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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  February 18, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PST

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>> rose: welcome to the >> rose: welcome to the program. tonight we continue our look at american foreign policy around the world. tonight tony blinken, deputy secretary of state. >> it was american diplomacy that lead the way to this new clear agreement with iran. it was american diplomacy that restored relations with cuba. it was american diplomacy that lead to the first peaceful democratic transition of power in afghanistan. it was american diplomacy. >> rose: where there are still lots of problems. >> in all of these places, but here's what i'm getting at, the common denominator. i like to think of it in terms of the movie we watch before christmas "it's a wonderful life" we know what happens to bedford falls when george bailey is out of the picture. take the u.s. out of any of these picturesk climate change, the agreement in paris, any of those things. it doesn't happen. does that mean it is happening as well as it should, as effectively or as far as it should, no.
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but we are the the single country that has the ability to mobilize and move others more than any other country. >> rose: tony blinken for the hour, next. >> funding for charlie rose is provided by the following: . >> >> from our stud yos in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: an american based ceasefire in syria is set to take place on friday, there has been little signs of hostilities abating let alone seizing. the state department acknowledged yesterday that world powers have yet to even meet to negotiate the details of the ceasefire. the agreement announced last friday in munich calls for
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humanitarian aid to be delivered to beseiged syrian towns but on tuesday the state department could not confirm that any of it had reached it's intended recipients. >> joining me is tony blinken, the united states deputy secretary of state, blinken glan his service at the state department in 1993 where he served in the clinton administration. i am pleased to have him here at this table for the first time. welcome. >> thanks, charlie, good to be here. >> rose: let me start in a broader sense, we want to cover a lot in this conversation. but right now doing something about all those people who are starving and suffering and getting some aid so them is a high priority for everybody. >> it's on the top of our agenda and the top of a lot of other agendas. but here is what is happening. last week we reached an agreement on two things, one, getting to a sesation of hostilities and we are working on that and hope to see it start in a couple of days and the other is to start humanitarian assistance flowing to beseejed communities in syria. as of today, this morning,
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trucks began to move out of damascus to some of these communities including areas arounding. >> are they reaching. >> the reports are they are starting to reach the communities. now we've began-- we've seen this over the last five or suks years, there have been repeated calls for humanitarian access. u.n. resolution after reslation and it hasn't happened so i don't want to make too much of it. if it is just one truck, one time, it doesn't do the trickment but at least it's a start. so we are actually seeing that part of the agreement move forward it has to be takenned-- steand the cessation saition of hostilities, the ball is in russia's court. >> rose: let me come back to that, i want to stay with the humanitarian aid for a second. has assad said is he in favor of this and allow this. i understand words are one thing and deeds are another. >> he has allowed the first trucks, about a hundred trucks were packed up in damascus, sent out today. he allowed that to happen. and they're getting to about a half dozen communities that have been under seige for quite some time. postally in the areas
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surrounding damascus, so that has happened and is happening as we speak. but it's not enough to do it once. you have to keep doing it am you have to keep the relief going. >> rose: what are they saying? >> so in the first instance they said we're going along with what was agreed last week. i think in at least that instance the russians have played a helpful role. >> rose: the ceasefire. >> ceasefire, the jury is out. it's complicated. but what's not complicated is this. the russians have to make a decision. they have to make a choice. they can impose on assad his participation in this cessation of hostilities, unfortunately what we've seen at least between the time the agreement was reached and today is instead of taking the foot off the accelerator the regime and russians seem to have put the foot on the accelerator. >> rose: is that to gain territory if there might be a ceasefire. >> it may be that they are trying to get the best possible position they can get before there is a cessation of hostilities. but what i think russia has to recognize and this really goes to the heart of it, is that they can continue to do this.
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they can continue to help assad brutalize his own population. they can continue to win some territory back. but as the president said yesterday, that doesn't change the fact that three quarters of syria is under control of someone other than bash ar al-assad. he is not going to regain that territory. in other words, russia and assad, they can maybe not lose but they also can't win. they can't get the country back. the sooner russia recognizes that, the sooner it realizes that if it keeps going in this direction, it is going to be stuck trying to protect assad and spending billions be billions of dollars to do that, putting more and more lives in jeopardy, probably to end up at best with a run state. >> rose: is that why the secretary of state said to me last night even though the russians have done much to prop up assad and he has regained territory and it looks good for him now and he's in a stronger negotiating position, in the end this is bad for russia because of the reasons you laid out. >> i think ash carter is exactly
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right. think of it this way. >> rose: but the president said this from the beginning. >> he has. because what we saw is that russia was helping to prop up a sead-- assad from the beginning along with iran and hezbollah am then when they thought that assad actually risked collapsing, they came in heavier and harder and intervened much more directly. but not out from a position of strength but out of weakness because they feared if their foothold in the middle east, syria and assad's syria was on the verge of difs appearing. they have a stake in man taining that foothold. but the cost is huge because again in order to do that, in order to keep him going, they're going to have to be all in. the syrian military, they can take ground but then they can't hold it. they don't have enough man power. morale is a problem, salaries are a problem. the iranians all signs indicate have in some cases actually started to draw back some of their forces because too many are getting killed on the battle field. the russians will be left holding the bag because someone has to occupy and hold the territory they take. >> rose: so the people losing their lives will become
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russians. >> that is a distinct possibility. here is another problem. >> rose: do you guys believe that, that the russians in the end may be forced to have russian boots on the ground in syria? >> they already have the boos on the ground. >> rose: fighting the war, not from. >> if it continues in this direction, that is if we don't move to a political transition, a transition that the russians themselves have signed up for, then if they're going to keep prosecuting this, here is what is going to happen. the opposition is not going to give up. they have suffered grieve outsidely over the last five years, this he have taken incredible punishment. they are not about to quit. their patrons on the outside are not about to quit. what we tried to do is disswaid the patrons from supplying and putting in resources to the most extreme groups t is not in our interest, not in anyone's interest. >> rose: have they agreed to that. has saudi arabia and the em ralts agreed not to support some groups they might have supported because they were in opposition to assad. >> it has been episodic there have been periods of time when they have and then they tamped down on it. but here is what happens f this continues, that is if the russians it be to get behind
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assad in prosecuting an offensive against the opposition, and an indiscriminate one at that, then i think any of the checks and balances on the patrons in terms of supporting extremist groups will be off. they will throw in whatever they can to whoever has the best chance of taking on assad. and what moderate opposition mpelled to throw in their lot with more extreme groups. that is a recipe for a quagmire, that is a recipe for russia being in this as far as the eye can see. here is another factor. they risk alienating the large bullk of the muslim world that is sunni. they are seen as being in a league with assad, with hezbollah and iran against sunni muslims. 15% of their population is muslim t is almost all sunni. they've got central asia, the caucuses, the balance cans, all there is they care about, with large sunni muslim populations, if this goes on, they risk that. for all those reasons we believe that russia has a real interest in helping to drive this to a
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negotiated political transition. >> rose: evidently there was some interest in doing that because didn't they send one of their enjoys to see assad. >> they talked to him repeatedly. >> rose: and asked him to be listening to that pont? >> yeah. >> rose: and assad says no. >> well, i think they made some progress. for example the humanitarian assistance we talked about earlier, that seems to be product of russia telling assad he needed to do it, that is a good thing, it needs to continue. but what is even more critical now is getting the sesation of hostilities and then that allows an environment in which negotiations can begin toward a political transition. >> my point is that the russians have argued with assad, you need to be engaged in political negotiations that will lead to some kind of transition government. >> that's right. >> rose: which may include you or not. >> that's right. >> rose: now the united states i assume and the, all of the other sunni countries are basically saying assad has to go. and we're not interested in a transition government that includes him. >> well, the syrian people i think have largely said assad has to go. he for fitted his legitimacy.
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>> rose: let me stay with the notion of russian troops on the ground. when you said yes, they are. >> they have advisors. >> rose: like we do. >> yes. but we've also seen some russians lose their lines on the front lines. >> rose: because they are advising or fighting well, in some cases they are fighting. in fact, what we've actually seen in some places, interestingly, is not even the syrian military, not even the syrian army fighting but iranians, hezbollah with russian air power actually prosecuting some of these battles am i think what really happened is this, charlie. when russia went all in with assad it did two things. it increased russia's leverage over assad. he really owes them am but it also increased the leverage of the conflict over russia. it has much more to lose if it winds up in an ongoing, per pet all conflict that it has to keep putting more and more resources. >> rose: and putin has a worsening economic situation at home. >> exactly, precisely. >> rose: do you have any indication. does labroth say to kerry or to
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you, we have to figure a way out of this, we realize it is not in the end all that great for us. >> so they told us that they want to move toward a political transition, indeed, at the end of the last year when we got this agreement among all of the major countries, for the first time, russia, iran, the saudis, the turks, us, other countries, everyone agreed on the need for political transition. we agreed that there would be a time table, that negotiation was start in january. that we would get after six months to a new more inclusive represented government and then elections in 18 months. so the russian-- here is the problem. the russians signed on to that. but what they sign on a piece of paper and what they do on the ground may be two different things. that is what we are looking at. >> rose: is this under the u.n. sponsorship. >> yes. -- doing an amazing john under incredibly difficult circumstances, is he responsible for trying to facilitate the negotiations themselves. >> rose: will you right now they are on hold until later-- february 25th with we're looking to bring them back around february 25th. that is why getting the
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humanitarian assistance flowing is important. why the sesation of hostile tillities is important it also creates an environment in which negotiations have a chance. >> rose: a couple of points of the cessation of hostiles, as the secretary of state made clear this does not include all attacks against isis. >> that's correct. op and isis is not going too stop their ceasefire, that conflict will continue. >> that's right. we want everyone to focus on the one common challenge that we all have, including russia. including iran, and that is isis or daesh. if we can get-- the reason ending the civil war is so important, obviously it's vitally important just on a sheer humanitarian level. this has been one of the most horrific. >> rose: 260,000 people and 4 million refugees. >> that is something we should talk about toorksz the refugees because that is a whole other dilemma. but there is literally one of the worst crises that we've seen on that level. but second, two other things. one of course the spillover affect is increasingly dramatic. we see it not only in the neighboring countries of turkey, lebanon, jordan but increasingly
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in europe with the refugees. and this dagger at the heart of european cohetion is something that is of growing concern to our european partners. >> rose: and to us. >> and to us, absolutely. but the third piece is this. we are succeeding against daesh. and we can talk about that. but we are pushing them back effectively in iraq. we've taken 40% of the territory that they held a year ago and even in syria, they are on their heels, not on their toes. >> rose: when will we retake mosul. >> that is something we are focused on but we want to do it when we're ready, when the iraqis ared are, when the time is right. but meanwhile we're squeezing, cutting off the lines of communication, making it harder for them to move back and forth, pov between raque an mosul, move things into mosul. but even as we succeed on the ground against daesh, we will not have a sustainable success unless we also end the civil war in syria. because as long as assad is there, he is the number one recruiting tool for assad. the reason foreign fighters are trying to get into syria to fight with daesh is because of assad. that is another reason we have
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to get this political transition. >> rose: assad is the main recruiting tool for isis. >> for daesh, exactly. >> rose: if you retake mosul, that will have a significant impact in terms of what happens in syria? >> it will happen. >> rose: in addition to the more important point, assad. >> so what is so porn about mosul but also raqqa and syria, they are two bases, the heart of the self-declared caliphate is this. one of the reasons that daesh succeeds or has succeeded up until now is by creating the perception that it has forged this caliphate, this homebase, that it is marching forward, that it's ten feet tall. if you take away that foundation, the entire ed i face will begin to crumble. foreign fighters will be less attractive. affiliates that are usually preexisting terrorist organizations, the money will slow down and everything will start to crumble. that is why getting at their core is so porntd. >> rose: okay, so what are we prepared to do? before you answer that, who is it we're supporting there?
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and who are these rebel groups? and are they the same rebel groups we were making decisions about supporting in 2011? or are they new groups? and how many are there? and how united are they. we used to talk about something called the free syrian army. who is it that we are supporting? and how strong are they? >> we have worked over the last almost four years in trying to identify, engage and support. >> rose: coordinate. >> also help coordinate, absolutely. so called moderate opposition. people who were opposed to the regime, who wanted to change their country, but did not sign on to an extremist ideology. and the numbers are significant. you look at the assessments that have been done by the cia, by the state department, by others, we are talking all told tens of thousands who are on the moderate opposition side. then you've got other thousands who are part of more extreme groups who are part of groups like nousra, here is the
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challenge though. when the moderate groups are getting squeezed and getting brutalized. >> rose: by assad regime. >> by the assad regime. >> rose: with the help of the russians. >> with the help of the russians. >> rose: so the russians are in fact daley trying to wipe out the people we are supporting. >> in several places that is exactly what they are doing. >> rose: we have no power over russia to say don't do that because we are supporting them. by supporting assad you are destroying the people we support. >> they make an argument in some places, some groups are so intermingled, moderate opposition an nousra are so intermingled that they are hitting nousra, for example. >> rose: trying to hit nousra so therefore they hit moderatesness that is what they claim. >> rose: they are says moderates are collateral damage to what they are trying to do. >> that is what they claim. but it's very easy to point to places on the map in syria where there is no nousra, there is no daesh, there is just moderate opposition. and they're hitting those places because it is a threat to the regime. >> rose: where does this come down, their promise to attack
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isil as one of the reasons they were coming in. >> yeah. >> rose: to prop up as putin said to me, to make no doubt about t he said, we're coming in because we believe in a strong government and we believe it's essential to syria and yes we are a's coming up to prop up a guy that we think represents the only strong central authority there now. everybody could disagree about that. but what i don't understand is how much and how significant if any are their attacks on isil? >> as a proportion of the campaign that they have been engaged in, 20%, 30%. >> rose: so 20% of what the air strikes go goans isil. >> at best. >> rose: so when you say to them why don't you do more, what do they say? >> so they continue to claim that in fact they are striking isil, there is a disagreement over who she are streuking, we are clear we know where isil is and isn't. they also say we're striking nousra, in some cases that is true. but what we are seeing is that
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the big focus of their campaign to date has simply been protecting bash ar al-assad and his reg evening. whoever is threatening the regime whether the moderate opposition or extreme opposition or daesh, that is who they will go against. >> rose: and they'll do that until there is another alternative government that represents some sense of a strong central force. >> yeah, look. in fairness to the russians, they've had an argument that has been, look, the devil that we know. assad. we don't know what comes after. you condition tell us what is going to come after. >> rose: exhibit a is libya, if exhibit a for them. >> true. but what we worked very hard to do and what our partners including the saudis who did a very good job worked very hard to do is to bring the moderate opposition together. to make them work together. to come up with a coherent program and agenda and that is exactly what they have done. they are broadly representative of a large swath of the syrian people. so there is something there. to work with. there is something there that can succeed. the other thing that is critical is this. we have been clear with the russians and everyone else, we
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don't want to repeat one of the mistakes of iraq and that was disbanding the institutions of government. because then you have a vacuum and it's usually filled with bad things. >> rose: so we share that with them, they share that idea with us. >> absolutely. so the bullk of the army, the police, the bureaucracy, the government, all of that would remain in tact so there would not be a vacuum. the question is really making sure there is a transition from that top layer. >> rose: how do you get around this question that all the sunni countries who you would like their support there, in one way or the other and even now the emirates are promising troops, how do you get around the fact that they insist that assad has to go? what do you tell them? >> so one of the-- so one of the challenges is, we have many challenges but here is one of them. the priorities are virtually all of the actors involved are arguably different. >> rose: right. >> and that is a challenge. so we have in the first instance we are focused on isil, on daesh. that is the preem nant threat to our security. our turkish friends are focused
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on the kurds. >> rose: that is the most immediate threat to our security in the world. >> it is, i believe the most immediate. the turks are focused on the kurds and their concerns about the kurds developing a state. the sunni arabs are focused to some extent on iran and making sure that they're pushing back against iran and to some extent on assad. >> rose: anybody that iran likes, they don't like. >> they don't like. the russians are focusing on maintaining their position. iran is focused to some extent on hezbollah. so you have these diverge ent prioritiesk trying to bring them all together is a problem. >> rose: sounds like a job for john kerry. >> he is doing extraordinary, working 36 hours a day. >> rose: what is the solution, how do you do this. >> the solution is there, there say road map. the road map is the one that all of these countries agreed to and that is a political transition. that is the one solution that can keep the country together, prevent a vacuum from evil doing and make sure that everyone's interests are basically met. >> rose: you are a diplomat. so when you sit down with the foreign minister of saudi arabia or the deputy crown prince of saudi arabia and you say to him
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we get it, we know how much you dislike anything that iran likes and how much you dislike and they like assad very much and we get it, you want him gone. we want it gone too. but right now we have to get rid of the principal threat to us. and we think threat to you which is da ---- daesh in raqqa and in mosul, what do they say. >> look,. >> rose: do they say yes, okay, fine, or do they say no, assad has to go we'll focus on isil after that, because assad is the principal recruiting device. >> that is some of what we hear. but what we say to them and to all of our partners is we need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. we need to deal with daesh as we are, but we also need to help bring the civil war to an end. here is something else going on, charlie. we have now across the globe a refugee crisis of historic proportions. there are around the world right now about 60 million displaced persons, some refugees out of their country, some remaining within their countries. if you put all of those people
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into one country, it would be the 24th largest country in the world. one out of every 122 people on our planet is displaced by violence, conflict, chaos. and it's most acute, we see, in syria right now. and it's having dramatic impacts. what is happening is basically this. you are getting an entire generation of people who are drifen out of syria by the violence. they wind up in turkey. or lebanon or jordan. and these countries have been extraordinarily generous. lebanon, almost a quarter of the population is syrian. there are more syrian children in lebanese public schools than there are lebanese, to the united states proportionally it is as if we had 60 million refugees arriving in one fell swoop into the united states. what happens then is they get there, and the good news is the violence is gone, that driver that pushed them out of syria is gone, they are safe in that sense. but most of them are not in refugee camps and have to provide for themselves except they don't get work permits.
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and their kids often don't have an ability to go to school. not enough schools cannot enough classrooms, teachers. and this creates the potential for an entire lost generation. so we're very, very focused on this. imagine these kids who are not going to will scoo. they are not going to get the skills, not the knowledge to have a job, to be productive. they are certainly not going to be able to go back to syria and rebuild their country, but even worse they become susceptible to human trafficking. to forced labor, to early marriage, to extremism. you've got to interrupt that cycle. this is something the president is very, very focused on. he is going to have a summit around the u.n. general assembly with world leaders in september, focused on the refugee crisis around the world. and what we're going to try and do is get more resources in to help them. to work on resettlement around the world so all countries including the united states do more. but also focus on making sure we can get kids into school, and get people into work and it's tough because imagine are you a political leader in turkey, jordan and lebanon.
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it's hard to go to your people and say you know what, i will give a job to a syrian refugee even though you don't have a job. >> why hasn't the united states done more first in terms of accepting more refugees. >> first we have done a lot when it comes to the humanitarian assistance. we are the leader in the world. >> in terms of numbers, in the same way germany and other countries. >> it is a very different situation. what happens in europe is the refugees who are in turkey, lebanon and jordan then move on because they can't find jobs, can't get their kids in school and they move on to europe. and they just arrive there without any process. they are smuggled. human traffickers, there is a whole network. in the case of the united staitle, we take refugees through a resettlement process. and the u.n. hdr is in charge of that. an incredibly small number of refugees actually work their way through the process and get directed toward the united states. about 1 percent. so we're looking at a very small population that we're considering am then it's an incredibly lengthy process. the security checks, the background checks t is the most vigorous thing in the world and it takes a couple of years.
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the president has been very clear. we have to do more, we have to do better. we're now going to take at least 10,000 of syrians and i hope we can do even more than that. >> rose: how many has germany taken. >> germany has been flooded with about 800,000, and to a million. >> rose: that say huge political huge. >> huge. >> rose: and it is an issue here because all those republicans are having all these debates and all point to the fact that these my grants-- mieg rants contain with them the possibility of people who wish us harm. and they are examples they can cite of using the cover, that is the way they got to greece or some of the port of entries. >> look, we have-- security is going to be our north star. we have an obligation, as the government, to look out for the safety and security of our fellow citizens. so when we are looking at this, we're intensely focused on that. but we are a's in a very different position than europe. they are not just arriving here on our shores, they have to go
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through, unlike in europe, an entire process before they can set foot in the united states and it takes on average 18 to 24 months. but again if you are trying to infiltrate the united states through the refugee program, you've made a big mistake. that is the hardest way to do it. the longest. >> rose: most vetted program. >> here is the other thing, this is something that just about anyone, almost any american can feel because so many of us have come from, backgrounds where our own parents or grandparents or great grandparents came here in that fashion. you talk to these kids in lebanon, in jordan, in turkey, you see this extraordinary talent, this extraordinary generation of people. and you don't want them to be a lost generation. i was sitting with a group of refugees in jordan a few months ago. 16, 17 year olds. incredible kids. they actually had a vision for what they wanted to do, with their future despite the terrible circumstances. one young woman wanted to be a fashion designer, another a doctor, computer engineer. we got to talking. and i asked them at one point,
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do you have computers? do you have access to computers. actually we do. they were at a center that was run by unicef and they had computers there. and even their families in their dire circumstances, some of them had smartphones, and then i said to them, do you know what the iphone is. i pulled out my e phone, oh, yeah. do you know the company that created the iphone. they said applement and i said do you know who founded apple. and one of them said steve jobs. and i asked do you know where his father was from. silence. >> syria, so any of them can be the next steve jobs. our job is to give them an opportunity to do that. >> rose: how go we do that? >> that comes to making sure they can go to school, the parents can work. ultimately it really means ending the civil war in syria. >> rose: is it doable within the year that you have left in government? retake raqqa and mosul? is it doable?
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>> i think it is doable. whether we will actually do it in that time frame i don't know. because we want to make sure that even as we want to do it as fast as possible, we want to make sure we get it right. here is what is hard. taking the territory back is a challenge in and of itself and it is especially a challenge in these heavily forthified places, urban environments where isil or daesh has put in landmine after landmine, suicide attacks, et cetera. but even once you do that, that soanl part one. then you've got to actually stabilize and hold the community. >> rose: that is why you need boots on the ground. >> yeah. >> rose: where do you get the people on the ground. >> in iraq we are seeing it, we are seeing a much more positive change. >> rose: iraqi army and police that have been trained. >> exactly. police that have been trained, sunni triebsman, kurdish peshmerga and indeed even some of the shia militia who played in some cases a positive role. >> one is whether the sunnies were prepared to come on board. because in the early times, they felt so mall ianed by the shia-- so ma lined by the shia
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government in baghdad that they were looked, either supporting or looking the other way at isis, has that changed? >> it hasn't fully changed but it's changing. but this goes to what is the final and most important challenge. even if you get the military piece right, even if you get the stablization and rebuilding piece right, if you don't get the political piece right, it probably won't be sustainable and you will be right back to where you started somewhere down the road. >> rose: what is the political piece. >> there are different ways of looking at thisment one is there has to be a basic accommodation in iraq where the sunnies and the kurds for that matter have real buy-in and feel that their interests can be better protected in iraq than with isil. >> rose: the only people that can do that is the iraqi government. >> that's correct. >> rose: and surrounding. >> exactly. >> rose: sunni states. >> exactly. the current iraqi prime minister is a huge improvement over his pred des es-- predecessor and is he trying but is constantly walking a tight rope.
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>> rose: are we in concert on a plan for mosul? >> oh, yes. >> rose: they are in agreement with us that it has to be done, it is a central objective and the strategy for doing it would be part of the overall group. >> all of this. >> rose: does it include shia militia, does it include iran. >> all of this is in close, tight collaboration with the iraqis. we're there at their inti-- invitation it is a sovereign government and what we are doing is in full coordination. we are working by and through that. that is the whole point. >> rose: do you accept the idea that isil might not have happened if, in fact, we had, because the malicki government would have been more in tune and more sensitive to what they did that forced people to go to isil if in fact there had been a con ting ent of american soldiers there, 10,000 or more? >> you know, charlie t is an incredibly complicated story but here is my perception. i was in the middle of this at the time. and we, first of all of course as we know, the burk administration agreed that
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american force was leave at the end of 2011. they negotiated a status of forces agreement and that is what it provided for. the goal was a good one. to give iraqis back their country. give them back their sovereignty. by the time we got to 2011, the iraqis never believed that we were serious about pulling out. at every step along the way, we said we are going to get out of the cities. they said you never will. we did. we said we will get down to 50,000 troops, they said that will never happen, and we did and the final piece was making good on the agreement and we did. but we did try to leave a residual force. and the reason principle plee that we wanted to leave a residual force was concern about the possibility reemergence of what was then al-qaeda in iraq. and we said to the iraqis, the job is not yet done. they are down but they are not fully out. if you don't keep your foot on their throat and you don't continue to make political accommodations they can come back. but at that point in time, and this is what i strongly believe from my interactions with the iraqis, there was no one in the iraqi body politic who wanted
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sto to stand up, raise their hand and say i want the americans to say. they thought we had been there for ten years t was a quote unquote occupation. >> rose: we weren't able to make a powerful argument that it was in their best interest. >> yeah, and it's frustrating. i don't think that it would have stopped the evolution of daesh. i think it's even possible some of our forces could have gotten caught in the middle. >> rose: and there is a direct link between al-qaeda in iraq and isil. >> absolute slee. >> rose: including the leadership. >> including leadership but i think we might have been able to be more helpful to them in keeping the pressure on and preventing al-qaeda from iraq from transitioning into daesh and then reemerging. >> rose: tell me about forces on the ground that the united states has in iraq and syria we have what, 3500. >> about 3700. >> rose: including special forces. >> yeah. >> rose: and as secretary of defense said to me last night, they engage in search and destroy missions evening meaning they go after isil when they find them. >> that is what the about the authorized. >> rose: that is what he wants. >> no, he authorized it and it
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is happening. but most of our forces that are there are doing-- obviously protecting our diplomatic fa siltses-- facilities, they are vigz, training, helping to equip and indeed there are special forces who are taking on very targeted missions. >> rose: is there an increase in that as we try to march to mosul and raqqa. >> if our best advice from the military and from our other experts is that this can make a meaningful difference, yes. the president has been very clear. he wants us to put everything on the table that we think can make a meaningful difference. >> rose: this is interesting, because i was a bit surprised by the answer because i didn't know the answer. when i asked whether the president, there is a story line that says the military wants to do this, that john kerry and the state department want to do this, but the president was reluctant to be more aggressive. he said not only was that not true, that the president was constantly asking for more and better alternatives. >> that's exactly right. i sat in that room for hours on
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end, situation room, with the president w the rest of the senior leadership and he's constantly pushing us to do exactly that. but you know, this is a very, very challenging proposition. for example, we have gone on occasion to the iraqi leadership, to the prime minister and said we're thinking that we should do more here that will involve some additional american forces. and he said don't do that now. that risks going tilt with the shia militia and others who are absolutely paranoid that the united states wants to return in full force to iraq and reoccupy the country. so there is a political dimension to this. keeping that balance that is also something we have to watch out for. >> rose: let's talk about iran for a minute and then talk about china. the new clear deal is working. >> it is. >> rose: what do you say to those who say yes, we expect it
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to work. they are doing everything. but come ten years they're going to just-- all bets are off and they will go full speed ahead to try to get a new clear weapon. >> first, if there hadn't been a deal they could have gone full speed ahead right away. >> rose: right. >> an ten years from now or 15 years from now, more likely. >> rose: right. >> we will be in the same position. in fact, in an even better position if necessary to do something if the iranians decide. >> rose: we have dismantled all the sanctions and it will be very hard to rebuild sanctions. >> it will be tough, it would be tough to rebuild sanctions if it came to that in 15 years but it will be very tough for them to rebuild their program under the noses of the entire international community and get away with it. we will have time-- . >> rose: and you believe it will tell us if they are violating this in anyway. >> this is the. >> everything we need to make sure that they are not violating what they have agreed. >> we are confident that we have the most intrusive, most effective ver if i kaition and monitoring system ever advised and if they try to do something, we will see it. >> if they try what do we do.
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>> several things. first we have in place a process so that if we believe that they are reneging on their commitments or cheating on the agreement, we bring it to a commission that is exriesed of all of the countries that negotiated the agreement and try to resolve it that way. if that doesn't work, we can go immediately to the united nations and there are automatic snapback provisions for the sanctions that would, in fact, >> that is a separate piece of this. >> rose: can we stop them is the reason i asked that question. >> look, what is complicated here. >> rose: and delivery. >> they have obligations including ongoing u.n. security council resolutions that prohint them from building missiles that can be used to carry new clear weapons. >> rose: right. >> but they are also allowed to develop missiles that are conventional in their own
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device, so there is a fine line that we have to get at. but for the next eight years, they-- it remains under prohibition for countries to engage with them or trade with them in ballistic missile technology. we are being very vigilant about making stheur that countries abide by that. >> rose: two questions from that. clearly they-- both the united states and iran understood that what we were dealing with here was the negotiations of developing the new clear cap able, not about iranian we laughier an a whole slew of other things. >> right. >> rose: has though the fact that that happened and that was the nation of it, have we seen a ramp eding up of negative behavior since the deal was signed off and the sangszs began to be eliminated and money flowed in. >> in some places and to some extent yes. here is what i think is going on. for example we have seen some additional ballistic missile tests that we were taking action against including through the united nations. >> rose: sanctions? >> new sanctions, we're also seeing that they sustained and
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in some cases even deep in some of the activities that we profoundly object to from whether it is in yemen, whether it is in syria, et cetera. but one of the things that is going on is you have a very strong hard line element in iran that was opposed to this agreement. a new clear agreement. and continues to try and throw wrenches in the works. here is what is interesting, charlie. for us the new clear agreement is just that. a new clear agreement. it's not about changing the nature of iran, that would be wonderful if it happens but that is not why we did it. we did it because it was profoundly in our security interests to make sure they couldn't secure a new clear weapon any time to the fore seeable future. but the hard-liners in iran, the ones who are most opposed to the agreement, they see it as something different. they see it potentially as a tro january horse that risks po lawsuiting and ultimately destroying the very idea of the revolution in iran. >> rose: bringing iran closer. >> bringing iran. >> rose: to the rest of the
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world. >> exactly. that is why they are trying to-- . >> rose: so therefore can you argue that john kerry in negotiating for prisoner release , thr was established a means of communication, because of all the negotiations over the new clear, and relationships. >> yeah, kerry and the foreign minister, that in a sense benefits both sides now, and we are more able to talk about things like prisoner release and other things because of the, all the intense conversations that had to take place in reaching an iranian deal. >> absolutely. >> rose: and what is the future of that. >> absolutely. the intensity of these negotiations has created relationships and created what we would call in diplomacy habits of cooperation that have had some beneficial impacts when we have had to deal with other issues including exactly the one that you just noted which is the question of prisoners. an that's created at least a
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certain level of personal trust among some of the key players starting with the secretary of state and his counterrer part czarrive. but the iranians that we are engaged with are only one part of the system. and they are the pragmatic elements. and it's not that they like us or want necessarily to be close to us. it's that they see the future of iran and iran's interests in engaging more practicing matically with the rest of the world. >> rose: so but have they gotsen some ascendancy because of the new clear deal? >> i think if the president-- . >> rose: because zarif when he was returned home was greeted almost as a hero. >> if you look at the polling, certainly that group is popular. but they are working within a very confined system. one of the things that always struck me here is that you listen to some of our political discourse and you think that people here see iran as the only country on earth that doesn't have politics when in fact it
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has the most intense politics of any country. >> rose: let me turn to north korea. first can we get china to do more in e erting influence over that government. >> they have to. because-- . >> rose: but are they? >> so we've been engaged in an intense conversation with our chinese friends. obviously most recently because of the new clear tests and the ballistic missile test. >> the satellite really testing ballistic missile technology. and of course even before that, in the face of various prove kaitions to north koreans. and the case the chinese makes is this. they are most concerned with preserving stability in the korean peninsula. the thing they fear most is in-- is some kind of instability that leads to a flood of north koreans heading too china and that causes them to lose the buffer they have. >> rose: would china hate a unified korea? >> they would be very nervous about a unified korea on one level because again they would
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lose that strategic buffer that they have. but what we say to the chinese is you fear instability. we agree with you. the single greatest force of instability is north korea and the actions of its regime and leadership. >> they're not prepared to act more than they have to far because what? >> so they believe that if they push too hard, too far too fast, that could cause a crisis in the regime and could lead to the instability they fear. but we've been very clear with them. we said look, you have unique leverage over north korea. virtually everything that north korea trades goes to or through or from china. so you have leverage. now they say they don't have influence, north car ya isn't listening, we say you have leverage, you need to use it, if you don't, it's your decision, but if you don't we are going to have to take steps our severes to ratchet up the pressure and in our own defense and in
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defense of our partners. and those steps won't be directed at you but you are probably not going to like them. >> rose: do they accept them. >> they don't accept it but i think they see it. so for example, we have now entered into active consultations with our south korean partners and allies on the deployment of a missile defense system, not directed at china. actually won't affect china strategically. they don't see it that i what. they view it as a problem. we said look, if you are not going to take responsibility for helping to deal with north korea and getting them tho change their behavior and engage in meaningful, denew clearization talks, we have to take these kinds of steps. >> rose: so if they launched an attack on the united states, the north koreans, we could deter if, stop it. >> we believe as of now we do not believe that they have the capacity to marry a small new clear weapon to an interkonl ballistic missile and deliver it on to the konl united states. but they are getting closer to the day when they are able to do that. >> rose: let's stop there
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though. can they deliver, do they have the equivalent to deliver an interkonl missile to the united states, forget a warhead, just a missile. >> yeah, possibly but we don't really know. >> but they haven't been able to test to that degree. their huge problems with so called reentry piece that they have never been able to test. we don't believe that they are there. but what did a deep concern is that with every passing day they get closer. we have worked very hard since this administration came in to put the pressure on and squeeze north koreans. pirs first we said we're not going to play the same game everybody has played. which is buying the same thing from you. you keep trying to say you will do x if we do y. we do y and you don't do x and you want to do the whole thing over and again and get more-- we are not going to do that any more. secretary we tried to rally more of the international community to put the squeeze on the north koreans to make it more difficult for them to acquire technology for their missile and new clear programsk to make it more difficult for them to
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pollive rate and export things, we have had some success with that. but the bottomline remains with every passing day they move forward and get closer. we said to the chinese this presents a growing and real threat to our national security. it means something to us. you need to help us deal with it. >> rose: do they say yes, we get you, but we also would like you to do this for us? or do they simply keep the conversation to north korea. >> no, it's kept to north korea. but we're focused right now on getting the strongest possible security council resolution but a resolution with real teeth. >> rose: and for them not to shall. >> not only not to veto it or object to it, but actually to join in. and there are lots of areas where you could put the squeeze on the north koreans and at least you would have a chance of getting them to rethink. here is what makes this even more concerning and dangerous. kim jungun seems to act in irrational ways, arbitrary ways,
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in the heat of the moment, and it's not entirely clear that he is persuaded by the series of deterrents that we have used in our relations. >> rose: so he is unpredictable. will not act as a rational human being. >> that is the last person you want to have new clear weapons which is why we are working so hard to bring countries together, starting with china, to put the squeeze on him, get him to change his-- . >> rose: it appears he is also is very concerned about his own safety. i read the other day where they had executed one of the principal virses to his government. >> he has done this repeatedly. the people closest to him including his uncle, including the defense minister most recently and others have been arbitrarily executed. that creates a regime of terror and of fear. you also have to wonder though whether at some point someone in that system is not going to come to the conclusion that it's better that they strike at him first before he gets them. >> rose: take him out. >> so all of this underscores
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why we think it's really in china's interest to work closely with us to try an deal with this problem. >> rose: i know nothing about negotiations but it seems to me what you do is you try to odd res china's fears. you try to address their fears. ask someone what is it you want and what are you afraid of. when you listen to them, maybe you get them to move. >> i think are you right that is the kind of krvetion we are engaged in and trying to have with them. we are are making a little bit of progress but look, i believe at the end of the day this they will come around to a strong security council resolution. whether that will be enough in the arkszs that are prescribed to move north korea. >> rose: will they come around to some sense of with that s their role in the pacific and what is our role in the pacific and what do they consider dominant and what do we consider dominant. and what do we consider our
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responsibility to their neighbors. >> that's a big part of the nature of the conversation we're having with them right now. and you see the actions they arting with china are layingt claim to bits and pieces of lands, much of it artificial, basically built on reefs to try then to be able to assert sovereignty over the seas in the area. >> rose: like an aircraft carrier. >> exactly. we said to them, look, we're not a claim ant. we don't have a claim on any of these pieces of land. some of your neighbors do. >> rose: and our friends. >> but so we don't take a position on the merits for the claim. but we do have a profound interest in the way you go about trying to advance those claims. if it does it in a way that threatens freedom of navigation, that is a problem for us. if you are doing it coercively instead of cooperatively, that's a problem for us. and if you are doing it in disregard of international law and norms and rules, that is a problem for us. we have a stake in all three things am we urged all of the claim ants including china to stop and freeze these
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reclamation projects, building these artificial bits of land, to stop the construction on them. to stop the militarization, putting weapons on them. to yeet time and space to see if they can negotiate resolutions to the differences they have. we said to china, look, if you go and get an agreement that actually this is your piece of land or if someone arbitrates in your favor, we will be the first to defend that. but you have to resolve these things in a peaceful way, and in accordance with international law. otherwise it's a recipe for chaos and conflict. >> rose: can you imagine back to iran that one of the kre questions have i about north korea is who is helping them. who are their friends, beyond the relationship with china, are they getting new clear parts from somebody? is it pakistan, which you had was the original source. >> in the past they tried to develop procurement networks around the world am we work just as hard to shut them down it is an ongoing cat and mouse game. >> rose: but they have no money, do they? >> the problem is the money they have, of course, instead of
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going in even the barest sense of their people. >> rose: to feed their people. >> you know what is so frustrate being this too, charlie, is look, think about it this way. this is a totally impoverished country with very few resources that none the less has had the wherewithal to develop new clear weapons am imagine if that talent, if that ingenuity was put to peaceful pursuits. and of course we see in south korea what an extraordinary success that country has been. there is no reason north korea couldn't be the same if it changed its focus. >> rose: you know the iranians used to say why do you think we would want new clear weapons what good would it do us. people would say look at the north koreans, that is all they have they voo a certain respect because of in the cleur weapons within the iran example is a powerful one we would hope the north koreans would be inspired by. they finally agreed under tremendous pressure that they would be willing to freeze their program, and indeed start to roll it back to see if we could then negotiate a comprehensive agreement it was that decision that created the time and space to negotiate the agreement that
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we achieved. >> rose: finally this question. america's role in the world clearly, clearly if you look at the fight against isis, we have to lead. we have to lead. but at the same time, we have to draw other people in and because we recognize as you have suggested, you know, you can take territory but you have to hold it and to hold it you need local forces on the ground. what is our sense of our leadership and what is our sense of what progress we've made or what remains to be done for an acceptance, and encouragement of america and its relationship for the rest of the world? >> he with might need a whole other program to go through that. but that said, let's look at the last two years. it's the united states that mobilized the international community in this fight against isil, against daesh. >> rose: as you know, with respect, there is a lot of criticism as to how the united states did that and where they might have done more. >> sure.
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and there always is. in fact that comes with the territory. in fact vice president biden likes to say that rarely has he been to a country where all at once we're the source of their biggest problem and their only sheution. but imagine if we had not done that, who would have. no one. 66 countries and organizations now together. we mobilize the world in the fight against ebola. and we succeeded, again with challenges, problems, but we got there. it was american diplomacy that lead the way to this new clear agreement with iran. it was american diplomacy that restored relations relations wi. it was american diplomacy that lead to the first peaceful democratic transition of power in afghanistan. it was american diplomacy that brought-- . >> rose: where there is still lots of problems. >> in all of these places, here is what i am getk at and the common denominator. i like to think of it in terms of the movie we all watch before christmas "it's a wonderful life." we know what happens to bed ford falls when george bailey sowt of the picture. you take the u.s. out of any of these pictures, climate change, the agreement in pairs, any of those things, it doesn't happen.
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does that mean that it's happening as well as it should, effectively as it should, as far as it should? no. but we are the single country that has the ability to mobilize and move others more than any other country. but we're also living in a world where power is increasingly diffuse. and we see it shifting in one country. >> rose: we can't do it alone. >> and we shouldn't do it alone. we shouldn't want to do it alone. >> rose: and we can't either. >> exactly. but i think we have and we have shown that we have the leading role to play in mobilizing others against common challenges. there is something else very powerful going on. we may be disputed on individual policies or things that we are pursuing or not doing enough of this or too much of that. but when i go around the world, countries continue to look to us first. you go beyond that, there is an extraordinarily powerful attraction that the united states wields through its educational system, innovation, entrepreneurship, that's what everyone wants. >> rose: but you clearly have to recognize too that there have
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been because of things that happened in the last four years, certainly in terms of syria and calling off the strike and what you were involved in, which is the chemical agreement and that kind of thing, that certain of our friends have called into question. >> sure, they have. but. >> rose: is america still prepared to be there when we need them. >> yeah, here is what is going on. there is this argument that show we've been disengaged. but that is not-- . >> rose: or redraw red lines an people cross them. >> two things. we're more engaged in more places than we ever have been. the argument is the nature of our engagement. for some friends they equate engagement with a lot of military force on the ground. the president has said we need to do this in the smartest, most sustainable way possible. and that means using all the tools. >> rose: what he calls a lightfoot print. >> a lightfoot print but effective. >> rose: a pleasure to you have here. >> thank you so much. >> rose: hope we can do it again. >> thank you,. >> rose: tony blinken, deputy secretary of state for the united states of america, for the hour. thank you for joining us. we'll see you next time.
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>> for more about this program and earlier episodes, vilingsity us online at and charlie 7 captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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