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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  April 8, 2016 3:30pm-5:31pm EDT

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a matter of fact it's going to have a greater impact of boys and young men of color if that's where you're focusing on the disparities. by no way is what we're doing under mbk, especially from a federal task force work exclusive of helping girls. even helping all children quite frankly. >> so i believe this is going to be our last question. >> oh. >> and it's a two part question so that's okay. >> do you have a one part question? no. no. sorry. >> what is your most rewarding experience while at the university of michigan as a student, and also what experiences helped prepare you for your current role with mbk? so can i say something that's sort of frivolous is going to see -- what was his name? see my memory is fading too
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much. one saturday when -- it was early in the semester when you don't have to study as you do later in the semester. and going to see michigan notre dame game and going to a jazz concert. the name of that jazz musician, he's a trumpeter. come on and help me. he's deceased now. miles davis. that was just a trick question. i knew who it was. and just starting my second year of law school. that was the most fun weekend i had. i think just the most rewarding thing was really not as a student, but it's been really quite frankly as an alum and some of the things i mentioned about my own father and my children and my mom and stuff. this legacy, family legacies are incredibly important. they really are. they provide tremendous
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opportunities but they also provide you with opportunities that are priceless. experiences that are priceless. and so i'm really so drawn to that. i think in terms of my job and what prepared for me from having been in school here is the rigor of the studies here at the law school. and also the sense that, you know, you should if you're willing, and able, commit yourself to do public service. and for me, i've been able to do public service and also private law firm and other work. but just the commitment to public service that i left here with since i needed to go and make a difference and give back. it's all very true. good way to end with that question. thank you so much. [ applause ] >> so my thanks, of course, to our special guest. i'd like to thank all of you for joining us for all of your
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questions. i hope you will stay for continuing the conversation at a reception out in our great hall. and i hope you'll consider coming back next monday. we'll be hosting u.s. secretary of labor, thomas perez. hope to see -- >> he's one of my favorites! >> and so -- >> tell him that, please. tell him he's one of my favorites. tell him! >> and so just a final thank you for your thoughts, your perspective, all of your experiences. we've learned a lot. >> thank you very much. [ applause ] american history tv on c span 3. this weekend. saturday night at 8:00 on lectures in history. >> what we see as new factors making emanseimation desirable. all kinds of obstacles falling by the wayside. with result by august if not
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earlier of 1862, lincoln has decided when the time is right, he will announce a new aim for the war effort. that will add to union human freedom. >> wheaton college history professor tracy mckenzie on the evolving war goals of the north during the civil war. at 10:00 on reel america. >> how was it possible for america to achieve such production and at the same time build an army? the amazing reports came in from the agents in the united states. 20% of american man power was woman power. legions of american women were massing. >> this 1944 war department film documents how women in world war ii helped the effort.
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alluded the army of women working in manufacturing is the main reason that germany lost the war. we learn about an exhibit marking the 125th anniversary of the organization founded in 1890. >> one thing that stands out at this time period is the creation of this imagery. it's an old concept. it goes back to ancient times where a warrior is made god-like by lifting him up and celebrating him. >> on the presidency at 8:00. >> washington and jefferson are the two most prominent examples of slave owning presidency. those who owned slaves while they're occupied the white house. james madison who followed jefferson as the fourth president of the united states,
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owns over 100 slaves holding a large percentage while he occupied the white house. he is responsible for proposing and expanding the 3/5 compromise which guaranteed the south held a disproportionate influence on the congress. >> tyler perry, african-american studies professor at california state university fullerton on the 12 american presidents who were slave owners. eight of them while in office. for the complete american history tv weekend schedule go to every election cycle we're reminded how important it is for citizens to be informed. cspan is a vehicle for empowering people to make good choices. it's like you're getting a seven course gourmet five star meal of policy. and boy, do i just sound like a
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nerd right there. but it's true. >> to me cspan is a home for political junkies and a way to track the government as it happens. >> most have a television on their desk and cspan is on. it's a great way for us to stay informed. >> i urge my colleagues to vote for this amend. >> there are a lot of cspan fans on the hill. my colleagues when i go back will say i saw you on cspan. >> you can get the history of grain elevators in pennsylvania. or land mark supreme court decisions. >> there's so much more that cspan does in terms of its programming to make sure that people outside the beltway know what's going on inside it. >> i announce my candidacy. >> i am officially running. >> for president of the united states.
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>> a reporter who covered politics. for senteno many of my stories, span has been part of my research providing me with identities about people. >> there is so many niches and they all get covered. >> it's a place i can go that lets me do the thinking and do the decision make. >> you follow towns of c span, house meetings, senate meetings. >> good morning, phone lines are open. start dialing in. >> the interaction with callers on c span is great. you never know what you're going to get. >> you're right. i'm from down south. >> oh, god, it's mom. >> i'm your mother. i disagree all families are like ours. i don't know many families that are fighting at thanksgiving. >> and welcome to book tv's live coverage of the 32ened annual
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miami book fair. >> on the weekends it becomes book tv. >> it's been a wonderful way of accessing the work of those folk who are writing, really great books. >> every weekend c span 3 becomes american history tv. your history junky, you've got to watch. >> whether we're talking about a congressional hearing. or we're talking about an era in history. there is so much information that you can convey. if you've got that kind of programming. whether it's at the capitol or on the campaign trail, they have a camera. they're capturing history as it happens. it brings you inside of these chambers, inside of the conversations on capitol hill. and lets you have a seat at the table. you can't find that anywhere else. >> i'm a c span fan. >> i'm a c span fan. >> i'm a c span fan. >> yes, i am a c span fan. >> and that's the power of c span.
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access for everyone to be part of the conversation. advice now to the next president on america's role in the world. indiana university school of global and international studies hosted this panel discussion on middle east policy. the panelists include a former iraqi deputy ambassador to the un. journalist robin wright, a former republican presidential campaign advisor and a former deputy assistant secretary of state who organized the u.s. response to the arab awakenings. this is an hour and ten minutes. welcome to the second session of the america's role in the world conference. i'm assistant professor in the department of international studies here at the school of global and international studies at indiana university.
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i have the pleasure of moderating this very distinguished panel. before i get into the introductions of our panelists, i thought it would be best to kind of set up the main subject matter of the panel which is america's role in the middle east. one could very plausibly argue, i think, that were it not for america's role in the middle east, barack obama would not have won the presidency in 2008. more specifically, had it not been for the state senator obama's vocal opposition to the invasion of iraq, which then u.s. senator hillary clinton had voted to authorize, senator obama would have had a difficult time distinguishing himself from his main rival for the democratic presidential nomination. the iraq war and its after math then was as much a litmus test on presidential judgment and
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foresight in 2008. as the constableation of subsequent wars proxy civil, conventional, you name it revolutions, coupes and even glimmers of breakthroughs might come in the coming election in the fall of the 2016. given the way the presidential primaries have gone, i'm not sure just what counts as a litmus test. in terms of presidential discernment in american politics anymore. in contemplating america's role in the middle east one thing is abundantly clear. it has been placed on a different trajectory by president obama. as jeffrey goldburg has recently observed in a piece on the atlantic magazine, on the obama doctrine, obama has come to a number of dove tailing one might say the united states as well,
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has come to a number of dove tailing conclusions about the world and america's role in it. the first is that the middle east is no longer terribly important to american interests. the second, is that even if the middle east were surpassingly important, there would still be little an american president could do to make it a better place. the third is that the innate american desire to fix the sorts of problems that manifest themselves most drastically in the middle east lead to warfar and the hemorrhaging of u.s. credibility and power end quote. what to make about this new trajectory and the tragic yet some might say refreshingly non-ideological vision? does the imperical evidence of america's actual involvement or non-involvement in the region bear out the president's
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retrospective articulation of his strategy and doctrine? what is likely to endure and change in this strategic calculation moving forward, with a new president in office in january of 2017. to help us answer these questions, and to make sense of the geostrategic maze that continues to be the middle east, we are fortunate to be joined by distinguished panel of experts, sage and veteran observers of the region all. to my right, robin wright is a veteran journalist who has reported for more than 140 countries. for the washington post, the los angeles times and the new yorker, "new york times" magazine. we could spend the rest of the panel talking about the accomplishments of robin wright. she has covered a dozen wars and several revolutions and joins us here today having just reported on the front lines of the war against isis and we're very eager to hear your insights on that. she has been a fellow at the u.s. institute of peace at the
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woodrow wilson international center for scholars, brookings institution as well as yale, duke, stanford in california. her most recent book, was rock the casbah. her books include dreams and shadows, i'm giving you the title to three of my favorite ones i've assigned to my students on courses on the middle east. they've loved overwhelmly over academy titles on the middle east. the second one is entitled droo dreams and shadows and one of my favorites the last great revelation. the onset of the events in iran. tamara kaufman is a senior fellow and director at brookings. coordinating u.s. policy on
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democracy and human rights in the middle east for the state department. she oversaw the partnership initiative and served as deputy special coordinator for middle east transitions. she was central for organizing the u.s.'s responses to the arab awakenings. she's the author of freedoms of steady march. and the editor of how israelis and palestinians negotiate the peace process. she has a new piece in the atlantic in response to the article i just cited we'll get to as well. ambassador is the director for the center for the study of the middle east. he's professor of the practice of international law and diplomacy. with his appointment at the school of law here at iu. ambassador strabati was appointed in 2004.
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prior to his diplomatic appoi appointment. on june 8th. 2004. he is also the principle legal drafter of iraq's interim constitution. the law of administration of the state of iraq for the transitional period and principle author of its bill of fundamental rights. last but not least, richard fontaine is the president for the center for new american security. he served as a senior advisor and fellow from 2009 to 2012 and previously as foreign policy advisor to senator john mccain. he has worked at the state department, national security council and the foreign relations committee. he is a member of the council of foreign relations and has been a professor at georgetown university school of foreign
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service. welcome to you all and thank you for joining us. in keeping with our dean's unofficial although i think it should become the official motto of the school in order to change the world we must first seek to understand it. it would be -- i would like to each ask of you, to briefly characterize your understanding of america's role in the middle east today at the end of the obama presidency. then we'll get to specific issues there. why don't we start with robin wright. >> thank you very much. and thank you very much to lee for inviting me and all of us to to be assembled here. i can't tell you how much washington misses you. you are a gentleman, you're thoughtful. you are civil. you are an inspiration at so many levels. it's wonderful to see you again. to address the question, look, the thing that's so striking about the obama administration
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is that it is the first 21st century presidency. i think the administration, the president particularly has had the ability to stand on top of the world and look down. at the way it is changing. whether it is the distribution of power so that the united states cannot do as much as it either wants to do or has done in the past. that it increasingly needs to collaborate with whether it's our nato allies or creating a broad based 65 nation coalition to deal with the challenge of isil. and in that way, i think that man who had very little experience in foreign policy has proven to be quite sage in the way he's approached the region. i think in stark contrast to the bush administration, there's also a sense that the united states can't always define what democracy is going to look like
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in another part of the world. that we know what our values are and we want to nurture support and aid systems that aspire to e value values but that we can't put in place the people we think could do it best. it's one of the most frustrating things, having come back from ir iraq, knowing that they could fight much more effectively. but to invest in the process and be responsible for it. that's a hard thing for a president who is conscious of his legacy, who has, for eight years, to try to achieve a goal.
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he knows that this is not going to be conclude d at that cut-of point. my father who is a law professor, taught me to deal with any issue by standing on top of the world and looking down. i think obama has been very good at that. i've done two briefings with him in the past. whether it's the iran nuclear issue or isis, that he really define goals in a long-term, wider world perspective. and for that, even though there are shortcomings, we can criticize them for a lot of things that failed to happen. you want us to be brief so i'll leave it there.
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when i was a newly minted graduate and moved to washington, i sat in on hearings that you held on democracy in the middle east. i think that drove me into a my career. so, thank you. we still have a lot of work to do. so, let me say, look, any president's legacy in foreign affairs is a calculus that is about the cards that are dealt and how they play them. and i think it's clear in the atlantic article reveals this very well, that president obama came in with a certain set of ideas about the middle east, that the u.s. was relatively overinvested in this region and relatively underinvested in other parts of the world where
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there were risks and opportunities that needed to be dealt with. therefore, he wanted greater burden sharing in the middle east as well as other parts of the world. the problem is that in order to achieve that objective, a global power like the united states needs a stable regional order that advantages its interest, that it can just defend. and it needs reliable partners that can share the burden. as of 2011 in the middle east, the united states has neither of those things. region saw a total breakdown that we've seen for half a century, which did favor american interest and opening up power competition because of that breakdown, particularly between saudi arabia and iran that we've seen raging across the region ever since. and it lost some of its core
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stable partners for regional security like egypt, which is now so mired in its internal disaster that it can't play an effective role in stabilizing the region. and those two breakdowns occurred, interestingly, because of failures of governance, because of a breakdown of the social contract, because of things that happened inside states. and so to begin by understanding and then moving from that to what we must do, i think we need, first, to understand that the requisites for diminished american role in the middle east are not there. and they're not going to be there for some time to come. in fact, the opposite. the threats generated by this breakdown in order, because they were not well addressed, not only by the united states but by regional actors and other outside actors, those threats have festered and grown in ways that are now threatening
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european integration,ing the safety of millions of people around the middle east and threatening american interests. that has driven obama against his own inclinations back to the middle east in this war against isis. that's really the legacy which is, as i said, a consequence of both of what happened and how the u.s. responded. >> thank you. >> i always start by trying to dispense with the myth that set the borders of the middle east. it did not. that relates directly to how i'm going to respond to your question.
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what they did or tried to do is divide the middle east between the presumptive victorious powers, great britain, france and russia. russian revolution took care of russia's role in the spoils. a lasting legacy of the obama administration's policy in the middle east is sort of a new in the sense that there is, i think, a redrawing not of the borders necessarily. but rather influence. in the atlantic piece that you mentioned, jeffrey goldberg's series of interviews with the president, when the president
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says that saudi arabia -- that there is, in fact, at least baghdad, at least damascus and parts of lebanon are part of the influence. the arab or perfection gulf, at
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least the arabian peninsula is part of it. >> we are certainly -- -- the obama administration is not interested in removing iran's allies in syria. it doesn't seem to have any policy at all in lebanon, which but it is possibly the proxy war
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against yemen, drawing them much more to iran than they were when saudi arabia started bombing yemen, for no obvious reason that i can discern. i think this will be the lasting legacy. it's an unfortunate legacy. with all due respect i think we'll disagree on the obama administration policy in the middle east. as far as it being a 21st century docktrine when you described it, robin, i thought of a 19th century -- sorry, early 20s century.
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so this doctrine has been around at least colonel lawrence. who can disagree with a man played by peter o'toole? >> my friend, who is doing remarkable things with the school as well with this particular conference and so thanks for having us here. there's a sense that the united states is disengaged from the region and wishes to disengage further. i think a lot of this is in response to the goldberg
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article. it doesn't line up with the facts. where the united states is active today, we have troops in iraq. we have troops in syria and carrying out military actions in both of those countries. secretary of state spent the first year and a half of his term in office, trying frantically to achieve a deal on middle east peace. we give billions of aid the country's of the region, the iran nuclear deal, obviously, consumed a huge amount of senior policy maker time and attention. >> the president's approach to the middle east, the second point i'll make is ultimately the feel of the slippery slope, the idea that even a relatively modest amount of engagement, particularly military engagement
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will lead to another iraq and catastrophic implications, 150,000 american troops, large numbers of casualties, et cetera. and i think this has led the president to be very skeptical. he took all the forces out of iraq and was hesitant to get back in after topling moammar gadhafi in libya, and conducting most of the military activities through drone strikes, air strikes, these things like that. and as part of this grand strategy that robin described to and that our moderator described to rebalance toward asia and sort of not have strategic distraction in quagmires today. there's a problem that occurred in the attempt to avoid the slippery slope, which is that we
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slid right down the slippery slope anyway. we got out of iraq. now we're back with probably about the same number of troops we would have had, had we not withdrawn at all. we've tried not to get involved with syria and today we have special operations forces on the ground, bombing isis every day. train and equip program for rebels and so forth. now libya, where it is -- just started to get to the point where we're active militarily again in libya. it looks like that will only increase with what the military is recommending to the president. i think we have this tension, two tensions really. one between the perception of american disengagement and reality of american activity and the second with the administration's desire to avoid a slippery slope in terms of american engagement in the middle east and the fact that it's gotten dragged right down that slope. >> excellent. thank you.
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the challenge flank has been thrown. allow me to reframe it in a way that goes to the heart of the matter on your recent reporting on isil's advances as well. another noted journalist, patrick coburn, mentioned to me a few weeks ago that it seems to have gone from reptilian fascination with iran to benign negative and in that pendulum shift, isis was born and the interests that was alluded to might harken back to the early 20th century are really all a consequence of this too swift a shift toward a pragmatism at a time when the uted states needed to, perhaps, entrench more and devote itself to a project of nation building in iraq. you just have returned from iraq.
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you've observed this firsthand. is that an accurate characterization of what the problem with isil is and where it might be heading, given how the obama administration has handled it? >> good question. i just want to point out that when t.e. lawrence w involved in the middle east, united states was not a superpower or player. maybe we've finally come around to the same conclusion. the problem with iraq, with isil, really goes back to what we tried to accomplish the first time around. and just a little anecdote. the joint chiefs of staff was initially very opposed to the surge, not on military grounds. they thought they could accomplish pushing out al qaeda, defeating al qaeda in iraq. they were concerned because they didn't have confidence that -- whether it was american
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diplomacy or more particularly the iraqi factions could address the basic questions to guarantee that iraq would be viable as a state after saddam hussein. and that was how do you share political power and how do you share and divide up equitably the resources of a country that has the world's largest oil reserves? they did succeed, plus or minus, in kind of pushing al qaeda back anyway or underground. but they never addressed those fundamental -- managed to get the iraqis to address those fundamental issues. they linger still to this day. and in a country that doesn't know how each community will deal with each other, there is a sense that everybody wants a little bit more of the pie than the other guy, just so that they have a little bit more to ensure their own safety, their
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protection, political life, their economic opportunity. in that environment where you have a very divisive society, where the kurds feel betrayed. those are all, i'm sure, simplyifications. they're the kind of operating hypothesis that you have an environment where a conservative, traditional sunni-dominated city like mosul which was -- frankly, some people were espousing ideas that were compatible with isis long before they moved in. isis was welcomed by some. not by all. refugee flows or internally displaced people.
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it's the same thing in syria. you don't have a popular, credible, viable government and you saw the uprising that was then exploited by basically everybody. the question now for everybody is, can you actually reconstitute each state? the question dealing with this issue is, are they borders that were ever viable? could we be going back to something that is more natural or could be less conflict prone? we don't know the answer. one of the problems of u.s. policy at the moment is we're not put iting those fundamental questions on the table. should we be using our military might and muscle? should we be using our human capital to protect the borders of sikespico that created the
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modern borders. we've gone through not only -- i hope we'll talk about this -- rebalance of broader power, the re-emerge ente re-emergence of iran. marginalization of saudi arabia. but these questions of the rebalancing of power within states and what's going to be viable. while we are being viable against isis, isis has lost 40% of its territory in iraq, over 10% of its territory in syria.
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who is going to rule iraq, mosul? we didn't get it right the first time around. and there is a growing military presence in iraq, but there is not a vacuum, but certainly if they can restore much of the traditional state, what's going to happen not just in mosul, but what happens in iraq and can you answer that question of sharing power? if they can't answer it, then the modern map of the middle east is finished. >> thank you. >> a couple points. first, robin has done a fantastic job of laying out the challenge which is the breakdown of social trust in these societies, whether it's iraq or syria or libya.
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the fact that certain groups, because they were autocratic governments and that's what autocratic governments do, work to erode, destroy every independent community institution which is where people can come together, bargain and live together peacefully. when that autocratic government falls apart, this is what you have left, an authoritarian legacy. it's been exaggerated vastly in the region by the actions of other states and by neglect and intervention, whether it was benign or otherwise.
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it isn't simply the military withdrawal from iraq that left us with this problem with the dismantling of the iraqi state and iraqi military. and i don't want to say anything in front of him that he couldn't say ten thousand times more on. a military disengagement but a civilian disengagement. our aid to iraq on the civilian side declined. our democracy assistance declined. our leverage over iraq, our ability to try to shape that trajectory was a consequence not only of our military presence, but of all these other elements of u.s. foreign policy as well.
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all of them were pulled back. that had real consequences on the ground and now, as we've all discussed, we are back in a certain way. it's about state borders for the precise reason you describe, robin. it's about social trust. the problem with social trust and communities being able to share power and live together is a problem no matter where you draw the line.
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it's a challenge. if you can't solve those problems peacefully, you solve them violently. >> if i can follow up this on this, point of regional balance of power in the picture. should we give credit to the obama administration for, in effect, indirectly parceling this out to the iranians? >> because they've done such a great job at stabilizing the region? >> is that the case? but do you believe that that's been their stated policy? that is mentioned in the interview with jeffrie goldberg, that they need to establish social trust in getting various different tribal groups to get along, et cetera. is that part of the calculation here? or do you think it's more naive than that? >> i don't think it's naive. i also don't think it's some
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sort of conspiratory. it has sought to exploit the cracks in societies across the region to expand its own influence. that's how it works. below the level of the state, through subversion, through nonstate actors and 2011, the uprisings gave iran incredible opportunities that it could never have imagined and, by the way, i would say many arab states, in their reaction to the uprisings and dealing with the divisions that o s their own so made it easy for iran and the sectarian divide has been exacerbated by the actions of both sides. no, i don't think it's some grand plan. >> there's a third option you didn't mention.
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that is that the obama administration has bungled into this situation. i don't believe it's a matter of grand strategy. i don't believe in conspiracy theories either. just because i have a middle eastern name doesn't mean i believe in conspiracy theory. i believe the obama administration has bungled their way into iraq, picking up on the bungling before the bush administration, by the way. the bush administration did not leave us with, you know, a record to be admired in iraq. although iraq was at least considerably, in my opinion, more stable in january of 2009 than it is today. so, i would like to say that -- so, i think what happens then with iran is that the obama administrati administration, iranians took advantage of a void. the obama administration is unwilling to invest in pushing
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iran back. and is willing to accommodate iran's filling that void. i take it that's what the president means when he says saudi arabia has to learn to share the middle east with iran. i take it that doesn't mean the obvious, that iran gets to keep iran. there's no expansionist policy on saudi arabia's part. i take it that's what that comment must mean. one of the things i think that we haven't talked about here is the extent to which iraq and syria are deeply interconnected at multiple levels. not only the obvious, that isil is attempting to erase an international border and moves back and forth more or less freely, but also the larger lesson, i think, that iraq represents for syria.
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syria has a situation similar but almost exactly in reverse of iraq. if you think that iraq had a sunni minority government prior to 2003 that ruled shia majority state. syria, if you have this point of view, is precisely the opposite. if you have a minority ruling a sunni state. if you have this world view, you would look to see that when the sunnis lost power in iraq, they lost everything. robin is absolutely right, there was no power. for 13 years we've been talking about reconciliation in iraq. there has been not a single step toward recogninciliation in ira. there's been no power sharing. if you have this sectarian when the majority fell, it lost
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everything. if you're a syrian, it would make you fight tooth and nail to stay in power, precisely what they've done. they have to be looked at in intersection with each other. >> this question of iran. the administration, it's been a bit of a cacophony post nuclear deal. some days they'll say the nuclear deal was an arms control agreement with dangerous state and, therefore, this allows us to sort of clear the table to push back against their other maligned activities, terrorism, destabilizing activities. other times they'll sort of muse openly about the possibility, trying to find constructive regional, you know, kinds of solutions. those things may not be mutually exclusive.
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some days combined with the discomfort of the nuclear deal did on its own terms, i think, has given rise to this idea in the region. in fact, there's a condominium in the offing, real secret plan that puts the united states and iran in the driver's seat. i don't see that as true. i don't think -- it's about governs within those state borders. many states have been very centralized governance and with a minority or sometimes a majority, as was the previous case in iraq, that is disempowered, disenfranchised, doesn't have political or economic opportunity. the problem that the sunnis, in places like iraq and syria and
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libya have is that isis is really bad, but it's not as bad as what they think the shia, sectarian government in baghdad is, or the government in damascus is, or the chaos of libya. so, this points to a policy direction. we could destroy isis militarily. and we should try. and we should do as much as we can. if you don't get at these underlying phenomena, the civil wars and vacuum, you're going to have son of isis and grandson of isis and great grandson of isis. >> hear, hear. >> i want to be provocative. we talk a lot about iraq and -- iran, i mean, and the shiite crescent. i have to be honest, that term was coined in an interview i did with king abdullah of jordan and his office called me right after the interview and said you can't use that term. i said you don't take that
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record after the fact. nobody knew it was going to define iran's agenda or how it was perceived in the outside world. i believe there's a counter to that. that is, as the iranians perceive it, the sunni circle around iran. and iran may exploit all the cracks in the region, but so does saudi arabia and its gulf allies. there's no question they have funded all kinds of groups. in 2002, i remember driving across northern kurdistan on the eve of what we knew was going to be a u.s. invasion. it was sanctioned by the outside world, sanctioned by the saddam hussein regime, starving, terribly desperate for aid. in every village there was a nice little white mosque, whitewashed. you know, it was the one building in every community. and they were all saudi-funded mosques, fundamentalists in their perspective.
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it's not just what the saudis are doing in supporting armed groups in syria but this expansion of its ideology. because iran feels as if they're a minority ethnically. and in terms of religion, they look at the world around them and see that saudi arabia support, whether it's in pakistan, central asia, along the gulf and so forth. i'm not trying to defend iran. i'm just saying there's two rival perceptions. since 1979 and the revolution, tammy is right, that the dynamics have changed. iran and israel were the two pillars of u.s. policy. and in that -- after the 79 in that vacuum, egypt and saudi arabia, in particular, began to
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take their place as allies in the region were able to do that, and saudi arabia's growing importance because after '73, the hike in the price of oil. suddenly they had more strategic value for us. our policy went from being kind of sectarian neutral to being heavily sunni in its de facto relationship. wasn't what we intended but that was the way it was. in many ways what the obama administration had to decide really, given iran's advanced nuclear program was do we want to be on a war footing with a country that has a population that is larger than all the gulf states combined, that borders the three most volatile regions in central asia, middle east and south asia, or do we want to try to figure out a way to diffuse the conflict? what's interesting is when you look at what saudi arabia is most concerned about, they're not afraid that the iranians are
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going to use a nuclear weapon if they had one. they're much more concerned about iran's return to that place in power that they had before 1979. that's why this policy is so controversial and will continue to be, because the saudis have begun to realize, particularly with the price of oil declining, that they -- you know, their place in the region is diminishing and president obama's rather blunt comments in the goldberg interview put them on notice. i have to say, i thought it was, in some ways, refreshing. very unpolitical -- very undiplomatic. it was a way of letting the saudis know, you can't -- and the saudis have increasingly treated us as their policemen, and it was a nice way at a time that saudi arabia was going through its own very, very frangile transition of putting them on notice. i say bravo. >> this reminds me.
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iran's very able foreign minister, when asked -- when he was asked about this diplomatic opening, he said we have been a pole of power in the region since time memorial. all the obama administration has done is to acknowledge it. that acknowledgement is an affront to a lot of arab states that don't even want to see the acknowledgement. if i may -- we're getting near to the end of the panel. i want to make sure that i heed the call of actionable wisdom that congressman hamilton urged us to do. in terms of moving forward, given these shifts that have happened, how sustainable is this course, that the obama administration has embarked on? the iranians feel that that acknowledgement will evaporate even if president hillary clinton is in office because of her public remarks about the
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nuclear deal or luke warm reception of it anyway. or that there will be a reversion back to the old habits of having the saudis and israelis be the two pillars. on the question of isil, what might the next administration do that the obama administration, perhaps -- neither through benign negative nor through zeal failed to do? if we could sort of reflect on those and to sort of not neglect syria. if syria and iraq are, indeed, the heart of what has preoccupied american foreign policy in the region since the invasion of iraq, what does the united states owe iraq and syria going forward? is it state building? is it something more grand in
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terms of going back to something along the lines of sykes-picot? what exactly should we look forward to? if you don't mind starting us off, robin. or since you spoke last, i can start the other way around. richard? >> these are very small questions. >> yes. >> yes. >> i'll try to deal, wrap all of this up here. >> in two minutes. >> two minutes, okay. on the iran deal, i don't think the next administration no, matter what anybody says, is going to walk away from it. to do that, we would be in the position of having given the sanctions relief to iran and then been in the position of freeing iran from its obligations under the nuclear restrictions. that doesn't make a lot of sense. the united states can intensify the military operations. we've been doing this incrementally for a year and a half. there are areas we can do more. particularly if the cease fire
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breaks down and it doesn't take effect for some sort of power sharing agreement, no bombing zones will be an important next step. finally, on what we owe syria and iraq, i wouldn'tuite put it that way but how should we act on the basis of iraq? we've given a lot to an effort in iraq to a country in particular. as we look for models of sustainability, if you start to change by force or in any other way the external borders of the nation states, however
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arbitrarily designed, you open up a pan dora's box. it's a recipe for bloodshed, ethnic cleansing and everything else. within those borders, all sorts of things are possible. i think a strong man in the capital city, who who will owes out his civil society, is just fundamentally a model. i don't think you can put that back together. i don't think it's going to work in egypt who is trying to put it in place right now. the next step is models of federalism or power that have many, many complications. i think at least they have a potential to be successful. that's not something that you can bring about by announcing it should happen. it has to be something that is on the table in every one of these discussions about the future of these countries.
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>> first of all, i agree with you. morality comes into it maybe. but at the end of the day, particularly great states act out of self interest, it seems to me. that is the question. i want to go back to the interview. one thing that struck me, advisers think iing in terms of dichotomies. either we do nothing or it's 150,000 people and that slippery
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slope you talked about. i don't recall the specific issue that arose. the vice president said to the president remember vietnam or something to that affect. vladimir putin, it seems to me, has establish that in the 21st century it is possible, in fact, to have a limited objective in the middle east to intervene militarily for a few months. yes, it costs cash, yes, it costs coffins being brought back home. you can achieve it in a short period of time, pack up and go home. seems to me there's a lesson in that for the next administration. also, on the issue of the
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borders, it seems to me -- here, i think policy makers would do well to read academic literature. academic literature is quite persuasive, quite convincing. trying to redraw borders to make peace you'll get more wars. in any case, you won't get fewer wars. the same thing happened in the balkans. south sued anese government stands accused of committing genocide and crimes against humanity. you can have civil wars and international armed conflicts. and if you start redrawing maps, look at iraq. what holds the shia together?
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what holds the kurds together in a constitutional crisis since august because one man doesn't want to give up the presidency? the answer is nothing. there's at least a good chance that it ends up being another somalia. that ought to focus our minds. there is an american interest in that. as one of my colleagues -- and i don't recall who it was, i'm sorry -- is saying the middle east crisis, bedrock of the american policy since dwight eisenhower suggested the idea. i think we have to be careful in how we approach this i guess i'll stop there. thank you. >> thank you.
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>> i'll try to be brief. no matter what the price of order and energy we may be produce i producing, i think it's clear that the middle east continues to matter to the national interest and to the world and primarily for the united states whether they relate to injury, counterterrorism, free flow of commerce, what have you, we need stability. it's important to the united states. we need to find, nurture, build, sustain anchors of stability. richard pointed to the top two priorities going forward. one is resolving the civil wars in the ways that we can and the other is dealing with these
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underlying challenges that have driven the instability over the last several decades, i would say. when it comes to working on those issues, resolving conflicts peaceably and sustaining that peace, rebuilding governance as it works, i think -- again, i agree with richard. bipartisan agreement on the panel. >> the right place in indiana, yes. >> right. you've got to start from the bottom up. you rebuild social trusts from the bottom up. not from, you know, centralized capital down. so to give you one very concrete example as the united states and other international actors provide humanitarian relief, as we push isis out of territories, we need to think not just about
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what we build in terms of governance, but how does it work for people? can we give communities the forums to manage their conflicts peacefully? while they're in camps, in europe. we can work on that with local communities in syria right now. if we ignore it, it gets worse. we have to be in it for the long haul. >> i don't see a candidate, democrat or republican, that is a 21st century thinker, and that worry mees a lot. that affects most of all what we end up doing. i agree with richard as well on
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iran. i don't think there's any candidate who will walk away from the iran deal. whether it's the hill or more particularly republican president, we would see the imposition of more sanctions, whether it's over the missile program, human rights, whatever. that would erode the kind of spirit of the nuclear deal. the missile program is a longer discussion but is now part of the nuclear deal. that would taint what we have created, engaging iran might make it more difficult. there's a solution. we can create zones, particularly inside syria, where people would be safe.
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syria is very different than iraq was. we had no fly zones in iraq for five years at enormous cost, bombing the iraqis the problem is, we were there for eight years and it's still a problem. it then makes us responsible ffor what happens next. that is the slippery slope. i have been on front line. i was down in kobani as the fighting was raging there. it's not like refugees want to go back to an area where they would be displaced. they would be much more physically vulnerable. it's the core problem. there aren't a lot of models for what we can do particularly in syria. when it comes to create iing
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alternatives, we're going to be increasingly involved over what they call train and assist, advise and assist and likely to be sending more and more forces. an announcement in the next two or three weeks about hundreds more going into iraq. particularly because the operation in mosul is pivotal. everything that happens in iraq is still, arguably, a year away. it is widely believed strong men don't work. yet people really want stability. in many ways, far worse than
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mubarak was at the height of his power. as we go forward, i think there will be an appeal to find someone who is a better strong man than saddam hussein was or a better strong man than bash iral assad was. that's the problem with these wars. so we'll tolerate, i think, something that we would not have when we're talking about ousting gadhafi in libya or saddam hussein. one final note, revolution is still to come in egypt. it accounts for one-third of the world's arab population. beware. i grew up in a time that we recognized -- whether it was ferd nant nand marcos and after they were ousted we all said oh,
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well, we should never have been their allies anyway. there are a lot of things, i think, history will look back on. one final thing and then i promise to stop. i was born the year u.n. was founded. 57 members. today we have more than 90. they're going to change. plus or minus, they may be better off than they are now. they can be part of the bigger whole. are the soviet republics better off separated? things are going to happen. there's a real danger for us not to be open minded and think what might be better? no question, just having spent two weeks in kurdistan that the kurds are going on their own way. they may have an intermediate stage of more autonomy.
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the map is going to change. we have to think big, think really big. if we stay on the current course, we'll get even more enmeshed in the problems we have today. >> less than ten minutes for questions. mikes are in the corners here if you don't mind walking up to the them. >> first of all, thank you all for sharing your insights today. it's an inspiring panel. i wish it could be extended three times the amount of time we have. what's striking to me is that we just surveyed an inkrcredible amount of complexity. does israel matter in any of
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this? does the israeli/palestinian question deserve more attention than it's getting? can it? does that affect any other issues we've discussed to this point? >> two states that were mentioned, turkey being the other. >> believe me, i have a list of questions all those countries. we had our work cut out for us. >> we didn't mention western sahara either. i'm just kidding. >> is that a nato ally? >> after trump takes over, there will be no nato. it will be fine. israel always matters to the united states. despite the rather poisonous political relations between obama and netanyahu and netanyahu's speech before the joint session there's a whole lot that the united states and israel are doing on the security front and every other form of cooperation. having cleared away the
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personalized, politic alan mossity, it's only going to increase there. the kind of hopelessness that -- i think there's no horizon on which people can see the prospect of middle east peace. you cannot fault john kerry for giving sufficient attention and expended insufficient -- having put all that diplomatic capital into that effort, he was able to essentially walk away with nothing.
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i don't think that the next administration will touch it with a ten-foot pole. >> jordan, israel and, to a large degree, palestinian authority over the last five years, has been a relative anchor of stability in a region that is otherwise an upheaval. you want to preserve that. the stability that has existed in the israeli palestinian arena is -- yes, there's an unresolved conflict. it's been a function of two things. negotiations process that even though it wasn't particularly productive, it was a framework that everybody was signed up to and, number two, very effective security cooperation between the palestinian authority and the israeli government. that framework is exhausted.
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we don't have anything to replace it with. under threat not only because of the despair and frustration of palestinians that we see today but also because it's not immune to the challenges in the rest of the region. there's a generational gap and gap in public trust between palestinians and their own leaderships. so if we can't address those issues in the politics, we won't be able to work on the conflict effectively and trying to resolve the palestinian/israeli conflict is important for regional stability and important for the next president. >> we have time for one more questio question. >> yes, sir, right here.
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>> i'm sorry. thank you very much for talking to us. >> can you identify yourself? >> sure. my name is daniel lopez. i'm a student at public environment affairs. >> what is your input? you've spoken about this in both nuances. but we tend to talk about global players as their country's names. we talk about america, iraq, saudi arabia. are we missing an opportunity to create a more human level of
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concern diplomatic issues, here is what iraq is doing. here is what iran is doing. here is what we need to do. are we missing that by failing to compile all those into single entities? >> declining aid specifically with respect to iraq but there say relative underinvestment. there are a couple of reasons for that within our domestic sphere. american people by two-thirds majorities judge the wars in iraq and afghanistan a failure. they re-elected barack obama twice on a platform of ending wars in the middle east and focusing on stuff here at home. that degree of public support is something that all politicians are conscious of. that doesn't mean that they can't work to shape public opinion. that's what leadership is. they have a reality they have to
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confront. there was no one in the united states pushing obama to do more, a lot of people pushing him to do other domestic component here that i think plays in a lot and we haven't talked about at all is the dysfunction of our system in washington and particularly as it affects our appropriations process and the relationship on foreign policy. when the arab uprisings happened, there were challenges and there were opportunities. and you know, the first thing we had to do was scramble for funding. we weren't sure whether the federal government was going to shut down because we didn't have appropriations. just imagine trying to have a grand strategy or be persistent in dealing with problems when we don't know if we're going to have people in the office the next day. we put forward to congress a
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proposal for $770 million in funding to support governance, to support stable transitions in the middle east and congress didn't even pass a regular appropriation forward that year. so our political dysfunction does carry a price for us in our ability to act in the world. >> excellent. thank you. well, on that note, i want to ask you to join me in thanking the panel for this great discussion. thank you very much. [ applause ] this week on cspan, the supreme court cases that shaped our history come to life with the cspan series "landmark ca s cases." it explores real life stories and constitutional dramas behind some of the most significant decisions in america history.
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>> during times of war and it put -- it puts before the court central themes about the conditions into which presidents during times of emergency can do things that may not be expressly stated in the constitution and the limits that congress and the courts can place on it. >> he said as you did in the opening, the cases come to be accepted by the culture. >> it was a sweeping decision. it isolated the u.s. as one of only four facts of 195 across the globe that allow abortion for any reason after fetal viability. >> and tonight, we'll look at the case of miranda v. arizona. the right against self-incrimination and the right to an attorney. watch "landmark cases" tonight at 10:00 eastern on cspan and american history tv on
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cspan3. this weekend. saturday night, on lectures and history -- >> what we see is new factors making emancipation desirable. old kinds of obstacles falling by the way side. with the result that august if not earlier, lincoln decided when the time is right, he will announce a new aim for the war effort that would add to union human freedom. >> tracey mckinzie on the evolving war goals of the north during the civil war. and then at 10:00 on reel america. >> and at the same time build an army. and the amazing reports came in from our agents in the united states. 20% of american industrial manpower was woman power.
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le joh legions of american women. fore saking the grim tasks of war. >> this 1944 war department film documents how women in world war ii helped the war effort. alluding that the hidden women working in the war action are the main reason they won the war. we visit the daughters of the mesh revolution museum to learn about an exhibit. >> one thing that stands out at this time period is this creation of this imagery of the apotheosis. it's an old concept. it goes back to ancient times where a warrior is made god-like by lifting him up and celebrating him. >> on the presidency at 8:00 -- >> though washington and
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jefferson are the two most prominent examples, it is worth highlighting key facets of their successors who owned slaves, especially those who did so while they occupied the white house. james madison owned over 100 slaves holding a large percentage while he occupied the white house. he is responsible for proposing and expanding the three-fifths compromise which guaranteed the south held a disproportionate influence upon congress. >> tyler perry, african-american studies professor at california state university on the 12 american presidents who were slave owners. for the complete weekend schedule, go to indiana university recently hosted a conference about america's role in the world. the panel you're about to see
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offers foreign policy advice to the next president and looks back an presidential transitions from past administrations. panelists include former u.s. ambassadors, authors, and former national security and intelligence officials. this is an hour and a half. so we're here today to talk about whether the obama approach, call it a doctrine, call it a policy, of scaling back of retrenchment and a repositioning is one that the next president ought to change and reconsider or maybe even deepen. and we have the perfect panel to engage in this conversation. to my right is jessica mathews. you have everybody's bio, so i'm just going to say a few
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highlights from my own personal experience which i'm very honored to say i have with each of my colleagues here. jessica is the president of the carnegie endowment for international peace. she served in government as a columnist and been a driver on a wide range of foreign policy issues throughout her career. i encourage you to check out her writing in the new york review of books, it feels like it's every week. the most recent of which as far as i know is in the march 24 issue. it really tries to address and come to grips with some of the very issues we're going to be talking about today. also chris hill. chris, am i counting three-time ambassador? >> four. >> four-time ambassador, poland, iraq, macedonia. what am i missing? >> south korea. >> and south korea of course. a fellow dean at the core bell
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school. named after the father of my former boss madeline al bright, somebody who has experience across the world on some of the toughest issues from bosnia to north korea. someone who worked very, very closely as well with dick holbrook and his most recent book is "outpost: life on the front lines of american d diploma diplomacy." chris kojm was in my rolodex back in the 1980s. if you don't know what that is, we can talk later on. he was for many years, 15, on the staff of the house foreign affairs committee under lee hamilton and then went onto be the chairman of the national
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intelligence council for five years until 2014. and is now a professor at george washington university. and the national intelligence council, the nic for insiders publishing global trends every four years, the most recent one being 2035. as the chairman of the nic, that was something that chris was deeply involved in and we'll have a chance to talk about a bit. and to my far right is steven macekura who's a professor in sgis in our department of strashl studies, an international historian, teaches grand strategy among many other issues. his new book is of limits and growth, the rise of sustainable development in the 20th century published just before the conclusion of the climate change takes in paris. so welcome to all of you. thank you for joining us.
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jessica, i think i'll begin with you. ben rhodes talked about a number of specific policy issues that would be at the top of the president's agenda. in some of your writing and our personal conversations, you also wanted to point to maybe some of the structural issues that you think also are important and potentially obstacles for the next president. wonder if you might want to take the lead. >> okay. let me just start by saying how happy i am to be here. for anybody who spent many, many years in washington working on foreign policy, coming to indiana is something in the nature of a pilgrimage to say thank you for hamilton and dick luger. so it's a great pleasure to be here. first, i will say this is an exercise we go through every four years. it's an important one.
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what's the inbox. one thing we can say for sure is that whatever we say will be wrong because foreign policy really since the unexpected collapse of the soviet union has been a series of surprises. and, you know, who could have told us we heard at lunch that because somebody chose to put a bomb in his underpants that this would change profoundly the policies of the obama administration. so i -- you know, how mcmillonfamously said, events dear boy, events. we should bear that in mind. but i do think that the most important set of considerations and the most limiting for the next president is not going to be what's in the inbox, but what is around it. and that is the state of our
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domestic disunion and uncertainty about the nature of the u.s. role in the world, what we within the it to be, what we think it can achieve. you know, we went through 50 years of the cold war, a period of unusual stasis. while we had lots of disagreements, nobody had a question about what was our central purpose. since then, we've had nothing but questions about what is our central purpose. at the same time -- and those have grown in these 25 years. the same time, while we also have always had political polarization, it has never been this deep. and we've never had a situation where issues are kind of automatically politicalized on arrival on capitol hill. and i want to come back and say a word about that because i think we really have moved into a new -- a new realm.
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and then finally, globalization has meant that there is a constantly scope of foreign policy. so things that were always domestic are now international. so at the same time that foreign policy is more par less because there's deeper disagreement about the nature or leadership role, there's more and more stuff in that basket. whether it's cybersecurity or epidemics or drugs or energy or name it. it's become international. evidence that i take of stuff that is new, never before in our history has congress openly tried to undermine a president in the middle of a negotiation with a foreign adversary. as far as i know, that statement is totally correct. at least i've published it, i haven't gotten even feedback on
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it saying you forget 1792 -- but congress did it three times in 2015. inviting b.b. netanyahu to come stand in the congress knowing that the purpose was to attack the president's policy in the middle of a negotiation. that's the first time. second was this infamous cotton letter that was signed by 47, all, republican senators. no not quite all. 47. explicitly designed to undermine the u.s. position in the negotiations. and the third time was senator -- was the senate majority leader, senator mcconnell sending an aide to meet with governments of several of the key states last summer saying, don't make commitments with the united states in the paris climate talks because they're built on a house of cards. they won't be sustained.
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so on three occasions, this was an explicit open attempt to undermine a sitting president's negotiation policy in medius race. if you look -- you know, the constitution set up a conflict between the president and congress and it's been forever. insofar as the supreme court has ever tried to speak on it, the most important was a decision called u.s. v. curtis wright export and it said, i wrote this because i find this a fairly unusually clear statement, the president alone has the power to speak or listen as a representative of the nation. in the field of negotiation, the senate cannot intrude and congress itself can powerless to invade it. that was a 7-1 decision.
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so things have changed. and i think that the president faces a moment of unprecedented need to clarify and try to lead a national conversation on what is -- what are the answers to these questions that we are talking about. how big a leadership role do we want to play. what kinds of things are we able to do and what kinds of things are we not. what can we afford to -- and i will say that trump's comment the other day that we're too poor to be leader is nonsense. these are -- these are issues that have i think never been more urgent to have a conversation about and never have we been less able to have it. >> is -- is there an example -- >> yeah. >> -- of a leading foreign
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policy issue that you expect to be in the president's inbox that is going to be a hampered or suffered because of this sort of dysfunction that you're describing so well? >> ben ended by talking about north korea right? we would be in a different position now if the senate had been able to ratify the comprehensive test ban treaty which was an american initiative proposed by john f. kennedy, a priority of ours for decades, turned down by the senate during the clinton years and therefore not enforced because it's an odd treaty that requires a particular list of countries. so we and china in trying to deal with north korea lack a certain degree of moral authority and presence that a functioning treaty regime confers in the same way that the
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nonproliferation treaty was able to bring together the p5+1 across the table from iran. that's one example. tamara gave an example earlier this morning about the administration unable to get money to implement a foreign policy in response to the uprisings of the arab spring. treaty commitments crucial -- we are currently waging war in the middle east under two legal authorities. one passed in 2001 in response to 9/11, and one passed in 2002 authorized war in iraq. neither of them is really relevant to pursuing a war against an enemy that didn't
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then exist. both congress and the president, to a certain degree, have resisted trying to pass a new authorization of military force because -- because of the enormous lack of ability to confront these really -- these tough questions. they -- and so -- so we proceed without -- you know, without that. so -- and of course on the treaty front, you could give any number of examples because, you know, we were -- we were hobbled going into paris because we knew and the world knew that they could not pass a mandatory set of commitments because the senate would not approve such a treaty and ratify such a treaty.
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we have not ratified a multi-lateral treaty since the early 1990s. in the few hopeful years right after the end of the cold war, we ratified three of them. since then, they have either been defeated, put on the shelf, not sent up, or turned into executive agreements. so the united states right now has a 20 plus year record of being unwilling, unable to ratify multi-lateral treaty. so that affects not only what we can do, but what others will attempt to do. so i would say that -- i mean, in part, i would answer your question by saying i think these hobbles on us affect almost everything that our colleagues are going to talk about. >> and in the case of iran where the president was ultimately
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able to conclude a deal, the resolution in congress had to be crafted as one of disapproval because it was impossible to get a majority to support. >> right. but notwithstanding all the outrage that you heard about the president making such an important decision without sending it to congress is wrong. because in the last five administrations, each president has concluded roughly 800 executive agreements per four-year term. and many of those are both parties and irrespective of whether it's a democrat or republican and who controls the senate. major, major commitments. so it has nothing to do with minor things. and in fact, international law doesn't care how you reach approval internally. it's just as binding whether you
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do or don't. so what was really notable about the iran deal was not that he did it as an executive agreement, but that he was forced to compromise and send it to congress for approval or disapproval. so we -- we are in a period, i think, of -- of unusual dysfunction, profound dysfunction, and that does cripple and make extraordinarily difficult the job of trying to craft a strategy because of the uncertainty about what the american people think about -- want about -- certainly what we're hearing about make america great again provides no guidance, right? none. because it doesn't mean anything. and i think any president is
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going to come into office facing a degree of kind of strategic vacuum that i don't know of any other president quite comparably has faced. >> well, thank you. and switching gears just a bit, chris, ben rhodes left us with his list, his tasty sandwich of issues that will be handed to the next president and be at the top of his or her inbox. how would you prioritize for the next president the top issues that he or she has to face. >> okay. well, first of all, let me say what is pleasure it is to be here at the indiana university. i know it's a tough time after losing to north carolina. but, you know, there's always
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next year. but let me say what an honor it was -- >> i'm going to remember that. >> couple of months ago, i was in my office minding my own business and my assistant said, i have lee hamilton on the phone for you. i said oh my gosh, lee hamilton is calling me. he asked me to make sure i was going to show up. and of course i was going to show up because i think former ambassadors to poland should stick together. so anyway, it's great to be here. we talk about this proverbial inbox. i think it's a very -- it's an extremely important question because america doesn't need to be great again. i mean, the problem with that line is not only does it make no sense, it's just flat out wrong. anyone that's been an american diplomat, anyone that's been an american overseas knows that when you speak people listen. people really want to know what does the united states think of
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these issues, what's the united states going to do about these issues. so we're kind of it. those who say, well, this is china's century, we're kind of turning over the baton to china probably haven't been to china. because, you know, as tough as our inbox -- our president's inbox may look, i am sure the leader of china, xi jinping would exchange inboxes in a new york minute, so to speak. the united states x we have our political problems, but i've heard in the course of my career, i've heard several times where people were counting out the u.s. it used to be for economic reasons. now it's because of our kind of nasty politics. i would not want to be a u.s. diplomat overseas explaining the text -- the context of some of these -- these discussions that go on on these so-called debates. but, you know, we are going to have to kind of straighten up a
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little and try to work this through. so i would certainly start by supporting what jessica said, we have to get our internal political things straightened up. there used to be this quaint notion that politics stops at the water's edge. politics just gets going at the water's edge. jessica was very kind when she only mentioned three examples of undermining the president. there are about 300 of them. we have only one president. why do we sometimes look weak in the world? it's not because of that president. it's because of all this grinding criticism of everything our president does. and so i think we got to, you know, dial that back a little. ben rhodes interestingly started by talking about the south china sea. i don't think we have a problem in the south china sea. i think we have a problem in beijing. i think we're looking at a
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country that has -- china which it's a country, but it thinks of itself as a civilization. it's a complex series of issues. this morning, there was some discussion of what sovereignty means. you think of all these sort of european things. when china looks at sovereignty of their neighbors, this is not a westfolian model. it's a model of tributary states. it's hard to undo a couple thousand years of history in how china will manage countries like philippines and countries like indonesia. when they look at a country like north korea because that's -- i'm going to put that way at the top of the inbox, they also don't know quite what to do. china for all the talk about it being this communist dictatorship, it's a country really run with a certain
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consensus in mind. i would say the united states president is a stronger figure than the chinese president. and so china i think has a very difficult time forging that consensus on what to do with a class a problem like north korea. you know, the u.s. newspapers, lot of talk, well, the chinese don't want to let north korea go down because after all you'll start getting refugees, you know, wading over the river and what would china do with 20 million refugees. that assumes that north koreans would go north. i think even with a state of compass making north korea, i think most of them would actually want to go south. secondly, that's not what bedevils china. what bedevils china is not that they can't handle refugees. it's the notion that for many chinese, especially in the security services the device of north korea would be somehow a
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victory for the united states and a defeat for china. it is not a foreign policy problem for them as it is for us. it is more an extension of their domestic issues. after all, if the state goes down, obviously very few similarities between the system in china and the system in north korea. a lot of people would be concerned what is that going to do to the debate within china between people who really want to throw off the system that they have and people like xi jinping who sort of want to keep it, reform it and manage it. so they don't want to see this, and yet something has to be done about this. i know you'll have a discussion later on about proliferation issues. but since i left this account back in the beginning of the obama administration, it is pretty clear that the north korean regime is interested in developing nuclear weapons. they have shown zero signs that they are interested in doing
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anything else. now, there was a -- for a time, kim jong ill seemed to be interested in the process and certainly he cared about his relationship with china. then as you rail in summer of 2008 kim jong ill became kim junk very ill. but you knew it, they had essentially pulled back from the entire process. now, the obama administration did -- they talked about, well, we need to be patient. this for me was quite ironic because the chinese always told me to be more patient and i always told them to be less patient and then to hear our own administration talking about patient and adding that word strategic patience to somehow convey wisdom. but frankly, it gave north korea sort of eight free years to be
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working on it. i'm not suggesting whatsoever that the obama administration should have engaged or pushed for a negotiation. we did it in my watch in the beginning of 2005. not because we saw some great opening with north korea. but we saw that the south koreans were so upset at the way the first push administration -- first bush term had behaved that we created a situation for ourselves where some 45 -- almost 50% of south koreans were blaming the united states for north korea's nuclear ambitions. so that had to be changed. it was changed. i don't think any -- it's down to where it should be in terms of percentages. but we need to -- we need to make sure that we continue to find of fly in formation with the south koreans. that's going to be the successor state on the korean peninsula. we don't want to mess up that
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relationship again. i think we need to really do a deep dive with the chinese on this issue, on south china sea, on number of issues. and i would humbly suggest following lee hamilton's suggestion that we need to put some really real suggestions on the table that, you know, when i was in iraq -- and i'm going to get to the middle east in a second. when i was in iraq, president obama appointed vice president biden to come and visit us like every six weeks. it seems like every six days when you have a vice president descending on you. but the point of that was, this issue's important, i'm putting my vice president on this like a rug. and so vice president biden was there all the time, it seemed. you know, it was pretty clear that this was a top priority for the administration. let's get iraq right. i think the new president needs to get the new vice president to have some specific assignments and i would put china at the top
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of that. you know, i think china -- my concern about china is not that it's too strong and it's going to take over the world. my concern about china is that it could become too weak. i think when an important state like china or russia becomes too weak, that's when it becomes more dangerous. and i think we need to spend a lot more intellectual time working china. so that's number one. and i think north korea's part of that, you know, making sure that the chinese understand we're not going to take some strategic advantage. we're not going to put listening posts up there. nor are we going to make a condominium of china at the expense of sovereignty for south kor korea. so we need to manage this relationship in a mature way and make sure that our interests there and our reputation there
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remains as great as it has always been. turning to the other huge issue in the middle east, you know, there are a lot of fault lines in the middle east. there are certainly auutautocra and people yearning for democracy. there's also a sectarian fault line. and i think we just need to be a little more honest about what we're doing in the middle east and understand that as much as i'd like to impose our agenda on the middle east, we can't. do you remember those days back in 2003, 2004, when we had otherwise serious people in serious positions saying, we are going to create an iraq, a city on the hill that the other arab states would admire and ultimately would see that model as something that they want to follow. well, iraq is a shia majority state. the rest of the middle east, every single country putting
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aside syria, is sunni run. do you truly think the sunni arab states are inspired by the example of shia led iraq? they are not. and so just kind of missing basic facts like that i think had a huge effect. so i think, you know, since we're in an educational establishment, we should start by doing our homework and understand what we're talking about. i think to talk about this as a shia-sunni problem in the middle east is to miss the point of what is going on within the sunni community. and what specifically is going on between the saudi model of sunniism and the rest of the middle east. and that is part of the problem. i think we talked a little earlier -- certainly during the middle east panel about the fact that you have several -- you know, you have some four powers in the middle east, all of whom have been playing a very different role from the way they have traditionally.
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traditionally, turkey, absolute nato power being an adult nearby presence, but look at what turkey's been up to lately, you know, in syria, and frankly in iraq. i saw some of this and it wasn't the turkey i knew. so we've got to really pay some attention to what is going on in turkey. when you look at iran, you know, this is not so -- so easy as people think. to say that, well, iranians should stay out of these arab areas, i would love them to stay out of these arab areas. if you climb into the way back machine and go to 1501 you will see why iran has these weird connections to places like southern lebanon when aran was sunni and became shia, we need to understand that a little better as we try to establish some patterns of cooperation with the iranians. this nuclear deal is just about a nuclear deal the way moby dick
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is just a story about a whale. there's a lot more going on under the surface there. and i think we need to understand that this iran thing is important and we need to stay on top of it. we need to understand that divided society a lot better than we do. and we also need to be very clear that when saudi arabia is worried about the nuclear deal, it's not because all the saudi nuclear scientists are saying, we're worried about the verification provisions of the heu possibilities there. it has to do with their concerns that we are now dancing with an old partner and that we've somehow gone back to the future with the 1970s. so i think these issues in the middle east require a lot of wisdom, and i think we need to be very careful, one, to show leadership, because we do need to show leadership. and as much as i like the idea of pivoting to east asia, i
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think we did create unintended consequences. we left the middle east with a sense that we didn't want to be involved. now we're back in spades dealing with the middle east. we left europe with a sense that maybe we didn't care as much about the atlantic relationship, and worse yet to come back to my first point, we create add situation for the chinese where they thought we were actually beginning a sort of encirclement. when you think of the -- i'm going to go back to china for a second. when you think of the shanghai accords, did it naug rate a great moment for u.s./china relationship? not really. what it did mean was sort of the end of the -- of the china -- the sinosoviet relationship. you can date the end of the cold war to 1972. so i think we need to be careful as we -- with pivots not to create unintended consequences.
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and, you know, in diplomacy, a big pivot like that was going to create the unintended -- middle east feeling left out, europeans left out, and the chinese feeling encircled. little things in diplomacy can create huge problems. you remember in 1815, congress of vienna, the russian ambassador keels over from a heart attack and the french ambassador says why did he do that. even small muscle movements can cause people to wonder what your real objectives are. we need to be careful giving into this idea that we need grand strategy and grand concepts. and remember jessica's point, it's about events. and you need to be able to react to those and react very smartly. within -- i just want to go back and then i'll stop. on the middle east, you know, when we look at these issues of migrants, these issues of --
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of -- this whole issue of radicalization, we need to address syria. and we need to address syria with all the players who need -- who have a part in it. one of the -- there were two teeshl mi terrible mistakes in the middle east. one was saddam hussein had nuclear weapons, the second was that bashar al assad would be gone in a matter of weeks. when the administration said he's going to be gone in a matter of weeks and we were accused by the "new york times" of being a little slow, we're going to pick up for lost time and be fast with assad. he is not gone in a matter of weeks. there were other countries with a stake in syria. i think it's the wrong stake. i think syria needs to reflect its sinai majority, even though i would rather people be democrats and republicans


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