tv Losing the Enemy CSPAN August 27, 2017 7:52pm-9:01pm EDT
niece the thing in the mirror is not as grand and glorious we think because there might be something actually bigger, better, more permanent, than that, that's worthy of conservation and is only that that will give us liberty and liberation and freedom at the end of the day. thank you. applause >> booktv is on facebook. like us to get publishing news, author information and to talk directly with authors during the live programs. facebook.com/book tv.
>> good evening. i'm bradley graham, the co-owner of politics and prose and on behalf of the entire staff, thank you, thank you for coming. our guest this evening is one of the for most authorities in washington on u.s. iranian relations. so we should be in for a very timely and interesting discussion, also a strong advocate of dialogue and engagement between the united states and iran. trita parsy headed the national rainan council, nonprofit organization that the founded, to for sill tate participation -- facilitate par addition bay iran-americans in american civic life and just told me that in the washington area, his third largest area of iranian americans, in the united
states, the first two being northern and southern california. tritas own interest in iran is very personal. he was born there, although he left with hi parents when he was four years old, and grew up in sweden. he arrived in the united states as an adult, but iran has remained a focus of his studies and his work. his ph.d the this, at johns hopkins, dealt with iranian-israeli relations and became the basis for his first book, published a decade ago, treacherous alliance, about secret dealings month iran, israel and the united states. his second book, single roll of the dice, examined u.s. iranian relations during the initial years of the obama administration. and now comes his latest work"
losing an enemy "which he says is in many ways the third part of a trilogy, although he thought he was done after this book, given the nuclear agreement, but now who knows. we have a new administration and it's hard to see exactly where they're going with u.s.-iranian relations. but in "losing on enemy any developing into the u.s.-iranian relationship. theirs time we're counting how the nuclear deal was negotiated. he had exceptionalling access to those involved. he consulled and briefed be u.s. officials and he also maintained frequent contact with iran's foreign minister. drawing on these and other primary sources, he provides fresh detail and insight about
these historic negotiations, but his book is important not only as a detailed history of a major diplomatic breakthrough that altered the situation in the mideast and also offers lessons in why diplomacy succeeded this time in averting potential war and at least stalling development of iranian nuclear weapons, and how it might serve as a model in resoling future international conflicts. so, ladies and gentlemen, please silence your cell phones if you haven't already and join my in becoming trita parsi. [applause] >> thank you so much. thank you bradley, really tremendous pleasure being back here at politic and prose and thank you all for coming here. this is my third book, and it's
on the same poppic this, previous books death with the geopolitical situation any middle east, particularly the rivalry between at the united states and iran and israel. i was hoping it would be a bit of a different book. the previous books show how diplomatic opportunities had been systematically missed or even rejected. pushingpushing the situation tos war. but for the third one we had a triumph of diplomacy, tremendous achievement. that showed what could be achieved when smart policy prevailed over the desire to appear tough. and while it certainly didn't lead to a situation in which we can say that peace was achieved, it did create an opportunity to lose an enemy. but then a certain tv reality show star won the election in the united states and i had to rewrite the last chapter of the book. and kind of back to where we were before.
but if we understand what went right, and we understand that what has gone wrong can be reversed, the opportunity to lose an enemy may still exist. now, throughout these negotiations, i was in a rather unique situation. i had access to both sides. was advising the obama administration on the nuclear issue while alsod a access to the iranian side so better understand their perspective. it not unall-i could be at the white house on a merchandise, receive a briefing, before a new round of talks, and then end up having a two-hour private conversation with the iranian foreign anyone stare couple days later. this ability to observe the two sides up close, gave me the opportunity to understand their fears, their calculations, their motives, and how they were hoping their strategy would be able to work out. and it gave me an opportunity also to be able to write a book
in which i could tell the story of how this achievement actually came about. to tell the story of how this international crisis that was on the brink of war, actually was resolved without a single fire being shot. or as donald trump would probably put it, how the worst deal in the world actually was reached. it's important to recognize these negotiations and this issue ultimately was not just about the nuclear issue. its consequences ranged from war to peace, and really was about the balance of power in the middle east. i think we see that very clearly now as we see that the deal has worked, yet so many of the problems are still remaining in the middle east. to better understand i want to go back in time and start with the geopolitics. april 2012. in a small city in a european
country, and most unusual group of officials and former officials had gathered. there were iranians, ambassadors as well as one or two of the members of the iranian negotiating team, u.s. officials, including several u.s. generals, and also israelis, very senior ones, in the room. and at a time when israel and iran didn't even talk to each other or recognize each other's existence, this true truly was a rather unique moment. but what was even more unique or perhaps shocking was not who was in the room but what was actually being said. this is not about enrichment. it was never about enrichment. the room was completely silent as the senior israeli official looked across the room, straight interest the i of the iranians and uttered these words. for two decades the israelis
>> without the sole support of the united states. israel could not allow the united states to come to terms with iran without iran coming to new terms with israel. if they were going to go in this direction israel could not accept they would do everything in its power to stand in the way of such a deal. a moment of tremendous honesty and to understand why israelis made this agreement go back to decades to the 1990's the soviet union had collapsed, iraq was defeated in the persian gulf war and this created a
new geopolitical situation regionally and globally and that the global level the united states was now the sole superpower the that the regional bubble the balance of power had changed but it was not clear exactly what it would be replaced with. with iraq defeated for two previous decades behind-the-scenes they're collaborating with enjoying as secret security relationship given by the same imperatives. that with these two threat's gone one in which he reaches to the most powerful states and began viewing each other as protectionist threats and rivals not tell of iran's
ideology theory had a relationship in the '80s despite the policy but the geopolitical configuration israelis argue for israel to make peace and take the risk of peacemaking with the palestinians united states needs to contain and isolate iran because it is the new threat to the region the clinton administration obliged and added new containment policy that iraq and iran needed to be to really contained and isolated a new order to establish the region based on israel's egypt and a prolonged isolation of iran and iraq so this was a major blow they had collaborated with united states quietly
during the persian gulf and they were hoping they would be rewarded so to double down did isolation to spread extremas some with the weakest link in the american strategy. if that process was sabotage to essentially the strategy would fall apart. iran would make it as costly as possible with united states to pursue that policy in the hopes it would cause a collapse. it was united states itself. george w. bush from other
countries in the region. with those regimes of the region. with the invasion of iraq it only managed to destroy the previous. and we see the consequences that it no longer has the capacity of a new equilibrium and balance of power. so much of the fighting fighting each other they do want to see the new balance of power and for what it
would be merged yesterday. this was the collapse that they were the main benefactors and under the protection of the region. and this was a blessing in disguise. defeated speedometers in states and with those made rivals at the time. said it was increasingly difficult to uphold but as long as united states continues to refuse negotiations and with as
geopolitical circumstance but they needed was a crisis forcing them to the table that would end the policy of regime change. so that recognition in and of itself president to american policy of isolating iraq. the every via the israelis to achieve their objective which is the iranian nuclear program. to make unrealistic demand such as the idea that enrichment had to be completely and entirely ended and that compromise
cannot be reached at all. so what was designed as an existential threat would eventually lead united states to take would be one that is favorable set to advance the program but because they have failed that iraq become so costly and so tired of warfare so you can have a common ground. so essentially out to prevent a read from getting a nuclear weapons capability without taking military action for allowing the israelis to take military action to define the new
balance of power so the bush administration in strategy was to review negotiations pursue sanctions and issued threats of war. the iranians had zero enriched uranium by the time bush left office they had 8,000 centrifuges 120-0500 or more kilos enough for a nuclear weapon seven senator barack obama is reinstating diplomacy with the bush
doctrine of not negotiating so that became the centerpiece of the platform and then discovered rather quickly how difficult diplomacy could be made because of problems of the iranian side. and a step with the very same instrument that president bush had sanctions than seven negative and pressure in cyberwarfare precisely because he tried diplomacy and he enjoyed international legitimacy that bush did not he succeeded where bush could not.
even the urartian central bank. that causes access to the international financial crisis. they succeeded to convince europe to cop cut all your -- imports. headache congress passed sanctions riots broke out the gdp shrug 25% and looks like capitulation so how long could it truly sustained so the audience without a doubt but obama also underestimated but he
activities to show why that pressure would produce but the end result is the united states would ditch closer and closer to collapsing the iranian red economy to take military action and they get closer to have the nuclear weapons capability. with the american side was so worried the israelis would take the freedom of launching a surprise attack the pentagon officials they had to be included in all the briefings they received. and have a specific window to strike iran. with the official p5 + 1 negotiations going nowhere president of the convinced
to put the channels directly to the supreme leader to directly negotiate away from the eyes of the media to better assess how much of an effect? from the senate foreign relations committee and opportunity existed to seek out the negotiations played instrumental role to get three americans that were wrongfully jailed released using the help of the government they have proven their ability to get the iranians do deliver and that could directly access the supreme leader. so for the first time in july the small delegation of american officials traveled to moscow to meet with the
iranians. the gentleman from the american side at the time midlevel lot much about them one was the deputy foreign minister but he never entered the room instead sat in a different room to observe and conduct negotiations about directly interacting so by all accounts it was a really bad meeting the u.s. was there to assess day succeeded to get the channel to the rand supreme leader so how close could the iranians capitulate? common to see how close the united states could capitulate on these issues. so they were peppering the
americans with formulations how they would come to terms but the u.s. had no authority so it was a failure. and the elections later that year then nothing happens and. by a january 2013 a new sense of urgency was taking hold of the west. the secretary of defense leon panetta's stated publicly the breakout time was 12 months leading from the moment they make a decision to build a bomb to have won it would take 12 months. by january 20131 year later later, the breakout time head trauma between eight central weeks -- to 12 weeks. so clearly the iranian was
faster if nothing would change the united states would be the situation in which the there had to except or acquiesced to the iranian nuclear weapons capability or go to war. the least likely scenario that iran would capitulate because time was on their side so as a result the decision was made to go back to all bond ended march 2013 with a much larger and senior delegation from then deputy secretary of state the equivalent of the gentleman the iranians had sent to directly engaged a very different set up just to give you some context in the gaithersburg book
festival + 1 they had no clue there are negotiations taking place the iranians insisted as those other delegations progressed they all have to enter the room and sit down and the iranian delegation would come in then when they were finished the iranians have to stand up first leave the room entirely before anybody else could the so there is no chitchat on the sidelines or no coffee breaks there were broken up into different teams so then this time around u.s. negotiators were armed with something to play the enrichment card. to present the idea that the united states could except
enrichment but the iranians this is exactly what they had waited for for more than 10 years the because of the tremendous mistrust between iran in the united states irradiance could not go back to toronto to say that united states would be willing to except the enrichment they needed that it right -- writing. because their fear was if they did they could seek to cause a significant disunity in the gaithersburg book festival + 1 so it was creating a problem when actually they were getting much closer to each other but something was needed to
bridge that trust gap and that is where oman's stepped in once again to the raw onions and writing explaining under no circumstances the person of both of president of the united states and the supreme leader could protect and then traveled to iran which he did in me directly face-to-face with the iranian supreme leader and convey to the iranian supreme leader the contents of the letter. they no longer rejected because they did not trust the united states but because they had confidence in the united states had
confidence waiting for the breakthrough to actually happen. right now we hear so much about the sectarian straits and the arab persian division after this was settled will sides were lucky and a few months later and with those negotiators with those americans and with a completely different atmosphere with that in richmond issue already involved from august and by
november 2013 led deal was finally struck it was critical for the united states because the reverse the time the annex that time was on iran side then to stop completely adding a centrifuge and united states not adding new sanctions but that dynamic would even be neutralized but then by july july 2015 they finally had a deal. to show that diplomacy had prevailed with a nuclear weapon in iran.
so the biggest declared debbie was what the israeli prime minister that the on who -- netanyahu. no doubt about it president obama had a habit of spying on foreign leaders including friends. once that was revealed he stopped tapping into angela burgles cellphone but he did not stop spying on netanyahu. because they thought they were doing things to harm the negotiations and leaking information and they were given by u.s. negotiators about the negotiations to undermine the nuclear talks. what is so ironic is that perhaps the deal would not have been reached in a river
of the because with the iranian nuclear issue he essentially elevated the status quo option kicking a can down the road option with that calculation to for students states to take action but the hope was it would be military action but to his surprise of baba could figure out how to take diplomatic action that had he not discriminated that option chances are they would not have taken action but chosen to contain the issue kick the can down the road and let it be the problem of the next administration but then he forced obama to choose and he chose peas. what is even more ironic if he had thought about this
harder something very simple he could have done he went to congress crafted a deal that's the was the worst deal ever paving the way to nuclear weapons by all he needed to do to kill the deal was to go to the microphone to say this is a fantastic deal. i love this it is so good for israel this is what iran altman defeat because the iranian foreign minister himself told me that if he liked the deal in which continued -- stop them to continue the negotiations it help to shut up those hard-liners if he said it was fantastic it would be massive difficulties of all
the things he did and the plans he had he could not figure this out. here is a question if a better deal could have spent had. as you know, tromping since the book worse deal ever saw duty there was a better deal but the better deal if we had a more realistic position 10 or 50 years ago. 2003 they sent an offer to the bush administration the offer to open the nuclear program for a full inspection and transparency and offered to collaborate against al qaeda i found out about the deal because i was working for a member of congress they can deliver their proposals to the u.s. government and gave us a copy my boss got a phone
call within two hours and he was intrigued and wanted to know if this proposal was authentic. that was the last thing we heard in tel about two months later with an article in the financial times that said it had been delivered was to say nothing to the iranians from being delivered in the first place. 2005 another opportunity the last iranian offer sent to the europeans before elections were held and ahmadinejad became president. they offered to cut their enrichment they did even
bother to send it to the u.s. side they knew bush would reject anything so during those negotiations somebody brought up that proposal and they said we would jump on the proposal but we already missed the boat we're causally chasing the deal we could have got years ago. said during the talks recently asked about that proposal because that was before they decided how many they could keep i said more than the 3,000 you were willing in 2005? he smiled and said 3,000? that was the opening bid. now as a result of the deal and years of sanctions they responded by building more centrifuge now they're keeping 5,000 if they have
far more knowledge of the nuclear process. just from pursuing the combination of pressure tactics. there was a better deal which is not one that we could get now. this is doesn't prevent more but it paved the way from the regional all inclusive dialogue. something to bring the saudis and iranians to the table to have a security dialogue to figure out a way to have a new equilibrium by going to war or the negotiating table. the when he went to riyadh, said president trump
close the door and open the door for more riflery. the opportunity that existed the reason why it is a welcomed is precisely because it was on the united states and open the door for a potential path for u.s. and iran to go to war it became quite clear for the iran that has nuclear weapons in the region that doesn't have nuclear-weapons of finding a way to reintegrated self because the british foreign minister said at the time with an interesting conversation gore debate said israel
wants to keep the west of a permanent state of standoff that is preferred to breaching as negotiation settlement itself those who fear the idea of losing iran as an enemy more than fear the reprogram for gore as the israeli official mentioned this is never about enrichment. thank you so much. [applause] i am free to take your questions. >> please step up to the microphone so everybody can hear you.
you mentioned the obama administration in 2013 was getting concerned about iranian enrichment so could you talk about the desire to keep the talks on track had an impact on the administration's decision not to enforce the red line in syria?. >> thank you so much that is an argument that was presented because it was an opening with iran and because they were starting to show some promise they refrained from enforcing that redline fearing that it would impact a the nuclear negotiations so i ask almost every side i found no evidence the reason why obama did not do this and i would take another step to say on the one hand the
faction would have been taken it would have collapsed the deal also that clearly set strategy was that he believed a middle east lost strategic influence the first year obama became a major audit with the conclusion united states was over committed but uncommitted in asia resulting the need to put it to a judge the worst thing that could happen for the united states to be dragged into another war in the middle east because that would prevent united states to prepare itself from the competitor challenged from china. as a superpower worry about the risk of another power emerging there is no country
in the middle east has the capacity to challenge united states but the one country that does have the capacity we're not getting dragged into another war in in syria. if i have far more convincing reason rather than thinking it to do with anything with negotiations. i did not find the evidence that was the reason. thank you. >> could you share with us or thoughts what iran is doing with hamas and hezbollah and pakistan?. >> hamas a relationship has
gone up and down a lot for iranians. they originally had a bad relationship but milliliter was beating with the foreign minister because of course, connected to the muslim brotherhood in the early phases of the war but the relationship with thomas never had ben as it was with hezbollah in lebanon there is a completely different strategic nature but it is extremely difficult the iranians would completely cut off hezbollah. it is far more instrumental but here's the important thing to understand.
the objective of any final negotiations to establish a new equilibrium that states need to deal with states instead of dealing with the iranians that many others have done to have been on stage actors to be in competition with other states that weakens the states and what we see right now with that geopolitical environment that is a greater threat than almost any the iranians are just doing a better quite extensively usually the of wahhabi extremist organization the iranians have had their relationships between those strategic establish relationships so
that is what they have to change because in and of itself is a threat to everyone in the region. civics though the arabian and the taliban nobles went to war with each other although originally supported by the saudis as part of their competition in the defined day taliban but now we are seeing signs with the new york times article that i suspect what of the reasons the areas for the tremendous amount of pressure on the iraqi government and they did not agree to that status forces
agreement to allow them to be in iraq because the areas to not want to see american troops anywhere near its borders. that the afghan government did sign the agreement in part of that i recalculation is because that cover the does have a decent relationship to allow the united states to stay there and they were talking about doing regime change it did not want to see u.s. troops on its borders so that there currently suffering between the rivalry of the united states. >> one of the things that was repeated a lot during the weeks and months leading
up to these successful iranian deal with the above administration that the russians were a big help of the negotiations was something that john kerry was saying. it seems that if anything it has become more complicated since the election of donald trump ahold nature of the u.s. russia relations so what about russia in 26 td does that relationship now between u.s. and russia going forward with that deal can you make any comments to those relations are still important to see the deal go forward?. >> in the context of today's
hearing about russia it is difficult to fathom that they were hopeful but everything i saw without a doubt they played a tremendously helpful role in the negotiations it was quite surprising to betty in very frustrating for the ukrainians they did not shatter that gaithersburg book festival + 1 unity between the united states and russia and the other countries. in fact, after the deal with it went to congress to vote for approval even then russia play a tremendous role because it's cheaper ioc invited all members of congress at the time it'll be the democrats showed up to be with the ambassadors of france and britain germany and russia because at the end of the day trump
said i will walk out of this deal we have to remember this is an international agreement it is not a bilateral. so if those meetings was all low-speed most convincing the ambassador. to sell what you look at the is ambassadors. so to see these countries coming to you that canada states should support this and it is a good deal. but the fact evoke playback after the deal. so going forward by the president trouble finding out the president is very different than running for office. [laughter]
if he breaks it and has telegraphed clearly despite the fact the reports and say the iranians are doing with their supposed to do living up to the agreement and he intends to say they are not will not end up having a fight with congress but the entire p5 + 1 to create massive problems as much as what the yacht of the paris agreements with a severe long-term effects walking atavistic freeman will have immediate effects because of the crisis it will create. >> i am curious as to why did gnomon choose to take such a role to read u.s. closer or how the allies
reacted?. >> the iranians like to do these kinds of things. the lead to help resolve problems of these specific individuals could resolve other problems that i am not at liberty of discussing guy was shocked when i found out. at the time the of the countries of the region were all in agreement this was leading towards a war. the role of the side of the key that would be a disaster so they have the capacity to do something no one else could precisely to have the relationship of trust on both sides and that goes back even before the islamic republic so to bien power a large part during the time
of the shah there was a rebellion they sent 700 everyone troops that died ever since there has been said to radically different relationship than that of almost of the nt other countries so they had a very trusted american ally the eggs to the improving their ability they've have proven their ability to hold on these issues and also to believe ltv a radians would never yield with compromises or concessions to the u.s. unless in direct negotiations and nobody was closer to provide that.
>> so i did they react?. >> not particularly well. >> this was kept a very good secret. in the other things that were happening for instance during some of the negotiations other individuals for there but they could not be visible so they would come in using back doors what we saw with officials of negotiations we knew there was stuff going on in the background the enemies of the deal were not the the but plenty with capacity most important and cauchy asians even if there were not that many as a
result they had to be kept a secret. remember how surprised you were to find out there was a rapprochement between cuba he announced that there was a negotiation. because both cuba and iran were politicized it was difficult to conduct these and open because of those a would have a political interest of sabotage. >> an excellent presentation. one of the house to do with your own personal experience and for somebody like myself to realize that much of of quality coming to iran will
be back ended in the process with many benefits so there must be the assumption made so for the country to become more westernized both with personal experience with the efforts and comments of rouhani bringing getting new team would that make more confidence than those that have doubts they will change behavior and other areas?. >> i had known particular role from negotiations but i devisee obama administration but of the second part with changing behavior, that at
the crux of the issue was they had valid suspicions to eat pigs there were not allowed to do does not need iran gets a permit punishment? or does something need to be done but they regained the confidence of the international community that they enjoy the same right of all other countries? to permanently impose a punishment the only way to get a deal is unsure at the end of the day if they did everything right it should be no different than any of their state and to be allowed did beecher as yours as good as switzerland or you abide by the rules and they pay for what they made wrong then they should.
make sure that period it is as long as possible that what the deal to last five years united states wanted 20 years are now it is eight years some aspects are 15 but what is last seen permanently because united states does not do if they do kill the deal if congress doesn't do what it leads to do that they can ratify so that they will become completely perverted to. is there a calculation even if there is not a behavioral change it still gives the of world 50 years that they know far more about the nuclear program and from 15
years from now. if there was integration there be changes of behavior but i hear people in washington said have received any massive change of iranian behavior? often times it is no. they still are supporting what we disagree with. but after two years of this steel and what of united states has changed? would up the saudis committing genocide it given? if anything we shubert from this negotiation with that behavioral or policy change
requires a policy change on our side as well otherwise he will lot with it a world where we ourselves are completely fallen. [applause] >> understanding how it is realistic chance the deal so care of you elaborate saudia arabia behind the scenes? where does iran figure into the constant verizon of the advertisements on tv against the tar -- cover?. >> yes that audion who was
against the establishment did israel. and the continued to speak out. the saudis have a much less visible role but i'd like the israelis who would say but what you to have a centrifuge or push hard they had no opinions probably because they don't have a nuclear program it seemed like it was more honest and direct. they don't want to see any deal whatsoever. that saudi opposition is more visible and intensified that it was before. netanyahu is taking the lead
there are certain moments they are convinced but in november 2014 final negotiation with the deadline they had not extended the narrative is they came close to would deal even discuss the a press release but then john kerry took a break and went to the airport that in the private airplane at the prime minister the iranians said was a complete sea change and he backed down. they don't believe there were close to an agreement to begin with one negotiator said they look at what happened in with the reading of the saudi foreign minister and was two plus two. silos were diverging
narratives of the saudis played a role but they don't know exactly what happened but i have been out of the country the last couple weeks one of the great joys of not being in the united states to go see any political ads i have no idea we were talking about. >> are like to ask you to comment on the repercussions of iran if trump walks away from the agreement again they differentiate between those repercussions?. >> it is important to understand if united states walks out of the deal with this would do for any future opportunity to get any negotiations going.
though hard-liners consistently said you cannot trust that even the supreme leader said i am supporting the negotiators behalf to be very careful you cannot trust the u.s.. it would be sad if he gives the indication in to put that back on the table that there is the need to dissolve something diplomatic with the foreign policy elite, how they make the argument to go back to the negotiating table? just as much as he would have tremendous difficulty on this side if we walk away
from the deal could you imagine for the next obama to make the argument we have to renew negotiations? but it is not just about this deal but the future to resolve things diplomatically. seventy internal politics is important. there have been changes internally as well but they have not really been reported in the united states. we heard there were elections did iran again certainly more competitive than the nonexistent is saudi arabia but what we did not hear about in the city council there even more feared that all the major
cities and a very conservative city a wooded rand for the city council on the platform of opposing the patriarchy to elect more women. [laughter] she wants. [laughter] [applause] i believe it with tripled or quadrupled. these are internal changes taking place if there is peace between the united states and certainly there will be trampled and undermined with more external tensions. so if you want to see that type of change all to believe iran is changing internally so be rest assured the oppressive regime change doesn't help the iranian people.
next on booktv "after words" former wall street journal writer and editor describes the paper's role in shaping america in his book free people free markets interviewed by the financial times global business columnist and associate editor. >> host: thanks for being here it is a pleasure to discuss your new book free people free mark market. i have to say one of the interesting things in the book