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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  April 20, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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>> rose: welcome to the program. >> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, a conversation with president barack obama about his foreign policy. >> charlie, when we sat down together back in 2009, when i first came into office, we were still in the midst of two active wars, we had 180,000 troops that were deployed, we were still seeing hundreds of our young men and women killed and thousands injured, and since that time we have been able to wind down active combat in those two theaters. those cotries are by no means in great shape, but they are not in significantly worse shape than had we left 20 or 30 or 40,000 troops there and, diplomatically, we have been able to make sure iran doesn't
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have nuclear weapons, we have been able to at least begin the process of political conversations in syria and a cessation of hostilities. we are, in the mean time, taking out terrorists constantly, so it's not as if we are passive and standing by. al quaida's core has been dismantled, bin laden is dead, i.s.i.l is losing territory, and, so, i've shown no hesitancy to use our military where necessary to protect american lives, american interests, but what i am insisting on is making sure that we think through why we're using our military, how we expect to shape results as a consequence of the use of our military, what other tools are available to us because, otherwise, we will have a constant repetition of the kind of experience that we had in
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iraq in 2005, 2006. >> rose: funding for charlie rose is provided by the following. >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: tonight, a conversation with president obama. this week he traveled to saudi arabia, the united kingdom and germany. our relationship with those allies, the wars in iraq and syria and the roles in russian and iran will be key items on he's agenda. also talked with the president about how he sees america's role in the w, the lessons
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learned and what he hopes to accomplish in the office. the conversation took place monday in the blue room in the white house. great to see you again. >> great to have you, charlie. >> rose: you're going to saudi arabia and arrive there wednesday. these are friends of the united states and they've expressed some concern about the relationship with america. a lot of it is old ideas having to do with the iranian nuclear deal. some new thing came out in a magazine article written by jeff goldberg. >> right. >> rose: do you have any reservations about anything you've said? would you like to change anything or modify in that article about how you saw the obama doctrine? >> no, i think it's important to look at my quotes as opposed to whatever is surrounding those quotes. what i've indicated in the past, i continue to believe, whi is that saudi arabia has been a strong ally of the united states and a friend of the united states, certainly since i have been president. our interactions with them around counterterrorism issues has been vital. i think that they have been
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cooperative in trying to stabilize a region that is going through tumultuous times. we did have a significant difference on the iran nuclear deal, but ultimately they supported it, after we explained to them exactly why this was the best path for us making sure iran did not obtain a nuclear weapon. i think that all the evidence subsequent to that deal has borne out my argument that, in fact, iran would abide by it. and i think that there is also a continuing belief on my part that saudi arabia and the gulf states generally have to be guarded against iran, they have to be in a position where they can defend themselves against iranian mischief in the region, but that, in the end, iran is a large country in the region and
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that a proxy war between saudi arabia and iran is in nobody's interest. it's not in saudi arabia's interests, it's not in iraq's interests, it's not in jordan's interests, it's not in the united states' interests. so when i had saudi arabia and the other gulf countries up to camp david, our goal was to say how can we give you confidence that you are protected against any state that might attack you? how are you organized to prevent arms flowing into your country that get into the hands of provoktures or terrorists, but also how can we work on the diplomatic front to try to resolve conflicts like syria that threaten to burn down the entire region? and occasionally there will be differences in terms of tactics in how we view both u.s. policy as well as saudi policy, but
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that's true among all the allies and friends that we have. >> rose: back to the article for a second. it was titled "the obama doctrine." what is the obama doctrine? >> i didn't title that such. i've always shied away from labeling my foreign policy under a single banner because the hallmark, i hope, of my foreign policy has been to be very practical in thinking about how do we advance u.s. interests, how do we make sure that the united states is safe and secure? how do we promote international rules and norms that have been critical in the development of not just u.s. peace and prosperity after world war ii but the entire world's? how do we promote our values in a way that recognizes it's not always going to be perfectly consistent? there will be times we're dealing with a counthat doesn't follow democracy or
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human rights the we we would hope. so what i think emerges from that article but more importantly from the actions that we've taken since i have been president the somebody who is committed to keeping americans safe, we'll go after anybody who's going after us whether i.s.i.l, al quaida, bin laden or anybody else, but also is using diplomacy, multi-lateral institutions, economic development strategies, human rights as tools to continue to promote what i think is the best tradition of american foreign policy. >> rose: but it has been part of your policy which is a pivot to china. >> yes. >> rose: and on top of that is a sense that you think the united states because of the future in asia should not get bogged down in the middle east. what do you define as "getting bogged down in the middle east"? >> well, what is true is, number one, that i think our invasion of iraq was a mistake. i mean, that's well known.
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that was part of what the debate back in 2008 was about. what i believe is that the united states as the world's singular super power has an obligation in all areas of the world where there's maihem and war and co conflict for us to ty to be a positive force, but that does not mean that we shou be deploying troops everywhere where a crisis is taking place, th we have to be judicious about how we use military power, that we should not view ourselves as the muscle for any particular side of a dispute if and when it does not directly relate to u.s. core interests but rather it's important for us to use diplomacy and work with other countries and build coalitions to try to resolve the issues. so probably the area where i've gotten the most criticism from,
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some in the foreign policy establishment here in washington, is around the syria situation. >> rose: and the red line. and there, what you have is people who i think instinctively feel that, where something is going wrong, where we have a problem, the solution is for the united states to send its military in and impose order. surely what we've learned not just from iraq but even the great challenges that we've had in places like afghanistan where we've now been there 13 years, devoted enormous resources, lives lost, and i can tell you from visiting afghanistan, talking to our troops, they are the best of the best, i mean, these folks know what they are doing and are outstanding in what they do, and yet it's still a very challenging environment. so the notion that, while we were still busy in afghanistan, still trying to keep iraq together, that we would now then potentially involve ourselves in another military excursion in
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syria, that's the kind of unwise decision-making that i think leads us to make big mistakes and ultimately also miss out on other opportunities in the world. >> rose: when you say don't do stupid stuff and i would like to be judged but what i didn't do, some say in fact that you're putting too much emphasis on what we don't do and not enough emphasis on the choices we might have to do. >> yeah, and i've heard this argument and, look, charlie, when we sat down together back in 2009, when i first came into office, we were still in the midst of two active wars, we had 180,000 troops that were deployed, we were still seeing hundreds of our young men and women killed and thousands injured, and since that time we
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have been able to wind down active combat in those two theaters. those countries are by no means in great shape, but they are not in significantly worse shape than had we left 20 or 30 or 40,000 troops there and, diplomatically, we have been able to make sure that iran doesn't have nuclear weapons. we have been able to at least begin the process of political conversations in syria and a cessation of hostilities, we are, in the meantime, taking out terrorists constantly so it's not as if we are passive and standing by. al quaida's core has been dismantled, bin laden is dead, i.s.i.l is losing territory, and, so, i've shown no hesitancy to use our military where necessary to protect american lives, american interests, but
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what i am insisting on is making sure that we think through why we're using our military, how we expect to shape results as a consequence of the use of our military, what other tools are available to us because, otherwise, we will have a constant repetition of the kind of experience that we had in iraq in 2005, 2006. >> rose: but let me focus on the red-line decision that you made. >> sure. >> rose: many look at that and say because you did not and you went over the opposition of some of your advisors which is what a president is expected to do, make the hard choices, that what we have today in part because of that decision, we have a devastated state, we've had close to 500,000 people die, and we've had refugees of up to 4 million people, and those -- >> yeah, so let me respond. first of all, the state was
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devastated at the time we were thinking about making the decision. >> rose: but worse today. no, hold on, charlie. at that point you only had a couple hundred thousand dead, the state had already been shattered, and the question very narrowly een among those who criticized me was do we take a one-off, a pin-point strike to send a message to assad so that he would no longer use chemical weapons because the red line i had set was that, if you use chemical weapons, then we are going to make a different calculation in terms of how we view the conflict there. now, in fact, as a consequence of the steps i took and the diplomacy we engaged in, assad removed the vast majority of those chemical weapons from syria. there was never a claim that, had i taken military action because of those chemical weapons, that we would have
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resolved the civil war in syria. but i want to be clear. i think there are those who make the argument, charlie, that somehow we can change a civil war inside of syria. if they are being honest, what they would have to argue is we would, in fact, deploy a large army to overthrow assad. the notion that by sending a few missile strikes into syria that we would have resolved the syrian conflict is simply not borne out by any of the subsequent facts. >> rose: beyond that, as you know, there is this question of red line and if you announce a red line and somebody crosses the red line that it raises questions about your will, your dependability and your credibility. ended up removing those chemical weapons, essentially syria caved. they gave in. with the help of the russians, they, for the first time, acknowledged they had chemical weapons, signed up for the international treaty saying they'd not have chemical
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weapons, and systematically removed them. so the notion that even if they were willing to do what we've asked them to do, that we should still send a couple of bombs just to kill some people so that they know we're serious. that is precisely the kind of conventional wisdom that i think it's very important for me or anybody who occupies this office to test. now, if the notion is that i have been hesitant to use military force, and the people doubt my willingness to do so, i think, as i've said before, they should ask bin laden. >> rose: okay, but let me ask the question, could we have done more in syria early on to support the free syrian army and rebel forces and, if we had done that, and if, perhaps, assad had been thrown out of power -- >> there's a lot of ifs. >> rose: i know that. you understand this. >> no, no, but, charlie, this is exactly why i think it is important for us to learn the right lessons from these
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decisions. >> rose: and that's why i -- and the notion that somehow, had we provided some caches of arms to a very loose and not particularly well-organized opposition, that they would have been in a position to overthrow the assad regime isn't borne out by anything that's happened subsequently. right now there is no shortage of arms among the opposition. right now -- and there hasn't been for quite some time, and what we saw was is that when they made progress, because of the support of iran and because of the support of russia, of the syrian regime, there was a limit to the progress they could make, there was not going to be a military solution, and so we tend to have sometimes these fantasies about how the united states can go about bringing change in countries. one of the questions that i
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asked when we were making early decisions about syria, i asked my team, i said, please provide me with some example somewhere of us providing some sort of insurgency opposition, arms, and then successfully creating a peaceful, functional society and overthrowing a dictatorial regime supported by outside powers and, not surprisingly, there were no examples. >> rose: i just want to ask, are you say fog leader in the middle east has raised questions about, because of the principle of the thing, about how drawing a red line and then not dng -- >> well, that's a different issue. >> rose: i know, i'm talking the red line on the one hand and supporting rebel forces. >> i think there is no doubt that there were many in the middle east that would have preferred me taking a shot at assad, but the reason is not because of abstract notions of
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red lines. the reason is because they view assad as a client state of iran, and their view was and continues to be, to some extent, that what we should be doing is being a very clear military arm of an anti-iran or anti-assad middle east strategy. d, look, iran's an adversary of ours, and if they go after any u.s. assets, if they are threatening us in any way, we will go after them and they know that. assad is a horrible leader, horrible dictator who has shattered his country, and it continues to be our position that we need to get them out of there, but -- >> rose: but is that a different dynamic now because russia went in and supported him and he's stronger now than --
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>> no, he's not stronger now. he's -- there is been an ebb and flow, but keep in mind that assad has been a client of russia and a client of iran's for years and, by the way, all those arab states who now are seeking his overthrow, who are more than comfortable with having him in the arab league and he was a member of good standing with him, that the key for the united states is to make sure that we disentangle the regional interests and jockeying that's taking place from our core interests as a country and our efforts which have to be international, not just us but everybody, to try to relieve the human suffering taking place in this region and reduce the degree to which this becomes a safe haven for terrorism. the only way for us to do that is not to come in guns blazing and say we are going to impose
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militarily order in this massive region where our engagement is already often viewed with suspicion, but uh rather to say -- but rather to say that are going to insist that the various parties come up with a political solution that we will help -- that, in iraq, we will help to train and provide assistance so they can fight against those who would encroach on their territory and sovereignty, the same is true in syria, but what we're not going to do is to duplicate the same kinds of mistakes that we've made in the past that did not result in more peace in the region, but, in fact, helped to precipitate some of the problems we're dealing with today. >> rose: but are you convinced it would not have made a difference if we had done more and do you ever ask yourself if we had done more would we not be
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looking at the catastrophe we are looking at now? >> look, charlie, every single day i make decisions. >> rose: sure. and you are working with probabilities. so, in libya, we did take out a dictator who was threatening his own people. as i've said before, i actually believe that was the right decision. i think, had we not gone in, we would have seen another syria in libya, but libya is still a big problem and a mess, and i think we did not do as good of a job as we should have, and i didn't do as good a job as i should have in thinking through the aftermath and how much work was going to be required in putting the pieces of that country back together again, and that's a much simpler proposition than in syria. but nothing that's happened over the last several years leads me to believe that, had i authorized some additional arms
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to the free syrian army -- >> rose: that's incremental, is it not? >> i'm sorry? >> rose: incremental. what is incremeal? >> rose: authorizing some additional arms. >> that's my point, charlie, you can't have it both ways -- and i don't mean you, i mean some of the critics -- >> rose: sure. either you're making an argument that's coherent that we should have invaded syria and took assad out, keep in mind there was no basis for international law, assad wasot a threat to the united states, so we would haveust been saying to ourselves that, as a matter of policy, where we see there's a big problem in a country where things are really getting torn apart, then we should impose military order. now, that's a coherent argument, but if that's what we're going to do, we're going to have to figure out why syria is different from the congo, why is
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syria different from sudan. >> rose: why is syria different from rwanda. >> well, no, even with respect to rwanda, i think it would be hard to argue that, in rwanda there were a whole bunch of folks who were shooting back and well-armed jihadists, and we hadn't just invaded and were still trying to hold together a country right next door. but my point is, though, that at least has coherence, right? you can make an argument that that's what we should do. i think that would be a bad decision for the united states to get into the business of unilaterally imposing militarily our will around the world. >> rose: but -- no, charlie, it would have been unilateral because nobody would have signed up for that. i know that for a fact because i could not even get the europeans or i couldn't even get the u.s. congress to authorize -- >> rose: but you raise an interesting question -- >> -- but let me finish this
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thought -- you couldn't even get those folks to support a very modest action much the less a notion of invasion and the american people certainly should not have supported it, would not have supported it, but at least there is a coherence to the argument. if you're arguing a couple of prison-brick strikes and providing some arms to opposition members would have led to a complete transformation of syria, i can't say for certain because i'm not onl only omnipotent but i can say with confidence that would not have changed the dynamic in syria. >> rose: what circumstances would have compelled you to say history will judge very harshly if we don't because of who we are, the united states of america, to do something about a situation creating a range of problems, a nation of refugees causing huge problems around the world, men and women and children being killed in a
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devastate h, all of that, what's the test for you when you want to use american force? >> i don't think -- well, those are two separate questions. we are always prepared to use force unilaterally if need be to protect the american people, right, so you're asking a narrow question, which is where should we be willing to intervene militarily because we have a duty to protect other people, because things are getting chaotic and we need to impose order and so forth, and my approach is not to say we've got some perfect test that we can apply. >> rose: right. each situation is different. the costs and benefits of our intervention are going to be different each and every time. but i think what we can say is that, wherever possible, we should first and foremost try to get other countries to work with us to see if we can solve the problem where the costs of our
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military intervention are manageable and the benefits are potentially hig then i think it makes sense. we saw this in, you know, the balkans. >> rose: right. where you have a situation -- >> rose: using economic power. -- where you have a situation where you've got a much deeper structural problems and dynamics as occur in the middle east where you're seeing the kind of changes you only see every 50, 100 years, and we've already extended ourselves greatly because we've already made massive commitments in iraq and in afghanistan and where there is suspicion of u.s. motives and there are other parties and players involved, then i think you make a different decision. so you look at each situation differently. this is part of the reason, going back full circle, to why i don't tend to label these things as doctrines. i think if you have some set,
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rigid theory by which you're approaching those problems, you're going to end up making mistakes because the world is messy and complicated. >> rose: let me turn to issues that have been in the news recently which is the 28 pages of the 9/11 commission report. have you read it? >> you know, i have a sense of what's in there, but this has been a process which we generally deal with through the intelligence community, and jim clapper, our director of national intelligence, has been going through to make sure that whatever it is that is released is not going to compromise some major national security interest of the united states, and my understanding is that he is about to complete that process. we will get a sense from him about what is appropriate. i try not to -- >> rose: i hear you --
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-- make decisions, you know, personally get engaged in each and every decision made about classification -- >> rose: bob ram said he talked to the white house and they would be releasing the 28 pages some time in the future. >> i'll wait for the recommendation from jim clapper because that's the only way in an orderly fashion we can make sure we are being as open as possible while, at the same point, maintaining basic national security interests. >> rose: as you know the 9/11 commission record says we have no evidence members to have the government or prominent members of the saudi royal family were invoed in this but at the same time there was a lingering notion that there were people on the ground in the united states that helped those people and they could have not have done it without. it seems to me for the families that's a very important thing to know. >> look, i've met with 9/11 families repeatedly during my presidency and the heartache they're going through and the
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insistence on understanding the truth and getting justice is critical. so this is something that i'm very sympathetic to. what is also true is that there are reams of intelligence coming through constantly. some of them are raw and not tested, some of them are -- >> rose: and some of that may be in the 28 pages. >> some may be in the 28 pages, i don't know, but the point is it's important for there to be an orderly process where we evaluate this because what can end up happening is if you just dump a whole bunch of stuff out there that nobody knows exactly how credible it is, was it verified or not, it could end up creating problems. >> rose: but the point, is it's been a long time. >> yeah, it has. that i will acknowledge, and hopefully this process will come to a head fairly soon. >> rose: and what about this legislation in the congress that will allow families to sue the
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saudi government? i know the government's in different circumstances. >> i ammo posed because of the second clause in your sentence and that is this is not just a bilateral u.s.-saudi issue. this is a matter of how generally the united states approaches our interactions with other countries. if we open up the possibility that individuals in the united states can routinely start suing other governments, then we are also opening up the united states to being continually sued by individuals in other countries, and that would be a bad precedent because we're the largest super power in the world and we are everywhere and we are in people's business all the time and, you know, if we are in a situation where we're suddenly being hauled in to various courts because of the claim that some individual has been harmed,
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then that will tie us up and it could harm u.s. servicemen, u.s. diplomats, a whole bunch of stuff. so, as a matter of policy, this is just not something that we have ever done. this is not unique to this administration, and i think it's important for us to maintain that principle. >> rose: when you walked in, i said this has been a very interesting news day. you said every day here at the white house is an interesting news day. but let me talk about two announcements, one, going to iraq. >> yes. >> rose: as my question is as you've added more to that, what do you think can be accomplished in the battle against i.s.i.s. in iraq before your term of office ends? i'm thinking of the recapture of mosul, specifically. >> we've made significant progress. talking to you and others a year ago -- >> rose: right. -- and looking at what's happening over the course of this year, there was a question as to whether we'd not only get
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an iran nuclear deal but more importantly would they actually start getting rid of their nuclear materials, and a year later even the head of the israeli defense forms indicated that iran has abide bid that deal and iran's nuclear program has been greatly constrained and the deal's working as it's supposed. >> rose: and also behavior. we also said we were going to go after i.s.i.l on every front and that is, in fact, what we've done. this is a long, hard fight as i just said last week, but what we've seen is they've lost territory and, as we get closer to mosul in iraq an and raqqa ad syria, their two primary strongholds, what i've said to our secretary of defense and our generous is let's continue to resource what works and, as we see the iraqis willing to fight and gaining ground, let's make sure we're providing them more
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support. we're not doing the fighting ourselves but when we provide training and special forces who are backing them up, when we are gaining intelligence, working with the coalitions that we have, what we've seen is we can continually tighten the noose. my expectation is that by the end of the year we will have created the conditions whereby mosul will eventually fall. >> rose: created the conditions... >> but i don't know yet because we don't know what's going to be the actual situation on the ground as to whether something will have been launched, and i think it's important, and this is based on constant consultations with the iraqi government and iraqi military, with our own military, with our coalition members, what we've tried to do is let's make sure we're being very methodical. let's make sure that across the board if we say we're going to get something done we've done it in the right way. what we don't want is to start mething and then give i.s.i.l
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some sort of p.r. victory because they have been able to beat back an iraqi force that wasn't adequate. >> rose: when you arrived in the office, one of the things you said is i want to get osama bin laden. >> yes. >> rose: and you did. yeah. >> rose: i'm sure you feel the same way about baghdadi. >> i feel the same way about the entire i.s.i.l leadership structure, which is as wicked and as destructive as any group of individuals on this planet. >> rose: i know you do. yeah. >> rose: but you've got osama bin laden. >> yes. >> rose: do you think you will be able to get baghdadi by the end of your term? because i assume that would be very, very comforting for you. >> my goal is to make sure we're doing things right, we have a plan and we execute. you take bin laden as an example, i would have like to have gotten him the first year, but you don't have that luxury as president. what you have the ability to do
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is put and train all the pieces -- intelligence, military, diplomatic -- and you just keep on grinding it out. one of the things about -- people always asking me what will you learn, what advice will you give? a guy with no grey hair who came into office. >> rose: can i tell you how many people i talked to before i did this interview and the question of what has he learned and what is his advice for his successor camum all the time. >> right. so one of the things i've learned is that the big breakthroughs are typically the result of just a lot of grunt work. there is a lot of just blocking and tackling. we have incredible members of our military and our intelligence, and they are just dogged, but they are putting together the pieces of all these things, whether it's the iran nuclear deal, whether the breakthrough to cuba, whether it
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is advances on something like ebola or whether it is dealing with al quaida and these terrorist organizations, what is important is making sure you have an organization that has integrity, that is clear about its mission, that is doing things the right way and not taking short cuts, that you're not thinking in terms of short-term policy or p.r. but you're in it for the long haul and, when you do that a, ultimately you will get the good outcome. sometimes it's not on your timetable and that can be frustrating and i guarantee you it's frustrating to josh earnest my press secretary and folks who have to think about our politics because sometimes things don't happen on schedule. a great example, our ebola response was one of the singular, most effective international public health responses in history.
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the american people, through our doctors, our diplomats, our scientists, the c.d.c., we saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but it took about eight weeks longer than the news cycle that occurred and, so, as a consequence, americans may not fully appreciate what an historic, effective response that was because, when we were seeing ebola scares on television every single night, you know, things don't happen in two weeks. they happen over the course of months, and it's hard work. >> rose: telephone conversation food with president putin. >> yeah. >> rose: did you agree on, is there a coming together in terms of ideas about peace and the cease fire and who can do what to make syria a better place? >> the cessation of hostilities has now held roughly for seven weeks. there have been a lot of
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breaches to it. it's a messy environment. there's no doubt violence have been introduced and that's helped people who have been caught in the crossfire. my call to him today was to indicate we're starting to see it fray more rapidly and if the united states and russia are not in sync about maintaining it and getting a political track and transition moving, then we could be back in a situation we were three, four weeks ago, and that would serve neither of our interests. in theory, he agrees. whether in practice we'll actuallyee results remains to be seen. i think that russia recognizes that it does not want another afghanistan, where they are continually spending money and potentially losing lives, trying to prop up -- >> rose: and lost the war.
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-- an assad regime, but i think they are also very much committed to maintaining the structure of the syrian state which, in theory, we don't object to either. where we have continually butted heads -- and this has been true for six years, now -- is his insistence that he cannot back unilaterally the removal of assad, that that's a decision that assad and the syrians have to make. >> rose: but he said to that in two forums i've had with him, that very thing. >> right. >> rose: but my impression is he's not just committed to assad, he's just committed to a reasonable government in syria, as he defines it and as you define it. >> and that's where there is a potential overlap in interests. now, the challenge is that he's not the only person making the decisions. assad himself has something to
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say about it and the iranians have something to say about it. >> rose: do the iranians and the russian interests in syria differ? >> they don't perfectly overlap. they largely overlap, but the iranians are concerned about maintaining their connection to hezbollah in lebanon, they see syria as a vital mechanism whereby hezbollah retains its influence in lebanon. the russians may be less concerned about that. the russians share, i think, as much of a concern about i.s.i.l and nusra and other organizations because they've got a whole lot of muslims in russia who get radicalized and may be traveling back and forth through syria, so there is the potential fortunately a convergence of interests, but it has not yet been realized. the other thing we talked about was ukraine. >> rose: yeah. and these are the two areas
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that have put an enormous strain on u.s.-russia relations, and what i've said to putin before and i will continue to say to him as long as i'm president is that we cannot ratify russian aggression in eastern ukraine, but that there is an opportunity through the minsk process to resolve this peaceably and if we can resolve that piece of business, then that clears out a lot of the understood brush and suspicion and tension that's existed between the united states and russia, that would allow us to concentrate our efforts more on what's happening in syria and what is happening around the world as well. >> rose: do you consider ukraine part of the russian sphere of influence? >> i don't believe that any country, any sovereign country should be subject in 18t
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18th century or 19th century terms to being a vassal state of somebody else's. do i think there is a deep, historical link betweenussia and ukraine? absolutely, do i think russia will have some influence on what happens in ukraine? of course, the same way we have influence of canada and mexico and they have an influence over us, but there is a difference between that and them financing heavy weaponry that goes in and carves off big chunks of another country. so what i've said to him is, if we can get that resolved, then there is an opportunity for the united states and russia to concentrate on those areas where we have common interests. there are going to be some fundamental differences between the united states and russia and me and putin. we have different values and different interests, but we do have the opportunity, i think, to solve some big pieces of business. ukraine is an ongoing source of significant tension, not just
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between us and the russians but also between the europeans and the ssians. >> i hear optimism in your voice. >> i think there is a chance of it getting done. but, look, mr. putin and i, when we have conversations, they tend to be businesslike and courteous and rational but the actions don't always match up with the words and,o, my hope is that here's a situation where they will. >> rose: has russia emerged as a global player? >> well, russia never stopped being a global player, but i think that what is true is that mr. putin has made the use of russian military and a willingness to extend themselves, to protect their equities more of a priority than they had prior to him getting back in office as the president. one thing that i always try to
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remind people, though, is that the fact that russia had to intervene militarily in ukraine, the fact that russia has had to spend billions of dollars sending military support to syria, that's not a sign of russian strength, it's a sign of russian weakness. these were states that, up until recently, they had control over without having to send weapons. >> rose: but he -- and -- look, our influence is not based on us killing and muscles folks in order to cooperate with us. they cooperate with us because they see their interests are best served by working with us. that's why we have all these alliances around the world. that's why we are a super power. the fact that we are very strong and have an extraordinarily effective military is obviously
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underpins a lot of what we do, just as we have the world's largest economy and the fact that we have this incredible diplomatic apparatus, all those things make a difference, but ultimately the best kind of power is the power that people consent to, that they say, we care about the united states and want to work with them because we actually think that, when we work with the united states, they help meet our interests. >> rose: and they admire our values. >> and they admire our values. >> rose: two last questions. yeah. >> rose: one, what good has come out of the iranian nuclear deal other than they have lived up to the provisions of the specific deal about eliminating nuclear facilities? is there a change in behavior? is there a relationship that has improved because you got past this nuclear deal and the
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drawing down of sanctions? >> well, i'll answer your question, but i do want to just point out that, if you asked me what good has -- what good have you done by, you know, protecting your family and making sure that your kids can go to college other than they can go to college and they're safe. you know, you would start of say you don't understand the question. >> rose: i'm trying to be generous about this. i'm saying it has merit on its own but beyond that is there something else. >> i guess that's my point. the whole point of the deal was the deal and making sure. >> rose: and -- hold on a second. and making sure iran didn't have a nuclear weapon. >> rose: which was important. well, wasn't just important. i mean, according to in -- many
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of my opponents when i ran for the presidency, according to prime minister netanyahu and many in the gulf who oftentimes have been my critics, this was the single most important thing. now that it's been accomplished everybody's, like, well, what have you done for me lately? (laughter) it was a pretty big deal making sure they don't have a nuclear weapon. >> rose: we give you that. now that that's been established. >> rose: yes, sir, you've done that. >> i think that beyond that what we've done is created a conversation inside of iran. >> rose: right. how that conversation plays out, i don't know. i always said that we would not do this deal premised on the notion that this transforms iraq. the is -- >> rose: but you hope it does. there is no doubt that there is a conversation inside of iran between hardliners who want to preserve the old ways and those who want to open up to the
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world. this deal is a proof point potentially for those who want to open up to the world, which is why it's been resisted by the hard liners in iran, and we're going to have to see who wins that argument. i think it is important forrous to abide by our end of the deal, to make sure iran sees some benefit from the deal. in the meantime, we are going to continue to be very vigilant in monitoring those activities in terms of sponsoring terrorism or provocative activity outside of the region. we are continually concerned about the ballistic missile tests and other military actions they may take. but the fact that there is that argument and that there is a channel between the united states and iran for the first time since 1979, i think that is significant. it provides a possibility of additional changes in behaviors. in that sense, it's not perfectly analogous but similar
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to my trip to cuba. do i think that cuba is going to change over night? no. but i think there is now a conversation in cuba about how their society i organized, how their economy is organized and what their relationship should be with the outside world, and have we taken away an argument for not changing inside of cuba? absolutely. and this is part of going back to the question about an obama doctrine. again, i don't subscribe to a single doctrine. what i do believe in is that the most powerful tools we have oftentimes in many of these situations are the power of our example, our economy, our culture, our values, and the fact that this internet-driven,
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innovation-driven, technologically-driven world that we live in is really our brain child, it's our creation. so if we can continue to create more space for people to see the benefits of that, that's not going to guarantee eace and prosperity and an end to violence and war but it can make a big difference. >> rose: it's a fascinating model. you have said more than one time that we are the strongest military, we have the best economy, you've mentioned the culture, you look at the technological advantage we have and all of that -- america should own the 21st century, your words. >> yeah. >> rose: what could stop us? well, a couple of things could stop us. number one is if our political system continues to be dysfunctional. it's fascinating the degree to which the single most important
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question i'm asked these days from other world leaders is what's going on with your elections? >> rose: i was just in china, same thing. >> but in some ways, the current presidential election just is the tip of a broader iceberg of dysfunction that we've seen -- congress threatening the full faith and credibility of the united states because they want to overturn obamacare, or our inability to make basic investments in infrastructure which are part of what's made us such an incredible economic engine -- there are basic things we know if we do put us in a stronger position and, if we're not doing them, then it's not because of some technological issue, it's because of our politics. >> rose: why can't we fix our politics? >> well, that's probably for part two of the interview because that's going to take us a long time. the other thing that could
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threaten our position internationally is, i think, an unwillingness to engage in the world. part of what you're seeing right now in some of the presidential debates is the notion of we engage only to blow somebody up or to build a wall to keep people out, but beyond that, worrying about foreign aid, trying to creat a fair trading system with other countries, trying to lift other continents out of poverty or electrify them, you know, that's all a waste of time and we should be just focused on us, and that, by the way, gets some traction both in democratic and republican circles, and part of what i think we have to realize is the choice is not between us going around invading everybody and being the world's policeman or
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just pulling back and withdrawing from the world. the key is for us to recognize that we've built this international order with the help of our allies. it has to be nurtured, it has to be tended. there are times when military interventions are required to support it, but more often it is us being willing to organize trade deals like the trans-pacific partnership that prevent china from imposing its rules throughout the fastest growing region in the world. more often it is helping on ebola so the continent of africa sees the benefits of working with the united states and those diseases don end up spreading here, now zika coming out of south america. more often, it has to do with us organizing the paris claimwork
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for climate change and if we don't do something, eventually miami, new york and my home state are all affected. that's the kind of engagement we need and i think we'll be doing ourselves a great disservice if we define our leadership too narrowly as just military or if we abdicate that leadership and discount the role that we play. >> rose: or if we don't rise to the challenge when we are likely challenged in a way that goes to the heart of who we are. >> that's exactly right. so thank you, charlie. >> rose: thank you, mr. president. pleasure. >> appreciate it. >> rose: for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com.
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>> rose: on the next charlie rose, >> rose: on the next charlie rose, a conversation with musician ben harper. ♪ after the storm ♪ and the skies are blue
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♪ after everything we put each other through ♪ ♪ after the rain ♪ the wind dries us cold ♪ after the storm >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information serves worldwide.
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the following kqed production was produced in high definition. ♪ calories, calories, calories! >> wow, it rocked my world! >> it just kind of reminded me of boot camp. >> i don't know what you had, but this is great! >> it almost felt like sort of country club food to me. >> don't touch it. it's hot! >> i gotta tell you, yo

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