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tv   American Perceptions of ISIS  CSPAN  January 11, 2015 6:30pm-8:01pm EST

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session. it's hard to determine how the republicans will agree on the same terms, especially in the senate. mitch mcconnell has said that congress can't default, there won't be any more shut downs. quiet is, will the house and the senate be able to come to a compromise on all the spending and budget issues and whether they'll be able to satisfy the white house as well. >> to congressman von hollen, what's going to happen? >> i think it'll be suspensive to see if republicans can pass a budget. it was a close call last year and we have 24 senate republicans up for re-election in 2016 so i think there are some hard choices there for them. i thought it was very interesting that congressman von hollen said we will not permit you to increase funding for defense out of -- by taking that money for the non-defense spending, and so democrats are drawing their line in the sand pretty clearly there. >> and he sounded rather ominous
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in terms of the debate about to ensue on the department of homeland security. what are you looking for? >> well, it's very clear that democrats are totally against what republicans have proposed this past week. they are offering these amendments to the homeland security funding bill that would defund president obama's executive orders on immigration and roll back daca, for the children who came to this country illegally. obviously, democrats oppose these issues. the question is it probably wouldn't make it past in the senate, so will the house and senate republicans go to conference and try and come up with some sort of an agreement that kind of embraces some of their issues? but it seems pretty clear that they won't be able to defund the executive orders because of the hurdles in the senate. >> and i just think it's clear to everyone that the end game of republicans on this still has not emerged.
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you know, this isn't going to make it through the senate, so what next? and that just seems to be a question mark. >> quickly, chairman tom price and chairman paul ryan, what's going to change in the committee? >> i think probably not a whole lot. it's possible infrastructure is an area they can reach an agreement but we've seen in the past that there's an agreement that they want to do a long term plan and always get tripped up on how to pay for it. >> you get the final word. >> it should be interesting to see how tom price will work with senator mike enzi who's his counter part in the senate. will they push forward a very extreme budget proposal coming in, or do you think they'll kind of cater to those more moderate republicans who are up for re-election in 2016 to protect them. >> rebecca shabad of the hill newspaper and kristina peterson of the "wall street journal." thank you for being with us. we will hear more from chris van hollen. the heritage foundation begins a two-day conservative policy summit. that is live on c-span3 at noon
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eastern. >> next, a look at how americans view the fight against isis. susan glasser and a washington post columnist. it is one hour and a half. >> i direct the center for middle east policy to at the brookings institute. we have a project on u.s. relations with the islamic world. that project is the organizer of today's event. the united states finds itself four months into what we calling the anti-isis struggle, one in
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which our leaders acknowledge will probably take years to play out. and along with the attention to the horrific violence that this movement has wreaked on syrians, iraqis, and others, questions of momentum seem to dominate a lot of the media coverage around this new campaign. has the united states and the anti-isis coalition halted isis' advance? is the iraqi military retaking territory? are the kurds holding kobani? these momentum questions that seem to occupy so much attention, at least here in the united states, but a lot of the questions i hear amongst our coalition partners, and out in the middle east, have more to do with the u.s. commitment to this struggle.
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after hard decade of war in iraq, having only just ended the longest u.s. combat operation ever in afghanistan, the question i keep hearing is whether americans have the stomach for another war of indeterminate length and scope against an ill-defined enemy that can shift to new battlefields, as we saw yesterday, to horrific effect. it's important as we evaluate this question of american commitment, to ask yourselves, how do americans understand this threat? and then to think about how this struggle might play out, not only on the battlefields or iraq and syria, but here in
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washington, as congress reconvenes to contemplate potentially authorizing for the long term american military force against isis. what exactly are americans willing to do on behalf of the struggle and for how long? and it's to try and get a handle on those questions that we have convened today, and it's to get a handle on those questions that shibley tamahi, along with his colleagues at the university of maryland and elsewhere, put together a wonderful public opinion poll which went out into the field last fall, and the results of which we are launching today. now, the first part of that pole about the american public of the israeli-palestinian conflict and the american efforts to resolve it. the second part of the poll is what we're revealing today, what americans think about the fight against isis. and i am thrilled he is here and is going to discuss the significance of the findings by
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two wonderful colleagues. the is the professor of peace and development at the university of maryland. he is joined today by the editor of politico. the founder of politico magazine, editor in chief of foreign policy, and before that, a highly decorated journalist at the "washington post" and at roll call, and along with susan commenting on today's poll findings, we have our friend and
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colleague, e.j. deongoing of the governance studies program here at brookings, also a columnist at the "washington post" and a professor in the foundations of democracy and culture -- a wonderful title -- at georgetown university, my alma mater. so shibley will be coming up to present the findings of the poll ask then we'll bring susan and e.j. up for a panel discussion. i want to just highlight before we start a couple of things. first off, as an additional collaboration between shibley and politico today, "just -- just now has gone live, an article he wrote based on pole
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-- ollpoll findings called "are americans ready to go to war against isil"? that's up on the political web site right now and i -- politico web site right now. and for those who are interested in joining a conversation about the poll on twitter today, during the event, and following, please tweet using our hash tag, isis poll. with that i'd like to invite shibley up to the podium. thank you very much. [applause] >> thanks so much, tamara, and thank you all for coming on this cold day. let me just say a couple of things by way of introduction about the poll, and then i'll go right to the results. this was sponsored by the sadat chair at the university of maryland in cooperation with the program for public consultation, done in the middle of november and it was -- first part was the israel-palestine issue and the
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second one was on isil and syria, which we will review today. a number of people helped with it. i'm not going mention all the names but they were at the university of maryland, at brookings, and the program for public consultation. also, we have a sample of 1,008, an online survey conducted by jfk, the methodology you can find online for those interested in that aspect. the margin of error after the weighting is plus or minus 3.4%. let me go directly into sort of what drove the questions, what are we trying to get at when we designed this poll? first, i have been really surprised by the fact that the american public, which is -- which was said to be war weary in -- basically because of the iraq and afghanistan war, and
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had opposed even a more minimalist intervention proposed by president obama after president obama told the american public that bashar assad had used chemical weapons against his own people. suddenly, after a few beheadings, was pretty much open to approving certainly much more expansive intervention than was initially proposed against syria, and now some are even open to escalation of that intervention. so i know one of the easy answers in conventional wisdom is that it's all about the beheadings, but the beheadings don't explain it because on the one hand, if it's about the ruthlessness of the beheadings we talked about chemical weapons in the case of assad and the public was still reluctant. if it were about americans think about our conventional wisdom in the past when american
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soldiers were dragged on the street in africa. so that doesn't explain it. we need to probe more. so we design the report to probe a little bit more into what the thinking is of the public, and i'd like to share the findings. let me start with the finding we shared earlier, which is when you ask people about what are the most important threats facing american interests in the middle east, and we have the israeli palestinian contact, iranian behavior, rise of isis saudi arabia, by far the rise of isis is number one. 70% of the public say it's number one, and that brings down the sense of iranian threat or violence in the israel-palestine question.
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doesn't mean those issues are not perceived to be a threat to the american interests by the public. just so focused on isis, that by virtue of the elevation of isis, everything else looks less threatening in comparison. so, clearly isis has emerged as the principle threats as americans see it in the middle east. and that seems to hold across party lines. you'll see in the poll there are huge divisions across party line, particularly between republicans and democrats. on theirs issue there's very little difference. 70% for democrats, 67 for independents, 72 republicans. so consistent across party line.
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now, the next question is what do americans want to do about it? obviously normally it's -- when you ask a hypothetical question you have to understand it's hypothetical. not something they have to deal with immediately. and so we posed the question what if the current effort fail? you can see, if airstrikes aren't enough to stop isis, would you favor or oppose sending u.s. ground troops to iraq to fight against isis. so, what we find is that -- this is hypothetical, so you find 57% say they're not open to it. 41% who favor. you have 2% who refuse. my own sense, when i say hypothetical and i'm posing it that way, if the president were to go to the american people and say, tomorrow, the airstrikes have failed, i'm asking you to send american forces to finish the job, i suspect the opposition would be greater. that is my interpretation of the
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hypothetical, because it's a real issue. when it's a real, immediate issue, they are much more conservative in the way they react to it. and here's the interesting divide across party lines, and i think this is huge. only 36% of democrats and 31% of independents would favor sending ground forces even if current efforts fail. whereas you have a majority of republicans, 53%, who say they would favor it. now, that is really an important finding and very important for the political process, particularly in the primaries. how candidates are going to define their positions on those issues, and you can see it's going to be quite a difference. we have seen a lot of difference on the israel-palestine question. a huge divide particularly between republicans on the one hand and democrats and independents on the other and we see this a little bit here. which of the following is closest in justifying the possible use of american ground forces. so we went to those 41% of the people who said, i'm prepared to use ground forces if airstrikes fail, and we tried to figure
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out, what is it that in their view justifies the use of ground forces? and so look at this. yes, the rightlessness and intolerance of isis is in fact a factor, 33% give that as a principle reason. but the number one answer is they really see isis as an extension of al qaeda. they see it as just another manifestation of al qaeda, with which we're still at war and unfinished business in a way it's very hard for them to look at it separate from the view of al qaeda and that's one reason why they highlight it, and 43% say that.
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well above the worry about the rightlessness of isis. now, two other things i want to say about this particular graph. if you look at the number of people who say that what is justifying in their minds their openness to deploying ground forces is -- that -- they don't give the possible threat to our most vital interests as in the number one answer. only 16% basically say that they see it immediately as a -- or even -- the question was potentially a threat to america's national -- that's not what is driving them in this
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particular regard, and certainly not a look at how many -- how small the number is of people who say it's perceived threat to our allies. only 7% think that's the reason we should send ground forced. this is among the people who are prepared to use ground forces, not the whole population. there's a bit of divide across parties but not that much. i want to go to a second question, because we have understood that everybody who does polling understands that on issues like this, particularly when there's no immediate choice that the public has to decide on, and you formulating some scenarios and hypotheses, the picks always conflicted so we wanted to push it's little bit more to see the extent to which the public is open to involvement. so, we have the following scenario. the u.s. should stay out of a conflict with isis. u.s. cannot demeanor the course of war in syria and iraq.
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our involvement would be slippery slope going from airstrikes to military advisers and ultimately combat troops. on the other hand, we must intervene at the level necessary to defeat isis. isis not only threatens our allies. if it succeeds in expanding its increasing control of all resources it will become a greater threat to our interest. so, we asked them, which one of those views is closest to your view. so, basically, just to see where they lean, obviously in this regard, and remember, they have already said that -- majority said they don't want to send ground forces. but look at this. when you put this additional hypothetical with in reference to ground forces you still get majority, roughly the same percent, 57%, who say we must intervene at the level necessary to defeat isis. this is not unusual with syria they want to do something but don't want to pay the price when you put a serious option on the
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table for them, and we see that here as well. i just want to go quickly to a few other questions. which is the closest to your view, even if we commit a significant number of ground forces, it is unlikely we can defeat isis in iraq and syria. if we commit large number of ground forces we can defeat isis, but as soon as we withdraw, they or something like them, will likely return. and the third is, if we commit a large number of ground troops, we can defeat isis well enough so that it is unlikely they are something like them will return soon after we withdraw.
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and what you see here is essentially only 20% believe that we can permanently defeat isis. and even those who think isis could be defeated, a majority, 60%, say they will return soon after we withdraw, and that is the reluctance, that is really the principle reason for public reluctance to commit more, because they think we're going to be dragged into an indef any indefinite war, and that's been the experience. we see that to varying degrees across party lines. i want to transition to another set of issues which is about how the public perceives broad support for isis, particularly among muslims around the world. obviously it's an issue that has become tragically relevant given the massacre in paris yesterday, where obviously a lot of people are asking that question, if there's any connection, whether communities in western societies will be
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dragged into it whether there will be operations on western soil. so, we had -- while we obviously didn't anticipate this kind of attack, we know this has been on the public's mind so we asked questions specifically related to it. i'd like to review the questions here. the first one is, what is your impression of how muslims around the world feel about isis? most muslims oppose it, most muslims support it, or most muslims are evenly balanced. and so what you find here is that only 14% of americans believe that most muslims support isis. but they're really evenly divide between those that think most muslims oppose and it most muslims are evenly divided on will isis. so it's a mixed picture. however, when you look at it again, by party, it's
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interesting that just look at the last category most muslims support it. 22% of republicans say most muslims support it, versus only +6% for democrats and 13% for independents. you can see there's some kind of difference in interpretation. that carries itself through much of the poll, even though here it's not as pronounced as some of the others. how worried are you that a significant number of americans will join isis in the middle east? now, you can see that you have 40% say there are at least somewhat worried. there is 8% who say very worried. and clearly majority is not worried. but when you ask, how worried are you that a significant number of americans will join isis and carry out attacks in you the u.s., surprisingly you get a bigger concern, and so you have americans evenly divided on
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this one. you and you will and you will you get 101% here only because you obviously when we have .5, and we actually go to the next digit. so that's -- it's not a mistake. a it's a reporting issue. but you can see that they're exactly equally divided among those who are worried and those the who are not worried about it, and that is interesting. you in and of itself. you see also that there is a variation across party line that by and large you find a little more worry among republicans and more worry among republicans than the rest. do you think that support among i will americans for isis is likely to be greater than support for al qaeda, less than support for al qaeda, or about the same? now, the reason i inserted this is because of course we had this question about how does this in compare historically -- we
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don't have historical data on this so i don't know how they felt about it before. your so i put in al qaeda to see at least we have some rough comparison whether they say it's an more or less threatening than you will al qaeda in terms of americans joining isis, and i their fear about americans joining al qaeda. is a and what we find is actually it's slightly less worried. you worried. will roughly the same. you see 56% say it's about the in same, 25% say it's actually an same, 25% say it's actually less than al qaeda, 17% say more than al qaeda. so, i think this reinforces this in other issue about what is it a other issue about what is it that is driving the propensity you that is driving the propensity to want to intervene is they're clearly combining in an isis and al qaeda. a large number of the public is ina large number of the public is combining isis and al qaeda you life and in their mind.
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i want to switch to a few questions about syria and isis. one question is, which is the you will you and you and will which is the close toast your view: if we spend enough resources to drain -- the syrian opposition it could stand up to isis and the assad regime, the syrian opposition is too weak and divided. even if we give it significantly more resources it cannot stand up to isis in the regime of assad. so which one is close toast your view, and here's what we see. clearly two-thirds say the syrian opposition cannot stand up to isis no matter how much support we give it.
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and that is kind of a starting point for their attitudes on that. we then go and give them two scenarios that -- to evaluate two scenarios and see how much support those two have. one scenario is, assad has killed his own people with chemical weapons and is as bad as isis. there is now would to resolve the war in syria without removing the assad regime. do you find this convincing or unconvincing? so, now, look at this. you find a lot of people find this very convincing. you have overall 70% say very convincing or somewhat convincing, but then we give them alternative hypothesis, which is assad -- wait a second -- i don't have the full scenario but we should not fight the assad army and let it fight isis.
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we had both scenario around that as well. and what we find is that still a majority agree with that, even though obviously it's somehow juxtaposed with the previous so fewer people agree with it. so 60% find this argument somewhat convincing as opposed to the other one, which is 70%. so then we go to the bottom line argument. so now that you have these scenarios, do you think the u.s. military should or should not fight assad army in syria? and so what you have is a large majority, 70%, said the u.s. should not fight assad's army in syria. so, it clear reluctant, part based on isis, i think, but part of it is based on other factors as well. i just want to end with a couple of issues that i call linkage issues, in part because when we did this poll, we had two parts,
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one on israel-palestine, and one on isis and syria, and we went to see some connection in there, and it was at a time when, if you recall, secretary of state john kerry was criticized for suggesting that violence on the israeli-palestinian front played into the hands of isis strengthened them and enabled them to recruit more people and focus more attention on the u.s. and israel. you that was an argument he may. so we asked directly, which one of the following is close toast closes -- closest your view. one option is, the escalation of the palestinian-israeli conflict is liable likely to be used by
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isis to draw more support and the alternative hypothesis, palestinians and israeli violence will not affect the support for isis or its strategies. its aims are independent of the palestinian-israeli conflict and it's unlikely to draw more supporters because of it. ok, so very clear two option is that i think the irish- --that is think summarize the debate. here's what we get. a large majority, two-thirds 64%, say they think violence on the israeli-palestinian front would be used to increase support for isis. and 30% say it wouldn't. and we further -- by the way, an interesting that about the divide between democrats and republicans. the secretary of state came on memorial criticism -- more criticism from the republican side, but while there's slight difference between democrats and republicans, actually more
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republicans think there's linkage than democrats. 71% of republicans and there is linkage between the issues. one final note. it turns out also that in our polling, which asks which -- whether the american public wanted the u.s. to lean toward israel, to lean toward the palestinians or lean toward neither side, we ran some correlations across those to see whether those who want the u.s. to lean toward israel had different views from the rest of the population, whether there's linkage in the minds of some people. we find that there is. among those who say they want the u.s. to lean toward israel 73%, you know, say the palestinian-israeli conflict is likely to be used by isis to draw support. so surprisingly even more people think that among that segment of the public.
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and it also matters for how people want to -- those who want the u.s. to lean toward israel tend to also be more open to military intervention, sending ground forces. specifically, look at this slide in particular. so where you have those -- among those who lean toward israel 61% say that if airstrikes aren't enough, the u.s. should use ground forces versus only 31% for the rest of the population. now, i just want to make one .2 -- and i'm sure we'll have that in the conversation. this is not an indication of a causal relationship. most likely it is part of a connected world view, an ideological world view, of the same people seeing who want to
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intervened, also tend to be pro-israel. we see that in the evangelical republicans and across party lines. so don't be too quick to create a causal linkage but it's nonetheless interesting. thank you for listening. and i invite the panel to the stage. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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>>, well, thank you all. -- ok, well, thank you all. shibley, thank you for giving us the highlights. there is quite a bit more in the packets that were available on the table, and of course more discussion in shibley's article for "politico" that i mentioned earlier, and we can get into what this means up here in a conversation with all of you. susan, let me start by probing the idea that shibley mentioned just at the outset, well, ok americans went quickly from war marinas and reluctant -- you're
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reading this and reluctance that weariness -- weariness and reluctance to engage to readiness to support this new struggle. at the same time what we see in the results that were just presented is that americans are saying, well, we have to do what is necessary to fight isis to defeat isis, but we can't win in a lasting way. these guys are -- we're not going to be able to defeat them or they're going to come back as soon as we leave but we have to do it anyway. how do you understand that contradictory sentiment? >> well, thank you so much shibley, and to you, tamara. i think -- i'm glad you start ed with that. clearly there's a lot to unpack politically roundabout. around that. i think there's a -- the superficialallity and the thenness of the support for what we're doing its reflected in the fact that this is -- first of all, very amorphous, what is the "it" we're talking about, and i
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think you have to consider we're basically talking bat war -- about a war without a name, and all the attendant political consequences that come with that, which is to say i'm struck by the broad but clearly not deep at all support for whatever it is we think we're sort of doing. same thing with the bipartisanship. you have this coma on the service, very striking appearance of bipartisan consensus. over 70% who appear to be absolutely fine with the policy we're conducting, and yet at the same time, basically there's a complete cynicism around the idea it's actually going to accomplish much, and then, if it doesn't accomplish anything, what should you do? you immediately that hoosier that i think will be -- open off that fissure that i think will be the fissure in american politics around foreign policy we'll talk about during the arc of the presidential campaign about to begin. >> i want to get back to that.
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it's washington and we can't avoid talking about the 2016 race, even though it's only january of 2015. in many ways this poll has interesting implications for where the debate will go. but first, e.j., maybe one way to understand what looks contradictory or looks like an reluctant or ambivalent, from susan's description, commitment, it's the hard-won lesson of the last 13 years, that, well, we're not always going to win. we're not always going to achieve our goals but sometimes we have to get in there and get dirty anyway. is that one way to understand it? >> i think that and is i think shibley's poll includes a lot of material that suggests even americans who would be sympathetic to intervention think the results might not be good, and i think that is one of the lessons that people drew from iraq. i just want to sort of underscore what i see is a very interesting contradiction or ambivalence in the survey, and if you remember the numbers,
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i will just repeat them. there were two different questions that produced two different answers. if you asked the question, if airstrikes aren't enough to stop isis, would you favor or oppose sending u.s. ground troops. 57% opposed. that's a doveish majority. but when you asked, which of the following comes closest to your view, we must intervene at the level necessary to defeat isis 57% saying, yes. that's a hawkish majority, which means something like, 16% or 18% of the people in the survey gave answers on one question that did not seem to match the answer on the other question. and i just want to suggest two things. one is i do think some of that is an iraq hangover. read other is -- the other is that i think there has been a profound ambivalence about intervention from the very beginning, and i went back --
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for something else i'm doing i ran across this and win back and a gallup poll that went back and looked at a gallup poll -- went back to look to a gallup poll before we intervened in afghanistan. this is a war broadly supported after 9/11 -- >> a poll after -- >> after 9/11 in november of 2001. so when president bush had a broad consensus in support of the invasion, and 80% said yes 18% said no. but then gallup went underneath the numbers and of that 81%, 22% were reluctant warriors, and they found those -- they classified them that way because they said they would not have supported intervention had 9/11 not happened. so, combine the 22% with the 18%, you're already up, even at the moment when americans were most interventionist, you have 40% who are either doves or reluctant warriors, and then when you took apart the rest
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there were only 22%, they found, who were consistent hawks, who would have been willing to intervene before. so, you know, i think that when we look at american opinion, there is this deep underlying reluctance to intervene, even in circumstances when most americans have a gut sympathy for the intervention. and one other point to go to your original question, if you slide which -- go back to the slide, which of these comes close to your view, 22% s.a.t. said flatly, we're unlikely to defeat isis, but this is where iraq comes in. 56% said the u.s. can defeat isis but they will not -- but they will return, only 20% thought we could permanently defeat isis, so that the war, i think, the iraq war has created a kind of pessimism about the -- or let's put it another way --
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there is no longer an excessive optimism about what american power can achieve. >> interesting. shibley, i want to ask you about e.j.'s comments on a long-standing tradition of reluctant warrior sent the sentiment in the american sentiment in -- sentiment in the american public. >> first of all, on the last point, which is key, how people assess the prospects because we have a lot of literature -- we have international real estate sheer theories, why particularly the american public says, i've had enough. at what point do they say we don't want anymore of this, and a lot of theorists suggest it's a link to their assessment of whether you can win or not because at some -- you can pay a price, you are prepared to pay a price up to a point, and obviously the assessment is, there's no real clear win here. that's clear. iraq is one case and even afghanistan, people decent don't really see a particular
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whenin and that is undoubtedly influencing the public's mood. going back to reluctant-undoubtedly. i think by and large the american mood -- remember, particularly after the end of the cold war, i mentioned the mogadishu case of 1990 when we had these soldiers dragged in a very ugly way. this is -- remember, this, is a time where we are the sole super power, in the middle of celebrating that. the cold war ends the year before. we're the mighty power. everybody is, you know, we can lead. right? and yet the public says, instead of saying, let's go after them, says, pull out. because actually the public's instinct that the premises -- premises wasn't to intervene but how it looked at home. so i think the instant in the public not to intervene is there, but then what happens is they assume that america is safe, and the minute they think
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there is a threat or feel there is a threat, they're conflicted and that's what we see. a lot of conflicted attitudes in the poll. >> ok, so, it's very interesting because both of you are really talking about how americans define america's role in the world. that we're not there to tromp around and wreak our will, as long as we're safe we should let things go, and 9/11 changed that, not because of how we think about our role in the world but because of threats. in the year i want to come to -- and here i want to come to what i found striking -- maybe not striking to all of you -- 40% of americans are worried that a significant number of american citizens will join isis and attack the united states. now, we're going release a paper here, brookings, on monday, on the question of foreign fighters going and fighting in iraq and syria and the threat that poses to the united states and europe, but we haven't seen a large number of americans running off
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to fight isis. susan, where do you think this is coming from? is this because the president talked it up of the summer because the intelligent community was out there saying this was a real problem? >> this is important. this is a real problem. first of all, this about the first mention of barack obama's name in this conversation, which i find very striking and i want to get back to that in a second. but just directly to your question, the survey makes a fairly convincing case that, across party lines, people are associated isis with al qaeda. my guess is i don't have the historical data from shibley's work but my guess is we also would see similarly high fears around the possibility of an attack inside the u.s. homeland from al qaeda in the post-9/11 ear ramp those numbers have been -- era those numbers have been , quite high, even given the
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fact there have not been many subsequent attacks. so i see it as consistent with we're willing to have even what might be much harsher response to a perceived threat, even if there's a very low risk of the actual perceived threat here at home and that seems to me to be consistent with what we see from the american public, and clearly people do believe that this is either an offshoot of al qaeda or the logical extension of the radicalization of a small segment of this part of the middle east. so, you know, to me that seems very much connected with our anxieties around this far-way conflict that has managed, even in a small way to manifest itself here. barack obama, the thing i would say that is interesting to me about the survey is it kind of reflects the inherent unresolved conflicts, contradictions, and the administration's policy, in many ways you can almost say he is either representing and reflecting or has designed a policy that more or less
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intentionally or not reflects the ambivalences and ambiguities and uncertainties of how americans see the situation. he is basically very much in line with, we're worried about it but only willing to do so much. a wink and a nod. right? that's been what he has conveyed to the extent he has spoken, which is not very much, about this conflict. more or less the president has kind of made it clear, it seems to me, that he doesn't think we're necessarily going to be defeating isis anytime soon. he also doesn't think and also made it very clear he won't be going to war against the assad government anytime soon. and so i think that's just something interesting to reflect upon too. >> can i say something on your question. >> and then come back to syria. >> briefly on obama, think obama's position reflects pretty well where the country is, which is the country wants to act on isis, but it's reluctant to get too involved in the effort and
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it also shows why the president , you know, you didn't, you know --, you know, didn't push ahead to get authorization to strike syria when he wanted to or at least why the congress didn't seem -- we'll never know but didn't seem prepared to give him that. when you look at the numbers in the survey on syria, opposition intervention is enormous and crosses party line. almost no partisan difference on that. i was really struck, as you are by that enormous number who believe that americans are going to fight with isis. if have been thinking about the rock 'n' roll song, "paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will create your -- creep." i'd love to see work in the survey, which americans believe that, but if one thinks that number is high, think or what that number might be like if you took the survey tomorrow. morning after what ahead in paris. i just say, i've been a journalist all my life but
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anybody who cared about free expression has to be horrified and stand in solidarity with the people of the magazine, and perhaps we can talk about it but murder doesn't settle arguments. it ends them. and it ends lives. imagine americans looking at that, and it does appear that they -- the attackers were french, if i am correct about this or had citizenship. will that number go up? will that increase our paranoia that is already very substantial? and on the one hand i look at that number and say i don't share that view. i'm not worried. and then particularly when we got -- one looks at the history of the american muslim community, which is a historically moderate community, very successful community in american life. so, the odds of that happening in large numbers strike me as very small, but we look at horror like this and people say, all right, i have to check that view. is there something wrong with
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that. but it was a very big number. >> a striking number. >> just on this. i think you are probably right if there's a poll today or tomorrow, after the massacre in paris, will -- will do it will probably go up. i'm not sure go up a lot because i think in the american public mind, they have generally differentiated between what is happening in europe and what is happening in america. >> that could be right. >> but the second thing is, that number is high for sure, 40-some percent, but the number of miami people who -- people who say they are very worried is very small, and you can attribute almost to ideological. some of it. not all. the 8% is -- and also, when you then have a rough comparison with al qaeda, if anything is slightly less than what they thought al qaeda's capacity to recruit americans was. so in a way, yes, it's high for sure, and you have to -- and
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that does tell you something but it's not as intense as we should be careful not overinterpret it. court. -- >>. so in other words, we're not in the public opinion environment we were in the immediate post 9/11 era where people were willing to contemplate a lot of things on the basis of their threat perception. i want to come back to the point susan made a few minutes ago which is that it seems that president obama has actually done a pretty masterful job of reflecting public opinion, at least as indicated in this poll in his policy, as he is triangulated the demands from the intelligence community, from allies in the region, and from american public, and from congress, in dealing with the question of isis and american military engagement in iraq and syria more broadly. so, ok, the american public says, assad is an awful guy.
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he has done terrible things. but the syrian opposition can't defeat him, even if we help them. so maybe we shouldn't overinvest in that, and the u.s. military shouldn't try to defeat him. that's not our priority. so if those -- those -- each of those three findings, i trauma -- i think, came out of different parts of your poll shibley. if obama has in fact triangulated well, then, none, where does that leave congress as it tries to think about authorizing this fight? there are, of course, those in congress who would like to authorize a broader fight, including against assad, and there are those in congress who want to tie this administration and the next administration's hands as much as possible, including on issues like ground troops written looks like they will have some support, so that's one question, what does an aums, an authorization to use
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military force look like if congress is going to reflect this public opinion? second, what does this say about the fight that is largely within the republican party over foreign policy between more interventionist views and more reticent drama if you will, rand paul versus john mccain, putting it in very rough terms. we have an ambivalent public. does that favor rand paul? does it mean that john mccain has already lost the argument with the american public? how do we interpret the way this will play out going forward? e.j., do you want to start? >> i think one of the pair docks -- paradoxes for president obama -- this is even more obvious before the election when his numbers were lower. his numbers have recovered some. where you seem to have obama's policy matching public opinion pretty well, and yet the approval of his foreign policy was way down.
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now i think there a couple things going on there. one is republicans would disapprove president obama probably if he could change straw into gold there would be something wrong with the gold. and so there's just a deep partisan feeling against president obama, but the other thing is, americans want two things at the same time. they do not want a disorderly world. they do not want the rise of groups like isis, and they don't want us to do too much to get intervened and ways that will hurt us again. reminded me of, looking at the survey, the -- a famous observation that americans are operational liberals ideological -- bought ideological conservatives. they don't like government in theory but like stuff government does, and some of the stuff government gives them. similarly, americans are ideological interventionist but operationally cautious, and i think that is -- >> you see that right there. >> right in our faces here, and
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so for the president there is this challenge where they -- americans want somehow for him to make the conflict, these rules go will -- troubles go away, but don't necessarily will all the means that might require. on the republicans, clearly they are the group split most in this survey. if air strikes aren't enough would you favor or oppose sending unit u.s. ground troops. 3% of republicans favor so a hawkish view still prevails but narrowly, 46% oppose. which i think points potentially, if rand paul gets in the race to to a very interesting debate inside the republican party. there's always then a strong anti-interventionist/libertarian /realist view within the republican party. and rand paul is going to try to speak for that view, and it's probably the case of the silent
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majority is bought -- but it is an awfully large minority. >> the poll also points out dish totally agree with that -- that there is an ideological component even within the fractured rub party where support for israel is much higher and it's higher among evangelicals, which we talked before the panel, which has gone over time as a proportion of the most fervent israeli supporters of israel in u.s. politics is evangelical. and that complicates the election even further because is very -- i think you're talking about potentially candidates in the presidential race whose foreign policy views may or may not line up with the very strong evangelical support that will be required in places like iowa, for example, and so i think what we're looking at, number one, is that foreign policy is likely to be a big ger issue in the 2016 presidential campaign for these reasons, perhaps even than it was in the primary season in 2012, for example. and so i think that already
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seems to be how it's playing out. number two, the support for israel, of course, is much higher across the board in american politics. democrats and republicans, that it is -- then it is in europe. that's important when you consider what the aftereffects will be of this horrific attack in paris. they're very likely to play out differently among the european public both in france and more broadly across the european union, both because this is a neighborhood issue, for our partners that makes it a very -- -- it a way that makes it very different, it is much more comparable to something like this happening in canada than it is to how our reaction it to is going to be, and also there's just a really different attitude towards the divisions and fractures and the middle east that exist in american politics because of that really rock-hard support for israel across the
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political speck truck. -- political spectrum. there have been some fraying that is interesting and we can talk about it separately. democratic party, about our at tattooed and talking about 2016 that is a republican story. although it was hillary clinton when she was secretary of state who teamed up back door outside with david petraeus and worked and lobbied president obama unsuccessfully at that time to do more both to support the syrian opposition and to intervene in a way that obama has never been willing to do and that actually -- my final point, right just to the question of, did obama design the syria policy that the american public wants? it may well be he did so but the american public would probably disapprove of itself if it was president. [laughter] >> if i may just -- on this issue, because -- the consequences for the american elections and particularly the republican-democrat divide on
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foreign policy, which is striking across the board. ali certainly believes that foreign policy will be a major issue in the campaign. and not because it is for a lot of americans. it is because i think the president is relatively popular on other issues, and if the economy continues to do it, his numbers are not very good on foreign policy, and that's going to be one that will be picked on by the republican side. but that's going to change the dynamics because what we see is that while the republicans are somewhat divided on some of the issues, including the intervention using ground forces in the middle east, the gap between the grassroot republican party and the leadership in congress is not very wide. europe between the -- the gap between the grassroot democrats and leadership in congress is wider on foreign policy. in part because the democrats are player national politics and
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being on the offensive by the republicans. so it is going to be a interesting to see how this plays out in the primaries particularly the democratic party but also the republican party's. but the final point i want to make, you suggested or e.j. suggested the policy syria was calibrated to fit with the public sense and the ambivalence. i think even the iran policy is calibrated that way because one thing that comes out of this poll is because since the public sees isis as the threat, it lowered the iranian threat. and it gives the president the insinuation that iraq would be helpful in dealing with isis, it
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helps the president because that is more republican as. in some ways -- is where the public is. it pleased to the sentiment of the party and the national priorities including republican. >> my hunch is that the policy, i seem to have sent this, sa -- said this, i think he won the election because the ambivalence he feels is similar to the public. that is a policy very support. >> reason for everything thing they do not think is going to do anything. quite they do not think the other thing will work either.
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what's i have to say as somebody who worked in the first term -- >> i have to say is someone who worked in the first room that this is deeply ingrained into glutamic with the president and it is partly in iraq handover but partly deeper than that which is a keen sense of the limitations of american capacity to accomplish things particularly but not only using force in the world. that we tried. we may have good intentions and sink resources but it is often and mostly doesn't work. and i would stress over and over again that while i was in the administration and since i have left, the sense of incapacity and the way that that constrains willingness to attack. this is not dare and dare
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greatly. it is also about a caricature that many in the mccain cap put out there post-vietnam and america is a bad actor. america is in the non-actor or what is not a very -- is a unified door but it is not a very -- benign actor but not a very capable cator. this has only been reinforced by what they are experienced in office and what the public is telling them. >> can i recast that? because i do not think the public ambivalence is stupid. i think the public ambulances --
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i know you did not say that but i think it is an intelligent ambivalence. i would recast the view a little bit it used to say that there are some things a competent power caps off achieve even if they put in vast numbers -- cannot achieve even if they put in vast numbers of resources. the circumstances on the ground are not in a situation where an american intervention lead to a happy result, when all of the resources and human beings we put in, we will not get the result we want. therefore a certain amount of caution is in order. that would be my sense of what the ambivalence view comes down to. >> fair enough. also in appreciation of how much more complicated the world is.
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some things are really hard. i want to get to one more point before i open it up to all of you. shipley, you mentioned in your opening presentation, on the right, there is an ideological continuity across issues whether it is israel/palestine, syria, and isis. can you help us understand what this constellation looks like? it is not neoconservatives it does not seem to be partisan. >> it is interesting because you see it in the democratic party and the republican party. on the middle east specifically, it is interesting what you get. on the republican side, the most intensely held views which are conservative, out of people who
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classify themselves as evangelical born-again, a significant portion nearly half, not a small group. a lot of these views, a worldview, comes out of that. why? it requires the analysis. -- dee analysisp. on foreign policy pretend to be an agreement. on the democratic side, there is a human rights community. i've tested it to see whether people who are expressing views on israel issues or syria issues are really doing it because they care about israel or because they care about american strategic interests. it turns out the number one concern for much of the constituency is human rights. there is a community or the
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reference point is not specific issues. what goes with that is a particular interpretation. it does not tell you if you should intervene or not because you can take it both ways i think there is a worldview multiple worldviews and each party. it would not be surprising that people are not analyzing the relationship between issues. is this good for iran or isis or assad? they have a propensity to answer a particular way because of the worldview. yes we can do it. so you have some people that actually feel these views and others that say we cannot do anything, forget it. what i am suggesting is that while we need to focus on what e.j. suggested the small
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segment that sways, we start with roughly entrenched views from a worldview and from analyzing strategic consequences and reaction. that is clear in my mind, that is why i suggested we should not jump to conclusions about cause and effect when we look at correlations in these results. >> great. but me open it up to questions at the floor. i will reiterate the house rules. wait until you are called, identify yourself, and one question. thank you very much and we will start over there. >> had come up for it -- te
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d, former u.s. ambassador to syria. i'm going to get to the question pretty quickly but too fair -- to paraphrase dick cheney before the iraq war even if there's a 1% chance or less that terrorists or iraq gets their hands on weapons of mass destruction we have to go all out. we have to make a 100% effort. and i wonder shibley if you had a question that would say something to this effect and what i'm getting at is a lot of americans seem to have an exaggerated fear of terrorism and isis and what could happen to them and their families and communities, but we keep sending the same people over and over again to fight a war that we say we can't win. so the question is if you had included in your survey how would you feel about this if the draft was reinstituted in somebody close to you was going to possibly be sent to fight this war that you are in favor of. how would you then feel about it? i would be interested in that.
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it seems to me it has become too easy for people of hawkish inclinations to say i'm a little concerned so i think we ought to go and send in the 82nd airborne. >> do you want to take take one time? >> why don't we take one more if you don't mind shibley and then we will come back. so in the third row here. yes. >> i am from the muslim public affairs council and the question is that in spite of the fact that it's mostly muslims in the case of kurds and iraqis and syrians fighting against isis there is sort of rumblings within certain sectors of the media here and in social media that muslims are somehow not do enough to counter isis so i'm wondering if you actually included that kind of information or probed for that within your survey and what your findings were. >> good, ok.
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shibley? >> let me start with ted's question which is a good one in highlighting the choices that people face and as i said in my opening remarks usually the more realistic the option is and immediate to them the more conservative they become undoubtedly. it doesn't have to be about the draft. as i said when you're given a hypothetical what if the airstrikes are not enough? would you support it, that's a theoretical yes. if tomorrow, as i suggested obama says that at work i'm -- that didn't work i'm going to send troops they are going to get fewer numbers of people who support so you have to keep that in mind. there's always a connectedness with the reality and yet let's also be realistic. the president asked them to strike syria from afar just by shooting missiles punitive and they said no. the president said i'm going to send my air force and some
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logistical support to iraq and syria for the first time and they supported it. so the public you know, they will sometimes support it but the question is what is the limit? it is not always -- and that wasn't just hypothetical. that was a real question. opposed to it -- opposed to it -- posed to it and on the second question i have been asked that question and i'm sure there are others who have. this is something certainly often that is debated so are muslims doing enough? i suspect regardless of whether they are doing or not doing enough you are going to get probably a large percentage of people who say probably not. i mean, i wouldn't think a majority but i would think he -- you would get a large number of people who would take that position just like a lot of people are worried they would be americans who would join. i would expect that. that obviously doesn't mean that's true. as you know there's a whole
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debate and all kinds of condemnations of this and even in france talking about quote we are not like the french and we are not obviously but the french , you know, when you look at the muslim french overwhelmingly they are moderate. most of them are secular and most of them don't want anything to do with religion like the rest of the french population. so the fact that you have these criminals who are conducting these awful attacks is not a representation. you can't lump it together. there is a problem obviously in some segments of the population that people are dealing with. objectively i think the question on where you place the emphasis and who is doing what in terms of fighting. but if you want to look for voices or condemnation you could look in egypt today to leaders across the arab and muslim
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countries to certainly community leaders including imams in various groups so you have condemnation. i don't think that's going to matter because those people who are carrying out these horrific attacks are only using religion as an instrument. they are killers and their aims are political and i think, i'm not sure that delegitimizing by the mainstream is necessarily going to be effective affected. >> well, it's interesting too the gap between i think the intelligence community both here and in europe, their understanding of the muslim communities within their borders and the percentage that are radicalized versus the vast majority who are opposed to such radicalization and the perception of the public. clearly there's a big gap there and jim hoagland i think had a wonderful piece in the post they came out this morning about the
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challenge the french government faces in responding to this because they are going to face contending pressures. it's very polarized. we have already seen a lot of strengthening of the very right-wing anti-islamic, anti-immigrant political forces inside france and inevitably , partly by design the guys who did this are stoking the growth of that sentiment. >> two quick points. one on the french and i'm not knocking the french. what i was saying is what i do think is the case in other words shibley i was talking about american muslims are not like french muslims, specifically what i meant was in class terms the class position of american than the class position of muslims in france and francis
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has had a very large group of relatively poor unemployed muslims to a degree that's not the case in american-muslim community. and this gentleman's question which i do think the whole issue about the fact that we don't have a draft and few members of congress have sons and daughters in the military very few is -- there are a few is important. but i didn't read this poll is terribly hawkish and even on the question we must intervene at the level necessary to defeat isis the alternative was worded very strongly in the way to put people into that with the u.s. should stay out of the conflict with isis which got 39%. i think a lot of people may have drifted to the more hawkish answer because their view is we stay out -- shouldn't stay out
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but we still don't want to send ground troops. i saw a certain determination about ices but not a really hawkish result. >> interesting though that 39% is higher than you get on the chicago councils broad question of should the u.s., is it better for the u.s. to be involved in world affairs or to stay out of world world affairs? i think their latest result was about one third said stay out. so susan. >> the 7% majority. >> we can know ahead. -- go ahead. >> why do we take a couple more. over here in the front. >> thanks very much. i am derek mitchell and i write "the mitchell report." shibley when i listen to the results of your work i'm struck by the ditinction and it makes me think about the distinction between what people think as a response in a survey as
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opposed to how they think about the questions you pose. and i am thinking back to the first of these two sessions the israeli palestinians conflict when you spoke about one of the ways to distinguish is the people, predominantly democrats who look at this very human rights lens, and the people who look at it in a very national interest lens. if the glasses you wear human interest glasses you saw the israeli-palestinian situation, you tended to see the one light and if you were at the national interest glasses you saw it in another light. i guess my question is and e.j. has touched on it is there such
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a factor at work in these questions about isis and syria if not literally human rights in u.s. interest? is there some other way that people think about this issue that determines what their responses to your questions have been? >> we will take a second question over on this side. in the yellow sweater. >> i'm harlan a. i am a recovering realists. [laughter] >> aren't we all? >> in terms of an observation that we have been unsuccessful in two wars in large measure i would argue because we have had to does -- two presidents who are inexperienced and not competent to start them in to finish wars and during world war ii we had propaganda against a foe that deserved it. during the cold war we weren't
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bad but the question i want to pose to you is for secretaries of state without affect why we have not had a good counter narrative to destroy the credibility of al qaeda isis in these horrible movements by rallying the muslim world and maybe to get king abdullah from saudi arabia to say this is not good. why have we been unable to do that? >> ok, thank you. susan do want to start off on that? >> i can't speak to an internal saudi public opinion but i think you have to say these guys when it comes to american public opinion are certainly effective american propagandists frankly. chopping peoples heads off on video has given them pretty low approval ratings when it comes to not only the united states bought, i am sure, american muslims. somebody said to me last fall when this escalation was occurring they are not only triggered obama to do something
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that he was extremely reluctant to do but they are almost like a caricature of the perfect dream villa and -- billing -- villain when it comes to american politics. i am not entirely sure in the american political context that they haven't been pretty effective propagandists themselves for their own cause. >> of course that's a self-fulfilling prophecy because it they bring down our wrap, if -- our wrath, if they could actually get the united states to re-indeva iraq that would be -- re-invade iraq that would be their dream. >> i think a bigger part of the framing we haven't talked a lot about today that i would throw in there he started to get into it before we went to the questions which is the historical context. is it really about where americans are right now in terms of their use of american power and american foreign policy or does this poll reflects a very correct historical assessment that most american interventions
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or any interventions in middle eastern politics are likely to fail. it seems to me the same way that one could reasonably look at restarting negotiations for peace talks among the israelis and palestinians that the odds are extremely odd that they won't succeed. you don't need to have a lot of additional information. i do just wonder if the poll tells us more about a sensible conclusion based on their available knowledge that this policy is not likely to affect things very much one way or the other rather than being a real snapshot of these americans are actually foreign-policy realists at heart. >> shibley i want to ask you to draw on the earlier polling that you have done across the arab world and of course we have a lot of data from gallup and others, broader sentiment in muslim majority countries around the world toward islamist extremism.
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so what do we know and what do we know about that counternarrative maybe not driven by the u.s. government but maybe driven by others? >> that is a really good question, and i will quickly address the earlier questions and the worldview issue is something that needs to be probed. that's something i would start with because they think there's something always there that is just covered when you focus on the issues and to look at these packages. and it goes down to, it relates also to what gary asked about. what is the prism through which democrats or republicans view these issues or at least the american public and obviously there are multiple prism. i just want to know one thing on the poll you refer to you are right about the democrats mostly sikh human rights and the palestine question most of the people through a human rights
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prism. but the republicans don't see it through u.s. interest prism media. they see it through to prisons. -- two prisms. one is also human rights by the way particularly evangelicals but the evangelicals see if there are religious lens. on that one they are the only community in the poll that had a strong feeling about their position religiously mowed and there will be more dull -- analysis of the data and further demographics as we have done in the past but i would suggest if you look here just at the democrats and republicans alone it tells you there something of a worldview that you have to analyze. just by looking at the differences on some critical issues. now going back to tomorrow's --tamara's questions about
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attitudes in the muslim world of course we have been doing that. i've been doing polling for a dozen years in their countries on multiple issues including attitudes towards extremism and al qaeda. we have asked many questions originated by al qaeda specifically and there is something to be learned here. initially when we probe about the last decade and a half certainly after 9/11 what we find is that most people when you ask them what it is about, what aspect of al qaeda do you admire the most of any and so -- if any. and so the number one answer during that decade is the fact that they stand up to the united states. number two championing causes like the arab-israeli issue. those have said that they endorsed its agenda of the puritanical taliban like state were always a very small minority that ranged from four -- 4% to 10% and there were no variations. so was by and large enemy by enemy. -- enemy of my enemy. that's not necessarily the case for people who joined. remember we are talking about public attitudes and the broader
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community, not about why do people join. that's a different story but of those attitudes and the public in general it was the enemy. the interesting thing about isis is while it is, of course it is derived from al qaeda. if you look at al qaeda and iraq there's a link, and ideological link but here's the interesting thing. when isis initially emerged is -- it said unlike al qaeda my first aim is not america and was tapping into something really interesting. first in iraq and syria, you had sunni communities that were unhappy with the ruling governments in both places but more importantly the fact that you had an arab spring of people wanting to get rid of regimes that have obviously stalled and the regimes were fighting back. so they were tapping into something that was different from al qaeda's issues. wishes they were angry with
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america. -- which is they were angry with america. they were tapping into people who were angry with regimes and by and large it wasn't their operational priority. and now it's different. >> it is conflated. >> so now the interesting thing, the minute you go in and you intervene do you make it about america and todo you play into their hands of people that were reluctant to support them but still may be angry with america? i still think one of the things is working it gives them his al qaeda seem to be remote, insignificant, america centric organization that had no chance of ruling over them. with isis it's too close to home. an overwhelming majority of people in the arab world would never want something like isis to rule. and that threat is probably the one that is deflecting a little bit with the united states in the fight against isis. >> garrett always asked the most philosophical and interesting questions and i'm going to
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answer with an parents -- im pirics -- empirics. i was struck on the issue of what are the roots of opinions on isis. it seems to me shibley's poll presents three groups. the largest groups are simply americans who fear it is an extension of al qaeda and americans want to fight against a terrorist threat. that's 43% but then 33% gave a kind of human rights answer, most troubled by isis' roofless -- roofless behavior -- roofless uthless behavior and intolerance. then what foreign-policy types tend to worry about isis could threat our most vital interest 16% are threaten allies in the region, 7% so the smallest number are the people who think like foreign-policy specialists which conclude we are a nation of moralists or protect our own
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shores jacksonians who tend to be governed by realists. [laughter] >> that is a fascinating point. i have to add one note on the question of public opinion in muslim majority countries when it comes to the extremists and isis and al qaeda have us at a real disadvantage here. we have to recognize even that even if the vast majority of these populations rejects them rejects the ideology, rejects their goals, rejects the idea that they might rule over them in the horrific manner they are ruling over the territory they have conquered they don't need a majority of these populations to be successful. and they certainly don't need a majority of these populations to do what these three guys did in paris yesterday. they need a tiny, tiny french. -- fredinge. that is the essence of what makes this counterterrorism struggle so hard.
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you can do a lot on a counternarrative. you can do a lot on enabling environment but you really don't need that many people to be a successful terrorist group. >> good point. >> and that's a tough reality with which we have to reckon. i apologize, ladies and gentlemen. you have been fantastic but we have run out of time. i want to thank you all for coming, thank you susan and e.j. and shibley for a fantastic conversation with we will be continuing in the weeks and months to come area thank you c --ome./ thank you. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] >> tonight on c-span, "q&a" with dick lehr, followed by david
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cameron. and the errors unity rally in response to the terrorist >> this week on "q&a," our guest is dick lehr author of "the birth of a nation: how a legendary filmmaker and a crusading editor reignited america's civil war." >> dick lehr, in a recent washington post review, the gentleman rose it starts off this way -- no red-blooded america would've favor censoring works of art. while reading dick lehr's book, you may find yourself rooting for that with a


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