tv The Place for Politics 2016 MSNBC March 21, 2016 7:00am-8:01am PDT
impose the toughest sanctions in history on iran, and so much more. since my first visit to israel 35 years ago, i have returned many times, and made many friends. i've worked with and learned from some of israel's great leaders. although i don't think it sock rabin ever forgave me for banishing him to the white house balcony when he wanted to smoke. now i'm here as a candidate for president. and i know that all of you understand what's at stake in this election. our next president will walk into the oval office next january and immediately face a
world of both perils we must meet with strength and skill and opportunities we must seize and build on. the next president will sit down at that desk and start making decisions that will affect both the lives and livelihoods of every american and the security of our friends around the world. so we have to get this right. as aipac members, you understand that while the turmoil of the middle east presents enormous challenge and complexity, walking away is not an option. candidates for president who think the united states can outsource middle east security
to dictators or that america no longer has vital national interests at stake in this region are dangerously wrong. it would be a serious mistake for the united states to abandon our responsibilities or cede the mantle of leadership for global peace and security to anyone else. as we gather here, three evolving threats. iran's continued aggression, a rising tide of extremism across a wide arc of instability, and the growing effort to delegitimize israel on the world stage, are converging to make the u.s./israel alliance more
indispensable than ever. we have to combat all these trends with even more intense security and diplomatic cooperation. the united states and israel must be closer than ever, stronger than ever, and more determined than ever to prevail against our common adversaries and to advance our shared values. this is especially true at a time when israel faces brutal terrorist stabbings, shootings, and vehicle attacks at home. parents worry about letting their children walk down the street. families live in fear. just a few weeks ago, a young
american veteran and west point graduate named taylor force was murdered by a palestinian terrorist near the jaffa court. these attacks must end immediately. and palestinian leaders need to stop inciting violence, stop celebrating terrorists as martyrs, and stop paying rewards to their families. [ applause ] because we understand the threats israel faces. we know we can never take for
granted the strength of our alliance or the success of our efforts. today, americans and israelis face momentous choices that will shape the future of our relationship and of both our nations. the first choice is this. are we prepared to take the u.s./israel alliance to the next level? this relationship has always been stronger and deeper than the headlines might lead you to believe. our work together to develop the iron dome saved many israeli lives when hamas rockets began to fly. i saw its effectiveness first-hand in 2012 when i worked with prime minister netanyahu to negotiate a cease-fire in gaza.
and if i'm fortunate enough to be elected president, the united states will reaffirm we have a strong and enduring national interest in israel's security. and we will never allow israel's adversaries to think a wedge can be driven between us. when we have differences, as any friends do, we will work to resolve them quickly and respectfully. we will also be clear that the united states has an enduring interest in and commitment to a more peaceful, more stable, more secure middle east. and we will step up our efforts to achieve that outcome.
indeed, at a time of unprecedented chaos and conflict in the region, america, america needs an israel strong enough to deter and defend against its enemies, strong enough to work with us to tackle shared challenges, and strong enough to take bold steps in the pursuit of peace. that's why i believe we must take our alliance to the next level. i hope a new ten-year defense memorandum of understanding is concluded as soon as possible to meet israel's security needs, far into the future. that will also send a clear message to israel's enemies that
the united states and israel stand together united. it's also why as president i will make a firm commitment to insure israel maintains its qualitative military edge. the united states should provide israel with the most sophisticated defense technology so it can deter and stop any threats. that includes bolstering israeli missile defenses with new systems like the arrow 3 and david sling. and we should work together to develop better tunnel detection, technology to prevent arms smuggling, kidnapping, and terrorist attacks. one of the first things i'll do
in office is invite the israeli prime minister to visit the white house. [ applause ] and i will send a delegation from the pentagon and the joint chiefs to israel for early consultations. let's also expand our collaboration beyond security. together, we can build an even more vibrant culture of innovation that tightens the links between silicon valley and israeli tech companies and entrepreneurs.
there is much americans can learn from israel, from cybersecurity to energy security to water security, and just on an everyday people-to-people level. and it's especially important to continue fostering relationships between american and israeli young people who may not always remember our shared past. they are the future of our relationship. and we have to do more to promote that. many of the young people here today are on the front lines of the battle to oppose the alarming boycott divestment and sanctions movement known as bds. particularly at a time when anti-semitism is on the rise across the world, especially in europe, we must repudiate all
efforts to malign, isolate, and undermine israel and the jewish people. i have been sounding the alarm for a while now. as i wrote last year in a letter to the heads of major american jewish organizations, we have to be united in fighting back against bds. many of its proponents have demonized israeli scientists and intellectuals, even students, to all the college students who may have encountered this on campus, i hope you stay strong. keep speaking out. don't let anyone silence you. bully you, or try to shut down debate. especially in places of learning like colleges and universities.
[ applause ] anti-semitism has no place in any civilized society, not in america, not in europe, not anywhere. now, all of this work defending israel's legitimacy, expanding security and economic ties, taking our alliance to the next level, depends on electing a president with a deep personal commitment to israel's future. as a secure, democratic jewish state, and to america's responsibilities as a global leader. tonight, you'll hear from candidates with very different visions of american leadership in the region and around the
world. you'll get a glimpse of a potential u.s. foreign policy that would insult our allies, not engage them, and embolden our adversaries, not defeat them. for the security of israel and the world, we need america to remain a respected global leader, committed to defending and advancing the international order. an america able to block efforts to isolate or attack israel. the alternative is unthinkable. yes, we need steady hands, not a president who says he's neutral on monday, pro-israel on tuesday, and who knows what on wednesday, because everything's negotiable.
well, my friends, israel's security is nonnegotiable. >> i have sat in israeli hospital rooms, holding the hands of men and women whose bodies and lives were torn apart by terrorist bombs. i have listened to doctors describe the shrapnel left in a leg, an arm, or even a head. that's why i feel so strongly
that america can't ever be neutral when it comes to israel's security or survival. we can't be neutral. when rockets rain down on residential neighborhoods, when civilians are stabbed in the street, when suicide bombers target the innocent. some things aren't negotiable. and anyone who doesn't understand that has no business being our president. the second choice we face is whether we will have the strength and commitment to confront the adversaries that threaten us, especially iran. for many years, we've all been rightly focused on the existential danger of iran
acquiring a nuclear weapon. after all, this remains an extremist regime that threatens to annihilate israel. that's why i led the diplomacy to impose crippling sanctions and force iran to the negotiating table. and why i ultimately supported the agreement that has put a lid on its nuclear program. today, iran's enriched uranium is all but gone. thousands of centrifuges have stopped spinning. iran's potential breakout time has increased, and new verification measures are in place to help us deter and detect any cheating. i really believe the united states, israel, and the world are safer as a result. but still, as i laid out in a speech at the brookings
institution last year, it's not good enough to trust and verify. our approach must be distrust and verify. this deal must come with vigorous enforcement, strong monitoring, clear consequences for any violations, and a broader strategy to confront iran's aggression across the region. we cannot forget that tehran's fingerprints are on nearly conflict across the middle east, from syria to lebanon to yemen. the iranian revolutionary guard corps and its proxies are attempting to establish a position on the golan, from which to threaten israel. and they continue to fund palestinian terrorists. in lebanon, hezbollah is
amassing an arsenal of increasingly sophisticated rockets and artillery that well may be able to hit every city in israel. tonight, you will hear a lot of rhetoric from the other candidates about iran. but there's a big difference between talking about holding tehran accountable and actually doing it. our next president has to be able to hold together our global coalition and impose real consequences for even the smallest violations of this agreement. we must maintain the legal and diplomatic architecture to turn all the sanctions back on if needed. if i'm elected, the leaders of iran will have no doubt that if we see any indication that they are violating their commitments not to seek, develop, or acquire
nuclear weapons, the united states will act to stop it and that we will do so with force if necessary. iranian provocations like the recent ballistic missile tests also are unacceptable and should be answered firmly and quickly, including with more sanctions. those missiles were stamped with words declaring, and i quote, israel should be wiped from the pages of history. we know they could reach israel or hit the tens of thousands of american troops stationed in the middle east. this is a serious danger, and it demands a serious response. the united states must also
continue to enforce existing sanctions and impose additional sanctions as needed on iran and the revolutionary guard for their sponsorship of terrorism, illegal arms transfers, human rights violations, and other illicit behaviors like cyberattacks. we should continue to demand the safe return of robert levinson and all american citizens unjustly held in iranian prisons. and we must work closely with israel and other partners to cut off the flow of money and arms from iran to hezbollah. if the arab league can designate all of hezbollah as a terrorist organization, surely it is time for our friends in europe and the rest of the international
community to do so as well and to do that now. [ applause ] at the same time, america should always stand with those voices inside iran calling for more openness. now, look, we know the supreme leader still called the shots and that the hardliners are intent on keeping their grip on power. but the iranian people themselves deserve a better future, and they are trying to make their voices heard. they should know that america is not their enemy. they should know we will support their efforts to bring positive change to iran. now, of course, iran is not the
only threat we and israel face. the united states and israel also have to stand together against the threat from isis and other radical jihadists. an isis affiliate in the sinai is reportedly stepping up attempts to make inroads in gaza and partner with hamas. on saturday, a number of israelis and other foreigners were injured or killed in a bombing in istanbul that may well be linked to isis. two of the dead are u.s.-israeli dual nationals. this is a threat that knows no borders. that's why i have laid out a plan to take the fight to isis from the air, on the ground with local forces, and online, where they recruit and inspire. our goal cannot be to contain isis. we must defeat isis.
and here is a third choice. will we keep working toward a negotiated peace or lose forever the goal of two states for two peoples? despite many setbacks, i remain convinced that peace with security is possible, and that it is the only way to guarantee israel's long-term survival as a strong jewish and democratic state. it may be difficult to imagine progress in this current climate. when many israelis doubt that a willing and capable partner for peace even exists. but inaction cannot be an option. israelis deserve a security homeland for the jewish people.
palestinians should be able to govern themselves in their own state. in peace and dignity. and only a negotiated two-state agreement can provide those outcomes. if we look at the broader regional context, converging interests between israel and key arab states, could make it possible to promote progress on the israeli/palestinian issue. israelis and palestinians could contribute toward greater cooperation between israel and arabs. i know how hard all of this is. i remember what it took just to convene prime minister netanyahu and president abbas for the three sessions of direct face-to-face peace talks in 2010 that i presided over.
but israelis and palestinians cannot give up on the hope of peace. that will only make it harder later. all of us need to look for opportunities to create the conditions for progress, including by taking positive actions that can rebuild trust. like the recent constructive meetings between the israeli and palestinian finance ministers aiming to help bolster the palestinian economy, or the daily on the ground security cooperation between israel and the palestinian authority. but at the same time, all of us must condemn actions that set back the cause of peace. terrorism should never be encouraged or celebrated, and children should not be taught to hate in schools. that poisons the future. everyone has to do their part by avoiding damaging actions,
including with respect to settlements. now, america has an important role to play in supporting peace efforts. and as president, i would continue the pursuit of direct negotiations. and let me be clear. i would vigorously oppose any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution, including by the u.n. security council. there is one more choice that we face together. and in some ways it may be the most important of all. will we as americans and as israelis stay true to the shared
democratic values that have always been at the heart of our relationship? we are both nations built by immigrants and exiles seeking to live and worship in freedom. nations built on principles of equality, tolerance, and pluralism. at our best, both israel and america are seen as a light unto the nations because of those values. this is the real foundation of our alliance. and i think it's why so many americans feel such a deep emotional connection with israel. i know that i do. and it's why we cannot be neutral about israel and israel's future, because in israel's story, we see our own. and the story of all people who struggle for freedom and self-determination. there's so many examples.
you know, we look at the pride parade in tel aviv. one of the biggest and most prominent in the world. and we marvel that such a bastion of liberty exists in a region so plagued by intolerance. we see the vigorous, even raucous debate in israeli politics and feel right at home. and of course, some of us remember a woman leading israel's government decades ago and wonder what's taking us so long here in america. [ applause ] but we cannot rest on what previous generations have
accomplished. every generation has to renew our values, and yes, even fight for them. today, americans and israelis face currents of intolerance and extremism that threaten the moral foundations of our societies. now, in a democracy we're going to have differences. but what americans are hearing on the campaign trail this year is something else entirely. encouraging violence, playing coy with white supremacists, calling for 12 million immigrants to be rounded up and deported, demanding we turn away refugees because of their religion and proposing a ban on all muslims entering the united states. now, we've had dark chapters in our history before. we remember the nearly 1,000 jews aboard the st. louis who
were refused entry in 1939 and sent back to europe. but america should be better than this. and i believe it's our responsibility as citizens to say so. if you see bigotry, oppose it. if you see violence, condemn it. if you see a bully, stand up to him. on wednesday evening, jews around the world will celebrate the festival of purem. and children will learn the story of esther, who refused to stay silent in the face of evil. it wasn't easy. she had a good life. and by speaking out, she risked
everything. but as mord achi reminded her, we all have an obligation to do our part when danger gathers. and those of us with power or influence have a special responsibility to do what's right. as ellie weasel said when accepting the nobel peace prize, neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. so my friends, let us never be neutral or silent in the face of bigotry. together, let's defend the shared values that already make america and israel great. let us do the hard work necessary to keep building our friendship and reach out to the next generation of americans and israelis so the bonds between our nations grow even deeper and
stronger. we are stronger together, and if we face the future side-by-side, i know for both israel and america, our best days are still ahead. thank you so much. >> hillary clinton at the american israel public affairs committee where she has been speaking. all of the presidential candidates, both republican and democratic are expected to speak with the exception of senator bernie sanders who said he had not -- he had a scheduling conflict and was unable to attend. hillary clinton speaking this morning. the other candidates expected throughout the day. i also want to take you now, though, to cuba, the capital of havana where president obama is currently laying a wreath at the memorial of jose marti, a champion of cuban independence. let's listen in. i want to bring in nbc's chris jansing as well. we're listening to the anthem.
♪ >> we just heard the u.s. national anthem in havana. by a military cuban military band. can't tell you how unusual that is. last 57 years of rule by the castro family, it's not been something that's been played in this part where you see in the back, not right there but in the other building, chi guvaria as one of the icons of the cuban revolution, and now, this ceremony to honor jose marti, who was in many ways the father of cuban independence. a poet, a writer, philosopher,
who spent years in exile in new york in the 1800s, returned to cuba trying to fight for its independence and was killed just less than two weeks after he arrived. and this is part of the symbolism of the president's visit to cuba. the first time a president, a united states president, has visited that island in almost 90 years. i want to bring in nbc's chris jansing who is joined by kate, who covered immigration and politics for the l.a. times. as we witness this ceremony. chris, good morning. let's talk a little bit about marti, first, the significance of the visit, and specifically of this monument. >> good morning. i think it's important to note that this is the first sort of official ceremony we have seen here because it does honor someone who was so integral to the life of cubans, as you well know, on mayday. they will come to the plaza
where the president is now, to celebrate who he was, what he represents for this country. somebody who very much wanted freedom. so i think obviously, in a situation like this where there have been 15 months of intense negotiations, of very careful planning, the idea that the president shchose this as kind his first official act, not like yesterday when he landed and walked around old havana, but this sort of very formal ceremony sends a message of what he wants to put out there, which is that while he recognizes, and there will be a lot of conversations going forward about human rights here, about the crackdown on dissidents, just in the last 24 hours, that he has very much focused on as part of this trip, making the point about freedom and democracy for the cuban people, jose. >> that's going to be an interesting tightrope that the
president is going to have to walk. there you see the press shepherded over as the president leaves the monument. we see secretary john kerry in the background, and there you see that emblematic sign of c che guavara, somebody who is not normally associated with the presidency of the united states of america. such a juxtaposition of images here, chris, and important to talk a little about jose marti, because he precedes the cuban revolution by many, many decades. killed in 1895. exiled in new york when the spaniards were the colonial power that had cuba at the time. fought for the independence of cuba, and a symbol, chris, that has been taken over by the cuban regime, but also someone who is idolized by cubans in exile. so it's one of the few people or
images, let's listen in. see if we can get something. >> there you see secretary kerry. along with the president. some representatives of the cuban regime are there, chris jansing. >> yeah, remarkable when you see the international media that has come here, about 1,000 of them. and there was some thought that given this huge presence here and the literally the eyes of the world are on this change, and you have a president who wasn't even born when fidel castro came to power in 1959. and there was some thought here that maybe there would be a little bit of a change, that perhaps, for example, the crackdown that is so familiar here to so many people with dissidents who are beaten, who are detained, who are jailed, might change. and then yesterday, you had the
ladies in white, who every sunday go to mass and then march and often are either detained or put under arrest. it happened again in the full view of all of this international media. so just as symbolically the president is sending a message here this morning by going to this memorial of jose marti, you sent a message sent by raul castro yesterday that it was very much business as usual. sending a signal to the president and to his staff who has been negotiating this so carefully about how he feels about the united states trying to impose its will in this way on cuba. >> interesting, chris, because another thing in this wellcoria graphed and well taylilored vis to cuba that this is a major avenue, a major thoroughfare, it's also a huge central park there in havana. and you don't see anybody. where is everybody? >> well, that whole area is shut
down. and there's not a lot of access there. we have seen changes here, jose. we see people giving up fresh coat of paint, particularly in old havana where the president and his family walked last night. although in a downpour, a kind of trunicated visit to that beautiful part of this city. there are many of the roads are newly paved, and yet, for all intents and purposes you have not seen a lot of signs of it. the only people who have asked me about access to seeing the president have been foreign tourists who have come over here. now, having said that, there will be a couple opportunities for cubans to see the president. when he gives that major speech tomorrow, that's a guest list invitation list that was put together by the white house, and of course, that meeting he has upcoming with dissidents. >> thank you so very much, chris. as always, bringing us extraordinary coverage. kate, i want to go to you. leading human rights activist in
havana told your publication "l.a. times" that many dissidents were ordered by cuban security to stay home during the president' visit, and also more than 200 arrests in the last two days alone. what is the cuba president obama is going to be seeing? >> well, i think americans definitely did hope that cubans might be different this time. that they would allow more room for protests, for dissent, that's not what we have seen so far. we saw those mass arrests yesterday of the ladies in white. and we have heard from some of the dissidents who are supposed to meet with obama on tuesday that they have been getting phone calls from the cuban government telling them to stay home. they say they won't be staying home and that the u.s. embassy has arranged for transportation for them. but i think it is important to note, too, that there have been some changes here. you have seen, you know, still a lack of freedom of speech, but you have also seen different communities, the media, the gay
community, religious communities, that have more freedom and more freedom of speech than they have in the past. >> how do you gauge that? how have you gauged that? how have you been able to gauge that? >> well, let's say -- i mean, christian communities, for example, are now able to have houses of worship. in the past, that was denied. the gay community has actually made huge strides here in recent years, in part with support from the castros. so you're seeing, you know, a little more space with the increase of private businesses. you're seeing people who now have spaces, homes turned into restaurants or galleries, where there's just a little more space for that kind of expression. >> certainly, there's been some more economic space opening. maybe just a little bit, but a little bit is more than nothing. in the last maybe year, year and
a half. there's no doubt about that. and then in the context of the past and what the different communities have confronted in cuba, i guess you could say that there has been some openings for that. but this is, folks, i don't know if you understand just the historic nature of what we're seeing right here. the fact that a president of the united states of america is in havana, is in a marti park, you see guevara behind him. openly able to go to places that are so controlled. this is truly historic. we're going to take a short break and be right back. technology. technology... say, have you seen all the amazing technology in geico's mobile app? mobile app? look. electronic id cards, emergency roadside service, i can even submit a claim.
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gabe gutierrez is live outside the historic versailles restaurant in miami. what are you hearing from folks there? >> hey, jose. good morning. i think part of the story is if you look behind me, this is a crowd of protesters from the cuban-american community. i think what we have to notice is the size of this crowd. just think about it, jose. about 10, 20, 30 years ago, you would have seen a whole lot more people than you're seeing here. there's really about as many television cameras as protesters. that's really a sign of the changing political landscape here in miami. according to pew research last year, 73% of americans favor restoring diplomatic ties with cuba. even 59% of republicans favor scrapping the embargo. now, this morning, as you often hear, and we have been hearing from people here who feel the president's trip to havana are a bad idea, it's rewarding the castro government for its violation of human rights. we spoke with some of the people here at versailles earlier today. take a listen to what they had
to say. >> how can we deal with a criminal? you know, criminals, that's what they got there. this is the same people that were there in the '60s. raul, fidel. okay? and all of them. >> i'm sure things will start changing if they haven't started changing, but the fact remains it is a dictatorship. like i said, the united states does business with a lot of dictatorships around the world. it's one more country that is convenient now for the united states to have business with. >> now, jose, obviously, we spoke with people who are against the president's trip, but we also spoke with a few who favor it. especially someone from the younger generation, we spoke with one man in his 30s who thinks the previous policy, he's an example of the younger generation of cuban-americans who feels perhaps something else needs to be tried. as you can see, there are protesters here outside here in little havana. the size of the crowd is nothing
what we would have seen 10, 20, 30 years ago. jose, back to you. >> gabe gutierrez in little havana, 10:48 a.m. on a monday morning. thank you so much for being with me, gabe. there you see the president signing a guest book of sorts. and i don't exactly -- this is inside the memorial there, the jose marti memorial, and the president is signing this guest book. it's a vip guest book. not everybody gets to sign that book. and love to be able to read what he's writing there, huh. again, this is the first president in nearly 90 years, the first u.s. president in nearly 90 years to visit cuba. and in those 90 years, much has changed in some ways, but 1959, what has not changed in cuba is the regime that took power
there. the castro brothers took power in the first of january of 1959. and this is the first u.s. president in so many decades that visits that island. think of this toric nature of this. this is a regime that has for decades spoken about america as the enemy. the united states as the enemy. and the united states and everything the united states stands for as being the enemy. and there we see today the president of that country visiting cuba. yesterday, received at the international airport, havana international airport by the foreign minister in the rain, something that by the way cubans have been waiting for for weeks and months. and the president brought with him rain. but it's just unusual to say the least, to see any president, a president of the united states of america, especially, walking
the streets of havana. last night, he went to a privately owned restaurant in the city. there are very few businesses that are allowed to operate independent of the government there. among the few that are allowed to independently exist, even though they have to go through, of course, a licensing process, are small family-owned restaurants. the restaurant he went to, the family that owns it and works on it, lives above the restaurant. the president, along with the first lady and the family that are visiting cuba together, went to that small privately owned restaurant to have dinner last night. again, these are just, you know, really extraordinary things that we're witnessing right here on msnbc. this historic trip to cuba. president toured some of the cathedral last night and some of the areas in havana that, well, are very, very famous throughout
the world. and that are -- have gotten a fresh paint, coat of paint, thanks to the president's visit. we're going to continue with this historic visit to havana. my colleague and friend brian williams takes over. brian. >> jose, are you still with us? all right. we'll continue with our coverage as we watch -- as we watch the president in havana, cuba. taking a short walk. chris jansing is among those on the ground for us in havana. chris, describe to our viewers where this is in relation to your location, what we're watching, and the next event.
>> this is in another part of the city, brian, of havana. but very culturally significant. the area around both jose marti memorial where we just saw him laying the wreath, and as he makes his way over to the presidential palace, i think it's striking a number of images that we have seen and heard over the course of the last less than 24 hours, whether it was the landing of air force one, the presidential limousine known as the beast driving away with both the american and the cuban flags. but then, this morning, just moments ago, the u.s. national anthem, the american national anthem being played by a cuban military band. so much of it so symbolically powerful here. obviously, this is a prelude to what will be some of the serious business that is going to get under way later today when we have this meeting between raul
castro and barack obama. having said that, i don't think you can overstate the importance of this symbolism, because this is something that is being watched extraordinarily carefully, obviously, by the cuban people, brian. >> chris jansing, thanks. we're also joined by richard haass, chairman of the council on foreign relations. richard, since you and i are approximately the same age, this is quite a shocking sight still. it's hard to believe we're watching live coverage of the president of the united states walking through havana, cuba. especially for those of us for whom it feels like ten minutes ago this was the focal point of the world because of how close two superpowers came to going to war. what are your thoughts on this morning? >> for the record, i think i have several years on you. but you're right. october, 1962, this was the closest to cold war came to
being hot. even before that, you had the bay of pigs invasion and so forth. cuba was one of the most fraught and most contested venues of the cold war. and this is just one of those interesting symbolic turns in the chapter where essentially it's 25 years since the end of the cold war. and we're finally turning a page, at least potentially, in this relationship. so people of our generation and so forth look at this and this is just one of those things like the coming down of the wall and so forth that you figured you might see one day, but today essentially it's finally beginning to happen. >> the dissident community, especially in the united states, cuban-americans, not happy about this. the cuban people, a more interesting reaction. the cuban government does not want to see what happened before castro took power, where so many of the companies, as we see now, the meeting between president
obama and raul castro. so many of the countries, companies were owned by american interests. >> well, this is the big bet of the obama administration. what they're essentially saying is two things. that the decades, five-plus decades of economic isolation failed to bring about regime or systemic change, and that the congressional approach that first you have to see political change in cuba before we would relax the economic sanctions, that that also failed to work. so what the administration is basically saying, economics first, and hopefully this will lead to politics changing second. it's obviously controversial with those who want to stick with the current policy. but i think the administration also figured that not only was the existing policy not working, but with the cold war over, there wasn't a big strategic risk, that the united states could take a gamble, that this new approach might just work, and even if it didn't, there wouldn't be massive strategic price to pay. >> do you think there was a
formulation, second-term president, if not now, when would this happen? >> quite possibly. this is one of those issues that has sort of been on the check list, almost an outlier, and i think for a democratic president, someone who was born after the einvestments of the late '50s and early '60s that brought the communists to power in cuba, i think this was one of those things that perhaps the president always hoped he could -- hoped he could get done and in a second term, his not being up for re-election, having to get through the florida or new jersey primaries, he had the political luxury offing doing something that would cause some pushback here at home. >> let me ask you as an expert in protocol among other things, were you surprised that raul castro was not there for the airport arrival and greeting? it seemed to us a lot of people, heads of state in this country, arrive at andrews, they are greeted by a lesser figure,
sometimes a secretary of state, for the official greeting. and the military review that we're about to see happening the next day. >> well, fair enough. you had bruno rodriguez, the foreign minister, greet the president at the airport. that said, mr. castro had greeted other visitors before. there is a disparity, if you will, between the scale of the united states and the scale of cuba. so what i thought this signaled to me is the cuban government was trying to slightly, i don't know if the word is downplay, but keep all this under control. and that's a reminder that they're uneasy. one of the things we want to do is change cuba. we want to see political and economic change come to that country. obviously, the regime wants to keep the lid on all that. so my hunch is by not showing up at the airport, it was a way of trying not to lose control and trying not to make this visit seem bigger than it was at home. the president, for his part, when he speaks to the cuban people, has to somehow signal that change needs to come to
cuba. that's the tension between the two sides. the way dissidents are being treated is a reminder that even though this is a step towards one another, the two governments remain quite far apart. >> most of the criticism about yesterday's arrival in the media had to do with castro having showed up to greet the pope upon his arrival. richard haass, chairman of the council of foreign relations, we're losing you to your next engagement. thank you so much for being with us. we will now listen to the sounds of the two leaders reviewing the cuban military. ♪