tv Hudson Institute Violent Extremism Conference - Sen. Cotton CSPAN October 24, 2017 4:24am-5:04am EDT
are all friends. not all of them but the kurds are our friends and the iraqis. these are our friends. we want inclusive governments to succeed in iraq. but there are elements engaging this as we mentioned earlier that are not fans of includes the covenants and want to lebanon nice iraq and syria. they want to use militias controlled by iran in the same way they have used hezbollah and lebanon said it does not just have a paramilitary aspect to it but it has a political aspect. in case of lebanon, literally has a veto-proof element in the parliament if they can keep that together. so that is my concern. >> yes. so the trapdoor is not opening up. i want to thank david petronius .- david petraeus
>> thank you as well. [applause] >> so, next up we have an interview with senator tom kotten. -- tom cotton.ng in the interviewer's career she has reported from afghanistan, iraq, cutter, israel, and then tell them obey among other laces. i would like her to take over the stage. here we are. applause]
>> good afternoon. i would like to thank the hudson institute for hosting such a timely discussion and for graciously including me and fox news channeling and for senator tom cotton kindly giving up some of his afternoon to be here with us. i would like to start, senator, by an overview. kind of setting the table. how do you see the qatar, muslim, brotherhood, that the lure of power playing out in the region. sen. cotton: now would like to thank the institute first. you did great work. this is another example of that. thank you for inviting me up for this. i view the middle east broadly as a place that is dangerous and unfortunately has grown more dangerous in recent years.
there are in my opinion i would say three coalitions. three axes of power. that are fairly stable. the most learned important one from the danger standpoint is a rant and its allies. -- is a run bang and its allies. nationstate. the remaining actors there are primarily nonstate actors. has below and the labonte -- hezbollah and the love want, hezbollah, the levant, many sunni nations. secondly, the muslim brotherhood. the brotherhood is a hole overarching organization. hamas, alons like
qaeda, the islamic state. unfortunately some nationstates that have do greater or lesser supportedvarious ways the brotherhood and some of those groups like qatar and others like turkey. the united states, the sunni arab nations, and increasingly israel. and increasingly in an open fashion. that's the markers we have out in the region for many years. obviously there are some divisions within those alliances and some crossover as well. around has supported hamas in the holy land. has supported hamas in the holy land. neveraxes of power interact at all but by a it is divided into those three. we need to do everything we can to strengthen hours. to minimize support for the
other two and ultimately comment my opinion, try to undermine the gravest threat we face in the middle east which is iran. backed byonary cause the power of the nationstate. i should have been a tremendous attic of the jcpoa. what are the weaknesses. a tremendouse been critic of the jcpoa. weaknesses? >> the nuclear deal with iran puts around on a path to a nuclear weapon. years, karen will have a nuclear capacity. which means if they do not have a nuclear weapon by then they will just be weeks away from obtaining one. notou assume iran is already having a covert nuclear
program. in the past, they have. but until they achieve that status, which the negotiations were supposed to stop them from achieving, not help them achieve, it has also empowered and emboldened iran because it gave them over $100 million and sanctions relief. it continues to help them because they are not facing those sanctions. in theed legitimize them world. many in the time is not on our side. seem like a lot of time in washington, d.c., but it is the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. every day that passes, iran will get stronger. economy will continue to grow if they are not financially isolated. western companies will get more deeply entrenched inside of her iranich will -- inside of theirwill create -- and
conventional military will grow poorly because their economy is growing and they will be able to tell more money into the military but partly because of the nuclear deal. the embargo is lifted in barely three years which means iran can obtain heavy military artillery. and finally, iran would have all of those things with an industrial nuclear capability and 8-10 years. that is why we have to confront them now. the president made the right decision when he declined to certify. it was not simply a question of the technical compliance of iran with the terms of the nuclear deal, which by the way they're not complied with, but there is no doubt in my mind that it is not in our national security interest. so what should we do? i do not think we should immediately impose sanctions. in some ways that is a backward-looking steps since iran already has the better part
of that deal. we should focus on what president obama should've focused on from the beginning which is stopping iran from andloping that capability stopping there and perry all aggression in the middle east. that means more robust inspections, including military sites. military, including within the purview of u.s. law, u.n. security resolutions, restrictions on iran's ballistic missile program. including icbm's. with not have to sit down iran to negotiate any of that, by the way. it can be done as a matter of u.s. law, u.n. security council, or at least action in concert with the united kingdom, france, and germany. the implicitn
terms as well. we may not do that in weeks, but we cannot wait years. we can't wait until 2025. >> what did concrete steps could congress take? >> most of what the president --ds to take these actions for instance, one reason i do not think it is immediately necessary to impose sanctions in congress as u.s. law currently permits us to do for another 45 ] --s ago [indiscernible
under u.s. law or u.n. security council he can impose them. all he has to do is direct the the nextr to stop periodic waiver of them. he can also take diplomatic the central -- government and baghdad, getting them to stop working so closely militia.ian working with israel and our partners in lebanon that does not want to see hezbollah as a state within a state. working with israel and the emirates. holding at risk the arabian peninsula, commerce. same thing with the persian golf. taking a firmer hand. if we need to take additional steps in congress like we did this summer, passing new sanctions and included more iran.ons and are on -- in
right now the president has most of what he needs and he is obviously taken a much firmer approach with iran than the last president did. >> is there anything you could share with us? >> i can, but i won't. exile will give you some time to think about it and maybe we will come back to it. -- >> i will give you some time to think about it and maybe we will come back to it. shiite crescent, this land crescent that extends from iran to iraq to syria and also to lebanon. do you agree with that assessment, and if so, is there a way to roll back those territorial gains? >> very much so. it is a very dangerous advance that iran is making through iraq
and into labonte. there are aggression against israel has become widespread. for instance, iran is not just providing rockets to hezbollah but they are helping to guide factories on the border where hezbollah can actually manufacture its own precision guided munitions to use against israel if there is another a of hostilities between hezbollah and israel. we cannot allow that to happen. resupply lines going from its territory in iran into the labonte. -- love it. -- into the
levant. it is a good thing raqqa fell last week. control to our military officers. but we can't just assume the fight is over. islamic state still controls territory in the eastern and southern syria vital to iran and .he assad regime it is in our paramount interest to stop that from happening, again working with our partners in the region. >> earlier panels talked about the end state. when you look at the map, is it really understood this area does not get back together. that iraq does not look like it did a decade ago? >> it is her juicy it being united. given what the assad regime along with russia and others have done it is not in our interest either. we have a lote
more -- in a rectangle or we have a lot more troops on the ground, we have invested -- in morewhere we have a lot ground, pushing those troops toward popular militia there. >> can you compare and contrast the relationship between qatar and the obama administration and the relationship with the herd administration? write it was probably better under the obama administration in part because the obama administration was so focused on a nuclear deal with iran. go back to the 2008 campaign. barack obama said he would sit under three conditions. hillary clinton mocked him for being naive and foolish. she did not know the half of it, but he was not just talking in
the abstract about some general hezbollah national relations. he was talking in particular about iran and trying to reorder our alliance structure in the middle east. he admitted as much last year with atlantic magazine. therefore he always ended up in thewith iran interest middle east, all to get to a deal and preserve a deal. for instance, when students protested after the ayatollah election in the summer of 2009, largelya administration stood by. today, a meekly worded statement, not even strongly worded, in contrast. in two thousand nine, partner of ours, egypt, basically contested on its own and the obama administration immediately through them under the bus. they months later they launched
air strikes against could offer you. no american friend but after 2003 had given up his weapons of mass destruction program because he was scared of american power. therefore the obama administration was also looking for partners who would be more friendly towards iran. a lot in the middle east are not willing to do that, qatar is one of them. therefore most of the leaders there would say they wish they would say they had a better relationship to the bottom of than president trump. they should. there's no reason why qatar cannot have a very good and strong relationship with the united states. improved weapon sale to them. we have a close partnership on many matters. it is president trump is that, rightly, we need qatar to come back and the fold of our coalition and stop the support for muslim brotherhood affiliations, iran, for instant sending back to tehran a couple years ago after withdrawing it a
couple years ago along with all of the other gcc countries. all but one, take that back. so we should have a close relationship. i think president trump is committed in a way president obama never was because of his of session with the nuclear deal with iran, to tell qatar to quit playing both sides of the street in the middle east. to join our coalition once and for all. stop this alignment with extremist muslim rutherford groups. yes, we understand qatar has two at a different kind of relationship with iran then we do. they share a gas filled the is a large chunk of their revenues. their close, we are far, they are small, we're big. korea has auth different kind of relationship with china than we do. just like norway has a different kind of relationship with russia than we do. that does not mean they cannot still be a strong ally with the united states. greg said he get them over to that side? i think you support what our --
ourow do get them over to side? isi think you do what sensible. you do not have to support every initiative they are obligated. 13 points is a lot of points. lot ofte 14, but still a points. nurseare still in -- deep that have stood with us in that region. rather than viewing the situation as a crisis which is the way our foreign policy end view these tends to things. we should do it as an opportunity to seize. the united states and the gcc will both be stronger if the gcc was fully united with each other, a guest around.
anyssist a promising versus kind of congressional action? >> by and large. you may have noticed congress works on a slow timeline when it comes to foreign policy and national security matters. events can overtake you weekly. if the president were to act -- ask congress to act, would support that. calls for diplomacy. some public, some private. our president and our senior national security officials should be working pretty aggressively to again, resolve this as an opportunity to seize and not a crisis to manage. >> in 2014, cutter took the telegram. as unmistakable mark >> yes, it was a mistake i barack obama to make that trade. i would not have done that. that is behind us now. it is pretty well known now that the president, the u.s. government, asked qatar to make that decision.
that is an example of how that country would do things that other countries at least would not do. i mean, they opened that outpost for the telegram that. that was not the kind of arrangement i have ever advocated for. but it is kind us now. it is hard to say on what grounds you would unwind it. we would certainly insist upon of very thorough enforcement the terms of confinement, travel, communication on the taliban five two which qatar agreed. and if they do not enforce those terms, we can revisit the matter. i would sooner see things like qatar change its behavior towards iran into other like muslim brotherhood and other associations it is had with taliban and hamas. talibaner point on the five. there is no evidence of re-engagement of the taliban
ties and their followers in afghanistan. >> if there is the case -- i think there -- i feel like a omecoming -- >> on the issue of qatar, is mean -- as to i director panetta said earlier, they have been effectively able to play both sides of this argument. are they able to do this because they feel ambled and in the region? if so, would you put this down to chris rock >> the ability to play both sides is because the obama administration allowed them to play both sides. i think the president is committed to stopping that. committed tomp is stopping the. the trump administration may have a different viewpoint, especially if they worked on
this in the obama administration, but ultimately we are the biggest, strongest, riches, most powerful nation in the world and if we want a country like qatar to not play both sides of the street, to get on our side of the street once an for all which is not just hour or the gcc interest, it is in their interest in the long-term, too, and we have a lot to make that happen. that is what we should focus on. >> what has happened to their support for tourism in the region and outside of the region? overt grown? >> i think the last six years of the arab spring it has been unhelpful in the region and are together. to go back to the intellectual forerunner. hamas is a terrorist offshoot of the muslim brotherhood in the holy land and the provided support for hamas and the holy land. if they did not have that outside support it would be harder for them to hold onto power.
the kind of second order that came be in effect if qatar back fully within the fold of the gcc and the united states-led coalition. a week and hamas means a greater chance for incremental progress between israel and the palestinian send you don't have the terrorist organization controlling the state. you don't have the kind of rivalry between hamas and qatar for influence. this is one example of second order effects of qatar coming if the u.s. government and our allies can make that happen. >> choice in extent, is having an unstable advantage? an unstable environment and advantage? >> it never is in that environment. the united states has the ability not to direct events but to channel events there and we
should exercise that ability to greater extent than we have. i mean, qatar is a small state. gdp inmaybe the highest the world. of that the highest, one of the highest. like in steiner looks something. there is no reason its people -- like in stein or luck -- leitch liechenstein or luxembourg or something. like tell about our hamas, a deeper relationship with iran then we would like. deeper than we would like. again, these are things that can change. they don't take a long time to change. >> the muslim other hand, is that a greater threat today than it was five years ago and of
stoke, why is that so? well, it is a threat. it is an organization founded on, you know, anti-western ideals. and some of the offshoots like hamas are outright terrorist organizations. i think in some ways it is stronger. in some ways it is weaker. the brotherhood in egypt proved any way.not govern in therefore lost some credibility i think is a movement that was capable of turning itself into a governing power but another ways, a lot of the, you know, offshoots, the descendents of the muslim brotherhood stillectual movement are strong. they may have been defeated and raqqa but is still control some territory in syria and iraq and has its online caliphate, aqap is not yet defeated. the of the sunni groups and
mountain areas in afghanistan and pakistan are strong and resurgent. in some ways it is been weakened been in some ways it is quite strong. >> to what extent, talking about isis and the caliphate, as it is near collapse, whether the second order effects let's say, and africa. we've been talking about niger this week. u.s. was inre niger? how would you describe the threat? >> you can go to africa command in find it there. if you are on the armed service committee you can attend our meetings and hear the testimony that we had troops there. and guess the question, does the united states have troops in this or that country, the answer is always yes. to greater or lesser degree, sometimes the dozens, sometimes hundreds of thousands. in africa, where you have seen both al qaeda and the islamic state trying to establish
what they hadfind in afghanistan 17 years ago which is a safe haven from which they can deliberately plan, plot, and launch attacks against the united states, we don't want them to have that. that does not mean we have to see in africa what we saw in afghanistan 16 years ago. it means that we want to try to empower and train the local forces to deal with these insurgencies. often times if you are ethnically, probably, historically rooted, then end up swearing loyalty to organizations like a qaeda. as the actual caliphate falls, think one fears that you may see growing numbers of islamic state afghanistances like and africa or around the world and it is possible you could see some of the most dangerous you know, put soldiers or high commanders of the islamic state
escaping a rock in syria and getting into some of the new say fans -- safe havens. say wasnistan they trying to keep a lid on the al qaeda operative in that part of the world, right? >> broadly speaking, that is one of our main goals in africa. that is largely why -- i mean, known as theforces green berets created by jfk to deal with this. team of or six man green brace. .- green berets training others to kick in doors and do so. that is why we have true presences and 70 places a new world. one of the core missions we have in africa is that kind of training -- advise mission. which the green berets had as
their primary mission for 50 years now. practices have the hallmark of al qaeda and point to isis? does this have the hallmark of al qaeda or does it point to isis? >> i will have to say again, i could tell you but i won't. those local forces often times are deeply rooted in a tribal and ethnic and historical way in that territory and they can shift between external terrorist organization based on who can provide them the most money or weapons or equipment or fuel or what have you. they are both pretty bad, though. ask before i get just enclosing ideas i have a couple questions which i will put in the category now that i have you in the chair right there, what can you tell
us about any conversations to leave the senate and go either to be cia director or the to secretaryompeo of state? >> very little. toave seen the news reports which you are referring. i think much of that is i don't washington earlier game speculation. we have a cia director, mike pompeo, has done it for the job. he is a pre-close friend of mine. i support the work he is doing. this is up to the present, not up to the senators beyond our constitutional authority to confirm or not confirm his nominees when those nominees are submitted. as far as i know his dance card is full right now. russia, as a member of the senate intelligence committee, have you seen anything that helps you determine how credible this trump dossier has been?
>> welcome i think some of the key points here is unknown as senator merce added a press conference, as anyone who has followed the matter closely knows, this outfit has gone to the greatest length possible to conceal who paid them which makes me think it was probably a democratic political or russian ] -- two questble the subpoena of their bank records. they have a constitutional right to take the fifth. i do not think we know anything about who the source for this document is. this former mia-six officer. chris steele, i do not think was running around interviewing people who claimed to have firsthand knowledge. we could be dealing not just
with sources but sub-sources his identity, you know, we don't know. and to our being paid for salacious information. or officers of russian information tasked with finding that information. site don't think you can give any credit to it at this point, certainly not until we answer those questions. nor have i seen any reason to do so. brotherhood, ron, qatar, as you look ahead, what kinds of developments will you key annan to determine whether we're heading in the right direction or the wrong direction. >> i think some obvious incremental steps, for instance, recalling their ambassador from tehran. maybe a change in the tone of coverage from al jazeera every now and then. maybe a greater willingness to sit down and talk with the other leaders of the gcc about the six
principles they would like to and doors. some of these are not extents but they are steps in the right direction that might lead to work on sequential steps that will be classified of course but of the powers in the middle east you just identified, one of them is pulling back within the fold. it will be hard to do that with the muslim brotherhood or with iran. so i would like to deal with qatar. it would strengthen eyes, them, and all of our partners in the middle east. >> is this a way to sort of divide, isolate, separate iran? >> of course. iran unfortunately has the powers of a nationstate behind that revolutionary cause. you see the consequences of it everywhere. and it is not in the united states interest to have a
revolutionary cause backed with the powers of a nationstate expanding its influence without the middle east. therefore, we need to identify every partner we have who is willing to work with us to contain and ultimately rollback that influence. qatar could be one of those partners. they could certainly be a better partner than they happen. .> you said 8-13 years is there a point of no return or do we have the kind of visibility we need to know when we are approaching that point? >> again, if iran does not have a covert nuclear program, which i hope they don't, it would be the first time in decades, and to think about that in very concrete terms i mean you are talking about a country that is 2.5 times the size of texas in which you are looking for facilities that are not much bigger than this all we're sitting in. and people are scandinavian, other scientists being driven around by arabian intelligence
officers. that does not sound like a recipe for success in ensuring they don't have a covert facility. a lot of facilities that are declared our military and we don't have the ability to inspect them but ultimately of are alls of the jcpoa that governs iran's nuclear aogram, they will have nuclear capability and 18-13 years and i do not think we can allow that to happen. -- just as we've seen in the two years you know since they enacted that deal. it is not a coincidence in my opinion that north korea's space of military and nuclear testing has increased rapidly since the jcl a was consummated in the summer of 2015. >> why do you think that is? >> i think it shows that united states is willing to strike a deal for any kind of claim we had pushed their nuclear program
to the right on the calendar and therefore the obama administration was willing to appease iran to such a degree. i think kim jong-un >> help engaged is the president ? >> very engaged. he is the commander in chief. it is his foremost responsibility. the daily brief every day in washington with mike pompeo. >> without getting into what you talk to him about, how would you describe his level of engagement? >> it is steep. when have conversations about this, he understands what threats are coming from countries like iran, like north korea. he -- there's no secret that a lot of members of his cabinet disagreed. he went with his instincts. he understands how brave they are. when you sit in the seat versus
any of the seat, you tend to see .hings >> i'm going to give you the final word >> thank you for the interview. thank you to the hudson institute for hosting an conversation. the middle east is a dangerous region, more dangerous than it normally is. we have some advantages in the middle east with our allies, countries like israel, jordan, egypt, the gcc. we should try to rebuild the security order. starts withthat recognizing that iran is the source of most of these challenges in the middle east and therefore we have a chance to separate countries like qatar from iran and bring them back to the fold. >> thank you to all of you and the hudson institute as well.
[applause] >> this morning on the c-span network, a look at the up looking -- the upcoming republican text opposing and democratic susan collins. they sit down with clear politics at 8:00 a.m. eastern on c-span2. at the clock, the house energy looks at public health and emergency preparedness efforts know the 2017 hurricane season. we're live it to neglect p.m. eastern on c-span3 -- live at 10:00 p.m. eastern on c-span3. >> hi, this is lois. we are super excited to have the book festival, november 4 and five in and around the state capital in downtown austin. we will be welcoming over 300
panels and over 150 we are expecting a huge turnout of 50,000 on saturday and sunday. >> joint book tv of the texas book festival live from austin, saturday and sunday, november 4 and fifth on c-span2. for more information, visit our website. secretary,use press sarah sanders sits down with members of the white house press corps about a conversation on how the administration approaches the press. this is hosted by george washington university, this runs about one hour and 45 minutes. >> good evening, everybody. [applause] >> quite a crowd. >> and there is the overflow