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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  January 11, 2017 12:00am-1:01am PST

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>> rose: welcome to the program. we're in washington for a conversation with secretary of state john kerry at the state department. >> war is the failure of diplomacy, and if countries lie or avoid realities or if countries don't try, particularly the united states of america, a lot of bad things can happen. when i came back from vietnam, i resolved if i ever had a chance or was in a position of responsibility, i would do everything in my power to guarantee that i didn't fall into that pit and make the same mistakes or lose the office. we had a saying, my crew and the guys i was with over there who we still stay in touch with each other, and those of us lucky enough to make it back has a saying that every day is ex tha. so you go at it that way. >> rose: john kerry for the
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hour, next. >> rose: mr. s captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. ecretary, this this journey, this part of your life is coming to an end. let me talk about iran first. >> sure. >> rose: how do you view that that the primary legacy for john kerry? >> well, i don't think there is any one thing, if i can say, respectfully, that is the legacy. i think the legacy is several
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fold, i mean to the degree there is a legacy. but these four years have been defined by a world around us that is going through massive transformation. some people confuse that transformation with sins of omission or commission by an administration, but, in fact, there are forces that are at play that we can't necessarily stop or shift direction of, we have to manage, and i'm speaking specifically of something like the arab spring, for instance. we couldn't have stopped the arab spring. we couldn't keep a lid on that. nobody could. that happened, and it happened because of a combination of new communications, aspirations, madermity, the intentions created because of the invasions of iraq which left shia and sunni with a new definition and
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contest, it happened because of aspirations of young people, above all, because of bad governance, failing states, so there are many forces that are unleashed right now. so the task for any administration is to tame the worst manifestations of these forces, to try to put together a strategy for uh how the united states can, in fact, advance its values and protect its interests in the mix of that transformation. i believe we've done a pretty darn good job of managing more of these crises that have come simultaneously than at anytime in creasent memory, and, i mean, if you look -- i mean, i have said to many people, and i will stand by this, and it's completely legitimate that the united states of america in the
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last four years has been more engaged, more proactively in more places with more crises of different kinds and with positive impact than at anytime in american history, and you can look in africa where we're on the cusp of a generation being born of kids free from aids, where restopped ebola without the manager of people dying like they predicted, or the south china sea where we asserted rights of navigation or ukraine where we put sanctions in place, held europe together, or iran where we got an agreement with a country we hadn't talked to in 35 years to stop its nuclear weaponry program, assuming that's, in fact, where they were going, and joining the international community under the i.e.a. to live up to
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standards. we had a trifecta with respect to the environment, unprecedented. if we had just done the paris agreement, that would be a huge deal, and we sent a signal to the global marketplace about clean and alternative renewable energy, but we didn't just do that. we got the airline industry together, altogether the size of the 12th largest emitter in the world, and we have them reducing their emissions under a new agreement. about 200 nations came together in rwanda and, there, we managed to phase out refrigerants which are a thousand times more potent than carbon dioxide and which could in and of itself save the planet a half degree cen centige of warming. in afghanistan, we held a
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government together that threatened to implode completely with the afghan effort completely shredded as a result because of a bad election, so we put a unity government together. so i can go from place to place, charlie, where i think the united states has offered leadership and it contradicts completely this notion of retreat or retrenchment that the united states is somehow pulling back that is a false narrative that is being advanced by people of different interests. >> rose: let me come to that point, too. do you believe that because of the events of the last several years that there is a new world order emerging? >> clearly, there are strains, because of this transformation i've talked about. now, for many, many years, the united states and americans have been able to, at times, win even
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when we made bad decisions because we were really the only power standing for a long period of time. after world war ii, as the order emerged and we had bretton woods and created the u.n. and all these things emerged which is the order as we have referred to it and n.a.t.o. and so forth, the united states has been critical to the development of all of these structures, but increasingly other countries are more powerful, inherently. >> rose: and want to participate? >> and they want to participate, and they don't want to simply sit there and take orders from us or simply be passive about the choices that we are making in the context of those institutions. so, china, 1.3 billion people, second largest economy in the world, which will be automatically the largest economy in the world at some
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point in time wants to play differently. they want to be more determinative of their future and protect their interests. likewise, other countries -- russia, if you have a leader of a country like russia whose leader says the most tragic moment of the 20th century was the fall of the soviet union, you can have a sense of where that person is coming from as he moves in response to things that the united states -- >> rose: he wants to restore the russia that was? >> he wants to restore a level of respect and acceptance and perhaps even more than that with respect to -- >> rose: do we give him that? we want to respect you and we want to give you a level of acceptance -- after all, you have the world's largest collection of nuclear weapons. >> i think it's important and clear from the diplomacy that i pursued, i think it's very important the talk to russia, and i think people need to take note of a certain reality --
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russia, when brought into the process and respected in the conversation and dealt with actually produced, and we were able to cooperate even as we know that they have a different attitude about certain things, they have a different world view, they have a different outlook, and we are not going to be easily walking hand in hand in some kumbaya fashion down the road that brings us together because of the differences of that world view and other interests. russia doesn't like n.a.t.o. russia doesn't like the expansion of n.a.t.o. russia doesn't like the ballistic missile defense. russia doesn't like what we did in libya where they believe that we reached beyond the u.n. resolution. russia doesn't like color revolutions. they don't like what happened with ershiancoe in ukraine.
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there are a bunch of things that are reactive so we'll have to work through those kinds of things in a relationship. but when we have to get chemical weapons out of syria, russia was the cooperating party that helped to make that happened and, without them, it probably wouldn't have happened. >> rose: but as soon as you say that -- i mean, you have been in what has been an unsuccessful effort to get them to help form a transition government. you have given i don't know how many days and how many hours and how many sessions trying to get them to help form a transition government so you can transition assad out of power. instead of doing that, what they have done is supported assad on the ground, and he is now stronger than he's been in a very long time. >> he is stronger than he has been, charlie. >> rose: because of their support, because you couldn't get them to -- >> well, no, that's not completely the way it played out. there are a number of reasons why the cease fire didn't work,
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and there are a number of reasons why we weren't able to move to the geneva thing at this point in time. one of the reasons was our own internal division here in the united states of america where we had some folks who simply didn't want to talk to russia or deal with russia, thought it was wrong to have any kind of engagement with russia and put their distrust of russia ahead of any effort to try to find a way to the table. the fact is this, hard, simple, real fact, there will be no political solution whatsoever to the crisis of syria without dealing with russia. >> rose: yeah, but at the same time -- >> let me just finish one thing. and the fact is what we succeeded in laying out in the course of the international syria support group meetings and the u.n. resolution is the outline of how that political solution is going to look and how it's going to come about. now, i guarantee you, there will be ultimately some kind of
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negotiation because there has to be, and it will follow the framework of what we laid down. i'm confident of that. so while we didn't get there yet, none of that diplomacy was wasted, none of that time to have a cease fire which we had several times for a period of time is wasted because it saves some lives, i got some humanitarian assistance in, and it has established a framework which ultimately will work. the russians made a decision because of our own challenges here, we weren't able to deliver. the separation of nusra. remember, one of the deals was we were going to separate news remarks but we didn't separate nusra, it couldn't be done, it wasn't able to be done under the circumstances. >> rose: separate them and bring them into some kind of -- >> no, separate them out because they are al quaida and there is no keeling with them. they represent al quaida, but, unfortunately, the opposition we were supporting got enmeshed with them and it was very hard
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to distinguish who was who. >> rose: and they ended up with american supplies. >> in some places, in some measure, but also because it allowed assad to continually bomb people and fight, pretending he was simply going after al quaida, when, in fact, he was actually going after the opposition and never really went after i.s.i.l or daesh. so this is more complicated than meets the eye. meanwhile, you had a major amount of proxy pressure being put on people. for instance, turkey had proxy interests. you had saudi arabia, you had the qataris and so forth, and those proxy efforts complicated what people were willing to do and what you could actually hold accountable. >> rose: two things about this very point. you said there were divisions if america. it is said that there were divisions within the administration, that the secretary of state -- you -- wanted to do more on the ground to give you more leverage, and
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you could not bring the president to that point and, therefore, you had less leverage to deal with the russians and to deliver than you wanted. >> well -- >> rose: speak to that, because it is history. >> well, it is history, charlie, but the administration has another few days and i'm still here and i'm not going to be going backwards yet, not in that regard. there are no secrets that there were many debates in the administration and different concepts of how to deal with it. >> rose: you supported the 51 diplomats that you can't negotiate without an equivalence of troops on the ground. >> you have to have leverage to negotiate. >> rose: you didn't have it. very difficult to negotiate when you're not -- where the other side doesn't feel compelled to be accountable or to do certain things. but that's neither here nor there now. the important thing is that,
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while syria has been frustrating for everybody, including president obama, the fact is that we've -- i think -- managed to marshal major initiative in the region that has strengthened our allies in the region partly to the eiran nuclear agreement. >> rose: you mean sunni arab states? >> israel, u.a.e., the saudis. >> rose: sunni arabs? yes, very much. so we had a major summit at camp david where they all came in. we strengthened the military support structure, the training, the flow of weaponry they felt they needed. we have been forced -- we have enforced measures against iran that fell outside of the iran
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nuclear agreement but which regarded u.n. resolutions on arms trafficking, state sponsorship of terrorism and so forth. so i think we've managed to make it clear that the united states has been solidly engaged. look, we put together a 68-coalition country effort to defeat daesh. how can people suggest that we were retreating, when i.s.i.l is moving across iraq, threatening baghdad, black flags flying, toyotas all around, people being beheaded, and the president of the united states immediately moved to put our aircraft in the sky and begin to take them on, begin to retrain the army, rebuild the army, and, now, we have liberated 65% of iraq that was taken over by daesh, 35 to 40% of syria, and we are
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beginning to surround raqqa, we are in the liberation of mosul and i can tell you daesh, i.s.i.l, will be defeated sometime in the course of the next year. >> rose: in the next year i.s.i.l will be defeated because the two power centers, they will be driven out? >> just driving them out of the power centers is not going to fully deal with the problem. now, it could go into the next year. i'm not going to get precise about the year, but it's within a measurable period of time that i am confident we are going to be able to deliberate -- >> rose: but in just the way i.s.i.l which came out of al quaida, the al quaida in iraq, won't there be some other terrorist organization that will be worse than they are that will follow i.s.i.l? i mean, where are we in the long struggle against terrorism?
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we're at the beginning of that struggle which is going to go on for some period of time. i said today at the united states nave naval academy that i think it's a generational challenge and a big challenge. there is bocca haram, al-sha bad, you can run the list of these people from south central asia. so where i think we need to do, where i think the world has got to put more energy and effort is into a call it, and not the best name in the world but it's legit because people can immediately imagine what it is, we need a new martial plan, a new greater engagement not just by the united states but by all the
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developed and near-developed world need to come together more effectively to deal with this astounding youth bulge in many rts of the world where yout have young people who, in many places, they're not going to go to school and they don't have opportunity, and if all that we do, all of us collectively, is leave them to the devices of radical religious extremists who grab those young minds, everybody is going to have a problem going forward. so, in terms of foreign policy, it is a mistake for somebody to say we're not going to deal with over there. there is no "over there" anymore. everywhere is in the same place. >> rose: you can't deny that, i don't think, because you've heard these retorts, that after the so-called red line was crossed and there was not an american reaction, although you will say the reaction was to get the chemical weapons out, others expected more and were prepared for more and i think so were you. secondly -- well, we can talk about that specifically.
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let me make the other point. after what happened to mubarak, many people believe our allies had real questions about where the united states was and could they count on them, and the united states had to go to those nations and reassure them. >> absolutely fair to say that some people drew a message from the departure of mubarak -- >> rose: the red line. -- well, i'll come to the red line, but on the mubarak thing, that is, i think, erroneous because, in fact, mubarak already, by virtue of the decision of the egyptian people coming out in the streets in the tens of millions, it was clear mubarak wasn't going to supply that, egypt wasn't going to. so president obama made clear publicly what was already clear on the ground. >> rose: that he had to go. that he was gone, fundamentally, and that got hung
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somehow on the president and became this moment of doubt. now to the red line with respect to syria. the president of the united states, barack obama, never ever retreated from his position that he was going to strike. he announced that he would strike, he announced we were going to take action, and he went to congress to ask congress for the permission to do that. he did that after david cameron, prime minister of britain, had gone to parliament and been turned down, and i was on a telephone call with about 100 congressmen, i think some senators, but definitely congressmen, i remember, many of whom were saying you've got to come to us, we need to be part of this. so the president decided to go to congress. now, in the intervening time when congress was deliberating -- and, by the way, congress became far more difficult to persuade than anybody thought they would be -- but while that happened i was asked at the press conference in
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london is there any way that assad could avoid being bombed? and i said declaratively, yes, he could get all the chemical weapons out of syria. foreign minister sergey lavrov called me within a couple of hours and said i heard what you said in london, we need to work on that. the fact is president obama and president putin had actually talked about it. we then went to work on it and, within a matter of days, we came to an agreement to get all the chemical weapons out of syria. so we, in effect, charlie, in reality, we achieved far more by having said we're going to bomb, getting all the chemical weapons out, but people interpreted the president going to congress as an avoidance of the bombing, and i will absolutely confirm with you right here, yes, it did hurt us, it took hold. somehow there was this perception that the president
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had backed off. >> rose: the perception is, if you cross the red line and you say you're going to attack if you cross the red line and you don't, even though you got the chemical weapons -- >> but what was the reason for the red line? >> rose: to get the weapons? no, to tell him don't use these. what was the best way for him to not to use them? take them away. so we actually accomplished the goal exponentially beyond what we would have by bombing, but i concede the fact of how it played out, created this mythology and this perception that somehow the president wasn't willing to do that. >> rose: well. and i just don't think it was real. but i know it cost us because i heard it and i felt it and i had to argue it with many, many people. >> rose: and you had to convince them that it was not the reality, that you were not there to back them up and support them. >> well, that's one of the reasons why we built up what we built up with camp david, with the assurance program, with the training, the increased efforts
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on the ground, a lot was done in terms of reassurance. >> rose: as you remember, i was there talking with assad a week before that and he said at that time that he would give up the chemical weapons if there was no strike because he thought it would be good to avoid war. and i remembered you in london looking at that and how timely it was. there is also this, in terms of history, the famous walk around the white house lawn with a man i interviewed yesterday, the chief of staff of the white house, it is said the president came back from that walk and announced that he would not attack and that he did not -- >> i never heard an announcement he wouldn't attack. he announced he was going to go to congress to get the permission to attack. >> rose: there was nothing discussed and no decision made as a result of that walk. this is history, i'm asking you, because you were there, without consulting with the secretary of state, without consulting with
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the national security advisor -- >> he took a walks, charlie. >> rose: and that was a decisive moment in his own confirmation of his own thinking. >> did the chief of staff tell you the president made a decision not to strike or made a decision not go to congress? because i got a call 9:30 that night from the president of the united states saying i think we have to go to congress and get permission. he never said to me i've decided not to strike, and he went to congress to get permission to strike. in fact, the foreign relations committee voted 13 to 7, i think, to permit the strike. so we were still on track for strike. >> rose: so the decision was not to go to congress at that point? the decision was to get permission from congress? >> that is correct. that's what i understood anyway and i don't know anything different to this day. >> rose: i assume you're right, but much has been made of the walk. >> much has been made of the
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walk because it was a walk about whether he was going to strike on saturday, literally or whether we had to go to congress. one of the reasons people feld compelled that the congress thing made sense was david cameron, our close ally, the british parliament refused him permission to strike. so if this democracy and ally had been refused permission to join in this, was the president on weaker ground, therefore, to go ahead and strike notwithstanding or was it wiser to go to congress in our democracy and get the affirmation of the american people. >> rose: there were those who argued you did not have to go to congress. >> sure. we weren't arguing whether we had to go. we knew the president had the authority, constitutionally, to do the strike. that wasn't the issue. the issue was should he go. was he wiser to get the permission and buy-in of the american people for use of
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force, and many members of congress argued he ought to do that. i think that was the base of the decision he made. in the deliberations of the national security council, i will tell you, i think it's important to have this clear in the conversation, the vast majority of people there, and it may have been all but one person or two people, felt that congress would absolutely give permission and do it quickly and it was with that in mind that the president made the decision to go. turned out to be something congress was not ready to do quickly and i think that added to the notion this was the escape hatch, but it was not put forward in that fashion to the best of my recreation. >> rose: two questions, one,
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where is syria today and what would it have taken testify a better result? >> syria is a colossal catastrophe and an horrendous humanitarian situation today. hate what i see. it's painful to watch. children being bombed, whole historic communities being destroyed, the passions of revenge and hatred being stoked, and harder and harder to put back together as a nation. i personally believe that if the russians had felt some pressure or if assad had felt some pressure that we would have had the greater capacity -- >> rose: what kind of pressure? >> well, any kind of pressure. i mean, you can imagine, but you ran the gamut. i think what happened was the russians wouldn't put pressure on him. the russians never held him completely accountable. putin should have said to him, you don't go to table and we don't do x, y and z, we're out of here. but there was a permission to assad's actions which raised
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everybody's hackles to russia's own approach to this. >> rose: has assad won. no, not at all. >> rose: has he won temporarily? >> no, h he's in a stronger position. he's in a dominant position today, but there is no victory without a political solution. there is no military solution to syria. there will continue to be suicide bombings and, you know, car bombs and insurrection and low-grade insurgency for a long period of time if you don't resolve the fundamental underlying questions of the future of syria. >> rose: is it the most disappointing aspect of your secretary of state-ship with syria because it is so visible and acts against humanity and the destruction. >> i don't view it as our failure. i think it's a collective failure. i view it as a failure of everybody who has touched it and
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been involved in it, that the international community could not come together and unite around a standard of decency and behavior as is expressed within the u.n. and the u.n. and international community with respect to war and laws of war. i object to the fact that we were not able as an international community to prevent the carnage of syria, and the things that might have been done or that weren't done or weren't considered are a fair subject of debate once we're finished and out. >> rose: i mentioned iran, and then i want to talk about the israeli -- all the hours you spent on israel and trying to get a peace agreement between the palestinians and the speech you made against settlement and on behalf of a two-state solution. but first the iran deal. many people thought that was
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such a towering diplomatic achievement. others didn't. that it almost deserved or did deserve a nobel prize for you and the foreign minister of iran. how difficult was it? tell us how you did it. what was the essence of all those hours and all that talk and all those people who had their own interest? >> well, leaving myself out of it, just as an observer -- >> rose: there's no person more central to it than you. >> no, but, i mean, i'm just trying to make a comment about it because i don't want to make it sound like i'm building it up, et cetera, but this was hard. this was tough. i have been involved in these discussions and these efforts for 34 years, 32 years, something, 28 years in the
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senate plus, and to sit down with a nation with whom we have had no formal high-level discussions for 35 years, to break the barrier of mistrust, to be able to get to a table to start working down a road where a country was talking about intrusive inspections, a country particularly that was as full of pride and nationalism and, you know, privacy as a country like iran was really hard and complicated, and they had interests, we had interests, and you have top always find -- and you have to always find a way to thread the needle in a way that could satisfy interests but still get the job done, and we needed to know that, if we got an agreement, we were not putting israel at risk, putting countries in the region at risk. we needed to know this was not just an agreement for 15 years,
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but an agreement for life, which is why the additional protocol allows a demand inspection at any time in the life of this agreement. so if we see a facility at some point 20 years from now that is being developed, and we have cause to believe that enrichment is taking place or that there's a breakout effort underway, we have a right to inspect. and if we can't, then we have legitimacy in challenging that particular activity. so we're never without recourse in the course of this particular agreement. and it was critical to be able to achieve that, frankly, hard for iran to be able to come to the table to make an agreement to say we're doing this for the long haul and not going to have weaponry and are prepared to let the outside world look in. >> rose: why do you think you were able to do that?
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>> because it was clear the supreme leader in iran made a fundamental decision that their nation needed to grow. they needed to do better by their people and, because of the sanctions regime, which was a huge success, they were simply not capable of doing that. it was impossible. now, if they think they have averted an ultimate confrontation of what their program is, they're mistaken, because what is in place will always permit us to know whether or not and to challenge whether or not they're trying to move towards weaponry. we will always have the type we need -- time we need, charlie torques be able to protect our friends in the region and our own interests. but they needed to do that, and we needed to make sure that they didn't have a pathway to a nuclear weapon, and you combine those two interests and put them together, and that was really the bed -- bedrock foundation of
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what would bring the two countries -- not two countries -- you know, the seven countries, p5 plus 1 to the table. >> rose: and this was an area where russia was helpful. >> russia was one of the key players in helping to get to this agreement, and russia also was a key player in getting the chemical weapons out of syria, russia was a key player in helping us to move on your environmental agreements we discussed. russia was key to getting the marine protected area a few weeks ago. so we had some cooperation with russia even though we disagreed deeply and bitterly over ukraine, crimea and syria, but we've still managed to move some of these other issues. but coming back to iran, you know, i think, i mean, there were just hours and hours offer are detailed and complicated
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issues, and at one point we became very much affected by the desire of congress to pass more sanctions because they didn't understand where we were in the process. so we have to come out -- >> rose: and if a new congress would impose new sanctions, what would happen to the agreement? >> well, they could break the agreement apart. >> rose: iranians could walk away from it. >> it could happen. >> rose: so far, they have kept the bargain. >> iran has definitively kept the bargain. there have been a couple of little things here or there that we've had to, you know, tweak in order to make sure we're staying where we are, but we have, in fact, i think, set it up now that it's on a track to be able to move fairly automatically going forward. >> rose: lots of people will applaud you for that part of the deal which was the iranian nuclear deal to keep them from building and having the nuclear
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capability. a lot of other people did not want to see it necessarily as a part of agreement, but they want to see america more aggressive about iranian behavior. >> yeah. well, we are aggressive about it. for instance -- >> rose: what they're doing in syria, what they're doing in lebanon, what they're doing with hamas. >> we inteptd weapons flowing down towards yemen. we turned the convoy back. we've intercepted weapons. we've put sanctions on them for them firing the missiles. we've continued to have accountability in those other areas. but one thing the new administration needs to understand, and it's something that's not a small thing, just ordering somebody to do something, just telling them, you've got to do this or else, with some countries is not a good way to get things done. >> rose: is iran one of those countries? >> i think iran is a very proud
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nation with a long history, 5,000 years, and they -- i think one of the key words that always entered into our negotiation was mutual respect. now, obviously, for some people, we know that it's hard to give that the same meaning when you're looking at what happens to people or when you're looking at their engagement in a certain country or involvement, i get it, but at least in the face to face and process of working through differences, you need to be able to talk to each other. and i think how the new administration chooses to do that is going to be very important. >> rose: and where do you put hacking, according to u.s. intelligence agencies approved of and perhaps directed by vladimir putin? >> well, it's very serious business. >> rose: at the same time that cooperating on iran and
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cooperating on climate -- >> yeah, but, you know -- >> rose: -- right interrupt the democratic process in america. >> putin alleges that we tried to interrupt his process. >> roseprocess. it's one of the reasons he chose not to like hillary clinton and her candidacy, and he believes that the obama administration interfered in the legitimacy of his own race. >> rose: and believed it had something to do with what happened in kiev. >> yes, very deeply believed we were involved in the midon and helping -- so i'm not giving it legitimacy. i'm not saying that's not a reason to believe what we believe, i'm just saying if you don't understand where the other country is coming from, you have a problem. now, that doesn't excuse anything he did, particularly after the president of the united states made it clear to him this was unacceptable. >> rose: this was at the g-20
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meeting. >> among others. i raised it with lavrov, also. >> rose: they stopped it because you raised it with lavrov, the foreign minister, and the president raised it with -- >> what happened was the horses were already out of the barn. they already had invaded wikileaks and done certain things, but there was not evidence that other things grew significantly after that, but damage done. >> rose: there was a meeting between turkey and -- back to syria for a moment because we're talking about russia -- turkey, iran and russia. >> sure. >> rose: shouldn't you have been there? >> well, they'd been at the table with us. >> rose: i know, but this was not with us. you were not there. >> and the reason we were not there is because they perceived that, for certain reasons, we were unable to deliver on what we said we were going to deliver on. >> rose: that was her perception. were they right? >> we didn't deliver. >> rose: tell me, when you
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became secretar secretary of stt did you think you could do and why, in doing something that had been unattainable so far, to bring the palestinians and the iranians to an agreement supported by both and supported by -- >> you mean the palestinians and the israelis. >> rose: and the israelis, yeah. >> well, charlie, you know, this is an issue i've lived with, again, for 30-plus years. i traveled to israel in 1986 for the first time as a young senator with 15 or so of my friends in massachusetts, and we traveled all around the country and i got to know it, and that was my introduction. you know, i love israel. i think it's a beautiful country with a spectacular founding idea. when hertzel & company came together years and years and years ago and zionism was born,
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it was born out of this idea of creating this homeland, and after world war ii, 1948, it was created, and we recognized it within eight minutes. but the arab world did not. and, so, for years, there has been this question of how do you make peace here? and there's been an evolution in that process through various presidencies, republican and democrat alike, all of whom have opposed settlements. republican and democrats alike have continually said settlements are an obstacle to peace. >> rose: ronald reagan, george bush, george bush 43. >> everybody. the policy of the united states is settlements unilaterally decided upon, unilaterally announced, yiewrnltly built are an obstacle to the two-state solution. 1993, the oslo accords were
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signed which embraced the notion of two states for two people's living side by side in peace and security. that's what we support, and this administration has been more supportive of israel historically than any administration. we gave them the iron dome. we saved thousands of lives of israelis because of iron dome. a $38 billion, ten-year m.o.u. -- >> rose: their prime minister and their u.s. ambassador have said that, more military support and more things in terms of that nature. yet, at the same time, their prime minister comes over here and speaks to congress against the nuclear deal, the prime minister -- >> he was opposed to the nuclear deal. that's okay. let me come back to where we are because this is important. >> rose: okay. so the united states has continually, and we for four years, i have defended israel in various forum where people have brought delegitimizing and
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unfair resolutions, whether it's been in unesco or the human rights council or the u.n., we've said no. >> rose: vetoed at every camp. we stopped it every single team, either vetoed it or stopped it before it got off the ground. the timing, people said why were you waiting? we had a negotiation going. after the negotiation, there was a presidential race. if we had announced something in the middle of a presidential race, both candidates, i guarantee, would have been forced into opposition and it would have been dead on arrival. so the timing was we couldn't walk away, charlie, and leave people with a sense that this didn't matter, that this was impugimpunity -- >> rose: you couldn't walk away with principled american
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foreign policy having to do with israel and its neighbors. >> yes, but more than that, that what has been happening because of the continued process is the slow destruction, deterioration, blockage of the possibility of a two-state solution. now, why is that so important to us? because, frankly, it's important to israel. because -- and it's important to the palestinians. because you cannot possibly have a democracy and a jewish state and be a single state, a unitary state. so if israel doesn't create two states, it's going to be that unitary state and, guess what? there are more nonjews today, right now -- >> rose: but why doesn't net in the recognize that that if they create a unitary state, they will face these problems? >> he says he does recognize that. >> rose: he says he's still in favor of a two-state solution and settlements at the same
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time? >> correct. he says he has to do x number of settlements because his coalition is a coalition which is built up of many people, the majority of his ministers don't believe in a two-state solution. so, effect, you have a settler movement that is driving those politics, and that's what creates this tension. you have many more people in israel who, by all polls, believe in two states. why did we do this? why did we push this? because we support israel, because we care about an israel that can be a jewish state and a democracy, and unless there are two states that -- >> rose: but you've had a fire storm of criticism among the jewish people in america. >> some people. >> rose: the majority. i don't believe so, not if you look at the polls. >> rose: they ask a number of questions -- >> i've actually seen polls that show the majority of american jews actually support the idea
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of a two-state solution. >> rose: i'm talking about not vetoing the resolution. you can support -- >> i saw polls which showed that about 36% supported it, what we did, 29% were against and the rest undecided. so the polls showed this division. it's not the division that's important. it's the policy that's important. israel, to be a democracy and a jewish state at the same time, has got to resolve this issue and make a choice, and the choice is you've got to create that state or you give up on the idea of -- >> rose: but they have been trending this way for a while that's continued one administration after another. it's reaching a tipping point. >> yes, and after many, many discussions -- look, i've had over something like 375 to 400
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hours of conversations with the prime minister of israel, and we consider ourselves friends. i've known him for a long time. we get along. we've talked many, many hours. we've spent some great times together, but i've said to him, mr. prime minister, you are taking your country to a place where it's going to be increasingly hard for us to fend off resolutions and still be true to our own policy. now, that's a choice we face, and we are a sovereign nation. we are israel's best friend, and we stood up and said we have to be true to the two-state process, we have to be true to the policy that every administration has supported, and, so, we voted the way we did. we didn't support it, we abstained, but we allowed it to go through. >> rose: you did veto it. we didn't veto it but we also didn't sit there and say, oh, we agree. why didn't we agree? because there were things in the
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resolution -- >> rose: but you think it could lead to in a sense the destruction of the state of israel as we know it? some people even use the word apartheid. >> some people have used that word and other words. the point i'm trying to make, and i'm not using that word, but what i am using is you will have two separate laws. currently palestinians live in the west bank under military law. israeli settlers who live in the west bank live under israeli civil law, and what has been happening is, increasingly, there's been a reverse of the oslo process. palestinian homes in the west bank built illegally, i grant you that, but built because they can't get permits, only one permit was granted for construction of a palestinian entity in 2014 and 2015, so those have been demolished. >> rose: how much aid did we give israel last year? >> 3.1 billion, approximately. >> rose: largest donor of
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american aid in the world. >> israel receives more than 50% of all the foreign military sales support of the united states and, yes, we give them a lot of aid. i'm not bashful about that. i think we should. i'm glad we give israel a lot of aid. israel is our friend and ally and has been under siege and israel does need to be able to have the security to protect itself. part of the guiding principle of how we approached this process was to absolutely make sure israel could defend itself by itself. >> rose: you know what the israelis will say. they will say to you and have said it a thousand times, the u.n. is not the way to go. the way the go is negotiations. >> yes, it is. >> rose: between israel and the palestinians. >> you're absolutely correct, and we affirm that in the resolution, and we have affirmed that every step of the way. the final status issues cannot be imposed by the united nations. they must be resolved by the parties. we completely support and
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enforce that principle. and in the resolution that was passed in the united nations, my friend, there was no final status issue decision that was made. jerusalem, i put forward principles around which they should negotiate, suggesting that you won't have a solution to the problem unless you have a capital for each state somewhere in jerusalem, they have to resolve that. where is it going to be? how is that going to work? you won't have a solution without it. we also said you have to solve the refugee issue that is fair and just along the lines of the arab peace initiative. >> rose: you have to solve borders. >> correct, borders, and you have to make sure that israel has the ability to defend itself, and even if things were to change in 20 years or whatever, they could then still defend themselves because they have a right to be able to ultimately respond to that crisis legally, even if it meant
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they have to, you know, push back into the region temporarily in order to deal with it. so there are all kinds of ways that we have acknowledged that the final status issues must be resolved with it by the two parties. nothing in the resolution that passed in the united nations, settlements are not a final status issue. settlements depend on borders. >> rose: you are inexhaustible, inexhaustible. you are a believer that you will, until the last breath, you keep trying and keep trying and keep trying. >> well, i believe you can make peace. i believe in rationality. >> rose: but your time is better spent on other issues. you need to be in syria, china -- >> well, i was. >> rose: and this is a fool's errand to believe you can change what everybody else has tried. >> this is why i traveled so many miles. i didn't give up working on any of the issues. i traveled how many times -- seven times to china.
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i traveled to many of the places. i worked on the global change agreement, all these other agreements, i negotiated in afghanistan. i mean, that's the nature of this job, it's an intense job and you work hard. >> rose: but you travel a lot more in terms of trying to pursue a middle east peace than secretary clinton did. >> well, i think maybe some of it has to do with the lessons i learned as a young man, that war is a failure of diplomacy and if countries lie or avoid realities or if countries don't try, particularly the united states of america, a lot of bad things can happen, and when i came back from vietnam, i resolved that if i ever had a chance or was in a position of responsibility, i would do everything in my power to guarantee that i didn't fall into that pit and make the same mistakes or lose the opportunity. we had a saying, my crew and the guys i was with over there, we still stay in touch with each other, and those have us lucky
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enough to make it back have a saying that every day is extra. so you go at it that way. >> rose: and where are you going to be six months from now? >> well, i don't know about six months from now. i know i'm going to continue to try to contribute. i'm going to find ways to stay in this debate. the climate change, oceans, challenge is enormous and we have an awful lot of work to do. i want to try to be involved in some track to diplomacy and some other efforts, and i want to do some private sector stuff. i'm very, very excited about what is happening in private sector, the changes that can take place. i think the private sector investment and the choices we make is a huge opportunity to push public policy, frankly, around there are all kinds of investments we could make in countries that could meet some of the challenges i talked about earlier, about young people and opportunity. so i want to be engaged in that in some ways and i'm going to
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sort it out. >> rose: thank you for doing this. >> my pleasure. >> rose: thank you very much. thank you. >> rose: secretary of state john kerry for the hour. thank you for joining us. see you next time. for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at and captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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>> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide.
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