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tv   Future of Syria  CSPAN  March 21, 2018 10:37pm-11:39pm EDT

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rally against mass shootings takes place in washington, d.c. watch live saturday beginning at noon eastern on c-span. next on c-span3, former u.s. government officials talk about syria's civil war. they discuss the future of syria and why the u.s. and other countries should stay engaged and address security challenges in that country. this panel discussion runs one hour. shall we? >> yeah, think so. >> are you good? all right. yep, we're good. >> well, hi, everybody. welcome to foreign policy and fragile states and america abroad town hall discussion here at the u.s. institute of peace in washington. i'm joshua johnson. i am the host of 1a from wmau which is heard on npr where this conversation will be heard soon and we welcome those of you following us on c-span and watching on various networks around the globe. let me introduce the panel before we dive in.
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we'll get to some of your questions in a bit. joining us on the panel today is nancy, the president of the u.s. institute of peace, which is hosting us today. nancy spent most of her career working in fragile and conflicted regions. prior to joining the institute, she served as the assistant administrator for the bureau for democracy conflict and humanitarian assistance at usain. nancy, welcome. >> thank you. good to be here. >> let's hear it from nancy please. to your right is elon goldenberg, at the center for new american security. previously he worked in the state department and the senate foreign relations committee for john kerry on issues like the israeli-palestinian negotiations and ending the conflict in syria. elon, welcome. and to my left is kimberly kagan, the founder and president of the institute for the study of war. she's a military historian who
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has taught at yale, georgetown and west point. she's the author of numerous books and essays on foreign policy and is co-producer of "the surge: the whole story" an hour-long oral history and documentary film on the campaign in iraq from 2007 to 2008. welcome, kimberly. >> thank you. >> let's welcome all of our panelists. we'll have time to get to some of your questions in a little bit. i want to start with a few minutes of questions from our guests. a little over half the hour and then we'll get to you. it is just after 4 past the hour by my clock, which gives us about 56 minutes. i work in radio, i can do a lot with 56 minutes. nancy, let's start with you, what is a fragile state? >> so a fragile state is say state that either lacks the capacity to take care of its citizens, it's unable to provide basic security services and/or it can also be a state that is not considered legitimate by its
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own citizens. often is repressive, often is part of the problem. and a state that's strategy less able to manage the inevitable shocks that come either a natural disaster or a conflict that can't be managed. so it spirals into violent conflict. and this is the heart of what we're seeing with a lot of the increased unrest and crisis around the world. fragile states that can't manage the shocks of disaster and conflict. >> we definitely are going to talk more about syria specifically, but broadly speaking, what are some of the main ways that states become fragile? are there certain last straws that tend to recur over and over in fragile states? >> well, i would say a continuous characteristic of fragile states is governments that are not inclusive of all parts of their citizenry. so whole groups are excluded from economic, political,
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security opportunities because of their ethnicity, religion, race, et cetera. that's probably the number one characteristic of a fragile state. >> elon goldenberg, how did syria become a fragile state? would you say that it's what nancy describes, certain kinds of inclusion of certain groups with the syrian society or were there more factors? >> i think a lot of what nancy talks about set the conditions, but there did need to be a spark. in the case of syria, the particular spark that then took us over the edge started in really what you might called, i guess at the time it was optimistically called the arab spring. now i think we'd call it the arab upheaval, basically these protests across the middle east that led not just to state collapse in a place like syria, but also yemen, iraq, which had already been having struggling since the american invasion in 2003. libya, even egypt to some extent. and what you saw happen there was a few things. one is, you saw this collapse of state authority because
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institutions were so fragile and you saw the conflict exacerbated, primarily because of external actors coming in and making the situation worse. so you have one of the things that happens when you have these fragile states is you create security vacuums then everybody else that is around them is worried about losing influence or sees an opportunity. so the iranians suddenly have a close syrian ally that is looking like they're tetering and they want to protect the situation so they start investing in various militias and dumping weapons and money. the saudis are trying to counter the iranians, so they're dumping money and weapons. the turks are worried about what's going on on the border. you've taken a fragile state that was already on fire and dumped gasoline on it. i think that's been one of the factors, at least in the case of syria, that has really made the situation exceptionally bad. >> the proxy aspect of this cons by comes up in every conversation we have about syria. we have clips to play about some people very, very close to the flex, and one of them has to do
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with the proxy aspect of that. well we'll get to that in just a second, but kimberly kagan, let me bring you in. the trump administration has been advocating more hard power than say soft power, things like aid, assistance, diplomacy. it's advocated to very sharp cuts to the state department, 37% in the president's first version of his first budget, and cuts to usaid. step back from syria for just a second. how similar or different is this from what america typically does? in a fragile state, how does america usually deal with a balance between using hard power and soft power? >> hard power and soft power are both necessary in many circumstances. in order to help a fragile state recover itself and in order to set conditions whereby
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governance and civil society can return. and unfortunately the solutions that one might hope to see in syria can neither be exclusively military or exclusively soft wat power led. each has its role and it is vitally important that the united states have a robust budget for its institutions like the state department, like foreign aid, which are critical components for us to achieve our mission of helping keep the people in the world secure and free. but it is also actually incredibly important to recognize that in conditions on the ground such as those that we see in syria, the underlying violence and oppression of human beings is not part and parcel of a stable regime, and therefore
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there is a degree of human security that we must attain before we actually begin trying to stabilize syria. >> so just to make sure i follow where you're going, it sounds like you're saying that there is a place for both, maybe that the trump administration's balance tends to be a little harder in the past but there is a role for hard power and soft power if they're in the right balance? >> i think there a role for hard and soft power, but i wouldn't say that the trump administration is actually powersing a hard power strategy in syria. in fact, if we look at the trump administration's policy in syria, we see extraordinary continuity with president obama's policy in syria. namely an effort to expel isis from its territorial control raqqa and eastern syria. a backing of the syrian kurdish groups that have fought with us against isis. an effort at international
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diplomacy that was actually begun under president obama. and so, in fact, i see an extraordinary amount of continuity between president trump and president obama and i think neither had a robust enough humanitarian or civil society or military approach. >> nancy lindborg, let me put that question for you, the balance between hard power and soft power today under the trump administration compared to what we tend to see in how america deals with fragile states. how do you see it? >> well, i think the most important answer to that lies actually with a lot of our military personnel. and as you hear from retired four-stars, what happens after the fight is as important as what happens during the fight, and we need to be sure that the balance remains such that we can continue to have the development
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and diplomacy tools fully available, especially take syria's neighbor iraq, where we just concluded yet another campaign. the temptation will be now we should leave, but now is when some of the really, really important hard work happens, for which you need those so-called soft tools. but i would say there is nothing soft about it in terms of the importance of rebuilding not just the physical infrastructure but the human infrastructure, as kim said, the ways in which societies need to heal so they don't fall back into violence. unfortunately, we just end up fighting these wars in cycles otherwise. >> we have a number of clips that we'd like to add to the conversation, including this one from a syrian refugee from aleppo, now living in istanbul. let's listen. >> i know that we look like we are not organized and we don't have an organized leadership, but in the end we have a very
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educated majority of people who are ready to come back and help the community, but we are being pushed away by all of these militias, basically any side that you can think of. we need our organized side to actually give us the help that we need. we don't need them to just support one group and throw out the others. maybe support a group that unifies all the groups. this is what we need. >> that was a syrian refugee from aleppo now living in istanbul. elon goldenberg, baha wants peace in syria. says there is an entire class and educated majority, as he puts it, that are ready to come back. you earlier mentioned the proxy war as pecpect of it, all these competing views of what they want to see emerge from this war. talk about the way that comes together. this large class of syrians who say stop all of this and all of
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these proxies who would stop but under different terms. how does that work? >> at this point where we are, the way i would describe it, i might have advocated for something different three or four years ago, but i think at this point where we are is syria is essentially divided into four or five different regions that are held by different actors. you have in the southwest, the jordanian-israeli border, groups the u.s. has supported a long time. where the majority of the population and resources are held by assad, along with support from russia and iran. you have what i'd call an al qaeda safe haven in the southwest in the idlib province. and then you have a turkish area, also in the north, where the turks have basically a whole territory on their border. then you have this whole large swath that is really supported -- or controlled by american-supported kurdish groups. and all the fighting -- not all the fighting, but a lot of the
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fighting at this point is happening where these different tectonic plates meet, like where there are seams. the places -- on these borders. so if you're trying to to get to a peace at this point, i'm not for splitting syria splitting syria apart. i don't think anybody wants to redraw maps. at least coming to short term and long term political arrangements to stop the fighting at the seams and then try to see if we can get a national arrangement is sort of how you would have to try to go about this at this point. it is going to take years and i'm not sure if we are really up for it. it's the best option i see right now. >> before i come back to you, i saw you perk up. >> that clip under scores one critical point is that ultimately peace needs to happen through locally led action. what we heard is the desire, motivation and ability as he noted for the syrian people to do that with the right kind of
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help. they will ultimately be necessarily leading the future of their own country. >> that gets to the next clip we wanted to play. this is from a gentleman from damascus. he works at a cell phone store and he talked about how not everybody is looking for help from another nation. >> we want our country to be cleaned of all foreign agents. my only request is to get our country back without forn powers. why do we have these foreign powers inside syria. the people can -- >> speaking through a translator from damascus and works in a cell phone store in istanbul. clearly he wants the rest of the world to kind of leave syria alone. i wonder if that's even doable and if it is what that would look like. is there a path to getting all
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of these proxys out of syria and let it solve its issues of fragility by the will of the syrian people alone? >> the quotation really illustrates how what had been a democratic revolution at the beginning of the conflict period has evolved into a great power and small power conflict inside of syria. one of the key objectives that we the united states and the international community at large should have is to ensure that syria is over time dissociated from the extraordinary global and regional conflict in which it finds itself or perhaps i should say syria has become a
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black hole into which regional and global powers fall. so it is absolutely essential to disconnect syria from those conflicts but realistically that is not going to happen anytime soon. we have watched that revolution which had those civilian democratic aims of replacing the assad regime and bringing reform change into a violent conflict and we have to work with the fact that they have such a conflict underway inside of syria. what do we do? the first thing we need to recognize is that different great powers have different objectives. we the united states tend to want to find a common objective among all of the different powers and we strike on something that we would think would be common like fight isis. we all put that at a different point in our priorization list.
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it is more important to turkey than it is to the assad regime. the assad regime is not fighting is isis. the assad regime has every incentive to make sure that extremist groups perpetuate themselves so that outside powers can't come in and strengthen the opposition and make it legitimate and democratic. therefore, i think we really have to be eyes wide open about different actors' objectives and we also need to recognize that we can't just fight isis alone. we actually need to start working now on creating conditions of stability in different areas of syria so that over time there is hope for stabilization, a generation, not a year. >> you are listening to kimberly
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kagen. nancy lindborg and elon goldenburg. this is panel on foreign policy in fragile states. i'm joshua johnson from 1 a on npr. nancy, let me come back to you. let's play one more clip from istanbul, both from damascus addressing something on the minds of a lot of syrians which is the violence going on for seven years. hundreds of thousands of lives lost, most recently in a place located just east of damascus. >> you know, nowadays we have mass care, hundreds of people die and hundreds of children have died.
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>> translator: they are asking people to take care of the victims. it's been reported that aide has been delivered but it is not true because roads are blocked and no one can get in or out of the area. please feel mercy and take care of them. >> both of whom are from damascus. both spoke to us from istanbul. what is the moral obligation of the u.s. to help in a fragile state? the united nations has basically thrown its hands up and said apparently you don't care because nothing we have said has made a cease fire stick. the world seems to be content with letting these people die and preventing anything from being done. the u.s. certainly has the resources to make anything happen. but what should the u.s. be doing with a fragile state like syria especially in a clear humanitarian disaster where all
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people need is a little aid. >> what the u.s. has been doing has been providing ever-escalating packages of humanitarian assistance including efforts to get it across the border. unfortunately and just tragically what is going on right now is similar to what has been going on for the past seven years over and over again. the issue is less about the amount of humanitarian assistance but rather what are the mechanisms for stopping the source of the need. we're actually much better at responding to crisis and providing assistance after a crisis has hit than we are at either preventing it or in the case of syria the ability to stop it. and it speaks both to the set of bad options that are available for stopping it, but also to the weakness of the international system. the usual tools and levers that
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we have through the u.n. to really enforce what everybody agreed on at the u.n. security council but has been repeatedly ignored. >> i wonder also what just for the average american we see in terms of our responsibility to do more in fragile states. secretary of state rex tillerson has said of syria that he doesn't want to engage in nation building but he thinks the u.s. should be creating conditions for stability. the trump administration has taken a much more isolationist policy when it comes to foreign aid. that is kind of the sentiment at the heart of america first. i wonder where you see the human conversation in a developed nation like the u.s. when looking at a fragile state like syria and figuring out what the populous believes is the right way to help. >> one thing i think we can do
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as the united states is lead. the world listens to us more than anyone else because we are the most powerful country in the world still. that means if you encourage others to rebuild you have to be at the forefront. you ask others to throw a lot of money at the problem you have to throw money at the problem. this is one problem we have had with the current administration is the desire to pull back on programs. we will just get the gulf states to do a lot more which is often what we do in the middle east that we assume they have a lot of money. they invest based on what we invest. what they care about as much as they care about helping people in a place like syria they care about wielding influence in the united states so they can see what our priorities are and try to mirror those. when we pull back and do little others will do the same. more broadly i think there is a
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challenge with the question like syria in terms of our own population which is what we have done and this isn't just trump administration, we want to do something. we feel terrible about what is going on. we don't want to get deeply engaged because we are afraid of a repeat of the iraq war or vietnam. we do just enough to make the situation worse without doing enough to make it better. if we had an option of just let assad win and make this go as quickly as possible or very aggressively push him out, if we had chosen one of those pathways early on i think we would have been in a better position than doing just enough to support opposition without doing enough to really have it win in which it ends up making us another party to the conflict of dumping money and weapons and support trying to reshape the situation. so that's a really tough spot for any president to be in because american president wants to help and do the right thing. also knows his or her population
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does not want to get stuck in a major conflict. >> you wanted to jump in. >> i sure do. first here in the case of syria we have the opportunity to make a moral-based case and an interest-based case and they align. the cases that there are extraordinary human beings within syria who are the victims of a brutal, violent campaign of oppression perpetrated by the assad regime, abetted by iran and by russia. what we are seeing is something that we have seen elsewhere during the war of a deliberate targeting of civilians in order to achieve more aims. that is what the russians are doing. that is what assad is doing. that is what iran is doing.
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therefore, we are watching those regimes commit war crimes, break international laws, the law of armed conflict and they are doing so in a way that we have populations that are displaced through the middle east through the global and we have syria that has transformed itself snootinto a fertile ground for recruitment for sunni violent extremists and shi'a violent extremists from all around the world from the united states all the way to east asia. what we need to do is recognize that the reason why the recruitment of these foreign fighters is so effective is not because we have a narrative problem but because we have a reality problem. there is no one that is actually
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protecting the population of syria and therefore the rallying cries of that extremist organizations are launching to try to get people to mobilize for justice. our falling on ears that are unfortunately made receptive by the abandonment of the international community. >> i do want to shift gears slightly. elon, what you were talking about in terms of properly diagnosing a problem reflects something that the united states institute of peace's generation change fellows told us earlier. comes from south sedan. here is what he had to say. >> the international community has not only failed to diagnose what the issues are but in the process it has also failed to
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come up with the right tools. so if they want to engage constructively i think it is important for them to understand what the real root causes are otherwise you will have a situation of a protracted conflict. >> she is a usip change fellow. we are at about halftime. is there anyone who might think they have a good question percolating? one smart man with one good question and then we are done? two. anyone else? before we get to questions -- four. i think we will have a mic moving around. before we get to questions i do have one more question for you, nancy. my one rule for q&a whenever i do an event is to be generous with our time. you all far smarter than me on
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issues of syria and fragile states. the more generosity we can show with one another's time the more we can learn from each other. i urge you to be concise as you phrase your questions so that we and our audience around the world can learn as much from you as possible. cool? nancy, in your report on fragile ate you wrote the temptation to hunker down and wait for the moment of disorder to pass is understandable but short sighted. we simply do not have that luxury. there is too much at stake for the interest of our allies and partners and for bloeglobal pea and security. explain what you mean by that particularly in light of what i was discussing with elon that a lot of americans have said it is nice that we have been known as the world policeman but what
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about us? and the fact that -- i assume if we don't step up someone else will but a lot of americans are just tired. we have been playing world police for generations. there are americans who are living pretty third world as it is. can you just game this out for me what hunkering down would mean practically speaking? >> sure. a couple of issues are blended together there. we don't live in the kind of world where we can just get in bed and pull the sheets over our heads and expect that that will solve the issues. way too interconnected, too many threats that come up from places that we're not watching. clearly isis as it emerged. so from a security interest we can't afford to hunker down. it's also not who we are as a people. i think the american people are very engaged and care deeply about what happens.
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they want the burden to be shared. the other point, though, is we are very reactive. so we are responding to crisis after they become far more complicated and so much more suffering. we have actually been escalating our humanitarian and peace keeping assistance over the last five years at a very great rate. nobody has cracked the code on how to prevent conflict from becoming so violent but we can certainly do a better job of it. the last four administrations have identified state fragility as a key security threat. yet we haven't invested and haven't organized in a way to do that kind of work more effectively. and what you see is when states become very fragile as elon said earlier they become far more vulnerable to regional and international powers getting involved and messing it up. so we are going to see a greater
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disorder the more that we don't pay attention to that. and american leadership is key. >> do you think we haven't been paying enough attention because we don't have the resources and intelligence or we don't care? >> i think we haven't organized ourselves effectively to crack the code. >> why haven't we organized ourselves? does america as a government as a body politic actually care enough as a citizenry, as a nation, as a government to do that? we have the knowledge but do we care enough? >> i think we do care enough. we care enough that we are putting a lot of funding into treating the crisis, the humanitarian crisis. but, you know, it's much harder to convince people to take action before something happens. it's the dog that didn't bark. but that is where we need to turn our attention and our investment. human nature is to be preoccupied with the thing that blew up. we need to think more about
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getting upstream of the problems. it's an organization and a funding challenge. >> before i let elon make a comment, let's get the mic to this gentleman who rose his hand. we'll get to you for the first audience question. >> i want to echo what nancy said on how these localized problems end up effecting us and give you a specific example in syria. the conflict in syria has led to massive refugee flow into europe and into the -- less to the united states but impacted the politics in the united states certainly. you have had attacks in paris. you can directly tie it to things like brexit and to the election of right wingers across europe, sort of these populist movements and to the election of donald trump. all of these things in my opinion are starting to weaken core things for basic american security that has been the basis of how we have governed the world order since 1945 that has
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kept the world stable and kept us from new world wars and from major conflicts. all of this to some extent can be tied back to what has been happening in syria. it is having a very direct effect on how we are governing ourselves on a daily basis. you can draw that line very directly to donald trump's immigration policy and all kinds of things like that. >> let's dive in with audience questions for panelists. when you ask a question tell us your name, where you are from, if you are from an organization or student with a university. let's go to you and someone here had a question and then we will get to you, sir. >> thank you all very much. my name is connor clark. i am currently a counter terrorism scholar at the university of maryland. we have seen debates on the ethical and practical and strategic implications of the appropriate scale and nature of u.s. support for what are two
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imperfect governments. these range from the measuring effectiveness, what those metrics should be, what are the results of the appearance or reality of imposing our standards on other countries and, of course, this is often in the context of saying the alternative would be worse. i think this fits well into the earlier point about how nature is a vacuum. how some miss the most brutal dictatorship the u.s. ever supported would be stalin during world war ii. how is this paradigm of this decision making and public discourse and elite debates in washington shifted from more recent turning points such as the end of the cold war, 9/11 and soen. what trends are you seeing now that might be changing how policy makers see these
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decisions? >> who do you want to direct that question to? >> perhaps elon specifically. >> for the benefit of our listeners i want to make sure i understand the mainstream of your question. i went to miami. i spent my time on the beach. sounds like you are asking about the way that we think through global threats which are biggest and which are worth our time and which we'll deal with when it becomes a forest fire and how that has changed over time, the way we think through threats in today's world. is that what you are talking about? >> exactly. i'm personally more curious about the elite level. i am very interested in the popular discourse, as well. >> i think part of the problem is we have this sort of jekyll
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and hide issue at the elite level where we say we have to support the countries we have always supported even if they are dictatorships. at the policy level it even comes down to just history of relationships. you work with these people for years and years. you work with egypt and hosni mubarak for 30 years on negotiating various palestinian peace efforts and then democracy comes and we are like what do we do about the situation. our instinct as americans is to intervene and encourage democracy when an opportunity like that presents itself. i think maybe the best thing we can do is make up our minds and have clarity of thought. often times we found this a lot during arab spring in particular where it was just really hard
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and and you are trying to make a bet of if i come out against this dictator am i dealing with him for the next ten years and have i burned my relationship or is he -- this is a challenging sort of problem set for our leaders. syria is a perfect example. we came out and called for assad's removal in the summer of 2011. then we realized it is not actually going to happen. are we going to follow through to do this? we are not going to. where do you find yourself? it's a challenging question. i don't think there is any great answers to it. >> kimberly, i would like your perspective on this. >> look, stabilization which is part of the subject of this panel discussion, is in part about establishing physical security. it's in part about helping to establish governance and
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legitimacy. and i think that we are at risk right now as we look at syria of thinking that backing assad as a dictator is to end the violence is somehow going to be better and more stable than thinking about what we actually need to do over the long term to establish conditions for secure stable governance to return to syria and that needs to be legitimate in the eyes of the people of syria. it's not about us. it's about them. the reason i bring that up is that i think that we're at a moment where we are at risk of embracing dictatorship in favor of order when the order that a
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dictator like assad will create will be very temporary and it will not actually be backed by institutions that are accepted by the syrian people and will be enforced by coercion in a way that actually continues the rise of extremist insurgency against the regime. so we actually have to take the longview rather than prioritizing stability just as an end in itself. if it is only stability in a year it is not stabilization. >> let's keep going with the next question. >> thank you very much. great discussion. edward joseph national council on u.s./libya relations. i don't speak as fast as you. i was wondering if i can take the panel's view from syria to
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libya. joshua used a very important phrase. he mentioned moral obligation. nancy, you made a strong point about the importance of planning for the aftermath of conflict. my question for the panel about libya is -- it is for all of you. given the u.s. role in removing gadhafi and given the fact that compared to syria, libya is less violent, it is less displaced, you don't have half the country displaced and you have fewer actors acting as proxys. there are some and not the same proxy factor that you have in syria. does the panel believe that there is a place, again, moral obligation, as well, for greater u.s. engagement in libya if not leadership? currently we basically subcontracted it all to the u.n. there was a plan in place, a lot
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of skepticism about the plan. very interested in hearing the panel's response. >> is there a role for greater u.s. engagement. >> if not leadership. and the fact that compared to syria it is not as destroyed and perhaps hopeless a country. >> thank you for your question. while we get the mic to whoever has next question. show of hands, a greater role for the u.s. in libya? all three. what about in the audience? greater role for the u.s. in libya? hands yes? no? okay. not sure? thank you for being honest. much appreciated. nancy, why don't you go ahead? >> i think it goes well beyond moral obligation. i think there is security
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rationale for playing a more prominent role or to be more engaged in trying to bring libya to greater peace and stability. the melt down libya has had profound impact across in places like tunisia that share a long border, illicit goods and terrorists are shipped through the territory. there are many good reasons. it also under scores the importances of partnerships and alliances. i think we can and should be engaged but i think we can and should do so with strong partners who share our views, our values and our vision for what the pathway might look like for libya. >> i would love to jump in and just recommend a study that i had the privilege of taking place in. one of my colleagues emily estelat the critical threats project at the american enterprise institute did a very
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substantial study of planning for libya. and i highly commend her work on this project. it's very thorough and nuanced. you can find it at critic >> we are speaking to kimberly kagan, elon goldenburg and nancy lindbergh. this is an american discussion on fragile states. i'm joshua johnson from 1 a on npr. >> i work at the washington office. i am a student at gw. i feel like we haven't spent enough time talking about states coming from the brink of failed statehood. i would like to get your opinion on lessons learned from intervention in colombia. >> i'm glad you asked that. we will follow with this question after we get yours
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answered. >> i think we have learned some very important lessons. the first is that these resolution of these kinds of conflicts take a long time. colombia had a 50-year civil war that was just recently drawn partly to a close with the peace accord of last year. that peace accord was very, very inclusive. we know that when you have more than just the guys with the guns at the table but you actually have victims of the conflict, women, people who were displaced that you have a better chance of forging a deal that will be more enduring. we also learned that the u.s. stayed engaged in colombia across three administrations with significant investment across development, diplomacy and defense which going back to the what do we need to do differently question about the u.s. government, that's the kind of work we need to do
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differently. where there is a clear goal aligned across the various functions of government with people, the military, diplomats and development people having a shared goal of where it is we are heading. we had greater impact. finally we had a partner. we had a partner in the government of colombia across two of their administrations. >> before we get to the next question on this side of the room from this gentleman right here, nancy, i will stick with you. we have a question sent in from president of organization in colombia working to enrich local communities by increasing access to education following off of this question here is what david wants to know. >> how can we promote greater cooperation between the united states and colombia to generate peace that considers aspects of
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coexistence, culture and socioeconomic factors. >> asking about creating a structural peace and how the u.s. can help colombia do so. i was particularly taken by the use of the word coexistence. what could the u.s. be doing in that regard? >> well, one of the important aspects is continuing our engagement because what we know is conclusion of peace agreement often means that a lot of work still has to follow. and in colombia we now need to implement what was agreed upon and that includes things like the land reform, the disarming of the armed rebels and enabling them to reintegrate into community, to co exist. this is a time for the u.s. to continue to stay involved and
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not only think about the security threat narrowly in terms of cocoa production but rather understanding that we'll be better served with our security if they fully reach a more inclusive peace. >> let's get the next question. >> my name is wes noles. i'm an associate at meridian international center. there was a discussion about borders from elon and then a talk about legitimacy of the government themselves and from ms. kagan. what about the legitimacy of the borders themselves looking back at great power actors after world war i between the united kingdom and france? how much of what we are seeing today in syria or iraq and so on and so forth is just a result of the fact that we have made some really terrible decisions in the early 20th century? >> who did you want to put that question to? >> it can go to the table, i
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guess. >> how about kimberly? >> i will start by saying first and foremost it's really important to recognize that our international order is based on the understanding that borders should not be revised by force but rather by instruments of the international community. and so whatever they are the united states and the international community actually have an interest, a very firm interest in making sure that those borders are not moved by force and we can go back to isis's early days operating in cross border and iraq and remember them trying to plow up the remnants of that sandy border. and recognize that however important it was to them
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symbolically it was nevertheless a recognized border between two states and we have an interest in preserving it. the second thing that i want to make sure that we recognize is that other than isis we actually have the syrian regime and syrian opposition trying to reestablish the map as it was, not as they would like it to be. i have always been struck with this when i spent time on the ground in iraq and afghanistan that we can't think that states like iraq or afghanistan are fictional notions but communities today, people today have a very defined notion of what their state is and it is linked to the physical borders that they have seen on their flag. >> let's get the mic for the next question. >> just to say i totally agree
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with kim. i think this -- if the borders were drawn differently we haven't had -- you can look at different middle east but this is the middle east that we have. not only is it syrians and iraqis, none of the outside actors are trying to redraw borders. probably the reason nobody wants to redraw borders is that it is a violent process. once we force them to show the line they will fight over it. so the way to try to address this and i think nancy brought this up earlier is any peace agreement is going to have to include essentially a very weak syrian state i think with a lot of different local actors playing a role in negotiating that outcome because they actually control a lot of what is going on at ground whether people with the guns or local
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governing counsels and those will have to be reflective of the views. that is sort of how you try to put humpty dumpty back together again is through decentralization while keeping the actual map of syria basically the same. >> let's see if we can't squeeze in a few more questions. >> thank you for putting on this great panel. i am a research consultant from the university of denver. we have the benefit of hind sight to see the regime trends over the last several decades. we have seen regimes such as assad benefit from this pan arab nationalist movement and now we have seen that movement come to collapse with the people under these leaders. so my question tying into the clip and elon's following comment on the separated regions of syria is are we seeing any indicators of a common grounds
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new development that ties any of these separate combative groups together to the point where we can see in a generation a fully unified movement? >> how about nancy? can you take that question? >> a fully unified movement across different of the groups? >> it sounds like you are asking in these states whose fragility has caused these fractures, have we seen circumstances where the fractures have mended somehow where shared interests, common bonds help bring people back together? >> in the current situation with each group pursuing a slightly varied idea logical improvement and having that drive differences even when goals happen to be identical are we seeing a movement of new common grounds ideaiology that can
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unite all of them or a majority to come to a peaceful resolution? >> got you. >> i love to tell you yes but i think the answer is no. i think that what you're asking is is there a sort of pan arab nationalism or other kind of sweeping movement or sweeping set of ideas or even like the little granule of an idea that could be a sweeping idea that gets all of these groups together. and i have to say i don't see it. and therefore i think that we actually need to take each group on its own terms which makes the requirements for negotiating for delivering aid, for supporting governance, for delivering humanitarian assistance really, really, really tailored. we are the united states of
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america. if we apply thought to how we need to tailor our assistance to different groups we can do that. >> if we go back to some of what you said at the beginning in terms of what causes states to become fragile where people fall apart, this kind of seems to weave back into your point where say a nation like the united states could be at 30,000 feet enough to either figure out a way to articulate that to everybody and say we are after the same thing or deal with them individually and not force them to walk side by side but still think, play the chess game in a smarter way, understanding what the divisions are and not force them to come up. >> i think there is an interesting example in iraq which has just gone through its third military campaign in the last 13, 14 years. and i was just there a few weeks ago. what you find is that for the first time probably is iraqis
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are feeling a sense that they this time were able to win the battle, that they with iraqi led fight wonover isis. there is after a lot of fragmentation and you have the curds, sunnis, shi'as and a lot of different minority groups there is a sense that they will move forward within the state confines and they are demanding a more accountable, more inclusive government. that is a shared ideology and in particular it's true for those who are under the age of 35. and what you have in these conflict countries are disproportionately young populations. what we are seeing is increasingly it is the young members of these countries who are demanding less corruption, more accountability, better services, better governance. if you want to call that an ideology that is what i see emerging in iraq and i see that
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as a potential to emerge down the road in syria. >> let's see if we can squeeze in one more question. go ahead. >> hi. i'm from george mason university as a graduate student. to take this to where the rubber meets the road, what are some unique programs that usip has been doing on the ground and what are ways to incorporate more young people to make a positive contribution because as younger generations are going to be the inheritance of the problems we are facing today? >> what is usip doing and what do we see as ways to engage -- any innovative programs you see particularly ways to engage younger people who will inherit these problems from their parents to help them do so successfully. >> first of all, we have a program that engages youth leaders in conflict countries around the world called
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generation change which is fundamentally equipping them with some of the key tools and skills and knowledge base that allows them to mediate and facilitate conflict in their own communities and states. we believe very strongly here that peace can be -- how to build peace can be learned and it is essentially very practical with skills that are often lost especially in countries that are going through sometimes generations of conflict. you lose all the ways that basic disagreements can be managed before they erupt into violence. >> kimberly? >> isw has a program whereby we train young scholars here in washington, d.c. so that they understand what war is and how the instrument works, how it
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needs to be subordinated to a political objective and how to ensure that there is strong civilian control over the military. i know that is small compared to what usip does. we are only 15 people so we are pretty proud of it. >> i don't have any specific programs although we have a next generation future leaders program which tries to educate policy makers on how to be more effective as they move forward. it is a central part of what we do as an institution. we like to say we are mostly about futures and not formers. from a u.s. perspective we spent less time talking about this. i think it is a lot about various tools that nancy talked about and doing things on the ground. there also does have to be a long term political willingness in this country to support dealing with these problems. that includes military. if there is one thing that we
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have learned from iraq experience in particular is that 150,000 troops doesn't work because there is not political support for something like that here long term in my opinion. it's not worth the cost and the effort. the american public isn't going to support it. zero seems to also put us in pretty bad places as we saw with isis. maybe we need to be thinking about long term a few thousand troops in syria and iraq to help create conditions that help support all these other things is also a big part of the solution for this. you can't be just about u.s. military but we are not able to do it without the u.s. military. i think we need to remember that. >> elon goldenburg senior fellow. kimberly kagan and nancy president of the united states institute of peace. thanks for talking to us. >> thank you. >> thanks everybody for coming. appreciate it. >> thanks, joshua.
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>> thank you very much. we have refreshments outside. thanks for all of your questions. this sunday on 1968 america in turmoil, the presidential election of 1968 began with eight presidential candidates.
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by the end the sitting president bowed out. robert kennedy was assassinated. television coverage was dominated by clashes and richard nixon won a decisive victory. joining us on the program, former presidential candidate pat buchanan and barbara perry director of presidential studies at the university of virginia. watch 1968 america in turmoil live sunday at 8:30 a.m. eastern on washington journal and on america history tv on c-span 3. congressional caucus for women's issues held a hearen ogco -- hearing on


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