tv Senator Jack Reed Discusses U.S. Foreign Policy Challenges CSPAN October 1, 2017 4:26pm-5:32pm EDT
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[indistinct conversation] announcer: senate armed services committee ranking member jack reed of rhode island discussed for policy on friday. he spoke with abc news chief washington correspondent at the council of foreign relations. this is an hour. >> i think it is ready to start. thank you all for being here. welcome to the council on foreign relations. a warm welcome to our senator jack reed, ranking member of the armed services committee.
-- he is from the great state of rhode island. i will be presiding and asking which is the next this is an on half hour. the record meeting. in fact i also want to welcome , those cfr members around the nation, maybe around the world, participating in this meeting through the live stream. so thank you all for being here. senator, reed, so much to talk about with you, but i want to start right with the perhaps the most pressing national security issue, north korea. just a bottom line question, as we hear, does the words we heard from the president and his team, about a military option. is there realistically a military solution to the north korean crisis, short of an unthinkable war? if you start to our military leaders both secretary mattis and general dunford that they have the capacity to do that, but make it clear this is diplomatic effort at this point. that is the best approach at this point. up fortunately the diplomatic
effort i think is being horribled because of lack capacity, hobbled. we don't have ambassador tore for south korea. don't have confirmed assistant secretary for the region. we have other stories about state department, lack of personnel and focus. the other issue in terms of the diplomatic approach is, a lack of coherent message.
we've seen that from the beginning when the president tweeted about the south koreans paying for the thaad system, when in fact they had done a lot of political effort to get it into the country. this diplomatic effort is vitally important. even though the military is preparing for some kind of confrontation, this is the a much more preferable way to
proceed. if it does not succeed, there's much more legitimacy for the use of force. >> you say this is a diplomatic effort. that is not what it sounded like when the president was before the u.n.. >> this comes to that issue of coherency of message. the north korean regime, since its inception, has talking about how it has to be a militarized society because the united states is determined to destroy them. now they have to do is translate that message to the u.n. and put it on the screen. that dosay things signal very clearly that military options are not only on the table --
>> we approach this from madison and not just the president -- theis and not just president. >> is there really a military option? we heard that phrase. we heard it from barack obama. we heard it from george w. bush. >> there is a military option. >> i think it is clear from everyone, particularly the military, that option with the extraordinarily costly. something we have not witnessed. >> cost in terms of life, cause in terms of economic activity, cost in terms of environmental degradation. country that already has weapons of mass
destruction and a country that eterave been able to dte their use but are they the deterrable. one of theirown tests? >> significant improvement and ever had coverage so we would not only have warning but the ability to respond. it would require cooperating collaborations with many countries and tears of -- in terms of proliferation. sell anything they can get out of the country.
we have to be very effective in terms of proliferation. we know they have nuclear weapons and medium-range missiles that can likely carry them. >> as former national security official in the previous administration, -- he made the point that one of the challenges is that north korea, at least for three successive take as ations could given there is not a viable military solution. they do not fear that. those officials are no friend of donald trump. something needs to be done to raise that confidence that the that erase that confidence the united states it not have a military option. >> one of the factors that
mitigate against the military operation in question what could china do? if we could collaborate more said that we only sanders and -- so that we at least understand, that would send a signal that our use of force would not be abandoned. cohesive,y a more coherent focus of for policy maybe informally using back back is necessary -- using channels is necessary. comparisons to richard nixon -- >> they do not like that term at
the white house. sen. reed: i think sticking to diplomatic language is helpful in the situation. i think we are in a situation where we cannot just say it. if we are saying we are on a diplomatic incentives and the chinese are looking around seeing people attempts at things.cy, that is two what does that do in terms of north korean action? they say they are not doing diplomacy -- >> what are we seeing in terms of china. part of that diplomatic effort is to get china to put more pressure on north korea. the president says that is working. is china doing more? sen. reed: i think they are
doing more of the question is can they do enough? the presumption is as soon as the chinese decided to tell them to knock it off, it would work. but my sense is they have the same diff all the best the same my sense isn -- they have the same difficulty communicating with kim jong-un as the rest of the world they are not quite really. -- rest of the world. they are not willing to cripple the economy. there are a huge amount of refugees that we come to the country. china, they have a big congress coming, which they do several years -- which they do every several years. they have made some improvements. they have supported us at the
u.n. on some of these sanctions measures but they have not gone as far as we would like to go. we might see something more productive in the future. the other since i have is xi himself personally has very low regard for conjunction -- four kim jong-un in. china is going to be key. russia, because they have certain influence, not as dramatic as china and his diplomatic effort has to be enhanced. >> the president deserves more credit for the fact that china is doing more. china is worried about what trump will-- what thatant to short-circuit by taking some steps on their own.
, theyeed: president xi established a relationship. ,hina is reacting to pressure not just from the united states but from the world. they are also reacting to the reality that as this regime gets closer to intercontinental nuclear weapons, the conflict is could be dire to china. there's a whole new set of calculation given the progress the north korean have made on their missiles and working. >> if the north koreans threaten and do what they threatened to do, a nuclear tests over the pacific ocean, and that a redline? sen. reed: that would be extraordinarily disruptive and i conversation where
, not just in the united states and the administration, but with china and russia, to get a sense of how they would react. that would be extraordinary. just, i don't think -- >> do you think they are serious about that threat? >sen. reed: it is hard to judge. every intelligent proxy says this is the hardest they have. very, weun in has a are not sure when we talk to people inside what he is thinking. there could be somebody who is having some insights on the missile program and no insight on anything else. i don't think it would be good method. -- i think it would be
dismissive. you can talk to our allies about what their reaction would be. this might be something in the context of a group of five where they could collectively lay down sort of a sense this would be impermissible. it is a starting -- walked yourself into it. >> i want to move off of north korea. one question i have as someone who has tracked this problem so closely for so long, what do you see as driving the reason success they have had -- a had insuccess they have their ballistic and nuclear program. are they getting outside help? they had made the
incredible strides they have made the past couple of years? >> they have been getting outside help. , think the efforts recently the efforts of the administration's squeeze that have provided -- administration effort to squeeze that have provided some opportunity. they have a network of companies, many located in china, that provide parts for ofm, they had a whole series front companies that the raise money for them. they have hard currencies to use. they smuggle things in and out. it is a very elaborate and sadistic aided network. sophisticated -- and sophisticated network.
there are networks that have been moving material through four decades. the interesting thing why it is basic vessel is -- the interesting thing about why it is so successful is kim jong-un has risked failure. missiles thatd have failed. they have tried different things. he has made it central to his regime, his personality, and his survival. these, -- 1960's, the chinese decided to put together intercontinental ballistic missiles with help from overseas but with a lot of indigenous effort. >> you are a west point graduate, the president likes to
surround himself with the general, many do you know quite well and have known for a long time. ttis, general kelly, i would like a sense of your interactions with this general? generals.ose when the president makes comments like fire and fury and wiping north korea off the map, he picked up the phone and asked what he means --do you pick up the phone and ask what you mean? -- what he means? >> i have a great deal of confidence in the gentleman mentioned. they have already weighed in to beevent things that could
very consequential. >> like what? sen. reed: again, if you listen s, they areatement very strong but controlled. they send the right signal. that is the do not present we notready that do not -- do presume we are not ready, we are ready. i hope there is a very healthy dialogue before the president says. one of the concerns i have is the generals all reacting to tweets, not talking about what is the best way to frame this message.
have you seen a change in the national security council? , theeparture of glenn effort to replace them, finally landing on mcmaster. council,iled from the from the white house, have you noticed a change? sen. reed: there are a lot more subject matter experts who are not as politically engaged. they are providing a much more -- ultimately it is the president's decision. who is secretary mattis one of the most thoughtful and experience did, you will ever have--experienced gentlemen you will ever have. they understand they can weigh in.
>> they have to give the president options. two reed: that requires people. study,e to listen, focus and i think the question is whether there is a listening -- a and a concentration constant attention to detail. used to talk about the national security council. operationalizing the state department. >> they succeeded. sen. reed: if you do not fill up with credible and confidence individuals, you have a capacity gap. same with the national security council. if the national security council
is more ideological than technically proficient, it is no longer giving you those options ended by -- it is no longer giving you those options and advice. that should change with general mcmasters and general kelly. we are going to give you the options that are all available, our life and you decide -- our advice and he decide. >> how long have you known general kelly? sen. reed: i have no general kelly for about 20 years. i met him when he was commanding --ines in a more prominent in anwar province. he is a great marine. >> what do you make of his
challenge now? >> his challenge is, one of the things about having served four and hents is temperament have to understand that. he have to ensure that he gets the best information and he gets the backing as well as the good as wellit is sad news as the good news. at the national security adviser, if you're not getting news,esident the bad you're not doing your job. any spoken to him since he became chief of staff? sen. reed: i spoke with him when of homeland
security. i great as narration for him. great great --i have admiration for him. >> the president hinted at the u.n. that he was going to get out of the you ron nuclear agreement -- iran nuclear agreement. what do you think he meant? i think he has been -- he has already made his decision. s opinion based' upon intelligence reports if they are still in compliance with the deal. he also indicated that our unilateral work would not be well received by the world
community. reaction by the iranians and they have forces in syria and it sends a thatl to the north koreans if we make a deal with you folks, you may not keep it. is further complications in the middle middle --talk about a a military option, if we're taking the military option in korea, that becomes the primary objective and how we do things. >> you were an advocate of this deal early on?
what is your sense when you look at it now and you look at the behavior of the iranian regime beyond the terms of the nuclear agreement, has it all worked out the way you have hoped? sen. reed: very limited expectations. the critical one is we want to freeze the nuclear program and that appears to have happened. you have to ask yourself, given the attitude and the attempt at and given the fact they would be rushing toward a nuclear weapon, we are better off with the agreement. they have missile technology. ofthey were within months being able to have a nuclear test, that would trigger a reaction that would be very difficult.
if you want to apply it to north korea, this would be a much different situation if it were 25 years ago when we were talking about significant forces, a tremendous number of raqqa.ery forces in ira it is a problem when they have biological missiles. in iran forthis -- the next decade they will not have this if they stick to the agreement. >> part of this deal is it expires and there are no limits on what it can do. sen. reed: the expectations is within this interval of 10 or 15 years. things. not guaranteed changes within the regime.
particularly if it is a and international agreement with china and russia to try to extend this and if after 15 years they certainly broke out, we would be in a much stronger position with our allies to counterattack that breakout. administration, despite dunford's comments, if they declined to certify they complied with the agreement, that does not mean we are out? the ball gets tossed to you. sen. reed: there is an expedited procedure. the majority and minority leader can call of a vote. it would be done in a timeframe. a very short timeframe. voteuld be a very majority
to reimpose the sanctions. that would be a difficult of for me. me.'s difficult vote for we impose the sanctions and a tasty limited off. the european -- we impose the sanctions and it takes the limits off. sen. reed: there will be perception throughout the world that they are sticking with the deal which is to teenager alive -- which is to the nuclear rise de-nuke iran. the general thought it had --he said a great nation does not break their word. this would appear we are breaking their word.
>> before we get to questions, one thing of great concern is the question of readiness. we had a situation where we lost more personnel in combat and we personnel in training missions family having combat. how concerned are you about the readiness of our forces? sen. reed: i am very concerned. i have to mention senator mccain. no one has been more eloquent than the readiness position -- on the readiness position than the chairman. we have had aviation accidents. we have had demolition accidents. tempo-soened is the great of operations. oneair force needs
ofloyment and four periods training and redeployment at the home base to be effective. that is going to require resources. it is going to require increased in our strength. we are going to have to do a lot. it is necessary. again, we are watching the young men and women go out and do a superb job. they need the type of support and training that is so necessary. , it sort ofsue reminds me when i was lieutenant captain in the army. general dunford will allude to this. in the 70's, we were transitioning from
counterinsurgency warfare into full spectrum battles and we were discovering this full spectrum includes cyber and other things that our adversaries have been able to do quite well at. the rest and recuperation of deployments from afghanistan and iraq, but also trying to change our warfare effectiveness in terms of trying to get back to the classic battle. thatve all these questions is a great blow to readiness. >> i want to let our members join the conversation. this is and has been on the record. if you could please wait for the microphone for asking the questions. start right here. >> thank you.
senator, what role do you see for the u.s. military in syria and iraq once the islamic state has been ejected? i think the role is very limited. i was in syria in june and i rock -- and iraq. iraq, we would like to have american military presence. it would be very helpful with the training operations and the professionalism of the iraqi military forces. they need to make sure sunni and getish and shiite elements fair treatment. that is something the prime minister wants. we want. the question is with the
political turmoil, with the --canh referendum and the he pull things together? there will be an election next year. my sense of coming back is this issue of u.s. presence will be part of the election campaign. i think we should maintain a presence there. if we do, it will be beneficial not only to iraq, but regional interest. in syria, it is a bit more complicated. and over mission of defeating isis. what is happening is we have .een very successful after rough balance between syrian iris and syrian kurds is going to eventually come under
control. really where we are sitting on very difficult issues. russian, iranian, and local forces are coming close to our forces and our troops. we have to figure out what our policy is to resisting the regime or not. we are doing that on a case-by-case basis. not think the administration has declared a policy. as existing policy, we want aad to leave. the policy is that we recognize this will be a fragmented country. we just want to make sure that the violence goes down. have will be there, but we an area where the kurds control and unitedsians
states are on the border. there are growing concerns in israel about the intrusion of the iranians and their influence. muted iny has been terms that we are actually going to finish with isis or after we finish with isis we will begin to put more pressure on the regime. one of the issues that has to be dictated and decided by the white house is the syrians in the north, the turks every concerned about. do we support their efforts to maintain a, not official, but artificial autonomous region? how do we really -- relate to them? there are still a lot of questions. there are no policies that i can see that they have announced about what we are going to do in syria.
if you want to define the more difficult problems, it is syria. it is a very difficult problem. -- it wouldo have help to have clear policy so we could put resources to it. leadersell our military to go after the expenses and expanses.- you mentioned the question of legitimacy of the use of force. i am going to ask you about that. the easy case might be the time missilesused, korean
landing in the united states. how about the harder case? what if there are korean missiles flown over guam or hawaii. korean missiles landing in japan. is it legitimate for the united states president, under domestic law, to use force? would it be legitimate international law in those nightmare scenarios that the united states use force? i will concede. i am not a legal scholar. i have a law degree but -- [laughter] i think an attack -- the question is do you characterize a missile and not a warhead going over guam and attack. -- an attack.
the interesting things, i do not have an answer, but one of the most interesting things is we are in cease-fire. there is no active congress to authorize the operations in korea. fighting the were credence until 1953. this is a cease-fire. could firesense, you an opinion about almost anything. that is a unique situation with respect to korea. what are the legal consequences? my sense would be, practically, that the president would be confronted with something where
day tore powers or a decide on action. debate.ibits a to president bush's credit, there was a debate on iraq. i voted against it. it was debated. the authorization, there was no question about the legal authority. the situation in korea, it would almost the in reaction to something that happened be a reaction to something that happened immediately. the warhe could do power act. you have six months to start coming out. you raised the point about legal lawority and international
that has not yet been formally vetted. reporter: i am courtney cooper. vortexstan is that the of some very challenging u.s. foreign-policy issues with iran and russia. president trump did not mention any of these three countries and his announcement in august -- in his announcement in august. now that we are coming up on 16 years of military engagement in afghanistan next month, how do you think the administration should be thinking about engaging the region beyond enforcing afghanistan? particularly when it comes to
stabilizing afghanistan? sen. reed: one of the key -- one of thens president's comments was a strong calling out of pakistan. without either active or others, network with all of the elements within pakistan, the government would tomuch more effective control the country. we have to do that. i've been waiting for them specific -- some specific follow-up. some suggestion in the past that searches be placed upon individuals who are cooperating, pakistani individuals who are cooperating.
are waiting for that. he announced he was going to get tough with pakistan. that is a very sensitive area is not their stability as robust as it might be. they have nuclear weapons. we do not want those nuclear devices falling into the wrong hands. actorher major regional is india. one of the first things i discovered, i think 16 or 17 mccain went with senator . i was amazed because when you speak to the afghani's or pakistanis, there is a paranoia about india. it is hard to understand, but it is there. anytime we invite the indians into afghanistan, that has been
almost a muscle memory meant -- reflex by the pakistani. we are trying to get the indians to be more active in terms of economic assistance. that pushes hard against the pakistanis cooperating. what we have done with the increased forces, particularly with the air force, is we have given the opportunity for the afghan government to reassert control over areas are the taliban had taken. we still do not have a clear policy on what specific steps we are going to take in pakistan to get them to disengage, to close down the safe haven. -- iterm, there are many has been very difficult to the -- defeat them when they have a safe haven.
it is a partial response to a good question. reporter: thank you for your service in rhode island. the question that has not come up is the question of the allegations between russia's interference in the elections and a variety of their maneuvering in cyber. i am curious as to what your role is in the senate. sen. reed: the evidence is overwhelming that they deliberately concluded -- .olluded interfered inely the election. ahead and through
elaborate systems of social were operating on twitter. that was made clear by the intelligence committee in january. unique toegy is not the united states. they have employed it in the french elections. they did not seem to be as active in the german elections. we cannot accept that. democraticines basic concepts. we cannot accept that. in terms of what we are doing on the committee, the intelligence the last person to be -- theyask questions are pursuing this, but it is very difficult because we do not have the same kind of access as
a foreign enforcement official. when looking from a policy , wepective and individual are making progress. they are doing a very good job. it is slow, tedious, and i do a public it will reach conclusion for a while. we realize that director mueller is conducting a totally separate investigation. reporter: do you think that intelligence committee will be wrapped up at the end of the year? sen. reed: i think it will go into next year. there is a huge amount of material to look at. of theay, new aspects intrusions or interference
become evident. just yesterday, twitter officials were up. they were disappointed in the response of information that they gave area that is one aspect. -- that they gave. that is one aspect. a russian funded entity was able to put together these documentaries, which were not particularly accurate or to hillary clinton. they have a viewership in the united states of about 2%. , it you put it on the web starts trending and people start watching it. that was done many times. reporter: you have seen no --dence about collusion
be -- fromthat would the perspective of the congressional committee, we are looking at what the russians did, how they did it, what steps do we have to take to prevent it from happening again. it is a legislative investigation. are many times outside. senator, i want to go back to north korea for a second. we underestimate north korea and the regime? they are isolated but they are not backward. they are focused on military and economy. the economy has increased.
miss thatlead us to their nuclear program is more indigenous been based on external imports? part of that, do we see some intelligence officials the north koreans as slaves. it seems like people are setting themselves up were an argument of some kind of war of liberation. underestimate what is happening in north korea with the government? sen. reed: i think there was a presumption in the 1990's. this was a collapsing regime. they depended upon their sponsors. what we have seen over the last several years, that you have pointed out, is there economy is growing.
i was talking to someone who was in pyongyang. artificial city. limited entry. it is not the reality of most of north korea. the issue of indigenous productivity, yes. agor programs started years by getting things through illicit trade. now they have developed expertise. it is not surprising. they have had scientists working on these problems. they put a high priority in terms of training people. for two decades we are beginning to see the results. they can do things that are indigenous. about who isp manufacturing their sophisticated rocket fuel.
are they doing it or is it being brought in? example of a question we would not have been asking a few years ago. they are seeing that. , they arese issues double bladed or double-sided. we have heard this from some if kim jong-il asked his people to eat grass for his nuclear program, they would because grass was a normal substitute for their usual diet. if kim jong-un does it and people have been used to better expectations, will they do it? that is one of the issues that we do not quite know. some of the support for sanctions are that if you can target the station it is tricky to start affecting the leads.
influence.have i do not think he cares too much about the average north korean farming that small piece of land. affect the lead, that might influence politically where you have to make concessions. it is a much more complicated country than it seemed 10 years devastatingace of a harvest and drought. photoer: that satellite showed south korea all lit up. it looks different now. sen. reed: not much different. it was much more indicative of what was going on. it is less so now. they may not have lots of lights in the country, but they started
private farming. if you go into villages, there will be a farmers market. people are better fed. itis a little better than was. back then, not only was there no lights, there was no food or anything. it is a more complicated target than we had 10 years ago. reporter: i wanted to ask you about the dream act as relates to military concessions. it is a time where a lot of people do not want to serve. they have trouble recruiting. the program committed to certain
immigrants come of that they will be able to become citizens if they serve the military. now they seem to be reneging on that commitment. they also have a covenant that allows young people to serve in the country. that is at risk. can you address those two issues? sen. reed: we are encouraging to department of defense look or reevaluate the decision programpect to the because they had contracted with individuals and suddenly stopped the contracts. in of the issues they had is order to fill their recruiting , it was easier to take american citizens because they did not have to go through many of the steps these young people did. your point is well taken. they want to serve. think we should try to
encourage that. this stuff about the dreamers of whereher example you have a remarkable wealth of talent in the country, which if we exclude, we will diminish our economy and manage our military capabilities because many of these people would love to serve and have served with distinction. we would like to move this legislative dreamers act. in fact, the president's in some has been respects not discouraging about moving legislatively. that is a partisan sign -- positive sign. you see it everywhere. me about howling they were willing to give this young man a college education
and pay for it if they -- he agrees to work with them. he might be a dreamer. they were upset. i think we have to solve it. , and theraging thing conversations with senator ,chumer and posey, -- pelosi the presidency three saying if you can do that, i support it. i hope that is the case. is rare to find foreign-policy consensus overseas. this administration, the last administration, turkey, baghdad, iran, they all agreed that now was not the time for the kurdish referendum. leader presumably
speaking for the caucus cannot two days ago and he said not only was he in support of the referendum, but a full independence at this time. can you explain that caucus position? sen. reed: it is not my position. my having been there in june, i came back and in our report we alerted everyone to the fact that this referendum could have very destabilizing effects. thatnow as well as anyone this is still complicated. one reason it is complicated is because kurdish forces are holding that area, which was previously under the control of the government. there are oil resources there. thisf the outlines of
kurdish independent country look like? it is closing considerable difficulties for the prime minister, who has enough the faculties -- difficulties. this.ed to do for -- defer this. turmoil inpolitical kurdistan. the parliament is not operating. i do not say this fishy sisley -- i supportessly and give them some leverage in the negotiation. i will double check this. i believe within the iraqi constitution, they have the right to apply for independence. as a result, they are saying the
political leadership -- we are not leaving but we have public approval to negotiate, according to the constitution. it is thehink termsriate response, in of a kurdish referendum. our military forces and diplomatic forces have to work continuescooperation because the fight is not over. we are assisting and aiding the as a body in iraq terms of maintaining the unity of the country. that is my view. jonathan: we have time for one more. reporter: the 2017 national defense authorization act
included some significant the ways the department of defense operates. it has been a year, not quite. are you satisfied about the progress that has been made on those changes so far? looking very're closely to the acquisition reforms, because that is where some significant changes can be employed. .e are looking at other areas some of the areas of moving health care, consolidating health care. we are looking. we expected that it was not want to be something done overnight. my sense is that they are making progress. i will finalize with this. it has been a rollout of civilian nominees. we have been waiting. we are still waiting formally
for them to come up -- before the committee. jonathan: thank you. sen. reed: thank you very much. [applause] >> put a consistent -- he consistently ranks. what most people member about him is his distinctive facial hair. q&a, scotttonight on greenberger on his book about the life and local career of chester a arthur. note recognized that he was qualified for the job. he ended up on the ticket by accident. he was surprised to be there are
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9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2's book tv. >> no discussion of president trump's comments about the nfl and the national anthem. from washington journal, this is about half an hour. host: our next guest is dave zirin. he is the sports editor for the nation. his work is available online at thenationa.com. i want to get right to it. you wrote, "it is exhausting to have a president that gets angrier at outspoken black athletes than it nazis. exhausting how shameless he is about his bigotry, the president never played football. he never served in the armed forces. he frets over what conclusions we draw from the size of his hands. he is the epitome of a frail brand of masculinity. he belongs in psychological textbook as a case study, not in the white house."