tv Forum Previews Presidents Trip to the Middle East CSPAN May 19, 2017 2:40pm-4:04pm EDT
and deliver remarks at a meeting with nato and then the president goes back to italy for a g-7 meeting in sicily. we previewed the president's trip. the discussion is about an hour nd 20 minutes. >> thanks for everyone here who came on time. and i just wanted to give brief introduction. i'm colin quinn, deputy director of strategic communications here at csis. just a few points of order for housekeeping purposes. we will be keeping a transcript of this. use the microphone. in terms of run of play, the doctor on my left is going to take us through the first portion of the trip and then followed by our deputy director of europe program and senior
fellow will take us through the remainder. following that we'll open up for questions so hopefully we'll get to opens. without further ado, i'll open it up to tony. tony: thank you, colm. normally when a president goes to israel, you have a very of 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's also a lot of underlying issues and how many will 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 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 abbas visit and how will he discussing a tense situation between israel and the palestinian authority and what is happening in gaza? there is the problem for israel of what is happening in egypt which is equally important to the united states. it's a problem of 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 -- 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 most you will actually liberated and
isis driven out of its pseudocapital in raqqah. because for israel that may mean it faces a significant and very different extremist threat somewhere on its border area. there also is the fact that uring all of these conflicts that hezbollah has steadily built up its missile forces. effectively rearmed, gotten better capabilities so you have lesser threat of hezbollah in lebanon than at the point that israel fought the war over the threat in that rea. 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 needs for a security posture but it's always interesting to see what happens during a presidential
visit. the saudis i think will always be more problematic. every time we have vaste to saudi arabia we again discover we have a major ally that has a very different political system and culture and a very different approach to human ights. and i think some issues are fairly obvious. one is 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 of ntage of its economy ny 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 ost of you know. it comes generally closer to .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 less, basically, as a defense effort than a third of the u.s. effort in terms of defense spending. the other issue is how you ompare it to local powers.
it is about three times the highest estimate for iranian military spending in terms of total spending in 2015. it's true that saudi arabia has ut this spending level, cut it fairly significantly between 2015 and 2016. but it's also important to note that saudi arabia's primary ource of income, its oil export earnings, have dropped about 46% between 2012 and 016. 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 haring 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 future period of years.
the third is how does it affect audi arabia's industrial base and offsets? because one of the goals that saudi arabia has announced is to stop spending on imports of finished goods and produce its own equipment. ut from a practical viewpoint, and particularly from a u.s. viewpoint, one of the critical shifts that is likely to come ut of this announcement is that the u.s. has long pressed saudi arabia to improve the quality of its naval forces in he 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 be a very key issue in terms of reassuring the saudis. frankly the saudi reaction toward the end of the obama administration was they were dealing 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 re-establishing confidence is going to be a security goal, it also according to at least a number of people will come at the potential expense of pressure on human rights. tied to that are other issues. there are about 65,000 saudi students in the united states that are basically standard under graduate students. f 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. some 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, hich 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. 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. they are mixed between the thi 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 osul is liberated? what will the u.s. do there? to what extent will it stay? what happens in terms of the potential conflicts between arab and kurd or sunni and shiite? what happens to the various militias? hat 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 sometimes 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 oyal family.
with that, let me shift things over to jeff. jeff: well, thank you, tony. thank you, colm. 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. o the president will go to vatican city. he'll have a meeting with pope francis. from there he will go to russels. there are three things that will happen in brussels. there will be a meeting with the e.u. leadership in some form. probably a meeting with e.u. council president and the european commission president. 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 emmanuel macron 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 sicily where he will participate in the g-7 ummit. now, this is the first test 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 hamburg, germany in july. managing multilateral relationships is always a challenge and making changes -- progress in a multilateral format requires painstaking 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 eam. but i think, also, it's ttributable 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 go that supports the joint comprehensive plan of action, for example, the iran deal, or in the arctic council ministerial at least some reference to climate hange. and so president trump is one of four new leaders in the g-7. the host, the prime minister of italy, the newly elected french resident macron, u.k. prime minister theresa may will all be participating for the first time in a g-7 summit and there are three or maybe four members of that consolation who will have elections soon: uk on june 8. france which will have parliamentary elections on june 11 and 18. in a two-round format.
germany, september 24. and possibly italy having early elections but at the latest will have them next spring. while this trip may not directly influence the outcomes of any of those elections it perhaps brings to mind the saying when america sneezes the orld catches a cold. so when president trump shakes the foundations of the u.s.-led order does the rest of the orld feel an earthquake? if we look at the agenda for the stops in europe there is sort of an incongruence 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 items on the nato agenda. there will be three main things. first is defense resources, defense spending which the u.s.
administration has 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 defense 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% and that's an additional $10 billioneuropean and canadian from 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, till not enough.
but progress in that direction. if you look at the big allies, you see increases in defense spending there as well. germany's defense budget up by 8% this year. 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 now, 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 frankly rapid rise in spending by major countries has a major risk of inefficient spending. 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 truggle this time because of this is when countries spend on their own expense. this is not paid to the united states in any sense. there is no such thing as arears at nato or debts owed for past years. now, there is some small amount of pools or common funding at nato. if you combine all those budgets t's about $2 billion a year. nato's commonly funded spend
something small by comparison. of that european allies spend about $242 billion. the other big agenda on the item on the nato agenda is terrorism. nato has had problems to try to fight terrorism. so this is not a new thing. i would remind that afghanistan, the afghanistan mission is now i think in its 14th year. nato has trained iraqi security forces, has had programs to fight or combat proim advised explosive devices and to share knowledge and technology among allies. this is not new. the challenge has always been how to make -- how to use or adapt nato's primarily military instruments to the fight against terrorism. technology among allies so this
is not new. the challenge has always been how to make a used or that nato's primarily military instruments for the fight against terrorism and this is a big challenge. some of the things under consideration is whether nato take a greater role in the coalition against isis. right now nato is part of the seat at the table. -- there is a readiness from what i understand in the region for negative to take on that greater role. it is not yet agreed and it is still under discussion. nato could do more in training iraqi security forces and building up the programs as well as providing more support in uilding up their apacities. the last thing to mention about nato is russia is going to be less -- going to be on many llies minds. russia's military modernization nd treaty violations and its
occupation of territory of countries in europe like ukraine and georgia remains in the eyes of many allies a threat that the face. how the alliance responds is a key issue. he u.s. and nato allies -- have got a forward presence now in yeernyurepped and they'll be looking for the united states to reaffirm that commitment so troops and support for that policy and i think that will play -- that will be a major issue even if it is not one of which they make any kind of declaration. with the eu we can enter more this in the q and a. this is the biggest relationship in the work of a transatlantic relationship between u.s. and the eu. it represents about 46% of global gdp. so clearly this relationship will be a key one, and 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 toward major partners, and so this meeting may be an opportunity to start setting some direction on that. and then just to look at what some of the countries around the g7 table will have on their ind. in germany chancellor merkel, her party just one a major state election yesterday in 20% of germany's population. she will be feeling more confident and looking more likely to remain in office after the elections this september. emmanuel macron makes his first foreign visit as president today to berlin where they will talk about how they reconstitute, if they can, the franco german engine in europe and what this means for european, the future of the european union. angela merkel of brexit on her
mind as well. if we look at france, macro face of parliamentary elections next month, and that will determine whether he's able to capitalize on his landslide you might call it a landslide with an asterisk, that he won just a week ago. so will the other parliamentary majority or a workable coalition that will allow him to estimate the economic reforms and other reforms he has prioritized. prime minister may face is a general election on june 8 and rexit of course is the principal issue going forward. and in italy, prime minister gentiloni will be the host of this g7 summit but maybe also the last one he host because italy is likely to have come will have elections before the spring of next year, and his party has reconfirmed as its leader the prime minister until recently.
so when that an election happens there will be with wednesday as the principal candidate and the question there is whether early elections are on the agenda, and if so what that means for the prospect of the pd. that was a bit long, i apologize. i will stop and look forward to discussions. >> plenty of time for questions about open that up now. just one point of order if you could. state your name so you can make it easier to find yourself in he transcripts later on. >> george, "national journal." if i can start with two questions. what are the other leaders looking for from president onald trump? what do they need to see? and secondly, we've all seen he has a tendency come his dealings with foreign leaders on the phone, and in meetings at the white house, to go off script and not do what the state department and aides wanted him to do.
what are the risks for that kind of style in these kinds of eetings and summits? >> let me begin with israel. i think that what israel does not want or particularly this prime minister doesn't want, is ny issue or any attempt to force a clear statement on the two state solution. it will be interesting to see hat position he takes on jerusalem, the normal pattern is to want to move the capital but not to insist on it and usually get a quick quid pro quo of some sort for not doing so. but above all i think what israel wants is to see that there is this commitment to reserving its edge insecurity,
that they do have a strong ally that will not push them constantly on the peace process, that we will stay in the gulf and we will keep our forces in a posture where they will deter iran, that we will maintain support for the iraqis and the iraqis central government, and that the u.s. role in dealing with syria but also jordan and lebanon will be one that reassures those countries. i've already mentioned egypt. these are all things which, from srael's viewpoint, are key mr. netanyahu is perfectly capable of dealing in very sophisticated ways with
americans and in this case there seems to be a good relationship and one he has no incentive to disturb. i doubt very much if president trump will push the envelope here. with the saudis, there is the fact you have both a king and a crowned prince and the crowned prince is the more public, active, known quantity. i think, however, the saudis also have been dealing with the u.s. and even the younger saudis have about 30 years of experience in dealing with u.s. officials. we often tend to forget that there is an amazing degree of continuity and experience in dealing with the vagueries of american policy. which can be vague even when they're planned. it doesn't take a sudden decision by a president. what i think is very hard to
predict at this point is how well the president's been briefed, how clearly he will deal with the burden sharing argument. i have to say that i may or may not differ somewhat swha with jeff over this whole issue. i was part of the nato force planning exercise several centuries ago and quite frankly i think this whole 2% and 20% goal are mutually ridiculous. if you actually look at what they buy, you can't find any explanation at all of what going to 2% will actually do to change the force posture. 20% often simply means a countries going to spend more on subsidizing its defense industry, and that record to date on european cooperation is that it is remarkably expensive
and remarkably inefficient. it's also i think kind of interesting. i mentioned saudi arabia is defense spending. it's about $57 billion in 2016. what would you think russia's would be, particularly when the u.s. is spending something on the order of 600 billion? according to the international institute of strategic studies, which is about as authoritative as they get, russia spent all of about $59 billion on defense last year. that is one-tenth of the american total. france spent 47 billion. it's not too far from the russian total. the uk spent 53 billion, which is even closer. germany is further down at 38 billion, but germany basically in recent years has probably been the least effective defense spender in the nato alliance.
it's a force posture has shrunk far more quickly and its readiness that its defense spending. and, of course, it's one of the most critical single country in the alliance. in contrast to that in saudi arabia does what i think it will do, something we've been seeking for about ten years, which is to improve its naval forces, will actually take place. that should be at least a source of some consolation. but i would have to say that we would all be better off if the president focus on the quality and meaning of what spending accomplishes, rather than spending. i only have about half a century of government experience, but but i can't think of worse criteria than actually 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. >> thanks. just to add to that. i think what do european leaders want from the trump administration, i think what he would all love is continuity. on the one hand there's been a reversion by the president to come support of words with respect to nato. i think a statement that the u.s. stands by its article v commitments and indeed that the united states sees its defense as linked to europe would be extremely important. the u.s. defense relationship with europe is not based on generosity. it's based on protecting u.s. secret interests. and so a clearer recognition of that would be valuable. i think you look at the economic side, no major disruption to trade,, relationships would be a
key goal. i think everyone realizes that the u.s. administration is going to focus first on nafta, on its trade agenda. so people will look at that arefully to see what implications that has for t-tip or for the future of u.s.-european union trade negotiation. it's worth pointing out that the president seems to come around that the u.s. trade, what ever discussion just as with europe on trade will be conducted with the european union and not with individual member states, exception perhaps with the uk once it has left the european union. so there is then also a reversion to a more orthodox policy. i think on russian sanctions the europeans will be looking for a coordinated approach. they don't want to the rug pulled out from underneath them. the u.s. has been edging in the
direction of that kind of reassurance in the g7 foreign ministers declaration, for example, and in the way it's characterized it sanctions on russia over ukraine. same thing with iran. iran remains a controversial topic in the u.s., and the major european countries want to cbs stick to the jcpoa and not engage in policies that could weaken it. that's the principle concern. and that's without even getting to climate change and the paris agreement where european partners will be greatly troubled by a withdrawal of the u.s. that gets to the point about isks that you asked. president donald trump is not particularly popular in europe. a recent survey in germany show 22% of the german population considers the u.s. a trustworthy partner. that's two percentage points better than their view of russia. and that's a dramatic decrease from a year ago. so the risk for european
politicians is the closer they get to the trump administration and to the trump administration agenda, the greater the risk of some out of left field shift in u.s. policy, leaving them out on limb. and so that i think is a major, certainly if you look at hancellor merkel position as she looks ahead to the german election but she wants strong transatlantic relationship but a few stray tweets or statements can leave her in extremely ifficult position. a recent survey in germany show 22% of the german population considers the u.s. a trustworthy
partner. that's two percentage points etter than their view of russia. and that's a dramatic decrease from a year ago. so the risk for european politicians is the closer they get to the trump administration and to the trump administration agenda, the greater the risk of some out of left field shift in -- 2% of their gdp who do not get much out of that at least in terms of capabilities that are at the disposal of the entire nato alliance and contributing to transatlantic security. the challenge has always been to find better measures of quality and better, more meaningful and i can be distilled into something politically powerful. so that's always been the challenge. going off script i think, it's about the risks. that's why you have the benefit of things like declarations, communiques, whatever you want to call it that come out of these major multilateral, sometimes bilateral beauties -- bilateral meetings is they give you some sort of a ballast. if someone says something down the road that is controversial
you can always go back to your piece of paper and say look, this is the declaration we agreed at nato. we agreed on defense pending. we agreed on a unified stance with regard to russia did we agreed to do more on terrorism. that's what i as a national leader have committed to working with the united states on. if you don't have those kinds of things, then you have, then these variations or his stray comments can have a impact. and you can wind up churning up not only the u.s. news cycle but the new cycle in your major allies as they scrambleto try to deal with the fallout of, you know, unintentional or intentionally disruptive comment. >> i am a private consultant with cnl resources. two questions. can you talk about the islamic military alliance to fight
terror, which is i think one of three kind of -- simple question, are they going to produce anything that passes the test in terms of real meaningful actions? second question for both of you. the russian shadow over the middle east portion of the visit. there had been a couple of notable side bar meetings between moscow a a couple weeks ago, lavrov in washington last week, mohammed back in washington today, all reportedly dealing with russia's role in syria, yemen, iraq, protecting jordan's flank from syria. so question, do you see russia
as being one of the sort of powers behind the scenes in what will be discussed in, i would've been discussed before, what is discussed in saudi arabia and having impact on the outcomes of those issues? >> let me begin with the first question. i think it is nice to have complex alliances with nicely ocused subjects. and it probably doesn't do any ubstantive harm, but cooperation in counterterrorism is extraordinarily difficult, ven in the west. to actually cooperate in counterterrorism between very diverse, often conflicting interests among given arab states is a lot harder. and part of it is that when you really look at the data in sources like the start database,
which is as close as when to an official database that's not classified, you suddenly begin to realize that terrorism is a ountry by country issue. it is not a matter of international terrorism dictated by isis centr. it is a mixture, for example, in yemen, you have a question of first who is a terrorist and you have certainties which is al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. how closely that is tied to al qaeda anywhere else is extremely questionable. there doesn't seem to be an al aeda central in the normal sense. we in the united states right now are focused on isis, or isil, as a key threat.
looking at the figures for the meaner region, isis is responsible for about, well, the figures go back to 2015, but all of about 5% to 6% of of the total number in terrorist incidents in the meaner region. it is very different when you go from terrorism to counterinsurgency and war fighting in iraq and syria, that isn't terrorism. and i think that you're going to find that the alliances may or may not produce some kind of benefits of exchange of information. but several of the arab states don't agree anymore on how to define a terrorist than we do with china. so it's good to start. i think the issues that may be more serious with the kingdom of saudi arabia has much more impact, is within the gulf cooperation council. about 17% of the world oil moves through that particular area the strata hormuz. while we're no longer as
dependent on oil imports directly, we are far more dependent on the flow of trade from asian states, which are critically dependent on coal -- gulf, ports so actually our dependence on oil exports has increased sharply and steadily over time. in spite of the increase in production. that's the kind of issue where the saudi role in a different alliance could be absolutely critical. the wildcard of their and the one which will be of great concern and much more all of these suppose it alliances is what happens to iraq. and particularly once we have effectively helped them win in mosul, how tied are the two eyes, to russia, to iran? what is iraq's future position relative to other arab states? you asked about the russian shadow, and it's a very good question. i think that one of the great problems we have is that so far
every time russian has talked about focusing on attacking terrorist targets, it has continued to attack arab rebel movements which are not terrorists. there are some good estimates that tried to deal with this by the institute for the study of war, but the fact is there are no public data that really describe the pattern of russian sorties that are reliable, that is very clear for a lot of them go. the other problem is the so-called de-escalation zones. what the amount is effectively some form of separation of syria on what seemed to be a very temporary basis between the assad dominated areas and those which are now dominated by arab rebel factions, again, increasingly ones which are
themselves dominated by al qaeda or other islamist extremist groups other than isis, and the areas still under control by isis whose volunteers are going to go somewhere after rock is -- raqqa is liberated, a country we also have the kurdish problem where russia has been playing a game which goes beyond simply playing states. it's also talk about dealing independently with the various ethnic and sectarian groups. and all of that certainly is something where, at least as yet, we have a much broader problem, and this is something that may get raised during the trump visit to saudi arabia, i understand that the obama administration never announced a strategy or gave any statement whatsoever on what would happen
in iraq and syria after isis was efeated. and the trump administration is still under a 60 day effort to define that. so there may be questions. >> margaret. >> the james comey dismissal has made a lot of waves back on domestically, creating a political cloud over stuff like health care and tax info and such. our -- are leaders in the middle east or europe even remotely aware of this? does it have any bearing on the trip whatsoever? andy you think it will have any impact on the message or the ocus or how others look at the
u.s., the administrations -- administration's ability to get things done? thanks. i also have a pope question. >> okay. certainly our allies and partners in europe are following a domestic developments in the united states. i don't think is likely to change their approach to these meetings, whether they are bilateral or multilateral. and will the issues come up during the trip? i think that's probably dependent mostly on the raveling u.s. press corps in the various media of inabilities that happen. i don't see it as being at the top of the europeans agenda, although they certainly are following the developments here. >> just very briefly. i think one question everyone outside the united states has, 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 a question as he visits in the country. >> over to the right hand side of the room. at the very back. hanks. thank you for the briefing. 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, he likes to boast come he likes to say something about his skills and his performance as a leader. so what kind of person, what kind of goals will donald trump for his overseas trip?
thank you. >> well, first of all, i think, i can't state with certainty that will not be a g7 declaration. i simply said that it appears possible there will not be one. so i don't know if there's any chance that might change. but the objective. i think the objective for the united states and, from the president's point of view, is to show the united states active but without pinning it down on any particular policy. that's the tension in the stops a special in europe, nato, eu, 7. because on the one hand the administration wants to show that it is engaging effectively with major global partners. but by the same token, as far as
the policies that will guide this administration for the months and years to come, they largely have not been developed yet. so it's this, in the administration would struggle with his early under i think it's an even greater struggle this time because of the slow pace of constituting the nexus between sort of policy expertise and political roles inside the government. and it means that you've got a elatively thin agenda. >> well, if i were the president and i was able to announce there is a major new arms deal worth tens of billions of dollars at a minimum, i would probably note that 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 his security
contribution to the sort of strategic partnership. i think, too, that if there were any announcement about u.s. cooperation with saudi arabia and creating a defense industrial base i would probably take advantage of that. beyond that i would probably want to announce that he met, we had agreed on a strong position relative to iran. probably one more focused on the goal and iranian influence, then on the nuclear issue, which quite frankly is the saudi certainly the nuclear issue is one of concern. but it's sort of about fits in -- about fifth in terms of saudi concerns over iran, which are much more tied to iran spreading influence in the region and the qaeda threat it poses from its missile and asymmetric forces. >> i remember margaret had a follow-up on a pope question.
i forgot. >> thanks. so president donald trump is meeting with, you know, the pope and they don't have the best relationship during the campaign. what is in it for president trump to have a reset? what is in it for the pope, if anything, and what should we ook for? >> i think both sides have been pretty circumspect about the genda and any outcome. so i think it is, on the one hand, an introductory get to know you sort of a meeting. i think from the presidents point of view he will want you want to come out of me able to -- come out of that meeting able to say he has got a good with the hope and thereby to sort of 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. and i think for the pope, it is also, it's 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's on immigration or social issues. f he so chooses. dimon, cnn. president donald trump has really seems reassured the gulf states, saudi arabia in particular with the way that his conduct of foreign policy, returning it to very firmly pro-saudi/anti-iran-u.s. posture
in the world. to what extent do you think that's going to help the president extract certain concessions or support from saudi arabia and the gulf states what comes to those fighting isis in the middle east but also with regard to the israel palestinian peace process? to what you doesn't what extent on the peace process trump might win new cooperation from saudi arabia and the gulf states on that issue? >> let me begin with the peace process. i don't know what concessions he would see, because quite frankly nd less this visit israel is far more productive that i think most people estimate it will be, he will try i think you talk to mr. netanyahu about preserving at least the shell of an effort
to keep the two-state solution going and limit settlements. but the fact is, israeli domestic politics really don't lend themselves to reaching that particular conclusion. it doesn't seem to be one of the prime ministers priorities. you have a divided week -- 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 a problem of the gaza are you now have its own olitical difficulties. so trying to seek concessions from the gulf states on a peace process, remembering that the official position of saudi arabia and that of arab states is peace proposal, which in many ways closely parallels the idea
of the two-state solution, always subject to the uncertainty of the 1967 - 1967 line. and because of the way everybody quotes this, we forget that the u.n. never endorsed the '67 line. it used the phrase with djustments, which is not exactly a line in the sand by any standard. so how you sort this out in a presidential visit i would say is not going to be a particularly credible priority. you would have to have the participants in a better position. nd they are not ones who are suddenly going to be pressured from the outside without both sides being much closer to agreeing. within the gulf you need to be really careful. we already are basing an
operating out of most of the smaller gulf states. we have cooperated closely with oman which is not a country in a position to spend more pickets actually spending more of its economy on security than saudi arabia. it's one of the highest spenders in the world. there is virtually no slack in that economy. and if you look at the situation in oman, you'll find something very surprising about it. it's 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, what you can do in the uae with qatar, i think you already have about as much a you can credibly get. and you need to realize that part of that is an immense backlog of interoperable unitions, equipment, spares,
ability to operate u.s. forces n the event of a serious war with iran, and already a pledge to seek a common missile defense against iran. you are talking an absolutely immense potential nvestment. this is not something that the president can go to saudi arabia and deal with, because remember, you not only have the 60 days to talk about solutions in dealing with the war on isis, you have an executive order calling for conference of review of u.s. strategy in providing that part of the 2018 budget ubmission.
and here i read very cautious to ask for a really dramatic u.s. initiative before you have greed on what you are doing in terms of budget submission in the first strategies that these are completed. might be a little premature. >> hi, ways of america. oing back to the main issue, president trump has called night out and obsolete organization. t the same time, and eastern europe it is something that ensures security and russia. in our group we in georgia and ukraine were given membership ack in 2008, we would not have
occupation of georgia or ukraine. do you see the nato expansion issue being that the trump administration? >> when the nato secretary-general visited a ouple weeks ago, and the press availability they had after the meeting, the president added a comment to the obsolete comment. he said, i said it before. it's no longer true. regardless of how you judge that, it's important to start with that. with respect to eastern europe, nato's importance to countries on nato's eastern flank has been dramatically raised over the last few years and that is why also you have rising defense bending across the eastern alliance. poland connoisseur in romania, soon all three of the baltic states as well as some other place is. the question of georgia and ukraine. first, i don't see major change in its policy on enlargement at this leader's meeting. i don't think it's going to be a
top item on the agenda. frankly it's a short and it's going to last a couple hours. so it is not a full summit like you would have under other is where you get into almost every issue. this is an introductory meeting. it's not a full-blown summit. second, i don't think that anything has changed fundamentally in the alliance dynamics with regards to enlargement. they stand behind the open door. in fact, you have the admission of montenegro as the 29th member with the ratification of that being complete. but i don't think there is any appetite to press ahead rapidly n enlargement in other spheres. the cooperative relationships with georgia and ukraine will continue. they may intensify in some areas, the open door policy is not going to change.
>> time for a couple more questions. >> thank you. howard the frank with the "christian science monitor." he entioned several times the differences with the saudi's on human rights issues. we have seen some indication from the president and the administration's though far that there might be a different perhaps downplaying of human rights concerns and relations with other countries. the president received, president sese at the white house is expressed a certain amount of praise for men around the country, around the world. i am wondering, to what extent 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 sort of
setting off in a new direction? >> i think that it's very difficult to tell because you have seen people like secretary mattis, general mcmaster, secretary tillerson and people with concern of human rights and very pragmatic terms. but that doesn't mean in different. you also have a question about focus. humans may organizations in the est tend to focus on improving human rights from a western perspective. when you look at saudi society and some of you i suspect have
lived there revisited air, it is an extraordinarily conservative population. what you have seen over the years as the royal family and a ort of intellectual elite, business elite, often modernizing saudi arabia from the top rather than somehow sitting on public demand for t. you have a society one way or another where the royal family as a catalyst in creating a country where there is now more women graduating from secondary school, colleges and universities and men. you are talking about a country which in terms of its social contract actually meets the ocial contract and medicine, housing and serious effort to job creation. if you go back to the definition of human rights found that people tend to forget that the
ability to actually live in material terms that are secure is one of those right guaranteed by the u.n. charter and by our policies. i think that this is not a casual issue at the moment in the middle east. you have a lot of societies which in the course of the war on terrorism have become much ore controlling. you also have a lot of countries which because of that struggle had seen serious economic problems and political turmoil growing out of the event of 011. egypt, tunisia, morocco, each of them have confronted not only the problem of dealing with extremism, but the very material problem of how you preserve a social structure. you are talking about countries where we tend to think of them as oil-rich, which is only
credible until you don't look -- as long as you don't look at the amount of oil income per capita, which doesn't make anybody oil-rich except qatar basically. where you've seen again and this is an important point to remember. when we talk about human rights instability and countries you've seen on an average of 46% cut in their petroleum export revenues in the course of the year, you have a lot of adjustment and planning problems at 2030 and 2020 issue, which in humans rights are materially far 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 a massive influx of syrian refugees but almost incredible strains on its economy and all of the security problems involved? you have probably seen advances in human rights in lebanon, but not the kind that are normally advanced by human rights advocates, they're a result of the fact that you got a reasonably successful compromise at an actual government between its factions. so i think the honest answer to your question is, in some ways we tend to focus on improsing -- on imposing one set and one part of our values in human rights. i think this administration may be somewhat more practical. but whether over the course of four years is going to be any less interested in the role of a -- the rule of law, stability,
the factors are critical to fighting terrorism. i don't think there's any way to tell. again, sometimes you need to show a little patience. >> hi there. mike manley with "the l.a. times." thanks for doing these briefings. one of my questions was on human rights so this will save us a little time. is it too early, will we ever be able to draw conclusions about whether the election of trump has either advance national movements in europe or in some ways provoked a counter response to it? related to that comment to think other world leaders fully understand what america first means? has there been some retreat with this reformulation of what we heard from mcmaster last week that america first is not made america alone and embrace of the multilateral institutions we might not have it acted otherwise.
-- expected otherwise? >> excuse me. think -- pardon me again. the question is whether donald trump's election provoked similar movements. these existed before his election. the national front has been a growing force in french politics for a long time. they have some similar characteristics, but the extent to one feeds or promote the other. perhaps the most abstract level of the legit looking to send that possible inconceivable and contribute may be to a public recognition that change is that sort can have been. it's a question of how much of what is going on his backlash gainst that.
you could argue the dutch lections in the french presidential election represented a backlash against that and a reversion. that's an arguable point the fact that center-right politics s moving to the right. but you have in the netherlands and also what you had with republicans in france is a shift to the right with the territory and take away some of the oxygen from the far right to 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. yesterday 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. as a bumper sticker -- beyond it being a bumper sticker, i don't think our allies understand what hat means. with respect to national security advisor's explanation on friday at the start of the white house press briefing, the 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 estern or alliance good.
that is what has allowed leaders f very different persuasions and a very different social political contexts to tie themselves so closely to the united states. it is still a big 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 .s. need saudi arabia? there is some news about the trump administration thinking of sending u.s. troops to afghanistan. will the saudis ask the u.s. administration to increase u.s.
troops in syria to fight isis, and will the saudis ask for more troops, i mean boots on the ground regarding fighting isis, and regarding more involvement, more u.s. involvement in the fight in yemen? thank you. >> i did not hear the latter. >> yemen. the u.s. role. >> okay. i think when it comes down to he fight against terrorism, if you look from about 2003 on at he state department reports on terrorism, you will see saudi arabia identified as a critical partner in counterterrorism. a lot of that has been expanded 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 terrorism in a critical country in terms of our economy, that is reserving the flow of gulf oil exports, there's no question that saudi arabia has been a critical partner. you only have to look at the tate department reporting, which basically is fair to say reflects the views of the national counterterrorism enter. 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. forces is in syria, iraq, and afghanistan. we are not talking combat units. when you talk about additional forces for afghanistan, it would be in the train and assist mission, 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 somehow gotten translated into total manning rather than what the manpower does. there is nothing more meaningless than reporting on a security system than 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 assist from the rear to trying
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 ighters. there is no discussion of roviding 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 ountry would immediately correct the problem of resistance among factions, particularly the units that support iran, various shiite ilitias. it would be politically destabilizing in iraq. and exactly where you would put them in syria if what you want is to develop syrian forces that can occupy the area and provide
civil stability after, you can't o that with u.s. troops. i think the saudis are as aware of it at this point 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 started in the 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 houthi solely.
it's them and the solid faction f the yemeni military. 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. the u.s. -- again, to put conventional u.s. ground troops into one of the most complex ethnic sectarian forms of asymmetric war possible, at this point simply is not likely to be 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 mproved. 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. it became clear that britain and france can't do it. they have highly sophisticated structures but don't have the mixture of reconnaissance and communications to deal with this. russia can certainly do better, but it is not a country with its budget that can operate the air operations at the level of the united states can.
countries like saudi arabia and the uae have capable combat units but don't have the battle management and i.s.r. assets the u.s. does. to some extent we have created an expectation of air power. which is demanding enough for the united states. 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 that already exist, more precision munitions. this 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. thank you for starting your week with us. please take a look at your inboxes. later in the day we will have the transcript, probably 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. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> tonight on c-span2, an encore "q&a" with roger ailes, the founder and chair of fox news who died this week at 77. inhe
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