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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  February 18, 2014 9:06pm-11:31pm EST

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women in his cabinet including hillary clinton. devotiont is just been to doing something about keeping the economy going again a lot of attacks that he gets every day. himll continue to work with on every issue that comes along. we like when it comes to visit our state and hopes he comes again soon. >> you get back home how often? >> i get home about three out of every four weekends. with the weather being so lovely in minnesota right now, you don't want to miss it. there was a date when we were colder than mars. that day has passed. we have now moved on to warmer pastures. >> if you have a rare day off with nothing to do, what do you enjoy doing? >> i love going bicycling in the summer. i biked with my dad across the
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country from minneapolis to wyoming, 1100 miles in 10 days. i like going to movies with my husband. we have a lot of fun doing that. i like taking walks. i like to check in with my daughter if she answers the phone. it is nice to take that time where you can be outside, even in the winter. >> was a bigger sense of humor, colleague? that ipresident declared was the second funniest senator. that was incredibly humorous. he has worked very hard at his job and so you don't always see that humor. he clearly has a very big sense of humor. >> you don't always take
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yourself too seriously? >> no, but it is rather amazing to go one-on-one with al franken. we do have to do this. they have is both do humor and my favorite moment was he called me after one of them and said he liked my jokes and that i liked his jokes. i worked really hard on that. he just had to put that together. the difference was that you are a professional and i was a prosecutor. he is a lot of fun to work with and i do think having some people with a little sense of humor in this town can go a long way. >> senator amico wishart, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> up next, discussion on u.s.-russia relations. later, president obama talks
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about fuel efficiency standards for trucks. on the next washington journal, gary hofbauer and robert scott discussed the impact of nasa. then michael hirsch on the economic recovery act five years after its implementation. inspector, special general for afghanistan reconstruction looks a concerns over u.s. funds given directly to the afghan government. your phone calls, facebook comments, and tweets. washington journal is live every day at 70 and eastern on c-span. -- at 7 a.m. eastern. >> we also teach people the difference between beliefs and what one can actually observe. we are teaching people to think
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critically and in the right terms about science. i think it is a creationist who we should be educating the kids out there because we are teaching them the right way to think. we admit the origins of historical sciences are based upon the bible but i am challenging evolutionists. >> i encourage you to explain to us why we should accept your word for it that natural law change just for thousand years ago complete weight and there was no record of it? there are pyramid that are older than that. there are human populations that are far older than that which additions to go back farther than that. that not reasonable everything changed for thousand years ago and buy everything i mean the species, the surface of the earth, the stars in the sky, and the relationship of all the other living things on earth to humans.
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it is not reasonable to me that everything changed like that. >> evolution versus creationism. build nine -- bill nye and ken ham debate wednesday night at 8 p.m. eastern on c-span. agreements --e recent disagreements on syria and edward snowden has comforted america's ties with russia. hear from peter baker of the new york times and fiona hill who wrote a biography on vladimir putin.
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>> i apologize about voices and carry. -- i apologize if my voice does not carry. >> terrific for all of you to come out for what i think is going to be a first-class discussion on the relationship both in recent history and no doubt contemporaneously as well between the united states and the russian federation. in fact, i think we will probably reach back into the late soviet period as well. the occasion for this discussion today, although the front pages of the newspaper, including the one you work for, give us an occasion to have this conversation pretty much every day, peter, is the publication of angela stent's absolutely terrific book "the limits of partnership." i will come back and say just a word or two before i turn things over to my colleague fiona hill,
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who is going to moderate a discussion among the 4 of us here, which is to say she will be a player-coach, because she will have to moderate herself. she has strong views. fiona, i think most of you know, is the director of our center on the united states and europe. she has many things in common with the author of the hour, angela. both of them served as the national intelligence officers in the intelligence community of our government. both of them, by the way, have not typically american accents, which is also an interesting point. they served this government and this nation very well, keeping an eye on -- i guess it was called the eurasian complex. we also have with us peter baker of "the new york times."
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they are all authors. fiona, along with her colleague in our foreign policy program, wrote a book on mr. putin. that is the title, in fact. it is on sale in our bookstore. but you don't have to go even to the bookstore to get a copy of angela's book, which is right outside of this auditorium. as for peter, he has a new book out called "days of fire," which covers a great deal of ground, including president bush 43's ability to look into the eyes and see into the soul of his foreign counterpart. maybe that will come up in the course of our conversation. peter and his wife, susan glasser, a number of years ago -- i guess you updated it in 2007, 2008, something like that
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-- "kremlin rising," based on your own reporting from russia. so we have here a panel that not only brings to the topic a certain amount of expertise, but also shows here at brookings reaching out to the larger community of people working on issues that our scholars are here. angela is very much part of the brookings family. she is a nonresident senior fellow in foreign policy. peter, despite the demands of his day job, has been very good about attending a number of our forums. speaking of the larger community, i look around this room, and i feel this is a little bit of a gathering of the clan. i see any number of people,
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including a number of people who were sources of mine when i was an ink-stained wretch. and the diplomatic community is represented here today from serbia and the ambassador of georgia. thanks to both of you for joining us. maybe it is a coincidence, maybe it is not, but both of them are former think tankers. it shows that it is a community that stays together over time. i am going to make, by a way of getting the ball rolling before fiona takes over in guiding the conversation, one point about angela's book itself, and another point about its title. she gave me a chance to read it in the manuscript, and i try to stay current with literature coming out about a part of the world that i've been fascinated with virtually all of my life.
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i think it can be said that this is the first book that has both scholarly rigor and accessibility to general readers that covers the full sweep and complexity of the relationship between ussr/russian federation and the united states of the cold war. in that sense, it is a first. i bet that it is going to also be recognized as the best for a long time to come. angela takes us back at the beginning of the book a quarter of a century. reminds me of that line from "star wars" -- you read about that and it makes you think about a galaxy far, far away in a long time ago. she starts with the relationship
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between george herbert walker bush and mikhail gorbachev. and that gets me to one observation i wanted to make about the title. i think it is a particularly good title. it has its origin, particularly the word partnership, in precisely the relationship between president bush 41 and the last president of the soviet union. on june 21, 1989, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, admiral bill crowell, was in moscow on a return visit. the general had been here to the united states. in the course of that visit, crowell was ushered into the presence of mikhail gorbachev, who said quite prominently and at least twice in the
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conversation that he wanted a new word to characterize the u.s.-soviet relationship, and that word, borrowed from the english, was "partnership." once that was translated for the admiral, he was kind of a flummoxed. he did not have any talking points on how to react to the top man of the kremlin saying that there was now going to be a u.s.-soviet partnership. but the fact is, even starting before then, going back i think you could say in some ways to the reagan administration, the word "partnership" had been, was already, and would for some time to come been translated into the realm of policy, diplomacy, and even strategy on both sides.
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that was true in dealing with a number of very contentious issues in europe. i mentioned the bcm from serbia is here. there was a period in the 1990's when despite the strong disagreement between the united states and the russian federation over the use of nato force, particularly in the kosovo operation, there was a high degree of diplomacy to bring that war to an end. there were numerous accomplishments in arms control, which for the time being brought into retirement the balance of terror. and i think particularly given the news of the day from kiev, it is worth remembering that
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particularly in the early 1990's, the russian federation and the united states worked very, very closely to ensure and guarantee the independence and territorial integrity of ukraine, and in that context, to eliminate and get the ukrainians to eliminate their strategic arsenal, which is a very, very far stretch from where we are today. i would say that the concept of both -- both the concept and practice of partnership lasted most of the way, though perhaps not all of the way, through boris yeltsin's presidency. and then entered vladimir putin. i suppose you could say we entered what might be called the putin era not just in russia but
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in international relations. i remember being struck that putin, who i guess would accept the title as mr. putin rather than comrade putin, he made the adjustment to the vocabulary, including the vocabulary of partnership. but i remember being struck a number of years ago, including, i suspect you picked this up when you and susan were in moscow, that when he would say "our western partners," there was a touch of sarcasm in his use of the words. that brings us to the title of angela's book, which is "the limits of partnership," and i think it is important that the word "limits" is italicized, as it were. one of the questions that we will be grappling with in this
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conversation and with you joining in due course is whether limits goes far enough. is it the end of partnership? how do we work within the limits that are still there? so with that, i am going to turn it over to comrade -- [laughter] ms., dr. hill. >> thank you very much, strobe. we are here at quite a moment was occasion. and we set up a book launch for angela, we were aiming for valentine's day but a few things got in the way. many of you might've seen the great website on tumblr that was devoted to mr. putin, vladentine's day. it was a particular favorite. now we find ourselves with this book launch against competing narratives about what is
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happening not just in the sochi olympics, still underway, but also about what is happening in kiev. and as we've come into the room today, i'm sure that many of you have seen the news, there seems to be a standoff between security services and demonstrators and many people killed already, lots of violence. this is not an outcome that anybody wanted to see. and that is part of the problems, angela, that you have been grappling with in your book, the competing narratives over what has been happening the last 20-plus years. and as strobe raised in the beginning, we have the question of who lost russia, and what you are trying to do in this book is to stand back from all this and create this overarching perspective on where we have been through these last couple of decades. as strobe also just mentioned, it is ironic that it is almost 20 years to the month or the date since the end of the
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agreement that you and so many other people took part in to find a way of brokering a standoff about ukraine, the disposition of its nuclear forces and ultimately what was going to happen too much of the rest of the soviet nuclear arsenal and the military infrastructure that was on ukrainian soil, with the u.s., ukraine, and russia working together so long ago. angela, what happened? what has gone wrong so many times over the last 20 years? >> who is to blame? >> who is guilty? first of all, thank you very much for inviting me to be here. i want to thank the three other people on the panel, because you were all very helpful to me when i was writing the book and you were reminding me, strobe, when you talk about the ukrainian agreement in a 1994, that president clinton had of the carpe diem and yeltsin was not happy about this.
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my book shows that u.s.-russian relations have been on a roller coaster since the soviet union collapsed, and we have had these cycles of political boom and bust, and we are certainly in a political bust at the moment, as we have heard. i would illustrate it by the trifecta of three major issues, and that is snowden, syria, and sochi. i will start off with edward snowden. putin chose to grant political asylum to edward snowden despite repeated requests by the white house that he sent him back to the united states. it was a conscious choice from his point of view and you could say maybe it was a rational choice, because there were great pr benefits to be gained by showing that russia was granting humanitarian asylum to someone who had exposed the intrusive policies of the united states. secondly, there had been an
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amazing fall out the snowden revelations in terms of deteriorating relationships between the u.s. and its european allies, particularly germany. that may have been quite rational from putin's point of view, but it was also a conscious decision and let the lowest point in u.s.-russian relations -- we can argue since when, but certainly for a very long time. last august president obama called for a pause in u.s.-russian relations, saying that we have to reset what we are doing and where russia is going. i think we haven't heard that the pause is over yet. i don't see -- we can come back to that -- that there is much on the bilateral agenda for the rest of the obama presidency in terms of relations with russia. so that is snowden. then there is syria. here you see all the complexities of the relationship, because we are collaborating with russia on this multilateral issue, disarming the chemical weapons.
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we saw how russia took the initiative when the u.s., frankly, was not sure what it was going to do. that process is working reasonably well. what we also see that we are on fundamentally different sides in terms of how to and the syrian civil war, what to do about humanitarian intervention. secretary kerry had very sharp words for russia and its unwillingness to stop the slaughter by still providing arms to president assad. president obama himself had rather harsh words about that. we do clash with the russians over how this war should end, but we are also working with them in terms of the chemical weapons. finally, there is sochi. that again shows competition and cooperation in a way. i would say that the u.s. media was exaggeratedly negative -- we talked about this -- in their coverage of sochi before the games opened, painting a very
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dark picture of what was wrong with everything. since the games have been on, it has been 10 days now, the media coverage of gotten more positive, the athletes seem to be pretty happy with the conditions, except for the weather, which nobody can guarantee. but there again, we are grudgingly working with the russians on some of these issues. we have come a very long way from the heady days of the obama reset, and i remember president medvedev in this very auditorium giving a speech at brookings, talking about his relationship with president obama, opening his twitter account, and of course, going to eat hamburgers with president obama at ray's hell burger, if you remember that, in arlington. we are very long way from that. why has it been so difficult to develop a productive relationship between the united states and russia? what would it take to maybe develop a more productive relationship? or should we forget about resets and find another way to engage
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with russia without expectations of finding some qualitatively new relationship? in the book i look at 4 resets and we have had 4 since the collapse of the soviet union. the reason one was under president george h w bush. and the greater accomplishment of that -- strobe has already alluded to it -- was to ensure that it was the only nuclear state, and the work that senators nunn and lugar did in cooperation with the bush administration on the whereabouts of scientists who could have sold their know how to rogue states or terrorist groups. that was a brief reset. the second was president bill clinton's reset, the architect of which is sitting here, and
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that involve much broader involvement with the russian economy, russian society, with trying to build the institutions of democracy. it also involved, as strobe said, trying to get a reluctant russia to cooperate on the balkans, on bosnia, and then on kosovo. and it was very much driven by the personal relationship between presidents clinton and yeltsin. another theme of my book is the relationship with russia doesn't have that many stakeholders and it, for economic and other reasons we can talk about. therefore, the relationship between the 2 presidents is usually is proportionately important in this kind of u.s.-russian ties, and the ties in the 1990's were particularly important in moving that relationship forward. it did not end so well at the end of the kosovo war and when yeltsin was not in physically good shape but it was a major force in the 1990's.
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the problem is that russia and the united states, at least official russia and the united states, tended to view what happened in the 1990's rather differently, and that is another source of one of the legacies between these 2 countries. you hear many complaints, at least from the kremlin, about what happened in the 1990's. we tend to see it as a sign of greater pluralism, self-determination, rush opening up to the world. as you know, it is portrayed officially in most of the russian media as a time of chaos, humiliation, impoverishment, part of the narrative for president putin that he has restored russia from this parlor situation in the 1990's. the third reset, as i described in my book, was initiated by president putin himself. it came after the 9/11 attacks. maybe peter will talk about the first meeting between presidents bush and putin. in slovenia, the famous phrase, president bush looked into his eyes and got a measure of his
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soul. it was president putin at that point who is interested in seeking greater integration with -- if not greater integration with the west, a greater relationship with the u.s. when we were involved in the first stage of the afghan war, russia was really quite helpful. the problem with that reset, as one of my russian colleagues described me, is that what putin was looking for was an equal relationship of unequals. in other words, he wanted the united states to treat russia as a strategic partner, to recognize its rights in its neighborhood, its fear of privileged interests -- i'm sure we will come back to ukraine -- and that is what he thought he would get in return for the support. in the russian point of view, came thereafter is the invasion of iraq and the revolutions in ukraine and georgia, and from the russian point of view, and the bush freedom agenda, this was all tied to the question of
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regime change and the principles that the u.s. believed it had the right to do this. this soured of the relationship greatly. the lowest point was the outbreak of russia-georgia war, and the last formal meeting between presidents bush and putin being at the opening ceremony of the olympic games in beijing in 2008 when president bush told president putin that he was cold-blooded. the fourth reset, of course, was the reset of the obama administration, and that, i would say, started out quite well, and was quite successful during the first term. we know all the results of that -- the new start treaty, the cooperation on more sanctions against iran, cooperation on afghanistan, and russia joining the wto. the issue then was -- this comes back to the personalities of the leaders -- that reset was very much driven by the personal relationships between president obama and president medvedev.
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they seem to have gotten on really quite well. even though everyone understood that in this interesting tandem arrangement, then-prime minister putin was making the decisions, it was still the fact that the 2 presidents could relate to each other that made them able to drive forward a fairly complicated agenda. things started to go sour when president putin -- prime minister putin announced, sorry, that the 2 were going to switch places and he was going to come back to the kremlin, and then you have demonstrations in december 2011, you had mr. putin blaming secretary clinton for paying demonstrators to go into the street, and after that, the relationship went south. if you look at the picture on the cover of the book, you see the 2 presidents at the g20 summit in 2012 sort of about two shake hands but neither of them very happy about that.
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i think just a couple more points and then we obviously want to open it to discussion. we have a very different -- the russians and the americans, the governments, let's say, have a very different views of what an improved relationship would look like. again, you come back to the equal partnership of unequals. russia realizing that in the last 22 years, it is not ranked as high in american priorities as america has in russian priorities. i think that is changing now. putin is looking less to the united states than elsewhere in the world, eastward and other places, for recognition, for strategic partners. for much of this time, russia was a very important second order priority for the united states but not a first-order priority. yet it played an important role in enabling us to achieve our goals in our first-order priorities.
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there being an asymmetry and mismatch there and how important we are for each other. another point that we are seeing very much on display now is in the beginning, in the 1990's, the united states and its allies hoped that russia would move towards a different system, that it would embrace it broadly euro atlantic values and reject features not only of the communist system but other aspects of russia's past. it hasn't turned out like that, and today russia every much presents itself as an alternate model to the united states, to the european union, that it respects absolute sovereignty in most countries of the world, it rejects the idea of responsibility to protect. when we talk about ukraine and georgia, we might question the absolute sovereignty, but in general that is what it says. it also presents itself as an alternative civilizational model, presenting russian orthodoxy as the true harbinger of christian values and, as
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putin recently said, traditional muslim values, too, an interesting point given all the problems russia has with its muslim minorities. and then saying that the west has lost its moral compass and is decadent. this appeals to a large number of countries in the world. we shouldn't think this is a minority view. but it is russia carving out a role for itself as a separate power and almost as a leader of the conservative international. where does that leave us now? i will just make a few more points. i think it is very difficult to move beyond these dual legacies of distrust caused by the cold war and then by what happened in the 1990's. i think, in fact, it would be much better to try to avoid future resets. i think that would mean for the united states accepting that russia is a large country with a hybrid political system whose movement away from the soviet
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system is a matter of decades. i think one german politician at the beginning of this said that it will take russia 70 years maybe to make -- i don't even want to use the word "transition," but to move to something that is different from what has come hundreds of years before. it is a long process and you have to be patient. it would also take for a u.s. congress which really has not been a force for change in u.s.-russian relations, that is, in terms of trying to improve the relationship, it would take congress looking at what it does and maybe eschewing future punitive actions against russia because that is also contribute to the deterioration of the relationship. it also involves accepting that it is not a good idea to start another reset, to think that if only we can find a better way of interacting these issues are going to be resolved, but to be realistic about cooperating with russia on those multilateral issues where we have to work
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together, however challenging it is, to keep up all of the civil society compacts we have and try to nurture them, because those have to be nurtured. but i think the immediate thing to realize is that even if you have an à la carte relationship with a country like russia, you still have to have an effective framework to even conduct thatàa la carte relationship. i think we are only at the beginning of thinking of what that framework might be. i think i will stop there. >> thanks, angela. of course, it was condoleezza rice who also thought we should have an à la carte relationship with russia back in 2000 in her famous piece in "foreign affairs." and i guess we're still talking about the same thing 14 years later. here, you have a very interesting perspective on this because you and susan were co-bureau chiefs at "the washington post" just as mr. putin was coming in his position.
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and then you switch, coming back to the united states -- not just switch newspapers, but switched to looking at presidential politics here. angela has put her finger on the problems that strobe saw firsthand back in the day with bill clinton and boris yeltsin, the importance of this relationship at the very top, and you have a chapter in your book that talks about the bush-putin relationship. i wonder how you reflect looking back on this long span of time, looking at things on the ground in russia and then from the vantage point in washington, d.c., about how those relationships have had an impact on where we are today in the u.s.-russia -- i don't know what we are calling it now -- interaction for the moment. >> that's a great question. thank you very much for having me and including me on this very august panel. i'm an admirer of all 3 people on here, including their books.
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if you want to know anything about the 1990's and the clinton era, you have to read, unrivaled in its mix of journalism and "i was there" quality to it, and fiona's book, several books, but the latest on putin is required reading for anybody who wants to understand who he is and get inside of him. she goes in a way that few americans and few westerners have done to really try to penetrate the sort of impenetrable figure. and it now angela's book, which i am a great fan of, i have just finished it. she makes a number of very important points, and we will get to bush and putin in a second. she talks about the reset we have experienced in the last few years as part of the cycle. we have seen this cycle again
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and again. in foreign-policy terms from i think of charlie brown and the football. they teach that at georgetown, don't they? [laughter] lucy with the football, and charlie brown is the next president who comes along and is convinced he is the one who can make friends with these longtime adversaries, if we simply sit down and talk, of course we have the same interests. what you get out of reading angela's book, the insight that is slow to don again and again with each new presidency that we have different interests, not only do we have different interests, we make a mistake in trying to assume that we understand what their interests are, because we don't. we try to superimpose our own american ideas of what russian interests ought to be, and they frustrate us again and again because they don't see things the way we think they should see them, not just the way we see them, but the way we think they should see them.
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why don't they think of iran the way we think of iran? the southern border is more dangerous to them than us. her book is a terrific read and i would recommend it highly. bush and putin is a great, fascinating exemplar of this very cycle. i had actually been with president clinton in denver when they admitted russia into the g-8 and again when he traveled to russia in 1998. i watched a little bit of clinton and yeltsin. then bush comes along and he clearly wants this to be a legacy for him as well. he declared i can't remember how many times "the cold war is now over," forgetting the entire time strobe was in office and the entire 1990's, that somehow 2001 was the beginning of a new era. and he wanted it to be.
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he did meet with president putin in slovenia famously. very interesting story to me is not just the soul comment, but the moment behind the scenes when putin is going through his talking points about soviet debt and bush is clearly bored and doesn't find it very interesting and kind of interrupts him and says "i have heard this story about you and your cross." putin recovers pretty quickly and tells the story about his mother rescuing this orthodox cross from a fire and how important it was to him. clearly putin, as a longtime case officer and longtime student of how to work the other side, figured out how to push buttons that would appeal to bush, and he clearly did. and that he has asked the question that condi rice will tell you today she didn't prepare bush for, "do you trust him, " and he made a comment
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about looking into the soul. it didn't last that long. by the time you get to khodorkovsky's arrest, bush has a much more jaundiced view. in my book there were conversations he had with tony blair and with other leaders he expressed frustration, saying that talking with putin is like being at a junior high debating society, facts don't matter to the guy. the meeting in slovakia in 2005, he said, "i was so mad at that interpreter that i wanted to reach over and slap the hell out of him. putin, we've lost him, he has become a czar." that implies we ever had him to begin with.
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bush by the end had a very jaundiced understanding of president putin, just as president obama presumably does today. the next president is going to come along and they will want to do something. the thing they ought to do before they make the decision is read angela's book. [laughter] >> we will make sure that happens. strobe, on the à la carte relationship and needing a framework, we have tried that for many times. the attempt at creating a commission that got revitalized as part of the reset and the binational presidential commissions. what was the thinking, if you can think way back to that day when you are then overseeing all of the relationships that that were coordinating, about trying to create that trend? it underscores the structural problems we have and the relationship.
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it gets around to that relationship and the chemistry between the people, if it is there or not there, but even if it is there, in terms of meaningful results in the relationship, i'm always thinking back in the 1990's about trying to create that frame to hang the presidential relationship on. >> i think something that peter said is an important starting point, that is that most of the time during the period we're talking about, not to mention the decades before, just as peter said, u.s. and -- let's use russia geographically, as it were -- russia and the soviet union before it, we did not have compatible interests. in the mind of boris yeltsin and in the mind of names that have a
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very musty feel to them now, i think that there was -- you can either call it a bright shining moment, or a period of mutual self-delusion, when the leaders on both sides did think that there were fundamental compatibilities. i don't think there is a more powerful example in history that i can think of where personality really matters. both of you have alluded to that. boris yeltsin obviously has a very, very mixed record. i suspect that russian and other historians who go back and have more perspective in judging him will make mixed judgments. but this much i am certain of --
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he felt, to coin a phrase, that the soviet union had become kind of an empire of evil, that the communist party was the mechanism for that evil, never mind, by the way, that he came up through that system. and gorbachev, in one of the many ironies of history -- i would say gorbachev and yeltsin had their own compatibilities, and they represented kind of a tag team. the old www, worldwide wrestling or whatever it's called -- [laughter] gorgeous george, whatever. first up was gorbachev. while his aim was to moderate and modernize and civilize the soviet union, it was also to save the soviet union.
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he came to the rational view, which i, by the way, think should resonate today as we talk about the future of russia, that the only way the soviet union could survive and become what he called a normal, modern state, was to give up the big lie and the iron fist, and to make a complicated story fairly short, that was true, but the soviet union could not survive without the big lie and the iron fist. and there was the falling out between gorbachev and yeltsin, and yeltsin comes in as an anti-communist, a former communist who was an anti-communist, and who really did buy into the idea that russia was a great country that could finally manifest its greatness at the end of the 20th century by joining the international community with
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certain universally accepted norms, including norms of how to govern your own country. and while i think president clinton has a good deal to be proud of and what he was able to accomplish during that period, he had a huge advantage that his successors, president bush 43 and barack obama, and probably presidents to come, will not have. and that is that there was not an operative in the kremlin -- that is the subtitle of cliff and fiona's book -- but there was a democrat. he is a democrat occasionally slipping into vocabulary meaning "to rule like a czar," so he wasn't a jeffersonian democrat. but he really did believe in
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those values and the notion of partnership. and that ended even before yeltsin left office, because putin was increasingly not just -- i will end on this -- not just in an increasingly powerful position as prime minister and then acting president and then president, he also represented an entire cadre very prominently and powerfully placed throughout the entire russian system that felt the way he did. we have never been able to get back to this notion, this sense of common ground. the kind of exception that proves the rule. he will be an interesting character to understand himself at some point. when medvedev spoke from this podium, he was also
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yeltsinesque, but he had no real power. putin has a classic zero-sum, us versus them view of the world, and the them is us, if i can put it that way. i heard a story quite reliably that he was being briefed for a meeting of a visiting american official, and the briefer, a russian who work for putin, said that this person is a friend of ours. putin snapped and said "we have no friends in the west." that really says it all. later in the conversation we should come back to what the real threats to russia are, and there are many, and virtually none of them are in the west. >> you made a very interesting point.
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it underscores very much that no matter what structures we put in place, they are not going to be really adequate. so the attempt to create something broader on a more horizontal level to close the united states and russia in it together always founders of the person at the very top. >> the commission was going great. we had all kinds of quite productive collaboration between our cabinet agencies in washington and the ministries in moscow, and then the primakov commission didn't do so well. >> it is probably the case, angela, in your interviews with people around the obama administration, that the bilateral commissions were also behind the scenes at the lower level actually making some real
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achievements on some of the more mundane, i guess, cooperative things, the kinds of things that president bush would have rolled his eyes over. nonetheless, it was actually making some kind of impact. >> they were, but your point being that the people of the top blessed this and believe in it, then however difficult it is or however slow moving these different groups and processes are, they do work. the one that was abolished was the civil society one, and that didn't work out so well because the notions of civil society were represented at the top there, i.e. the russian action and the american action, were very different. >> i would have paid to go see those, if they would allow us to go into those. >> fly on the wall. and the bilateral commission still exists.
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it has lots of working groups. some of them are apparently doing good work. they are advancing. again, it is very slow process. but it doesn't filter up to the top. it is very compartmentalized. but you have to keep these things going and i'm not sure how much even ordinary russians know about what is happening in those meetings, because it would give us a somewhat more positive view of what is happening, but instead, what you get -- we read about this in your very newspaper -- a tv show a couple nights ago likening the united states to nazi germany on at the same time as you had the olympic games. these things only work at a lower level if they are blessed at the top. >> peter, what you and susan were in on kremlin rising was charting this change of what angela has been talking about. what we have in the person of vladimir putin, as strobe was
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saying, is someone of a different cadre, and you saw that moving in real time when you were there. we now have a situation where just like yeltsin, putin is not part of a political party but as an institutional arrangement around him. you deliberately picked the title "kremlin rising," as opposed to the state itself, the russian state. putin came in saying he was going to restore the state, but the one institution that has loomed over everything is the presidency housed in the kremlin. during the arrangements between medvedev and putin it looks like it might be more effective institutions that might be more back to institutions. have you seen in the time since when you have been covering it from a different angle? point in a direction we could hang something on looking into the future. >> well -- [laughs] when we went to russia we went around and we met a lot of
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people and we talk to them about russia and what struck me was the division about russia was always in the optimist-pessimist camp. it was really hard to find somebody in between. at the time there were a lot of optimists when we first went there. people thought putin was going to be a technocratic, professional, new generation fomenter of yeltsin's legacy, and looking at kgb as sort of a finishing school education like harvard. today, of course, it is hard to find an optimist, hard to find somebody who will look positively at the prospects. i still think that long-term, you know, russia is going to be different over time, and it is just not going to be in the that we want it to go, the straight-line we hoped it would take. if you visit russia, if you
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spent time in russia, and you don't spend time talking about politics, you are struck by what a modern country this is by comparison to the way it was in the 1970's and 1980's. this is a country that is of great means, at least in the great cities, not just in moscow anymore, but in the second-tier cities. people are not worried that their neighbors are going to rat them out for making a joke about the leader, and they have cell phones, they travel around the world, they have businesses. in many ways it is the european country today. our experience watching putin was that it was the people who try to make a difference, to try to change things, that were perceived as a threat to the kremlin, that get whacked down like whack-a-mole. one of the things we don't fully understand is that that is accepted by society there. putin is not imposing himself on a reluctant society. as invigorating as it was to see
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the protests, he still has the support of most of the country. now, he has control of the tv and all the mechanisms and that is important, you can't forget that, and without that it would perhaps be a different story. but in fact, this is a country that is being ruled the way he thinks it wants to be ruled. i always tell americans -- people in this audience will know this, but i tell my ordinary friends who don't know much about russia that when we were there, polls show that 25% of russians would have voted for stalin for president. until you understand why that is and part of that different thinking, we will not be able to understand them. they will have their country and their history and their leaders in a way that we don't and they don't understand it the way we do. one of the great things about angela's book is she talked of those people, she talked to the russians about their point of view, and the book offers their frustrations, their disappointments, their view of how we let them down in the bush
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era, for instance, after 9/11, we did not reciprocate with the outreach putin made with the central asia. some of this we could debate -- obviously, a lot of this we could debate, but it is interesting to hear it from their point of view. >> i want to turn it to the many distinguished people in the audience, but i was thinking as i was listening to peter talking and back to strobe's comment that yeltsin thought that we share similar values, whether it was delusion or not. there was a point where looked like convergence, the term we used to use when we were all doing soviet studies, that it might actually happen. and we are back to values again, and values as a point of division. putin is trying to push forward with this rather conservative, in a russian sense, agenda, and as peter pointed out, it resonates.
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there was a poll out today on attitudes towards homosexuality in russia. a few years ago there was a shift in the population, about 30-40% of the publishing feeling somewhat comfortable with the idea that homosexuals have the same rights as everyone else. this has changed dramatically and we are about 80% basically as a population being opposed to any kind of progress towards gay marriage or anything else. this is something that shifted in european and u.s. society over a period of time, too. we are not where we were even 10 years ago in the united states. but this obviously gets to peter's point that there are shifts in the way people think about things, and this agenda does resonate. so how do we deal with that? we are not in the old ideological struggles that we were at the end of the cold war,
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but we are at a different place than where we thought we might be 20 years ago in terms of clash of values. >> clash of civilizations. we don't have an ideological struggle with russia but we represent very different things. if you go back to the 19th century, this isn't a new phenomenon that the russian leadership puts forward russia as an alternative model to the decadent west, and the harbinger of traditional values. it somehow got lost during the soviet period, when it was a different ideological struggle. the only way we could deal with this -- it is tricky, and you see this at the sochi games. on the one hand you have to respect that this is where russia is, as you say, a majority of people support this, and particularly the attitudes towards lgbt issues. on the other hand, the united states and the europeans stand for values and they can't
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pretend they don't. it is important to step back and focus on these kinds of pragmatic, concrete issues -- syria, iran, other issues, post-2014 afghanistan, where we have to try to work together and not focus so much on the value question, where we really have true divisions, and where, as resident putin himself said on one of the sunday talk shows a few weeks ago, russia is not an outlier. many countries have similar legislation and in seven of those countries they get executed for it. it requires is stepping back and understanding that that is the value system that is being propagated there, and there's not much we can do about it. there's not much we can do about what is happening inside russia, and therefore we should be more sort of modest in what our expectations are about interacting with russia and focusing on these international
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questions. >> well, we've got half an hour, and i'm sure there are lots of contentious issues raised. i will take 3 questions at a time and then come back to everybody on the panel. we have a mic coming down. and if everybody could introduce themselves, and to get in as many questions as possible, to keep them brief. >> joe, documentary film maker. with respect to the tug-of-war between the west and the east, with respect to the former states of the soviet union -- ukraine, moldova, belarus, so forth -- how is russia likely to react in this tug-of-war in the future, given this new model that putin is attempting to put forth? >> thanks. >> thanks very much. i write the mitchell report.
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i want to go back to something that dr. stent said and see if i could get you to expand on it just a bit. it seems to me that the message is let's not do anymore resets, but what we need to do is develop a framework for having this relationship. and the question is both specific to russia and sort of generally, if you will, about political theory, which is what is a framework? how is it different from a strategy or a policy? and if there is a way to give us some specificity to that with respect to russia, i would be interested in your thinking. >> thanks. and on the aisle here. >> to what extent does putin
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lead or follow russian public opinion? >> well -- >> go ahead with the question on the frame -- >> or maybe i will start off with the question on eurasia? i would say that putin's project for his third term is the creation of the eurasian union. if he were able to create that, that would include most of the post-soviet states, not all of them. ukraine would be the key member there. this would be an economic organization but also a political one, which means you would have a separate block once again in the former soviet space. they're closer to each other than at any part of the world. since ukraine would be the key
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country here from the russian point of view, to ensure that ukraine does not sign agreements with the european union, would make it impossible to create this eurasian union, and russia has a number of advantages. it has a lot of leverage over the economic relationship in ukraine. there are different views. some of the people who live in the eastern part of ukraine clearly look to russia. and then you have the people out in the streets demonstrating who want to be european. for them, european means not having a corrupt, untrans parent government. russia is in this for the long game. has offered quite a lot of financial support.
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it is not going to back away easily. this really isn't asymmetrical fight. russia views this as a traditional geopolitical struggle. the european union doesn't see it in those terms. we weren't that involved six months ago but this isn't going to be an ongoing -- is going to be an ongoing struggle. from the russian point of view, it is a very high-stakes issue. and has it really will determine the future of russia's own influence in its neighborhood. framework. it's an excellent question. we do have some frameworks, right? we do have a format whereby our foreign and defense secretaries talk to the russian foreign minister and defense minister. we have various other fora where we talk about different issues. on another level, we have the
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arctic as a region. we are cooperating with the russians on a number of these issues. there is a number of fora to discuss that. of course, we have the united nations security council, very importantly. i guess the idea of having a framework would be one where these parts would be integrated. try to have a sense of prioritizing this in the institutions in which they interact and trying to get more coherence to it. that would be the way i would start. >> i don't know if you want to talk about the whole eurasian union issue on this. obviously, that is something that was always on the agenda in the 1990's because of the aspirations in the west with
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nato and the eu, the idea of expanding out and reintegrating the european space politically and economically. >> angela answer the question very well. i would just underscore something that she said at the end with maybe a footnote to it. yes, russia, putin in particular, have taken a classic geopolitical view and it's in the context of a zero-sum game. what he doesn't buy into and maybe doesn't recognize is that it is a different world. and geo-economics is part of geopolitics. and the model, the incentive that he is offering these other former republics of the ussr is a loser of a model.
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and so, yeah, he is playing a long game, but it will be a losing game. at some point, we may want to get back to what it means for russia itself and its own sustainability and its current borders given the fact that virtually all of putin's policies threaten to replicate the centrifugal forces that caused the ussr to fall apart. just one quick stab at an answer on who is leading whom, he is the leader. and just to sort of play on that word, that word has a kind of forced to it and inherent legitimacy, if i can say it. we have our leaders here. but we love not to follow them and to point out their
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shortcomings and to change them and criticize them. that is not part of the russian -- i don't mean to excessively overgeneralize, but the tradition of the czar, the vorscht, which is not used now because it is too much like the fuhrer, but authoritarianism is like the tango. it takes both leaders and the led to have an authoritarian political culture. >> putin and the kremlin pay a lot of attention to public opinion polls. there are some really good polling agencies in russia.
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it's just not public opinion polling that is done by the kremlin for the kremlin. there is much broader things that are being done. they also do show some troubling things down the line. putin has been falling in the number of years. he has fallen in some of the ratings, some of the polling from a high point in 2008 at 84% to about 65% in more recent polls. putin is running against himself because there is no alternative to him in the political spectrum. that is an advantage and a disadvantage because you have to continue bettering yourself. not just in your political tenure, but also in your life.
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as we know, it is always quite hard to outcompete and better your younger self. and putin is a master with the different costume changes. he still looks pretty vigorous. in 2024, it will be harder to play the role of the action hero politician that he has been doing up until now. and he has to transition his political brand into something else. so he spends a lot of time looking at the polls, the sochi olympics, the way they are very important to all of this. and the hallmark for the kremlin from the very beginning. russia is in many respects a direct democracy. putin talks about direct -- about the historical precedents of this. everybody getting out to the town square and having their voice heard. putin talks about this, how important it is to aggregate all of that clamor from around the
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population. but it is a difficult thing to keep on top of an something he spends a lot of time on since the very beginning. peter, if you have some additional thoughts. >> i think what you said is exactly right. the way strobe describes the relationship between the leader and the led, it's symbiotic. i think it is symbiosis with putin and his constituents. he is a master with instinct. it is formed in part by polling on how to connect a mass of people in russia. i think the costume changes a great line. the symbolism of the macho leader and the various forms it has taken, it's brilliant and associating himself with the broader a but.
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and there are ups and downs and there are things that he has to be worried about. every time you see little blips in the polls, oh, putin may be in trouble and people are upset about this thing or the other. then comes along some crisis that he manages to either invent or take advantage of or some twist of events that he has somehow ridden like a surfer to get back out in front. i think we are probably -- we are waiting a long time if we think we will wait him out for the days that popular opinion turns against him. >> another three questions, please? >> there are people working in both capitals are now to put together an agenda for the proposed bilateral summit meeting of the two presidents to take place on the edges of the june g 8 meeting scheduled, of
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all places, for sochi. the most substantive thing they are talking about is a bilateral treaty on trade and investment. a number of the big american companies that are active in russia favor this. they would like it. there are people who think this will help breathe some life into russia's wto membership, that it would fulfill some of the gaps. but i would like to hear from some of the people on the stage what the real utility of that is. is this something we are talking about because we don't have much of anything else to talk about? and in a political climate, how viable is it? could this administration deliver even if they could ink the document?
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>> i am martin fleck with decisions for global responsibility. my question is about nuclear weapons. obama has been advocating further cuts beyond the new start treaty and cuts to nuclear weapons between russia and the united states, even advocating an additional one third cut to the arsenal. with this collection of talent, i wanted to pose the question. is putin likely to support that? if not, how could he -- how could -- what might convince him to support it? >> thanks, and a question back here? >> arms control association. i want to ask about the limits of hostility. i am inspired by the annual worldwide threat assessment that included wendy seven pages of terrorism, of cyber
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nonproliferation, climate change but not one word about the russian strategic forces that are the only threat that will annihilate us all in an afternoon. so my question really is how much longer can the u.s.-russian relationship sustain a cold war nuclear force structure and all ert level? >> thank you very much. this has been the primary research question for me. of course, this was the core question i was trying to ask and did not understand.
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the bottom line of this book is that the primary limit to the partnership is the incompatibility of the very based interests. russia desires to position itself to an alternative to a eurasian power to the u.s. you mentioned several circumstances where previous [indiscernible] have been ended. my question would be where do you see the phenomenon called ism?-western i is it somehow connected to the russian desire to preserve as an alternative eurasian power to
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the west or is it an alternative to this desire or is it on its own a problem itself? and how can it solve itself? >> we have related questions here. i think the question about the agenda for the summit and focusing on trade issues -- so far, we haven't heard whether any of the nuclear issues and arms control will be on the agenda. it is a question we are asking across the board. not just the ongoing attempts to find some way forward on the u.s.-russia relationship. and then, this final question
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about antiwesternism. we have seen a lot on the pages of "the new york times" and the papers about the anti-u.s. sentiment that has been alive and kicking in the russian press. we have seen the same accusations brought back to the u.s. in sochi. good news seems to never sell newspapers and all the journalists and experts are always waiting for an opportunity. [laughter] everybody is waiting for the story to get out and they all end up coming in a big rush. how do we -- >> i think maybe the question about the bilateral agenda and i'm sure that they will say more about the arms control -- i have a separate chapter in my book about economics and energy. it is not divided by administrations.
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that is the one area in u.s. russian relations that is relatively depoliticized. there are some exceptions. but where you have a younger, old-younger, a different clash of russians in the private sector who interact with the u.s., in this case, the same with european counterparts on a completely different basis. they are in the private sector and they want to do business and speak a different kind which with each other. having said that, you always see on the russian side and to some extent to the u.s. side the complaints that we should have a more robust economic relationship. trade with russia is less than 2% of our trade. $40 billion a year with china, why don't we have a more robust relationship? then it comes down to -- one question is that russia exports energy. we don't need russian energy. and military hardware. we aren't going to purchase military hardware. so what is it? what would constitute that trade
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relationship? boeing is doing very well in russia. automobile manufacturers now more complicated with russian policies. the white house is trying to improve and reinvigorate economic relationship. this trade and investment treaty is something that has been discussed for years and years and maybe they will find it. how much difference that will make to the relationship remains to be seen. a lot of these previous events haven't been as successful. i would only question on this business of a bilateral summit, edward snowden situation. our administration would like to
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push forward clearly with deeper cuts. i am not convinced that the russians are interested in that at the moment. i agree with you. our relationship with russia is a time warp. the thing that determines where the two nuclear superpowers who can destroy each other may times over, which is still what determines a relationship and not more these more modern 21st-century issues. >> you mentioned a time warp. can the administration deliver any felony trade issue when we -- anything on a trade issue when we have similar questions about tpp and the transatlantic trade agreements and the transpacific with japan?
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peter, you have watched this now from an interesting perspective. could the administration deliver on any of these issues? >> that is a great question. it is hard to imagine. i suppose you could imagine some sort of a trade agreement that is relatively modest scale and didn't really do much in a large sense that would go someplace of any consequence. it will be hard for this administration to get through congress. just look at what happened to jackson maddock. all that did was keep the status quo. it is sadly done permanently instead of every year. it's a way of congress saying we are not approving of the way russia does business at home and much to this administration's chagrin. it would actually require any kind of concessions without some
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sort of human rights cause that would make the russians go nuts, it is hard. in trade in general, harry reid says, no, sorry, no fast-track authority. for you, yes, mr. president, we are of the same party, but that is done. obama may wait until he has something more to show for it at the asian-european talks and then make an effort. the for the moment, trade does not seem to be an agenda that the administration will find much traction with on the hill. >> does this seem like antiwesternism? if you think back to the clinton administration, which you don't need to think back to, when you know very well, one of the biggest complaints was that the u.s. and the west has never stepped up enough to help russia
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economically. and the trade debate is a continuation of the idea that we did not embrace the former soviet union in the way we should have been the times of the grand bargain and the marshall plan and the new marshall plan and the trades basically feed into that. what do you think? >> i think it is a permanent fact that we, a decade or so ago, the major obstacle to what is called a 21st-century trade and investment relationship between russia and the united states and indeed russia and europe and the rest of the world, the major obstacle is that russia does not have a 21st century economy. that is really what it boils down to. the mention of it, it is still of the classic case of the resource curse. they are totally dependent on
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what they can pump or dig out of of the ground, they don't have a modern service sector or manufacturing sector. i also agree with peter that some really important trade backs are imperiled by the political deadlock here. as to the georgian ambassadors question, i think -- we are in a version of the 19th century debate between the slavophiles and the westernizers. angela talked about, what is the phrase, orthodox family values , slavophiles. we versus the other guys
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mentality. it is in keeping with his political mode of operation, which is vertical power. it makes a joke of the word "federation" which is in the name of the country. you can't have a vertical power in a federation high-definition. it has to be a horizontal power in some sense. it takes us back to the real nature of putin as the unmodern man who has mastered modern techniques. we don't wake up every morning wondering if world war 3 and global thermal nuclear wars were to happen. that is a big deal. those of us who have made or tried to maintain our optimism about russia shouldn't lose sight of that.
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and the reason is not because the weapons are no longer there because, as you say, the russian rocket forces are the inheritor of the strategic rocket forces and will come to arms control and a second. your paper had a piece the other day of how the russians maybe cutting very close to the edges of the inf treaty. i do not think that there is any chance for further reductions, not least because -- and the russians here are not wrong. reductions in offensive weapons would have to be in the context of some sort of restoration of at least the spirit and the consequence of the abm treaty, which is to say limiting missile defenses. and there is no appetite for that on our side at all. so the arsenals are still there. but what is not there is the
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global geopolitical and ideological contest that really was at the heart of the cold war. russia hopes to attract its near-abroad neighbors, the former republics of the ussr. but it has not even an aspiration of exerting soft power, if i can put it that way, very far from home. in fact, they are having trouble maintaining it in ukraine, to take us back to that. >> time for maybe one last question. i'll take the lady sitting down right here. >> from the wilson center. i have a question concerning syria. you painted a very gloomy
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picture of the relationship and you don't expect much in terms you of a bilateral relationship through the end of the obama term. considering everything that we heard, what kind of leverage does the united states have on russia to convince them to work with them on a solution for syria? regardless of the chemical weapons deal, it does not really focus on the core issue, which is solving the domestic problem here. >> thank you. the young lady here. >> thank you. i am a scholar at george washington university. i am from georgia. my question is to dr. stent.
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how do the u.s.-russia relations affect the issue of pro-soviet countries and where do you see more options or solutions for these issues in case of u.s.-russian partnership or in case of limited partnership or competition between these countries? >> this gentleman here. you get the last word from the floor. >> my name is martin. i am a student at american university. i was hoping you could talk to the article that mr. putin wrote in "the new york times" that at the end of 2013 regarding the syrian conflict. i was wondering if you could speak to the idea that he sees the west as sort of flouting the rules come especially the u.n., for its own convenience and the idea that putin needs to speak directly to the american people
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rather than through others. >> angela, i will give you the last word. that ties nicely together to the first question. >> we have a separate op-ed page and news page. for one thing, you have to understand about on op-ed like that, the kremlin hired an american pr firm who told them it was a good idea to do this and he was happy to do it. i don't think he cares too much what american public opinion thinks. this is his way of saying, you know, well, a very --
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[indiscernible] [laughter] he loves -- and it's not just him. this is an old soviet thing. he loves the old false equivalence of saying you can't criticize us because you do the same thing. again, again, and again, things that are superficially equivalent but really aren't. you can't talk about carpet bombing grozny because you use air power in kosovo. you can't talk about jailing political prisoners because you have guantánamo. you cannot talk about press freedom because george bush fired dan rather, right? that is exactly what he said to him once. in 2005, he said, george bush, you fire dan rather so you can talk to me about that.
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if you go out there and say that, americans don't really understand you. that is the way putin saw it. having said that, he certainly has a point to make, which is to say that they united states has avoided at times the u.n. or other ratifying types of structures for issues like the proposed strike on syria. i was with the president in st. petersburg when he was trying to get more support out of the g-20 and didn't really get what he would have liked out of that because there was great ambivalence in the international community, as there was in the american public, by the way, and as there was obviously in the oval office. obama himself didn't want to do what he said he was going to do. the op-ed was a nice little jab
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on the part of the russian president and i think he got what he wanted out of it. i'm particularly amused by the part that he says that america should think it is very exceptional, this whole notion of exceptionalism. >> but it did have a telling passage. it asserted that the assad regime had no chemical weapons. >> right, which days later seems to be the opposite of what his point is. let's go get them together. >> strobe, i will let you say whatever you want to say. he gets to some of the points that peter was saying before, that some of the previous -- have complained that some of the facts get melded or molded. you have been right there at the forefront in the post-soviet country, like at the beginning of your career in government. you have had some pleasant experiences. i'm thinking of your time in armenia trying to negotiate.
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almost the entire armenian government got shot as you are leaving to the airport. those were terrible times in and the difficulty of having that u.s.-russia relationship over a rather nasty complex, not just georgia, but others. i wonder if you might have a quick thought on how you think the u.s.-russia relationship has impacted those other relationships. >> the only life i can never claim to have saved was the life of the armenian foreign minister who was supposed to go with prime minister across the street to sell the deal that we had got to the parliament. and i asked of the prime minister if i could kidnap the foreign minister and take into my car out to the airport to close a couple of deals. it was because he was with me that he was not mowed down there.
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the russian message seems to be to keep stirring up trouble. stalin's first job in the bolshevik government was the people's commissar for nationalities. he had a lot to do with drawing the map and designing the policies, all of which notably including in his homeland georgia, was to ensure that a lot of these old feuds would continue to simmer. keep those parts of the country week so that they could be ruled from moscow. and i think that is also their view of the world as a whole. and as for syria, angela, you emphasized this, but just to conclude on it, there is an ironclad rule of russian foreign policy now that is not only never again will they be party
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to a regime change, whether it is in syria or ukraine, but they will do everything they can to thwart that. this is a lesson that they didn't just learn in libya. it is a lesson that they learned in the balkans and particularly as a result of the kosovo war. what did the kosovo war end with? and this goes back to the slavophile point. an orthodox country in europe had its regime toppled and a subset of that country was a muslim majority population became an independent state. and the russians saw that and they said that could happen here. today, it is bombing belgrade and free kosovo.
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sunday, it will be bombing moscow and a free chechnya and that is very deeply rooted. >> i can attest i was in saint petersburg during the bombings. that was certainly the view of everybody that i spoke to from the ground all the way up. i think it is hard, getting back to all the points we are talking about, not always understanding the perspective to realize that that was a genuine sentiment. >> i can't resist on peter's wonderful point on false analogies. at a dinner that we were both at with mr. putin, we were next to him when a journalist asked him why lenin was still in the red square. he asked them, what country are you from? he said, great britain. and he asked, why do you still have statues of oliver cromwell? [laughter] he has a ready answer for everything. the analogy of cromwell and lenin.
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and then it is explained that cromwell is not embalmed in the parliament. [laughter] i want to come back to the question of syria and i think it has been partially answered. you ask what leverage the u.s. has. not much. the libya analogy is absolutely the anti-example for mr. putin. he said it in so many terms. russia has always believed that president assad would prevail and it looks at the moment as if he will. a major concern is to have a strong secular government in damascus. were an islamist government come to power that has implications not only for the region that russia would find dangerous but for russia itself and for its own north caucuses and the other islamic parts of russia. and therefore all of these other issues -- this is why russia won't agree to a vote in the united nations security council but would tie humanitarian relief to sanctions against the syrian government.
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if they don't allow this humanitarian relief, that could threaten assad's rule. they are diehard standing with this view and policy. i don't think they will change it. frankly, i think russia today views the united states as being in decline and the europeans, too, rightly or wrongly. you can see in what the secretary kerry and what president obama said. great frustration about how we can get over -- it is a terrible, horrible situation what is happening in syria with the humanitarian crisis. how do we get beyond that? in geneva, perhaps it could have been predict it in the moment that these talks would not work out and at the moment there is a stalemate. i don't think the united states has very much leverage. therefore, it is hard to see how you can move forward and get a solution to the needs of the syrian people.
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>> that is really what your book is about you it is also a chronicle about leverage over issues where we have had very little. so not just the limits of partnership, but the old limits of our own assets and policy making and outreach that you described so well in the book. angela will sign some copies of the book for those of you who would like to buy them outside. and we hope we will have another chance to get together to talk about some of these issues as this year goes on. i'm sure that mr. putin and russia will give us plenty to talk about here at brookings. angela, i want to wish you every success with the book and thank strobe and here for sitting here so long when the sun is actually shining outside. thank you. [laughter] [applause]
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> the energy secretary will talk about energy production at the national press club tomorrow. before becoming energy secretary, he was a professor at m.i.t.. live coverage at 1:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span. 2:00, a conversation on cyber security infrastructure. we hear from the director of the national institute of standards and technology. watch live coverage from the brookings institution on c-span 20. >> next, iraq -- -- iraq's ambassador luqman abd al-rahim fayli talks about the current political climate.
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this is just over one hour. >> i want to welcome you all here today. i am the dean of the school of international service and it is a wonderful honor to be hosting the iraqi ambassador here on campus. we were delighted to welcome ambassador fayli here to washington last summer and it is an incredibly interesting time to bring the ambassador here in the united states, working on an important set of issues. he is certainly the right person for the job. he previously was working as iraq's ambassador to japan. prior to joining the diplomatic corps, ambassador fayli lived in the united kingdom for 20 years
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working in the i.t. sector. he held senior management positions in two major american companies. while in the u.k., he was an extremely active leader within large iraqithe community there. he played a large role in advocating for democracy in iraq when a period when iraq was in the dictatorship of saddam hussein. fluent in english, arabic and kurdish, ambassador fayli was born in baghdad. you can follow him on twitter. presiding over this event is our wonderful professor known to but any not only here to sis who has ever been knows this professor. he has been with the school
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since its founding in 1958. as i always tell them when i come back from visits to meet with alumni in this country or overseas, he remains a rockstar among the sis community. want toalarms -- alums know how he is doing. variety ofhe has a areas of expertise including the middle east as well as broader issues of peace and conflict resolution. his work on peace and conflict resolution is being honored in march at the international studies association meeting in toronto where there will be a thel that includes professor among the honorees. , thank you for organizing this event. ambassador fayli, thank you for
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coming back to campus. we hope we will have you here often. thank you all very much. thank you. [applause] >> the ambassador will speak for about half an hour. we will have questions and answers for about another half an hour. recorded.event is i will join you. >> good afternoon, everybody. for givingery much me the opportunity to share with you our iraq project. and also thank you to the dean for allowing us this great
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opportunity at this great university. i am very much privileged and looking forward to your q&a after i give you a quick overview of the democratic process in iraq with its challenges and drawbacks. as to what is taking place and what should take place, and more importantly, why it took place. a historical perspective of that as well. the book will cover the history of iraq, just to give you high-level data on iraq. the impact of dictatorship on societies. iraq in the 50's and 40's and 60's. the key difference has been the adverse impact of dictatorship on society since then.
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i will talk about the social transformation of the dictatorship on iraq and the arab region as well. i will talk about democracy in iraq and foreign policy of the government and the embassy to give you a perspective of what democracyng to cement and strengthen our bilateral relationship between the u.s. and iraq. as a country, the size of it is not that big. the geography, it is in the heart of the middle east, the heart of the old land where civilization started from. the relation to the fault lines of arabs versus non-arabs, the energy lines, the secretary of
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lines, andectarian , it is wheretly maybe the various civilizations of iraq, civilizations of humanity either started from or were in interaction with. it is one of those countries in which it has constantly been inhabited by human civilizations. it has never been deserted or anything like that. the country is divided into 18 provinces. primarily land with one port in the south. flavor of theou a various civilizations with occupied iraq for the last few babylonians,s, the the persians, the ottomans and modern iraq.
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coexisted in the same geography more or less. they lived in which it was not occupied by an army from invaders. then it was reoccupied or taken back. it is the same evolution process of the same land. that is a key difference between iraq and any other country. you have civilizations on top of orh other which had a mark significant signature on the iraqi character. -- no single robins can say they are representative of the true iraq. ofause of the diversity civilizations that used to occupy various parts of iraq. that is the key difference between iraq and any other
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country. developedcharacter it because of various roles and signatures of civilizations on his character. bear that in mind. if you look at the country from a data point of view, population is about 32 million. it is increasing by one million every year. it is one of the highest population growths in the world, around 3%. ,he diversity of ethnicities the language as well in relation to ethnicities or dialects. there are various religion aspects of it as well. arounde a median age of 20 which means significantly young.
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these are all high-level numbers which represent a society which is developing in population growth. it is rich with culture, rich with diversity of ethnicity and religious aspects. importantly, it has different nationalities as well. this sort of uniqueness does not apply to any single province. it is across iraq. you will find people of different backgrounds, whether they are arabs or kurds, turkmen or christians and so on. never have aou can normal paradigm -- which one are you, a kurd, shiite or sunni? it doesn't apply. this is too simplistic and too superficial.
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i am a kurd and a shiite. i am not unique in iraq. sort ofrt of the normal paradigm of iraq. if we just look at the quick historical perspective, sometimes in baghdad, you have the two key cities which present different civilizations as well. the british mandate, countryence, iraq as a was always rich within the region. in the gulf country, they used to send their kids to baghdad university. they are a key member in the united nations, the league of nations before the arab league, as well. growth as a monarchy
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until 1958. from 1958, you have the military rule. they rolled from 1963 for a few months and then in 1968, the political party of saddam hussein. 2003, president ruled. he was useless. it had an adverse impact on the iraqis as well. the changes affect the fabric of society. it is the vision of the dictator thewith the people on
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they most country that had u.s. sanctions against it. in 2003, you had the u.s. invasion. a number ofwe had milestones from a democratic point of view. we had the elections, the provisional elections three times during the national elections three times. ratifications of the constitution. and, in addition to that, they transformation of a society from a dictatorship to a democracy. that means you have to evolve from one place to another. evolution process may not be controlled. and should not be compared to a mature democratic process like the u.s. or the u.k. or france or others. that transformation over the
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last decade, as you can see from the number of elections you had, with 60%, which is quite high. the security has always been an issue. people's willingness to participate has always been very high. the people want democracy. they are willing and they are eager to embrace it. is it the right process? is it the right doses to move into the democratic process? we will discuss that later. and there is an election that will take place in the end of april. this will be the fourth national election for parliament. if we talk about prior to 2003, the key issue has been the adverse impact of sanctions on iraq.
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ors pretty much removed annihilated the home in a class. by 2003, you no longer have a middle class in this society. that a change is a society into a manageable process with people buying. that happened because of the un's sanctions. it happened because of the various wars that iraq went through. sociopolitical grievances as well. the core economic infrastructure of the country impacted and it increased the international debt -- the national debt because of the sanctions, because of the world invasion and because of other u.n. sanctions we talked about as well.
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at that time, 1980, an iraqi dinner was able to three dollars. by 2003, 3000 dinas or equal to one dollar. that was on the economic side. itthe actual dictatorship, also had a significant impact on the country with the sanctions in relation to health care, education, social welfare, dependency on the state, the oil-for-food program and so on. the current political climate in is democratic, federal, andesentative parliament
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has decades of dictatorship. the current government is characterized as incoherent and slow to decision-making. but political groups are adhering to the constitutional procedures. political tensions are reaching constructive methods. it is not the most effective system because there is no opposition party. all of the parties have his editions in cabinets and in parliament. you have to get the buy-in of for anyy for any system declaration to put in place. adverse dictatorship in dictators usually create regulations and procedures to suit the wishes and needs of the dictator, not of the society. that is the key issue.
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we will talk about that later. to transform the democratic process, you have to go through a very painful process. you can't just -- people don't adopt democracy like they can adopt a new fashion or a new dress or any new sport. no, it is a much more fundamental -- it impacts your core belief in the society, cole -- core roles of society and its citizens, and the role of government. economically, growth runs two digits, just between 2009 and 20 -- in 2011. so you have a significant increase in our production. gdp.ficant increase in if you look at the implement numbers, it is more or less the same.
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it has not significantly changed. that is primarily because of her dependency on oil as a key revenue generator for the country. account for less than 1% because they are not high labor-intensive. there is not construction or agriculture. so you have to fund of the jobs for people or the government employmentubsidizing by the government. the constitution stipulates markets [indiscernible] challenges iny your economic development. your governance and your core infrastructure, the core structure of your economy has to be managed better. reality versus perception.
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people come to me for a visa or ask me if it is safe to go to iraq. do you feel that the life expectancy and other aspects? and this has to do with perception and not reality to a certain extent. mainly, if you go to the north, go to the south, go to outside baghdad, you don't find that image which people perceive of the whole of a rack. -- of iraq. andrelation to development people wondering about shops and so on. so please bear that in mind. and don't accept the normal cnn or al jazeera normal discourse of violence to the extent that people cannot live or are not able to function. we are. extent, from a social science point of view, -- sorry, from a government point
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of view, people are so used to people going about their normal shops and so on. i'm a social science point of view, it is not healthy. to so much.are used so bear that in mind please. impact -- i may be wrong, but i don't see a lot of studies on that. it doesn't to jill eight why the arab spring is taking place. i will cover that in a single slide later on. a new social contract, they are unhappy with adverse procedures, rules, moderations, policies of the tatars on the society. it creates more self-centered people. it demoralizes people. culturallylly and
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adversely impacting societies. these are all signs of a dictator. and the longer the dictator adverse impact you have on that society. egypt, applicable to syria and so on. so these bear that in mind also. is also, one other example ngo's and civil society and so on. dictatorsy the nature that subsistence are weak. you cannot rebuild democracy and rebuild institutions at a faster pace as you would like. because the foundations are not there. the culture has not been created. the procedures in the regulations of the government are not supportive of it. you have to bear that in mind.
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legislations have not been in place. then you have the issue of democracy as a tool. it provides they must effective tool to transform that society. it allows for the difference of opinions to emerge and to interact with each other and to nourish. it also provide you with enough tools to be able to transform that society. that is a key positive element of democracy. it is not easy. it is not painless. it is a prolonged, painful process. ofe is a short analysis democracy in iraq. you can see when you look at the elections arehat taking place. i representation. internationally seen as a fair
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election. bought into the process. they can have high representation in the media in terms of websites, articles. however, the social responsibilities of citizens are still not that clear. people think that they vote, therefore, their roles are finished. no, they need to prolong that. when you have a child and they are teenagers, you cannot say [indiscernible] you have to keep nurturing that child. and into various stage of development as well. this is what has to take place. betweenrse proportion participation in the citizens role and the government roles as well. democracy, the more people will have to be more active. the more mature it is, the more you only need them to
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participate every three years or four years or five years as well. so bear that in mind, please, as well. threat, the key issue is people's expectations. because they have a high demand and they think they are using the right tools, they expect a high return on that investment quickly. that is the key challenge. -- the arabtself region is not known for its democratic of element. much like the eastern european transformation from the soviet era to western free democracy. the regional element has no support in it as well. west germany to support east germany. that is not the case. so you have to keep that in mind as well as a key threat to it as well. of also have the diversity the society. it is not homogeneous. therefore, they have to be able to learn how to interact with
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each other in a democratic process can so they have to others.he they have to sort of nurture each other and, more importantly, they have to agree on a set of procedures and rightes and create the culture for them to nourish and for developing the country into a more democratic purse -- democratic process. the institution of democracy, government and culture presents the state dictatorship. we decided on democracy as a painful process because we have seen the impact of dictatorship on us. a lot of the discussion at taking place in iraq, should we have a third term for the promised her or not -- and the key question is we want to move away from dictatorship. regardless how good or bad that prime minister is, regardless of how good that president is, we only agreed on two terms. as the same with others
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well. that is the key issue. versus stateng building. i have not seen a great deal can be even the united states focus on the key differentiator. people still associate nation with state. concepts two different and from the u.s. perspective, it might be the same. because your nation was built at the same time as your state. civilization country such as iraq or others, the nation and the state are two different things. the roles and responsibilities of citizens to the state is different than that to the nation. definition of where the nation is a comafferent and of islam or is it the arabs or is it the egyptians or iraqis and so on? so there is a difference there. the u.s. project in iraq was primarily on nationbuilding.
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i think it should have been on state building. to define what it means to be an iraqi is confusing to us because we are evolving. so unfortunately, that is a bit late to realize, but it is important to realize, when you have this project of this change taking place in syria or in egypt and other places as well, we have to differentiate between the two. ofan iraqi, the concept nation is different than the state. the state is clear. taxation or passport documentation. but your roles and responsibility to the state is different than your nation. the legion caesar different. the source of power is different. so please bear that in mind. unfortunately, i have not seen a lot of analysis. professors tell me if they have seen a great deal of papers and
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that our books or articles. i think it is worthy of understanding because of the different backgrounds as a nation or as a state or even your states and iraq and other middle eastern countries. is the aspect of it change we require in a society. what are the level of change? how did we want to change? do we wanted at the head of the state, to change the prime minister or the president? or do we want to add the government? we are not happy with this governing this party or always asking for a change as the state system of government whether democratic or representation or every other kind? or are we upset with the state itself?
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we don't want the state. we don't want to believe in one state. and we don't believe in statehood as a concept as well. so you have to understand that. the key question is not what level of change?\ on theat have we agreed level of the change. some are promoting government while others are promoting systems. in egypt, you have that clearly. you have the issue of what was the system. should the muslim brotherhood have an issue of the head of state or the government or the actual system of government needs to change? the discussion we have is on the heads of state. we are not saying that government systems are not rate. we are talking about a different
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level of change, yes. or the system of government has to change. been inchallenge has the post arab spring. the discourse of the level of change within accepted society -- , the objectivege has been hijacked. the objective was not clear. with what i have. but i'm not clear what systems i want to imprison the future. i want to change my social contract, but i don't know what the new social contract will look like. how democratic? how free it is. short-term risks on security and terrorism. that is going on in the whole region. the new social contract between citizens, that is a manifestation.
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the arab world will remain important strategically. that is because of the geography, because of the regional history. the resource elements, the oil elements as well. regardless how much this discussion in the united states should we be in a wreck or not, the region is important. and will remain important for some time. because after the geography, after the -- and so on. requireemoform also procedure changes. sometimes justified because they notnot familiar or they are
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cognizant of the system in iraq. sometimes i justify it because of the history of dictatorship and saddam is invading neighboring countries and the bar unaware or unfamiliar with the new iraq and they have their own reservation. so that is some of the reasons. i would be strict in other nations affairs.
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a factor as a global supplier. on thehe best we are right projection. for the last 10 years, that has been one of the key sectors in iraq. it is increasing oil production. it is increasing revenue. and increasing the ability to develop its core infrastructure. after three decades of neglect by the dictator. chapter six and seven talk about syria. we have been more consistent than anybody else. providing arms and funds to the syrians. political resolution is the only
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resolution. this is something we have been promoting for about three years now. been the only consistent country in the region with the same policy. we also are very vocal in saying that we are after a nuclear free zone. whoever has that weapon should not have it. the ones who do not have it should not have it as well. we believe that any new weapons or any wmd weapons, weapons of mass destruction would be a destructive element to the region. there is enough tension to anyain without the need of new elements to be added to it. on the embassy goal, i have some liberal challenges.
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u.s.f them is to keep interest in iraq, established a long-term predictable relationship. it is exploring mutual interests and threats and opportunities in the united states. the strategic partnership between the two countries that was signed back in 2008. military, security, culture, energy, transportation and so on. what you have here in the united states, which some people have been calling the iraq [indiscernible] does not apply in iraq. here in the united states, especially after the triple draw in 2011, people are discussing
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if it can possibly be enough for have a strong relationship with. and security threats in the region have highlighted that important. the corporation in relation to it is has proven that profitable. it is advisable. it is mutually beneficial to have that strong relationship. purchase mostl to transportation sector and health care. i am clear as an ambassador that the relationship has to go the vice president to the minister or the president to the minister. it has to be more institution-to-institution.
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that relationship. and that will require some time. i think i am finished with my time. >> thank you, thank you, thank you. [applause] yes, we open for questions. >> thank you for a thoughtful, and forward presentation. >> my pleasure. >> we are grateful you have time to be with us. of if i may take the liberty beginning the questions and
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some four soyou you have presented to -- some like yourself who has done very inh conscious, and involved the middle east. what we have witnessed in the arab world -- he spoke to the arab spring -- is a process of empowerment. arabs do not feel powerless as they have felt in the past. there is a sense of empowerment. that arabs are facing is affirmation. affirmation. i ammation involves responsible. by and single-minded. i can do
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it. so through your leadership, that is what is unveiling now. how do arabs move from empowerment to affirmation? as you mentioned, democracy is a process. based upon participation. it requires safeguards. so i would like to have some of your comments on this process that you have been talking about. >> ok. what you do have is the region itself transforming from one in which the governance process, which was a dictatorship, people aren't happy with. when they think what we have now is not good enough. we have a substantial increase
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in our population growth. we have a reduction in our gdp. to any other country. so you can start talking about, well, in 1950, we had the same economy as south korea. so why don't we have that? same economyad the as japan. at that time, the emperor of prompted mohammed ali the [indiscernible] in israel.nd same in iraq and same in any other country i can't talk about here in then you have an issue where peopleing call themselves republican but they wanted children to rule.
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you had that in yemen and iraq and sort of egypt, sort of tunisia was talking about it. so you have an issue people saying they call themselves republicans and they were eager for revolutions, but they wanted children to rule. .ome people are unhappy population growth, social media so that people are aware what is taking place. you cannot have the iron curtain the situation. so that transformation means i am not happy and i will not change. i wonder if they have that infrastructure and geo, or other infrastructure of society, to transform. that is where it is blackened. so the transformation of freedom . our freedom

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