tv Capital News Today CSPAN May 20, 2011 11:00pm-2:00am EDT
sees the american presidt clearly making a statement. host: here is how you can get involved. and also firstname.lastname@example.org. you can send us thoughts on twitter, as well. before we go to the calls, the one thing he did at the end of the speech was a discussion about israel and the change of borders to 1967. as far as the speech, what does it mean going forward? guest: the president has a problem. he committed himself to this issued two days after he was inaugurated, after the appointment ofs mitchell, who has resigned -- of mitchell, who
has resigned. frankly, speech or no speech, the challenges of doing that remain huge challenges. i think the president wanted to create some commitment -- a down payment, if you will, on the image that barack obama is serious about israeli peace. actually getting to those negotiations and produng an agreement on jerusalem, border security, and refugees would be very hard to do. host: on the concept of land swaps, what is your thinking, mr. ambassador? guest: i agree that the situation on the ground is probably more bleak than it has been in a long time. the reaction of the palestinians and israelis responded negatively. they both see something else in obama's speech.
the reality is the arab-israeli conflict is an ms in this large tidal wave of change that is taking place. the israelis and palestinians need to step back. why can't we come closer together? why can't we begin the healing process? to miss out on this great change taking place around these two nations means that they are not taking up this great opportunity. guest: one. needs to be clarified. i spent an enormous amount of time in the last 20 years. the notion that the president has asked israelis to go back to 1967 borders -- i do not know where the president has gotten these from. he said it should be the basis
of an agreement with mutually agreed swaps. mutually agreed swaps essentially negate the principle of returning to june 1967 borders. israelis will define x, much land they need. the palestinians will come back with a counter position. somewhere in the middle, between 8% and 1.9%, which is the current palestinian position of what they're willing to give up from the west bank -- something between those numbers is the agreement. it's not a return to june 1967 borders. host: let's take a call. new jersey, you are first for our guest. republican line, good morning. caller: good
caller: i was very disappointed that he did not address the terrible problem of the slaughter of chrtians in egypt. in afghanistan, where we are dying and sending our treasure, if you convert to christianity you incure an immediate sentence of death. guest: i think he should of made a point about it. i think the vatican is very concerned about it. tremendous attrition over the past decade. i thinkhe broad answeis that the protection of minority rights that is an aspect to be worked for, to be aspired to, but in the meantime, the the position of the christian community in
egypt is going to be a precarious one. guest: i had the privilege of being educated at a christian school and pakistan run by catholics. i know the kind of respect that we had for our teachers. that has changed. now christians are attacked and thchurches are attacked. we have terrible stories from iraq and egypt. traditionally, christians and muslims have lived in peace and harmony. presidentbama must point out that they must live up to tolerant societies by challenging them. he is not a muslim, but he has grown up in muslim societies. his mother was an anthropologist. in that sense, he is uniquely placed to bring out and challenge the best muslim
societies. host: jacksonville, n.c., are democrats' line. caller: i want to make a couple of comments. i think obama is smooth- chameleon.llio he tries to tell the public one thing when he really means another. he had no eerience in politics or government or anything other than being a professor of history. suddenly he knows everything about the world and the united states. host: your thoughts on his speech yesterday? caller: to me, i listen to it while i was driving.
i was not surprised at what he said about democracy. i hope that the people in all of these different places do not adopt the same type of democracy that we have here, because what we have here is a form of legal slavery. a host: one of the things that we have heard is the campaign for hearts and minds. how do you convince leadership to come over to what president obama is trying to accomplish? guest: this is going to be a big challenge. it is important because muslims constitute about one part 5 billion people on this planet. one of the four people is a muslim. we have hundreds of thousands of americans in muslim countries.
we have geopolitical interests. therefore, winning over and keeping on site major muslim nations is critical to us in our national interest. we need to heed the urgings of president bush, president obama, general petraeus, and therefore i believe diplomacy, cultural outreach and initiatives are as important as simply giving aid. we give aid generously. we have given billions of aid for many countries. we know a lot of it goes into the pockets of corrupt politicians and rulers. where is that aid enng up? i would like to see it going into construction of schools. last week, a date met the president of a private university.
ye can we not divert some of t aid that goes into the pockets of these corrupt rulers? that wins hearts and minds. host: diplomacy and culture? guest: i think the order is wrong. i think if it does nothearts and minds. it is minds and hearts. if their own assessment of the reality has changed, you appeal to people's minds. ar, the question is not changing of a bull or the package, it is changing the package. we choose our own democrats. we ignore the ones even if ipod the results are free and fair elections. i think american policy -- i am not arguing the change across
the board, but unless american policies change, you are not going to capture theearts and minds of the vast majority of people living in this region. a better balance has to be found. it cannot be one way or the other. i do not believe in a clash of civilizations. i believe in a clash o interests. if you believe in fact, you can ameliorate that clash through cultural diplomacy and dialogue. it is a difficult process. guest: we need to remember that relations right now are very brittle and vigilant between the united states and pakistan. we need to remember that it has not always been like this. in the 1960's, i still remember this picture of jackie kennedy
lahoy.g she went on to the tribal areas where the taliban now roam. there was a time when america and american representatives -- it evoked the kind of response. i think this relationship is skin deep but it can be turd and changed. host: washington, d.c. caller: why did the u.s. spends so much energy tryingo resolve the palestinian and israeli conflict? why do we almost always wholeheartedly support israel? is it because of money or political reasons? guest: the conflict is not the central issue confronting
america and the middle east. it carries more emotional and ideological power than perhaps any other issue. if you want to protect and promote americannterests and credibity, seeking a solution to the problem is important. as far as israel is concerned, we have a special relationship with israel and it has nothing to do with the peace process or their function as a strategic al. it has to do with the issue of the value affinity. i am not endorsing them. there is the essence of a relationship between two societies that share common values. it gives it is certain exceptional quality. when we use the special relationship wisely, the three americans who have succeeded in
peace-making using honey and vinegar, which can actually succeed. when we low the relationship to become exclusive, when in fact we do not protect american interests or talk openly and honestly, we do notucceed. the question is not abandoning the israelis. we are simply not going to do that. it is calibrating the relationship to use it appropriately so it can be reciprocal in nature. the honey and vinegar have to be applied at the moment when there is a real opportunity in order to succeed. the honey is both toughness and reassurance. if the israelis do not grab the moment, but those circumstances have yet to be created. there is no deal on the table.
this is where i feel very strongly. fighting with israel on the peace process is a necessary, obligatory function of any serious peacemaker, but the fight with the israelis has to be worthwhile and produce a result that benefits not only the united states but the israelis and the arabs as well. that is something the administration has not yet figured out. caller: i am glad you brought up the honey and vinegar because when i heard you speak about -- the honey and vigor and a critic vinegar needsd the dinner toe applied to the palestinians. they are protecting this tiny piece of land surrounded by
large masses of land. honey and vinegar on each side is very necessary and helps the diplomatic process. it also lets you see both sides of the pros and cons of each side of the equation. guest: frankly, this is the best assessment. that is the best, detached objective assessment of the frame of mind in which the united states must proceed into this conflict. this is not a morality play. it is a complicated conflict. both sides bear responsibility for its perpetuation. she is absolutely right. theoney and vinegar has to be applied to both sides with reassurance and a furnace.
guest: this idea that everything must come from america -- i think it would take some -- i would have reservations because ultimately if the leadership in israel and in the arab world -- we must understand that israel is a neighbor situated in the heart of the middle east, and the tw nations need to get on with each other and benefit from their presence. hopefully, they will exist as friends and neighbors. the israelis must also reach out and do exactly the same to the arab world because there is so much to learn. think of what the israelis can teach the arab world -- democracy, free press, a thriving educational system, developments in agriculture and industry. there is so much taken benefit from each other without the
world interving. i would say that thatwareness has to be encouraged. host: of the president spoke directly to the israelis and palestinians during his speech. guest: i hope people respond to that. guest: there is a lot of wisdom here. it is about ownership. it was larryummers who said that in the history of the world no one ever watched a rental car. why don't you watch rental cars? because you only care about what ou own -- why don't you wash rental cars? because you only care abo what you own. caller: thank you for this
topic. i support barack obama 100 i am and member of [unintelligible] one hour ofe gave a the holocaust last week. host: what is the question? caller: i hope that the israel and the arabs who have to have one state they both will have totop killing each other -- host: brooklyn, new york. you are next. caller: i have a question. mr. miller, regarding president obama's policy, i think that is
a little bit disingenuous and not true. president bush never wanted to -- he was forced to leave senator obama at the time [unintelligible] also in afghanistan, president obama has been saying for years we should be in afghanistan. my question is this. wasn't it president truman who said [unintelligible] but jews are so we should support israel in that regard? guest: i still defend my position on obama's w. he did not have to add 30 to is -- 30,000 additional forces. he was told he had to get in deeper before he got out.
targeted killings with creditor drones, they have quadrupled under this president. i think there are many similarities between the two. domestic politics are a reality. if you had a set of interests, you post them. you do it democratically within the confines that the system allows. it is an open competition. in essence, that is what has happened. willful american presence -- nixon, carter, and bush 41, will fall american presidents when there was an opportunity, they did so and as a trumpet political interests every single time. if obama found its strategy and a moment and believed the arab- israeli issue needed to be resolved, and the parties were willing to help him, he would
trump political interest, too. guest: i think we have to put this in the context of the second presidential cycle. we need to put this in context because president obama will be taking all of these calculations on ard. in that sense, i think much of what the speech will be overtaken by the events as we go into the cycle and maybe it will be new developments like we had with the killing of osama bin laden. i think that we are going to be seeing a lot of changes in the next couple of months. the revolution is gog to play out. the consequences of osama bin laden's death is going to be making an impact in the islamic world the debt ceiling will be making an impact. there are many issues on the horizon. this speech is important but it
will be overtaken. host: what does it mean for the state department and the secretary of state hillary clinton? guest: shcould pick up the baton and run with it. that would go a long way in implementing what he has in mind. i suspect it will be so many events that will overtake this particular speech guest: in the end, this is not our story, and frankly, that is good news. these uprisings are really not revolutions. these are about indigenous changes, authentic changes, people trying to throw off the burden of corrupt, disacted leaders who have bilked them for far too long. there is a certain degree of support that we can provide. host: new york, gregory, go
ahead. caller: good morning. hopefully i will be able to finish what i am going to say. the israeli-palestinian conflict is similar to america's conflict when it has to do wh race. you mentioned bush, nixon, and carter. the difference between those three and president obama is skin tone. president obama's hands are tied a lot tighter. during his speech, he talked about the need to stop the lie. the lie is we can't call c-span and say anything about israel without getting a dial tone. number two, the israeli connection to america is our media. host: you made your point. guest: first of all, this is not about race. we did something in november
2008 which was truly extraordinary. no one could have selected a man of color whose wife is a direct descendant of slaves and made the person the most important man on this planet. only america could do that because of the nature of our system. this is not about race. as far as the media, again, i come back to the basic reality. we have a democratic system. a foreign policy cannot be sustained without the support of the vast majority of the american people. however problematic relationship is, it has been maintained over and over and over again with succsive administrations because ofhe built-in the edilection on most americans including millions of evangelical christians as well as a very small jewish
community. this state deserves our support. not our unadulterated support, but a wise judicio american policy. i think it's before itself in that regard. host: steve on our republican line. caller: you said we should not abandon israel because of the things we have in common. i heard two things in that speech yesterday which tells me that that is whaobama is doing. number one, to think that israel would cede land to hamas, the land that was used to attack them in 17, it is suicide. number two, he said when it comes to security, israel has a right to defend itself by itself.
what we are going to hear, islamists that are taking over egypt, if they want to take israel out, go for it. we are not going to interfere. they are on their own. guest: first of all, no american administration is going to force the israelis to make existential decisions when it comes to their security. without their being on the other side one gun, one of for the, one negotiating position able to deliver those commitments in a negotiation. i think the notion that the united states is just waiting for an opportunity to sacrifice israel on the altar of its own self interests in the middle east is wrong. do i think barack obama has the same passion for the state of israel that george w. bush had
or bill clinton? no, i don't. he is a product of a different kind of environment. he is much more detached, but he is certainly not an enemy of the state of israel. guest: i feel like in america, perhaps only in america, we can help by creating and sustaining a vigorous jewish-muslim dialogue. i have been very much involved -- i am speaking at a congregation to celebrate -- along with cambridge university. these initiatives i believe will help promote better understanding, better friendship, better relationships, and that will cause a better understanding over there. ultimately, jews and muslims who
has so much in common can begin to see each other and not through theprism of enemies and antagonists, but as friends and kinfolk. host: riverside, calif., bonnie, democrats' line. caller: president obama did bring up the crucial point, going back to the old testament, that there are extremists inside of eight to annihilate israel. they have reason to be paranoid. islamistst some of the complaining about their own leaders? they have now hired blackwater with a new name -- guest: she is right.
there is a great deal of anger against their own rulers in the muslim world. for example, the taliban in pastan were killing pakistanis constantly. they just blew up some pakistanis and they said they were trying to attack the u.s. consulate. our number one enemy is pakistan, not the united states. this battle is a battle that we have to watch. there are thousands and thousands of those who have given their lives during this fight in the muslim world. they have to emerge and restore a sense of balance, a sense of destiny and identity to is the muslim world. host: as far as moslems and palestinians are concerned, do you see the notion of another
negotiator? guest: i hope not. i hope the administration thinks very carefully about what its strategy is going to be. without a strategy, it seems dubious that words in a speech are going to lead to much. we face a problem here, and i do not know how to resolve it. i tried to provide advice to half a dozen secretaries of state to do that. the gaps between the leaders on the big issues are very wide. the leaders themselves are prisoners of their constituents. they are not mastering their political houses. the political situation is very uncertain. how does the united states wade into a problem? to basically made israelis and palestinians sit down at the table and negotiate of the conflicts without a sense of
ownership on their part? it seems to me it will be very difficult for the president. akbar is right here. host: alabama, good morning. our independent line. caller: of wanted to speak about achieving peace over there. on the palestinian side, the failure to recognize israel is a chief point. if somebody came over here and took half of our land, i understand what it would be angry. as far as israel goes, the economic situation, they shifted their economy from the internet- based economy to a more security-based economy. that seems to be controlling their country. doesn't it make up over 50% of their gdp? thank you very much.
guest: i mean, i think that is not a fairharacterization of israel's economic reality. they survive the dot com bubble and the 2008 crash much better than we did it. the onomy is growing and high tech is fundamentally important. they certainly have a vibrant economy. in terms of real dollars, the percentage of money that i released spend on defense is very high and will remain high. we have zeroed out our economic aid. host: san diego, thanks for holding on. our republican line. caller: thank you for taking my call. mr. miller, -- how can i say? every issue than you are
bringing up is correct. the way we can solve this -- one major weight is education. the americans need to be truly educated, not a harrd education, but education in civics, learning the law. once we learn the law, we will learn about the structure of the americ system. you are aitizen. by law, you have to pay taxes everywhere you g. understand that, understand sovereignty, and then we will trace everything back to the root of our problems and all of our issues will be solved. host: independent line, cheryl. caller: one thing i heard president obama say is that we need to be talking to the part of the world, especially the
youth. one thing i heard over and over in the comments was thawe did not perceive the arab's coming. why did we not understand that? why did we not feel it? was the intelligence bad? my point is this. it plays into the feeling you get from your aspects of the season and community. sometimes, the media does not let through what we need to hear. right now, we have two distinguished guests on this program. yet i have not heard anything about the there have been two ships going toward gaza at the end of last year. there is a trial going on in israel as we speak where a family is suing the state of israel at th encouragement of
the united states state department because israel -- because she was killed at the hands of american-funded bulldozer -- host: we will leave it there. as f as the yoouth revolution. guest: i have been watching the revolution in close quarters. my daughter was in cairo and it just arrived when the revolution began. these movements are being led by young people. young people wearing jeans, on twitter and facebook. it is a new kind of a weakening in the arab world. i am hopeful. -- it is a new kind of awakening in the arab world. the they are often supported by washington.
that encouged me. at the same time, you do not know how these revolutions are going to end. you saw what happened in iran. that revolution led to more violence. revolutions by definition are uncontrolled. we hope we pray that these revolutions succeed in bringing democracy and enlightenment to the region. at the same time, they need all the support and help that they can get. guest: i think that is right. you ended up with a grimmer reality on the ground, which is a negotiation core power. the military and the muslim brotherhoo of the two best organized forces in this country, essentially trying to googlete face for the
generation. young secular nationalists can organize. once of the uprising and, it is all a question of the transaction, trying to negotiate the best deal that you can. host: as we are running out of time for this segment, but from what we heard yesterday, would be yourdvice for the next step? guest: i think history will smile kindly on these young arab democrats. i really do. r the short term, buckle your seat belt. we are going to be in for a very bumpy ride. guest: never lose sight of hope and idealism. you can overcome. host: chair of islamic studies
at american university, >> tomorrow on "washington journal," josh rogin talks about the middle east and the visit of benjamin netanyahu. ralph benko discusses the efforts in some states to make gold coins a legal tender in some states. and joshua bernstein on why the dream act stalled and why some states are making their own rules for undocumented students. "washington journal" live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. next on c-span, remarks by president obama and israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu. then the discussion on u.s. policy in the middle east.
after that afl-cio president richard trumka. >> this weekend on book tv on c- span2, the gaithersberg book festival. a panel discussion on the book industry. also, the former ambassador to yemen on the u.s.'s counter- terrorism efforts in that country. one of the most significant standoffs of the cold war era, the berlin wall. look for the complete schedule and our web site and get our schedule e-mail directly to you. signup for our book tv alert. >> israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu says that its country cannot go to borders that existed in 1967 as part as a peace deal with the palestinians.
which president obama called extremely is. in a speech, president obama said that the 1967 borders should be the basis for negotiation. this is about 15 minutes. >> well, let me, first of all, welcome again prime minister netanyahu, who i think has now been here seven times during the course of my presidency. and i want to indicate that the frequency of these meetings is an indication of the extraordinary bonds between our two countries, as is the opportunity for the prime minister to address congress during his visit here. i know that's an honor that's reserved for those who have always shown themselves to be a great friend of the united states and is indicative of the friendship between our countries. we just completed a prolonged and extremely useful conversation touching on a wide range of issues. we discussed, first of all, the
changes that are sweeping the region and what has been happening in places like egypt and syria and how they affect the interests and security of the united states and israel, as well as the opportunity for prosperity, growth and development in the arab world. we agreed that there is a moment of opportunity that can be seized as a consequence of the arab spring, but also acknowledge that there's significant perils as well, and that it's going to be important for the united states and israel to consult closely as we see developments unfold. i outlined for the prime minister some of the issues that i discussed in my speech yesterday -- how important it was going to be for the united states to support political reform, support human rights, support freedom of speech, religious tolerance and
economic development, particularly in egypt, as the largest arab country, as well as tunisia, the country that first started this revolutionary movement that's taking place throughout the middle east and north africa. we also discussed the situation in syria, which is obviously of acute concern to israel, given its shared border. and i gave more details to the prime minister about the significant steps that we are taking to try to pressure syria and the assad regime to reform, including the sanctions that we placed directly on president assad. we continue to share our deep concerns about iran, not only the threat that it poses to israel but also the threat that it poses to the region and the world if it were to develop a
nuclear weapon. we updated our strategy to continue to apply pressure, both through sanctions and our other diplomatic work. and i reiterated my belief that it is unacceptable for iran to possess a nuclear weapon. we also discussed the hypocrisy of iran suggesting that it somehow supports democratization in the middle east when, in fact, they first showed the repressive nature of that regime when they responded to the own peaceful protests that took place inside iran almost two years ago. finally, we discussed the issue of a prospective peace between israelis and palestinians. and i reiterated and we discussed in depth the principles that i laid out yesterday -- the belief that our ultimate goal has to be a
secure israeli state, a jewish state, living side by side in peace and security with a contiguous, functioning and effective palestinian state. obviously there are some differences between us in the precise formulations and language, and that's going to happen between friends. but what we are in complete accord about is that a true peace can only occur if the ultimate resolution allows israel to defend itself against threats, and that israel's security will remain paramount in u.s. evaluations of any prospective peace deal.
i said that yesterday in the speech, and i continue to believe it. and i think that it is possible for us to shape a deal that allows israel to secure itself, not to be vulnerable, but also allows it to resolve what has obviously been a wrenching issue for both peoples for decades now. i also pointed out, as i said in the speech yesterday, that it is very difficult for israel to be expected to negotiate in a serious way with a party that refuses to acknowledge its right to exist. and so for that reason i think the palestinians are going to have to answer some very difficult questions about this agreement that's been made between fatah and hamas. hamas has been and is an
organization that has resorted to terror, that has refused to acknowledge israel's rights to exist. it is not a partner for a significant, realistic peace process. and so, as i said yesterday during the speech, the palestinians are going to have to explain how they can credibly engage in serious peace negotiations in the absence of observing the quartet principles that have been put forward previously. so, overall, i thought this was an extremely constructive discussion. and coming out of this discussion, i once again can reaffirm that the extraordinarily close relationship between the united states and israel is sound and will continue, and that
together, hopefully we are going to be able to work to usher in a new period of peace and prosperity in a region that is going to be going through some very profound transformations in the coming weeks, months and years. so, mr. prime minister. >> thank you, mr. president. >> thank you very much. >> mr. president, first i want to thank you and the first lady for the gracious hospitality that you've shown me, my wife, and our entire delegation. we have an enduring bond of friendship between our two countries, and i appreciate the opportunity to have this meeting with you after your important speech yesterday. we share your hope and your vision for the spread of democracy in the middle east. i appreciate the fact that you reaffirmed once again now, and
in our conversation, and in actual deed the commitment to israel's security. we value your efforts to advance the peace process. this is something that we want to have accomplished. israel wants peace. i want peace. what we all want is a peace that will be genuine, that will hold, that will endure. and i think that the -- we both agree that a peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of middle eastern reality, and that the only peace that will endure is one that is based on reality, on unshakeable facts. i think for there to be peace, the palestinians will have to accept some basic realities.
the first is that while israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines -- because these lines are indefensible -- because they don't take into account certain as changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. remember that, before 1967, israel was all of nine miles wide. it was half the width of the washington beltway. and these were not the boundaries of peace. they were the boundaries of repeated wars, because the attack on israel was so attractive. so we can't go back to those indefensible lines, and we're going to have to have a long- term military presence along the jordan. i discussed this with the president and i think that we understand that israel has certain security requirements that will have to come into
place in any deal that we make. the second is -- echoes something the president just said, and that is that israel cannot negotiate with a palestinian government that is backed by hamas. hamas, as the president said, is a terrorist organization committed to israel's destruction. it's fired thousands of rockets on our cities, on our children. it's recently fired an anti- tank rocket at a yellow school bus, killing a 16-year-old boy. and hamas has just attacked you, mr. president, and the united states for ridding the world of bin laden. so israel obviously cannot be asked to negotiate with a government that is backed by the palestinian version of al qaeda. i think president abbas has a simple choice. he has to decide if he negotiates or keeps his pact
with hamas, or makes peace with israel. and i can only express what i said to you just now, that i hope he makes the choice, the right choice, in choosing peace with israel. the third reality is that the palestinian refugee problem will have to be resolved in the context of a palestinian state, but certainly not in the borders of israel. the arab attack in 1948 on israel resulted in two refugee problems -- palestinian refugee problem and jewish refugees, roughly the same number, who were expelled from arab lands. now, tiny israel absorbed the jewish refugees, but the vast arab world refused to absorb the palestinian refugees. now, 63 years later, the palestinians come to us and they say to israel, accept the grandchildren, really, and the great grandchildren of these refugees, thereby wiping out
israel's future as a jewish state. so it's not going to happen. everybody knows it's not going to happen. and i think it's time to tell the palestinians forthrightly it's not going to happen. the palestinian refugee problem has to be resolved. it can be resolved, and it will be resolved if the palestinians choose to do so in a palestinian state. so that's a real possibility. but it's not going to be resolved within the jewish state. the president and i discussed all these issues and i think we may have differences here and there, but i think there's an overall direction that we wish to work together to pursue a real, genuine peace between israel and its palestinian neighbors, a peace that ismr. president, you're the -- you're the leader of a great people, the american people.
and i'm the leader of a much smaller people, the -- >> a great people. >> it's a great people, too. it's the ancient nation of israel. and, you know, we've been around for almost 4,000 years. we've experienced struggle and suffering like no other people. we've gone through expulsions and pogroms and massacres and the murder of millions. but i can say that even at the dearth of -- even at the nadir of the valley of death, we never lost hope and we never lost our dream of reestablishing a sovereign state in our ancient homeland, the land of israel. and now it falls on my shoulders as the prime minister of israel, at a time of extraordinary instability and uncertainty in the middle east, to work with you to fashion a peace that will ensure israel's
security and will not jeopardize its survival. i take this responsibility with pride but with great humility, because, as i told you in our conversation, we don't have a lot of margin for error. and because, mr. president, history will not give the jewish people another chance. so in the coming days and weeks and months, i intend to work with you to seek a peace that will address our security concerns, seek a genuine recognition that we wish from our palestinian neighbors to give a better future for israel and for the entire region. and i thank you for the opportunity to exchange our
views and to work together for this common end. thank you, mr. president. >> thank you. >> that but the very nice. thank dean, it has. to into hands you very much. thank you, guys. >> a policy forum and a loss in the speech. robert satloff focuses on the president's remarks that israel would have to return to its pre-1967 borders as a start for negotiations with the palestinians. this is about 90 minutes. >> good morning. the morning and welcome to the washington institute. i'm robert satloff, the director of the institute. thank you for joining us. this is a high-profile week for middle east events and
developments. the president, of course, delivering a major address yesterday after meeting earlier with the king of jordan. a visit today on friday with the prime minister of israel. then over the weekend, the president himself addresses a conference of american supporters of israel. so there's quite a bit going on as we gather here this morning. today we will talk about the implications and the meanings of the president's keynote speech yesterday, what did he say specifically, what was new in the speech, how will it be read throughout the middle east and throughout the world, and what does it portend for the affair -- for the direction of american policy in the middle east. it was a major sighting, and
major speech. the president convened all of his national security team, convened a broad group of activists at the state department yesterday. it was a major international stage, broadcast around the world, with the hope of setting the agenda for the next phase of american policy, with the hope of connecting the administration and with the winds of change throughout the middle east, and with changing the tone and tenor as well as the substance of american policy to reflect the seismic change that is going on in the middle east. the speech had three main sections. a section on political reform, a section on economic development, and a section on the middle east peace process. we're going to talk a bit today about each of these, although
cutting up a little differently. i will speak after my colleagues on the third leg of the president's speech, namely what he had to say about the middle east peace process. scott carpenter will speak about the two first legs, political reform and economic development. and my colleague in the tabler -- andy tabler will talk about the evolution of policy in the past is, policy toward syria, a manifested not just in the space but in the imposition of sanctions personally on the president of syria earlier this week. just a preparatory, and -- prefatory comment.
connecting washington with the volcanic change going on in the middle east, in the and, it did not seem to turn out that way. one only has to look at the front page of today's "washington post." the major headline, obama urges israel to make a push for peace. to see how the president seems to have fallen prey to the sorts of distractions that he claimed -- that he accused arab leaders to fall prey to for many years. in a powerful early statement, the president said and i paraphrase that arab leaders have used the arab-israeli conflict to distract their peoples and the international community from the hard work of reform in what is going on in their countries. it is regrettable that it seems that he was not well led by
he was not televised, and jumping to the extent that he did in the detail that he did, and the novelty that he did the peace process into this major speech on political reform and the wind of change around the middle east and that it would also distract attention from the more dominant theme is that he hopes to address. i first want to bring to the podium my colleague scott carpenter. scott has been an extraordinary colleague of the washington institute, of mine for some years now. he is the founding director of our project. it is our project designed to amplify the voices of mainstream arabs and muslims in the battle against extremism in advance of democracy throughout the middle east.
he has done an exemplary job in meeting this mission. job in meeting this mission. he is being stolen away from us. he will be joining google, which has established its own variation of the project ll google ideas, a project to leverage technology for political change in the middle east and beyond. we are proud that his legacy travels far beyond the beltway. and that such an important institution has google is taking him away and giving him a grander stage on which to make important contributions toward political change in the middle east and elsewhere.
>> the first policy forum where i featured speaking on this same issue about urging, recognizing how critical it was to advance political and economic reform as a keeper of american security. it is fitting in some ways i am here to talk about something similar. while i listened to president obama's speech in the back of a taxicab, and could not help but feel gratified. this may be a good reminder for people to turn off yourself funds. it interferes with the recording equipment. i could not help but feel a bit gratified and a bit smug. for a decade, i have labored to make central the key policy
prescription, that it should be the policy of the united states to promote reform across the region and support transitions to democracy. as i and others have been writing about, it is the key antidote and a key means of defeating bin ladenism as an idology. -- ideology. the project is dedicated to convincing the executive brah and and powering -- it is curricle to u.s. national security. the struggle has little to do with us. and struggles are taking place within their societies. we have a vested interest in the outcome. we can influence it, and we need to.
fundamentally, what is taking place has much more to do with internal debates about the future of these societies that in the united states. we saw that reflected in other places throughout these revolutions. much of the intellectual argument that underlays the shift in policy has been laid out, for instance, the reports that the institute has done that i have worked on together with my colleague on an integrated approach. he sat on the tax force -- task force. the fact is, this speech has been a long time cing. it represents a real policy shift for the president but comes into office implementing a policy precisely opposite to the one he now endorses.
he mean the elimination of friction points a key part of rebuilding america oppose the image in the muslim world. he did this markedly with egypt, but with syria as well as a way to improve our image in the world and found it hard to even utter the d word. democracy. he was infamously reticent as the green movement struggled for birth and missing a strategic opportunity my view. and the belated recognition that it was time for mubarak to go was unintentional. and making the promotion of reform and democracy a top priority.
i am gratified that someone who has worked on iraq policy for eight years that the president is now embracing and endorsing iraq as a policy success, recognizing the however imperfect iraq is, it has embarked on a democratic path that has strengthened and not weak it. after hearing the speech and getting over my initial self gratification, i noted just how much of a back to the future speech it really is. as many have already noted, it seems to me to be an updated restatement of the bush doctrine. it was delivered as discovering these truths for the first time, but in clearly plays -- pays homage to the president bush was the second inaugural address. thisecomes my main critique. in terms of the strategic vision, the speech merely takes
us back to a policy point where we were before, but doesn't go farther. embracing the freedom agenda as his son and articulating what should be a pretty obvious point in was the first applause line, the united states opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region. this may have been a very bold statement in 2008, but not in 2011. it is clear that had egyptians and tunisian is not secure their freedom, the president would not have gen the speech. it is a post facto speech that is not corrected but not revolutionary. there is the glaring omission of any comment related to saudi arabia. the failure to honestly note how
differently the united states and the kingdom are perceiving the region at the moment and the reactionary role they are playing during the course of events in places like kidneys shut and egypt creates a huge contradiction at the heart of the policy shift that the president proposes to make. in my view, the primary challenge advancing this new policy will be managing saudi conservatism. already relating to the rt developing across the country, the president's apparent nod in this region when he- it is an example. numerous officials have already stated that the united states saw no iranian hand in supporting or sparking the
peaceful ptests involved there. in my view, the president needs to go much farther than he did. the very notion that the president can lead a meaningful transition is risible. and i think an insult to those people struggling for peaceful change there. if they had tobacco, why not? in syria and >> how is it possible in the 21st entry for the united states to not more fully and forcefully made clear its opposition to minority rule? the president could have made this point by saying it is inevitable that such arrangements would be relegated to the dustbin of history and that full transition to
democracy that recognizes the rights of minorities -- most news stories that recount the ongoing repression in bahrain and with a short paragraph noting that the united states fifth fleet is based there, but as of bahrain continues to follow a set of policies that move from soft apartheid to the real thing, i anticipate that linkage will move further up in the press's coverage of this. i think the administration missed an opportunity to get ahead of the curve. there was no mention of monarchies more generally. legitimacy for monarchies of recent flows differently than four republics, but nonetheless it must be continually refreshed. the lesson taught by the successful monarchies of europe and elsewhere is that for them to be -- for them to thrive, they must evolve constitutionally.
it must encourage them to go forward and again call on bahrain not to fully reverse course, as it seems intent on doing. and economic prosperity brought, the president had a number of creative ideas to add to the existing tool box of debt forgiveness, new aid, and enterprise funds. i thought the idea about reorienting the ebrd mandate was particularly good. nonetheless, again, the president did not go as far as needed to go. why not offer egypt a free trade agreement? he talked about a broad trade partnership initiative which has yet to be detailed, but clearly the best way of stimulating the egyptian economy is to make a free trade agreements opened for
egypt's consideration and negotiation. in the bush administration, we balked only because of the democracy deficit there. that is no longer the case. i believe the qualified industrial zones are no substitute for free trade agreements that will create tens of thousands of jobs, if not more. finally, while i laud have clearly hopes rather than piers animated and drove the president's speech, he stated clearly what we are for and to more limited extent what we are against. he noted the u.s. will oppose any tim by any group to restrict the rights of others and to hold power to coercion, not consent. again, this does not go far enough. the president should make clear that the policy choices that flow from democratic it choices will have an impact for good and for ill upon our relationships with the countries in the
relations -- in the region. clarity nowat -- must lik will save heartburn and heartbreak later. thank you very much. [applause] >> i would like to turn to enter tabler. he is the institute's next generation fellow. he comes to the institute after eight years living in syria, which gives him a rather unique perspective on the politics, society, and culture in that country. is the author of a new book coming out later this year about the u.s.-syrian relationship. he brings both his on the ground experience and his detached analysis to his discussion of the evolution of u.s. policies in a foreign country.
>> thanks to all of you for coming out this morning. there are some rare moments when you witness a shift in policy and you feel quite a bit of joy for hearing the words. i think scott spoke very eloquently about this. a lot of them did not go far enough, but given what we have followed over the last two years, president obama speech concerning the narrow issue of syria signaled a strategic shift in washington's thinking onhat country. the message that the president said they must leave or get out of the way it means that the syrian president is going to have to begin a process of power sharing or face international
isolation and a pariah status. the fa that obama spoke about iranian and -- involvement ties serious regional and domestic policies together. obama was also very specific in public in issuing demands on damascus, something that washington had shied away from over the last two years in pursuing peace talks first, and human rights 3 distant fifth. this is not unusual. this gs back to the regional policy of facilitating a peace treaty between israel and syria in the 1970's. it was originally calle constructive engagement and later just referred to as engagement. it basically involved a set of principles that lead to reverse
engineering. you have a goal of a peace treaty between israel ansyria. you line up the facts behind it in order to justify the eventual outcome. the way that you do that is that -- in this formula has carried through from the 1970's to the 1990's and has been employed over the last two years -- that you keep this goal, you discuss difficult issues in private, you do not often criticized in public, and most importantly, you never introduce negative incentives. why? because it might dissuade the tyrant not to sign the deal. over the last two years, he did not play the game as well because what he did was to pursue policies which were far worse than his father's, and
slowly the evidence built up alongside the peace process strategy that showed he was not very serious about what he was trying t do. that would be specifically the weapons transfer issue to hezbollah as well as serious behavior 11 on. last but not least, the nuclear issue that will be discussed at the next board of governors meeting coming up in june. why the shift now? during the entire bush administration, despite a lot of talk about human rights and democracy, there were no executive orders or sanctions that were actually designed to protect human rights inside of syria. a major oversight. why the shift now? because the obama administration realized that while the regime
in damascus was not a dramatic tipping point that we saw in cairo, in geneva there was a broad recognition, specifically the protests of april 18, that the regime was unable to accommodate the demands of the protesters, and france and turkey cameround to a simil conclusion. essentially, they realized that assad was in a dilemma. to continuto try to put the genie of the protests back in the bottle, or he could reform and try to cut a political deal with the ascending majority
population that would help accommodate this and require the stronger security. the problem is that if he goes down that road, if he decides to reform and truly change, it will undermine the very people he now relies on so much to keep that stopper in the bottle. he is in a real demma, and policy-makers have realized that the regime as we know it is crumbling away and disintegrating. along with the president's speech, leading up to the speech of the last two weeks but specifically the day before, a number of sanctions have been issued. most of which involved executive orders and designations of syrian individuals, including the president himself, that are responsible for the human rights crackdown. a quick count of the number of people designated and the
entities designated shows that now there are more people that are targeted for these activities for human rights abuses than four syrians regional behavior, which is a major shift in u.s. policy. suddenly the domestic situation inside of syria matters again, perhaps more than ever before. the fact that you had the vice- president, the prime minister, the interior minister and security chief, means that the entire security apparatus has been made into national pariahs. it is doubtful that these individuals would have assets in the united states, but the effect of sanctions that have been rolled out by the eu and will be rolled out in the coming days, means that our -- those benefiting in repression will not be able to invest their ill- gotten gains abroad. gin the terrible track record of reform, and i witnessed this
personally, so forgive the frustration in my voice, 11 years of lost opportunities. essentially, to bring back this bad metaphor ofhe genie in the bottle, what has happened is that he decided that he was able somehow to open up the coury and raise people's expectations and to connect them with the internet and open up the country to the oside world, all the while not reforming, and keeping that tyrannical system as it has existed even from his father's time. not only that, even failed to bring out laws that would underpin the very reforms he had launched in the country, including the banking and insurance industries and so on. now the situation for hassad is our control. does it mean he will be able to crack down on the protesters? >> yes, but people continue to
come out into the streets. washington needs now to develop a plan designed to bring an end to the regime as we know it now. whether this means power-sharing that leads to majority rule or the full collapse of the regime itself, washington with its western and regional allies should reach out to the opposition now andelp them plan the eventuality of syria without assad at its helm. thanks very much. [applause] >> let me put my comments first in context. i am genally quite complementary forhe way the administration has handled the changes in the middle east over the last 150 days. thought the administration
handled egypt about as well as any administration would have handled the reality of an overwhelming surge in change in that country and helped facilitate the transfer to institutions in which we had some confidence. i think the united states should take great pride that the largely transitional -- largely peaceful transition was facilitated by military that has had three decades of a close relationship with the united states. i think that was an important factor. i am complimentary of the evolution of policy toward syria. i believe we have gone down an inexorable path now with the syrians. egypt took 18 days. the syrian story is much more drawn-out, much longer in slow motion, but if you look at the words that were used with
president assad last week, they are almost the same words used with president mubarak five or six days into the egyptian situation. begin the transition or leave. that is exactly -- paraphrasing what the president said, but pretty close from the night of february 1. in syria, i thi regrettably it will take the courage up syrians to continue this inexorable clock to tick, but if they are willing to brave themselves to continue the crackwn, i think u.s. policy will end up in syria where it ended up in egypt. i say all this because i am perplexed by the logic, the rationale, as well as the substance of the third leg of the president's speech devoted to the arab-israeli peace process.
the president said a lot in the speech that was not news, but what he said that was news was quite consequential news, in my view. the president did repeat lots of important formulations from previous speeches and statements, expressg his demoted connection to israelis facing terrorist attacks, his opposition to israeli settlement activity, his strong position against palestinian plans to go to the united nations in september or any sort of unilateral action that might try to circumvent the pathway of negotiations. this is powerful rhetoric, not really new, but very important that the president uttered those statements. what was new in the speech was
the president's official endorsement of a territory and security first approach to negotiations, and an articulation of parameters for final resolution of the issues. specifically, what was known as the statement that it is the policy of the united states that the final borders should be negotiated between these two parties, should be based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, and that he envisions a full phased withdrawal out of the israel defense forces to a point which permits the state of palestine to have borders with the state of jordan, egypt, and israel, meaning a full withdrawal both from the borders and with cn that terrory.
let me get a little bit more specific cure. there are numerous innovations here in u.s. policy. the key fact is not that these ideas have not been bouncing around of what by some very smart people. the key fact is not that these are novel ideas. the key fact is that these ideas now have the imprimatur of the president of the united states. we plish what i think is a useful, provocative and constructive study by my colleague outlining where border swaps might make a useful contribution to how israelis and palestinians could address their territorial dispute. in the end, that may be the strategy that israelis and palestinians adopt to resolve their dispute. it is a very different kettle of fish for the president of the
united states to say that u.s. policy is w based, and even envisions and requis mutually agreed swaps as t resolution to this conflict, and that the resolution must begin with the notion thathe 1967 borders or the baseline for that solution. that is what the innovation is in the president's speech, that is is now the president's imprimatur on these otherwise interesting but not officially sanctioned ideas. let me repeat the significance of this change. the entire idea of the un security council resolution 242, on which the peace process is based, and is the granddaddy of
all peace resolutions, is that a final resolution should repair the problems in the 1967 boundaries. it should repair the problems in the 1967 boundaries. it was never envisioned by the drafters of that resolution or by any president ever officially sanctioned to date that reparation of those items 67 boundaries would require israel to cede territory from within its own, pre-1967 sovereign territory. it has always been envisioned that fixing the security problems inherent in the 1967 borders would be resolved east of those borders. the president said, and i am not
sure whether everybody in the white house fully appreciates the enormity of the statements, but the president actually said that a resolution of this conflict, of the territorial dispute, requires israel to cede territory inside its pre-1967 boundaries. he cannot envision a resolution of the territorial dispute without israel ceding territory within its 1967 boundaries. that is the import of what was said yesterday. that is a huge statement that those to the eence of the territorial integrity of an ally. the president has historically
made a distinction between the strength of the security relationip and the political relationship. we have been willing t withstand a certain level of discomfort and tension of deepening our ties on the security and strategic relationship. now seems to me there is a distinction within that distinction. between types of security relationships, that is the president is quite committed to e deep and abiding and unshakable security relationship when it comes to the external threats israel faces, iran, al qaeda, a state to state attacks, etc. but there does not seem to be much recognition that a definition of israel's borders affects israel's security.
this is what goes to the heart of what the president said yesterday. taken together, i do not see h one can judge this as anything but a substantial change in u.s. policy. i will add to what the president said about a full withdrawal of the ibf. this would seem to suggest that the president does not agree with the israeli determination of its own security. even president clinton talked about an open-ended presence in at least three zones that the israelis would have in the west bank. not necessarily along the border but early warning stations and other things within the west bank. a full withdrawal the president talked about certainly seems to imply that this is not in his vision. what really makes me scratch my head is the seeming indifference to what is going on in the region.
just last week, palestinians on multiple fronts attempted to reach israel's borders. israel has said it will unilaterally opened a border to people and goods. the president specifically noted he was not going to make any reference to the issue of refugees, as though it was not a security issue. one could have argued at a certain point that it was principally and the motive, psychological issue. the events of the last week _ that this is a real-life issue. it has real life implications. this is not just a psychological issue, it is also a security issue. secondly, the fact that the president himself said the palestinians have walked away from negotiations collapsed this entire initiative in question
and raises some important questions. i can only imagine, and i think we are seeing is already in some of the commentary in the middle east, that the idea of the speech tends to when palestinians back to the negotiating table. this cannot but be viewed as a reward to palestinians, an odd policy for the president to take, given that the president has at least reportedly promised in the pasthat there will be repercussions to abbas for certain positions that he took, the report which last year that there will be percussion -- repercussions for the un security council resolution, the idea that abbas and other senior officials have said they are willing to go without u.s. assistance to pursue their unity
agreement with hamas, essentially a slap in the face to the united states and to the american effort to promote negotiations, after rejecting the american approach to negotiations, here we have a situation in which the administration will certainly be viewed in the region as taking a major step toward palestinians precisely when they are making a major step away from washington. the hamas-fatah agreements, strange detachment from this new reality in this speech. the president said the reconciliation agreement poses a profound and legitimate questions for israel, but not for america? after all, the palestinian authority is our word. hamas is our sworn enemy. is it not disturbing to us that our partner and our enemy have decided to reach agreement with
each other? there seem to have been a detachment from that new reality. overall, there is a surprising emphasis on the entire peace process in this speech. in cairo, two years ago when the president last gave such a grand speech, the peace process was one of seven teams. now it is one of three things. there were seven killers in cairo, there are three pillars yesterday. -- seven pillars in cairo. there seems to be no rationale as to why today it is more important than it was in cairo. compare the words that we had with cairo. in cairo, the peace process session, the second major source of tension between muslims and the west after differing visions of the other a radical
extremism, recent events have undermined that argument. the arab spring was not about this issue so you cannot make the argument that the peace process today is nearly as important as a source of tension as you could have argued two years ago. what was the bis for making the case as strong as he made yestday? there was no answer. just an assertion. let me conclude by talking about another cornerstone of our approach to the region that relates to the pursuit of peace. no rationale was given as to why it is important today to make this one-third of the speech. the best the president came up with as to why it was important to devote 1200 words to this topic, and for people like me, i note it is 20% more than he devoted to this topic in cairo, was fatigued.
"the world looks at a conflict that has grided on and on and on and sees nothing but stalemate." it seems in my view that fatigue has set in here in washington, because the president offered no mechanism to translate his act -- his ideas into action. no meetings, no summons, no plans for negotiation, no travel. it is as though he put his ideas out in the ether. as the background briefer for his speech put it, "the president seeks to shape an environment in which negotiations can restart when the parties are ready." but no suggestion that we are going to try to make that happen. if i have to harken back to a historical moment in the peace process that resembled this one, it is the 1982 reagan plan
on palestinian autonomy, a plan that surprised israel. it was a major innovation in american policy, a plan that was immediately rejected and relegated to the dustbin of peace process history. it was rejected both because of substance and because the process, a process in which israel found out about the reagan plan only after it had been finalized. yesterday, after swearing allegiance to israel security, a commitment i am absolutely convinced the president believes in with every fiber in his body, he articulated a position about israeli troops and the idea that if israel wants to amend the border east word to amend vulnerabilities from the pre-
1967 lines, it will have to do that without having pre-cooked this rather substantial change to american policy with the government of israel. i may be wrong on this, but i think the president has inadvertently just pson some good ideas by presenting them now, this way, with the endorsement. a few days ago i wrote that the success of the speech will be judged with whether it reflected some lessons from the past two years. i listed quite a few lessons that should have been learned. on democcy and reform, i do believe the obama administration has learned a lot over the past two years, d we saw a lot of that in the speech. on the peace process, they seem to have learned precious little. thank you. [applause]
>> there you have it. that is our view. i stand by it. we will open the floor to questions. please use the microphone. we willtart over here. >> george bush made a statement on may 26th, 2005. why do you think it differs so fundamentally from what obama said yesterday? george bush said changes to the 1949 lines must be mutually agreed to. he did not use the word swap, but can actually, i think that y, iassumed -- contextualis
think that was assumed. it would have to take account of post-1967 demographic realities. is this really so different, what obama did? i agree with most of what you said. certainly, in terms of style and body language, he seemed to be sticking a finger in the eye of israel moments before netanyahu walked into the white house. again, that is important. that may be the major outcome here. but is its terrifically different? >> i believe the answer is yes, or would not have said what i said. i think it is very important that that statement does not say that it ithe view of the
united states that a resolution to this conflict will require israel to exchange territory from inside 1967 israel in order to amend and repair territory the on the 1967 borders. what it says is, if the two sides decide, it will have to be mutually agreed. that is not such a great insight, since the entire agreement is based on mutual agreement. this is the president articulating the american vision for how the parties willreach that agreement, and what precisely that agreement wl be based upon. it is a very different approach. the traditional american approach is, we provide the context. we set the environment. we reduced the risks and enable the parties to do their business. i know the argument about, this really is not so different, and i am afraid that i disagree.
for the president of the united states to put his personal imprimatur on the specific path to the resolution of this conflict, especially one that requires -- in his view, requires the opening up of 1948 israel, is a new position for the united states. >> over year. >> -- over here. could you use the microphone please? >> you called it a substantial new u.s. policy. lots of us who follow this as you do have seen secretary clinton make the same statement a number of times in her speeches, including at a pac last year and the center for middle east peace speech. this is not a change from secretary clinton opposes beaches in the past, is it?
speeches in the past, is it? >> most of the time, what the secretary sa is that we can envision a solution that meets one side's demands for x with the other side's demands for why. it is in that context that she talks about 1967 borders with agreed swaps. the vast number of times that she makes this type of reference, it is we are working for a policy, for an outcome that meets the palestinian demand for the 1967 borders and agreed swaps, and the israeli demand for secure and whenever whenever. there may be exceptions to that, but 90% of the time that is how she phrases it. it is a very different statement, the policy of the united states is a resolution conflict based on this
principle. it is no lonr how we facilitate with the two parties -- what the two parties may be trying to achieve. it is now what we believe the only path for the solution of this will be. this gentleman right here. >> isn't the position that president obama articulated regarding the 1967 borders entirely consistent with the reported position negotiated at the end of president clinton's term, basically going back to 1967 borders with agreed upon swaps and the other side is unwilling to consider that. >> it might be. i do not really remember what a he was saying back in 2000.
i do know what president clinton put on the table in 2000 and what was on the table in camp david that summer. again, i have to repeat, this is the first time a sitting president has publicly, formally endorsed this kind of u.s. policy to resolve the territorial dispute. the nature of these questions is exactly what i feared. this issue now dominates and distracts from the important themes that scott and andrew spoke about. so, i would like to take a moment and ask everybody here if they have questions for scott and andrew. let's focus on that for a minute. weave three over here. let's go in order.
>> the word power-sharing -- isn't that an oxymoron when you make that statement? it is either a saud stays in power or he leaves -- bashar al- assad stays in power ore leaves. there is no way for anything else to happen over time. >> in the sense that it is -- i think it is an outside chance. i think because of the way that regime rules -- wilit be forced to go in that direction as part of the transition? possibly. i do not think that the fall of that regime is going to look like cairo or tunisia. this is why i said we need to come up with the plan about what it is that we would like to see in syria after bashar al-assad.
whetr that happens next week, next month or next year, i think it is going to be a very long process. if, along the way, bashar al- sad tries to cut a deal, well, we will have to see. but my experience of that regime is i do not think anything is going to create the necessity for them to truly loosen their grip on power. president obama is giving him -- ushering him into a way or an avenue toward the kind of change we would all like to see. it is not just the united states. it is also the tks who a believe will be hosting an opposition conference. turkey is the closest country to that regime perhaps other than iran. this shows that there is a
consensus among not only allies of the united states, but also countries like turkey and so on that his regime needs to go away. >> i just want to add very quickly, one quick point on this. i think to the extent that there is a strategy involving, clearly as the president has not moved entirely to the position that bashar al-assad has to go, the implications of the sanctions and the way he is speaking should be clear. but, if they are clear, why not a stated? but that is neither here nor there. to the point i would like to make is, the one hope they would have, and hopefully the turks and others are working behind the scenes on this, is that the community as a whole may not prefer to jump off the cliff that bashar al-assad and his family is leading them toward. so, if they were to get rid of bashar al-assad, then perhaps there could be a means of
negotiating a settlement that would lead to a fall on transition -- full on transition. barring that, i think andrew is right. it is going to be a long, bloody, drawn out conflict. >> trying to get syria to the negotiating table. do you think syria could buy our good will, if you will, by talking about opening up negotiations with israel now? >> yes, this is an interesting question, isn't it? you are saying basically, if he can stuff this genie back in the bottle and really put a clamp down on it and all of a sudden really start talking about peace, would we buy it? i think that what the protests
call into question is his legitimacy. that is not always important for a dictator, is it? but it is indirectly important. there are basic principles on which bashar al-assad rules. obviously, he does not have very much -- or any -- legitimacy based on reform. there are many people in washington that thought he did, many people that carry water for him in washington and said he was a reformer. his legitimacy is based on at? resistance to israel. is the way he consolidated his regime in 2006. the question is, how can a regime that has no legitimacy based on reform, as military deployed throughout the country, and the protesters are still coming out, how is that guy going to sign on the dotted ne with israel? he can sign it, but how is he
going to implement it? and kick the ryans out at the same time? and distance himself a -- the at the samet time? and distance himself from hezbollah? >> i did not say sign on the dotted line. i said open himself up -- >> i do not think it is possible for him at the moment. could he do it down the road? perhaps. but nobody is biting. >> just on that point, paid advertisement. i would urge you to look at an essay that the general and i wrote that came out yesterday, which is called "syria, the case for the devil we do not know. ."
it is no small issue that the man who served til last november as the head of israeli intelligence would co-author a peace which debunks the argument against change in syria. so, i would -- i think that, maybe -- i do not want to read too much into it, but i think that may be reflective of a rather substantial shift in strategic thinking, at least among many in the israeli security establishment. >> question for scott. scott, you said that the president's speech yesterday was largely a restatement of the bush doctrine and noted at least tacitly some success in iraq, a
war he famously opposed. is the difference that the change in the least now seems to be coming from the ground up, not from outside, not from washington? do you have a sense that the arab revolt is an aftershock of the bush policies in the middle east, and if so, would you share that view? >> i am not going to ascribe the bush administration or any particular policies that were adopted, or even programs that were adopted, that led inexorably to this. i think it is undeniable, however, that this huge rock th week threw into a very still pond in iraq d have reverberations. i did not ask this question, but when i was into uneasy about one month after the revolution there was -- the revolution there -- i was having dinner with some people, and i asked them, when
did y know this was possible? i thought the answer was going to be when so and so did this in this town, or when this person abandons the president. unsolicited, the person said, when we saw saddam hussein being prosecuted, that is when we knew our president could go. that is not the answer i was looking for. ah,m not going to say, ro rah. but i would also say, when you talk to the activists who were there, they are very grateful for programs like the middle east partnership initiative, for instance. the middle east partnership initiative allows groups like freedom house and the national democratic institute and the international republican institute to build partnerships with people all over the region
which we did not have before. one person was recently in benghazi. theeason he had any connection there at all was related to programs launched under the bush administration in 2006 when we convinced gaddafi that there had to be some sort of -political program. what we argued, and you helped us argue in our report, the task force report, was do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. unfortunately, i think they did throw the baby out with the bath water for a time. inadvertently, it actually, i think, contributed to the final back, whichamel pose a bac's was the deeply flawed elections in egypt, tunisia, and of grain
which immediately preceded these revelations -- bahrain, which immediately preceded thes revelations. it allowed the national democratic party to run an election which was particularly egregious. in the past, the muslim brotherhood, for instance, onwon 88 seats in 2005, having no opposition seats whatsoever for anyone in that parliament. this complete arrogance, which i think contributed inadvertently to the -- i think, obviously having a view toward the united states and governments who are authoritarian, and who are our
allies on democratic reform, political and economic -- egypt, we are delighted in the reforms that are taking place there, even as we recognize that there is no trickle-down, expectations are rising, people were feeling a complete lack of ability to shape their live in any way. these two things need to go hand in hand. i think the psident's speech in that respect is a reiteration, a very clear reiteration, of things that president bush said many years ago -- not that he implemented them, in every respect. >> it is an interesting debate. to what extent did the president's outreach, beginning in cairo, set the stage for the past 120 days? there are legitimately differing views on this. some argue that what the president did was diffuse
animosy enough for people to focus on their own domestic problems and therefore not have easyamerican bogyman as the e strongman to attack. there are others who argue that it was mostly irrelevant, and that if anything, the back door benefits scott pointed out -- the reluctance to talk about democracy only f greater frustration with their entire situation and the explosion we have seen in the last 150 days. i tend to put myself in the second camp. other people believe that the president's engagement was more important in setting the stage. it is an important but still an academic question and i think what we now have is this new approach going forward, and some of the tensions scott pointed to i think are really the key issues.
i just want to underscore this enormous lacuna of saudi arabia and everything it stands for. it did not merit a mention, as far as i remember from the text of the speech. i mentioned, whether in terms of bahrain, radical extremism, the need for a wealthy arab state to support other states in the region, or the need for political change within saudi arabia at all -- it was just -- it is too big to discuss. so, there was a punt. i think that really underscores how difficult this issue is. let's go to the front of the room now. >> i was struck by what i
thought was a superficial treatment in the president's speech -- the palestinian side of the process, in which there remains no consensus, far from it, between hamas and abbas, and given that, the notion that the burden of a new initiative should be on the israeli side is kind of an astonishing leap of faith. to compute that they're either has been or is about to be some kind of epiphany in hamas about israel is a giant leap of faith to say the least. neither you nor scott commented on that. i wonder if you could address it please.
>> luck, in telegraphic form, the administration came off as -- look, in telegraphic form, the administration came off as acting as if the prerequisite was a settlement freeze. this has been american policy for almost two years. then, in november, the administration decided it would no longer demand an israeli settlement freeze for its participation or for its effort to promote negotiations. the result was no real effort to promote negotiations. indeed, from november until today, the american peace envoy, george mitchell, travel to the mile east once. there was no sense that what we needed was palestinian negotiation. it is difficult to understand
that the missing ingredient in making all of negotiations possible, since they fell apart last november, that the missing ingredient was the definition of principles on the territorial resolution of this conflict that the president offered yesterday. that's, that, that is what really has changed. this is the key, missing ingredient. i think that is a misreading of the situation. i think what we have seen over the last six months is a decision by the palestinians to go a different route. to go for an alternative to negotiations, whether it is international is asian of the conflict -- internationalization of the conflict, a peaceful opposition, crossing t borders, whatever you want, an entire range of options, but not pursuing direct negotiations to
resolve this conflict. i think it is a mistake. if the presumption is that what will change this dynamic, what will produce the negotiation that we have not been able to produce is merely the president's definition of how this conflict should be resolved in a territorial dispute, that that was what was missing, i think that is a misreading of the paltinian's fundamental difference iapproach to how they are looking at the situation. i agree with you. i think it was a missed opportunity to look at how this has evolved and how palestinian politics is shifting into a regrettable direction despite all of theery positive things that are going on on the ground. this is really the, you know, the -- this -- um, the contradiction here, because we
have had enormous on the ground progress between israelis and palestinians. the longe time in israel's history without terrorism emanating from these territories. the good relationship between security forces. the good relationship between administrators and palestinian authority and the operation of the government of israel. good relationship. there was no effort really to articulate why this was what we should be building upon, rather than an alternative world view. i think it was a missed opportunity. >> we will take a few questions, but we are going to try to wrap up by 1130 am >> i really enjoyed your
analysis. i think one of the things that you neglected to -- well, there are a couple of thingsou neglected to point out. one is that, i think, after 17 there had always been a perception of an ally between the united states and israel. i think it mighte somewhat reckless at this point to see this huge failing while the palestinians areeeli this huge empowerment. every piece of land that has been seated has become an
iranian puppet. there is a good possibility that if an election was held on the west bank today, because they elected hamas in 2005, because of corruption, which is, again, and powering iran, which is destabilizing most of the region. could you comment on that? >> i read today that the syrians call the american and french ambassadors and gave them a plan for reform, a plan the goes as far as june 14th. i was wondering if you have heard anything about that and if people in washington are taking this seriously? >> we are going to take a punch
and then not answer the ones we do not want to answer. [laughter] >> even though obama said in his speech that the core issues must be negotiated, you just answered the gentleman's question talking about how the palestinians are looking to go to the international arena instead. so, that says, given that he did not offer any ways for the u.s. to have any influence or a way to begin negotiations, in that area, what is our influence? you talked about egypt where we have the clothes security cooperation with the egyptian army, -- close security operation -- cooperation with the egyptian army. you said the people in the arab world did not really listen to president obama as speech. it was too little, too late. even though each country is
somewhat different, how do you see the u.s. influence? >> great. briefly, please. >> you mentioned a mechanism for negotiations. israel is being asked to relinquish territory, degrade their secury, for what? for absence of war? and of conflict? of conflict? the big questions can still be left open? >> thank you. >> question for scott. this sort of built on the previous question, on the question of relevance.
america is not relevant. we heard in the interior square. we heard yesterday after -- we heard it in tahrir square. we heard yesterday after the speech. what can be done further? >> right here, very quickly. >> palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves. >> i agree. >> question addressed to scott. we just saw a public opinion poll that [unintelligible] the question is, how do you reconcile the opinion of the people with getting involved?
how do you do that without actually hurting those in organized states? and why? >> in cairo, two days ago, a group of people tried to attack the israeli embassy. my question is, does the united states have a better idea of the level of danger that israel faces rightow in the middle east? >> scott, why don't you start and answer the ones that were directed at you? >> ok. about american influen, i think -- look. people are upset with the united states about all sorts of things. someone mentioned too little, too late. what was really curious to me, reading the reaction in the arab world across the region, was how little their reaction to the
speech had to do with the comments the president made on the israeli-palestinian peace process. it was all about it is too little, too late. it does not go far enough. he was a better friend to dictators than he is to the new egypt, this sort of thing. many people commented on the fact that he made no mention of saudi arabia, etc. very few people were talking about the peace process, which again, i think it is ironic. you know, the way my father taught me to fill a hole is one shovel load at a time. i think that the united states and the president's speech is important in the sense that he tried to reorient us and give us an opportunity to try to make amends in some ways by being better partners with a democratic egypt than we were with an autocratic one. there are many things more that the president can do, but i think what was appropriate in
the speech was to focus on egypt and tunisia in terms of what we are doing. i think to recognize the weight of egypt and the potential of tunisia was extremely important and the way in which he is intending to leverage the europeans and others -- i do wish he would have talked about what the gulf can bring to the tae, because i know that there is extreme reluctance on their part to help egypt. your question was about to -- ? the other thing about opinion polls. please, please, please. it depends on the question you are going to ask. if you are going to ask, do you like the united states? how strongly do you like the united states? you're going to, but --ho cares? most people, if you ask them, is it a good thing or a bad thing that the united states is going to give $1 billion in debt relief to egypt, most egyptians
will say, yes, we want more, but it is a good thing, we are excited about it. i think that some of this is -- when you make it very concrete, people are ready to work with the uned states. they want to work with the uned states. they want to work with an american organization. it is not always about american policy, but what can you do for us here that is more important. >> i think the only question was, if the reports are true, and i am not sure that they are, this is not surprising. the syrians will -- the next step for the syrians is having some sort of national dialogue to come up with a political solution to this in junction with the security solution, the iron fist/a velvet glove. what i can tell you -- there is
an understanding. it is not just in washington, but in europe as well. opening up a couple of banks and some new money changing shops in damascus is not reform. and it is not going to be enough to deal with the situation that is in front of us. there are policy metrics which are now being developed to measure that. and there are a lot of people who have experience -- one of the fortunate things about this situation is that there are many people who work in syria before, who have had to leave the country, and have a deep knowledge about these reforms and about how they go. the track record of the bashar al-assad regime on implementation is terrible. i do not think it is simply passing new laws that is going to be enough. it is going to be after you pass it, do you actually issue executive instructions? do the executive instructions,
trick large parts of the syrian constitution? today -- contradict large parts constitution? contributi at the same time, this is going to be a long process. there are two groups that have to organize themselves. one is the syrian opposition. the other are the lebanese. how are they going to -- both of these groups -- how are they going to get their acts together to be able to capitalize on this situation as the bashar al- assad regime is under the gun and under scrutiny? this is very important for the u.s. to keep its objectives going forward, as well as those two groups. >> let me very quickly answer some of the specific questions that were posed to me. first, contiguity in is really policy towards palestine means
two things. one is contiguity within the west bank. the idea that there would not be of swiss cheese of settlements that would not the west bank and kate and make it impossible for palestinians to move for -- west bank landscape and make impossible for palestinians to move from the territory in the north to a territory in the south. the other is contiguity between the west bank and gaza. in the context of this speech, since the president already said that the 1967 borders would be the basis of negotiation, by inference, the contiguity statement refers to the connection between the west bank and gaza. this adds another layer of the president articulating a position which invves israel to cede control, if not
sovereignty, of territory inside pre-1967 israel. the idea that there is a land bridge between gaza and the west bank is of course not new. it is how you do it and under whose control and whether it is a palestinian land bridge i which the israelis have certain rights of hot pursuit, or an israeli land bridge in which the palestinians have certain rights of transit. that is the basic disagreement here, and the president seemed to suggest the latter -- the former. that is just another arena of impingement on the 1967 boundaries. he quite correctly points out that there is, of course, a problem with security in the territory first, which is that israel makes some enormous
concessions in reaching agreements on these two issues, which will then not permit it to have concessions in the pocket to reach good agreent on refugees in jerusalem. and, along the way, does not give israel the finality of ending this conflict. so, in theory, israel might make agreements on these two issues not have the overall end of the israeli palestinian conflict, and yet have given up some of its major cards in negotiations. there is an argument for this approach because these two issues appeared to many to be more amenable to compromise, but i think it is quite useful to poinout that there are some major structural problems with this approach, which is one reon the parties have not endorsed them up until now. we have to assume that they are fairly rational negotiators, and there is some reason why smart people have not engaged in this approach up until now. e larger question about the
u.s. influence. it is painful whenever the united states proposes ideas that are not adopted, because that means american influence and american ability to exert power suffers. so, i only want to see america presidents succeed. i want to see them husband their initiatives when they are going to succeed. wheat for moments when they are going to transform the situation for the week -- wait for moments when they're going to transform the situation for the benefit of american interests. i think the president did a relatively good job of recognizing some of the look and a we were talking about today. i think the peace process has been relatively eroded. i know that sarah asked a very importan question and it connects to this. will this project the impression in the region that there is
daylight between us and israel on core issues, and how will ofs affect israel's sense america? i think the president tries to address that with his -- i thought -- very good comments, very strong comments vis-a-vis iran and the bankruptcy of the iranian position, but i do think that if the end result -- and this will be my closing comment -- if the end result of this episode is a public breach between the united states and israel focused on the peace process, a result which i think everybody has to entertain as a distinct possibility, even if it is papered over in the next 48 hours, then it cannot but have an impact on israel's determined posture. and that should not be a surprise.
that should just be a dirt and simple obligation. so on that, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us today and i am sure we will be back before long. thank you. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> afl cio president is next on political issues. in reaction to president obama's speech on thursday and a discussion on the future of pakistan. >> history is much more than
just politics and soldiers and social issues. it is also medicine, science, art, music, theater, poetry, and ideas. we shouldn't alum things in the categories. it is part of the same thing in. >> thomas edison, henry adams. part one of two weeks with david mccullough of americans that made the journey to nineteenth century paris. now, president richard discusses the u.s. labor movement agenda. increase in union activity in states like wisconsin, ohio, and indiana. he also talks about the 2012 elections and the state of the u.s. economy.
this is about an hour. >> good afternoon, welcome to the national press club. i'm a broadcast journalists for the associated press and one hundred and fourth president of the national press club. we are the leading organization of professional journalists. will also work to foster a free press worldwide. for more information, visit our web site. and to donate to programs offered to the public for the national journalism library, you can find information there as well. on behalf of our members worldwide, i like to welcome our speaker and those of you
attending today's avenged. it includes our speaker and other journalists. if you hear applause, members of the general public are in attendance. it does not necessarily point to a lack of journalists that the activity. -- journalistic objectivity. we produce a weekly broadcast available for free on itunes. use #npclunch. we will have 1 & a -- q & a. i will ask each of you appear to stand briefly as you are announced.
a labor reporter for bloomberg news. a radio reporter, also a new member. alex is a member of the wisconsin american federation of teachers, co-president of the teaching assistants association. a guest of the speaker. the washington correspondent for the cleveland plain dealer. and the executive vice- president and vice chair thank you for that.
jennifer is a reporter for the fiscal times. the reporter -- [unintelligible] let's give them a round of applause. [applause] as you probably know by now, organized labor has been under renewed attack this year. while it has not been as physically violent, it has often been better at times. the benefits and collective bargaining rights representing hot civil servants have become a special target. politicians want unions to help reduce the budget shortfalls high paying more for their benefits in giving of the ability to negotiate working conditions. much of the impetus behind all of this anti-union legislation
might be linked back to the 2010 alexian which put control from democrat to republican. law's governor signed into student local workers of their collective bargaining rights. democratic governors in places like massachusetts and connecticut, to one unions to give back to help balance their budget. it may not be driven so much but ideology as fiscal necessity. the difference may seem to be academic. 14 states recently have considered right to work bills during mandatory union dues and private sector workplaces. all this at a time where unions are struggling to maintain their membership. 12% of working americans belong to unions, the lowest level in
70 years. let our speaker was just beginning his career as a union activist and a leader. richard was raised on the coal fields of southwest pennsylvania. after earning his law degree in 1974, having worked in the coal mines, he went to work for the united mine workers union becoming the youngest president in that union's history. he served three terms and brought the workers -- he became secretary treasurer. he served until his election in 2009 as the fifth president of the 55 unions of the largest labor federation representing more than 12 million members. give a large, press club welcome to richard. [applause]
>>: to thank you for that kind introduction and a lot to thank you for inviting me to speak here today. i will get right into it, quite frankly. i want to thank the shoved for the wonderful cookies. i am sure all of you recognize them. how can we make sense of the spectacle that has the unfolding across the american political landscape. politicians in wisconsin and ohio and a dozen other states are trying to take away worker'' rights to organize and bargain for a better life. in state after state, politicians are attacking voter rights by imposing high the requirements, shortening the
early voting period, locking young people from voting because they are "too liberal. and even levying criminal penalties and fines for breaking an arbitrary rules in the voter registration process. all of which makes it harder for people to vote. especially the least privileged among us. listen to the list of who doesn't have a issued a voter id's that will be needed to cast a ballot under legislation and the governor will sign next week. 23% of elderly wisconsin. in denying% of latino women. 55 percent of african-american men overall, and 78% of african- american men between 18 and 24 years of age.
but the proposals unveiled in washington and state capitols across the country this year revealed a despicable canvas of cruelty. in michigan, a state senator and should be required to purchased secondhand clothes with a $79 annual stipend they get for those close. in maine, the governor thinks more children should go to work cut half the minimum wage. in north carolina, the legislature things that we should balance the budget on the backs of autistic children. in arizona, the state president float the idea of walking the, protesting public employees. in your, a billionaire mayor proposes to fire 5000 teachers rather than tax the bonuses of wall street executives who
brought down the american economy. not just mean missing the destructiveness. a willful desire to block the road from the future. how else can you explain in governors of states with massive unemployment refusing to allow high-speed rail lines to be built. how else can you explain these same governor's plans to de-fund higher education, closed schools, fire teachers. when we know without an educated america, we have no future whatsoever. here in washington, the republicans have been funded housing councils and they are blocking worker training. and transportation infrastructure. i think the final out rage of
these budgets is hidden in the fine print. in state after state, here in washington, these so-called fiscal hawks are actually doing almost nothing to cut the deficit. it gives up $4.20 trillion the benefits disproportionately wealthy individuals. florida is getting the aid for jobless workers and using the money saved to cut already low business taxes. and at the end of the day, our governments will be in no better physical shape than when we started. they are being used as a pass- through to enrich the already rich that a time when inequality
in this country stands at historic levels. think about the message these budgets and sen. sacrifice is for the week. a powerful and the well- connected, a tax cuts. and they can become more powerful and more well- connected. all of these incredible events should be understood as part of a single challenge. it is not just a political challenge. it is actually a moral challenge. because these events signaled a new and dangerous phase in a concerted effort to change the very nature of america. to replace the land of liberty and justice for all with the land of the rich and by the rich, and for the rich.
ec, i personally believe the united states is not a place as much as it is an idea of. for working people, the united states of america has offered from its foundation and a promise that everyone can be a full participant. a promise that we the people make the rules so that hard work is rewarded with economic security and a fair share of the wealth that we all helped create. that promise has always been a work in progress. this year, we commemorate the anniversary of our bloodiest war. a war that resulted in the extension of the american promise to african-americans that did so much of the work of creating the united states. you're the first country in the history of the world to embrace
the idea that you don't have to own land to a vote. that citizens come from where you live, not what you own. or who your parents were. we were the first country to make land available to those that would work the land. and in the modern era where the giant corporations dominated our economy, we pioneered the idea that we had a right to a voice on the job. the right made real when we came together to form unions and to bargain collectively. and while the chamber of commerce may not like it, allot of the land and protect working people that exercise that right against any retaliation by their employers. employees0's, public
finally won those same rights. working people remember full well that these rights were not easily won. the pivotal 1968 memphis sanitation workers' strike began with a man crushed to death in a garbage truck. and ended with dr. martin luther king giving his life for the cause of public workers and their right to organize together. from the beginning of this country to our efforts in our ideas, working people have made the american dream real. and what is that dream? the idea that if you work hard and you play by the rules you will enjoy economic security and a better future for your children. it is not that a few of us will
be rich, but that all of us will be treated fairly. that will look after each other and we have a share in the wealth that we helped create. working people are engaged in a great struggle to defend their dream. in green bay, in indianapolis, and in columbus, ohio. and not just in the midwest. quite frankly, in every corner of our nation. the struggle began after last november's elections brought to power politicians in state capitals across the heartland. that a hidden agenda. agenda worked out at posh resorts with the brothers and
the american legislative exchange council and other shot early groups. politicians' campaign, promising to do something about jobs only to reveal when they took office that their jobs agenda was to make them disappear. the real passion was for eliminating the rights of working people and destroying their unions. the are standing in their way. and in response, working people took to the streets. of april 4 under the banner of we are one, became together all across america. he did so again may 1 when we stood together with our an immigrant brothers and sisters saying again that we are truly one.
insides all across the rotunda, we proclaimed that we were there to defend the principle that in america, we'll look after each other. and one of the people who was there is with us today. i would like to introduce him. he is a graduate assistant at the university of wisconsin in madison. and co-president of the teacher's assistance association for the american federation of teachers. [applause] he stood up for teachers over the last couple of months, even as he built solidarity with workers in the middle east, his family comes from egypt and he is between movements for change
all around the world and alex, i want to thank you for your inspiration and everything you have done so far. did a wonderful example for all of us. i also like to thank the democratic senators in wisconsin that stood up and walked out on behalf of working people. [applause] and those democratic senators in indiana that did the same vein, bringing a screeching halt in the right to work. and of like to thank our democratic and republican friends in the ohio legislature that stood up for workers. they deserve our round of applause palace embodies the fact that we are not a nation of isolated individuals. communities, and
a land of families. our republic, our democracy is an expression of our solidarity, of our common values and our common life as a nation. in america, firefighters rush into burning buildings every day. risking their lives to save people that they have never match. social workers care for other people's abused children and home health workers provide care and companionship for those that needed. and every day, we pay our social security taxes in medicare. the same money is sent out again to provide comfort and security to other people's parents and grandparents. this is not just a matter of morality. it also makes economic sense. and being a community makes more economic sense today that it
ever has in the past. it will simply not be enough to and back the scott walker's others. america oppose the economic fate depends of us coming together to invest in our infrastructure and face the threat of climate change and reverse the economic inequality that threatens our future. let me be specific. unemployment stands at 9%. underemployment is that 16%. housing prices are falling and foreclosures remain at historic highs. economic growth is hovering around 2% annually, but of to put a dent in unemployment especially has tax cuts expire and state in local governments
gear up for more deep cuts. is that of having a national conversation about putting america back to work to build the future, the debate here in washington is about how fast we can destroy the fabric of our country, about breaking the promise is that we made it to our parents and grandparents. understand that the rise in budget destroys jobs. it destroys almost all of the jobs created during the recovery so far. in a tax social security. in the one piece of retirement security system that actually works. and analyses speaker boehner engaged in a round of black male with a ransom of a that reads,
cut medicare, the metal the government, destroying hundreds of thousands of jobs to fund more tax cuts for the rich or we will cause the united states to default on its debt. why is our national conversation in such a destructive place? not because we are impoverished. we have never been richer. the american economy has never produced as much wealth has it produces today. the wealth in our society has flowed to a handful among us. 100% of all income gains going to the top 10% in the last 20 years. they have the politicians of canada to the worst instincts of the wealthy would rather break
promises to our parents and grandparents and deny our children a future than to pay their fair share of taxes. deficit is a real moral deficit. where political choices come down the foster children, forcing them to wear hand me down close while cutting taxes for profitable corporations. a powerful political forces are seeking to silence working people. to drive us out of the national conversation. i can think of no greater proof of the moral decay in our public life than that of wisconsin gov. scott walker would dare to give a martin luther king day speech hailing dr. king had at the
same time that he has drafted a bill to take away the collective bargaining rights from sanitation workers. the ultimate goal of those of blame workers for wall street goes the economic crisis is to unravel the fabric of our common life. in pursuit of greed and in pursuit of power. in this environment, working people and our unions must do more. more than just protect our own rights and the voice and the like of our nation. willis also raise our voice to lead a better future for all working people. here in america and around the globe, and here is what we're going to be doing. we're going to use the invoice to end the scott walker agenda as a viable political strategy by winning recall elections in
wisconsin and the system vetoes of destructive legislation and other states and retaking statehouses. [applause] then we will spend the summer holding be elected leaders in congress as well as states accountable to one measure. how are you improving the or are you degrading life for working families? we're looking hard at how we worked in this nation's political arena. what workers want is an independent labor movement that builds power of working people in the workplace and in political life. they want a labor movement strong enough to return balance to the economy. fairness to our tax system and security to our families and the moral and economic standing to
our nation. our role is not to build the power of a political party or a candidate. it is to improve the lives of working families and strengthen our economy. it doesn't matter if candidates or parties are controlling the wrecking ball or simply standing aside to let it happen. the outcome is the same either way to us. the leaders aren't blocking the wrecking ball and a advancing working families' interests, then working people will not support them. this is where our focus will be dealt, in 2012, and beyond. lee will uphold the dignity of work and restore respect for working people. in this season and's political battles, teachers, nurses and firefighters have been vilified. have been cast as more than
america's workers deserve. low-wage, part-time, temporary, have no benefit work is being sold as the new normal for the economy. we know only a dynamic and effective movement of people working together can reclaim the value of work. the unions must reach out to every working person in america. to those whose jobs have been outsourced and downsize. carwash workers in los angeles, domestic workers that have few legal rights. freelancers and young workers that have kids rather than jobs. and together, with the construction and manufacturing workers, our pilots, painters, workers, we will be heard. the stakes are so high for working america had for us.
so the question becomes, will the country be ruled by greenhouse, by people that would cut or take attention away from first responders? people that would take away the fundamental human rights of our workers? that use tax breaks for the richest among us over a future for all of us? or will we be a country where we choose a future where we look out for each other, where we all have a voice. only have investments if we again embraced the idea that we are one national community, that our identities are bound with the promise that all of us have a voice in the workplace, at the ballot box, and that we are all responsible and a deep sense for one another. the fabric of our government,
our democratic republic is about making that responsibility for each other rio. this is the message to working people that have brought to the conversation. this is the message the hundreds of thousands of others that have taken to the streets this spring, we will take to the polling places of the heartland in recall elections and in veto campaigns in the coming months. it is the message i will continue to shout this year, next year, and the year after that until we are heard. the moral character of america is worth fighting for. that is exactly what working people are going to do in the days, weeks, in the months ahead. thank you. [applause]
>> we are grateful the way of many of your supporters here in the room. along with hard-working journalists. part of our job is to take to look at the very skillful pros they delivered here today and tried to read between the lions, and we are paid to do that. i hope you can understand some of the questions, why we are directing them to you today the way that we will. these are some from the audience and some that we came up with
having to have the benefit of some of your speech released in advance. isn't it time to redirect all campaign contributions to the battleground states? what will that take? >> we are redoing our entire political program and the way we do things. as it up ,the afl cio -- as you know, how the money is used to educate and to mobilize our members. but the unions give a considerable amount of money to candidates. we hope to coordinate that spending in a much more effective way to build power for working people. some of them will be targeted toward battleground states. some will be targeted to friends that of stuff for workers. some will be republicans, some will be democrats who have stood
up to help us and we will stand up to help them. we will change the way we spend, the way we do, and the way we function in a way that hopefully bring america back at least in the conversation that we're talking about. >> that is a broad framework. where to doing that all along? >> we have been educating all along. the question becomes, are we going to spend all our money in the battleground states? we have never done that. where spend money where we have friends and we will continue to do that. the focus will remain in those battleground states, that is why they are called a battleground states, but we will focus on our friends. we are going to stand with them and we are going to challenge people that have been against us as well. some will be in battleground states and some will not be in battleground states.
>> someone hearing this up to this point asks does this mean you will be concentrating less in fighting against congressional attacks on social security and medicare? >> we will be fighting more strenuously for those type of fights. let me make this one personally clear. and we will fight against any proposed cuts to social security and medicare regardless of who proposes them. that is point number one. lee will be mobilizing hopefully in a year round basis right now. in the past, we dismantled our process after the election. and we would have to reenergize it when issues came up. we intend to keep that process in effect. friends and fellow might get a little weary or forgetful about what they should be representing.
we will memorize -- remind them. >> as i look at the broad picture, is it your sense that washington in general has made too much of a priority over what might be viewed as trying to be more fiscally prudent? >> mark, let me answer that in two ways. let's look at the states. are there states with a deficit problems? yes. are they using it as hysteria and as a front to attack working people? definitely, yes. [applause] here, there is not much difference. we don't have a short-term deficit crisis. anybody will tell you that. any other country will tell you that. what we have is a short-term jobs crisis. create jobs, you lower the deficit. have a real health care
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