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tv   Washington Week  PBS  August 26, 2011 8:00pm-8:30pm PDT

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gwen: in libya, is it the end, the beginning, or the beginning of the end? plus, rick perrys very good week and ben bernankes mixed one. tonight, on "washington week." >> libya free! gaddafi go away! gwen: celebrations in tripoli. saugs everywhere else. >> over the last several days, the situation in libya has reached a tipping point. gwen: so where is gaddafi? >> i think the preponderance of reporting suggests that he's still likely inside of libya. gwen: and what of u.s. policy toward the north african nation?
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while at home, the markets keep an eye on ben bernanke, and on an economy that just keeps slumping. and rick perry leaps to the top of the republican presidential field. covering the week, nancy youssef of "mcclatchy newspapers," doyle mcmanus of "the los angeles times," jim tankersly of "national journal," and michael duffy of "time" magazine. >> award-winning reporting and analysis. covering history as it happens. live from our nations capitol, this is "washington week" with gwen ifill, produced in association with "national journal." corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by >> we know why we're here. to give our war fighters every advantage. >> to deliver technologies that anticipate the future today. >> and help protect america
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foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting and from contributions to your pbs stations from viewers like you. thank you. >> once again, live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good evening. as the week began, it seemed as if the end game in libya had arrived. rebels marched into tripoli and directly into moammar gaddafis compound. the only thing missing was a toppled statue in the town square. but president obamas statement was muted -- correctly so, as it turned out. >> the situation is still very fluid. there remains a degree of uncertainty, and there are still regime elements who pose a threat, but this much is clear, the gaddafi regime is coming to an end, and the future of libya is in the hands of its people. gwen: that uncertainty remains tonight. no one is quite sure where gaddafi is, whether the rebels are poised to take over, or whether the weeks events
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vindicate u.s. policy toward libya. starting with the most obvious question, nancy, whats become of gaddafi? >> that is the looming question over this revolution. that's why the revolution started. we saw rebels take his compound, wear his fur coat, wear his gold chains and seemingly take control and yet, he somehow slipped out. we heard from his samantha he remains in libya and u.s. officials continue to believe he is in libya. right now the best guess is that he's either somewhere in tripoli or in cert, his hometown, one of the remaining gaddafi strongholds. he's an important part of this. even if the rebels are able to take control. as long as he's out, he remains a rallying point for those forces who continue to fight in parts of the country. remember, the rebels still don't have full control of the country, and there are key areas where the fighting continues. as long as he's able to go out and make ominous messages, sends out ominous messages to his
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supporters, he remains a threat to this very fragile period in libya. gwen: to, doyle, the u.s. policymakers are watching this and they don't know whether to celebrate or pull back. war they thinking? >> well, they've had to react, as you said, very carefully for all of the reasons that nancy mentioned. the only sort of high-profile statement was the one you showed of president obama back on monday at martha's vineyard, seven minutes in front of a camera. the administration resisted the temptation they fell back into in january to sort of give a play-by-play commentary every day. so there were no claims of mission accomplished. there's a lot of still diplomatic work. there's still military work going on. but there was also, in what the president said and what his aides said later, a kind of a muted attempt to both make sure that the main credit went to the rebels on the ground who bore the brunt of the fighting, but some of the credit washed over on to the administration.
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there was an unmistakable desire there to say, we told you so. people thought the administration was doing too much, too little, it would never work. well, it appears to be working out on balance not too badly. >> nancy, help me understand something that's really hard to understand from reading the papers. what exactly was the u.s.'s role here? on the front side we know there were air strikes, but in the end game, assuming the tide has turned, were there special forces on the ground? did we provide weapons? >> the most important role was the use of predators, and those predators helped nato go about their air campaign. it began with striking gaddafi's air support, his compounds. from there, the commanding control sector and ledge the logistical support. they continue to play a key role. we heard from the brits that the nato role has been stepped up to help the rebels finds gaddafi, those predators are being used to gather intelligence and try to spot him. it's not the traditional role
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we're used to. there are no boots on the grounds per se, but that was a key role in helping nato support the rebels and give them a chance to march into tripoli. >> the moniker, doyle, that's been given to this is leading from behind and it was mocked by republicans and some democrats, frankly, when this first came out as strategy from the president. now is it vindicated? do we all love leading from behind? >> he's been disavowed by the administration. it was one incautious official and something that stuck in his mind, his model of organizing a social movement he called leading from behind. but it wasn't really accurate, even in this case. if you go back to the beginning of this thing, it was the british and the french who wanted to fight this war and the united states was sort of dragged in. the united states played an important role putting together the ideas that became this campaign. but then it became just another joint nato operation. that's not a new idea. it's happened before. it's happened before in
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different mixtures. and it wasn't actually a pretty process every inch of the way. there were plenty of points at which some of those nato allies ran out of planes, ran out of pilots at one point. they came to the united states and said we really need helicopters. can you give us some helicopters? the administration actually drew the line and said pretty tough to its allies, no helicopters. no, there's no model here, really, that works. i mean, libya is such a strange place anyway. the other big deal is that you had the arab league, you had the u.n. security council. you'd need a whole lot of things to happen in the same way for this to be a model. gwen: you talk about how this model it different, but it's irresistible to look at other examples we've seen in this arab spring and say, ok, who are these people? who are these rebels? are they equipped to take over? we saw this even play out in iraq. we saw it play out in afghanistan. who takes the place of the person who's been deposed? >> well, jeleel is the head of
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the national transitional council, but tripoli is not secure enough for the council. so they're moving in and out. a lot of them remain in the capital. so far there are troubling signs we're seeing. one of the most important periods is now, because the question becomes who can secure libya, and whether the council can do it. anything going forward begins at that point. and what we're seeing, which is most troubling, is some of the rebel fighters, we're seeing death squads and some rebel fighters torturing some of the captured gaddafi forces and that's troubling, because that important tends of civil insurgency and civil war. so far we haven't seen a strong command of the country. it really resembles anarchy at this point. but we'll see as tripoli becomes more stable whether they can restore not only the security, but the economy of tripoli and the country at large. >> one of the interesting themes that has come out from the council and from the obama
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administration is that this shouldn't be like baghdad in 2003. now, unfortunately, it looks a little bit too much like baghdad at the moment. but one of the pieces of policy here for the weeks ahead is that the national council in libya, with the support of the obama administration, has decided it's not going to disband the libyan army, it's not going to disband the police force. >> we know the mistakes not to make. >> it's going to invite people from gaddafi's government, if they have relatively clean hands, to join some kind of a new coalition. it's easier said than done, but it's a different direction. >> you said there's not a great template here militarily going forward. have we learned any lessons diplomatically from some of these other arab spring about what the u.s. should and shouldn't do? >> well, we've learned a lot about the limits of what the united states can do. this one had to be done on the ground. we have learned that it's very
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hard to get the u.n. security council lined up and that there's no -- if you take a look at syria, the arab league won't vote that way on syria. to me, the immediate lesson is that there isn't -- you know, there isn't an immediate transfer. you can't use these lessons in syria. it's going to come out quite differently. >> one of the biggest differences between libya and the arab strings and tunisia is when the regimes collapsed, there were still institutions left in plate, the militarily in those two countries. gaddafi built libya around him. he was the keystone. the fact he's not there anymore means everything has to be rebuilt from scratch. i think that will present particular challenges not only for the libyans, but also for the united states in determining who to work with and how to build up the national transitional coungs, which has no governing experience and has no foundation to really build on. >> nancy, where do you start with that? what's literally the next thing that has to happen here? >> well, the most important
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thing is securing the country. remember, we talk a lot about tripoli and the last remnants of gaddafi's regime. over in the east, which looked like a stalemate for months and months, there's still fighting there. the gaddafi forces are aggressively fighting at the furthest point the rebels he have got on the eastern side. we're seeing fighting there and in the south and of course we're seeing fighting in gaddafi's hometown. so there has to be a clear victory for the rebels and a clear securing of the country before we can even begin to discuss governance, because otherwise, if done incorrectly, we might be seeing the early seeds of civil strife. gwen: nato, the u.n., all of our allies, the united states, have all come under question, as we always do in these joint exercises. what happens next? >> well, of course, as nancy says, the military effort is still going on, and nato has actually escalated some of its bombing. when this started, the u.n.
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mandate was only to protect civilians. that's been stretched way, way far. >> it sure has. >> the other thing that's going on now is organizing the money and the backing that the government is going to need to function. the good news is a country with a small population and a lot of oil revenue, a lot of which is in banks around the world and has been frozen -- there may be as much as $100 billion. one of the things that was supposed to happen in iraq was it was supposed to be a self-financing recovery. this should be a self-financing recovery. you're going to hear an awful lot over the next few weeks -- there will be a big conference in paris next week that hillary clinton is going to go to to organize aid. but that's short-term loans that they're supposed to pay back later. this should end up being self-financing. gwen: does congress look at this and say the president was right and now it's up to us to step in and help? >> in an election year almost anybody who isn't on his side is going to say the president was right. and, you know, in terms of
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resources, though, there is a lot of support. there really hasn't been a lot of pushback against these bridge loans. as to the question of whether president obama gets any domestic political bounce from this, all you got to do is look back to what happened when osama bin laden was killed. he got three good weeks out of that one, and then it went away. gwen: we love election years. ok, back on these shores. federal reserve chairman ben bernanke gave another one of his long-awaited speeches on the economy today. he was actually sort of upbeat, saying the nation is definitely in recovery mode. he said the growth fundamentals of the united states do not appear to have been permanently altered by the shocks of the past four years, but he also scolded congress, saying, "perhaps most challenging, the country would be well served by a better process for making fiscal decisions. the negotiations that took place over the summer disrupted financial markets and probably the economy as well." thats tough talk coming from bernanke, isnt it, jim? >> yeah, this is tough talk.
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this is the chairman of the federal reserve, who is an academic economist. so it's not like he's going to go out and talk cowboy talk. but he's stepping up and telling the congress, hey, like he has before, you need to do a better job of holding up your end of the bargain on the recovery. yes, he was upbeat about the prospects for america's economy. but he was also very clear that if the joblessness problem that we have now persists, we could really do damage to our economy for a long time. if people stay out of work for a really long time, they lose skills, they lose wage-earning ability. and he was warning congress, hey, don't let them sit on the sidelines for too long. >> he let the cowboy talk to governor rick perry. he's a very unpopular figure right now with people on the right end of the republican party. so how did he become so important to this process being the fed chairman? >> well, the federal reserve has an important role to play in the economy. and the reason he is such a
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lightning rod for the republicans right now is because by making monetary policy easier, by loosening up the monetary policy, he has been accused of financing these big deficits that barack obama has signed off on as president. so bernanke has become sort of the financer in chief, almost, in the eyes of republicans of big deficit spending. the other thing is that republicans are much more worried about inflation now than they are about growth in terms of what the fed should do policywise. in both those areas he's run afoul of republicans and we see a situation where bernanke, who was first appointed by george w. bush and who is himself a republican is coming under a lot more attack from the right than from the left. >> jim, the markets expected, or at least they hoped that bernanke was going to signal that there would be a new form of quantitative easing, some magical formula by which the fed could provide a quasi stimulus
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and it wasn't a very clear message in the market's tank. what are we supposed to expect? >> well, they did. it certainly appeared that the markets were hoping that ben bernanke would drop new monetary stimulus out of the sky. that was probably unrealistic, doyle, because the federal open market committee has to meet first before any new big policy decision can be made and that's not what was happening today. this was a policy conference in wyoming at a resort. ben bernanke wasn't probably about to step out and announce something by fiat. what he did do was leave the door open for more stimulus measures, perhaps monetarily, to come next month in a meeting that he said would go not just one day, as originally scheduled, but two days now. >> so what do his stements tell us about what the feds can do in terms of job creation? >> well, he keeps emphasizing that the fed does have policy options left on the table. we're in sort of very unconventional policy turf right now, because interest rates are already low. what the fed would normally do is cut interest rates to spur growth.
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they're at rock bottom. so they do have more tools. they could do a third round of quantitative easing, or they could try other things. they could set an inflation target. there's all sorts -- that is higher than normal. all things that have been mentioned. but bernanke's loathe to roll those out on his own. he said we have options, we're talking about them, stay tunalds. >> bernanke can't operate without the ok of the open market committee or at least a vote in the majority. they aren't all for doing more either. is it possible to separate, from what you can tell, how much of bernanke's hesitancy to do more is about the complicated political situation in america, where people have now made the fed an issue, and how much of this is economics, where he's got people saying, no more easing? is there a way to -- >> yeah. i would say that you've got pretty good indication that bernanke is a lot more worried about the complications internally than externally. he gave a fairly strong rebuke to t the fiscal policymakers who want austerity measures now,
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spending cuts. not at all doing measures to make growth happen from a fiscal stimulus side. so that's basically a direct rebuke to the rick perry's of the world to want the fed to slow down focus only on inflation and not do more stimulus. gwen: what a beautiful segue. thank you. that's what i needed. new polls out this week show yet another frontrunner in the republican presidential race -- texas governor rick perry. and each of the leading candidates is seeking a way to victory by claiming his or her own piece of the g.o.p.s collapsing big tent. >> i'm in a race right now which is going to be exciting. a lot of people in the race, we got a great field of people, but i'm the guy who spent the time in the private sector to know how it works and also spent some time in the government to know how to get the job done there. >> you have to win over some independents in order to get the numbers, in order to make the math work. and as people increasingly look at the field of players, i think they're going to come to the conclusion that we may be one
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of, if not the only one, who basically can put the numbers together to actually win in 2012. >> quite frankly, you can't spend trillion dollar stimulus and you can't have obama-care, you can't do those extraordinary things and think that you won't pay the piper. gwen: so how did perry steal the spotlight from last weeks shooting star, michele bachmann? michael? >> it's magic. it's a measure of the unhappiness, i think, with the state of the republican field that rick perry, who was not a candidate on august 1, at the beginning of august for president. at the end of august he's now leading in national polls. that's like from a democratic nominating race. that's not the way republicans do things. but he's come a very long way in a very short period of time. he's reshuffled the race, and potentially set up the prospect of a two-person race between mitt romney and depending on how things go, himself. that's a maybe. we're going to find out. perry's testing the notion here
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that he can plant a flag and take votes from the three big parts of the republican party. now, the economic conservatives who are worried about the state of the economy, the tea party republicans, who are a little more libertarian, and religious and social conservatives. he speaks directly. his h message that is two or three weeks old speaks directly to each on of those. he talks about being the jobs generator, a state with relatively low unemployment. he talks about ben bernanke a great deal. he said it would be trees nouse, and he launched his campaign in houston, at a prayer service, in which 30,000 people attended the sunday before he actually got in. so whether he can weave these three threads into a quilt that makes sense remains to be seen. gwen: wen i was in -- when i was in iowa, i spoke with mike huckabee and his response is he
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hasn't been roughed up yet. he hasn't got into the race yet. he hasn't been in a debate yet or shared a stage. maybe we're getting carried away? >> romney said i'm excited. gwen: he didn't look excited. >> they kinds of grudgingly said about perry, well, ok, he's a really good competitor. he's a great campaigner and it implies that they hadn't had one up until now. they respect the fact that he can raise money. there's no question about that. but they said it's been a month, guys. let's see -- there are three debates coming up in september, three in a row, one, two, three, one, i guess, in california, two in florida. we'll see where he stands at the end of september. they said call us back then and we'll tell you what he means. >> perry seems to have a couple of weaknesses. he has a lot of texas swagger, he says things like bernanke and treason, social security is a ponzi scheme. he says things that rattle the tea cups. gwen: did you say that, the tee
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cups? >> incites the tea cups. maybe i should say that. >> is he reining in that kind of language at all? >> he said he didn't think american servicemen respect barack obama. that provoked jeb bush, a member of the g.o.p. establishment, if there is one. you said you guys have to tone down the rhetoric. he was talking about the whole field this week. but he was really, i think, aiming it at perry, who has always had complicated relationships with the bush family and the bush camp in texas. but there is going to be a secondary conversation about what -- you saw mitt smiling and all upbeat about what kind of race to have, what the level of the dialogue is going to be, and perry changes all of that. so that's another reason this is a sort of pivot in the race. >> mike, is there room, given how quickly perry skyrocketed into this campaign, is there room for moderates or more than one moderate in the g.o.p.? >> well, there are not a lot of moderates in this g.o.p.
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anymore. >> jon huntsman was just saying about how there were people -- i'm not sure how he's counting. >> he was calling all moderates. that was the message of huptsman, who got into the race and first started talking about how civil he wanted it to be and has now fallen back to the position of saying i'm the moderate in the race because there's so many people in the it now who are more conservative. that's not the republican party of, say, today, where 12 years ago there was a much greater number of moderate folks in it. now it's a much more conservative party. we'll see. huntsman has been fading in the last couple of weeks. we'll see if he continues that way. >> is there oxygen left for anybody, sarah palin? >> there's plenty of oxygen left. palin's game is very complicated. it doesn't look to me like she's getting in. karl rove said this week either get in and compete or get out and stop trying to get attention. gwen: she dismissed him as a washington pundit.
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well, thank you, everyone. were headed home now to buy bread, milk and batteries and get ready for hurricane irene. but if youre online this weekend, be sure to check out our webcast extra, where we pick up the conversation where we left off, and take a look at my blog this week in which i write about the anniversary of the 1963 march on washington and the opening of the new king memorial on the national mall. all of that at keep up with daily developments on air and online on the pbs "newshour," and well see you here next week, on "washington week." good night. >> every thursday get a preview of our topics and panel with our "washington week" email alert available at "washington week" online at >> "washington week" was produced by weta, which is solely responsible for its content.
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