tv Former Ambassador Ryan Crocker on Syrian Refugee Policy CSPAN December 21, 2015 10:41am-12:12pm EST
and sonia that's live tonight at 89 eastern on c-span, c-span 3, and c-span radio for backgrounds on each case while you watch or order companion book available for 8.95 plus shipping at c-span.org/land mark cases. >> now former u.s. ambassador ryan cocker on the syrian refugee crisis he criticized obama administration and says that u.s. should welcome 100,000 syrian refugees ten times the amount the obama administration is called for. and also warn that crisis will get worse if more action is not taken. this 90 minute event was held at the annual press club in washington. [silence] >> good morning everyone. i'd like to invite those who just arrived out in the hallway
to join us as quickly as possible so we can begin this event i'm in the center in washington, d.c. the center is a one-year-old nonpartisan organization located in the district of columbia dedicated to providing basically insight on foreign policy in the middle east as well as furthering general unking of democracy, plit and social understanding of the arab world particularly at this time when the arab world is going through unprecedented wave of wage omission put at the center is to serve as authoritative research and policy analysis center on the arab world conducting timely independent and objective research on fundamental aspects of u.s. arab bilateral relations. affiliated with the center for
research and policy studies, which is emerging as number one with think tank to the iowa -- arab world based when it started for those of you who might be familiar with the old name, it is directed by dr. hasmeed, and affiliated through center there with the group of which we will try to leverage in our relationship with think tanks here in the washington, d.c. area. center there is with several different types of research centers and think tanks throughout the arab world so we would look to serve as the kind of link, local link here in d.c. with all of these think tanks and a research center in the
arab world. we again for part of the introduction here let met say that we view ourselves as a progressive think tank and a lot is different from traditional think tanks. we emphasis a lot our efforts and analysis on democrat. hiewp rights, and justice in the arab world regardless of the traditional approaches if you will. in research centers in the past. today's event is focused on a controversial topic going back to september when president obama announced that in response to crisis of syrian refugees that the u.s. would like and we instructed the administration to his administration to begin working on absorbing 10,000 syrian refugees in the united
states had is frankly eager number compareed to magnitude of the crisis and magnitude of the moral and political response of our allies particularly in europe. and the issue has become controversial ever since, and you the governs, you have presidential candidate. talking mostly nonsense about this issue. and spreading, you know, rumors and innuendo and false information about this, which has impacted unfortunately public opinion between 43 and 46% of the american public is appalled to bringing any syrian refugees to the country, you know, that propaganda if you will the opposition to this kind of took a toll on us as a country. but the help for this issue and what u.s. policy should be in
terms of standing up and be counted for particularly as a country of immigrants. we have the right person ambassador ryan cocker, dean and executive professor at the george bush school of governments and public service at texas a&m university. he holds the edward and howard cruz endowed chair. he was also in the past couple of years the james -- dwired visiting professor at the university of virginia. and senior fellow at yale university. 2012, 2013. ambassador crocker is known for those working on the middle east for some time he had probably one of the richest, most productive as far as i'm concerned careers in u.s. diplomacy in the region particularly at certain crucial
times of middle east history, and u.s. foreign policies history in the region. he served for 37 yearings in the region. he doesn't look like he served it other than the gray hair. and i had the opportunity to visit with him during some of these ten years important, at ten years in the middle east in the region at that time. when he was not only respected here at home but very well respected also in the region. he retired in 2009. and was called back to act five duty by president obama to serve as u.s. ambassador at 2011. he served as u.s. ambassador in the region six times. and iraq, pakistan, syria, kuwait, and lebanon. he has also served as international affairs advise to
intermajor war college, where he joined faculty in 2003 and may to august 2003, he also was the first director of govern for the coalition provision authority at a very crucial time for that period. he also served right after that deputy assistant secretary of state between 2001 and 2003. ambassador crocker received the presidential metal of freedom that's the nation high civilian award in 2009. and his own awards include the veterans of foreign wars, dwight eisenhower award. presidential distinguish and marl service awards, secretary of state distinguished service waited in 2008 and in 2012 again. he also received a department of defense metal for distinguished
civilian service place in 199 and in 2008. my favorite diplomats diminished service award for valor and service award for creative desent. we never created defense with the diplomacy. but definitely had is a man who has done very well and received the award for it. in sepght 2004, president bush conferred on him personal rank of the ambassador most of you know is highest in foreign service in this country. and in may 2009, secretary of state hillary clinton announced establish hadment of the ryan c krorker award for outstanding achievement and diplomacy, and in july 2012 he was named honoree marine that 75th civilian to be honored such since the founding of the american corps. in 1775 which is
a great honor. for those of you who are not familiar from the article to invites him to this event i defer you to "the wall street journal" on november 17th, 2015 when his article the case for accepting syrian refugees kind of was a voice of sanity for us as a krntd in terms of how to deal with this syrian refugees. it is an honor to introduce to you ryan crocker. [applause] thank you very much for that generous introduction. i can be introduced in a number of ways i like the way you did it. another way i could be introduce ed would be pictorially if you could imagine a picture
of every significant u.s. foreign policy setback in the greater middle east since 1979 sort of one picture for each disaster. i would be in every one of those firs first row second from the last. it's -- [laughter] you know, i had heard that the arab center had been established. but when i got the e-mail what i really focused on was the center, and there was no question in my mind even though i don't live in d.c. i do count my blessings thaiftion going to be here because he did invite -- i reminded him that we met a quarter of the a century ago literally 1985, i was in deputy
director for israeli palestinian affairs at the state, and i received a question. from the state department, what did i think of a meeting between dick murphy or legendary assistant secretary of state for awe affairs i thought about that for a minute. i said well it would be great if he would agree to do it. [laughter] and the rest as they say is hrs. so it's a pleasure and honor to be here, with you cleo and of the arab center to discuss a truly critical issue. the issue of syrian refugees and the u.s. response.
in the description you charitably put it as the u.s. policy that was terrible. we are facing as everybody in this room knows a crisis of truly global proportions. and as bad as it is now, on this current trajectory, it's beginning to be a whole lot worse in six months, in a year, in two years. again, four million roughly syrian refugees over 7.5 million internally displaced inside syria are. by any measure this is as bad as it's been in terms of scale and severity of any refugee crisis
since world war ii. what's missings that present at the end of world war ii is global leadership. this is not a syrian problem. it is not a middle eastern problem. it is not a european problem. it is a global problem. and it is going to take global leadership not to resolve it. that's gong to be probably decades in the making. but simply to contain and manage it. there's only one nation that can exercise that leadership. that is the united states. and united states i'm very sad to say as an american is not leading. we're not even participating. will refer to the opt ed i did for "the wall street journal" in the 17th of november four days
after the paris attack in that op-ed, i didn't argue for supporting president obama's commitment to take 10,000 refugee. i called for the united states to take 100,000 syrian refugees. four days after paris. i had been arguing this for some time i'm on mercy core position as it is a number of other international humanitarian mgo i believed it in with paris, paris changed nothing. with respect to the plight of syrian and other refugees around the world. yet it has changed things, i'll come back to that in a minute. 100,000 against 4 million is also a token. but symbolically much more
significant. it would establish us again, as a leader on this issue. and again what's happening without american leadership, europeans are flailing, we may see european union come apart as a political construct. you know, economic union will -- per zigs. but it could come apart. as a political constructs because was refugee issue you're seeing the -- intense disagreements among european states. they're not going to resolve these matters by themselves. only a global leader can start a process of treating a global crisis as a global crisis involving all stakeholders on every quarter on earth is a stakeholder but it won't happen without sustained, focus, u.s.
leadership. right now the administration is defending the policy of accepting 10,000. i just checked in the -- in the first two months of the current fiscal year october, those november. we had resettled an overwhelming 437 syrian refugees. you know, we're nowhere near a trajectory to even meet that rather sad goal of 10,000. you look what the canadians just did much smaller option. but with the prime minister prepared to stand up and say 30,000. and to be at the airport to meet the first families coming in. i wish with we could see them at the airport as in a insane debate as is carried forth in
the primaries. where a fractious primary field is united on one thing. let's not have any syrian refugees or if we're going to have them, let's be sure is they're just christians. it's not america's greatest day. and you know, when you about this who we are as a people, you know, unless you're descended from native americans your forebearers brought to this country in chains, in one of those two categories you're an immigrant or a refugee. as all but one of those candidates are. they're lucky that someone like them wasn't in office when had fair forebearers tried to get into this country actually in most cases we would be a lot
welcomier if -- [laughter] i'm sorry. i know this is record but stiewms i -- sometimes i can't help myself. so we as a people, we need to take a collective deep breath, go sit under a tree somewhere, and remember who we are and what we're about. that the really irony almost a tragedy about the refugee debate is that this is one of those relatively rare moments when american values and american interests coincide. we all know we are about american exceptionalism. we are exceptional. almost unique among modern states. we are a nation that is founded on ideals, principles, and
values. as well as interests, and someone who has been in the field of diplomacy for most of my adult life, i see constantly how there's often tension over a collision between american values and american interest and i'm delighted that with the center you're bringing particular focus on human rights and democracy. refugee issue is not one of those points of friction or collision. our fundamental values of who we are you know it's written right there on the statue of liberty given you're tired, poor, yearning to breathe free, and we will use it. so there it is, a fundamentallal american value coinciding with the fundamental national
>> why this media firestorm? because it undercut the islamic state narrative of the true believers against the crusaders. angela merkel by making a statement just completely belied their narrative, that the christian west, largely christian west, will somehow fundamentally anti-arab and anti-muslim. that was a much more effective strike against them than any number of bombing runs on raqqa. so islamic state today, boy, they would have loved that debate tuesday night. it's making their case, that it is the west led by america
against the people of the faith. so again, with an opportunity to uphold our values and uphold our security interests, we are blowing it. i'm not going to get into the rise of nativist sentiments that political candidates are playing to. my real concern is begin this absence of u.s. leadership, of, on a key issue, absence of u.s. leadership abroad and at home, quite frankly. this is the time for bold steps, for bold gestures data from who we are as people. and that as the people in upholding our values we are going to defend our interests, to take this campaign against
the islamic state at the most fundamental level of values and of identity. i mentioned that i'm on the board of mercy corps. like our sister agencies, international rescue committee, savsave the children, others, te syrian refugee issue is by far and away our biggest issue. we've got our people out in lebanon and jordan, in turkey, in greece every operate inside of syria. not with international staff but mercy corps does, i making a pitch for the younger people in the room who are looking for a meaningful adventure in life, join mercy corps.
mercy corps.org you can apply. we train national staffs to the same level that we train international staff. so we had a significant cadre of syrians working for mercy corps who are able to operate effectively, completely independent of any international staff presents. and that's what they're doing all over syria at enormous risk, but they're doing it. syrians helping syrians with international support. i said earlier on the current trajectory and unbelievably tragic situation left unmanaged and uncheck is simply going to get worse. well like every other international relief agency, like the u.n. system, we are
running out of money because of donor fatigue has set in both in terms of private philanthropy and in terms of governmental philanthropy. we are seeing food rations to refugees in adjoining countries cut because the money simply isn't a better. and what i see are two lines that are very troubling. the need is going to go up and the resources are going to go down. so again i said this in a very -- and other context, as bad as things are today, cherish the moment. because looking back in six months, these will seem like the good old days. it is going to be a lot worse.
and that's what i've been trying to do to get the attention of the administration. look, you can't ignore it. this is not going away. this is only going to get worse. so i would simply hope that the president, the secretary of state, and others, will come to that appreciation and push back against those forces in this country that would have us do the wrong thing, the wrong thing morally but also the wrong thing for our national security interests. i don't have to tell anybody in this room would refugee screening is like. it is the most intense scrutiny that any category of applicants for entry to this country go through. about the last thing you're going to do if you're going to try to get a terrorist into the
state is go to the refugee process. it takes about two years, and the number of checks that you go through mean you look for easier ways, like finding people who don't need visas or already have your passport. you are not going to do it through refugees, so this is wrong at so many levels. it analytically wrong, morally wrong, it's wrong in terms of u.s. interest in and it's going to take a concerted stance by those who believe in a different america than is being described on the campaign trail of come who believe in court american interest as well as core american values. it's going to take a stand equal to or greater in intensity and commitment than the rather
amazing intensity and commitment being displayed by those who would work against our values and interests. we collectively have got to get going. i believe the administration has the right orientation, but as sadly we've seen in so many issues related to the middle east, the intentions and the actions do not synchronize. so it certainly isn't too late. it's never too late, but the darkness is descending. and as dark as it is now, i mean come on here to tell you, it is going to be a whole lot darker some months from now if we stay on the trajectory we are currently on. so now is the time.
it is past time, but certainly there will be no greater moment, there will only be worse moments down the road. i have just come back from beirut. we can talk about some of the political dimensions of the syrian crisis, probably make the syrian refugee situation look good come if you like but i will not further to pressure on a rainy washington morning further than a half. but i would like to just spend a final few words on what really bad could look like over the long run. mercy corps has a particular emphasis in its refugee programs in syria neighbors on youth, sort of that 13-23 or 24 swath.
they are by and large without access to any form of education. of education. they are without access to skills training. they are without access to employment. in short, they are without access to hope. and we've seen what happens when you deny refugee populations in even help. it was no coincidence that radical palestinian movements were given birth in refugee camps and had no trouble recruiting young people willing to die because they would at least have something to die for.
the dream of a palestine, the dignity that went with a struggle in a life that otherwise had only impoverishment and humiliation. well, welcome to the next generation of the impoverished, of the hopeless, of the humiliated. if things continue as they are, i expect to see a highly radicalized syrian refugee population, not this year, not in five years, in 10 years, in 20 years. because they are not good at hae much of an alternative, are they? and what would be the narrative that they absorb as they make their choices in life? not the west, led by the united states, turned its back on you. left you to the counsels of despair and hopelessness in
camps whose conditions we here in america can't even imagine. so again, as bad as it is today, it's going to be worse than six months, worst in the year. year. and this will be the gift that keeps on giving to the region and to the world for years and years to come in the absence of action. and in this sense the administration is in many respects, in my view, as complicit as those who take these immoral stances on immigration. you know, all it takes, as has been said, for evil to succeed is for the good to do nothing. well, evil is succeeding, and decoder pretty much sitting on their hands. so i would hope that the center enter allies in america, and in the world, will take a different
position, forced a different action. we are still america. we are the greatest country and people on earth. this is the moment for us to stand by our values with the knowledge that for once our values and our interests coincide. i wish you luck. you can certainly count on me as an ally. "the wall street journal" will publish where ever i write. but you know, look, i have to, take the hat off to "the wall street journal." i have wanted it there for reasons that would be obvious to you and they were ready to do it. so there are a little bits of courage here and there. okay, thank you. now we will turn this into a dialogue. [applause] >> may i borrow your -- okay. i would just like to bring i to
your attention in case you haven't yet looked at your folders that you picked up, a couple of the items that our fearless staff at the center have graciously put together with regards to facts in numbers relevant to the presentation by ambassador crocker, which was a very substantive and very frank presentation, and definitely morally challenging to all of us in this country to really stand up and measure up to this crisis. i just wanted come a couple of things the other two on the right hand side, i think of the folder, the screening process. for those of you whether in immediate or otherwise looking for a thorough kind of of delineation of step-by-step of what this process is, it's just unbelievable. i recommend to everybody
concerned by the syrian refugee crisis to fully understand it because it's taking advantage of its own kind of in law la la land and end the debate to take you right out of country without understanding the process. so i would recommend that everybody available at to friends and foes, if you will, to educate them on this issue. the other one was a discrepancy between the growing crisis, as the ambassador mentioned accurately, and the diminishing support, if you will, in these two graphs are very important. they summarize both, so if you're not familiar with that i would recommend that you also take a good look. another unique thing we included in your package is our kind of the legislative department center prepared, again, the role of congress somewhat tends to be ambiguous to many of us who work
on middle east issues. we kind of the door congress because we are disappointed in a lot of the shenanigans that the play in congress with regard to the military's policy, but i think it's important to look at this brief report on the right hand side of your folder. that's titled status that syrian refugee the decision before congress. because as the ambassador said, it is bad now but it could get worse, and that applied to some of the congressional plans in terms of pieces of legislation and other measures that they are deliberating, and they are all listed there by name and by purpose. and that could make things a lot worse. ambassador crocker was very gracious to be willing to spend a few minutes, the balance of our time, answering your question, responding to your remarks. i would say the rules are basic. just raised your hand. i will recognize you come and staff will bring a microphone to
you, and just state your name, affiliation b feature two, and questions preferably short so we can go around the room and give everybody a chance. me i first recognize doctor ciotti, my colleague at the center. psr resident scholar on syria and syrian refugees. if you like to make a comment or raise a question to ambassador. ambassador, please? would like to stay there? is that okay for television tuesday the? thank you. >> thank you, ambassador. actually we are missing such kind of leading voices on speak on behalf of the syrian refugees. he mentioned the case of the german chancellor and the canadian prime minister. i think they showed such kind of leadership. this is why i think they choose
chancellor merkel to be woman of the year, which i think it's really important, but i just have a comment and question. the comment that unfortunately we see in syria right now three different crises. the syrian transition of one crisis. the ice is as a different crisis, and the syrian refugees as a third crisis. those three crises are interconnected. this is actually a fairly other policymakers to connect of this three different crises and to take an action that makes it worse and worse. and if things getting like the way as it is right now, i think as you project it may be we will expect more and more. i think the next case will be the global jihad are already there is some indication of
that. this is what my question that it's that time, the uk time newspaper published a survey last month which shows that 76 of the syrian refugees in europe right now, safely syria because of aerial bombs. if the united states employs a no-fly zone since 2000 we would not have any ice is crisis or any other refugee crisis right now. with the intensive russian airstrikes on a populated area which lifted hundred thousand in the last three days, to flee into turkey, i don't see actually that we are going on the weight of a full solution or a way of having leadership to show interconnected crises.
what is your take on that? and how can you see the united states deal with the russian had jimmy not only in syria within the whole middle east, thank y you. >> those are excellent points. and i'm glad you brought them out. i was kind of hinting that there's a whole political dilemma out there that, if you cannot as you rightly say, you can't talk about these things really isolation. i have been a proponent for some kind of no-fly zones. with the russian intervention, that has now gotten far more complex. but precisely because of the inter- linkages, shooting transition, islamic state in
refugees, something has got to be done to change that dynamic, to change the context, or the spiral-bound is so going to continue. and a no-fly zone would be a way of starting to change that dynamic. many of you know this far better than i do, but having just been in lebanon earlier this week, i was freshly reminded of how the united states is increasingly perceived, in the arab world generally, in the arab sunni world in particular. it's no longer an assertion. it is an accepted statement of fact that the anti-sunni axis is bashar al-assad in damascus, tehran, moscow, washington. because we talk about a campaign
against islamic state. a lot of people in the area see that as a campaign against sunni arabs. and when we do things like issue april denial that the bombing recently of a syrian military base was, we claim we didn't do it, we didn't do it, reinforces that narrative. as you say, most of the victims in this mass slaughter in syria, most of those who were driven out were slaughtered or driven out, not by islamic state provide the a side regime and its tactics of aerial bombs. so we got ourselves paid into a very, very dangerous corner in terms of perceptions, who are allied with and who we are fighting against. we are seen as de facto in a
lives with again iranians, russians and the assad regime against sunni arabs. no-fly zones north and south could begin to change that dynamic. it also is a pushback against the regime, against the russians and against the iranians. and for those of you who are interested in detail, there are ways to structure this so that chances of a clash between us and the russians would be minimal. the risk to our aviation would be minimal, but this could change the politics of the struggle in a way that might make a political negotiation possible. because right now i have the highest regard for secretary kerry, but this effort as a political decoration is going to go nowhere because -- political negotiation because the
russians, iranians and assad figure on a roll. why should they negotiate? the reality is they're not going to as long as they think they're winning. no-fly zones have a humanitarian value, and send a very important signal that, in fact, we do stand with those who are being slaughtered and driven out of the country, and we stand against a regime that right now we are seen as tacitly supporting. so a very important step, really, really hard to do. if we had done it before the russians came in we probably would not have the russians coming and. against the consequences of inaction, can be as severe as misguided actions. >> thank you. >> i'm caroline from the european union delegation in washington. first of all, you describe the crisis we see in europe due to the huge influx of refugees and
certainly it is a challenge to our structures and to our institutions, but i hope certainly that we are resilient and we can manage this. i think any country or any entity that would have been in this situation would have had difficulties to cope because no system is built for an influx like this one. and the places where the people come in our small touristy islands and areas which are not at all build for, or have the infrastructure, for receiving these people. although you see it's been very well reported here, a lot of the consequences, what is the what has been a bit underreported is the uproar of solidarity among europeans as such civil society,
ngos, individuals that are really playing a huge role. having come to that, we have of course from the european union side been in constant contact with our american counterparts in discussing what they can do to address this global crisis. and we have also come to the conclusion that it's probably not going to happen that the numbers of refugees that the u.s. will take and will increase, at least not in the near future, and at the pace that have been described here, it will not make any difference in the short term at least. but we also see that it's not going that fast in providing other types of support. because, for example, the balkans are suffering a lot under the influx of refugees, and they have quite weak structures. and that the u.s. could be
really crucial in helping out with good contacts we see that the united states has with the balkans. also the same thing in turkey, jordan, lebanon, et cetera. could you comment a bit on what the u.s. is doing in those areas of what you would like to see more? >> well, thanks for the question. as i tried to indicate what the u.s. is doing is too little at every level and in every dimension. resources obviously are important, or critical, as i described and as khalil has, i hadn't seen the packet but as i packet but as i'm describing divergent lines, you would actually map out. so resources are critical, but it's the intangibles that i think is most likely and it's
the most important the it is the u.s. exerting a leadership role, and that doesn't mean ordering people around and telling them what to do or not to do. it simply means engaging, of saying to our european friends, you know, we know this is a global crisis that is hitting hard. let's sit down and talk about how we, all of us, manage it. what does the first line need? that's greece and the balkans. they face a challenge that's somewhat different than that faced by northern europe. perhaps not lesser or greater but different. and they have future dashed a few indigenous resources to meet it, so that we need to watch, who is worried about what? who can do what? somebody needs to do what we did at the last global refugee
crisis, at the end of world war ii, which is step forward. you can calculate the odds of that happening in the last year of the presidential administration as well as i can. but without that in this country, for europe, for the world, the legacy for the next american president is going to be a very grim one indeed. so we are without a concerted effort that i think requires u.s. leadership, we are not going to get anywhere good because what we are seeing, at least from my perspective, i'm glad you here because you can present a european viewpoint, are the divisions with the newer members of the european union, taking often dramatically
different positions on how to deal with refugee influx is, and then countries like germany or france. i have to say this by the way. it wasn't as widely remarked as it should have been, but in the aftermath of a terrorist attacks, president hollande reaffirmed france's commitment on accepting refugees. didn't back away a bit. i thought that was a tremendous act of moral courage, but also against national interest. but i just would like to see my country step up anyway so many of our european allies are, and try to bring people together for a comprehensive look at the global problem. that involves or middle eastern friends, too. it involves our friends in asia. it involves the world. but it frankly takes a world leader to do this, and i don't see that leadership.
>> okay. microphone over there, please. >> my name is mohammad. i'm not affiliated with anybody, but i am palestinian refugee as result of the occupation of palestine, and i see what's happening to the syrian population now, what happened to us is happening to them now. don't answer first question. the question is, is the islamaphobe redrick coming out of the republican party -- islamaphobe at -- especially party, working against us? i have a story for my family, last week i had a member of my family who is a medical doctor, top of her class can went to the airport with her daughter was three years old, both of them
had visas to come to america to visit she had a very high-paying job in one arab country who is supposedly friends with the united states of america. the decision was made at the airport all, you cannot board the airplane. go back and talk to the embassy having said that, knowing that you're a former ambassador engine of the procedure, is donald trump with his fear-mongering succeeding? and what is the procedure, who makes these decisions? i know the person. i do want to say much because i don't want her to gitmo in trouble, okay? but that friendly country is the best friend now of the russians, and they are pashtun and their attack on the city people. what is the procedure? as an ambassador, do you know who makes these decisions, or is it the political affiliation or
the mentality of the tag because it was in a country where net immigration is done in that country across the pond. doesn't ambassador have anything to do with it, or not it is becoming a free for all come in a crazy man can create problems for refugees? a palestinian refugees are not syrian refugees. you said six months from it will be much worse. that means the pork syrian refugees will not find a place to hide. from the cold. we're coming up to cold weather. i would like to hear your answer now. >> okay. there are obviously several elements there. the way u.s. immigration is structured, not quite unique in the world but exceptional. visa decisions come in the form of non-immigrant visa, are the
responsibility of an individual consular officer. there are guidelines but there isn't a checklist. check all these boxes, you're eligible. if not, you are not. these are inherently subjective judgments, and i know that. i served as a causal officer early in my career. it's hard. -- calls are often. the officers mobley responsible for the decision he or she makes. i statute ambassadors cannot interfere for exactly the reason. ambassadors cannot interfere in consular decisions. the office has the responsibility and the authority to an ambassador cannot issue a visa. i cannot. i don't have that responsibility -- authority. only a consular officer can do
so. and this puts a harvard responsibility now on my young colleagues. it's their decision. you know, however the poor officer was that ultimately issued the fiancée visa to tashfeen malik can kiss his or her career goodbye, sadly. so this wave of racist and ethnic bias is going to its impact on young officers trying to do the right thing. but unlike assistant in most european countries, there is no pat dry yes and no. it's an individual that
inherently subjective judgment. >> can we go around the room, please? i will get back to you. look, there's a big crowd. the person in the corner back there, please. >> mr. ambassador, i am a journalist. years ago we had no-fly zones in iraq. i wonder how successful they were and what you think that the u.s. forfeited a large measure of its influence in the region by its precipitous withdrawal of troops from iraq, not to mention afghanistan? and what you think when you talk about all these things the u.s. should do at every to make sure that your also referring to an increase in military strength in the region, just as our forces increased in vietnam from the 400 special forces sent by jfk
to a 500,000 under lbj. >> the no-fly zone in northern iraq worked pretty well. it worked far less well in southern iraq, and you touch on a very important point. the reason it worked well in the north and not in the south iscome in the northcom in the kurdish region, russia in the north, in the kurdish region, u.n. forces on the ground. the kurdish peshmerga. i made several visits to northern iraq in 2002, and saw it firsthand. they controlled the ground. we controlled the air and kept the iraqis out. the southern shia didn't have that advantage. so saddam is a good wind about his killing seven iraqis by
other means rather than using his helicopters. used ground elements. and that's important because if you are looking at no-fly zones in than six there's going to have to be a ground component. that should not be us. again, u.s. boots on the ground, or every islamic state recruiters ultimate wet dream. we just, we cannot do that. and the south maybe the jordanians could. in the north it gets really complicated because of the turkish kurdish tensions. but for no-fly zones to succeed, kurdish experience in the '90s bears that out. there's got to be control of the ground as well as control of the air. otherwise you're going to see
what you saw and southern iraq, and i was there in 2003 for the uncovering of some of the mass graves, the occupants of which were not all placed their anti-91 uprising. it was the subsequent decade that got a lot of people killed while we still patrolled the skies because we were not controlling the ground. one thing i would not do, as i'm suggesting, you know, goodness, don't send the 101st airborne in to fight islamic state. that will totally make their day. did our withdrawal from iraq precipitate some of what we are seeing now? it certainly did, but i've already for some time it was a the withdrawal of our military that made the crucial negative difference.
it was the withdrawal of our political engagement. when i was out there as ambassador, you have a second estate there every couple of months. the secretary of defense, when she wasn't there, and the president on the phone all the time to everybody. well, that all stopped when they pulled our forces out. to our political disengagement has much more to do i think with the subsequent unraveling that our military withdrawal. we have seen, unfortunately, to link the one tightly to the other. we are all the politically engaged in our forces are on the ground. if you are politically engaged me be your forces don't have to be on the ground. but we disengage politically as much as we did militarily. >> right next to you. >> thank you. as the respected diplomat,
mr. ambassador, the witness the u.s. disaster since 1979 as you put it, i wonder if you can touch upon two things related to u.s. policy. in your speech it was clear that you are arguing for a global leadership of the united states. now, does that global leadership translate or is it synonymous were unilateral moves on the one hand? and on the other, the u.s. policy that has been applied at least in syria has been calling for regime change and as a byproduct of creative chaos as has been called a new -- and now secretary kerry is saying clearly that the u.s. policy is no longer trying to achieve
regime change in syria in particular. thank you. >> i speak of u.s. leadership, i mean that quite literally. the u.s. to play a leading role with our friends and our allies around the world. unilateral actions not only are not going to solve anything but they will only make things worse. thesthese are collected challens that require a collective response. ivc an urgent need for somebody to orchestrate that response, not make it, not do it, but to orchestrate it, to lead as were. by leading that means building consensus, not issuing diktat. so very much against unilateral action that will solve nothing at this critical juncture. but collective commitment can
manage a lot of things that are unmanaged at the moment, even if they can't, even if it can't solve them. and with respect to u.s. policy towards syria, i worry greatly of the perception as i said earlier that there is a washington damascus tehran moscow access that is effectively in support of bush are all aside -- assad and, therefore, against the largely sunni population that he is busy killing and driving out of the country. this is not in our interest that it is inconsistent with our values. and it is going to intensify the conflict. it is not go to put it on the road to resolution. >> all right, question from the west bank.
please, go ahead. >> mr. ambassador i am with the u.s. commission on international euros for you. the over 4 million refugees, simplified million idp supplies are unlikely to be resettled or be able to return to their home from this conflict eventually ends. are their policies and programs support the u.s. u.s. committee can be pursuing a for the eventual end of the situation, whatever it does end that will allow the communities who have a lot of distrust among the religious ethic last eventual have the country for themselves again? >> yeah, it's a great question. sadly, i can't even imagine a resolution of the syrian conflict right now. i just can't imagine it.
i do hope there is a more concerted effort to manage it then we've seen so far and to do much more to support those who have had to flee the country. you know, there's a lot of us out there, organizations, who are heavily invested in this, and with more resources to do much more, providing education, providing employment opportunities, and working to do what you're targeted at, to develop civil societies among refugee populations, to facilitate conversations among refugees, different ethnic or religious background, for example, your to foster conversations and understandings
that, when circumstances do permit, as one hopes some day they will, for refugees to return home with a different sense of who they are and how they can work with one another. my organization, mercy corps, and others could facilitate that dialogue, but it takes resources to do. at right now we don't even have the resources to see that people eat decently, let alone work on critical issues of civil society and understanding. that's what i mean about a bad situation getting so very much worse. if we could stabilize the refugee populations, work to give them better lives and hope for a future, we would be going
a long way to creating a post crisis environment that would be far more positive than what we had pre-crisis. but again, the lines on your grass are showing we are going the opposite direction. >> tomorrow spending bill will vote on visa waiver provisions as you are aware as people that of visited countries deemed high-risk. what will that mean for citizens that hold dual citizenship or america's with multi-citizenship as well? >> thank you for asking that. the good news on the omnibus spending bill is that the anti-refugee elements of previous bills are not there. the bad news is some very
discriminatory language is, particularly on visa waiver, the visa waiver program. and as i understand the draft, i have to say here, i have not sat down and read the text yet. as i understand it in addition to requiring visas for individuals who would otherwise have that requirement waived because of traveled to selected countries, it goes into a very dangerous area saying in effect that a british, british born british citizen who happened to have say a syrian or an iranian father, even though that's it is in question had never been to that country would no longer be eligible for a visa waiver. wow. you know, that just really
scares me. it is highly discriminatory. it is discriminatory based not on who you are or where you went or what you did, but who your father or your mother is. and if we are prepared to pass legislation like that, what are we prepared to do about our own citizens? fear is one of the most dangerous emotions on earth. and fear is making us behave in a way that is contrary to our values and our interests. so boy, i hope they pull that out of their, and we're all going to be very, very vigilant. i'm not going to demonize those who are entering such a language. i think they are motivated by fear, but that's what i meant about that collecting a, sitting underneath a the tree and working this through so that we are not taking steps that are
ultimately counter to her own national security. they are corrosive of our values. you take this step, boy, what other steps might follow from it? thank you for raising it. again, you know, the spending bill avoided the very worst but there's still some really bad things in there. >> my name is scott cooper. spent human rights first. >> i am indeed. i sort of take your your point about american leadership and a would advocate drawing out more. just on specifics. president was the started refugee board. your point about orchestrating this is critical. what are the first if you would recommend whether by congress or by the administration to start using some american leadership? >> well, staying focused on the
refugee issue. there are several things. there's a very robust, elaborate refugee resettlement structure in this country, human rights first of course is part of it. so start by convening those agencies that are involved in resettled its to ensure we've got a nationally coordinated effort. and again the way our system is structured, these are state and local requirements, but for a national coordinating effort about how we are organized to handle refugees at home, once the resource picture? who needs one where?
then take that abroad. i would like to see as convening a refugee summit appropriately prepared that we would convene and chair. with such an initiative, a lot of the work would start to get done. well, what's the situation in europe, country by country? what are the dynamics? what do they need from us? what do they not need from us? how of our middle eastern allies look at this and resourcing it? so a summit itself is really not the start of a process. in many ways that could be a culmination of it by being enforcing mechanism to start, start these hard conversations among all the participants. so i would start at home. i would start a broad, and part
of a start at home has got to be a conversation between the administration and the hill, on the hill about again, taking a deep breath, let let's look at r values, look at our interests are let's look at our alliances. and let us proceed from there. you know, not here to give a plug for human rights first, except that you. it's a terrific organization. after you've contributed to the arab center, you know, and mercy corps benefits, you know. i am a resident in a state of texas right now, and they are we've got a legal challenge brought by the state against resettlement of refugees in the state. i'm working with human rights
first to file a declaration or a brief as part of that case. there's bad stuff going on out there, and as we look to step forward, we've got to watch our backs because they are some pretty frightening things in the land right now in. >> lets make the next three questions we a quick, please. >> i work with mobile network international in jordan. i was very much working with mercy corps guys and visiting many of the syrian refugees in jordan for the last few years. my big question, away from politics, your excellency, talked about hope. and so many of the syrians and other refugees in jordan have totally lost hope. they don't have a way back to go back on.
they see the rejection of many countries, including this leading, versatile country that are still debating about welcoming 10,000 while in jordan we have hundreds of thousands of refugees that are sharing our small loaf of bread. and big question is how can we help to reinject hope in their life? at also on the humanitarian side, as many of them are really like taking $20 a day per person from the united nations that have stopped for some time. many of them go to bed without food. how can we with the heart that god has given us be of help to them? thank you. >> yeah, it's, it's a pretty horrible situation. it isn't all about the money, but a lot of it is about the
money. whatever we can do individually and collectively to overcome the wave of donor fatigue that is sweeping the world to indicate that these are human beings. they need our help and it is our duty to help them. we've got to we energize both the governments and populations to be more generous in support of these populations because as you say, we are seeing come we housing stipend eliminate. we're seeing food rations cut a guy that's just going to get worse because without, again, say, a somewhat approach to re-energize the global community, that light of resources is just going to keep
going down as the numbers of refugees continues to increase. our friends in jordan and lebanon are bearing an enormous burden, and they are kind of doing it by themselves. so again, the richest country on earth sort of has an obligation here, but that obligation isn't going to be met without presidential leadership. it kind of comes back to that. >> thank you. i'm on the board here at the arab center of the d.c. nice to see you, ambassador. i just got back from palestine and jordan. i was there with a group of congressional staff but behind us at different of us was a trail of senators come to both parties and they were visiting the refugee camps in jordan. so it made me think about your comment on the resources that there may be a case to be made
in the u.s. within congress and the appropriations committee that if they're not going to take the refugees, which i think that's a really tough sell right now in this environment, by the way democrats and republicans. i don't see a democrat in the white house allowing refugees in either. i don't think this is a republican thing but i do see a case from appropriations to help the refugees where they are. wondering if you can comment on that? >> i'm delighted to hear that there were house and senate delegations out there. yes, you know, and again, i don't mean to just keep harping on this, but wouldn't it be great if the president invited members of those delegations, everyone, republican and democrat, who went out to these countries, he invited into the white house to say, you know, thank you for your interest, thank you for taking the trouble to go and see with your own eyes. now what are they going to do
about it? is you are quite right. this is not a partisan issue. this is a national issue, and sadly i think you're quite right. i've been getting some very interesting mail since i did my op-ed last month, and a lot of my very interesting mail comes from self-declared democrats. so yeah, i get that. we've got a negative bipartisanship on refugee resettlement. let's see if we can get some positive bipartisanship going on supporting refugees where they may be currently. ..
just seem to be present, and anything can be done to somehow village rate or some initiative be taken to see some leadership out of the region rather than just the united states? >> yeah. well, i know i bored you all to death but here it comes again. you may see arab states start to step forward when the u.s. seriously engages. everybody is kind of watching us, and not seeing much. so if we're not doing anything, why should they?
it's just a hard truth. the 25th anniversary of the iraqi invasion of kuwait, february, would be 25 years since liberation. i think of the coalition that came together to expel iraq from kuwait. the greatest international coalition since the second world war in which saudi, egyptian and syrian forces were all present. well, do you think the region or the international community would have come together in that coalition without u.s. leadership? not a chance. absolutely not a zip, zero, none. this is a challenge of a different nature, but there's one common thread. nothing good is going to happen
without the it's at the center of it -- the united states at the center of it. that's been the way the world has worked since world war 2. it still is owl relative strength and influence have diminished but it's still there, and most importantly there is no other source for it. our friends came together 25 years ago because we led. i think they could and would again but it's going to require that same dynamic from our side. >> let me say that we're in a group here that we're all in agreement we knee to do mow for syrian refugees. but die at love speaking outside of washington, and i see in your presentation a certain amount of arguments that would follow on
deaf ears, seems to be contradictory. you say we sport american values elm that's why we do this. then you gap your speech by saying a substantial majority of americans oppose it. so you're trying to impose on the do substantial american people in the name of democracy to bring these people here. secondly, we say we have the most rigorous system possible, takes two years for a refugee to get here from syria. when you go say that to people in countryside they say, yes, but it's taken four years to bring 2500 in. how do you go next year 10,000? without changing your standards and your values and doing that? so can we trust washington to handle these things well? >> look, on the first part, i am making a plea, not to override public opinion but to engage public opinion.
i hear the negative voices. i don't hear very many positive ones explaining why support for refugees, including resettlement, is in the national interests as well as in accordance with national values. those -- that effort by the administration or by others is largely absent as the negative voices capture the air waves and persuade public opinion. so, by no mean am i saying ignore public opinion. i say engage in order to produce a different narrative to get people to think about this. right now, look, at times of crisis, the fallback is fear, and reactions produce them. i'm arguing for a more complex but critical discussion that is
largely absent in the country, certainly absent from the debates because it's far easier to let the factor predominant. i'm asking for a different discussion. i can't think of a better group than people in this room to begin to lead that. second part of that was? oh, yeah. look, again, it's a question of how much priority do you want to give this? if you make this a presidential imperative, the resources are there to do it. i've been involved in particular with the issue of iraqis and afghans who have worked for us and because of that are in jeopardy. well, yeah, we could do the
screening without taking anything away from time to time, but we do it faster if we made it's higher priority. so, i would be asking, let's make this a top-tier priority and put the resources and manpower into it to do screening that it no less thorough but to do it far more quickly than we're doing it now. right now it's so far down the line of priorities that -- this is a global crisis. let's treat it like one, which manifestly we're not doing now. >> all right. with this i would like to thank everybody for being here today and for your lively participation in the discussion.
could you please join me in thanking ambassador crocker. flur. [applause] blocker. [applause] >> thank you for taking time in your busy schedule to be with us, and thank you to the center staff, working hard to make this happen. appreciate it. see you at another event in the future. [inaudible conversations] >> there is one fewer candidate seeking the republican nomination for president today. the "associated press" reporting republican senator lindsey graham ended his 2016 campaign for president, saying he remains
committed to achieve security for the american people, with just over a month to other go until early voting starts. the south carolina senator the only candidate from an early voting state. he said he was proud of his campaign which was focused on the nation's security. here's a look. >> today i'm suspending my campaign for president. i want to thank everyone who has taken this journey with me. you have honored me with your support. and you can be proud of. we put forth bold and practical solutions to big probable problems like retiring the debt and fixing the immigration system. the centerpiece of my campaign has been securing our nation. i got into this race to put forward a plan to win a war we cannot afford to lose and to turn back the tied of isolationism rising in our party. i believe we made enormous
progress in this effort. four months ago at the very first debate i said that any candidate who decide notice understand we need more american troops on the ground in iraq and syria to defeat isil was not ready to be commander in chief. that time no one step forward today to join me. today most of my fellow candidates have come to recognize this what its needed to secure our homeland. i'm for a more confident today that our water will reject the obama doctrine of leading from behind and will provide the strong leadership america needs to restore our military and take the fight to our enemies, and do what it takes to make our country safe and preserve our way of life. this is a generational struggle. the -- that demands a strategy and the will to win. i will continue to work everyday to ensure our party and our nation takes on this fight. i'm suspending my campaign but never my commitment to achieving security through strength for
the american people. god bless our fighting men and women, and god bless america. now a discussion about russia's military operations in syria and the implications for the u.s. and turkey. analysts talk about russia's motivations and goals for their involvement and how recent actions in syria have increased russia's presence on the syrian border with turkey. this it 90 minutes.