tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN August 14, 2014 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT
a public commitment. as any government goes about an asymmetrical war, including our own, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. let's be clear -- the uppermost consideration is achieving military objectives to preempt, retard, and deter and ultimately destroy. >> just to let you know, our coverage plans here on c-span, momentarily, we will take you to the hudson institute for their discussion on u.s. national security threats in the region, but president obama is set to speak to make comments on the shooting in ferguson, missouri, we expect, and also possibly on iraq. we will show you those comments live here on c-span. >> the war in gaza where various palestinian factions backed by
iran fought a traditional u.s. allies. right now, the obama administration is waging a limited campaign against isis .nd iraq the iraqis have named a new under iranian influence, as most of politics are being conducted under iraq these days, and these are just a few of the things we will touch on this afternoon. we will go for about, i guess an hour and 15 -- an hour and 10 or 15 minutes, and then we will open up the floor to some of your questions. in the meantime, i wanted to introduce the panelists here. immediate to my left, a senior fellow at brookings institution center or middle east policy, where he specializes in the least security issues. he has held several academic .ositions heres left is my colleague
at hudson where he directs the center of islam, democracy, and the future of the muslim world current trend and islamist ideology. his articles have appeared in "the wall street journal," "the "theal of democracy," weekly standard." athis left, a senior fellow the center for american progress where he focuses on the middle east and north africa and is co-author of the prosperity agenda: what the world wants from america and what we need in return." that, i will ask my colleague to begin with his short introduction and we will go along like that. >> thank you. it's great to be here in hudson. thank you, hudson, the audience here, and the hispanic audience
-- the c-span audience. my simple answer to the question which thread is the great strategic threat -- before i go into my thinking, that we describe what i think to be the obama administration's answer. although the question has not i think it them, and is pretty clear that the obama administration regards isis as or sunniry threat jihad is a writ large -- jihad writ large.hadism i think every other president regarded countering iran in the vital u.s. interest, and the obama administration continues to play -- pay lip
service to countering iran in it isgion as a goal, but really hard to point to any initiative that the administration has taken that you could say is really designed .o counter iran in particular, we had this very significant intervention in the syrian civil war by iran and by that elicited almost no response. i would say basically no response from the united states. cleark that was the first sign we had that the obama administration no longer as aded carrying iran vital interest. if you look across the region, in every major arena, you will see increasingly, the u.s. and iran are marching in parallel. the most recent example being
the new prime minister and iraq was welcomed both by the united states and by iran. supporters of the administration will say it just happens that the united states and iran have the same interests and are walking in parallel like this. i personally do not believe that to be the case. i think there is a conscious toort to accommodate her ran arrive at a modus vivendi -- to .ccommodate iran we have this problem of jihadistan now from baghdad to thepo or damascus, and administration's attitude, i it's, is much the same -- attitude and private is much the same as what we have seen from ambassador pickering and a
fastener crocker, who wrote an op-ed in "the washington post," which said we have to band together with all of the like-minded states from the , so we should come to an accommodation with them. we hear it from many other significant figures in the policy world. that is how i think that they see the region. personally, i think that this puts them in a very contradictory position. let's just say for the sake of discussion that our number one goal at the moment is to counter isis. the administration's answer to that is what we need is a change
of government, a change of prime iraq to have a government that is more inclusive of sunnis so that we can begin to separate out the sunnis -- the sunni tribes in iraq from isis. because a lot of what -- one of the reasons why isis has been me sunni arabver portions of iraq is because it is benefiting from the tacit support of the tribes. in order to do that, we need an iraqi government that is more accommodating to sunni desires more broadly. i agree with that analysis in general terms, but not in specifics. we will need much more than just a change of the prime minister. you have to change the whole structure of the security services in iraq, which have
become increasingly shia-fied over time. believeesmen in iraq that they are being targeted by ofroxy of iran in the form the iraqi government. we learned how to do this during whaturge, and we learned it takes. it takes a significant u.s. security commitment. it takes direct relationships with the tribesmen on the ground. we have to offer them security, and we have to offer them a willical path forward that allow them to believe that if they go against isis, somebody will have their back. i just do not believe that the iraqi government under any prime as it is currently constituted, is going to succeed in that. but then we have a second .roblem, which is syria
the president said recently, when asked whether he should have supported the syrian said that thehe criticism of his policy is horse shit, which i take to be a rather strong statement that he is not about to reverse course in syria. in syria, we need exactly the same thing he is describing and .raq we need a political horizon for the sunnis of syria. until they have that, there will be no way to disconnect them from the most extreme jihad he's the president's attitude suggests he is not about to do anything. we are not about to have a kind awakening added to our policy towards syria. as long as we are treating iraq
and syria as separate and hermetically sealed problems, we are not going to solve the problem. it is now a unified problem from baghdad to aleppo. we have to have a whole of which meanstrategy, basically an and bar awakening anbarmovement -- awakening style movement designed to pull the sunnis away from the jihad ease -- jihadis. --il the president the road approaches it in that paradigm, i think our policy is destined to fail. it actuallys what is. this is what has not been admitted, and i will stop here. the policy we have at the moment is an unstated policy of distan byg jiha aligning ourselves with iran and .ssad
we are trying to put a ring around the sting and hold it in place, and i think that's going to be a very, very big failure. >> thanks. that's terrific. there's a lot to come back to shortly. very much, and thanks to the audience and my fellow panelists. first, i want to start by is theg -- i think iran greatest strategic threat, although i think one has to say that both threats are considerable. but both the islamic state and islamic republic of iran are fanatic, determined enemies. enemies to onee another, but the one thing they can agree on is that we are the enemy.
so first of all, there's that. there may be something to choose between them in the short term, general terms. second, i also agree with mike this is not the conclusion , whichadministration feels there is some kind of alliance to be formed, whether it is just de facto or even more .anaged between us and iran some of this comes, i think, from something that has been characteristic of the administration for a very -- >> can you speak up a little bit in the microphone? thanks. >> some of this is a result of what has been characteristic of -- or there are several characteristics of the administration policy for a long
time. first of all, there has been a ofvileging of the issue terrorism. the president also lists a variety of national security we might have -- defense of the gulf and so on and so forth, but if you look at any one of his statements, the vast majority is devoted to the terrorism issue. his one real responsibility is to protect the united states from a 9/11 type attack or other expressions of terrorism, so the whole policy has been built for a long, long time on prioritizing terrorism and addressing it. the only problem with that policy has been that it is now a failure. the situation we face with the islamic state is much, much worse. as administration officials now admit thans have to
was the case with al qaeda prior to 9/11. to focus oney have that because the administration's policy, legacy stands at whole with whether they have addressed that. the other factor in the approach of the administration has been this notion that it was stated with particular clarity in the interview that the president gave to tom friedman that he looks to a future in which various parties to conflict under thet with -- rubric, no victor, no vanquished , that there is a kind of solution to be had on the horizon in which inevitably, there are conflicts, but the conflict can be managed if everyone comes to understand
that there are lose-lose situations and win-win situations. he has put this in different ways, and some of this was very helpfully elaborated by mike in a piece he recently wrote. he can give you the citation. this notion that there is an in therium to be had region, and the equilibrium has to be reached by the various parties to it. that means, among other things, we have to be more accommodating to our enemies who are former enemies, and less accommodating to our friends. we have seen this expressed in a variety of ways over time, most ,ecently in the gaza war, where practically speaking, no one in the region could figure out what we were trying to do by inviting qatar and turkey in as mediators
. that follows if you are looking which involves this kind of equilibrium and compromise. the last thing i want to say is the president, especially several of his advisers, talk .bout having long view that whatever may be the bumps , there was a clear view of where they should wind up. to stick with
that, but the very question you posed as the question of this is a veryests that dubious proposition, that what we can see is a tremendous mess, in which wemess find ourselves faced with -- even if we agree that the islamic state is the first priority, it has grown to be an enormous problem, which the president himself is not saying that we have much to do against in the near term. what we really need to do right now is hold the line. i will finish by saying the particular way in which the obviously become dubious, even to the administration, and that has to .o with the kurds
it turns out, i think, as we are seeing over the last week, that the one thing we actually can do just that the moment, if we mean to stop the islamic state, is arm the kurds, something we have resisted for months and years and even resisted a month ago when the kurdish high representation delegation was here to request heavy arms because they anticipated having to go up against the islamic state, which would be heavily armed. at that time, i think it was just after the fourth of july. the president and his advisers said no. we andlooks like possibly everyone else will wind up begging the kurds to take our arms. i know the french want to give them arms. the british want to give them arms. even the germans want to give them -- not arms, but nonlethal
military material. that, i think, shows evidently a failure in the policy but also points in something like a direction in the short term that one of our principal assets right now in the region is the are not friends -- who were not enemies, but friends that we may really need to go back to a policy in which and to thefriends extent possible punish enemies. >> thanks very much. if you would kick off our first round here. >> great. it's really great to be here with you. thanks for inviting me back here for what i think will be a very interesting discussion. first, at the outset, i wanted to make the points -- one, i want to respond to the question that is framing our discussion.
second, offer a diagnosis of what is going on in the region, and third, maybe suggest points about where we go from here as a country. want to highlight as a country and together because i think that is important. what we are seeing in the middle east requires a much more unified national response than i think we have seen at least for the last decade, and our own divisions sometimes hinder our ability to deal strategically with these challenges. first, to the question of the greater threat -- iran or the s.n-stay sunni jihadist when lee asked me the question earlier this summer, i said i would have to punch because i possiblyof these as representing tremendous threats, and you need only go back a few years when our military and intelligence officials found evidence that some elements in iran were supporting some elements of al qaeda in iraq.
there is and has been instances of what i would classify as tactical cooperation between these entities. here, too,e measured because when we use labels or talk about iran as a monolithic entity, i think that is incorrect. i think there are many different strands within iran, and as we have seen in our most recent history, sometimes some elements inside the iranian power structure will work with us on certain issues like afghanistan .r other places i think right now today, tactical cooperation in a certain sense, to if not planned, just as a matter of happenstance and change in the region. answerson i refuse to the question is i actually think when you ask me that question -- i went back to my old college textbook, a study they are doing and read aboutty
the concept of evil, which actually, i think, is very important to form the moral values, architecture, how we approach these problems. i do not think we should put it in our rhetoric forefront, but i think we should think about it. when you think about what the islamic state is doing two different groups, members of their own faith, religious minorities, especially, it is evil. when you see what the iranian regime has done to repress the voices of individuals, it is evil, but i am a pragmatist, too, for an policy analyst. we need to deal with these challenges with that moral framework in mind but then practically move forward, which is the second point. i hope this is useful, but we did a report recently based on some extensive on the ground research throughout the middle east, and the report is available, at least a few copies, for those of you watching on tv. it is on the american progress website.
trying toe diagnosis, be more clinical, as opposed to just talking about the moral challenge -- because there is a moral challenge -- is that the middle east at least for the last three years and perhaps longer has been fragmented and fractured. an intense competition for power amongst the key stakeholders within the region. a factor in that, but i think our policy debates necessarily overweight how much we matter. sometimes i think if an asteroid hit a planet 100 million light years away from here, some on the right would blame president obama for that, and some on the left would say it is because of u.s. imperialism. things happen in the region in part because of demographic, social, and political changes. our actions matter. quite a lot. thinkthink quite now -- i now, what we have seen, especially because of the arab uprising, has been this , firstceted competition
within countries, who was actually leading these countries, whether it is egypt, tunisia, syria is the most vicious point. there's a third layer, which is that comesecognized deeply into play, the interest sunni fight -- intra-sunni fight. i know that sounds like a complicated sort of way of looking at it, but i think that is where the region is at and in a sense, many in the region have aren the apple, and they influence far greater in their region and affairs, and if those those that are wealthier, less internally divided, they are playing out their battles in their own proxy
wars in the region. we have been by and large in willincidental, and i argue -- and i think michael and others will argue against me -- but i think also when we were in the region with 170,000 troops, that presence matters, but the politics and shaping a power dynamics, which i think some of our diplomats have helped guide and shape, and i think we are seeing that go on right now in iraq -- is an important part of the struggle, trying to figure how were we intervene, use our power in a way so that it does not lead to overreach, overreaction, or, as i think we have right now, a bit of under reach in this administration, which leads to the last point of what we do here, just some starting thoughts, because i hope this is a broader conversation. first, the other challenge i had
with the question was that it framed rings very much in a threat-based scenario, and i think that is important. but i also think our strategic thinking often goes down that path without thinking about what are the opportunities, what we actually want to see achieved, and i think this tactical crisis management reactive mode we have seen on policy under president obama, but quite frankly, certain aspects also under the bush administration when it walked away from its own freedom agenda or its own doctrine on that. is driven by tactical crisis management is driven by, again, real threats, but if we are not defining what it is we want to achieve in the long run, and i think it is a long battle, we need to think about what sort of middle east we want to see 20 or 30 years from now. moving from that point, i think we have to support -- and this is where i might disagree with characterizes the
sense, but i think it should be you have got to support your friends first, the most reliable and capable partners. we will get into what are largely tactical questions about this dispute between obama and netanyahu because i think there is a strong strategic relationship there, but i think a bare minimum, our friends in the region of israel, jordan, the kurds, and a few others perhaps on some days. egypt, we have to get to because it is the center of gravity, and i fear it has slipped away from our strategic discussion, and it is a complicated discussion, and we need to stay engaged, but a bare minimum, helping our friends help themselves, but i think that is what president obama has done with the kurds, and i hope it is a step in the right direction. also, for those -- for those who are very glum and pessimistic -- and i was one of those advocates of we should get out militarily,
but i also said we should stay engaged diplomatically -- the good thing about iraq today is it has politics. dysfunctional, though they be, it is not the scenario you have across the border in syria, which i think -- hopefully, we will get into this, and i think we will -- you have an ability -- something that did not exist certainly under saddam hussein and for much of the period when we were there -- there is politics, and i think this is one good thing, and i think what president obama has tried to do, response totly in the isis rise, but belatedly, i would say, is to get others to take this possibility for his own affairs, and as we see as a courtesy, when they are willing to fight, when they are willing to go on the ground with rick and determination, we will have their back. quite understandably, president saw thed many when they scenarios in mogul, where iraqi security forces strip off their
uniforms, hand over the weapons that u.s. taxpayers gave to them, there is a hesitation to offer support because after $20 if wen, you might wonder can fight more for a country than the people of that country. we get into the sloganeering rhetorical debate, and i think even the thing between president obama and secretary clinton, there was a bit of -- if you read carefully what people were saying, there is a much more textured understanding. the real debate is not engagement versus disengagement. the u.s., i think, is engaged. what is the right way to calibrate that engagement? who are the partners when we get into syria that we need to work with? some of the areas where we may disagree -- i do not see yet president obama .oing down this path i see something perhaps much more muddled than that, not a strategic choice between the
two, but and this is where i i think theyut pragmatically see that the united states, for all of the talk about disengaging -- we still have a wider network of earners in the wider network of partners in the region. includes the uae, saudi arabia, jordan, israel, qatar, turkey, egypt for the most part. no other country has the diversity relationships. asee the attempts with iran a bit more tactical. but i did not see us going in the tank. even if there is a nuclear deal, i see this hedge small site -- multifaceted approach. i see it as downsized. it also has wisdom to it, too. i think the real debate is how do we move forward? how do we prioritize the region
and the region actually in turmoil, and how do you implement a strategy that takes into the second factor that i talked about, influencing their saw inerests, which we the old quarter of -- arab cold war. >> thank you very much. i am especially happy the subject sent you back to augustine. fantastic. in the audience will return and read it for the first time. little bit defend a the subject of the channel because i think the administration, the president has addressed this in various interviews. i believe i made this case from the same stage a couple of times in the past. the case i will make is i think the way the president understand
the on the mental issue is not mad, i think it is very sound. the way i will lay it out is the islamic republic of iran while extremely problematic and we regress against the support for terrorist activities, they are nonetheless a state. finally military operations if necessary. isis or organization like are somewhat of a state now, becoming more and more of the state. organizations are not states, they are not capital. i believe the administration perceives these organizations are a bigger concern, and there
are fewer resources or instruments to deal with that. i think there has been a real choice. i do not believe the administration or president believes iran is a wonderful, helpful reliable partner around the region. as mike was saying before, i do believe the respondents we are seeing played out, and we might go back to this to when you said this is the sort of thing we're seeing happening. not an announced policy and not because the president believes , clerical regime is a bunch of good actors but the way the policy is moving. .> thanks i think brian could possibly be right, that's what we're written the thing -- witnessing is a lot
of ad hoc array, that the strategic decision the obama administration made was the one it made early on and that was to keep the region at arms length. it is possible. believe the president has consciously decided to align an but nosy cannot state that because it is politically untenable mystically but that is what he is doing. possible. have a smoking gun. we do have statements from the president himself. but it does not matter. it amounts to being the same policy anyway. there is a fundamental decide -- divide in the region between the iranian alliance and the traditional friends. hamas was a little bit problematic that seems to be back in the fold.
that iraq iso pretty much a satellite of iran. and iran has other little players build up around the region. then everybody else. they operate as an alliance. they pursue their interests aggressively wherever they are. way theyeceived a supported assad, even in his darkest days. i guarantee you he never said use of force is problematic. footprint that creates active bodies and should really hang back. the kinds of the bates we have in washington all of the time, they did not have. they sell their friend in trouble and they went in and supported him. that creates a huge divide in the region between their guys
and those who were our guys. decided we will no longer look at the region that way. for whatever reason we will no longer test every arena and say how do we support our guys against their guys? so what that means is we leave our guys out on the battlefield alone and isolated. marx talks about peasants as a sack of potatoes saying a class have an interest, a class interest but because of the divisions they are incapable of operating as last. photo moment you open it up they all go in a different direction. our allies are a sack of potatoes.
left on their own, they cannot come together. the saudi's and i rated share almost agreebians on everything. they will coordinate to a certain extent. but they will not come together and work to counter iran in syria or iraq or elsewhere. it is the job of the united states to organize allies, to make sure they're all moving in the same direction. we can get aat, very significant, strategic impact. role or not play that renounce it, we cede it to the other side which continues to look at the region as a zero-sum game.
it is very striking every major obama initiative in the middle east has failed. i say everyone. i would say they failed and we just do not want to call them a failure yet. everything other than the iranian nuclear deal has railed. y? we do not have allies to support us. if we look at each problem independent from every other problem about reference to the pattern of power, security ,ilemmas that the allies face and when we come up with solutions and gaza recently that has nothing to do with the players on the ground that are defining the problem, no one will follow us. we cannot achieve anything if we
do not do it together with our partners and partners will not cooperate unless we take on board to a certain extent their perception of the security dilemma. mean we have to be the tail that wags the dog but means we have to accept the understanding to a certain extent and have to understand the biggest card we have to play is the military, security assistance. that does not mean we need a massive invasion. obviously the american public does not want that. number one goal is to provide security to the partners, excepting how they understand the game. we spoke about this before but i want to transition from the statement. talking about the campaign
against isis and you have thoughts about that. was wondering if you want to talk about that. we have been looking at the events carefully. mid-june wasut in should have been a wake-up call and think it has been a wake-up call for the united states and the region. the paper essentially argued we need to work with papers in the region and the rate on an occlusive, national way and ended with the note that we may need to conduct airstrikes ourselves. there is politics. i think with the debate inside the administration. we put it out there. by people for saying that. we have the confluence of events
where there was action, necessary action and that the same time they were making a step in their politics. what we put in the paper as well was the problem of serious. quite obviously the wake-up call this summer is these two problems, which until earlier have been inside the administration but increasingly different people working on different aspects. the problems have merged. i do think what the united states and president obama have been doing you should get credit for. as difficult as the situation inside iraq is working with this previous administration notwithstanding the critique about the previous war.
all of that in the past. we are where we are now, work with what you have got. i think there is the makings of the pathway forward. main point is the threats inside of western iraq in northern iraq and have the ground force some of the iraqi security forces, the threats will migrate across the border back and forth. i cannot pretend to have the answer to this. i think we can go back to what could have been done and think that is a legitimate debate. what wee interested and do now. we just finished a month on the ground. we are really struggling with
the question. part of it is you may have been easier in 2012 or 2013 or maybe not as the secretary and others have hedged. no one really knows. going back to a michael said, no matter what the u.s. did or did not do, we are where we are right now so let's figure out how we can build a foothold. i know you have proposals. i think this administration might be entertaining that you cannot just work in a rock -- in meaning to squeeze the spread. we're partners on the ground willing to do this. might have some inferior but they are weak. i think they are beaten down by security andsive
ideological threat to the region. , i think it isg important to do analysis on the end actionsnd matter quite a bit, too. what they have done with security. unprecedented and rivaling anything we have given in sales in cooperation. of $100 billion. why it isat is largely focused on the ideas of the security threat they pose. in a sense of actions the louder than words. the action ofe
our friends, good guys, bad guys. what i worry about is when you look at the states like saudi that it has many different strands. on balance, they are traditional ally but look at what it is funding. from the sixtht -- syrian opposition. the non-strike event of about a year or so. led to the action that i think contributed to the problem we have right now inside of syria. i am introducing more nuanced and perceptible and -- in strategy. -- acceptable in strategy. clear they are reliable and capable allies. yes, we do need to make a decision.
the main point is i think we have made decisions on iraq. i think this administration has not clarified what they want to do with the proposed 500 million for this. opposition. strategy here. >> i want to come back to serious shortly. in the meantime i wanted to use what you are talking about to transition. abouting we were talking was the no-bid or, no vanquished formula, which suggests that a lot of our allies, and we have known for a while, that our region are allies are problematic to say the least. many of them not as reliable as israel. but it is peculiar the idea we strategy ordging policy in terms of certain allies and horses we can ride in the region and seems to be about it. the formula seems to be tying it
back to lebanon is where this comes from. why is the united states perceiving it that way in terms of allies we can ride to ensure we win in various places across the region, including most >> frankly, iza? will include that in my remarks, engaging whato me brian has just said. earlier that i think your revival of the word evil is completely appropriate. and i want to say also the use of it does not make it
impossible to engage in practical calculations about lesser evils. there are probably people who will correct me if i get this wrong, but i think it is the the time when nazi germany invaded the soviet union 1941, the british government regarded the soviet and the sovietmy regime was evil but one asked about the response, i believe churchill said if hitler decided to invade hell, you would find kind words to say about the double. and one can take that stance. the question of whether it is entirely appropriate in the circumstances. another point you made is where we want the region to be. i guess also people who have
studied the region have made the suggestion where they think the region should be but the question is really where our country's interests are, and what are those interests at this point and what conceivable future could match up with them? that i think is really the thing that needs to take waste. where we are as you said. >> good afternoon, everybody. the sound system is really powerful. today i would like to update the american people onto issues i have been monitoring closely the past several days. first of all, we continue to out progress in carrying targeted military operations in iraq. last week i authorize to limited missions, protecting our people and facilities inside iraq and the humanitarian effort to help
save thousands stranded on a mountain. oh week ago we assessed many abandoned position to take refuge in a desperate act to avoid slaughter. we also knew terrorists were killing and enslaving civilians in their custody and laying siege to the mountain. theyut food or water, faced a terrible choice, starved on the mountain or be slaughtered on the ground. that is when america came to help. over the past week the u.s. military conducted humanitarian airdrops every night, delivering more than 100 14,000 meals and 35,000 gallons of fresh water. we were joined in that effort by the united kingdom and other allies who pledged their support. our military was able to successfully strike targets around the market -- around the region.
yesterday a small team of americans on the military and civilian, completed the review of the conditions on the mountain. they found food and water had been reaching those in need and thousands of people have been a vacuum eating safely each and every night. the civilians who remain continue to leave aided by kurdish forces. bottom line is the situation on the mountain has greatly improved and americans should be very proud of our efforts because of the skill and professionalism of the military and generosity of the people, we broke the siege of mountain jar, helped vulnerable people read safety and health save many innocent lives. because of these efforts we do not expect there to be additional operations to evacuate people off the mountain him and unlikely we will need to continue military and airdrops on the mountain.
the majority of the military personnel who conducted the assessment will be leaving in the coming days. to say as commander-in-chief, i could not be prouder of men and women in the military who carried out this humanitarian operation almost flawlessly. i am very grateful to them and know those trapped on the mountain are extraordinarily grateful as well. direthe situation remains for those subject to isis terror throughout the country, including minorities like a rocky and many sunnis, shiite and kurd's. we will work with international partners to provide international assistance to those suffering in northern iraq wherever we have capabilities and can carry out effective oceans like the one we carried out on the mountain without committing combat troops on the ground. great urgey feel a
to provide humanitarian relief and have been very encouraged by the interests of the international partners in helping on these international efforts as well. we will continue airstrikes. we have increased military assistance fighting on the frontlines. and, perhaps most importantly we are urging our rockies -- tide againstn the forming a new and inclusive government under the leadership of the prime minister designate. i had a chance to speak to him a aboutys ago, and he spoke the need for the kind of inclusive government, a government that speaks to all of the people that is needed right now. he still has a challenging task in putting up government
together, but we are modestly hopeful the iraqi government situation is moving in the right direction. second, i want to address something that has been in the days,he past couple of the situation in ferguson, missouri. i know many americans have been depleted starved by the images we have seen in the heartland of the country as people of clashed with april protesting. today i would like us all to take a step back and think about this going forward. this morning i received a thorough update from the attorney general eric holder who has been following and in communication with his team. i have already tasked the department of justice and the fbi to independently investigate the death of michael brown, along with local officials on the browns -- ground. the department of justice consulting about ways they can maintain public safety without restricting the right of peaceful protest and while avoiding unnecessary escalation.
i made clear to the attorney general we should do what is necessary to help determine exactly what happened and to see that justice is done. i also just spoke to the governor of missouri. i expressed my concern over the violent turn events have taken on the ground and underscored now is the time for all of us to reflect on what has happened and find a way to come together going forward. he will be traveling to ferguson . he is a good man & governor, and i am confident working together he will be able to communicate his desire to make sure justice is done and his desire to make is maintainedfety in an appropriate way. it is important to remember how this started. we lost a young man, michael brown, in a heartbreaking and tragic circumstance. he was 18 years old. his family will never hold
michael in their arms again. and when something like this authorities,local including police, have the responsibility to be open and transparent for how they are investigating the death and how they are protecting people in their communities. there is never an excuse for violence against police or those who would use the tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. there is also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protest or to throw protesters in jail for their firstrcising amendment rights. here in the united states of america police should not be bullying or arresting journalists just trying to do their jobs and report to the american people for what they see on the ground. put simply, we all need to hold ourselves to a high standard number particularly those of us positions in authority. i know emotions are raw right now and ferguson, and there are
certainly passionate differences about what has happened. there will be different account for how this tragedy occurred. there will be differences for how this needs to go forward. that is part of the democracy but we are part of one american family, united in common values, and that includes believes in equality under the law, basic respect for public murder -- order and the right to peaceful public code test. a reference for the dignity of every man, woman, and child among us and the need for accountability when it comes to our government. healing, a time for peace and calm on the streets of ferguson. now is the time for an open and transparent process to see what justice has done and have asked the attorney general and u.s. attorney on the scene continue to work with local officials to move that process forward. they will be reporting to me in
the coming days about what is being done to make sure that happens. thank you very much, everybody. president on martha's vineyard speaking to reporters. he will be back in washington this weekend. some reaction from congress on the shooting of michael brown in ferguson and the follow-up tweeting that the death of michael brown is a great tragedy. the community should not have to bear. john lewis saying how many young men of color will be killed before we realize we have a problem in america and bobby rush saying ferguson is calling for answers over the death of michael brown, i join the call. i too am deeply concerned by all that i have seen and heard. look for members of congress. missouriof the senators, claire mccaskill meeting with officials there. she said we need to demilitarize the situation. this kind of response has become
the problem in stead of the solution. my constituents are allowed to have useful protest and the police need to detect that right. today is a new start, and can and need to do better. 2014iews reflected by presidential candidate three and inl in an editorial time.com part -- he says the government has been a part of the problem. has used federal dollars to helm a notable governments build what are essentially small armies. part of what rand paul is writing today. look for his tweet and link to that. we will take you back to that discussion we brought you earlier. the hudson institute in
washington. talking about u.s. national security threats in the middle east. should go for another half hour or so. >> the problem i have with it is that it seems a little formulaic . perhaps, just to try to widen the linens a little bit, the way i see what is going on right now, not only with arab uprisings but all the fights and vicious civil war in syria is in the broader stance of history, maybe 50 or 60 years. if you look at u.s. engagement in the region, and many of you have served in distinguished capacities, in that we have actually engaged much more deeply since the 1980's in the region, and the region itself is at this pivotal transition point. i think most of it, again, is organic and some within. you look at the demographic
bubbles, the social and political pressures. thisel used to write about a lot in terms of what is the central threat in the previous decade and the central challenge. i think that is still the case. call me a liberal neocon -- i'm forg to use the f-word c-span viewers. fascism and freedom. two f-words it is a broader landscape, which i think is very important to keep in mind in sort of our strategic and largely also tactical discussions about different pieces of the problem we have right now. my hope for the longer-term -- we have an interest, i think, to see this region, to define it -- i would define it as a region that is much more cohesive and integrated with itself and the rest of the world. that may be too idealistic at this point. it seems such a glib notion, but we've got to move beyond what we do in terms of security steps or
in terms of economic assistance. it has to have this component of moral values and ideas. does anybody remember the battle of ideas people talked about after 9/11, which i thought was a big wake-up call. to me, the broader trajectory of the fight inside this region -- and we can play a role, but i think we have largely been bystanders -- is this part of what we stand for versus what others say that they stand for. it touches upon faith, religion, and power in ways i think our security class -- we just do not want to listen to it, but i think it matters quite a lot. andstruggle for decency freedom in egypt is ongoing right now and is much more complicated than i think the top lines have been presented since last year's ouster of morsi. that is the longer struggle that i would hope that that is not too idealistic of a vision. i worry -- i have a lot of worries about how president obama approaches this as an
analyst, but you can look at his interview with tom friedman, the thing that perked my ears up was this notion that you've got a sunni majority that feels disconnected from the global economy. as a guy who wrote a book called "the prosperity agenda," i think that's right. it is about people feeling like they have security and a job in things like that, but it is incomplete is my main point. it has got to include the other aspects of basic freedom and other rights and dignity, which are, again, so hard to talk about right now when you see isis and iran and other things, but it is in that broader context that i think we approached the challenge of the soviet union, latin america, eastern europe, that really is missing from this discussion. it seems a bit far, but if you do not have that vision of where you want to go, which you are right, it should be about interest first and foremost, but if that interest is devoid of our sense of values we need to promote, then i think we are
just fighting a losing battle in the long run. >> i agree with you. i think you have both described american foreign policy the way it has been for a long time, culmination of values and interests, and it is what makes us rather rare if not unique in a world like that. i'm going to ask and see if you would like to respond to that, but before too long, we will probably open up for a few questions. observe what brian just said. our deepest engagement in the region came more or less following 1979 and the iranian .evolution if you look at what the region was and what we were doing, the region was a dysfunctional mess. eight years of a war and iran and iraq, which managed to move think, two i
centimeters, and millions of people that are wounded, which by to the invasion of kuwait hussein, and what we have tried to do is to deal with that sometimes with more success, sometimes with less. what we have been doing i think for the last five years is something different. it has been to say, "look, we can let the region sort itself out. the principles of how that is conceived of may vary, but that is what i think was in mind in it wasinistration, and an interesting experiment. .hat experiment has not worked trying to have a vision of the worked for usas
when it has worked is what michael suggests, that we have to see we have friends and we have enemies. and that maybe if we get to a point where our friends are actually feeling empowered, confident, successful, then we how we can draw the enemies into that sort of compact. to mee moment, it seems -- and i just want to end on the sunni point. right now, the problem is -- it's an interesting way of saying that we need a new sunni order. the difficulty is right now that lays claim toate be that order. what is really frightening about it is not so much simply the that asm but the fact lot of people are beginning to think that is true and in their own way welcome it the cause it , and they do not
, butmaybe crucifixions this is what the sunni world is, a feeling that people are coming to have. >> just a quick response -- i totally agree with what you say in the abstract. i like it when we are a muscular idealistica very vision. i noted, though, that the american public is supportive of the president when he says that our profileeduce internationally, and i think that that tied of the division is not really practical at the moment. i would love to come back, but what we do have at the moment in syria -- upwards of 7 million, maybe even more, people displaced.
at least 200,000 killed. the regime dropping barrel bombs on bakeries and torturing children and so forth, and the united states absent from that fight. and then, we witness -- we say it's really horrible what is happening, and we frommn, and we send tweets the security council about how bad the assad regime is, but we do not do anything about it. that's the thing that troubles me most at this point. >> my thanks very much. i believe i am going to open it up to questions right now. >> you would know. >> let me look inside my head, yes. i think i am going to do that. we have a gentleman over here. if you could wait for one second for the microphone, this is what i'm going to ask for -- when you get the microphone, when you get the conch shell, if you would stand up and identify yourself and make it a question, very quickly. more thanmment lasts
45 seconds, i'm going to come down and take a conch all way and give it to someone else. >> you spoke at m.i.t., and you are entitled to say i told you so about the regionalization of the issue. the question i have is we are talking about strategy, and i hope you are about to tell me i'm completely wrong, but a listen to people listen to the obama administration, and they say that the president and secretary of state are not credible. that is to say israel ease and jordanians simply do not believe what the president and the administration promised. is it a useful conversation to talk about strategic aspirations when people do not believe what it is you say you're going to do? this, ironically, began with your point about the administration has a de facto policy of alliance with iran, but does not want to discuss it with anyone.
>> mike, do you want to start with that? >> yes. there is a huge credibility problem, and in my analysis, it begins with the iran issue. we cut a deal -- we don't like to talk about this -- all of our allies do not want to talk about it, but we, the united states, cut a deal in the airing administration cut a deal with iran behind the backs of our allies, and we sprung it on the israelis and the saudi's, and we did that before the election of rouhani, and that damages credibility. what also damage his credibility as our syria policy. getsally, every time syria in the new cycle, we come up with an initiative that looks like we are going to do something about the syria problem, and then we do not follow through on it. the most obvious example being the strikes on syria, the
proposed strikes last september. the latest example is the president's speech at west point, where he laid out this $500 million for the syrian opposition, but when you start looking into the details, you see that the $500 million is not going to get appropriated until december, and the program for helping the syrian opposition will not be up and running until january, february, and the worst guys who will be fielded with american training and weapons will be about a year after that, so we are talking about two years down the line. it is a nothing burger dressed up as helping the syrian opposition. policies like that will lose credibility for sure, but we are the united states, and we have enormous resources and power, and if we just start doing stuff, people have to listen to us. >> i think this also comes back to a question i wanted to ask you when you said it might be
too late to do much with syrian opposition. why? this is the united states. iraq.pped into why is it too late, and does that not affect american credibility? are a superpower, we know we have been carrying the region for a long time, suck it up. >> i don't think it's ever too late, given our considerable powers. again, we have unrivaled military and intelligence capabilities we need to use judiciously. the challenge i was trying to articulate is it perhaps may be true that had we intervened in 2012 or 2013 with a much more concerted effort -- we did start some covert action, i believe, at least 18 months ago or beyond, and i think it was very limited. i don't think it is ever too late. on the credibility issue -- sorry, i do not actually know how to answer your question, and i do not mean to be glib here. fox news,on msnbc or
i always get this sort of "people say." i go to israel quite a lot. i have been in jordan recently quite a lot, too, and i think credibility is an issue. i agree with michael. the redline issue, and i have written about this, really was a challenge and presented a difficulty. if i could just respond, i think in addition to credibility, which is important, i think there is an efficacy challenge, too, as well. effectiveness. again, i'm trying to be evenhanded, but i do believe this is true, that i think this perception has lasted for a while in the middle east. that the bush administration's aided we were going to do -- the bush administration stated we z, anding to do x,y, and that did not happen, and that
leaves an impression you cannot do what you say you say you're going to do. .here's often muddled signals with talk about hamas and its rise and what i thought was a big mistake in 2006 with their election and what the bush administration did at that point in their decision, but the point i want to make is i fear, given all of our power -- and we are still power within the region in the world -- quite often, we have our leaders, whether president obama or president bush, state are going to do x, y, and z. arrest the rise of the taliban, stop north korea from getting a weapon, and when we do not achieve that, that creates a lookingroblem of people at you and say, "you cannot even get done what you say you want to get done. so i would also suggest, too, yat some sort of kumba message, but i think if we got
, i come fromher the centerleft, and i worry what michael said is spot on, that the architecture for u.s. engagement, the political support for it, i think, is much lower at the popular level, certainly was high post 9/11, and then squandered a bit, and now we are leaning back more than i wish we would lean in. sorry to go on here, but i think there is a way for us to think of a pathway forward. i think the pathway forward on a rack, as funny as it sounds, seems clearer to me because there is a nike govmething to w. on syria, and think there is a pathway if president obama is serious about this additional money he is focused on. sounds to me different, talking to friends in the administration. it sounds to me that perhaps has legs. it, robert at
anendez, and those who want robust presence in syria, there's an architecture to happen. we should form a bipartisan serious study work for. today and bedo it done with our work tomorrow. >> you could do it this month. i know there have been various initiatives. . didn't against president bush that is part of what our debate is about. ofs part of the discussion how we marshal our discussion together. you do not actually have the thinking this longer game that you and i and a think tank and all of us have the luxury to really think about.
>> first, to directly answer your question, yes, we have a big ability problem, but it's twofold. on whatdo not deliver we promise, but also that we do not see what they see. we do not see the region as they .ee it we just do not see it that way. i would say at the moment is for to take some action which clearly marks a departure from what their policy has been up until now. whether that is to rear or a rack or both, because probably both need to happen, but i agree it is much easier still to do something in iraq, which would and itrate to people --
think would have to be a fairly forceful action, which would demonstrate to people that the president has rethought what he thought and is really prepared to do things he was not prepared to do before. i would suggest in the most immediate term -- i mean, i'm tenant to say it has to be in syria because, as i said before, i do not the best there is a window of maybe a few months, if that much at this point. but in iraq, i would say the clearest thing he can do right that there has been a rush to help the kurds is to keep it going. really keep it going, both because it will be demonstrably different than the policy we have been following, and because it will do some good. if with aleppo and what is happening in aleppo, if .here is a focusing moment
last week, there definitely was. if there is an opportunity there . the point i am making is that aleppo is the second-largest city in syria and may fall at some point. two sides in a grievous assault. we did not even talk about things like christian minorities yazidis and everything being pinched by this bigger fight, but is there a focusing moment? i tend to think that president obama cut out there in ways that his own base maybe did not like but i think was essential to do. perhaps there is a moment here again,, perhaps, but going back to how you actually sell that, and being clear. i think the administration needs to be clear. one other thing i would say is that the way they have talked about their actions in iraq have
been not that we should go in in any sense, but limit it in a sense that defining what this threat actually is -- i think hearing from the president about the nature of what we are dealing with in both iraq and syria i think is essential for building the case -- again, i'm not talking about another invade and occupy mission, but a very of supportrhaps use for people to stop aleppo from -- ing to either the regime >> i think you mean destroying the syrian air force on the ground? >> i have not thought that through carefully. he would have to talk to people who are serving, like mc, who has been criticized by people in congress, rightly or wrongly so, but you have to make a pragmatic case. some people who told me to work with this president, he is not squeamish about force. then whatm is the questions. he is very pragmatic in that sense. the don't do-
stupid stuff, which has been bandied about. most americans actually do not mind that as a principal. it is not a strategy, as people have pointed out, but i think you acknowledge that as well. >> you are looking like you have something to say. i was not intending to say it, but i will. favorite eisenhower quote, when eisenhower sent troops into lebanon, he did it right after the iraqi regime fell, and he was afraid of the spread of evolution around the region. the government was weakened. they ask for help, and he sent troops in. he met with the speaker of the "mr., and he said, president, i'm concerned this will end badly." was concerned about arab nationalism, victory in
lebanon, the soviet union, and the president said, "this will end badly, i can assure you of , but the question is -- does it end badly with us taking action or badly with us not taking action? the important thing is that we take action in order to send a message to all of our allies that we are willing to take action for them because they are really desperate at the moment." that, to me, is very interesting because eisenhower was a guy who really understood use of force extremely well and its limitations and is understood as being a guy who was very prudent and reluctant to use force. against isis,on the sunni regimes are concerned about this. is that enough to say that the , and wetates is serious know everybody is worried about it -- is that enough? .> isis and iran
>> the gentleman here, if you would just wait for the microphone, and keep your question extremely concise. i know you are close, but the tv audience is far. aboutsk a question credibility and our allies. how can the u.s. gain credibility when it has saudi arabia and pakistan as allies, what of the main sponsors of terrorism in the world. >> this is not why we love them. the same minus credibility. >> they have traditionally been our allies, and there is -- i do not agree with you that saudi arabia is one of the biggest supporters of terrorism around the world. there is a qualitative difference between iran and saudi arabia. iran has a force which goes around undermining governments around the region.
saudi arabia has nothing like that. figure like that in saudi arabia. saudi arabia is basically a status quo power wants everything to be quiet. >> i was on the panel at the -- it inhibits strategic thinking to think this these countries in way, but countries like saudi arabia are punching with their resources in the region, and you know this. it's not only the security threats that they pose in terms of types of actors, and maybe it's not the saudi government. maybe saudi private individuals. cutting that off should be part of our discussion. it is one of these tools the
bush administration did a good job at honing. the treasury, cutting off those financial networks, it is incomplete on this front. completely incomplete. the centerpiece of the struggle is to hit them where it hurts. again, that involves a way of strategic engagement that says, "we will work with you, especially those pragmatists in saudi arabia who have said we but theroblem here," main point is that these countries are not monolithic. they are divided. there is a fight within them as well, and we need to be cognizant of that while we are building partnerships or making deals with them. >> one more point, too, which is nasty currents coming out of the gulf and coming out of the sunni powers in the gulf. i would say that the best way
that the united states can counter those is by having a vision of regional order and taking the lead in establishing it so that they are not -- said the saudi san qataris and everybody else are not pushed back on their own resources. they do not have an expeditionary military they can send, so they use the tools they , which their disposal often are not in our interests, either. >> on pakistan, i just want to refer you to the works of my colleague. his most recent book " abouticent illusions the long relationship between the u.s. and pakistan, and i think you'll find a very helpful in answering your question. >> thanks. here, if you could hold on for one second, there's the microphone. >> thank you very much.
i would love to talk more about this idea you were talking about -- >> am going to ask you to go very quickly in the interest of time. >> the first being the issue of the nonstate actor. it has been talked about ad nauseam, but i'm still not convinced we have a clear idea of how we strategic we engage with nonstate actors. one of the differences, i think, between the decision-making of the airstrikes -- >> again, please. >> the sort of semi-state actor status. the second thing is how we andne what our priorities interests are. i could not help but notice that the list you gave was the mostly negative -- i don't know that i disagree with it, but countering terrorism, preventing a nuclear iran, continuing our support for flow ofes, and the free oil, as opposed to thinking
about what we want it to look like -- >> ok, thanks. brian, i'm going to ask you to start off with this, and i'm going to ask you to keep it as concise as possible. >> it's a real tough question with nonstate actors because there's a range of them. some of these people, you cannot deal with them. you look at how they are acting, and you just have to go after them and kill them. ideas,d to kill their though. that is the most important thing. whenever we have done over the last 10 or 12 years, i think we've done a much better job in targeting these individuals, but we have not yet, going back to this battle of ideas, what should befuddle all of us is why we are still in this state, after everything that president bush did, president obama did, whether it is counterinsurgency, this problem that is political, social, and demographic, and these groups like islamic state by tapping into something that it's hard for us to understand.
to defeat it, we need to go after it militarily and also figure out how these societies can build a much more decent sort of respect for basic rights. without that, we're just going to continue to recycle and you take into account these demographic factors i keep highlighting. >> i think that's really a wonderful place to end, that it's not just a military engagement, but something we've been talking about for the last decade, a battle of ideas. it is a very interesting question -- why? ? y is it still going on we will reconvene at some point to ask those questions, but in the meantime, i want to thank everyone for being here and thank our c-span audience. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
>> you will be able to see all of this discussion later in our program schedule and later at cspan.org. we strupt interrupted it a bit to show you the president's comments on ferguson and iraq. you can see those on cspan.org as well. in about a half an hour an assessment of president obama's strategy.
that's live at 2:00 p.m. eastern. prime time tonight a look at the relationship between the press and the obama administration's restriction on press access. that gets under way beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern. >> secretary robert mcdonald announced the va has made more than 838,000 referrals for veterans to receive care from private doctors. he spoke yesterday at the national convention in memphis. he has been touring va facilities around the country that included a stop at the phoenix facility and a veteran's commention in las vegas.
ï»¿>> thank you. please, be seated.k you for you independent and great support for our veterans. good afternoon. it is an honor and privilege to join you in memphis, tennessee. i spoke as i was preparing for my senate confirmation hearing to read is my first chance to peak directly to the quarter million members of your organization and discuss the concerns we all share. and what we are going to do about them. let me say right off. i appreciate your contribution o va reform.
i welcome counsel from amvets and other organizations. you are and deep devotion to veterans is not lost on me. i value your insights. i thank you very much and encourage you to keep them coming. national commander john mitchell, thank you for that kind introduction. to both you, linda, and commander mitchell, congratulations on your work this last year. a difficult one, to be sure. i look forward to working with amvets new leadership. thanks for extending the invitation to help kick off your 70th annual convention. it was good to talk to you last week. i appreciate your time, support, encouragement, and recommendations. thanks as well for your important collaboration in the ransformation.
your contributions in the digits to digits initiative will keep paying dividends to veterans for a long time to come. let me recognize as well your elegation from taiwan. congratulations on your 23 years of partnership and sharing with amvets. i spent a decade of my life in asia with my family. we lived both in the philippines for four years in japan for six years. we traveled throughout that part of the world for the proctor and gamble company. i love the people and cultures in asia. it was one of the most formative
times in my business career. i learned important lessons. one is important as we begin changing va into a more veteran centric organization. it is about relevant and ovation. the response the customers need. which is inspired by fundamental human truths. we have to understand the need of those we serve. our customers, our veterans. no one understands those needs better than the frontline staff and the veterans receiving the care that we can provide. over these next several months, i am traveling extensively. i am directly from employees from veterans and others. from congressional members and local community leaders, volunteers, and other takeholders.
my first stop on the road was at the v.a. medical center in phoenix. the next day, i visited the center in las vegas. we have good people. many veterans. they are passionate about serving veterans. they are working hard to fix our system so we can provide superior service. we are on our team and they have our support. we are counting on those people on the ground, closest to the veterans, to share their innovative solutions that will help solve our problems in serving veterans. this afternoon, i am honored to visit our fallen veterans and those who keep watch over them at the national cemetery in memphis. tomorrow, i look forward to hearing from employees and veterans at the memphis va medical center. and the memphis vet's center. i'm sitting down with employees, nurses, physicians -- our
frontline staff. and talking to the veterans we serve. let me assure you, i am getting some unvarnished truth about how things work. some good, some bad, some mixed. i am learning what we need to keep doing and what we need to do better. when i visited the medical center in phoenix, i kept hearing an unfortunate nickname. epicenter. that is a bad reputation to have and it will take time to change it. what i can tell so far -- soon i will have been secretary exactly two weeks. from what i can tell so far, everything is not a disaster. phoenix really is not an
epicenter. the problems we discovered in phoenix were systemic extending beyond the that one location and moment in time. he phoenix story is about more than a crisis in veteran access. it is a story of failed leadership. it is also the story of dedicated people who stood up to help us serve veterans better. my thanks goes to them. coming face to face with reality is not disaster. i went to hear your stories. i want to know when you are not being served well. i have to know so we can make things better. all of this is a tremendous opportunity. deputy secretary sloan gibson put it like this when he was estifying to congress.
we can turn these challenges into the greatest opportunity for improvement in the history of the v.a. department. the former department of the institute of medicine took that notion one step further. he said, because of this crisis, va can encompass things it could have never accomplished before. that is what we are going to do. with the continued support of president obama, congress, and the strong support of amvet and other organizations, we are going to do what never could ave been done otherwise. it is a great opportunity and a rare opportunity. his opportunity that we cannot miss nor underestimate. before my confirmation hearing, i consulted and talked with a lot of leaders. i spent time with leaders of
other service organizations and any members of congress. again and again, people ask me, why do you want to be the secretary of veterans affairs? here's what i told him. i believe in this very strongly. to me, there is no other higher calling. this is a chance to make a difference in the lives of the veterans whom i care so deeply about. my wife deeann and i come from military families. her father was a tailgunner in a b-24 in world war ii. he was shot down and survived as a prisoner of war. her uncle was a 101 airborne division screaming eagle in vietnam. he was sprayed with agent orange and receives care from va. my nephew is a pilot in the air force and serving and flying missions in the middle east. veterans are special people to meet.
special people to my family. it is not just about me. t's about my family and all of us as a larger family. i graduated from the u.s. military academy in 1975. air deputy of secretary sloan gibson was one of my classmates. he has been a great friend for many years. my time at west point and has a airborne ranger instilled in me a sense of duty to our country and strong values. four decades later, the words of the cadet prayer guide me. it encourages us to live our lives, choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong. i am fortunate for my 33 years experience at procter & gamble.
where i learned the importance of effective management, strong leadership, and being responsive to the needs of customers. e worked hard and successfully to improve the lives of our customers all over the world. any of the same lessons i hope to help bring change to v.a. to better serve the veterans. we will judge the success of
individual and collective efforts against a single metric. veteran outcomes. the strategic plan makes that clear. v.a. is a customer service orientation. we serve veterans. if we fail to serve veterans, we fail. we have a lot of work to do. those values and leadership experiences are what and for my actions and decisions as a secretary of veterans affairs, just as i promised to be president they would. and as i am promising all of you this afternoon. the lessons from the army and procter & gamble translate, whether you are an entry-level employee or head of an organization. here are a few of the lessons. first, have a clear purpose. president lincoln charges us 150 years ago to care for those who have borne the battle and their family. hat means providing veterans
the second lesson is people want to succeed. it is my job to make sure employees at va have that opportunity. the biggest barriers to success in any organization are an ineffective culture, strategies and systems. va has strong institutional values. advocacy, respect, and excellence. together, they are an acronym. icare. what better acronym could there be? if we live and work by the values, we cannot go wrong. i asked all employees to reaffirm the commitment to these values and our mission. i have directed under secretaries to take the same step and reaffirm our mission and values with their people. that is a first up and beginning to rear and your trust and the trust of the american people. va has a good strategic plan. we just have to make sure we are working together to execute the plan and become bush goals -- combo sure goals -- accomplish our goals. we have an effective strategy. but there have been failures. somewhere along the way, someone lost track of the mission. end of the core values. here are the -- how those systemic failures have manifested themselves.
you are familiar with these. amvets -- veterans are waiting too long for care. performance metrics became an end in and of themselves rather than a way to measure outcome. though there were widespread attempts to game the system and height problems. aking veterans wait longer for care. those who identify problems were sometimes punished for doing so. we do not held accountable the managers who held poor performance or retaliated against whistleblowers. it -- our integrated scheduling system is cumbersome and outdated. we can tackle these issues without unprecedented accountability.
consider this for a moment. john talked about this. from president obama's nomination of a new secretary to confirmation and swearing-in took less than 30 days. consider this. a floor vote in the senate was 7-0. hat is not a commentary on e. don't misunderstand me. it is a sign of our nation's extraordinary commitment to veterans. last thursday, president obama
signed into law the veteranâs access choice of 2014. the law ok allocates $15 billion to va. the legislation authorizes va to enter into the seven leases in 18 states and puerto rico to give them more space for clinicians to treat patients. the laws grant v.a. new authority to remove or transfer senior executives based on performance or misconduct. that is what we call accountability. the vast majority of va employees are dedicated to the mission and core values. where that is not the case, where there has been a violation of trust of the nation, there ill be accountability. this is about restoring the trust of veterans. our elected representatives. all americans.
that legislation is another sign of the strong support we have for veterans. i appreciate the work of chairman sanders, chairman miller, and the other members of congress who came to pass the law. i appreciate amvet's role of candidly informing congress of how they saw things. we could not have done this without you. i know that is not the first time or the last time amevts will share its recommendations. your voice is loud, clear, and i hear you. i want to continue hearing from you. you are not just stakeholders, your shareholders and customers. we need your input. as acting secretary sloan gibson was doing some great work, he has been hitting us in the right direction.
i support the efforts we have in place. he has grabbed hold of the problems like a snapping turtle and not let go. we have suspended performance wards. 14 day access measures have been removed from performance plans. that is to eliminate motives for inappropriate scheduling practices behavior. we have frozen central office headquarters hiring. we are making good progress being veterans office waiting lists and fixing scheduling product -- problems. in the last two months, we have made over 830,000 referrals for veterans to receive their care
in the private sector. that is up more than 166,000 over the same time last year. each of the referrals -- each of these referrals on average results in seven visits or appointments. we are talking about more than 1.1 million appointments in the private sector over the last two onths. until we get systems up to capacity, we are expanding our use of private care and other non-va health care to experience -- improve access for veterans. we are monitoring non-va care to make sure veterans deserve -- received the best they deserve. we will enhance the existing system in the short term. we will get an off the shelf scheduling system. we will expand digital technology to free up people to care for veterans. facilities are adding more clinic hours.
we are adding mobile medical clinic units in providing care for more veterans. we are contracting with an outside organization to conduct an independent audit of scheduling practices. that is across the entire system in beginning early next fiscal year, october 1. v.a. has dispatched teams to provide assistance to facilities requiring the most improvement. there is a multidisciplinary team on the ground in phoenix. every medical center and business director is conducting in person inspections of clinics. that includes interacting with staff to assess scheduling practices and identifying obstacles to timely care.
so far, over 2300 of these visits have been conducted. we have taken action on every one of the recommendations. we are going to improve forecasting for resources. we can develop a strategy for meeting the higher levels of demand we are experiencing. we are determining which processes need to be streamlined and where we need to reorganize. to more efficiently use our resources. to help with that process, i am establishing a board of physicians and nurses to help me with best practices. were aggressively to fill physician vacancies. let me pause. i have heard it takes too long to bring people in and the hiring policies and procedures
re time-consuming. we are going to fix that. we need about 1000 doctors, nurses, and clerks in feet -- phoenix and 500 in las vegas. we will need more beyond that. i want your help. to go recruit the best doctors, nurses, and clerks will make it the best health care system in the country. i will be out there recruiting hese people. if you have names, please send them to me. we are building a more robust, can you -- robust system to provide site-specific information on patient satisfaction. we are going to learn more about what other leading health care systems are doing to track patient access experiences. we are improving communications.
between the va and other organizations. high-performance companies get their best innovations from those closest to the customer. we are going to create a more open and less hierarchical altar so in full -- culture so employees can contribute ideas and help us improve. collaborating closely with -- is top priority. it is not enough to listen to your concerns and ideas. our collaboration in changing this department -- we are going to gather your ideas and make them happen. the eight leadership is going to work with amvets at a levels to improve communication. in 1944, it was collaboration
between federal employees and veterans that produced this reat organization, amvets. that same spirit of collaboration will bring needed change to veterans affairs. we have huge challenges ahead. veterans are in need. it will be tough work to transform va as the provider of hoice. we have people rolling up their sleeves right now. we can and will get it done. we can't do it and won't to do it without you. the best technology and systems are no substitute for looking at ourselves through the eyes of every single veteran. amvets has been doing that for 70 years. let me close by saying how grateful i am to president obama
and congress for entrusting me with this opportunity to leave the department of veterans affairs. thank you amvets for being a friend of the department. thank you for your work. thank you for your commitment. thank you for your enduring devotion to veterans. thank you for sharing your time with me this afternoon. thank you. [applause] >> president obama spoke to reporters a short while ago about the police shooting of the unarmed black teen idger in st. louis amid unrest over the shooting the president said now is the time for healing and peace and qama on the streets in ferguson. you can see the president's comments on cspan.org.
"the new york times" wrote before the president spoke the governor promised the residents we're going to see a different tone in the response by the police after five nights of unrest. senator of missouri also in ferguson today releasing a statement which said in part we need to demilletaize this situation. this kind of response by the police has become the problem rather than the solution. constituents are allowed to have peaceful protest and police need o respect that right and protect that right. john boehner saying in the wake of this terrible tragedy --
ii. all of that getting under way at 8:00 p.m. eastern. >> here are some of the highlights for this weekend. friday at 8:00 a history tour looking at the civil war. saturday at 6:30 the communicators. sit the technology fair on capitol hill. on c-span 2 friday night books on hillary clinton, barack obama and edward snowden. sunday morning at 10030 we tour the literary sites of wyoming. let