tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN July 22, 2014 12:00am-2:01am EDT
systems was -- ukrainian battery's systems was in an area controlled by the rebels, why, after the downing of the flight, was the battery hastily removed from that area, why, on 17 june, were ukrainian antiaircraft radars working at an all-time high? these are a number of questions which have been set forth by the ministry of defense of russia and which should be answered -- which the international investigators are going to have to know about. for now kiev is only providing [indiscernible] to the security council. for an example, they controversial recordings by the commanders of the rebels, which then seemed to be touched up negotiations which had taken place before july 17. the minister of internal affairs of ukraine put forth a video which somehow showed a
surface-to-air complex in russian territory, but which was filmed in ukrainian territory. that could not have been controlled by rebels. let us not forget that the reason for 17 july incident was an armed clash in ukraine in the area of the crash site. the priorities today are swift halting of classes and violence, establishing peaceful -- halting of clashes and violence, and establishing peace. sir, i was going to conclude here, but i just have a comment to make. it seems to me that today's meeting was not going to be controversial. however, the u.s. representative chose a literary track. perhaps washington does not know about those efforts which russia has undertaken in the frame of the context group, among other things, to ensure that international experts can come
to the area of the crash site as swiftly as possible. if that is the fact, then the american embassy should be better informed. indeed, there is no need to turn the discussion of a tragedy into a farce. thank you. >> thank you very much, mr. president, and thank you for allowing me to speak your today. we are here to discuss the tragedy, the downing of a commercial airline in -- and the death of yearly 300 people. men, women, and a staggering number of children lost their lives on their way to their holiday destinations, their homes, loved ones, or international obligations, such as an important hiv aids conference -- hiv/aids conference in australia. since thursday, i've been thinking -- how horrible must it
have been, the final moments of their lives when they knew the plane was going down. did they lock hands with their loved ones? did they hold their children close to their hearts? did they look each other in the eyes one final time in a wordless goodbye? we will never know. the demise of almost 200 of my -- of my compatriots has left a hole in the heart of the dutch nation. it has caused grief, anger, and despair. refer the loss of the loved ones, anger for the outrage of the downing of a severe he and -- grief at the loss of loved ones, anger for the outrage of the downing of a commercial airplane, and despair at the slow process of securing the crash site and recovering the
remains of the victims. it is fitting that this august council should take positions on this matter, and i welcome the adoption of today's resolution of the united nations security council, which was tabled by australia and which netherlands cosponsored. i thank the countries which expressed support for it, and i particularly want to thank julie bishop, personally. julie, we are in this together. mr. president, for the netherlands, one priority clearly stands out above all the others -- ending the victims'-- bringing the victims' remains home. it is a matter of human dignity that the remains should be treated with respect and recovering the remains should be treated without delay. the last couple of days, we received very disturbing reports of bodies being moved about and
looted for their possessions. just for one minute, not addressing you as representatives of your country, but as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, just imagine that you first get the news that your husband was killed, and then within two or three days, you see images of some thug removing a wedding band from their hands. just imagine that this could be your spouse. to my dying day, i will not understand that it took so much time for the rescue workers to be allowed to do their difficult jobs and that human remains should be used in a political game. if somebody here around the table talks about the political game, this is the political game that has been played with human remains and it is despicable.
i hope the world will not have to witness this again anytime in the future. images of children's toys being tossed around, luggage being opened, and passports, including passports of children, being shown on television -- they are turning our grief and mourning into anger of a whole nation. we demand unimpeded access to the terrain. we demand respectful treatment of the crash site. we demand dignity for the but them's -- the victims and the multitudes who mourn their loss. i call on the international community, on this security council, on anyone with influence on the situation on the ground, allow us to bring the victims' remains home to their loved ones without any further delay. they deserve to be home. as we are currently taking the
lead in the forensic examination of the human remains, i pledge that the netherlands will do its utmost to make sure that all remains will be identified and returned home, wherever that home may be. we will work intensively with all countries and international organizations involved to make this happen as soon as possible. mr. president, i also welcome the setting up of a proper investigation into the cause of the tragedy of mh 17 as envisaged in today's resolution. the netherlands has agreed to assume a leading role in such an investigation in close cooperation with the relevant countries, united nations, and i keio -- and iko. i'm fully aware of the great responsibility we not take upon ourselves, and i give you my personal -- we now take upon ourselves, and i give you my personal commitment that we will discharge this responsibility to the best of our abilities.
as far as the safety and security of the site and the international investigators is concerned, i underline the responsibility security council took upon itself with today's resolution, to take additional measures if circumstances so require. once the investigation ascertains who was response will for the downing of flight mh 17, accountability and justice must be pursued and delivered. we owe it to the victims. we owe it to justice. we owe it to humanity. please provide full cooperation so that justice can be served. we will not rest until all facts are known and justice is served. i thank you, mr. president. >> thank you, mr. president.
i wish to acknowledge the presence of the foreign minister of australia, luxembourg, and the netherlands. mr. president, i thank you for giving my delegation the opportunity to address the council at this point in time. i wish to also thank all the council members, in particular the delegation of australia, for their efforts in coordinating and presenting the resolution. we welcome the unanimous adoption of the resolution 21-66 by the council today. mr. president, as one of the countries most severely impacted by the tragedy of mh 17, malaysia attaches great importance to this resolution. for my delegation, this resolution lays the groundwork for the approach to be taken by the international community, in particular the united nations system and its mechanisms, to addressing the many questions
raised from the downing of mh 17. i wish to underscore that no amount of measures will ever compensate nor assuage the grief and suffering of the families and loved ones of the victims who were on board mh 17. it is incumbent upon us as members of the united nations family to honor the victims by undertaking a full, thorough, an independent investigation into the downing of mh 17. mr. president, last friday during the council's emergency meeting on ukraine, i had informed the council that malaysia would immediately dispatch a team to kiev with a view to -- to assisting with the investigation. the team arrived on saturday, july 19. a malaysian team in tf has
joined other international teams -- in kiev has joined other international teams in the joint international investigation team. malaysia regrets to note that as of today the joint international investigation team has yet to begin in full access to the crash site -- to be given full access to the crash site. malaysia finds this lack of full access on acceptable and reiterates the call on all states and actors in the region to cooperate fully in the conduct of the international investigation, including being given immediate and unrestricted access to the crash site and for full guarantees to be provided for the safety and security of the investigation teams. at the same time, all parties must exert all efforts to preserve the integrity of the crash site with a view to facilitating the work of the investigation teams.
such guarantees must also extend to the dignified and respectful treatment of the body's and -- the bodies and remains of the victims. for malaysia, one of the key mission priorities for our investigation team is the recovery, identification, and repatriation of the bodies and remains of the victims. this is to ensure that their families and loved ones can have closure and that the victims are accorded the dignity of a proper burial. mr. president, flight mh 17 was a civilian airliner. if it is subsequently established that the plane was indeed shot down, we demand that those responsible for downing the plane must be held to account and be swiftly brought to justice. we believe that the present resolution paves the way for such efforts and, as such, we
have given our strong support by cosponsoring the resolution 21-66. we now look forward to its full implementation by all concerned parties. i thank you, mr. president. >> mr. president, distinguished members of the council, thank you for convening this meeting. ,istinguish under-secretary ,istinguished foreign ministers i would like to reiterate our deepest condolences to the --ends of family strip friends and family.
mr. president, we would like to thank the delegation of australia for proposing a draft resolution on the investigation of the downing of civilian aircraft, international malaysia airlines flight mh-17 in the donetsk region of ukraine, which is sponsored by the delegation of ukraine. we believe this resolution will help facilitate a full, thorough, and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines. mr. president, having demonstrated maximum openness possible am a ukraine admitted after the crash, the same day, invited representatives of all countries who lost their nationals in this -- this tragedy to participate in this investigation, as well as representatives of the russian federation. some of them have already arrived to ukraine and started their work.
president poroshenko ordered that all military activities be immediately ceased in the 40 kilometer zone surrounding the crash site to allow for security and safety of the international investigation. we therefore call on the russian federation to use all its influence on the pro-russian armed groups operating illegally in the region in order to stop -- in donetsk region to secure the crash site. we assume the investigation should not only be allowed to establish the technical cause for the crash but also the other circumstances. namely, who actually fired the missile? how these weapons got into the hands of illegal, armed groups -- where did the weapons come from? mr. president, in accordance with the chicago convention as it was stated in --
in the report of the french delegation, ukraine has a right to have the investigation procedure. it has a right to share this leadership. the prime minister of ukraine, arseniy yatsenyuk, stated that ukraine is ready to transfer the role of court made it -- of coordinator to the kingdom of netherlands at their request. the minister stated today in his address. the prime minister, yatsenyuk, said in his remarks, as the side that suffered most, the netherlands may leave the investigation in" nation and cooperation with other parties -- in close coordination and cooperation with other parties. they are already involved in coordinating an all-encompassing
international investigation for the tragedy. mr. president, we strongly condemn the acts committed by illegal armed groups controlling the crash site. according to reports of local citizens, some victims were brought under cover of previously stolen car, where it they were boasting over their trophies. children's bags, suitcases, and foreign cash that they managed to collect and steal from the crash site. this demonstrates the in human nature of those who call themselves people's republic. -- the inhumane nature of those who call themselves people's republic. the armed groups have impeded the safe and secure access to the crash site for the appropriate investigating authorities. it is a demonstration they are trying to hide some evidence from the eyes of the international community. mr. president, let me quote the
president of ukraine, "having shut down the aircraft -- shot down the aircraft, they committed three crimes -- firing a missile at a civilian aircraft, offensive mistreatment of the dead bodies, particularly their removal, as well as mishandling of the evidence and hindering the work of not only of ukrainian commission of inquiry, but also the international experts." the so-called donetsk and luhansk people's republic must be recognized as terrorist organizations. not only in ukraine. they must be considered support for terrorists. mr. president, continuing illegal terrorist military activity has been possible only due to the russian federation's direct and indirect support come a despite calls by ukraine and the international community to stop.
although moscow has been constantly and tirelessly insisting that it was not involved in the situation in the region, the irrefutable facts clearly indicate the opposite. russian citizens are among the leadership of the terrorist groups. heavy armaments continues to be supplied from the russian side of the state order. just yesterday, at column of heavy armored battle vehicles attempted to break into ukraine through the border from the russian territory at a border checkpoint. russians are financing the terrorists. numerous provocations are happening at the russian -- crimean border. what russia is declaring does not comply with their actions. ukraine demands that the russian side immediately cease provocations on the borders of ukraine, stop hindering efforts of the ukrainian side and international community to put an end to terrorists and other violence in donestk -- in
donetsk and luhansk, and stop threatening peace and security in our country, our region, and minutes. as a whole. >> statement, the prime minister. >> hear, hear. >> thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, this is the first time the house has met since the tragic loss of malaysian airlines flight mh-17 last thursday, and i think it is right to make a statement about this and the ongoing crisis in israel and gaza. mr. speaker, flight mh-17 was traveling from amsterdam to
kuala lumpur when it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over eastern ukraine. all 298 people on board were killed. this includes 10 of our own citizens, as many as 80 children, and victims from nine other countries, including 193 dutch citizens. it also includes members of an australian family who have lost relatives on malaysian airlines flight 370 earlier this year. from adelaide to amsterdam, from kuala lumpur to newcastle, we are seeing heart-wrenching scenes of grief as communities come together to remember their loved ones. i'm sure the whole house will join me in sending our deepest condolences to the friends and families of everyone affected. mr. speaker, alongside sympathy for the victims, there is also anger. there is anger that this could happen at all. there is anger that the murder of innocent men, women, and children has been compounded by sickening reports of looting of
victims' possessions and interference with the evidence. there is rightly anger that a conflict that could have been curtailed by moscow has instead been fomented by moscow. mr. speaker, this has to change now. in the last few days, i've spoken with president hollande, chancellor merkel, and the prime minister of the netherlands, poland, australia, and we all agree on what must happen. those with influence on the separatists must ensure that they allow the bodies of the victims to be repack traded and provide uninhibited access to the crash site to enable -- be repatriated and provide uninhibited access to the crash to enable a proper international investigation into what happened. second, president putin must use his influence to halt supplies and training for the separatists. third, we must establish proper long-term relationships between ukraine and russia, ukraine and the european union, and above all between russia and the
european union, nato, and the wider west. let me take each of these points in turn. mr. speaker, the first priority remains in sharing proper access to the crash site to repatriate the bodies and investigate what happened. the u.k. has sent accident investigators and the police led victim identification team to help with the international effort. the ukrainian ministry of emergency situations has searched an area of 32-square kilometers around the crash site and recovered 272 bodies. the work has been made more difficult by the presence of armed separatists. the bodies sitting on a refrigerated train have still not been allowed to leave. the pictures of victims' personal belongings being gone through our a further sickening violation of this already tragic scene. it is welcome that international experts have been able to visit the site, but this should not have taken four days and, even now, they are still not getting the unimpeded access that they need. i spoke to president putin last night and made it clear there could be no more bluster or
obfuscation. we expect him to help right now by using his influence with the pro-russian separatists to secure full access to international investigators and to support the repatriation of the bodies by handing them over to the appropriate authorities and ensuring they are treated with dignity. mr. speaker, families want information and answers and we must make sure that they get them. the u.k. and australia have tabled a joint resolution at the united nations security council demanding proper access in support of a credible, international investigation. we expect this resolution to be voted on this evening. second, i also made clear to president putin that we expect russia to end its support for the separatists and their items -- into their attempts to further destabilize ukraine. no one is saying president putin intended mh-17 to be shot down. it is unlikely even the separatists wanted this to happen. but we should be absolutely clear about what caused this
terrible tragedy to happen. the context for this tragedy is russia's attempts to destabilize a sovereign state, violate its territorial integrity, and arm and train thuggish militias. over the past month, there's been increasing amount of heavy weaponry crossing the border from russia to separatist fighters in ukraine. and there is evidence that russia has been providing training to separatist fighters at a facility in southwest russia, including training on air defense systems. seconds before flight mh-17 dropped out of contact, a surface-to-air missile launch was detected from a separatist controlled area in southeast ukraine. according to experts, an sa11 is the most likely missile type. in an intercepted conversation, a known separatist leader was overheard claiming that their faction had down the aircraft. another separatist leader claimed to have shot down an aircraft at about the same time. while video showed an sa-11 missile system missing at least one missile system traveling
back to russia. those who argue that ukrainians could be responsible need to explain. there is no evidence ukrainian forces have fired a single surface-to-air missile during the conflict and no ukrainian air defense systems appear to have been within range of the crash. by contrast, pro-russian separatist fighters have downed more than a dozen ukrainian aircraft over the past few months, including two transport aircraft. i hope that he will end russia's support for the separatists. if he does not change the approach to ukraine in this way, europe and the west must fundamentally change our approach to russia.
we should not shrink from standing up to the principles that govern conduct between independent nations in europe and which ultimately keep the peace on our continent. it is time to make our power, influence, and resources felt. i agree that we should push our partners in the european union to consider a new range of hard-hitting economic sanctions against russia. we should take the first step tomorrow and if russia does not change course, we must be clear that europe must keep increasing the pressure. russia can't expect to enjoy access to european markets,
capital, knowledge, and technical expertise while she feels conflict in one of europe's neighbors. they must do what is necessary to stand up to russia and finance of the conflict in ukraine for more innocent lives are lost. let me turn to the ongoing crisis in israel. the crisis was triggered by hamas, indiscriminately targeting civilians. in the last fortnight, they have fired 1850 rockets is israeli cities. this barrage continues to this moment with thomas rejecting all proposals for a cease-fire including those put forward by the egyptian government. israel has the right to defend itself. those criticizing must ask how they expect their own government to react if hundreds of rockets were raining down on british cities today. i share the grave concern of
many about the heavy toll of civilian casualties. the figures are very disturbing. 500 are reported in gaza. you an estimate 83,000 people have been just laced so far. israel has also faced loss of life including 13 soldiers yesterday alone. i spoke to the prime minister again about the crisis last night and repeated a recognition of israel's right to take proportionate action to defendant health and the condemnation of the refusal to end rocket attacks despite international efforts to broker a cease-fire. but i urged them to do everything to exercise restraint and find ways to bring this situation to an end. prime minister netanyahu made clear that israel wanted to except each of these proposals and unilaterally attempt an immediate cease-fire.
the foreign secretary wilkins's report for a cease-fire and underline our wish to see the palestinian authority back in gaza. they issued a call for an immediate cease-fire last night. they expressed serious concern about rising casualties and called for respect for international humanitarian law. we strongly endorse that call. it is vital they recognize the need to enter serious negotiations to end this crisis and we urge them to engage in the cease-fire proposals put forth by the egyptian government. only then can space the created to address the underlying issues of building a lasting and secure peace that we all want to see. >> i thank the prime minister for his statement.
the shooting down of inmate 17 over the skies of the ukraine is a tragedy that shocked the world. can i join the prime minister in expressing a heartfelt sympathy to the relatives of those that lost their lives. all of us have been outraged by the images of the site, the site left open for anyone to trample over. the bodies have been hammered with what looks like casual indifference. we have all been horrified of what it must've been like for the families of the deceased to see this. they not only face grief and loss but multiple practical issues. will we identify a senior minister to court support for them? this was performed by the honorable member after 9/11, 7-7, and the tsunami. will he ensure his government
does everything he can to enable international community to secure the site, repatriate the bodies, and together evidence that shows who is rich ensemble? does he agree that as soon as the investigation is complete, there should be an emergency meeting of european heads of government to consider what further steps should be taken? as soon as the investigation is complete, there should be , can he say whether there is specific travel advice to british citizens planning on traveling abroad? he set out in his statement and the evidence has grown that this was not a tragedy. it was a terrible crime.
this is a moment of reckoning for europe. this is the moment for a strong and determined eu to stand up and confront russians. sorrow andw strength. i welcome the prime minister's the councilt meeting. can you tell us what measures he wants to see considered? will he support decisive steps not just against specific individuals but also against russian commercial organizations putin?uade vladimir , turning to the horror that is unfolding. it is terrible to see hospitals overwhelmed and militaries
-- overflowing. since the start of this conflict, 20 israelis have been killed and 18 were soldiers. over 500 palestinians have been killed including countless children. haveent young children their short lives ended in brutal circumstances. conflictt reduce this to a ledger of casualties. we must technologies the scale of suffering in gaza. we must acknowledge the scale of suffering in gaza because the life of a palestinian child is worth every bit as much of the life of an israeli child and and every death of a palestinian child will you will the hatred, embolden israel's and in -- enemies and recruit supporters terrorist groups. we stand up for israel's right
to defend it., but this escalation will not bring lasting security. does he agree with ban ki-moon that we must continue to press for an immediate cease-fire, an immediate and for the military operation in gaza? to end the rocket fire that all sides must respect international humanitarian law and that israel must exercise maximum restraint? and the report that suggests israel is using flusher shells -- fleschette shells? and addressing the root causes of the conflict, and that there must be an immediate return to the negotiating table. palestinians need to feel a sense of security. also israelis need to see -- >> let me think the lady for her
response and i think she is absolutely right to say that this is a deeply human tragedy. and that is how we should see it first and foremost. the thought should be with the victims and the families, they need to get the bodies out of that site and have the site properly dealt with. she asked a number of specific questions and made some specific points. in what is being led by the honorable member in the foreign office, he is dealing with that. i would also want to discuss very directly with the victims families in time how best to
take care of all the needs and concerns. she raised the question of if they needed to be a of counsel emergency meeting. i think what we should do is tasked our foreign ministers meeting on tuesday night as set out the tough measures necessary to show that europe is heading on a different path. she asked about the advice to u.k. citizens about travel. the euro controls the organization that sets the grandmothers for where airplanes can and cannot fly. that information is regularly updated on the foreign office's website. she is right to say this is a moment of reckoning for europe and i very hope the european council will not be found wanting. she asked what other steps can be taken. she has the tier two sanctions, some of which have been put in
place. naming individuals, asset freezes and travel bans. i suggested that the should be broadened to include the cronies and oligarchs around president clinton and other leaders even if there isn't a direct link between them and crimea and the ukraine. i think it is enough to go to tier three sanctions that would discuss future military sales. we have already stopped those from britain and there are a number of other suggestions that were made about airlines and banks that have not yet been acted on. there are a whole set of things. on gaza, we can't look at this in terms of a ledger of casualties but this is a deeply human tragedy and anyone seeing
those pictures in gaza or pictures of the children are snuffed out. you can't help but be incredibly moved by that. it is heartbreaking what happened in gaza. we need to be clear about how this can quickly be brought to an end, for her moss to stop the rocket attacks on israel. and the other things that we need. the end of the israeli operation and the cease-fire would all be in place. i agree about the root causes of >> the malaysian airliner shot over ukraine.
formerd talk with a customs and border protection official about unaccompanied minors crossing the u.s. mexico border. also, peace corps director about how the peace corps is changing its volunteer recruitment process. "washington journal" is live with today's headlines, your phone calls, facebook comments and tweets. every morning at 7:00 eastern. >> a couple of live events to tell you about tomorrow. c-span3ompanion network policy, the tax -- that department and is at 9:45 am eastern. to be the next veterans affairs
secretary. you can participate via facebook and twitter. >> this weekend on book tvs afterwards. >> i thought it would be compelling to tell the story of a white family and a black family with the same name who come from the same place and follow them from slavery through the civil war, reconstruction, jim crow, civil rights movement, up until today and compare and contrast. author jiman .omlinson he talks -- chris tomlinson. --talked to the brother of saturday night at 10:00 eastern on c-span two's afterwards. >> now, a discussion with
president obama's foreign-policy hosted by the middle east aussie council. from capitol hill, this is about 2.5 hours. council. this is about 2.5 hours. >> he emphasized a counterterrorism strategy which would rely upon supporting and training and working with security partners. a 5 billion dollar program to support security partners in the middle east. having identified terrorism as the most direct threat to the united states.
that, the islamic state of iraq and syria moved and the tigris river iraqi security forces retreated, raising the question of how much we can depend on a strategy like that in iraq or even in afghanistan where we will be leaving soon. he said that syria would be a major focus of this strategy and we know that we have had a difficult time finding security partners there, because it is a very fragmented opposition and it is hard to find moderates. our panelists will be discussing that today. another point that he emphasized was our commitment to upholding international order through support for international institutions and international law. multilateralt our
sanctions against iran and our multilateral diplomacy with iran in that context. that the p5 plus one negotiations with iran were scheduled to conclude yesterday. they didn't. they were extended for four months, because everyone feels ,hat some progress was made enough to go forward and keep trying. we will discuss that today. what turns out to be in the , and what thet united states would have to consider doing if we don't get a solution we consider satisfactory. i would struck in the speech by the fact that when he talked about international order, international institutions and international law, he never mentioned israeli/palestinian issue. for secretaryt
kerry's peacemaking was well-known, and unfortunately did not succeed. he is said to be willing to try again before his term is over, but wanted the failure to really sink into the minds of the parties and hope that they would come back to him with better ideas. we havetead of that, the third escalation of the conflict in the gaza strip in the past five years. we know how they go and we know how they and, and they don't produce agreements they produce casualties. that is another situation that we should try to explore today. i know the panelists are ready to do that. i'll introduce the panelists for a briefly, all at the same time, and they will speak in the order in which there listed. i ask each of them to come to the podium because we do have tv cameras here, and speak into the microphone, which i hope i have been doing.
our first speaker is -- and by the way, each of the speakers have a buyer that would take all day to read. you will find them on the back of the invitation. i'm only going to give you the highlights. speaker will be kenneth pollack who is a senior fellow at the sub on center for middle eastern policy at the brookings institution. before that he was the director of the center and before that he was the director of research at the center. he also has been at the council of foreign relations and had a career as an analyst at the cia and is a very well known author who has a recent book out called unthinkable, which is about doing a nuclear program. our second speaker is paul pilar who is a nonresident senior fellow at the center for security studies at georgetown university.
atonresident senior fellow the center for 21st-century security and intelligence at the brookings institution. contribute an editor to the national interest. i recommend that you look up his articles there. and a former cia analyst. the third speaker is i mean tars amin tarzi. finally, our fourth speaker is chas freeman, chairman of project international. former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, former united states ambassador to saudi , and also former president of the middle east
policy council. with that, i conclude and turn the mic over to our guests. >> good afternoon. thank you to the middle east policy council for inviting me up here today. when the obama administration first took office, i had the numbern to talk on any of instances with different members of the administration about their middle east policy. that interaction has gone on ever since. my consistently heard from the president's team, the president's middle east team, was a proper decision -- was a proper -- was that the u.s. had over invested and needlessly
squandered resources time, energy, etc. on the region and they were determined to fix that. when i press them on this and explainnd press them to their rationale come i heard back for a consistently a three-point argument. the first one was that we middle east experts and many other people beyond that had greatly exaggerated importance of the middle east, and in particular he had greatly exaggerated its capacity for things to go wrong there. as part of that, they argued that the region didn't really need united states. once more, someone go beyond that to argue that in fact united states is a major source of the problems in the region, and that not only could the united states afford to disengage from the region, but that in fact it would be better for the region if we had less to do with it. it went on to argue that the middle east simply was not that important him and that even if
bad things happen there, they really would not affect core american interests and that therefore for all these reasons, they felt that it was not just possible, but necessary for the pay lessates to attention, devote fewer resources to the middle east, and instead pivot to other , and into asia particular to dealing with the american economy, which of course, and i think the president was right about this, but that was what the american people had elected him to deal with first and foremost. manye time, i questioned of these assumptions. i think we can see very clearly the underlying foundation of how the obama administration, at least in its first four or five years, approached the middle east in this basic philosophy, his basic sentiment about the region. unfortunately, this policy has run into some very significant problems since then.
certainly, the first set of assumptions, that the middle east would not go to hell, that the united states was unnecessary to keep it from going to hell, and that united states was in fact are the problem rather than the solution, i think that has been proven demonstrably false by the events of the last two years. .he region has gone to hell i say this as someone who was not exactly fond of george w. bush's approach to the middle east, either. never thought that in 2014 i would be looking at a middle east that could somehow be worse ,han the middle east of 2006 the nadir of george w. bush's approach to the middle east. yet, that is what i see. iraq and syria are in civil war, libya is in civil war, yemen is -- is brink of civil war in civil war by some academic explanations. lebanon has experienced all kinds of problems. the arab spring is dead. egypt has returned to
dictatorship, at least temporarily. and a number of other problems are spreading all across the region. it is a deeply troubled region, not to mention the point that tom just made about having yet another israeli/palestinian war in gaza. this is not a good situation, this is not a good region. think that don't everything the obama administration argued was wrong, i do think that united states has certainly made its share of mistakes in the middle east, and not only under the george w. bush administration. although they certainly had more than their fair share of those mistakes. a case that is united states has made mistakes and that we have often contributed to the problems of the region. nevertheless, i think the weight of evidence on the whole is that fixed states has helped problems in the region more than we have hurt them, especially if you accept the obvious examples among the obvious contrary examples of the bush administration's handling of iraq and certain other issues.
i think that in fact the best proof that even the obama administration now recognizes this is how they have been handling the middle east in the last year or so. we've seen a very significant change in the obama administration's approach to many different issues in the region. it started with the selection of senator kerry as our secretary tostate, and his decision pursue a new peace process between arabs and israelis and israelis and palestinians. while that effort seems to have failed and failed badly, nevertheless, the fact that he was willing to do so when for the previous three years the administration had wanted nothing to do with it, i think was the first indication that the administration was beginning , just beginning to question some of his basic assumptions. it was recognizing that the region was not headed in a good direction and was even threatening the last and most important of their assumptions
which is that problems in the region really were not problematic for the united states. i think we have seen since then a number of other important these corrections, president's recent decision to allot $500 million for unknown purposes in support of the syrian moderate opposition, that represents a very traumatic departure from the prior position on syria. now, the recent efforts since the fall of mozilla to become much more actively involved in iraq's politics, to try as best they can to pull it back out of the civil war into which is -- which it has once again dissented. i have to say i applaud his efforts and i believe they are the right ones. i only wish they had come quite a bit earlier. in a piece on foreign affairs i talked about this and i talked about the fact that i had these -- the strong sense that it was my perception that while the united states had swung too far
in one direction under george bush for unilateralism and militarization of its middle east policy, toward a war on terrorism that encompassed and overwhelmed everything else going in the region, i felt the obama administration unfortunately had pushed the pendulum too far and the other way, toward disengaging and cindy walking away from the region and believing that whatever happened there would not be too bad and would not be able to hurt us. i think the administration has even -- is even recognizing that that early position has become unsustainable and is already tacking back in the other direction. what a take away from that is obviously not just that we need to do better with some of the crises at hand, we do, i'm glad to talk about them. in a number of those cases, while a dislike of the obama administration handled them before we got here, and some of those cases i actually largely am in agreement with how they have been dealing with them since we got there. iraq is a perfect example. the administration's iraq policy
was an unmitigated disaster. i think it helped cause the civil war in iraq. since the fall of mosul, with some tactical tweaks here and there, i think they have been by and large following the right policy toward iraq. i think that iraq in particular illustrates what we have to think about moving forward very and what the obama administration failed to recognize in its first 4-5 years, which is that especially in the middle east, he old aphorism that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is the best model for the united states to take. i think there were any number of occasions when the united states could have had an impact on the rock, that could have allowed it to avoid the current impasse at a much lower cost, with much fewer resources, with much less commitment of time, energy, effort, etc.. we may now have to sink into it if we are going to try to help them pull themselves out of civil war. i think we missed important opportunities early on with syria.
i think we missed some terminus opportunities with libya after the fall of qaddafi. i think we missed opportunities in egypt, especially after the fall of mubarak. had we made a greater effort with the government then, we might have helped then prime minister morsi avoid some of his and perhaps even headed off the military coup that overthrew him and that replaced him with yet another egyptian dictatorship. i think that around the region we can find other instances of that. again, what brings me back to is the central focus that the middle east does need some help from the united states. the more we are engaged on a regularbasis and the processes of diplomacy, of trade, of public diplomacy, of military assistance and -- in a whole variety of ways, the better we will be able to head off the great problems of the
region, to prevent the kind of crises we are now facing all around the region, and the better able we will be, the more influence and leverage we will have when the inevitable middle east crisis does break out. looking forward briefly, i want to comment on a few other things. i'm glad in the q&a to focus on specific arts you folks are interested in, but i want to say a few words about a couple of issues that i think are lying out there that we need to think harder about. again, in the same context of an ounce of invention been worth a pound of cure. the first of these is the arab spring. the arab spring is not what any of us hoped it would be. it was not what most arabs hoped it would be. there are good reasons for that. there are a lot of reasons for that. i think we need to recognize is that is that -- the desire for change on the part of a great many arabs has not gone away. it has been frightened, in many cases, by fear of what happened
in syria and yemen and libya and elsewhere. that basic unhappiness that gave rise to these protest movements all across the middle east, they have not gone away. chances are, they will reappear, they will resurface at some point in the not-too-distant future. aboutd to be thinking what form they will take and how best to head off the potentially very negative manifestation of that pressure. in my mind, it goes back to an idea that i and other -- in a number of other people were advocating for long before the arab spring, which is the idea of reform rather than revolution. here, i would suggest that we take a look at ambassador freeman's former stomping grounds in saudi arabia. we don't see saudi arabia as a great he can of reform. from my experience, the saudi's do. that is been a critical element in allowing the royal family and
allowing their system to negotiate the arab spring without the same kind of unrest that we saw in other countries. i can or member speaking to saudi's at the time and having them say that yes, we have the same problems as egypt, we don't need to do at the egyptians egyptians did because we have of della and not -- abdullah and not mubarak. the useful role that we can play is helping the governments of the region that have not fallen into civil war and help them begin programs of reform that let off the pressure and diffuse the anger that led to the movements of 2011. the last point was iran.
i am hopeful that we will get a eal. that would be the best outcome or us, the iranians, and our llies in the region. that has to be tempered with the realities that we face. it is going to be difficult. we need to start thinking about what we will do if we do not get a deal and if we do get a deal. they are equally important. am struck how many people
around town are focused on what is next. there will be an important debate to be had. if we do not get that deal, many will take it as a sign that the irradiance are determined to get -- iranians are determined to get nuclear weapons. they may be right. rom my perspective, war is not a good option will stop war -- good option. war could be the worst option. if we do not what in place the policy mechanisms and pathways that we might follow when that time comes upon us, i fear that we will have no other good alternatives and will find ourselves push into and other middle east war that we do not need. i do not think obama got it right. he pushed too far towards dish engagement. that does not mean that war with iran is the right way to center it. >> thank you. said that there are cars on your seats. -- cards on your seats.
my staff will collect them. please. paul, thank you. >> thank you. good afternoon. "e title of this event is, obama's foreign-policy vision and the future of the middle east." the vision thing, as the elder george bush referred to it, is overrated. us like to deal with this as a way to encapsulate and get our conceptual hands around policy. usthing that would satisfy would, by definition, be too simple and simplistic to be the basis for sound and successful u.s. foreign-policy.
the challenges out there are two complex and the interests at multifaceted to boil things down to a single vision and a bumper sticker kind of way. u.s. foreign-policy in the hoc.e east is more ad as focused on voiding losses than scoring gains. foreign-policy strategy does not tend to get high marks for not doing certain things. as opposed to doing certain things with a positive vision. i would suggest that not doing certain things or not screwing inis as least as important protecting u.s. interests in
that region. model, and outs of prevention. of prevention. oath,est the hippocratic first, do no harm. self, self -- ask your what particular things, where the u.s. had control, has had the biggest impact? distractions from interest. legacy problems we are dealing with today. i would put squarely on the top of the list on the negative side , the launch of the iraq war in 2003. not doing certain things and not doing harm is an important part of judging a form policy, even
though it is not get high marks from the vision people. mr. obama's speech did not get high marks and probably did not deserve it. criteria -- the one staff that the president took was a bad one. he equated realism with isolationism will stop it was wrong will stop the rest was consistent with what i would consider a realistic view. -- with isolationism. it was wrong. the rest was consistent with what i would consider a realistic view. he talked about distinguishing our core interest from other interest. he made the point that that distinction is important in weighing what measures and means
we should use to pursue those interests. thelso made very clear point that not every problem has a military solution. i think that this particular point is where we see the mr.pest distance between obama and his vocal critics in washington. probablythat mr. obama privately regrets the mess in role of military force there. i may be wrong. that is just a guess. thepresident acknowledged many trade-offs between different u.s. objectives, even when dealing with a middle east country. as good anpt, example as any. we have interests in
democratization and human rights . he also said that we have strategic military interests. on.an go on and he did not mention the egyptian role in the current tragedy that we are reading about over the last week. he is correct that there are conflicting objectives and it cannot be boiled down to a vision. he made a good case for collective action, the need to rely on what other countries and not just the u.s. do in this region, even when pursuing u.s. interests. this is a major difference between him and some of his chief critics. they believe that if there is a problem out there, the u.s. can and should be the one to solve it. the president did not explicitly address -- but i think we should
determiningria for who operation or lack of corporation with states in the region. we have a tendency to divide the allies and adversaries. a rigid division. we take that as the sole guide for determining who we are going to walk rate with and who we are going to oppose. the label gets slapped on some if that is a substitute for careful thinking about what the government is doing that we may conflict with. we look at those who are traditionally labeled as adversaries and consider any influence that they may have as bad without taking the trouble to ask ourselves how they will use the influence and to what
purpose. that may or may not be consistent with or in c onflict with our interest. there are conflicting and diversion interests around the region. there are others that are labeled adversaries. the most effective form policy, i would suggest, is a flexible one that is not change to a set of fixed relationships. it leaves our policymakers and diplomats to do business where ever it serves interests. mr. obama, in his west point speech, voice conventional that seem innocuous enough. some may trap him into acting against his own principles or pressure on him to act in ways that are contrary
to his own principles. asidentified terrorism contrary to u.s. interests. the counter-terrorists initiative that he announced is a worthwhile recognition of the principle that i knowledge earlier. bet other countries do can at least as effective as what we advancing ourn interests. speaking as an old hand, i can tell you that on the issue of terrorism, the u.s. must rely on the actions of others closer to the front lines as on any other issue. the enshrinement of terrorism as the prime threat with a natural focus on the ogre of the day, isis, increase pressure to act aq with those who believe
that every problem has a military solution. we see some of the same things with syria. there, the ogre is on the same side as those we would be assisting. obamarorism, mr. mentioned a very sound set of criteria to determine when to pull the trigger on a drone strike. it still comes down to the individual decisions. there probably is, i would guess, with this administration as much as the last one, you can count the number of strikes we have had, a bias to pulling the aigger more often than careful consideration of criteria that would dictate because of pressures to do something about terrorism. a few closing thoughts.
the approach to u.s. policy in s region the long-term vision, we may miss the rocks in front of us. there are many in this region. it sounds a little bit like straight-lining. two particulary things that would be most likely change fundamentally what we are looking at in the middle east and change it for the better. one is unlikely. the political courage in washington will not be mustered. the first one is the curse to do something about the israeli-palestinian conflict and get the story off of the tragic course. the tragedy has been emphasized
by the events in the last week more than anything i can say. that requires a conscience and political courage. likely.r thing is more it is one that 10 finish his thoughts on, completing the nuclear deal with iran. besides being the best way to preclude any iranian nuclear weapon, it would open the door to a more normal relationship with iran and unshackle an important aspect of u.s. diplomacy in the middle east. it would enable us to do business with anyone labeled as an avid syria or ally when it serves our interests. the fact is, they are major players in places of high concern to us, even when we wish they were not.
there are other places where they are a major player and their interests are parallel to ours. iraq anding of afghanistan as areas where neither we nor the islamic republic have an interest in endless conflict and instability on their borders. finally, the world in which we had more normal relations with edging closer to it would bring us closer to a system where we had more flexibility and leverage in dealing with anyone else in the region who was troublesome. thank you very much. [applause] >> doctor?
>> thank you very much. veat.t to put a copa for the united states government. i will be speaking with my fbi had on and not my marine corps hat on. i agree with some of the main points. was one ofn of iraq the greatest strategic mistakes in our country's history and i still maintain that. maybe i am an idealist. maybe i go to the middle east too often. i will be there in three days. i understand the fact that we should look at ad hoc avoiding
ithe rocks. you pick an area in this world and that includes sub-saharan place thatre is no has a place that the middle east has. this is not new. you talk about the psyche of the arabs. is it a muslim problem? students of middle east studies study it last century, literally. unless we address those in some form or fashion, we go from crisis to crisis and it becomes a crisis management rather than trying to find a way as a reliable partner. not that the united states can fix everything. i am a former marine.
we think that we can fix everything. we cannot. .e are a partner we have interest there for the poor sealable future, -- foreseeable future, despite fracking and all that. a little bit of consistency is important. you talk to colleagues in the get,n and the world that i putting a policy for to confuse them, we are doing a for tacit -- fantastic job. friend and foe are confused. where the leadership of our is no longer unilateral. the united states was a sole power after the cold war will
stop there are rising powers. in that environment, if you do not have a reliable partner as the strongest power in the world , you have a state where i think the middle east will have to havingocks rather than smooth sailing and protect ability. -- predictability. if you talk about the foreign you may sayama -- that i am very ideological -- i and at inconsistencies making the situation worse with the promotion of democracy. this is not new. you look at the numbers. 2009, thecal year
united states put more money on democracy then the entire decade of 1991-2001. look at the outcome. look of the input and the outcome. put this in a mathematical format and you would say that this is an amazing loss. the other aspect is, are we looking for partners beyond these ad hoc friends and foes? iran is both. are we looking for something that is more stable? is it possible? yes. look at latin america and what is happening. they are not all friendly. in a process that is much better to deal with them we have in the middle east. i'm not saying that democracy is a panacea of all this.
inconsistencies that we have had with democracy -- going back to cairo in 2009 and the speech in -- what has happened abterwards, the air uprisings, with the exception of tunisia, things have gotten worse. you look at the -- the new york times had an editorial that said egypt, exhibit a. morsi athe ouster of restoration of democracy. if we are looking at the basic ideas of this new generation coming in in afghanistan or in morocco where are they going to look at?
-- and thealmost cold war we always stated that we had supported regimes because of security or against communism. after 9/11, and terrorism. -- against terrorism. we have negated these allies. we have to have a balance of hoc, and have a vision. you have to have a balance. i agree. it has to be a balance policy. you look at the past few years and that was a missing issue. you sit down and talk to the military side or the civilian side. i am not even talking about the grassroots. there are a lot of regions there.
i have gotten used to that. there are fundamental issues that they look at and they look at where you stand on this issue. remove every single president after a year in office and called him a terrorist, the world would be without leaders. i'm not saying he was a good president. the events that went down there was in the face of a democratic movement. i will use the remaining time, if i could, onto countries. afghanistan. i agree that the agreement with iran, and i'm speaking of my own behalf, is a wonderful thing. agreement where they stop trying to preach your nuclear weapons. e nuclear weapons is a
great thing. it is wonderful. nobody is against that. the question i want to ask is something we forget. ranians were pursuing nuclear potential. if anybody thinks they were not, i would argue against that. they were. they were telling us that they were. they werere not, doing a great job of tony outside world that they were trying to get a weapon system. they were mortgaging their country and coming close to having themselves be targeted by us or a regional state. at the same time, they went through all of this. why? -- iranians did and still do
even after the speech in september where obama said that the united states is not interested in regime change -- by and large, and clean the including the ayatollah, believe that the number one objective is regime change and not behavior change. i become worried. they believe, fundamentally, that having or pursuing weapons of mass destruction's and nuclear weapons, specifically, will alter american activity towards you. , one of the four countries that the united states state department recognizes as state sponsors of terrorism. read the state department human
rights report on them. they sit down with the six top leaders of the world, for top topcracies, -- four democracies. why are they there? because they're nice? no. they cheated. they get to keep their regime that kills more people today than began shouted. ahmadinejad did. why they weres delaying it. ouhani?mr. r he is a regime savior. discuss that and the q&a. there for one reason.
i do not think they are going to invade anybody. i was just in israel and told that to my israeli friends in public. this is what somebody said before. in november this year, we had an agreement. then what? why questionis, mark -- why? mad.dy who does it is if a country is building weapons that are only usable for the delivery of a specific type of warhead, why have them? we have to balance this. the second thing is that people with nucleariran weapons creates a domino effect. if they get an amazing deal,
that will push a lot of countries in the region. they will attempt there after because of the policy towards them. always points towards libya. he says, look, you for. a gave you something. you gave them everything. they killed you like a dog. they want a seat at the table with the big boys. it is dangerous and it is going to bite us if we do not follow it will stop -- follow it. i believe that the chemicals weapons -- chemical weapons used gave assad a lifeline. he may have saved his regime by using chemical weapons. this is a dangerous precedent. if we do not take leadership on this -- not to bag anybody --
all i have to say is, expedients agreement would be nice because of whatever. i am not going to go there. i want to keep my job. we have to have an agreement that is solid and that does not portray us as somebody who takes whatever comes in because it is expedient. i have onetan, sentence. it is the longest war we have ever fought in our history. 80 countries have tried to democratize this country. there was an election in april that was applauded and we thought things were going and little bit further in a good way. the elections were pretty open fingers were cut.
won the votes and we went back to square one. a fraudulentme was election. secretary kerry did a miracle to have it. agreed on the mechanics of how to count the votes. there was an agreement. there was an expedients issue. the details are missing. for the last 10 years or so, we have built potemkin villages. they look good and have no foundation. they look good for picture taking. if you're not careful, sometimes these walls fall on intended
people and on things that are bigger. thank you very much. [applause] >> i think those were interesting and stimulating. the united states set out to reconfigure the middle east and our position in its is in shambles. much of what has happened seems irreversible. might be done but probably won't be. to begin, if we're at all honest, we must admit it is a deplorable state of affairs in the middle east, egypt, iraq, israel, jordan, lebanon, serbian , syria, the
gulf and arabian peninsula, afghanistan. it is a product not only of the dynamic turnovers region but also of the lapse of in our capacity to think and act strategicically. we have answered the end of the bi polar cold war order with a mixture of denial, strategic incoherence and inconsistency. false american asumps and objectives have helped create the current mess in the middle east. it is not news to anybody that american politics is uncivil and dysfunctional. we have a foreign policy elite that has its head up its media bubble. prefers narratives to evidence-based analysis. confuses sanctions and military postureing with diplomacy. and imagines that the best way to deal with hateful foreigners is to use air-born robots to kill them, their friends and
their families. we have leaders who can't lead and a legislature that can't legislate. in short, we have a government that can't make relevant decisions, fund their implement akseation and lift allies to support them or see them through. until we get our act together at home, these looking for american leadership abroad will be disappointed. at west point, president obama accurately pointed out that our military has no fear. he then added that u.s. military action cannot be the only or primary come meant to our leadership in every instance. just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail. true enough. has justified the use of force.
our hammer blows in the middle east were intended to showcase our power. instead, they convincingly demonstrated its limitations. these interventions worsened, not improved the region's stability, politics and prospects. our unmatched military prowess has not enabled us to impose our will in west as i yarks eastern africa. solving political problems in all of these regions has been no better the question then is what alternatives do to the military hammer and related instruments does the u.s. presidency now have? normally the answer would be the political screwdriver of diplomacy. for other mean s of influence like subsecond-degreies. there is a reason that the depts of state is the smallest and -- department of state and s the
smallest and weakest department of our government. the united states seldom resorts to diplomacy in resolving major differences with other states. gladiators trump diplomats any time in terms of the spectacle they provide. even if they don't work, coercive measures like sanctions and bomb arrange much more immediately satisfying emotional than the long slog of diplomacy. then too, we are broke. our military commanders have walking around money. our diplomats do not. and the amateurism innernt the spoil system further reduces the effectiveness of our diplomacy. jet propelled seast pants drop bies with foreign leaders by secretaries of state have proven to be no substitute for strategy
or the cultivation of influence with those leaders. it is hard to think of any american project in the middle east that is not at a dead end. this included our policies toward israel and palestine, democracy promotion, egypt, islamist terrorism, stability in caressn't iran and the gulf. let me quickly run through that list. in april, our four-decade long attempt to broker a secure jewish state in the middle east puttered to a disgraceful end. the final phase turnover peace rocess, instead of -- of mediating, the united states negotiated with israel, not with the palestinians about self-determination. the u.s. efforts brothering for
peace for israel is not just dead, but so putrid, it is not sufficient to show at a wake. israel did not believe in it so it killed it, may it rest in peace. israel used the process as a distraction while it created -- on the ground in the form of illegal settlements. related policies have made israel's peaceful co-existence with the palestinians and arab neighbors impossible. the united states created the moral hazard that enabled izz trial put itself in this ultimately untenable position. 40 years aimed at achieving regional and international acceptance for israel produced the very opposite. increasing international isolation and a program for the jewish state. we will now cover israel's back as the saying goes as the united
nations has its ongoing maltreatment and intermittant muggings of its captive arab population complete its international ostracism. we'll pay a heavy political price for this. globally in the middle east. nd very likely in escalating terrorism abroad and at home. it may inspire a sense of honor but it more closely resembles assisted suicide than a strategy for survival of israel and our information to the middle east. americans like to have a moral foundation for foreign policy. for all of our policies. in the middle east and not just with respect to israel. the geology has proven too complex to allow such a foundation. to our professed desire promote democracy. in practice, the united states has made a real effort of
temperaturetizing countries it -- democktizing countrys it has invaded or those that it espises like iran. when democratic elections yield governments to which our allies object, as in algeria, palestine and egypt, washington contrives their overthrow and replacement by congenial despots. if democracy the message, democracy is not now its prophet. it has appeased israel and our friends in the arab gulf but greatly tarnished our claims to seriousness about our values. it has produced no democracies, but it has pulled down several before they had a chance to take
root. egypt is a days in point. after raising hope s of a democratic era of awakening and electing an incomp at the present time islamist government, egypt is now an economically sinking military dictatorship distinguished from iran theistheis only tyrannies. -- -- >> there is not much we can do bout this. america's arab gulf partners are committed to military dictatorship and suppression of islamism in egypt. it is hard to think of a place where there is a starker continue addition between american ideals, commitments to client states and interests in precluding the spread of terrorism than in contemporary
egypt. it is attempting to conclude if we're going to be hard-headed realist, we should just skip the offputting hypocrisy about democracy and human rights and get on with it. that seems to be what we intend. how else is one to interpret the president's professional for multiple partnerships with the region's security forces to suppress islamist terrorism. oday's egypt is the regional cooperation in such repression. we have another model in mind? it is not apparent. leaving in outlet for peaceful descent, israel is encouraging part of its majority toward violent politics. it is true, of course that, egypt is not the only incubator
for such enemies of america. americans went abroad in search of monsters to destroy. we sfound them and bred more. some have already followed us home. others are no doubt on their way. that's why we have an expanding garrison state in this country. our counterterrorism programs meanwhile are everywhere nurturing a passion for revenge against united states. we gave a big boost to the spread of islamist terrorism hen we envaded iraq. our stated purpose was to deny weapons of mass destruction that idn't exist to prorses terrorists who were not there. we then thoukt we might as well onduct the hit-and-run democratization.
not only did that not work, it set off a religious war that ultimately gave birth to the jihaddist if an that straddles the border. what we did in iraq as a result of breaking it into three pieces, now in practice, we seem to be working on the rest of the event. israel is gnawing away at what remain s of palestine. the transnational coalition of jihaddists is vive secting syria and iraq. with our help, syria is burning, charring lepp lebanon and scorching jordan as it does. the kurds are making their escape from the existing state structures. the syrian government loathes it. we fear, or hope if it is defeated, it could be replaced by more frightful people.
bombing can't prevent this. we propose to arm the force of mythical syrian moderates. we expect this latest coalition of the billing to fight the syrian government and its pponents by of while note play refraining from making common cause with the latter. sounds like a plan for passifying capitol hill if not syria. if our object sieve to keep syria in flames, it is a plausible plan. perhaps that is what we really want. it is a grain on iran which we have identified as our main enemy in the region. destabilizing syria arguably teased the pressure on iran. iran's sleersd said they don't
want because it would be sinful. our frequent threats to bomb iran seem to be a clever test of its leaders moral integrity. if we give them every reason we can think of for them to build a nuclear deterrent, will they still not do it? judging from friday's news, this experiment will go on for at least another four months. this brings me to a key point in policy difficulty. we have repeatedly told people in the middle east that they must either be with us or against us. they remain annoyingly unreliable in this record. iran's ayatollahs are against us in syria, lebanon and bahrain but with us in afghanistan and iraq. he assad regime in hezbollah oppose us in syria and lebanon but are on our side in iraq.
the jihadis are with us in syria but against us in iraq and elsewhere. israel's government is with us on iran but against us in blocking palestinian self-determination and favoring it for the occurreds. -- kurds. saudi arabia is against us in iraq. they were for us in egypt. it is against jihaddistan in the fertile caressn't but nobody can figure out where it stands elsewhere. how can you have a coherent policy in the middle east when the people there o so inconsistent? i think it is is that outsiders can't manage the middle east and shouldn't try. it is time to let the countries in the region accept responsibility for what they do rather than act in such a way as to free them to behave
irresponsibly. it is time to recognize that the united states can't solve the israel/palestine issue. can no longer protect israel from the international legal and political consequence s of its morally deviant behavior and has nothing to gain and a great deal to lose by continuing to be identified by that behavior and we pay for gaza. israel make it own decisions without regard to american interests, values or advice. i think it would make better decisions if it were not shielded from their consequence or if it had to pay for them itself. america should cut the um bill cuss and let israel be israel. it is time the united states stop assigning to the rule of law of human rights in the middle east. we support their anythingation in egypt. nd -- negation in egypt.
clearly u.s. policy is almost entirely about interest. not values. if if that is the case, let's not violate our laws by dishonestly claiming that is there have been in misuses of american weaponry by israel nooned coups in egypt. we should not have thrause equire us to be -- if the real interest in the united states and syria relate to iran and its conflict of interest with israel and saudi arabia as well as to our new cold war with russia, let's admit that and behave accordingly. this would mean acting the farcical -- of the geneva conflict on syria.
that excluded key parties. not a serious effort to bring peace. only if we include all of the parties engaged in proxy wars in syria including can we hope to end the mass murder there. i would say the same thing is true of the situation in gaza. it cannot be included in all parties including talking to hamas. it is true in syria, not just for humanitarian reasons, compelling as those are, ending for both syria and iraq is the key. we should not be uping the ante in syria by pumping in more weapons, many which are likely to end up in jihadi hands. we should try to end fighting there and focusesing on eventing the merge ens of an
expanding terrorist bastion that will serve as a homeland for the rowing number of enraged muslims. the jihaddistan calling itself the islamic state is a menace to both iran and saudi arabia. as well as to us. distasteful as they might find it to work with each other, iran and saudi arabia have a common interest to discover. the new state was born of political rivalry between jihad and tehran and it can bonl contain tpwhared cooperation. depending on how u.s./iran relations develop, america might be able to help them do this. but if the united states and iran remain enemies, the obvious alternative for the united states would be to accept the inevitability of an expanded
dominated state that will replace much of the current political geography of the region, to work with saudi arabia, to tame extremist tend sis within such a state and to yoke it to balance iran. any and all of these approaches would demand a level of diplomatic sophistication, imagination and skill that the united states has not displayed in recent years. the more likely outcome of our current blend of baffled hesitancy, diplomatic innocent -- tude and militarism is ineptitude and militarism. a political exflotion egypt, if disintegration of iraq, jordan, lebanon and syria along with palestine and the diversion of a
considerable part of the resource s of these countries to terrorism in the region and against american homeland. we can and should do better than this. [applause] >> i would like to thank speakers and ask if there are any questions? i would like to start with a couple of questions. remarkably in the stack of thereons i've been given, is no question about iraq. so maybe we could start there. you spoke about missed opportunities.
what do you think we could have done if anything in iraq to get a better outcome than the one we have now? for example, do you think a greater effort would have left americans there to strain iraqi security forces and paul, maybe you can comment. i hope we get a cross talk here among all the panelists. everyone can respond to these questions, but paul, you questioned the labels we put on people when we call people partners or call people foes. is the nouri al-maliki regime really a reliable partner for the united states? >> i'm going answer your question in a way you hasn't intended. i think the mistakes that we ade are too many to mention.
i have been turned off by the blame game that's currently going on in washington. i think the obama administration's iraq policy ask dreadful and i think the bush administration's policy was dreadful. both of them contributed to the current state of affairs in significant ways. each time i find a mistake that obama made there is an anti-seed theant bush made and every time there was a good move that one made you can trace it to the move the other made. unfortunately the latter are far fewer than the former. there are great lessons in iraq. where i would like to see us focusing more energy on the questions what lessons we should be learning opposed to who was mistaken and who should be blamed for the current impasse. i think one of the greatest lessons was that whenever we take on a problem, anywhere in the world, but certainly in the middle east, whenever we plan for the best, we get the worst.
and when we plan for the worst, we often do better than that. sometimes we even get the best. the 1991 gulf war comes to mind as an instance where you had a very conservative small sea of leadership. the plan for all contingencies did quite well. obviously it was not a perfect well. there was unfinished business -- perfect war. there was unfinished business there as well. this is one of the issues that i've seen time and again with american approaches to the middle east, which is what i've consistently seen from american policy makers is a sense that the middle east is just too hard. it is a mess. we don't understand it. what can we do to just push it on to the back burner and mover to something else we understand and might be able to solve. of course the middle east doesn't go away. it ain't las
vegas. whapts there doesn't stay there. -- what happens there doesn't stay there. i would like to see us making more of an effort. not necessarily across the board. i don't agree with paul or ambassador freeman. i think there are issues that it is best we keep our noses out of. where the issues matter and where they affect our interests, i think one of the greatest mistakes we have made is to try to put a band-aid on things and walk away. the problems of the middle east don't lend themselves to that. >> tom, prime minister maliki is an excellent example of what i was talking about before in making policy to our customary maliki and division between good guys and bad guy. and what chas freeman was talking about and how players in the region so inconveniently don't fit into those two bin s of being for us or against us. mr. maliki is for himself and
doing his best to try to have a third term as prime minister. of course that's what most palestinians aim for, to stay into power. one might add if one had the larger interest of iraq at heart, he could -- as a very statesman like thing step down in favor of someone else. he has a very narrow view of what democracy, if you can still call it that, entails, which shia and the majority and the shiite rule and i'm the ruler to have shiites. there is no question that his very narrow view of how it ought to work has badly antagonized the great majority of the sunni iraqi arabs. it is not just isis that has been able to score those gains in the west. it has been because turnover much broader disillusionment with the regime. in all of those senses he is not
a very good partner at all, which isn't to say we should continue the business with him. he sf he continues as prime minister, we will have to do business with him. what we have to keep foremost in mind is that the united states does not have an interest in taking sides or being seen to take sides in sectarian disputes and conflicts in this region. >> i think even if those disputes weren't sectarian, that would be a case. there is a convenient narrative now in washington if maliki could be disposed u of, things would get better in iraq. we have heard that before in south vietnam. what we have learned from our own malpractice in that area, to use -- to go back to the hippocratic oath, which is not a bad bit of advice. perhaps as lincoln said changing horses in midstream is not wise.
it is more likely to cause more problems than it is to solve. that is not the solution for iraq if indeed there is a solution for iraq, if indeed there is an iraq because it turns out that in our eagerness for regime change, we manage regime removal but no change. it turns out that in trying to change the regime, we destroyed the state in iraq. and it seems at the moment, as i said that the kurds are busy making their way for the exit. secretary kerry i think correctly stood for the territorial integrity of iraq and advised against that. prime minister netanyahu made it clear he thinks they ought to leave and would be happy to see iraq broken up and i think the kurds are going to do what they want to do and i don't think they are going to listen to us or the israelis or anybody else.