tv Charlie Rose PBS November 25, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, the fight against i.s.i.s., we talked to the former deputy director of the c.i.a., mike morrell. >> but what i think has to happen now is, within his nawsht national security team, there needs to be a conversation about let's take a look at every piece of our strategy and look at what's working and what's not working. one of the conversations that has to happen there, charlie, you and i have talked about this, one of the conversations that needs to happen is let's have a conversation in the situation room in the white house among the national security team in which we ask two questions. the first question is what would our policy toward i.s.i.s. be the day after a paris-style attack in new york or in washington? then the second question is, okay, if that's different from
what our policy is today, and i think it would be, if the american people would demand that it be different, why isn't that our policy today? >> rose: mike morell for the hour, next. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: mike morell is here. he is the former deputy director of the central intelligence agency. on monday, the state department issued a global travel alert for u.s. citizens. the the alert warned that i.s.i.l, al quaida, boko haram
and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions. today on the turkish-syria border, turkish fighter jets shot down a russian warplane. president putin called ate stab in the back committed by terrorists. in washington, president obama met with president francois hollande and said the nats would stand united with france in its fight against i.s.i.s. >> we're here today to declare the united states and france stand united in total solidarity to deliver justice to these terrorists and those who sent them and to defend our nations. >> it is therefore necessary that we have cooperation in terms of intelligence. the terrorist attacks generate a lot of emotion but that's not enough.
compassion, solidarity. and i take note of it, but we must act. >> rose: president hollande will meet with german chancellor angela merkel wednesday and president putin thursday to further discuss a coalition against i.s.i.s. i'm pleased to have mike morell back at this table to talk about all of. >> this tell you. great to be here. >> rose: let me start with the question you and i have talked about really is where do we stand after paris? >> so paris was obviously a very significant event. i think it's a game changer and it's a game changer in the following way -- before paris, we had a strategy which, by the president's own admission, would take a number of years to show success. i think, before paris, that was acceptable. i think the real change because of paris is it's no longer eacceptable for this to -- acceptable for this to take years. we can't take years because
there will be further attacks in europe and possibly in the united states. so there is now a sense of urgey that there wasn't before. >> rose: which has to be both defensive and offensive. >> absolutely. >> rose: what's the offensive component? >> the offensive component is we've learned two key lessons in the fight against al quaida can. lesson number one, and both of these are on the offensive side. number one is you have to take away their safe haven. the safe haven provides a significant advantage to a terrorist group in terms of planning, in terms of what it's capabilities are. >> rose: and in terms of recruitment. >> and in terms of recruitment, absolutely, across the board. the other is to put pressure on their leadership. best case, to remove their leadership. worst case, to simply make them think about their security every day rather than doing their job which is plotting attacks. >> rose: and what is the status on the ground today of i.s.i.s. in both iraq and syria? >> yeah, a great question.
so what's really happened, right, since we started this war against i.s.i.s. over a year ago now? it is absolutely true that the amount of territory that they control in iraq and syria is about 20 to 25% less than it was when we started this. so we have shrunk the size of the safe haven, and they haven't made the safe haven any bigger, right? that's a success. so that's on the plus side. >> rose: probably what the president said when he said we've contained. >> that's exactly what he said. on the down side, they've solidified their position within the safe haven so that it's not unfair to say that they are the equivalent of a state in their safe haven. they are a state in every respect of the word, charlie, except one, which is they don't have any foreign recognition and they don't have any foreign relations. but in every other regard, in
terms of how they govern and in terms of having a military, having a police force, having a judiciary, collecting taxes, sending -- running schools, running hospitals, taking care of the poor. all of that, they do within that safe haven. >> rose: do they do that with the consent of the government or the fear of the government? >> both. absolutely people are not happy living under this north korean style regime, right, where the rules are very, very difficult and a lot of things you can't do. but, at the same time, there is no corruption. the laws are enforced fairly. you know exactly what's going to happen to you if you do something you shouldn't do, and your boys -- right, your boys are safe going to school. girls don't go to school, but your boys are safe going to school and your kids playing outside are relatively safe.
so it cuts both ways. >> rose: you have to meet certain religious tests. >> absolutely, you have to meet certain religious standards and behave certain ways and if you don't you're in trouble. >> rose: is that the effective governing model in mosul. >> yes. >> rose: the largest city in iraq. >> and i think the other thing to say, and general petraeus was getting at this on your show last night, that for a lot of moderate sunnis, they don't like i.s.i.s., but they see i.s.i.s. at least as protecting them from the shia, from the shia in iraq and the iranian-backed shia militia, and they see them protecting them from the assad regime. so there are pluses and minuses, if you happen to live inside that safe haven. >> rose: okay, but here's the point. everybody you've talked to and you've said this to me repeatedly, petraeus said this to me, the key in iraq and somewhat in syria are the
sunnis, and if they feel like i.s.i.s. is better than the maliki government and the successor government, then what do we do to assure them that's not true and give them an incentive to fight i.s.i.s.? >> so, charlie, when i think about what has to happen here, right, we know what the two pieces are -- shrink the safe haven and put pressure on the leadership. how do you -- to shrink the leadership, i know how to do. get good intelligence, get good targeting information and take care of it. shrink the safe haven is much more difficult. you have to do twowr things at the same time. they are, you have to have a military solution in iraq, you have to have a military solution in syria, you have to have a political solution in iraq, and a political solution in syria. the political parts are more important than the military parts. in syria, i can actually
envision a political solution. the solution i can envision is some sort of transition away from assad and a transition that looks like the government in lebanon where each of the sectarian groups, each of the different players in syria get a say in how they're going to be governed, a guaranteed say. that's not going to be taken away from them by an election. >> rose: including hezbollah? no, because they don't live in syria. >> rose: in lebanon. if lebanon is a model, hezbollah has a governing role in lebanon. >> exactly. everyone would have a governing role except i.s.i.s. and nusra. and assad would stay around until that transition of power occurred. we can come back and talk about that. that's important. but once you have a new government in syria that everybody can agree to, then the most effective fighting force in syria, which happens to be the syrian army and the syrian military, can focus all their
efforts on i.s.i.s. supported by all the international players. >> rose: if it's simple to say give me a new leader in syria then all our problems begin to end? >> simple to say when we have a government that all the players in syria can agree is the new government going forward, and you can only have that if assad is not part of it. i think -- and there have been very significant differences among the players about assad, right? so the united states' position is that assad's got to go now. that's the position of the gulf arab states. >> rose: now or soon? it's always been now, right. it's always been now. >> rose: on the part of the u.s. >> on the part of the u.s. we'll come back to that in a second. that's the position of the turks, gulf arabs and the europeans. for the russians, it's, no, he should be able to stand in new elections. for iranians, it's he should be able to stand in new elections.
i think there is a potential compromise emerging between the united states, the europeans and russia, and i think that that potential compromise is assad can stay around until you get to new elections. he can't stand in those new elections. i think secretary kerry has hinted at that in recent weeks. the russian foreign minister hinted at that yesterday that the russians would be open to some sort of transition where assad is part of it up until the election. i think the parties who are on the outside of this potential agreement at the moment are the saudis who believe that he's got to go right now, and the iranians who believe he should stand in an election and if he gets elected he should be able to serve again. you know, the other day i said assad may be part of the solution here, and that's what i meant is he probably needs to stay around until that
transition is complete because what we don't want, charlie, is a situation in syria where assad leaves too soon before there is a new government set up and the institutions of the syrian government begin to collapse like they did in iraq and libya. >> rose: that's exactly what putin fears, too, as he has said before in conversations that he worried most about the absence of a government. >> right. >> rose: and the anarchy that comes after the absence of the government mas happened in libya. >> right. >> rose: but are you convinced from all you know that the russians are prepared to make that kind of deal with the united states and the west in order to have assad lead? we know they're not committed to him. >> right. they're not committed to him. >> rose: for the long run. they're committed to having their interests protected and they have two fundamental interests in syria, one is to make sure that islamic extremism gets brought under control so
that it doesn't go up into the caucuses and into russia and become a serious problem for the russians. that's russian interest number one. russian interest number two is to continue to have a military base in syria and to continue to have influence in the middle east by virtue of having that physical presence. those are their two interests. if they can be convinced they can have that with this new government i described then absolutely i think they're willing to see assad go. >> rose: is anything possible to convince the iranians? >> i think the only thing possible to convince the iranians is the russians twisting their arm. >> rose: and we've seen more and more evidence to have the relationship between the russians and the iranians in the last three or four weeks. >> exactly. the one thing putin will try to do in coming together with regard to some sort of compromise on assad, one of the things putin will try to do is try to negotiate away the pressure the u.s. has put on him
vis-a-vis ukraine. we have to fight that. we should not give in to that. his interests are strong enough in a good outcome in syria that we shouldn't have to give in and remove the sanctions that are on because of his behavior in ukraine. we should fight that. >> rose: what deal would we accept to remove the sanctions in ukraine? >> i don't know the answer to that question. clearly, stopping support to the separatists. i don't know if we would go so far as to say you have to get out of crimea. >> rose: is there a difference of the understanding of the mix in crimea. >> yes. >> rose: clearly everybody understand there has to be a transition from assad-out and everybody understands you have to have some kind of central government. what are the steps in some sense of we go here, here and here. you saw it in the paper today, yesterday's paper. >> yep. >> rose: hollande comes to urgency, act now.
>> just what we were talking about before. >> rose: what is "act now"? i think "act now" is let's get an agreement on the future government of syria. secretary kerry is working on that. the first thing that has to happen is an agreement between the europeans, the united states, our gulf arab allies and russia. >> rose: so diplomacy before military? >> absolutely. you can't have a military solution in syria without -- a military in syria that works without a political solution, absolutely. >> rose: so what did you think of the president's press conference and what did you think of what he said today after his meeting with hollande in terms of how he views this struggle? >> so he showed much more emotion today about getting -- dealing with the i.s.i.s. problem that he's shown recently. >> rose: even talked about his body language at the press conference. >> right. what happens within his national security team is there needs to be a conversation about let's
take a look at every piece of our strategy and look at what's working and not working. one of the conversations that has to happen there, charlie, you and i have talked about this, one of the conversation there needs to be a conversation about let's take a look at every piece of our strategy and look at what's working and what's not working. one of the conversations that has to happen there, charlie, you and i have talked about this, one of the conversations that needs to happen is let's have a conversation in the situation room in the white house among the national security team in which we ask two questions. the first question is what would our policy toward i.s.i.s. be the day after a paris-style attack in new york or in washington? then the second question is, okay, if that's different from what our policy is today, and i think it would be, if the american people would demand that it be different, why isn't that our policy today? >> rose: what is the policy they would demand if there had been an attack on washington, d.c., the policy that was possible to do today and three weeks ago, other than the political element we've just
talked about? >> right. so there is things to do on the military side, right, as you're waiting for the ultimate military answer, which is the syrian army, right, there are things you can do on the military side. you can significantly increase the number of special forms in country. you can push them closer to the front lines in terms of advising anand assisting the people actually doing the fighting. you can put where called forward air controllers on the ground close to the fighting to be able to call in precision airstrikes. you can relax somewhat the rules of engagement which are quite restrictive now in terms of what collateral damage is acceptable both in terms of human life and environmental damage. so there is a number of things you can do on the military side from which the administration is talking about, some of which many people are urging the president to consider. so while you're pursuing this political, there are more
aggressive military steps that could be taken. >> rose: you believe he's getting conflicting advice? >> look, i don't think i was ever in a national security meeting at the white house where there wasn't conflict, there was not differences of opinion. >> rose: diplomats and soldiers and intelligence and political people -- >> absolutely, it's the nature of making policy, absolutely. and the difficult thing is to sit at the head of that table and take all that advice and sort it out and make a decision. >> rose: let's go through it. one, h he has to change the rules of engagement if he wants to be more aggressive. what are the other decisions for him to make? >> number of special forces. >> rose: what does that vary between? >> i don't know the number now but when he made the decision to put 50 into northern syria that's a pretty small number. so a larger number, and more importantly where they are, right? now they're pretty far back in the chain of command. they need to be closer to the
front line so that they can provide strategic and tactical advice to the guys actually doing the fighting. that the where they will be the most effective. >> rose: in the mean time, i want to talk about this because you have a piece coming out. what's happening as this is going on with al quaida -- al quaida in asia, in africa and in the arab states? >> it's a great question. we are all, right, as a government, as a media, as a public, we are all focused on i.s.i.s. and rightfully so. but as we are focused on i.s.i.s., it turns out that al quaida is on the rebound, and it's on the rebound in two places. the first is in yemen, the most dangerous al quaida affiliate on the planet. we've talked about that bomb, that special bomb maker there many, many times, al-is the grt
tried to attack the united states a number of times. they were somewhat degraded by yemeni military operations and u.s. operations up until the yemeni civil war started. we talked about the implication around this table when it was happening. when the yemeni civil war started, it was a boon to al quaida. there was a vacuum they were able to fill. to al quaida in yemen, aqap, now has more land than ever before under its control, it now has more fighters under its control than it ever had before. it has more weapons than it ever had before, and it has more money than it ever had before because of this vacuum, right? that will make them much more dangerous as a terrorist organization, that will make them more of a threat to the united states and america. at the same time that that is happening, there is something
even more kind of worrisome and disappointing happening and that is the beginning rebirth -- that's the way i put it -- the beginning rebirth, charlie, of al quaida in afghanistan. so what we saw, which is the original al quaida leadership group which has been hunkered down in pakistan for years because they were under so much pressure from the united states of america that they were hunkering down and just trying to withstand the onslaught, they are now moving back into afghanistan for the first time. there was -- there is the building of al quaida training camps in southeastern afghanistan for the first time since before 9/11. so we're beginning to see the rebirth. the united states of america and afghan forces recently raided a couple of these places.
people don't know that, but that happened. and it's because of concern over those camps. so a significant rebound in yemen and a beginning rebirth in afghanistan. >> rose: and it's happening in mali right now? >> what you see in mali was, you know, a long-standing al quaida affiliate. it's al quaida in the islamic maghreb. they have been very active in mali. they took over half of mali when they took advantage of civil war going on in mali and, actually, the french had to come and force them out with the french army. so, yeah, absolutely. >> rose: vladimir putin. the president today said he was an outlier. >> yeah. >> rose: and says he has a coalition with iran, not part of the u.s. coalition. >> yeah. >> rose: are we saying to him that we're not interested in working with you, in cooperating with you to defeat i.s.i.s.? because i thought the administration's position had been before that we're prepared in some way to see you go ahead
and attack i.s.i.s., we just don't want you attacking people who want the overthrow assad because you're defending assad? >> yeah, so i think i'm not a fan of vladimir putin. he is a thug. he is a bully. he is the worst kind of leader, in my view. but, unfortunately, we don't have any choice but to cooperate with him because he is backing assad. he is preventing this transition to this new government, whic whs necessary to solve the problem. same with the iranians. same with the iranians, right? we have to come to some understanding with the iranians in order to get them to push assad. >> rose: what's the deal? the deal is -- i think the deal is leave ukraine off the table. i don't think you go there. he's going to want to but i don't think you go there. the deal is that i.s.i.s. is more dangerous to you, vladimir,
than he is to us. he's on your continent. they're already up in the caucuses radicalizing -- >> rose: he understands that. -- and let's work together to solve this problem. >> rose: and that's a decision you think this government is prepared to make? >> based on what secretary kerry has said in recent days, yes, i think we are. >> rose: and the argument or hollande, his urgency, we have to move now, he's going to talk to the russians after he leaves washington and talk to the germans. is there possibility for some kind of grand coalition here, different interests, simply to get rid of i.s.i.s.? >> there is. there is a 60-nation coalition right now. so there already is a grand coalition. the problem -- the fundamental problem is -- >> rose: different objectives. -- they have different objectives. there is two coalitions. there is a coalition around the united states that says assad has to go, and then there is a
coals around assad -- a coalition around assad that says, no, assad gets to stay. so that's the fundamental problem. the other thing we should mention, charlie, is while i.s.i.s. is a state, as we talked about earlier, and while it's a terrorist group, right, seeing what it did in paris and building attack capability in western europe and perhaps the united states, it is also a revolutionary political movement. what i mean by that is it is radicalizing militant groups in other countries, 20 other countries so far, militant groups and extremist groups who are signing up for the i.s.i.s. cause, and when you sign up to the i.s.i.s. cause, two things happen -- one is you start wanting to create your own caliphate, you start wanting to take over your own territory, right? and the second is, instead of attacking just local targets,
local government targets, you start attacking international and western targets. that's the story of i.s.i.s. in sinai, right, going after the russian metrojet. >> rose: there is an argument taking place they're doing that because things were not going well in iraq, they were losing territory in iraq, that putin had come in to defend assad, and that had made things more complicated there and, so, for a way to dicert -- divert attention, they enacted a global strategy of taking down an asian attacking paris and going off in lebanon as well. >> i don't buy that. >> rose: you don't buy it's a diversion to attract attention because things were not well on the ground in iraq and syria? >> correct, i don't believe that. here's why -- one is, most of this 20 to 25% of the i.s.i.s. territory that has been taken away from it was taken away from it a year ago. they really haven't lost anything in the last nine to
twelve months, so they're really not under an exceptional amount of pressure today. two, the second reason i don't believe it is, two, i.s.i.s. told us -- publicly told us -- that once they establish the caliphate that they would come and attack us. that's exactly what they're doing. >> rose: the global strategy is a forward motion of what they said they would do, the ground caliphate and attack and cause problems for all the people. >> exactly. one of the really important lessons of national security and foreign affairs, charlie, is sometimes your adversaries tell you exactly what they're going to do. >> rose: al quaida did that. and i.s.i.s. >> rose: when you look at sophistication of eyes, we have different stories of how effective they are as a fighting force in terms of the weapons they have, in terms of the organization they have, in terms of the top command structure. we have different stories and hear it's been influenced by some of saddam's former army people who went over to them
because they were sunnis and found them more attractive than dealing with the shia government in baghdad. you hear that. >> yep. >> rose: what's the judgment about the c.i.a. about their effectiveness on the ground as a military -- paramilitary group? >> yeah, so i don't know what other judgment is but mine is they're pretty good. >> rose: they fight well? they fight well. if you have a lot of practice fighting, you tend to be a good fighter. they had a lot of practice fighting in iraq in the post-saddam years when they were al quaida in iraq and practice fighting in syria when they were fighting the assad regime and still are. so they have a lot of practice and makes a better fighter. they have a lot of weapons from assad's military stockpiles. they have lots of money, tens of millions of dollars a month in revenue. so they're pretty good. the other thing that makes them
good, charlie, is that -- and one of the reasons this is going to be more difficult than forcing al quaida out of afghanistan -- you hear comparisons made, right, let's do the same thing -- is back to this they are a state idea. so they're embedded in this and they can use all the advantages of being a state, access to resources, access to people, as they -- >> rose: okay, part of that -- go ahead. >> -- as they conduct military operations and eventually try to protect themselves, they can use all the resources of being a state. >> rose: part of it is revenue from oil on the open market including to assad. >> yes. >> rose: and part of that comes from robbing banks when they take over territory. >> yep, which they haven't done in a while. >> rose: did in mosul, though. and part of it is just taxes. >> rose: forcing people to pay. >> yep, yep. >> rose: how do we attack that, wrath than we're taking territory, attack the funding that they have, attack the
ability to sell the oil? we've seen attacks on that oil transfer taking place now after paris that didn't take place before paris which is your original question. >> right. this is one of the collateral damage questions, right? so prior to paris, there seemed to be a judgment. there seemed to be a judgment that, look, we don't want to destroy these oil tankers because that's infrastructure that's going to be necessary to support the people when i.s.i.s. isn't there anymore, and it's going to create environmental damage. and we didn't go after oil wells -- actually hitting oil wells i.s.i.s. controls because we didn't want to do environmental damage and destroy that infrastructure. >> rose: so we're hitting oil and trucks. >> so now we're hitting oil and trucks. and maybe you get to the point where you say we also have to
hit oil wells. so those are the kind of tough decisions you have to make. >> rose: what is your mindset and experience about rules of engagement? you clearly seem to me to feel they're too restrictive now. i mean, do you think they're too restrictive? >> yeah, i think so. >> rose: you think that's a growing consensus? >> the only reason i'm pausing, charlie, is because i understand why you want them to be restrictive, okay. and you want them to be restrictive because the less redistrictive they are and the more collateral damage particularly in terms of human life and particularly in terms of women and children, the more future terrorists you make, right, the more you radicalize other people. so it's a tradeoff between that and effectiveness, right? and, so, you're always judging. you're always judging how much collateral damage is too much
and how much more can we stomach given that we want to be more effective. >> rose: and sometimes don't you have urgent circumstances will give you more of a willingness to risk more collateral damage and are we in that circumstance now. >> my own view is it should be situation specific. if i have a mid-level i.s.i.s. guy who is not that particularly important and i have him in my sites, will i kill women and children to get to him? i don't think so. if i have al-baghdadi and he's surrounded by 30 relatives should i take him out? yeah, i think i should. he's that important. collateral damage should be situation-specific. >> rose: what did you think of hillary clinton's speech at the councicouncil on foreign relati?
>> i thought it was good. >> rose: did you see any light between she is and where the president -- one area is "no fly" zones. >> mm-hmm. >> rose: what's the argument for and against "no fly" zones? >> so the argument for "no fly" zones is let's create a place where refugees can feel safe and where the fighters who are taking on i.s.i.s. and the assad government can organize themselves and train and equip, right? that's the argument for. the the argument against is really that doing so is a major military operation, less so now than it was three years ago, but is a major military operation. it's taking on the syrian military. it's going to war with the syrian military in a very significant way. that's the argument against. there is a new argument against which is how do you do a "no
fly" zone in the face of russian aircraft flying all over the place? are you going to say it's okay for russians to fly? or are you going to say to the russians, you can't fly? in which case the russians are going to say, yes, we will. i think -- >> rose: because we've come here at the invitation of the assad government. >> correct. correct. so when you look at what happened between turkey and russia today, right, i think it's very important to keep this in mind, there are two consequences two, things to think about when you think about what happened this morning. one is, it's going to make a resolution of the assad problem more difficult because turkey's on one side of the assad question and russia is on the other so it's going to make that negotiation harder, right? set that aside. the other thing it makes you think about is are we at risk of a great power confrontation in iraq and syria, right? and what i mean by power confrontation is, are we at risk
of turkey and russia going after each other? are we and the russians going after each other? or we and the iranians. >> rose: with the iranians how much communication there is to the iraqis or someone else to make sure and sometimes between the secretary of defense of the united states and russia to make sure they're trying to avoid at times planes -- >> most wars start from a mistake, right in and, so, i think you've got to be very, very careful that you don't create situations that create the possibility of that happening. >> rose: is there a consensus that the only people that can be boots on the ground are sunni arabs? >> yeah, so i believe, right, that the best outcome -- >> rose: syrians in syria, iraqis in iraq. >> that is by far the best outcome. >> rose: that's about the only outcome, isn't it? what you have is peshmerga in iraq. but they're iraqis. >> the kurds are only going to
go so far in protecting sunni areas and in taking back territory from sunni areas. >> rose: but i'm asking the same question a couple of times, we do come back, that if there has to be with air power forces on the ground, you can have advisors from america and advisors from other places -- >> you've got to have fighters. >> rose: you have to have fighters. you have to have people who move forward to gain territory and defeat the enemy in concert with the air power and the only place they're going to come from are sunni arab, and in iraq, iraqis and in syria, syrians. >> yes. >> rose: so no one else is offering, not the saudis because they say we're busy in yemeni -- >> so i'd say it a little differently. in syria, it has to be the syrian army. there isn't anybody else, right? it just so happens that 85% of that country is soo sunni. that is a sunni answer.
in iraq -- in iraq, it would not be acceptable to the sunnis and the sunni triangle and anbar province to have the shia throw off i.s.i.s. it would not be acceptable. so in iraq -- >> rose: explain that to me. it would not be acceptable to have the shia -- >> right, in my view -- >> rose: the majority of the iraqi army is shia. >> right, that's why the -- >> rose: they couldn't defeat i.s.i.s.? >> i think they could if they were retrained and weapons and the whole nine yards. but the sunnis in iraq don't want the shia on sunni land. >> rose: in the anbar province. >> right. so the only answer in iraq is to get the sunni tribes to fight against i.s.i.s. the only way that happens -- now we're talking about politics in iraq, right? not in syria, in iraq. the only way the sunni tribes fight is if they believe that once they fight and get rid of i.s.i.s., they will have a say in the iraqi government. >> rose: so somebody hos has to promise them they will have a
say. >> yes. >> rose: is abadi ready to make the promise? >> he doesn't have the political clout to deliver on anything. he is extremely weak. >> rose: would the iranians allow him to make that promise? >> i think it's in iran's interest to maintain the territorial integrity of iraq. i think it's in iran's interest for i.s.i.s. to be defeated by the sunni tribes, right, i think it's in iran's interest, and we probably need to have that conversation with them, right? we're not. but i think that's the way iran views it. what has to happen, i think the political solution in iraq, charlie, is a good dose of federalism. so a decentralization of power. >> rose: less power in baghdad, more in the province, to kurds and shia. >> right, and the only way if that works is there is a flow of revenue from the kurdish areas
and the shia areas into the sunni areas because they have no natural resources of their own. >> rose: before i move on to something else, this is bob gates and david petraeus talking about the rules of engagement in the last several days on this show. roll tape. >> i think we need to loons rules of engagement for our forces already in iraq. we need to allow special forces, more operating space. >> i think you also have to look at the rules of engagement. by many reports they are so strict that there is an approval process that's required that it's not the kind of streamlined effort that is necessary. certainly no one wants to see civilians killed or collateral damage but this is war. >> rose: ash carter said, we are prepared to change rules of engagement. we've changed tactics as we did in the case of the fuel trucks, as you noticed. so clearly they're prepared to loosen the rules of engagement. on the other hand, it's a much
more difficult thing to change the behavior of the sunnis. >> right. and the sunnis in iraq rose up once because we asked them to. >> rose: and they were shot down. >> and that was the awakening. that was after. >> rose: oh, i'm sorry. that was after. that was during the civil war that flourished in the aftermath of the overthrow of saddam. we asked them to stand up and take on al quaida and to take on the insurgency and we promised them if they did that, there would be a role for them in iraqi politics, and maliki took it away from them. so they don't trust baghdad and they don't trust us. >> rose: what can the iranians achieve? >> only -- >> rose: they have involvement in both iraq and syria where they have been. >> right. so they have been -- they were the original savior of assad. so in the fall of 2012, assad
was in a very difficult situation. the momentum was running against him. his own people were talking the end is near. the iranians came in in 2013, in a very significant way, brought shia militia they trained in iran, brought hezbollah in from lebanon and they propped him up in a very significant way. >> rose: earning his indebtedness. >> earning his indebtedness. so they have been his savior, right. in iraq, the shia militia there which are iraqi shias, right, but still trained and supported by the iranians, have been along with the kurds the most effective fighting force in protecting baghdad and shia areas and in taking back some shia areas that i.s.i.s. had taken. but they're not going any further than that, nor do i think the sunnis want them to as he talked about earlier.
>> rose: bob gates said one of the things i haven't heard anybody talk about is the potential for what the western intelligence services including the c.i.a. could do on the ground in terms of infiltrating, sabotage and other activities to make life harder for i.s.i.s. so i think there are a number of things like this we can do without sending more troops in there, without aggravating the situation in terms of turning people on the ground against us because we're back in there. make sense to you? >> it makes sense with one caveat, and it's the same caveat, which is -- >> rose: an old c.i.a. guy, too. >> yes, i know, and a former director and one i have great admiration for. if you went into i.s.i.s.-controlled areas in syria or in iraq and tried to do exactly what the secretary is suggesting, you still need people who want to work with you. you still need people who are going to wit -- going to be your
operatives on the ground and who are going to make things blow up and who are going to find and take out the leadership, and they're only going to do that if they trust you, and they're only going to trust you if they believe that when all the smoke clears they have a future. >> rose: so back to my original question as to what history will say about paris and what did paris change, do you think in the end it will be looked at as a mistake by i.s.i.s. to attack paris because now there is these coalitions and nations are saying in many cases, enough. russia was already there before paris. they already made their decision because they saw a power vacuum, right? >> correct. >> rose: and they said we have a chance to be back and be relevant and have interests. >> and to prop up assad because they don't want him to go away. >> rose: but will paris, in the end, will it say to history
i.s.i.s. made a big mistake. >> rose: they will lose more than they gained by attacking paris because it alerted the world. >> yeah, it's a great question. i think if you asked osama bin laden was it a mistake to so attack the united states that they came to afghanistan with real military power and threw you out, i think he would probably say yes. >> rose: it was a mistake. yeah. >> rose: so i.s.i.s. might look on this even though it doesn't measure to what happened on 9/11 as a turning point. >> right. >> rose: so that's what paris may have changed? >> it's a little bit different, too, in that i.s.i.s. has this apocalyptic view of the world, right, that al quaida really didn't have. so it's a tough question. it's a tough question. >> rose: they also have much more effective recruiting mechanisms, whether social media or otherwise. >> that's a reflection of two things, charlie.
that's a reflection of the state of social media today, which it wasn't as robust as it is today back in 2001, right. the other is that all of these western recruits, right, thousands of guys from western europe, hundreds of guys from the u.s., canada, australia, you know, going to fight with i.s.i.s., those guys came with considerable i.t. skills, some of them, and they took advantage of that. >> rose: skills so many young people have. >> the other is back to the state idea, charlie, which is if you own that state and you have call on the resources in the state including the people there and their skill sets, right, and some of those people in that state have i.t. skill sets that they're drawing on. the other thing that i think is really important to mention, charlie, is that president hollande, two days ago, warned that i.s.i.s. is pursuing chemical and biological weapons,
and u.s. officials, off the record, or on background confirm he indeed is pursuing chemical weapons, i.s.i.s. is, indeed pursuing chemical weapons. that should be a concerning matter to all of us. when you have a safe haven, you can do things like experiment with chemical weapons and experiment with biological weapons. it's what al quaida did in their safe haven in afghanistan a, experimenting with chemical weapons -- >> rose: in afghanistan? in afghanistan. i.s.i.s. has said if we get them, we'll use them and we have religious justification for doing so. so that's something we need to pay attention to. >> rose: in the end, what do we know about their objectives? what's the c.i.a. analysis? >> i don't know what the c.i.a. analysis is but i know what mine
is. >> rose: i know but you're part of the conversation. >> so their objective is not just a caliphate where it is today or not just a caliphate in the middle east. their objective is a global caliphate. including here in the united states, including in western europe where we would live under their draconian religious rules, right. where our girls could now go to school. where we would all have to claim we were muslim or be killed. all those rules that they operate in iraq and syria by, we would have to operate here by. that is their goal, and that's the political revolutionary ideology that i was talking about. >> rose: is it also their goal to draw the west into battle against them so that there will be some great clash of civilizations and so all muslims, they believe, might then rally to their side?
>> so that was al quaida's view -- >> rose: but al quaida was against a caliphate. osama bin laden did not believe that -- >> same goal -- >> rose: but he did not believe i.s.i.s. was on the right track to try to create a caliphate at the time they did it. >> but here's the difference is that i.s.i.s. wants a global caliphate, and i.s.i.s. believes that they should at least establish the beginnings of that caliphate in the middle east before they attack the west, okay? what al quaida believed was we want a caliphate in the historical lands that belong to islam all the way from southern spain all the way to east asia, those historic lands that were once all muslim islamic lands, that's where they wanted a caliphate.
al quaida believed that in order to even achieve the beginnings of that, they had to drive the united states and the west out of the middle east. so al quaida was attack the west to drive them out, then establish the caliphate. i.s.i.s.'s view is establish the caliphate then drive them out. >> rose: so i'm having a lot of conversations at this table and cbs this morning with you and many other including david petraeus, bob gates, a range of scholars and people and it seems to me to come down to a big question, number one, is assad in or out and when. >> right. >> rose: two, can you get a change in the rules of engagement if you want to mount an effective attack. number three is getting the sunnis involved against i.s.i.s. number four is changing the attitude of the baghdad government with respect to sunnis so that they will not be so shia in their attitude toward
sunnis. and number five, i guess, is how do you deal, now, with the fact that you have the possibility of violence against people who are normally on the same side even though divided over the question of assad -- that means turkey shoots down a russian plane and how dangerous is that possibility when you have people from different countries moving around with different kinds of armament? >> yeah, great question. i agree with a lot of what you just said. here's how i'd sum it up -- you need a viable fighting force in both places, iraq and syria. you get a viable fighting force in iraq by having a political solution in baghdad that gives the sunnis a future stake in their country. once you have that, sunni tribes will fight for us against i.s.i.s. and they will be effective. they're good. in syria, the fighting force is the syrian army.
we need to get them focused on fighting i.s.i.s. the way you do that is resolve the assad problem. >> rose: you have to take off the head. >> you have to take off the head. you need to resolve the assad problem, although he may need to stay around for some period of time as you make that transition. on the military front -- and you can start this even beforehand -- relaxing rules of engagement, more special forces on the ground to provide advice, forward air controllers on the front lines to call in precision airstrikes. >> rose: advisors embedded at battalion level? >> mm-hmm. >> rose: the big question is the notion of so many people with competing interests. how do you convince the iranians and the russians and the turks and the saudis all to come together with some idea that this has to stop? and then the other possibility is what surprises me is that with so much at stake for the
country, patriotic syrians, not just the people who have been the victims, but patriotic syrians who are part of the power structure have watched their country and their culture being destroyed year by year, not to speak of 4 million refugees and over 250,000 casualties, and the destruction of their culture. i'm surprised that no one from the army of somehow hasn't stepped forward. i may not understand the fear that exists, if you even have the thought much less speak it. >> so on that question, my view is that, in the early days of the civil war, there were many, many defections of the people around assad. the army is half its side because of so many defections of so many people who didn't want to fight. the ones left will be considered war criminals by the hague
attend of this as well, so they have no incentive to end this thing. they're in the same boat with assad. but back to your fundamental question, the one common thing we all have -- americans, saudis, turks, russians, iranians -- is that i.s.i.s. is a very significant threat to stability in the middle east and to our way of life. we can all agree on that, right? that's what we should build the coalition around. >> rose: but we also should build that coalition -- i assume you agree with this -- we should build the coalition not losing sight of our values, not losing sight of our value for civil rights and lives and not losing respect for the fact we are in this planet, people who care about the plight of people who through no act of their own are being thrown out at the mercy of
whatever. >> and two ways the values play out. one way is we lead, right, we lead in the defense of those people and in the protection of those people and in going after i.s.i.s. who is enslaving those people, right? we lead. the other way is with this whole question of rules of engagement, right? we only have to go as far as we have to to make ourselves effective. >> rose: and finally, it is this for me -- it is the notion of the perception of american leadership, i mean the strongest country in the world militarily, economically and in other ways, you know, people want the united states to lead and, for whatever reason, they're asking the question, where is the united states? >> and i think sometimes leadership is as simple as standing up and saying we all agree that we need to defeat i.s.i.s., we have a plan, here's the plan, here's what we're going to do, here's what we want
you to do, russians here's what we want you to do, saudis, turks -- >> rose: this is what we want to do but we want to hear what you want to do and we realize it's bet for we do it together. >> and you put together a plan and say here. >> rose: thank you. you're welcome. always good to be with you. >> rose: mike morell for the hour. thanks for joining us. see you next time. for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications