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tv   Former Ambassador Michael Mc Faul Discusses State of U.S.- Russia Relations  CSPAN  March 3, 2017 10:02am-12:04pm EST

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>> good morning everyone, welcome to the annual walter roberts lecture, cosponsored by he institute of diplomacy -- this annual lecture is paid for by the walter roberts endowment.
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letter roberts is a pioneer in the field of public diplomacy, and he was also a faculty member here at george washington. we are fortunate to have several members of the endowment here with us. we have board chair -- and roberts daughter-in-law. we are so grateful for your support. is a busy man.ul we have been trying to get him to come and be our speaker for two years. this effort began with my predecessor when he was the director. in the spirit of you never know when you are having good luck, we are really thankful we got in here today because this is a perfect time to hear this lecture. interestingly i hear it on good
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authority from bruce gregory, who is a huge name and diplomacy -- that is pretty nice. introduceoing to ambassador mcfaul. i will leave that part up to him. david, whontroduce reported for cnn, abc news and national public radio. former director of the voice of america and our former walter roberts lecture or from last year. this is another first to have last year's lecturer moderating with a discussion for this year. a tradition we hope to continue. if you have suggestions for next year's speaker please let us know. let me tell you what the plan is. c-span is here and we also are streaming on facebook live.
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in order to cut down on comings and goings, the ambassador is going to speak for about 40 minutes and then followed by that there will be a moderated discussion and then we will leave about 30 minutes for questions from the audience. we hope you will feel free to tweet. when you are tweeting, please make sure it is silenced otherwise you will be on c-span. further idea, thank you so much. [applause] >> my thanks to janet steele and the institute for public diplomacy and global communications for inviting me to join our distinguished speaker.
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inirst met michael mcfaul the early 90's when he and another russian colleague set up the moscow carnegie center and we were all watching the traumatic events as boris yeltsin killed off, the first chechnya and war was waged, and many other events were pretty fascinating for a reporter and any observer from the west. he was already one of the most astute observers of the moscow scene and we journalists found him approachable and quotable, as i'm sure you will today. as another american journalist also there earlier in the rough days, david of the new yorker says moscow was a pageant, irresistible to anyone with a trace of democratic idealism. the sense of historical drama was unmistakable. there was a human tragedy to be seen but reasons for hope.
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, could russia finally throw off auto credit government? was there a real change? ambassador mcfaul worked overtime to encourage reforms. we knew it wouldn't be easy or quick that we thought it might be possible. by the time ambassador mcfaul went to moscow, his best efforts were doomed to fail. in the second term of vladimir putin as president invaded crimea and sent little green men to eastern ukraine. with a task of implementing another revolution in moscow. as remnick from the new yorker
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wrote, they took his openhearted activism -- not too long ago he was informed that at least for now he was no longer welcome. dramatic times that we both watched together. before that, as president obama's top adviser, mike was one of the key architects of the -- including the famous reset. i think he is -- and perhaps -- what might work for the new administration. at ther of senior fellow institute of studies come as at the the senior fellow hoover institution. he is a columnist for the washington post, a commentator
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for abc news as early as this morning, and one of the most thoughtful analysts on the complicated relationship between ourselves and the russians. let us now can -- let's now welcome ambassador mcfaul. [applause] mcfaul: thank you, david. third i'm shocked -- i had to say first of all i'm shocked how many people are here. really impressed with gw students and i see some students here, so i'm glad you see that. part of the reason i delayed anoming was this city has army, literally hundreds, maybe thousands of people that follow russia. sam what value added to i have? why do you need me yeah co i was
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on morning joe this morning, talking about the ambassador, who i used to work with. rather than talk about what is in the newspapers today, which i'm sure we will do during the questions and answers, and if you have questions about that i have opinions about that. i thought i would come here with my more academic cap. professor who had all those other titles in the past. i was a professor before, i will be a professor now, i will be a professor to the end of my days. i want to spend 30 or 40 minutes asking some big questions before we hone in to what does keithley xserve for lunch? yount to start by reminding of where i see the basic story of u.s. for lunch -- u.s.
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russian relations today. i think it is one of the most confrontational moments we have had, including periods during the cold war. people say is it a cold war or not? we can debate that later. certainly the level of confrontation, i think you have to go deep into the cold water member a time like we are in today. toon't need to read them you, but a russia has annexed territory, intervened in the neighborhoods, carpet bombed in syria, meddling in the u.s. elections. that is new. that didn't happen in the cold war, that has happened now. 80% negative approval rating in terms of russian people. we will debate later, but for peyton i don't think this conflict is about some kind of narrow definition of national interest. i think this is an ideological confrontation. not about communism versus
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capitalism, communism versus democracy, but it is about the imperial america, the decadent ukraine.of not season those are all ideological terms. and he thinks he is anchoring an ideological alternative to the west and the united states. a little bitfeels like a major confrontation, not different from the cold war. i would say in terms of the bigness of it, not unlike the cold war, certainly worsen some of the late eras of the cold war. i would say our response, we the obama administration, we are going to get to trump later. the response has been pretty big. went into ukraine and his speech to the united nations, obama said there are three threaten the world, o -- and the -- three threats in the
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world, ebola, asus, and russia. when i give this speech a lot of other places i feel more confident. i am at george washington university so i see a lot of people here who might know the full totality of u.s. wrote -- u.s. russian relations like i do. i think going back to john quincy adams as our first ambassador, we never had the chief of staff of the kremlin on sanctions. thathroughout the cold war never happened, that happened today. nato is focused on the russia threats. new sanctions after the elections. on which poll you look at but certainly the majority of americans think that russia is an and in the again. republican, the data shows those republicans are less worried about the russians than
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they were two years ago. i think we know what the causality there is. happened, most of this happened when i was in the u.s. government. putin did not invade ukraine when i was u.s. ambassador. i kept him out. he invaded the day after i left. causation correlation. of whenjectory was part i was in the government. in february 2014. have experienced this, you have been in this intense period living in russia in the 90's. you get back home and your neighbors didn't really notice you were gone. my, what have you been doing? ambassador to russia, that is really nice.
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are playing notre dame next saturday. that is the most important thing. people were pleasant and polite. most people don't care about all this stuff that happened. but i had one neighbor very early on that heard i was back in town. he said come on over, i want to talk about u.s. russian relations. at the end of it -- by the way a guy named general mattis was at this lunch. it they said, mike you screwed this up. government we started in a confrontational period but we ended with the end of the cold war. my neighbor is george schultz,
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former secretary of state for ronald reagan. as a got on my one speed cruiser -- i know longer had a black cadillac and bodyguards. the conversation jarred me. happened you would happened between the end of the cold war and my time in government? the meeting is way worse them that photo suggested. so,the next 20 minutes or by the way gw got -- people start picking up their notebooks. answer a simple question, what happened between those two photos? betweeno bounce around
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academic theory and my personal experiences. the first explanation is just the nature of the international system. the nature of great power of politics. i'm going to run a map here that starts about thousands of years ago. what you see happening here is some countries require new power. the borders are changing. this is a theory of international politics. it here,you teach structural realism is the way we talk about it. this is basically the way states will interact. what we are see it with russia today in the west, this is normal history.
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notice crimea, it will take 500 years before crimea becomes part of russia. here is a theories about power and distribution of power in the international system. probably not as weak as we thought it was. this is just a natural correction. i think president obama really got under their skin, saying it regional power or local power. they are behaving like a great power in the system. very popular theory at the university of chicago. part of this is true. anybody from moldova?
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ok, good. country.en a great he got one of the largest crowds ever. moldovas worried about annexing territory. they don't have power and capabilities to do that. power he didn't have wouldn't be concerned about it. it was ahink sufficient explanation for a couple of reasons. i can think of countries that rise in power and don't invade their neighbors. japan and germany come to mind right away.
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poland has territorial claims, nobody's worried about poland. will come back to that if you are interested. even china, i spent it -- i spent a chunk of my last summer in china. an argument, whether china might do similar things as a rising power to redistribute and challenge the international system. power in and of itself is not the full explanation. we need to understand why russia has become belligerent in the west. me, write him --
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right up until the annexation of crimea, even putin was running in this direction. wrote dozens of memos, cables , but we wrote a bunch of cables about something that you probably weren't following. it was called the eurasian economic institute. putin wanted to bring everybody back into this economic union. to do so, you needed ukraine to be part of it. he wanted all 45 ukrainians to , because of this union those are places for trade and investment. -- belarus cause act and kazakhstan wasn't enough.
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anybody buy anything made in russia here? what did you buy? vodka. did you buy it here or there? that's one. you can buy -- it is really strong beer. they are buying a lot of consumers. you need all of ukraine, not just crimea. suddenly pivoting the other way, ensuring that ukraine would never join this eurasian economic union as a result of his annexation of crimea and
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intervention in eastern ukraine? something more approximate has to be added. i'm a little nervous in this crowd. i dare you during the queue and a to make this test to find a speech putin made before february 2014, which says it is our natural right and huge disaster that crimea is not a part of russia. maybe this crowd will find it. before it was not on the agenda. what happened that caused that take place? last thing i will say about this, anybody at the sochi olympics?
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there, fantastic party. they paid $50 billion for it. event.a great one isngs were striking, they released -- from jail. i saw senior russian official and asked why now? his response was we have had iraqi space, we are looking for re-engagement. this is a signal to you about perhaps another attempt at making relations better. the olympics, you can interpret it different ways. i was struck by the -- we are not the old soviet russia.
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the people who weren't in charge of that were people that i knew. met -- byck by one one episode in particular. they would go across the stadium, drawings and sketches, eight foot and 10 foot sketches. 20 or 30 of them. just think about that for a minute. how many countries could pull that off? that was pretty cool. two of them jumped out at me. were reclaiming those guys as part of russian history. there were no longer opposite and western. they were part of russia. then a few days later putin invades crimea. if the messaging was to confront the west, the folks that plan
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the so she olympics -- planned the sochi olympics did not get that memo. it is allanation, america's fault. this comes in two fridays. very contradictory varieties. limit to you why a think they are not a sufficient explanation. we were to demand and clinton had this. we lectured them about markets. he was lecturing about markets in the 90's, about democracy. then we bombed serbia and went into iraq.
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enough is enough with this american imperialism. that explains why we were in that situation. it is a reaction to what we did, not what he did. i want to keep myself honest, ,hat during the course of this over the last 30 years, i was nervous about this reaction. in theervous that we west would not understand that the people inside russia were seeking to join the west and become democratic. we would treat them rather lukewarm lay. best pieces i have ever written in my life i 1990shed on august 19
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. one year exactly to the day, i -- ished this piece shouldn't assume, august 1991 is thatirst day of the coup led to the clash of the soviet union. in this piece i was comparing -- sovietof the time union is still around, gorbachev is still ahead of the country. i was comparing the drama to the french revolution to get people to think this is an just some kind of reform thing. there is going to be this revolutionary turmoil that the grad kohl's -- that the radicals are going to come to power. there is going to be a thermidor period.
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they were anti-systemic, this revolution was pro-systemic. part of it is true. all those things happened. in between all that drama i and theou from before current period of confrontation we are in now, there was a period david alluded to. i was in the government for that period. january 1 2009. at all these interactions, i would say we didn't have a lot of interactions. certainly half a dozen people
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meet with them at i will come back to that if you are interested. but after we won the election and got ready to eat our policy reviews, i was in charge of the russia policy review, we sat down with president-elect. the president and we described this stuff i've told you a couple of slides ago. ok, man. i forgot the camera was on. he did not say hey, man. i should not say that on the record. he said i don't really get it. to the russians really want iran to get a nuclear weapon? know, mr. president, of course they don't. do they want the taliban to win in afghanistan? no, no. to they want the regime to fall apart? know, they don't. has he got into the issues,
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concrete issues -- not with all the baggage of the cold war and not liking somebody in the past, leaving out cultural explanations -- we came up with this idea that on certain issues, not all, put on certain issues there was overlap. and through a policy of engagement and re-engagement which have fallen off in the bush-putin years, we could realize what the president would like to talk about as win-win outcomes. here he is about to call him for the first time. it is his fourth day at the job, my third day on the job. i usually make a joke about his hair but it will not do that. we are on the record. i have joked about it. as i walked out -- if you are working the white house, one of the bush administration officials who had served for bush and was serving for obama said you are never supposed to touch the desk. word to the wise. that is what i was told.
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we did this thing called the reset. in my opinion -- i will go through all of this in detail, but in my opinion we got some really big things done. true, the strategy having get -- through the strategy of engagement. hearing over the president. there we are with the prime minister. this went on for about three hours, july 2009, where he got the sense that putin thought differently. we set up this thing to make everybody engage more. it had broken down. we engaged with the business community. that is russia's richeson our richest meeting at a summit in june 2010. we gazed with civil society. the photo on the left is an interesting one. the president was a little late. july, 2009.
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we almost pulled him down but i begged with him to make an appearance. she shows up and usually when the president shows up people sit down and stand up. him, yuri wasow still in the middle of his speech. russians like to talk. he was not going to stop this speech, especially because he was about to get the guantanamo. [laughter] you know, the president listens politely about american versus russian violations of human rights. eventually he got to speak. that he met with the opposition. i like to remind people of this. you can see across from him -- -- who has been assassinated. in my opinion, i am writing a book.
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i will tell you about it in more detail, but we got -- the paraphrase the current president, we got some really big deals done. really big deals. big deals. we signed a start treaty. limits of down the deployed nuclear weapons in the world by 30%. that's what i did in 2010. what did you do? at the big deal, huge thing. second, something you probably have not heard about. i don't want to walk in front of david, but i walk over here a little bit. ndn was one of the biggest things i did in the government. most people don't know about it. the northern distribution network. it is a set of supply routes with all different kinds of ways to move stuff around. that goes to russia and central asia on his way afghanistan. when we came into the government, i think around 95%
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of our supplies went to pakistan. as you remember one of the other policy reviews we did was expand the way we fought the war in afghanistan. sometimes take the war into pakistan and violated sovereignty, including medically one-time in 2011 when we went in and killed osama bin laden. it was our assumption that violating pakistani sovereignty, and that was not the only time, that they would tire of that and it would cut off our supply routes. which they did from time to time. we had to get a new alternative. if 95% of our supplies were dependent on pakistan, that was going to make the operation against osama bin laden a lot harder to pull off. the night before that operation
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-- the day before the operation i was with the president making a phone call to a central asian leader precisely to do one more enhancement to ndn because we were worried about what might happen if our supplies from pakistan got cut off. i tell you that in detail because the russians allowed american soldiers to fight through their airspace. the first time since world war ii. they sold us jet fuel for the airplane. some might even say this is close to a military alliance that we were doing. that's a pretty big deal. that is a big operation of cooperation. with the russians we put in place of this conference of set of sanctions ever against iranian regime. un security council resolution 1929 does not happen without russia. i like to remind people of
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nonevents. dogs that do not bark, things you don't read about. this is kind of a weird place. there are probably five people in this room writing to thesis about the color resolution -- revolution. america did not hear about that because it did not explode in ways we feared. for me working at the white house at this time, it was the scariest two weeks of my time in the government. because the president was overthrown. two dozen people -- more than that, almost 100 people were killed. southn became down in the more tensions between ethnic groups. uzbeks leftic during this period and went into neighboring uzbekistan. it felt like we were on the verge of an epic civil war, maybe an interstate war between this pakistan -- uzbekistan and
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kurdistan. samantha powers sat across the hall from me. i was reminded we would not have genocide happened on our watch. it felt like we were on the verge of genocide. it did not happen that way in part because of domestic things locally, but in part because they got on the phone and obama made the case it is not in our interest to see this. it is not in your interest. let's try to defuse this together. we basically did. he was complicated but we basically did it. you hear a lot about fighting isis from the current president. just remind you five or six years ago, six years by now, five years ago, we did encounter terrorists exercises together. russians and americans jumping out of airplanes in colorado springs together training for counterterrorism operations. we got some economic things done. not as much as we would've
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liked, but it was a vibrant time. medvedev insident my neck of the woods at cisco. a given big speech. -- he gave a big speech. he was reminiscing about stanford. maybe he would like to become a senior fellow at stanford. given his most recent news. don't forget, that's our governor in case you forgot about him. we got russia into the wto, tntr, we put in place a new visa regime to make it easier for businesses and business people to travel. the 1, 2, 3 agreement. a nuclear cooperation agreement that had been stuck for many years. we started at a low base but the numbers were moving in the right direction in terms of bilateral trade between the two countries. by the way, people forget because you think we have been in this cold war crisis with russia for 30 years and they
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have been our enemy for the whole time, but that was not the case. 60%he height of the reset, of russians had a positive view of the united states and 60% of americans had a positive view of russia. that was just five years ago. to come back to this argument about american foreign-policy, it is my view you can't cite these factors to explain our current confrontation without discussing the cooperation i just described. right? all of these things happened before the reset, and yet somehow during the reset we managed to do all those cooperative things. loves to doas putin inside nato expansion is the reason we of the conflict. i was the government for five years, on every call that putin and medvedev did, all the meetings except one. i don't remember once a russian
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leader saying nato expansion is a big deal right now. in fact it was the opposite. medvedev came to the summit. he sat at a table with all the other leaders and the topic of the conversation once the cameras when away was, let's build missile-defense systems together. think about how crazy that sounds in our current era. maybe we were crazy to be thinking about it back then, but back then the cold war was over, nato was our friend. rt? is anyone from rt here by chance? wasjust so you know,rt running this incredibly lovey-dovey stuff about how great america was and how great obama was. all of that stuff happened after those other things. it seems to me you can't go back to nato expansion, the orange revolution as the cause of our
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conflict. there has to be something more to the story. there is another explanation. not very popular in most places i talked, but is popular here in your city. it used to be popular until president trump's election. the whole reason we're having all these crisis is because obama was weak. did not stand up to putin, naive about russians, and created the permissive conditions for annexation in ukraine and support for the separatists in this conversation. right? this is a quote i love. i will read it for you because you probably cannot see it and i love to read it. i just saw mr. boehner on inauguration evening. i started to bring this up and then i realized i should just let it go. yearsrs ago -- two ago here is what speaker boehner
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said about russia and obama. "when you look at the chaos going on, does anyone think vladimir putin would've gone into crimea has george w. bush and president of the united states? no. even put in the smart enough to know that bush would've punched him in the nose in about 10 seconds." that is the speaker -- former speaker. let's cut him some slack. politicians tend to say strange things leading up to an election. the truth is george w. bush actually have a chance to find prudent in the nose if you tin in the-- punch pu nose. happened that george bush was in china at the olympics sitting three rows down from vladimir putin. george bush is a healthy guy. he could have climbed up there and punched him in the nose, but thankfully he did not do that
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because we never do that. of intervention with the russians in that part of the world we have never threatened to use military force to deter that. in questions, maybe we can talk about this, but let me be provocative to say the response after military intervention is more interesting. there is more variation between the cases i have appear. i would say provocatively that responsiveerkel more characteristics to ronald reagan's response to the crackdown on solidarity in december 1981 than it did to what george w. bush did in 2008. you know how many people -- gethsemane people -- anybody know? zero. just one data point. they did not send lethal weapons. all the things obama was
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criticized for doing, they did not do back then. variable me to my last factor. structure ofthe the system and not american foreign-policy, i want to dig down into what i think is the driver of our current confrontation. that is russian domestic policies. let me walk you through that and we will the questions. two factors in particular are essential to understanding our current conflict. one is a change from medvedev to put in as president -- putin as president, and the demonstrations in 2011 and 2012. in september 2011, at their party congress, putin yells to everybody and never what he says hooray that he's decided to run for a third term and they will
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do a switcheroo. demetri, you get to play prime minister and i will play president. day.happened that -- i'me of days later staring at a lot of cameras. let me paraphrase this. at some point along the way we discussed this transition with the president. the way i would assess what we thought about it at the time, the u.s. government -- i can't tell you what obama thought about it, we will say that for the book. that medvedevnts was stepping down for the fact that obama had developed a working relationship with president medvedev. they were similar in many ways. they were younger, lawyers, pragmatic, low drama kind of guys, spoke in paragraphs.
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putin does not. he has a blunter style. and this win-win outcome of cooperation, the reset is good for russia, good for the united states. medvedev fought those things. but we also assessed at the time, including the intelligence community -- i should not talk about that, but as a government we assessed at the time there should not be a lot of change because putin has always been the key decision-maker, the big dog, the guy behind the scenes. that have is just as marion at. what has changed? it might be easier to have more direct interaction with putin by the way. , best the message that various emissaries from russia, including medvedev himself, communicated to us.
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that turn out to be incorrect. for one big reason. blown up and made more important by other actors in russia that i will get to. hewe sat down with putin, had a very different world view from medvedev. they had worked together but man, they were different. we could take a lot of time to talk about it but i won't. there are two things that really struck me in those first initial interactions with putin as he has come back as president. number one, we are the enemy. we are the competitor. remember, he did not go to gw. he went to kgb school. he lied about the world and in that world when you are a young student learning about the president -- the world, that is the way it is framed. he did not change his mind because the soviet union
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collapsed. that became very apparent in our interactions with him over the next couple of years. within that theory he sees the world mostly in zero-sum terms. not always. when he sees a good deal. exxon mobil, that's a good deal. if it is plus 2 for america it is minus 2 for russia. he has a very particular theory about american foreign-policy. overtieves that we use and covert force to overthrow regimes that we don't like. by the way, there was a lot of empirical data to support the hypothesis about american foreign-policy over the last 70 years. obama tried to convince him he was different. that first photo i showed you under having breakfast, putin went on for 20 minutes about how stupid the iraq war was.
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lots of detail. the president who is a much more patient man i am just listened. he was listening to this tirade. at the end he said, you are right. i agree. i was against that war long before it happened. and it was jarring for putin. he does not think of us -- you think of us as a unitary actor with one foreign policy. cia and the military-industrial complex really defines our foreign-policy. president's comment go but those of the guys driving things. that is really popular right now as they see the drama happening with president trump in their interpretation. we walked out to the car and i could tell this guy most certainly looked different than any other president, maybe he will be different. he has an open mind about it. those of the kind of course him since he had about america for a long time. assumptions he had about
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america for a long time. and then it was egypt, and libya, syria, and in russia. all in one year. giant demonstrations against autocratic regimes. still at this time peaceful by the way. confirmed photos putin's hypothesis about us. we were behind all of that in his view. we were supporting the revolutionaries in all these places. earlier maybe he had an open mind about obama being different. 2011 convinced him we were not different at all, particularly libya was an important juncture. we got medvedev to support us on that. i was in the meeting when he said you are right about libya and we are going to abstain. that was a meeting with just one other -- that was a small meeting because he did not want other people in the government to hear it.
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two days later he was criticized by putin on the record for the first time. this confirmed his old theory about the united states. especially this event. let me explain a little bit about this for people that don't know. and between the presidential -- esc was going to run for president. there was a parliamentary election in 2011. kind of falsified a normal rates. 5, 7. i remember us meeting and thinking that was normal for russia, no big deal. we have seen this before. something'se around happened ever different. one, there have been economic growth and the rise of the middle class that wanted more than just the deal putin had given them before. you shut up and i will make you rich is the old deal. number two, they had technology. smartphones, twitter, facebook.
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people started the capture the falsification, record it in spin it around the innocent. first 50 people came and then 5000 and than 500,000 people came. hundreds of thousands of people came, including this demonstration. reaction was he was pissed, really upset of these people. i was at a meeting where he just went off. i may be people rich. they would have nothing without me and now they have turned against me. visibly upset they had betrayed him. his next reaction was fear. these moments are dangerous for autocrats, like those last slides i just showed. the last time you had demonstrations like this in his country was 20 years earlier, the year the soviet union collapsed. that was on his mind. by the way, i am there.
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you can see me. putin most certainly knows i was there. in aat is when he pivoted different direction. first to call the people traders, to say they were not -- traitors to say they were are puppets. this became his new argument for legitimation of the election and that the legitimacy of his regime. that is exactly when i parachuted in the moscow to become the new u.s. ambassador. this is happening. we are doing all these evil things. we're supporting opposition folks in his election. then i show up and it becomes not only the united states, barack obama, but me personally, michael mcfaul. since, by obama because i'm in a thread on revolutions, to
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overthrow the putin regime. that was on the nightly news. moscow as aht in u.s. ambassador, i had not even gotten my credentials yet. we were wondering around the house. we live in this museum now. the first day out there that is what mcfaul's mission is. project, iat is my sent somebody to yale. this became my life. here i am, this is a poster -- a calendar they put out in english and russian. all the different months for different opposition leaders. for those of you who know, may 6, 2012, a pivotal point because that's when there was violence with demonstrators and people got arrested. these were posters put up all over moscow.
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if you can't read that, it says "the political circus is coming to town. may 6. in the arena." you can't see me but i'm up there between nevalni and yashan. i and listed as the political director of the circus. campaigning as he runs for mayor. i am not campaigning for navalni. that is photoshop. i wish my hands are that big. i could play basketball better. -- and give you a flavor, if we can play a little bit of this clip see you get a sense, or maybe we can't. >>[speaking russian] mr. mcfaul: he is saying i'm
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being recalled his abbasid or because they failed to overthrow putin. it was a giant celebration for the opposition. you are coming to help them overthrow putin. you will be here. you support the liberals. they are coming for their instructions. my entourage, my posse. you get the idea, right? so, and that is take it one step runs a, he is -- he leading news show on sunday nights on channel 1. -- this is aying shot from the video of it. he says at first glance you might not think the leader of isis and barack hussein obama
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have much in common ideologically, but in fact they have exactly the same ideological view of the world. he lists the right there. so, that to me is whether confrontation happened. is because he needed this enemy. he needed to turn against us. we of course try to keep cooperating during this period but that to me was the real drama. i want to say two things. out, i have tons of time. -- oh, i have tons of time. let me say two or three things in closing. one, i don't think this is inevitable. i think a different leader would've changed trajectory. here is dmitry medvedev meeting with the opposition. he was trying to pack a different way forward putin when came in and nixed that. second, even during this period
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of confrontation that started in 2012, the reset ended in 2012, but in different places we found ways to cooperate. that is something to remember when you think about the new administration. you can walk and chew gum at the same time, and during that period we got some big things done including the syria chemical weapons deal when all the other noise was happening. then there was the last straw. have you noticed a pattern. giant demonstrations, people we don't control sitting in washington where the kremlin, crazy ukrainians who think they belong in the european union. likely were not controlling them but they have a vote. that voted with their feet when ovicha coverage -- yanak decided not to sign the agreement. himvice president called several times to try to defuse this crisis. working with the regime and the
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opposition. we thought we had a deal in february 21. i was in ukraine, sochi with bill burns are deputy secretary there to close out the x. anakovich left y and we were confused. we did not understand what he meant -- why he went. putin was not confused. this is the americans again. the cia again. they doublecrossed us another throwin -- overthrowing a leader right on my border. a guy i support. that is what he struck back. in my view, that is what he went into crimea. double downasy you andrew witty continues to do in eastern ukraine. then we will come to this in questions. decided to go on the offensive around the world, not just play
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defense. including attacking the sovereignty and integrity of our elections. there is a good news bad news and i will end on this. baby we will do the trump stuff as we talk. i don't think he has a master designed to re-create the soviet union. i don't see the evidence for it because the plan changed over time. i think it was a tactical, emotional response in real time. dawnhere not been -- by there would've been note annexation of crimea. there is no historical cause or because of the balance of power in the international system, we are destined to have conflict with russia. -- not ais an after structural story this is different actors in different places, we would about a different trajectory. the bad news is putin is not changing his mind. he will not change it at all
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while in power. he will be in power legally until 2024. the guy works out to her three hours a day. he is in great shape. my prediction is we will be in time,eriod for a long except for the one wildcard. donald trump. know, you have followed the story were closely than i do the wild enthusiasm for donald trump in moscow, have a seven to the last couple of weeks. because donald trump has said some thingsthat are in russia's national interest. we should recognize crimea. we would like to live sanctions. he said i'm not sure about this nato thing. these are things of course that mr. putin would want to see happen. the enthusiasm for trump was real in moscow. i think mr. trump's enthusiasm
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for this reset 2.0 israel, that we will -- is real, hope we will talk about that. he seems genuine when he talks about it. moreover, the central conflict has faded. 2012,ed back to 2011 and which is when all these revolutions against regimes ever creating all the anxiety. that is over. the arab spring is over. the opposition in russia is constrained. the ukraine. the biggest conflict as ukrainian democracy, but it is not a front and center burner in terms of conflict with russia. trump's worldview in the absence of these other things gets a chance, but i am not optimistic. i will end with this. i think the agenda for cooperation is pretty small. back in 2009 we had a big agenda. a lot of that is off the table now.
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iran is off the table. wto is off the table. the you peel it back, things the trump administration is seeking to talk about, i think they are very narrow and i think they are naive in thinking that was somehow peel putin away in some kind china of grand judeo-christian alliance. they may dream about that that's not what putin is dreaming about. putin does need an enemy. to pivot and say we will forget about we were fighting the nazis yesterday and a partner with the nazis, that's a hard thing to do. he has nationalist critics at home. this is your expertise more than i, but it feels more like as the team is getting filled out you have people that have different view than the president of the had a deal with russia. i think we are probably going to see dramatic clashes between the
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bannon folks on the rest on what to do with russia. saying as these investigations continue to surface, including page 1 news today, that raises the political cost of trump to make this major pivot to russia. . am not optimistic we should keep watching because the last thing i said is the one wildcard in all of it is our new president. i don't know what he really believes. i don't think he really knows that he believes about places like russia, but he is demonstrating a willingness and intention to sometimes do rather out-of-the-box, dramatic things. my guess is there will be a lot of drama to calm with a russian elections. thank you very much. you have been very patient. [applause]
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>> wow. that was quite a tour de force. on yoursk you to put former ambassador and analyst hat. i will put on my former journalist hat. mr. mcfaul: ok. >> let's deal with today's news. about -- ist of all he the person that then senator sessions could meet and not remember having met? [laughter] mr. mcfaul: no. surrogat -- sergiei. i worked closely with him at the white house. i saw him often. tedious with four blocks up. we were doing a lot of business. i think he is somebody they can
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to the obama white house 22 times. that is because we were doing a lot of business. i have been to his house. dasha.been to his it's a mansion, by the way. we went out there one afternoon to celebrate start and he through this fantastic party. for all of us involved in getting the start treatment done. he's a serious guy. he is not just going to show up and talk to a senator about the capital. that is not his style. it is hard for me to imagine meeting him and forgetting about him at all, but especially at a moment when the story of russian hacking -- i don't like the word hacking. i like theft. hacking makes it sound too great schooly. grade school-
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y. not only does he remember him, he were members the concept of a conversation. we might be on that. it's normal to meet with russians. i do it all the time. i used to do it more often when i could travel there. what is weird about these otories with general flynn to is the cover-up. i honestly don't understand why. i'm out of my area of expertise. >> once you know how the russians operate, how explicit what they have been in discussions with trump and the gentleman you mentioned -- i'm talking about discussions happening while the campaign was going on. how explicit with a have been about a conversation about what we are going to do, what you are going to do and coordinate the actions. is it possible or would you rule it out because is not the way the russians think and talk?
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mr. mcfaul: with respect to coordination about the campaign, that is the number one question. that is the watergate moment and when ever think it's really serious. up to this point there is not especially on the record a former -- the data is just not there. the evidence is not there. that's why i'm so passionate about the need for a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate that because that is the only way we will turn leakers into witnesses. if we don't do that, we will never know the story. but what i can say about previous interaction with whyomats, of course that is he's meeting with senator sessions. not to talk about what his committee is doing. he could care less about that. he is talking to them to find out about what the candidate trump is thinking and planning
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about foreign policy. that is obvious. if he wasn't doing that, he would not be doing his job. 's job was to write a cable back to moscow to tell him what he thinks might be the new policy of the new trump administration. let's be clear. during this period the record is overwhelming, including things president putin himself said, that they prefer trump. you don't need a phd in russian studies to figure that out. if trump says i will look into recognizing crimea and the other candidate says we will never recognize crimea and we will be tough on russia, yesterday prefer. -- guess who they prefer. i'm guessing there was prodding and trying to find out with greater fidelity weather might be -- what there might be in a new trump administration. we now know that senator
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sessions begin the attorney general. back then he was being considered for lots of jobs, including secretary of state. david: this conversation about russia and america is so timely, right down to the minute timely. i can't help -- my favorite magazine is the new yorker. have you seen the cover? looks who was on it. the name "the new yorker" is in cyrillic. with a monocle of disapproval, president putin is looking at an insect, at our current president, mr. trump up here. after allle suggests that is happening in the last few weeks and the departure of flynn and the drama about sessions, possible investigations might go beyond the intelligence committees. if being called for.
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even democrats calling for mr. sessions to resign. i'm sure he won't at this stage, maybe never. we have a lot of smoke in the air. the article says, suggests that " trump my conclude he don't look or has the political latitude to end sanctions against moscow and accommodate russia's geopolitical ambitions." for someone who looked at this relationship for his long as you have, the you think that is possibly true? there is feel that plenty of latitude for a new president to do deals with russia? mr. mcfaul: there was a lot less latitude for sure. the costs domestically of doing the breakthrough things he promised during the campaign have gone up a lot higher because of this stuff. number two, i mentioned briefly but let me spend a few more minutes on it. as he is now begun to fill out his team, he has a long way to
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go, but it is clear there is not instances about how to deal with russia. he was of theis, hoover institution the last three years before taking on this assignment. i want him to speak for himself on the record at an appropriate time, but i used to speak with him quite a bit about these issues. he does not strike me as somebody who has a romantic vision about this alliance that others like mr. bannon talked about. h.r. mcmaster from hoover, he has been with us. he came in 2001. he was supposed to speak at my institute next week. that just got canceled this morning. the topic he was coming to talk about, because i have been interacting with him and his team on it a bit, was outdated terror russia in europe -- was how to deter russia in europe.
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not the same that you heard from candidate trump. i think it's been more constraints. sobiggest criticism of trump far in the way he talks about russia policy, and i would say that more generally, is he mixes up objectives and means. he says at least two dozen times, wouldn't it be nice if we could get along with russia? as if that is the goal of u.s. foreign-policy, to get along with russia. i don't believe it should ever be the goal of u.s. foreign policy to get along with anyone. ally or not. that is not the goal. the goal is, from when i was in government, a new start treatment. sanctions on iran. the goal is building ndn. getting russia into the wto to lead to greater trade investment results for america.
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that goals are things that are in our security interests and our economic interests. and the means are things like getting along, or engagement. sometimes they need to be containment. sometimes they should be isolationist things. other times it should be a basket of it casement. i think he has that makes up. putin does not have it mixed up. if the goal of donald trump is let's get along, i want my ratings and russia to go up, putin will say i have a great deal for you. i have a great deal, donald. sanctions,ft endorse my war in syria, you will talk about spheres of influence, and his dream of dreams, you'll recognize crimea as part of russia. if you do all that, i will throw you a great dinner at the kremlin and we will be friends
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and i will say nice things about you. that is a bad deal for america's national interests. gradually i think it will get around to it, right now he has that. david: is there anything putin can get the united states that we want that would be worth doing some kind of a trade of interests? perhaps not exactly as you described but some kind of deal? mr. mcfaul: i wrote a piece for a russian radio station. i have a new column there. for the russian speakers you can read what i think about this. they asked me that a couple of weeks ago. i set a couple of things, short-term and long-term. in the short term, i do want to generalize but when i came into the government, there was the attitudes like we have done nothing wrong, we have nothing to change. we are just waiting for the americans to bring us our gifts.
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this is tense given that the russians helped us to win. they expected a payoff for the work they did in 2016. them said -- i advised because it was a lot of worrying that this was slipping away. just like i hinted about the intelligence community, putin banks to have a big role in foreign policy. most certainly one of the popular theories in moscow is that they are the ones constraining trump. flynn got fired because of them. the cold war years at the pentagon and the intelligence community. that is their theory. i said since you want to change the dynamic, one up with the ban on adoptions. when i was u.s. ambassador, putin's response to the law banned adoptions from american parents. he knew he would not have to go to the un security council to do that. he could do that in a heartbeat.
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i think it had a positive residence in term -- residents in terms of creating space for people like trump to say putin is not that bad. i think the overlap of mutual interests is smaller today than it was before. david: but is it in the area of fighting isis? mr. mcfaul: that is not an original idea. we have had a counterterrorism working group for the entire time i was in the u.s. government. and from time to time i want to be clear that we did do some sharing of intelligence that was to the benefit of both of our countries. we did that. , our main concern at the olympics -- maybe it should of been about doping, but it wasn't at the time.
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the main concern was about security. we opened up a temporary satellite office of over 100 people, most of whom concerned about terrorism. we wanted to protect our people at that site. we had good cooperation with the russians. the problem in the larger -- my friends at the pentagon will tell you, the problem with fighting isis together in syria, there are a number of problems. one, we are already fighting isis. is called operation inherent resolve. you can google it after you leave here and see what we are doing. we have a strategy. will now secretary mattis make it more muscular because he has been assigned to do it. it is not obvious to people that russia's involvement would enhance the mission. in fact, it could come get the mission. number two, one of the complications is about intelligence.
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we don't share the same definition of who is a terrorist with the russians. to share information about targeting with them, that suddenly becomes they will be targeting people that maybe we think should not be targeted. number three, i'm not convinced vladimir putin wants to fight isis. he is there. he has achieved that. tragically, in my view. in my book the chapter are most critical of the obama administration about, andy personally, is -- and me personally, is what we did on syria. and the short term he has achieved his objectives. all the while allowing us to fight isis. that's a pretty good deal for him. i have one more question so you think about your questions. my question is this. do you think putin is brilliant for a fool? we have syria, ukraine,
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interference in the u.s. elections. david: he says with seven cameras looking at him. david: welcome to george washington university. [laughter] i would land somewhere in between those two extremes. president putin is a very smart guy. he is not a fool. him in the spring of 1991. is telik we are best buddies or penpals, but i have known him for a long time. i have observed him, written about him for a long time. and then of course for five years in the government i dealt with him in pretty small circles up close. i would not call him a fool. day,ss at the end of the and this is a good place to pin it, -- pivot, i just don't believe in his definition of
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russia's national interest. that is where we clash. i went russia to be strong. i want russia to be rich. i am not afraid of those things. i part ways with some of my former colleagues in the government saying those things. president obama said those two things -- i'm paraphrasing so go look it up. he gave a really great speech, and underappreciated speech. when i had to write. it was a very different kind of speech. it is not a speech about we want to get along with you, russia, and we love you. i really love russians. let's just hold hands and saying. it says, here is what we are trying to do in the world. five objectives. at the end of each one of them whyays, i don't understand
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this should not be a russian objective as well. that is the coda to each one. my complaint or argument with putin is that i think russia could be a great country. russia could be a democratic country with thriving capitalist markets moving in the west and russia could be a great power in the international system. i don't believe the strategy he is choosing is realizing that objective. and that is where i think he's insecure about the other things. he fears democracy because he fears control. i think he flirted with some of those other things i just said maybe 15 years ago. immigration at a good, the markets might be good, but now he is in this defensive, anti-western posture. i think in the long run but does not serve russians interests. i don't think in the long run that strategy -- history proves
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the strategy can work for a short-term but it is not a winner for the long-term. it is time for you to ask questions. david: there was a microphone in the middle aisle. lineup and the munich as usual washington -- and let me make those usual washington caveats. we are asking for questions, not speeches. please say who you are if you have an affiliation and ask a question to the ambassador. >> good morning. i cannot say thank you for the lecture, but i have to thank the americans. i'm originally from poland. i have two questions. you mentioned something powerful in this lecture regarding autocrats. what is the difference between autocrats and deletes? number two question would be you
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mentioned something powerful .bout -- i can relate to putin failure andomatic western policy is also failure. when the western nations interfere with independent countries and tell them what to do, how to do, if they don't do it, they are punished for it. putin is very smart. vcs that division because western civilization, they are the problem. relate to me, what is the real the tradition of diplomacy? diplomacy is make enemies that friend. mr. mcfaul: those were three questions. on the third one, i disagree with you. i think the job of a diplomat is to execute the forward policy of the country he serves in, that
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he or she represents. i invoked my neighbor, george schultz. when he was secretary of state, ambassadors would come in and he had his big globe. he was a go point two your country. -- to your country. i have heard him tell this anecdote many times by now. most new investors would go in point and say i'm going to poland, or i am going to argentina, or serve in south africa. georgia would spend the globe backwards and say no, that is not your country. your country is the united states of america. you are going there to represent us, not to be friends with them. that is a dramatic way of saying part of being a good diplomat is to develop relationships. i think most people in this room would be surprised at that kind
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of relationships i had with very senior government officials, some of whom i've known for 25 years. as thisd of cartoonized kata hangs out with -- i never had one meeting with him as ambassador. not one. never. i never met him. we ran into him at a moscow times celebration, 20th anniversary. 500 cameras finally got the photo op two of us together. relations and i most certainly did. relationshipsful at a high level. but it was never to be their friend. it was to advance what we were trying to do. your middle question was about poland. i would say here, i'm not an expert on poland. i have lived there a long time ago but i'm not been following lythere was this moment in euroe
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in which poland is part of that drama of the rise of populism, the rise of illiberal democracies. some of those people, not all of them, recognize putin as the leader of this. the brexit folks, trump, this seems to be a global thing. i would just say two things. one, that's an important question to study. i am not prepared to say populism in every country has the same origins. may be some do and some don't. i'm also not sure that putinism is the same as these other things. i think it's an oversimplification. i would also say there is populist nationalists who think putin is the enemy inside russia. he has got to manage that.
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it is a phenomenon that is happening that i think should get more attention? my answer is yes. autocrats versus leaders? word, and i'm putting on my political science at. buy my book. i have written a whole chapter about that, about how to define democracy. democracy is just a system of government where competitive , where the outcome of the election istain. that is basically the definition of democracy in short form. a famous polish-american, that his definition. autocracy is the opposite. there might be a whole extranet but not today. elet -- i don't have it answer on elites. of rt said,gline
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question more. you say that the russians' stance is mostly because of national domestic issues that he is responding to. i contend that the u.s. public opinion regarding russia is the same. to give full disclosure, i was a bernie sanders delegate. we were very, very, very upset at what happened with the democratic primary. we thought there was a lot of interference with clinton, the dnc, etc. one that came out and it was exposed, wikileaks expose it. mr. mcfaul: russia exposed it, let's be clear. intelligence sources, the former technical director for
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the nsa, say that is not conclusive. 17 united states intelligence agencies, said it is. >> i have read the report, and the top of the report as the disclaimer saying we don't stand by anything in this report. mr. mcfaul: what is your question? >> many americans i know never thought about russia throughout the day. year they never thought about russia except for maybe vodka. all of a sudden many americans are against russia. it seems to me the pivot point for that was this, in my opinion, it was a red herring thrown out by the democratic party to take the onus off of what they actually did and put it on a foreign power to get americans to focus their. ire there.eir mr. mcfaul: i disagree.
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first of all, i want to underscore that american public opinion about russia is not a constant since the cold war to today. it goes up and down. the spike in anti-russian feeling among the american well beforepened wikileaks. the data shows that. it happened as of what russia did in the ukraine. the clinton campaign was trying to talk about that, taking that would be important. it turned out that was not important enough to drive buzz. the data is pretty clear. that happened well before wikileaks. number two, i have had many interactions with her mate including members of my own family. bernie supporters,
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including members of my own family. the argument that you are upset about what you saw happen in the dnc, i take your point. i'm not as upset. in the longer political conversation without cameras on, i can tell you what i think there was much more ado about something i thought was smaller and especially from a candidate who only joined the party a year before. that is a partisan political thing. i will need to be outraged that russia violated the sovereignty of your electoral choices. what really upset me was many bernie supporters, not senator sanders himself, who was crystal clear on this issue. they said, i don't care what the sources. it is the facts that matter. that is really dangerous for the american republic. that means you don't care that the russians stole evidence.
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they stole private property and then used it to influence the way that people voted, including bernie supporters. why did secretary clinton was? there are lots of reasons. one reason was depressed voting outcomes. people who voted for obama did not come vote for her. i am not an expert on this. i have friends who are. the data is pretty clear. they did not get the turnout from millennials, the very people that were upset about in wikileaks. that is not having an effect on our elections? i cannot believe we are so lackadaisical about this. we don't really care about where this came from, but now i know the truth. that is really dangerous. one, i disagree. i have read the reports. i think the evidence is
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absolutely overwhelming that it was the russians. i don't think there is any doubt about it. crowd public group, strike is the name, the private company that did the forensics is crystal clear. the russians don't go out of their way too much to deny it these days. if it was so outrageous, you would think they would be talking about it. they don't. i think it is very clear that this was a russian operation. , i want athing i know big cyber initiative at stanford. i didn't cyber issues as you can imagine i worked on the russia account. you have only seen the tip of the iceberg of what russia can do, what china can do, what the iranians can do. we are sleepwalking when it comes to cyber security because we just don't -- i'm not quite
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sure why, but you can see i get animated about it. what they did here was really easy. literally what high school kids can do. we are not debating it. we are not talking about. 2018 is coming. 2020 is coming. actorse proliferation of technology getting better, we as a nation don't seem to care that the sovereignty of our electoral process is violated. i wish more americans would get upset about that. i take the point about what the dnc people said about bernie. they should not have said that. i take that. he himself is called upon supporters to be more upset about this violation of our sovereignty. i want you want to be as well. we have not solved it. [applause] mr. ensor: in. >> good morning. thank you so much. great forctive and
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television. -- interactive and great for television. [laughter] state department correspondent. mr. mcfaul: when i lecture at stanford, journalists don't show up. have 46 questions from 46 languages that we have. me mcfaul: ask one and tweet the rest. >> first of all you mentioned the russian ambassador is a serious person. how do you categorize and as a as a diplomatm and his ability to collect intelligence? do you think president trump of meetingspproved by members of his team with
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high-level russian contacts? if so, why do you think he is denying you know about them? thank you so much. mr. mcfaul: with respect to your first question, i think the ambassador is a very successful ambassador. i think he is underrated. style.a different he has a different set of objectives than other ambassadors. why isn't he showing up more at the party for international peace or that, but i am impressed by him. when i was in the government, sometimes he would drive me nuts because he was so active in developing relationships with individuals across our government. we were not disciplined enough sometimes in our talking points to be correlated -- coordinated
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about what we were telling him. when we were doing the start treaty, highly difficult negotiation controlled and specific channels. i was part of that team. there would be some other person in some other part of the government who would get an invitation to have lunch, and by the way he has a fantastic chef. i highly recommend it. we cannot have 25 people speaking to the russian government. we need to control that. that is his job. that is my point. i was impressed that he was doing his job in such a successful way with the trump campaign. we should admire that. what i don't understand is that on the other side. your second question. as i mentioned before, i was in the obama campaign. i was at our convention in denver. i met with some russians there, by the way, i remember.
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for delegations come to these -- four and delegations -- foreign delegations come to these conventions. they were members of parliament, i think. i am struck by how many meetings and how senior people, we now know jared kushner, general flynn multiple times. i am wondering, i don't pretend i know why, but you should be focused on winning the election and getting your team together during the transition and hiring some people. that is something you should think about during the transition. that just seems different than my experience. after president-elect obama began the transition and moved to chicago, we had a very strict rule of one president at a time.
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in between, there was a g 20 summit. lots of leaders came to washington, and we said nobody gets to come to chicago. we don't want to talk to you guys. andt what mr. trump knew what he did, i don't know. i think the american people deserve to know. that is why we need this independent investigation, the commission. i personally don't. mr. ensor: next question. >> retired foreign service officer. mr. mcfaul: thank you for your service. >> your kind. -- you are kind. i hope you can help me. i keep trying to find a narrative that makes sense in terms of our interests or other interests as to why , pro-russianputin
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posture that has been evident, but i don't understand it. do you have a narrative or point of view on what it is? mr. mcfaul: it is a great question. i am sorry to disappoint you. i don't have a great answer. i have an answer. putin's views are much easier for me to understand given the things i said earlier. that rather odd to me candidate trump, president-elect trump, and now president trump continues to say these things that are at odds with his own party. there is a must nobody in his party that space the way he does about mr. putin. applied, no electoral if you go back to the election,
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to say those kinds of things. i know more about foreign policy than american electoral politics. i want to underline that it is mysterious to me as well. what do i see? i do think he has a pretty simple notion that i should engage with leaders and get along, and that will be good for america. i think he believes that. i think he believes that irrespective of all these conflicts we were talking about, his business ventures, what he may or may not have done when he was at the miss universe pageant. i think he just believes those things. those are his beliefs. number two, i think he admires this kind of blunt speaking style that putin has. he said that. i take him at his word.
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number three, most certainly some of his advisers, and mr. bannon in particular have developed a theory about the international system that would lead you to want to cultivate better relations with russia. it is a theory that says we are being threatened by islam and by thechinese, and therefore judeo-christian countries of the world, the judeo-christian peoples of the world need to get together to defend ourselves against these threats. that is, you can read about that at breitbart. it is a theory of the world that most certainly has ideological fellow travelers inside russia. of the world.ts they had been thinking and talking about that for a long time.
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putin flirts with it. views a more sophisticated of that. he is somewhat threatened by that. he also doesn't want to damage relations with iran and china, which these groups see as enemies. if he is sitting around with his advisers and they are talking in that way, that would mean maybe another part of the exhibition. >> thank you. mr. ensor: i think we have time for two or three more, depends on how long the answers go. tell us who you are and your question. >> from the kaine institute. i want you to expand more on the invasion of georgia. how does this not indicate an intention for expansionism previous 22013? 2013?vious to mr. mcfaul: that is a hard question.
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, and it is that and it is a complex issue. i have a chapter in my book about it. i would say a couple of things. one, there is this technique we use in political science, the counterfactual. if certain factors were not there, would you have had the same outcome? there was most certainly a a product of -- prodding of the government well before 2008 and revelation well before 2008. that would support your hypothesis. in real time, i was working on the campaign, we actually put out a statement about it in august of 2008.
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i'm sure the mccain campaign did as well now that i think about it. i was just with senator mccain in munich sitting around with colleagues of mine who worked on that campaign. we were talking about this. there was a nervousness about that. it would not have happened, in president nothe taken the action that he did with the military. it was a trap set for him. it was a trap. i know the bush administration was trying to work with them to prevent that, but had that not happened, you would not have had what happened. i would just say they had not yet annexed that territory. maybe they will. i think more generally, to get no the bigger question, puti understands it is too costly to re-create the soviet union. i think he took the gamble with
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this project. he figured out it was too costly, mostly because the ukrainians fought. they do not get enough credit for that. they did. that proved too costly. realized they were not going to be able to hold that border and backed away from that. he is comfortable with ambiguity about borders and outcomes. this was something i noticed when i was in the u.s. government that was an insight for me. americans, we're kind of like engineers. if there is a problem, we need to fix it. that is our process. think about john kerry. world, our job is to go fix the problem. we need to go solve it. we need to get the bugs out of it. putin is very comfortable about
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solving problems. he thinks of keeping those problems open as creating opportunities for him in the future. is how he thinks about all of those frozen and unfrozen conflicts. he is comfortable with heavy-duty. mr. ensor: i'm going to take the prerogative. the next three questions, one of you ask your questions, and then you can answer whatever bits you can offer any value on. mr. mcfaul: i will answer the easiest ones. >> voice of america. i am georgian. i have to follow-up because my question is something else. are you saying that georgia was the one who started the war in that case? mr. mcfaul: i want to interrupt you right now. that is exactly what happens when we sit down.
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i was just with a bunch of georgians last week in munich. i did not say that. i set a trap was set. >> my question is, if you take georgia or ukraine and the u.s. policy towards russia, do you think recognizing georgia and ukraine and will dubya -- integralre i parts of europe, do you think the u.s. as have consistent policies towards them? i think there is confusion on the u.s. side. thank you. we all know the relationship between the russian federation and the u.s. depends on the relationship between the u.s. and the russian federation. what recommendation would you give to that in foreign
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n foreigners -- latvia policymakers given the nature of foreign troops close to the border with russia? thank you. mr. mcfaul: really simple questions here. [laughter] >> i am a senior studying international affairs. mr. mcfaul: fantastic. >> i am about hybrid warfare in the post-soviet state. there is this question how we should combat russian propaganda and the spread of this information. ?ow should we combat that mr. mcfaul: all great questions. we don't have time to give great answers. i will be brief. on your question. with respect to the history of georgia, there is a fantastic book by my former colleague.
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that is the best account. if you are interested in what happened and when it happened, i think ron has the definitive account. i would encourage you to read that is stored -- historical account. with regards to russia and national interests, i am not prepared to give russia this had fantastic foreign policy. i think there has been variation over time. what forcenship of yeltsin was doing versus put in are rather different. think now that we know the outcome, this happens a lot. as i write my own account of this, i try to guard against this. i like to use a sports analogy. i like sports. i love stanford sports.
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last weekend, i am sorry to bore you with that, local trivia, but we played one of the best teams in the country, oregon. with sevenn two seconds left. we threw the ball in, and he fumbled the ball, and we lost. after we lost, as we were walking out, all of these including -- i, should not name people, but people you would think would not be so obsessed with basketball. they are all accessing. guard was so point awful, he threw the ball away seven times. this is one example. if our guide turned around and made the shot, and we won, nobody would have remembered those seven turnovers. that would not have been part of the explanation for the win.
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would have talked about the heroic efforts of the people who scored. just because we are in this moment of confrontation, we line-up everything that happened over the last 30 years, and it was all inevitable because putin is a genius or the russians are the way they are, or because the democrats, whether they are georgian or ukrainian or russian democrats are idiots. people thation there is way more variation, way more contingency in this story. it could have been a lot different. with respect to the baltic states, i would just say, invite my colleague foreign president lvis toer president i
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speak next year. he will answer that question much better than i could. is ank being in nato important thing. that is not a trivial fact for vladimir putin. i am less worried about what he will do in the baltic states that i am about those states that are not in nato. think it is a high probability we will see drama between russia and those states, at least in the honeymoon. when he is trying to secure other things from his colleague and what has. this information, my answer is yes, of course. one of my colleagues at stanford, he wrote a famous article and book that is usually cartoonized, and i am about to
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do that now. i apologize. there is a lot more to the argument. when you and i were in moscow together, i remember the day when we celebrated the end of the cold war and the victory of liberty, freedom. it was inevitable that these ideas were going to take hold. there was no other alternative i get. other countries were going to take more time, but it did feel like a moment like that. obviously, today it does not feel like a moment like that. i think we took for granted and did not invest, if i look at things i wrote and did, we just assumed democracy, best system of government. horrible system of government except all the others. eventually everyone would learn that fact.
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we did not help them learn that fact. we did not do enough to propagate ideas about democracy. markets have some self-interested reasons for people to learn about them. it is hard to take a class in moscow today about the magnetic field. there are some. -- about democratic theory. there are some. i think we as a country, as a government, i hope the administration, and as universities, including my university engage in that debate in a much more serious way. i don't think we are engaged in that intellectual debate. mechanisms, the snapchat.is probably those platforms, we need to think more seriously about. mr. ensor: voa is on snapchat.
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mr. mcfaul: i am glad to hear that. we don't have time to think about the restructuring of the u.s. government, but it think we need to start first with the ideas. i think we are playing defense right now. collectively, including, this is not just a job for the trump administration. i'm not sure they are going to be involved in it. he does not talk about these things. if you are waiting for them to do it, you will be waiting a long time. why are you sitting on your hands? if you believe in these things, you can be on, literally, you can get on twitter right now and say something about these things and be part of that conversation. i hope, and this is a great place i want to end. i am a huge optimist about russia. i am a huge optimist. i have met too many people over the course of my lifetime in russia, especially when i was ambassador, more your age than
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mine, that at the end of the day want to live normal lives. they want to have normal stuff. it is not some brilliant, nor do we have any trademark on the idea that leaders should be accountable to their people. that is a pretty universal idea. people should be able to travel freely. they should not have to pay a bribe to open a company. modernizations of that have not died in russia. they are dormant. all those people i showed you in those photos, do you think those people have forgotten those ideas? they have not. it is not rational to express them right now. i understand perfectly. meeting i had soon after may 6, 2012. i was at an internet company. i will not name it. i asked people how many people
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have been at the may 6 demonstration. raised their hand. i asked how many plan to go again. one person raised their hand. a very young man. i turned to someone else, and i asked why aren't you planning to go? she said to me, i am the bread winner in our family. i have two kids. i cannot afford to be arrested. that does not mean she changed her preferences. , i think these ideas are powerful. i don't think we are at the end of liberalism. the death of america, the death of democracy. we heard that in the 1950's and 1970's. i have great faith in the renewal of our democratic institutions and likewise abroad. we have to invest in them. it does not happen inevitably. we have to be invested in trying to nurture them. mr. ensor: wonderful. thank you. thank you very much. [applause]
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mr. ensor: thank you, ambassador. on behalf of the institute of public diplomacy, global communications, and the atlantic council, thank you all for coming to this fascinating presentation with ambassador mcfaul at george washington university. thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
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>> part of the conversation this morning was about attorney general jeff sessions'
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announcement that he will remove himself from the involvement of any investigation into the 2016 presidential race. capitol hill lawmakers are tweeting. commerce meant mike rogers of alabama sent a message, jeff sessions is a man with the highest integrity. connollygerry addressed the investigation going for it. overdue, hearing must address russian interference in the u.s. election and trump administration's ever-expanding ties to russia." pelosi, our top law enforcement officials should not be exempt. we will have an interview she did this morning with politico where the minority leader commented on attorney general jeff sessions in about 10 minutes. we want to show you the announcement yesterday

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