tv Worlds Apart With Oksana Boyko RT January 19, 2014 9:29am-10:01am EST
productive. and in the middle east in particular u.s. policy has been pretty consistently counterproductive in recent years so i don't see a contradiction at all between my service for the us government my own view of myself as an american patriot and criticism of my government's policies now many of the policies that bureau i analyzed in your book america's misadventures in the middle east tend to have some sort of recurring patterns you know some of the mistakes tend to be made over and over again and yet i think. there is so little self reflection on the part of both the american public and the american decision makers i wonder why is that we are a continental sized country of three hundred and fifteen million people very self-absorbed we are. slated from the world by two large oceans.
we tend to think of foreign policy is something we do to other people rather than to something we participate in with them or that they doo doo. so there's a particularly since the end of the cold war there's been a sense on the part of many americans that we are invulnerable exempt from reprisal and unfortunately that is not the case so if you don't suffer consequences directly and personally for the mistakes you make you tend to not learn from them and to repeat them you know what gets many foreigners including russians about these american self image is this sounds of exceptionalism a special mission this shining city on a hill and. you know whether people like it or not i think we have to admit that at least in one respect america is an exceptional country and that is its ability to
influence the lives of people in other countries is the power that it will still will than the world and i think you would probably agree with me that the leverage that american presidents have in foreign policy is much greater than iran on the domestic front do you think people in america realize how much power they have for our all over all of you know beyond the united states well there's a disconnect in in our thinking on the one hand as you indicate americans have always sought to aspire to a higher standard for ourselves. to try to persuade the world that we we have that aspiration and that in some respects we live up to those those aspirations on the other hand we are very powerful country in the military sphere in particular we have no peer there is no one who can begin to
match us and economically until very recently there was no challenger to our ascendancy so we have we have been able. to. to have an inordinate effect on people abroad without really realizing the way this this looks to the people who are on the receiving end of american power but do you think it's simply because the american people don't care that they don't travel around or while they on all day interested in foreign news and therefore couldn't care alas or is it because of the way some of the american institutions are sat up now i think it's. the case that. you know during the cold war there was a so there was a true sense of peril from foreign relations somebody in moscow could turn a key and seventeen and a half minutes later perhaps eighty million americans would be dead so there was
a sense that foreign policy was something that one had to exercise extreme caution about. since the end of the cold war the united states has not faced any kind of existential threat from anyone certainly not from russia or the other remnants of the soviet union i thought after nine eleven i thought that this would lead to an upsurge in american public interest in foreign news but it didn't and it was interesting to read explanations of why it did not these basically centered around lack of familiarity with foreign conditions such that readers of newspapers said well i don't have enough background to really understand foreign news so i don't bother to read it because i know i won't really understand it so we are actually very. much less well informed on the mass level then we ought to be now if you mentioned earlier that there seems to be much less caution in be an
american foreign policy following because lapse of the saudi opinion and the following be. you know essentially be the last of any deterred. and for the united states in your book you mentioned. you know that the lack of that caution and we have seen in some of the misadventures that your country has been engaged into over the past. several decades and i think one common thread that we can see in your book is that regardless of how valid the policy objective may be it seems that it often lacks a thought through reality based implementation strategy you know the united united states proclaim some certain goal but it never follows through and never of brings it to any sort of completion and you give the example of the first iraqi war which you believe was a tactical success but
a foreign policy failure simply because it was sort of abandoned half way and i think we can see the examples of that in many other american adventurist so if you don't mind me comparing the united states are finding a matter for four b. years foreign policy with comparative person with a the age the who is eager to start many new things but that sort of abandons them halfway because he lacks i don't know discipline or determination or any kind of strategy to bring them to some sort of result what do you think about that well i don't agree with you about that i think the problem with the goal for that is the war to liberate kuwait was the absence of a war terminations strategy there was no m. saddam hussein was not asked to accept anything there was a united nations resolution imposed on. you cheated as best you
will about its implementation so the war didn't and in fact it was in a different form in two thousand and three what would you have done differently to bring about their work. both political solution to iraq well i think if you're talking about the invasion of iraq in two thousand and three that was a terrible mistake for the same reason. that option was rejected back in one nine hundred ninety one. the notion that somehow or other you can invade another society and impose a system of government on it on the cheap this kind of hit and run democratization notion is absolutely preposterous so the objectives were wrong actually of course the invasion in two thousand and three was not justified on the terms that were stated there were no weapons of mass destruction so dumb was not seen by
his neighbors as an imminent threat. and the there was no strategy for regime change so. if you ask me what i would have done differently i wouldn't have invaded iraq and i said so publicly at the time. to say somewhat less than universal applause now given what we already discussed about the recurring pattern of american foreign policy and i know that been many of your previous interviews you stated that clearly the united states hasn't achieved its objectives in iraq despite wasting all those billions of dollars and thousands of five american lives do you think the prospect of restoring the war in iraq is possible given that again i'm erica still has interest in that part of the wild well i think the american people are quite weary of war in the middle east and you could see that with the last minute. calling off of
a proposed limited strike on syria the problem in iraq is that the united states catalyzed as sectarian struggle between shiites and. is and also added to the differences between kurds and arabs with the result of the society is greatly divided and very violent and it has not been able to achieve any kind of domestic tranquility or stability and in that sense the war was a supreme failure is it really. is it really the case of a bomb or administration being in the willing to engage itself into another war i mean he's trying to do from the very beginning was leading from behind and you can argue about peace still leading from behind in terms of acquiescing to both you know saudis and turkey funding and arming the rebels so rather of the united states
is actively involved in that war may be all of our secondary importance they have the fact is they would the war is still raging and the united states is playing a lot of. you know has a lot of influence in that war well i think after of the deal on chemical weapons which sergey lavrov. basically imposed on. john kerry. the odd thing is that we have a rhetorical stance of favoring the overthrow of the regime but in practice we need to preserve the command and control apparatus of that regime and in other words the regime mates needs to stay in power for about a year in order to police up the chemical weapons as has been agreed so there are lots of contradictions we have to take a short break now but i would like to come back to these very point afterward but
also it's been five years since barack obama was elected to the american presidency promising a change in how america deals with the rest of the world what happened of doc promise that's coming up in a few moments on well the part. when you are followed around when you are being investigated because of the whim of someone this is the beginning of the end of your freedom. goes to eunice a new teen lee in a sept american citizens moves text messages you know. where the cold text messages so you test and see everything without my knowledge but actually basically and that's a legal absolutely legal yes when you bareback with the internet your bare back with big brother. u.s.
president barack obama's public opinion ratings are in the doldrums he may finishes days in office as one of the country's worst in least effective presidents how do historians and the public to determine the success or failure of an american president and why are some presidents rehabilitated years or even decades after they leave office. it was a. very hard to take over. once again there was a lot at that facts with the earthquake there no. one. was.
going. welcome back to worlds apart we're discussing here is foreign policy with one of the country's most distinguished diplomats cast for months ambassador freeman five years ago you were offered the very influential position in the obama administration as the chair of the national intelligence council and elsewhere that you had to decline because of congressional no opposition on some other factors as well but back then you had very high expectations for president obama let's listen to what you had to say on the topic a very bright and articulate man with
a strategic and and what we need more than anything is a strategic review of the policies that have brought us to this sorry pass in which we now find ourselves ambassador freeman i wonder five years on has that strategic review of the american policy is really taken place no i don't think it has and that's a great source of disappointment not just to me but to many americans. there is instead been there a great deal of continuity between the policies of the george w. bush administration which in many respects were a disaster and those of the obama administration i think the president began with an effort to change course and he was very quickly mugged by reality in the form of the israel lobby in the middle east. and the congressional republican. party effort to ensure that is president so you felt but i wonder what is it about
the u.s. foreign policy that makes it so entrenched in its old ways because we have president obama somebody you described as a bright and articulate man of with a strategic mind somebody who managed to reinvigorate not only his own the actress but people all around the world even in countries that are. do not consider themselves traditional american allies like china russia iran all those countries were excited about having him as a new type of leader and yet even he it seems operates in these old modes is there any hope at all for american foreign policy to be reviewed well it's nothing like failure to induce reflection. on the number of failures is mounting it's not just iraq war which. was a failure. afghanistan is also shaping up as a major failure we will leave there in whole or in part and we will leave
behind. in an incomplete and unstable state a robust insurgency and the largest opium market ever. so it's very hard to see what has been accomplished at the cost cumulatively of perhaps six trillion dollars an enormous amount which burdens future generations of americans with with debt that must be ripped for the reflection doesn't seem to be forthcoming because if we take the most recent engagement they want to be mentioned in the first part syria president obama declared the assad regime illegitimate very early into the conflict i think it was august two thousand and eleven here and all three of his diplomatic and political support behind the militarized opposition as i mentioned here acqui asked to saudi arabia and turkey funneling arms and
support for the rebels but i wonder if you think that the war terminations try to do for the obama administration in syria is any clearer than what it was for george w. bush in iraq or afghanistan no i don't think anybody at this point has a credible strategy for. terminating the struggle. in syria and. i think the president made several major mistakes. if indeed the united states would be it would benefit from the overthrow of the said regime it was not wise to declare that as an objective at the outset because once that was said publicly. to diminish the advent of the administrations and sat have to negotiate and it persuaded the opposition that there was no point in negotiating because somehow or other the united states and the international
community would do the job of getting rid of us for them similarly drawing a red line about chemical weapons basically had the effect of incentivizing some people to use chemical weapons to produce an intervention or at least produce evidence whether it was accurate or not that chemical weapons had been used so this is been a particularly bad demonstration of of bad diplomacy and it raises a question about the competence of the people around the president. and i have to say. one has to have grave doubts about their confidence now are we mentioned earlier are you here or appeal for that strategic review of policies and i would argue about a great possibility for that was missed when you had to withdraw your candidacy as the chair of the national intelligence council a body that is actually responsible for compiling those strategic recombination for
the american government now the main reason the side of baghdad was the smear campaign by what you called the far right israeli lobby or likud will be since that bad political force gave even more power in israel and on the top of that it seems to have. a lot of leverage over the album my administration one recent example of that is new to me a whole sabotaging talks may be iranians are you know preventing the obama administration from even getting to the negotiating table left alone striking any deal is going to yahoo or indeed more powerful than obama at this point well he certainly has more of a following in congress and that is a big problem. now we have now a remarkable situation in which. the syrian issue or the or for that matter on the iranian issue which you raised we have israeli laws being power
being brought to bear in france and the united states along with saudi money in the case of fronts and it's quite a formidable combination but it's not over yet. the question that the israelis and the saudis have in effect goes back to some of the earlier failures they don't trust the wisdom of the united states of the obama administration they don't trust our constancy they don't see this as reliable and therefore they fear what sort of deal we might make with the with the iranians i think there is a deal to be made. and i expect that there will be a strong effort to make one. i hope if there is a deal maybe it will be a sound one. there for him and that leads me to my next question as you just pointed out israel is not alone and its efforts to avert any deal with the iranian
saudi arabia is also extremely anxious or wary about any efforts in that direction and since you served as ambassador years and master to saudi arabia let me ask you this question i know that this alliance unlikely alliance between israel and saudi arabia didn't emerge yesterday existed for quite some time probably quietly and it was glued by the united states but nowadays both of these countries at least the current leadership of these countries are somewhat critical publicly of the obama administration and i wonder whether you think that this alliance between saudis and israelis can be sustained on its own without the united states i think they have concerns which are directly but i don't i don't see this as an alliance and i don't think it's largely. it's it's interesting
during the cold war saudi arabia. was able to put aside its differences with the united states over the israel palestine issue no saudi arabia has such an im strong concern about the power of iran but it's again willing to set aside. the israel palestine issue and relegated to a second level of priority and even to. act in such a way is to invite cards is that it has an alliance with is it's really quite remarkable ambassador freeman but i don't think our saudis concerns our ambitions and with just rivaling iran i don't know if you've been very complimentary of the about the saudi king abdullah your called him abdullah the great for his efforts to reform the country and. you know trying to limit the influence of religious extremists extremists but it's no longer a secret that his house leaves much to be desired and much of the foreign policy
decision making is now concentrated in the hands of prince bandar the chief all for our security services and his masses of operation a somewhat different at least when it comes to syria. has not shy about call parading with extremists on this syrian front lines what is your view of saudi arabia's new role in the region and the tactics bad it seems to employ well saudi arabia continues to have a strong relationship with the united states particularly centered on counterterrorism but it is now openly in disagreement with the united states on a range of issues these include the nature of the regime in egypt. and they include what should be done and. they include whether the government in baghdad should or should be supported they include issues in syria.
the u.s. reluctance to. use force against the assad regime and of course include iran and its regional activities as well as its its nuclear programs so that's a pretty long list of disagreements and what's different about things is that the saudis no longer seem constrained about talking openly about their differences with the united states and they're taking a much more independent role in the region it seems to me ambassador that it's not just that saudis who have this expansionist foreign policy can that israel has similarly broken broad ambitions turkey also has a very. high expectations and a very high esteem ation of what's wrong in the region and i wonder if that is in an in an over itself not the result of american foreign policy all those countries
essentially seeing themselves as a larger version of the united states well i'm not sure i'd agree with your characterization of what's happening in the region i think it's clear that the order that was once sustained by the united states and our relationships with various countries in the region as essential to be broken down and countries are acting. in an essentially an archaic situation in the region in their own interest as they see it but most often i think they would characterize their own actions as defensive rather than off and even israel would do that despite the constant expansion it gauges in it but that's a that's a very convenient this isn't it they have to use these difference to a strategy or defense does difficult mission for sanding wraparound and they intervening in their affairs of other countries read them in. that i think there's
been a sudden consistent pattern here of using the same. sort of just if occasions because the united states also all the time justifies its actions by the need to protect its own security it seems to be the paramount concern for everybody and nowadays it seems to be a justification for whatever actions you might take in foreign policy i don't think this is a particular trait of americans i think everybody has their own. view of what threatens the. tributes their own but coals their own behavior defensive and probably believes that so that is the case even though from the perspective of those with whom they're interacting their behavior doesn't seem defenses at all it seems quite. offensive but i don't think this is particularly related to any particular attributes of the united states well i guess
me i am about to finish with what we began with and this is a total lack of self reflection not only on the part of the americans but now increasingly on the part of many other countries in the region ambassador freeman unfortunately basis only have time for but i really appreciate your candor and to our viewers if you like of the show please join us again same place same time here on worlds apart. as a new physician i swear to abide by the hippocratic oath. to the best of my ability and judgment. i will prescribe for the good of
my patients. i will not give deadly doses to anybody. or advise others to do so. i will never do harm to. doctors of the dogs onto. dramas that just be ignored. stories others refused to notice. faces changed rights never. told pictures of today's new life form to run from rugs to blow. up to. fifty.
we have corruption like we've never had in this country you can say that this is a great economy right now it's a great economy if you're rich or we're trying to get the wall to wall street cranked up again if you've got all your money in stocks it's beginning to show a little life it's not if you're an average person in this country i would i have to tend to agree with doug i mean i see a lot of public relations here i don't see
a lot of really good policy for the average person i'd just like to pick up on an earlier point that doug made though which i also thought was quite important and significant especially insofar as historians can provide value by looking for trends and putting things in context which was the assassination of a u.s. citizen overseas really you might say the power of a king to have life or death over their citizens without without an open trial.
up to months of hesitation and pressure from its western because syria's main opposition group though will attend peace talks in geneva aimed at finding a political way out of the conflicts and the stories that shape this week. of the reforms i'm proposing today should give the american people greater confidence that their rights are being protected. the american president promises to restrain the surveillance comments of the n.s.a. . but critics say the proposed reforms while trying to say. i'm to the international criminal court may soon see told british military officials and the dog for the first time in history about his actions a will crimes committed by troops during the iraq war. one six relating to read.