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tv   Former Ambassador Michael Mc Faul Discusses State of U.S.- Russia Relations  CSPAN  March 3, 2017 5:18pm-7:18pm EST

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washington journal beginning live at m&a and eastern on saturday morning. join the discussion. in-depth willday, feature a live conversation with was a prize-winning author dave barry. discussion, we will be taking your calls, facebook questions and emails on his literary career. miami and imoved to have been there ever since. it is really a good place if you are going to be a humor writer. excellent place to go. announcer: dave barry has published over 30 books barry'sg " dave greatest hits" and the most recent " best day ever." from an into 3 p.m. eastern on book tv on c-span2. announcer: earlier today, former
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u.s. ambassador of russia aboutl mcfaul spoke current u.s. relations with russia under the trump administration. held at george washington university. this is about two hours. ♪ >> good morning, everyone and welcome to the annual walter roberts lecture which is cosponsored by the institute of public diplomacy and the atlantic council. i'm the director of the institute of public diplomacy. this annual lecture is paid for by the walter r roberts endowment. walter roberts was a pioneer in the field of public diplomacy and he was also a faculty member here at a george washington. we are fortunate to have a several of the board members of the endowment with us today. board chair gary fulton and
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roger roberts's daughter-in-law patricia and i don't know the bill is here. there you are. we are so grateful for your support. mcfaul is a very busy man. you heard it here first. he is a busy man, in fact, we have been trying to get him to come and be our speaker for two years. this effort to begin with my predecessor when he was the director of icdt. in the spirit of you never know when you are having good luck, we are really thankful we got him here today because of this is a perfect time to hear this lecture. interestingly, i hear it on good authority from bruce gregory who is also a huge name in public diplomacy that walter roberts himself wanted ambassador mcfaul to be our speaker. david is going to introduce ambassador mcfaul.
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i want to introduce david who reported for cnn, abc news and national public radio. he is been in moscow, warsaw, rome and washington. also our former walter roberts lecture from last year. lecturerlast year's moderating a discussion with this year's lecturer. if you have suggestions for next year speaker, let us know. let me tell you what the plan is. as you know, we have c-span here and we also are streaming on facebook live said to cut down on comings and goings, ambassador mcfaul is going to speak for about 40 minutes and followed by that there will be a moderate to russian led by david and we believe about 30 minutes for questions from the audience.
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we hope that you will feel free to tweet. mcfaul @ gw. when you point your phone, make sure it is on islands because otherwise you will be on the span. without further do, ambassador mcfaul, thank you so much. i don't know if i should have stayed there or come. anyway, my thanks to janet deal and the institute for public diplomacy and communication for asking me to join our distinguished speaker. i first met michael mcfaul in the early 90's when he and a russian colleagues set of the moscow carnegie center. we watched in the dramatic events as boris yelton killed
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off communism, the first chechen ed, and the events were fascinating for an observer from the west. he was one of the most observers of the moscow seen and we journalists always found him approachable. as another american journalist who was also there is little earlier but in those rough days, dave renick of the new yorker who says moscow at that time was a pageant, here is visible to anyone with a trace of democratic idealism and feeling for the russians. the sense of historical drama was amazing. there was much human tragedy to be seen but reason for hope too. we debated could russia are often autocratic government, wasn't there a real change -- was there a real change?
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as a friend of russia and russians, ambassador make all worked overtime to try to encourage reforms. we didn't think it would be easy or quick, but we thought it might be possible. it was not to be. by the time ambassador mcfaul went to moscow in 2012, his best efforts to improve the relationship were doomed to fail. in the second term of that in your kitchen -- of vladimir putin's presidency, he invaded ukraine. thatsumed wrongly ambassador mcfaul was an intelligence officer, said he was followed, pressured, and badgered. as renick from the "new yorker" took his openhearted activism to be a cover for coming. ambassador mcfaul is no longer welcome in moscow.
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dramatic times we have both watch together. as president obama's top adviser on russia, mike was one of the top pr figures of our nation's relationship with that country. including the famous reset that allow tea collaborations to occur before it had to be abandoned. now at stanford, ambassador mcfaul is professor of political science and senior fellow at the smugly institute for international that he. he is a columnist for the washington post, a commentator for nbc news as recently as the morning and one of the most awful analysts on the -- on ourful analysts complicated relationship with us and the russians. let's look into the podium,
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ambassador mcfaul. thank you, david. on, slides up. i'm shocked this many people are here. i'm very impressed with gw students. part of the reason i delayed in coming was -- the city has an army -- literally hundreds of thousands of people that follow russia. i kept saying, what value did i have? the was ons is- news this morning talking about the ambassador. i don't work with him anymore. rather than talking about what is in the newspapers today,
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which i'm sure david and i will here thought i would come with more academic action. i and my professor. i had all this other titles in the past but i was a professor before and a professor now and will be a professor till the end of my days. i will be buried at stanford university. i want to spend 30 or 40 minutes asking some questions before we hone on into -- i want to start with reminding -- i want to start with reminding you where i see the basic story of u.s.-russian relations. it is one of the most confrontational relations have had including the period of the cold war. most certainly the level of
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confrontation -- you have to go top into the cold war remember a time like we are in today. russia has annexed territory, intervened in the neighborhood, bombed in syria, metal in the u.s. elections, that is a. that is not -- that is new. that did not happen during the cold war. we are at 880% disapproval rating in terms of russian people. and for putin, i don't think this conflict is about some kind of narrow definition of national interest. for him this is an ideological confrontation not about communism versus capitalism, , itunism versus democracy is about the imperial america, those arent west, very ideological terms and he thinks he is angry a ideological
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alternative to the west and the united states. it feels a little bit like a major confrontation not different from the cold war but i would say having -- in terms of the bigness of it, not unlike the cold war. certainly worse than some of the late eras of the cold or. west, wense, we've the the obama administration -- i'm going to get to trump later, don't worry. the response has been pretty big. after russia went into ukraine, in his speech to the united nations, obama said there are three threats in the world, ebola, isis, and russia. in moscow to well be on board with those other entities. when i give this speech other places, i feel more confident.
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u.s. russian of relations, more than 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 a sanctions list. all throughout the cold war that never happened. it has happened today. we have new sanctions after the elections. nato is focused on the russia threats. and it depends on which poll you look at but certainly the majority of americans think that russia is an and in the again. -- russia is an enemy again. and if you are a republican, the data shows those republicans are less worried about the russians than they were two years ago. i think we know what the causality there is. but we're back to that. all of this happened, most of this happened when i was in the u.s. government. putin did not invade ukraine
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when i was a u.s. ambassador. i kept him out. he invaded the day after i left. [laughter] causation correlation. remember? but this trajectory was part of when i was in the government. and i got home in february 2014. and if you have experienced this, you have experienced this david, 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. in fact, i was gone for five years. [laughter] mike what have you been doing? ,ambassador to russia. that is really nice. we are playing notre dame next saturday. that is the most important thing. people were pleasant and polite. but most people do not care about all this stuff that happened. but i had one neighbor very
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early on, my third day back home, that heard i was back in town and he said come on over, i , want to talk about u.s. russian relations. and werehearsed -- rehearsed this list, and by the way a guy named general mattis was at this lunch. and at the end of it they said, mike you screwed this up. "when i was in government we did the exact opposite. when i was in government we started in a confrontational period but we ended with the end of the cold war." my neighbor is george schultz, former secretary of state for ronald reagan. and so as i got on my schwinn c ruiser, i no longer had my black cadillac and bodyguards. the conversation jarred me. what happened?
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happened between the end of the cold war, george's time in government and in the end of my time in government? this photo by the way is in los cabos, mexico, summer 2012. i was there. the meeting was way worse than the photo suggested. so for the next 20 minutes or so, we have a lot of time. -- twoway, gw has to our lectures, so we have a lot of time. i want to answer a simple gym. between those two photos? i want to bounce around between academic theory and my personal experiences. the first explanation i want to talk about is the nature of the international system. the nature of great power of politics.
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i'm going to run a map here that starts around about a thousand years ago. this is a map of europe. and what you see happening here is some countries are acquiring new power. some of the neighbors are becoming weaker. and the borders are changing. this is a theory of international politics. we teach it at stanford appeared -- at stanford. i'm sure you teach it here, structural realism is the way we talk about it. this is basically the way states interact. and therefore what we see with russia today in the west, not surprising at all. this is normal history. we are at 1388. notice crimea, it will take 500 years before crimea becomes part of russia. so here, the theories about power and distribution of power in the international system. not just europe, but the system. which is to say that russia was
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week after the collapse of the soviet union, probably not as weak as we thought it was. but this is just a natural correction. now it is a great power. i think president obama really got under their skin, saying it was a regional power or a local power. but they are a great power in the system and they are behaving like a great power in the system. what is the big deal? in moscow.r theory very popular theory at the university of chicago. part of this is true. anybody from moldova? ok, good. [laughter] actually love moldova. it is a great country. i travel there with the vice president. he got one of the largest crowds ever.
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he loves it as well. nobody is worried about moldova throwing over the national system, annexing territory. i mean no disrespect, but they do not have power and capabilities to do that. so, this story about capabilities as part of the explanation. if russia didn't have power he we would not be concerned with of them. but i do not think that is a sufficient explanation for a couple of reasons. one, i can think of countries that rise in power and don't invade their neighbors. challenge the international order. japan and germany come to mind right away. after world war ii. even poland, they have territorial claims if they wanted to be belligerent with neighbors. but nobody's worried about poland. i will come back to that if you are interested. but revising borders, we are not
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worried about him. even china. i spent a chunk of my last summer in china. and it is an argument, we need to debate it, whether china might do similar things as a rising power to redistribute and challenge the international system. and maybe even annex territory. but i can make an argument for why that would not happen. so in other words, power in and of itself is not the full explanation. you need to add something to the story in order to understand why russia has become billy dread toward the west in this confrontation -- be later and -- belligerent in the west. especially for me right up until , the annexation of crimea, even it was not obvious putin was running in this direction. when i was ambassador, we wrote dozens of memos, cables, but we wrote a bunch of cables about
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something that you probably weren't following. i'm not sure anybody in washington was rating our cables about it -- reading our cables about it. it was called the eurasian economic institute. putin wanted to bring everybody from the former soviet union back together into this economic union. to do so, you needed ukraine to be part of it. all of ukraine. not just crimea. he wanted all ukrainians to be a 45 million part of this union, because those are consumers and those are places for trade and investment. belarus and kazakhstan wasn't enough. that was a central focus of the foreign policy at the time i was an ambassador. i heard a lot about it at the time. anybody buy anything made in russia here? what did you buy? >> vodka. mr. mcfaul: did you buy it here or there?
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both. vodka, that is one. you can buy -- in the park. they are really strong beer. i would not advise it. the point is, there are very few things that russia exports abroad that is made in russia. but in ukraine, ukrainians are consumers that by a lot of things made in russia. so to make this work, you need all of ukraine, not just crimea. so why is it suddenly pivoting the other way, ensuring that ukraine would never join this eurasian economic union as a result of his annexation of crimea and intervention in eastern ukraine. proximate has to be added. i'm a little nervous in this crowd. especially people who speak russian, but i dare you, during
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the question and answer to go and to search and find of the speech that putin made before february 2014, which says it is our natural right and huge disaster that crimea is not a part of russia. we need to unite it. maybe it exists. this crowd will probably find it. most of them do not. because afterwards we hear that, but before it was not really on the agenda. so what happened more approximately the cause that to take place? last thing i will say about this, anybody at the sochi olympics? nobody? i was there, fantastic party. it should be, they paid $50 billion for it. probably was not worth $50 billion. but it was a great event. and right around that time, two things where very striking to me. one is, they released -- from
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jail. and i saw a senior russian official right before, and i asked why now? , his response was we have had iraqi space, we are looking for re-engagement with you guys, so this is a signal to you, the u.s., about perhaps another attempt at making relations better. and number two, the olympics you , can interpret it different ways. but i was really struck by the kind of -- we are the new rush we are not the old soviet russia. that was the message. people in from the charge, people that i knew. and i was really struck by one episode in particular. they would go across the
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stadium, drawings and sketches, 8-10 foot sketches of russian authors 20 or 30 of them. ,think about that, how many countries could pull that off and everybody in the stadium would know who they are. i do not think you could do that in the united states. that was pretty cool. two of them jumped out at me. they were reclaiming those guys as part of russian history. they were not. there were no longer opposite and western. they were part of russia. and then just a few days later putin invades crimea. ,so if the messaging was to be, we will confront the west, the folks that planted the olympics did not get that memo. something else had to happen. like i said, power is part of it, but not the whole part. second theory or second explanation, it is all america's
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fault. this one is also popular in moscow and berkeley. [laughter] mr. mcfaul: but this comes in two varieties. very contradictory varieties. let me walk you through them and tell you why i think they are not a sufficient explanation. were too is that, we demanding of russia and finally vladimir putin had to strike back. we lectured him about markets. we mentioned markets in the 1990's, lecturing them, democracy as you pointed out. then we expanded nato. then we bombed serbia and went into iraq. and he just had to say enough is , enough with this american imperialism. we had to push back on america and that explains why we are in this situation. so it is a reaction to what we did, not what he did. mr. putin. and i want to keep myself
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honest, that during the course of this over the last 30 years, , i was nervous about this reaction. i was nervous that we in the west would not understand that the people inside russia were seeking to join the west and become democratic. and have markets. and we would treat them rather lukewarmly. and then there would be a backlash against it, because it would not work. one of the best pieces i have ever written in my life i published on august 19, 1990. if you know your soviet history, you know the importance of august 19, 1991. one year to the day i published this piece, i should not assume that you know, i was thinking this is the first day of the led to the clash of the soviet union.
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and in the peace, i was comparing the drama of the time, soviet union is still around, gorbachev is still ahead of the -- still the head 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. this is really big. the soviet union is going to collapse, i wrote it a year before them. and there is going to be a revolutionary turmoil that the radicals will come to power and then there will be a thermidor period. that is what i write about. napoleon, stalin, there will be a thermidor period. that is what i think we are in right now with vladimir putin. these other two big revolutions were anti-systemic, but this revolution was pro-systemic. trying to come back into the system and the problem will become a we will not realize it.
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we will notme, realize it. part of it is true. all those things happened. but in between all of that drama i showed you from before, and the current time of confrontation that we are in now, there is a period david alluded to. it is called the reset. i was in the government for that period. it was january 1, 2000 on, my first day working at the white 2009, my i was -- first day working at the white theseand i would look at interactions, i would say we didn't have a lot of interactions. certainly half a dozen people meet with them at the conventions. i will come back to that if you are interested. but after we won the election and got ready to eat our policy
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-- ready to do our policy reviews, and i was in charge of the russian policy review, we sat down with the president-elect. we described the confrontation stuff that i showed you a couple slides ago. and he said, hey man. ok, i forgot the cameras were on. [laughter] he did not say, hey man. i should not say that on the record. he said i don't really get it. do the russians really want iran to get a nuclear weapon? no, mr. president, of course they don't. do they want the taliban to win in afghanistan? no, no. do they want the regime to fall apart? no, they don't. and as he got into the issues concrete issues -- not with all , the baggage of the cold war and not liking somebody in the
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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. and here he is about the call him for the first time. it is his fourth day at the job, my third day on the job. and i usually make a joke right here about his hair, but i will not do that because we are on the record. but i have joked about it. as i walked out -- if you are working the white house, one of the bush administration officials as i walked out, who said, youg for obama are never supposed to touch the desk. word to the wise. that is what i was told. we did this thing called the reset. in my intent -- and in my opinion, i will not go through all of this in detail, but in my
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opinion we got some really big things done. the strategy of engagement. there we are with the president. there we are with the prime minister. that meeting went on for about three hours, this is july 2009, where he got the sense that putin thought differently. we set up an elaborate thing to make everybody engage more, because it had broken down. we engaged with the business community. that is russia's richest and are richest meeting at a summit in , june 2010. we engaged with civil society. the photo on the left is an interesting one. the president was a little late. this is july, 2009. to come to this civil society event. i almost pulled it down, but begged with him to make an appearance. and he shows up and usually when the president shows up people sit down and stand up. but, if you know him, yuri was
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still in the middle of his speech. and russians love to talk. and he was not going to stop his speech, especially because he was about to get to guantanamo. [laughter] mr. mcfaul: you know, the president listened very politely about american versus russian violations of human rights. but eventually he got to speak. , that he met with the opposition. i like to remind people of this. you can see across from his -- to his left is -- who has been assassinated. but they are meeting as part of the engagement strategy. and in my opinion, i am writing a book, invite me back and i will tell you about it in more detail. but we got some really big deals done. really big deals. big deals. [laughter] mr. mcfaul: we signed a start treaty.
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that is what they are doing right there in prague, that brought down the limits of the deployed nuclear weapons in the world by 30%. that's what i did in 2010. what did you do? [laughter] mr. mcfaul: you know, that is a big deal. it is a huge thing. second, something you probably have not heard about. i realize i am walking over here, i do not want to walk in front of david. ndn was one of the biggest things i did in the government. most people don't know about it. but it is the northern distribution network. it is a set of supply routes with all different kinds of ways to move stuff around. that goes through russia and central asia on his way afghanistan. when we came into the government, i think around 95% of our supplies went to -- went through pakistan. as you remember one of the other policy reviews we did was expand the way we thought about the war
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in afghanistan. and we had plans to sometimes take the war into pakistan and violate their sovereignty, including marriage a magically one time in 2011, when we went in and killed osama bin laden. it was our assumption that violating pakistani sovereignty, in the ways that we did and that was not the only time by the way, that they would tire of that and they 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. in fact, then i before that operation -- 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.
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and i tell you that in detail, because the russians allowed american soldiers to fly through their airspace the first time , since world war ii. they sold us jet fuel for the airplanes, that then went on to fight in the war in afghanistan. 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. third, iran with the russians, we put in place the most comprehensive set of sanctions ever against the iranian regime. un security council resolution 1929 does not happen without russia. and fourth, on security, i like to remind people of 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 about the color revolution, for thesis.
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but most americans did not hear about that because it did not explode in ways we feared. but i can't you, for me working at the white house at the 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. it then became more of a -- it became down in the south more tensions between ethnic groups. and 300,000 ethnic uzbeks left during this period and went into neighboring uzbekistan. and it felt like we were on the verge of an ethnic civil war, maybe even an interstate war between uzbekistan and kyrgyzstan. i was scared to death. i will tell you honestly. and at the time 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.
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but it did not happen that way, in part because of domestic things locally, but in part medvedevid dead of -- 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 -- we did do counterterrorism exercises together. russians and americans jumping out of airplanes in colorado springs together training for counterterrorism operations. we got some economic things done. probably not as much as we would've liked, but it was a vibrant time. there is president medvedev in my neck of the woods at cisco. he came to stanford, his big speech by the way. i saw him last year and he was
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really reminiscing about stanford. maybe he would like to become a senior fellow at stanford. [laughter] mr. mcfaul: given his most recent news. don't forget, that's our governor in case you forgot about him. we got russia into the wto, we got tntr, we put in place a new visa regime to make it easier for businesses and business people to travel. we got the the 1, 2, 3 agreement. a nuclear cooperation agreement that had been stuck for many years. and you know, we started at a pretty 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 have been our enemy for the whole time, but that was not the case. at the height of the reset, 60% 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.
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ok? so 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. so to go back, as putin loves to do, and say that nato expansion is the reason we of the conflict. i was in the government for five years, on every call that putin and medvedev did, all the meetings except one. i do not remember once a russian leader saying nato expansion is a big deal right now. in fact, it was the opposite. medvedev came to the summit. in lisbon. he sat at a table with all the other leaders and the topic of the conversation once the
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cameras went away, was led to 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. by the way, rt? is anyone from rt here by chance? rt, just so you know, rt was writing all this incredibly lovey-dovey stuff about how great america was and how great obama was. after the end of the summit. all of that stuff happened after those other things. so it seems to me you cannot go back to say nato expansion, the orange revolution is the cause of our conflict. there has to be something more to the story. there is another explanation. not very popular in most places that i talk, but it is popular here in your city. it used to be popular until president trump's election.
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and that is to say, the whole reason we are 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. and i started to bring this up and then i realized i should just let it go. but back to years ago, with a different republican party thinking about russia, that is what speaker boehner said about russia. and about obama. "when you look at the chaos going on, does anyone think vladimir putin would've gone into crimea had george w. bush and president of the united states? no. vladimir putin is smart
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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. october 2014, politicians tend to say kind of strange things leading up to an election. but the truth is george w. bush , actually had a chance to punch putin in the nose. after an invasion my because the truth is, russia invaded georgia. is just a 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 because we never do that. in all instances of intervention with the russians in that part of the world, we have never threatened to use military force to deter that. now in questions, maybe we can
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talk about some of this, but let me be provocative to say the response after military intervention is more interesting. there is more variation between these different cases i have up here. i would say provocatively that the obama-merkel responsive more is merkele, and it more than obama, had more similar 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. guess how many people they put on the sanctions list after russia invaded georgia? anybody know? zero. just one data point. they did not send lethal weapons. all the things obama was criticized for doing, they did not do back then. so that thing gets me to my last variable factor. which is, if it is not the
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structure of the it -- of 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 politics. let me walk you through that and then we will do questions. two factors in particular are essential to understanding our current conflict. one is a change from medvedev to putin as president, and the demonstrations in russia against the regime in 2011 and 2012. in at their party september 2011, congress, putin yells to everybody and everybody tos hooray, that he is going run for a third term and they will do a switcheroo. demetri, you get to play prime minister and i will play president. and you know that happened that , day. a couple of days later -- i'm staring at a lot of cameras.
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let me paraphrase this. at some point along the way we discussed this transition with the president. and the way i would assess what we thought about it at the time, the u.s. government, i was going to tell you what obama thought about it but i will save that for the book -- everybody laments that medvedev 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. [laughter] mr. mcfaul: putin does not. he has a blunter style. and most certainly, this win-win outcome of cooperation, the reset is good for russia, good for the united states.
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medvedev fought those things. but we also assessed at the time, including the intelligence -- i should think 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. what has changed? it might be easier to have more direct interaction with putin. by the way, that is the message that various emissaries from russia, including medvedev himself, during this time of transition communicated to us. , that turn out to be incorrect. for one big reason. and then another -- blown up and made more important by other actors in russia, which i am
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going to get do. because as we sat down with putin, he had a very different world view from medvedev. they had worked together but man, they were different. and you know, 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 did not take ir-101 here. he went to kgb school. and he learned about the world, and in that world when you are a young student learning about the world, that is the way it is framed. he did not change his mind because the soviet union collapsed. and then he became president. 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. you know, when he sees a good deal -- exxon mobil, that's a
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good deal. that is a win-win. but basically, if it is plus 2 for america it is minus 2 for russia. and within that, he has a very particular theory about american foreign-policy. he believes that we use overt 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. [laughter] mr. mcfaul: right? obama tried to convince him he was different. that first photo i showed you when they are having breakfast putin went on for 20 minutes , about how stupid the iraq war was. in like lots of detail. and the president, who is a much justpatient man than i am, listened. he was listening to this tirade. at the end he said, you are
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right. i agree. i was against that war long before it happened. and it was jarring for putin. because he does not think of us -- he kind of things of us as a unitary actor with one foreign policy. and it is the cia and the military-industrial complex that really defines our foreign-policy. come and go, but those guys are driving things. that is really popular right now as they see the drama happening with president trump in their interpretation. so 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 kind of had an open mind about it. but those are the kind of core assumptions he had about america for a long time. and then two years later, things happened. it was egypt, and libya, syria, and then russia. all in one year. giant demonstrations against autocratic regimes. still at this time peaceful by
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the way. justhose for photos i showed you, it confirmed putin's hypothesis about us. because we were behind all of that in his view. we were supporting the revolutionaries in all these places. and so, what he -- earlier maybe he had an open mind about obama being different. but 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. two days later he was criticized by putin on the record for the first time. and so this stuff confirmed his old theory about the united states. especially this event. let me just explain a little bit about this for people who do not
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know. so he announced he was going to run for president. there was a parliamentary election in 2011. kind of falsified by the normal rates. 5, 7. i remember us meeting and thinking that was normal for russia, no big deal. we have seen this before. but this time around something's happened that was very 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, that was the old deal. number two, they had technology. smartphones, twitter, facebook. and people started to capture the falsification, record it in then spend -- spin it
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around the internet. first 50 people came and then 5000 and than 500,000 people came. hundreds of thousands of people came, including this demonstration. putin's reaction was he was pissed, really upset of these -- really upset with these people. i was at a meeting where he just went off. i made these people rich. they would have nothing without me and now they have turned against me. visibly upset they had betrayed him. but his next reaction was fear. because 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. if you can see me. [laughter] mr. mcfaul: putin most certainly knows i was there. and so, that is when he pivoted in a different direction. first to call the people traitors, to say they were are
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-- were not true patriots, they were are puppets. this became his new argument for legitimation of the election and then the legitimacy of his regime. that became the new story. and that is exactly when i parachuted into moscow to become the new u.s. ambassador. so this is happening, we are doing all these evil things and we are supporting opposition folks in his election. and then i show up and it becomes not only the united states, barack obama, but me personally, michael mcfaul. sent by obama because i'm in a i am in a revolution to overthrow the putin regime. that was on the nightly news. my first night in moscow as a u.s. ambassador, i had not even gotten my credentials yet. we are still kind of wandering
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around the house. thinking, we live in this museum now. the first day out there that is what mcfaul's mission is. his byader in russia, project, i sent somebody to yale. why would i do that? [laughter] mr. mcfaul: but 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. if you can't read that, it says "the political circus is coming to town. may 6. in the arena." and around me, if you cannot see me i am of their between nevalni and yashan.
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i am listed as the artistic director of the political circus. that was on that day. nire i am campaigning as neval runs for mayor. i am not campaigning for navalni. that is photoshop. i wish my hands are that big. -- were that big. i could play basketball better. flavor --o give you a you do not need to understand, but we will play a little bit of senselip so you can get a or maybe we can't. , >> [speaking russian] mr. mcfaul: he is saying i'm being recalled as ambassador because i failed to overthrow putin. it was a giant celebration for musicians, they knew i was
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coming to overthrow the opposition. saying i support liberals. they are coming for their instructions. my entourage, my posse. the fascists are part of my team. you get the idea, right? so, and then to take this one runs arther, this man leading news show on sunday nights on channel 1. here he is saying -- this is a shot from the video of it. but he is saying, at first glance you might not think the leader of isis and barack hussein obama have much in common ideologically, but in fact they have exactly the same ideological view of the world. and he lists them right there. so, that to me is whether -- is why the confrontation
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happened. because he needed this enemy. he needed to turn against us. we tried to keep cooperating during this period but that to me was the real drama. now, i want to say two things. oh, i have tons of time. let me say two or three things in closing. >> you want question time too. mr. mcfaul: let me just say 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 of confrontation that started in 2012, the reset ended in 2012, but in different places we found ways to cooperate. and that is something to remember as we think about a new administration. you can walk and chew gum at the same time, and during that
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period we got some big things done, including the syria chemical weapons deal, even 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 or the kremlin, crazy ukrainians who think they belong in the european union. like, we were not controlling them, but they had a vote. that voted with their feet when yanokovich decided not to sign the agreement. the vice president called him several times to try to defuse this crisis. - working with the regime and the opposition. we thought we had a deal in february. i was in ukraine, sochi with deputy secretary
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there to close the deal. 12 hours later yanakovich left and we were confused. he went to rostov. we did not understand why he went. putin was not confused. this is the americans again. this is the cia again. they doublecrossed us , and now they are overthrowing a leader right on the border, a guy i support. and that is why he struck back. in my view. that is why he went into crimea. easy, and then he doubled down and continues to do what he is doing in eastern ukraine. then we will come to this in questions. decided to go on the offensive around the world, not just play defense. including attacking the sovereignty and integrity of our elections.
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there is a good news-bad news and i will end on this. some people 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. had there not been -- by dawn there would have been no annexation of crimea. nor do i think there is cultural or historical cause, or because of the balance of power in the international system, we are destined to have conflict with russia. you see that my story is not a structural story, which says different actors in different places, we would've had a different trajectory. the bad news is putin is not changing his mind. he will not change it at all while in power. he can be an power legally until 2024. and the guy works out to her 2-3 hours a maybe day. he is in great shape. my prediction is we will be in this period for a long time, except for the one wildcard. donald trump.
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you all know because you live in washington and you have followed the story more closely than i do, the wild enthusiasm for donald trump in moscow, have a least up until the last couple of weeks. because donald trump has said some things that are in russia's natural interest. he said, maybe we should recognize crimea. maybe we should lift 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. and i think mr. trump's enthusiasm for this reset 2.0 is real, we will talk about that. i do not know mr. trump personally, but he seems genuine when he talks about it. and moreover, the central drama or conflict has faded.
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compared back to 2011 and 2012, which is all these revolutions against regimes that were creating all the anxiety. that is over. the arab spring is over. the opposition in russia is really constrained. ukraine -- and the biggest drama is ukrainian democracy, but it is not a front and center burner in terms of conflict with russia. so there are new conditions. trump's worldview in the absence gives a other things, chance, but i am not optimistic. one, i think the agenda for cooperation is small. back in 2009, we had a big agenda. a lot of that is off the table now. iran is off the table. wto is off the table. and when you really peel it back, the things the trump are seeking to talk about, i think they are very narrow and i think they are
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naive in thinking that they will peel putin away from iran and china in some kind of grand judeo-christian alliance. maybe they dream about that, but it is 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 -- president about how to deal with russia. i think we are probably going to thea dramatic clash between bannon folkss -- what to do with russia. i will end by saying as these investigations continue to
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surface, including page 1 news today, that raises the political cost of trump to make this major pivot to russia. i am not optimistic. but 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 what he believes about places like russia, but he is certainly demonstrating a willingness and intention to sometimes do rather out-of-the-box, dramatic things. so my guess is there will be a u.s.f drama to come and russia relations. thank you very much. you have been very patient. [applause] >> wow. that was quite a tour de force. let me ask you to put on your former ambassador and analyst hat.
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because i am going to put on my former journalist hat. mr. mcfaul: ok. >> let's deal with today's news. tell me first of all about mr. dash, is he the person that then senator sessions could meet and not remember having met? [laughter] mr. mcfaul: no. [laughter] know sergei.o, i i know the ambassador well. i worked very closely with him at the white house. i saw him often. he lives just four blocks up. and we were doing a lot of business. so i think somebody reported that he came to the white house 22 times. we have been doing a lot of business. i have been to his house. i have been to his dacha. it's a mansion, by the way. we went out there one afternoon
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to celebrate start and he threw a fantastic party. for all of us involved in treaty done.tart he's a serious guy. he is not just going to show up to 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 grade schooly. that was -- that was happening when they were a meeting. and now he is subsequently correcting the record, because he does remember him. not only does he remember him, he remembers the concept of a conversation. it's normal to meet with
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russians. i do it all the time. i used to do it more often when i could travel there. but what is weird about these stories, again with general flynn too is the cover-up. right, that just makes it strange. i honestly don't understand why. i'm out of my area of expertise. >> once you know how the russians operate, how explicit would they have been with discussions with trump and the gentlemen you mentioned -- i'm talking about discussions happening while the campaign was going on. how explicit would they have been in the conversations 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? mr. mcfaul: with respect to coordination about the campaign, that is the number one question. that is the watergate moment and that is when everything gets really serious. up to this point there is not
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, especially on the record as we are today, i am not willing to speculate about that because the data is 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. and if we do not do that, i do not think we will ever know the story. but what i can say about previous interaction with diplomats, of course that is why the ambassador is meeting with senator sessions. not to talk about what his committee is doing. he is -- he could care less about that. he is talking to them to find out about what the candidate trump is thinking and planning about foreign policy. that is obvious. if he wasn't doing that, he would not be doing his job. because his job is to write a cable back to moscow to tell him
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thinksell them what he 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. and 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, guess who they prefer? so i think he was prodding and trying to find out with greater fidelity what there might be in a new trump administration. and i would just remind everybody that we now know that senator sessions became 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.
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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. it is kind of fantastic. and with a monocle of disapproval, new york style, president putin is looking at an insect, at our current president, mr. trump up here. this article suggests after all that has happened in the last few weeks and the departure of flynn and the drama about happens, and what will possibly next week, possible investigations might go beyond the intelligence committees. if being called for. even democrats calling for mr. sessions to resign. i'm sure he will not, but not at this stage, maybe never. we have a lot of smoke in the air. the article says, suggests that
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might concludep he does not have 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, do you think that is possibly true? or do you feel that there is plenty of latitude for a new president to do deals with russia? mr. mcfaul: there was a lot less -- is a lot less latitude for sure. the cost domestically of doing the breakthrough things he promised during the campaign have gone up a lot higher because of this stuff. and number two, i mentioned it briefly, but let me spend a few more minutes on it. to fill now beginning out his team, he has a long way to go, but it is clear there is not consensus about how to deal with russia. secretary mattis, he was of the
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-- he was at the 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 how to eter russia in europe. not the same that you heard from candidate trump. i think it's been more constraints. my biggest criticism of trump so far in the way he talks about russia policy, and i would say
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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. 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.
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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. you will lift sanctions, 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 and i will say nice things about you. that is a bad deal for america's national interests.
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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 eal? 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. but i said -- i advised them 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 n adoptions.
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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. i think it had a positive resonance 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. in sochi, our main concern at the olympics -- maybe it should of been about doping, but it wasn't at the time. the main concern was about ecurity.
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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
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resolve. you can google it after you leave here and see what we are doing. we have a strategy. maybe now secretary mattis will 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. 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. ragically, in my view. in my book the chapter are most critical of the obama administration about, 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. david: i have one more question so you think about your questions. my question is this. do you think putin is brilliant for a fool? e 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. mr. mcfaul: i would land somewhere in between those two extremes. president putin is a very smart guy. he is not a fool. i first met 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. i guess at the end of the day, and this is a good place to pivot, i just don't believe in his definition of russia's national interest. that is where we clash.
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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. july 2009, 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 he says, i don't understand why this should not be a russian objective as well. that is the coda to each one. my complaint or argument with
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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 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. and let me make those usual washington caveats. we are asking for questions, not peeches.
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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 mentioned something powerful about -- i can relate to putin. is this diplomatic failure and western policy is also
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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 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 to your
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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 hem. 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 of relationships i had with very senior government officials, some of whom i've known for 25 years. i am kind of cartoonized as i never had one meeting with him as ambassador. not one.
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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. you need to cultivate his relations and i most certainly did. i had very useful relationships at a high level. but it was never to be their riend. it was to advance what we were trying to do. your middle question was about poland. i would say here, i'm not an xpert on poland. i have lived there a long time ago but i'm not been following it closely. there was this moment in europe in which poland is part of that drama of the rise of populism, the rise of illiberal democracies.
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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. 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. it is a phenomenon that is happening that i think should get more attention? my answer is yes. autocrats versus leaders? autocrats is a word, and i'm putting on my political science at. buy my book.
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i have written a whole chapter about that, about how to define democracy. democracy is just a system of government where competitive elections, where the outcome of the election is uncertain. 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. i don't have it answer on lites. >> as the tagline of rt said, question more. ou say the russian stance is mostly because of national domestic issues that he is responding to.
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question thought there was interference. when that came out and wikileaks ex pieced it. fame fall russia exposed it. >> my intelligence sources which is intelligence, veteran intelligence professionals including the former technical director for n.s.a. says that is not conclusive. >> 17 united states intelligence agencies say that it is.
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>> many americans i know never thought of russia throughout the day and never thought about russia except maybe vodka. and many americans are against russia and the pivot point of that was this in my opinion, it was a red herring thrown out by the democratic party to take the own us of what they did and put it on foreign power to get the americans. so what's your feeling about that? mr. mcfaul: i disagree. but let me explain. first of all. i was trying to get the slides but maybe taken down. i want to underscore that american public opinion about russia is not a scant from cold war today but goes up and down
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and i'll -- i'll talk about it later. the spike in anti-russian feelings among the american electric tort happened because of what russia did in ukraine and the clinton campaign was trying to talk about that thinking that was going to be important. but it wasn't important enough to drive votes, but the vatea is pretty clear. that happened well before wikileaks. number two, and i have had many interactions with bernie supporters including members of my own family during that drama, and i appreciate the argument, your argument you were upset about what you saw happened in the d.n.c. i'm not as upset and in the longer political conversation, i could tell you why i think there
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was much more ado about something that i think was smaller that happened there especially from a candidate that joined the party a year before. but that's a partisan political thing. i want you to be outraged that russia violated the electoral processes. berniet upset, many many sanders supporters, but they said, i don't care what the source is, it's the facts that matter. that is really dangerous for the american republic. that is super dangerous because that means you don't care that the russians stole evidence, they stole private property and then they used it to influence the way people voted including bernie supporters. why did secretary clinton lose?
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there are lots of reasons. people voted for obama did not come out and vote for her. well, guess what, i'm not an expert on this, but i have friends on are in my department of political science, the data is clear, they did not get the turnout from millenals and upset about what they read in wikileaks. and i can't leave we are so lazy about it. well, i don't care where it came from, but i know the truth. that is dangerous. i disagree. i read the report. i think the evidence is absolutely overwhelming that it was the russians. i don't think there is any doubt about it. and even the public group proud strike is the name, and the private country that did the
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forensics is crystal clear. the russians don't go out of their way to deny it. if it was so outrageous, you think they would be talking about it. they don't. this was a russian operation. but the other thing i know. i run on big cyber initiative at stanford and i deal with this. and you have only seen the tip of the iceberg of what russia and china can do and iranians and high schoolers in palo alto can do. we are sleep walking when it comes to cybersecurity. you can see i get and natured about it. what they did here is easy, what literally what high school kids can do. we are not talking about it.
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2018 is coming and 2020 and with the pro lifferings of actors, the technology is getting better and we don't care that the sovereignty of our electoral process was violated a i wish more americans would get upset about that. and what people said about bernie, but he himself has called upon his supporters to be set about our sovereignty of this and we haven't solved it. >> thanks for these remarks and great for twrigs. >> who are you? >> i'm from voice of america. and state department correspond dent. >> one thing we don't have at
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stanford. when i lectured at stanford -- >> 46 questions from 46 languages that we have. mr. mcfaul: ask one and tweet me the rest. >> i will tweet you for the rest. you described surrogate, the russian minister. w do you categorize him as a diplomat and his ability to collect intelligence. and separately, do you think that president trump knew of or approved of the meetings by members of his team with the russian ambassador and other high-level russian contacts? if so, why he is he denying he knew? mr. mcfaul: i think the
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ambassador is a successful ambassador and he is underrated in this town. he has a different style. he has a different set of objectives than maybe other ambassadors and why is he nt showing up at karen egg hey, but i'm 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. and we were not disciplined enough at times in our talking points to be coordinated about what we were telling sergei. start treaties negotiations were controlled in specific channels and i was part of that team. and there would be some other part of the government and they
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to ki n invitation to go slyay. but we can't have 25 people speaking to the russian government. that's his job. that's his job. and i'm impressed that he was doing his job in such a successful way. we should admire that. what i don't understand is on the other side, to your second question. i was in the, as i mentioned before, i was in the owe baum after campaign and i was at our convention in denver and met with some russians and i remember, because foreign delegations come to these conventions, but we most certainly did not have the number of meetings. didn't meet with kislyak and
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i'm struck by how many meetings and madison ple, and general flynn and i'm wondering, i don't pretend i know why, but you should be focus the on a, winning the election and b, getting your team together during the transition and hiring some people and that is something you should be thinking about in the transition. and that just seems different than my experience. we, in particular, after a the dent-elect obama began transition and moved us to chicago we had a strict rule of one president at a time. and there was a g-20 summit and we said nobody gets to come to chicago. and we don't walk talk to you guys are in government.
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what trump knew. i think the american people deserve to know and we need this commission, but i personally don't know. >> next question. reporter: retired foreign service officer. >> i appreciate it. >> you're kind. i remain be feudled and i hope you can help me, i keep trying to find a narrative that makes sense in terms of our interests toother people's interest as hy the very pro-putin, pro-russian posture that has i don't ent, but understand it. do you have a narrative or a point of view on what it is?
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mr. mcfaul: you know, it's a great question. and i'm sorry to disappoint you, i don't have an answer, but i have an answer. putin's views are much easier for me to understand. it is rather odd to me that candidate trump, president life elect trump continues to say these things that are at odds with their own party. almost nobody in his party that speaks the way he does about mr. putin. there was no electoral upside to to say to the election, those kinds of things. i just want to say, i'm more -- i know more about foreign policy than american electoral politics. but what do i see?
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one i do think he has a pretty simple notion that i should engage in leaders and get along and that would be good for america. i think he believes that. he believes that irrespective of the contacts we were talking about in irrespective of his business ventures and what he may or may not have done when he was at the ms. universe pageant. admireswo, i think he this blunt speaking style that putin has, and he has said that and i take him at his word. number three, most certainly some of his advisers, and mr. bannon in particular have developed a theory about the international system that lead cultivate better
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relations with russia. it is a theory that says we are being threatened by islam and by the chinese, and therefore, the judeo-christian countries of the together too get defend ourselves against these threats. it and read about breitbart. it is a theory of the world that most certainly has ideological fellow travelers inside russia. -- theasian nest eurasianists of the world. putin flirts with it. he hasa more specific -- a more sophisticated view of that and is threatened by that. and he does not want to damage relations with iran and china,
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which those group sees as enemies. but if he is talking with his advisers, maybe that would be another part of the influence. >> thank you. >> we have time for two or three more. >> alicia from the mccain institute. i would like you to expand on the invasion of georgia if you wouldn't mind? how does this not indicate an intention for expansionism to the point in 2013? mr. mcfaul: that is a big, hard question. uh. and it is a big complex question that i cannot do justice here. i have a chapter in my book about it. i would say a couple of things -- one is there is this
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technique we use in political science better counterfactual. if certain factors were not there, would you have had the same outcome? buildup for a prodding well before 2008. war befores for that 2008. in real-time because i was working on the campaign, we put out a statement about it in august 2008. i am pretty sure the mccain campaign did too, now that i think about it. question appointed you. -- production of point at you. i was sitting around with colleagues of mine and we were talking about this, and as a
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nervousness about that. not have happened, in my view, a president -- if the president did not taken the military action he did. it was a trap set for him. i know the bush administration was trying to work with him to prevent that, but had that not had happened, you would not have had what had happened. they him not yet and next that territory. i think to get to the bigger question, putin understands that it is impossible to re-create the soviet union. he took a gamble with this project. he figured out that it was too costly because the ukrainians fought. they do not get enough credit for that, but they did and that proved more costly and they figured out they were not going
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to be able to hold that border and they backed away from that. with also comfortable ambiguity about borders and outcomes. was something that i noticed when i was in the u.s. government that was an insight for me. we americans are kind of like engineers, you know? if there was a problem, we need to fix it. that is our -- you think about john kerry -- problems in the our job is to go fix it and get the bugs out. that is what engineers do. aboutis very comfortable not solving problems. he thinks about keeping those problems open as great opportunities for him in the future, and that is the way he feels about all of these frozen and unfrozen complexes.
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he is very comfortable with ambiguity. questioners,hree why don't you ask them. >> um, i am a georgian and i have to follow because my question is something else. are you saying that georgia was the one who started the war in that case? mr. mcfaul: i did not say that. happensexactly what when we sit down. i was with a bunch of georgians in munich. i set a trap was set. >> thank you. ukraineake georgia or of the last two decades, do you recognize that those two
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countries are integral parts of the american nation, and you think the u.s. has had consistent policies because russians have an very consistent? there has been much confusion. >> i am from a media group. it we know the relationship between the relationship between russia and the united states depends on -- consideration. but recommendation would you policymakersign building their relationship with russia taking into consideration the presence of native troops on the border of russia? thank you.
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>> ok. really simple questions here. [laughter] >> i am a senior studying international affairs. >> fantastic. [applause] i am curious about hybrid warfare. and there is talk if we should combat russian propaganda. how do you think we should do that without helping putin without validating his narrative as the u.s. as a middling agent? >> all great questions and we don't have time to give great answers. mr. mcfaul: i want to end on your question, ok? with respect to the history of georgia, there is this fantastic book by my former colleague. that is the best account. if you are interested, ron really has a definitive account and i urge you to read that historical account, ok? on -- with respect to russia
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versus us and the region and national interests, i am not prepared to give russia this past that they have had some fantastic, consistent policy over the last 25 years. there has been a lot of variation over time in the relationship that bore she'll send was doing versus putin is rather different. we just had entree at a couple of weeks ago, and now that we know the outcome, this happens a lot. as i write my own account, i'm trying to guard against it. i like to use a sports analogy since i love sports and i love stanford sports. last weekend, sorry to bore you -- local trivia. but we played one of the best teams in the country, oregon. we were down by two with seven seconds left.
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we threw the ball to our best player and he fumbled the ball and we lost. after we lost, as we were walking out, all of these friends of mine, including one people who would not be successful basketball were obsessing why do we lose? one of them said is our point guard is so awful and threw the ball away seven times. yet seven turnovers. this is an example. but if our guy had turned around in a fumbled the ball and make won,shot and we had on no one would remember the seven turnovers. but that wouldn't have been part of the explanation of the win. because i am writing about this. -- because i am writing about this period i am
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struck by this. geniusither putin is a or russians are the way they are, or because the democrats, whether they are georgian democrats are ukrainian democrats, or russian democrats, are a bunch of idiots. that is another narrative that is out there, but i would is way morele there variation, way more contingency in the story and it could've been a lot different. tragically, it could've been a lot different. with respect to the baltic in but mywould say current colleague, former is to speak next year and he will answer that question much more eloquently than i could. beingd just say i think in nato is a very important thing. that is not a trivial fact for vladimir putin.
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i am a lot less worried about what mr. putin will do in the baltic states than i am about those states that are not in nato. i think that line matters a great deal to him and i don't think it is a high probability we will see drama between russia and those states in the honeymoon period when he is trying to secure other things from his new colleague in the white house. to your last question about information -- my answer is, yes, of course. one of my colleagues at stanford wrote a famous article and a usuallyt is cartoonized. i apologize, frank. think about when you and i were in moscow together. when weer the day celebrated the end of the cold liberty,he victory of
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the victory of freedom, and it was inevitable that these ideas were going to take hold. there was no other alternative idea. other countries were going to take more time to get along with it, but it felt like a moment. obviously, today, it doesn't feel like a moment like that. i think we took for granted and did not invest personally. when i think about the things i wrote and did, we assumed the best system of government, a horrible system of government, eventually, everybody would learn that fact. we did not help them learn that fact. we did not do enough to propagate ideas about democracy. markets has himself interested reasons to learn about them, but it is hard to take a class in moscow today about democratic theory. there is some, but it is not on
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every syllabus in every class. country, we as a government, and i hope the administration -- and we as universities, including my university, engage in that debate in a much more serious way because we are not engaged in that intellectual debate. what then become the mechanisms snapchatans, probably and those platforms, we need to think more seriously about. we do not have time to think about the restructuring of the u.s. government, but i think we need to start first with the ideas. i think we are playing defense right now. i think the collectively,
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including -- this is not a job for the trump administration. i do not think he will be involved in it. if you are waiting for them to do it, you will be waiting a long time. but i say to people, why are you sitting on your hands? ,f you believe in these things you can get on twitter right now and say something about these things and be part of that conversation. -- and this islp a great place i want to end. i'm a huge optimist about russia. a huge optimist. many people over the course of my lifetime in russia, especially when i was ambassador, more your age than mine, at the end of the day, they want to live normal lives. they want to have normal stuff. , nor dot some brilliant we have a trademark on the idea
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that leaders should be -- people should travel freely. modernizations that i think have not died in russia. they are dormant. but all the people i showed you in those photos, do you think those people have forgotten about those ideas? no they haven't. it is not rational to express them right now. i perfectly understand. i remember one meeting i had soon after may 6, 2012, i was at internet company and i will not name it because i don't want people to get in trouble. who was at the demonstration? everyone raised their hand. when i asked to would go again, only one raised their hand, a very young man. i turned to somebody else and say why are you planning to go?
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and she said, ambassador, i am the breadwinner and i have two kids and i cannot afford to be arrested. that doesn't mean she changed her preferences. run, i thinkng these ideas are pretty powerful and i do not think we are at the end of liberalism. of america andth democracy -- we heard that in the 1950's and 1970's. i have great faith in them renault of our democratic institutions. but we have to invest in them. it does not happen inevitably. we have to nurture them. >> wonderful. thank you. mr. mcfaul: thank you very much. [applause] -- n behalf [applause] and onk you, ambassador, behalf of


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