tv Former Ambassador Michael Mc Faul Discusses State of U.S.- Russia Relations CSPAN March 4, 2017 1:33am-3:33am EST
are aboutnd when we to arrest them, they leave for cuba with millions of dollars. it is outrageous. it is grotesque. and people may think seniors are not victims. they are victims. announcer: all c-span programs are available on c-span.org, on her homepage, and by searching the c-span video library. announcer: next, a look at u.s. russian relations with former u.s. ambassador michael mcfaul. he discusses how the relationship involved in the past years and where it stands now under the trump administration. from george washington university, this is two hours. ♪ council. i am the director of the institute for policy and global
communications this annual >> good morning everyone. welcome to the annual walter roberts lecture: cosponsored by the institute for public policy and atlantic council. i am the director of the institute for policy and global communications this annual lecture is paid for by the walter roberts endowment. are sr support. ambassador mcfaul is a very busy noon. -- busy man. we i've been trying to get into the car speaker for 2 years. this effort began with my predecessor when he was the director of ifgc. in the spirit of never knowing when you have good luck, we are
thankful that we can't him here today. -- got him in here today. interestingly, i hear it on good authority from bruce gregory, another huge name in public diplomacy that walter roberts himself wanted ambassador mcfaul to be our speaker. david will introduce him, so i will leave that part up to him. but i wanted to introduce david, who reported for cnn, abc news and npr. he has been in moscow, warsaw, rome, in washington, former director of "voice of america" and our former walter roberts mutchler from last year. -- lecturer from leicester. -- from last year. a tradition we hope to continue. if you have suggestions for next year's speaker, please let us know.
c-span is here. we are also streaming on facebook with. down on comings and goings, ambassador mcfaul will speak for about 40 minutes, then a moderated discussion led by david and about 20 minutes for questions from the audience. we hope you will feel free to --at please make sure your phone is silenced, because otherwise you will be on c-span. [laughter] ado, ambassador mcfaul. thank you so much. [applause] >> my thanks to janet and the
global policy mitigations for inviting me to join our distinguished today. i first met michael mcfaul in moscow in the early 1990's when he and a russian colleague set up at the moscow carnegie center. we were watching the dramatic events as boris yeltsin killed off coming as an, the first -- off communism, the first chechen war. important events from any observer from the midwest. he was one of the most astute observers of the moscow seen. we found him approachable and quotable, as i am sure you will today. as an american journalist "moscowhose rough days, at that time was a pageant, irresistible to anyone with a trace of democratic idealism for
the russians. the sense of historical drama was unmistakable. there was human tragedy, but reasons for hope too." we all activated, could russia finally throw off autocratic thuggish government? it seemed that might happen. mike mcfual work for reforms. we did not think it would be great, but it would be possible. it was not to be. by the time ambassador mcfaul went to moscow in 2012, his efforts wered doomed to fail. in the second term of vladimir putin, he invaded crimea and sent little green men into eastern ukraine. the kremlin decided wrongly that ambassador mcfaul was an
intelligence officer. so he was followed, measured, and patrick. open hearteds coming -to- he is now no longer welcome in moscow. traumatic times that we both watched together. as president obama's top adviser on russia, mike was one of the key architects to the country, including the famous reset that amount famous key collaboration to occur. he is in and replaced to tell us what dided with putin, not, and what might work for the new administration. cap at stanford, professor theul is a senior fellow at fellow friends --
he is a columnist for the washington post, a commentator for nbc news as recently as this morning, and one of the most thoughtful analysts on the complicated relationship between ourselves and the russians. without more ado, let us welcome to the podium ambassador mcfaul. [applause] >> thank you david. i am shocked at how many people are here. this many people don't get up at stanford university for a lecture. i see some gw students here. part of the reason i delayed incoming -- this city has an army, literally hundreds of thousands of people that follow
russia. i always keep thinking, what value added do i have? joe" thismorning morning talking about the russian ambassador. i don't work within any more. rather than talk about what is in the newspapers today, which i am sure david and i will do during questions and answers. hought i would come here with my more academic hat. first and foremost i am a professor. i was professor before, a professor now. i will be a professor to the end of my days. i will be buried at stanford university. i want to spend 40 minute asking ing questions before we hone on what the russian ambassador serves for lunch. i want to start by reminding you
the story of u.s. russian relations today. it is one of the tents, including moments during the cold war. people say, is this the cold war or not? that is not so interesting to me. the level of confrontation, you have to go deep into the cold war to remember a time like that i. russia has annexed territory, carpet bombs in syria, meddling in the u.s. elections. that didn't even happen during the cold war. that has happened now. we are at an 80% negative approval rating in terms of russian people. for putin, and maybe we will debate later, but i don't think this conflict is about some kind of narrow definition of national
interest. i think for him this is an ideological confrontation. not communism versus capitalism or democracy, but it is about the imperial america, the decadent west, the nazis and ukraine. he thinks he is anchoring an ideological alternative to the list and -- to the west and united states. it feels like of major confrontation not different from the cold war, but i would say having -- in terms of the bigness of it, certainly worse than some of the late era of the cold war. i would say our response, we the west, the obama administration -- don't worry, i will get to trump later. the response was pretty big.
after russia went into ukraine, obama said there were three threats in the world, ebola, isis, and russia. you can imagine that list to not go down well in moscow. i am at george washington university so i see a lot of people here who might know the full totality of u.s. russian relations better than i do. i think going all the way back to when john quincy adams as our first ambassador to moscow 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. nato is focused on the russia threats. we kicked russia out of the g8. new sanctions after the elections. in our country it depends on , which poll you look at but certainly the majority of americans think that 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. generally we are back to this confrontation, right? all of this happened, most of this happened when i was in the u.s. government. putin did not invade ukraine 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 as you did in the .in the 90's. 1990'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? oh, just being ambassador to russia. that is really nice. [laughter] 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 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 we rehearsed this list, and at the end of it -- by the way a guy named general mattis was at this lunch. at the end of it they said, mike you screwed things up man. [laughter] "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 one speed cruiser -- i no longer had to my black cadillac and bodyguards -- the conversation jarred me. what happened? what the hell 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. by the way, gw has two lectures, that does not happen in stamford. max, people start picking up their notebooks.
i have a simple question. what happened between those two photos? i want to bounce around between academic theory and my personal experiences to give you an explanation. the first explanation i want to talk about is the nature of the international system. the nature of great power of politics. i'm going to run a map here that starts about 1000 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. as a result of that, the borders are changing. this is a theory of international politics. we teach it 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 w eak after the collapse of the soviet union, probably not as weak as we thought it was. but they were on their knees, now it is back. 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? very popular theory in moscow. very popular theory at the university of chicago. part of this is true.
anybody from moldova? nobody from moldova. ok, good. [laughter] mr. mcfaul: i actually love moldova. it is a great country. i traveled there with the vice president. he got one of the largest crowds ever for one of his speeches. vice president biden also loves moldova. nobody is worried about moldova throwing over the national system, annexing territory or overthrowing the liberal order. i mean no disrespect, but they do not have power and capabilities to do that. so, this story about capabilities is part of the explanation. if russia didn't have power we would not be concerned with 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. and do not 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. we are worried about polish democracy. i will come back to that if you're interested. but revising borders and threatening the west -- we are not worried about them. 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 is not going to 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 belligerent
towards the west in this confrontation. for me, to make it more proximate, right up annexation of crimea, it was not obvious that even putin was moving in this direction. in fact, when i was ambassador, we wrote dozens and dozens of call, cable, i guess we them. i guess we still call them that. dated word, a cable. a bunch of cables about something that you probably weren't following. i'm not sure anybody in washington was reading our cables about it. it was called the eurasian economic union. to the e.u., he wanted to bring everybody from the former soviet union back together in this economic union. to do so, he needed ukraine to be part of it. all of ukraine. not just crimea. he wanted all 45 million ukrainians to be a part of this union, because those are consumers and those are places for trade and investment.
belarus and kazakhstan wasn't enough. and that was a central focus of his foreign policy at the time i was u.s. ambassador. i heard a lot about it at the time. anybody buy anything made in russia here? what did you buy? >> vodka. mr. mcfaul:vodka, ok. you buy it here or did you buy it there? >> both. mr. mcfaul:vodka, that's one. anything else? butamiseum. they are really strong beer. i would not advise it. but the point is, there are very few things that russia exports abroad that are made in russia. but in ukraine, ukrainians are consumers that buy a lot of things made in russia. so to make this work, you need all of ukraine, not just crimea. centralif that's his focus, to suddenly pivot the other way, ensuring, in my view,
never join inould eurasian economic union as a result of his annexation of and intervention in eastern ukraine. something more proximate has to the story. moreover, i'm a little nervous crowd, especially people that speak russian. but i dare you, during the q&a, to go and search and find speech that putin made before 2014, before which says, it is our natural right and it is a huge disaster that crimea has not been part of russia. we need to unite it. maybe it exists. but this crowd will probably find it. don't.owds because afterwards we hear that, but before it was not really on the agenda. so what happened more proximately that caused that to take place? last thing i will say about
this, anybody at the sochi olympics? nobody? i was there twice. way.stic party, by the 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. they released hartakoskie from jail. and i saw a senior russian official -- i think it was december, so it was right before. and i asked, why now? his response was we have had we're looking for re-engagement with you guys. this is a signal to you, the about states of america, perhaps another attempt at .aking relations better and then number two, the olympics, you can interpret it different ways. but i was really struck by the new russia,e're the we're not the old soviet russia.
you guys.challenging y want to be part of the system. that was the message of the opening ceremonies and closing ceremonies. the people in charge of that are people i knew. and i was really struck by one episode in particular. in the closing ceremonies -- well, two. the episode and then a piece of it within it. first of all, they had go across the stadium drawings, you know, sketches, eight foot, 10-foot sketches of russian authors, right? 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'm not sure we could do that states.the united that was pretty cool. but two of them jumped out at me. brodsky and soulja needsin. they were reclaiming those guys as part of russian history. they 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 planned 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, second explanation, it's all america's 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. so the first is that, we were too demanding of russia and finally putin had to strike back. we lectured him about markets. see anders oslin here. lecturing them about markets in the 1980's.
lecturing them about democracy, out.u pointed 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 have to push back on america and that explains why we are in this situation. right? in other words, it's a reaction did.at we did, not what he mr. putin. and i want to keep myself honest, that during the course of this period, 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 you would have this backlash against it because it wouldn't work. one of the best pieces i have ever written in my life i published on august 19, 1990. so if you know your soviet
russian history, you know the august 19, 19 none. one year to the day i published iis piece -- i'm sorry, shouldn't assume you know. august 19, 1991, is the first the coup that later led to the collapse of the soviet union. and in the peace, i was comparing the drama of the time, 1990, sovietust union is still around. gorbachev is still the head of the country. i was comparing the drama to the thech revolution and bolshevik revolution to get people to think this is not just little kind of reform thing. this is really big. the soviet union is going to collapse, i wrote it a year before it did. 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's the period, i think we're in right now, with vladimir
putin. the caveat, i said, is the story those other because two big revolutions were anti-systemic. they were anti-the international system we're in. but this revolution was pro-systemic. trying to come back into the system and the problem will be that we're not going to it.ize part of i think is true. so part of that narrative i before is also true. all those things happened. but in between all of that drama i showed you from before, and the current period of we're in now, there was a period that david alluded to called the reset. for thatthe government period. january 21, 2009, was my first day working at the white house. and i was part of the transition. all this at interactions with kislyak during
the transition, i would just have a lot of interaction with sergey, most son-in-law not half a dozen our team meeting with him at the convention. met with georgiaans .t the convention i'll come back to that if you're interested. but after we won the election ready to do our policy reviews, and i was in charge of the russia policy review, we sat the president-elect. and the president, and described that infrontation stuff just showed you a couple of slides ago and he's like, hey, man. i forgot the cameras were on. man."n't say "hey, maybe he did but i shouldn't say record.the 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 the russians want the taliban afghanistan? no, no.
do they want the start regime to fall apart? no, they don't. issues, dug into the concrete issues, not with all the baggage of the cold war or somebody fromng the past, leaving out cultural withnations, we came up this idea that on certain issues -- not all issues -- but on certain issues there was overlap and through a policy of and re-engagement, because it had fallen off in the bush-putin years, we could realize what the president would about as a win-win outcome. that was the reset. here he's about to call ma getta 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've joked about it with him since. as i walked out -- if you are
the white to work for house -- one of the bush administration officials as i you're neverid supposed to touch the desk. word to the wise. that is what i was told. we did this thing called the reset. and in my opinion, i will not go through all of this in detail, we can come back to it. but in my opinion we got some really big things done. through this strategy of engagement. i'll go through these. engaging, right? there we are with the president. there we are with the prime minister. that was a wild meeting, by the way. on for about three hours where -- this is july 2009, really got the sense and madeve 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 here 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. we almost pulled it down, but i begged with him to make an appearance. and he shows up and usually when the president of the united states shows up, people sit down stand up and they put the seal up and everything. but, if you know him, yuri gablaze was 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 guantánamo. [laughter] mr. mcfaul: you know, the president listened very politely about american versus russian violations of human rights. but, eventually he got to speak. and then he met with the opposition. i like to remind people of this. you can see across from his -- his left,f, to
beensof who has since assassinated. but they are meeting as part of the engagement strategy. and in my opinion, i am writing a book, to invite me back and i will tell you about it in more detail. but we got some, to paraphrase our current president, we got really big deals done. really big deals. big deals. signed the sark treaty that brought down the limits of deployed nuclear weapons in the world by 30%. that's what i did in 2010. what did you do? 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. but i'll walk over here a little bit. anybody know? was one of the biggest things i did in the government and most people don't know about it. is the northern distribution network. it is a set of supply routes using all different kinds of ways to move stuff around.
that goes through russia and central asia on its way to afghanistan. when we came into the government, i think around 95% our supplies went through pakistan, right? as you remember one of the other aspac,reviews we did was we wanted to expand the way we thought about the war in afghanistan. and we had plans to sometimes take the war into pakistan and violate their sovereignty, including very dramatically one time in 27 that you all know and killedwe went in 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. so 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, the night before that operation, the day before that theation, i was in with president making a phone call to preciselyasian leader to do one more enhancement to n.d.n. because we were worried if ourhat might happen supplies from pakistan got cut off. 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 our 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. u.n. security council resolution
1929 does not happen without russia. and then fourth, on the security, i like to remind people of nonevents. dogs that do not bark, things you don't read about. g.w.'s, this is kind of a weird place. there are probably five people in this room writing their color about the revolution in kyrgyzstan but aboutmericans didn't hear it because it didn't explode in ways we feared. but i can't you, for me working at the white house at the time, it was without question the time in two weeks of my the government. because the president was overthrown. two dozen people -- more than that, almost 100 people were killed. it then became more -- it became down in the south there were between ethnic ethnic kirkies. 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 happen on our watch. it felt like we were on the verge of genocide. but it did not happen that way, in part because of domestic things locally, but in part because medvedev and obama got phone and obama made the case that not in our interest to not in your's interest, let's try to defuse this together and we basically did. but wecomplicated basically did. you hear a lot about fighting isis from the current president. just remind you, five or six years ago, six years by now, no, five years ago, 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 have liked in this period but it was a vibrant time. there is president medvedev in my neck of the woods at cisco. he came to stanford, gave a big speech, by the way. i saw him last year and he was really reminiscing about stanford. sounded like maybe he would like a senior fellow at stanford, given his most recent news and don't forget, that's our governor there. we got russia into the wto, we got tntr, we lifted jackson vanec. 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 civilian nuclear cooperation agreement that had been stuck years.y 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. ok? so to come back to this argument about american foreign-policy, it is my view that 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 have this conflict. i was in the government for five
years, on every call that putin and medvedev did during those five years. was in all meetings but one. i do not remember once a russian leader saying nato expansion is a big issue right now. in fact, it was the opposite. medvedev came to the nato summit in lisbon. he sat at a table with all the other leaders and the topic of the conversation once the cameras went 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 at the lisbon summit, over, nato wass our friend. by the way, rt? is anyone from rt here by chance? rt, just so you know, rt was running all this incredibly lovie-dovie stuff about how great america was and how great after the end of that
summit. all of that stuff happened after those other things. so it seems to me you cannot go back to say nato expansion, the revolution, et cetera, are the cause of our current conflict. there has to be something more proximate to the story. there is another explanation. not very popular in most places that i talk, but is popular here in your city. it used to be popular until president trump's election. and that is to say, the whole reason we're having all this crisis is because obama was weak. to putin, wasp naive about the russians and theted, therefore, permissive conditions for annexation of ukraine and the separatists in right?nfrontation, 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, this is what speaker boehner said about russia and 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. even putin is 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. you can see the date. october 2014, politicians tend to say kind of strange things two weeks before an election, right? but the truth is, george w. bush actually had the chance to punch putin in the nose if he wanted an invasion because the truth is that russia invaded georgia in august 2008 and it just so happened that george bush was in china at the sitting three rows down from vladimir putin.
george bush is a healthy guy. guy.a fit 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 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 response, and it's merkel as well as obama, had more similar characteristics to ronald reagan's response to the crackdown on solidarity in 1981 than it did to 2008.eorge w. bush did in guess how many people they put on the sanctions list after russia invaded georgia? anybody know? zero.
so 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 structure of the international system and it's not american foreign policy, i want to dig down into what i think is really driver of our current confrontation. that is russian domestic politics. right? and 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 two are the demonstrations in russia against the regime in 2011 and 2012. putin-medvedev.
in september 2011, at their party congress, putin yells to everybody and everybody says hooray, that he is going to run for a third term and they will do a switcheroo. so dimitri, you get to play to playnister and i get president. and you know, that happened that day. a couple of days later -- i'm staring at a lot of cameras. 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 we'll save that for the book. everybody lamened 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, no-drama kind of guys, spoke in paragraphs. doesn't. putin has a blunter style. and most certainly, this win-win outcome, cooperation, the reset is good for russia, good for the united states. medvedev fought all those things. but we also assessed at the time, including the intelligence community, i think -- i should not talk about that, but as a government we assessed at the time that 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. medvedev is just his marionettet change?should nothing should change. 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 turned out to be incorrect. for one big reason. one -- blown up and made more important by other actors in russia, which i'm to get to. because as we sat down with had a veryed out he different world view than 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 didn't go to g.w. he did not take ir-101 here. he went to kgb school. to learn about the world and in when you're a young student learning about the
world, that's the way it's and he didn't change his mind about that just because the heiet union collapsed and became president. that became very apparent in our interactions with him over the next couple of years. and 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 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 that hypothesis about american foreign-policy over the last 70 years. 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, he's a much more patient man than 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 kind of jarring for putin. because he does not think of us -- he kind of things of us as a unitary actor with one foreign policy. it's the c.i.a. and the military-industrial complex that really define our foreign policy. the presidents 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. as 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 had kind of an open mind about it. but those are the kind of core assumptions he had about america for a long time. things happened, two years later. libya, then then syria, then all in one ear, giant those fourons for it photos i showed it confirms the , we were behind those to thousand 11 convince them we were not different at all. libya was a very important juncture. i was at the meeting when he said we had to do something and
had to abstain. small meeting because he did not want other people in the government to hear it. this confirmed his old. about the united states. he announced he was going to run in december 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 -- record it and then spin it 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 first reaction was he was pissed, 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. -- 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 -- because 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 around the house. thinking, we live in this museum now. the first day out there that is what mcfaul's mission is. so a leader in russia, his by -- he is my project. him 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. i am listed as the artistic director of the political circus. that was on that day. here i am campaigning as nevalni runs for mayor. i am not campaigning for navalni. that is photoshop. i wish my hands were that big. i could play basketball better. and just to give you a flavor -- you do not need to understand, but we will play a little bit of this clip so you can get a sense, 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 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 step further, this man runs a 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 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 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 here? 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 bill burns, the deputy secretary 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.
and that is 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 will will willdecided to go on decided to go on the offensive around the world, not just play defense. including, attacking the sovereignty and integrity of our elections. 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 -- works out maybe 2-3 hours a day. he is in great shape. my prediction is we will be in this period for a longime, except for the one wildcard. donald trump. 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 -- at 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. 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 of these other things, gives a
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 administration are seeking to talk about, i think they are very narrow and i think they are 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. second, 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 about how to deal with russia. i think we are probably going to see a dramatic clash between the bannon folks what to do with russia. i will end by 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. 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 lot of drama to come and u.s. 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. 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. kisiak. is he the person that then senator sessions could meet and not remember having met? [laughter] mr. mcfaul: no. [laughter] mr. mcfaul: so, i know sergei. 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 to celebrate start and he threw a fantastic party. for all of us involved in getting the start treaty done. he's a serious guy. he is not just going to show up to talk to a senator about the ovechkin andout the capitals. 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 the word 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 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 gel men -- and 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 coordinating 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, 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 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 -- to tell them 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. 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. 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
sessions, and what will happen 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 possibly, "trump might conclude 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. as he is now beginning to fill 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 -- 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, another colleague from hoover, he has been with us. off and on 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.
-- sanctions on iran. greater investment results for america. the goals in our economic and security interests and the means are things like getting along and engaging. sometimes they need to be containment. other times it should be the basket of engagement. putin doesn't have it mixed up. the goal for donald trump is come get her -- get along i want my ratings in russia to go up. here's what we're going to do. sanctions,ng to lift endorse my work. dreams, youream of will recognize crimea as part of
russia. if you do that, i will throw you a great dinner in the kremlin. we will be friends and i will say nice things with you. that is a bad deal for america. gradually, i think they will get around to it, but right now he has that mixed up. >> is there anything couldn't can give the united states that we want that would be worth a trade or some kind of deal? i wrote a piece so you can read what i said about this or it what i said is a couple of things short-term and long-term. generalize, but when i came to the government,
there is this kind of attitude that we have done nothing wrong and we are waiting for the americans to bring us our kiss. russians -- i advise them -- because there is lots of worrying just like i hinted about the intelligence community. couldn't they say have a big role in foreign policy created one of the more popular theories is they are the ones constraining trump. flynn got fired because of them. i said a couple of things. the dynamics?ange why not lift the ban on adoptions?
ambassador, -- he can lift that in a heartbeat and i think i would have a positive resonance for him to say vladimir is not so bad. of mutuale overlap interest in small today than it was before. >> is it in the area of fighting isis? one trump likes to talk about, but that is not an original idea. from time to time, i want to be clear that we did do some sharing of intelligence that was for the benefit of both of our countries. , our main concern at
the olympics was not whether -- maybe it should then about doping. our main concern was about security. satellite office there of over 12 people, most of whom were concerned about terrorism because we wanted to protect our people at that site. with fighting isis together in syria, there are a number of problems. one, we are already fighting isis. we have a strategy and secretary mattis is going to make it more muscular. it is not obvious for people fighting the fight that russia's involvement would enhance the mission.
in fact, it could come the case emission because one of the we don't share the same definition of who is a terrorist with the russians. convinced vladimir putin wants to fight isis. the status quo is great for him. in my book, the chapter on most critical of the obama demonstration about is what we did on syria. he hasshort-term achieved his objectives while fightd -- allowing us to isis. that is a good deal for him. >> i will have born -- one more
question. you all think of your questions. do you think putin is brilliant fool?full -- 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. 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 hings. 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 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 aybe 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 inner 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 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 mentioned something powerful about -- i can relate to putin. is this diplomatic failure and 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 riend. 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 e 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 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. 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 friend. it was to advance what we were rying 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 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. some of those people, not all of them, recognize putin as the eader 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 he same origins.
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. 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. 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. you say the russian stance is mostly because of national domestic issues that he is responding to. mr. mcfaul: elites, all countries have elites. i don't have a definition, to be honest. mr. ensor: let's go to the next uestion. >> hi. as the tagline says, 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 nc, etc.
one that came out and it was exposed, wikileaks expose it. mr. mcfaul: russia exposed it, let's be clear. >> my intelligence sources, the former technical director for the nsa, say that is not conclusive. mr. mcfaul: 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. in one year they never thought bout 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. -- focus their ire there. mr. mcfaul: i disagree. 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 electric happened well before wikileaks. the data shows that. t 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
amily. -- with bernie supporters, including members of my own family. he 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. 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. 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 what they read in wikileaks. that is not having an effect on our elections? i cannot believe we are so ackadaisical 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 absolutely overwhelming that it was the russians. i don't think there is any doubt about it. even a public group, crowd 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. the other thing i know, i want a 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 o, 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 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. with the proliferation of actors 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. mr. ensor: in. >> good morning. thank you so much. very attractive and great for television. -- interactive and great for television. i am a state department correspondent. mr. mcfaul: when i lecture at tanford, journalists don by members of his team with high-level russian contacts? if so, why do you think h denying you know about them? thank you so much.
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 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,
>> do you have a narrative or a point of view of what it is? mr. mcfaul: it's a great question and sime sorry to disappoint you, i don't have a great answer. but putin's views are much easier to understand. it is rather odd to me that candidate trump, president-elect-elect trump and president trump continues to say these things that are at odd with his party.
he said that. 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 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 the chinese, and therefore the 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 ussia.
the eurasianists of the world. they had been thinking and talking about that for a long time. putin flirts with it. he has a more sophisticated view 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?
-- previous to 2013? mr. mcfaul: that is a hard question. , and it is that and it is a complex issue. i have a chapter in my book bout 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 buildup for a product of -- prodding of the government well before 2008 and revelation well before 2008. that would support your ypothesis. in real time, i was working on the campaign, we actually put
it would not have happened, in my view, had the president not 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 to the bigger question, putin understands it is too costly to re-create the soviet union. i think he took the gamble with 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. he just 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. we 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. problems of the 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 solving problems. he thinks of keeping those problems open as creating opportunities for him in the future. i think that 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 asiest 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. 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 -- moldova are integral 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 policymakers -- latvian foreign policymakers given the nature of foreign troops close to the border with russia?
how should we combat that? mr. mcfaul: all great questions. we don't have time to give great answers. i will be brief. want to end on your question. with respect to the history of georgia, there is a fantastic book by my former colleague. 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 task that they had fantastic foreign policy. i think there has been variation over time. the relationship of what force yeltsin was doing versus putin are rather different. i just 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. love stanford sports.
last weekend, i am sorry to bore you with that, local trivia, but we played one of the best teams in the country, oregon. we were down two with seven econds left. i would caution people that 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
-- former president ilvis to speak next year. he will answer that question uch better than i could. i think being in nato is an 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. i don't 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. ne of my colleagues at stanford, he wrote a famous
article and book that is usually cartoonized, and i am about to 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 eel 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. e 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. here 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. what becomes the mechanisms, the
means, it is probably snapchat. those platforms, we need to think more seriously about. mr. ensor: voa is on snapchat. mr. mcfaul: i am glad to hear that. e 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 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. those are ideas of modernization 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. i remember one 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 have been at the may 6 demonstration. everybody raised their hand. asked how many plan to go again. one person raised their and. a very young man. 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. in the long run, 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.