tv Former Ambassador Michael Mc Faul Discusses State of U.S.- Russia Relations CSPAN March 5, 2017 3:29pm-5:30pm EST
not to my knowledge. >> anything at trump tower? >> no. >> anything to change the subject from where the heat is. as one who has been engaged in the intelligence for a long time, i can tell you it is just ridiculous for president trump to say that president obama would ever order any wiretap of an american citizen. it is just not -- we don't do that. is a smear. you make up something and then you have the press write about it and then say everybody is writing about the charge. it is the tool of an authoritarian to always be talking about what you want them to talk about. then to take a to the congress and say, we are investigating
bringing -- and he is not in favor of them investigating anything including what to the russians have on donald trump politically and or personally, that that is the truth we need to know. >> what -- >> white house press secretary sean spicer said this morning, calling for the investigation. he said neither the white house nor the president will comment further until such oversight is conducted. >> tonight on "q&a," talks about his front-page story, about the career and downfall of a former lobbyist for one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
sort of want to wait and see if anything else came public about iis guy, and a year later started looking into his life and his campaign donations, his and what made you want to stop drug lobbyists. at 8 p.m. eastern on c-span's "q&a." >> on friday, former u.s. ambassador to russia michael mcfaul discussed u.s.-russia relations at george washington university's institute of public diplomacy and global communication. this is 2 hours. ♪ >> good morning, everyone. welcome to the annual walter lecture, cosponsored by the institute for public diplomacy and the atlantic council.
janet steele, the director of the institute for public policy and global communication. this annual lecture is paid for by the walter r. roberts endowment for walter roberts is a pioneer in the field of public diplomacy and was also a faculty member at george washington. we're not to have several of the board members of the endowment with us today. we have the board chair and walter roberts's daughter-in-law, patricia. we are so grateful for your support. ambassador mcfaul is a very busy man. in fact, we had been trying to get him to come and be our speaker for two years. this effort began with my .redecessor in the spirit of you never know
when you are having good luck, we are really thankful we got in here today because i think this is the perfect time to hear this lecture. interestingly, i hear it on good authority from bruce gregory, who's also a huge name in public diplomacy, the walter roberts himself wanted ambassador mcfaul to be our speaker. that's pretty nice. david ensor is going to introduce ambassador mcfaul. i want to introduce david ensor, ,ho reported for cnn, abc news and national public radio. he's been enough -- moscow, rome ,, and our former roberts lecturer from last year. we have last year's lecture moderating a discussion with this year's lecturer. a tradition we hope to continue, ambassador mcfaul. let me tell you what the plan is.
you know, c-span is here, and we also -- we are streaming on facebook live. andut down on cummings goings, ambassador mcfaul is going to speak for about 40 minutes, and then followed by that there will be a moderated discussion led by david ensor, and that we believe about 30 minutes for questions from the and that we believe about 30 minutes for questions from the audience. we hope that you will feel free to tweet, theshtag is #mcfaulatgw. when youare tweeting, pull out your phone to tweet, silent,ake sure it is otherwise he will be on c-span. with no further do, ambassador mcfaul, thank you so much. -- ado, ambassador mcfaul, thank you so much. [applause] mcfaul: my thanks to janet
steele and the institute for .ublic policy i first met michael mcfaul in moscow in nearly 1990's when he and a russian colleague set of the moscow carnegie center, and we were all watching the dramatic events as boris yeltsin killed off communism, the soviet union broke up, the first chechen war was waged, and many other events that were pretty fascinating, certainly for a reporter and any observer from the west. he was already one of the most astute observers of the moscow scene, and we journalists always found him approachable and quotable, as i'm sure you will today. as another american journalist was also there a little earlier but in those rough days, period, david remnick of "the new moscow at that time was a hedge, irresistible to anyone with even a trace of
democratic idealism and a sense of fellow feeling from the russians. the sense of historical trauma was incredible. we all debated, i'm sure you did with your colleagues, could russia finally throw off autocratic, thuggish government? was there a real change in the offing here? it seemed that might happen. as a friend of russia and russians, ambassador mcfaul, mcfaul, worked overtime to encourage reforms. we knew it wouldn't be easy or quick, but we thought it might be possible. it was not to be. mcfaultime ambassador went to moscow in 2012, his best efforts to improve the relationship were dim to fail. in the second term of latimer putin, as president, putin invaded crimea and sent little green men into eastern ukraine. the kremlin appeared to have that ambassador mcfaul was an intelligence
officer, with the task of fomenting another color revolution in moscow. so he was followed, pressured, badgered. they took histe, openhearted activism to be a cover for cunning. not too long ago, ambassador mcfaul was informed that he's at least for now no longer welcome in moscow. dramatic times we both watched together. before that, as president obama's top adviser on russia, mike was one of the key architects of our nation's policy towards that country, including the famous reset that allowed some key collaboration to occur before it had to be abandoned. to tell usely placed today what work in his view vis-a-vis vladimir putin, what did not, and perhaps what might work for the new administration. now if stanford, ambassador mcfaul is professor of political science and director and senior fellow at the stokely institute for international studies as well as the peter and helen bing
senior fellow at the hoover institution. 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 relationships between ourselves and the russians. let us nowe ado, together welcome to the podium, m ambassador -- ambassador mcfaul. [applause] mr. mcfaul: thank you, david. my mic is on, slides are a. i'm shocked at how many people are here. this many people don't get up for stanford university for a lecture. i'm very impressed with gw students. part of the reason i delayed -- the city has an army, literally hundreds, maybe thousands of people that follow
russia. i always kept saying, why do you need me? morning joe's this talking about the ambassador who i used to work with, but i don't work with him anymore. so rather than talk about what's in the newspapers today, which i'm sure david and i will do during the questions and answers, and if you have russians about that, i have opinions about that very i thought i would come here with my more academic had. first and foremost i am a so rather thanprofessor, i had r titles in the past but i was professor before, i'm professor now, i will be a professor to the end of my days. i will be buried at stanford university. that is my home and that's what i'm going to do. i want to spend about 30 or 40 minutes asking some big questions before we hone into what is served for lunch. i want to start with reminding -- i want to start by
see theg you of where i basic story of u.s.-russian relations today. i think it's one of the most confrontational moments we've periods during the cold war. people say, is it a cold war? we can debate that later. certainly the level of confrontation, you have to go deep into the cold war to remember a time. you can all see these basic fact s, right? russia has annexed territory, intervened in the neighborhood, carpet bombed in syria. meddling in u.s. elections, that is new. that did not even happen during the cold war. that has happened now. we are at 80% negative approval rating right now in terms of russian people. will debate later. for clinton, i don't think this conflict is just about some kind of narrow definition of national
interest. i think for him, this is an ideological confrontation. not about communism versus capitalism, communism versus democracy. but he is about the imperial america, the decadent west, the nazis and ukraine. these are all ideological terms. he thinks he's anchoring an ideological alternative to the west and the united states. respect, a feels a little bit like a major confrontation. different from the cold war, but theuld say, in terms of bigness of it, not unlike the cold war. most certainly worse than some of the late eras of the cold war . in terms of response to that, i would say our response, we the west, we of the obama administration -- we will get into trouble later -- i'm going to get to trump -- the response has been pretty big. after russia went into ukraine
in his speech to the united nations, obama said there are three sets in the world. ebola, isis, and russia. you can imagine that listed not -- listwell in moscow did not go down well in moscow. i give this speech other places, i feel more confident, i'm in washington, george washington university. i see lots of people here who might know the full totality of u.s.-russian relations better than i do. but i think going back all the wayi give this speech other pla, i feel more confident, i'm in to win john quincy adams was our first ambassador to moscow, we've never had the chief of staff of the kremlin on a sanctions slice. altra the cold war, that never happened. it happened today. we kicked russia out of the g8. new sanctions after the elections. in our country, it depends what poll you look at. the majority of americans think
rush is an enemy again. if you are republican, the data also shows those republicans are less worried about the russians then they were just two years .go we know what the causality there is. in general, we are back to this confrontation. all of this happened, most of the seventh 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. we know what the causality there is. [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 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. aid we rehearsed -- and we 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 cruiser, i no longer had 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 to our -- two lectures, so we have a lot of time. i want to answer a simple gym. what happened 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. 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 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? very popular theory in moscow. very popular theory at the university of chicago. part of this is true. anybody from moldova? ok, good. [laughter]
mr. mcfaul: i actually love moldova. it is a great country. i travel there with the vice president. he got one of the largest crowds ever. 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 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. 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. right away. after world war ii. i will come back to that if you are interested. but revising borders, we are not 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 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 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.
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? 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. something more proximate has to be added. i'm a little nervous in this crowd. especially people who speak russian, but i dare you, during 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 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 of, -- russia, we are not the old soviet russia. that was the message.
and it was from the people in charge, people that i knew. and i was really struck by one episode in particular. they would go across the 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 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. the first is that, we were too 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 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 coup that later led to the clash of the soviet union. 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. and 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. -- will become, we will not realize it. part of it is true. all those things happened. but in between all of that drama all those things happened. 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 house and i was -- 2009, my first day working at the white house and i would look at these 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 -- 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] mr. mcfaul: 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 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 was serving for obama said, you 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 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. we almost pulled it down, but i 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 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. 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 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. 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. 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. but it did not happen that way, in part because of domestic things locally, but in part because mid dead of -- medvedev 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 really reminiscing about stanford. maybe he would like to become a senior fellow at stanford. [laughter] he came to stanford, his big speech by the way. 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. 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 cameras went away, was led to build -- 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. 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. 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. even vladimir 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. 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 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 -- response, and it is merkel 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 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. 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 the demonstrations in russia against the regime in 2011 and 2012. first, so 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. 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. let me paraphrase this. day. 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. medvedev fought 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 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 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 putin, he had a very different world view from medvedev. 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 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 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 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 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. 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. 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 the way. and those for photos i just 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 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 -- it, and then spend -- 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 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] 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 -- 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 -- 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 project, i sent somebody to yale. why would i do that? [laughter] mr. mcfaul: but this became my
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 are that big. -- 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] sense, or maybe we can't. 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. 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 around the world, not just play defense. including attacking the sovereignty and integrity of our elections. >> there's good news and bad news and i will end on this. i don't think there is a master design to re-create the soviet union. the plan changed over time. it was more of a tactical, emotional response in real time. nor do i think there is some use oral or historical ca because of the balance of power we are destined to have conflict with russia. centric is a actor story not a structural.
is not news is putin changing his mind. not going to change at all. until be in power legally 2024. my prediction is that we will be for as period we are in long time except for one wildcard. donald trump. you all know because you live in washington, you follow the story more closely than i do. the wild enthusiasm for donald trump in moscow until the last couple of weeks. donald trump has said some things that are in russia's national interests. he said i would like to lift sanctions, i'm not sure about this nato thing. putin wouldgs mr. want to see happen.
wasenthusiasm for trump real in moscow and i think president trump's enthusiasm for this reset 2.0 israel. this resetw mr. -- 2.0 and we will talk about it. i don't know mr. trump personally. all these revolutions against regimes were cap -- creating all the anxiety. the arab spring is over, the opposition in russia has constrained. the biggest drama is ukrainian democracy but it is not a front and center burner in terms of our conflict with russia. there are two permits his condition -- permissive conditions, trump's worldview in the absence of these other things. i'm not optimistic.
i think the agenda for cooperation is small. back in 2009 we had a big agenda. a lot of that is off the table. table, wto ishe off the table and when you kill it back, the thing that the trump administration are thinking. i think they are very narrow your i think they are making they think they are going to peel putin away in some kind of grand judeo-christian alliance. second, you can does need an enemy and dependent and they we're going to forget, we for fighting -- we were fighting the nazis and now we're going to order with the nazis. he has his nationalist edits at home. and it seems as the team is
being sold out people have a different view than the president on how to deal with russia. i think we will see a dramatic bannon folks the folks in terms of what to do on russia. it raises the political cost of trump to make this with russia. i'm not too optimistic but we should keep watching. the one wildcard in all of this is our new president. i don't know what he really believes. but he is certainly demonstrating a willingness and intention to sometimes do rather out of the box, dramatic things. my guess is there is going to the a lot of drama to come.
-- going to be a lot of drama to come. thank you very much, you have been very patient. [applause] >> that was quite a tour de force. let me ask you now to put on your former ambassador and analyst pat for a minute -- hat for a minute and i'm going to put on my former journalist cap. kll me first about mr. lysseak. is he the kind of person that then senator sessions could have met and then not a member meeting. >> i know sergei, i know slyak.ador ki
think somebody recorded it, he came to the obama white house 22 times. that is because we were doing a lot of distance. i have been to his house. it is a mansion. we went out there one afternoon and he through this fantastic party. involved getting the star treatment. kislyak is a serious guy. he's not going to show up to talk to a senator in the capital. it is hard to imagine meeting him and forgetting about him at all but especially at a moment when the story of russian hacking -- i like the word
hacking, i think hacking makes it sound to grade school. that was happening when there were meetings. now he had subsequently directed -- corrected the record that he remembers him. he also remembers the content of the conversation. it is normal to meet with russians, i do it all the time. i used to do it more times when i could travel there area it is , the about the stories cover-up. that makes it all strange. i don't understand that. that is out of my areas of expertise. >> how explicit the think they would have been in discussions with trump allies like the two gentlemen you just mentioned? we are talking about discussions that happened when the campaign was going on. how implicit with a been about a
conversation, this is what you are going to do, was it possible there was coronation? with respect to coordination about the campaign, that is the number one question. that is when everything gets really areas. oner this point, especially the record here as we are today, i'm not willing to speculate about that because of the data is not there. that is why, by the way, i'm so passionate about the need for a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate that because that is the only way we intooing to turn leakers witnesses and if we don't do that, we will never know that story. what i can say about previous interactions with the diplomats including kislyak, of course he is meeting with senator sessions
not to talk about what his committee is doing, he care less about that. he is talking to them to find out what candidate trump is a thinking and planning about for policy. that is obvious. if he wasn't doing that, he would not be doing his job. his job is to write a table back to moscow to tell them what he will think the new policy of the new trump administration will be. the record is overwhelming including things president who can himself said that they preferred trump. you don't need a phd in russian studies to figure that out. says i will look into recognizing crimea and the other candidates as we will never recognize crimea, guess who they prefer. i think he was prodding and trying to find out with greater
fidelity what they would be in a new trump administration. i want to remind everybody we now know that senator sessions became the attorney general. >> this confirmation -- conversation about russia and america is so timely. my favorite magazine happens to be the "new yorker close to have seen the cover? and the name of the new yorker is in cyrillic. and with a monocle of disapproval, president clinton -- president putin is looking at an insect flying here. burnett --e by david david rignet and others, suggest that after the last week, the nn andure of one -- fly
what is happening with sessions, there are even democrats calling for mr. sessions to resign. i'm sure he will, at this stage, maybe never. we have a lot of smoke in the air. the article suggests that trump might conclude he no longer has the political our latitude -- little latitude to in sanctions against moscow. for someone who is look at this relationship for as long if you have, do you think that is possibly true or do you feel that there's still plenty of latitude for a new president to do deals with russia question mark --? >> there is a lot of latitude for sure. the cost domestically of doing
the breakthrough things he promised in the campaign have gone a lot higher. oute is now begun to fill his team, is a long way to go, but it is clear there is not consistence and how to deal with russia. secretary matus is a colleague of mine. the last three years before taking on this assignment, i want him to speak on the record on this. but i used to speak with him quite a bit on these issues. he does not strike me as someone who has a romantic vision about this alliance like others like mr. van have talked about -- mr.bannon have talked about. speak at mysed to institute next week, that just got canceled this morning. but the topics he was coming to talk about because i have been
interacting with him and his team on it is how to deter russia and europe -- russia in europe. not exactly the same framework you heard from candidate trump. i think it has been more constrained. sobiggest criticism of trump far and the way he talks about russia policy is he gets -- he mixes up objectives and means. he has said it at least two dozen times wouldn't it be nice if we could just get along with russia? as if that's the goal of u.s. for policy is to get along with russia. i don't think it should ever be the goal of u.s. for policy to get along with anyone. allied or not. iran,al is sanctions on the goal is building ndn.
the goal is bringing russia into the wto so that leads into greater investment results for america. the goals are things that are in our security interests and then the means are things like getting along or engagement. beetimes they need to containment and courses, sometimes they need to be isolationist and sometimes in that basket of engagement. putin does not have it mixed up. if the goal from donald trump is to get along, i love my ratings in russia to go up, putin says i have a great deal for you, donald. you're going to lift the sanctions, endorse my war in syria, you're going to talk about spheres of influence, and then in his a dream of dreams, you're going to recognize crimea to be part of russia. if you do all that i will throw
you a great dinner in the kremlin and we will be friends and i will say nice things about you. that is a bad deal for american national interest and i think he has that mixed up. >> is there anything that putin can get the united states that we want that would be worth the some kind of a trade of interest. >> i wrote a piece for russian station.cian -- radio for russian speakers, you can read what i think about this. they asked that question to me a couple weeks ago. i said a couple of things. term, i don't want to generalize, certainly when i came into the government, there is this attitude like we have
done nothing wrong, we're just waiting for the americans to -- gifts.our gist if the russians helped trump to win, they expected payoff, but i , there'sdvised them also worrying and slipping away. community,gence putin thinks they have a top role in foreign policy. the theory in moscow is it they are the ones can raining -- constraining trump. the cold war years at the pentagon and the intelligence community, that is their theory. i said, you want to change the identity -- change the dynamics, why don't you lift the ban on adoption. when i was ambassador, to 10
nned adoptionsba from american. he could lift that and it could have a positive residence to create more space for people like trump to say vladimir is not so bad. on the things i'm less optimistic, one, the overlap of the mutual interest is smaller today than it was before. >> is it in the area of fighting isis? >> i would just remind you all, 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, we did do some sharing of intelligence, it was it to the benefit of both of our countries. sochi, our main concern --
maybe it should not have been -- maybe it was about doping, but our main concern was security. office,d up a satellite most of him were concerned about terrorism because we wanted to protect our people from that site. the problem of the larger -- my friends at the pentagon will a you that the problem with fighting isis together in syria, there are a number of problems, one, we are already fighting them. let's remember, it is called operation inherit resolved. you can google that and see what we're doing. we have a strategy and maybe secretary matthis is going to make it more muscular. it is not obvious to the people who are fighting that fight that having a important in
successful mission. one of the complications is about intelligence. -- we't care the same don't share the same intelligence or opinion about people who are terrorists with the russians. they may be targeting people who we think should not be targeted. i am not convinced that vladimir putin wants to fight isis. in my chapter that i most critical of the obama administration about is during the short term he has achieved his objective all the while allowing us to fight isis. if they did deal. i'm going to have one more question. thinkquestion is, do you
putin is brilliant you think he is a fool? we have syria, ukraine, interference in the u.s. elections. welcome to the george washington university -- somewhere innd between those two extremes. president putin is a very smart guy. he is not a full. ofirst met him in the spring 1991. it is not like we are best buddies or penpals but i have known him for a long time. i have observed him, i've written about him for a long time. and then for five years in the government, i dealt with him in pretty small circles of close. i would not call him a fool. day,he at the end
i just don't believe in his definition of russia's national interests. i want russia to be strong, i want russia to be rich. i'm not afraid of those things. that is where i part ways with some of my bird -- some of my former colleague in the government. president obama said those things -- i'm paraphrasing -- that i think he gave a really great speech -- and underappreciated. one that i help to write. in july 2000 9 -- and go look it up. it is a different kind of today are typical u.s.-russian the area it is not a's about you want to get along with russia and we love you and i really love russian and let's hold hands. it is not that at all. it says, here is what we're
trying to do in the. -- world. he has five objective and he says i don't understand why this would not be a russian objective. that is the structure of the speech. and my complaint or argument with putin is i think russia could be a great country. russia could be a thriving and russiacountry could be a great power in the international system. i don't believe the strategy that he is choosing is realizing that objective. and that is where i think he is insecure about those other things. he fears democracy because he fears control. and i think he flirted with some of those other anxiety said 15 years ago that integration might be good, that markets might be good area now he is in this defensive, anti-western posture
and i think in the long term that does not serve russian interests. history proves that that strategy can work for short term that is not a winner for the long-term. >> it is time for you to ask questions. there's a microphone in the middle aisle, why don't you make the usualme washington county ops, we are asking for questions, not speeches. please say who you are, if you have an affiliation you would like to mention. >> i am walter, i cannot say thank you for that lecture enough but i want to say thank the voice of america. you mentioned something powerful in this lecture regarding autocratic's and what is the
difference between autocratic's and elite. aboutntioned something police democracy and i can putin. also to diplomacy is also in favor when the western nations interfere with independent countries and tell them how to do and if they don't do it they get punished. putin sees that the vision because western civilization in the west have a problem of its own. what is the real definition of diplomacy? >> there were three questions,
on the third one, i disagree with you. i think the job of a diplomat is to execute the foreign policy of the country he is serving. neighbor, invoke my george schultz, when he was , he had thisstate big load in his office and he would say go point on the globe to your country. and i think he writes about it in his book but i told him tell his antidote may times. most of the ambassadors would go point i'm going to argentina or south africa and george would spend the globe back and they know, that is not your country. your country is the united states of america. you're going there to represent us, not to be friends with them. that is a dramatic way of saying that part of being a good diplomat is to develop relationships.
i think most people in this room would be surprised at the kind of relationship i had with very senior government officials, some of whom i've known for 25 years. i'm cartoon eyes -- cartoonized withis guy who hung out nepal the -- nivaldi. i never met him. timesinto him at a moscow 20th anniversary. that, you have to cultivate those relationships. i have very useful relationships at a high level. friend,ever to be their it was to advance what we are trying to do. your middle question was about poland. i would say here, i'm not an expert on poland.
i have lived there a couple times a long time ago but i haven't been following things closely. there is at this moment of is partn which poland of that drama of the rise of populism and liberal democracies. some of this people -- and not as thethem see putin ill-liberale international. it is an important question to study. i'm not prepared to say that populism in every country has the same origin. maybe some do and some don't. nismalso not sure that puti isn't the same as of these other things. i would say that there are populist, nationalists that
think putin is of the enemy inside russia. but is it a phenomenon that is happening that i think should get more attention, my answer to that is yes. leaders --ts versus elites. -- i'mts is a term putting on my political science have. i am written a whole chapter on how to define democracy. democracy is a system of government where competitive elections over offices that matter where the outcome of the election is uncertain. that is the definition of democracy in short firm -- short form. --amous polish >> and delete -- elites?
mr. mcfaul: elites, all countries have elites. i don't have a definition, to be honest. mr. ensor: let's go to the next question. >> 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 dnc, etc. when 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 about russia except for maybe vodka. all of a sudden many americans are against russia. it seems to me the pivot point for that was this, in my opinion, it was a red herring thrown out by the democratic party to take the onus off of what they actually did and put it on a foreign power to get americans to focus their. -- 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 electorate happened well before wikileaks. the data shows that. it happened because of what russia did in ukraine. the clinton campaign was trying to talk about that, taking that would be important. -- thinking that would be important. turned out it was not ordered .nough to drive both the data is pretty clear. that happened well before wikileaks. number two, i have had many interactions with bernie
supporters, including members of my own family. the argument that you are upset about what you saw happen in the dnc, i take your point. i'm not as upset. in the longer political conversation without cameras on, i can tell you what i think there was much more ado about something i thought was smaller and especially from a candidate who only joined the party a year before. that is a partisan political thing. i want you 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 lose? 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 lackadaisical about this. we don't really care about where this came from, but now i know the truth. that is really dangerous.
one, i disagree. i have read the reports. i think the evidence is 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've dealt with cyber issues as you can imagine because i worked on the russia account. you have only seen the tip of the iceberg of what russia can do, what china can do, what the iranians can do. what high school kids in hollow
out the content. 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. [applause] mr. ensor:
next question. >> good morning. thank you so much. very interactive and great for television. [laughter] i am a state department correspondent. mr. mcfaul: when i lecture at stanford, journalists don't show up. >> i have 46 questions from 46 languages that we have. mr. mcfaul: ask one and tweet me the rest. >> first of all you mentioned the russian ambassador is a serious person. how do you categorize and as a diplomat -- him as a diplomat and his ability to collect intelligence? do you think president trump knew of or approved of meetings by members of his team with high-level russian contacts?
if so, why do you think he is denying he about them? thank you so much. mr. mcfaul: with respect to your first question, i think the ambassador is a very successful ambassador. i think he is underrated. he has a different style. he has a different set of objectives than other ambassadors. why isn't he showing up more at the carnegie endowment for international he's 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 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, by the way, i remember. foreign delegations come to these conventions. we most certainly did not have the number of meetings -- i did there, butith kislyak members of parliament came. i am struck by how many meetings and how senior people, we now know jared kushner, general flynn multiple times. i am wondering, i don't pretend i know why, but you should be focused on winning the election and getting your team together during the transition and hiring some people. that is something you should think about during the transition. that just seems different than my experience. after president-elect obama began the transition and moved to chicago, we had a very strict
rule of one president at a time. in between, there was a g 20 summit. lots of leaders came to washington, and we said nobody gets to come to chicago. we don't want to talk to you guys. about what mr. trump knew and what he did, i don't know. i think the american people deserve to know. that is why we need this independent investigation, the commission. i personally don't know. mr. ensor: next question. >> retired foreign service officer. mr. mcfaul: thank you for your service. >> thank you. you are kind. i remain befuddled and i hope you can help me. i keep trying to find a narrative that makes sense in terms of our interests or other people's interests as to why the
very pro-putin, pro-russian posture that has been evident, but i don't understand it. do you have a narrative or point of view on what it is? mr. mcfaul: it is a great question. i am sorry to disappoint you. i don't have a great answer. i have an answer. putin's views are much easier for me to understand given the things i said earlier. it is rather odd to me that candidate trump, president-elect trump, and now president trump continues to say these things that are at odds with his own party. there is almost no one in his party that speaks the way he does about mr. putin. tore was no electoral upside
go back to the election. to say those kinds of things. i know more about foreign policy than american electoral politics. i want to underscore it is mysterious to me as well. what do i see? one, i do think he has a pretty simple notion that i should engage with leaders and get along, and that will be good for america. i think he believes that. i think he believes that irrespective of all these conflicts we were talking about, his business ventures, what he may or may not have done when he was at the miss universe pageant. i think he just believes those things. those are his beliefs. number two, i think he admires this kind of blunt speaking style that putin has. he said that. i take him at his word.
he kind of things that is the later he wants to be. 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 very that says we are being rented 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 isinst these threats. that -- you can read about it at breitbart. it is a theory of the world that most certainly has ideological fellow travelers inside russia. the eurasianists of the world.
they have 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. -- explanation. >> 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 to the pivot point in
2013? mcfaul: that is a hard question. and it is a complex issue. i have a chapter in my book about it. i would say a couple of things. one, there is this technique we use in political science, the counterfactual. if certain factors were not there, would you have had the same outcome? there was most certainly a buildup for a prodding of the feeling -- -- prodding of the government well before 2008 and revelation well before 2008. that would support your hypothesis. in real time, i was working on the campaign, we actually put out a statement about it in august of 2008.
i'm sure the mccain campaign did as well now that i think about it. i was just with senator mccain in munich sitting around with colleagues of mine who worked on that campaign. we were talking about this. there was a nervousness about that. it would not have happened, in my view, had the president not taken the action that he did with the military. it was a trap set for him. i know the bush administration was trying to work with them to prevent that. i would say they have not yet annexed in that territory. i think more generally, to get putin bigger question,
understands it is too costly to re-create the soviet union. thisnk you to gamble with project and 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. they figured out they were not going to be able to hold that border and he backed away from that. he is comfortable with ambiguity about borders and outcomes. >> he likes it, in fact. mr. mcfaul: 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.
that is what engineers to do. putin is very comfortable about not 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 ambiguity. mr. ensor: i'm going to take the prerogative. we do need to wind up here. the next three questions, one of you ask your questions, and then you can answer whatever bits you can offer any value on. mr. mcfaul: i will answer the easiest ones. >> voice of america. i am georgian. not all 46 of us are lined up here. 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 said 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, moldova are integral parts of europe, do you think u.s. has had consistent policies towards them? russians have been consistent in their policies toward the region and there has been much confusion on the u.s. side. i am from business media group in latvia. 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 latvian foreign policymakers given the nature of foreign troops close to the border with russia? troops close to the border with russia and 40% of russian population living in latvia -- russian speaking population in latvia. >> >> i am a senior studying international affairs. mr. mcfaul: fantastic. >> i am about hybrid warfare in -- i'm curious about hybrid warfare in the post-soviet state. there is this question how we should combat russian propaganda and the spread of this -- this information. how should we combat that? contributing to the narrative of putin with the u.s. as a agent. mr. mcfaul: all great questions.
we don't have time to give great answers. i will be brief. i 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 historical account. with respect to russia versus us in the region and the national interest, i'm not prepared to give russia this task as they had some fantastic, consistent policy over the last 25 years. i think there has been variation over time. the relationship of what world is yeltsin wasbor 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. i 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 seconds left. we threw the ball in, and he fumbled the ball, and we lost. after we lost, as we were walking out, all of these friends of mine, including -- i should not name people, but people you would think would not be so obsessed with basketball. they are all accessing. -- they are all assessing about why did we do this. one says that point guard was so awful, he threw the ball away seven times. he had seven turnovers. this is one example. if our guide turned around and -- if our guy had turned around and made the shot and we would
have one, nobody would have remembered those seven turnovers. that would not have been part of the explanation for the win. we would have talked about the heroic efforts of the people who scored. this because i'm writing about this right now, this struck because we are in this moment of confrontation that we line up everything that happened over the last 30 years and say it was all inevitable because putin is a genius or the russians are the way they are, or because the democrats, whether they are georgian or ukrainian or russian democrats are idiots. that is another narrative that is out there. i would caution people that there is way more variation, way more contingency in this story. it could have been a lot different. tragically, it could've been a lot different. with respect to the baltic states, i would just say, invite current colleague, former
president ilvis to speak next year. he will answer that question much better than i could. i would just say that 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 -- and then i am about those states that are not in nato. i think that line matters a great deal and 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. -- colleague in the white house. >> your last question about this information that -- disinformation, my answer is yes, of course. one of my colleagues at stanford, he wrote a famous article and book that is usually
cartoonized, and i am about to do that now. i apologize. there is a lot more to the argument. thinking about when you and i were in moscow together i , remember the day at the hoover institution when we celebrated the end of the cold war and the victory of liberty, the victory of freedom. it was inevitable that these ideas were going to take hold. there was no other alternative i -- alternative idea. other countries were going to take more time, but it did feel like a moment like that. obviously, today it does not feel like a moment like that. i think we took for granted and did not invest, if i look at things i wrote and did, we just assumed democracy, best system of government. horrible system of government
except for all of the others. eventually everyone would learn that fact. we did not help them learn that fact. we did not do enough to propagate ideas about democracy. markets had some self-interested reasons for people to learn about them. it is hard to take a class in moscow today about democratic theory. there are some. it is not on every syllabus in every class in russia. 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 think we are not engaged in that intellectual debate. what becomes the mechanisms, the means, it is probably snapchat. snapchat
those platforms we need to think , more seriously about. mr. ensor: voa is on snapchat. mr. mcfaul: i am glad to hear that. we don't have time to think about the restructuring of the u.s. government, but it think we need to start first with the ideas. i think we are playing defense right now. we 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. i say to people like this, 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. i asked how many plan to go again. one person raised their hand. a very young man. i turned to someone else, and i asked why aren't you planning to go? she said to me, i am the bread winner in our family. i have two kids. i cannot afford to be arrested. that does not mean she changed her preferences. 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. we have to be invested in trying to nurture them. mr. ensor: wonderful. thank you. thank you very much. [applause]