how obama's presidency or the foreign policy part of his presidency is viewed in the long run. derek: yeah.
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syria is clearly the crucible of obama's foreign policy. and is an issue in government, particularly in my time at the pentagon, i dealt with syria as an issue than any other issue by far. in my book, i try to disentangle two issues in our debate that get enjoyed. the issue is what to do about syria's chemical weapons, and the issue what to do with assad and the nature of the syrian civil war. the first chapter of the book is entitled "the red line" because i want to go right directly at this argument if only president obama had used force in 2013, we would have a totally different set of outcomes in syria. and we would have gained leverage to solve the syrian civil war. sort of that's the -- the president himself has said that's the inverted point of the pyramid for most of the critique of his foreign policy. the red line.
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in my experience serving in the pentagon as one of the folks who was trying to plan and prepare for the strikes that we were advocating for at the time, the administration was advocating for to the congress, and also someone who spent the better part of the previous year prior to that worried about the disposition of syria's chemical weapons, what we ended up achieving -- not by design, but by improvisation and opportunism, creativity was something that none of us imagined possible. -- was that that the peaceful removal and destruction of 1300 tons of syrian chemical weapons. the puzzles about the debate overall, i struggle about it, i talk about it in the book is in iraq, we used force against a country that did not have wmd, it turned out. and the strategic consequences are ones we are still dealing with today.
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and in syria, we did not use force and ended up with dealing with a wmd threat that did exist and in fact was ten times worse than the cia wrongly estimated iraqi chemical weapons to be. and yet that seems a strategic disaster. how do try to get at that puzzle? so that's what the first chapter is about, unpacking the red line both in terms of the history of it and how we got into the situation, and then trying to figure out why it is that snag has arguably made us all safer, which was 1300 tons of syrian chemical weapons moved -- believe me, if we had the chemical weapons still in syria today and we would be worried about isis getting them, it would be something all of us would be very worried about. so i start with why is it that the red line is seen as such a disaster, particularly given the
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counterfactual, if we had gone ahead and used forced, decided not to take this opportunity that presented to us, to remove the chemical weapons peacefully, and we had gone ahead and used force, which would not have taken out the entire chemical arsenal. it would have taken out 25% of it at most, which is one of the reasons why there were so many concerns being expressed about why we wanted to use force against syria in the first place. but if we had done that in 2013, and then god forbid, some of those remaining weapons had gotten on the loose and had been used in europe or against israel or here in the united states, barack obama would have been held responsible for that. many people rightly would have said why did you give up this opportunity to try to solve the problem peacefully to uphold your honor and go barrel forward and use force. so that's one side of the argument. the second side, which is something that we struggled with mightily in the administration. clearly the administration is still struggling with today, and president obama's successor will struggle with is what to do about assad and the underlying dynamics of the syrian civil conflict.
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and here again, we have a policy that assad should go. the question is less is that goal, but how are we going to try to achieve that goal. and the united states has tried over the past few years to go about that process diplomatically. the view was that we needed to have -- i describe it in the book -- a managed transition in syria. and the fundamental debate that we had in the government and the debate that we have collectively about syria lies within the tension, the fundamental tension between the two words "managed" and "transition." because we can bring about a transition in syria. the u.s. military has shown repeatedly over the last decade plus that it can bring about transitions. the challenge for us has been those don't look very managed. now what the administration has been trying to do is bring about a transition that is managed, something that is through diplomacy and which the government doesn't collapse and which you've got an opposition that is trod come in and take charge.
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and the basic institutions of society stay intact. but you put too much emphasis on that side of the equation, and the transition takes a long time, if it comes at all. and so that's where the tension lies. and i think that there is no doubt -- we know there is no doubt that there have been very difficult trade-offs in syria. and i talk in the book how in retrospect, looking back, are there things that we could have done differently? and some of these are arguments i made at the time. some of these are arguments i argued against when i was in the government, but upon reflection maybe we could have been more creative earlier. although i have to say that even when i go back and look, repeat in my mind the history as it played out while i was living it -- unfortunately, i don't see the outcome changing dramatically. the fact is we've been using force in syria every day for two years. now it doesn't make the news anymore that we bomb targets in syria every single day, and we've been doing it since september of 2014. those are isis targets. they are not targets against the
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assad regime. but as we have seen in the news recently, as some of the forces we have been training on the ground have been getting more successful, some of those questions are before policymakers again of what the target set should be of what we are bombing. we have been militarily engaged in syria for quite some time. the challenge for us is just how we calibrate that engagement in a way that we can try to affect the outcome without getting us into the morass that we ended up in iraq, or repeating the mistakes that we ended up making in libya, which again we're still dealing with today. and i think that's where i say the book is trying to explain things. it's trying to show that this is a really complicated picture. it's not to excuse a particular outcome. it's just to suggest to those of you who are interested in this and trying to follow and in your own minds piece together what you think makes the most sense
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for the u.s. and the world how we went about doing it and ended up where we are. jim: you mentioned iraq, and what i want to ask you about is something that stems from something we wrote about when we wrote our book "america between the wars." we talked about how iraq has been a big central issue in american foreign policy since the summer of 1990, august of 1990 when saddam hussein invaded kuwait, and then the following year the united states led a coalition in the gulf war. and we talk in the book about how there was the handoff of the iraq problem from george h.w. bush, to bill clinton, who maintained no-fly zones and handed off the problem of iraq to george w. bush, who went to war in iraq in 2003 and handed iraq off to barack obama. at the time the book came out in 2008 we didn't know who would be
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the next president, but we did express the hope that it would be the last handoff, which it's not. barack obama will be handing off this problem to his successor. do you -- does it surprise you that there is yet another handoff? and of course one of the criticisms of president obama is that by not maintaining more of a force earlier, by withdrawing too quickly, he led, you know, an opportunity for isis to emerge in iraq and then syria. so what is your response to that? and also, just what's your thought on how long iraq is going to be such a feature of american foreign policy, as it's been now since 1990? derek: well, first, you're quite right. we are approaching the fourth iraq handoff. and i think it's important for the students in the room to have that perspective, that iraq is a country that the united states has been militarily entangled
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with for over a quarter century, from the first gulf war to the no-fly zones we had over iraq in the 1990's to the invasion in 2003 to the effort today to help train, advise, and assist the iraqi security forces. and i think, though, that one of the points i try to stress in the book is when i unpack what obama's -- what are the elements of president obama's foreign policy? most presidents resist doctrine because they see the world as too complicated to have a one -size-fits-all answer for everything. but there are elements of what i call a foreign policy checklist for president obama. just like checklists are kind of interesting ways to organize your thinking. not just a to-do list or a how-to list, but a set of broad concepts that one would follow in trying to implement in a complex environment. one of the key elements of his check list sustainability.
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and i think one of the differences -- certainly, with the situation in iraq today versus iraq that he inherited in 2008 is today the united states has a position that is sustainable. that what everyone thinks of the surge in iraq in 2007 and 2008 and the reasons behind the success that we were seeing militarily in iraq during that time, that was not a sustainable posture for the united states to be in. we couldn't resource it. it was a surge, which by definition would recede. this actually gets to the second part of your question, which was the decision in 2011 to withdraw the remaining u.s. forces from iraq. that decision actually had been made by george w. bush at the end of his administration in an agreement that he had made with the iraqi government on the timeline for withdrawal for american troops. most folks may remember president bush gave a speech in baghdad november of 2008. but the only thing they remember
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is when he had a shoe thrown at him. but that press conference with prime minister maliki of iraq was to announce this new agreement with the iraqi government on a timeline for withdrawal of the u.s. troops, which was going to end at the end of 2011. president obama stuck to that timeline. and i talk about this in the book -- there was an attempt to convince the iraqi government to allow some u.s. troops the stay behind. for a lot of reasons, we were not able to come to an agreement to leave roughly 5,000 troops behind. and history will forever debate whether having those 5,000 troops there would have made a difference in stemming the collapse that we saw in iraq two years later when isis took over mosul and started to flood south to baghdad. i personally have my doubts whether the 5,000 troops alone would have stopped that. because a lot of what we saw happening in anbar province, for example, were things were the dynamics underlying the downfall or iraq's problems in 2005,
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2006. certainly at the very least, we would have had better intelligence. we would have had better awareness of the deterioration in iraq. but that's for history to debate. i have my view expressed in the book on that. it's critical that president obama is handing over not just in iraq, but also in syria in terms of the u.s. posture and the u.s. operation are stage. they're sustainable in how we can resource them. we're not breaking the back of the military in these deployments. we can resource them through our budget, through the regular budget. the american people support the mission. this is something that continues to maintain public support, which is very, very important. and the iraqi government supports this mission. this is something that the iraqi government wants us there. that's a big difference than 2011 when the iraqi government was happy to see us go. so yes, iraq is a chronic problem. and this is something that try to talk about in the book as well is how in foreign policy,
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we often don't want to think of problems as chronic. we like to think of them as problems that lend themselves to solutions that can be -- we can turn the page and be done with them. and i really do see iraq and syria more akin to the way a doctor would look at a chronic disease, which we have a lot of tools that we can bring to try to shape an outcome, to try to mitigate some of the more negative consequences, to try to buy time for something better to emerge. but it's hard to see a set of tools we have that can solve the problem outright while still trying to play the long game. it's the other part of this. i could give you plenty of things we could do in syria to bring about change in syria quickly and decisively. i have a hard time telling you how we can do that while also executing the other parts of our foreign policy that matter so much to us for future, and arguably could matter for news the future.
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because if we end up occupying syria -- and i know no one is advocating that, but if you're thinking of overthrowing a government and the consequences that would flow from that, it's going to be very difficult to have the resources to rebalance to asia. it's going to be even harder to have the resources to help reassure and secure europe amongst a rising russia. the u.s. has fewer limits than any other country in the world by far. but we still have some limits. i think that's another controversial part of president obama's approach to foreign policy is he is willing to talk about limits. even though we all intuitively understand that the united states, like any country, has limits. we have fewer than any other country, but yet we still can't do it all. and one of the challenges of strategy is making those trade-offs. more of everything is not a strategy. you have to make choices. that's what governance is about is making those choices. you can get criticized for those
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choices. you can make the wrong choices. but i think president obama has been determined to make these choices, to be honest about the trade-offs that we face, and to pursue a course that ultimately whatever problem we're trying to solve is sustainable over time. that's maybe the key difference that's maybe the key difference with today's iraq and certainly as it was in 2001. jim: i'm going to ask one more question. if you have a question, please come up to the mic, and i will turn to whoever is there after this last question. and that is on russia, we saw a very successful first term, a reset that i know a lot of people talk about the reset as a failure. we ended up with a new s.t.a.r.t. treaty. we had russian support for increased signings iran. that helped to lead to the nuclear deal in which iran gave up at least, you know, for the next 10 to 15 years ambitions for a nuclear weapons program in which president obama outlined in the atrium a year ago august.
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which we were very honored to have him here. and then also opening the corridor into afghanistan that russia agreed to that gave us a second way in addition from the corridor from pakistan into afghanistan which was critical for being able to do the mission against osama bin laden, which would have been, i think, unlikely if the only way into afghanistan had been through pakistan. so i think it's little noticed how much the reset did in the first term. but of course things have really fallen apart. in the second term, the relationship with russia -- it's bad. >> totally a fun house mirrorish. >> yes. yes. the politics of this campaign on russia is bizarre for those of
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us who have watched u.s.-russia relations for a long time. but the policy really -- the relationship is as bad as it has been since probably the early '80s. and the relationship between the two leaders is -- i mean, you'd have to go back even further to see this tense relationship to the leaders. maybe sort of khrushchev and eisenhower in 1960 after the shoot-down of the gary powers u-2. >> that's another book. >> all i was saying, the relationship is terrible. what is going get us in a different direction with russia? derek: well, i think it's more about russia than us. and you're quite right on the reset. and one of the interesting puzzles that analysts of russia have struggled with is why did the reset work? the reset, we got a lot out of it, the united states did. it was a transactional approach to russia, the view that president obama and his team
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took when they came into office was there was a lot of common interests we had with russia that for variety of reasons, we were unable to work out a deal with them. and whether it's on afghanistan or iran or on nuclear disarmament, those were areas where we gain from what we got out of the reset. different leadership in russia at the time. you had medvedev in power. putin was then behind the scenes as the prime minister. i think not one of the mistakes, but this retrospect, what many in the administration, myself include missed is we just assumed putin as prime minister during the medvedev years was fully on board with everything that had happened in the u.s.-russian relationship and didn't i think fully appreciate the degree of angst that was building up with putin about the loss of prestige or face that russia was going through in those years.
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but, you know, i think that russia is -- the way obama looks at russia is russia doesn't have a discernible long game. it's a country that certainly has influence. it's a big country. it's got resources. its resource ain't what they used to be with energy prices plummeting. putin certainly has a set of goals. but as you measure many of those goals, he is not succeeding. i mean, his goal is to divide the u.s. in europe. his goal is to have nato be a paper tiger. his goal is to increase leg supplant the united states in support of global leadership. his goal is to have a sphere of influence in the countries on his border. again, some of those you could argue he is somewhat succeeding in. but in others, he is failing massively, right. i don't see russia gaining influence or friends in the international system right now. so that said, russia can play a
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spoiler role. clearly in syria, they have shown -- by the way, syria the only country in the region where they have any friends anyway. if you set aside iran. they're showing that they're willing to do what it takes to protect their one friend in the region. and russia has, you know -- russia's influence has been a factor in syria from the very beginning. the chemical weapons out of syria was only possible because of russia cooperation. and that's why secretary kerry is working so hard now to try to get something going with the russians to find some kind of managed transition that we can agree to with assad. i think clearly the next president and secretary clinton, if he is the next president is someone who understands putin as well as anyone understands russia, as well as any political leader and was at president obama's side for the first four years as we were working on these tough issues with the russians and getting a lot out of it. will approach this pragmatically, but also with
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determination that we're going to keep our alliances strong. we're going to sort of push back wherever russia is trying to engage in nefarious behavior. but also ultimately show the russian people and those russian leaders who are willing to listen that is there a different path. that we're not by definition against russia. we're against putinism. we're against russia's behavior, but we believe that russia has a place and responsible leadership in the world if it's willing to take that place. but also to be very clear with them that if they keep up some of the behavior they've been pursuing in the last few years in particular, it's going to be a rocky road, no question. >> all right. oh, my gosh. we're going to do -- we're going to do -- >> lightning round. >> we're going to do two at a time. introduce yourself when you ask your question, please. >> hello, i'm ashley. i'm a student in international peace and conflict resolution. obviously the big upcoming event
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on everyone's mind is the upcoming election. and your book is very much focused on obama's pacific, focused on the long-term goal. how do you see our foreign policy decisions and our foreign policy changing as a result of this next election? do you feel that the long game is going to continue or it's going to turn into a very short-term game? >> interesting. okay. and the second question? >> my name is ben walters. i'm a student in the school of international service. and i was wondering because the crux of your book is moving from a reactionary to a forward thinking foreign policy how cybersecurity and the norms and strategies that the defense department has, how that factors into the long-term security strategy and obama's influence on that strategy. >> great questions, both of you. i'll start with the second first. but it feeds into the first question. clearly cyber has been a big
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focus of this administration. everyone reads a newspaper every day understands that this is -- or maybe not reads the newspaper. goes on your iphone every day and understands the urgency of this issue and also how it's rapidly evolving in terms of the threat to the united states and whether it's our economy or increasingly, our hard security. and this administration has done a lot to try to up our game on cyberissues. and certainly this is something that president obama cease as an issue of the future. he was just asked about it in the last 24 hours at a press conference related to these reports about possible russian influence on our elections through cybermeans. he has taken some concrete steps, creating a cybercommand with the department of defense. dod has released a couple public cyberstrategies. this is kind of an interesting thing for obama too. and the critique about obama is that oftentimes he's portrayed as someone who is uncomfortable with the military, doesn't like to use force, uncertain of leadership, what have you. but yet as i noted earlier, has used the traditional military often.
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he has used new instruments of power, drones, often. and he has innovated the use of cyberas an instrument of defense policy. and, you know, so clearly i think this is an issue for the future. and it's something that he spent a lot of time working on. this gets to kind of the -- your question about what's to come. and i finished this book before we knew who the republican nominee was going to be. but in many ways, i wouldn't change a word that i'd written. one of the many point is make in this book, president obama, the
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ecosystem he has been operating in as president, foreign policy particularly, but also true in domestic policy is one that in increasingly has had a loose relationship with facts. it's one in which kind of the what i would consider the textbook putin style leadership. bluster, you know, quick reaction, a sense of toughness that is entwined with this machismo and you're tough and all that. obama's almost the exact opposite of that in terms of his style. and what we've seen emerge on the other side on the republican candidate is someone who kind of perfectly embodies that perspective and that style. so clearly, what comes next is very much going to come from who the next president. the if it's trump, kind of all bets are off, to be honest. i served in the obama administration, i worked two years with secretary clinton. my bias sought in the open. but that's objective. >> that's a fact.
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>> that, you know, if trump win, all bets are off. if secretary clinton wins, sure, things will be different. i mean, secretary clinton, president obama are different people. but they served extremely well together as close partners when she was secretary of state and he was president. and in many ways she was the coarchitect of many of his important policy moves whether it was on climate change or the rebalanced asia or the new approach to iran and the nuclear negotiations. so will there be differences? absolutely. but clearly in the sort of broad perspective and world view about america's role in the world, about the elements of american leadership, about the balance that is necessary between defense and diplomacy and development, those are things that clinton as secretary of state i'm sure she will continue to champion as president.
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>> thank you. next two. >> hi. my name is benjamin brummer. i'm a graduate student here at international peace and conflict resolution. so during your talk, you discussed that obama's policy and his intellectualism is tied with his patience in developing the long game. but it feels like some of that has been contradicted by other parts of his policy. namely, his silence on the conflict within bahrain. the relative acceptance of the reversion of power back to the military in egypt. his drone policy seems very short sighted in just killing terrorists. while there may be some collateral and civilian deaths, the benefits outweigh the risk. all this seems to not go along with the same kind of patient obama that you seem to paint today.
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>> good. good question. >> and then the second one. >> i am frank albert. i'm an alum. i'd like to ask about the pivot or the rebalancing back to asia. the president's given a lot of attention to asia, of course, with raising our relationship with asean to a strategic partnership last year, and now attending two u.s. asean summit, as well as the east asian summit in laos that you mentioned earlier. the justification kind of overall that i've gotten from reading about it is our goal is a rules-based order in southeast asia. but then certainly there have been gains. we've seen a number of relationships evolve. the vietnamese and the filipinos and so forth that would not have happened probably had we not made this change. but at the same time, the one,
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the most dramatic kind of issue that came up recently was china's leaning on laos and cambodia to prevent asean from you showing a statement on the permanent court of arbitration's decision in the hague on the south china sea. so i just wanted to ask you about how you see the future of that relationship and also when you throw in the debate here about the transpacific partnership and the increasing unlikelihood that that will be passed before the president leaves office. what do you see happening out in the future? >> sure. great question. so i'll start with the question about bahrain, egypt, drones, this kind of short-term-long-term tension. and there is tension, clearly. when you're in government, you know, you can't just talk about what is going to happen 20 years from now. you have to react to what is
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going on today. that's the balancing act you have to play. which is how do you do things today that set you up well for tomorrow. and certainly on the struggle we've had in the middle east in the wake of the arab spring in bahrain and egypt and almost every country in that region where we've seen many things happen that the united states hasn't liked. this administration hasn't liked particularly as it comes to human rights and the difficult trade-offs this we face. i was most involved in the egypt policy. i talk than in the book. our defense relationship with egypt is a truly one in the amount of assistance the united states has given egypt for a number of decades and our level of defense. and there are many in washington who wanted to cut all that assistance off in the wake of the events in 2013 when there was a -- an undemocratic change of power in cairo. and we decided to withhold some of the assistance as a way to try to influence now president al sisi's regime and some of the decisions he made.
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i was personally on over 40 phone call with then secretary of defense hagel with president al sisi to try to convince him to make different decisions at the time and to use our influence as best we could to get him to do that. i can't say it worked as well as we had hoped. but we have an enduring relationship with egypt that is in our interest to try to make modern for the future. and also to try to preserve some semblance of order and democratic growth there. it's very, very difficult. an issue where if you look at the other tools of power that we have to try to influence outcorp., we don't bring enough of that. it's because of economic assistance. it's over sorts of assistance on the military tied. we just don't have the resources that others who are playing in
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the egypt game like saudi arabia or uae or qatar are outspending us by an order of magnitude on the ground in a country like egypt. so it makes us very hard to have the influence. sometimes we don't get -- it can't be exactly, you know, clean. we have to make these trade-offs in the home in the service of what we're trying to do over the long-term. it doesn't mean that the united states should give up on the hope of long-term change in a country like egypt or bahrain. but we have to also preserve influence and maintain that influence for the future. and it gets to the drones issue, which i think the president has innovated the use of what the air force calls remotely piloted aircraft, because everyone has to remember there is a pilot behind the operation of each of those -- each of those pieces of equipment. he has innovated the use of that. he has vastly expanded the use of that. it's a tool that's technology,
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precision. what president obama has tried to do in the very interests of ensuring that this tool is used in the right way over time and we can sustain the support and the legitimacy that's behind it is to try to bring this out more into the open. he has given released statistics on the use of this instrument to try to bring this out into the debate. now, many believe there's still not enough, but i can tell you that the motive behind it is in view that in order to sustain the use of this tool moving forward we need to have an open debate about it here at home and he has worked very hard to bring that into the open. i'm convinced the next president, whoever he or she is, will continue to use this instrument, power. on the rebalance, very quickly, clearly one of the narratives that president obama had coming into office was for a variety of reasons the u.s.
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found i was at the end of 2008 out of position in the asia pacific. if you believed, as he does, as i do, that the most important arena of strategic change in the world in the 21st century is going to be in the asia pacific, the u.s. wasn't as present as it needed to be. whether that's a military posture or diplomatic influence as well as our economic efforts in the region, so one of the big strategic moves of his presidency was the rebalance. there's a difference between rebalance and pivot, and even though my good friend curt campbell has his own book out called "the pivot" he is the first one to agree that the ub intended consequences of the phrase "the pivot" is those that were seen as being pivoted away from, had unintentionally raised a loot of anxieties about whether the united states was going to be there for them in
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the future. that's why the term of art that we use as the rebalance. it's not meant to say that the u.s. is going to abandon the middle east, but that we need to have greater balance in the way we deployed our power, and the most recent instance we pointed out in the question about china pushing back on some of the responses to this haag ruling is the perfect reason why the u.s. needs to be present. i was with secretary clinton actually in 2010 in hano wi at an asean meeting where the united states successfully worked with some of our southeast asian partners to push back on the chinese regarding some of their efforts in the south china sea. of course, our position would be stronger, by the way, if we were members and that's another issue. clearly the u.s. role in the region, the fact that president obama has just completed his tenth trip to the region as president. the investment that we have made
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there that secretaries of state and secretaries of defense have made there. the fact that we have more military hardware there than we did eight years ago. the fact we're part of these regional institutions, and the fact we're trying to get this big trade deal done, which i agree is doubtful for the moment. i'm still one of those that holds out hope in a lame-duck that we'll be able to get there. that's all in service of what is a long-term strategic move. one of the challenges that president obama is facing, again, we've seen it again on this trip is it's hard to get credit for that in the moment. by something going on here at home. he had to cancel a trip because of the government shutdown. it's a perfect illustration of how hard it is to set a strategy and stick to it in this current environment environment. >> my name is -- i'm from belaruse sis.
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i'm coming back to -- i will be critical. i'm sorry. you talked about sustainable, that obama expected to build sustainable policy with many countries, but unfortunately, as i see obama didn't find -- had a lack of understanding of this post soviet regime in the reasonable. in 2009, in 2010 he appeased dictatorships in belaruse and -- they failed. in 2010 on the square in minsk ash of that he tried to appease the regime together with the european politicians, they were trying to attract to western projects. what we got as a result, the war in southeastern ukraine.
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the problem, as i see -- don't you think it was to -- like sphere of russia, because he was negotiated, and he was talking about eastern european policy only with putin, with kremlin people, but he stopped many democratic projects towards civil society in smaller countries. russian neighbors. for me it was quite disappointing when they started to cooperate with dictator. i was in prison at that time in 2010, and we were just ignored. we were forgotten. it was very disappointing, and it helped putin to revive this
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post-imperialistic of what's happening now. >> in regards to the middle east and north africa, how do you figure that president obama has set the u.s. on a benevolent tragedyjectory pass when libya and egypt have experienced hardship and traversy, in part, because of the arab spring? >> this will be the last one. go ahead. >> thank you. i am bobby. i'm also a student here. mr. secretary, you touched on how president obama has handled iraq in comparison with the previous three presidents. why when there are 200 some countries has iraq been such a problem for u.s. foreign policy for three decades? >> good.
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easy questions. >> softballs at the end here. on the first question obama's easy questions. approach to central eastern europe europe, yol i don't agree with what's happened there and the continue ing continuing challenges as a result of obama appeasement or wider european appeasement. however, i do think it's fair to say that up until the ukraine crisis in 2014 there was a sense not just in the obama administration, but certainly in the larger strategic community here in washington, and i would actually argue in the larger strategic community globally, that that part of the world was problematic, but more or less back burner set of issues. certainly the ukraine crisis for the united states and for the washington community writ large
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brought back the problems of this region front and center. the question is what we do about it? if you look at the situation like ukraine, where most of the washington -- gets wraps around the axle of whether or not the u.s. is giving lethal assistance setting aside the issue that president obama has given ukrainian military $600 million in nonlethal assistance, that gets lost in the debate because everyone wants to talk about the shiny object. on the nonmilitary aspects where certainly our relationship with the ukrainian government, as problematic as that is, is far
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closer and more intense today as yanakovich. just in terms of level of assistance, our level of engagement from here in washington, the role that our ambassador plays, and there's greater appreciation. in this administration, in the broader washington community, and i would argue depending who the next president is, if it's hillary clinton in the next administration, that there is still unfinished business in that part of the world. this gets back to the fun house mirror aspect of our debate, of course, because that's not really the debate we're having right now in the presidential campaign trail where, you know, you have one of the other candidate for president who would probably be articulating more match the critique that you articulated in terms of how you would handle that part of the world, visa vi vladimir putin. i think that -- i work in an organization now, the german marshall fund, that still does a lot of very important programming in that part of the world.
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i think the one hope that i can take out of recent history we've been through. on this question of the turmoil we've been seeing in the middle east, at the arab spring and just sort of personal angle on this, my first week at the white house when i moved from the state department to the white house was the week mubarak fell in egypt. we still saw at that moment arab spring which we thought was going to be something more akin to what we had seen in central europe. that's fundamentally not been about the united states. it is going through a once in a century convulsion.
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it's about demographics. it's about the poor leadership in the region. it's about broad swaths of folks if that region feeling disenfranchised. it's not really about the united states. the challenge the united states we try to bring change into the region. wecan make things worse and can make things a little better but we can't solve problems. certainlymething obama struggled with. we talk about in the book that obama had high hopes when he became president before the arab spring about the way we would reset our relations with the muslim world and that we would try to kind of reframe the way the u.s. projected its influence in the middle east.
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by getting out of iraq and trying to build up -- it was very hard. really the bottom chopped out from under us when the arab spring happened. it's sort the challenge for us is we have to understand that in the two other regions that matter most to the united states in terms of our future -- in europe, asia -- we are also seeing historic changes occur. if you go to each region, the answer all of our partners are asking for is more of the united states. we have to continue to be engaged in all three regions, and we have close partners and three allies in all those regions. we cannot by definition meet all
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of their wishes equally, and that triage is something we struggled with an government and the next administration will struggle with as well. >> the last question was on iraq and why is it that this parcel of land has been such a statesge to the united not the : that's a great question. the colin powell , it's like pottery barn, you break it you own it. part of it was to make sure saddam hussein did not take over saudi arabia, but also to get them out of another partner of ours, kuwait. that's when we begin the
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military entanglement we still struggle with today. and let's get back to the sustainability issue. my view is not that iraq does not matter. it matters and is important because of its strategic position in the region, because of the capabilities it has and the influence it has because of the mosaic of ethnicities and religions on its soil, but what we have to be careful of and what we have to sort of calibrated constantly is how we can use our influence in a way to bring about what we want to see on the ground but does not envelop us in something that goes far beyond what our s there actually are. this is not a science that more of an art. this is something that is very will always be thoughtful critics saying if we are getting it right or not, but this is something the next president will have to deal with, it's very difficult, but very important.
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>> on that note, congratulations again on your book. thanks for being here. [applause] still available and derek will sign any book that you buy, and if you do, in joy. it is an excellent read, and it will really get you up to speed on where we are in this country with respect to our foreign policy. thanks again. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> with tomorrow being the 15th anniversary of the september 11, 2001, terror attack, we will take you to new york city for the ceremony at the national
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september 11 memorial. we will also be at the memorial service at the pentagon with remarks by president obama and in shanksville, pennsylvania, for the 9/11 observance at the flight 93 national memorial. join us tomorrow for live coverage of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks here on c-span. monday, the migration policy institute hosts its annual immigration and policy conference with legal analysis on some of the key immigration issues facing the incoming administration and congress. watch that starting at 9:00 a.m. eastern on our companion .etwork, c-span2 later monday, the house oversight committee looks into the fbi investigation of hillary clinton's use of a private e-mail server. representatives from the justice department and fbi are expected to testify. watch that live at 5:00 p.m. .astern time
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a criticalernoon, look at the republican presidential nominee. >> i met donald, and i immediately recognized that he you tickets selling to the fiji mermaid and the amazing two-headed woman. andarted asking about him, his competitors, including steve wynn, and people who work for him and some victim was all said to me that he does not know anything about the content -- .he casino business tv bringseekend, book you 48 hours of nonfiction books and authors. here are some of our programs for this coming weekend. tonight, new york city principal nadia lopez talks about starting in inner-city middle school in her book the bridge to
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brilliance, how one principle in a tough community is inspiring the world. she gained national attention when she was featured in a post on the humans of new york website which subsequently went viral. then, former u.s. attorney general alberto gonzalez talks about his life during the george .. bush administration he is interviewed by the "wall street journal" legal affairs reporter. >> or have been several memoirs written, people's perspective out there, and i thought it might be important to add mine for my son's sake. quite honestly. there has been a lot written and said about me. some of it true, some of it not, and i wanted to get my perspective about the events that shaped me and really affected their lives as well. sunday, political cartoonist garry trudeau discusses his new !: 30 years of dunes
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very on donald trump." go to for the complete weekend schedule. >> representatives from the state and treasury departments testify on cash payments made to iran earlier this year. a payment the administration says was four and unfulfilled arms deal in the 1970's. the payment was made shortly her and released u.s. prisoners, prompting questions from republicans on the committee as to if the payment was ransom for the prisoners released as claimed by some iranian leaders. the house financial services oversight and investigations subcommittee hearing runs about 2.5 hours.
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>> the subcommittee on oversight and investigations will come to order. this is titled fueling care. the dangers of ransom payments to iran. the judge has authorized a recess of the subcommittee at any time. without objection, all members will have five legislative days within which to submit extremist materials to the chair for inclusion in the record. without objection, members of the full committee were not members of this subcommittee may participate in today's hearing for the purpose of making an opening statement and questioning the witnesses. the chair recognizes himself or two and a half minutes for an
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opening statement. today's hearing will examine the obama administration's $1.7 billion cash payment to iran to settle long-standing claims predicting the iran revolution. the settlement was disclosed in january, new details about the payment surfaced in august when the wall street journal reported that $400 million of that payment was converted into swiss francs and euros and flown to iran in cash on the same day that five american detainees were released from the islamic republic. on tuesday, administered and officials were forced to admit that the remaining $1.3 billion was handed over in cold hard cash as interest. despite vigorous denials that there was any link between the payment and the release of american prisoners, the evidence presented by the administration makes it difficult to believe. iran official certainly believe
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that this was a ransom payment. a revolutionary guard commander said on state media quote, taking this much money back was in return for the release of the americans. one of the prisoners recall that when he to be free come he was told that we are waiting for another plane. if the plaintiff not come, we never let you go. sounds like a ransom payment. an effort to corroborate the administration's claims, this committee requested records about the payment from treasury and the department justice more than a month ago. today, the supper claimed most transparent administration in our history has failed to provide any document to this committee. the witnesses are today only agree to appear under the threat of subpoena. with jurisdiction over tariff financing, this committee has a right and the responsibility to understand tac


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