tv Worlds Apart RT March 25, 2018 10:30pm-11:01pm EDT
well these weapons were overcome u.s. missile defenses u.s. missile defenses were totally ineffective against russian forces already so there will be more effective against russian forces. going on welcome to all the vice president trumps hiring and firing practices have long stopped to surprise but their recent designations first of my compare as the secretary of state and then of john bolton as the national security adviser did leave an impression on friends and foes alike what can we expect from old the
president's men well to discuss that i'm now joined by michael o'hanlon senior fellow at the brookings institution mr howland it's good to talk to you thank you very much for being here my pleasure thanks for having me now the trumpet ministrations h.r. policies have been unconventional from the very start but it says that now is a high time for letting people go and bringing new people on board do you see that as a random coincidence or is there a reason the strategy to all of these appointments happening right now well as you know there was a lot of turnover last year throughout much of the white house staff in particular but i do think that there is a purpose to changing both the secretary of state and the national security adviser in the same month i don't think that could be a coincidence and i think part of what's happening is the president has decided that he knows what kind of personalities he likes to work with he said.
says that he had ok relationship with general mcmaster but it wasn't all that close and there may be people that he would feel closer to politically in terms of partisan politics in terms of world view and of course secretary of state tellers and was a little bit of an enigma he seemed to be very reasonable and moderate and thoughtful in some ways but he didn't really click with the president and he didn't really click with his own state department and so i think president trump took all this in stride took all this together talked to his chief of staff john kelly and they decided to make some national security changes essentially all together to try to create the feel of a new team preparing for a big new season if you will where we have huge decisions coming up on everything from the joint comprehensive plan of action with iran to the upcoming summit with kim jong un in north korea to the possibility of a summit between president putin and president trump so many other things that are
on the horizon now donald trump is probably be miles davis if figure in the washington these days but coming in second is john bolton the home he had just appointed as his national security adviser and when john bolton was working as the american ambassador to the united nations he didn't make many friends not only because of his very hawkish views but also because of his personality i think it's safe to say that he's not a very amicable character and neither is trump do you think they will make a good fit together you know it's a very interesting question and i think there's actually a lot of truth in the way you put the question to me they are both you know different kind of people and neither one is widely popular with those they interact with the only one of those two that i know personally is john bolton i know i'm reasonably well he's a polite man we've always had. conversations he tends to be somewhat reserved and
withdrawn i'm a democrat but i'm sort of a conservative or hawkish democrat most democrats don't tend to like him so well a lot of republicans think his views are quite extreme and don't like him so well either i think it's not so much about his personality although that's part of it but i think it's more about his view of the world as you know donald trump has said some things as candidate as president that are a bit disruptive he's a bit of a maverick on issues like foreign trade military alliances how to deal with president putin and russia on some of these issues john bolton is much more of a classic old fashioned hard line conservative so in that sense their world views are not necessarily aligned on all the big questions they're they're fairly aligned on iran maybe on north korea i'm not so sure they're aligned on most issues now since you know i'm best at both and so well. let me ask you a question that may not seem very polite but nonetheless one of the descriptions of
him that stuck with me over the years if somebody characterizing him as a key stop kick down kind of guy do you think that's a fair assessment you know i never worked in a government position with embassador bolton so i've only spoken to him as sort of a colleague on the outside and i'm not going to criticize him therefore because he's never been disrespectful or impolite to me buddy you know hasn't been treating me as a government colleague or a rival either and so i really can't confirm or deny that theory i do think that he's a bit withdrawn because i do think that he's been suspicious of a lot of the intellectuals that he's been around in his life because his views his views are a bit on the outside of the mainstream he's not always been well received therefore he's not always been popular and therefore sometimes he's felt a little bit outside of a group and that i think has tended to make him a bit withdrawn not in not in a mean way i've never. seen meanness but i have seen quite
a bit of reserve now mr bolton likes to talk a lot about empirical reality and how it often contradicts beautiful aspirations and i think the imperial reality in the world and in the united states has changed quite dramatically since he was last in in the government do you think he's going to be just as hawkish as many people fear him to be as you know the national security advisor is an advisor he has no independent power separate from that of the president and his first job really is to help coordinate the views of the government or at least to try to bring different views to the president's attention in a way they can be discussed and aired out and then to ensure that whatever president trump decides is implemented so he is not an independent voice per se now historically national security advisers have sometimes become very close and very close confidence and advisors to the presidents they served henry kissinger with
richard nixon or brant scowcroft with the first president bush but other times they really have a role more like staff where they are you know in charge of setting up running meetings ensuring coordination on execution and implementation of policy so i don't really know how important john bolton's views are going to be to the decision making of president trump i do think that he is very hardline on issues like iran and north korea in both cases he's written or talked about using military force about re-imposing even tougher sanctions about tearing up existing deals or you know nuclear rangelands of one kind or another he seems like he wants to be a bit of a revolutionary especially on those two countries perhaps also in regard to russia although i'm less clear on that and the question is will president trump want that advice or will he ultimately decide that bolton you know is a little too extreme and he's glad. he heard that opinion but he alternately will
not choose it now mr bolton used to be a very very harsh critic of russia but i think that the kind of rhetoric that he used to practice a couple of years ago has now become so mainstream that honestly even to a russian ear he does not. sound too extreme and. you seem to be a bit ambivalent there on the log he's going to contribute to making the u.s. russian relationship more toxic than it already is but i wonder what is your best guess on that yeah i don't know you know right now what's happening in the united states as you're aware is that we have a number of concerns in regard to russia and we're addressing some of the more thoughtfully and more aggressively than others so for example we're worried about russia's potential threats to the baltic states and therefore we have operation atlantic resolve the so-called european deterrence initiative we've got nato forces
rotating through poland in the baltics and i think that will continue and that's probably enough to reinforce in your putin's mind the idea that we are committed to the security of all of our nato allies i don't think john bolton needs to add anything there necessarily or even if he adds something maybe it's a few hundred more u.s. troops it probably doesn't need to be a big deal on the other hand in dealing with the election security problem that we had in two thousand and sixteen concerns about russian manipulation of voter rolls or of you know email releases from the democratic national committee or setting up trolls and adding fake news into our social media accounts i don't think we've done very well at protecting ourselves from future threats regardless of whether they're from russia or some other place these are new threats in the world of the internet and social media and we need to toughen our electoral system so that we're less vulnerable president trump. doesn't like this conversation because he sees it as an
attack on the legitimacy of his election victory in two thousand and sixteen but i think john bolton will try to persuade president that in fact this is a threat to our country more generally and we have to address it regardless of whether we think it came from russia or somewhere else in the where it would come in the future and at whose expense it might occur in the future so on that issue bolton probably will want us to be stronger and tougher i could go on but you see what i'm driving at on some issues bolton just has to sustain current policy and others he may push for some new ideas now. you're being very diplomatic in this conversation but you yourself wrote the other day in one of your articles that putin behaves like a thug at home and this is i think very similar to the language that ambassador bolton would be used with russia or its leader and i can tell you for sure that if president trump decides to quote from your articles in his conversation about vladimir putin and that conversation would not last very long i wonder how do you
think the american president should navigate this very complex challenge of negotiating in good faith with russia beach presupposes a certain degree of politeness and having to please russia critics or russia haters both at home and big in his own administration right well let me say two things first to clarify why i use that language because i saw a number of things happen that i think the kremlin had a hand in everything from the attempted assassination of the double agent in britain to some of the support for the assad regime and its barrel bombing and artillery attacks on its own populations in syria and perhaps even issues like the now i'm soft killing in russia and the evidence that i've seen suggests complicity at the highest levels of the russian government in some of these tragedies which had a very human cost now i could be wrong but that's my working understanding and that's why i use strong words at the expense of the russian president how. i also have
written about how i think that latimer putin is genuinely respected among russians because he did help stabilize the country after the yeltsin years he tried to restore a sense of stability growing prosperity international prestige and in my writings i've tried to argue that we need to understand the basis for president putin's popularity even if we ourselves don't like him and that's the way i try to combat this now in diplomacy you're right you know what i've written on these pieces of paper as a scholar is one thing if i were somehow meeting with president putin which i don't expect to do but if if i were somehow asked to do that that i would try to be polite but i also want to raise human rights issues because that is fundamentally one of the divisive issues right now separating the united states from russia and by the way one last point i know that if lattimer putin were in this conversation he would point out that we americans sometimes feel a little bit holier than thou that we sometimes feel like we're the only country
that's trying to be moral but we also we also make a lot of mistakes and some of them are from negligence or incompetence for example the poor way in which we prepared to stabilize iraq after the invasion of two thousand and three the poor way in which we prepared to stabilize libya after the overthrow of cut off the in two thousand and eleven the way in which we encouraged the syrian opposition to rise up against assad in two thousand and eleven but then didn't give them enough help so we just essentially condemned the country to a civil war and i would personally acknowledge that if president putin said these things to me or to us that he would have a certain amount of validity in those arguments so you know the criticisms can go in both directions certainly criticism could go in both directions but i think the big sound of damage i simply don't understand how americans can even compare that because if you take the you do war in the racket they were in libya they were in syria the casualty is a measure of them how hundreds of thousands whatever you don't like about. russia's
action in in its neighborhood or even in the middle east it never calms to. same point and yet. political culture. it is very common to even deny russia's moral equivalence but the united states despite the fact that democrats i'm sorry for being blunt killed far far more people around the world than russians have ever done don't you find this. rather contradictory and well you know i recognize the need for this debate because i hear what you're saying and some of it i agree with and all of it needs to be discussed now in syria from an american a standard american point of view which is not necessarily mine but a standard american point of view is that we rose up or we encouraged on protests protests or speech infiltrated from iraq reach killed a lot of people beheaded
a lot of people suppressed rights people's rights to much larger extent that they local government you know come back to iraq but on syria the american interpretation is that we supported demonstrators and then they were mowed down by assad and then russia came in to help assad who already had a lot of blood on his hands the russian view is that americans were naive because by supporting the demonstrators they failed to foresee the most likely result and so even if the americans were not morally directly guilty of murder they wound up encouraging a process which had foreseeable consequences that were very bad now my view i'm not really here to debate you because what i've tried to do is to acknowledge that there are these two different narratives and they're both partially correct and i think we do need to revisit u.s. russia relations by listening to each other's narratives i'm critical of president putin yes but i also have said that we need to rethink the way. which nato has
expanded into eastern europe and we need to try to negotiate a new security architecture with lattimer putin that would anticipate an end to nato expansion provided that putin would help resolve the ukraine and georgia crises and agree that all these countries can join the european union someday if they wish and if they're invited and if we can do that deal then we can sort of restart u.s. russia relations eliminate the sanctions and go to a more stable period in our history that's the kind of dialogue that i want to have well mr hamlyn we have to take a short break but we will be back in just a few moments states in. the far right. isn't just on the march it's taking violent mother's action i don't like. you know i see these organizations which are all usually split into which we take different names how do you view the.
welcome back to worlds apart with michael o'hanlon senior fellow at the brookings institution mr howland just before the break we were talking about the perceptions of the war in iraq and there is an opinion that the appointment of john bolton is a direct consequence of the united states failing to reckon with their legacy of the bush years treating dot's war as a blunder as a mistake rather than a crime that it was and we all know the john bolton that the time was one of the loudest advocates of that war he's still pushing. for a preemptive strikes against both iran and north korea how high is the danger in
your view of history repeating itself in this administration well that is a question that a lot of us are asking in washington right now as well because like i've said before in this conversation i don't think that president trump will automatically do what john bolton tells him to do and i think secretary of defense jim mattis will have a lot of influence still i hope that secretary of state incoming peo will be very thoughtful on some of these issues although as you know he's also very hardline especially on the iran question so i don't really know what president trump is going to decide but i agree with the way you put the question that a lot of us now have this concern because we have taken away one relatively more moderate voice that's you know a charming master who has lived through a lot of war who has fought a lot who knows the consequences of war who understands the limited options that we sometimes have before us and we're replacing. h.r.
mcmaster was someone who is much more hardline and more ideological and in my opinion somewhat less experienced in the most important ways they can prepare somebody for this job so i'm a little bit more nervous myself but i'm not going to predict what president trumps decisions will be because again historically there are times where the national security advisor has not been the most influential or even one of the most influential advisers to a president or sometimes that person's role has been more about implementation and management and we'll have to see how this works out with john bolton now mr headland you've written a lot about the tensions between russia and the to the tensions that have lot muscatine in the past have only been in a new generation of weapons which at least according to the kremlin run the u.s. missile defense system in europe obsolete do you believe that to be the case and if so do you think russia is now in the position of negotiating peace through strength as ronald reagan these to put it first of all i think the united states and russia
both need to find ways to stop wasting money on nuclear arms because we are so much above everyone else and also we have so much power against the other one neither side could ever disarm the other with a preemptive strike and the other side could use a missile defense system to prevent a retaliation by the other side so we have more than we need and i regret that we're both wasting more money on these systems than we need to in the united states we anticipate spending something like one point three trillion dollars on our nuclear modernization agenda over the next twenty to twenty five years i think that's more than we should be spending and part of the reason is we're returning to a little bit of an arms race dynamic with russia however on your broader point about peace through strength. i actually do share some of that hopeful vision and i'm glad to see russia in some ways be stronger under vladimir putin have more self-confidence rebuild some elements of its military strength it causes me. in certain actions that russia's carried out but i think
a strong russia is good for the world it's good for the stability of eurasia to the extent that russia feels good about its own territorial coherence and protection that makes russia more confident actor and a more secure actor and so i'm in favor of that a couple of years ago a colleague of mine named cliff gatti he and i wrote an article in which we suggested that a future russia that the united states should aspire to would be something that we would call a reagan off russia so we took the were ronald reagan and added the russians suffix o. v. to imply that a peace through strength attitude on the part of russia where the army is is well treated and strengthen where the patriotism of the country is reinforced where the country feels that it's on its feet stable secure and prosperous this actually is the kind of russia the united states should want and it's a more realistic aspiration than believing that russia is going to want to join the
european union or you know become the new other loans or sweden i think russia is very different than a lot of european countries in its political outlook and its history but we can i think benefit from a strong russia that self-confident and at peace with its neighbors i'm not sure i agree with you about russia joining with europe i mean certainly russia is not going to be part of the european union but i think russia definitely sees itself as part of the european civilization with everything that in it entails including human rights the respect for the rule of florida democratic institutions free and fair elections that cetera but coming back to that point of reagan of russia because i actually think that putin. may read a lot of. reagan thinking because he talks about that in his own way but he sensually his main point is that russia will only be respected when when it's strong it is only the strong russia that the west and the united states in
particular could take seriously but the. letter question i'm not quite sure you said that this is the kind of pressure that the west should one but do you think this is the kind of pressure that the west can take yes i think it's our i think right now we're not there i mean right now i see a russia that's still struggling to figure out its role in the world and i think some of what vladimir putin has done is regrettable it's understandable but it's also regrettable and you know you have good criticisms of american foreign policy mistakes and i think a lot of your criticisms are important ones for us to hear and reflect on i also have criticisms of russian foreign policy i think russia's been too aggressive towards ukraine and syria for example and i'd like to see russia more confident to the point where that kind of issue is no longer as likely to occur that's part of why i believe this new security architecture where russia doesn't feel like nato is continually moving east and yet at the same time russia acknowledges the rights of
countries like ukraine enjoy georgia to join the european union some day i think that's the right sort of compromise that's the right vision for this zone of neutral countries in central and eastern europe and i think you know you mention the yes russia is a european country what i was trying to say before yes russia's european but it's also different it's distinct you can tell me if i'm wrong but i don't think that most russians and vision the european project the same way that some western europeans do where the nation state becomes weaker and less important over time especially five ten years ago a lot of west europeans thought the european union would ultimately become more important than the countries they lived in and there's been some pushback against that of course in britain and else. where but that's still part of the european project in the minds of some west europeans i don't know too many russians who think that way i believe russians want to be part of europe but also want to be their own entity the great power of you know eurasia and that the nation state is
very important in the russian political consciousness and it's not getting weaker as history moves forward that's what i meant to say the russian i think is different from some parts of western europe even though it is also part of europe as you correctly point out i generally agree with you mr hahn let me try to squeeze in one more question about another reason appointing mr prepare we have spoken a lot about mr bolton but didn't have that much time to discuss human particularly he's currently be had of the cia and it's been reported in the russian media the cia and russia's f.s.b. the federal security service the successor of the k.g.b. montane quote unquote an active dialogue and an indirect proof of that would be everything meeting between russia security and intelligence chiefs with their american counterparts in in washington it looks like compare has already been acting in this squad is that a diplomatic capacity even. as they have of the cia yeah you might be right about
that i mean we've heard some of those discussions and some of those rumors and learned about some of those meetings to course i don't know the substance of the conversations but i think they may provide an entree into a broader conversation i believe the united states and russia are still going to have a lot of problems in our relationship for a while but we need to start having a broader dialogue about how we see our common future especially in regard to central and eastern europe and that has to be handled with a certain amount of separate you know conversation from the immediate policy agenda on syria ukraine election meddling human rights all the issues where we're still having a lot of disagreements and we will probably can. to new to have disagreements but we've also got to look to have some kind of a broader historical understanding of how our countries are going to get along with each other long term and so as pompei i was the guy who can do that but i think it probably makes sense that he's going to be secretary of state that should allow him
a more natural position from which to continue those conversations with russia well mr howland we have to leave it there but i really appreciate your being on the show today and to our viewers please keep the conversation going in our social media pages that's for me hope to see you again same place same time here on the worlds apart. join me every thursday on the elec so i'm unsure when i'll be speaking to guests of the world of politics or business i'm show business.
fundamentally the united states and russia are have been for decades two scorpions in a bottle each capable of destroying the other but only at the price of being destroyed itself. putin said well these weapons will overcome u.s. missile defenses u.s. missile defenses were totally ineffective against russian forces already so they'll be more effective against russian forces. i. was losing. that.
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