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tv   Discussion Focuses on U.S. Policy Toward Russia  CSPAN  February 12, 2017 9:46pm-11:01pm EST

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washington this week after spending the weekend in florida with the japanese prime minister. in the weeks ahead, he will have more meetings with foreign leaders at the white house. trudeau is thein first to visit. the presidenteek, will welcome is really prime minister, benjamin netanyahu. it will be the first time that the two leaders meet face-to-face and the nine thetion -- since inauguration. unfoldsn, where history daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. future policyk at on russia and ukraine. a formerinclude
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secretary of the bush administration and senator murphy. from the carnegie endowment on international peace, this is just over one hour. afternoon,good everyone. my name is bill burns. i'm the president of the carnegie endowment for international peace. i'm pleased to welcome all of you to today's event. thank the terrific members of this bipartisan task force for sharing their time, ideas, and expertise. in particular, i want to thank senator chris murphy and my former boss and role model, richard armitage, for cochairing the task force. daalder and the carnegie
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endowment for their support. i also want to thank andrea mitchell for joining today's discussion and her remarkable efforts over many years to help americans to understand the world and the role in it. last but not least, i went to congratulate my colleagues. you should be very proud of the work of the task force. i'm certainly proud to be your colleague. for the past quarter century, every new u.s. president has set out to make relations with russia better than what his predecessor left them. and despite their efforts, each left the white house with u.s.-russian relations at a new post-cold war low. in the lead-up to the 2016 elections and with another sharp downturn in the bilateral relationship, the task force came together to draw lessons from the past, to provide a clear-eyed assessment of where we are today and to try to offer
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some realistic principles to help guide american policy. the task force certainly benefited from the diverse expertise and experience of its members, a series of commissioned white papers on political, security, economic and other issues, and a wide range of voices and perspectives from across the region. the reality is that our relationship with russia will remain competitive and often adversarial for the foreseeable future. we can't have any illusions about that. but being realistic is very different from being fatalist. russia is still too big, proud and influential to ignore. it is still the only nuclear power comparable to the united states and it remains a major player on problems from the arctic to iran and syria and north korea. the question is not whether to engage russia, but how, on what
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and toward what end? the principles offered in this report try to answer those questions. if you're looking for a neat formula you'll be disappointed. if you're looking for a realistic, practical framework to manage a difficult, but critical relationship, this is the report for you. so let me thank all of you once again and all of our panelists for being here today. and let me take my seat so we can begin today's conversation. thank you all very much. [applause] ms. mitchell: well, thank you, secretary burns. i want to just say thank you all for being here, congratulate carnegie for this report, this bipartisan report. it is posted, it's available to all of you. we are going to take off from it, but i really urge all of you to read it and study it. i see some of my mentors here as well, marvin kalb and other of my colleagues, former colleagues, and it's a privilege for me to be trying to
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facilitate this conversation. first, senator murphy, let me ask you, if you look at this report and if you look at what has been happening in the last 21 days, president trump is building expectations, both during the campaign and certainly since he took office, about recasting the u.s.-russian relationship. this report says that the new administration should stop feeding expectations and focus instead on managing the relationship, a relationship that is going to remain largely competitive and adversarial. could you take off from that and your expectations, your advice on how the u.s. can manage this relationship and whether the president's approach is feeding false expectations? well, andrea, thank you very -- senator murphy: well, andrea, thank you very much for the question. and let me add my thanks to the staff at carnegie who did just a fantastic job of facilitating a group of very strong personalities around the table and put together a report that i
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think is going to be what i hope will act as a foundation for bipartisan consensus which has always existed underneath the political furor of the last 21 days. and let me thank ambassador burns for asking me to be a part of it. you know, to be around the table with a lot of my heroes on foreign relations and international affairs was just an absolute treat. you know, we had a hearing today in the foreign relations committee on the future of u.s.-russia relations and i described it to my colleagues up on the dais before we can onstage as really a love fest. it was republicans and democrats agreeing i think on the broad parameters that we laid out in this report, which is to understand this relationship in the context of the moment, to find compartmentalized areas of agreement, whether it be holding to the iran nuclear agreement, working on counterterrorism, trying to remain committed to nonproliferation, and then understanding the places in
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which we are not likely going to have agreement, and should we find it it would actually be counterproductive to u.s. national security and the maintenance of international norms, so the future of eastern ukraine and crimea as the primary example, syria obviously at the top of the list as well. and so i think what we're recommending to the trump administration is to understand that this relationship is as complicated as it gets, that you have to find those areas of agreement. and then in order to be a real world leader, you also need to refuse agreement on places where there is no common ground. right? there is no way to recast a new relationship with russia that involves us giving up eastern ukraine, if it involves us conceding to the russian occupation of crimea.
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there is no realistic path to cooperate militarily with russia in syria. their objectives are not the same as ours. they may tell you at the table that they want to tackle terrorism, but in the end they want assad gone first, second, third, they want to maintain bashar al-assad in power first, second, third and fourth, and they will do anything, including military activities resulting in massive civilian casualties, to get there, which harms our end goal of trying to limit the pathways to extremism for sunni populations. so, you know, i think you'll find republicans and democrats in support of our report's recommendations. and, you know, we're going to try to stand together on the foreign relations committee as much as possible so that we can perhaps create a little bit more reasonable, nuanced landing place for the administration. ms. mitchell: rich armitage, what are the prospects of
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working with russia, for instance, against isis, as vice president pence said this weekend in television interviews, when, by all accounts, russia's, just to follow up on what the senator said, russia's targets are the anti-assad rebels, not isis targets? mr. armitage: well, i think the prospects for cooperation on isis are less than the trump administration may suspect, first of all. it is true that russia also has a problem catching terrorists. they had it historically. but i don't think that in itself is enough to guarantee any long-term cooperation. you correctly point out what's going on in syria and the russian support of mr. assad and the iranians is directly counter to what we want to bring about, et cetera. so i think it's very limited prospects for much cooperation. i've heard talk that the administration and mr. trump wants to actually separate out russia from china, for instance, and get them to join us fully in this war on terrorism. i don't know if that's doable, first of all. i don't know if it's achievable at all.
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i don't even know if it's wise to be talking like that. ms. mitchell: ambassador burns, let me ask you, if you are sitting in moscow, if you're in the kremlin, you're vladimir putin, how are you sizing up the new american president? mr. burns: i mean, i guess i'd see a pretty target-rich environment right now. [laughter] in the sense that, you know, i think what president putin has sought for a long time is a sphere of influence, you know, which, you know, basically tries to ensure, for example with regard to ukraine, that if any russian leadership can't have what is its first preference, which is a deferential then, the next best thing is a dysfunctional ukraine. and so, you know, i think as
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putin looks at possibilities in eastern europe, he sees a chance in which he can, you know, further accelerate the fragmentation of the european union, build further doubts on the part of nato members, especially those further east, and contribute to a situation in which the prospects of a healthy ukraine, politically and economically, are pretty distant. and if he can get an american administration to kind of indirectly buy into that by offering up what i think is largely the illusion of partnership with regard to isis and with regard to this idea of, you know, joining forces and continuing with china, then from his point of view that's a pretty good trade. but i just think we have to be very careful to see through some of those kind of superficially attractive propositions and see the reality that i think, from mr. putin's point of view, he has no interest in sacrificing a relationship with china which matters to him, nor does he have a lot to bring to the table with regard to, you know, a serious struggle against isis, in part because, you know, over the
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course of especially the last year, year-and-a-half, he's managed to alienate most of the 70 percent of the population of syria that's there. that's going to continue to create fertile soil for sunni extremism, whether it's isis or some other acronym. ms. mitchell: and putin's motivation here? is the primary motivation the sanctions? ivo daalder, if you could speak to that. is he trying to get sanctions relief first on the ukraine sanctions and more recently on the hacking sanctions? but the report does address this and says that any easing of the most recent sanctions for interference in the u.s. election would, quote, "signal to moscow that there is little cost or consequence to such actions, thereby rewarding bad behavior."
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mr. daalder: well, i think his primary motivation is to express russian interests and the interests of russia are in weakening the united states, weakening the unity of the alliance, weakening the forces of resistance to his power and interest, first and foremost, in europe, but the united states is a key element on that. and sanctions may be a tool because the administration has put on the table the possibility of sanction relief as a way to do that, to have a conversation that says if you do sanction relief for us, we will do something, like work with you on isis, for you. and in the meantime, leaving the europeans who have, in the case of chancellor merkel and others, have paid a big political price to keep these sanctions in place, many of them because we have argued that this important, leaving the europeans sort of stranded and by themselves, which is exactly what putin is trying to do. he is trying to make sure that the powers that are arrayed against him are divided and weakened. that's what the russians were trying to do for the last 40-plus years during the cold war and we're back into that
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same game. the difficulty we now have is that the president seems to be more interested in having a good relationship with russia than having a good relationship with the allies that used to stand against them. ms. mitchell: and in fact, to pick up on what you just alluded to, senator murphy, there was a comment by the vice president over the weekend that there could be a tradeoff here. if they would cooperate with us against isis, we could look at sanctions relief. how would congress react to that? senator murphy: well, you know, i don't think congress reacts terribly favorably. but let's be honest, the checks and balances that work pretty well for domestic policy don't work as well when it comes to foreign policy. the trump administration does have, you know, a degree of latitude, and it will require some pretty serious bipartisan cooperation to take from the president some of those prerogatives. and i think the problem with this trade that has been sort of long talked about and now
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articulated by the administration is twofold. you know, one, you know, there is a history of our ability to work with russia when our interests are aligned. they have done what we have expected them to do, kept their word when our interests and their interests are together, you know, like counterterrorism operations, iran nuclear agreement negotiations on that list. but in any other instance where we have thought we had a trade whereby we were doing something for them and they were doing something for us, they never kept to their word. most recently when we thought we had an agreement with them on military operations inside syria, they kept to that for a handful of hours and then they were right back to bombing civilian populations. and so, you know, i think, a, they are not going to be responsible about the conduct of operations inside syria, and, b, even if you thought you had that kind of arrangement in principle, experience tells you that they'll stick to that for, you know, only about as long as it takes for them to walk out of the room. ms. mitchell: yeah, please.
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i wanted to ask you to follow up on this. mr. armitage: i'm maybe a little out of step with some of my colleagues. i think that the sanctions, such as they are, were less effective than the drop in the oil price. and both of those together have decremented the economy of russia to a certain degree and mr. putin has weathered it. mr. obama can say their economy is in tatters and it's not great, but they weathered it. and so i think the sanctions are more by mr. putin, or relief from the sanctions, as a tool to further ensconce himself with the europeans who would be kind of keen to get out of sanctions themselves, i think. you know, we talk a lot or mr. pence seemed to be talking about a deal, you help us here and we may reduce the sanctions a little bit. we make the point in our report that a deal at any price is not worth it. i think we need to keep that in mind. ms. mitchell: i just wanted to recap. maybe you can give me your perspective also. i remember being in the u.n. a year and some months ago and there was a putin-obama meeting.
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and 24 or 36 hours after that meeting on syria, they started, russian airpower went into syria without any warning, despite the fact that they had been in a room together. i was standing next to the secretary of state in a morning television interview when it all began. and he was learning about it at the same time as i was. so did anything that the previous do lead to putin feeling that he could exercise that kind of unilateralism? or is this his m.o.? mr. armitage: no. i think first of all we have to recognize dealing with mr. putin is dealing with a fellow who is cunning, who is smart, who can be very quick and very agile, much quicker and more agile than we can be. he doesn't have -- he's not tied by the bureaucratic system that we're tied to. in fact, he's not even tied to the old soviet bureaucratic
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system, so he can be quick. he's making cold calculations of his national security. did the red line, which turned to a pink line and a white line in syria, encourage him? i'd say probably, probably, but i think mr. putin is simply making cold calculations as what he sees is in his national interest. and using airpower at that time and applying power and supporting the assad regime he saw as in his interest. and by the way, i think the majority of russian citizens saw it the way he saw it. ms. mitchell: there is a growing concern around the world that this new administration is not as committed to nato and other multilateral institutions as decades of bipartisan policies. ivo daalder, can you speak to that? i mean, what have we seen since the administration took over and they now have their national security team, at least at the cabinet level, not at the sub-cabinet level, in place? what have we seen to indicate that perhaps there is a rethinking of that? perhaps nikki haley's opening comments at the security council?
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is there a reordering? mr. daalder: well, i think with regard to nato, the kind of statements we've heard, both during the confirmation hearings from secretary mattis and secretary tillerson, very strong statements on nato. earlier this week, the president finally, actually uttered the words that he strongly supports nato, which his important. it's one thing when it's in the statement, it's another thing when it comes out of his mouth. but the worry in europe is not that nato is going to fall apart tomorrow. the worry is the question, where does the priority lie of europe vis-a-vis russia? and the signals from the pence interviews over the weekend, from the readouts that we have gotten, the official readouts from conversations with poroshenko, with putin and others, is that the relationship with russia seems to be the most important relationship when it comes to europe. it's more important than the
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relationship with the european union for sure. it's not even clear that nato is going to be as central in that relationship, at least in the signaling that they're getting. and, you know, europeans are needy people. i'm one of them. i know how that goes. and allies, particularly when they're dependent on the security on someone else, are very needy. and we have learned over the last 60-plus years to reassure our allies how important it is. and we can tell them not only do we love them, but we really love them a lot. and it's important that we do that. when that doesn't happen, you start getting statements like we got from the polish -- that the president of the european council, which put the united states on a par with russia and china as the threats to europe. that's new. and when you get that kind of statement, it is important that the reassurance mission, telling the europeans that we do care about them, we do care about the security, is important.
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and the munich security conference next week may be an opportunity, which the vice president is going, secretary of defense is going, as i understand, the national security adviser is going. that's a good, strong u.s. representation to start making that message clear and doing it in a way that says we don't trust russia, but we are your friend and ally. ms. mitchell: how important is it that, at least according to the readout, in the conversation with putin the president didn't seem to mention ukraine? mr. daalder: well, i think that's a deeply troubling development. the only time when he talks about ukraine, it's about this border dispute that there seems to be or that we need to have peace on both sides of the border. the problem is not that there's no peace on both sides of the border, the problem is that russia has invaded and annexed part of ukraine and continues to be actively involved in trying to either take or at least upset part of the ukrainian territory. it is a violation of international law. it's a violation of an agreement that we signed with the russians
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in 1994, the budapest memorandum. and it would be good if the president, the vice president, the secretary of state, secretary of defense worked to remind the american people and hopefully themselves that we have sanctions in place and we oppose this and we want to see this rectified. senator murphy: you're seeing the consequence of this muddle policy on ukraine play out in real time, right? i don't think it's coincidental that, you know, literally within hours or days of that phone call you had the russian-backed insurgents started to march again in eastern ukraine. very little attention has been paid to what has been happening in the balkans since the election, but the russians are starting to feel much more confident in their ability to push into bosnia, to play games with republika serbska, to try to make new offers of alliance with belgrade. you know, they are feeling that they can push without any pushback.
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and it's just a reminder of the fact that every day that this question still lingers about whether we are committed to protecting and defending ukraine, whether we are committed to helping the western balkans to a pathway to europe and to nato, russia moves and moves and moves and moves, and at some point it may be too late to pull all of this back. so, you know, this is -- i think, you know, we tried to get our report out as quickly as possible because, you know, if this question and this doubt lingers, the changes that are happening may be too hard to unwind. and there's a report today from -- ms. mitchell: and there's a report today from reuters that i have not confirmed and nbc has not confirmed that from a partial transcript of this conversation, the putin-trump conversation, that putin wanted to extend new start and trump responded by first asking what
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is that and asking his aides and then saying that it was a terrible deal and that it should never have been negotiated and never have been negotiated and that we should get rid of it. senator, i don't know what the indications of that are, but there's a lot packed into that. senator murphy: yeah. no, there is a lot packed into that. [laughter] ms. mitchell: and i should predicate this, i'm asking you a question about a report that we have not confirmed. senator murphy: well, i just -- it's a reminder. i guess the only thing, you know, i can take from it because i, you know, don't know the veracity of that report either, is that we're going to try to find a lot of consolation in the statements of people that are not president trump. we are going to try to make ourselves feel that it's ok because nikki haley says something positive about crimea or mike pence gives a really great speech at munich next weekend, and that's important. but it pales in comparison to the statements that the president of the united states makes, right?
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nikki haley's statement at the u.n. was virtually rendered meaningless by the statement two days later of donald trump during the super bowl in which he raised major questions as to whether russia is actually even involved in eastern ukraine. and any statement that is given at the munich security conference can be canceled out by another conversation with vladimir putin in which we start walking back from our nuclear disarmament commitment. so it's just another reminder that we've got to make sure that the president gets it right on this, not just his advisers. ms. mitchell: rich armitage, senator murphy brought up that conversation with bill o'reilly during the super bowl interview when the president seemed to -- made a moral equivalency between past u.s. foreign policy behaviors and what russia does.
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he said he respected his russian counterpart and, quote, "there are a lot of killers who think our country is so innocent." what was your reaction to that? mr. armitage: my reaction was that that was an eight-letter word. [laughter] nonsense. to have an american president suggest that there's moral equivalence between the united states and russian federation is absurd and it should not be allowed to stand. and i would say no american should let it go unremarked upon and no member of congress should let it go unremarked upon. if i may. there was an implication on your comments about the new start, if it's a true story from reuters
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and if the president then did tweet that there was a terrible agreement. what he really means is any agreement that he didn't negotiate is, by definition, a terrible agreement. that's the -- he did that with mr. turnbull of australia. and apparently, since he didn't negotiate the new start, that's a terrible agreement, too. mr. daalder: so i think it gives real question to all these things that ivo and others have been talking about. our affection for the helsinki accords, for the charter of paris, et cetera, are those terrible agreements because he didn't negotiate them? and there's a bigger challenge here, too, which is the kind of over-personalization of relationships and, you know, foreign policy to the notion
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that the key to the art of the deal is kind of one big guy sitting across the table from another big guy. and, of course, that's personal relationships matter enormously, especially when you're dealing with an autocrat like vladimir putin. but, you know, you have to get the sequence and steps right. you know, there's a phrase that lots of american political leaders always use about remember your base. well, as ivo was suggesting before, that's crucial on foreign policy. our base is our alliances and our partners around the world. by comparison to the united states, russia and china are relatively lonely powers. they don't have that alliance system to fall back on. so it's essential to reassure our allies about our sense of purpose. and then in dealing with mr. putin, i think, and i'm all for engaging him to try to identify, you know, those areas of common ground that cold-bloodedly exist and be equally hard-nosed about areas of difference, but to engage in that step-by-step so that when two leaders meet a lot of the ground has been prepared. ms. mitchell: there are now reports that the french election might be being interfered in. germany's election is coming up. czechoslovakia has had issues. when are we going to see any commitment to investigate the hacking? senator murphy: well, i mean,
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there has been an effort to investigate the hacking. the american intelligence community, you know, made a very clear and definitive finding that the russians had methodically and planfully tried to disrupt the election in favor of donald trump. now, i think the fact that trump politicized that by attacking that finding relentlessly for weeks necessitates republicans and democrats in congress coming together and making our own finding. that's why many of us have been supportive of this bipartisan panel that would, i imagine in the end, confirm the findings of the intelligence community based upon an examination of similar evidence and then perhaps make recommendations about what to do next. and we are very discouraged that week after week goes by and that panel, that effort has not been convened. a lot of us wonder if this is just an effort to delay and delay and delay until no one's interested in this any longer. but this is, of course, relevant to what will happen in europe or what the russians may try to do. if they feel like they largely
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got away with it in the united states without, a, any consequences or, b, any real fulsome political debate, then it makes it much more likely that they'll try the same thing perhaps successfully. and, you know, you think it's bad now, just imagine what this would be like without chancellor merkel, with much more friendly russian governments installed in other capitals throughout europe so, yeah, we need to get this right, but our worry is that every day and week that goes on without some bipartisan consensus around how we proceed is a message to russia that they should just keep at it. ms. mitchell: and it's not just those of us on the outside who have noticed no action. i have not seen that the intelligence committee has convened or started addressing this. senator murphy: i mean, both intelligence committees, you know, reportedly have started to engage in these investigations. but they'll all happen behind closed doors. there will be no public accountability of what doors they choose to try to open and what they don't. you ultimately need the committees of cognizance, like the foreign relations committee and the armed services committee, to do work in an open setting.
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and, you know, senator corker, the chairman of my committee, has committed to do that, but, you know, the hour is getting pretty late before it is, you know, pretty hard to pick up a trail that is growing cold by the hour. ms. mitchell: there has been talk before, as the people in this new administration would point out, talk before of a reset with russia by the previous administration and the previous administration to that. the reports states that rather than pursuing a new reset, the incoming u.s. administration should try to break out of this boom-and-bust pattern by focusing on careful management of deep-seated differences with moscow. rich armitage, how do you do that? mr. armitage: well, we suggest you do it by concentrating on managing your way through these problems, by judging yourself on how well or how poorly you manage these problems. every president since bush 41 has started on a real high with the russian federation and then had their hopes dashed, bush 43
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will tell you and mr. obama with the famous reset. so rather than gimmicky resets or something of that nature, we suggest the careful management, recognition of our differences, recognition that these are huge differences. our narrative about the russian federation and their narrative about us are completely opposite and we have to understand that. that being the case, we have to manage where we can, take care of those critical issues, particularly ones involving cyber as senator murphy mentioned, particularly ones involving military. and we've got to carefully manage our relationship with ukraine. we've got to base all of this management on principles. they're not principles that are unknown to anyone in this room, but we just restate them because we're aware that we have several audiences. it's not just the 300-or-so of you who are here and it's not just the russian federation and it's not just the congress. it's the american people, it's
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nato, it's our european friends, the people who cheek-by- jowl with the russian federation. so we've got a lot of targets that we tried to hit with this report. ms. mitchell: secretary tillerson during his confirmation said that if there continues to be aggression in ukraine that we should consider a more robust policy. it's not clear, maybe to you, senator murphy, from that hearing what he means by that. but could he mean u.s. arming of the rebels? senator murphy: well, secretary tillerson's comments in that hearing, which he also made behind closed doors to many of us, were interesting. he said that had they been in charge they would have marched the ukrainian army right up to the border immediately upon the taking of crimea and provided it with some level of major american support. that's a curious statement, a, because the ukrainian army was not in a position at the time to be able to credibly defend that border, and, b, it suggests that they would have provided some
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level of security guarantee to the army had they made that move, which would, you know, which would have been very complicated and confusing given the status of the army at the time. so, you know, tillerson has talked a tough game here. but again, it sort of stands in direct contrast to the way that his president has talked. and, you know, that is sending these unbelievably confusing messages to our allies that, you know, may continue to be compounded as his cabinet tries to make up for his weakness on russia with very strong-sounding statements that just end up creating a big sort of confusing mess. ms. mitchell: bill burns, from your recent experiences, can you describe the process as we see this cabinet evolving and the national security cabinet debate over the memo on how the principles committee should be structured, the importance of having the state department at
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the deputy or principal level weighing in on some of these decisions, the importance of having state and defense and homeland weighing in on the executive order on immigration? well, i mean, i'd be the last -- mr. burns: well, i mean, i'd be the last person to argue that, you know, sort of career people in these institutions wisdom. but there's a lot of experience there, not only in the formulation of policy or the making of policy choices, but especially in the execution of policy that makes a lot of sense to pay attention to. and i think the immigration executive order and the kind of chaos that flowed from that decision, which in itself, i think, was un-american and strategically deeply counterproductive, but then the chaos in its implementation reflected the fact that there
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didn't seem to be any kind of thorough, systematic process to think through, you know, how you took steps a, b and c and what were the second and third-order consequences. so that was a pretty graphic illustration, i think, of the problem. ms. mitchell: how much of this flows from the national security adviser? how much does it potentially flow from the outside's influence of a top strategist like mr. bannon? mr. burns: well, i mean, i think, you know, the best processes that i've seen over the years are one where people understand their roles. where the president, for example president bush 43, who was experienced in foreign policy, knew how a system should work, you know, put in place a system of brent scowcroft as national security adviser and a range of principals who understood their roles. they debated with one another, they disagreed with one another, but it was as systematic a process and i've seen. you know, they were dealing with some of the most consequential events we've seen in the last -- that's, you know, not every system is going to be ideal, but that's the way the system should
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work, it seems to me. ms. mitchell: ivo, we talked about europe and the allies and levels of uncertainty. we've seen also after brexit and after the election in our country a populist rebellion, nationalist influences in a number of countries. how does that influence our reactions and what the allies are struggling with? mr. daalder: it's a very important question in two folds. one, there is a russian element in here. russians have, for quite a long time, been supportive of populist, nationalist movements throughout europe in the east, in the south and in western europe. they financed some of those movements. the have loaned money to national front and a whole variety of other ways in which the russians are playing to weaken the fundamental bases of the democracies in these countries. but importantly, the populist
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movement not only won brexit in the u.k., but it now also won an election here in the united states and we are seeing from mr. bannon and others the kind of support coming out for populist movements in france, not yet in germany, the populist movements aren't that strong in germany, but in the netherlands and in parts of eastern europe where the established governments are asking the question, well, whose side are you on? are you on the side of the governments that have long been part of the nato alliance, of the european union and has been part of an american policy to have a strong, united europe? or are you on the side of those who want to undermine the european union, who would like to see a weaker europe, who would like to see countries like france to withdraw from the european union, if not from nato itself? and that creates a deep disquiet, i think, in many european countries about, where is the united states, not only with regard to russia, but,
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frankly, with regard to themselves and the european union? and again, it's not just statements during the campaign. these have been statements in the last few weeks from the president himself and times where he attacked the european union and the chancellor and since then from people inside the white house. so there is a disquiet in europe about, where is the united states? they're not talking about a post-american europe. we haven't had a post-american europe since 1941 and before that; that wasn't a very pleasant time in european history. ms. mitchell: speaking of 1941 and the decade that preceded it, how does the slogan "america first" resonate in europe? well, i'm from chicago. and the "america first" movement was very strong in that part at mr. daalder: well, i'm from
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chicago. and the "america first" movement was very strong in that part at the time, so we remember it well. i mean, again, there's a disquiet. there's a disquiet about a united states that since, really, since 1942, but practically speaking since the late 1940s has been sort of the linchpin of european security, the linchpin of european prosperity, the linchpin of the european community. the european project is as much an american project as a european project and the united states is walking away from that. and the europeans are say, well, not only, what about us, but are you actually, actively opposing what we're trying to do? so it is a tough time. and "america first" seems to remind people that maybe we're going back to an american foreign policy with regard to europe, with regard to the rest of the world in which the centrality of alliances, particularly of the transatlantic alliance is less than it has ever been in the post-war history. ms. mitchell: rich armitage, do
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you want to comment on that? mr. armitage: no, i think that "america first" is understood differently in different parts of the world. in europe, just as ivo said here, i don't think most of our public has thought beyond "america first" must mean putting america's interests first. that's not quite what the meaning is, i don't think. you know, we've always been, in my view, americans have always been reluctant internationalists. but at the end of the day, we do come down on the side of being involved in the global good. i think and have to have faith in our population at the end of the day, after analyzing all the different options, this is where we'll come out. certainly, this is where our business community comes out. they realize we have to be part of the broader world. recently, our clergy has come out and started to realize that we have to be part of the broader world in terms of supporting immigration. so i think over time i think the better angels of our nature, to paraphrase mr. lincoln, will be shown. ms. mitchell: senator, the
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report says that the interests of russia cannot take precedence over the interests of russia's neighbors who are our allies. how do we play that out in u.s. policy if there's not a real commitment to that, an organic commitment by the president? senator murphy: yeah. well, and, you know, of course, you know, we're all very worried that what putin is going to ask for is this sphere of influence that we've been talking about and the sort of some vague commitments he will make on syria policy, that he'll get that sphere of influence. and that would, of course, be disastrous because it's not just about what would happen in the countries that right now are sort of teetering on the ability to be sovereign and independent or under russia's thumb. it's the message that it sends to, you know, other would-be hegemons, you know, the chinese and others who are sort of trying to figure out whether or not they can get that same sphere of influence and whether they'll get the same free pass. and, of course, it begs for congress some really important
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questions. you know, we've passed for the past few budgets this european reassurance initiative which is, you know, a pretty big package, $3 billion or so and forward deployment of u.s. forces. but if you really want to pay attention to these countries on russia's periphery that are, you know, making decisions about whether they're going to lean our way or whether they're going to lean into russia, you can't view this question only through a military lens, right? there has to be a diplomatic and energy policy, european reassurance initiative, right? you've got to offer them some real, tangible benefits to joining with europe and the west. you've got to help them become energy independent. you've got to help them work through anti-corruption programming. and so if we really want to be serious about helping those countries, then this isn't just about the trump administration. congress has to be serious about giving the administration tools beyond just the forward deployment of a couple of battalions. some real diplomatic energy, anti-corruption, rule-of-law tools to assist these countries
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in becoming stable and independent. it's not just on the president, it's on congress as well. it's not just on the president, it's on congress as well. ms. mitchell: bill, one of the things that we've learned from the russian hacking of our election and from what happened with previous hacking even of the state department computers and the white house computers in june of 2015 is that russia, from my reporting at least, is more sophisticated than china or any of the other state actors. how prepared are we to deal with that aspect with cyber in terms of counteracting the effects? >> yeah, not nearly well enough, i mean, is the short answer with regard to the challenge posed by russia, but also china and other
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places, too. you know, more than 16 years ago in the nuclear field at a moment when you had this hugely important new phenomenon, you had no rules of the road, we managed, along with the soviets and others, to basically build rules of the road, deterrence meant something. in that context, it's going to be infinitely harder to do with regard to cyber because in that era governments had a monopoly on this new phenomenon, and non-governments don't. there are a lot of nongovernmental players, too. but it's going to be a huge challenge. and i think the russian hacking in our elections is just the latest and most vivid reminder of that. so we have a lot more work to do in terms of cyber defenses of our infrastructure in this country. i think it was very important for president obama to do what he did in terms of sanctions and response to russian hacking. but i think we've got to try to create the circumstances in which you can have a more serious conversation over time with the russians, with the chinese, about those rules of the road. you know, what's out of bounds in terms of critical infrastructure? because otherwise, you know, lots of players around the world are going to be increasingly vulnerable. ms. mitchell: senator, one of the complaints from the white house continuously is that democrats have been slow-walking confirmations; therefore, they are not up to speed.
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i think any reporting would counteract that and say, well, the nsc positions are not confirmable positions and you're slow on that. some of my reporting is that a lot of this had to do with the firing of chris christie in the transition and so they started from scratch. but whatever reasons, they have an argument that there aren't deputies in place, that they don't have confirmed positions. how far behind do you think they are in terms of staffing the key positions at the state department and elsewhere? mr. murphy: well, you know, they're incredibly far behind. and, of course, they've compounded their problems by getting rid of career civil servants who could have remained and, you know, helped build a more functional relationship. the idea that tom countryman was taken off of a plane on his way to represent the united states abroad, you know, is outrageous, given the fact that, as we identify in our report, one of the few ways that we can actually have a functional relationship is on nonproliferation.
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we literally yanked our nonproliferation civil servants, career public servants, off the field, you know, made the problem even worse. they've compounded it by being very slow in filling positions that are non-confirmable and, you know, slow in sending us confirmable positions beyond the cabinet. you know, the rules are the rules in the senate. so, you know, for them to say that, you know, we are slow-walking this process, we are, you know, merely saying that, you know, we want to use the process in order to have a full debate on a cabinet that is, you know, pretty exceptional. i mean, when john kerry and hillary clinton were nominated to be secretaries of state, you had a pretty good idea of what their worldview was. you had a pretty good sense of what their qualifications were. you know, rex tillerson was essentially a blank page when he showed up for his confirmation process. and so, yes, we did need to take the time to ask him questions, to have a full debate on the floor of the united states senate. but, you know, there's really no complaint when the non- confirmable positions have been unfilled and they've let go of a whole host of folks who could
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have stuck around and helped them through this transition. you know, thank goodness that there were some that were willing to stay, especially on the counter-isil campaign side, some really good folks that the obama administration had that obama administration had that have stuck around for a transition period. that's probably stemmed the bleeding. ms. mitchell: i want to ask you, rich armitage, about the dissent channel. because the press secretary said if, you know, foreign service and other civilian employees at the state department don't like the program, you know, they can get out. there seems to be a misunderstanding of what that channel represents and the value of having a protected way for career people to speak to their leaders. mr. armitage: well, i can speak for secretary powell and my time at the state department. he gave awards, particularly to one particular dissenter who was complaining about me. [laughter] ms. mitchell: and you guys are still friends. mr. armitage: he was doing the
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right thing and i was going the right thing. but this officer had a grievance he felt and put it forward and was actually given an award by secretary powell for that. but for us, dissent has a lot of different elements. part of it is to let some steam off, but another part is to inform the leadership of exactly what the rank and file are thinking. and that's the way to look at it. it's not as if they're not on the team. they're on the team, they're telling you. so when sean spicer says get with the program or get out, they were with the program. they were using the dissent channel. this is the program. ms. mitchell: anyone else want to comment? bill? mr. burns: yeah, no, we're back to the eight-letter-word category, i think. [laughter] no, i mean, i think rich is exactly right. the dissent channel, since the vietnam war, has been a very important, disciplined mechanism for people to express contrary views. and it's the obligation of career foreign service officers, like career public servants any place, to carry out choices that
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get made by political leadership. and if they can't in good conscience do that they leave. and i've had enormous respect for those of my colleagues over the years who have done that. but there's also a parallel obligation, and that is to offer your honest, candid advice within the regular system, and when that's not making a dent, within a disciplined internal system like the dissent channel. people need to speak up about issues like that and this is one way of doing it. ms. mitchell: i know we want to take questions from this audience, very experienced people. so please. i think we have microphones that are going to be -- so that our friends in the c-span audience can hear as well. thank you. >> thank you very much. i'm oksana shulyar, dcm of embassy of ukraine. thank you very much for this great effort and for [inaudible]
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ukraine. it's very important at this time to keep focused on ukraine. and thank you [inaudible] of the embassy of ukraine. >> thank you very much, senator murphy, for your very strong position on ukraine, for cosponsoring russia hostilities act, which has parts of the defense for ukraine act, very important initiative and a very good signal for ukraine. thank you for signing a letter to president trump, which was signed by 20 different [inaudible] for ukraine. my question is, that once we see now more concrete shaping of the trump foreign policy by the new administration, do you see a way to, while shaping the policy, to actually evaluate countries which are considered for being partners or not being partners and looking to the performance, the economic performance and
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these countries' performance on delivering reforms, anti-corruption initiatives? for instance, ukraine is a country that came up with 10% drop in gdp from recession to growth amidst a devastating war, the country that actually has delivered on certain reforms and actually with the great help of the united states. so this is a success story of the united states, which can be taken further by the new administration. so how do you see this? >> well, i mean, you know, my position that i've tried to advance in the senate has been this. you know, one of the ways in which russia tries to undermine support for ukraine in europe, in the united states is to try to weaken it internally to make economic and political reform harder. so russia tries to undermine efforts at political and economic reform and then trot out the arguments inside europe
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that, well, ukraine isn't moving fast enough, and so why should you continue to support them? so, to me, well, we need to continue to press kiev and poroshenko and others on pushing with reforms. we also have to understand that, you know, there are countervailing forces inside that are making it difficult to move as fast as many people would like. and so i worry, we haven't heard this yet from the trump administration, but, you know, i worry that the trump administration will use that line that, you know, if we don't see massive, quick reform on a variety of measures, then we can't be partners any longer. we should expect paced reform, but we should also understand that there are reasons why it may not go as quickly as we would like. mr. armitage: if i may, i think i'm the first sinner when it comes to ukraine. the reason i say that [inaudible] i together in 1990, '91 were
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delivering assistance to ukraine. and the republicans, democrats, eu, none of us insisted for 20 years that ukraine follow through on the necessary reforms, whether it's kuchma government or anyone. so in a way, we let ukraine drift and we let forces develop in ukraine that are somewhat against reform and oligarchs and the rest of it. so first thing i'd like to say is that i think we all didn't do the job we should have done regarding ukraine. but the second point is i hope, as senator murphy does, that we continue assistance to ukraine, we continue discussing and jawboning where necessary our european friends to continue. but everyone has to realize we're looking at a generation of reform before ukraine can take a proper place, i think on the regional stage. it's not going to happen in three or four years. ms. mitchell: mr. kalb.
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>> the question i have relates to president trump. and i'm not asking any of you to be a psychiatrist. but the president has fancied himself a great deal-maker. he has had an unusual relationship with putin. you've talked about that. what do you think is in the president's mind that would be the deal that he's looking for? mr. burns: that's a really hard question to answer. i mean, i guess it seems to me that there are a couple of obvious priorities that you hear from the president during the election campaign and now. one is the struggle against isis and islamic extremism more generally, and the other is the challenge of china as the big great power adversary in a sense. and so i think, it seems to me anyway, that, you know, he would
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see russia, relations with russia through at least those two prisms. and so, how could partnership with russia or some kind of grand bargain advance american interests with regard to those two areas? and as i was trying to suggest before, of course, we should look for all the partners we can find in the struggle against islamic extremism. but i think there's a little bit of a trap in thinking of putin's russia as this kind of sterling partner in fighting isis, partly because in syria i don't see any road to stability that continues to have bashar al-assad as the face of syrian leadership, having alienated the majority of syria's population that's sunni arab. and so i just think we have to be careful about where that proposition ends up. and similarly with regard to china, you know, it's almost kind of turning, you know, the nixon-kissinger triangulation on its head. well, one of the reasons that worked, you know, in the early 1970s was because there was a common threat perceived by the chinese leadership and the
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united states, which was the soviet union. i don't see that common sense of threat right now. i don't think, as i said before, that putin has much interest in sacrificing a relationship, whatever his long-term concerns about china's rise as a great power because sooner or later, china and russia are going to bump into each other in central asia and in other places. but i don't think he has much interest, putin has much interest in sacrificing that relationship. so if those are two of the big priorities through which you want to build russian partnership, i think we've got to be pretty careful about our assumptions. mr. murphy: you ask what's in his head. one of the things that may be in his head are the massive russian investments in the trump business empire. and i don't say that to be political, i just put that on the table. we have major unanswered questions about what the relationship is between trump and maybe not the russian
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government, but major russian economic players. there is a reason that he didn't make public his tax returns. we don't know what that is. but clearly, there was something very embarrassing in them. i know that both the house and the senate intelligence committee are right now taking sort of baby steps to try to understand some other even more nefarious connections that may exist. but you have to be -- i'm simply referencing the story over the dossier. i think you've got to put this on the table as significant, unanswered questions. because as we try to understand the motivation, it is a very different thing if the motivation is to try to reset a relationship with russia on a different set of terms versus trying to stay on good relations with a country or a set of players that have significant effect on your personal financial wealth. ms. mitchell: and if i could just add, one of the challenges
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for us as reporters is he seems to be operating from a different set of facts. when he talks about aligning the with russia against isis in syria, he doesn't seem to factor in russia's connection to iran, for instance. so he's not looking at the same map that we're all looking at in terms of these other relationships. yes, jessica matthews. >> jessica matthews at the carnegie. if i were in the kremlin and i really wanted to stick a knife in the heart of the western alliance, i think i'd be looking at the baltics and some move like what he did in georgia or ukraine. and i assume the task force talked about this. and i just wondered whether you could share with us your thoughts about what we should be
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doing now and what we should be prepared to do if that happens. mr. daalder: i no longer represent the united states in nato, but i'm happy to answer the question. we did talk, i mean, we did talk about it. and there is a clear difference between the baltics and georgia and ukraine. they're members of nato. there is a treaty that was signed. it was ratified and acted upon. senator murphy talked about the european reassurance initiative. that is right now ongoing, the deployment of nato troops in latvia, lithuania and estonia. in fact, all three of them are canadian, british and german-led battalions, a battalion [inaudible] battalion in poland, increased air and naval assets around the region, all designed to send the very clear signal: if you ever
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thought about doing what you did in crimea and the baltics, you've got to deal with us. and rand corporation has done a study and others have done studies and at nato they've done studies, how defensible are the baltics with that kind of capability? the answer i have, as defensible as west berlin was during the cold war, which is to say, if you wanted to do something about west berlin, you had to risk a confrontation militarily with the united states or the nato countries. so my sense is that if putin doesn't want to split the western alliance, going at it through the baltics is probably not the smartest thing to do. that, and that's as of today, that said, it doesn't help to make that case and reassure our allies in the baltic state and poland and eastern europe if the president of the united states, every time he says something in support of nato, immediately conditions it in some ways to what nato countries need to do
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with regard to defense spending. our commitment is unconditional, as we argue it should be iron clad, and it needs to be reiterated, as senator murphy said, not just by the other officials, but by the president of the united states. there's a summit in may in brussels, a nato summit, an important summit, and i think that is the opportunity between now and then for the united states to make clear what it has done for the last 60-plus years, that the nato alliance is part of our security guarantee and it extends to every inch of nato territory, including the baltic states. mr. armitage: ambassador daalder, that's exactly correct. but i think there's moments of high danger as we go to the may summit in brussels. it's fine what vice president pence and others may say in munich next week, and i'm sure they'll say the right things, but whether our president says the right thing in may.
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if he says the wrong thing, then if he says the wrong thing, then i think the danger to the baltics may dramatically increase. if on the other hand he sticks to the script that we like, then it will be fine. i agree completely with ivo. >> thank you. marisa lino. at what point -- i don't know enough about russia. at what point does putin overreach? he's spending an enormous amount modernizing his military. in addition to what is going on in ukraine and syria, et cetera, he's reopened bases in the arctic. he's been exercising at a pace unlike the past. at what point does he overreach, or is that not within the scope of internal russian politics? mr. burns: i mean, russia, over its history has demonstrated a pretty strong record of being able to muddle through and endure lots of different
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hardships and challenges, so i wouldn't underestimate that. but i do think it's important to keep a perspective about putin's russia which, as rich armitage was saying before, has been tactically really agile. putin's been willing to play rough in areas where others haven't been and so he's been able to see some pretty important advantages, whether it's in syria or in other parts of the world. but he's operating from, you know, an inherently weak economic base right now. he's got an economy that's one dimensional. it's built way too much around hydrocarbons. when he was surging on $110-a-barrel oil, there was a moment when he could have diversified or begun to innovate in the economy and he chose largely not to do that, in part because it would have undermined
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political control, which is what matters most. demography is still a challenge for russians when you you consider that, you know, the only part of the population that's really increasing is where you have muslim majority parts of russia, the north caucasus and tatarstan. and my last point is, demographically, when you consider that, you know, in all of the space on the earth that runs from the ural mountains through siberia and the russian far east to the pacific, there's only about 35 million russians sitting on just about everything on the periodic table of elements and looking across a very long border at a billion-and-three chinese. so there are lots of reasons for longer-term insecurity in russia and about russia, because an increasingly fragile russia poses its own sort of strategic challenges [inaudible]. >> [inaudible] up until a couple of weeks ago, i was a senior official with the obama administration working on, among other things, commercial diplomacy towards ukraine and anti-corruption initiatives. >> so a question for you, senator murphy. in light of the real risks that you have described, which is
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that the leadership in kiev may not take sufficiently strong action, who enough political will to demonstrate that they are serious about their own governance reforms and establishing economic sovereignty and building an economic model based on the private sector, what do you think can be done to convince the leadership, to convince president poroshenko, prime minister groysman that they do have to take ownership at this point, that they do have to accelerate the pace, that this is a moment for them to show leadership? mr. murphy: so i think that's the $64,000 question, right? because russia's dream is for the united states and europe to become so frustrated with the pace of reform inside ukraine that we leave. and so, you know, we have to set up a scenario in which that is not the outcome. so how do you get there other than simply using a cudgel? well, you partner that with using carrots. and we have been woefully inadequate in our effort to support those reform efforts
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with real hard dollars in investment, right? you know, when we decided to spend money on concentrated anti- corruption efforts, like, say, on the reform of the police inside kiev, it was successful, right? it was u.s. dollars it was ukrainian initiative. and, you know, while it didn't cure corruption inside the kiev police force, they, you know, they observe the rule of law now more than ever before. so if we really want to be helpful here, then i think we have to be talking not just about threatening to pull out if there isn't reform, not just talking about imf loans, but actually putting real money on the ground to help them implement these reforms. and i sort of posed the question to general breedlove today. we're talking about $3.6 billion in europe for reassurance, which is all military programming dollars, right? shouldn't we step back and ask whether, if we're going to spend, $3 billion or $4 billion or $5 billion, maybe some of that money should go to help some of these economic and political reforms get off the
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ground. so i think that's where the progress can be made, not in withdrawing our requirements that political and economic reforms move forward, but actually giving them some substantial help rather than just public shaming to get it done. >> thank you. jim holmes, retired foreign service. tomorrow it's three weeks we will have experienced head-spinning statements and actions. recently this week, i have heard from supporters of the administration the argument give the president, give the administration a chance. does your report contemplate how long this rope of patience should be with respect to a new administration and particularly a new administration [inaudible]?
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what's the time frame for patience? mr. armitage: that's ambassador jim holmes, by the way, not just a retired foreign service officer. implicitly we do. it is our view certainly, obviously, we're going to be dealing with mr. putin until 2018. and the general view of those who participated is we're going to be dealing with mr. putin at least until 2024. so i think implicitly you can say we six, seven, eight years more of this in which we're going to have to, my words, manage our way through this and have progress where we can and on those things that are critical to us, including cyber, including military, as i've mentioned, including ukraine, and having progress where we can on things that are desirable that can perhaps be accomplished at a lower level than head-of-state interactions, whether it's the arctic or nuclear terrorism, nuclear security, things of that nature. but i think it's the general feeling, i can be corrected by
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my colleagues, that we thought this was an effort that would at least stretch out as long as 2024. mr. burns: that's president putin, not president trump necessarily. [laughter] ms. mitchell: well, i think we have exhausted at least our time, if not our questions. and i just want to thank carnegie and this extraordinary panel for your time and your effort that you've devoted to this report. it is so worth reading and would encourage all of us to dig a lot deeper into this relationship as it evolves. thank you for letting me come. mr. armitage: thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017]
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>> tomorrow, yemen's permanent representative to the united nations speaks at the atlantic council about efforts to achieve peace in the country that's alive at 10:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span. then in the afternoon, a discussion on afghanistan and president trump's foreign-policy planes in the region. among the speakers is the afghan ambassador to the u.s. you can watch that live at 12:15 p.m. eastern on c-span3. it's also available online at and free to listen to on the c-span radio app. >> monday night on "the ofmunicators," the new chair the house subcommittee on communications and technology, tennessee congresswoman marsha blackburn, on her priorities for the subcommittee and how she
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expects communications and tech issues will change this year with the republican administration and the republican led sec. representative blackburn is interviewed by john handle, congress reporter for communications daily. >> making certain that we address what i view as having been an opportunity to get communities that do not have broadband, then they are not able to go in and expand educational opportunities for their students. they are not able to utilize telemedicine and health care informatics. they are not able to recruit new factories that can bring jobs to those underserved areas. >> watch "the communicators," monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. "q&a" withp next, investigative journalist edward epstein, followed by british
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prime minister theresa may taking questions from members of the house of commons. later a discussion on trade policy in the future of nafta. ♪ >> this week on "q&a," edward jay epstein discusses his book "how america lost its secrets: edward snowden, the man and the theft." >> edward jay epstein, in your opinion, why did president obama pardon edward snowden? dr. epstein: president obama, in this case was the man who knew too much. unlike the world of journalism, the world of presidents, they have accs


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