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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  January 21, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm EST

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without consulting congress. we wouldn't have to worry about a president abusing this authority granted to him if an example of this abuse wasn't in our immediate rearview mirror. this president gave president bush sweeping authority in two resolutions to fight terrorism in the wake of september 11, and he manipulated and abused that authority to send millions of american troops into iraq to fight a war under concocted, false pretensions. he got an open-ended authorization from congress and he ran with it. what did we get for this colossal misrepresentation? over 4,000 americans dead, scores more than that crippled and a region in chaos in large part because of our disastrous invasion and occupation. on the campaign trail today, several of the candidates for president talk with such irresponsible bravado about throwing around america's military might. the likely republican leader -- the likely republican nominee
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shows ignorance about l military law that is truly frightening. given recent history and given the current rhetoric on the presidential campaign trail today why would we give the president such open-ended sweeping authority ever again? and why would we even contemplate a resolution like this one that makes the 9/11 and iraq war resolutions seem like exercises in thoughtful restraint? why would we make the mistake of the iraq war resolution again, especially when there is an alternative? mr. president, i know that we will likely have time to debate the question of how you properly authorize war against isis later, but in september -- excuse me -- in december of 2014 the foreign relations committee did vote out an aumf that gave the president all the power that he needed to fight isis while making sure that he had the -- to come back to congress if he wanted to dramatically expand the current conflict to other
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countries or put hundreds of thousands of american troops into a new war in the middle east. it is the only aumf that has gotten a favorable vote by the senate and it is a template how we can authorize a war that isn't totally and completely open-ended. a lot of us have argued to take up a debate on the aumf because we believe that on the course of the war on terror congress abdicated its responsibility to be the voice of the people on the conduct of foreign policy. many of us believe a smart aumf would get congress back in the game when it comes to our constitutional responsibility to decide when and where our brave troops are sent in to battle. but this resolution as it's currently written would do exactly the opposite. it would permanently hand over war-making power to the president and congress would never get it back. it would allow this president and the next president to send our troops almost anywhere in
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the world for virtually any justifiable reason with no ability of the people's branch of the federal government, this congress, to step in and have our say. mr. president, i do look forward to this debate if it does come to the floor. i think it's an immensely important debate. and, frankly, i'll be glad to have it. but the -- the american public wants us to declare war on isis but they want us to do it in a way that doesn't repeat the deadly, costly mistakes of the past. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i've come to the floor today to talk about the 800-pound gorilla in the room that people don't want to talk about, and that's our broken mental health treatment system in this country. years ago we made the mistake of institutionalizing people with mental illness and then we made the mistake of deinstitutionalizing people with l mental illness with nowhere to go and no access to treatment. but i've introduced legislation, i hope, that will help begin this conversation anew, one that we'll have a hearing on next week in the senate judiciary committee. the legislation is called mental health and safe communities act, and it has two overarching
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goals. first, to help those suffering from mental illness and their families find a way forward and get the support that they need. and secondly, to equip law enforcement, teachers, judges, people with knowledge and the skill set to spot the early signs of mental illness and give them the means by which to respond effectively. sadly, we know mental illness is a common thread through many senseless acts of violence that we've witnessed across the country. but this problem is more than about just that. i know some of our colleagues said they don't want to talk about how to improve access to mental health treatment if it's going to involve any discussion of guns. but i don't think you can talk about this topic without talking
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about these incidents of mass violence. but i want to make sure i'm very clear and say it is much more than just that. it's time to, for congress to respond with proven solutions that actually work. the president, as is his habit, has offered controversial proposals which actually violate the constitution and threaten our rights without solving the problem. you know, to me, that's one of the reasons why people get so frustrated with washington when people stand up and they say here's something we ought to do, when it really is symbolic in nature and it doesn't actually solve the problem they claim to be addressing. and that's true of the president's executive actions on guns. indeed, the a.p. headline read when the president made this
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announcement, he said -- it said "obama measures wouldn't have kept guns from mass shooters." in other words, the associated press makes the point none of this would have solved actual problem. but the legislation i've introduced, i think, has a good chance to begin the effort to do that. so since the president won't act responsibly and work with congress, congress must act by itself, first, to build consensus and offer solutions and not just engage in symbolic gestures and more political talking points. it's time we focus our efforts on first and foremost providing support to the mentally ill and their families to make sure, first of all, that they are less likely to be a danger to themselves. and secondly, that they will not be a danger to the communities in which they live. on next tuesday we'll have that hearing i mentioned at the outset in the senate judiciary
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committee and look at some of the successful experiments that have occurred -- actually it's not an experiment so much as it is a model that's proven to be successful in places like bear county, san antonio, texas. i've had the occasion to visit the sheriffs and police chiefs in the jails in our major metropolitan areas. virtually all of them have told me that our jails have become warehouses for people with mental illness. and when they get out, unless their underlying symptoms are treated, unless they're on an enforceable treatment plan -- they're compliant with their medications, follow doctor's orders -- they're going to end up back where they are. in the absence of effective treatment of their mental illness, we know many people with mental illness will self med indicate with drugs -- med
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indicate wl drugs or alcohol, compounding their problems and becoming what a man in houston referred to himself as a frequent flier. in other words, he would keep coming back again and again and again and again. but there are some successful models we can look at and the results are really impressive. through the reform measures instituted in places like bear county, overcrowded jails have been reduced in size. taxpayers' dollars have been saved, and many lives have been changed for the better. the secret is these jurisdictions that have realized that we have to focus on treating the mentally ill, not just warehousing them in our prisons and jails. criminologists and mental health experts will tell you locking up a mentally ill person without treatment will make them even more dangerous to themselves and increase the risk to the community. experts will also agree that if we identify those with mental
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illness and divert them to treatment, many of them can be restored to mental health. saving lives, increasing public safety and reducing costs to taxpayers. there's a great book written by a gentleman by the name of pete early called "crazy." pete's a journalist, and l unfortunately he and his wife ended up having a son that exhibited mental illness symptoms, and it was as a result of their having to deal with his illness and trying to help him get back into a productive path in life that they encountered the broken mental health system that i've described a little bit about. and the good news is pete's son is doing well because he's taking his medications and he recognizes that when he goes off
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of his medications that he gets in trouble. pete will be testifying at our hearing next week and i think bring home in a very real way how mental illness affects so many lives around the country. and what we can do to actually equip those families with additional tools that will help them help their loved one. but the truth is this all takes cooperation and indeed in the criminal justice context it takes collaboration between federal, state, and local law enforcement. it also takes judges, doctors and families. but the good news is there are some models for success. we need to make this a priority because so many of the people we encounter today on our streets -- the homeless -- are people that are suffering from mental illness of some form or another that could be helped. so many people who are jailed for minor criminal offenses are
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people with mental illness that could be helped. and i think it behooves all of us to do what we can to learn from what actually is proven to work in some of our cities around the country and to try to implement this on the national level. in addition to mr. early we're go to be hearing from sheriff susan parmelow a champion of mental health in the santonio area. i have to confess i've been disappointed at some of the responses of some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle because they've said we don't want to talk about the whole problem. we just want to talk about the part of the problem that we want to talk about. though if this involves anything to do with second amendment rights or guns, then they don't want to have that conversation. but you can't circumscribe the debate or the discussion bying carving that out.
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that's got to be a part of it. it will be a part of it whether we like it or not. some of these colleagues on the other side of the aisle have cited a provision of my bill that would actually strengthen and clarify the definitions regarding the uploading of mental health records to the national instant criminal background check system. why would anybody disagree with making sure that adjudications of mental illness be uploaded in the criminal background check system? that's what happened in the virginia tech shooter, for example. he had been adjudicated mentally ill by virginia authorities. but because the state didn't provide that information to the criminal background check system operated by the f.b.i., he was able to buy a firearm without being disqualified, which he should have been based on that adjudication. my bill also reauthorizes and strengthens the national instant criminal background check system. this is something our colleagues across the aisle and indeed all of us have said we support, the
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background check system. it would work to clarify the scope of the mental health records that are required to be uploaded so that there's no longer mass confusion among state and local law enforcement as to what is required by federal law. and because we can't mandate the states do this, we need to provide incentives for them to encourage them to share these records because these are a national resource. to me, this just makes common sense. why wouldn't we want the states to comply with current laws to keep the mental health background check records updated? i don't understand the controversy about that. i'd like to make clear that if there are members on the other side of the aisle willing to work with me on this legislation and work with the chairman of the health, education, labor and pensions committee -- senator alexander -- and the ranking member -- senator murphy -- and
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tim murphy in the house who is important legislation that is much more comprehensive in nature but deals with this issue as well along with dr. bill cassidy here in the senate, there are many of us on a bicameral basis and on a bipartisan basis have said we want to do something about this crisis in our country. and that is the mental health crisis. and what we ought to do is roll up our sleeves, sit down at the table and begin to work through this. i know at least five democrats are cosponsoring identical legislation to mine in the house of representatives. so it's up to us to start working to find consensus in the senate. this is one of those issues where republicans have said they'd like to see something get done, where the democrats say they'd like to get something done. and presumably the white house would to. though how do you explain us not doing what we can do, even if we can't do everything some of us would like to do, why don't we
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do what we can do? so i hope we can work together to deal with these reforms and to help make our communities safer. it's up to us to put our head down and work diligently with the american people. and to come up with solutions for struggling families, families struggling with mental illness and with a loved one and who don't know where to turn. i look forward to hearing about some of the proposed solutions next week during this hearing of the senate judiciary committee and working with all of our colleagues to try to come up with the best answers we can. mr. president, on another matter, i understand there's a bill at the desk and i'd ask for the first reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the first time. the clerk: s. 2464, a bill to implement equal protection under the 14th amendment to the constitution of the united states for the right to life of each born and preborn human person.
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mr. cornyn: mr. president, i now ask for a second reading and in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14, i object to my own request. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will receive its second reading on the next legislative day. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. friday, january the 22nd for a pro forma session where no business will be conducted. further, when the senate adjourns on friday, january 22, they convene on tuesday, january the 26th, at 10:00 a.m. following the prayer and the pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. finally, following the leader's remarks, the senate be in a period of morning business until 11:00 a.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each. following morning business, the senate then begin consideration
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of s. 2012 as under the previous order. the presiding officer: is there objection? not having heard one, so ordered. mr. cornyn: mr. president, if there's no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order following the remarks of the senior senator from utah. the presiding officer: without objection. the presiding officer: the president pro tempore, the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president,
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tomorrow is january 22. this is the date that's become known for two related but radically different reasons. first, it is the anniversary of the supreme court's infamous decision in roe v. wade that imposed on america the most permissive abortion regime in the world. that decision degraded human life by detbraigd the constitution -- degrading the constitution. at the center of the debate over the moral, legality or policy of abortions, the fact that each abortion kills a living human being, that this fact is inescapable does not prevent many from trying mightily to escape it but it cannot be avoided, obscured or ignored. let me repeat, each abortion kills a living human being. that fact informed president ronald reagan when he wrote a moving essay in 1983 titled "abortion and the conscience of the nation."
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he wrote -- quote -- "we cannot diminish the value of one category of human life, the unborn, without diminishing the value of all human life." the real question, he said, is not about when human life begins but about the value of the human life. i believe that remains the real question today. starting even before america's founding, the law had been on a steady march toward protecting human beings before birth. the 19th century movement that succeeded in prohibiting abortion except to save the life of the mother was led by medical professionals and civil rights activists. that consensus, however, began to unravel in the 20th centur century. in 1948, the united states voted in favor of the universal declaration of human rights, which recognizes in its preamble the inherent dignity inalienable rights of -- quote -- "all
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members of the human family." like every member of this body, i'm a member of the human family because i'm a living human bei being. so are you, mr. president. so are all of us. or should i say each of us. article 3 of the declaration states that -- quote -- "everyone has a right to life." words such as universal and inherent and "all" are unambiguous and clear. only 25 years later, however, the supreme court's roe v. wade decision declared quite the opposite, that the right to life is actually not universal and does not belong to every member of the human family. the court said, in effect, that some members of the human family get to determine whether others live or die. the contradictions continued. on april 2, 1982, the united states senate ratified the international covenant on civil
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and political rights. article 6 declares -- quote -- "every human being has the inherent right to life. this right shall be protected by law. no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life." this time it took the supreme court just 88 days to send the opposite message. in planned parenthood v. casey, the court reaffirmed its decision that the u.s. constitution protects the right to abortion. in other words, the right to life is not inherent, it cannot be protected by law and it can be arbitrarily taken away. this sort of confusion about the fundamental value of human life has put the united states in an appalling position. the united states is one of only seven nations in the world to allow abortion even into the sixth month of pregnancy. we join on that list china and north korea, which are hardly
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champions of human rights. more children are killed by abortion in two days here in america than all american service members who have been killed in iraq and afghanistan. last year, we all witnessed the depth to which this degradation of human life leads. planned parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, is in the dark business of trafficking in human body parts and uses word games and spin to hide what it is actually doing. these aren't children or babies, says planned parenthood. they are products of conception. these aren't body parts, they are tissue specimens. this should come as no surprise. stripped of inherent dignity and worth, human beings can easily become commodities. last week in his final state of the union address, president obama said that a future
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opportunity for our families and a peaceful planet for our kids are within our reach. how can that possibly occur without a basic commitment to the fundamental value of human life and the inherent dignity and worth of every human being? let me highlight one more contrast. early feminist, susan b. anthony, and elizabeth katie stanton published and edited a newspaper titled "the revolution." they editorialized against abortion and even rejected ads for abortion drugs, arguing that oh abortion was a tool for oppressing women. elizabeth blackwell, the first woman to receive a degree from an american medical school, strongly opposed abortion. dr. charlotte denman logier, another trail blazer for women in the medical profession, helped and defended women who were pressured to have abortions. one writer described
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dr. losier's work as -- quote -- "thoroughly woman affirming and life affirming." these priorities of being both pro-woman and pro-life have today been maiden mrs. instead offal -- made enemies instead of allies. today the right to abortion and actual incidents have for many become signs and symbols of progress instead of oppression. this act of killing a human being should be held ups as a step forward accident as a light to guide our way, strikes me as deeply misguided and is something to mourn rather than celebrate. we should instead deepen the conviction that all human beings have inherent dignity and worth. that once was and should be again. the foundation for our culture, society, and, yes, even our politics. mr. president, the supreme court not only degraded human life in its roe v. wade decision but did so by degrading the
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constitution. the court found a right to abortion not in the real constitution but in a constitution of its own making. the real constitution would not allow the court to impose its own values on the nation and so the court simply created a separate -- a different constitution that would. by claiming to find an unwritten right in our written constitution, the justices seized control of the constitution that is supposed to control them. if it is possible, i urge my colleagues to set aside the particular subject of abortion and consider what this really means. all public officials, including supreme court justices, take an oath to support and defend the constitution of the united states. that constitution, the real constitution, is supposed to be the primary way that the american people impose limits on government. in fact, as the supreme court recognized until 1893 marbury --
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1803 marbury v. madison decision, the constitution is written down so that those limits on government will be neither mistaken nor forgotten. in his farewell address of 1796, president george washington said that the people's control over the constitution is the heart of our system of government. our freedom depends on it, with decisions like roe v. wade, however, the supreme court takes control of the constitution away from our -- from the people and distorts our way of government and compromises the freedom that system makes possible. thomas jefferson warned against allowing the supreme court to twist and shape the constitution into any form it pleased. yet that is exactly what the court does in decisions like roe v. wade. instead of conforming their decisions to the real constitution, the justices conform the constitution to
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their own preferences, values and agendas. they turn their oath to support and defend the constitution into an oath to support and defend themselves. mr. president, january 22 is known for the decision on which the supreme court degraded human life by degrading the constitution. the court used judicially tragic means to achieve a morally and culturally tragic end. thankfully, however, january 22 is also known for another radically different event known as the march for life. every year for decades, hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens come here to washington to do just that -- march for life. they represent what once was the norm, the belief that life itself is precious and that each human being has inherent dignity and worth. by coming to washington year after year, they stake their
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claim that these principles -- those principles can once again prevail. there is reason for hope. more than 70% of americans believe that abortion should be illegal in most or all circumstances. that figure has not changed in the more than 40 years. what has changed is that more americans today identify themselves as pro-life than as pro-choice. large majorities favor a range of limitations on abortion and in 2014, elected scores of new pro-life legislators at both the state and federal level. and perhaps most encouraging of all, the percentage of young people who believe that abortion should not be permitted in most or all circumstances has risen steadily and significantly. the number of abortions reported each year to the centers for disease control and prevention has dropped by 50% in the last
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25 years. the organization feminist for life was founded in 1972 before roe v. wade sent us into this tailspin. they have said for years that women deserve better than abortion. life, not death, should be our priority. i hope and pray that more and more of us will be in large and small ways each and every day marching for life. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands adjourned until stands adjourned until
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>> this is the headline, alarm clinton supporters are focusing on senator sanders antisocialist bench. joining us is jonathan martin national political correspondent for the "new york times." thank you for being with us. >> we heard this from former president bill clinton earlier talking about the socialist market from senator sanders. what's this all about? >> guest: i think they want to remind democratic primary voters going into the first two contests in iowa and new hampshire that they are not just registering their views on politics today. they are not just indicating which candidate has been more motivated but they will be picking the next leader in chief potential and want to make the case that clinton or sanders while has a compelling message,
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is someone who will have a hard time winning the general election but also hurt the party. when he threw around the word social and it has connotations especially for older voters. they wouldn't be doing it if she was sailing into i've and new hampshire but the fact is she has some real problems and they're trying to find some creative ways to take down sanders. >> host: resolve and the latest poll numbers, almost 30-point lead by senator sanders. one sentence from your peace said he is looking less like a threat and more like a runaway train. >> guest: i think in new hampshire it may not be that bad. indie pendants vote. there's a strong -- independent vote. he has a lead.
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[inaudible] two losses right out of the gate, iowa and new hampshire. >> host: a lot of talk about electability. we are in debt from the clinton people and yet a sanders consultant says this is a debate between a candidate who inspires younger people. senator bernie sanders. >> guest: that's exactly right. it sounds very familiar. she's making a case that basic old hillary is outdated democratic playbook that she wants them around the edges, not a fan of suburban swing voters and that's not the way to win any longer. it's a polarized country you've got to turn out. that's what they are saying. by the way, if the sons and daughters reason. ted cruz is make the same case. >> host: clearly this is not
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the race the clinton team expected just a few weeks before iowa, new hampshire. >> guest: goodness no. she came into this race with every structural advantage. money, name id, the sense that it was her turn which -- [inaudible] it didn't matter. at least that's not anywhere near what they expected to be. this is been a dogfight against somebody nobody in the mainstream of the democratic party thought would be a serious contender. let alone a threat to win the first two states. it's just a quick reminder that this year everything has been sort of thrown out the window, unpredictable. as the saying goes, -- [inaudible] >> host: campaigns matter but with regard to hillary clinton, her candidacy and her own that
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you or lack thereof to voters, jonathan martin, what's the problem? >> guest: i thought the one longtime adviser to secretary clinton, and this person said she is done everything right. policy papers, fundraising. there's a chill in a message on where she is, running more of a grassroots campaign, better organized come closer to voters in iowa and new hampshire. get where democrats are now, a lot of issues. it just hasn't mattered. that's the remarkable thing. you can't point to one big issue that is harder. the female story certainly didn't help last year. -- e-mail story. the democrats didn't show great concern about that. it's just they have questions about hillary that they are more excited about bernie.
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>> host: let me ask you about a third candidate, governor martin on on who's backing of venture later this week. he has not moved beyond the low single digits. does he pose any threat at all and what hasn't he been able to resonate among democrat voters? >> guest: i think because bernie, if are looking for a clean alternative and your democratic voter your pod on the side of the spectrum. burnie held that space. he just has the moment of anger and other demand for a real threat to the status quo that bernie sanders represents. >> we will look for your boarding online and in the newspaper. jonathan martin national political correspondent for the "new york times" in manchester, new hampshire. thank you for your time. >> guest: thank you.
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>> the person who lives here asked to solve problems as big as the world and as small as your kitchen table. that's the job every day. and now the first lady who helped get health care for 8 million kids, the senator who helped the city rise again, the secretary of state who stood up for america and stare down hostile leaders around the world is the one candidate for president who has what it takes to do every part of the job. she will never let anyone privatize social security and medicare, or shut down planned parenthood. she will take on the gun lobby, finally get equal pay for women and stop the republicans from reaping all the progress we. on february 1 stand up for hillary because if you want a president who knows how to keep america safe and build a stronger economy, hillary is the choice. >> i'm listening to you, i'm fighting for you. and with your support i'm going to deliver. i'm hillary clinton and i
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approve this message. >> as president i will defend this nation and i will do it responsibly. i voted against the war in iraq and that was the right vote. we must never forget the lessons of that experience. isis must be destroyed or we should not do it alone. we need an international coalition with muslim boots on the ground fighting with our support. it's time to end the quagmire of perpetual warfare in the middle east. as president i will. i'm bernie sanders and i approve this message. >> my families lived on this farm for three generations. the bakken pipeline would pump dirty crude oil across iowa. iowa. >> the fact that bernie sanders stands up against the pipeline is one of the reasons we support him. >> he didn't hesitate to say no to the big oil companies. >> if we don't act we threaten the climate and the health of our children. >> bernie understand -- bernie sanders understands that. he has the guts to stand up for what he believes in.
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>> i'm bernie sanders on i approve this message. >> yesterday the senate armed services committee held a hearing to discuss middle east strategy. former army vice chief of staff general john keane, for ambassador to iraq in syria ryan crocker and former white house middle east coordinator philip gordon all testified. >> [inaudible conversations] >> [inaudible conversations]
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>> [inaudible conversations] good morning. the committee meets this morning to continue our focus on u.s. policy and strategy in the middle east. want to begin by saying we all welcome the news this week and news this weekend that four americans have been unjustly held captive in iran were finally released. there was plenty of time to examine the circumstances of the original detention and ultimately released before americans been united with the families is good news. united states must continue to
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press for the release of those americans still missing or imprisoned in iran including robert levinson and we must push for the release of thousand iranian political prisoners which continues to suppress the -- a previous generation of american leaders once remembered that a record present at the creation of the rules-based international order that has been the source of unprecedented security and prosperity for the united states and the world. the present trends continue, we may well remember that we were president at the unraveling of this international order. while sides of this unraveling can be seen in europe and asia it is most visible and most dangerous in the middle east. all across the region to a dangerous breakdown of state authority in the balance of power. as henry kissinger testified before this committee, there's a struggle for power within states a conflict between states, a
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conflict between ethnic and religious groups, and an assault on the international system. as general petraeus also told us last year, almost every bit of eastern country is now a battleground or a combatant in one or more wars. for the past seven years the obama administration sought to scale back america's involvement and commitment to the region. assuming that the american middle east would be good for the region and for us and the regional powers would step up to police the region themselves. results of this massive gamble should now be clear to us all. no new order has emerged in the middle east, only chaos. the power vacuum has opened up in the absence of america and has been filled by the most extreme and at the american forces. sunni terrorist groups such as isil and al-qaeda, shiite extremist such as the islamic republic of iran and its proxies come at the imperial ambitions of vladimir putin.
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these challenges are always going to be present in typical but it did not have to be this way. this dangers. instead of acknowledging its failures and changing course as previous administrations of both parties have done, the administration is all too often double down on its reactive, incremental, and inadequate policies. now more than the into the campaign to roll back and destroy isil, it is impossible to assert that isil is losing or that we are winning. to be sure, there's been some tactical progress including the recent recapture of ramadi. this is a testament to our civilian and military leaders but serious challenges remain. isolate loss of territory on the margin but has consolidated power in its core territories in both iraq and syria. it maintains control of key iraq cities like mosul and fallujah and our military commanders estimate that this key terrain will not be retaken this year.
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the u.n. reports that since isil's invasion of iraq in 2014, nearly 20,000 iraqi civilians have been killed. nearly 3500 people, predominantly women and children, are estimated to be isil slaves in iraq. the sector in division is worse than iraq and it's no surprise the training of iraq's security forces has been slow and the building of the support for sunni tribal forces even slower. syria, there is no plausible strategy to achieve isil's defeat on a timeline that will not result in the tragic deaths of tens of thousands of civilians. they're still no ground force that is both willing and able to retake raqqa. know is that a realistic prospect of what emerging soon. in the absence of a realistic strategy to create the conditions for the achievement of u.s. goals, the administration has instead falling back on hope, hope that
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diplomacy without sufficient leverage can convince russia and iran to abandon bashar al-assad and join the fight against isil. yet we read just this morning that russia's air campaign continues to target moderate opposition groups that may be gaining traction in stabilizing the assad regime. meanwhile, i've continues to metastasize across the region in places like afghanistan, libya, lebanon, yemen an and egypt. its attacks on the globe as we saw in paris, san bernardino, and most recently in istanbul. is attack should be a wakeup call that isil's threat to our homeland is real, direct comment growing. and that we need a strategy to destroy isil not ultimately as quickly as possible. the administration cannot continue to assume that time is on our site. one element of the administration's middle east policy that has been clear from the beginning is its policy
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toward iran. but instead of negotiating a deal to force iran to give up its nuclear program, the administration signed a deal that would, as dr. kissinger said, merely move from preventing proliferation to managing it. despite all the talk about the nuclear deal has opened a window for a new relationship with iran, the islamic republic's behavior has not changed. indeed, rather than empowering iranian moderates as the administration claimed, the nuclear deal appears to be doing the opposite. emboldening hardliners. iran has not conducted to advanced missile test since october in violation of u.n. security council resolutions. it fired rockets within 1500 yards of a u.s. aircraft carrier. iran seized two u.s. navy vessels transiting the persian gulf, illegally detained 10 american soldiers -- sailors, and propagandized the entire incident in total violation of
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international law and centuries of maritime tradition. i must add as a former navy person and from a navy family of generations, that's the most stimulating thing that i've seen that american sailors, members of the united states navy, has been subjected to in my or their lifetime. i am sure that the iranians used those pictures of american servicemen and a woman on their knees much to their great success throughout the world as well as the region. shortly after the result the release of the four american hostages in iran, we learned that three americans were kidnapped in baghdad, there was but an iranian backed shiite militia. i have no doubt that the obama administration's are suited suid relationship with iran because they believe doing so would diminish sectarian tensions in the region. but the reality is the
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administration's overtures to iran have only exacerbated these tensions and deepen feelings of suspicion and alienation among our traditional sunni partners and allies such as israel and turkey. this dynamic is only growing worse because the administration has been so slow to offer support to those allies and partners. as we've recently seen with delight by aircraft sales to qatar and kuwait. for decades america's role in the middle east has been suppressed security competition between states with long histories of mistrust and to prevent the competition from breaking down into open war. this is the responsibility that we are not advocating and we are paying a very heavy price for doing so that is only growing. i hope our witnesses today can help us better understand the costs of our current course and contemplate a better alternative. senator reid. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. let me join in welcoming our witnesses. they have an extraordinary
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wealth of experience and distinguished service to the nation in different capacities. thank you for your service and i look forward to your testimony. this past weekend we saw a number of significant developments in the middle east most notably implementation day of the joint comprehensive plan of action or the jcpoa come exchange of pressures between the united states and iran and the summit of a 35 year legal dispute between the united states and iran. individually these are notable developments but combined they have the potential, let me emphasize potential, to represent an inflection point and opportunity to shift the course of the united states and iranian relations. the opportunity for these kinds of changes are rare indeed. while i show the president so for new opportunities i share concerns about iran's destabilizing actions in the middle east. in order for improved relation to materialize, iran will need to faithfully implement the terms of the jcpoa, change its
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course in its destabilizing actions and syria, lebanon and iraq at this provocative actions with respect to its missile program. i hope the witness will will provide their assessment of these events and what opportunities and notes they would consider for consideration to the committee. i returned with a visit to iraq would have the opportunity meet with some of the country's political leadership, our nation's diplomatic representatives and our military commanders on the ground. may visit came on the heels of the successful operation by iraq's security forces to take an retake ramadi. this success which was enabled by coalition air power gave significant confidence boost to the iraq iraqi security forces,d to help this momentum will continue. and syria as result of the violent agendas of both the arak pushing a isil, the humanity and situation is increasingly dire and the human cost is staggering. with regard to isil we've embarked on a campaign to assure isil is an increasing pressure
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to the diplomat special operations forces and other critical enabling capabilities are important developments. with respect to the overall conflict and syria, secretary kerry is pursuing an ambitious agenda to facilitate a diplomatic path to end the conflict and should be recognized for his persistence. i look for during the views of our witnesses on their assessment of whether the current peace talks might bear fruit. one other issue that struck me during my visit was our efforts to counter a isil and information appointment. this is an area where the administration has a pro-point and necessarily trying to breathe new life into efforts on this front to the creation of the global engagement center. this is a well intended effort but we must ensure it is adequately resourced and empowered with the necessary authority if it is to be successful. i look forward hearing from our witnesses. more importantly how we can effectively begin i think to in
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the information war which isil has been so effective that. and then given that ambassador crocker is or i'm going to take the opportunity to present mention afghanistan. the city situation is challenging but afghan national security forces remain coherent and responsive. further complicating this 30 situation has been the emergence of the so-called islamic state in the course on province, ipsp. given the increasing threat posed but -- i support three port of recent approval by the white house out targeted strikes against the group ensuring arguments on the ground have a proper authority to be critical of future success of her part in this is a support the afghan national study forces. from a political standpoint the national unity government led by president ghani and dr. abdullah has held together through difficult you're providin your n
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opportunity for progress empty reform issues including governance and corruption. and evaluation of lessons learned may yield new ways which the us and our partners can improve our support for security operations and political progress by the afghans going forward to it cannot be interested particularly from ambassador crocker on what he should do what must in this area. thank you, gentlemen and to look forward to your testimony. >> welcome general keane, chairman and the honorabl honorn crocker, dean and executive professor of the george bush school of government and public service, texas a&m university, form united states ambassador to to many countries to name. and honorable philip gordon, senior fellow at the council on foreign relations and former special assistant to the president and white house middle these chordata. general keane, did your advanced age we will begin with you. >> okay. thank you, chairman mccain, ranking member reed, christie
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whitman of the committee. i'm honored to be back to provide testament ache in the challenges of the middle east. this committee's persistence in keeping its focus on adam carroll upheaval and the beast is commendable. thank you for your hard work and much welcome reforms that are included in the national defense authorization act. i'm honored to be a part of this distinguished panel with the honorable philip gordon and particularly to be reunited with ambassador crocker who remains today america's most successful and preeminent diplomat whose extensive service throughout the middle east is legendary. i was privileged to work with ambassador crocker during the iraq and afghan search as well as assisting general petraeus. in previous testimony before this committee i provided details on how to defeat isis and iraq intrinsics and also on russia's involvement in transit. today my focus is yours and what you've asked us to do him and that is to do with overall u.s. policy and strategy in the
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region. i brought along a couple maps for you to look out. i think they will put them up on boards when we reference of them, and you should have been at your seat as well. the middle east has experienced one of the most tumultuous periods in its history with the old order challenge with aspirational goals of the arab spring, radicalized islam is taking advantage of the people and the islamic state of iran using proxies to achieve regional influence and control. some issues in the middle east have been simmering for some time and certainly our underlying factors, such as historical sectarianism, repressive regimes, political and social injustice and the lack of economic opportunity exacerbated now by the price of oil. one cannot simply blame these larger forces operating in the region and opsahl the united states a specific policy decisions. that has had unintended adverse
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consequences. let's just go name a few. egypt. in 2010 the arab spring begins and in looking back, while most arab countries were in some form of prerevolutionary phase, it was a strategic surprise. the united states in the face of major civil unrest in cairo abandons mubarak, a multi-decade ally of the united states and an ally of the arab states in the region. the result is the muslim brotherhood who are elected can move quickly without india's opposition to transition egypt, a secularist state, to an islamic state. iran supports the muslim brotherhood, the muslim brotherhood as we know quickly the support of the people and our deposed in a military coup. libya coming 2011 after gadhafi is killed annually elected moderate islamic regime request support to train a national security force to repress the radical militants. the united states refuses.
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some of the same militants burn down the u.s. consulate, killing ambassador and others can force evacuation of a covert cia base and the following year force a u.s. retreat from libya with the closing of the u.s. embassy. libya is now a failed state, a breeding ground for radical islamists and the largest isis presence outside of syria and iraq. iraq, whether the 2003 invasion was misguided or righteous, it ushered in the first arab democracy in the middle east. while also giving rise to al-qaeda in iraq who was defeated in 2008. in 2009 the new u.s. administration began to distance itself politically from iraq, providing the entrée for greater iran influence and culminating in a total military pullout from iraq in 2010. prime minister maliki begins a
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purge of political opponents and military leaders, and al-qaeda were it emerges that same year. syria, civil work right out of the arab spring is stalemated because the rebels the initial gains are thwarted by iranian proxies. the hezbollah and iraqi shia militias possibly could force a much-needed supplies and equipment from russia and iran. the rebels in 2011 and 2012 seek assistance from the united states which is recommended by secretary clinton, secretary panetta, general dempsey and director patrice. that united states refuses. al-qaeda in iraq is incentivized by the protracted of civil war in syria, moves out of iraq with several hundred iraqi fighters, establishing a century in northeastern syria and grows a terrorist army of some 30-40,000. this strategic decision is
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transformation for him and was the most critical decision he has made since he's been the leader of al-qaeda in iraq and the isis and the islamic state. two years later isis invades iraq and expand its territory in syria. isis as we know it today would not exist without the opportunity that syria provided. in 2013 the chemical weapons redline crossed. the united states does not respond as promised. arab allies are dismayed and disillusioned. ..
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this is an extraordinary chronology of the events where u.s. policy while not necessarily the primary cause of these destructive events was at least a factor in further destabilizing the middle east and losing the confidence and trust of our allies in the region so much so that russia is seeking to replace the united states as the most influential out of region nation. many of our allies are listening. however, the most critical policy failures are essentials strategic, and therefore have the most profound impact. simply stated they are the united states and allies's strategic failure to organize a plan to defeat radical islam and successfully counter iranian regional hegemony.
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as to radical islam, 23 years after the first world trade center bombing, 14 plus years after 9/11, we still have no comprehensive strategy to defeat radical islam. radical islam is morphing into a global jihad with the expansion of al qaeda and extraordinary success of isis which has rapidly become the most successful terrorist organization in history, still growing at 1.5 to 2,000 per month and expanding into affiliate's organizations throughout the middle east, africa, south and southeast asia and developing a worldwide following where beavers are willing to kill their fellow citizens, foment terror and unrest and mobilize, polarize the population between muslim and non muslims. the map provided by the institute for study of war which depicts isis's desire to expand
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into affiliates in the near abroad in orange and far abroad in yellow. with the number of current affiliates represented by a black stars, an affiliates in the process of approval in blue stars, most of the far abroad will not have affiliate'ss but radicalize followers inspired by a racist act either as individualss or small cells. the united states strategic failure arrives not from the -- derived not from understanding the nature of the conflict. the bush war on terror and the obama counterterrorism war are simply tactics. the battle is within islam itself where in the arab world this battle is intersecting with authoritarian regimes and family monitoring failure of political reform and to adjust to the needs of their societies. therefore we are fighting a
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political and religious ideology which draws its origin from the very strict interpretation of the koran and intolerance, political leaders like king abdallah have referred to would as a religious revolution. yet the current u.s. administration fails to define radical islam or explain it nor understand it. how can we possibly defeat radical islam if we don't understand it? knowing the kind of war you are fighting is the first priority of a national or military leader. given this purposeful misunderstanding or self deception at best buy not acknowledging, narrowly focused islamic ideology, it creates an unnecessary condition where all muslims are brought under suspicion, law-abiding faith based traditional or modern muslims who would do no harm to their fellow man and resent any
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association with radical islam deserve better treatment than that. this is the 21st century generational ideological struggle, a multi generational struggle with communist ideology. the 9/11 commission recommended a global alliance to design a strategy and work together to defeat radical islam. king solomon of saudi arabia is organizing the 34 member alliance to combat radical islam. and it remains to be seen if it amounts to anything substantive. i do know it begs the united states to play a leadership role. the next president of the united states will likely defeat isis in iraq and syria, having been required resources indeed unnecessary to do the job but isis and radical islam is ignoble movement. it is not a question of whether we want to combat radical islam. is unavoidable. the only question is how.
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i believe blind's members should design a strategy and not the united states. there are some elements that are obvious and critical. national leaders and muslim clerics must undermine the political and religious ideology not just with what is wrong but what is the right thinking and ideology. arab muslim countries must change levels of intolerance and political reform and social justice are essentials. financial and economic support must be countered, countries permitting such behavior by citizens should be held accountable. intelligence technology and selective equipment should be shared. partnering for training and military education is essentials to raise the level of operational competence. there is no substitute for an effective ground for supported by air power. air power is an enablers, it is not a defeat mechanism.
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this is about alliance members providing the predominant military response. it is not the united states military. united states military would provide a certain level of support. and in combatants should be pursued aggressively and ruthlessly, destroy and defeat radical islamic sanctuaries. sanctuaries are safe havens by themselves, attract the conflict and drive up the casualties lucia is as sanctuary. libya is rapidly becoming one. pakistan for 14 years has provided free to sanctuaries for the taliban and has unnecessarily protracted that war. as to iran, in 1980 iran declared the united states a strategic enemy with its stated goal to drive the united states out of the region, achieve regional hegemony and destroy the state of israel. uses proxies' primarily as the
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world's number one state sponsoring terrorism and to fight proxy wars. beginning in year 1980's it began jihad against the united states by bombing the marine barracks, united states embassy and annex of lebanon, something our ambassadors play with. united states embassy in kuwait, the air force barracks in saudi arabia and attacking united states military in iraq using shia militias trained in iran with advanced i eat thes developed by iranian engineers. during the 80s iran began an aggressive kidnapping and assassination campaign which resulted in numerous american hostages and the death of cia station chief buckley. by policy of hostage-taking for political gain continues to this day as we are very much aware. to date the result is u.s. troops left lebanon, saudi arabia and initially iraq.
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iran as you can see on the next map, the changing middle east map in red has direct influence and some control over lebanon, gaza, syria, iraq and the awhile strategically designed to influence not only the major shipping in the gulf but shipping entering and departing the suez canal. let me at editorially when you talk to a leader in the middle east, an arab sunni leader, this is what they think of when they think of iran. this is how they see iran and what it is doing in terms of their future stability and security. excuse me. is there any doubt that iran is on the march and systemically moving toward their regional hegemonic objectives? some suggest that iran is agreeing to delay in acquiring a threshold capability toward a
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nuclear weapon is a transforming event that may lead to iran joining the community of nations seeking stability and security. give them a return of $100 million in sanctions relief funds and a proven track record of belligerence and armed violence to pursue its goal a tough-minded skepticism is in order. to force compliance on the nuclear deal as senator reed mentioned and finally, once and for all, the first development of a regional strategy to counter iran. remarkable fact is that since the killing of americans and hostage-taking by iran and proxy wars began in 1980s no american president, democrat or republican has ever counter iran's regional strategy. note more than ever with iran developing--now more than ever with iran developing the
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ballistic missile capability and likely to cheat on conditions of a nuclear deal because it can, it is an imperative to join with israel, arab and european allies to counter iran's strategy of regional hegemony. part of that should be taken. in syria to reverse the decision that bashar al-assad and stay. it guarantees one never be in negotiated peace. establish a concession, made to the russians to get them to participate. establish safe zones and no-fly zones in syria to change the momentum against the side regime and protect the syrian people, movie eventually to a transition government and independently observed national elections. in iraq establish a key political objective to reduce iranian influence, and strong
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political, military and economic support for the sunni tribe and the kurds. dispatched ambassador crocker to iraq to once again assist and iraq government in achieving political unity, something i have been saying publicly since the 2014 invasion bleaching yemen this is the kingdom of saudi arabia and gulf states pushing back against the foodies with intelligence targeting and striking targets if necessary. ballistic missile testing, a proxy regional behavior, hostage-taking, and any nuclear deal violations should all be matched with tough, unrelenting economic sanctions. failure to counter iran's malign influence has encouraged their aggressive and destructive behavior for 36 years. in conclusion first and foremost
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should return to its historic role of the major out of region power helping our allies to secure a stable and prosperous middle east. the united states major policy challenges in the middle east around the development of comprehensive strategies to defeat radical islam and counter iranian aggression and malign behavior. if these competence these are not addressed they will be in free fall as the middle east problems become a world's problems. in confronting global jihad. the potential of middle east war between the kingdom of saudi arabia and iran supported by their allies is real and a nuclear middle east proliferation leading to the horror of the world's first nuclear exchange is real which has secretary kissinger's major concern as a result of the nuclear deal. the risk has always been high in the middle east and the
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challenges certainly complex but now inadequate strategies and misguided policies are driving up that risk exponentially. thank you and i appreciate you being an extra few minutes to explain that and look forward to your questions. >> ambassador crocker. >> thank you, mr. chairman. members of the committee, and honored to be with you this morning. you have my written testimony, mr. chairman. i will make a few brief remarks so we can get on with the questions. i would start where general keane waxhaleft off. in a region experiencing tunnel to there's been need for 3 engagement and leadership. i have some specifics. i was just in the middle east
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last month talking to some longtime friends in lebanon, the saudis, syrians, there's a perception that the united states is not engaged and maligned forces have a field day out there. our friends are uncertain and scared. our allies are gaining ground. we need to make this clear that what happens in the middle east is a of financial importance to us and at a time when states are failing and non state taxes are rising that has become all too clear that as my good friend and former wing man general david petraeus says what happens in the middle east does not stay in the middle east. that was the lesson of paris.
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so we have an urgent national security imperative here. let me say briefly on iran, that obviously is the issue of the hour around tell, some pretty momentous developments and they are important. the implementation is important for regional security and global security. we have to be very vigilant to see that iran follows through. we are delighted that our hostages of come home but as i look at this over the sweep of recent history, these are transactions. they are not transformations. i am reminded of our arms control agreements with the soviets in the 80s. they made the world safer place
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with a nuclear power, but they didn't transform anything. the cold war continued. we continued to stand against the evil empire in spite of some important arms control transactions. i was in lebanon when some of our hostages were taken and i was in lebanon when they came home. i loaded the remains of my former colleague bill buckley on a helicopter in beirut on christmas eve. the syrians were instrumental in that. the syrians were also instrumental in holding those hostages as was iran. there released didn't transform anything. didn't transform our relationship with syria. syria remains on our list of state sponsors of terrorism as it should have.
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what has happened is important, it is transactional. a broader point is we are witnessing the midst of these hot conflicts a middle eastern cold war, the primary protagonists are in iran and saudi arabia at. iran is on the move, the radical shia militia sponsors in iraq, hezbollah, working with the revolutionary guard to support bashar al-assad in syria, we need to stand clearly not in the middle of this cold war. we need to stand on one side of it and that in my view is with our traditional allies. saudi arabia and the other gulf states, with turkey, with israel, with egypt.
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we have differences with some of them particularly with saudi arabia or yemen, but we have to take the stand here, mr. chairman. the russians have taken a stand, they are all in with iran and bashar al-assad. i think we all know they are not there to fight islamic state. they don't care about islamic state, nor does iran. they care about shoring up bashar al-assad. so that axis, damascus, tehran, moscow is perceived in the region as anti sunni arab texas, the more we don't take sides, the more we try to work with the russians or the iranians the more the perception takes hold among the sunni arabs, a considerable majority of the population of that volatile region. and the more islamic state can make hay out of it.
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i could go on at great length but i won't. i would mention several specific steps we need to take. i would agree with general keen on the importance of establishing a no-fly zone, it has gone infinity harder now that the russians are there. i still would like to see us pursue it and i would imagine this committee is heavily engage with the administration on looking at its feasibility. it in so important like many military actions, is important politically. it would signal to sunni arabs in syria and beyond that we stand with them against the butchery of bashar al-assad. he is killing far more of his own citizens and the islamic state is that it is no surprise that moderate sunni resistance
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groups in syria are more focused on bashar al-assad than they are on the islamic state. taking a stand against bashar al-assad, not to drive him from power. general keane and i differ on this. to change the calculations in damascus and tehran and moscow as to what prolonging the conflict will achieve. then but only then might we get to the table. we are not going to get to the table indeed these current conditions. i talk to iranians, i talk to russians in the middle east. they are on a roll. they are not interested in trying to negotiate a transitional regime. we have to change the facts on the ground this would be one way to do it. there are several other things we can do to indicate we are serious. we have an anti isis on one with whom my work in iraq, should be
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a presidential envoy, should speak for this administration, not for the department of state. we should reinstitute the deputy national security adviser that general douglas console filled in iraq to court makes an interagency efforts against islamic state. from a political perspective i would argue, i note general david petraeus made this point, we should move our headquarters from kuwait to baghdad. it would mean a lot of difference to me to have my military counterpart in the next room and not in the next country. these are small steps, some of them but symbolically important showing that we are in this fight, we're serious about it and going to work with our allies to develop the kind of comprehensive strategy general keane indicates is so important
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so i hope very much that in flow wake of the events of the last week we will take a deep breath, a understand long-term strategic interests in the region, realized the relationship with iran is transactional, they are pursuing their agenda with full force, we need to define and pursue hours with equal force with our allies. thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. borden, welcome. >> thank you, senator, ranking member read, for having me back before the committee, i am honored to be here with my two distinguished colleagues. given the masses of the topic, i submitted a few articles in more detail. i would like to ask they be put in the record so i can use my time here to make three broad points about the region. in the first, the middle east today goes without saying is going through a period of powerful tectonics change that
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the united states did not create and cannot fully control. in the wake of the arab spring in 2011, the state institutions have crumbled in syria, lebanon and elsewhere and i think if we are honestly have to acknowledge those institutions are unlikely to be put back together any time soon. on top of that you have sectarian tensions that are rising across the region. obviously you this issue has persisted for decades or centuries, boosted by the iranian revolution in 1979, and a further boost by the 2003 iraq war which gave iran much more sad in iraq and prompted a sunni response but even in the past years even more than those two developments the result of the arab spring where the question of state institutions and control is up in the air, created space for even more
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sectarian tension and last week obviously we saw those tensions in flames further with the saudi execution of but shia cleric and iran's violent response. the saudi arabia rivalry is a geopolitical conflict that is on top of a sectarian conflict that as long as it persists the biggest conflicts in the region, in iraq, syria and yemen that have sectarian content will be enormously difficult to resolve. we should also remember on top of that that the sunni population across the middle east this itself deeply divided. cenis terrorist groups like al qaeda and isis are sunnis aligned against sunni regimes and the sunni regimes themselves are deeply divided between those who embrace political islam like turkey and cutter and those that are threatened by it including saudi arabia, jordan, united arab emirates and egypt, egypt
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is itself divided down the middle on this topic. so even though most sunni majorities today stand together when it comes to sectarian conflict like iraq and syria and yemen where the sunni states are all aligned together when you face conflicts in places without a sectarian dimension life in libya or egypt the sunni states divide among themselves and you get turkey on one side and the other on the other. i mention all of these points and complexities at the beginning not to suggest that the region is so complex and unstable that there's nothing we can do, but to underscore in the enormity of the challenge we face and the need for a humility as we consider our policy options. we should be extraordinarily careful about assuming there are quick fixes to any of the region's problems and cognizant of the potential for unintended consequences of the actions the we take and i hope and expect we
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will talk more fully about that during the hearing. my second main point is in the context of this regional turmoil the implementation of the iran nuclear agreement last week bias valuable time and presents a real opportunity if we use that time wisely. as everybody here knows when the united states initiated the talks with iran in early 2013 iran was on the for shoulder of a nuclear weapons capability. and now with mothballing of two thirds of centrifuges, shipping out of 97% of low enriched uranium stockpile the ending of its production of 20% uranium, the wholesale redesign of the heavy water reactor in iraq which would have by now been capable of producing enough weapons-grade petroleum--plutonium for one two on the iran the set of common interest infections regime we are no longer faced with a terrible shoelace between using
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military force to set back a program for a couple years, less time than it has now been set back by the agreement or effectively acquiescing to further development. none of this is to say the nuclear deal somehow falls to iran's problem and even proponents which i am one should admit that in some ways it makes the problem worse. we heard some of the consequences referred to hear including concerns about the long-term and concerns about some of the key players in our friend's region and those are real and i thing we should acknowledge them. and iran that gains access to $50 billion of its frozen assets abroad and starts to increase oil sales will be an iran that can devote more resources to nefarious activities in the region. but i think right response to these realities is not to deny them and not to scrap the nuclear deal because doing so would isolate the united states,
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impede our ability to impose effective sanctions and frankly leave us with no good options for stopping the iranian nuclear program. think about north korea which was in the news just the other day, the other week for testing of a nuclear weapon, think about that situation where indeed, isolated, sanction, contained, but the result is not a nonnuclear north korea. is a crazy dictatorship with his hands on numerous nuclear-weapons and a real paucity of potential u.s. response. we are in a better position in iran with the j.c. o a. the alternative is not to deny these problems but to rigorously enforce the deal, use all the tools to contain iran in the region and use the valuable time that it buys us to cautiously explore whether a better relationship with iran is possible in the long term and i hope that is something we can
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discuss during this hearing. third and final point concerns the war in syria and my bottom line is we have enormous national interest in prioritizing the escalation of this conflict even over other important objectives. you really need to think through the strategic consequences of the status quo. conflict in syria is killing or maiming hundreds of thousands of people, innocents, forcing millions of syrians, destabilizing lebanon, jordan, iraq, turkey and radicalizing entire generation of muslims, provoking a far right back lashed in europe, problems with the european union, fostering religious intolerance in the united states and beyond given these enormous strategic costs i think you could say any peace in syria would be better than the current war. to reach this objective is necessary to decouple our attempts to reach a
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comprehensive political settlement in syria, one that includes bashar al-assad's departure from our objective in negotiating a nationwide cease-fire. we would all like to see the indeed departure of bashar al-assad and his cronies but we should face justice for their atrocities, and we would like to see the installation of an inclusive moderate regime. there's almost no prospect for near-term agreement on new detailed institutional arrangements in syria, let alone new leadership. and we have to be honest about that. the delay, the probable delay in this week in the syrian talks scheduled for the 25th of this month is disappointing but not surprising. i know some argue we heard previously today and i suspect we will discuss it that we can produce the political transition in syria that we seek by providing more military support to the opposition or even by intervening military ourselves. given strong commitments by
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russia and iran to support the regime which also maintain significant support among syria's minority and even majority sunnis, i think that such an escalation would lead not to the regime's capitulation the we want to see but rather to a new counterescalation which after all has been the pattern for nearly five years. we should not underestimate the degree of force it would take to displays the regime and again that is what we are talking about, we are not talking about modest succession by the regime but agreeing to disappear, i don't think we should underestimate what it would take to do so or the unintended potential unintended consequences of doing so. as an alternative we put forward a plan along with two colleagues in the rand corp. jeff dobbins and jeff martini, one of the applications i submitted to the record to seek a nationwide cease-fire in place that would
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defer the ultimate disposition of political power in syria including the question of bashar al-assad's rating think the the creation of regional safe zones based on current areas of control in the country, the resumption of humanitarian delivery, prisoner releases and collective focus on destroying isis. i will be the first to admit that even this outcome would be enormously difficult to which event would not be without downsides and risk, this applies to any proposal from the syrian conflict but i do believe it is a more realistic goal than the current one of a comprehensive political, far better than the status quo and more practical than any of the available alternatives. if we just persist with the status quo we could be having adhering in one year, two years or four years and be talking about even greater consequences of this conflict. thank you very much, mr. chairman and i look forward to discussing these questions.
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>> thank you very much and i think the witnesses. i wish the american people and all members of congress could have heard the testimony and discussion that we are about to have. obviously it is a transcendent and now direct threat to the united states of america as evidence did did that in san bernardino and other places. it is a very complex situation and one that requires a lot of understanding and i respect the views of all the witnesses and ambassador crocker, i am especially grateful for your incredible service as well as other witnesses but i will never forget your testimony before this committee which general david petraeus at a crucial time
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in american history. on the issue of how we take care of isis, before we get into syria, many of us have been advocating for a long time an additional several thousand in iraq to retake muzosmosul, defe isis and air power and in addition to that the force of mainly composed of sunni arab countries including turkey and saudi arabia and others with the avowed intention not just of defeating isis by replacing bashar al-assad. we have proven to anyone's satisfaction that if the object is only isis you are not going to find more than four or five young men who are willing to
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fight. that was the testimony before this committee. and yet there is question among all members what is our priority? should we try to a symbol that force to go to and take it out? it is pretty obvious that in roca today they're developing chemical weapons, we have seen the films they published of bomb factories, directing acts of terror throughout the world, using the internet's and as long as it remains in isis's ends they are going to be able to foster terrorism throughout the entire world. at the same time we are seeing a situation i mention in my opening statement, russian air power is having an effect of reducing any capability we might
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have to prevail on the battlefields, thereby hardening the position of bashar al-assad in power, the godfather of isis. it is a very complex situation that has evolved over the years and may be the witnesses can help us out to sort out this -- cut this gordian knot that seems to plague our decisionmakers beginning with you, ambassador crocker. >> thank you, mr. chairman. we have outlined the complexity of what is truly a problem from hell. we have never really seen the formation of a collective arab
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combat force. arab armies fought against israel, 1948, 1967, didn't go well. there was an effort to create an arab deterrent force in lebanon in the 1970s during that civil war, quickly became a purely syrian forces. the other states withdrew their contingents. so i am -- my expectations are under control, let me put it that way. it would be possible to build and field such a force, that would be key, the islamic state said repeatedly as propaganda the crusaders will come and we will destroy them, whether that would be offered a rallying cry
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for them and their recruiting. we have to think that through which is why i started with something incredibly difficult but maybe a bit easier, the notion of a no-fly zone. general keane may speak to the feasibility of that. i am just a civilian. i don't know. in terms of shifting dynamic, not eliminating the regime but weakening it, stopping a humanitarian slaughter, signaling to sunnis in syria as well as outside that we stand with them because right now i don't think they are persuaded. to get support in syria or in the region for an effort against isis we are going to have to deal with what is the number one threat which in syria for the sunnis is bashar al-assad and in the region is iran backed by
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russia. we are going to have to stand up to those forces and show we mean it before we get any serious traction for a serious see any effort in syria or for that matter in iraq. my time is up. >> yes, sir, the russians are in syria for one reason only, that is to support bashar al-assad. they talk the talk about confronting islamic state, we all see the reports of coup they are actually hitting. the islamic state doesn't really threaten bashar al-assad. they have almost a tacit understanding to leave each other alone. it is the groups the we would like to support, should support, that are really locked in with bashar al-assad, bearing the brunt of russian air power.
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they are all in on this, they are all in against us, but we are not doing anything to demonstrate to anyone that we are pushing back. >> great question, senator and i agree with much of what the ambassador said. let me start with syria and go to iraq because syria is isis's center of gravity. what they are doing in iraq is occupying senior land but in syria, it is from syria that they have expanded into those of the elites are described on those maps and it is from c areas they are killing fellow citizens to foment this agreement between muslim and non muslim populations. so cereus tremendous as a center of gravity but it is much much more complex problem. when you talk to leaders, sunni leaders unequivocally they will
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tell you that iran is their number-1 problem. that is their issue. that is why i put that map up because sometimes a visual picture tells an incredible story of what their concern is and that is their number-1 existential threat to the stability and security of their nation. isis is a threat make no mistake but it is second. when you enter into discussion with them about we want to do something about isis in syria and we are going to need your forces to do it, they said what they will do is defer that and come back with we have to do something about bashar al-assad first. we have to get -- do something about bashar al-assad and he is being propped up by the iranians and is a client state of iran which ties to their overall stability and security concerns and that is why the ambassador and i both agreed that while
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there are no military solutions to cerium military solutions, military action does play a role in getting political solutions, it always has since the beginning of time. our thought is it is reasonable to establish no-fly zones to turn the momentum against the regime. the regime is by no means 10 feet tall. this is an organization that is 100,000 with a high desertion rate, low morale, equipment not working very well, they have been narrowed down to 21% of syria is what they control land after a four year civil war, the initial years they nearly lost a war to the rebels, that brought all the iranians in, 5,000 iraqi shiite militia, on the ground, because they were about to lose the state, that was four years ago.
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turn back to last year, and venus to many, and the rebel forces, powerful in this, so is the cia trained rebel force the weekend talk about in terms of numbers that that is a powerful player on the battlefields, so much so the iranians made build business to the russians to convince the wyland nuclear deal is ongoing, we have to take some action. they waited until the nuclear deal was almost finalized and the russians put their base in syria at this summer for one reason only. the enclave was being threatened and that would force the collapse of the regime. here is the rebel forces, four years later actually putting that kind of pressure on the regime the russians thought this was going to be easy and it hasn't been.
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they have begun striking september 30th, months later they have been making some progress. they will eventually wear down these rebels and they will be an enclave established and security buffer for the regime. there is no intention, and not possible for the military assisted by russians and iranians to reclaim syria. that has not happened. all they can get is a security buffer for themselves and that is it. they may go to paul myra which will take considerable force generation to do that, to open up the lines of communication and also because of the significance they have in world opinion but that is it. so military action, turning momentum against this regime, fortunately still has a practicality of its own. if you shut down air power and establish no-fly zones, that then could move to some kind of transition of power and i am not saying bashar al-assad has to go
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tomorrow but we have to not give up on the planned but bashar al-assad must go because there's no way the rebels are going to stop fighting until you get some promise that this regime is going to go. after 250,000 dead and many of their families displaced, these are pretty tough fighters and not giving up on what they have been trying to achieve for four years. in iraq, a different situation but the political component in iraq is paramount importance, out we need to have, we need to, we need to, deters the influence of the iranians with prime minister abbadi. ambassador crocker says other people are the answer. we are after the same bowl. the goal is political unity ainge i am frustrated here because we spent so much time on this nuclear deal we should have been in and out of baghdad with high government officials, secretary of state on the ground, routinely.
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working with this new lead ministration to achieve the political unity the united states has won their political objective but we are not even close to achieving it. the kurds are still looking for money and still looking for the weapons that they need and we are not even close on the tribal force that we need from the sunnis. isis is occupying sunni land exclusively the the kurds have been able to retake the territory back. common sense tells you sunni travel force to hold the territory even if the iraqi army was able to reclaim it and without that it is not going to happen so that is why i have said you need to put more advisers, more trainers inert, have air controllers on the ground, and the ante considerably to convince the sunnis the we are serious about this and move the political situation in that direction and then you start to get some answers in terms of how your going to take mobsmosul.
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>> summarize the challenges and complexities very well. let me pick up on two or three points. your first point about more troops for iraq or what else you can do, there are serious legitimate military things we can and should be looking at to strengthen our ability to deal with isis in iraq and they usually come in the category of more joint tactical air control, more company missions with the iraqis, more special operations forces. >> even apache. >> absolutely. the question on each of those is the balance of benefit versus risk. there are risks and there are risks of americans dying on the battlefield or being captured. military advisers on the ground think there would be a significant benefit from those additions they should absolutely be made because as you suggested
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retaking mosul would do a lot, someone asked about the propaganda campaign and the messaging. visible defeat for isis on the ground like an ramadi but followed by mosul would be important. that should be assessed and potentially revised. >> on the question of raqqa, taking territory but the united states it goes without saying we have the military power to do that alone if necessary. the question there is with the benefit of doing so elway the costs and consequences and one of the unintended consequences i was referring to, when is the lack of a mole --whack a mole that you could take raqqa, but if you take mosul or aleppo you
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have troops on the ground as a recruiting prospect. the arab force doing this for us, it has been on the table for some time and we tried to work with the saudis and others but let's just say they are a long way from being able to deliver, looked at the situation in yemen where you do have a coalition of more than ten muslim countries, arab countries led by the saudis willing to support and fight with the saudis but no ground force, no ability or political willingness to deploy the ground force in yemen. that is just yemen. let alone an ability of these forces to go into syria for iraq. we should be really cautious in bustling we don't have to do it with an arab force to do it for
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us. most of us agree syria is at the heart of these questions. i'm skeptical that modest military steps will lead to a political settlement that we all like to see. whether it is more special forces or a no-fly zone, politically we have to recall we are not talking about a compromise from the regime, we are not talking about a goal of getting it, quote, to the table. we are talking about getting rid of it and raising all sorts of questions among those who support it about their future livelihood. we should not underestimate what it would take or assume that a modest amount of greater support for the opposition, the reason we know that is what we have been doing for almost five years and there have been significant amounts of arms and support that
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have gone to the opposition and the result has been a doubling down by iran and russia and we should acknowledge that to deal with it we would have to directly confront them and apply a lot more military force than has been considered. >> thank you, mr. chairman, thank you gentlemen. let me start with ambassador crocker, thank you again for your extraordinary service. but the issue of a no-fly zone implies at least to meet the cooperation of and adjacent country and there are only two, jordan and turkey. the impression i have and it is just an impression that the jordanians feel they have a sort of no-fly zone because they walked out an arrangement in the south and that their border is not subject to aerial attack more or less. the turks are the most problematic.
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their behavior sometimes is totally unpredictable. what they have done in iraq, sending troops there, what they have done in terms of helping or not helping us the last 50 or 60 kilometers on that border, what is the feasibility of no-fly zone if you get limited or unenthusiastic by in by the turks as heat seems to be the case right now. >> it is the great point, senator. no-fly zones north or south or both would have to have the full support of jordan and the south, turkey in the north, not going to work otherwise. again, it general keane is far more competent than i to speak of it. we would have to enforce a no-fly zone in the air from turkish airspace and probably from patriot missile batteries in turkey so they would have to do it.
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the turks have said, they have been saying for some time now that they favor of no-fly zone and a safe zone. certainly would like to call that bluff if indeed it is a bluff. they said publicly recently that they would like to work with us on support for non isis arab fighters to take care of that gap. i would like to put the two together. doing both. do i think this is easy? obviously not. i am not even sure it is possible, but as we look at horrific landscape out there, the politics inside syria and in the region that make it highly unlikely there is any sustained effort by anyone against islamic state under the current dynamics we have to seriously look at it.
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>> comments before i call on general keane. >> the humanitarian situation is such that we should constantly review whether there is anything we could do to stop the air power being used. absolutely be on the table that has been on the table. beyond that, i would say i would say three things. first, you would have to think about where you are doing the no-fly zone. often people who support it commit it to just the sort of northeast of the country or maybe a sliver on the north and a sliver on the south to avoid coming into direct conflict with the regime and russians, but if you only put it in areas where the regime is not flying anyway we have limited effect. it doesn't work because isis doesn't have air power and the regime is not significantly flying in those parts of the country.
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to have a significant effect on refugees you would have to put it much further west including places like aleppo and then you have refuge problem with the russians. to your specific question about turkey, the problem with the turks because again we spoke extensively with turkey and tried to figure out how to do it together. their insistence once it cover aleppo and beyond and not surprisingly they actually had an interest in us getting to direct military conflict with the regime. the slippery slope many were concerned about was their objective. that we would have to take out air defenses, make the regime weaker and then we would be in conflict with the regime. last point is essential, what are we trying to accomplish with
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it. i am skeptical. if there is a way to do with that protect people and helps the humanitarian situation, great. i am skeptical that it gives us leverage that leads to bashar al-assad's departure. if that is the goal is unlikely that even if we did it, the russians and the iranians would somehow come around to the view that they should get rid of bashar al-assad after all. >> you think after 250,000 killed, mr. borden, you would like to consider it seriously. senator sessions. >> on the no-fly zone ambassador crocker, you indicated that we don't focus, we need to consider the political ramifications. what is happening to europe as a result of the refugee flows is incredible. three senior european officials told me the european union is threatened by the very existence of it. would you agree? i think perhaps the military is
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a 0 less focused because they are not recognizing the enormity of the political danger. >> it is the great point, senator. what we are watching with the refugee flows is worse than at any time since world war ii, far worse. isn't regional problem, it isn't european problem, it is a global problem but it is falling on the region. the syrians themselves, turkey, lebanon and jordan, with enormous refugee populations and as you say in europe, the european union as a political construct, not an economic but political construct is threatened. we have seen in germany, which i consider one of our strongest nato allies under angela merkel,
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she is now been weakened by this, by trying to do the right thing. taking steps in syria that can save lives and reduce flows of people out of syria is imperative, it is the humanitarian issue but also apolitical issue so it is using military assets for political and humanitarian purposes. i wish we could get on with it, obviously there are very complex questions as to how far you have to go to make a difference, i am all for taking out the air defenses. this is not going to take as to total war. if that is what is required we should look at it. in that delightful position of total irresponsibility since i represent nothing but myself but i think these are questions for
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the administration, congress and particularly this committee to look very seriously at. .. the middle east will just go nuclear. i take each of secretary kis


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