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tv   [untitled]    June 27, 2012 1:30pm-2:06pm EDT

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so my question to you is, you can talk about ngos being margin marginalized but we have this problem of this culture problem inside these countries that we can't very well top-down address from outside, can we? even as wonderful as the drl is and historically has been, what can drl do? i'm just going to jump to the women, as an example. what do you do there other than watch hillary clinton? and she did have -- i was there for the yemen town hall with hillary clinton. it will make history one day. not enough people saw it. she had this town hall. it turned out to be ten days before they started marching. they were all standing up. at first they were challenging her saying, what are you going to do to support us on human right rights? she said, you do it and i'll support you. we want reform. you're right. i support you. it was ruckus. it was truly ruckus. my point is, a few days later i'm in yemen. she's gone. i meet women who were forced into marriage at 5, 6, 7 years old. women are nothing there. they said to me, yeah, we're property, that's all we are. all i'm asking is, an
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institution like drl, with culture, particularly, what are the mechanisms? >> well, it's a huge and important question, and i think one of the things that dan freed said in the last panel that i think needs to be repeated over and over again is that we have to be clear about our values. we have to be clear about our long-term interests. and we have to hold our nerve in terms of exacting change. we had panels this morning talking about, you know, latin america. latin america change didn't occur overnight. it occurred because civil society grew. many of them tied to the catholic church. built up a constituency that basically challenged governments that were behaving badly. we heard in the last panel about what happened throughout eastern europe in the soviet union. dick shifter and dan freed and others worked with the dissident
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community there that for years everybody ignored and they thought these people are really, you know, it's a fool's errand. they're not going to get anywhere. so where are we in the middle east? we're in the early stage of a very imperfect set of political transitions. women are -- and other vulnerable groups are clearly marginalized. you hear from women all the time. you know, we were standing in the streets. we were arm in arm. and then when the political process starts, we're ignored. >> right. >> and so the question of political empowerment of women is a critical piece of building sustainable democracies in the middle east. we're not going to make it happen alone, but we have to be pushing for it. [ applause ] and i think, you know, the work that tammy did, the work we're trying to do in drl is a piece of it. again, we start from the premise, it's not our -- these are not our revolutions. they're led byise,t's not our - are not our revolutions. they're led by people in egypt
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and libya, where i was last week, in bahrain, there are people in those countries who are going to demand change. they're going to demand dignity. and we have to amply few the ll voices. we do that all the time. we can protect them when they get in trouble. they're always getting in trouble. we can throw a lifeline. >> we didn't protect protesters in bahrain. >> no, the truth is we spent a lot of time -- everybody in these positions knows we spend a lot of time, so much out of the headlines, dealing with individuals who are on the firing line. who get in trouble. secretary clinton routinely meets with civil society groups. we constantly raise individual cases. sometimes it takes a year, sometimes we struggle on and on. but that is part of the -- that's part of the mandate. that's part of the enterprise. >> help me understand libya versus syria. we're still in the middle of syria. mike, i'll put you on the hot seat right now. >> that's fine.
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i spend a lot of time there. >> let's just get to syria. i know, lorne, you wanted to say something about this. i'll let you in just a minute. it is -- everyone i look to, you know, we all grew up having our parents say never again. never again. look at syria today, mike. >> look, you know, we can and do on a daily basis both denounce the atrocities, the outrages of the assad government. we've said and will continue to say he's lost the trust and faith of his own people, that he has to be replaced. those are the -- that's in a way the simple part. we can all agree that it's a completely outrageous situation that has to change. as you heard from tom pickering and others in the previous panel, trying to figure out how to get there is more complicated. libya was a country divided geographically where a combination of the arab league and the security council of the united nations provided a basis
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for us to participate in a no-fly zone, which helped libyans take the part of the country that wasn't under their control. seyria is a very different set f circumstances. it's a different opposition, it's different geography, the politics are different. that does not mean we're not resolute in what needs to be done. we're ramping up sanctions, working with friends of sere yr. the monitors, themselves, are not being attacked. we're looking at a transitional plan. we're putting pressure to the extent we can on the russians and the chinese, but they are not on our side on this. so let's be honest about where we are. we're in a very dire situation. the people of syria, again, mostly women and children, are being attacked every day by government forces in a way that's unconscionable. we're determined to change that.
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but the pathway forward at this moment depends not just on us, it depends on other actors. >> lorne, did you want to say something on this? how much has this challenge changed since you were here? doesn't this -- you and i were talking a few minutes ago about burma, but burma's gone the other direction the past year. how much has changed since the drl you were -- >> no, i think dan freed put it very, very well this morning. the tough job in this building is judging, you know, what i used to call the primary job of the united states government, which is to protect the american people versus the issue, the issues of idealism that we have all, a lot of us have dedicated our lives to. it's how you balance them off. that's what drl is doing. >> but haven't we learned day are the same? that -- isn't that what we were talking about all morning? that they aren't -- i guess dan freed said they're not always the same, but they are more the same -- the human rights is in the national security interest, is it not? >> no, i don't think there's any question. i worked here under secretary
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baker under bush 41. it was a different time in terms of consideration of human rights issues. it was not as prominent an issue. and you have had a bipartisan series of secretaries of state, madeleine allbright, colin powell, secretary rice, secretary clinton, who care deeply about these issues. and there's no question in my mind. i find the culture very, very different on these issues when i came back in '01 than when i had left in 1992. and the fact that you have secretaries of state who are saying, yes, these issues are important to the building, you need to pay attention to them, then you start seeing what tamara was talking about. where -- i don't think in dick shifter's time there were too many embassies going out talking to civil society groups. it was a very, very tough slog. over time the culture has changed. unfortunately, it's not only the case that, you know, our national security interests are identical, but they are
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certainly reinforced. >> did you want to say something on this? >> please, dick. i keep referring -- >> ambassador shifter. absolutely. a mike. >> one thing that has struck me in connection with the present situation regarding the concerns about syria is that in february 1982, 30 years ago, i represented the united states at the u.n. human rights commission. and assad's father killed in all likelihood more people than have been killed so far this year. the news came in. i did not have any instructions from the department on this.
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when we had our western caucus meeting the following day, i raised the issue of what we're going to do about syria. the response was zero. zero. nobody paid attention. this is all the europes and the canadians, australians. the western clubs. nothing. no response. and then i kept pushing it, and if i may say so, a few days later i got the word from nea, stop it. >> stop it. >> i think dick's pointing out something really important which is, again, i said the culture of the building has changed. i think the culture of the world has changed. that in those days when you had a few dozen democracies out of 160-some countries, it was acceptable to be an authoritarian country.
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you were still part of the club. it was a little distasteful to deal with you, but it was okay. it's not okay anymore. and i think this is why, you know, a country like a burma begins to open up. you know, why they realize, we're just not part of the 21st century if we're governing our people and treating our people like this. ultimately, i think that's going to have a lot of import. in terms of what's going on in china. obviously technology has affected that. people are able to see much more easily now than they could 30 years ago, that what's going on inside our country's not normal. but it isn't normal anymore. most countries are democratic. that's a huge development. >> i would love to get into that with any of you that want to jump in on the role of new technologies. didn't work for the green revolution, did it, in iran? it did for a moment, but it certainly hasn't yet. it seemed to work in egypt. we've traced that. right? tamara, any of you, why don't you tell me -- mike, i know you have a lot of thoughts on this
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on the role of new technologies and media in the new technology age. >> when you say "it," you know, i think our view has been always that technology doesn't cause revolutions or social change. people do. but it does aid them. and so our premise has been over the last several years, and paul and tim have been incredibly helpful in supporting this, that we really ought to be approaching these internet issues from the perspective of reinforcing traditional human rights standards. this is about free speech, free assembly, free association. it's creating an open space for activists to use new technologies, to advance their causes. part of what we've learned over time, it's not just about opening up the space and creating less constraints as there are in places like iran or china, but it's also about protecting people who use these new technologies who don't
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really have a sense of some of the risks associated. so a lot of the support we've gotten from congress has gone to really reinforce the need for training and support for activists so they're a voice for democracy in their own society, equipped with tools that are safe and effective. it is transformational. take people where they are and recognize you're really empowering their voice, the voice is already there. >> let me ask you, you were in burma. everybody's been to burma. i thought when i went four weeks ago that i was the first person. i've come back. everybody says, i've just been to burma. my question to you on that, lorne, there are no cell towers, no cell phones. blacker blacker blackberries don't work. i met a group of young women all working in the political realm who are pro democracy and were all on facebook. i'm told they represent t the .002% who are on facebook.
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i continuldn't get my internet and running there. the past year with burma, we've seen the profound change i have to believe has a lot to do with how the state department has done this, but it happened without that. it happened without -- >> without technology. >> yeah. >> well, it's exactly what mike said. you know, i think -- i remember i had someone say to me iri ought to honor the founder of facebook. i was kind of like, why? well, because it was so important in the arab revolutions. exactly what mike said. this isn't about facebook and twitter. it's about the fire in people's hearts. the fire can be expressed through facebook and twitter and amplified through facebook and twitter, but facebook and twitter are no more responsible for the arab spring than the machine was for solidarity in the 1980s. it's a mechanism. and it's a useful mechanism, but it's not the answer.
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that's why, you know, i think, as you said, lots of technology, no revolution. it all depends on how it's used. >> well, chun said at this council of foreign relations last week, he said he thinks it's going to be impossible for china to hold on to this much longer because of technologies. >> yes, yes. >> that you just don't have the ability to close off a country the way you once did. would you agree with that? >> yes, but, again, it's catalytic. it's not the cause of revolution. >> did you want to say something on that? >> well, just on that final sense of lorne's, i think the point is that people have access to information now. the state can not monopolize their sense of how their country's doing, how it compares to the rest of the world. and i think that was, in fact, the primary impact of technology in the arab world and i think it will be in china as well, is that people in egypt could see that the countries their government kept telling them were their peers, india and e
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indonesia, were just zooming ahead and they were just stuck. >> somebody who's worked on burma the last 15 years, i want to make a couple observations. first of all, we don't foe what's going on there. it's transformational in some senses. we don't know how this ends. >> will we not know until the 2016 -- when will we know? the next election? >> the next elections will be a good indication. but as i say, look at the factors of change that have been factors of change over time. or the monks under pressure now, more pressure. what about the political prisoners that have been released? so we need to be very careful in how we describe what's happening. the burmese and the people of burma don't need facebook or cell phones for them to be inspired to go against the regime. this is a regime that has had the boot on their necks for a very long time. anybody who's been to the border, and iri has worked with these people for decades, has stood with them shoulder by shoulder, which goes back to
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what we are and who we are as a nation. you have some of the oldest students that are still out there. >> right, right. >> and they still work for the day where they can go back. >> what's been the turning point this year? >> i mean, why this year then? why this past year? they released aung san suu kyi. we were suggesting it has more to do with china. everyone talked -- >> calculation is certainly -- what you have that i see happening in burma is you have a recognition by others, not just taun shuay who is introspective but leaders saying our position in the world matters, our position in the region matters. so they've gone from a taun shuay led internal focus to this realization. it's like somebody popped their head up. somebody who was not in prison popped their head up and said, oh, my god, the rest of the world is out there. we're behind the curb. so i thing that's one of the motivators. but this issue of technology,
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what it can do in burma will be interesting to see, as it opens up. but the programs that we run, voa, radio free asia, you know, let's not forget that's what we also use to reach out. anybody who's been there know the folks in the region listen to that. so we have other means that we've been using since -- >> mike, i don't know where we are on time, but mike, i very much want to -- so much as changed since 2001 in terms of what this -- what drl does. lorne brought in programming. i had to explain programming a bit, which my eyes glaze over at the word programming, but i get it. which is you more than just report anymore. you're going to put teeth into the notion of what human rights is. but mike, you have all these -- let me just read through this. disabilities, labor, anti-semitism, religious freedom, internet freedom, civil society, lgbt. you're busy. you're really busy. business and human rights. what's business and human rights? that's interesting to me.
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anyway. go ahead. tell me -- tell me what you're -- tell me about the new drl under mike posner. >> i would just say, i don't know that it's -- it's an evolvievolve ing drl. as said this morning, it will constantly need to evolve and we just need to keep up the fight. because there's a lot of work that's not done. what is important, i think, we do lead the league, as you suggest, in generally unfunded mandates to do work. but they're important pieces. they're part of a vision. the vision from the secretary and the president now is that when we talk about democracy, we talk about human rights, we recognize that it's a process. and the building blocks are empowering women and having the rule of law and having accountability and transparency. strengthening civil society. supporting vulnerable groups. women, children, the lgbt community. all of this is part of the mix. i'm really proud of the fact
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that this administration has added judy human as a special adviser on disabilities issues. that we have hannah rosenthal working on anti-semitism, barbara shaler on labor issues which is a critical piece of our agenda. it's part of the notion in addition to having elections which is obviously a critical piece of democracy, and it's the work that iri, ndi do so brilliantly, it's also these other building blocks. and i think the thing i'm most proud of, frankly, if what we've done the last couple years is to strengthen the tissue that makes these issues more central to what the state department does. so we're working not -- there are challenges with our regional bureaus, but with nea, for example, there are many, many times when we're working hand in hand on a shared agenda that says, this is really now the policy of the united states to be smart, to be effective, as the secretary said, to have
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strong strategy and our national interest, human rights has to be a piece of that. >> and integrated with congress in a digit way than it once was? i mean, again, this gets back to american political will and it is an election year. i will and it is an election year. that's always the test case, isn't it? >> what people are willing to stomach and whether they care. i mean, we have pollsters telling candidates whether they really care and right at this moment, millions starving in north korea every day, right? and you don't talk about it and i would suggest to you that the media also failed and i remember that massacre and i remember i was at "nightline" and we did something on it and we didn't have much effect and the media did not do enough there and again, we tend not to do anything that's not visual. schr schrebis ina became visible when they stood on the fence and said
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this san atrocity. my question for all of you and especially those in congress, don't you -- how do you do your side of this job when your job has to do with political will? well, i think that those of us who have been doing this for a while, we have seen the evolution that lauren and mike have talked about it and the role that it plays and to the extent it has been integrated into the role of the department as a whole, and from our point of view, these are issues that are deeply important with members on both sides who worked closely together and we see the role of this office as being
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critical to the success of, and the democratic institutions around the world, human rights particularly and that we know that it's a difficult, often as paul described, messy process, finding consistency in what we do is not always easy, but when it comes to the work of this office and the role that it plays and the role it seeks to promote or defend there is considerable, political will and support and a desire to ensure that this office has the capacity to really fulfill its responsibilities. it's not always been that way. there have been types when it's been a backwater without any real budget, often ignored and i don't think that's the case today and it's been a process over the years and it's
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certainly, i think, the fact that paul and i are here together we work very closely on these issues and we see them as fundamental and that this is an office that we want to ensure has the resources necessary to do its job. >> i just want to make one comment and observation. the committee r sponds to what the president sends up and one way that relationship can bes improved is that the president includes in his request sufficient funding for those issues that both the executive branch and congress find important, and i think once you get to that point where a request comes up and congress is endorsing it and not that congress is putting something in or a back channel conversation is going about what's needed, that is an indication of a good balance that we were talking about here. >> you wanted to address this and i do want to ask you about
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this because we're in a moment where we have a terrible unemployment crisis. people talk about -- they don't really want to hear about middle east right now. they want to hear about jobs. >> so i'll let you juxtapose that. you're absolutely right. it's a tough environment in which to make the case for funding this kind of work, but, i think, tim and paul have made an important point that budget is important, it's meaningful and it's meaningful as a signal to the bureaucracy and it's also meaningful in practice and the fact that drl has a programming office and programming capacity that's only become more robust and sophisticated over time, i think has been a factor in helping integrate the bureau into the department because, you know, speaking from a regional bureau perspective where anyone
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was fortunate enough to have an office and a budget devoted to advancing political and economic reform in our region, but when you tell embassies not only am i going to kind of wag my finger at you about making sure these issues are in your talking point, but i'm going to be doing things in your country. that all of a sudden changes the nature of the conversation and the embassies start to think about what can this money do for me? and it gives a mistake in the work of democracy and human rights promotion that they didn't necessarily have before, and what i saw as a scholar when i was tracking it from its establishment in december 2002 through the course of the bush administration was how the existence of this political reform programming office changed the incentive structure for diplomats in nea who were working on these issues. all of a sudden we started to think what could i do in my
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country to get some of this money and then i get credit for getting the money and i get evaluated on the basis of that. more broadly, though, it gets to the transformation of u.s. diplomacy and the fact that diplomats all around the world are not just talking and they're not just writing reporting cables and they're doing it in all kinds of ways and the democracy in human rights programming is just one arm of what secretary rice called transformation diplomacy and what secretary clinton calls smart power. we're just doing that everywhere now. >> go ahead, lauren. >> one thing worth noting, of the list of offices that you read off, i don't think any -- the only one i can remember created by the executive was nothing, drl would not have exist if not for the hill, trafficking would not exist, religious freedom, anti-semitism and i used to say, and i thought -- i had great support,
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i was the third guy in the room talking after the president and secretary of state. they were the chair and vice chair on my board of directors, but i always remembered what i had been told coming in here which was that somebody told me the hill would be best friends and that was true. the hill would be your best friends because the hill in our democracy reflects the thoughts and desires of the american elective. i found a huge amount of support on capitol hill on these issues. >> that's good to know. we are told deputy burns is still delayed at the white house. >> it's five minutes until he arrives? >> we have five minutes. sorry. we'll just get around to a couple of more hot seat questions and then we'll wrap it up. i just want to get back to where we are today, whether it's egypt, whether it's tunisia
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which shows me some more promise, particularly, we're talking about the arab spring right now, libya, bahrain, i can go on and on. i can also mention this as saudi arabia and the vital voices attend this week and they attend to the custody of the son and we can talk about the complicated relationship with saudi arabia, but i find that pretty interesting that an honoree was not allowed to attend at the kennedy center and is the woman who drove her car on youtube. that's all she did. she drove and she put on youtube and saudi arabia did not allow her to leave. she also, i invited her last spring to our event and she couldn't come for similar reasons and this time they threatened her son. i'm going to the dark place right now which is syria, the news out of russia, putin, this is a marvelous and drl is a
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wonderful thing, but have we come very far? what have we done wrong? is there anything you would ask either congress or the public, what can be done differently when we face what we're facing today. the news is quite grim with the news around the world. go ahead, mike. >> it's your turn. >> what do i say? >> i take a more optimistic view. i've worked in this field for a lot of years and so i think that sort of makes me a chronic optimist and i do believe what lorne said, not only is the public our friend, the media is our friend and the ngo community, so many here, represent the true heart of the american people. these are issues that matter to americans. they matter deeply and there is a bipartisan
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