tv Washington Journal Michael O Hanlon Discusses U.S.- Russia Relations CSPAN July 10, 2017 3:45am-4:40am EDT
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brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. welcome back, michael. he is a research fellow at the brookings institution, out with a new book. guest: nice to be with you. what is your take away on the meeting with president putin? guest: it did what it had to do. we will continue to learn more, perhaps about things that may have been said, we don't know yet if president trump really try to forgive mr. putin for election shenanigans, we will learn more about that in the days and weeks to comp. i thought what needed to happen was pretty much accomplished. a certain amount of firmness in mr. trump explaining that certain russian behavior had been unacceptable and and there was never to start building a working relationship.
you mentioned my book, i'm trying to argue and other people are as well that we need to find ways to collaborate with russia and defuse the tension. the problem is mostly russia possible in the relationship, but we have to work. see president trump and putin have a meeting and talk about substance seemed to get some kind of an ok report going. predecessor started out strong with putin and then wind it up deeply frustrated. i'm not suggesting huge progress, but it was what i expected and what i hoped for. the: if you could read diplomatic tea leaves with regard to the election hacking issue, two printer -- perspectives from what we saw from sergei lavrov and rex tillerson. guest: president putin doesn't really speak the truth, spin is a kind word for what he does.
i'm not necessarily concerned about how each president reports what happened, i'm more worried about knowing the president trump is sending a stern message to the russians, this can't be tolerated and not is consistent with a good relationship, not to mention what he has been doing in ukraine. as long as that message is being sent just -- not just by mr. trump's occasional rhetoric, but in american policy, i think we are ok regardless of what the tea leaves turn out to claim might have been said. host: the president has been tweeting this morning and with regard to election and cyber security he said putin and i discussed an impenetrable cyber security unit. -- let me get your reaction to that first. sure what that
means because certainly russian hackers are among the world's biggest problem in cyberspace. there is no way to create a unit that just becomes impenetrable or at least that makes everybody else's sin am -- systems impenetrable. a largecurity will be problem for a long time and i don't think we can view russians as partners in this endeavor. occasionally we can exchange information and collaborate, we should expect they're trying to learn from every interaction to figure out how to break in to our system. there are fundamentally competitive rivalries when it comes to cyberspace and that concerns me because it suggests a little bit of wishful thinking. host: questions are asked about why the cia and fbi had asked the dnc 13 times for the server and were rejected. still don't. guest: there are a lot of people who did not do well in the u.s. in the -- in terms of enhancing cyber security. problem, we cause a
were not resilient or smart about how we reacted and that extended to president obama's mistake not to explain before election day what we knew to be going on. president obama was concerned it would somehow look like he was taking sides. but if you're the top law enforcement officer you have to tell people what is going on. a lot of agencies and organizations on the u.s. side did not get up to snuff last year. what is done is done, now we have to learn and be better. back in april, vladimir putin continues to make this difficult and as investigations ,e up into russian interference most of trump's top national security team is reverting to anti-russia rhetoric. if we continue down this path, a u.s. russia war could erupt rubbed over a contested area in europe. to reduce the risk we need to develop an alternative, one that promotes the security and
prosperity of the neutral countries in eastern europe. nato --e know expanded we have now expanded nato to 29 countries, the last one was montenegro. as of 2008 we are promising eventual relation -- membership to ukraine and georgia. georgia is not even in europe. nato is was to be a european and north american union. i think we have pushed this too far. what is done is done. a good reason to try it. it also had a predictable effect on u.s. russian relations. fundamentally, vladimir putin is the number one problem in this would wehip, but how feel if we had been engaged in a cold war for decades and in the organization the defeated us expanded to include canada and mexico. that is essentially what we are doing with nato.
even though the intentions are good and we are not using military force to threaten them, at a psychological level it is hard for russians to accept. they feel it we are rubbing it in their face in the victory in the cold war. that gives putin the basis to -- i'm not suggesting the behavior is defensible, but the way he uses nato expansion to create political support for this behavior at home was predictable and i think we have to figure out how to change the dynamic, especially because we are not about to bring ukraine and georgia into nato anyway. we promise to to do so and therefore made it appealing for putin to meddle in their affairs to try and keep them out because as long as there is turmoil, we will not bring them in. been invaded by russia since the time when we made that promise. i think we have to figure out a way to negotiate a neutral zone that would allow these countries , basicallyfreedom
saying nato is now big enough. host: i want to ask about north korea. you wrote about toughening shank -- sanctions make sense, but that alone will not suffice. how do you deal with the problem? guest: there is not an easy answer, but i think we have to start considering the idea of going for a deal that would freeze north korea's nuclear frow graham -- program rather than immediately imagining dismantling it. they see nuclear weapons as a crucial way to make sure what happened to saddam hussein did not happen to them. host: you think they have the capacity? guest: everyone in the intelligence community that i things they have. we have been wrong before in that assertion. they had a reactor they operated for a long time. we watch them shut that down, we note where the plutonium reprocessing occurs. they said they have secret
uranium enrichment facilities. the estimates are they have enough material for one or two dozen bombs and they have set five off. , 2006re tested five times m and four times in the obama administration. the heart is to know if they can is to them -- hard part know if they can deploy them. that requires a smaller weapon and a reentry vehicle that can survive the turbulence of reentry. more than 1000t degrees, it is very easy for a warhead to be destroyed. canre pretty confident they put a lebanon an airplane. penetrateplane could air defense, they could put on soil. they also put on a shorter range where the issue is less damaging.
we pretty much know this is a big problem. host: one final point and will get to callers. can you squeeze north korea from both ends? should russia and china which i believe are its leading trading partners. guest: there is india as well and a number other countries. i'd you have to squeeze multilaterally. you have to squeeze on those countries that won't comply with the sanctions. we have to start indirectly creating the pressure. host: is that feasible? guest: yes, that is what led to the iran nuclear deal. i also believe we need to consider a freeze is the first step in a u.s. north korea negotiation. if we can verifiably make sure they are not producing nuclear material anymore and all we have to do is give up our biggest exercises with south korea to get that, i would. host: beyond nato, a new security architecture for eastern europe, the latest book by michael o'hanlon.
you can read his work at the parking's website. marion from virginia. caller: thank you so much. veryestion is from the beginning with tromp, we saw he was very partial towards putin and then all of the seven or eight insiders and the trump campaign seemed to have connections with russia and now just this morning we have heard donaldhe meeting that junior had. trumpl question is appointed rex tillerson, who is the x ceo of exxon and then we got putin who said of the sanctions are lifted, which i assume that is what putin is putin will stand to make half $1 trillion and so
will exxon making a lot of money since they have that land there they have least. is that what this is really about? is this really about money? guest: good question. first of all your are fundamentally right about the kind of motives that could be involved here and about the kind of payout that could be involved, especially for the corrupt russian oligarchs who essentially run that country and that includes people very close to putin and perhaps putin himself. i have your same concern that this is a big part of the motive. if putin's only interest in life was to make russia richer and himself richer, then he has taken a strange path towards that because he didn't stabilize the russian economy the first eight years he was president, but in last few years, what he has been doing around the world has led to sanctions that have caused russian economy to go
into recession. if putin were trying to maximize profit, he simply would not have invaded ukraine or he would've gotten out as quickly as he could in whatever basis we can help orchestrate. however, he hasn't done that and therefore i have to assume one of his other motives is to expand and maximize russian power and influence around the world, especially in places like ukraine. he has competing motives. he did not offer president trump to get out of syria, he did not offer to let the u.s., with whatever plan we had for syria to make peace, he did not offer to plot of ukraine. in one sense on a personal goal, you use the expression kissing up, on a personal level he might've been trying to ingratiate himself, but his policies were not trying to please the u.s. as best i can tell. that is why we have to recognize russia has a number of motives, most of them not very admirable.
more than just money though. your concern is valid, but it is one of many things we have to keep in mind. our guest, michael o'hanlon who earned his doctorate from princeton university. he is an author of a number of books. his latest book, "beyond nato" --." georgia, republican line. guest: i hope you give me some -- caller: i hope you give me some time to speak. c-span gives trotting out people who push fake news. i wish he would comment on the fact that the u.s. was involved in the ukrainian politics by having back to the revolution that removed the duly elected president of the ukraine and installed a president that was for america a few years back. this is what is really causing a lot of problems.
mr. o'hanlon sort of brushes that over. you make a valid point about the origins of the crisis being complicated. indeed there was a ukrainian president extremely popular with his own people largely because he was seen as doing russian bidding who presided over a complete deterioration of the russian economy would lead to very brave protests by the ukrainian people in the middle of winter back in 2013. then that did lead to the deal which was then violated by the opposition and then did drive the former president out, but he was involved. the u.s. did not do that, we supported the peaceful protesters publicly, we did not do it through covert means and i'm proud of u.s. supported those protesters because they had a valid point against iran president. vladimir putin at least would read this much differently and would say the u.s. was trying to bring its own version of
democracy to russian borders. i think we have nothing to apologize for, but one can debate that. you are right, there a complex images to this thing. i don't see that being a justification for putting bringing irregular forces into eastern ukraine and producing a , shooting down a malaysian airline, it was a result of his willingness to create this violence and mayhem. i think it is hard to find a defense of vladimir putin. on syrian policy i will give him , i will go along with the spirit of your comment. he at least recognize that we the u.s. had no real clue what we were doing in the syrian civil war. we called for the ousting of president aside and made towards theeps opposition but we did not follow through. the war got worse. ourasn't fundamentally fault, but the policy we constructed to try and respond
to that was entirely ineffective and i think putin got quite cynical about watching the u.s. in his mind sort of lumbering eastd in the middle without much positive result. i can go along with the spirit of your comment on that degree but not to defend putin. host: florida, our line for independents. caller: good morning. everybody is talking but fake news now, this is donald trump's keyword. i can tell you what is fake, that meeting they had with putin the other day. what we got out of the meeting as far as -- was a bunch of lies from both of them. trump said what he said and what putin said is what he said. both of them are lying. so who do we believe? guest: i would say the most important thing is to see how the countries they.
the real issues here, i'm not that concerned about commentary on the meeting itself, i think as i said earlier it's more important they established a working relationship because addressing the war in ukraine and syria, nuclear crisis in north korea, these are real issues. we will see how these countries behave. i'm more interested in that going forward. you may be right, but i also think it was probably an ok meeting as far as it went, it just did not go far. it was the first ever to establish collaboration. now comes the hard part, figuring out how to solve these crises. host: we are joined live by james franks, the moscow bureau chief for the associated press. thank you for being with us. host: thank you. -- caller: for this is of accuracy's let me correct that i'm second in command in the bureau. host: thank you very much for being with us. how is the meeting between
president trump and putin playing out in moscow? caller: it is playing out in the media here being interpreted largely very positively. i think one of the most characteristic or the most from headline that i've seen was from whichry popular tabloid headlined its story about the meeting as putin and trump have found a path to peace in syria and ukraine. that is arguably a very premature assessment given that the meeting had to do only with small elements of both the syria and ukraine, and that conflict. theoes seem to reflect russian view of the meeting as being very positive and also reducing a lot of the anxiety about from, who would been very
much of an unknown quantity here. host: let me pick up on something michael was referring to earlier. this is the first step in a process of a long-term relationship. where does this go next in terms of other areas? talk to us. the situation in north korea. can more tangible results, way from a meeting that took place for a few hours on friday? caller: the most pragmatic of russianhe minds officials and populists in general is one of whether the or rescind anye sanctions against russia. secondly, whether the u.s. will give back the diplomatic compounds the obama administration took away from the russians in late december. on the second issue, that is an
issue that seems to have disappeared from russian coverage of the meeting because it is unresolved as of yet. sanctions, the appointment of kurt as the special envoy for ukraine, which was announced as part of the trump putin meeting, that certainly is seen as a step possibly getting rid of the sanctions connected with the war in ukraine's east. he exceeds inthat pushing the peace process forward in ukraine could also impact sanctions. north korea, that is a very murky issue. the north korea issue essentially has not been
discussed in russian media as a consequence of the trump putin meeting. host: we're talking with james .eintz who is in moscow let me turn to michael o'hanlon for a follow-up. guest: fake question for you, james. you and -- you mentioned the ambassador, a former u.s. ambassador to nato. and sort of a rush a hawk. -- russia hawk. he is very concerned about russian navy are. i'm curious as to why you interpret his appointment as an indication there is any kind of likelihood of momentum towards resolving the ukrainian civil war and the sanctions that resulted? i'm a little more skeptical in the path forward there. i think we'll need a bigger idea than just an envoy to solve the ukraine problem. caller: i was pondering that any mored i don't have
of a real sense of it at this point than you do, certainly i know he is being a comparative russia hawk. at this point his appointment and russia's a parent happiness with his appointment may in part indicate that russia is looking for a little bit of tough love in this situation by being involved in the conflict in east ukraine, they created a lot of unforeseen problems for themselves and one has the sense that russia has been looking for an exit in a way they can save the face. james, final question. will there be a second, third, fourth meeting? where does this go next between
them? that any would say kind of predictive statement about russia or trump is a bad thinkut i would of course that given these are two superpowers with a lot of interest that they share and a lot of conflicts they share that certainly there will be more meetings. the time frame, the substance of the meeting and the tempers of the time are all extremely hard to predict. host: with regard to syria in particular, what will you be looking for with regard to russia and its involvement in the cease-fire that began earlier today? caller: i would be looking for any indication that russia is going to try to keep -- try to
ofrease its presence enforcers or peacekeepers beyond this very small part of southwest syria that the agreement announced this weekend covers. joining us heintz from russia, thank you so much. caller: my pleasure. from let's go to kevin california, line for republicans with michael o'hanlon at the table. caller: good morning. i hope you are well. hope you are well. it is my opinion in the last half decade, the russians have had ties with the americans with plenty of sanctions that hinder the country. without question, the russians had a best interest to vote for donald trump because they maybe saw hillary clinton as an
extension of those sanctions. what exactly did the russians due to mess with our elections? infar as our concern, it was our best interest for president trump to win. i don't think they influenced a single vote. can you explain exactly what the russians did? guest: i think your question is valid. the sanctions imposed so far are problems withe the russian economy. the drop in oil prices has been the number one cause of the russian recession. a lot of sanctions have been on putin and his cronies who have bank accounts business interests abroad. they are not allowed to access that money or travel. most of theting broader russian relationship with the outside world. we have a lot of companies to
business in and with russia. the sanctions are relatively light at the moment. i think he knows they could get worse. i'm not as convinced as james that putin is looking for a way out of the ukrainian crisis because i think he can withstand the amount of pain right now. if he were to get more aggressive, we could turn up the volume on saint grenz -- sanctions to the mutual detriment of moscow and the west. in terms of what russia did last year, you are right the effects were nonexistent in terms of vote tallies. they did not manage to get inside of any of our voting machines and change the numbers. there is no american who was ultimately credited with voted for donald trump who tried to vote for hillary clinton but the vote somehow got changed by a
hack. that did not happen. it could happen next time, but it did not happen this past time. what i understand russia to have done, apart from leasing emails -- releasing emails which kept hillary's campaign off guard and made some conversations look bad, including their desire not to see bernie sanders win the nomination, their desire to help hillary, followed that with stuff you and i can read. it is the kind of calculations that happen in most political campaigns. but we found out the ones the democrats were having, not any such conversations the republicans were having, because the russian league was selective -- leak was selective. it was suggested of russian cyber warriors echoing some of the fake news about hillary and various things she was reported
to have done, some of which was not truthful. there was an effort russia to make sure those stories were amplified on social media. those are the two mean things i would start with. but they did not change the vote count. the russian damage was in the realm of propaganda rather than actual change to the outcome per se. host: let me get your reaction to this tweet where the president recently says it is time to move on. now it is time to move forward in working constructively with russia. what does that mean to you, working constructively? guest: what that means to me is issue right -- issue by issue. on north korea, negotiating a new strategy and working on that. syria, it means recognizing
president assad is not going anywhere anytime soon. at the same time, the sunnis cannot be expected to live under a guy bombing their neighborhoods. they need sanctuaries, local governance. we need some kind of complex political vision for syria that acknowledges assad will be president make sure his armies do not govern or terrorize the populations where he has been doing so. we need flexibility and creativity on that front and some military collaboration on the ground as well, not just to defeat isis, but to defeat the al qaeda affiliate in a sensitive part of the country. if we don't work with fresh on that, i don't think we can do that. on ukraine and other parts of eastern europe, i think we need a vision that we would try to negotiate within nato with a
neutral countries themselves and moscow. division should be neutrality for the countries not currently in nato. end the process of nato expansion. if russia would pull its military forces out of ukraine and georgia, we could look to an end of sanctions. countries at issue would have every right and freedom to join economic associations to have their own diplomacy and foreign policy. we just would not extend nato that far. issue by issue is how you have to collaborate. they are hard and controversial. host: we know the president watches this program. this is a tweet that came out moments ago. what would you tell the president? guest: first of all, thanks for watching. secondly, i think he is right, that we will have to go forward with sanctions. i think his administration has
done a good job undermining we could not have business as usual until russia gets out of ukraine. they have been saying that for months. i think there has been clarity on that. i'm glad to hear further clarity this morning. i think that is the rightly to think about it. but we also will not imagine a way for russia to get out of ukraine unless we change the security architecture in eastern europe. russia will want to have some way to keep meddling so ukraine weak and divided for that to be a viable option. that is why we have to negotiate. host: let's go to richard in florida on the republican line. good morning. caller: thank you for taking my call. 'hanlon, i have followed your foreign policy and find myself closely in agreement
with you. i have a two-part question on different areas of the world. unless i missed something, i believe i heard you say not much got accomplished between president trump and putin at the summit. if you don't believe the cease-fire that begins today anything? guest: that is an excellent point. i did not expect to see a cease-fire come out of this. it is very localized. i did not expect this kind of detail to be possible in the meeting. i am impressed the got to that level of substance and had that much preparation before the meeting. i am still wary of any announcement of cease-fire in syria. it has happened multiple times before. even if this does stick, it is only one small part of the country. you're right. it is a promising development and we should hold out hope for
it. host: your follow-up? caller: thank you. i'm interested in your take on what we will do with north korea. , the peaceful approach is when they marry a nuclear warhead to an icbm. guest: this is an excellent point you make as well. know president obama and president-elect trump were discussing this. president obama recognized the situation is going downhill. beendent trump has forthright in saying he wants to solve this problem on his watch. i am not sure a solution is realistic anytime soon, however. that is why i think we need this approach withck sanctions on foreign companies
that do business with north korea. at the same time, more on theility negotiation going forward. the testing to see of long-range missiles frozen. if we can get those things done, i would be willing to suspend the military exercises each year. find a way to make do without those exercises if we can get a nuclear freeze from north korea as an interim deal. it is better than seeing north korea have 100 bombs as they might otherwise in five or 10 years. host: our guest is michael o'hanlon. the is joining us on democrats' line. thank you for taking my call. i believe russia and other
foreign countries are using the putin has used regarding russia in the past two token the kremlin -- kremlin.e engaging us in all these conflicts and wars around the civil world. we are $20 trillion in debt and we entered into iraq based on flawed intelligence from other countries, not the intelligence of the united states. this is what we have been intelligenceind, from other countries. they have been using it profit their own country -- to profit their own country. we have to start thinking strategically. why are we engaged in so many conflicts around the globe? to disengagewe do
ourselves? saidee with trump when he we entered iraq based on flawed intelligence. it was not from the united states, it was from other countries. guest: you make a lot of valid points. trump on thedent campaign trail spoke for a lot of americans like you boys and the same frustrations -- voicing the same frustrations. i think we have to take some responsibility for the intelligence failures that led to the iraq war. we talked to a lot of fun intelligence agencies, but our agencies got it wrong, too. i got it wrong, too. i looked at the information. a lot of us concluded if saddam was hiding, he must have something to hide. that turned out not to be true. i think that is probably on us.
in terms of conflict, i would be happy to see president trump quickly think through all his options and recognize he does not have a good military option in north korea now. so he is trying the approach of trying to put pressure on other countries, including his new xi, in president china. i think we also need a more flexible negotiating strategy. we cannot afford a war there. we have to do what we can to avoid that. host: good morning on the independent line. caller: your guest is presenting a false narrative. show called "cross talk." we spent billions to overthrow syria.n
"rt" is a questionable news show. i have done that show several times. the other guests they typically have on and sometimes even the background information they provide is skewed or flat out wrong. i think you are right we have spent billions in syria trying to unseat assad. many hundreds of millions. but we did not spend billions causing a revolution in ukraine. we probably gave little help with democracy and civil organizations through .ransparent organizations probably provided a few tens of millions of dollars above the board to groups trying to organize to strengthen their
democracy. president putin maybe saw that as the transparent tip of the iceberg and thought we were doing a lot beneath the surface. i don't agree. i don't know of any basis for that concern. to say we spent billions of dollars to cause revolution in syria, i don't think rt is correct when they say that. and yet itll country has become a flashpoint when it comes to nato and expansion. can you explain why? guest: montenegro and serbia are long-standing friends. they share an orthodox religious tradition. russia had influence through previous centuries. world war i had its spark in the balkans. there is still a lot of emotional baggage. this is the only outpost russia has left in europe of places
friendly toward it, serbia in particular. montenegro has split off from serbia in recent years as the former yugoslavia increasingly shrank and now does not exist in that form anymore. montenegro is a small country. it is not a military powerhouse. it will not be in military battleground between russia and nato. i think its admission into nato is a mistake. antagonized the u.s.-russia relationship with no strategic benefit. host: what about its location on the water? guest: the mediterranean is a place we have completed with russia before. not in warships are montenegro. they have limited access elsewhere. the russian navy is not a threat. even if it were, montenegro is a tiny piece in the equation.
if we are bringing it into nato wekeep russian warships out, are getting paranoid about how to keep the balance. this is a beautiful country, limited population, very weak economy. i think bringing it in was a reflection of the ongoing momentum. this process started before he was in office. do we have a clear idea of what we are up to at this point? host: the book is called "the on tomato -- beyond nato." let's go to bob from massachusetts. caller: i would like to say i am sorry you are so skewed toward hillary clinton. i watched hillary clinton sit in front of congress and lie under oath. mr. comey was asked to look into what she did.
she said she had a server, she had three. she said she had one phone, she had seven. she was destroying the phones. 30,000 emails disappeared. they accept that stuff. i don't understand. she broke a lot of laws. intent is not in any of it. host: thank you, bob. let's get a response. guest: i'm not here to talk about hillary clinton's role in last year's election. i was asked to talk about russia's role. 2016 ort here to debate the elections. host: charles, good morning. caller: good morning. michael, please explain the difference between russian intervention in our elections and the difference between obama's interference with
israelis' election. also, if you could guess my the coverage by the news people were completely different between the two. guest: you and i may have a disagreement. i think vladimir putin did all the things i mentioned earlier trying to circulate certain news stories, do a fair amount of hacking, and release emails. and our role in the israeli elections, frankly president obama i thought was very light in his touch. obviously, he and prime minister netanyahu have a strange relationship. president trump and not know how -- netanyahu seem to have a good one going forward. the fact that everyone knew that obama and netanyahu did not have a great relationship, i don't think america interfered in the elections. host: based on what you know
about the north korean regime, what happened to otto warmbier? guest: we don't know, but you have to assume some kind of serious mistreatment. whether it was taking him up out of anger -- beating him up out of anger, that the prison guards thought they were doing the will of their leader punishing him for taking a sign down in a hotel lobby, or whether he had some kind of medical episode and they failed to properly treat him and it got worse, we don't know. that we do know whatever they did was inhumane and in the end amounted to murder. at least i would put the burden of proof on them to dispel that argument if they think there is any counterargument to it. that we do not know precisely what happened. host: the larger and more significant issue on what will happen with korea -- north korea, you talk about the number
of weapons the country has, the number of potential weapons it has. if sanctions do not work, is there another option? guest: if there were a work, i think we can be fairly confident several things would be the outcome. the north korean regime would be destroyed. we would win with south korea. whether china took some foothold in northern north korea with its own armies would be up in the air, i would predict maybe. that is ok. we don't need to control all of northern north korea. unfortunately, we could see anywhere from hundreds of thousands to the low millions of fatalities, including many south koreans and tens of thousands of americans, because there is the sticks -- the distinct possibility north korean weapons could be used around seoul. i don't think they could reach the united states. but i think you could see nuclear weapons detonated insult -- in seoul.
even if there were not nuclear weapons, north korea has missiles within range that can deliver weapons that could kill millions of people. even if those people take shelter fast, he would have a fair-minded property damage, probably in the billions of dollars. to stop that and do a counter invasion to overthrow the regime that would have initiated that, now you're talking about an all-out war with the north korean army being one million people. i think the fourth-largest on earth and pretty indoctrinated that kim jong-un is their leader and they must fight to the death. i think it would be a very ugly fight. host: sobering. let's go to the independent line in louisiana. good morning. victoria nuland on the
ukraine says how many billions we were spending. she also says who the next president is going to be. she also said if you don't like what we are doing, you can go blank yourself. let's see the tapes and quit taking opinions. host: thank you for the call. do you want to comment? guest: good memory. that was an interesting diplomatic episode when she was overheard saying some pretty blocked -- blunt things. i admire her bluntness, but i don't think the united states spent billions on a secret plan to cause revolution in ukraine. i don't think that is the right way to think about it. we spent tens of millions promoting democracy, above the board transparent efforts to help ukrainians organize themselves.
a far smaller and more transparent activity than alleged. host: our last call is from michigan on the democrats' line. caller: good morning. i had two points -- i have two points. one is you give president trump too much credit. a $5 billion oil bill pending when they put on sanctions. role is to remove -- has only role is to remove sanctions. that is all president trump is , it is oil deal with tillerson. the biggest strategic mistake america will have to pay for is
the trans-pacific ownership. that was more than a trade deal. that was the nature of the pacific keeping north korea and china in check. by dismantling t.p.p., we have no check. we could have went to these people and asked for help against north korea. now that we have dismantled t.p.p., we have to pay for those consequences. guest: t.p.p. is a trade deal, not a military organization. the military alliances in asia are intact. there is no expansion of them as a result of t.p.p., but there would not have been even if it had been ratified. i agree it was a good idea and had a lot of aspects that would have strengthened our overall strategic position in nonmilitary terms and that would have enhanced our power. i do hope we can get back to it. on sanctions and president if all hetives,
wanted to do was lift sanctions, he picked a funny cabinet to do that. ambassador haley has been adamant saying russia must get out if it wants sanctions lifted. and secretary tillerson himself. i might have had some of the same fears you did last year listening to candidate trump talk about the kind of relationship he wanted with russia if elected. but so far in office, his team resolutepretty promising sanctions will not be lifted until russian behavior changes. host: let me ask you about the next step between the u.s. and russia. we talked about whether there will be more meetings. the cease-fire talks today. do you think we can move forward from the election of 2016 and see results in other areas? guest: yes, but it will get harder before he gets easier -- it gets easier. in syria, it creates the possibility of a security vacuum.
iran has an answer to that. say, how us, they about hezbollah, which has shelled israel and killed a lot of israelis? there is concern as isis is driven out of eastern syria that iran could create a land bridge to lebanon. that is probably not in our interest or the interest of israelis were to damien's or iraqis -- or jordanians or iraqis. i think we have to figure out what goes into eastern syria to prevent that. it is not worth a huge u.s. military effort or the risk of russian conflict, but it may be worth trying to train up a larger syrian opposition, trying to propose a human -- u.n. force for that sector, maybe even put in a modest amount of americans to stabilize the east.
we could imagine a federation in syria where assad rules much of the west and the turks keep their forces in the east as peacekeepers. the russians stay in the west. the kurds have areas in the north. and then this internationally governed space in the east replaces isis. and then we try to make that deal permanent and then get on with the process of rebuilding syria. you use your economic leverage to try to get assad to step down. basically say if you want the part of your country that you control to get the reconstruction aid, will have to find a successor government. you can have a chant -- hand in choosing it but you cannot stay because you have blood on your hands. that is what i think has a chance. as you can see, it is complex and has to go further than localized cease-fires in parts of the country relatively stable to begin with.
we also need a strategy to defeat al qaeda in syria. it broke off from al qaeda but is a derivative with the same ideology. they keep that ideology and military tactics, we will have to work with assad and russia to defeat them in the northwest with her is no possible way for us to do it by ourselves. host: we need another hour to talk about that. michael o'hanlon, thank you for being with us. your latest