tv Politics and Foreign Policy CSPAN December 6, 2014 7:00pm-8:01pm EST
q&a.nday night on c-span >> a discussion on foreign policy with senator rand paul and rob fernandez. the fight against isis the russia-ukraine conflict, iran's nuclear program, and nsa. this is from the all street journal ceo council's annual meeting in washington. it is an hour. >> ladies and gentlemen, if i may ask you to diverge your attention from your colleagues and your neighbors and lunch, and have your attention, please. thank you very much. i want to welcome everybody. i am the editorial page editor of the wall street journal, responsible for the fun parts of the paper. the opinion pages. we have a session today on the changing politics of foreign policy.
it is in two parts. it is going to have -- first i am going to talk to senator rand paul, who is seated to my left. then we are going to talk with the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, bob menendez of new jersey. we are going to try to get you all into it. at the back end of each of the conversations, lots to talk about, given the turmoil around the world. i want to first welcome senator paul, senator from kentucky, elected in 2010, ophthalmologist before he entered the dark arts of politics. making a name for himself in the united states senate right from the start. you have been, i think, making a name for yourself on foreign policy and national security. critical of the iraq war, certainly. and i think parts of the way the afghanistan war has been prosecuted, though you supported that from the beginning. and critical of your own party
on occasion. where do you think the republican party has gone wrong on foreign policy? >> i think there is a little bit of blame to go around on both parties. if we put this in terms of where we are right now, the biggest thing that has occurred to me is that congress has abdicated its role in the declaration of war. or on warmaking. our founding fathers saw one of the great responsibilities of congress was to debate whether we go to war. for four months we have been , back at war in the middle east , and they are using the justification of a war resolution or all three should -- or authorization of force from 2001. no one really purports that isis attacked us on 9/11. they are now enemies of al qaeda. distant cousins of al qaeda did attack us on 9/11. i think what we have is a very
loose definition, and really no oversight. our founding fathers thought it was really important that this power go to the legislature. in fact madison wrote that the , executive branch was the branch most prone to war, therefore we have, with studied power, vested that power in the legislative branch. if i would say what is wrong, it is the abdication of the role of congress. when they talk about the separation of powers, madison wrote that the separation of powers would work because we are going to divide the power but will pit the ambition of one branch against another. the ambition we have should be enough to check the other branch. but we have gotten so far away from that that we may not ever have a vote on the use of authorization of force for the new war. and so i recently introduced a declaration of war to try to shake them up a bit, to say, this is our responsibility. that has not happened since 1941. >> let me press you on that a little bit. one of the presidents you have
praised for his conduct of foreign policy is ronald reagan. if you look at the course of his presidency, he used for several times abroad without authorization from congress. there was the bombing of libya. an attempt to kill muammar gaddafi. there was the invasion of granada. there was the re-flagging of ships in the gulf, all of which were controversial. he didn't get authorization. are you saying that anytime time a president uses force, he must get an affirmative vote from congress? >> if you look at most of our history, and most of the people who look at our founding fathers, they would say the commander in chief definitely repel attack,to imminent attack. this has now been dumbed down to the extent of being almost farcical. i will give you an example. i had a conversation with the president about a year ago and repeated back to him what he said in 2007. he said no president should unilaterally go to war without the authority of congress,
unless they are under imminent attack. i said, what happened libya? he said, benghazi was under threat of imminent attack. i said, really? you meant imminent attack of a foreign city? that would be justification for a war without the authority of congress? the disappointing thing has been that few on my side have been very good at discerning congressional authority, and nobody on the other side has. i think they have been largely apologetic for their president. but are there any instances -- > >> other than repelling attack -- >> there would also be instances of minor military skirmishes that would occur. i would also say that when people use reagan as an interventionist, we actually weren't involved in that many wars. when we did get involved in the middle east, he thought twice about it. and he came home from the middle east after the disaster in beirut. >> but he deployed those troops without the permission of congress. >> i know. and i'm not saying that reagan
was perfect or anybody was perfect. but for the most part, if you make the argument back and forth, what is the correct constitutional and historical nature of how foreign policy should be conducted, if you look at weinberger's doctrine, he says that when troops are involved, there should be congressional authority. >> i hear you saying that if you were commander-in-chief, you would, in almost every instance want to go to congress to get an , affirmative vote. not just consult them, but get an affirmative vote to say, back me up on this action. >> i don't think anybody can give a blanket answer to every possible instance. but i can give you an answer to the current one. in when it became clear that august, isis was a threat to our consulate in irbil, to our embassy in baghdad, i would have come before a joint session of congress and ask them for permission to declare war on this group.
i would have gotten every vote. i'm not going to apologize for this. i am one of the least reluctant to go to war. if i'm ever commander-in-chief, i will not want to take the country to war. it will be the last resort and only when the country says, we are united. we must fight and we will fight. it won't be eagerness on my part. in this case, i see that there is a threat to american interest. and if the president had come forward and done the right thing, i would have voted. even as reluctant as i am, i would have voted for force and will still vote to use force against this group because i think they are a threat. >> let me change the subject to another when you have really focused a lot on, which is surveillance, and recommending limits on what the nsa has done in collecting metadata. you voted in fact for the bill fourou were one of republicans, if i am not mistaken, who voted for the bill that failed, mainly because your party, all but four of you, voted against the bill. so it failed. and it would have put new restrictions on the pfizer court review process.
and would have barred the collection by the nsa of metadata. you were with president obama on that. where were your republican colleagues wrong? >> i think we have to define the issue and understand what we are talking about. many people say, and many people in government will say these are , just business records. these are just boring old business records. what do you care about metadata? you know what metadata is? it is your visa bill. i can tell whether you drink, whether you smoke, and how much. i can tell what you read. i can tell what doctors you go to see. two stanford students put an app on a phone and asked students to volunteer. all they got off the app was your phone records. how long you spoke and who you spoke to. they could tell 85% of the time what your religion was. they could tell nearly 100% of the time who your doctors were and what diseases you could have. they could tell one woman had a long conversation with her sister and then called planned parenthood.
what do you think you know about this woman from her metadata? the government has no right to look at your records unless they have suspicion or probable cause you committed a crime. call a judge. get a warrant. it is not that hard to get a warrant. we wrote the fourth amendment for a reason. to restrain government. the constitution isn't about restraining the people, it is about restraining the government. and so when i look at the nsa program and they tell me they wrote a single warrant with a guy's name on it, verizon, they got 100 million phone calls, and they are storing them in utah, that is antithetical to everything i understand about american freedom. and i will oppose it to my last breath. >> yet the reform that you voted for would have allowed those -- >> actually i didn't vote for it. >> excuse me. it was whether or not to close debate. >> i didn't vote for it. i voted with republicans but for a different reason. >> that is right. it did not go far enough. >> not necessarily that. i voted against it because it reauthorizes the patriot act. one of my main objections to the patriot act, there is a section,
section 213, where they sneak and peek in your house without announcing they have ever been in your house. people say, we must do something because terrorism is so bad. we are so frightened, we have to do something. let's give government authority. do you know what they are using it for? 99% of the time, for the war on drugs. do you know what happens with unannounced no-knock raids? look at the baby in atlanta. two months ago they threw a , concussive grenade into a crib in 1:00 in the morning. there were no drugs in the house and it was the wrong house. people say, we have terrorism, then it is a slippery slope. we are going to use the patriot act on all kinds of ordinary crime, and i object to that. >> there are people who would nsa there is not one , documented case we found of real abuse. there were some people who did -- individual staffers were punished for sneaking a look at one account or something, but nothing systematic.
nothing serious, in terms of abuse of that authority. meanwhile, one of the things that was in the bill would have allowed google and private collectors of data to keep that metadata. >> they own the data. they keep your data all the time. google is not going to put me in jail. the whole internet is based on information. i am not against information, and i give up privacy all the time, but i give it up voluntarily. google and facebook are not putting me in jail. they are not going to put me in jail. i object to saying google and the government are somehow the same. they are completely different. but there is an argument to be made. the argument is that these are good people. and i think by and large, they are good people. i have met people from the fbi, the cia, and the nsa, and they are. but here is what madison said about government. the reason we restrain government is because if government were always comprised of angels, we wouldn't have to worry.
i don't take a whale -- takeaway or feel we have to limit the nsa's power because of one bad person but i do object to the accumulation of power for the danger of abuse. i will give you an example. in 2011, we passed legislation that allows for the indefinite detention of an american citizen without trial. that goes against everything that is fundamental to our country. -- i had a citizen debate with another republican senator. i said this means an american , citizen could be sent to guantanamo bay without a trial forever. ,he is like, yeah, if they are dangerous. that begs the question, doesn't it? who gets to decide who is dangerous and who is not? the president signed it and he objected to it also. but this is like so many things the president does. he said, i object to it but i'm never going to use it because i'm a good person. trust me. even if you love this president, who is going to be the next president? it always is about power, the
restriction and restraint of power. it is not about individuals. to me, it is incredibly important. the potential for the abuse of collecting of metadata is enormous. i will give you one other quick example with it. there was a former head of one of the security agencies. he says, metadata, we kill people based on metadata. i do not think he was regarding american citizens, but we kill foreigners based on metadata. they can find out a lot through metadata. i'm concerned whether they abuse it or not. about collecting my information i think the idea of bulk , collection goes against the individual nature of the fourth amendment, the particularity argument of it. and i think our founding fathers would be horrified. to know that all of your phone records are stored in utah. >> another subject. going back to reagan, one of his watchwords was, peace through strength. he presided over an enormous buildup in defense spending. and the current trajectory of
defense spending is down to below 3% of gdp. which is going to be as low as it was back in before 1941. would you support a significant increase from current levels in the defense budget and do away with the sequester? >> i absolutely support the concept of peace through strength. i think the most important thing the federal government spends money on is national defense. it is the one thing you cannot let your state governments rely , on state governments. you cannot rely on individuals or corporations to defend your country. you have to have a national defense. when i look at priorities, what is the federal government authorized to do national , defense is the number one priority. looking at dollars spent, i always say a priority. specifically with regards to the sequester, the last budget we produced, we have a five-year
budget since i have come here, that balance in five years. we have a five-year budget that balances, eliminates the military sequester, and spends money above the military sequester. but we do eliminate five departments of government. and so you can -- if you want a strong defense, fine. but if you want a strong defense and you are going to run up an $18 trillion deficit, then i i think you make the country weaker. i will spend as much money as i can get out of congress, however i won't run up another $10 trillion in deficit. it has to be done by cutting other parts of government. >> so you are saying that if you can't politically succeed in cutting five departments of government, which has not succeeded during my lifetime, you would not be in favor of an increase. >> i think that twists my words. actually i am in favor of a , strong national defense. i am for spending whatever it takes to defend our country. >> i'm not trying to twist your words. guns or butter, i understand that. >> i think it is a mistake to acknowledge that you are going
to admit defeat on cutting and reining in spending. this is the reason you can't. there are people on our side. i think they're absolutely wrong. there are conservatives who are, i'll spend anything and i don't care if it bankrupts the world. i will spend trillions of we dollars. have got to have it. that is wrong. you will be a weaker country. you will be more vulnerable. i truly believe the number one threat to our national security is our debt. we have an overwhelming debt. we are borrowing a million dollars a minute. what does separate me from some conservatives is i am not all in , no matter what. i am saying we spend what we can , from what comes in. we bring in $3 trillion every year, we spend $3 trillion. that is very simple. but a very radical notion appear. everybody in the business world understands that. they spend what comes in, or they borrow based on a rational basis. we do nothing rational in washington. it is bankrupting the country.
i think it ultimately threatens us and makes us weaker. i want to be clear -- >> you think the current levels are adequate, for do we need to increase it somewhat? >> i think it is a mistake to look at defense spending and say say, we are going to spend 4% of gdp or we are weak. if you are going to protect the country, you have a strategic vision for what we need to defend the country. for example if tomahawk missiles , are important, we need to have a discussion with our military folks, all the foreign policy experts, how many do we need next year for the vision of what we need? areo not pre-decide that we going to spend 2% of the gdp on tomahawks, and another 2% on this. we have to have a vision for what we need. i cannot tell you from what i have done in the past -- my five-year balanced budget eliminated the sequester from the military, allowed military spending to grow out of the
sequester, and did so while balancing the budget. that is my preferred vision. that is what we ought to do. if we want to be strong again, we should balance the budget and spend an adequate amount on military defense. >> a topical issue that you addressed earlier, isis and the president, according to the latest news reports, is considering a proposal to put a safe haven for the syrian rebels in syria with the help of turkey, and u.s. bombing to enforce it. good idea? >> we are talking about the syrian rebels? the moderate, so-called? >> i believe that is the proposal, inside syria. >> i read a good description. i don't mean to be flippant but it is the best description i have read of the moderate rebels. a former cia agent said the only thing moderate about rebels is their ability to fight. [laughter] they are basically -- they have been, in the last several years a conduit for giving weapons to , isis.
i said a year ago, i voted in our committee against arming these people because the ultimate irony is, we will be back here fighting against our own weapons within a year. and i am absolutely -- i was found to be correct. we are going back to the middle east, which i support begrudgingly. i think it is a mess there. and it is never going to end. but we are going back in and we are fighting against our own weapons. 600 tons of weapons went into syria in 2013 alone. those weapons, many found their ways into the hands of isis. i don't think there are any moderates there. there is 2 million christians who are on the other side of the war. it is a messy civil war and we shouldn't be involved in it. the only reason i am for getting involved in there is not because i think there will be an end or because there would be anything great about replacing assad with
isis. the reason for getting involved is because we have an embassy and a consulate which should be defended. >> how do you defeat isis if you allow them to have a safe haven inside syria? >> isis will never be defeated until the people who live there decide to rise up and say this is a barbaric form of islam. and we are not going to tolerate it. but that would be the turks rising up, the iraqis rising up. instead of -- the thing is, we have to question if there is one overwhelming truth that cannot be disputed by the facts, it is this -- every time we have toppled a secular dictator, it has been replaced by chaos and the rise of radical islam. look at hillary's war in libya. if you look what has happened? , it is chaotic. hillary was the biggest promoter of getting involved in the syrian civil war. but libya is an absolute disaster. you had gaddafi, a secular tatar, -- dictator but you had , some stability in libya. now that he's gone, our ambassador is assassinated.
in the last month or two, our embassy has fled into tunisia. libya is now chaotic. there are jihadist groups running amok. i think we are more at risk now than we were before. but to those republicans who love a republican intervention, iraq is worse off now. do you think we are better or worse off with hussein gone? there was more stability under hussein. i am not saying i would support him or give him money, but there was more stability under hussein. and iraq was a bullwark against iran. you had check and balance over there. you had somewhat of a geopolitical stalemate. now, we topple hussein, iraq is a huge mess. and i think will be a huge mess for the time foreseeable. a year ago, many on the side of intervention wanted to bomb assad. and i opposed bombing assad, and we did not do it. but had we bombed a side a year ago, who do you think would be in damascus now? isis. without question isis has become , stronger because of our involvement in the syrian civil
war. my argument, which is different, and i will admit to be different than other republicans and democrats, is that intervention has unintended consequences and we have to be careful and think about what we are doing. >> of course, we stayed out of the syrian civil war. i want to open this up -- >> actually, we didn't. we and our allies gave 600 tons of weapons. qatar and our allies and the saudis and us together put 600 tons of weapons into syria. most of it wound up in the wrong hands. and i think we are worse off for it. >> i want to open it up. do i see any questions out there for senator paul on anything regarding foreign policy? or any other subjects? we have one right here. >> iran. [inaudible] >> the question is regarding iran. i guess we now have the second extension. your colleague will be on later.
he has said he has great concern over that second extension. and what it says about iranian intentions. >> so do i. i think that one of the interesting things that has come out in recent weeks has been netanyahu's response to this. he actually thinks extension is a good thing. i think that is interesting and will maybe change some of the debate. i think we need to and should do everything we can to prevent iran from having a nuclear weapon. and that includes the threat of force. i do think the sanctions -- and i voted for every sanction that has come forward in the senate -- the sanctions have brought them to the table. i think it would be a mistake to push them away from the table. i think that if you institute sanctions again right now, there in the middle of negotiation, there is a very good chance the international coalition will collapse. i think also that there is a certain bit of irony for the group that believes in virtually unlimited power for the
president to conduct war but , they want to circumscribe the president possibility to conduct -- the president's ability to conduct diplomacy. i think sanctions do have to come before congress but i think it is a mistake to pass new sanctions in the middle of negotiations, particularly if they start out with something that is a nonstarter position for iran, which is now in richmond. enrichment. if you start out with no enrichment, there will be no negotiations. >> anybody else? right here. >> i am from germany. in europe, the russian-ukraine crisis seems to be more important than here in the u.s. how important do you think this is for the u.s., and what went wrong, and what could be a solution?
>> i thought we said no hard questions. [laughter] i'm not sure there is an easy answer to your questions. i agree with you that because of proximity, europe sees this in a heightened way over the way it is seen here. but i don't think it would be correct to say that we don't see it as important. i think that if you are talking about international order and trying to look at an international civilized and stable world, allowing one country to invade the integrity of another is an enormous step backwards in time and a real , problem. that being said, it is difficult to understand. even when the most hawkish members of political parties here are not advocating sending military troops, i think there are ways of talking about and introducing either defensive arms, weapons, and/or money into ukraine, that could bring russia to negotiating on this.
i think also trade is an important part of this. i think trying to get independence or having other alternative sources of gas would have less dependency. but i think some people fail to understand that dependency goes both ways. russia, while it can thrive requires foreign capital and , continuous trade. hurt by europe could be cutting off natural gas, so will russia. trade is not a one-way street. i think there are limitations to it. i'm not sure what the easy answer is to force them to exit crimea. i think part of it, when you have an analysis of the current president, when the current president sets redlines and then doesn't adhere to them, that may encourage other people to step through when he tells them not to step across a certain line. i think there has been a certain fecklessness in this president's foreign policy that may have encouraged these transgressions.
>> let me -- i want to ask you a practical political question. there have been some rumors that you may be considering a run for the white house. i assume that you will probably announce sometime next year if you are going to do that. but i asked a lot of republicans about your candidacy. here is what they tell me, they say, fascinating person saying interesting things about the party needing to reach out, but i don't think he will ever make it out of the primaries because of his foreign policy positions and security positions. a super pac will take your positions and hit them one after another and you won't survive. that is a practical question. can i get your response to that? >> i think the thing is that, , that fails to understand the people in the country. it also fails to understand who i am and what i support. i grew up as a reagan republican.
i was at the convention in 1976, when my dad was a delegate. peace through strength is something that i believe viscerally. do i believe defense is the number one thing? absolutely. anyone who wants to say otherwise will have to argue with the facts. i have five-year budget plans to get rid of the military sequester and increase defense spending. people have to argue with the facts. people want to call names or say this or that. here is the thing about it. in iowa about a month ago, they asked ordinary republicans who live where i live in middle america. they asked them, and i think it is a great question, because they put it in general terms, and not real start terms. -- stark terms. they said, do you agree more with john mccain and more intervention, or do you agree more with rand paul and less intervention? i think that is a great way to put it. i'm not talking about all or none. i think we do have to intervene with isis. i am not talking all or none but , i do believe less. we have been everywhere all the time and we are about the
bankrupt our country. i think there is great nature to what we have been doing, so i want less. mccain wants more. he wants 15 wars more. the thing is, there is a more and a less argument. when you pull that -- poll that in iowa, 41% agreed with me. this is not a small movement, nor is it easy to say that people like myself who believe in less intervention can be characterized as people who don't believe in strong national defense. that is a caricature. and i will have to fight that, but we will see what happens. >> you think the republican grassrootsrepublican has changed enough politically from a decade ago to -- >> we have always been there. i am right there. when we were attacked on 9/11, i would have voted to go to war with those who attacked us and annihilate them and let the rest of the world know that, you do this, this is the result. this is a warning to the rest of the world that we will never tolerate being attacked.
and i'm right there with most of america and most of the party. not there when you tell me we need roots on the ground in 15 different countries. i'm not there. i'm also not there when you say, we need 6% of gdp for military spending. because 6% is a big number, and that is what we need. >> how about 4%? >> if you set a number, i think there is a problem. also if you tell me we are going , to run a trillion dollar gdp i'mand spend 4% of , not for that unless you are going to pass a budget and eliminate everything else. it does have to be both. it can't be one or the other. there has to be fiscal sanity. >> senator paul thank you so , much for being here. appreciate it. [applause] senator robert menendez now joins us.
senator menendez, as i mentioned before is the chairman of the , senate foreign relations committee. for at least a couple more weeks. then he will be ranking member of the foreign relations committee. senator from new jersey appointed in 2006, i believe. served in the senate consistently from that. born in new york city, of cuban immigrants who arrived here i think the year before you were born. a classic american story. you heard senator paul. i wonder, do you feel sometimes that you have switched political parties when you listen to the senator? >> no. [laughter] i have a great deal of respect for senator paul. he sits on the senate foreign relations committee and he has interesting perspectives. i think part of your line of questioning with senator paul
came to the question of, when is strength appropriate? and after 22 years serving in congress between the house and senate, sitting on either the house or senate foreign relations committee, i've come to the clear view that weakness, not strength, invokes provocation. that is a global message. it is a global message whether you are dealing with the russian invasion in ukraine, when you are dealing with china in the south china sea, in conflicts and territorial disputes with japan and south korea, and it is true in so many other parts of the world. my own perspective is that we always seek to use diplomacy. and we always seek to use economic inducements, whether positive or negative, to get a country to act in a certain way. but the ability to have credible strength is important in order
to back up those actions, whether they be economic or diplomacy. and i truly believe that weakness invites provocation and russia is a great example of that. for me, president putin is kgb. in terms of his orientation, he is an admirer of peter the great . peter was great why? because he extended the russian empire. as you look at president putin's speeches over the last two years, he has evolved in accordance with his speeches. when it comes to ukraine, which is very significant for the ukrainian people, and i would say very significant for europe, but even has a more significant consequence globally, if the international order can be upended without consequence, then other actors will look and say, what did the united states and the west do to russia
, in terms of invading a sovereign country without provocation, annexing parts of this country? if the answer is not much, you will see other global actors thinking that strength will allow them to do what they wish to do. and that is consequential for the united states. >> since we are on russia, has the response from the west been adequate to meet the challenge that you put to the global order in ukraine? >> i would hope that what we began to do with the europeans, which is important in terms of keeping multilateralism in this respect, can be enhanced beyond. i was in ukraine in august when the first invasion took place. some people don't call it an invasion, but when you see thousands of russian troops, tanks, surface to surface missiles, and a host of armored
vehicles cross from one country to another, where i come from that is an invasion. and so you have an invasion taking place, then you have the minsk accords, which were supposed to be a cease-fire, now you have a second invasion. you see the annexation of crimea, now you see the part of eastern ukraine being pursued by russia, which is critically important. they probably want to create that land bridge to make the totality of their crimea investment a total success. for me, what we have done in sanctions has been important. but i and my committee voted 18-0 on a bipartisan basis in -- which is one of the unique things about the senate foreign relations committee. in the midst of a sea of partisanship, the senate foreign relations committee has passed just about every major piece of
legislation, and almost every nominee in strong bipartisan votes. i have worked very hard to make that the case. as it relates to foreign policy, bipartisanship is incredibly important to send a global message about where the united states stands. i think as the committee voted under my legislation that we should get defensive weapons to the ukrainians to fight for themselves. it is part of the calculation that putin will have to make. how many russian soldiers go back to their families if the ukrainians can defend themselves? and sanctions, russia is an extraction country. that is basically its economy. it relies on its extraction, particularly of oil. with oil so low, the ruble has been falling dramatically. today, their announcement that they will go into recession, this is a critical moment. because either russia will continue its second invasion and extension of annexation of ukraine or we will have an
, opportunity to have them change their calculus. if we don't, what stops china from saying i'm going to take , those territories in the south china sea, what stops north korea, what stops the iranians in their march towards nuclear weapons? at the end of the day, the west will not do very much. so there is a global consequence to what we do. >> but the president, president obama's response to your bill in the senate was, to give any lethal aid to the ukrainians beyond the minimum would make things worse because it would escalate the situation, make putin even more engaged, more inclined to act faster. and we could end up with a much broader war on our hands. what is your response to that? >> my response is that we haven't done anything, nor has ukraine, to provoke russia. and russia has already taken the most aggressive actions.
russia and putin will calculate, what will be my potential losses if i go further? if they believe they can continue on the course they are on, they will follow that course. and at the end of the day i , think it is a sad commentary that we would not give a sovereign country who is looking to the west the ability to defend themselves. this is not about u.s. forces going in. this is about the ability to defend themselves. you cannot fight tanks with night vision goggles. which is what we have given them. at the end of the day you have , to have the ability to have -- i respectfully this agree with the president as does every member of the senate foreign relations committee. they voted 18-0 to give the ukrainians the wherewithal to defend themselves. >> is that going to move in the senate, do you think? >> i hope that in the closing days, as we look at the national defense authorization
legislation that is probably one of the two must-pass bills, including the on this this -- on the bus at the end of the year, and i think tax extension -- to offer it as an amendment i think , it would be robustly supported by congress. there is the same -- at the same time, there is an effort to extend ukrainian loan guarantees. i think they need that. but they need the wherewithal to defend themselves. i think there may be an opportunity and i look forward for that to happen. >> let's turn to isis and the syrian campaign. you were one of those who voted against going to war with iraq in 2003, if i'm correct. yet now, so many in your party were highly critical of bush and his conduct in the war, and now we have a democratic president taking the country back to war, not in the same way, but conflict in iraq.
you heard senator paul talk about the need for congressional authorization. do you agree with that? is it likely to pass? >> let me just take the premise of your question and characterize it a little bit differently. and then get to the heart of your question. first of all, when we were struck on september 11, in which i lost hundreds of citizens of new jersey, i supported president bush. it was the right engagement. it was against bin laden, al qaeda, the perpetrators of september 11. and that is where we needed to fight. when we went to iraq, i spent a lot of time doing what any member of congress would have done. i spent a lot of time looking at what was necessary to make a determination about whether or not we should authorize the use of military force. because i have a standard. if i believe the cause is right,
i will vote to send my son and daughter to defend the country. but if i believe the cause is not right, not only will i not send my son and daughter, i won't send anyone else's. the time that i spent looking at the iraq situation indicated to me that there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction, no clear and present danger to the united states, no imminent threat, and we were going to take our eye off the prize, which was al qaeda. the afghan-pakistan border. that is why i voted no. i am neither a hawk nor a doubt. i believe in strength when it is necessary. i believe in diplomacy when it can be achieved. with reference to the aumf, i agree with senator paul that the authorization for force in this case where the administration has stated there will be a multi-year campaign, that will probably exceed the life of this administration, that congress should act to make such
an authorization. i think the nation is stronger , the world is more cohesive, when they know that we are acting together. and i think creating limits on how that authorization moves forward is important. because a 2001 authorization for the use of force that has taken us to multiple parts of the world when it was never envisioned for that is overly broad use of military force. and so how one structures this to give the president the wherewithal to fight the fight against isil is important. viewe a little different from how senator paul describes it. i want to make sure we succeed against isil before it has the operational capacity to create a september 11-like attack. i do not believe it has that operational capacity yet. i don't wish to leave it alone to succeed in having that operational capacity.
that is one of the critical elements. >> you have american generals suggesting that at some point we may need to introduce ground troops, not just as trainers but as targeters, local troops on the ground. would you want the ams to have a limitation on use of american ground troops? >> i think that what we are doing now is incredibly important, assisting both the iraqis, the kurds, in doing something that the committee was far ahead of its time when it voted on a bipartisan basis to arm syrian rebels at a time when those rebels could have made a very significant difference. that was over a year and a half ago. it was at a critical moment, as well as that the committee give the authorization for the use of military force on a bipartisan basis. that brought john mccain and barbara boxer together, a pretty big spectrum, to agree on the
use of force when assad was killing his people with chemical weapons in violation of international law. and that gave the president the wherewithal at the g 20 summit to get russia to turn assad around at least on the chemical weapons. whether you are being killed by chemical weapons or not doesn't matter, but for the international norm, it did. as it relates to spotters and special forces, i think that will be necessary. but at the end of the day, what we do to assist the kurds who have shown themselves to be resilient, to assist the iraqis, and to now help those who are willing to fight is incredibly important. better late than never. but at the end of the day, you have to make a determination -- sil is a national
security threat, you have to have the wherewithal to defeat them. you have to listen to the experts. >> would you support the president on the idea of a safe haven in syria? >> that has to be further vetted out. it is easy to say safe haven. that is basically creating a no-fly zone. are we in it ourselves -- is it us in the turks? you are going to use your aircraft and other elements to ultimately ensure that no syrian air flights can take place in the area you designate. that is very significant and it requires a lot more than the united states. we are a superpower but we are not omnipotent. and so we have to make sure -- and there are shared obligations here. of thoses to be part shared obligations, if we are going to consider them.
resolutionu support against isis? would it pass in the senate, and would the majority of democrats vote for it? >> how it is structured is going to be incredibly important. i know that in the senate democratic caucus where i recently raised this issue there was a strong appetite to have an authorization for the use of structured, that would give the president the wherewithal to fight isil, but authorization that is overly broad, that some people believe has taken us to places in the world it was not supposed to do. >> why don't we open it up? does anybody have any questions for senator mendez, misconduct of foreign policy, or anything else? way back there. >> senator mendez, one of the other responses to the russian ukraine is your
legislation with senator corker on sanctions in russia. and the possibility that things will change or there will be a post-putin russia, how do you build flexibility into the bill to respond to a changing situation with russia itself? >> that is a good question. it is similar to the efforts that we did when i authored all of the iran sanctions, along with my colleague mark kirk, a republican from illinois. in there, we created flexibility for the president to be able to respond to evolving changes which have not taken place in my view in iran's position in its pursuit of nuclear power for nuclear weapons. and i would think that we would do the same thing with the russian set of circumstances. in russia, our cause is simply to restore the international order and for russia to stop its
aggression, particularly now, in eastern ukraine. and i think that can be done. and there can be the flexibility that if it withdraws and observes, that those sanctions would be relieved. it is not for the sake of punishing russia on a permanent basis, it is the purpose of restoring international order and sending a global message -end you cannot up and -- upen the international order without consequences. >> anybody else have something? yes, right over here. gentleman in the glasses. right here, behind the pillar. >> thank you. senator mendez, thank you for your work with my home state. on iran why do you think, given , all that support that the community and the entire senate, sanctions-04 the against iran, was there so much resistance on the part of the administration to pursue that policy?
and further where do you see us , going with iran? what is the guidance that you would give here for resolving this issue ultimately with iran, and the nuclear ambition that they have? >> let me just say that i have followed iran for nearly 20 years. one i found that as a member of the foreign relations committee that u.s. voluntary contributions to the u.s. was going ton create operational capacity at the nuclear facility -- not in the national interest of the united states, or our allies in israel. i led a successful efforts to stop those voluntary contributions above and beyond our membership dues. when iran wasn't the centerpiece of global attention, i was following it. i have been following it for 20 years. the only reason the iranians are at the table in negotiating with us is because of the sanctions
and the consequences to its economy. and the only reason the ayatollah, who is the ultimate decider here -- i read a lot of expectation about president rouhani and foreign ministers zahrif. the reality is, at this point in iran it is the ayatollah who , holds the nuclear portfolio and will decide whether an agreement can be reached or not. for the ayatollah, the question is regime change. does regime change -- is this an attempt by the united states and the west to ultimately change the regime in iran, or is it really about stocking nuclear weapons? >> what do you think he believes? >> i think that he will decide the question. if, in fact, he believes that regime change comes through giving of the nuclear program,
then he will not. if he believes that regime change comes from within iran because of unsettling economic consequences, he will. that has been my philosophy. i believe in diplomacy, in the negotiations that the administration has pursued. but i believe in negotiation's through strength. you are all business people. when you are conducting a negotiation, you hope to be in the position of strength. in making a deal, you don't want to portray that you want the deal more than the other side. because if you want to deal more than the other side, the other side has a sense of it and it is only a matter of time -- it is only a matter of how far they will take you before the deal breaks. in this context with the iranians, the question is that we need them to understand that 20 years of obfuscation, 20 years of violating international norms, violating u.n. security
council resolutions, has a not just u.s. but global has a , consequence of having underground facilities -- if you want a peaceful nuclear facility in a country that has one of the largest oil reserves in the world, for supposedly domestic energy, you don't develop it underground. you don't develop it underground. you don't need a plutonium reactor, which is basically a pathway toward nuclear bomb. which has far less ability to create the type of domestic energy that you need. so, the sanctions got them there. the problem is that after a year of negotiation, but it seems to me -- what it seems to me is that the only reason progress can be claimed is because we, the united states and europe, have moved closer and closer to where the uranium position as an pursuit of the deal. why do i say that? we were told at the beginning of the negotiation that iraq would
ultimately have to be dismantled. now we are talking about recalibrating it or what levels of plutonium it can create. we were told that the facilities had to be closed, now we are talking about recalibrating what they do there. we were told that there was no right to enrich and now it is a matter of how much enrichment can take place. we haven't even talked about the missile capabilities that iran has with its missiles, the breadth and scope of what it can hit. it not only can hit the state of israel, but can hit an ally in europe. under the articles of nato's engagement, we are obligated if a nato ally is hit. there are real concerns. as i have traveled the regions i have heard from many people that if iran is allowed to achieve nuclear weapons we will now pursue a path of nuclear armament, because under the theory of mutual self-destruction we cannot afford iran to have a nuclear
weapon and not us. which means an arms race in the tinderbox of the world. for all these reasons, it is in the national interest and security of the united states to -- forget about any other allied -- of the united states to make sure that iran does not achieve this. i believe that prospective sanctions, sanctions that go beyond where we are today, if by march, which is when supposedly you are supposed to have a framework agreement you have no agreement, then a new set -- reimposing that which has been lifted or suspended -- would move forward. an endless negotiation is not something that is acceptable. because they continue to move their research and development. they continue to have their infrastructure in place. they are getting billions of dollars in relief, which is fueling what? fueling their wherewithal to create greater capacity. and we are weakening -- we haven't lifted, but we are weakening the realities.
you see a resurgence in the iranian economy. you see a mild growth taking place. you see business lined up, chomping at the bit, had the dynamics have changed. and so for the ayatollah, if the west keeps coming toward me in a deal, i keep sitting pretty. and keep saying, let's keep this going. that is my concern. >> would you be willing, personally, to induce those additional sanctions if you don't see -- >> i am looking for an opportunity to do it well before then, depending on how national defense authorization works, whether it would be open to an amendment process. >> senator paul and the president say that would undermine the negotiation. >> you know i would simply say , that every time i have led on the sanctions that brought iran to the table, i was told the same thing. i was told that this would break
the international -- that europe would never follow. all of that was wrong. is anyone going to do this willingly? no, but we have to lead. i would rather be in a negotiation where there is a real consequence to not striking a deal, because if we continue down this course, we will weaken ourselves to a point that the iranians will believe there is no credible military threat on the table. they will believe that the sanctions will never be reimposed, and they will move forward. and then, unfortunately -- and this is the fallacy of what is going on these days by those who say, sanctions or war. i don't believe that is true. but if we continue down the path of giving them the wherewithal to be able to move forward, not dismantling, but just freezing in time -- at some point in time, when the international sanctions regime is largely diminished to the point that they can move forward, the only option for this or any future president will be a military option.
and why should we wait till that moment when that is the only option? i believe that calibrated, prospective sanctions as a message to the iranians that this cannot continue forever, that is a good negotiating step. it doesn't move you away. it gives them an inducement to , ando find common ground can prevail at the end of the day, as we have prevailed in achieving the ability to bring them to the table. >> i think we have time for one more question if anybody has one. yes, sir. right here. >> another question concerning russia and ukraine. what will it take to start -- was it a mistake to start discussions with ukraine concerning membership in nato? >> the question is was it a , mistake to engage ukraine in the possibility of entrance into nato?
>> that could be true for estonia, latvia. that could be true for others. you know putin did this in , georgia, in moldova. it is interesting to see the moldova elections that just took place. which overwhelmingly went for those who want to look westward. i think that, for so long as you do not have offensive weapons along what is the eastern europe part assigned to europe, than russia is in a position -- if you put offensive weapons, that changes the dynamics. for so long, all you are talking about is a defensive possibility, i'm not sure why that evokes putin's actions. and well before any real discussions of nato, the conversation was about ukraine
looking towards european union. more than nato. and so i think that for putin and his eurasian view, his new russia view, ukraine is an essential element. it is not about its defense or concern about security. it is the concern about this new russia. without ukraine, it is difficult to envision that new russia. i do not think it was a mistake to enter those negotiations. and i don't know which one of us is willing to suppress the operations of other peoples for the same freedoms we enjoy in the united states. >> senator mendez, sometimes i think i am watching changing parties. this was a fascinating discussion. thank you so much for joining us. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
close in just about an hour in louisiana. statewide on the ballot, the u.s. senate seat currently held by democrat mary landrieu. her challenger is republican congressman bill cassidy. we plan to bring you the results revealed tonight. that is tonight on c-span. event on law enforcement training at use of force was at the national law enforcement museum. discuss flaws in the justice system. they also discuss militarization of police departments and between police and african-american communities. unders just