tv CSIS Previews Presidents Middle East Trip CSPAN May 15, 2017 9:39pm-11:06pm EDT
unlikely. >> past commencement speeches from the c-span video library. join us for this year's commencement speeches as we hear from politicians, business leaders, and white house officials. starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern on saturday, may 20, the 27th, 29th, memorial day, and june 3rd on c-span and c-span.org. >> president trump leaves for his first international trip since taking office this week. the president is set to visit israel, saudi arabia, and italy. the center for strategic and international studies held a discussion with reporters previewing the trip. this is just under 90 minutes. p >> 8:30 so it is time to begin. thanks to everyone here who came on time. i just wanted to give a brief introduction. i am the deputy director of strategic communications here
at csis. just a few points of order for housekeeping purposes. we'll be taking a transcript so as best you can use the microphones when you're asking questions. that would be great. we'll go through the first rtion of the trip p followed by our department -- deputy director will take us through the remainder. following that we'll open it up for questions. hopefully we can get to everyone here. okay. without further ado i'll hand it over to tony. >> thank you very much. >> normally when a president goes to israel you have a very pleasant public profile and usually an announcement of some new form of u.s. aid or assistance to israel. the problem you have here is there are also a lot of
underlying issues and how many of these will actually either be dealt with publicly or during a presidential visit is pretty hard to estimate. some of them are fairly obvious. there is the question of what will happen about moving the u.s. embassy to jerusalem. there are all the issues relating to the settlements. will the u.s. take a stand on the two-state solution? if so, what? what kind of sequel will follow the visit and how will he be discussing what is a very tense situation at least at the underlying level between israel and the palestinian authority? and what is happening at gaza? there is the problem for israel of what is happening in egypt, which is yeek qually important to the united -- equally important to the united states. a problem economics and
stability. it's also a tangible impact on war fighting in the sinai and the gaza where you have a low level conflict and one that is not -- has not been getting better. it's been getting worse. you have the problem of what happens and it will happen fairly quickly. if you see mosul actually liberated and isis driven out of its pseudo capital in raqqa, because for israel that may well mean that it faces a significant and very different extremist threat somewhere on its border area. there is also the fact that during all of these conflicts hezbollah have steadily built up its missile forces effectively rearmed and gotten better capabilities so you have a far larger hezbollah threat
in lebanon than you had at the point where israel fought a war over the threat in that area. and then there is always the question of preserving israel's edge. there is already a memorandum of understanding, which seems to give israel what it would need for its security posture but it is always interesting to see what happens during presidential visits. the saudis i think are always oing to be more problematic. every time we have a visit to saudi arabia we again discover we have a major ally which has a very different political system and culture and a very different approach to human rights. and i think here some issues are fairly obvious. one is that president trump, like president obama, raised the issue of burden sharing.
the problem is it's very difficult to see why. saudi arabia is the fourth largest spender in terms of military efforts as a percentage of its economy of any country in the world. it actually is competing with russia in terms of total defense spending. in 2015 it was marginally higher than russia. this year it is marginally lower. it is spending more on defense than any european power. and we are attempting in nato to get countries to spend 2% as most of you know. it comes generally closer to 1.2 to 1.6% of the g.d.p. and i'll leave that to my colleague. the fact is, however, the u.s.,
depending how you define it, we're spending all of 2.8 to somewhere around 3.2%, which is a defense ally, as effort than a third of the u.s. effort in terms of defense spending. the other issue is how you compare it to local powers. it is about three times the highest estimate for iranian military spending in terms of otal spending in 2015. it's true that saudi arabia has cut this spending level, cut it fairly significantly between 2015 and 2016. but it's also important to note that saudi arabia's primary source of income, its oil
export earnings, have dropped out 46% between 2012 and 2016. it is a country under very serious economic pressure, which is the reason for its 2030 plan and its efforts to speed up detailed shifts by 2020. we're talking about a gulf which has never been particularly oil rich aside from qatar in the uae when you look at per capita income. and from a saudi viewpoint, to make the kinds of reforms and shifts that needs to preserve stability, it faces fairly serious questions about future financing, even if oil revenues should recover. so the question for the trump administration is going to be, just how do you define burden sharing and why is saudi arabia not complying? it is likely that you will hear
that there will be a major announcement on arms sales. some people have floated figures of $100 billion. i would give you all a caution if you haven't worked these issues before that first people always give you the figure which is the highest goal. most of the time it isn't reached. the second issue is to what extent this is spread out over a future period of years. the third is how does it affect saudi arabia's industrial base? because one of the goals that saudi arabia has announced is to stop spending on imports of finished goods and produce its own equipment. but from a practical viewpoint, and particularly from a u.s. viewpoint, one of the critical shifts that is likely to come out of this announcement is that the u.s. has long pressed
saudi arabia to improve the quality of its naval forces in the gulf. to basically be more of a counter to what is iran's major areas of buildup which are the missile threat it poses to the gulf region and the mix of naval, missile, and air forces which it has deployed in the gulf and it said it would potentially use in a crisis to shut off the export of oil. there will abvery key issue in terms of reassuring the saudis. frankly the saudi reaction toward the end of the obama administration was they were ealing with the u.s. ally that they felt focused far more on trying to change saudi arabia internally than on providing credible guarantees of its security. so reestablishing confidence is
going to absecurity goal, it also according to at least a number of people will come at the potential expense of ressure on human rights. tied to that are other issues. there are about 65,000 saudi snuents the united states that are basically standard under graduate students. if you look at all of the people with some kind of course or academic tie, some relation that are here, it's possibly over a hundred thousand. ome people put the figure at 125,000. that raises some very real questions about the immigration policies, the vetting policies that the trump administration is advocating, so far there's been no problem. but the saudis may seek reassurance and the administration may say something about it. there is, in addition to iran,
the question of the yemen war, which is effectively become a stalemate. it's one where there is very little reporting and, quite frankly, where some of that reporting is extraordinarily questionable. p some of the worst data seem to be the data on casualties, because people are essentially often taking reports, which seem to virtually take n.g.o. estimates of air casualties as the total casualties. if you look at the u.n. reporting on the war, it is fairly obvious that the major sources of suffering and casualties are coming on the ground. p they are mixed between the p forces, and the saudi u.a.e. backed forces and al qaeda in the arabian peninsula and they
are probably far higher than any of the casualty reports i've seen in the press because they deal with the real world impact of a war which has been economically devastating, put about half the population at risk, sharply increased everything from infant mortality to malnutrition and virtually led to a massive egree of unemployment. there will be the question of what happens in terms of syria and iraq, key questions for the kingdom and indeed for the u.s. is what happens in iraq after mosul is liberated? what will the u.s. do there? to what extent will it stay? what happens in terms of the potential conflicts between p arab and kurd or suny and
shiite. what happens to the various militias? what is the role of iran? how much of this is going to be addressed during a presidential visit is very hard to tell. these are the issues where staff usually prepare and finish the job and it gets very little public discussion. but they go a lot deeper than simply having a meet and greet between the president and the royal family. with that, let me shift things over to jeff. >> well, thank you, tony. so nice to see so many people here this morning. what i would propose to do is just sort of hop through the stops on the europe leg of the trip and dwell in a little detail on the agenda in a couple of areas. so the president will go to vatican city. he'll have a meeting with pope francis. from there he will go to
brussels. there are three things that will happen in brussels. there will abmeeting it with the eu leadership in some form. probably a meeting with eu council president and the european commission president ppp p the exact format i think hasn't been publicly announced. there will be a bilateral meeting between the president and the newly elected french president and there will be a meeting of nato leaders. all that will happen in brussels on the 25th of may then the president goes to solis where he will participate sicily where he will participate ind g-7 summit. this is on economic issues, security and defense issues, foreign policy issues. you have this happening in multiple places.
g-7, nato, european union, and then this is all of course building up as well to the g-20 summit, which will happen in amburg, germany in july. managing multi lateral relationships is always a challenge and making changes requires pains taking effort. from what i understand thus far, it is not planned to have the sorts of formal declarations and communiques at for example the nato leaders meeting that you often see. also a question about whether there will be a formal declaration of the g-7 leaders at the summit. on one hand this goes to the fact that the administration is still quite new in office and for any new administration it is sometimes difficult to engage in -- at a level of
depth when you are still assembling a leadership team. but i think, also, it's attributable to the fact that the ministerial level, cabinet level agreements allow the united states to, in a way, agree to certain -- a certain continuity in u.s. relations without having to put it in the words or of the president. so if you look for example at some of the agreements in the g-7, foreign ministerial declaration from a couple weeks ago that supports the joint plan of action for example, the iran deal, or in the arctic council ministerial at least some reference to climate change. and so president trump is one g-7. r new leaders in the the host, the prifmentse italy,
newly elected french president, the uk prime minister theresa may will all be participate forgue the first time in a g-7 summit and there are three or ybe four members of that consolation who will have elections soon: uk on june 8. france will have parliamentary elections on june 11 and 18. germany, september 24. and possibly italy having early elections but at the latest ill have them next spring. while interest trip may not directly influence the outcome of any of those elections it perhaps brings to mind the saying when america sneezes the world catches a cold. so when president trump shakes the foundations of the u.s.-led order does the rest of the world feel an earthquake? if we look at the agenda for
the stops in europe there is sort of an incong grew ens in objectives and managing this is the primary challenge of those stops. on the one hand for the united states the challenge is to show leadership even if it largely has not worked out what the policies are that it wants the allies and partners to follow. how do we reconcile president trump's pledge as a candidate and also since taking office basically to renegotiate all u.s. relationships or at least potentially to renegotiate all u.s. relationships with a continuity that is a super power's greatest interest? for europeans there is a wariness as they approach the trump administration. they want to preserve the key elements of the trans atlantic relationship, security and defense, economics and trade, foreign policy. coordination. fight against terrorism and extremism. while at the same time hedging against the possibility of
unexpected change in u.s. policy and a perceived shallowness in u.s. commitment to those elements of continuity that thus far have characterized a lot of the administration's approach. if i could mention one or two tems on the nato agenda. there will be three main things. first defense resources and spending which the u.s. administration certainly emphasized and put at the top of the nato agenda. i think it is worth reminding there is this commitment nato leaders made to spend 2% of their g.d.p. on defense and also to spend 20% of their fense spending on research and development and equipment. over the last year or two nato has made progress on this in 2016 nato defense spending in europe and canada rose by 3.8% an additional $10 billion from
european and canadian allies. a rise of about 3.8%. about 10 countries meet the 20% target for spending on major equipment. and there are several countries that will be achieving the 2% target. right now there are five countries at the 2% of g.d.p. target. romania will meet it this year. lithuania latvia next year. that will be eight countries, still not enough. but progress in that direction. you look at the big allies, you see increases in defense spending there as well. germany's defense budget up by 8% this year. italy's up by 10%. canada up by about 6%. the netherlands up by about 5%. the one major european country that is an outlier there is spain which has a flat, basically a flat budget for defense this year compared to last year. what nato leaders are going to
be looking to agree to is, you know, a mechanism or plans to implement this 2% target and keep in mind the target date for achieving that is out in the future, 2024 because >> it takes time to do this rationally and efficiently. you expect to see that upward trajectory continued. one comment about how nato defense spending works
>> if you combine all of this budgets, it is about 2 billion a year for military structure and civilian spending. nato allies spend about $920 billion, that is what they spent in 2016. small bynding is comparison. the other big item on the native agenda is terrorism. nato has had programs for many years to try to fight terrorism. this is not a new thing. the afghanistan mission is now in its 14th year. nato has a trained iraqi security forces.
the challenge has always been how to make or use or that nato 's primarily military instrument in the fight against terrorism. nato take a greater role in the coalition against isis? nato does not have a seat at that table. nato is flying flights to help coordinate the airspace management and intelligence gathering. there is the possibility nato could do more there and step up and there is a readiness, from what i understand, in the region for nato to take on that greater role. native could do more in training forces iraqi security and build up the programs in ashdad and jordan as well
providing more support for partner companies like jordan in tunisia. the last thing to mention about the native meeting is that russia is going to be, in a sense, the thing on many allies nd, both in a military sense , russia's military modernization and its occupation of territory of countries in ,urope like ukraine and georgia remains, in the eyes of many allies, a threat that they face. how the alliance is able to respond is a key issue. nato allies have this court presence in eastern europe and they will be looking for the united states to reaffirm its commitment to the troops and policy so i think that will be a major issue, even if it is not
one on which they make any kind of declaration. can come more to this in the q&a. this is the biggest trade relationship in the world, the transatlantic trade relationship. clearly this relationship will be a key one and the administration has not yet articulated any kind of agenda for the relationship with the european union. this is a big, glaring hole in their policy towards the partner so this meeting may be an opportunity to start setting some direction on that. and this is to look at what some of the countries around the g-7 table will have on their mind. merkel,ny, chancellor her party won a major state election in the state of north pine -- north rhine-west
halia. she is more likely to stay in office of the september. emmanuel macron makes his first as president today to berlin and they will talk about how they reconstitute the franco german engine in europe and what that means for the future of the european union. haveinly merkel will brexit on her mind as well. france, micron -- macron faces parliamentary elections. we'll see if he can capitalize on his landslide that he won just a week ago. will he have a parliamentary majority or a workable correlation that will allow him to do other reforms he is prioritized. prime minister may faces a
general election on may 8 and brexit is the issue going forward. and in italy, the prime minister will be the host of the g-7 summit and it may be the last .ne that he has when that election happens, it will be as matteo renzi as of the principal candidate and the question is whether or not early elections are on the agenda and if so what that means for the prospect -- i will stop there and look for to discussion. >> plenty of time for questions. name, --uld state your
>> george khan, national journal. what are the other leaders looking for from president trump and secondly, we have all seen to go off script and not do what the state department and aids want them to do, what are the risks for that kind of style in these types of meetings and summits? begin with israel, what israel does not want and this prime minister does not tot is any issue or attempt force a clear statement on the two state solution. it will be interesting to see what position he takes on
jerusalem, the normal pattern is it usuallynsist on get a quid pro quo of some sort for not doing so. but above all i think what israel wants is to see if there is this commitment to preserving its edge insecurity -- in security. strong allyve a that will not push them on the peace process, that we will stay in the gulf and keep our forces in a posture where they will deter iran. that we will maintain support qi centrala government and the u.s. role in dealing with syria but also jordan and lebanon will be one that reassures those countries.
i have already mentioned egypt. these are all things which, from israel's viewpoint, are the security issues at the moment and i think that they are not likely to be one that anybody can ignore. i doubt very much if there is going to be any surprises at this point. mr. netanyahu is perfectly capable of dealing with very sophisticated ways with americans and in this case there seems to be a good relationship and when he has no incentive to disturb. i doubt very much if president trump will push the envelope here. with the saudi's, there is the fact you have both a king and a crown prince and the crown prince is the more public, active, known quantity.
i think the saudi's have been dealing with the u.s. and even the younger saudi's have 30 years of experience in dealing with u.s. officials. there is an amazing degree of continuity and experience in dealing with the bakeries of american politics which can be of americanvagaries politics which can be vague. what is hard to predict at this point is how well the president has been briefed, how clearly he will deal with the burden, i have to say i may or may not -- i was part of the nato force planning exercise several centuries ago and i think this whole 2 percent and are mutuallyal ridiculous.
,f you look at what they buy you cannot find any explanation percent willt 2 do. 20% means a country will spend defensesubsidizing its industry and the record today on your pink operation -- on european cooperation is it is remarkably expensive and remarkably inefficient. i mentioned saudi arabia's defense spending, it is about $57 billion in 2016. woody think russia's would be, u.s. isarly when the spending something like 600 billion. according to the institute of strategic studies, russia spent all of about $59 billion on defense last year. 1/10 of the american
total. billion.ent 47 not too far from a russian total. the u.k. spent 53 billion. germany down to 38 billion. germany has been the least effective defense spender in the nato alliance. it's force posture has struck far more quickly than its readiness -- in its readiness of than its defense spending. it is one of the most critical countries in the alliance. in contrast to that, if saudi arabia does what i think it will forces,ove its naval that should be a source of some but i would have to
say that we would all be better off if the president focused on the quality and to meeting -- and meaning of what spending accomplishes rather than spending. i only have about half a century of government experience but i cannot think of a worse criteria than encouraging people to spend without tying it to very specific goals as to what you buy and the level of efficiency in the way you use the money. just to add, what do european leaders want from the trump administration, i think what they would love is continuity. on the one hand there's been a reversion by the president to supportive words in respect to nato, that the united states
stands by its article five commitment and the united states sees its defense as link to europe. the u.s. defense relationship onh europe is not based generosity, it is based on protecting u.s. security interests. so a clearer recognition of that would be valuable. if you look at the economic side , no major disruption to trade relationships with be a key goal. i think everyone realizes that the u.s. administration will focus first on nafta, on its trade agenda. people will look at that carefully and see what implications that has for ttip. and for the future of european trade negotiations with the u.s. the president has come to a knowledge that whatever discussions the u.s. has on trade will be discussed with the european union and not with
individual member states with the exception of the u.k. there has been a reversion to a more orthodox policy. on russia sanctions, the europeans will be looking for a coordinated approach. u.s. has been edging in the direction of that kind of reassurance in the g7 foreign minister declaration and in the way it is characterized sanctions of russia over ukraine. same thing with iran. iran remains a customer shall topic in the u.s. and the major european countries want to see andu.s. stick to the jp coa not engage in policies that could weaken it. that is the principal's concern and that is not even getting to climate change and the paris agreement where european partners would be greatly
troubled by a withdrawal of the u.s. that gets to the point about risks. president trump is not particularly popular in europe. a recent survey in germany populationof german considers the u.s. a trustworthy partner. that is two percentage points better than their view of russia and that is a dramatic decrease from just a year ago. the closer european politicians get to the trump administration, the greater the risk of some left-field shift in u.s. policy leaving them out on a limb and say that is the major, certainly if you think -- if you look at chancellor merkel's position as she looked ahead to the german election, she wants a strong
transatlantic relationship but a statementsweets or can leave her in a extremely difficult position. important and true things with regard to defense spending. that would be a longer discussion. 2% and 20% are unsigned sign -- are unsatisfying metrics. it is something the united states has focused on over multiple administrations and it is arguable if there are the best ways to manage it. there are countries to spend more than 2% of their gdp to do not get out of that in terms of capabilities that are the disposal of the entire nato alliance. the challenge has been to find better measures of quality that
are more meaningful. it is about the risks and that is why you have the benefit of things like declarations, communicate that come out of these major, bilateral meetings. they give you a ballast. if someone says something down controversial,s you can always go back to your piece of paper and say this is the declaration we agreed at a nato, we agreed on defense spending and a unified stance in regard to russia and to do more on terrorism. that is our plan and that is what i'm committed to working with the united states on. if you not have this kinds of these, if you have variations and stray comments, they can have a much greater
impact. turning the u.s. and your major ally into a new cycle as they try to deal with the major fallout of unintentional or intentionally disruptive comments. withm a private consultant cno resources. two questions, can you talk about the islamic military alliance that fights terror which is one of three contacts in saudi arabia. are they going to produce anything that passes the last test in terms of any real, meaningful action? question, the russian shadow over the middle east , there havehe visit been a couple of notable sidebar intings in moscow, lavrov
washington --all dealing with russia's role in syria, yemen, iraq, protecting syria.ght from oneou see russia as being of the powers behind the scenes andhat will be discussed what is being discussed before what is discussed in saudi arabia and having an impact on those issues. >> i think it is nice to have complex alliances with nicely focused subjects and it probably
doesn't do any substantive harm but cooperation in counterterrorism is extraordinarily difficult even in the west. to cooperate in counterterrorism between diverse, often conflicting interest is a lot harder. datayou really look at the in sources like the start date -- which is as close to an official date we have that is unclassified. he suddenly begin to realize is that terrorism is a country by country issue. it is not a matter of international terrorism dictated mixture, in the human you have the terrorist and arabian al qaeda in the
peninsula. then yemen you have terrorists and you have al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. that is not seem to be a al qaeda central. right now we are focused on i sis. isis is responsible for all about 5% or 6% of the total number of terrorist incidents in the nato region. it is different when you go from terrorism to counterinsurgency and were fighting in iraq and syria but that is not terrorism. you're going to find that these alliances may or may not produce some kind of benefit as an exchange of information but several of the arab states to do not agree any more on how to
define a terrorist then we do with china. i think theo start, issues that may be more serious is the kingdom of saudi arabia having more impact in the gulf operations. moves the world's oil through that particular area in the strait of hormuz. while we are not dependent on oil imports directly, we are far more dependent on the importation of goods from asian states. that is the kind of issue where the saudi role in a different alliance could be absolutely critical. the wildcard fair and the one that will be a great concern to
all of these opposes alliances is what happens to the rock -- what happens to iraq. once we have effectively helped them win in muscle, how tied are they to a in -- mosul, how tied are they to us and the other arab states. onry time russia has focused terrorist targets, they continue to attack eric rebel movements that are not terrorists. there are no public data that really describe the russian but it ising reliable
very clear where a lot of them go. the other problem is the so-called de-escalation, what they amount to is effectively some form of separation in syria on what seems to be a very temporary basis between the areas and those which are dominated by eric rebelfactions -- by arab factions who are increasingly dominated by al qaeda and other islamic extremist groups in areas still under control by isis whose volunteers have to go somewhere after rocket -- after raqqua is liberated. russia is playing a game, talking about dealing
independently with the various at the neck and sectarian groups -- the various ethnic and sick tearing groups. problem, broader understand that the obama administration never announced a strategy or dave any statements whatsoever on what would happen isis wasnd syria after and the trump administration is still under a 60 day effort to define that. >> margaret. jim comey situation made a lot of news in the united states creating a political clout
over stuff like health care and are leaders in the middle east or europe even remotely aware of this, does it have any bearing on the trip whatsoever and will it have any impact on the message or the focus or how others look at the u.s., the ministrations ability to get things done? --the administration's ability to get things done? >> our partners and allies in europe are following the domestic development in the united states. i don't think it is likely to change their approach to these meetings, whether they are bilateral or multilateral. will the issues come up on the trip, that is dependent on the
traveling u.s. press corps in the various media availability that happened. i don't see it being at the top of the european agenda although they certainly are following the developments here. very briefly, i think when question everyone outside the united states have and are not likely to ask the president is what is his actual political strength relative to the divisions with congress, the problems within his own party, can he move forward with his own agenda, that will certainly be a question as he visits any country. >> over to the right hand side of the room. the very back. briefing,ou for the just now you said we are not
expecting any kind of official declaration of any kind from the overseas trip but we both know mr. trump likes to say something about his skills and his performance as a good leader so what kind of goals for donald you. for this trip, inc. i can't state with certainty a g-7 declaration. i simply said it appears possible there will not be one. the objective for the united states and from the president's point of view to show the united states active but without pinning it down on any particular policy and that is
stop,nsion in this especially in europe, nato, eu, g-7 because on the one hand the administration wants to show it is engaging effectively with major global partners partners, but by the same token, the policies that guide the administration, they largely have not been developed yet. any administration would struggle with this early on. i think it is an even greater struggle this time because of the slow pace of constituting t he nexus between policy expertise and political goals -- political roles inside the government. it means that you have a relatively thin agenda. were the president and
were able to announce a major new arms deal worth tens of billions of dollars at a minimum, i would probably note that would be the answer to the burden sharing issue, and that i had very successfully completed a visit with a major saudi increase in its security the sort of to strategic partnership. there was any announcement about u.s. corporation with saudi arabia in creating a defense industrial base, i would probably take advantage of that. beyond that i would want to announce he had met, that we had agreed on a strong position relative to iran, probably one more focused on the gulf and iranian influence than the nuclear issue.
the nucleari's, issue is of concern. in terms sort of fifth of saudi concerns over iran, which are much more tied to it spreading influence in the region, and the kind of threats it poses from its missile and asymmetric forces. >> a follow-up on a question. >> thanks. i did not say my name earlier. margaret. president trump is meeting with the pope. they did not have the best relationship during the campaign. what is in it for president trump to have a reset? ift is in it for the pope, anything, and what should we look for? >> both sides have been pretty circumspect about the agenda and any outcome. it is on the one hand, an
introductory get to know you sort of meeting. president's the point of view, he will want to say that he has a good relationship with the pope and thereby undercut the direct and implicit criticisms from pope francis that came during the campaign, and that may come in the future as the pope takes a position on one or another policy initiative that the administration rolls out. also -- it is a way of highlighting his role as a spiritual leader in commenting on issues that are frankly quite domestic, and thereby preserving some ability to weigh in on those issues, whether it is
immigration, or social issues. if he so chooses. cnn.remy dimon, president trump has seemingly reassured the gulf states, saudi arabia, with how he is conducting foreign policy, returning it to a pro-saudi anti-iran posture in the world. to what extent do you think that is going to help the president extract certain concessions or support from saudi arabia and the gulf states when it comes to both fighting isis in the middle east, but also in regards to the israeli-palestinian peace process? to what extent on the peace process might trump win cooperation from the gulf states on the issue? let me begin with the peace
process. i don't know what concessions he would seek. unless his visit to israel is far more productive than i think most people estimate it will be, he will try to talk to mr. netanyahu about preserving at effort toshell of an keep the two state solution:, and limit settlements. -- two state solution going, and limit settlements. israeli politicians don't lend themselves to that particular conclusion. it does not seem to be one of the prime minister's priorities. you have a divided, weak, palestinian movement, which is not clearly in a position to make concessions that would move this process further anymore than israel is. you have problem with gaza,
where you have its own political difficulties. concessions seek from the gulf states on a peace theess, remembering that position of arab states is the peace proposal, which in many ways closely parallels the idea ,f the two state solution always subject to the uncertainty of the 1996 -- of the 1967 line. because of the way everybody quotes this, we forget that the u.n. never endorsed the 1967 line. used the phrase "with adjustments," which is not exactly a line in the sand by any standard. how you sort this out in a presidential visit i would say is not a particularly credible priority. you would have to have the
participants in a better position. they are not ones that are going to suddenly pressured sitting outside without both sides being much closer to agree. need to begulf, you very careful. we are already basing and operating out of most of the smaller gulf states. we have cooperated closely with oman, which is not in a position to send more. it is spending more of its economy on security than saudi arabia. it is one of the highest spenders in the world. there is virtually no slack in the economy. when you look at the situation in oman, you find something surprising about it. it is the only country where we do not report on the level of terrorism or internal security in the annual report on terrorism. i do not believe that is because
it is the most secure country in the world. when it comes down to what you can do in kuwait or bahrain, you qatar,in the uae, with you already have as much as you can credibly get. and you need to realize that part of that is an immense backlog of interoperable munitions, equipment spares, ability to operate u.s. forces in the event of a serious war with iran, and already a pledge to seek a common missile defense against iran. where among other things, one of the key issues is where the u.s. role is in creating a suitable architecture. as you are talking absolutely immense potential investment.
this is not something that the president can go to saudi arabia and deal with. you not only have the 60 day study to talk about solutions. in dealing with the war on isis, you have an executive order calling for a comprehensive review of u.s. strategy in providing that part of the 2018 budget submission. toe i would be very cautious ask for a really dramatic u.s. initiative before you have agreed on what you are doing in terms of the coming budget submission, and before your strategy studies are completed -- might be a little premature. going back to the nato issue. president trump has called nato and obsolete organization.
at the same time in eastern europe nato is viewed as something that ensures their security, especially from russia . arguably if georgia and ukraine were given membership back in 2008, we would not have occupation of georgia or invasion of ukraine. do you see the nato expansion issue being reviewed under the trump administration? >> when the nato secretary-general visited a couple weeks ago in the press availability after the meeting, the president added a comment -- he said, i said it before, it is no longer true. regardless how you judge that, it is important to start from that. ,ith respect to eastern europe on the importance eastern flank has been
genetically raised over the last few years. -- dramatically raised over the last few years. that is why you have increased spending. poland, romania, all of the baltic states, as well as other places. the question of georgia and seeine -- first, i don't native changing its policy -- nato changing its policy on enlargement at this leader's meeting. i don't think it will be a top item on the agenda. it will be a short meeting. it is not a full summit like you would have under other circumstances, where you get into almost every issue. this is an introductory meeting, not a full-blown summit. second: i think anything has changed fundamentally indeed the next with regard to enlargement. they stand behind the open door.
you have the admission of montenegro as a 29th another. -- 29th member. i don't think there is any appetite to press ahead rapidly on enlargement in other spheres. the cooperative village and with georgia and ukraine will continue. they may intensify in some areas. the open-door policy isn't going to change. >> we have time for a couple of questions. >> hi, thank you. i am with the christian science monitor. you mentioned several times the differences with the saudis on human rights issues. some indication from the president and the administration so far that there might be a different, perhaps a downplaying of human rights
concerns in relations with other countries. the president expressed a certain amount of praise for strongmen around the country, president duke energy in the philippines -- president duterte in the philippines and others. do we have any indication to what extent there is a return to a more traditional balancing of interests and values -- human rights, or are we seeing a setting off in a new direction? i think it is very difficult to tell. you have seen people like secretary moniz, general mcmaster ---secretary mattis, general mcmaster, secretary
tillerson appointed in very pragmatic terms. that does not mean in different. -- mean indifference. human rights organizations in the west tend to focus on improving human rights aimed from a western perspective. society,look at saudi and some of you i suspect have lived or visited, it is an extraordinarily conservative population. what you have seen over the , and as the royal family sort of intellectual business elite often modernizing saudi arabia from the top rather than somehow sitting on public commands for it. demands for it. you have a society where the
royal family was a catalyst for creating a country where there are more women graduating from secondary school than men. you are talking about a country which in terms of its social contract, actually needs the social -- meets the social contract in terms of housing and job creation. when you go back to the definition of human rights, people tend to forget the ability to actually live in material terms that are secure is one of those rights guaranteed by the u.n. charter and by our policies. this is not a casual issue at the moment in the middle east. which in11 societies the course of the war on terrorism -- a lot of societies which in the course of the war on terrorism has become more controlling. and countries as because of that
struggle has seen very serious economic problems and political turmoil growing out of the events of 2011 -- egypt, tunisia, morocco -- each of them has confronted not only the problem of dealing with extremism, but the very material problem of preserving a social structure. you were talking about countries where you tend to think of them as oil-rich, which is only only credible -- as long as you don't look at the amount of income per capita, which doesn't make anybody oil-rich except qatar. again this is an important point to remember, when we talk about human rights and stability in countries that have seen on an average of 46% cut in their petroleum export revenues in the
course of a year, you have a lot of adjustment and planning problems, like the 23 issue, which in human rights terms are materially far more important to the population. what do you press for in today's world and the middle east? which countries can you really see as making easy advances? is it a country like jordan under the pressure of a massive withx of syrian refugees, almost incredible strains on its economy and all of the security problems involved? you have probably seen advances in human rights in lebanon, but they are not the kind that are normally advanced by human rights advocates. they are the result of a reasonably successful compromise and actual government between its factions.
i think the honest answer to your question is in some ways we tend to focus on imposing one set and one part of our values and human rights. i think this administration may be somewhat more practical. but whether over the course of four years it is going to be any less interested in the rule of stability, the sectors that are critical to fighting terrorism, i don't think there is any way to tell. i think sometimes you need to show a little patience. there, with the l.a. times. thanks as always for doing this briefing. one of my questions was on human rights. you talked about the u.s. sneezing and the world catching a cold. is it too early to tell if the election of trump has advanced nationalist movements in europe,
or provoked this country response to it? do youated to that, think other world leaders understand what america first means? is there some retreat from that --we see this reformulation what we heard from mcmaster that america first does not mean america alone. >> excuse me. pardon me again. the question whether donald trump's election provoked similar movements -- i think he's existed before his election. the national front has been a growing force in french politics for a long time. similare some characteristics, but the extent to which one promotes the other
-- perhaps the most abstract, the success of the brexit referendum and trump election as president has given a sense to these nationalist movements that success was conceivable. it may contribute to a public change of thatt sort can have been. happen. how much of what is going on is a backlash against that? you can argue that the dutch election and french presidential election are --represent a backlash and reversion to centrism. i think that is an arguable point. the thing you need to consider is that center-right politics is moving to the right. what you have in the netherlands, and what you had
with the republican party in france is a shift to the right to occupy some of that territory and take away some of the oxygen from the extreme right. that is on the one hand. and it is also differentiated. in places like germany you have a far right party that is scoring in the single digits, maximum 10% in opinion polls. got 7.5%.i -- they got 7.5%. in australia, the freedom party is at the top of the opinion poll. this varies from country to country. so, america first. -- beyond itticker being a bumper sticker, i don't think our allies understand what that means. with respect to national security advisor's explanation
on friday at the start of the thee house press briefing, strength of the u.s. led multilateral system and alliances around the world has been the willingness of the u.s. to make -- to set its goals more broadly, and to make contributions to an overall western or alliance good. that is what has allowed leaders of very different persuasions and a very different social political contexts to tie themselves so closely to the united states. question in the minds of most of our counterparts. >> one final question. >> thank you. i have a couple questions.
to follow up with the fight against terrorism and radicalism, how far does the u.s. need saudi arabia? administration thinking of sending u.s. troops to afghanistan. saudis ask the u.s. administration to increase u.s. troops in syria to fight isis, and will the saudis asked for more boots onr the ground regarding isis, and regarding the fight in yemen? >> i did not hear the letter. >> yemen. >> okay.
i think when it comes down to the fight against terrorism, if you look from about 2003 on at the state department reports on terrorism, you will see saudi arabia identified as a critical partner in counterterrorism. been expandedhas to the point where we used to have two security and advisory missions in saudi arabia. one dealt with the national guard and the other dealt with the national forces. we know have one for the ministry of the interior which deals with counterterrorism. certainly when it comes to finding security against countrym in a critical in terms of our economy, that is preserving the flow of gulf oil experts -- oil exports, there is no question saudi arabia has
been a critical partner. you only have to look at the state department reporting, which basically is fair to say reflects the views of the national counterterrorism center. that part of the partnership is one that is not at issue, even when there have been questions about the u.s. commitment to the gulf and saudi arabia, and even when there has been this strange retrospection debate over the missing passengers of a congressional staff report on ,/11 dating back to 2012 something that was a legislative issue last year. it is very important to understand what the role of u.s. iraq, andin syria, afghanistan. we are not talking combat units.
when you talk about additional forces for afghanistan, it would be in the train and assist and the potential support of afghan counterterrorism forces. you might also see a significant increase in the amount of u.s. air support, which is not by any standard boots on the ground. i think that has been reasonably well briefed by the administration, but it has intoow gotten translated total manning rather than what the manpower does. there is nothing more meaningless than reporting on a security system then total personal. --total personnel. if you don't look at what the men and women do and only at the
amount of people, that is not a relevant military metric for the last 4000 years. one might consider how often you want to continue reporting in the future. syria and iraq are different stories, but not materially. what we have done over the years is gone from trying to train and to tryingm the rear to assist with combat units. we have provided limited amounts of fire support. small rocket units. we have provided attack helicopters in addition to jet fighters. there is no discussion of providing combat units. part of the reason is, at this point in time, first you brought the iraqi units where the train and assist mission works, second putting u.s. units in either
country would immediately correct the problem of resistance among factions, particularly the units that support iran, various shiite militias. it would be politically destabilizing in iraq. and exactly where you would put what you wantif is to develop syrian forces that can develop -- that can occupy the area and provide civil stability after, you can't do that with u.s. troops. i think the saudis are as aware of it at this point has we are. -- as we are. we already learned the hard way as to what kinds of intervention really work on the ground. yemen is an extraordinarily difficult case.
the fact is when this conflict saudi uae led coalition intervened, they counted on more outside ground troops than they got. they ended up having to rely on air power and limited ground forces. the end result has been a stalemate. it is not the committee -- the houthi solely. a great deal of the yemeni forces back the houthi in the struggle. it is also a very serious internal threat from al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. -- again, to put conventional u.s. ground troops into one of the most complex
ethnic sectarian forms of thisetric war possible, at point simply is not likely to be a demand or even request. help in terms of air power, maybe. the u.s. would like to see saudi arabia and the uae use air power more carefully with collateral damage. we would like to see that improved. there is a problem here that tends to get forgotten. there is exactly one country in the world that can actually conduct the kind of surgical airstrikes the u.s. conducts as part of its operations in afghanistan, iraq, and syria. that britainar
can't do it -- they have highly sophisticated structures but not the next are of reconnaissance -- mixture of reconnaissance and communications to deal with it. russia can certainly do better, but it is not a country with its budget that can operate the level the united states can. countries like saudi arabia and the uae have capable combat units, but not the battle bow -- not the battle management that the u.s. does. to some extent we have created an expectation of air power. but how much you practically can deal with the saudi and uae on this issue simply is not clear. they will get, under the plans
morealready exist, precision munitions. --s meets one basic criteria if you don't give them those munitions, they will use non-precision munitions, which means more collateral damage and civilian casualties. not every arms deal is one that adds to the problem. some of them actually added to the solution. >> with that we will call it a day. please take a look at your inboxes later in the day. we will have the transcript by this afternoon. if you are not on our mailing lists, come find me and i will make sure you are put on. once again, thanks for joining us.
>> next on c-span, the economic implications of proposed tax plans from donald trump and republicans. then the ninth circuit court of appeals regarding the president's revised travel been. later, the state department briefing on the civil war in syria and killing of political prisoners. >> c-span's "washington journal," live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up tuesday morning, professor university discusses the rent somewhere computer virus that affected 150 countries. democratic congressman mike doyle on the efforts to repeal
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