tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 4, 2016 6:00pm-8:01pm EDT
. there were strong women and they can lead very we can be strong. host: we will get another point of view from michigan. michael in detroit. thank you. i have been in detroit since 1957. i was born in ohio. 1957. to detroit in i completed high school and went to wayne state university. suffered theen we horrible recession under bush. no matter what you feel about president obama the unemployment rate now is down to 4.9%. we see it in detroit. people are working. he saved the automobile industry.
hillary clinton has her own ideas. she is going to build on the progress this country has made. if people want to take a chance and go back to the kind of risky economic behavior we have under bush, given these huge tax cut to the rich who don't need it, money and jobs would trickle down, they did not trickle down. we have seen the unemployment rate go down to 4.9. why would you want to gamble with that? hillary clinton will be the most qualified president that will ever elect. i sure hope that people who don't know about her record go and look it up. i've heard so many misstatements of facts from people who have called then supporting donald trump. i've never seen people so uninformed. what did benjamin franklin say?
we have a republic if we can keep it. it takes education and informing yourself. don't go on hearsay and rumors. thank you very much. host: thank you, michael in detroit. hillary clinton is campaigning in michigan today. this story from the hill on the latest poll, clinton's lead is down to four points in that state. her lead over donald trump in michigan has narrowed to four points. the detroit free press poll shows hillary clinton leading donald trump 42% to 38%. gary johnson with 5% support. a previous poll showed the democratic nominee leading by seven points at that time. time for a few more calls. go ahead. caller: thank you for taking my
call. in this campaign. my heart has been up and down. i just want to say donald trump, democrats and republicans, the united states, for one thing many nations are looking at us right now. i would like to see us come together at some point no matter who becomes the president of the united states. nothing against women, they can be in power. i think they can all bring something to the table. heart.s my i was embarrassed and ashamed the way things were on the campaign. korea, south korea, north are looking at us. divided.us
it can divide us all. i just say god bless america. thank you. host: our election coverage on c-span, tuesday night at 8:00 eastern time on c-span, c-span radio and c-span.org. the speeches by the democratic nominee, hillary clinton. the results in the presidential congressional and governors races, following some key senate races to get victory in concession speeches that will determine the balance of power in the u.s. senate. gettinge your calls, your reaction throughout the night. c-span, time for one more call. we go to sandy. you will get the last word. caller: i just wanted to make a
quick comment about callers calling in about trump's temperament. i think his temperament is fine. i think people should be more concerned about hillary clinton's corruption, her lying, all of the investigations going on with her. what is going on with obamacare, with an immigration system, the regulations killing our jobs. i mean, you know my think donald trump has proven his temperament is fine. hillary has been caught lying about this server she has had at her home that nobody seems to want to say anything about. the media seems to not want to talk about that. and just talk any bad story they can come up with for trump. that is what they're going to do and protect hillary. that is just my comment today. thank you. host: thank you for calling.
coming up in about an hour from now, just under an hour, we take you to her she, pennsylvania. we will be in tampa where donald trump and his running mate mike pence will be campaigning later in the day saturday. hillary clinton will be in philadelphia with katy perry for a campaign rally in that city. our road to the white house coverage continues up until election day on tuesday. we take you to new hampshire. chelsea clinton was campaigning for her mother in that state. chelsea clinton: i want to thank keith for welcoming me so warmly.
i want to thank everyone who spoke. molly kelly. andrew linsky. demonstrateof them why it really matters who is incted at every level government. and, i just really want to thank the more than 100 organizers including emily who are working so hard to do that, to support my mom and support democrats up and down the ballot. i want to thank the 12,000 people who have volunteered throughout the state as part of my mom's campaign. andknocking on 6000 doors
making 2 million phone calls. grateful. i know that our work is not done. days,have four more depending on your perspective that feels around the corner or oh my gosh, four more days. i feel both of those things. this is the most important election in my lifetime. i'm going to do everything i can them make the case of why we have to defeat donald trump and elect my mom. both of those are important. i am deeply biased. i make no claim to the contrary. as a mom i hope my two kids are someday as proud to be my children as proud as i am to be my mom's daughter.
her me this election is about my children. about the country, the world in the future i want for them to grow up in. so, i want to share a few thoughts about what i think is at stake in this election. i love my mom. and why i think we can't sit on the sidelines. goodness gracious. they can talk about whatever they want to talk about. we are going to talk about whatever is at stake in this election. [cheers] i do believe everything is at stake in this election. as you heard in the earlier speeches, everything is on the ballot. you care most about, it is on the ballot.
as you heard, science is on the ballot effectively. college affordability, graduate school affordability. a woman's right to make our own decisions is on the ballot in this election. whether or not we protect marriage equality is on the ballot in this election. whether or not we raise the minimum wage is on the ballot in this election. whether or not we get to equal pay for equal work is on the ballot in this election. something that matters a lot to me, whenever my mom talks about the need to raise the minimum wage she always talks about the need to get to equal pay for equal work for women, and for americans with disabilities. the only legalized discrimination is still exists in our country, it is legal for employers to pay americans less
than the minimum wage. that is unconscionable the 21st century. about any ofare those things that have been talked about today, or you care about criminal justice reform, or directing our heroine overdose epidemic, or addressing teenage suicide, all of this is on the ballot in this election. my mother is the only person who has real plans to address the challenges that we face. sometimes i think i have an old-fashioned view in this election season. beyond the fact that i believe in science. what someone has stood for and fought for is a good indication
of what they will stand for and they will deliver on in the white house. me, i want to do everything i can to talk to as many people as possible about what is at stake in this election. i'm never going to forget the stories that bring this home to my heart. the stories i carry with you every day -- with me every day, that we have to prove love trumps hate is not a slogan. and that stronger together isn't just a slogan. just a few stories. i was in pennsylvania in september. after an event like this was shaking hands and urging people to the registered to vote, hopefully to vote for my mom. a woman said can i share with you part of the reason i'm supporting your mom, and i said
yes, thank you. i came to the united states from guatemala to go to graduate school at penn state. go to graduate school because i thought if i got a graduate degree, i could provide a better life for my six-month-old son. maybe get a better job back in guatemala, or a job here in the united states. i got a job here. my son and i are now proud american citizens. he went back to school. two weeks ago. he has had three different kids in his middles josé go back to say go-- middle school back to mexico, or i can't wait to build a wall to keep people like you out. i was urging people to register to vote. a little girl said your mom must win. shi said i agree. but why do you think she must win?
she was eight years old. she said two reasons. one, it is time for a girl. i said i agree. it is time for a girl. she said something that broke my heart. she also has to win because the boys in my school say if donald trump wins my dad is going to have to go back into the closet, and there are monsters there. i said there are monsters there and we are not going to let that happen. that is not rhetorical. the trump of fact, the rise in g, is very- in bullyin painfully real. i've lost count of the stories i've heard from young people who say they know they had health insurance because of the children's health insurance program. that health insurance save their life. it enabled them to have the heart surgeries they needed or early intervention they needed to treat diabetes, or get the
key opec this chemotherapy -- or to get the chemotherapy. adoptionople in the system, to make it easier for qualified foster parents to adopt their foster children. or the young people i have met who know that their parents who were 9/11 first responders are still getting health care because of my mother's work. or the young woman who is a graduate of head start and harvard, and believe she would not have been the second without the first. my mom had led the effort to double federal funding for early head start programs. she was recipient of that. -- that is top of the type of president i want. what more can you always be doing to expand more opportunities for more people? i just couldn't imagine a
clearer contrast in this election. i couldn't imagine a better grandmother for my children. contrast to her opponent with a real record of delivering better schools and someonealth care, and who has really only been interested in himself. what is athink about stake in this election on think every thing is at stake in this election. i was listening to the earlier speeches. the underlying theme is that it is just not an option to stay on the sidelines. because since we are on a college campus, you wouldn't let someone pick out what classes you are taking this semester.
you would let someone pick out what you are going to wear next tuesday. why would you let someone else decide the future of our country? or the future of your state, or your community? [cheers and applause] chelsea clinton: whatever issue is care about, whether that protecting and improving on the affordable care act, whether that is putting teachers back at the center of respecting education, whether that is recognizing climate change is real, a real threat, and a real opportunity, whether that is indigenous rights. my mother has had an indigenous -- i'm going to respond. my mother has had an indigenous council since the first day of her campaign. she absolutely believes we need
to honor indigenous rights. she believes it's not only about water rights and the environment. inshould be about investing the indian health service, it is about ensuring that communities in general are at the center of self-determination. that should be true for indigenous communities, for teens, for anyone anywhere across our country. i would argue that represents a clear difference between my mother and her opponent. and i think that makes the perfect place to close. i don't mind. you can raise your. oh. i am responding. yes ma'am. this can be interactive. i'm not one to shout back. i'm happy to respond.
i would hope that it would matter. that my mom has had an indigenous council from the beginning of her campaign. she has a platform to address climate change, to address indigenous rights. that we can't only see indigenous rights through climate change and water rights and land rights, as important as those are. we also have underfunded the indian health service, we need a president understands all of that. i've never heard donald trump talk about any of that. say, whether this is what you care most about or whether you care most about anything that has been discussed here, please use that to drive you to the polls. however you get to the polls. as you have already heard, we
don't want to wake up november 9 and think we could have done more. this is truly the future of our country. so many people here are not old enough yet to vote. if you need another reason, think about the stories i shared about the kids were being bullied, think about the kids here you may now in your own life, and what you hope and want for them. this election is ultimately about the future. parent, i did not know i could care more intensely about politics. i have spent a lot of time at events like this in my life. with signs my passing out stickers. waving american flags. advocating, participating. this feels intensely
personal to me. clearly so many of you feel the same way otherwise you would not be here. do, talk to can your family, your friends, strangers alike about what is at stake, whatever it is you care about. whether it is something you share today or care in your heart. we have to win. we have to turn new hampshire blue. thank you for all you have done. thank you very much. ♪ this is my fight song take back my life song prove i'm alright song starting right now i'll be strong i don't really care of nobody else believes i still got a lot of fight left
>> election night on c-span. .atch the results be on location at the hillary clinton and donald trump headquarters and watch victory and concession speeches. watch live on c-span, on-demand on c-span.org. >> a view of iraqis on the 2016 election. we heard from the former iraqi ambassador to the united nations who talked about u.s. policy in iraq and the fight against isis.
good afternoon, welcome to the hudson institute. i am a senior fellow at the institute. today to talk about the u.s. election and the future of iraq. we are very honored to have with us a very distinguished panel. is dr. mediate left younis, director of the atlantic council and of the task force for the future of
iraq. former iraqs a ambassador to the united nations. he is the founding director of the indiana university center for the study of the middle east. of theis a fellow american academy of arts and sciences. pregent,ft is michael a senior fellow here at hudson. iraqcently returned from from the front lines. recently come back from the front lines. without further it do i think i will turn it over to mike to give us a sense of what he found. mike: thank you. i just recently returned from the frontlines where i ask my former peshmerga general to show
me the frontlines. he wasn't able to do it initially, but another kurdish commander was able to take me to the frontlines to see what was going on. this panel is how iraq is looking at the u.s. election. what i want emphasizes it is not what they are looking at next tuesday, it is what they are looking at the day after inauguration day. aboutre really concerned what the next 80 days look like. the moles of operation is supposed to wrap up ahead of inauguration day. it is a political timeline. thisat rush to complete operation has me concerned, has -- has the peshmerga concerned.
was not a successful operation to defeat isis. each is touted how to do this right. today it lies in ruins, it is and the middle forces dealing with a resurgence. as you look at a population center of 1.2 million with an approaching force of 30's -- 30,000 coming at it, part of that is an unsanctioned force told not to participate. it is not listening to us it is not listening to them. when i say that people say that is not true. if you look at the two commanders, the first one is --
the second one is a designated terrorist. another leader of a designated terrorist organization called the leak of the righteous. they have said most elaboration is in about liberating a population from isis, it is an operation of revenge. the biggest problem i have is the comparison we are able to make between 2007 and this isis strategy today. i was just on the ground during the search and recently came back. we were supporting a military and that is what is
happening today. days, look at the next 80 we should all be concerned that iran, malicious, those that believe they have 80 days to do as much as they want. have 80 daysthey to get as much as they can and wait and see what happens with the u.s. election. we did talk about that this morning, there are some interesting pulling numbers coming out of iraq. some -- not so much as who they prefer, they just want somebody to do something about it. 66% prefer hillary clinton, 19% trump. but both believe each will do something different than the obama administration. and that's what's important here. this current strategy isn't working. the players on the battlefield have priorities. the first priority should be
defeat isis, second priority should be protect the population, third priority should be reconcile with your iraqi sects, meaning the sunni, the christians, the kurds, different groups to make sure baghdad is trusted. that's not the priority list. right now you have competing entities in mosul. you have to turks concerned that the shi'a militia will go after sunni turkmen. they're poised for that. you have to turks also concerned about kurdish expansion into mosul. you have the shi'a militias worried about kurdish expansion, you have to iraqi government concerned about kurdish expansion and the only thing we don't have to worry about in the mosul operation is kurdish expansion because the peshmerga are not going into mosul, they are taking blocking positions, they have a limit of advance, they won't be going into mosul because they're more concerned about what's happening in
kirkuk. they're concerned about president ha shad al shabby. you have the shi'a militias, the pmus and the pmfs, off force of 100,000 iraqis, there are christians in there, 1%, sunnis, maybe 3% of the force. the people joining the movement believe they are doing the right thing. they want to go after isis. the leadership has other intentions. the leadership is focused on winning in 2018, getting more leverage over baghdad more than they have and the upcoming 2018 elections but their leaders are rejecting abadi's call to not participate and they've also threatened to not only participate in the mosul offensive but to attack american advisors. that's concerning.
while i was on the front lines we all talk about the shi'a militias, i saw militia flags flying and sectarian flags flying and i asked an iraqi officer who was there from baghdad, he was the commander or the operations officer for an artillery battalion and i asked him is that ha shem al shabby and he says no, that's the iraqi army. so it's not just the militias carrying these flags, the iraqi army are carrying these flags and every organization from cnn to bbc to al jazeera, anybody who's covering this war, every time they say the iraqi special operations forces are entering mosul and having success ignore the flags in the video they're showing and they should pay attention to it because baghdadi is paying attention to it. he just put out a call to everybody in mosul that the militias are coming. the sunni population is paying attention to it because they saw what happened in ramadi, in fallujah, they saw what happened. if you pulloll a person from ramadi, you'll find they are waiting for the reconstruction money to come in, they're waiting for their city to -- at least the semblance of a beginning to rebuild the city, they distrust baghdad more than
ever. they distrust united states more than ever and we are simply resetting the conditions that led to isis to begin with in this operation in that these towns aren't being liberated. they're being laid to ruins. they're being -- the population is being expelled and the strategy, there's such a low benchmark for success in this campaign that the strategy, to me, feels like as long as you can replace an isis flag with an iraqi flag you're finished. as long as you can do that in the city center you're done and that's not how you defeat an organization. the united states military never went into a town one time and claimed success. we learned in fallujah '04, '05, that you cannot destroy a city and expect to kill al qaeda, we just angered it, pushed it somewhere else and it came back with a vengeance.
it was only when we tried to build temporary trust between the sunni population and baghdad the u.s. being a guarantor that we were able to defeat al qaeda through sunni intelligence and sunni manpower and the same thing is happening now. if you pay attention to the mosul operation, you have sunni residents sharing intelligence with the peshmerga, with the iraqi army on isis locations, you have 300,000 sunni military people in moul, that's a conservative number based on 1.2 million people being in mosul that have not joined isis and that isis feels is a threat if this operation pushes them to a position where they feel this invading force isn't there to liberate them but to punish them much like mosul, fallujah and tikrit, then we're likely to see something very ugly that may be called success in the press, may be called success in this administration that will lead to a resurgence of some kind,
whether it's isis 2.0 or isis morphing into an al qaeda model. i'm probably over time so i'll stop. >> before i pass the microphone to the ambassador i'm going to summarize what i heard you say in four points and you can tell me if i got it right or not. point number one, everybody on the ground is trying to improve their position before the new administration comes in under the expectation that the new administration is going to do something different and they want to position themselves to influence an administration as best as possible, number two, we have -- we, the united states, have no vision for the political -- for the post-conflict order that will follow the expulsion of isis. number three, we are unwittingly handing mosul and more broadly iraq to the iranians and number four we are alienating the sunnis in such a way that we have laid conditions for a return of isis as the defender of the sunnis.
do you disagree with anything i just said? >> no. i'm glad you summarized it that way, it makes more sense than what i just said. >> what you said made great sense. >> the thing is, i'm taking a warning position based on what i've seen in the past, indicators and trends and i respectfully hope you can moderate my comments if they were too alarmist. i'm concerned this is a political timeline, not a timeline to defeat isis but a political timeline to claim success and then move to syria. look over your left shoulder and you'll see you haven't done anything in iraq to defeat isis you simply tell isis that it's not wise to put up an isis flag a city and claim it as yours unless you can shoot down american aircraft and that's the biggest lesson learned so far in this campaign. >> thank you, and with that let's pass it over to the ambassador, thank you for being here, we appreciate it. >> well, thank you very much for moderating and i want to thank the hudson institute for the
invitation to speak here again. i particularly want to thank michael prejean for organizing the imagine and as well as to thank all my colleagues on the panel. let me look at it, if i may, from the perspective of what i think are in iraq's interests. we've been asked to speak for a relatively brief period of time. i'm a former trial lawyer and i usually can't clear my throat in ten minutes but i'll see what i can do. i think one of the biggest mistakes that the united states made in circa 2011 was its complete disengagement from iraq. i don't mean necessarily the withdrawal of troops, that's a more subtle question dealing with the -- i mean, i do wish the united states had maintained troops there but i also understand it from the perspective of the iraqi government refusing to give immunity to american troops and
all that. that's a discussion i don't want to have at this moment, i'll get into it in questions and answers but i mean the intellectual disengagement and the sort of disengagement at the ground level so that you could treat iraq as a sort of -- the same way you might have diplomatic relations, say, with switzerland and that really is -- has been the strategy that -- if that's the word, that has been the policy in in case for too many years since. that is to say that while iraq is an inspect state and there are certain issues you don't interfere in with respect to independent states so if the then prime minister of iraq comes to the oval office and tells the president of the united states that i intend to proffer charges of terrorism
against the highest ranking sunni in iraq the proper response two two states dealing with one another sbiptally is "well, that's an internal issue and we have no opinion on that" which is, of course, precisely what happened. it was easily predictable and many predicted that we were going to head down the road over the spectacular success of isil i don't think anybody predicted but that we were going to head down a road that would result in at least circumstances that are akin to the 2005 and 2006 and that unfortunately is where we ended up in the summer of forty with the fall of the city of mosul in half a business day, iraq's second-largest city, the population of 1.8 million. as mr. prejean said, the u.s. has not policy for the political dispensation in iraq after isil. i'm not talking about the
narrower important but narrower issue of who governs in mosul and nineveh, governed after the fall of isil, that was an important question but i'm talking about the broader strategic question of what does iraq look like. the united states has been focused like a laider beam on the narrow issue of defeating isil militarily in iraq. but not for the political future of the country and i think that's largely been through throughout the obama administration. perhaps even before the obama administration. so iraqis i think, have a fairly good sense, an excellent sense of what it is we are fighting against. i think we don't actually know what we're fighting for.
and i hope that as the -- obviously obviously within the next few days we will know who the next president of the united states will be, i hope that comes up to a very high level of importance in terms of middle east policy, iraq policy. iraqis have some decisions to make. do we, in fact, want to live in a united country? and if we do, what does that mean. do we want regionalism? do we want the kurdistan regional model multiplied throughout the country? do we want, in fact, a true federation.
inherent in all of this is the kurdish question which has been raised although not lately by the president of the krg we have multiple opportunities over the past two and a half years, the president of the krg has talked about a referendum on independence. fair enough, i think most iraqis would concede if they have a right to independence if they want it. that would be their right. the problem is not that the problem has been that the kurds have neither quite been in nor quite out of the country and this is untenable. if they want their independence, fine, if not, i think that we need to be in a position where all factions actually begin to come together build a cohesive state, which we do not have now
and i think that is something that the united states ought to press. i have one more point to make before i give up the floor. there's something that is unspoke than i know that i haven't articulated yet and let me do so so expressly. former u.s. ambassador to iraq ryan croccer once said that the americans are hard wired into the iraqi political system. and i agree with him. many positive things have occurred when the united states has engaged with the iraqi political system and too many negative things have occurred when it has not done so. there are many reasons for this that i don't have time to get into in my main remarks but would be happy to talk about later if it comes up. so it's in that spirit that i'm making all of my remarks. one of the things i think that the new u.s. administration ought to make an issue that i think is vitally in iraq's interests and that is the management of iraq's relations
with its neighbors. iran's influence and physical present in iraq must be reduced. i know that's very easy to say, much harder to do given the histories of the governing political parties in the country. the physical presence of turkey in iraq, ha nato ally, after all, hopefully the united states still has some influence there, that simply is not acceptable. it is simply not acceptable to have a foreign head of state insisting he has a right to intervene in iraq as a protector of a group in iraq, that simply isn't tolerable, no iraqi government can tolerate that sort of interference and it's extremely destructive of -- it's an interference which is extremely destructive of the
ability of the iraqi political class to come to a meeting of the minds as they used to say in the law of contracts. i'm a strong believer in a line from the poem by robert frost that strong fences make good neighbors and at least since 2003 we've ripped down all of the fences. this is actually one of the consequence ss of the disillusion of the iraqi army and security forces that we have paul bremer to thank for. that particular gift continues to pay dividends more than 12 years after ambassador brehmer left iraq. and we have to balance our relationship with saudi arabia.
a policy should be -- it amuses me to put in the these terms because turkey is clearly abandoned the motto but it has to be the motto of peace at home, peace abroad. we will have an iraq knowno piece if we don't strike a balance. we have tilted too far in the direction of bahrain in my view, we need to values between riyadh and ankara and if we don't then the -- our regional neighbors will continue to find ways of balancing against iran's outsized role in iraq. if the iraqi political class has not learned that lesson there will be very little room for hope or optimism, it seems to me.
iran's role in iraq will always be destructive. iran will always want a weak iraq. it doesn't matter who governs in iraq. if hamanahi's son became the prime minister of iraq it will be in iran's interest for iraq to be weak. i'm not saying we want the chaos they had in 2014. the last point i'll make -- and i have gone over my time, i apologize -- is that the pmus and militias have to be disbanded after the military operation is over and that is much, much easier said than done. i am told -- we'll see if this happens, that after mosul is liberated from isil to expect a fatwa from the grand ayatollah al sistani thanking the rank and
file of the pmus and telling them they need to go home. as mr. prejean said, the leadership of the pmus have entirely different ideas but i have to say, to the extent that we maintain sectarian and nonconstitutionally based militias and allow them to roam freely, i couldn't agree more with mr. prejean than what he says about we're setting up the conditions for isil 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0, we have to look to rebuilding a state of iraq and that is probably harder to do now in 2016 than it might have been in -- first of all, there was no excuse for disbanding the state of iraq in 2003 in the
first place, but i don't get to turn 2:00 back. it's probably harder to do now than in 2003 because there was no trust among the political elites in 2003, there is less trust now than there was then, but it's fatal if we are not to continue in this cycle, this sort of vortex increasingly descending at greater and greater speeds into a mortar rat from which it will be impossible to return and if we break apart under these circumstances we're far more likely to break apart into a moll ya than we are into three -- kurdistan, shi'a stan and sunni stan. and that should focus the minds of the planners of the next administration wonderfully. thank you and i'm sorry i went over my time. >> thank you, and at the risk of doing injustice to all that you said if i could turn it into one piece of advice for the next, president, whoever that might be. it would be that they should see the role of the united states as fending off the external
players, especially iran, but iran, turkey and saudi arabia to create a space in which the -- a space in which the iraqis can work out their problems with each other without foreign intervention. that would be the number one priority or have a got that wrong? >> no, that is the number one priority but second and very closely to it is that the united states must actually also engage the political players inside iraq to help to facilitate, not dictate the term bus to help facilitate a process which leads to a mutually -- a modus vie venn di. we've never had a modus vivendi since 2003. and certainly obviously the constitution which i think has been a failure did not provide such a modus vivendi. so we need to rethink a working, functioning state in a very, very tough neighborhood.
there's the exterm component but there has to be an external component. >> thank you. thank you for coming. the floor is yours and these gentlemen have put some perot -- have put some provocative the ses on- provocative the the table for you to address. thank you very much, one of the things that's been interesting about looking at the iraqi media coverage of the u.s. presidential elections has been that the coverage has been very, very sparse. and actually there's been a lot less interest and engagement in iraq as compared with other countries in the middle east in this election. and the reason is that iraqis don't know what to expect from either a trump or clinton presidency. they don't understand how the two possible administrations will differ from the obama
administration and how they will differ from each other. so that's kind of the first obstacle when iraqis are really looking at this election and trying to figure out what they think and what their opinion is. actually, the foreign policy platforms of these two candidates have been very, very unclear and where they have been pushed they've been pushed on the syria issue and very rarely asked about what they would do differently in iraq. this has partly been played by the obama administration with president obama trying to wrap up the liberation of mosul in a neat little bow to end his presidency with a bang which is not really how counterinsurgency works but he keeps giving the impression he's dealing with iraq and iraq will be done by the time he leaves office and an that's not -- it's not at all the case but it's rather let the
other -- the candidates often the hook when it comes to explaining what their plan is for stabilization and for continued counterinsurgency operation. because the liberation of mosul is not the end of this and we really haven't heard a strategy from either candidate as to what they are going to do once they reach office. and of course the iraqis are super conflicted about this because they also don't know what they want the u.s. to do. a lot of disagreement in iraq. on the one hand, there's a lot of appreciation for the u.s. assistance in driving out isil and there's a pretty wide consensus that iraqis do want continued u.s. assistance to drive isis out of iraq and certainly once isis is driven out of these territories, as has been our focus, you know, i think u.s. assistance will continue to be appreciated in tajjing the -- in tackling the inevitable
circumstances that's likely to dominate iraqi cities after the formal liberation takes place but beyond that the problem in iraq is that there is an incredible iran iranian capture of the iraqi media and it's less insidious than it sounds it's just -- you know it's just kind of -- you know people seeking to exercise soft influence over tv presenters, donations to tv channels, you know, there's a lot of relationship building that's happened and there's a lot of persuasion that takes place and it means that the kind of iranian narrative on what u.s. intentions are in iraq is very pervasive and the united states
does an absolutely terrible job of public diplomacy, of talking to the iraqi public about what its intentions are, what its goals are, what the game plan is, what it's trying to achieve, right? and the fact that it's not trying to steal iraqi oil or be a conquerer or stay in iraq forever or use this as an excuse for some other nefarious geopolitical reason and we have to be able to effectively counter the kind of iranian driven narratives that come out of the iraqi media because the iranians are engaged and we're not and engaging with iraqi media is not that difficult. that's something we could be doing that we're not doing and as a result there's such a murkiness in the iraqi public consciousness about what level of u.s. engagement they want and how comfortable they are with it and what kind of time scale they
want to see that continued engagement and i think u.s. policy could really benefit from a clear, sustained articulation of what our long-term strategy is in iraq and i think there's very clear things that we could be doing beyond the liberation of mosul and the next administration when it comes into office should really look at these key points. so number one we will not defeat isis when we liberate mosul so we need to have a strategy for continuing to partner with iraqi security forces and especially with iraqi intelligence to help to train them and build their capacity to conduct long-term penetration of extremist networks not just to show up in a sunni village and chuck everyone in prison, that's not defeating a counterinsurgency in the long term. you want to be building up real capacity to disrupt the
financing networks, to disrupt the ied assembly networks and sourcing of those materials that are needed to assemble car bombs. they need to be effectively and systematically tracing the remaining networks that will go underground and that will keep isis alive in iraq to potentially for many years to come unless we offer the kind of support to the iraqi intelligence services that will be needed to effectively defeat this group once it's disappeared back into iraqi towns and cities. that's something we can offer, those are skills that the iraqi intelligence sources know that they need, know that they're lacking and that they respect from the american side, that they want those skills to be coming from the americans and that's something we can concretely offer and say that our goal is to help support the iraqi state to eradicate terrorism.
that's something we can do and that's not something that's on a presidential election timeline. as long as it takes, as long as the iraqis need that support. the other thing that's going to be needed is the united states will not to act as a buffer and it doesn't want to play this role but between the iraqi kurds and baghdad. during the war against isis iraqi kurdistan has extended its territory by about a third, has seized almost all of the territories that were previously disputed between the krg and baghdad and there's a real risk that the iraqi shiite militias will once mosul is liberated will turn their guns against the peshmerga and try and retake kirkuk. there has to be a mediated diplomatic settlement to these territorial conflicts.
we cannot afford to see iraq now on the -- having just retaken territory from isis but not tackled the root causes of the insurgency. we can't afford then to suddenly be distracted by this kurdish iraqi war over territory. and the united states is the power with the relationships, with the clout, with the international standing to be able to prevent actors from acting in an unrestrained way in this battle over disputed territory and to initiate a credible internationally respected process for mediating these territorial disputes and that -- you know, that's day one after mosul is defeated. we need to make sure that we're getting -- that, you know, the
peshmerga and the iraqi counterterrorism forces and the federal police and the iraqi security forces are working so beautifully now, you know, together, to defeat mosul and then the day after we need to get these forces away from each other and out of the disputed territories so that we can avoid that conflict from happening. the other great risk is that the shiite militias have in many sections of the iraqi population become very popular for defending iraq against terrorism and, you know, it's partly a function of how unpopular minute stream iraqi politicians are for being construct and performing extremely poorly and we've got pro vings elections next year and parliamentary elections the year after and there's a very real risk that pretty hard-line
parties could do very very well in those elections and i think something else the united states could be doing is helping to support, you know, moderate accommodationist inclusive iraqi leaders who are capable of delivering some of the kind of political compromises that are needed to bring about a genuine reconciliation in iraq and that are needed to address the root causes and drivers of extremism in iraq. to help them to better connect to their constituencies. to better deliver on what their constituencies are demanding and to remain credible political actors in the face of what promises to be a genuine political threat from a pretty hard-line set of groups that are likely to set the reconciliation agenda way back and that's something we can't afford to see but it's something we can help to tackle just by helping
you moderate political actors to perform better because they're underperforming so, so woefully right now. and the final thing that the united states can do and can articulate is that they can continue to act to rally global supporters together to help with the reconstruction of liberated areas. what we don't want to see is these liberated areas that have been devastated by air strikes and by the military campaign and by the ieds left behind by isis. we don't want to see these devastated areas, most of them are sunni areas. we don't want to see a second class or an underclass of iraqis living in very deprived economically deprived areas kind of cut off really from the political system and creating the conditions where radicalism
thrives. we want to reintegrate these areas as quickly as possible back into the rest of the country. we want to get basic infrastructure set up, economic opportunities, education and that requires resources the iraqi government is struggling to find at a time of low oil prices and the united states has done a good job but can really continue to take a leadership role in this in gathering its allies and friends from around the world towards providing the resources that are needed and performing the kind of coordinating role in helping the international community to invest in the sablization and reconstruction of areas liberated from isis and i think those elements constitute a real vision for media to long-term engagement in iraq that's a genuinely positive one, that's helpful, it's something a lot of iraqis could buy into and help them make sense of what an american role would look like and what it means and why it's something that would be of benefit to them.
>> thank you for that. i wonder if i could ask you one question to clarify your position with respect to the other two panelists. i heard you say that the -- that the iraqi media has been penetrated by the iranians and that there's a tendency to adopt the iranian line on what the united states is up to. but i didn't hear you wave the flag of concern about the role more broadly of iran in dominating or extending its influence over iraq that we heard from your colleagues. do you share their concern? is that a major concern of yours or are you seeing things a little differently? >> i am someone who believes that iran extends its influence where there is a vacuum and where the political costs are relatively low and we have made
operating in iraq a very easy low cost high reward political exercise for the iranians and once we articulate our strategy for engagement and we offer something to our iraqi partners on the ground and say, hey, we're not just going to turn around and leave in six months and leave you in the lurch, we're real partners who are offering a sustained alternative. you know, there are many iraqis who have great antipathy towards iran and worry about the level of iranian penetration and about what iranian interests are in iraq but balancing against iran is very difficult when there isn't -- when you don't see a partner for balancing against an iran with. and i think if we offer the united states as an alternative and we make clear that hey, we're around not just for five minutes, we'll be here and we've got your back and you can afford to be critical and you can afford to pursue your policyies
without fear of iran then i think the opportunity is there. i don't think the iranian role in iran should be something that scares off the united states from engagement. >> and so you are broadly in agreement with the also dhoor the job of the united states is to hold the ring around iraq and to help the iraqis needs@between them as they solve their own problems. okay, well thank you very much. mike, if i can come back to you, i think we've got a lot of agreement -- more agreement than i expected to hear in general picture of what the -- what the challenge is for the united states. i think there's also agreement with dr. younis made me realize there's broad agreement between the iraqi people and the american people that we're completely bewildered as to what this election will hold and have no idea what the future is going to bring.
it seems to me that if we were to follow the average viewer, this is being broadcast by c-span and the average american watching this is going to be listening to this advice and saying what's the cost to the united states? what's the cost in dollars? what's the cost in military commitment? and one of the big take aways that we have over the last decade is that the desire among the americans to shoulder these costs is much less than some of us would have expected, with that thought in mind, could you talk to us? is there a way the united states can play the role that's being outlined here without a george w. bush-style reengagement with 100,000 or 130,000 u.s. troops? >> i think the most important
thing is it's not the cost of the operation. let's say we went big and spent a lot of money on this. it would mean nothing if we announced we're leaving in six months. you can't build trust and relationships by saying you're going to do something and then leaving in six months so i would associate trust and belief in what we're saying. i'd weigh that higher than any costs so to the american people if you're watching this, the american people argue that if we don't address the iranian influence in iraq, we should just stop now because we're simply facilitating. i don't want to say the iranian takeover of iraq but we are partnering with militias not only out of uniform but the ddr process which is so important, that's disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating these factions like sistani will call for after mosul is liberated to reintegrate the militias, they
won't stand out. they're going to be brought into the iraqi security forces and i would argue that that doesn't work because that was done in 2005 when we brought in the badr core and moqtada al-sadr's core into the national police and the sixth and ninth iraqi army division s divisions it will be rejected by the population if it is the securing force afterwards. so what i'm saying none of this works unless there's a commitment to be that long-lasting partner in iraq. when you look at iraq, there's three consistent foreign policies in the region, russia has the same foreign policy position it's had for 30 years, iran has the same position and
the kingdom of saudi arabia has the same position. i'm sure turkey may have the same position as well. the u.s. position changes based on who's in office and i've been told multiple times talking to iraqi sunni tribal leaders and peshmerga leaders that you're in a better position to be an enemy of the united states than a friend of the united states. you have more leverage as an enemy than as a friend that's very concerning. the thing that i would -- as we're look -- looking at the elections of 2017, in that, the militias believe they have a mandate, they believe they are -- they protected baghdad, they kept baghdad from falling to isis, the media supports that narrative, they're operating outside government control. if a body criticizes them, they can have them replaced they are going into the mosul operation because they want to.
they need to be part of the liberation of mosul to claim success that it was because of them that isis was defeated. we need to be watching the iraqi election because that election is going to either get us back into iraq to defeat the second and third iteration of isis or too basically go into northern iraq to protect the northern iraqi populations from what's coming from the militias. their concern was s that the hash em el shad di was built to not to defeat isis, they're concerned the shi'a militias are there to retake kiir cook and baiji, other areas and that's concerning because they carry the iraqi flag so if the peshmerga fire on them as they approach, it's treasonous. they're firing on forces carrying the iraqi flag. next to that iraqi flag is also a militia flag or a religious
flag that sends a message to sunnis that we are coming not as liberators but we are coming to demonstrate we have primacy now. the message is not only to sunni iraqis but to the peshmerga and the kurds as well that we are coming to take back what we want and this is what you hear from the leadership of these militias, again, not the food guys, they may be saying that as well but they believe they are joining something that is noble and right. the leadership. >> you think we could frustrate those aspirations with a light commitment of troops. you are saying the key is the
political commitment and political consistency, and that alone will have a beneficial effect absent a significant commitment of troops. >> 5000 americans are in iraq and a few thousand shia militia members are in iraq, led by the same people who targeted americans five years ago. i don't think we could do the leverage part trying to get the militias to stand down without putting our current footprint at risk. their --troops we have if iranian policy were to change. at the risk of putting you on he spot, how many troops? commitment of a
60,000 troops. >> it has to be an internationally led force. i don't think iraq wants russian led. it needs to be a strong nato-led force that has the ability to say no, to put pressure on , and actually say we are here to give you the political space to reconcile with your communities so you don't have these phonetic type of that come in and take it vantage of a .isenfranchised population we have that in damascus, we have that in baghdad. when you have a sunni population center that used to look to the
left and say americans are here to help us and now look to the west and say what are you doing, tilting to the position in syria and iraq. >> thank you for that. mr. ambassador, do you agree with mike that the united states can fulfill the role you would like to see it play with a relatively modest commitment of force? >> yes, i think so. i'm also -- i'm aware -- first of all, i'm not a military expert obviously. he is. i'm not. but -- i think it is relatively modest. i don't think it's an appetite. i guess i'm the only one on the stage up here that doesn't live in washington or the environ. i come from the hoosier hot line as it were. i don't think there's an appear
tied in the rest of the country for a large, long-term sustained presence in the middle east generally. anyway, not in iraq. but there has to be -- it has to be -- the american public will tolerate a policy -- support a policy that is explained to them in terms of american interests. that i think has been absent. what are the american interests? the withdrawal of the u.s. -- again, it's a complicated matter. aside from the military, the sort of political and intellectual withdrawal from iraq in 2011 leads to the rise of isil, which turns out to have all kinds of implications for vital american interests, not least of which is the effect that the refugee crisis it is in part causing is having on the european unity project, which
has been a cornerstone of american foreign policy since the days of dwight d. eisenhower. so these things are in the interest of the united states, aside from the fight against terrorism, which is a common fight to all -- to the civilized order. i think the american people could be on board that program. iraq hasn't been in the ex at all other than who did support and when. that's a fairly, shall i say, mundane debate. the interests, if any, and i think there are of the united states have not been debated at all. i think there are significant american interests ensuring that iraq does not become a sort of sustainable environment for terrorism. >> doctor, are you enagreement? seemed to be what you are
saying. there are impulses or pro proclivities, in colinations of the actors on the ground in iraq to work in a way that would further u.s. interest if the united states would just change its posture. >> yeah. i think saying the american people don't have an appetite for engagement has been a bit of a copout for this administration, which is really saying we dob have the appetite for engagement. actually it's about explaining to the american people what the cost of disengagement are. if you want to engage, you need a conversation about the rirvegs to american interest in the world are and what the risks are to the kind of global order we've managed to build up. so we're prepared to cede the
middle east to russian leadership? is that something in our leadership? are we prepared to leave iraq and syria without having achieved a genuine and sustainable defeat of isis. the other thing when you're talking about cost is a relatively modest military and diplomatic and political cost in the short run can actually save you incredible military cost in the long run, when you let instability take root and take massive swaths of territory and threaten not just regional allies but allies across the world and your self at home. suddenly then the cost becomes much more significant. so it's about assessing the costs of disengagement and a relatively modest investment out front can really pay dividends over the long run. >> can i ask you about the russian factor? if you were to answer those
people who say -- which includes, i think, donald trump, that the russians broadly share our interest in defeating isis, why don't we bring them into the security architecture of the region and work with them. they and a lot of people as well believe iranian interests are broadly in alignment with ours. how would you answer that? >> the issue is that the united states fundamentally disagrees with russia and iran on what the root causes of extremism are. we believe that extremism is driven by unrepresentative authoritarian political policies that exclude sections of the population that are pressed and drive people into the arms of extremists and make the extremist narrative more and
more popular and appealing. whereas the russians and iranians look at this as a problem of control. the state wasn't able to exercise sufficient violence to be able to contain this extremist population. so their entire policy for defeating isis is just bombing the hell out of aleppo. it's just the use of force, and they have no political strategy at all for dealing with what the drivers of extremism are. that's where -- look, we've learned this lesson a really tough way. we've engaged in iraq. we've engaged in afghanistan. and you know, you cannot kill an insurgency. you have to transform an insurgency.
you have to reduce the drivers that inspire people to join these groups and you have to give people political alternatives. that's why we're trying to invest in governance structures that can actually offer people >> ambassador, did you have a comment? >> two points. on the last one i'm not sure it's factually correct to say russians have been focused on isil to begin with. certainly in their first intervention which began about a year ago and ended more or less in march-ish of 2016 they were, in fact, more or less targeting the opponents of the regime who are not isil. it is not clear. it seems they bought into the strategy, russians did, of being able to say it's me or isil by allowing isil to sort of survive.
the other point the doctor got absolutely right is on the question of engagement and the false dichotomy that has been created by the administration in terms of engaging in iraq, you either send in 150,000 troops or you do nothing. 2011,as the response in the administration's response what to do in syria, and she's exactly right that by failing to calculate the cost of inaction we have far, seems to me, exacerbated the problem in syria. you have a similar calculus to make in iraq. what vladimir putin -- exactly what his strategy is is another story, today is another story. but the first russian intervention in syria, september, october 2015 that more or less ended in march 2016, what vladimir putin proved in that intervention at least is that it's possible for a foreign
power to intervene with a limited strategic purpose to achieve that limited purpose at relatively low cost and to press the off button. the limited purpose, it seems to me, in that first intervention was to ensure assad did not fall. and he achieved that with virtually no significant losses in it, relatively minimal expense. again, you're far more experienced on military matters than i. that's a lesson i would have wished that those who always say, well, do you want 150,000 troops or remember vietnam in the u.s. administration, i wish those people had learned that lesson a year ago. >> just to build on your point, there are others who say the use of military force is inherently counter-productive and also refutes that argument as well, i think you'd agree.
mike, i wonder if i could turn, we've got a few minutes left. everybody here flagged concern about iran in one way or another. i recently had a conversation with a very senior former military commander in iraq and discussed with him the role of iran in iraq. i posited the possibility that iran does not really want a unified iraq. it actually might be quite comfortable with a fragmented iraq and certainly an iraq in which the sunni areas are no longer really part of the political system. he, referencing other experts, dismissed this possibility out of hand. it came back to me, one of the
comments that the ambassador just made, about iranian interests. i wonder if you can discuss this. duty with the proposition that they might want a a fragmented weak iraq or assume they ultimately want to see a unified iraq. at least on that narrow area we have a shared interest. >> going back to 2013, i argued iran needs the threat of isis to stay in iraq. it needs the threat of isis to stay in syria. back to your point, the force is able to mobilize iraqi shia militias to go to syria. they didn't go to raqqah, they want to aleppo, other places, places that is would shore up the assad regime, go after u.s.-backed rebels. they were comfortable working
with the air force already and some leader have actually asked russia be involved in the iraqi operations. it wants to maintain leverage. one thing that kept al maliki was at the threat of al qaeda operations. nice to say, keep me in power or they will come back. i don't believe that iran wants isis defeated in iraq, but i also believe it is balancing the political benefit of defeating as the name only political parties seek positions. if you just look at the motives, it's been to take over places, the sunni triangle, birth place of saddam hussein, take over these places, punish in fallujah
to protect the shia-sumerian faultlines and allow everything else to just be pointed that way. that's where the enemy is. >> to build up the militias, which they have influence over on the ground as opposed to unified iraqi military. >> they have influence in iraqi military as well. federal police, ministry of interior, they just wear uniforms. these militia members part of the hashd al-shaabi will brag i can wear the uniform of any military force on any given day. in many cases they have salaries from iraqi military and militias. at the end of the day they will break towards influence to nfrl shia political parties beholden now to tehran. >> mr. ambassador, do you agree with that assessment? >> i do. look, i collect maps.
and my oldest map, i think, is from the 16th century. i collect maps of the middle east. actually from iraq. my oldest from the 16th century. they got a little more expensive the farther back you go. i only have one from the 16th century. over the centuries you can see baghdad in one map will be part of the ottoman empire, next iranian, then the next it flips back. regimes, governments come and go remain the interests same. iraq is a battleground between great powers. it has been for centuries. with all respect to your senior former american commander, he ought to look at maps a little older than the ones the pentagon publishes today. these things have been going on in iraq for centuries. they will continue to do so, which goes back to my quoting robert frost about strong fences.
>> dr. eunice, do you want to address that or have anything else to say before i hand it over to the audience? >> i note a little caution about iranian intentions in iraq. i think that controlled chaos is maybe pretty beneficial. a situation where there's some uncertainty, a range of actors that all have a relationship with iran where you can kind of control outcomes is really beneficial for the iranian government. disintegration of iraq is not at all in the iranian interest. the independence of kurdi afghanistan has absolutely been a red line for the iranian government not least because this year we've seen a resurgence in the fighting in territories, taking up arms
again, and iranians suffering from their own separatist groups in their own kurdish region. the idea of having some separate sunni region in iraq that's supported by -- could be supported by saudi, see it as kind of talibanesque, that's not at all something iran is interested in seeing. >> but do you agree that that pre-2014 status quo of bombs going off in baghdad and creating uncertainty and some degree of chaos but not the threat of the total collapse of the state is in iranian interest? >> it's interesting because i think, 2013, i think the iranians would see as kind of the perfect state of iraq. but of course, you cannot have 2013 -- >> sorry, for our viewers at home, could you -- >> in 2013, you had a very strong maliki government pretty
-- that was pretty pretty shia dominated with marginalized kurdistan and marginalized sunni population. incredible iranian influence over the iraqi government. the problem is the iranians might think of that as their ideal, but you cannot have that without inevitable breakdown. can't have 2013 without 2014. i don't know if they have learned that lesson. >> not clear the iraq political class has learned that, either. >> that's fascinating. ok. with that, let's open it up to questions from our audience. the gentleman in the sport coat there with his hand up. could you stand up and wait for our intern? >> thank you. i'm an adviser to apec. my question is to follow up on what has been said on iranian influence not only for shiite militias, media, but government itself. i understand there's been a very
serious infiltration of iranian agents into various government agencies and security forces, intelligence. can you elaborate a bit more about what's going on? that's, i think, really threatening to iraq's future. >> and your question is to all of our panelists? >> yes. >> mike, why don't we start with you. >> my role in iraq, i was there in some capacity, was to look at the intelligence services, specifically iranian influence within those. the inis is what it was called at the time, basically former baathist intel service set up by the agency. it was very effective not only going after al qaeda but militias. the shia political party in iran , msnsa led by an iranian proxy.
it was set up to mirror that organization. once we took the hands off in 2010 after maliki won the election, ins went away and they replaced it. you had former intel guys that were baathists, because they had to be baathists to get a job at the time. these intelligence officers went to ground in some cases, left the country, in some cases may have even joined isis in the beginning stages when it was a rejection of what was happening. my biggest concern was i literally saw units flip in 2005, the sixth and ninth iraqi divisions had a healthy balance of 55% shia, 45% sunni where you didn't have to keep track of the numbers. it was an iraqi unit able to do things in baghdad. within a year when general dempsey was in charge of the
reintegration of shia militias, both of those divisions went to 95% or greater shia with heavy militia infiltration. the one thing i will say about security forces and intelligence services, the only kurds participating in the isis population are peshmerga units. they used to be -- there used to be kurdish divisions, battalions, iraqi army units, that has gone away. there used to be sunni battalions, brigades, sunni divisions. that has gone away as well. now we have a follow force of 150,000 iraqi military, predominantly shia and hashd al-shaabi. you have peshmerga outside of the ministry of defense, but still listens to it doing these operations. so the intelligence services, if you want to target, you go to
kurdish intel services. if you want a good target against isis, go to some of the shia intelligence services but you're likely to get sunni military, the whole neighborhood is isis, let's destroy that. that's what we've seen in ramadi and other places. i was very concerned about that, not only the change in the structure of the security forces but also the intelligence services. importantly,- more the shia political party influence that kept that in place. >> mr. ambassador, any thoughts? >> one real quick thing. prime minister abadi inherited security apparatus. it's still in place. it's the same one. it didn't go away when maliki went away. palqui obvious photographed with a radio talking to these very forces, moving them around trying to discredit prime minister abadi. >> so can we say maliki did not go away and that he has tied a body's hands.
>> he has the luxury of in the being accountable for any of the chaos yet controlling a lot of it. >> would you say he's as influential as abadi, more influential? >> more influential. abadi is maliki circa 2005. maliki was a compromised weak candidate. prime minister abadi is him. >> mr. ambassador, do you agree with that assessment? >> no. the prime minister is weak. he is weak. it is true. i think in distinction with al maliki, al abadi has his heart in the right place. he came in as a compromised candidate when the united states was pushing for other individuals who were unacceptable to parties outside the shia alliance, including
kurds and allawi, so it settled on prime minister abadi. this is a real problem. what maliki did when he first took over was to sort of expel from the secretary-generalship of the party. abadi should have done something like that to maliki with respect to the state of law and he didn't. that was a political mistake. a lot of kerfuffle going on, the beginning at least engineered by maliki. it's a real problem. i think it's part of the iranian game again to keep the state of iraq weak. to keep the politics of the state of iraq weak.
this is fundamentally, i think, i'm going to go broader than your question. this is fundamentally the question we have to ask. what we don't know is what are people fighting for? there are certainly rank and file -- the the rank and file of the popular mobilization units and iraqi army, iraqi security forces as said, are clearly fighting for iraq. but some are not. they are not fighting for a united iraq. they are fighting to protect political turf. they are fighting to protect baghdad and points south but not the unity of iraq. we have squandered, the united states have squandered, iraqis have squandered the last 2.5 years by focusing so exclusively on the military aspect of this and ignoring wholly the political aspect. the military is a necessary but not sufficient element without getting the political aspect right, the political environment right. we'll be back in this situation in two years and three years and
five years. >> would you like to weigh in? >> i just said on the iranian point, i think it's less helpful to think of this in terms of iranian infiltration as thinking about iranian utility. part of the reason why iran gets to be so influential is because they offer things to iraqi politicians and military access that are useful. money. they really are helpful in gathering the votes together and helping to influence other actors and helping to build an alliance so you can get whatever your project is through the iraqi parliament. they are very influential actors in iraq but they are willing to get down and dirty and engage with iraqi politics on the level of individual politicians. figuring out what they want. they like doing some great congressional lobbying. it's not that nefarious. there are nefarious aspects to it.
but we can compete. we choose not to. there are people who will happily take u.s. help instead in building an alliance to pass something through the iraqi parliament that we think is actually in the better interest of stability in iraq. >> yes, sir? >> i really enjoyed the discussion. bit tog it back a little the u.s. election. one of the candidates, donald trump, has specifically said that he would take the oil, if the u.s. is involved. how much play has this received in iraq, that you actually have a candidate that says if we're going to be involved we take the oil?
>> dr. yoonis, do you want to start? >> i think that's what iraquis have always thought they were doing. that's a bit of a problem when pr is so bad they can't differentiate between some outlandish idea and often constructive policy of actually being. that's on us for not making it very clear what we've been doing there. >> you mentioned in your comments that the iranian narrative about us is the one that dominates in iraq i wonder if you would give details how the iranians depict us? >> an iranian narrative of what the u.s. is doing in iraq is building its empire in the middle east so it can dominate and extract resources and to maintain american imperial domination over the world and that iran is the leader of the
axis that access -- seeks to resist american hedge money. oil domination has always been a part of that narrative. ordinary iraquis, oil rich cities, they don't see investment in their schools and health services and see sewage on the streets. they are not seeing that money. it's going somewhere. they don't know where. it happens to be going into the pockets of corrupt iraqi politicians, not coming to the u.s., but for ordinary citizens it hasn't a difference. ispublic discourse in iraq often a bit more subtle than it is in the united states. i suppose an iraqi reaction could be, well, we knew that but it really shouldn't be said in public. [laughter] thoughts? i'll get you on the next time around. sorry.
>> thank you. i was wondering, you of all explain why u.s. policy is not working. i'm wondering what should u.s. policy be? specifically, should that include nationbuilding, would seem to be implied by several speakers? if it does imply troops, the immunity question. finally, which of the candidates is more likely to implement such a policy? >> mr. ambassador, do you want to take a shot at that? >> it does involve state building. here i will invoke famously what reputedly was put at the colin powellas the colin pottery barn rule, that the united states dismantled state of iraq when it was wholly
unnecessary to do so in 2003. it was an idiotic decision, singularly the worst decision made in iraq, at least. it does involve that. so i think that that's a part and parcel. look, a place the united states refused to engage in state building when it seemed the mission was "accomplished" was in afghanistan when the russians finally withdrew. how did that work out for us? here we are in the heart of the middle east, in an oil rich state, which if i'm right, if it continues down the path it has been on, if it breaks up, it will break up into, as i think i said, another somalia, except this will be a somalia where some of the factions at least will be able to sell oil, smuggled oil on the market, which some are doing anyway. there is a united states interest. as to which candidate, i can't really answer that question, because i haven't heard either candidate address -- we have had
a dispute between the two candidates as to what their thoughts and views were in 2003 and whether they were right or wrong in 2003, but i have not heard what they would do in iraq. there's been minimal discussion about syria, but none that i'm aware of on iraq. i can't address that part of it. >> mike, do you have some thoughts? >> the most important part is a commitment to stay not as a military force, but a force that continues to put leverage and pressure on baghdad. to engage and do the right thing. we have a very patient enemy and there are very patient actors in the middle east. they don't operate on western clocks. you tell the taliban you're leaving in five years, the taliban says the day after they leave, we'll attack. same with al qaeda and isis, patient actors in the middle east. the best way for us to do anything, if we're going to send soldiers there and spend money
there, is not to say we're going to leave until something is accomplished. when i say that, trust is built to the point where u.s. leverage is continuous. it's not fleeting. >> a very dear friend of mine is a retired american general who always says on this question that with his kids, he never had an exit strategy. he had a long-term engagement strategy, which moderated as they got older. i think the analogy works pretty well in iraq. you can't treat iraq as you did in 2003, and certainly not with what you could have done but didn't when there were 150,000 troops, american troops there. but simply kicking them out the door and saying, well, i hope you don't starve in the streets hasn't worked terribly well. >> dr. younis. >> i would make the point we're
currently engaged in iraq with an international coalition that is doing heavy lifting, making significant contribution. once muzzle is liberated, -- it is about using the weight of the international community and the coalition that has been built up pretty painstakingly to support the goal of defeating isis, to dissuade those actors -- to persuade those actors to stay on board to stabilize the country. >> we passed over ed back there. >> yeah. i'm here at hudson, senior fellow. i would like to ask the ambassador if he could expand a bit on what he sees as the actual way of going about the state building project. you've mentioned that the current constitution and current
government is certainly weak and seems to be somewhat hanging on by its fingernails. one possible way of looking at the iraqi's fate in the future would be going down the regionalization route and say, ok, there will be a sunni region, as some sunnis were interested in before. maybe even more than one region in the shia area so basra has a greater sense of its ability to control its own future and so forth. that would be one way of trying to rebuild the iraqi state. i get the impression it's not your preferred way. i'm just wondering, do you have any other way of looking at the question of how to rebuild the iraqi state and what that would begin to look like. who are the people this would rest on? >> what you're talking about, the arrangement in iraq, which i
think may be gaining some traction. unfortunately, i will say in iraq. let me preface my remarks by saying that i understand that the kurdistan region of iraq, to the extent it remains in iraq, occupies a special status i'm -- and that i am not advocating the reintroduction of sort of the centralized state with respect to the k rg. that's an important point to keep in mind. having said that, we have been in a phase, if i may use an analogy to the american -- to american history, in the articles of confederation phase where a government in baghdad
has been created, which is fundamentally devoid of all powers. it may -- it didn't work 250 years ago in a continent separated by two oceans from meddling neighbors. it is not working in the middle east in a country surrounded by hostile authorities -- powers, sorry. powers. i would say to the kurdish leadership, the greatest threat -- again, please keep in mind the prefatory remarks i made about the krg, i would say to kurdish leadership the greatest threat that the kurds have faced since 1991, but in any event since 2003, was not from baghdad
but from isil, which arose because of a weak state, weak at every level, including level of politics and the sort of political environment that i've spoken about. strong, asthat's too was the case for too long under before,role and perhaps i understand is unacceptable to many players in iraq. but a baghdad that's too weak has resulted in 2014, and we're still dealing with that and potentially could be dealing for years with the consequences. there has to be an intermediate point. so a stronger -- we need a constitutional arrangement that creates a more cohesive state. that builds state institutions.
we have not only not built the physical infrastructure of the country since 2003, i'm talking about the part of baghdad -- part of iraq controlled by baghdad, i'm not talking about krg, before isil and before the crash of oil prices, there was a tremendous amount of building that i have seen myself. in the area south of krg, we've not built school, hospital since 2003. >> taking you live to hershey, pennsylvania and a rally for donald trump. he is here and one of three different states he visited today, all electoral battlegrounds. here, one of the people working on his campaign, kellyanne conway. winning seasons for
the eagles and steelers so far. and as announced this afternoon, here in pennsylvania, a dead heat tie in the polls. [applause] ms. conway: we like to thank you for coming out tonight to show your support for the next president of the united states, donald trump. [no audio] [applause] ms. conway: i look at this packed house and i am reminded of a joke we have on the campaign that when donald visits a venue, he attracts the largest crowd in history for someone who does not play an instrument or sport. tonight in hershey, pennsylvania, you have proved us right. [applause]