tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN December 12, 2014 9:00am-11:01am EST
. i have been involved in many aumfs and not a single one generated from the congress. the reason why constitution calls the president the commander-in-chief is because he's supposed to lead. if he wants an authorization for the use of military force, he should lead and tell us what he wants that authorization to be. and frankly, for you to say that, well, we welcome it or whatever it is, of course, is an . abrigation of the responsibilities of the president of the united states as commander-in-chief. as we go through this charade whether or not we have a vote or not almost makes it all irrelevant. i would hope in january we're working with the new chairman and the new ranking member and other members of this committee that the president of the united states to the congress and to this committee and we could work together on it.
but it's got to be led by the commander-in-chief. frankly, that's how the system works. that's how it's worked every time. now, i'd like to switch gears real quickly. >> u.s.-back. syrian rebels linked to al qaeda. time is running out for obama and syria. western-backed syrian rebels are in danger of collapse before help arrives. all of these are well-known media experts and they are on the verge of collapse and they are getting beaten very badly. one of the major reasons they are getting beaten very badly is because they're subject to bombing and air attacks from bashar al assad. so i guess my question again is -- and by the way, ambassador james jeffrey says time isn't on our time. reconsider the no combat formations on the ground decision because you may have to either renege on that or you may
have to fall off your very important mission of destroying isis. there's a gap between the two. ambassador ford, isis is not something which drone strikes or f-16 strikes is going to contain because the islamic state, it's a state. so you do not e destroy a state with drone strikes. you're going to require boots on the ground. so what we're seeing, i'd say to you, mr. secretary, is the incrementalism that i saw in the vietnam war. we're seeing decisions made in a tight circle in. the white house. we're seeing them incremental implemented. we're seeing 200 additional troops and 500 more and then 1,000 more. meanwhile, our syrian rebels honestly do not understand why you won't protect them from bashar al assad's intense bombing campaign and we're not attacking bashar al assad and we're asking these young people to fight and to die and bashar
al assad, as you should know, is their major enemy and we're not doing anything to stop bashar al assad from bombing them and slaughtering them. this is the guy that has killed 200,000. this is the guy that's caused 3 1/2 million refugees. this is a guy that still has 0 150,000 people in his prisons which he's treated with great atrocities. still one of the great mysteries to me in my life is these smoe to photos smuggled out. got no response from the president of the united states or frankly from you. the rebels are being routed because they are being attacked not only by bashar al assad, but also extremist organizations called isis and others. and they are in the verge of collapse, at least in one part of the country. now you're telling me we have a strategy to defeat bashar al
assad and we have a strategy to defeat isis in iraq and syria, even though we are treating them as two separate battles, at least as far as strategy is concerned. maybe you can respond to that and tell me what -- how you justify morally telling young syrians to go and fight in syria and yet allow them to be barrel bombed by bashar al assad, whose intensity of airstrikes vastly increased those greater than those of u.s. airstrikes on isis. >> well, senator, thank you. look, i think everybody, there are certain frustrations here, we all understand that. and i'll come back to syria in one quick moment, but in point of fact, if i can correct you, you're not correct that when we have been here there have not been instances where authorizations didn't originate
right here in the committee. the year before i came here on the lebanon in 1983 it did. in 1991 when i was here, it originated here in the committee. george herbert walker bush sent 350,000 troops to the middle east to respond -- >> i'd be glad to argue with you about it, but it has been led by the presidents. i'd appreciate if you'd go on and justify how we can continue the massacre of brave young syrians. >> i'll come back to it, but i'm going to answer the question. >> i didn't ask a question. i made a statement. please move on to the slaughter in syria, please. >> i'm not going to sit here like a ping-pong ball. i think your statement was incorrect. and you know everybody is accountable for what they say and so are you. the fact is you're incorrect. on january 8th, 1991, bush sent a letter here requesting it to adopt a resolution and a few days later congress gave him
what he asked for. congress originated it. >> and i was there and he came over with a proposal. so go ahead. he did come over with a proposal. >> you and i can argue about that if you want to. i was here too. he came over with a proposal. >> he did not and the record will show that. >> the record will show that he did. >> and again, in somalia in 1993, the committee, likewise, did it. i served on the committee. i think i know what happened back then. and senator biden, now vice president, was on the committee. we know what happened. so we can let the record speak to that. with respect to what is happening, i think i was up front and stated that in the north they are seriously challenged. we understand that. we said that. but the fact is that more is being done and more is being done than i can talk about here in this hearing, but the fact is that there are greater capacities being provided to the
opposition, and our hope is that when we work things through with the turks and over the next days, certain decisions will be made that, in fact, will provide greater capacity. but yes, they are challenged today in the north. but here's the reality. what we are doing to train them, the opposition, and what is being done with respect to isil, because the opposition particularly in the north has been fighting isil and they have been fighting the regime. they've been fighting al nusra. >> we're allowing them to be barrel bombed. >> we're not allowing them -- >> we're not preventing them from being barrel bombed. >> is the committee ready to vote? how many votes on there on this committee for american forces to now go in -- >> that's not my answer. my answer is to give them the weapons they need. which they don't have. they do not have those weapons. it's been three years. it's 200,000 dead. i said we were going to hit the trifecta. you hit it on syria, you hit it on palestinians,
israelis and now you're going to hit it on iran. and now you're still not giving these people the support they need and deserve while 200,000 have been butchered. >> senator, we are in the process right now, and i think you know this, there are certain things that are happening and i don't think -- i think it's a lit disingenuitious to say that nothing is being considered and nothing is happening when it is. and the fact is in a classified setting, you can go through precisely what is taking place and i think you'll have a better sense of the options. >> i'm sure those young people dying in syria are pleased to know that things are happening that we can't even talk about. >> senator, i mean, the rules of the senate. classified information is classified information. if you want to fight about that, you can. >> i'm not talking about classified information. i want to know why we haven't helped them for the last three, four years. >> the time for the senator has expired. >> senator, we are helping them.
we might not be helping them to your satisfaction, but there's a lot of help being given to them. >> senator murphy. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you and the ranking member, secretary kerry, for taking this process so seriously. i don't think this is a charade. whether or not we pass this through the house and the senate in the next few days, this has been a forcing mechanism without a submission from the administration for whatever reason they may have. we needed this process. we needed these deliberations in order to get to a text that while it may not pass through both houses will be much more easily passed in january because of the work this chairman and this committee has done and hopefully the discussions that secretary kerry is prepared to be a part of. two quick points. the second leading into a question. i think what we're talking about here is a distinction what the administration believes to be preferable in authorization and what many of us believe to be
necessary, which is an authorization. and just by way of explanation as to why we think that, there's a difference in what we believe isis to be. many of us don't respectfully believe this is a matter of a name change. this is an organization whose name is different, but who had a very specific tactical and strategical difference with al qaeda. there is a change in hire erarc and many of us worry that if a change in name and change in tactic and a change in strategy and a change in hierarchy doesn't prompt us to pass a new authorization, we're not sure how we ever get out from underneath the original 2001 aumf. which is why we think this is vitally necessary. my second point is on this question of limitations. senator flake and senator johnson rattled off a list of authorizations that were fairly open-ended in nature and that
certainly has been the practice often of this congress. i can rattle you off a similar list of authorizations that the congress has passed that have limitations. you can start in the 1790s with our authorizations for action against the french navy, but fast forward to 1983 in lebanon, 1993 in somalia, 2013, the authorization passed by this committee. all of them had different kinds of limitations. limitations on time, limitations on tactics. it really is just a question of whether we think that the policy that we're talking about is so important that it should be in statutory language. i think that's what you're hearing from many of us on this committee. we understand that it is preferable to have a bipartisan bill. in most circumstances it's probably preferable to the administration, but occasionally
there are questions so important that they are deserving of a statutory limitation. that's why i think we're having this struggle on this question of ground forces. many of us believe that the deployment of ground forces in the middle east today would essentially be fighting a fire with gasoline. that if we have learned anything from the last ten years, it's that the massive deployment of american forces create twice as many foreign fighters and extremist fighters as they eliminate in the long run and provide a crutch for domestic governments to stand down and let us do all the work. while they continue to stew in their dysfunction. there is substantial disagreement that there's an element of the military that would like to have a serious conversation about the deployment of ground forces and we take, and i take at least, i
take a prohibition from the president incredibly seriously. i don't doubt for a second that you and the president are committed to keeping ground forces out of this equation. but many of us worry that that balance could tip or that the next administration could think differently. so i guess my question would just be simple. it would be helpful to hear a little bit more about why you think -- why the policy is such that you think it would be a bad idea that it would be counter to our policy of degrading and defeating isil to insert ground forces into the equation. because we sort of just take that for granted, but that clearly is a debate that's happening within foreign policy circles, this committee, this administration and it would be helpful to hear how strongly that view is held within the department of state and the department of -- and within the white house. >> well, senator, thank you for a very articulate statement of
sort of what the tensions are here and what's at stake. i don't disagree with you. i think it is important for congress to have that statutory statement of some kind or another. and i assure you president obama who served on this committee for four years and senator biden, now vice president, served in this committee for 30 years or near, both are huge supporters of the war powers act, as i am. he's lived by it even in situations where he felt like he didn't have to set it up, he set it up. he was moved on the side of caution. and of compliance. and they believe it is important to have an appropriate authorization of military force.
but as president of the united states, he also believes that his constitutional authority is vital and his ability as commander-in-chief to fully empower his military to be able to affect what he needs should not be micromanaged and restrained in a way that might eliminate, might eliminate some option they may need at some point in time. it would be hard to imagine given the experience of iraq and all that we learned about our forces on the ground and these reactions of people indigenously that you talked about that someone's going to voluntarily say we ought to have major ground force for a long period of time. what we're really talking about is protecting against emergencies, certain circumstances that may or may not arise. for instance, like the rescue effort, tragically, that didn't work of luke somers the other day, would that have been envisioned within it.
i don't know. i don't think so. but there are other circumstances that may arise. and we can't predict them all. nobody can. so all we're trying to do is preserve -- and again i say -- the duration, the time frame here is such. and i think you yourselves, you have to trust your own power in the congress and the ability of congress, if there were suddenly movements to do this, i can't imagine it being funded. i can't imagine there isn't going to be a hue and cry that would be overwhelming in reaction to that. absent some, again, extraordinary circumstances that merited that kind of response. but do you want to preguess that? do you want to predetermine what -- then you're tangled up in a statutory knot trying to get out of it. i think the better part of wisdom here is to try to
maintain an adequate level of flexibility, but at the same time preserve your prerogative through the duration of time. et cetera. the administration has said the president is prepared to have his people sit carefully, work through this language, try to see how to balance these equities. what he wants is the broadest vote possible. get everybody in a place where they are comfortable, if that is achievable, and i think it ought to be. >> i appreciate that. i think the more you review the chairman's draft, you'll see that that specific hypothetical that you posed is covered by one of these exceptions. i would imagine every other hypothetical that could be presented is going to be covered by the exceptions in the draft. but i look forward to that process. i don't think there's reason to be as scared of the limitations as you may be. >> if they are all covered, maybe it's better to say
something about no enduring activity. there's a way to cover it with one sentence. let's think about other ways -- all i'm saying is, folks, let's agree to try to find a way to talk this through without -- >> as i turn to the senator, let me say on that particular issue, page 5 of the draft says that troops are permitted for the protection or rescue of members of the u.s. armed forces or united states citizens from imminent danger posed by isis. so it envisioned that. >> but i have other examples. >> i'm sure we could throw out a hundred. i'm not sure there would be language that could cover all hupd hundred of them. but as i say, i'm happy to see the language if that can be envisioned. >> thank you, mr. chairman. today's hearing on the authorization of the use of military force against isil, i believe, is critically important. declaring war or authorizing the use of military force is one of the most serious responsibilities of congress.
there can hardly be a task more weighty and solemn than sending our nation's sons or daughters into harm's way to protect our interests. i believe president obama has an obligation to congress and to the american people to spell out the direct threat posed by isil, to outline his strategy for comprehensively destroying isil and request the authorities he needs to successfully complete the mission. i believe isil is a threat to our homeland and i support efforts to eliminate this terrorist threat. our committee is debating the authorization for the use of military force while the president has already been taking offensive military actions against isil for months. president obama hasn't submitted a request outlining that authorization that he is seeking from congress. normally when the executive branch wants an authorization for the use of military force, it formally requests that military authorization and then is actively involved in negotiating over the language
and advocating its passage. that's how the 2001 aumf was developed. we see no similar effort on behalf of the obama administration. so in the absence of the administration specific request or submission of a proposal for authorization, some members of congress are more interested in placing imt limitations in the aumf and trying the hands of the president and our nation's generals. whether it is strategic or geographic, these are misguided and dangerous. congress should not try to micromanage a war through authorization. if the administration had provided military and intelligence witnesses -- the chairman has already made a comment about your willingness to come forward but not having all of the abilities to answer all the questions, i would have asked how the limitation of the use of ground troops would impact the military's planning and the ability to respond to conditions on the ground.
so since they are not here, i ask you, how do we ensure that any aumf continues to allow the u.s. to strike and destroy isis should it expand outside of any limitations, which may be included in an aumf that's being offered? >> well, that's precisely why we're trying to work out this question of the limitations. because i can't answer it otherwise. >> you believe there should not be limitations. >> i say we are prepared to embrace a clarification, a process by which there's an understanding of how we can balance these equities. it may require some kind of restraint that we feel would not abrogate responsibilities. i think there's a way to work at it, and that's what we're offering to try to do. i think that -- an example, what
about non-u.s. hostage or prisoner? that might be a situation. you can run through all kinds of things here. the point is we're just trying to preclude sending restraint messages to folks that we're trying to defeat and degrade and at the same time balance the equities of the concerns people have about the open-endedness that we've lived with in the past. and it is a legitimate concern. everybody ought to help try to find a way to work that through and in doing so, we can ensure that we have the kind of broad-based bipartisan resolution that we deserve. >> do you think there are specific authorities that the administration needs that they currently don't have to degrade and destroy isil? >> at this point in time -- you mean the authorization we're living with at this point? >> yeah.
>> no. i think the president feels he has the full authority, both constitutionally and through the current aumf. but we acknowledge that it needs refining. we acknowledge that there is a gap in time and a sufficient differential in what we're fighting that the american people are owed a more precise articulation that meets the current moment. and that's what the president is saying we should have. >> mr. secretary, your predecessor at georgetown university, hillary clinton, recently stated in a speech at georgetown that america needs to show respect for our enemies and empathize with their perspective and point of view. isis terrorists aren't simply going to go away. we can't ignore them and hope that they embrace our values. we can't empathize and show respect to people who have brutally murdered americans. do you believe as secretary of state that a key solution to our enemies such as isis and al qaeda, is quote, showing respect and empathizing with their
perspective and point of view? >> i missed the first part of the quote, i apologize. what was it -- empathize -- >> hillary clinton at georgetown recently said that america needs to show respect for our enemies and empathize with their perspective and point of view. >> i don't think she was referring -- i'm confident -- i no he she was not referring to a group like d.a.s.h. i think she's -- you know, i think in terms of what she meant, there is no question in my mind, she is referring to those out there with whom we are not actively fighting or engaged in a war but who are behaving in ways that are clearly opposed to our interests. there are plenty of people in that status, regrettably, whether it is in the middle east in certain countries or in other parts of the world. we have a lot of tensions right now with russia. and it's clear that any
analysis of what is happening in ukraine and how you deal with it or in other parts of the world requires you to look very carefully at all their posturing and where it comes from and what may be involved and how one might be able to diffuse it. so i that have no doubt that does not include a group like d.a.s.h. it would be unfair to insinuate that it does. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. a lot has been made here about placing restrictions on aums. the suggestion that there's no propose dent for congress doing that. that's simply not true. the fact is that most aumfs historically have limited the type of forces deployed into harm's way, the geographic scope and the period of time. it's declarations of war, which is not what we're doing that have typically authorized the president to use all military means available to the united
states for unlimited duration. my text is clearly not a declaration of war nor has the administration asked us for a declaration of war. several of my colleagues have noted this, but some of the aumfs that have included restrictions are the 1993 somalia aumf which authorized u.s. armed forces, in a limited way, to protect u.s. personnel and assist in short-term security of u.n. units. the 1983 lebanon aumf that prohibited offensive actions. the 2013 syrian aumf that passed through this committee -- i think one of its high water marks -- in a bipartisan way expressly did not authorize the use of the united states armed forces on the ground in syria for the purpose of combat operations. we have a span of nearly 30 years, to take recent history, in which the aumfs have had
limitations. the suggestion of no limitations is a historical -- that having limitations is a historical aberration is just simply not the case. senator mccain who has been greatly involved in this issue, and along with senator paul, their amendments have driven us to this moment. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you, secretary kerry. you have not been before us to receive the thanks of this committee for some of your diplomacy, the diplomatic efforts to help reform the government in iraq, the diplomatic efforts to break the electoral impasse in afghanistan. i want to thank you for those because throws efforts were important. i want to thank you for your efforts on behalf of the administration to build a coalition that's fighting against isil. senator king and i went to the air base in qatar in early october and went to the combined air prapgs center -- operation center and we witnessed the coalition in action.
full-screen, videos, data coming in. u.s.-saudi, dutch, belgium, uk, qatar, trading information, making decisions together in both the syrian/iraqi theaters. very, very impressive. you deserve our thanks for that. but we can't do military action without congress. and we are currently in what the administration has described beginning in late august as a war against isil. those were the phrases both secretary hagel has used, the president has used it. since we moved from the immediate protection of u.s. embassy in baghdad and erbil, to an effort to take back a dam in the middle of august, as the president said, we have gone on offense against isil. yesterday we passed four months, we're in month five, of an air strike campaign that has involved 1,100-plus airstrikes, 1,5 combat train and assist advisors on the ground. in the theater, another 1,500
authorized to go. the cost of this to the american taxpayer now in excess of $1 billion. and three american troops have been killed supporting operation inherent resolve and we ought to mention their names. october 1, marine corporal jordan spears from memphis, indiana. october 23, marine lance corporal shawn neil from riverside, california. december 1, captain william dubois of new castle, colorado, an air force captain. we're at war. and congress has not yet really done a darn thing about it. i respect the comments that the ranking member, senator corker, hey deeply respect, said earlier who said about the process of this is not ideal. it was not ideal when senator amendment paul tried to file an international water bill. but
but if we hadn't done it, we wouldn't even be doing this until january. congress has been silent about this. i don't think we weaken our nation so much with an unwieldy process as we weaken our nation when we don't take seriously the most somber responsibility that congress has, which is to engage around the declaration at the beginning. not five months in, at the beginning about whether we should initiate war. constitutionally it's required. i'm driven by a more important value. i don't think it's fair to ask people like these three to risk their lives to give their lives in a mission if congress hasn't had a debate and put their thumbprint on it and said this is in the national interest. if we're not willing to do that, how can we ask people to risk their lives. i think it would be foolish to leave here this week or next, to adjourn, wait until january when we come back, january 8th, the first week we're back we would be into the sixth month of war without congress taking any action. this is not about a quest to just seem relevant. for those of us who do not believe that the '01 or '02
authorizations give us a legal authority, every day we have been on offense without congress we believe is an unauthorized war. we believe it's our oath of office and fundamental constitutional responsibilities. there's a difference of opinion between the executive and legislature on this, but remember this is about an argument about what power the legislature gave to the executive in '01 and '02. and you might not be surprised to know that those of us in the legislative branch have a pretty strong opinion about what that power was and what it wasn't. first degree amendments at 9:00 a.m., second degree amendments, i'm sure the chairman will make sure when we talk about it we can consider the administration's position.
i'm going to read you five statements. august 9, 2014, number one. i've been very clear that we're not gring to have u.s. combat troops in iraq again. september 10, 2014. as i have said before, these american forces will not have a combat mission. we will not get dragged into another ground war in iraq. on that same day, it will not involve american combat troops fighting on foreign soil. the american forced deployed to iraq will not have a combat mission. they will support iraqi forces on the ground as they fight for their country against these terrorists. ly not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to be fighting another ground war in iraq. and finally, on september 18,
2014, i won't commit our troops to fighting another ground war in iraq or in syria. has the president's position, or has the administration's position, as evidenced by these clear and unequivocal statements, changed? >> no. >> let me address the constitutional question that the chairman brought up a minute ago because i do think it is important, is there precedent for restrictions or limitations and authorizations. senator murphy dealt with this as well. i would recommend to all my colleagues an article, congressional authorization and the war on terrorism authored by jack curtis bradley, may 2005 in the harvard law review. it is an extensive review of the constitutional power of congress with respect to military authorizations and it begins with a case that went to the supreme court dealing with the quasi wars that senator murphy mentioned against the french naval authorities in the 1790s. congress granted limited authorizations. "the authorizations did not
authorize the president to use all of the armed forces of the united states or to conduct military incursions beyond specified military targets and they limited the geographic cal scope of the authorized conflict to the high seas. navy only. no ground troops. most authorizations to use force in u.s. history have been of this limited or partial nature. the constitutional argument on this is clear. the president's intent as stated repeatedly to the american public and the military is clear. there has been no change in that position according to your testimony today. the language in the chairman's remark is not a restriction at all. it is attempting to carry out exactly how the president has described the mission. and as far as contingencies go, i get a lot of praise for the chairman trying to listen to all of us, try and listen to the administration through those
seven conversations and put a mark together to covers the contingencies that we can think of. and finally, the president always has the power under article 2 to use any forces, including ground forces, to repel an imminent threat to the united states, by isil or by any other group or nation. that power is absolute. no one on this committee questions it. but in terms of putting restrictions into this, it's been done since the 1790s without any constitutional suggestion. i would hope you might offer some thoughts tomorrow as we are contemplating amendments so that thursday we can do this. but i do not think we can wait until the sixth month of this war without congress to finally begin to express the will of the article 1 branch. >> can i just make a comment quickly? i won't take long, senator paul. just very quickly. first of all, it's very articulate summary and argument with respect to your particular
position on it. i think historically in most aumfs and most debates about whether we should be using force or not, depending on who's president and depending on the balance in the senate and the house and so forth, there tends to be an argument de novo, and people come in and say, hey, presidential power and article 2 and know there have been restraints. that's going to apply to every situation as it does here, as we are now debating. the question is, is there an effective way to achieve this goal that, given the balance of interests, et cetera, in this situation, at this moment, given this particular fight, could achieve the goal. differently, perhaps, from the way it has been laid out, but without losing the impact or the effect. i think there may be some ways. and i suggested a couple. one is through the duration. another way be through some kind
of language that talks about no enduring combat operation or whatever, but that's different, and that avoids having to get into the specific discussion of all the kinds of instances which you're trying to cover, mr. chairman, respectfully, in this. i would just say to you with all genuine effort to try to achieve this goal of getting a maximum vote, i just suggest that maybe a better way than kind of just doing it by amendment is to prework the amendment or to find out if you could come together and get an agreement so that you're doing it either by consensus or agreement on that amendment rather than just find fighting out the amenities and you have a vote up or down and you still don't solve the fundamental problem. all the administration is saying we want an aumf -- whatever has
happened to date, i'm not going backwards, we would like to work it through with you in a way that comes out with the strongest possible result. because the goal here is to get a result that has an impact for our allies, for our troops on the field who are deployed, and particularly for the coalition and for isil itself to understand our intent. and i don't want to see that diminished by whatever amendment process may flow without the adequate input. >> senator paul. >> thank you. thank you for your testimony. i think there is no greater responsibility for any legislator than the debate over when we send our brave young men and women to war. the constitution is quite clear that this responsibility lies with congress. madison wrote in the federal papers when describing the congressional authority requirement, he wrote that the executive branch is the branch most prone to war and therefore we have with studied care vested
that power in the legislature. i think four or five months we've been derelict in our duty. i think we have had great leaders in our past. when fdr came the day after pearl harbor he came before a joint session of congress to ask for war. george w. bush came within two weeks after 9/11 to a joint session of congress with the same request. i think this president has been derelict but i think at the same time there's enough blame to go around for congress who's also been derelict in their duty. there's been some gnashing of teeth, some senators had the timerity to offer this as an amendment to the water bill. had we offered this amendment there would be no doe baebate. so i accept that as a badge of honor and a pledge to the new congress to amend any bill that comes before the foreign relations committee for the authorization of force before we finally have a debate and vote before the full congress, as we
should. there was some discussion -- and you have said the administration is opposed to a geographic limit. some on our side are basically for no limits at all. but after watching happening in the last 15 years and watching the mental gymnastics that tries to use an authorization of force that was intended to be used against those who attacked us on 9/11 to say isis has anything to do with them i think is an absurd notion and an argument for why we need to be very careful what authorization we give and very strict in what authority we give to the president. for example, the administration through your testimony, says they believe no geographic limit. senator udal brought forward a great example. he said there are groups in libya, algeria, yemen and saudi arabia who have pledged allegiance to the islamic chance. i will give you a chance to revise your answer. you quickly said of course. that's why we need no geographic
limit. tomorrow, medina, saudi arabia, pledges their allegiance to isis. this resolution will authorize you to bomb medina, saudi arabia. is that the message you want to send to the world, you want the unlimited authority to attack geographically anywhere in the world if someone pledges their allegiance to the islamic state? that's absolutely why i cannot vote for any resolution that does not have a geographic restraint and realize the message we send, if that's the message we're sending, that if medina or mecca pledges allegiance to the islamic state, they can be bombed by the united states. that's a very wrong mess aage t be sendsing to the middle east. your comments, please. my comment, senator, is i think there is a responsibility to pick your options.
to make a presumption on the sanity of the president of the united states, nobody is talking about bombing everywhere. >> let's be very explicit and limit it then. >> no. senator, that is precisely what the constitution -- you are a student of the constitution and you pride yourself in youp holdihol upholding it and being a strict constructionist. being a strict constructionist, i don't think you should put those limitations on the power of the executive. if you want to get into it as a declaration of war, you certainly have a right do that. but i would counsel you also that no declaration of war has taken place since world war ii. since world war ii. and no president has come here, including george bush who you cited erroneously as having done so. he didn't come and ask for a declaration of war. he asked for an authorization for use of force. >> i didn't say he came for a declaration of war but he did come before a leader before the joint session of congress. >> let me be crystal clear here.
if you're going to be strictly constructionist anded adhere to the constitution in terms of arguing about the declaration of war, it would be a mistake to ask for a declaration of war. you want a use of military force because a declaration of war has only been used against states. >> i'm really not making that argument. i'm make being the argument currently for a limited geographic nature to whether it is a use of force or declaration of war that it should be limited. because here is the problem. you republican sending a message to the middle east that no city is off-limits, that if nep city in the middle east declares an allegiance to the islamic state you would be justified and have the tlort to boauthority to bom. >> senator, that statement is being made without any input, or frank frankly, consideration for the limit and strictures with which the united states of america is currently operating. we have some of the most extraordinary self-imposed restraints on our checklists for where and when and how we might
use force. even where we've been authorized to use force. and you need to review that. you need to go find out what restraints our military is currently operating under -- >> there is it a very important restraint and that's the constitution that says congress initiates war. you went to war in libya without congressional authority. you have now been at war for five months without constitutional -- >> we did not go to war in libya. depends how you look at these. this term "war" is, frankly, i think -- >> i forgot. that was kinetic action? >> i think that we are nots gog to war in the way that we went to war in iraq. we are not going to war in the way that we went to war in afghanistan. we are engaged in what people want to call a war, and can call a war certainly. and we have. but it is very restrained and different which is why -- let me just finish -- which is why we are in favor of an authorization
for use of military force which defines what it is. but this is different. i mean you need to look at the checklist our people go through with respect to whether or not they might take a shot at somebody. you need to look at the restraints the president of the united states has put on our -- >> this isn't about whether you're restraining. it is about the division of power around the balance of power between the branches of government. >> no, it is bigger than that. it is not just about the division of power. it is about what you are trying to achieve and how you can achieve it. and also about how you use power. but if you don't look at what you're trying to achieve and v tools that you have at your disposal, you're not going to get very far. >> let me ask one quick question to finish. that was last year when you came before the committee for the syrian aumf, you said there is no problem in our having a the language that has zero capacity for american troops on the ground within the authorization the president is asking for. this was against a regime that
some would argue is more formidable than isis, has greater assets for fighting war, and would be a much more significant opponent or at least equally as significant at isis, but many would argue much greater. there you are willing to accept you would have a prohibition on ground forces but today you are unwilling to accept a prohibition on ground forces. how would you compare the relative strength of the two opponents and why would you accept no ground forces against the syrian regime that has an air force and has many more weapons at its command and a larger army than isis? >> are you going to let me answer this in full? because i want to answer it. >> absolutely. >> very specifically, because it is an entirely different situation. what we were asking for in the case of the limited authority to have a limited strike against assad at that time was entirely focused on degrading his
capacity to deliver chemical weapons and sending a limited message. and we came here with great specificity about the serious limitations of what we were seeking. so asking for that -- allowing that restraint at that time had no imposition on the capacity to carry out the mission. the mission was going to be without troops, without ground forces, it was designed that way. would have been executed that way. and we were losing absolutely nothing whatsoever in the potential because we had no intention of putting forces in to do what we were going to do and achieve what we were going to achieve. >> but that sounds similar to your statements that you've made about this war. >> no. because the president acknowledges as any president would, as all of our military would. ask any of the people who are being asked to implement this strategy whether they feel comfortable knowing that they've been limited in what option
might or might not be available to them if they have to do it. now the president has made it clear, it's not his policy. and i've never seen anybody more adamant about that and more clear in every statement he's made. they're all quoted for senator king. five times or four times in the month of september. he's reiterated that. but that doesn't mean that you want to take away what might be conceivably necessary at some point in time in certain circumstances. the president is absolutely clear about his policy. but i have to say to you that by virtue of the president's decision to use force -- and thank you to this committee for voting and having made clear congress was moving in that direction. guess what? instead of one or two days of bombing, in order to send a message that you shouldn't use these, we got a deal with russia to get 100% of the weapons out.
and that's because you didn't limit it. you left it open. and there was a question that we might in fact do what we said we were going to do. that was -- actually, that's another moment where for the first time in history during a conflict we have removed all the known declared chemical weapons from and country. and believe me, thank god we did. because today isil is in there controlling half the country. and imagine what would happen if they'd gain control of those chemical weapons. so it's a completely different situation, senator, where you have a very limited goal, limited stated and you're willing to live under it and the executive says i'll live under it. here you have an executive who doesn't have as limited a goal but who said already he's going to limit his means of achieving the goal but doesn't want to be hamstrung in every other way with respect to the constitutional authority --
>> the senator's time is up. i know both of you would like to engage in the debate but i have to get to one other member. just for the record, the syria umf did obviously have a lim limitation on ground forces. they now have a limitation as to the other wherewithal that the administration wanted to prevent chemical weapons. senator markey? >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you, mr. secretary, for your excellent work on behalf of our country. we thank you for your incredible service over these last two years. i am one of the few members of congress who voted for the authorization of military force in 2001 and who voted for the authorization of military force in 2002. when i look back at that, i never contemplated that it would offer us 2.5 million american
military personnel to go to iraq and afghanistan. i never would have envisioned that 670,000 of them would now be declared officially disabled, that 270,000 of them would be treated for post traumatic stress syndrome, that the health care bills would now have risen to over a trillion dollars, separate from the trillions spent on those conflicts. so it is a very timely debate that we're having. for all of us. we need to just turn the page and move on to this next stage, because the use of those old authorizations do a disservice to this institution, and to this country. so, from my perspective, obviously, we are trying our best as a congress to ensure that we don't involve a lot of
unintended consequences as we did with those first two authorizations of military force. i never imagined that george bush would interpret the 2002 authorization the way he did. but he did. and even as we debate this authorization, it will go in to the next presidency. and so we have to be careful, necessarily. and so i think that's why we are all being very cautious here. because we've lived through this recent american history, and we don't want to repeat it. so from my perspective, mr. secretary, i'm looking at iraq right now. looking for some hope. you've had some breakthroughs. they've named a sunni defense minister. and there seems to be some progress that would obviate the need for american combat troops on the ground in iraq. could you talk a little bit about that? and the hopes that you have that
the iraqis, sunnis would start fighting isis and stop fighting the iraqi security forces. could you just talk a little bit about that and how hopeful you are that we're on the correct path in that country to reseal the syrian/iraqi border? >> well, thank you. thank you, senator. and thank you for your generous comments, and i appreciate your comment very much your vote, and what you did or didn't contemplate, and i certainly would agree with you, having been here then and voting in that period of time, which is why president obama and vice president biden really are both so committed to an aumf that appropriately reflects where we are. today. and i know he believes very deeply that we will be stronger as a country if we have, this
broad vote that i've talked about. so i would say to all of you, notwithstanding the passion with which you approach this sense of the mistakes that may have been made, and the open endedness of war, et cetera, i do believe there are ways to craft this so that it's not open ended and so that there are sufficient levels of clarifications about the administration, et cetera, without getting into something that is going to be impossible to get that broad vote from. and i ask you to keep that in mind. what we get for a vote here is a very important part of what we're going to try to achieve. the unanimity, the breadth and scope of support is a message to everybody involved in this. the coalition, our troops. you know, our closest allies. and even to the people we're fighting.
so, i appreciate your focusing on iraq. because, in fact we were deeply involved from the moment the president made the comment that we have to know we had a government we could work with in order to be able to commit to doing something. because anything we tried to do in iraq, if we hadn't had a governmental transformation would never have walked. and we'd be in really difficult situation here. who knows whether isil would have been in baghdad or whether iran would have decided to go further in iraq. a whole bunch of strategic permutations that could have unfolded. but, we became deeply engaged diplomatically and a superb team worked hard, working with our allies in the region, to help the iraqis be able to make the choices they made and they made them.
it was difficult. they got a new speak ever. the kirnt speaker gave up his position and moved out. that took a lot of effort. and that opened up the door to the selection of the kurd president. and that opened up the door to the selection of a new prime minister when ayatollah sistani and others weighed in there were a whole series of events that took place that brought about this change in government. and just last week we were in brusels with a new prime minister, prime minister abadi speaking to some 60 entities and countries about his efforts to bring people together. to recognize there was no room for the kind of sectarian divide that had torn the place apart previously. now, iran plays a hand here. it's got to be stated. there's an impact in -- in -- in iraq, with iran, because iraq is 80% shia. and there are interests. and historically -- and other
interests, if i might add. religious sites, other kinds of things. so hopefully the shia militia with whom the current administration is currently working to try to restrain them from violence against sunni, and the sunni tribal chiefs can come together with confidence that the military is evolving in a way that, together with their concept of a national guard, and with new respect within the government itself for inclusivity and participation, that can unite people around the goal of focusing only on getting rid of dash. our feeling is that the training is coming along, that with the oil deal and other measures being taken, there's a constant effort being made to try to unite the government. there's still tensions. importantly, regional efforts are taking place. when we had the meeting in jeddah, which was the beginning
of the organization of coalition within the region, the foreign minister of saudi arabia siad al phase faisal promptly stated we will recognize the new government, we will open up diplomatic relations and we will exchange visits. that's happening. the prime minister of turkey visited iraq. the emirate visited iraq. so there's a regional shift taking place. now we obviously hope it holds. we will work diligently with them. but this combination of training with the military, de-sectarianizing -- i mean undoing the sectarian divide that has taken place, building confidence among the sunni, is going to be a long process. but it has started, and it is having some impact, and it has the potential of having a profound impact on iraq itself. >> may i just say, john, that is
what the american people want. they want a diplomatic resolution of this issue amongst the people who live in both iraq and in syria, and the surrounding countries. that's what they want more than anything. they don't want another open ended opportunity for a commitment of another 2.5 million americans into that region. because the potential is there for that. and there are some members on this committee, in fact, who believe that it should be open-ended. and i just think that that debate is the debate that we have to have this time, before we go more deeply. >> i appreciate it. >> senator, i thank you for your great service. >> can i just say that president obama deserves credit. mr. chairman. >> mr. secretary, we're going to have to synthesize this because we've been here 3 1/2 hours. and i still want to get to the next senator. >> president obama deserves credit for having made the decision, which i think was key
that he wasn't going to move until they began to make the moves to put a government change in place. that is really what leveraged this entire effort. i think he deserves credit for having done that. >> senator, we'll have the last word here on questions. >> my apologies, mr. secretary, we have a hearing on the state of civil rights in america that was scheduled that coincided with this and i presided and couldn't attend this. but i've had a pretty good summary of what happened from my staff. senator, secretary and senator, you can recall the debates in 2001 and 2002. and some of us who voted against the invasion of iraq, but felt that we did the right thing in voting to go after al qaeda, i don't think anybody envisioned we were voting for the longest war in the history of the united states of america, and that our pursuit of al qaeda would take us in to this situation today. and apparently some within the administration believe that my
vote then was an approval for what we are doing today. wheçdñi agree or disagree with the president's actions today, i think that is a stretch. to call this an al qaeda operation, even after al qaeda has disavowed. dash, or isis or whatever the current nomenclature is. mr. secretary, what it gets down to is this. the president has said there will be no ground troops. when general dempsey came and testified before congress and said there may be ground troops é7atqorrect it, saying we have plans for ground troops. many of us believe we ought to stand by the president's public statement about no ground troops when it comes to the authorization of use for military force. our fear is that if we don't, either this president or some future president will drag us into another deep, long lasting bloody almost pointless conflict. i am troubled that that is the new position of the administration to want authority for ground troops. i thought that issue was clear. >> it is.
it is absolutely clear. there is nothing that has changed. the president does not intend to, not planning to, there's no thought in his head of use being ground troops. >> why object to us saying that clearly in the authorization for military force? >> because what is contemplated by that, i think, senator, is clearly this notion that we're not going to do some big deployment, get involved in an enormous war. but if there's some one-time operation that requires "x," "y" or "z." you've tried to cover some of them. you've tried to make that clear. you're already accepting that. but the issue is can you provide an adequate guarantee of an exception for everything that may or may not arise in that context only? there is no effort here to slide or try to change this. not going to be a big -- no effort to do that. all we're suggesting is we think there is a capacity to clarify to try to work this through in a way that could bring both sides of this dais together in an effort to have a more powerful
message in this vote and a clearer aumf. >> i'll just say, the chairman and ranking member have been so patient and i'm not going to ask any further questions. other than to say, mr. secretary, this is important. critically important. it is not just important in terms of those whose lives are being risk and what we're trying to achieve in the middle east. but it has an importance that relates to our constitutional responsibilities. each of us. >> absolutely. >> and i think that if we do not assert ourselves and our constitutional responsibility when it comes to this conflict, we are remiss. i don't want to be condemned by future generations for walking away from this responsibility. if we can work out an agreement, fine. if we cannot, we still have a responsibility to pass this authorization. i hope we do it before we leave. >> we have three former members of this committee who are asking for the authorization who agree
with you but would like to see us do it in a way that gets the vote we talked about. >> thanks, mr. chairman. >> senator corker, final remarks? >> i want to thank you for having the hearing. i think this is much better than what was contemplated last week. i want to thank the secretary for coming in today and providing some principles that i really believe we can all build on. and i do applaud the president and you for making sure that in iraq we had a different government situation there before we committed and i think that was a good thing. i do want to say again, i think that we can get to a place where there is that broader support i really believe that. i'm going to say something that my friends on this side of the aisle will disagree with. the reason we're here is a total failure of the president to lead
on this issue and set something up here. so we find ourselves divided when, in essence, we all want the same thing. we want to authorize the president to be able to do the things that are necessary to -- to deal with isis. i think we're united there. the reason we're in this cluster, which is where we are, is because the president has not really sought that authorization. today you came closer, not quite all the way there. but you came closer to asking for an explicit authorization. came closer. i better approach to me would be for you to send up the language that i think people have asked for, and there might be some common ground here, more than we think. but the one piece that i think is missing by not asking explicitly is we don't have the opportunity to really delve into
the strategy of this. we're talking about limitations in writing but one of the things we have not had the opportunity to do, and i think anyone who attended the classified briefing we had a month ago, with military leadership, and others, i don't think anybody left there believing that we understood how we were going to deal with isis. i mean i think there were a lot of gaps that we didn't understand. so what is missing is not just the document, but it's also what's missing as when you seek something explicitly, we have the opportunity to probe how you're going to go about doing that. now we just heard from leaders in the region, several of us were in the meeting. i know there's tremendous division over the assad issue. assad is the magnet for isis in the first place. so i do hope that we will continue. i hope that you will send up explicit language. i hope that we will have the opportunity to understand how
we're going to go forward. one of the reasons we ended up in a 12 or 13-year war is there wasn't any of this discussion on the front end. it didn't happen. it's not just the language. it's actually understanding how we're going to go about dealing with this. and that is a massive missing element here. so i want to thank the secretary for being here. i think he's conducted himself fairly well, except for evading the issue of the explicit request. i thank him for the principles. i do look forward to working with you to achieve, in spite of all the things that i just said, to achieve a more broadly bipartisan support of something that i think we all agree needs to be undertaken. but i don't think you get -- come to us in a way that is appropriate in making that happen. but i thank the chairman for having this -- >> mr. chairman can i just. i'm surprised by that. i want to get a better grade from you, senator. i -- i quote my own testimony --
>> is it an upgrade or so? >> we ask you now to work closely with us on a bipartisan basis to develop language that provides a clear signal of support for our ongoing military operations against isil. the authorization should give the president the clear mandate and flexibility he needs to successfully prosecute the armed conflict against isil and affiliated forces. we have requested that we work together for an aumf. we are requesting an aumf. >> mr. secretary do you want a response? >> well, i look forward to working with you a little more closely. >> a better grade? >> i'll grade on the curve and give you a little bit better attaboy. >> curve goes up, not down. >> i'm not even going to go there. let me just say that i want to thank you on behalf of all the members. you have a great deal of respect here. you've equipped yourself most
admirably today, even though i think some of these questions are beyond the role of the secretary of state. and yet you have done a very admirable job of trying to explain to the committee where we're at, where we want to go and how hopefully we can get there. i certainly continue to welcome as i have for months in my efforts to try to devolve language that can put the administration in a place that is in sync with the congress towards our collective goal. and i have no concern about our collective goal. our collective goal is to defeat isis. and i am convinced that we will. but i also think that there is a very compelling reason for congress to act, and to express itself as senator kane has said months after we already sent sons and daughters of americans in harm's way. i think this hearing has helped
us crystallize some of the core issues that are still in difference between the legislative and executive branch. and i would hope that we could find a way to broach them. however, it is the chair's intention to continue a markup on thursday. if we can work from here to thursday to further narrow those, those would be great. but there is a majority of this committ committee's desire to express themselves on a vote on the authorization of the use of military force. i am going to honor that view. and move forward and we will see where we end up from there. i'm not so sure that we're going to end this week in session in the senate, and if we don't i would argue there would be a broader debate in the senate, as well. in any event we look forward to working with you mr. secretary. i want to thank the committee. this hearing is adjourned. >> well, here on the c-span networks our live programming will pick up at 10:40 this
morning as we bring you a conference on government surveillance from the cato institute. it's expected to last most of the day. you'll be able to watch live coverage on our companion network, c-span. a little bit later, it's remarks from incoming virginia congressman dave brat. he'll be speaking to the clare boothe luce policy institute. we'll have that live for you starting at noon eastern right here on c-span3. a little bit later it's a look at smart technology and the internet. that's live at 1:30 p.m. from the center for strategic and international studies. also here on c-span3. and the u.s. senate is in for business today. we expect lawmakers to begin consideration of the $1.1 trillion federal spending bill later this afternoon. that will happen at about 4:00 p.m. eastern. we got some background on that issue earlier today. >> well, niels lesniewski is with cq roll call.
mr. lesniewski what is happening in the senate today? >> well, now that there was the agreement that you just discussed and the house has actually passed the so-called cromnibus spending bill, it's the senate's turn. what we're going to see i think first is it looks like when the senate comes in this morning there's going to be some end of the year business to begin with, which is we're looking forward to the farewell speech from senator carl levin, the democrat from michigan, who's the armed services chairman who is retiring at the end of the congress, so we're actually starting off on that note by the looks of it this morning. and senator levin's last big bill, the defense authorization is going to be the first matter up for consideration. late last night after the house
had concluded its work and we knew sort of the way forward for the senate, there's been an agreement struck about 3:00 p.m. today, if not a little bit earlier depending on the level of cooperation. there's going to be a series of votes that will lead to the passage of the defense authorization bill. and once that's happened and that passage, which is expected to be overwhelming, will send the bill to president obama's de desk. and after that then we're in to sort of the end of the year negotiation on time and how to compress time in order to get the rest of the work done. >> so when it comes to -- when it comes to the federal spending bill, the larger one that funds
the government through next september, what are the chances that it's going to pass the senate? is the senate going to be in on saturday to get this done? >> well, that's -- that's the big deal. so after the 3:00 p.m. votes, what will be happening at that point is there will be a series of negotiations between all 100 senators, basically, behind the scenes to figure out whether or not harry reid the senate majority leader has to go through the process of filing cloture in order to cut off debate on that big spending bill. and if that's the case, you know, it wouldn't pass until -- you wouldn't have the cloture vote until sunday, were it to the way the rules work, were they to have all the hurdles thrown up. because basically because there's only a two-day continuing resolution, the betting is they have to, by saturday, either tonight or
sometime on saturday, they're going to get the rest of the work done, because if you actually reached a point where all the procedural hurdles were in place, and were being deployed by critics of the bill, the house would actually have to come in at least nominally to do another short-term continuing resolution in order to keep the government open sunday and monday. >> now, bernie sanders according to this article in the hill paper had already said he's going to oppose the federal spending bill. have other senators come out and said they're opposed to it, as well? >> well, there are certainly certains on the left who are vehemently opposed to the inclusion of the language regarding the swaps provision from the dodd-frank regulatory overhaul. sanders, i presume, is in that
camp. elizabeth warren of massachusetts has been leading the charge on that one. there are senators on the right who are against the fact that the bill does not take specific action to try and stop president obama's executive action on immigration. but it's unclear how many sort of, as we saw last night in the house, it's unclear how many of these people who have objections to one piece or other of the bill would try to actually hold up its advancement or actually vote against it. so, that's the sort of touch and go thing we're going to see this afternoon after the defense bill passes. how much of these objections turn into actual problem. >> niels lesniewski is with cq roll call. thank you, sir, for your time this morning. >> here are some of the programs you'll find this weekend on the
c-span networks. sunday evening at 8:00 on c-span's q&a politico reporters manu raju and john bresnahan share stories of being on the campaign trial with mitch mcconnell. saturday night at 10:00 on after words, political fund-raiser lindsay mark lewis on money and politics and how it's grown and changed. and sunday at 10:00 p.m. eastern, senior correspondent for the daily beast shane harris on the military's use of cyberspace to wage war. and on american history tv on c-span3, saturday at 2:00. a panel, including washington times opinion editor david keen on how ronald reagan's career as an actor and spokesman for general electric helped hone his communication skills to be a successful poll significance and president. and sunday at 8:00 on the presidency, frank gannon, former aide to president nixon shows clips of his 1983 interview with the former president about vietnam, watergate, and his resignation. find our complete television schedule at c-span.org. and let us know what you think
about the programs you're watching. call us at 202-626-3400. e-mail us at email@example.com or send us a tweet @c-span, #comments. like us on facebook, follow us on twitter. u.s. ambassador to ukraine, geoff pyatt, outlined the ongoing conflict between russia and ukraine earlier this month at the atlantic council in washington, d.c. ambassador pyatt discussed u.s./ukraine relations and russia's violation of the territorial integrity of ukraine. this is about an hour. good afternoon, everyone. let me ask you to take your seats and get started. if you haven't turned off your cell phones, please do. good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
executive vice president here at the atlantic council. i'm delighted to welcome you today for a discussion with an exceptional front line diplomat. u.s. ambassador to ukraine, geoff pyatt. our conversation today is about the future of ukraine at an existential moment for the country. i would like to offer a special welcome to our distinguished speaker and audience watching online especially all of those in ukraine who tuned in to our live broadcast. i also want to welcome the ambassador of ukraine who is with us. the swedish ambassador as well and other distinguished colleagues. thanks for being with us. ambassador pyatt was sworn in in july of 2013. from the start he's been extraordinarily committed to supporting the ukrainian people's right to choose -- with an independent and secure ukraine. it was exactly three months before ukrainian students in kiev began their first rallies
against the previous president's decisions to walk away from negotiations with the eu when the ambassador took the reins. a year and a half later, as the political and economic crisis in ukraine continues, ambassador pyatt is steadfast in his pursuit both of american interests, and his support of the ukrainian peel. the atlantic council recognizes not only the importance of ukraine but also the implications of this crisis. ukraine is not just defending itself. it is on the front lines of defending the order that has delivered security and stability in europe since the end of the cold war. that's why back in february here at the council when it was widely scene as a domestic crisis as ukraine that we stood up what's become known as the ukraine and europe initiative. it is this initiative, the conversation is part of today. this initiative galvanizes support for an independent ukraine within secure borders whose people will determine tear own future. to advance it the council's work
aims to strengthen security, preserve territorial integrity, advance democratic, economic and governance reforms. ambassador pyatt has beenen an ally in all of the council's efforts. i's an honor to have him in washington to speak this afternoon. today's discussion comes in the wake of another wave of russian escalation in eastern ukraine as well as the appointment of a reformist cabinet of ministers in kiev. i'm delighted that ambassador -- i'm looking forward to ambassador pyatt's comments on the current events in ukraine, as well as the ambassador's reflections on the trajectory of u.s./ukraine relations moving forward. without further ado i'm going to turn the stage over to ambassador pyatt for his comments on the crisis. after the ambassador's remark the director of the council's dean of eurasia center john herbst will join ambassador pyatt onstage for a moderated conversation. i want to encourage all of you
here in the audience and online to contribute to the conversation by sharing your thoughts and submitting your questions via twitter using the #acukraine. mr. ambassador, the podium is yours. >> thank you very much. thank you for the warm welcome. i want to start with a quick note of appreciation for the role the atlantic council played on the issues. certainly as i look back over my first year and a half in ukraine the breathtaking pace of change the country has gone through and the expectations that ukrainians have for the united states and european partners demand detailed and close attention to what's unfolding. certainly the role the atlantic council provided in offering an authoritative window on the political developments in ukraine is greatly valued.
i know by everybody in the u.s. government. but i think also by our ukrainian partners. thank you for that. i hope you will keep at it. in so many ways, the crisis that ukraine faces today is unprecedented in the history of the country. certainly the greatest challenge that ukraine has faced since achieving its independence. it's also a moment of great opportunity. i want to take a minute before we get to questions and answers to walk through a couple of the reasons that i remain hopeful about what's unfolding today in ukraine. the unpredictability of the environment is extraordinary. certainly as you look back over the past year, there are very few who predicted that president yanukovych would flee kiev at the end of february, few who predicted the invasion of crimea. few who predicted the russian
strategy of hybrid warfare. the insertion of russian tanks, missiles, heavy equipment, and eventually at the end of the summer, the tragic shootdown of mh-17 and the insertion of literally thousands of regular russian army troops who remain present to this day in smaller numbers, but still with a decisive role in the command and control and support of the -- of the separatist forces. the resolution of this crisis in the donbas has consequences for the euro atlantic security system, for american interests in the region. just as important and indeed in some ways more important is what happens in the other 95% of ukraine. how the project is sustained and how this reformist cabinet is able to deliver on the very high
expectations that the ukrainian people today have laid out. certainly if i look back on this past year, there are very few who would have predid itted when yanukovych fled on the 22nd of february that you would have, in the space of the subsequent months, two democratic elections meeting international standards, which would produce a new government with a strong pro-european coalition, and critically important, a strong consensus on the essential requirement for reform. it is democratic politics, and so there are issues of ambition and personality that still have to be worked through. i think it is worth bearing in mind that at every critical juncture since the 21st of february, ukraine's political leaders and ukraine's democrats have managed to put aside their
parochial interests and managed to focus on the long-term task of building a more democratic, just and european ukraine. i i think it is something to be celebrated and gives a reason for optimism about the future. as i have said publically in the past i am convinced that the greatest single risk factor facing ukraine today is business as usual. the good news is that both the president -- president poroshenko and the prime minister yatsenyuk i know are fully aware of that imperative. there are others in the political system who may not yet be. but i am absolutely convinced that if ukraine is to surmount this crisis which i described, it's going to have the political class will have to put aside the habits of the past, and focus on implementing the ambitious program of reform that's embodied in the new coalition.
so looking to the months ahead, what's going to determine the success or failure of ukraine's democratic revolution? i would like to offer a couple of suggestions about what to watch. again with the caveat that i noted at the top that it is very hard at this point to predict what's going to happen next in ukraine. a couple of leading indicators that i would recommend. i think first and foremost is the implementation of the governing coalition agreement that was agreed at the end of november before the final assignment of cabinet positions. it is an important document. incredibly wonky. interesting history. it began as the product of dmitri shimkiv and other policy wonk advisers working around president poroshenko. it came to be the commonly owned
product of the five political parties who are part of the governing coalition. it is important to understand how important that process was to identifying a road map that all the political parties would own and which all the political parties felt they could take back to their constituents. president poroshenko in putting this coalition agreement together was inspired by the example of some of his peers, other european leaders who suggested to him this kind of a road map would be helpful when it came time to get to the practical task of implementing reforms. it gives reason for optimism that this won't just be a document that sits on the shelf but turn into a practical road map for implementation of a reform agenda entailing changes in sectors like energy, justice and security.
it's a robust document and a document that all of the parties take pride in. i think that's worth taking note of. how to move ahead on implementation. i would argue is something that only the ukrainians themselves can decide. it is not the position of anybody in the international community to say which element of this multi faceted reform agenda needs to come first. that said, let me suggest areas i believe will be critically important to the success of ukraine's democratic reform. fist and foremost i would point to energy. there is no sector more in need of reform or more central to the fate of ukrainian democracy than energy and energy reform. it's been the sector that's drawn the most egregious corruption under multiple
governments in ukraine's past. it's the sector that russia has used as a vector of influence over ukraine to limit ukraine's strategic choices. and it has been -- because of its poor management it has been a sector that's been a drag on economic growth and economic competitiveness. nafta gas alone takes a huge proportion of ukraine's gross domestic product through the subsidies that it requires. its losses are unacceptable. but it is not just about the gas sector. as we have seen this week with the electricity crisis across the board ukraine is in need of modernization, insertion of new technologies, and new practices. but the good news -- and i say this based on a very encouraging meeting i had on thursday with the new energy minister is that the government understands this and has a strong partner in
the united states. it has a strong partner in the european union whose ambassador joined me in the first call on the new minister. i would identify as a second priority the speedy implementation of the dramatic and important anti-corruption reforms that were promulgated in the last weeks of the previous rata. i don't need to tell anybody in this room how pernicious the phenomenon of politically driven corruption has been in ukraine. it has sapped confidence in government. in many ways it was the route of the mydon. and although many of the demonstrators were waving the flags of the european union, but they most were reacting to was the industrial scale of corruption of the yanukovych government and the sense that yanukovych had taken the instruments of the state and had redirected them largely to his own personal financial advantage. so there is a political
imperative to demonstrate to the ukrainian people the practices of the past would be changed. i know it won't be easy. i have had prom nant business people who have said, ambassador, you don't understand. every vote is influenced by different commercial interests. that's exactly the point. you have had a political system which in the past has been driven by these oligarchic politics. that's now changed. one of the most inspiring things in ukraine today is the emergence of a new generation of the political leaders in the rata. almost every political party who have come to office with a focus on achieving better governance, and with an explicit rejection of the historic model of relations between the economy, business groups, and the political process. they want to see the ukrainian government that serves the interests of the ukrainian
people. a third area that i would highlight in the reform agenda that was agreed as part of the coalition is constitutional reform. this is a process that began under prime minister yatsenyuk's first government led by deputy prime minister groisman. he talked at the time about wanting to follow the polish example, dramatic moves toward subsidiarity, driving decision making down to the local level, empowering mayors and governors, and creating a system in which local government is much more accountable, and also much better positioned to affect the quality of daily life. this task is as urgent as it's ever been. i would note in particular in this area the critical technical advice that's been provided by european partners like poland. it's clear listening to the ukrainian leaders that i have discussed the issue with that
they aspire to build a european model -- they aspire to build on a european model of constitutional organization. that's something which will affect not only the political space, but also the economic environment, it will affect these issues of corruption that i flagged earlier. and it's certainly something to watch. a couple of other leading indicators i would flag for the weeks ahead. one is the question of national unity. certainly i think one of the most inspiring things about living in ukraine over the past year has been to witness the extraordinary courage, resilience of the ukrainian people. their decisive wish to seize their own future. to change their destiny. and to build a country which is moving clearly in the direction of a more just society. there was a fairly obvious effort by the russian government to try to defeat that objective
over the course of the spring. sowing a narrative division, spreading a false narrative that ukraine was a country on the cusp of civil war. i was reminded of how disconnected that narrative was from reality on friday. i was in harkiev along with rose gotmueller. i was last there, a reminder of how things have moved, in october of 2013 when i went with ambassador tomitski to meet yulia tymoshenko in her hospital jail. it was remarkable to return, see ukrainian flags everywhere, on the main streets, draped over the chefchenko statue. this in a city that had been targeted by the political tourists who had been sent from russia at the beginning of march to try to stir some kind of an uprising. this is one of the most
inspiring aspects, certainly impressive aspects of what happened in ukraine is the emergence of a stronger national identity. the resolve to resist this false narrative of division. another bit of evidence in this regard can be found in leviv. where you have seen strong efforts by civil society to reach out to the east, to reach out to donbas. the efforts that the catholic university has made to bring students from eastern lieu crane to laviv to see that they can speak ruse. to see that laviv is not controlled by fascists. this kind of bridge building remains critically important, an element in the process of governance, an element in the way the government communicates and it has been. you can see it even in cities like slaviask which have been so affected by the war.
i would not want to suggest in any way we are out of the woods in the donbas. i think both in terms of how the political crisis in the separatist controlled areas unfolds, but mrs. in terms of the reconstruction environment against in cities like mariobol and slavyansk which were occupied by the separatist fighters over the course of the summer and are now looking to keep. looking to kiev for help with reconstruction and clear signals that they will have a voice in governance, and a voice in the future of the country. they clearly want that. they clearly have rejected the option of civil war and division that the separatists, the russian proxies, and russia itself have tried to impose on them. but the question remains, where will they fit into a united ukraine? how will that be reflected in governance? critically important as well in
this regard is the role of the opposition bloc. it is important to note that the opposition bloc made clear their wish to participate this the process of reform, in the process of building a european ukraine. i had the opportunity to meet with former deputy prime minister boyco last week in his new capacity as leader of the opposition bloc faction in rata. he was pleased about the opening of the rata the way in which that was conducted but he was also looking for a voice in the process of governing in the rat to. that's a challenge for all political forces as the opposition bloc and those who were part of the legacy party of regions try to figure out how to leave behind the poisonous history of yanukovych and the damage that he did.
but also to identify their role in a united ukraine. third leading indicator that i would commend to everyone's attention is the financial situation. yanukovych bequeathed to ukraine's new government a disastrous macro economic situation which prime minister yatsenyuk has done a commendable job of managing. it is worth noting that the government has stuck rigorously to the terms of its imf agreement. it's notable and interesting, as prime minister yatsenyuk points out, that despite the decline in the ukrainian economy, despite the economic losses resulting from the war in donbas, overall tax revenue collection is up. it's a suggestion that the administration of government is beginning to improve. prime minister yatsenyuk also points out that at a macro
economic level ukraine, between january and november, paid out about $11 billion in servicing its various debts. and took in about $9 billion. so there is currently a cash flow challenge that this government faces. we are going to work closely with the imf, with our european partners, to support this government as it moves forward further down the reform pathway. and seeks to manage its way out of the economic difficulties created by yanukovych and exacerbated by russia's military actions. there is an imf delegation in kiev as i speak. we are going to remain in close touch with the imf, but also with our european partners. and here, too, i would note the critical role that congress has played and which i hope congress will continue to play as we seek to resource the american contribution to this effort at a moment of unique opportunity. at a moment when ukraine has begun to turn in a different
direction. the circumstances are difficult. but they are not insurmountable. there is a wide understanding among ukraine's political leaders today that the country's survival depends on more honest politics, and meaningful progress down the path of reform. we will support them as strongly as we can in that process. lastly, let me talk just a little bit about the question of defense and security sector assistance. as you will understand, i can't go beyond the statement that tony blinkin made in his senate confirmation hearing recently regarding the status of security -- of lethal defensive assistance. i would emphasize the critical role that we already have played with the expansion of our security sector envelope up to
$118 million with a commitment to do more. i would particularly highlight in this context the work that general breedlove and european command have done through our joint commission on defense and security cooperation which has partnered effectively with ukraine's military leadership and has developed a road map for security sector reform which is just as sweeping as what we have been talking about with ministries like energy and justice. and will be just as important over the long term in helping ukraine to restore the ability to defend its sovereign territory and to deal with the challenging security environment that unfortunately looks to be a part of ukrainian reality for the foreseeable future. last point and here i will close and turn over to ambassador herbst. as i was getting ready to go to
kiev in the summer of 2013, i was careful to sit down with all of my predecessors. and all of them said to me, in one form or another, jeff, you know, at some stage you're going to have to deliver a speech about ukraine's unfulfilled potential. don't worry when that happens. just open the drawer and there on the left in the back you'll find the speech that i gave, and you won't have to change much of anything. i don't think that's true anymore. in so many ways this is a different country. it is a different country in terms of the security environment. it is a different country in terms of the expectations of the ukrainian people. it's a different country in terms of the politicians which are placed in whom the public has placed their trust. it's a different country, i hope, in terms of the kind of partnership we will be able to build over the long term between the united states and ukraine. i thank you for the contributions you've made to building this new architecture
and i look forward to hearing your questions. >> geoff, thank you very much for a superb presentation. and one which focused on one of the two critical issues in ukraine's future. issue of reform. it is important that you stressed this because, in fact, in washington, much more attention is being paid to the security problem. i will follow your lead and move on the reform side of the discussion. let me first start with an observation. you are absolutely right that ukraine's future will be determined not entirely but to a large extent by success in moving this reform agenda. no matter what next step of aggression mr. putin decides to take. we have a very clear precedent
for this. thanks to russian arms, two provinces of georgia are right now no longer in control of the government in tbilisi. despite that because president saakashvili because of his authoritarian tendencies was a genuine reformer, the country missing ossetia is able to make serious and real progress. and the same can be true in ukraine. that's why this is not just urgent for the prosperity and well-being economically defined of ukraine's citizens but also of its sovereignty and ultimately territorial integrity. because time is short i will only ask one question and then turn over to the audience. you gave an upbeat presentation on why this ukraine is not the
ukraine of the orange revolution. and i think you're probably right. but you also noted one very important factor which is a negative. you quoted someone who said the votes in the rata reflect moneyed interests. so how in this new ukraine, where civil society has greater power than it did ten years ago, do we make sure, by we i mean in the first instance ukraine authorities, and people also its well wishers, how do we make sure that those moneyed interests don't hijack the agenda? >> easy question to begin with. a couple of thoughts. and you put your finger on one important aspect of it, john, which is the resilience of ukrainian civil society. which has been a source of inspiration, i think, to all of us who have watched ukraine's political evolution over these many months. and again, it's important to note that this coalition agreement, which i alluded to, was developed with extensive input from ukrainian civil society.
in a way that would not be unfamiliar to washington. i think part of the answer to this question of how to break the oligarch politics nexus lies in the agenda of anti-corruption in the rata has implemented. part lies with the politicians themselves. and i think it's important to note that this new cabinet -- first of all the presence of the foreigners who are in this cabinet. but really across the board is composed of individuals who have been -- who have been known largely for their probity. one of the first questions everybody asks about new ministers in key sectors is, is he corrupt, or is she corrupt? or corruptible? i think that is a fundamental challenge. perhaps the fundamental challenge to the country today. it is important to ukraine's political health. it is important to ukraine's
economic health. it's also important to our partnership with europe. because the task of building a new ukraine, building a new society is going to have to be resourced. the united states will do a part. europe will have to do a part. the iffies will have to do a part. all of us are going to have toish prepared to invest only to the extent there is a prospect of success. success will not be feasible if it is seen that resources which are devoted are then skimmed off to the same bank accounts that they went off to in the past. i think the rise of social media plays a role here. the scrutiny that ukrainian civil society itself is imposing. and, again, most importantly the expectations of the ukrainian people. this is so hard to capture in a speech or sitting in a conference room here in washington. but i think the serns that the ukrainian people themselves have
gone through a crucible moment, and have decided that now is the time to build a different society. and that's something the united states is prepared to make a significant investment in. >> thank you. i'll take audience questions. i ask people to please identify themselves unless they're called on. anders? >> thank you very much. excellent. i'm from the petersen institute. one word that you did not mention is restriction. which is big with the ukrainian government. and westerners, both europeans and americans, speak about anti-corruption measures, thinking about police and court. ukrainian's say deregulation, energy reform, as you did. how do you look upon registration? we hear the argument from the council of europe that it is collective justice, we only accept individual justice in the west.
my argument that ukraine is that the choice is between collective justice, and no justice. the individual justice cannot function what's your reaction? >> important question. i will say a couple of quick things. first of all, most important is that this proceed in a manner consistent with the ukrainian constitution based on the rule of law, not based on selective prosecution or manipulation of the justice system. beyond that, these are issues for the ukrainian people to work out. one of the exciting things about ukraine today is the sense of political awakening. that began on the 22nd of february. the 23rd is when it came into session again. a sense of a country reclaiming its democratic future.
these institutions have to now function based not on any council that comes from washington, berlin, or brussels but based on what the ukrainian people themselves choose. on this question the most important principles is it has to proceed in a manner consistent with the ukrainian constitution and a manner governed by the rule of law. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. robert beecroft, department of state. we inspected embassy kiev before your arrival last year. >> it's a little different. >> yeah, but john teft did leave you a positive legacy. you put energy at the top of the checklist. one of the things we heard when we were there is there was consideration being given to restarting reactors one, two, and three at chernobyl.
they had been phased out in 2000. has that continued as a means of filling the energy gaps or is that now off the table? >> i have heard no discussion at all about chernobyl. nuclear issues loom large in ukraine. 50% of ukraine's electricity roughly comes from nuclear power. it's the largest nuclear power country in europe. has the largest nuclear complex in europe. there has been discussion about how to expand that complex. that's a very expensive proposition. billions and billions of dollars. so it's not something that can be joined in a meaningful way in the next year or two. >> thank you. my name is lima. i am retired from the european parliament from lithuania. i don't want to hide what i was. i had my two terms in the parliament. i was on the foreign affairs
committee. i was one of the members of of the parliament who were in favor of ukraine's membership in the european union. i'm not saying today, tomorrow but immediately when the membership criteria are met. ukraine should be in the e.u. and we should forget, you know, about our enlargement, call this. my question is about nato. on the 30th of november you commissioned johan hamm, who's responsible for e.u. enlargement was in kiev. and i know that issues which were on his agenda were nato, ukraine's membership in nato, referendum on the membership in nato. my question is where the united states of america stands? what is your position on nato expansion taking into account all the circumstances you spoke about? thank you.
>> important question . let me start by saying how much i value my lithuanian colleague. we have a close partnership. indeed, almost everything i do in ukraine is in coordination with either the very skilled e.u. ambassador in kiev or my other key european colleagues in sweden, lithuania, poland, germany -- you can imagine. we tend to see eye to eye on almost everything. perhaps more than we agree with our respective capitals. because i think all of us have a fairly clear conventional consensus about where things are heading. on the question of nato, united states policy has been very clear. the open door will remain. the question of ukraine's nato membership is not to be decided in washington or berlin, brussels, certainly not moscow. it is a question for the
ukrainian people themselves to decide. that being said, i think it's also very well understood by the ukrainian government that they are far from being ready for nato membership and that if ukraine wishes one day -- the ukraine people make the sovereign choice at some point in the future to seek nato membership they need to do so on the basis of a thoroughly reformed society. that's why i come back to the question of reform. that's the important question today. the one where the united states will focus our efforts. >> thank you. >> thank you. dana marshall with transnational strategy group. thank you, john. ambassador, my question is back to energy but not so much the nuclear but the gas side. prior ukrainian governments sought the importation of liquified natural gas requiring transit through the turkish straits.
i wonder if, in light of the new government there, the presumptive cancellation of south stream and shall we call it fragile though concluded agreement between russia, ukraine with the e.u. brokerage just in the last few weeks, how does this fit together? is the ukrainian government likely to be interested once again in that option? might they mount a diplomatic effort in ankara? and is turkey perhaps more or less likely to accept that given all the other factors? >> a couple of different questions there. i will fall back on my remark about the hazards of the ukraine predictions right now. but i will certainly say that for this government diversification of gas supplies is a strategic priority, a strategic priority that the united states supports.
over the short term, the best way to achieve that is through significant further growth and reverse flow. and there's been even in the past few months good news. the negotiations that the prime minister conducted with his slovak counterpart to get the slovak route significantly expanded. there is further headroom, further capacity there. ukraine has also gone on to other european commercial markets. so you have commercial contracts that have now been met with stout oil. for the foreseeable future, the short term, russia will remain an important gas source for ukraine. the important thing is that it not be a monopoly gas source, that ukraine diversify sourcing to the extent that russia is just one other commercial supplier and the commercial negotiations between gas prom and ukraine take place on the same terms as negotiations between gas prom and germany or
any of gas prom's other customers. the question of lng is more politically complicated. it's something that the ukrainian government continues to talk about. but it's not something i would see as delivering the kind of short-term prospect of significant growth that we see for instance through the further expansion of reverse flow options or critically through the expansion of ukrainian domestic production, both more efficient use of existing wells and also new production under their production sharing agreements with shell, chevron and others. >> thank you. george? then john. >> i'm a member of the atlantic council. mr. ambassador, thank you very much for coming here today and presenting the very enlightening talk that you did. i would like to follow on a
question from my colleague here previously about energy and crimea. what is our position -- what's the position of the united states relative to crimea and the reassertion of ukrainian sovereignty over crimea? it's a little confusing when we hear from the state department to the effect that one way for putin to have the sanctions released is to implement the minsk agreements, provisions of the minsk agreements, but there's no mention of crimea. does that mean if the minsk agreements are implemented completely the sanctions would be removed and crimea would be allowed to remain russian? or is there another set of requirements that aren't being articulated that maybe we should be aware of? and i think this is particularly
important not just in the light of the fact that this is ukrainian territory and needs to have sovereignty reasserted but crimean territorial waters contain huge amounts of hydrocarbons. huge amounts on the order of those in the caspian sea. they represent energy independence not just for ukraine but really for all of europe if sovereignty is reasserted over those territorial waters. if it's not, then that just further enhances the kremlin's monopoly position as an energy supplier. >> thank you, george. appreciate the opportunity to clarify. as far as the united states government is concerned, crimea to include all of crimea's territorial waters are ukraine. that policy has not and will not change. we are not going to recognize the invasion and illegal annexation of crimea. period, end of dis