tv Road to the White House CSPAN November 16, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
with respect to syria, chairman said in his testimony, and i would agree -- [no audio] what he said in testimony, and what i suspect he will always say is that, yes, there are circumstances in which he could envision the deployment of u.s. troops. that is true everywhere, by the way. that is his job, is to think about various contingencies, and, yes, there are always circumstances in which the united states might need to deploy u.s. ground troops. if we discovered that isil had gotten control of a nuclear weapon, and we had to run an operation to get it out of their hands, then, yes, you can
anticipate that not only would chairman dempsey recommend me sending u.s. ground troops to get that weapon out of the hands , but i would order it, so the question ends up being whether those circumstances -- i am not going to speculate on those right now, we are moving forward in conjunction with outstanding allies like australia in training iraqi security forces to do their job on the ground. it has not changed currently. and with fox. >> one question. >> about his great. -- that is it great. [laughter] >> at a town hall you said that governments need to be held responsible. i wonder how you square that with your former adviser,
claiming that you were not transparent about the health law, because in his words, the american voters were stupid. did you mislead americans about taxes, about keeping your plan, in order to get the bill passed? >> no. i did not. i just heard about this. i get well briefed before i come out here. the fact that some advisor who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that i completely disagree with in terms of the voters is no reflection on the actual process that was undergone. we had a year-long debate, and i your go back and look at stories. the one thing we cannot say is that we did not have a lengthy debate about health care in the united states of america or that it was not adequately covered. i would just advise all of -- every press outlet here, go back and pull up every clip, every story, and i think it is fair to say that there was not a
provision in the health care law that was not extensively debated and was fully transparent. now, there were folks that disagreed with some of these various positions. it was a tough debate. but the good news is, and i know this was not part of your question, but since some folks back home who do not have health insurance might be watching, open enrollment just started. which means that those that did not take advantage of the marketplaces the first time around, they have got another chance to sign up for affordable health care. they may be eligible for a tax credit. so far, over half a million successful logins on the first day.
healthcare.gov works really well now. 1.2 million people use the windowshopping functions since sunday. there were 23,000 applications completed in just the first eight hours, and tens of thousands more throughout the day. health care is working. more than 10 million people have already got health insurance. millions more are eligible. to the predictions of the naysayers, not only is the program working, but health care inflation is lower than it has been in 50 years, which is contributing to us reducing the deficit, and has the effect of making premiums or families lower than they otherwise would have been if they do not have health insurance. all right? kristin walker? >> thank you, mr. president. i would like to ask you again about syria. when you were recently asked about the u.s. campaign about -- against isis, you said, quote, it is too early to know if we are winning.
you went on to say this is going to be a long-term plan. there are now reports that you have ordered a review of your entire syria policy, so i would question to you today, are you currently recalibrating your policy in syria, and does that include plans to remove president bashar al-assad, and was it a miscalculation not to focus on the removal of bashar al-assad initially? thank you. >> we have a weekly meeting with my centcom commander, with my chairman of the joint chiefs, with all of our diplomatic personnel related to the region as well as my secretary of defense and intelligence teams. to assess what kind of progress we are making both in iraq and in syria with respect to isil, and i will be having weekly meetings as long as this
campaign lasts, because it is very important for us to get it right. we have not had a comprehensive review of syria. we have had a comprehensive review of what are we doing each and every week, what is working, what is not. some of it is very detailed at the tactical level. some of it is conceptual. we continue to learn about isil, where its weaknesses are, how we can more effectively put pressure on them. and so nothing extraordinary, nothing like you described has taken place. certainly, no changes have taken place with respect to our attitude towards bashir al-assad, and i said this before, but let me reiterate. assad has ruthlessly murdered
hundreds of thousands of his citizens. and, as a consequence, has completely lost legitimacy with the majority of the country. then make, because commonm -- then make cause with him against isil would only turn more sunnis in syria in the direction of supporting isil and would weaken our coalition that sends a message around the region that this is not a fight against sunni islam, it is a fight against extremists of any stripe who are willing to behead innocent people or kill children prisonersn political with the wanton cruelty that i think we have rarely seen in the
modern age. and so we have communicated to the syrian regime that when we operate during after -- going area spacein their they would be bullet advised not to take us on, but beyond that there is no expectation that we will have an alliance. he is not credible in that country now. we are looking for a political solution eventually within syria that is inclusive of all of the groups who live there. christians, and, at some point, the people of syria and the players involved as well as the regional players -- turkey, iran, patrons like russia -- are going to have to engage in a political conversation.
and it is the nature of time, certainly , where youuation wind up having diplomatic conversations potentially with people that you do not like and regimes that you do not like. but we are not close to being at the stage. >> but to put a fine point on it are you discussing ways to remove him as a part of that political transition? >> no. major. >> the continuing resolution expires on december 11. many of the things you're talked about on this trip are related to that -- funding the coalition, the evil outbreak, and government operations. what are the odds that the country will see itself in a shutdown scenario, how much do fear that the government will shut down, and how much does your degree of anxiety influence
the timing of your decision on immigration an executive action -- and executive action? >> i take mitch mcconnell at his word when he says the government will not shut down. there is no reason to shut down. we went down that path once before. it was bad for the country. it was bad for every elected official in washington. at the end of the day it was that it in the same way would have been resolved if we had not shut the government down. so that is not going to be productive. and i think that leader mcconnell and speaker boehner understand that. this goes to a broader point that i will reiterate. it is in the nature of democracy that the parties are going to disagree on certain issues. we do nottem, because
have a parliamentary system, that means you can have a congress of one party and a president of another and they disagree on really fundamental issues. and the question then is, how do you deal with that? well, the sensible way to do with that is to say here are the issues that we do not agree on and we will fight like heck for our positions. and we will work together on the issues that we do agree on. but as i was always been, that is how it was with ronald reagan when he was dealing with a democratic congress. there was no point of the democrat said that because we do not agree with ronald reagan on ask, why, nz issues, the me cannot work with them on --x, workissues, then we cannot with him on social security issues. as a consequence, the country will make progress. i would expect the same attitude
in this instance. i understand that are members of the republican party that deeply disagree with me and the law enforcement and the evangelical of their in a number own republican colleagues about the need for immigration reform. i get that. and they have made their views clear and there is nothing wrong with them are doing their position. and opposing legislation. decide they would then we are going to shut down the government makes about as much to shut my decision down the government if they decide to take a vote to repeal health care reform for the -- is it 53rd or 55th time? i understand that there is a difference there but let's keep on doing the evils business. -- the people's business.
the main concern that we have is getting it right and that is what we are focused on at this point. because any executive action that i take is going to require how dhs, thents to department of homeland security, operates. byrd is deploying resources. -- where it is deploying resources. so i want to make sure that we have crossed our tees and dotted our eyes. our i's.y -- dotted we will close with jim. >> following up on immigration, in 2010, when asked to stop deportations that act alone on providing legal status to the undocumented, you said that i am president and not king. in 2013 you said you are not the
emperor of the united states in your job was to execute the laws that are passed. what has changed since then? and since you have had a chance to talk with your legal advisers what you believe are your limits so that you continue to act as president and not emperor? >> my position has not changed. when i was talking to the advocates, their interest was in me, through executive action, thatcating the legislation was stalled in congress. comprehensive deal of the sort that is in the senate legislation, for example, those extended beyond my legal authorities. there are certain things that i cannot do, there are certain limits to what falls within the terms ofdiscretion in how we apply existing immigration laws. and what we have continued to do
is to talk to the office of legal counsel but is responsible for telling us what the rules are, what the scope of our operations are. -- andrmining determining where it is appropriate for us to say that we are not going to deport 11 million people. on the other hand we have severe resource constraints right now at the border not in apprehending people but in processing, having enough immigration judges, so forth. and so what is within our ithority to do in reallocating resources and reprioritizing since we cannot do everything? it is on that basis that i will be making a decision about any executive actions that i might take. i will repeat what i have said before. there is a very simple solution
somehowperception that i am exercising too much executive authority. have a bill i can sign on the issue. thatngress passes a law solves the border problems, and proves the legal immigration system, and provides a pathway for the 11 million people who are here, working in our kitchens, working on farms, making the beds in hotels, everybody knows that they are there and we will not deport all of them. we would like to see them being able to be in the open and pay their taxes and pay a penalty, get right with the law. give me a bill that addresses those issues and i will be the andt one to sign it metaphorically i will crumple up
whatever executive actions we have taken and tossed them in the waste basket because we will now have a law that addresses these issues. >> in those five months since you said you were going to act, have you received the legal advice from the attorney general about what limits have what you can do -- what limits you have on what you can do? >> yes. >> would you tell us what they are? >> no. [laughter] announce.l when we jim and i go way back. these to watch them on tv in chicago. -- i used to watch him on tv in chicago. people of australia, thank you. [applause] >> the british house of commons was not in session last week. prime minister's question time we live on c-span two.
you can see it next sunday night on c-span. time on c-span.org, where you can find video of past russians and other british public affairs -- past questions and other british public affairs programs. >> thank you for your comments about our programming. there are a few we received about washington journal. >> i must say, washington journal, the first thing in the morning, absolutely wonderful. very informative and i really appreciate you guys letting people such as myself actually call-in and sometimes even talk to people who are running our country and our world. i would like to make a suggestion that instead of ies betweene country'
the democrats and republicans and independents, c-span should ask a question and have callers either agree or disagree. this would save a lot of partisanship and that the ideas get out there, not the political divisions. >> thank you, thank you, thank you. that irning, the special have seen, that is what we need. having a democrat and a republican on there so that people can ask them questions about what they're going to do. this was a great show. we need to have them explain what the policies are and how they differ. the reasons were just like mine. we need to know how they think, how they vote, and how we should vote. and have won every day with their ideas, their policies, and what they plan to do for the people and have us call in
question them. thank you so much. >> continue to let us know what you think about the programs. , or send us al us tweet. join the c-span conversation. like us on facebook, follow us on twitter. >> next, a discussion of the decision to add u.s. troops to train iraqi forces. at 11:00, "q&a." itm another chance to see president obama's public policies each in australia followed by his -- policy speech in all straight up followed by -- >> the white house confirmed kassigthe death of peter
at the hands of isis militants. we talked about the murder on journal" thisn morning and also discussed the increase of troops to train iraqi and kurdish troops. this is about 40 minutes. with u.s. strategy when it comes to the first to join us on the phone by skype actually, ben hubbard from the "new york times," their middle east correspond events joining frus over there in iraq. mr. hubbard, welcome. >> thank you. >> could you tell us? we heard about the possible beheading of this -- another american this morning. what exactly do we know at this point? >> well, what we know for sure is that isis released a very sickening, gorey video about 15 minutes long that begins with very detailed footage of some beheading of a number of syrian government soldiers that they say that they captured at a battle in syria and it ends with showing us the same, you know,
militant with a british ac-70 we have seen in some of these previous beheading videos with a severed head and officials haven't been able to verify this footage, but, you know, it bears things in common with the previous videos we have seen of discussions of western captives. >> when was he taken captive, and how long has he been held? >> he's been in can can'tivity for a while. i don't remember when it's been but he is an aid worker, a young man who served, you know, within the american military in iraq and later decided more realtime that he wanted to go back and try to help. he went into syria, was picked up, i believe, in the prove incident in eastern syria and very little has been heard from him since other than pleas by his family and friends of his trying to get him released. >> ben hubbard, we wanted to ask you, a visit, a surprise visit
by general martin dempsey there in iraq. tell us a little bit about the nature of this visit. >> well t seems like the main focus of the u.s. effort right now is trying to get advisors in place earlier this month that they were going to basically double the number of american military advisors here to about 3,000. so they are trying to get these in place mainly to arm, equip and training missions for the iraqi military and also trying to get some of the tribal fighters on board from some of the sunni tribes, particularly in anbar prove incident. these are groups that people remember hearing about the sunni awakening in iraq when u.s. forces were still here. this was -- these were -- these tribes ended up playing a large role in cooperating with american forces to get rid of al-qaeda in iraq, the predecessor of the group we now call the islamic state. >> so there is a lot of effort going on right now to figure out how to get these fighters back on board and get them in a place where they can actually
challenge the grit that the jihadist have in a large portion of iraq. >> that leads to your story we find in the paper this morning with the headline, iraq and u.s. finds potential sunni allies have already been lost. how do you -- how does the u.s. adopt a strategy to bring those on board especially in light of the announcements we hear in the united states with another 1500 advisors coming on board there? >> well, it's tricky because basically, isis, isis and the iraqi government have been -- one way to look at this is that there has been a competition for the aleakentions of these sunni tribes and isis has been working quite consist ently to try to turn tribes to its side. this is to talk about today, a two-pronged strategy where they are trying to co-opt tribal leaders by giving them money, guns, promising jobs to some of the young men in their tribes and get them to come under the banner of the islamic state even if they don't fully agree with it but not to resist it.
at the same time, there has been a very aggressive strategy of hunting down previous enemies of al-qaeda in iraq and a lot of these people happen to be from the sunni awakenings that allied with the americans to fight al-qaeda before. we have seen lots and lots of cases of isis taking over the sunni tribunal areas and going in with literally with lists of names of people that they want and they tend to be former security officers, soldiers, policemen. and they are really trying to the cleanse these areas of any sunni elements that are likely to join with an iraqi government effort to push the extremists out of these areas. we don't know too much about how the americans are going to assist in this. we know it's going to be much, much less hands-on than it was the last time around. the last time, actually, we have had many, many american forces on the ground who were fighting next to these guys, who were paying a lot of the, you know, putsing a lot of money in to this. now, american officials are telling us that they are here to advise and assist, that they are encouraging this process of
reconciliation between these tribes and the central government but that the money and the weapons for these tribal fighters must come from the iraqi government, that the americans are not going to arm these fighters and not going to pay the salaries this time. >> ben, before we let you go, being there based in baghdad, tell us something or tell us things about the effort by the u.s. when it comes to isis that we may not be hearing reported going on. things that, you know, that might be interesting for the americans here in the united states. >> well, i think that the biggest -- the biggest i know this that's been suppliesing is how quiet they are about it this time. you know, i think that everybody is very sensitive to the legacy of the american occupations here and you don't see the american advisors. they keep them hidden. as far as i have seen so far, they have never given any access to the media to see what exactly the advisors are doing, the american officials we talked to are very clear that they want this to be an iraqi-led effort. they want the iraqis to come in and figure out how to get the army organized and how to get
the tribes on their side so that they can go fight isis and that these advisers are here not to lead the battle, design it, finance it but to provide advising on how this is supposed to happen. we don't really have a lot of detail on exactly what that adviseing consists of. but the americans very clear this is a distance -- this is a very different process than what we saw last time we had american military involved in the battle here. >> ben hubbard is based in baghdad, reports for the new york times, their middle east correspondent giving us an update on u.s. strategy against isis there in iraq. mr. hubbard, thank you for your time. >> thank you. we will continue on, on our conversation here in washington, d.c. joining us, retired major ben conabel at rand corporation, served as a senior international policy analyst. welcome. just to let you know, if you want to ask questions about iraq, 202-5853.
first and foremost, what do you think about mr. hubbard's assessment there in iraq? >> a pretty good description of what's happening. i think that is the objective of the u.s. military to try to shift the allegiance and use add advisories with a light touch, light footprint and keep the iraqis in the lead and to ensure that they maintain that lead. it's really important that the iraqis take this on as their war, the government of iraq, the iraqi aerment and ultimately the iraqi people. this is their effort f they succeed, then they will own that victory. >> what's the u.s. role now in making that happen? especially with the introduction of these troops, more troops going to iraq. >> it's a difficult question because we don't have a clear strategy right now. instead, we have a military campaign which isgoing that involves, as ben pointed out, the debts struction of is target did, arming tribal elements and i am happy to talk
to you about the term "tribe." i think that's a little bit overused and, of course, supporting the development of the iraqi army and ensure that they get back on their feet. you may recall several iraqi divisions have collapsed and several of them are near collapse in places like anbar prove incident. >> you said you don't see a strategy happening. why did you say that? >> 7 ario administration officials have identified weaknesses or at least the absence of a cohesive strategy. any time the u.s. military applies a campaign, it is usually embedded or we had today a long-term strategy. what is it that the president wants to accomplish at the end of the campaign? right now, we don't really have a clear vision for what that might be. there are a number of reasons for why the president might avoid clarifying that. when you put all of the cards on the table, it is often detrimental to the military campaign. i think that clarity, though, clarity in describing the end state would be quite helpful to the u.s. military officers who are designing and implementing
this campaign. >> you talked about the tribal aspect of it. since we are dealing with tribes in many cases, why do you have issues with the term "tribe" and how does that play into the overall strategy going on currently? >> "tribe" is an identity. the tribes are not these monolithic entities floating around out there in the rural areas of iraq. almost every single member of -- every iraqi is a member of a tribe. so it is one of their identities. they are a tribunal member. they are businessmen. they are insurgents with one group and sometimes with a second group. so some of the tribal members who are fighting for the islamic state are also members of groups like jrtn of the 19 revolutionary bridge aide. some switch aleak answers very quickly. we have a lot of evidence of them doing so in the past. so, i think that's both a strength and a weakness and i don't think we have permanently lost anybody, however, it is very easy to lose those who are currently working with us. >> how do you change that mindset then? >> the only way to really change that mindset is to address the
underlying sunni grievances against the government of iraq. i see i.s. or isil or whatever you want to call it as a symptom of the greater problems that the sunni have with the government of iraq. i think if i.s went away tomorrow you would have an ongoing sunni revolt against the government. until those grievances are addressed, you are going to have real problems. i think the best way to win actually is to address sunni grievances and let the sunni defeat i.s. >> what are the sunni grievances, top ones? >> it was difficult for us to identify those from 2003 to 2011. i think they have done a much better job of enumerating those for us now. they want to have equal representation in the government. they don't want iraqi army units inside their cities. they want a lot of the bridge prisoners arrested during the december 2013 and early 2014 released. there is a long list of these grievances that they have enumerated. and i think, assumptions, the prime minister could go a long way towards addressing these grievances, maybe in one fell
swoop just by the stroke of a pen. >> has he mind sounds or shown interest in addressing these grievances directly? >> he has made sounds toward doing that. the day that they identify the new government or announced the new government, he listed a number of these grievances and said his government would be addressing them. unfortunately, there hasn't been a lot of public movement towards addressing those grievances. there have been some private things or quiet things that have been done. he really needs to make a loud kind of comprehensive statement about the sunni and it needs to have action behind it. >> our discussion will center around strategy towards isis by the united states with major ben connable. he serves as a policy analyst. we will begin with lou in tennessee, democrats line. lou, go ahead. you are on. >> good morning.
conley, colonel, a couple of questions to ask you. the surrounding countries, why do they not put troops on the ground? what is the problem? and my other question is: when we first went in to iraq in 2003, i still have not gotten an answer to this, but i watched a special on television, not on the regular channels like cnn or any political shows and it had recordings regarding dick cheney making contact with all of the high -- you know, the oil companies, hall burton, exson, shell. you name them all. and he assured them that the military troops would first go in and protect all of the oil refineries, and they should send their people over to be prepared to run those oil refineries.
>> thanks, caller. >> thanks, lou. the first question about troops from other countries, i think that's ramey important because the u.s. is trying to build a coalition in order to defeat the islamic state and that involves, of course, countries like saudi arabia, jordan and some of the other gulf countries. the problem you have here is that those countries have military forces that are not designed specifically for external operations. they are usually designed, trained and equipped to protect the local regimes or to ensure that there is internal stability and so, that's the first problem. the second problem is that a lot of iraqis may not be happy with american occupation or british occupation. they would be equally unhappy with soudi occupation so there is no love loved between some of these other currents trees. i think there would be just as many problems if arab currents trees tried to put troops inside iraq or syria as the u.s. or great brittain or other western allies. >> mark from leesburg, virg, republican line, you are up next. caller: sir, i will same i am a
vet and am i am a father of a son, two combat missions in the middle east. i don't care if we ever go back. as in the other lady, where saudi air abe yab, qatar they need to send their people on there. if this leads up to world warr iii be, so be it. >> guest: they are helping. we need to be aware of that. i agree that they do have a key role to play in securing and stabilizing both iraq and syria. so a lot of these countries right now are either providing bases for u.s. or coalition forces flying into iraq. they are providing some advisors, i think, and they are also providing direct air support. in some cases, they are dropping bombs against i.s. target did so while they may not be sending troops in. we have gotten pretty good regional support, retired general john allen has been in charge of that. >> would you give us a sense of whan an add advisories does?
what's a day-to-day for an advisor helping troops? >> that's a great question. up until recently, there hasn't really hasn't been a military specialty for advisor outside of the special forces or special operations forces. >> that's starting to change. we have tremendous experience inside the u.s. military now with advising iraqis, afghans and other forces around the world. so actually, i think the u.s. military has some of the best, if not the best, add advisories in the world what time they do on a daily basis is they go in, provide advice to commanders about which decisions to make, about how to arm and train their troops, about how to handle difficult logistics issues. they play a liaison role between the local forces and u.s. enablers like logisticians, airport and in many cases, they will provide direct assistance in communication in helping to bring in airstrikes. >> let's hear from hope, indiana, more from there. democrats line, hi. go ahead. caller: yes, i think you guys need to get a bigger army because you need to use armor
divisions if you want to destroy isis. that's the only way you are going to do it. you have to put armor divisions to destroy them. >> with that in mind, major, the joint chiefs of staff, mark testified recently before congress talked about situations where he may see more of a presence of troops in iraq. i want you to listen to what he had to say and get your input on that, please. >> thanks, chairman. first of all, i want to make sure that i mention i've never been limited in my ability to make a recommendation of any size or sort to the president of the united states. as we look ahead to the campaign as it evolves, there are certain operations that could be more complex than the ones in which the iraqi security forces are currently involved. they are doing a better job, and i think, i think, soon, we would be able to describe it as a good job in al anbar, and moving north out of bad dad, the pesh
moving south but there are some places along the path that i think will be fairly completion terration, including, for example, mosul, and eventually as they need to restore the border between iraq and syria. i am not predicting at this point that i would recommend that those forces in mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by u.s. forces but we are certainly considering it. >> i think it's important that the u.s. military leaves the door open for the use of additional force and that they not close it. one of the main reasons is that we have to keep that threat and that pressure on the islamic state. they have to at least believe there is a possibility that u.s. forces would be introduced. i think it's also important that the military not take any options off of the table for the president of the united states. both this president and the next president. so, if this war is going to last three to 10 years, it is the job of the chairman of the joint chiefs as you just saw to ensure that he kind of walks that delicate line and leaves
the options open. i would argue against the reintroduction of u.s. forces because i think they would not be welcomed. we would then be incurring the requirement to rebuild the iraqi countryside and the syrian countryside probably again and find ourselves back in a situation like 2004, 2005 and early 2006. >> brian, good morning from michigan independent line. caller: yeah, hi. thanks. can you hear me host: yes. go right ahead. caller: okay. first go-around, going back to the 'september did, i spent a lot of time in the middle east, the united states navy and this was going on when the iranian hostage crisis at that point. what some of us advocated for which would have been rejected is that we would jet set up our naval base in israel and be who we are as a people. i am a supporter of israel.
definitely, we could hold more sway in that region and more cost-effective way. and obviously, that got rejected. it's not going to happen to this day. but i would have much better preferred over these last few decades we had indeed done that. host: thanks, caller. >> guest: i understand the sentiment. you probably know, the u.s. navy has a stronging presence in the gulf in bahrain, and there are ship visits across both the mediterranean and the gulf. i think one of the big problems with tying ourselves that closely with israel is it makes it almost impossible to play honest broker between the israelis and the palestinians in that conflict. and i think it would expose the u.s. to force detection problems. it's an interesting idea but i think one that was probably avoided with good thinking. >> myo, go ahead. >> my comment is recently president obama sent a letter to the iranian leader.
i think it was along the lines of looking for help on their part. i was wondering: why couldn't -- why do we hesitate so long to seek help from iran? i know it may not be copacetic but more pragmatic. their ground forces are pretty effective. given we have things like operation merli, wouldn't wet want to get them back on our side showing that we have been acting against their vat gee and things of that nature? thank you. >> guest: it's a great point a tricky relationship with iran and the u.s. is in the middle of negotiating settlement to their nuclear power development efforts which could be nuclear weapon developments so that as kind of a really difficult aspect to the problem. iran has also been linked with terror attacks and we have had a difficult relationship with them. it is important to remember, though, that the iranians are already inside of iraq. they may already have iranian revolutionary guard corps force
operatives and actually soldiers on the ground providing direct or indirect support to the iraqi army. so whether we have an agreement with the iranians or not, they are playing a role, and they are probably playing a military role. >> who is our strongest middle east ally right now in the middle east of the neighboring countries? >> i think you would probably have to put jordan and the united arab em rapts on part. jordan has been a tremendous ally. we have been relying on them more and more. my concern with jordan is we have pulled them too far into our camp they lose their reputation for being a middle ground state. but the jordanians have been tremendously helpful. the emirates are coming into their own. their military forces are much more capable than they were and the qataris have provided us with consistent air basing support. the saudis have been supportive despite their frustrations with our actions in egypt. we have gotten tremendous regional support. >> inside the country, there was a story by david kirkpatrick that said that the prime minister replaced 36 military
commanders. is that a good sign of -- what's that a sign of, going forward, i should ask? >> in very practical terms, it is positive because a lot were not jut corrupt but political appointees but had purchased their position and they were poor leaders. we saw the evidence of that poor leadership in mosul when the division crumbled in mosul, it wasn't the rank and file who fled first. it was the officers. you have to purge the military of officers like that. >> that's a good step. it also demonstrates, perhaps, that abadi has more strength and influence we would give him credit for coming out of the shadow of it malaki who is still there as a vice president. i think the stronger he becomes, the better it is for everyone because he has an opportunity to break away from the rather poor reputation of prime minister malkey. >> from fredricks burg virg, virginia, randy, republican line. caller: yes. i just don't really see how we can have
snuksz iraq basically because the people there, they put their religion before freedom and the values that we value. if they are not willing to fight for their own freedom, i think all we do is create a dependency, you know. we were over there 10 years and you couldn't build an army in 10 years and then, you know, as soon as we leave, they fall. so, i mean i just don't blame president obama for not wanting to get back involved over there. so that's all i want to say. >> guest: randy, i think i share a lot of those concerns but maybe you are not giving the iraqis enough credit. i know a lot of iraqis and some are my friends who risked their lives to try to support the development of a democratic state there. a lot of iraqis died, you know, everybody has differing motives for the things that they do but a lot of iraqis have placed their lives on the line to try to improve the lot of the iraqi people and to build a democratic
state. it may not look like the u.s. they may have been failing so far, but i think we have to try to support them. i think it is an honorable goal at the end of the day. however, the question about whether or not we need to go back in there with ground forces, i think that should remain an open question. host: from massachusetts, janet up next for our guest major ben connab connable caller: good morning, you two. ben, i would like you to address the question the woman posed to you before about dick cheney and the oil fields, number 1. no. 2, i don't think you will answer it, but would you like to talk about the military industrial complex? guest: okay. janet, oil fields, she was resides right that we did go in and secure the oilfields frooil ensure that the government of iraq we developed after we went in there or at least the one that we would support would have
an economy and would have a baseline for stability, would have an income. i don't know whether there were deals cut. i can't speak to that. i wasn't privy to any of those conversations, so i'm sorry i can't give you more clarity there. in terms of the military industrial xleshings i think president ice en hour was probably right in identifying problems therecomplex i think president ice en hour was probably right in identifying problems there. i am not sure what the specific question is but it's something we need to think about any time the u.s. military goes to war. >> the house armed services committee is where the defense secretary chuck hagel will appear. amongst things he talked about were setbacks concerning isis. as a coalition and as a nation, we must prepare for a long and difficult struggle. there will be setbacks, but we are seeing steady and sustainable progress, and mr. chairman, i think that's an important part of answering the question did we have. the questions we have about our own strategy. do we ask ourselves? the questions you have about our
strategy: can we sustain it? can it be sustained a lot at some point we leave? >> a critical component of our strategy. asking that question and answering that question. we are seeing steady and sustainable progress along dod's two main lines of effort: first we are seeing progress in degrading and destroying isil's war fighting capacity and denying safe haven to its fighters. directly and through support of iraqi forces. coalition airstrikes have hit isil's command and control, its leadership, its revenue sources, its supply lines and logistics and i am paragraphed it's able to mass forces. in recently weeks, these strikes helped peshmerga pus isil out of zumar in northern iraq and helped iraqi security forces begin retaking areas around
major oil refinery abaji. last weekend, airstrikes hit a gathering of isil battlefield commanders near mosul: isil fighters have been forced to alter their tactics. we knew they would. they will adapt. they will adjust. manoeuvring in smaller groups. sometimes making it more difficult to identify target did. hiding large equipment and changing their communications methods. sustaining this pressure on isil will help provide time and space, time and space for iraq to reconstitute its forces and continue going on the offense. >> he talked a lot of -- may not have used specifics but he said steady and sustainable progress. would you agree with that? >> there has been progress. i am not sure if it's steady or s sustainable. i am not sure of the long-term
objective. there have been allotted of airstrikes. the united states and the col al list have degraded the it's lammic state. they have, as secretary hagual described forced them to operate in smaller groups. that's positive in a lot of ways. it can be negative. we have seen reports out of the hub or the capitol of the is isis caliphat. e where the impact of the airstrikes has forced the is lighters to go under ground and there is a little less stability there, a little bit more chaos. the people are looking for something to fill that vacuum. if you kill or destroy the islamic state, there has to be something to fill in the vacuum that we leave behind. right now, the iraqi army is not ready to do that and the free syrian fighters are not ready to do that. there is a timing issue here, too. >> arty from louisiana, democrats line, you are up next. caller: good morning, gentlemen gentlemen. i spent 2 jeefrnz in the u.s. army and in combat, three sewers
one of the things that as a veteran and a combat soldier, i don't think we have the general capable of mainlying a decision that is not politically correct. i disagreed with it in vietnam. why should we take a casualty before you can react to something that you know is going to happen. and you have the same thing over in iraq. we are willing to let young men walk in, see people with guns and when they open fire on them, we do nothing except take the furualty. then we can shoot back in most cases. it's not always that you can react and go back. why not fight these guys one time, kill them, and keep moving? >> thanks, arty >> guest: you are talking about restricted rules of engagement in place in iraq and afghanistan probably, as you are pointing out, vietnam. >> is part and parcel of a regular warfare where you are trying to shift the support of the population.
if you go around just killing everybody, unfortunately, you may be military -- you may be militarily successful, but you may fail in your ultimate objective of shifting popular support. it's very difficult to do that when the enemy is not wearing a uniform, when you can't count them, when you don't know how many there are. and so, yes, we can save american lives by simply using indisriminate or really aggressive bombing and fire tactics but i think it undermine did our ultimate strategy. general did are in very tough positions. i am not giving them excuses. irregular warfare is incredibly difficult, and i think almost every decision that you make is a trade-off, and very few lead to a clear decisive victory. >> carmen from illinois, republican line, you are next. >> hi. my comment is aren't we to blame for destabilizing that area? we've spent trillions of doll s dollars. what's the end game?
can we keep spending all of this money. this area has been fighting for thousands of years. they really don't have -- we have destabilized the country after we got rid of saddam hussein. aren't we to blame for all of their problems? >> guest: the issues with stability in iraq and in the region, of course, date back to the pre-ottoman period, the break up ottoman empire after world war i. there are a lot of reasons as to why there is instability in the region right now. are we directly responsible for some of those problems? yes. we probably are. is it -- is it -- is this now a chance or an opportunity to simply step away and say it's not our problem anymore? i think we could do that. but i think it would come with great long-term costs. instability in the middle east has now global impact and the more connected and interconnected the world becomes, the greater risk we run if we disengage from critical
places like iraq and syria. >> from massachusetts, mark up next, good morning caller: good morning, gentlemen. the u.s. strat industry toward i iisis is important and i guess major there has has been very insightful but to outline who is fighting and, you know, what the different, you know, isis is the initially they started out in syria, hide, you know, i guess initially with the free syrian army who is against assad and turned their focus. basically, the pre-syrian army thought they were too ruthless kicked them out and they saw open boarders into iraq because the iraqis were distrust -- you know, just distrusting of malaki because he was supposedly oppressing the sunnis and you have hezbollah come in. there are so many -- i think one
of the newspapers or one of the am newspapers should show a map and show who is in this. there are 10 faxes. you talk about kurds. >> caller, thanks. >> that was a great description. your attempt to describe all of the complexities probably mirrors all of our efforts. i mean i think it frankly exceeds the capacity of the human mind to understand fully and completely and the problem that exacerbates that is we have a very limited understanding of who these people are and how they are actually interacting with each other. so you are absolutely right. this is incredibly complex, incredibly difficult. and i challenged the administration before about articulating an end state. i am not sure i could do it right now either because i couldn't think through all of the potential branches and sequels for the complex at this involved in this military campaign or in a potential regional strategy. >> how complex is syria in the
larger fight? >> more complex than iraq and syria is incredibly complex. i.s. broke away from al-qaeda. you have the al-nusra front who also is affiliated al-qaeda but is somewhat separate. you have not just featuring army but all of the moderate groups all broken up internally as well. i.s. is not a monolithic entity. a great number of members have identify i did with other groups and you have al-assad's government and they have internal differences as well. it is very, very difficult to see our way where you have a stable syria. roger, go ahead. >> i think a lot of people probably don't realize so much of this spreads out to so much of the rest of the world where you have the philippines mlmf, the people's army, you have president bush who instated
programs where we would support those countries in the same fashion. i do believe this is a little bit different at this point because we have a much more serious situation and yet we are not providing ground support. and i think in the end, we will need to do so. thank you. i will take your comment off air. >> guest: roger, i think if we want to defeat and destroy the islamic state in iraq and syria, i can't see how that would happen without large elements of u.s. ground forces going in to perhaps both countries. so, i think we have a real problem there unless we can address sunni grievances. so, i think we can change the political situation to the point where the sunni would defeat the islamic state or at least make them irrelevant. defeating and destroying an irregular force in a place where you have no direct military intervention other than through the air and through some advisors is, i agree with you extraordinarily difficult. >> clifford, good morning in
maryland, democrats line. you are on. go ahead. caller: thank you. major, first i want to thank you for your service to our country, and that goes without saying. you said something a few minutes earlier, and and i realize you're mouthing the party line and that's been our position. you talked about wanting to bring democracy to iraq. and, yes, i think here is where our policy has been fundamentally flawed from the beginning. look at the american democracy. it took us a civil war to end the slavery that our democracy had. it took another 100 years to get the most undemocratic branch of our government, the supreme court, to do what our democracy would do in regards to separate but equal for schools in america. i guess the bottom line is: what are we going to do? we defeat isis, set up what we want and we have democracy in
the middle east? where outside of israel, where has democracy worked? >> guest: the great thing about being at rand is i don't have to preach the party line. i believe we would be better off if iraq was a stable democratic kwunth tree. >> doesn't necessarily mean they would have a democracy like ours. her looking for protection of minorities as a baseline. where else have we succeeded? in very few places. i think that if we think about the united states or america more broadly in kind of a theoretical since as the shining city on the hill, why we exist and kind of in a theoretical sense, it is worthwhile to try to ensure that people action minorities are protected and people have a freedom of expression and speech, itself. from a more practical sense, they don't fight each other as often. they are usually more stable. they are usually more likely to contribute to the global economy
in a positive way. it benefits us, i think, in a teeretical sense and perhaps you might say a moral sense and, also, in a very practical way. >> major ben next "washington journal," brian brenner discusses the immigration system and obama's overall. and then paul talks about the congressional spending agenda and possible tax extenders. and the president and ceo of the congressional management foundation reviews the salaries and perks that members of congress receive. as always, we take your calls and you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. live.ngton journal," nonie., "q&a" with
and then it president obama's best beach at risk name followed brisbane.speech at >> this week on "q&a," nonie darwish. she talks to us about her life story, growing up in egypt and gaza. also addresses the consequences of leaving the andgion, her views on islam muslims in a post-9/11 world and the current state of muslim countries ruled by sharia law and their reon