tv Heritage Foundation on Iran Sanctions CSPAN November 10, 2018 7:02pm-8:01pm EST
world war i soldier's remains from france to arlington national cemetery. we visit the muse are gone -- meuse argonne cemetery. and the re-air of president trump at the world war i ceremonies -- in paris. sunday veterans day on c-span and "american history tv" on c-span3. next a forum on the future of u.s.-iran relations with the trump's administrations -- the trump administration's regime and the sanctions. >> welcome to heritage. so glad so many people could come through the rain and voting obligations. we are approaching a key inflection point in the evolving
confrontation with iran. yesterday the trump administration reactivated nuclear sanctions that it had initially reimposed last may. the second round of sanctions is targeted at iran's oil shipping and banking sectors. but this time around is supposed to -- the crisis with iran during the obama administration, there was not as much -- buy-innal by in with sanctions. that has led to more uncertainty about the likely impact of those sanctions and the way iran is likely to react. tehran apparently believes it can ride out the sanctions and outwait the trump administration.
it has refused to negotiate on the nuclear issue with the trump administration and undoubtedly hopes to have a new administration after 2020 to negotiate with. and i think for that reason, iranian officials will be watching this midterm election as much as many americans. we are fortunate to have with us today our expert panel to look at a number of issues. this panel will include mark dubowitz, the ceo of the foundation of defense for democracies. michael doran of the husson institute. and patrick clawson. we will look at the likely impact of sanctions, what additional u.s. policies are needed to deal with a wider range of iran's behavior. and what needs to be done, if anything, to get to an improved nuclear agreement. is that in the cards?
i will introduce the speakers in our order of speaking. our first speaker is patrick clawson. he is the morningstar senior fellow and director of research at the washington institute for near east policy. he directs the iran initiative security -- iran security initiative there. he is widely consulted as an analyst and media commentator. he has authored more than 150 articles about the middle east and international economics and is the author and editor of 18 books or studies on iran. he appears frequently on television and radio and has op-eds in newspapers. he has also testified before congressional committees within -- more than 20 times and has served as an expert witness in more than 30 federal cases against iran. prior to joining the washington institute, he was a senior research per vessel at the national defense university, institute for strategic studies.
and he also was a senior economist at the international monetary fund and the world bank and a research scholar at the foreign policy research institute. so take it away, patrick. patrick: great. so the sanctions that the u.s. is the imposing are going to -- sing are going to work most effectively if the united states can form a broad domestic consensus, broad international consensus on this matter, and can demonstrate effective enforcement of the sanctions. and these are all going to be big challenges. but i am going to leave it to my colleagues to address those matters. that is their greatest interest whereas my comparative advantage is talking about developments inside iran. so let me just discuss that. and there the challenges we face about making our sections policy
work effectively to persuade iran to change its behavior are really -- the difficult political environment inside iran, where there is two factions, each of which are dedicated to preserving the islamic republic but have different ideas about how to to do that. they spent most of their time and effort sniping at each other. and sanctions get caught up in that. what we have is a group of people, like hassan rouhani who technocrats -- i detest the term moderates -- who are deeply committed to the islamic republic and its ideals and they think the way to achieve this by smiling, blowing smoke in your face rather than spitting in your face. then there is a group around
the revolutionary guards who believe that resistance, resistance resistance is the way , to go. right now the latter camp, the revolutionary guards are quite delighted by the country's economic problems. ever since the iranian rial started to crash in march, they have mobilized their media and speeches by their leaders to contrast the successes that iran has been having in the regional policy, which they run in places like syria and yemen, with failures of the economic policy for which the rouhani team has taken responsibility. see, we,heme is that, we can do it. we, the revolutionary guards can do a good job but those guys can't. and so those guys, technocrats told us that when they replaced the person who was somewhat of
a buffoon that we would have a team running, but we haven't. i would say their incompetence is stunning. the revolutionary arts are saying -- are in a very good position where if the economy does poorly as a result of the sanctions, they can say, see, that is rouhani's fault. rouhani misdiagnosed things when he told you he was running for president that the way to solve iran's economic problems was to do a deal with the west. that is just not true. this shows that rouhani is naive and we should not listen to him. on the other hand, if the economy does well, then they can say, see, we told you, resistance economy is the way to go, and that we don't need the west. and in fact, our policy of
resistance is what makes sense in the economic sphere and the foreign policy sphere. if the economy does badly, they will take credit, and if the economy does well, they will take credit. meanwhile rouhani is in somewhat of the opposite situation, and he did promise ended -- and did say when he was running for president he would solve the economy and he could solve it, and actually did have ok economic performance for a little bit. but it, in general, the economy has not done well under his presidency. the average iranian household's budget according to iranian government sources is down about 10% from where it was when he took office. and that contrasts with the previous decade in which the average household budget rose by about 20%. if you go from a decade of 20% growth to six years of 10%
decline, you are not happy campers. that is the situation rouhani faces. frankly most of the problems are because of their own corruption and mismanagement and the political deadlock makes it possible -- impossible for the rouhani team to make even the most modest and obvious structural reforms. sanctions is not going to make this any easier. what we have seen is that whether it is the iranian module center or thest international institutions like the world bank and imf, all agree to change the forecast in march, where they forecasted the iranian economy would grow quite briskly over the next few years, but now they are saying iran is already in recession, and get worse. it will -- and it will get worse. rouhani is in a tough situation. that will be -- the environment
of maneuvering about whether or not to resume negotiations with the united states about an additional deal. i think of that jim put it very nicely when he said that the basic strategy of the rouhani team will be to outwait trump. my talks with rouhani officials, who in the spring were very nervous, now they are extremely confident. that confidence that they think, well, we have sustained bad sanctions in the past we can do , it again. anyway we are well positioned anyway to control the population if there are going to be any kind of protests. and we can outwait trump. the challenge is shaking that confidence. james: thank you, patrick. on time, unusual for a speaker.
our next speaker is mark dubowitz. he is the ceo for the foundation of the defense of democracies. he is the chief executive at fdd , a washington-based nonprofit's he -- and on partisan institute where he leads projects on iran, sanctions, and nonproliferation. iran's an expert on nuclear program and global threat network and is widely recognized as one of the key influencers to counter threats from the iranian regime. according to the new york times, campaign to draw attention to what he saw as flaws in the iran nuclear deal has taken its place among the most consequential undertaken by a washington think tank leader, and that must have cost you a lot to get them to say that. take it away, mark. mark: all right jim, thank you , so much. great to be with patrick and
with mike. i want to actually begin because , today is election day, talking about the challenge, jim, that you raised, which is there a possibility of bipartisan iran policy, and what does the iran policy look like intentionally if the iranians are right and can wait out trump and a new president in the white house in 2021? i want to begin there because i think it is important for us to acknowledge that the iran issue in some respects has become somewhat partisan and polarizing. in other respects, it has a deep bipartisan foundation to it. the foundation to it is the concern that both democrats and republicans have about iran's nonnuclear mind behavior. its sponsored terrorism, missile, human rights abuses, support for bashar al-assad's slaughter in syria, destabilizing activities in the
middle east and around the world. that is where a new president will begin, facing an islamic republic that continues destructive behavior and a sanctions structure that again will be predicated on all of this maligned behavior and will be very difficult to suspend or lift as a result. the other reality this president will face in 2021 is that the number of descriptions -- restrictions that are in the jcpoa will come to a head in the arms embargo that is in the 2021. u.n. security council resolution that essentially embeds the jcpoa internationally, the arms embargo will be sunsetting, and iran be able to engage in almost unlimited purchases of weaponry from countries around the world. in 2024, the restrictions on iran's missile program, the u.s.
missile embargo, will sunset. again iran will be able to procure parts and components for its missile program from countries around the world, but not the least facing u.n. restrictions. the restrictions that are both in the u.n. security council resolution as well as a number of european restrictions are going to sunset. and then in 2024 as well, iran will be able to industrialize at the centrifuges. these are the more powerful ir6 's and ir8's and allow them to install enrichment facilities with more powerful uranium. you need fewer numbers which makes it easier. iran begins to discover a more advanced centrifuge. that allows for clandestine sneak out options. in 2026, early in that president's second term, many of the restrictions go away because
that is the 10-year mark of the jcpoa, which we date from january 2016. that is a number of very important restrictions on iran's andear missile, military, irgc activities that will come off in the first term of that new president or early in the second term. so the political and national security reality is whatever is -- you ever is in the white house in january 2020 will be facing the necessity of combating iran's destructive activities and putting in a policy that will do with these restrictions as they start to go. at that point it is not 10 years away, it is a few years away. that is the wake-up call for anybody who is sitting in the white house. that is the wake-up call for people sitting in iran who are
thinking they can wait out donald trump with a view that the next president coming in to office is going to be very flexible, lift all the sanctions and won't be using instruments of national power. i think it is a bad strategy for the iranians and a big wake-up call regardless of who is sitting in the white house in january 2021. what about this administration? this administration has two years, potentially six years, to implement their iran strategy. their iran strategy is very much modeled after the strategy ronald reagan used in the soviet union during the cold war, which is to use all instruments of national power to weaken the it, to to neutralize roll back influence regionally and globally with respect to national power. what you have heard and patrick has talked about and you have read about is the financial economic power. we can talk about sanctions, but it is clear this administration
is fully committed to financial warfare against the islamic republic, and the sanctions that came back yesterday, and the sanctions that came back six months ago are both powerful and are having the impact that all of you have been reading about with respect to iran's domestic activities. that does leave questions about other instruments. rolewill talk about iran's and what the united states is doing to combat that. financial coercion include political information warfare, cyber warfare, covert action, what is happening on the military side, and their evisceration has developed a comprehensive policy. administration has developed a comprehensive policy. one man was put in place by then
cia director pompeo to really put the agency on more aggressive authorities with u.s. authorities under president actiono engage in covert against the aslam it -- the islamic republic. with reporting on cyber including recently some reporting there was a major cyber attack against iran's telecommunication facilities and infrastructure, not sure where that comes from, but there are people out there if not in the u.s. and elsewhere who are engaging in cyber warfare as the islamic warfare -- republic is engaging in warfare against the united states and our allies. on the political warfare side, is indeed theo most eloquent spokesperson for a campaign against the islamic
republic. his twitter account, speeches, through boa persian, through and about theda destructive behavior, that is the over to of this campaign which you are seeing more and more of. my only concern is, is there a possibility to really neutralize and rollback the islamic region? is there a plan where the u.s. military is prepared to provide a azure of determines -- a measure of deterrence? there could be serious consequences. or are we contracting this like israel, the uae, surrogates on the ground, are we backing them up with the intelligence they need or the support they need?
iranians have done significant damage with over 200 tracks in the year and a half and there is every indication that will continue despite many of the publications israel will have with russia in that very crowded airspace. i will just conclude by saying this. my expectation over the next two years, that is all the trump administration has, is this will be a relentless and unrelenting campaign of pressure against the islamic republic. will they cracked the islamic -- will they crack the islamic republic in two years? most experts say they won't, but i will remind you that in 1983 when ronald reagan unveiled national security directive 75 to really target the soviet union, most experts did not predict that the soviet union would crack six or seven years later. thank you. james: thank you mark. ,and our batting cleanup is michael doran. he is the senior fellow with the
hudson institute. where he specializes in middle eastern security issues. he served as senior director of the national security council. -- security council in the administration of george w. bush. and he was responsible there for helping to devise and coordinate u.s. strategies on a variety of middle eastern issues including arab-israeli relations and u.s. efforts to contain iran and syria. he's also served in the bush administration as a senior advisor in the state department and the deputy assistant secretary of defense in the pentagon. before coming to the hudson institute, he was a senior fellow at brookings institution, and he's also taught at nyu, princeton, and the university of central florida. and his latest book "ike's gamble" is out there and soon to be a major motion picture may n= -- maybe. i don't know, but michael, take it away. michael: i wish that was the
case. thanks, jim. i like to start by just putting it -- the trump policy in the kind of widest possible perspective. there are two, i think, ideas out there in the world about how how you should, how we should be dealing with the iran challenge. i am going to, for the sake of discussion, i'm going to call one of the european plan and then the european/obama plan and then the american plan. these are sort of ideal types i'm talking about. i don't think any country has a perfect representative of what i'm talking about. they are just two different theories of iran. the european and obama idea was that the way to deal with the iran challenge was to entangle iran in a web of international agreements and mutual
dependencies. i often in the last few years i've been going quite frequently to berlin. and i think the what i'm calling , the european and obama plan is best typified by the foreign ministry of germany. the germans have a set of assumptions about the world that are diametrically opposed to our own. we believe in general americans are, tend to believe in hard power competition with rogue regimes, and we believe in hard economic competition with rogue regimes. the german attitude is where the -- whatever the problem is, the answer is money. and you invest in these countries, and you entangle them in economic dependencies, and that, that changes the calculus in the capital, whether it's moscow or tehran.
and leaders, even if they're hardline leaders who are hostile to the west, they start to out of their own sense of self interest and their own economic interest, they start to shade some of their options more toward engagement than toward confrontation. and similarly with hard military competition, you want to show these countries that you are not infinitely impeccably hospital , -- hostile to them, that we can work together on certain common projects. so you tend to tone down the deterrence or outright confrontation in the military. that was the, as i understand it, that was the theory of the jcpoa. the trump administration has come in and has really leaned hard, at least rhetorically, with the other view, which is that the way the deal with the
rogue regime like iran is to wear it down through hard economic and military competition. i chose my words carefully when i said rhetorically though, because i don't think of these -- you think of these as a scale with the german foreign ministry over here, and who is on this end of the scale? ronald reagan. i don't know if ronald reagan is on that end of the scale. john bolton, as he is understood in the new york times. the administration i don't think is way over to the right. it's more toward the center moving toward the right, and i will explain what i mean. mark already kind of foreshadowed what i was going to say when he asked the question is there is there a military , component to this strategy? my answer is going to be, not really. not as much as one, as one might
think. let's go back and list some of the major changes since the obama administration left office. i think they are major. i can't hide my own views. i want, as robust and american competition with iran as the american public will accept. i have been in the argument in the last few days with my friends who share that view who are actually -- i don't think we are seeing a lot of this in the mourning. they are in the waivers that the administration gave to the six countries to import iranian oil and some of the waivers about civil nuclear corroboration with iran has has led them to believe , that the trump administration has completely capitulated. i don't see it that way at all. this is aat this is,
a robust economic and military , competition strategy, but not as robust as i think some people were kind of hoping for on the basis of rhetoric of the administration. so what what's changed since , obama? well, number one, number one the , rhetoric has changed completely, and iran is no longer identified as a potential partner. it's an adversary. number two, the administration has worked closely with allies in the region, in the middle east, and outside the middle east to begin to rebuild a kind of anti-iran coalition most notably with saudi arabia and israel. as mark noted, that house, that has not just diplomatic implications, but it also has military implications as well particularly with the country like israel which has significant military capabilities used in syria against the iranians. the israelis can use that power
now with the with the confidence , that the united states will support it diplomatically. and the support which it needs particularly with respect to moscow. so the israelis can act with greater, with greater impunity, and also in the clandestine realm, we don't know for a fact. mark said we now know that there are covert actions being taken against iran's nuclear program. we don't know who it is, but presumably the israelis are in the mix there. the israeli covert action against the iranian nuclear program was shut down under the obama administration. and presumably now -- nobody is talking about it -- but presumably the prohibition from washington has been lifted. thirdly our military posture in the region has changed. the -- you see this most notably
in syria where it is now part of the stated policy of the united states to remain in syria until the iranians leave or stripping iran -- stripping syria of iranian led forces was one of mike pompeo's 12 points with regard to iran. and we are now going to keep forces in syria until we are satisfied on that, on that point. a significant fact, i think, but it doesn't really add up to a robust literary strategy. -- military strategy. it striking to me that both israel and the united states now in terms of their rhetoric say that it is the goal of their policy to ensure that syria does not become an iranian, an
iranian base, and that the assad regime is not simply an arab face to iranian power. i don't see two things, however, one is the actual military strategy by either the united states or israel that will achieve that goal. the israelis are taking significant action to cause the iranians pain in syria, but if present trends continue, it doesn't look to me like those actions are enough to prevent the iranians from turning syria what, into what turning -- turning syria into what turning syria into what the iranians already have in lebanon. that's a forward base with forces poised to strike israel.g the americans and the israelis are hoping that that putin will , help them here, and that putin will conclude that it's not in his interest to have the iranians playing that role in syria. my personally am skeptical that
that is not going to work whether you are skeptical or not , skeptical, i think we can all see that the military strategy is not there to achieve the stated goals. the second thing that is really striking to me is that the united states and israel have the same stated goal with respect to iran and syria. but they don't have any kind of significant military coordination between the two of them to achieve that goal. in fact, the messaging that's coming from u.s. centcom is really -- and even from the secretary of defense at times, is really that we are deterred by the iranians. particularly because we fear that if we compete too aggressively in the military sphere with the iranians and syria, we will pay a price for that in iraq. we are not seeing, although we have we and the israelis are , saying we want exactly the same thing, and we are cooperating to achieve it, i don't see that cooperation in the military sphere, at least
not to the level that one might expect given the otherwise level of agreement. then of course, finally with respect to how things are changed, we can see all that my colleagues here discussed about the changes and the attitude toward sanctions and the jcpoa and so forth. what really isn't clear to me about the new strategy is what its goal is. the obama administration sought an agreement with iran, some kind of accommodation. the trump administration has bent over backwards to say that it's not carrying out a regime change policy. the europeans, it is interesting don't believe us. , they look at mike pompeo's 12 points, and they say that is a
regime change policy in all of that -- but name. and then they point at john bolton as national security advisor and they say this is really a regime change. personally i don't believe that because of the personality of , the president, i think, donald trump ideologically as opposed to regime change. this is one of the ways in which he has distinguished himself consciously from george w. bush. and just sort of character-logically sees himself as a great negotiator. my best guess, and i don't know better than anyone else in the room what he wants, but is that trump actually wants a deal. what we will never know, if he will keep it in his head, is what the deal that he would accept with the iranians? but the fact that he wants a deal, in my mind, also moves that if you go back to the spectrum between the germans and the american hardest of
hardliners, it moves it in that it moves it our policy in the , direction of the germans, although i think we are definitely in the hardline sphere here of the spectrum. but i'm not as confident as mark that this means that in the next 24 to 27 months, we are going to win. the -- what i personally would like to see is a complete the obama strategy, and i would like the trump administration to ensure that by the 2020 elections, they've made it as hard for the next administration to overturn what they've done as the obama administration did to those of us who didn't like what obama did. and i'm not convinced, given the way things are at the moment, that if trump were to lose in 2020, and the obama
administration too was to come in in whatever form, whether president deval patrick or molly harris, thatmala they could adjust very quickly return back to the obama policy then to the jcpoa because that's what the europeans and democrats are hoping. they hoping to work with the iranians to keep it on life support until they can back and revive it. james: thanks, mike. we are going to open it up to questions, and to give the interns time to get around, i'm going to ask the first question. that would be to basically everybody on the panel. if you are in the place of the nsc advisor to talk to president trump, what -- and you could only emphasize one or two points, what would be the major take away that you would leave with the president on how to
increase the economic or geopolitical pressure on iran? i mean we talked about , re-imposing past sanctions, but there is a lot of other new sanctions that the administrations has hinted about. >> broaden the base of support for the sanctions. for instance, the administration in its actions did not call these sanctions were from those done for counterterrorism reasons, some for human rights reasons, and that offers a broader basis for getting support from democrats here in the united states and a broader basis for getting support for -- from europeans especially , since the iranians are stupid enough to be carrying out terrorist actions in europe. so to the extent to which you can remind democrats and europeans that we share, all of us, common objection to iran's behaviors in like supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region, you're more likely to form the kind of consensus about
sanctions which is going to outlast this first trump administration, and that's what is going to most persuade the iranians that come back from the negotiating table, if they think the sanctions are going to be around for a long time. so my advice, mr. president, is frame what you are doing in terms that are going to get the maximum degree of support from democrats and from europeans. mark: so if the advice is only limited to sanctions, then what -- yeah, i mean, what i first recommend is to be much more aggressive in going after the regime on human rights grounds. so yesterday's designations -- there were 700 designations, 300 new ones. i counted only two human rights designations, and i think there is a lot of opportunity for this administration to go after
iran's leadership, to go after the brutal repression, the corruption. ftd just put out a report on iran's so-called dirty dozen -- the 12 most abusive iranian officials with respect to human rights on corruption. i was pleased to see that the designated the supreme leader's $95 billion corporate conglomerate, the execution of imam khomeini's order. but that is only the beginning. there are a number of them that is alot of foundations that the supreme leader controls that have been valued by experts at over $200 billion to $300 billion. so i go after the corruption and laughter those on a hedge fund and foundations and corporate conglomerates. my general advice to the president, and the spilled off mike's comment, just be careful.
they are itching to get you back in the room for negotiation, despite the interviews he's giving that they won't negotiate with the trump administration until the u.s. is back in the jcpoa, i don't believe that. i think the reason rouhani can't wait to get back in the room and the president has to be very careful because the iranians have been trapping american leaders in negotiations for years. i can see them using those negotiations to significantly undermined this maximum pressure campaign, and i think the worst thing that could happen is to have donald trump with the lame duck president like hassan rouhani at some summit in azerbaijan discussing some comprehensive deal because i think he will potentially get rolled. james: mike. michael: a couple of words like mark the said, i too would expect them to want to get into negotiations if only as a tactic to string the administration
along, not necessarily to reach a deal, but just to wait out the administration. harder stall any sort of policies by the u.s. the issue that i would like to see greater attention given to is the, is the military competition, and in particular i would like to see the united states define defeating the hezbollah model as a goal of american strategy. we say, we say we want to challenge iran's malign influence is a common refrain you hear. the malign influences built on the hezbollah model and using proxy militias in neighboring countries to hold the governments of those countries hostage or to take over those countries. its -- iran has perfected through its experience with hezbollah this model.
it's now building on it in iraq and in syria, and in yemen, and it's now brought ballistic missiles into the equation. and we have not, we have never focused on this issue. it's perfectly within our capability to come up with answers to everything that iran is doing. we are far more powerful than it is, but we never define it in those terms and amazing things happen with no response from us. just one example, ballistic missiles in yemen that can hit riyadh -- saudi arabia is our ally. iran escalated in yemen and put missiles in place that can threaten our ally, and what price did we make iran pay for that behavior? and yemen is particularly egregious because it's not like in the case of iraq, neighboring country iran can say we have vital interest. iran has not historically been active in yemen.
and yet it chose to escalate there. and we did nothing virtually , nothing in response. i would call that superpower malpractice. and so i'd like to see us focus on that. and one last point with regard to what mark said mark said that , we have been -- the iranians have out-negotiated us historically. i disagree in one sense, and that's that we have out negotiated ourselves. it is not that they have been -- it's not that they are so clever, they are clever talented people, there's no doubt about but we have come to this that. relationship or this conflict, and i cannot explain why. but we have come to it with the most naive assumptions about this country imaginable, and it's something deep in the american character. and it's not just republicans or democrats. we think that there is some kind of clever formula by which we can open up the dial on the back of the iranians and move it a
couple notches, and suddenly they're going to become our friends again like they were at the time of the shah. the fantasy has dominated our diplomacy on both republican and democratic side for three decades. and i'm mystified by it, but i would like to see that change. and with that we will , open it up to the floor for questions. let me try this can right here, don't front. -- down front. >> my name is kevin, retired navy officer. christian on like, you are talking about yemen. i was going to ask the impact of yemen, the issues with qatar and the other gulf states. how does that play into our strategy, what can we do to mend those riffs? and the second part would be are the iranian americans that are ex-patriots living in america, what role can they play in trying to achieve our goals? james: does anybody want to --
>> can i jump in? with regard to the split, it is also- with qataris, it is with the turks. as i see it, we can't have a successful containment strategy of iran or any kind of serious composition if we are not working with the saudis and the turks. i would like to see, and i'm sure this is the goal of the administration, but i would like to see the administration work to soothe the differences particularly between turkey and saudi arabia, more importantly than between qatar and saudi arabia. i think what that is going to mean though is it's going to mean some concessions to the turks. my reading of erdogan could be
wrong. my reading of erdogan is that his conflict with saudi arabia is also a conflict with us about syria, and he's trying to move us into a different position and -- different position in syria. if we don't have the turks and the saudis at least having amicable relations with each other, and a blurry but general agreement about where we want to go in the whole region, we can -- we are going to have a lot of trouble containing iran. >> i would like to say question on iranian-americans. in toronto, up which the iranian community known as tehran-to. in my experience with the iranian-american and iranian committed canadian communities the only place in the world where iranians don't succeed is the islamic republic of iran. they are incredible immigrants, incredibly successful and more educated and entrepreneurial and community conscious, so i think the administration is doing the right thing, particularly pompeo
reaching out to the iranian-american community. he gave a speech at the reagan library in the summer at simi valley which was an important , speech not only because it was at the reagan library. his speech really reflected channeling ronald reagan with respect to how to deal with iran, but also reaching out to the iranian-american community , and three quarters of the room was full of iranian-american. i think that is critical. i think some of the things that the administration can do from a policy perspective would be really important, one would be to lift the travel ban on iranians. is nothinghink there more counterproductive to our that would be a critical move.
also in terms of opposition groups that we support, the administration has to be very careful in who they are supporting. i think they should be supporting more opposition groups. i think they should be doing more of the covert side, but also to be very careful about how that plays inside iran. james: ok, let's try this man down here in the front. >> and peter humphrey, former -- i peter humphrey, former am diplomat. we consistently miss a pulpit opportunity in pointing out that everything that iran does is supposedly on behalf of god, and we don't throw that back in their face or say that to the rest of the world every single day. if we did decide to go for broke, can each of you assess quickly the opportunity, what , what the probability would be in the age of twitter of deposing the regime from within without external military activity? >> there has been quite a lot of
work done by the intelligence community and by academic analysts looking at what is our success rate of predicting revolutions. there is a very broad consensus in both parties that we have never accurately predicted a revolution in the last 200 years. that should be a warning that we are unlikely to know whether or not the regime in iran is or is not vulnerable to being overthrown. i can give you a dozen reasons on either side of the equation, but i have to tell you right now that it would be quite inappropriate for the united states government to base its policy on the assumption that it knew what was the answer to that question. and i would rather frame our policy in terms of how can we get the changes that we want in iran's policies such as pompeo's list of conditions, whether or not the regime stays in power or not. and by the way, there are lots
and lots of indications that this regime in iran is much more revolutionary than an islamic regime and much more run by the military, especially revolutionary guards, than it is by men of god, people of god. in fact, the clerical influence over the regime is slight, whereas the revolutionary guards' perhaps. this is much more of a revolutionary military regime than it is an islamic regime. >> can i just follow up with a question to patrick? patrick, what does that fact mean to you? the revolutionary rather than clerical, with respect to the question of regime change? , that the think that heart and core of this regime
is shifting towards nationalist instead of islam, and there are lots of popular nationalist events in iran, and we are doing a good job tapping into that. >> what about getting in terms of what we want? patrick: we have to understand this is opposition to the west. it is not support for islam, it is opposition to the west. so therefore any idea that we are going to have some kind of good relations with this regime is naive and inappropriate. >> i would say this, i think it's a positive development that this regime is transforming from a clerical dictatorship to a military dictatorship. and i think it is important because it no longer has legitimacy of an islamic government, of an islamic revolution to try and attract the support of millions of its coreligionists in the middle east. i mean, if it becomes just
another brutal middle eastern group of autocratic thugs, those governments in the middle east haven't done very well. does that suggest it's going to survive for decades? perhaps. i think patrick is exactly right. we have no idea how long this regime will last, but it certainly has an ideology that is today's bankrupt. i think we could do more of what secretary pompeo did at his speech at the reagan lot library is quote ronald reagan and channel, you know, his westminster speech, where reagan said early in his presidency, it is inevitable that marxism, leninism, and the soviet union will end up on the ash heap of history along with other tyrannies. reagan didn't have that explicit soviet regime change policy. his view was that it was inevitable that the soviet union would collapse because its ideology was bankrupt, the economy was bankrupt and it couldn't sustain its aggressive expansion as policy for decades on the back of a
bankrupt economy and ideology. i think that's a very good way of looking at the islamic republic. and for those of us in washington who ultimately believe that the only answer to this question really, in the long, is a change in government, a peaceful change in government where iranians have the opportunity to vote and to have their future advance and respected by the government, we should be advancing that theory of the case. it is not regime change but it is inevitable this regime will end up on the same dust heap of history. i i agree with all that, and agree with patrick's two points that an explicit regime change policy or policy designed to carry out revolution brings about more problems than it's worth. also it's just not going to happen in the trump administration because donald
trump is ideologically opposed to that. also, it also alienates our allies. and it commits us to actions that are not sure we the , american people in general are willing to take. i very much chastened by what am we've seen in syria as the assad regime neared collapse, the russians moved in and the iranians moved in. to say that i think that if the iranian regime nears collapse we will see the chinese and the russians move in to say that i don't think we are going to be -- go in directly and challenge it, but we should be aware of that possibility. i also agree, and i think it's the most important thing to remember is what patrick ended with that this regime, this revolutionary regime, is
inveteratly hostile to us. the hostility to the united states and to the west is at its core of its identity. any deal we make with it we have to recognize we are making with it with a regime that sees us as , an enemy and always will. and that's one of the things that was profoundly wrong with jcpoa because there was -- embedded in the jcpoa was the notion that we are going to transform these guys from devils into angels, and that's not going to happen. patrick: mike, i would say this. we may not be committed to a regime change policy, but i don't think there's anything wrong with the regime thinking we are. i also think there's anything wrong with a policy that is dedicated to severely damaging the regime, severely weakening the regime, severely undermining its capabilities of influence and nefarious behavior. i'm not of the view, maybe you guys are, that we should adopt sort of the view of confidence building measures in order to ensure that the regime will
trust us to honor the deal that we signed, and we can take a very sort of obama state department view through confidence building measures, we can bring the iranians to the table to get a comprehensive agreement that permanently cuts off their pathway to nuclear weapons. ic hegemony. i see hegemony. to me that's illusion and naive. policy should be based on not confidence building measures but fear inducing measures. >> i don't disagree with any of that. >> the united states plans to overthrow the islamic republic through a velvet revolution or soft overthrow, through cultural invasion, and he has often said hollywood is much more dangerous than washington. and that the real danger of regime change really comes from western culture and not from the actions of the united states government.
so he, this is a man who is deeply convinced that people to people exchanges, and those kinds of measures are part of the plan of washing to -- washington to overthrow regime. so when you see michelle obama up there giving me an academy award to argo, this is an example of how washington and hollywood work hand in hand to bring about the overthrow of the islamic republic. >> let me ask you this, isn't that an argument does not -- an argument that actually supports the obama theory of the case? that we should seduce the hard man of iran? >> it is impossible. he really thinks that everything we are doing to seduce them is part of our effort to overthrow them. he is convinced that the things which we see as benign measures to create confidence he sees as part of our plan to overthrow him. and so he is convinced that the people who are trying to promote more exchanges, more students, the like, that their real effort is to overthrow the islamic
republic. where we see this as benign kinds of things you should do to build confidence, he sees this as the mortal threat to the islamic republic. >> the disturbing thing for me is he sees hollywood as pernicious as i do. >> [laughter] james: a little bit disturbing. any other questions out here? we have room for one more. well, that just gives me a chance to also throw in my two cents. i remember ayatollah khomeini saying he fears u.s. universities more than the marines because of the values they taught, and that was one of the reasons why hezbollah targeted so many professors at american university in beirut to use as hostages. they really do see those as transmission belts for values that are going to bring down the totalitarian islamist regime. well, at that point let me just wind up the panel and thank you all for coming, and join me in
giving our speakers a very big hand. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> next, c-span's congressional exit interviews with utah and congress hatch senator who are both retiring at the end of the session. after that, a discussion on the impact of artificial intelligence on national security. withc-span's interview orrin hatch. he is retiring after 42 years in office. he talks about his childhood, his love of music and his friendship with the late senator ted kennedy. this is about 30 minutes. sen. hatch: a longest-serving