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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 6, 2013 2:00pm-4:01pm EST

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an excuse for excluding american companies operating. there would be no reason to do that. candidly, and these are not companies run him a owned, operated we do not plug into them, as you might see in the press, for our american i.t. companies. it just does not happen. we have laws and protection and oversight. i told my allies, we send our intelligence services to the foreign intelligence surveillance court before they a foreign.listen to name another intelligence service in the world that sends them to a third-party court to see if they can listen to the united states. do you think they are having this conversation in china or france or germany or italy? as a matter of fact, the europeans who are screaming the loudest do not even have access to their intelligence service.
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right,want to get this we have to understand what you think is happening and what is happening. we are going to try to have a conversation in a couple of weeks so that they do not use this as protection. remember, companies in france, germany's, they are saying, let's exclude these companies so that we can say this information is safe because it is in servers in france. france just put in a provision that said they do not even need to go to a judge to get private communications other server companies. this whole debate is so filled with hypocrisy it is almost laughable. we would never allow that. we have to go to court to listen to a foreigner. they just passed a provision, in their version of the senate and the house, the upper and lower chambers, that would remove their ability to have to go into -- to a judge to read your e- mail.
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it is very telling of where we are at. is, everyve argued time we see a story in the paper, i guarantee 90% of it is wrong. we want to get the right data set so that we can let our companies compete. they should have separated themselves from the military and intelligence services and could have competed anywhere in the world but they chose not to do that. >> i want to get in one more question from john mclachlan. >> thanks, chairman rogers, for your bipartisan leadership of the committee. greatly appreciated. i want to ask you about afghanistan, which is not so much in the news every day. your assessment of how important it is we finalize this collateral security agreement and what are the consequences if for some reason we do not? >> we have to get a deal in
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afghanistan. the administration is trying to focus on getting a deal. we have got to get a deal. this notion that we are not going to do it. is dangerous for this and other regions. stain onhis would be a our national character if we walk away from afghanistan, just arbitrarily pull out. tohave asked them participate in society, told them to come out of the back of their homes and engage in politics and be a part of the solution. for us to pack up and leave, knowing the taliban and in the eastern province has closed some 500 schools, the majority of , wellare girls schools over 100 girls trying to go to school. for us to walk away from that would be a travesty for us as a nation. we ought not allow ourselves to
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get caught up in the fast food society that would not allow our commitment to those women. secondly, we know in those eastern provinces, al qaeda is talking about coming back. even the pakistani taliban and is talking about holding territory in afghanistan on the eastern provinces. it is really important we have the ability to deny safe haven in afghanistan. that deal is really important for that. i think the administration gets that. they are working towards a deal. we are trying to offer them the help and support they need to get a deal. we will have to have some presence there for sometime but it is not about us rebuilding afghanistan but about providing a security environment that allows afghanistan to build itself. an independent, cell secured afghanistan is absolutely in the national security interest of the united it's of america. we forget that is where the
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planning, financing, recruiting, training have been for 9/11. they are licking their chops thinking they can get back into those eastern provinces. we cannot let that happen. i do not know if you are familiar with the status of forces agreement that would give function over the protection of our shoulders -- soldiers to operate there. these are good international agreements. karzai is playing a game. he is bickering that we want to deal more than he wants the deal , or he thinks we have to have a deal. i think we do not play this game of chicken and walk away. this deal is really important. by the way, it also sends a message to our adversaries and allies in the region. that is not helpful to us given what has happened in the middle east. -- >> on behalf of the
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audience year, thank you for being here to show us your depth and commands of these issues, and your bipartisan leadership in the congress and committee. thank you. >> thanks for having me. [applause] >> great to see you. thank you very much. >> if you could all stay seated, we are going to begin the next session right away with representative christopher van hollen. christopher van hollen was elected to the congress in 2002 representing maryland's eight district and quickly rose to become one of the youngest members of the democratic leadership, serving as chairman of the democratic congressional campaign committee and as assistant to the speaker of the
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house. in 2010, he was elected by his colleagues to be the top democrat in the house budget committee, a post he still holds today. has thean hollen also distinction of being the only member of the congress who grew up in the u.s. foreign service. the other was john kerry who has now moved on to secretary of state. he was born in karachi, pakistan, went to grade school in pakistan and india. of his add that both parents were distinguished state department officials, his father a highly respected ambassador and member of the foreign service. his mother, one of the government's top analysts on afghanistan and the region. , inuld also add that addition to chairman rogers, congressman van hollen has shown himself to be a strong bipartisan leader looking for
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consensus and putting the issues of the country first. we are delighted to have you here today. [applause] thank you. great to see you. thank you for coming. >> thank you for your generous introduction. it is good to take a break from the budget negotiations, frankly. your bio says you are an arms control expert in the senate. as a former senate staffer who worked for senator hagel on the foreign relations committee, and someone who wrote my dissertation here on iraq, you are more than that on the committee. your report for the foreign ,elations committee in 1988 1989, on chemical weapons use by saddam hussein, written by peter galbraith, that was an historic
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report, a gold standard in terms of foreign relation staff reports. theseve been invested in chemical weapons issue. something that you have spoken and written passionately about in your career, about how to control and rid the world of these terrible weapons. addressing the theme of the conference, put the u.s.-russia agreement on chemical weapons with syria in context. i remember when we spoke back in the spring, you were cautious about what you called the unintended consequences of the u.s. support for arming the syrian rebels. is this u.s.-russia deal a blueprint for dealing with nonproliferation and conflict resolution in syria? >> first of all, let me thank me, all theng organizers for putting this together. needswer the question, we to look at how the whole
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situation evil with respect -- evolved with our respect to chemical weapons in syria, and how it unfolded. number one, as you indicated, the united states and the international community have, ever since world war i, said that chemical weapons as weapons of mass destruction are particularly heinous forms of warfare, and numerous international conventions to prohibit their use. i believe it was absolutely appropriate for the president to draw a line on the use of chemical weapons in syria. lots of terrible weapons used in syria, but the international community has recognized that that line is one that we want to prohibit from being crossed. i thought the president was right to establish that redline. when the assad regime crossed that line, it was also
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appropriate for the president to say that he was now prepared to use limited force for the purpose of making sure that we deterred any future use of .hemical weapons in syria he did that, and he was clearly prepared to move forward. it was at that point that the russians realized, in this case, we had a common interest. an interest ind preventing the united states from taking military action against assad, they're close ally, but the russians also had an interest in making sure, in syria, those various dangerous -- very dangerous weapon did not fall into the hands of some of the most extreme al qaeda elements. this is obviously one area in syria where we and the russians do have some common interest because we, the united states, also want to make sure that in
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the chaos of syria, you do not have al qaeda-type extremist elements taking root, which would certainly be dangerous for the u.s. and russia, to have chemical weapons fall into their hands. from my perspective, the russians made a virtue out of necessity, in a sense. action prepared to take and we found a way to achieve our mutual goal, which was to prevent these weapons from falling into the hands of extreme elements. in our case, getting those weapons out of the hands of assad, who had clearly demonstrated a willingness to use them. hard to make large generalizations based on specific cases, but in this case, i do believe it was something that was in both our interests. i disagree with my friend mike
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rogers in this. the notion that somehow that the russians were the big winners at the expense of the united states in this deal is absurd. the president possible, with respect to the threat of force, was a very specific. he wanted to get rid of the chemical weapons. a lot of people who were upset that we did not end up using military force had a different goal in mind with respect to military force. they wanted to use it to change the power situation on the ground. the president did not indicate that was the purpose of force in this instance. if you look towards iran, the president's distinction between using force for the purpose of getting rid of weapons of mass destruction since it sends an important message.
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obviously we have divergent interests with respect to syria and to the assad regime. we want to make sure that whatever happens in syria that we do not have an al qaeda like situation. you have an influx of foreign fighters, so you have a toxic mix in syria now of these extreme elements. >> are you hopeful for the geneva process in syria? do see the russian collaboration as a step in the right direction in trying to bring the parties together to end of the war? >> i think most people recognize the only solution to the
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challenge in syria is through some kind of negotiated settlement. to the extent that we are trying to get people around the table to negotiate a settlement, that would be an important step. people recognize the challenges are huge in being able to bring people together and reach a settlement. i do believe this is another example where russian-u.s. cooperation could bear for. it bears on one common interest. to see a transition away from a current regime that does not create a vacuum that brings in what is an even worst-case scenario, which is allowing
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syria to become a base of operations for some of these extremist groups that are exploiting the situation. >> let me turn to iran for a moment. chairman rogers but we got a bad deal in iran. there has been some talk about passage of a resolution or some type of legislation in the house. there are some in the senate who may consider a further sanctions bill. the white house does not want that to happen and is weighing in strongly with congress. you cosponsored the angle bill, the iran nuclear prevention act. you have been a good friend and supporter of israel.
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is now the time for more sanctions and legislations on iran? >> i have been a big supporter of economic sanctions on iran. to bring iran to the negotiating table so that we could do everything possible to try to negotiate a diplomatic solution to prevent iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons -- those were the purpose of the sanctions. the more pressure we can bring to accomplish that goal, the better. i supported the sanctions in the house earlier this summer that went over to the united states senate. however, what was the purpose of the sanctions? the purpose was to have a serious negotiation.
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i disagree with mike's characterization of this six- month interim agreement. to suggest that it is somehow dangerous, to me, it is somewhat naïve. you have to compare this agreement to what the alternative is. what does this agreement do? it says that the iranians have to neutralize their stockpile of highly enriched uranium. they have to freeze their nuclear enrichment plant in other areas. on iraq, the reactor, a freeze. the sanctions that are in place, they remain in place. all of the sanctions on oil, the
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financial sector, they are all in place. in the next six months, iran will lose between $25 billion and $35 billion. they will have very little relief in some other areas. the sanctions regime remains in place during this period and everyone has said -- you mentioned the race to break out it adds time to the clock before you can have a uranium breakout. it is hard to argue that the situation is more dangerous. especially when you consider the
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fact that this is reversible. if there is any violation, the 8.8 billion dollars worth of relief can go back into place, the president has the authority to increase sanctions, and the united states congress would be the first to move quickly to impose additional sanctions. at this point in time, i would argue you have to move -- you would have to tread very carefully in this area with respect to new sanctions. the reasons the sanctions were successful was because they are international sanctions. the united states did not have a close economic relationship with iran. they're successful because we have european partners, the indians, chinese, turks, russians and others to participate. to the extent that our allies do
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not think that we are serious about pursuing a diplomatic solution first, we have a real risk that they will no longer participate in the sanctions. then you end up with the worst of two worlds -- no sanctions, so no more bite, and then the iranians can move forward without penalty of a nuclear program. second, this is not a question of trusting the iranians. it is a question of testing the iranians. we will be verifying every move. i cannot read the mind of the iranians. you have president rouhani who was elected on a platform to try to relieve the sanctions because
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of a terrible economic situation. you also have lots of folks in iran, the revolutionary guard and others, who would like to see this whole thing unravel. we take steps that give the revolutionary guard ammunition to try to undermine the effort than it seems to me that we harm ourselves. we are not going into this thinking that the iranian regime will change its --. there are rational reasons to do that. we should test that. ultimately, if this does not work, the only remaining option is the one of the president has said has been on the table. the use of force.
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opponents of this effort need to explain why they would want to skip over the diplomatic testing effort which would lead to iran continuing with its nuclear program. the only alternative is the one- way i have on the table but would like to avoid, which is the use of force. there is a big burden on the opponents of this agreement to let people know that that is their final position. >> what about the concerns of our allies? how should we manage that at this point? >> there are concerns, obviously. i would point out that if you look at the statements that came out from a lot of the gulf states, including the saudis after they read the final agreement, if you look at the statements, i would not characterize them the way mike has.
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if you look at the situation within israel, you have lots of these folks in the military and security establishments who said yes, this is something that is an important step. you have the former head of military intelligence, a lot of the leaders of political parties. i understand the prime minister's position. congress plays an important role in this debate as the bad cop. the prime minister is a good negotiator. i think he has turned his focus
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on what we should all be focused on -- the comprehensive agreement. what are the parameters? how can we design that to achieve our objectives here and find out whether or not the iranians are serious? the best way to reassure our allies is to try to keep them well informed. they share the goal of making sure that iran does not have a nuclear weapon. they recognize that doing nothing simply allows iran to proceed on its way. there are some that would say that they should proceed on its way in the united states should use force. our view is that remains on the table as an option, but it is not the preferred way to address this challenge.
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>> let me ask you about egypt. the difficult transition that has continued since tahrir square -- we still have violence in the streets. what should the u.s. policy be towards egypt and should congress be involved in giving assistance to egypt at this time? >> they are a tough case, as we know right now. i think the administration has done a good job under difficult circumstances. that has left our policy kind of murky.
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it is because of the situation in egypt -- it is murky. we are trying to balance interest. we have made both sides angry. the alternative is to come down strongly against the current government or to send a signal that the elections do not matter and we do not care about a free and open process. what we need to do is calibrate our response to say that we want egypt to move in the direction that we have all hoped they would move in. towards a more open process, rule of law, send a signal that we are worried about some of the recent measures that clamps down on the ability of people to gather and protest.
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you mention tahrir square. totally outlawed, the gathering of a couple of people. we support the law and the right of people to petition their government. we do not want to totally alienate the government. that is why i think a calibrated response that you have seen from the administration, which is we are going to withhold some military support and we want to continue to work with the government as a transition back towards the original aspirations of the arab spring there. that is the way to go. there is no easy answer. in egypt, it has been
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particularly challenging. >> let me ask you about iraq. terrorism there has been as bad as it has ever been. going back to the worst years during the u.s. occupation there. how do you see iraq at this point and what should the u.s. be doing there? to see the rise in terrorism as a link to syria and other problems that we are seeing? >> i think it has been exacerbated. it is interesting to hear some folks now who suggest this six- month interim agreement with
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iran is strengthening the iranians, when what most that strengthened iran was the war in iraq. you have iraq allowing iranian claims to overfly iraq on the ay to syria. nothing strengthened iran more than the iraq war. what happened in iraq did result in unleashing these latent tensions between the sunni and shia. you have the kurds in the north who have been an island of stability, but you already had these tensions.
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they have been greatly exacerbated by the situation in syria. what you have now is an influx of foreign fighters into syria. a lot of the al qaeda and iraq. now playing in syria and they are playing back into iraq. you just saw terrible brutality ecently. you have the violence against the shia and then the violence against the sunni tribal leaders ho cooperated with us. you are seeing a similar spillover effect in lebanon.
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there is no doubt that these schisms also reinforced by the proxy war with iran and hezbollah and assad and the others is making a difficult situation. that gets back to your other uestion on geneva. what is the alternative? we have got to find a negotiative settlement to these ssues. we need to do everything we can ith our own resources to monitor on the counterterrorism front. you have the deep schisms that are already there in iraq and they are inflamed by everything else that is happening in the region. >> i will open it for
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questions. be concise in your question and tate your name and affiliation hen called upon. >> mark, george mason university. thank you for an interesting presentation. i know your dad. he's a great guy. i am a little bit older. my question is as follows. i remember that the soviet-american -- of the early 1970's were able to succeed because we were able to agree on the nuclear issue. it found her because of differences with regards to regional conflicts and soviet support for their allies which we did not appreciate. even if we make progress with iran on the nuclear issue, is --
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possible if iran continues to support syria and hezbollah. are we bound to disagree with this? does this need to be part of our conversation with the ranians. >> during the cold war, the international competition between the united states and the soviet union was a sum game. we were on the losing end. that is the way it was. the only exception was not in the area of international competition, but an agreement that we could enter into some arms control agreements that were in our interest. in terms of the national arena, it was a zero sum game.
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in some of these limited cases, like equal operation on the hemical weapons program in syria, there has been some opportunity where we have been able to work together, hopefully with respect to the iranian nuclear program, that will be another. you are right. there are all of these other ssues swirling around. russia has been -- has not been a helpful player in syria overall. they have not been helpful in a lot of other areas. i do believe the discussions should be broadened.
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i do not think we should put too much -- in terms of the negotiations on the nuclear program, i think we have to focus on that specific issue. that does not mean we cannot also be addressing other issues, but we have to avoid any suggestion that there are some how with respect to an agreement on policy issues in syria with respect to the negotiation over the nuclear program. the nuclear program, we have clear objectives. we want to make sure there is no way that iran can develop -- doesn't have a nuclear infrastructure that would allow any kind of short, medium path toward a nuclear weapon. they are not going to unlearn the technology they have learned. our goal has to be focused on that.
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that does not mean it couldn't possibly grow into a larger discussion. i would welcome that. we have to test this at every point. my concern is that people put high expectations on this discussion that they think in addition to trying to deal with the nuclear issue, if we do not change iran's spots on all of these other issues, we cannot go forward the nuclear question. t would be important to test the possibility on these other fronts, but not at the expense of moving forward with -- the next six months and beyond are going to be -- there are huge opportunities, but there are big risks.
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on the one end, iran got such a good deal because the people are happy about it, but what that tells me is that expectations among a lot of iranians are that hey're going to have a greater opening with the west. they have to move forward on their economy. in that sense, there are pressures to try to make sure they relieved the full sanctions. we have to make sure we do not relieve the full sanctions until we get what we want in terms of narrowing the scope of their program and at the same time, you have a whole group in tehran that would like to see this rocess fail.
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it is going to be a very tense ime. lots of hope, but a huge amount of things that can go wrong. i would argue that the danger of having anyone take action here hat might send a signal that the united states did not want to fully test this during the six months would unwind the unity we have achieved in the sanctions, and then, if this does not work out and you have to look at the other alternatives that the president has kept on the table, you still want to have some kind of international support for any ollow-up action. if the perception is that the united states did not give the full testing, that would be harmful for our interests.
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>> for full sanctions relief to take place on iran, one of the conditions is that iran is no longer a state sponsor of terrorism. all of their missile programs are accounted for, they are no longer a threat to u.s. interests and allies in the region. the conversation about hezbollah and other issues has to be had. it has to be a conversation i will go through congress or the president will have to certify to the congress that those issues have been satisfied. as we have talked about several times at al-monitor, that could pose the way for the opening of conversations that need to be had.
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>> if you look at the language of the sanctions, they do have requirements that the president makes certain certifications. there are also provisions that allow the president to make waivers on national interests. there is some amount of mbiguity to the degree of what the executive branch could do to waive sanctions on different indings. the political reality is that discussion will have to take place. we should be pushing the iranians at every juncture. he iranians don't get a more
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liberal infrastructure in exchange for that cooperation. we are not going to say you can keep your nuclear infrastructure because you are cooperating. that we will not do. it is fine to talk about these other issues, and it would be seful. >> hi. thank you, mr. congressman, for your interesting presentation. when i have the chance to meet iranians, they raise the question about double standards.
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why pakistan has nuclear power and all of the facilities that will be needed in order to arm missiles, while, as we know, they offer safe haven to bin laden. they will say that the future of pakistan does not look much better than the future of iran. there's no reason to trust the iranians more than the pakistani. the other is the linkage between the peace processes in the middle east. for the first time, it was admitted there was a linkage. the way the negotiations with the five plus one, if it will be satisfactory, it will help us move on the palestinian track.
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the israeli negotiator says the linkage goes the other way round. which one do you agree on? >> there is a saying in politics -- some of my friends really believe strongly in one position and some of my friends agree strongly in a different position. i am going to side with my friends. my point is, i think we should -- i applaud secretary kerry the
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president for trying to reengage on the israeli-palestinian egotiations. i think it is very important and he clock is ticking on the possibility for a settlement there. there are a lot of people who think that the clock has run out. i do not want to get into -- i think you can imagine different ways in which success in the israeli-palestinian discussions can have a positive influence in the negotiations with iran. the time tables, while we set the six-month deadline, there is some overlap in the time tables. regardless of what happens, we
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need to move ahead on the israeli-palestinian negotiations or a whole set of reasons. while there could be -- there are a number of different nteractions. i do not think one is a justification for moving or not moving ahead on the other. that is all i'm going to say. with respect to what the iranians say about the pakistani, you have a special dynamic. you have the pakistan's and the indians. you have countries that never igned the n.p.t. that means that you have countries that signed it, means you have to abide by the terms of the n.p.t. they were clearly in violation
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of the agreement that they signed. that is why the international community has been so suspicious and why they have every right to pass the resolutions that the united nations passed. we need to hold them to it. they say it is not fair, we signed the n.p.t. and they did not, but they did sign the n.p.t. you also have the fact about their international behavior and conduct in iran. iran's conduct has made people
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fearful of what would happen. for all of those reasons, i think we are right to be as focused as we are on the iranian nuclear program. >> alan platt. i am teaching here now. in response to the question that was raised about congress' role -- my question concerns budget and funding. you are the ranking democrat on the house budget committee and we may have an agreement next week. do you see your colleagues, particularly the republican caucus, supporting the funding levels for the defense and intelligence communities that would seem to be indicated by the kinds of policies congressman rogers would like to
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see the united states follow? >> we are in the middle of budget negotiations. it would be great if we can get an agreement by next week. right now, it is up in the air. to your question, i think when it comes to providing the esources necessary for the defense and intelligence community, there is a bipartisan support for that part of the budget. with respect to other very important parts of our national security budget, we have had less success in convincing our republican colleagues. the other parts of what i think are important to a robust policy which includes other forms of assistance, development and economic assistance.
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other tools of foreign olicy. the state department budget is puny in comparison to the defense budget. you get an awful lot of benefit from some of those investments that the state department, in erms of assistance, economic assistance and it is that part of the category of the budget where we have had a lot less success in getting bipartisan support. in the senate, we have more bipartisan support for that. lindsey graham, john mccain, they have been big supporters of a robust state department udget. in the house, some of our colleagues on the republican side, especially -- broadly
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efined as the tea party folks, it has been difficult trying to convince them of the important national security arguments in favor of that form of assistance. this is a constant ack-and-forth. if you look at the house republican budget over the ten-year period, it would cut the category of the budget for those kind of state department operations. we going to have to work together to try and prevent it. if you want to do the kinds of things that mike rogers wants to do and i agree with most of what he says on afghanistan, it was a big mistake for the united states to disengage at the end of the -- when the soviets withdrew from afghanistan.
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we created a vacuum that led to al qaeda being able to exploit that vacuum. it is important that we maintain a presence there. if we're going to maintain a presence there, we need to provide the resources necessary for our folks. >> did you have a question? >> thank you. i am a fellow at the foreign policy institute here at sais. you mentioned one common interest the united states has with russia and syria is to prevent syria from becoming a base of operations for al qaeda. once we start changing the
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border regime in that part of the world, we are in for changes that will have many repercussions. my question is as follows -- do you foresee in the medium-term, scenario where we see assad staying in power as being instrumental in that we share with the russians. > i think the american position, which i support, has been that you had, in syria, at he beginning of the arab spring, a movement that represented the aspirations of the majority of the syrian people across the secretary and lines for more openness and
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hange. the assad regime is a brutal regime that suppresses the rights of the people. e need to change the regime in syria. the challenge has been -- from our perspective we think be syrian the people deserve a government, one that represents their aspirations. we need to make sure that as we transition, which is the goal of any political negotiation, toward a different government, a negotiated alternative. it will have to be a negotiated agreement because otherwise, if
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you do not negotiate, the risk is that you have these other extreme al qaeda related elements taking advantage of the situation. we know that they are militarily trong. they are stronger than the other opposition elements. that, in some cases, is the orst-case. total failed state where al qaeda is allowed to operate. we are quite rating and trying to get the negotiations going. the challenge to the negotiations as they perceive themselves to be in a different position power wise as they go
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into this negotiation that influences people's willingness o work towards the goal to transition to a negotiated government that better reflects the aspirations of the american people, the syrian people. that is evidenced by what we saw during the early days of the arab spring, at the end of that very hopeful period. >> we have time for one more uestion. >> thank you for your remarks. if we look at -- it is understandable the emphasis on ran.
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five countries have decided that they have rights to have these weapons and others don't. n that time, they were able to deliver, to guarantee that this treaty will be respected. now, it is completely different. we have several countries that have abstained. is it still possible to stop any country from denying rights and having this weapon now since only by force -- a legitimate base is nonexisting. >> i would make a couple of oints. i think most people agree that russia and the united states
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agree that a world where more countries have nuclear weapons is a more dangerous world. i would argue the proliferation makes it a more dangerous world. it is more likely you will see nuclear weapons used or transferred. more a world in which more bad actors can get access to nuclear material that is not adequately safeguarded. that is why those countries put n place the n.p.t. it does not give you a "right" to enrich, but it does provide a vehicle for countries for the peaceful use of nuclear power nder certain conditions.
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n the right to enrich thing, which has been part of this discussion over the six-month interim agreement, the language in the agreement is a mutually agreeable program. i have said to some of my colleagues, if somebody said you have the right to free speech, but i have a say over which you are going to be allowed to say, what the form of your speech would be, would you tell me that is a right to free speech or that i am intruding on your right to free speech? we have to have a mutually agreeable program. the reasons for that code back to the fact that iran was in iolation of the n.p.t. i still think the architecture provides an international
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architecture that makes the world a little less dangerous place. enforcing it is an ongoing challenge and there are many countries that do have a civilian only nuclear power program. you have japan, lots of other countries. russia has an important role in these iran talks, you have the bushehr power plant.
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that is providing nuclear power, that is connected to the grid. one of the issues with the iranian nuclear program is the amount of material they have enriched, the quantities are much larger than are justified by any civilian use. the number of centrifuges they have are much more. that is why people ask the question -- if what you say is true, that you want an exclusively peaceful civilian nuclear program, why do you have this large infrastructure? that is going to be part of the negotiation. >> thank you for coming out today. i know you are in intense talks. the house budget committee, i
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know your commitment to leadership on that right now. you're trying to get the best deal possible for the country. tricky issues on so many levels, but you are hard at it and we are hopeful of a deal. i appreciate you taking the time >> it is great to be able to talk about something other than the budget right now. very important issues for the country and the international community. thank you. [applause] >> and we have more now from this event from yesterday. --d bigamy of present day the former secretary of state expressed upper -- optimism. this is just over an hour. >> i would now like to introduce
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the moderator for our next panel on the u.s.-russia in the middle east. margaret warner, chief correspondent at the pbs news hour, and i am pleased to say at this point that the monitor and the news hour have agreed to produce a special hosted by margaret warner in 2014. welcome. to that andrward look forward to our panel today. artisticome fabulous fence. i know you know them all, and i will give reef introductions. as referred to this morning, we are seeing growing russian engagement in the middle east after a few decades of non- engagement. from the critical background of regime, both on
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the security council, to having brokered the weapons deal with syria, to being involved in the iranian nuclear interim agreement, russia has been making -- there have been expanded arms sales, and we are seeing the first time in a long time russian officials ain't welcome in capitals of countries always considered in the u.s. air of influence, -- u.s. sphere of influence, especially egypt. is russia back in middle east? mark, to what end question and what is their objection, and we are going to explain it today with the former secretary of thee of the sick -- of administration, and frequent guest. and morning joe.
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russia andchief of global affairs, which is published in russian and tolish, and is very similar the foreign affairs magazine. he is also a columnist with our monitor. and she is head of the center on the u.s. and europe at workings. she is co-author of a recent book. a review said it was not just another putin biography. we have only got an hour and we want to say 20 minutes for questions. is russia back in the middle east. what is russia up to in the middle east question make --? left the middle
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east. i think the russians have a defense of interest. if there is an explosion in the mid east, it will ask -- it will ignite muslims in russia. that is one interest. another interest is to restore some of russia's influence which decades ago was much larger. remember nasser. russia would like to minimize american influence is not sort of prepared to engage an effort of expelling america from the middle east, because it cannot. we have russia playing a game in games -- some gains are possible, some motives are defensive, and there is a trade- off between russia cost participation -- russia's participation in the sense that engaging russia in top levels of
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decision-making. >> theodore, how do you see it? do you see greater russian engagement than a decade ago, and to what end? >> i see greater russian engagement than a year ago, because if we look at the number of visitors from the region, moscow, justin the read just -- just in the recent few weeks, the chief of saudi intelligence, russian foreign and defense ministers in egypt for talks, increase an incredible in contacts. yes, i think the russian presence in the middle east is much bigger now than before than a year ago. up to talk about any years ago. theparadox is that it was
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aim by monarchs died -- five moscow come in the position taken by syria almost two years ago was very clear, but it was not actually about syria. it was not so much got the middle east. it was about some principles. to stopwillingness interventionism, to become a originalan in settling problems. as it happened in libya before, that was a key driving force for russian position. no strategic interest in the middle east. we see the consistency and the russian position, many people disliked it, but it was consistent. >> i want to get deeper into syria. let me get fiona hill's view.
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whether the engagement greater in the last year? whatever comparison you want to use. what do you think is driving it? >> russia never left. this is a re-engagement. russia is reaching out to countries that it has had long relationships with. in the case of egypt, moscow was perturbed by the u.s. decision to jettison mubarak. they have their own ties with the military that they are capitalizing on. there is a great deal of concern about the shifts in what the russians see as a balance of power in the middle east with the arab spring. the shift towards a more religiously inspired government. russians were keen on the secular authoritarian
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government. what we see is an interesting constellation of partnerships. this is not the cold war anymore. the focuson on trying to protect against extremists. this is a completely new relationship for russia. israel does not have the same relationships as we do with gulf arab states. but byron is a major preoccupation for russia, and then egypt and the assad regime in syria. these are not sunni muslim powers.
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theircular, at least in profile. that is what russia is really aiming at is trying to restore the balance of power that it's all shifting because of the concerns about domestic alex and putinoblems that it and are facing, not just about the olympics, but with the blowback that could be there, not just the regime change aspects. it is a pretty complex picture for russia, and russia is trying to grapple with the way the picture has changed in the middle east. >> dr. brzezinski, do you think there is an overarching theme in the way russia is engaging in the middle east? is it opportunistic or trying to put out fires? >> i would put it differently. there was a time when russia was one of the better principal players in the middle east, potentially a dominant player. today russia is not and russia knows that.
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neither is anyone else. the united states' predominance in the region is declining, and they know that. there are some unfortunate episodes in the recent past which have contributed to the decline of american preeminence in the region. china is moving in gradually, quietly, but establishing its presence. china has never been a player in the middle east since probably the 14th century. now it is becoming a player, and it is becoming a player from a geopolitical vantage point that to the russians is not very reassuring because chinese influence is also spreading in central asia. former parts of the sovien union and now independent and finding a very useful that china is interested in them and investing in them and building up a political presence in them. they are diminishing russian
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influence. russia is trying to play for time, recoup some of its presence, hoping that our influence will continue to decline, and realizing that to some extent that we need russia, we china, we need them more than we need to some extent britain or france. it has become a game, one of which no one will be preeminent, all are likely to suffer if things blow up, and therefore all of us have at least a marginal interest in some accommodation without the expectation that accommodation will make one of us or more than one dominant of in the region as a whole. that is very different from the game as being played in the 1960's, 1970's, and even the 1980's. >> so not a cold war rivalry, much more complicated -- >> a much more complicated game in which there is not a zero-sum outcome. each can benefit from the other's presents what they same time knowing that the other
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party's presence is not motivated by good intentions towards us, but part of a game where marginal gains is what each is seeking. >> how do you think, fyodor, the russian government sees its overarching objective in the middle east and vis-à-vis the united states as well in that region? >> the general perception of american policy -- i would not say strategy that strategy is not the right word in today's international relations -- but the general view is very confused because we frankly lost understanding what are our objectives of u.s. policy in the middle east. as for russia, the reason russia is relatively successful now in the region is not that russia initially had an objective, but
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because russia sticks to certain principles -- what should be done and what should not be done. we see that to have any kind of idea about process, even if this idea might be challenged by many, it is better not to have anything, any ideas. i absolutely agree with dr. brzezinski that the part of russia's success is due to failure of the rest. the u.s. is confused. as for europe, the europe is not existing in the middle east, which is very strange. >> you mean you think that the consistency of russia's position, which is to oppose the undermining or the externally driven overthrow of sovereign
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states and leaders is appealing throughout the middle east or to certain actors like the gulf states at this point who themselves are fearing perhaps that prospect? >> i think appealing is any consistency, and those regimes in the gulf region, they want to understand the logic. in the american case, they do not understand. as for idea, i think it is basically the approach, the assumption that regime change is not a solution. this is what russia is trying to say to americans. >> fiona hill, go back to your study of vladimir putin. do you feel that plays into the russian perspective here and russian actions here, and if so in what way? >> there are a couple of things
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that one has to bear in mind about putin himself. one of which is that his goal from taking the presidency in 1999, 2000 was to restore russia as a state internally but also some of russia's great power standing, not in a cold war sense -- i think we have made it very we're here on the panel that is not a russian objective or a putin objective, but to basically make russia back of a player. he said he wantedt to make sure there was a geopolitical demand for russia as well they geo- economical demand. that is something that russia and putin himself have effected, and as we are talking about here, there is certainly a demand for russia to play some kind of role in the middle east,
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even on our part of the u.s. we see russia as an important player. i have to defend the europeans here. the europeans have played a very important role in the negotiations of iran, even if they're not playing more broadly upon the middle east process. the other elements about putin is he wants to make sure that russia can defend itself from threats, and i think we have made clear here that there are threats. there are russian things he wants to seek to preserve. lots of the things we have seen in syria has been as much of an advertising campaign for the russian arms manufacturing sector. look, we will make sure your helicopters are repaired, you can rely on us, there is now a movement in to try to take advantage of the fact that the u.s. is not exactly the flavor of the month of the egyptian military. but these are all marginal, but
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they are putting russia back of a player, in a very important region at a time when things are shifting and no one is really sure what the outcome is going to be. that is very much consistent with putin's own view of how things should be done and how do defend and protect russia, which is take advantage of the opportunities you have, try to leverage them but not cede ground. >> fyodor, you have written that the west has misunderstood why russia has so consistently supported the assad regime and the security council. and you just said, it was not the middle east -- it was really about syria. explain what you mean. >> after the cold war, the general spirit of international feeling changed. for example, the very idea of responsibility to protect and so-called humanitarian
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interventions emerged as a legitimate tool. unfortunately, very quickly they coincided with the idea of regime change as a means to settle problems. in other words, in local conflicts, international community led by u.s. and european, decided which part was right, was progressive, which part was wrong and responsible for everything. the next step then we support, right? and then we settle the conflict. it is completely different from the conflict resolution practice of classical diplomacy. and the libya from russia point
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of view was a combination of this approach. from russian point of view, not only because it is an old- fashioned, classical approach, but also because of the conviction that it is not the way to settle anything. russia was extremely embarrassed by what happened in libya. that is another discussion why. syria became a turning point for russian diplomacy, and i think sergey lavrov, foreign minister, said once publicly that what was at stake in syria, the model how international conflicts or local conflicts will be settled in the future. >> dr. brzezinski, what is your view of that? >> i'm not troubled by that perspective because i do not think it is all that decisive. russia's role is limited. russia is not a superpower, and putin would like to restore that. it will not be restored in the
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middle east. it will be restored if russia recovers economic momentum, and the minimizes the negative outcomes of its own policies, which are making all of its neighbors increasingly hostile with russia. there is an enormous limitation on russia. >> do you think fyodor is correct when he says registering to stand against what had been something of a wave of interventions in the affairs of other countries or support for certain actors over other actors in a way that had not been done before? >> that is only possible because the u.s. decided -- in my view correctly -- not to intervene here. i think we stumbled in the position, which seems to imply intervention. those who started the whole game, which was never for
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democracy, it was always a sectarian conflict, thought we would give them full backing when the going got rough, and we decided we did not want to go in, the whole thing was transformed which is something that could erupt either regionally or be contained on the basis of international accommodation with the countries that have more influence internationally than others collaborating, but without any one of them considerably expecting that a positive outcome of the various assets of the peace process would produce tangible, decisive benefits for one of them. this is the nature of the game now in the middle east. if we have peace with the iranians, and the next phase is successful, if there is some movement on the syrian negotiations, it will have to be a compromise. if there is an accommodation between the palestinians and the israelis, it will stabilize the region. all that will help us, but will not make us dominant or decisive.
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it will do much less for the russians. for the chinese it will give them one bit of it -- a continuing and secure source of oil. maybe some residual banking, financial interest. that is of secondary importance. so the stakes, the positive stakes are not so enticing or decisive. the negative stakes are potentially very destructive. we are playing a reinsurance came here. >> do you think the u.s. and russia have common interests now in resolving the syrian conflict? we have heard that from congressman van hollen, that preventing an extremist -- jihadi extremist, al qaeda-like, however you want to describe it entity is something that the
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u.s. and russia are determined that they can prevent. >> i think that is certainly the case. the question is how is this done? dr. brzezinski has already laid out that we do not know how we get to that endgame -- in fact we are not even sure what that endgame would even look like. will it end up with a partition of syria that makes that possible? a version of the accord that we had back in a day on the balkans? the situation that we are in right now is that russia would like to see some answers to that question, and it knows quite well that we do not have those answers. there is a great deal of confusion in moscow about where the u.s. stands. it is very difficult to make some sense out of this and to get some realistic plan underway. we have seen, however, that the u.s. and russia can work on something very concrete, which is the case of chemical weapons.
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whether we can translate that to the next phase of the geneva process on the civil war is another matter. in many respects, the chemical weapons issue as difficult as it was was straightforward. we both worked on disarmament and dismantlement of nuclear weapons together, chemical weapons. we have a convention, we have a whole framework, we know what needed to be done. russia was very clear even if we are not clear on an agreement on who was using the chemical weapons, we are both very clear that we do not want the next scenario for that to be used again or those falling in the hands of opposition groups. all of that was straightforward. this is more complex. we have the same long-term interests, but we do not have an agreement on how we are going to approach this beyond the geneva agreement. there will be a lot of difficult discussions to be heard. no certainty that we'll end up
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in an outcome that both of us will be happy with. >> fyodor lukyanov, how do you see the prospects for this geneva ii agreement and u.s.- russia cooperation on the chemical weapons issue any kind of agreement on getting the parties to the table? you hear the chairman of the house intelligence committee house intelligence committee say this morning the u.s. cannot really deliver its partners, allies, or favored force within syria to the table. russia can. >> that is the key problem, and i was surprised that the congressman said it in such a blunt way. i do not see any hope for the
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operation which has been surprisingly successful, because we remember in september when the idea came up, numerous experts in washington and moscow convincingly explain why it was not possible. we see in the occasion of real political well, we have technical capacity on both sides to the liver. -- to deliver. i think that will be completed successfully. i do not see how that will be completed because that is a very nuclear issue. it is right that the influence on rebels on syria is a key factor. i had a recent conversation with a very important guy from saudi arabia who said that, yes, americans cannot deliver, not at all, but we can. let's make a deal.
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geneva ii patrons should be russians, saudi arabians. there we can agree. >> meaning saudi arabia could deliver fighting forces. >> yes. i do not know whether it is true or not, but it is interesting for the first time we hear something like that because they sort of say this -- i think this is a very important issue. to what extent we cannot agree or we can agree, u.s. and russia can agree on syria. i'm not so sure -- dr. brzezinski is absolutely right. essential is they agree. they who fight there. it is not up to us to deliver. >> dr. brzezinski, what do you make of the way this administration has responded to the greater russian engagement? i take the point that it is
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reengagement and so on, but i mean, do you think it has been the right approach? should the u.s. be alarmed by this or see this as an opportunity to at least resolve some issues? >> i do not think they should be alarmed because i do not think the importance should be overestimated. it is desired posture russia has, but it is another that will shape the outcome either negatively or positively. i think there is a chance that we can work with the russians regarding some sort of an arrangement for syria in which what russia objected to -- correctly -- in our loud insistence that assad has to us to go can be compromised in an arrangement in which assad does not have to go, but he does not have to stay. there is an opening for that. >> explain that. >> his second term expires next
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year, which is roughly the timeframe we're talking about. i mention the fact that that gives us an opening, an arrangement whereby he "volunteers," perhaps with some encouragement including from the russians, that if he does not want a third term. "der spiegel" had a major interview with assad himself on his position in general. finally the german journalist asked assad -- your second term expires next year. are you going to run again? to which assad responded "i do not know. i have not decided." now we may not get what the saudis wanted, a sunni-dominated power explicitly, but if some formulas found to at least conciliate some significant elements in syrian society.
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i think on that -- we and the russians have some common interests in collaborating, and on the sideline, the chinese would prefer it because the overall regional consequences are what they wish to be -- stable. that would then depend on whether you can formulate some sort of an approach in which in effect something that preserves syria as such is attained. the real risk right now is the so-called revolutionary forces which a year and half ago we were describing as democratic, are ultra-sectarian, very dangerous, dangerous to us, dangerous to the russians. they are the same groups that would probably operate in tbhe caucasus, already are to some extent. there is a recognition that somehow or other, neither of those groups, none of those groups, so there has to be some
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accommodation from within and also from the outside. >> fiona hill, do you want to chime in on that? how the u.s. should look upon the greater russian syrian engagement? >> there are slightly different ways but the same outcomes in which there is certainly a degree of many factors to consider here. we are all essentially groping in the dark toward a similar outcome in the middle east. what we would like to restore some kind of balance of forces, whether that is sectarian, political, we would all like to see some solution that retains there is no benefit to any player in the region. the biggest difficulty looking
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ahead is how do you factor in all of the other players? one thing russia will have to pay particular attention to in the future is how to in many respects restore its relationship with the gulf states. russia is that a long troubled relationship with the gulf states. many people here may have forgotten, but i think the three of us and others will remember that in 2004, the russian -- not say necessarily the government, but russian operatives assassinated zelimkhan yandarbiyev, the former acting president of chechnya in doha. we were actually over there, we were having a brookings conference, which is a coincidence. there's a long set of trouble connections between russia and
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the region that have impact, not just for the literary effects with the long-term region, and russia will want to see whatever solution that has some kind of guarantee against blowback from events in the middle east. when the russians raise this as a concerned, this is a real concern. this is not just a perception, this is not just something that they are trying to use as a political bargaining chip. this is something that putin and the people around him are generally concerned about. they have a strategic interest there. we have to have a really straightforward conversation with them about what we think the middle east and this region is going to look like in the future. >> before we go to audience questions, but do be getting them ready -- iran. what is russia's posture vis-à- vis iran today?
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you have had them supply weapons and other kinds of advanced technology to iran. at the same time, it certainly voted for sanctions and then participated in this interim agreement. we will start with you, fyodor lukyanov. >> the relationship with iran has been quite complicated, actually. this is a quite a simplistic picture which i sometimes read in the western press that iran is russia's ally. what you mentioned that russia actually voted for all sanctions in iran, and russia canceled a deal after 2010 sanctions. the previous made several nasty statements about russia. now i think a russian-iranian relationship has improved.
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it is helpful and great. there are different views in moscow on whether we should encourage a u.s.-iranian interest or not. some people do not think it is an russian interest because if iran improves relationship with united states, it will immediately turn to the west and forget about everything we did for iran. and that is why we should try to prevent it. but i think it is very shortsighted because my position , we should encourage this and get a benefit out of a u.s. and iran better relationship because it iran is extremely important regional player, and the ports of iran is growing. it is growing since the u.s. created of iraq, which
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an opportunity for iran. for russia, at is very important to keep good elation ship, working relationship with iran. the more opportunities for iran in international affairs. the stronger iran, more important for moskal, and iran will never become a u.s. ally. koran will be the dependent force, and we are interested to have a strong but predictable country in that region. >> fiona, you were nodding. >> i agree with what fyodor says. here is speaking with some truth. he lives in moscow, this is definitely the view. i think one thing just to remind the audience, to push this is littler further, is there is a real change in russia's relationship with israel, which also means that russia, like the u.s., has to balance off its policies toward iran and to israel.
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in the cold war, russia seemed very much in opposition for a whole variety of reasons. things have changed dramatically. you know, the kind of simplistic view of the analysis, but has an awful lot to do with the influx of russian speakers, soviet jews not just rush itself but from the former soviet republics, manifested by the israeli foreign minister, who is a russian speaker along with many other languages that he speaks, originally from moldova. it really transformed israeli politics, at least for a period of time. as people become more integrated and israelis society, there are still a russian speaking constituency that putin himself has really reached out to. putin frequently talks about
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"our jews," and you never would've heard a soviet leader and make that comment. this is how he talks about this. he wants to reestablish the close ties with a critical population of engineers, intellectuals, great cultural achievement. he sees this as a huge loss to the fabric of russian society, and he has made great effort to establish that. benjamin netanyahu, putin himself going to israel, the rumors that putin has built himself a dacha there. just the fact that there was a rumor -- that shows you how much the relationship between russia and israel has been transformed. how do you balance off the relationship with iran in this very important position -- and
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russia's relationship with israel? it could be very interesting to watch this about how russia balances off all of these competing demands. >> i will make one brief comment. i think russia and the u.s. have the same interest insofar as iran and nuclear weapons are concerned. nuclear powers that have nuclear weapons do not want additional powers to have nuclear weapons. it is as basic as that. i think we share that interest. this is why i think we will work together to see whether we can transform the interim agreement into something more binding. that is a good accommodation to pursue. i am a little less rosy about the overall historical relationship between russia and iran. we protected iran against russia on more than one occasion, and iran and russia have had some real problems, territorial problems over the years. imperial problems.
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so i think those who ignore history or geo-strategy would be too sanguine about the long- range prospects of that relationship because iran is a potential power, 80 million people, extremely intelligent, quite modern despite our image of them. i think they could be a challenger in the region. >> do you think russia is thinking that way? from the people you talk to that, as fyodor said, is very complicated -- if iran changes its relationship with the west and sort of emerges from isolation that it could be threatening to russia? >> that raises an interesting question which is far beyond the realm of our discussion -- it depends on what russia wants to be, but if russia remains dominated by what i consider to be a really unrealistic nostalgia for imperial status,
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however renamed, eurasian union, and so forth. we see that in the current crisis with the ukraine. and i think the answer is quite obvious -- it is not going to be very accommodating in a relationship with its neighbors. in fact, i think what putin has done to a remarkable degree is to generate within the newly independent states that surround the russia or part of the former soviet union genuine hostility for russia. there is hardly any leader in the newly independent states who wants to be part of the eurasian union. some feel they have to be and are playing lip service, but some are communicating to us, to the europeans, and to the chinese the things they would like to accomplish in the meantime to negate this significance of any such step. i think putin is just being
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totally unrealistic in his aspiration in what i think is desirable and inevitable. russia as a senior partner, as a significant partner in europe, as a european state. this is what the issues currently are about, and they involve also the relationship with iran and others. >> into this complicated mix, add your questions. since this is a panel, address your question to the person. say your name, affiliation, and please keep your question brief. >> thank you, george mason university. my question is for fyodor lukyanov. one often hears russian officials, analysts indicate that it is important to keep a assad in power because of that -- as bad as he is, it will be worse without him, and russia
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will be tracked by the jihadist that arise in syria. they will rebounded to russia itself. but if there any concern that in fact it is russian support for assad that is making russia a target of the jihadists? is russia in fact unnecessarily causing alienation in the middle east in the long run? in the long run, does russian support for assad actually help russia or does it hurt russia? thank you. >> russia is a target for jihadists anyway. that is fact of life. as for support for assad, we can argue whether russia supports assad. it is a long discussion and a quite fruitless debate. i think what happened in the recent couple of years demonstrated one simple thing -- attempts to find the right side
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of history and to change position don't work. in this particular situation where no one is ok, it is better to have clear view and clear commitment, and that produces at least certain degree of respect. jihadists will try to undermine russia even if russia will change sides in syria. i would remind you that in libya, actually, gaddafi was killed because of russia. if russia would veto a resolution, who knows what will happen? but it was no gratitude from the new power, the new government, and the first thing they said after overthrowing gaddafi, is russian and chinese company is not welcome in this country anymore.
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>> yes. >> thank you very much. >> dean of sais, yes. >> first of all, thank you very much for this very rich discussion. i wanted to ask in terms of russia's attitude toward the middle east, where does oil fit in. we talk about iran, saudi arabia, even if you thought about the gas field in the eastern mediterranean and the way in which russia might look at europe, central asia, where does this geostrategic vision that you outlined in a particular way, putin thinks about positioning russia has to do essentially with gas, or how does the energy revolution play into this discussion? >> from my point of you, would
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you have raised involves the ultimate refutation of the argument that russia can be a self-isolated imperial power more or less within the geographical confines of the former soviet union or the former russian empire. in his era, the post-communist russia group was -- because of its post-monolithic posture on supplied energy. this is now coming to a rapid end, and russia's hope for future economics success is increasingly dependent on the chinese being willing to buy all the energy that the russians have to offer to the chinese.
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and the chinese do not get diverted toward the middle east and toward iran. the american position is respect, if all of the prognosis turn out to be right, and they are somewhat speculated still, involves great enhancement in american freedom to maneuver and american projection of its influence by economics and technology. so i think what you have raised is one of the ultimate challenges to the rationality of an effort to create an increasingly nationalistic, increasingly imperialistic russia that alienates all of its would-be members and neighbors. >> fyodor, you want to chime in on this? >> i think the oil and gas issue has been traditionally overestimated. i fully agree with dr. brzezinski that the situation on international markets change not because of the middle east, because of the shale gas revolution, because of many other things.
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and for russia, it was very important, say, 5, 10 years ago, for example, to prevent iranian gas to come to the european market. now not so much. first, because i do not think it will come soon. second, europeans do not need the gas. two different reasons. all of those calculations and interesting schemes that gas from qatar to syria -- i think it is extremely exciting, but as has very little to do with reality and the future. as for russia, yes, i agree. i can argue about the russian- chinese-eurasian relationship, it is an interesting topic, but not for this discussion. it is absolutely true that perspective for russian economic development is much more east oriented now. not necessarily china, but eurasia and eastern asia because those markets need russian
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supply much more than european markets. >> i would like to inject a word of caution into the whole discussion about russia and energy and the shifting patterns in the middle east as well as the shale gas, because we have got ourselves now in the form of a euphoric state of thinking that the u.s. is completely independent of energy so we do not need to be in the middle east anymore on the one hand. russia is being able to release levers. that is not what dr. brzezinski said. that is not the case at all. russia actually sits on the world's largest potential deposits of shale gas. russia does not need to exploit the because russia has enormous potential and conventional gas. russia also sits on the other big player, which is actually becoming increasingly important to the u.s. we shifted the game to gas, but
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russia is still a major player in gas and oil, even if the u.s. for a certain period of time may outstrip about the russia and saudi arabia in production of gas and oil sometime in the next 10 years. all this means is the current business model has changed. russians are very good at adapting. they may be slow at adapting because of the huge size of the oil and gas industry being so important to the economy, but we have seen the russians adapt many times before. so they have some catch-up to do. they will not be able to have the big pipelines with 20-year, 30-year contracts that they had before, but they're not finished. it is going to be again a more difficult, complex game, so we have to be careful of rushing out and thinking that everything has changed dramatically, and say that we are all in the process of catch-up. what the shale gas revolution reminds us is how quickly things can change, just like in the 1970's the whole game change
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because of the oil embargo, and in the u.s. and other countries played catch-up in the way that they change their own uses of energy and the whole issue of energy efficiency. we all have to be very careful of thinking that this changes russia's position even in europe. demand is different, but the russians are going to respond to occurred over the next of lawyers, we will have lots of discussions that russia is back, look, how did that happen? >> yes, right here, the woman in red. >> [inaudible] >> could you speak up a little bit? >> my question is for mr. lukyanov, and this is a very different topic. the ethnic crisis in syria. there are ethnic minorities of
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russia that except and help, but there is one minority, the indigenous people of sochi, the place where the olympic games will be. they consist of more than 100,000 diaspora people in syria, expelled by russia at some point to the middle east. those people want to come back to russia now, but there is no help from the russian authorities, and some are actually deported, whole families deported who manaqe to go back to the north caucasus. do you see any change of policy regarding the refugees in syria? >> could you explain to us who this group is? >> this is a group of people from the northern caucasus who left russia in the 19th century mostly during the fighting, or
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after fighting against russian empire, and the descendant they left across the middle east, and many of them in syria. you know, i think it is a very complicated issue because on the one hand, yes, russia offered refuge to different nationalities who want to leave syria. as i read a couple of days ago, several hundreds of those came to the territory which russia recognizes as an independent state. they tried to live there. in the russian case, you know, it is such a difficult equilibrium between willingness to help those for refuge and those who are former russians of
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the region, and i fear that that will be used by extremists as a way to come. and the security services -- unfortunately, they have to think in these terms, first of all. i think it will be a quite difficult situation. >> a question back there. >> hi. thank you. my name is sean nevin. i am with the voice of russia america. i have a question for dr. brzezinski. i wanted to ask if you could discuss the endgame for the u.s. and iran, especially concerning the fact that -- does it want to end sanctions? and considering it has to take in regard the entrance of saudi arabia and israel, and you said in another article that obama backed down from netanyahu considering the settlements before. and also if you could discuss -- >> can we keep it to one question?
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if that is all right, just because we have other people with their hands up. >> so what is the question? >> what is the endgame in iran? >> it will be either the treaty being designed and approved through the same process that created the current six-months arrangement, or a breakdown in which case it will be in some phase of acute instability in the context of which i hope we do not lose our sense of rationality regarding our actions and therefore do not get sucked into a war because they were in the middle east with an 80-million nation is going to make the expeditions to afghanistan and to iraq look like short-term trifles, only lasting a dozen years or so. it is a very painful choice, but an important choice. what i do regret in the context of the growing public discussion of what might happen, the total absence of recognition of the
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fact that the u.s. for 30 years managed to prevent a nuclear war by credible deterrence, by acting in a way that gave reassurance to countries which have no capacity of resisting the soviet union if push came to shove, but the u.s. was able to convince both of those countries and the soviet union that our vital interests are engaged and while we may not want a war, at some point we have to go to war. that preserves their independence. i fail to see why this cannot be seen as a relevant middle eastern problem is that if there is no solution with the iranians. the israelis have 200 bombs or more. they are not one-sided vulnerable. if we reinforce that by saying that we would view any threat to
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israel as a threat to the u.s., which is what we have done with regards to japan and south korea and north korea, i am quite sure we could maintain a stable situation without even a successful subsequent treaty with iran. >> if the talks totally broke down and iran resumed full place its program, you think of going to a containment deterrent strategy would be preferable to military action? >> yes. deterrence worked. there is no reason to believe it would not work if the u.s. was credibly committed. the proportion of power between the u.s. and a would-be iranian nuclear power would be enormous. we have again been swept into kind of simplistic formulations such as the quick dash to nuclear capability that people are talking about. the fact of the matter is if the iranians were to have even a nuclear test, that would be know to the world. weaponizing a nuclear test is a difficult process. then once you have completed your weaponization, you have one nuclear bomb.
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are you going to use it against an enemy that has 200? if you are not 150% sure that it will go off, you have to haveone more nuclear weapons so that if you use one against israel and they begin to retaliate, you can react. absence of an agreement, i am not advocating the absence of an agreement, but it will take a lot of time before it becomes a serious threat. and the commitment of the united states to react to any act of violence involving nuclear weaponry in the region would have the same credibility and effectiveness, i believe. >> right back here, sir. i will get to you. i was going to give it to this gentleman in the back.