tv IISS - The Rise of ISIS CSPAN October 3, 2017 4:22am-5:30am EDT
atand you spent the day walter reed? >> yes. the guys who took me around our in the services. fabulous men. mike and john. these boys had unbelievable courage and they still said for the most part they were glad that they did it. they felt it was their duty. orouncer: for the past years, the video library is your resource for politics, congress, and recent affairs. so whether it happened 30 minutes ago or 30 years ago, find it in c-span's video library. c-span, where history unfolds daily. announcer: now a discussion on the rise of isis and how u.s. foreign policy has impacted that organization. this hour-long event was hosted by the international institute for strategic studies.
>> good morning. well, welcome to the america's office of the international institute of statistics that these. my name is dana allen, i am a senior fellow at the london office, and also editor of the iiss journal, survival which is the reason we are here tonight. next to me i have the co-authors of the lead article in our june-july issue. professors. peter is professor of political science and public policy at duke university and he also directs the american grand strategy program and the triangle institute for security studies from june 2005 to june 2007. studies from june 2005 to e 2007. he was on leave as is national advisor for strategic running and as additional reform on the
national security staff of the george w. bush white house. he's the author or coauthor of five books including "pain, the human costs of war." published by princeton in 2009. and to my far left, dr. hal brands is the henry kissinger distinguished of -- distinguished professor of global affairs of johns hopkins school of advanced studies. he's also a senior fellow at the center for strategic and budgetary assessments. his most recent book is making , u.s.ique polar moment foreign policy and the rise of the post cold war order from cornell. book calledunning a america in the age of trunk which will be released next year. the title of their article is, "was the rise of ice is inevitable?" it's a counterfactual question
that touches on the most contentious issue of u.s. policy in this injury. -- u.s. foreign policy in this century. these include whether it was a good idea for the bush administration to decide to invade iraq and whether it was a good idea for the obama administration to withdraw almost all u.s. troops in 2011. and i think the impressive achievement of this essay is that, you know, the authors don't see simple answers to any of these questions or any of the other counterfactual that they pose, but they don't let themselves off the hook they still provide answers and it's a really fascinating and from our point of view a very important article. we'll hear first from the two authors and we'll have a discussion starting with professor fever. >> thank you. it's good to be here and it's also fun to talk about work that i've done with hal. it's been a wonderful ride working with hal closely over the last seven or eight years or
so and this article in particular, came out of teaching that we were doing together. we co-taught a course on american grand strategy which is mostly an important for him to see how many times he could trick me into telling the same war story over and over again, he and the students were in cahoots on this. but we also were trying to teach our students how to do policy analysis, how to evaluate policy choices and along the way became clear that the students were uncomfortable with the idea of counterfactual analysis, even though counterfactual analysis is at the very heart of policy. if you're making a policy recommendation, you're saying do , x so as to cause y to happen and if you don't do x, you won't get y to happen and of course that policy recommendation is , making a counterfactual claim about what won't happen if you don't take a certain action. and when you're looking back in time evaluating policy choices, you're necessarily doing counterfactual analysis and
students struggled to do it well. the discipline of history treats it as a parlor game. is eleanor roosevelt could fly how would world war ii turn out, these kinds of crazy fake history. -- policyt what versions of counterfactual policies are about so we wanted to set about doing it right. the importance of getting it right is making your counterfactuals explicit. everybody is doing counterfactual analysis but most people are doing it implicitly. they're not explicitly laying it out. so that is what we wanted to do, and exercise in doing that. now, they're hard to do because once you change one thing then of course you have to think seriously about the implications of that and you can quickly unravel the analytical sweater. so to make it tractable, we tried to pick events that were
relatively approximate to the question. the rise of isis. you could go back to the split between as you knowi and shia a -- split between the sunni and shia, a thousand years ago but , that kind of counterfactual analysis is not very useful because so much would've changed but decisions that were more proximate to our current situation that was a more useful form. you try to minimize the number of changes you make. you try to pick alternatives that are plausible but that were seriously debated inside the administration at the time so you could credible say that the -- credibly say that the president could have made this other choice. and then you look at the good and the bad consequences of it. it's easy to get counterfactual analysis wrong. it's easy to mischaracterize it and we're trying to be very clear that we are not blaming president bush or president obama for the atrocities committed by isis. isis deserves the blame for everything they have done but we are asking the question could different policy choices have positioned the u.s. to confront isis in a more effective manner than we were
able to? we look at four pivot points. we look at the decision to invade iraq, 2002, 2003. we look at the obama's decision 2011 that led up to the withdraw the forces out of iraq. we look at the decision not to have intervened with a larger arming of syrian rebels in 2011, not with the invasion but with more forward-leaning arming of the rebels. the last one is the decision not , to strike isis when it was on the highway approach is mosul. -- on the highway approaching mosul. i'll briefly summarize the iraq 2002 decision analysis and hal will do the more interesting ones. he gets to do the more interesting ones.
i say more interesting because , where we come down on iraq is pretty close to where the conventional wisdom i think does, which is that if the united states had not invaded iraq and if the occupation had -- if the stability ops phase of the war had gone better, either you didn't invade or you're able to rebuild order faster, if you changed those, then it's unlikely that we would've seen isis in the form that we did by 2014, 2015. al qaeda was there, al qaeda preexisted the decision to invade iraq, of course. but the form that isis took in 2014 where they were controlling large swaths of territory is hard to get there without the collapse of iraq and the problems that emerged.
now we don't follow the , conventional wisdom perfectly because i think when you dig into it it's a little more nuanced. the conventional story makes it seem pretty easy but there were a number of things that we would've had to deal with if we hadn't invaded iraq. we'd have to deal with the fact that saddam hussein has large stock piles of weapons of mass destruction. we only learned after we had invaded that he had gotten rid of them. the invasion itself had a pernicious effect on al qaeda, it became a rallying cry, but it also became a death trap. al qaeda flooded troops, their troops into iraq theater and through the course of the war and particularly the surge they were killed and dealt a very, very serious blow and so our analysis of iraq is more nuanced maybe than the conventional , wisdom. we come down basically saying that if you had not invaded iraq
and dealt with the problems that followed that it's hard to see , isis arriving at the stage it did. however, and this is an important pivot to hand it off to hal, that does not mean that the rise of isis was inevitable circa 2008, 2009 because there were at least two twoer pivot -- two other pivot point that hal will tell you about. hal on this note that peter and : i are deliberately playing so peter served in the bush administration and got to tell you the things that the bush administration did wrong. i served briefly in the obama administration and get to catalog the incidents that occurred under obama. so i will briefly focus on the three that peter mentioned. so the iraq draw down decisions in 2010, 2011, really in 2011 -- the theory of intervention decision really in 2011 and stretching into 2012 and the decision essentially not to
preempt isis before it took mosul in late 2013, early 2014 . i'm not going to go into chronological order in discussing these. i'm going to do something different. i'll go in order of the likelihood of achieving a different and better outcome had we followed different but plausible policies in these situations. the case that we actually consider least promising in the dust -- our assessment leads us to the least confidence that this would have changed for the better and this is the syria 2011, 2012. i think there's a strand of thinking that argues that the united states easily could have prevented the emergence of isis had it moved in a bigger way to bring about the fall of the assad regime or to intervene in a more significant way in this period. we having looked at this and dug into the evidence and thought the counterfactual think that this is a relatively weak
counterfactual. there were various options considered by the administration in 2011, 2012 period. everything from no fly zones to safe zones to alleviate civilian suffering, providing more support sooner to the moderate syrian rebels, cratering the runways so asan's air force assad's airside -- force couldn't operate even doing leadership targeting of regime elements. all of these things were rejected or downgraded and so the question is if the obama administration had pursued a more robust program of intervention in syria, could it could it have alter the dynamics of the conflict in a way that would have precluded the rise of isis, perhaps even brought the conflict to an end there by choking off the ideological fuel supply that asan's prepression was causing? the argument that this comes up with that this is probably not
that likely. these forms of intervention might have alleviated civilian suffering, they would have been given the united states a better in so they might have yielded some down stream benefits in terms of greater context, greater credibility when the united states ultimately did intervene in 2014. but we think it's unlikely that these events would have produced say a settlement of the civil war or forced assad to de-escalate and the major reason for this is basically two fold. the first is that it seems likely in light of later events that assad's external patrons would have matched any u.s. , iran and russia escalation in , syria and perhaps exceeded it which was, in fact, happened in 2015. second is that it seems that most of the options that were considered at the time , fundamentally underestimated assad's tenacity. this was an consistent chal existential fight for him.
and so intervention might have put us in a better position it might have yielded some humanitarian efforts but the effect wouldn't have been decisive decisive. -- decisive. a slightly different case when , you look at the 2013, 2014 decision involving iraq. this was really the last opportunity to block isis before it emerged in its fullest and most dangerous form before it gobbled up about a third of iraq and this was a time when the iraqis were, in fact, asking for greater assistance. they were asking for four military aid in late 2013 and then for a direct american military intervention including air strikes to block isis. now the administration held back from doing this for a variety of reasons, the most important of which was that it worried that iraqi's prime minister was part of the problem rather than the solution and the united states would simply become complicit in his repression if they got involved at this point.
so the question is, could a more robust program of intervention have had a mitigating effect on eiffel? militarily, the answer is yes. this is a time when isil, they would have been sitting ducks and their were sufficient american military essence in the region to carry this out. s in the regionet to carry this out. the problem here essentially is two fold, though. first intervening in iraq in 2014, early 2014 for instance, wouldn't have done anything about the syrian problem. syria's was really isis home base and that would have been most likely remained a safe haven. the second and arguably bigger problem is political which is that it was only when yooils --isileiffel -- i feel
-- it seems unlikely we would have been able to do that in 2014 and so we might have been ended up with precisely the obama administration worried about. where the united states was the shia air force conducting strikes. we would have had military gains. it would not have done anything to prevent isis from taking mosul and that just leaves the , last counterfactual which are the 2010 and 2011 decisions. there would have been a higher price to pay. this is actually a double counterfactual. could the united states have first, better influenced the iraqi government formation process in 2010 after the elections were deadlocked? could it have prevented mol lack lakiut it have prevented ma from taking another term? if the united states had left a stay behind force in iraq after 2011 as was initially the plan, would that meaningfully have impeded
rise? and we think this is the most plausible counterfactual. we can discuss these in the q&a but we think there was sufficient u.s. leverage to bring about a different iraqi government formation scenario in 2010 , whether that would have been iraqi primee stepping asidehi or simply doing a real power , sharing agreement with his rivals. we also think there was sufficient u.s. leverage and good will on the iraqi side to bring about a status force agreement that would have been kept u.s. forces in iraq after 2011. it would have required some flexibility in the negotiation but we think there was basically a possible agreement there and we identified about six or seven different ways in which such a force if it were between ten and , 15,000 troops actually would , have meaningfully affected the trajectory of events. providing better situational awareness and a number of other things as well.
such is more direct counterterrorism targeting in the 2012-2013 period. we don't claim that this is a silver bullet because one of the things we have to acknowledge is that a u.s. presence in iraq would have brought risks of its own. it would have been made united states vulnerable. we argue this was actually the most crucial juncture in the sense that this was the opportunity to stall or mitigate the rise of isis as reasonable cost. -- at reasonable cost. so in conclusion i will make three points here, which build a little bit on what you said and what dana said. so the first is that we do argue that the rise of isis was a tragedy. we think that had u.s. policy makers taken different policy choices at various junctures, isis probably would not have emerged as the full blown threat that it ultimately became. we can debate amongst ourselves which of these was most promising one. we think 2003 and 2011 were the critical ones. there were opportunities to shift the trajectory of events.
the second point is that we have to acknowledge that all the counterfactuals here are messier than they first appear and in some cases that's because changing the u.s. decision changes the subsequent course of history, so profoundly that it's hard to know how , better off you actually are. this is certainly the case had the united states not invaded iraq, for instance. and in some cases because the counterfactual that we posit have risks as well leaving a , stabilize force in 2011 for instance. either way the point is that it's a mistake to think that there was a silver bullet. there were better and worse policy decisions but there wasn't something that was so blindingly obvious that any fool should have done it. and the third and final point is in light of all this the debate over isis and the rise of isis needs to shift. it's really not that useful to focus on assigning blame because i think as our article argues, administrations of both parties made fairly significant errors. i think the key rather is to use counterfactual analysis seriously to get a more rigorous
, understanding of the options and alternatives and there by help us to better think about decision making in the future. we're going to confront dilemmas similar to the ones that american policy makers confronted in this period, right now. in fact, right now there are , discussions ongoing about what type of presence the united states will have in iraq after isis is defeated. to the extent we understand the past and we think seriously about the counterfac chalz that -- counterfactual that we present and the counter counterfactuals we argue that american policy will be better off for it. >> will thank you very much. it is a really excellent article and i commend to everyone in the , room and everyone whose watching. before i open it up to the floor, let me just ask two questions, one to each of you. the first one to peter is probably the biggest and most difficult question but i was very struck by -- when you were
going through the analysis of how counterfactual history makes sense, you had some rather sensible rules of thumb and one of those rules is you have to talk about -- if you're looking at counterfactual, you have to talk about realistic alternatives, things that were actually debated and politically possible and part of the political discussion. so for example, more robust aid to anti-assad rebels was debated and was debated within the obama administration. sending american troops to damascus was not. i'm just curious, this is a rather vague question, but it seems to me that that kind of question applies in spades to what were the realistic alternatives to not invading iraq in 2003? in all of our lives, this is the big counterfactual and i tend to personally subscribe to the
conventional wisdom that you've come to but it might not have taskit was a difficult that any administration was going to follow so i wonder if you'd like to say something about whether you have thought about that? go ahead and i'll ask hal a question. >> sure. one alternative that the administration could've -- alternative strategic judgment they could have reached this is , in the late 2001, 2002 time period. when it's clear to them that taliban has fallen and al qaeda's on the run so they feel like they have a way forward inside afghanistan and the question is, what's the next theater of operations in the war on terror? there was a strategic debate going on as to the nature of the threat. was the threat the possibility that terrorists would get weapons of mass destruction and
that's the most urgent thing that had to be addressed or was the threat that al qaeda could reconstitute itself by going to another ungoverned area and recreating the infrastructure of weapon rising resentment which , is what they had been able to build inside afghanistan? it's very understandable why they reached the conclusion that getting weapons of mass destruction was the most urgent threat. they needed to address that and it's understandable in hindsight that they reached it but it's , not implausible that they could have said, the reconstituting of al qaeda is the more time-sensitive one, and we need to pursue as al qaeda squirts out to other ungoverned
areas, whether somalia, yemen, maintaining the pressure on al qaeda there, is the best way to keep them on their heels, and that we have a little bit of time on the weapons of mass destruction-want -- front. we don't spend a lot of time on that argument in the paper but that was behind some of our thinking. reasonable people could've argued for one or the other of those descriptions of the threat and which one you buy into leads you into a different set of military options. i think it's implausible that the u.s. could have toppled the taliban gone home and be done , with the war on terror. that 2002 would have been the end of it, but were other avenues of pressure on al qaeda that they could have pursued and they might've and of course the other counterfactual vehicle that you can't get away with is what if we had known, had a better accurate picture of what the true state of iraqi wmd was
? and if we had known if we the u.s. government had known the true state of iraq's wmd stockpile in programs circa 2002 , then again, it is clear that the administration would not have been in the position to invade iraq. the premise for the invasion would not have been reached. the ongoing containment, ongoing sanctions pressure, yes, but not invasion. if you don't have the intelligence failure you don't get to the iraqi war. host: thank you. hal, i appreciate both of you arguing against your respective administrations, but i want to ask you something about where you land in your critique of the obama administration, which is something we actually discussed in the editorial process on this piece. if i understand you correctly,
your strongest critique is that period in terms of politics and the decision in the absence of a status of forces agreement to more or less give up. one thing you didn't say in the -- it's interesting that you put them together. i mean i understand how they go , together as schematically but , they are two distinct failures , that is what they are. but the other question i would ask is -- maybe to press you a little bit on the political realism of trying to keep troops in iraq against the clear, at least -- the clear public position of the iraqi aliment. i understand there are arguments that there were different ways of dealing with this problem and understandings and things that might not have required status
of forces agreement that would be approved by the iraqi aliment but that's in a sense a , political difficulty for the administration that was, as you pointed out, kind of committed to getting out any way. >> yes, and just to pile on, there's the further political difficulties that obama very much believed he was elected to get the united states out of wars in the middle east rather than to perpetuate them. i think we would answer this in two ways. first, with respect to the point that i raised about the political difficulty in the united states, the option of leaving to 15,000 troops in iraq 10,000 was still very much a live one within the administration at least at first. certainly we think it doesn't violate the minimal rewrite rule of counterfactual analysis. in fact there were people within , the administration that pushed very hard for this. obama himself initially indicated he was open to a 10,000 troop presence before subsequently whittling that
down. on the iraqi piece of it, it's complicated. by late 2011, you're right, that most of the major iraqi political figures would not publicly support a residual u.s. present. but earlier in the process in 2010, or early when the 2011, foundings were being done by people in baghdad, the basic consensus was that all of iraq's major parties save one would ultimately get behind this and the one was the block and that -- the sadras block. that ultimately proved to be particularly consequential because of the way that the iraqi government formation process went in 2010 essentially gave the sadras a veto of iraqi , public policy because soddress was the keyadra maker. this is a case where a different policy in one counterfactual
arguably opens up greater options in another or had we taken a different approach in 2010 we would not have been so politically constrained. even according to what people who worked in the state department dod have written, malaki was open to a presence of 20,000 american troops. and i think that one of the key factuals here is how damaging was it to the u.s. negotiating position that we kept whittling down the numbers so that by the time the position , was actually presented to malaki very late in the game, in mid-2011 it was 3,000 to 5,000 troops. alaki had tot, m make the calculation, was the security benefit from these troops sufficient to offset the offense to iraqi nationalism of having american troops left? part of the argument that we make, had you made a more robust offer it would've protected his political calculus.
>> can i add just one thing? the final deal that the u.s. government rejected at the end of 2011, which was a small stay behind force, 3,000 to 5,000 covered not by a agreement through the parliament but instead with immunity protection s guaranteed by the exchange of diplomatic notes between malaki's government and the united date that's exactly the , deal that president obama accepted in the summer of 2014 when he went back in and so it was ruled unacceptable into 2011 and it's understandable there's a unanimous opposition from u.s. ? lawyers in when the 2011. situation was -- in 2014, we sent u.s. in without any greater diplomatic immunity that in son what was offered
2011. in terms of counterfactuals it's rare that you get something a slam dunk case like that but it's clearly obvious that it was an acceptable deal because president obama accepted it in the summer of 2014. >> crucially it was an , acceptable deal if things had appreciated and foreseen the consequences of the -- >> of course. they realized how important it was in 2014 to be sure. it would've taken more courage to do it in 2011 but it was doable. >> thank you. >> ok. can i ask anyone who takes the floor to please identify themselves? >> [inaudible] sorry, we have paraphernalia right there. steve, with institutional analysis -- you're doing an excellent job of recreating history. one of the problems we have both in the united kingdom and the
state, is that i think we think that we have more ability to affect what happens on the ground, iraq of course is a complicated society. do you really think that the united states and iran you know, , in essence iran had to have a big roll in pushing molacki out. malki out. we saw him become more and more radical, he pushed people out of office. do you think of the u.s. had eight, but you could have pushed that he would've stopped urging people, such as the sunnis out of his government?
the one where we say this is possible but we are not sure it is a slamdunk is the argument that presidents would not have that would not have succeeded in getting rid of him. that was 2010, not 2011. it might have affected the psychology of iraqi politics. in the sense that, with the united states did between as the10 was asked provider of security that allowed iraqis to take a less zero-sum approach to politics. deals being cut and a more inclusive approach to governance at the beginning of the obama period then other cases.
had someou would have residue of that had the unit states stayed as a buffer between the various iraqi fashions. given the consequences of not trying i think he would argue that there was a benefit in giving this one a shot. >> two more points. was a natural experiment. 2009 -- two dozen 7, 2009, 2011, to the untold on. 2012 on is the worst of all. 2009-2011 not nearly as good as 2007-2009. same leader different performance.
when he can count on u.s. commitment we get a different performance from him. it is a lot of leverage that we have. that is different to thousand 7-2009 then we saw 2011. athink it is reasonable that u.s. stay behind force would have adjusted his regulation somewhat and maybe the touch relation some other iraqi leaders. hinge onent does not that. the appoint a make as -- his the changes in u.s. policy. a totally different story. there narrowly from perspective of foreign policy.
maybe not as much as the local actors but enough to matter. >> one other thing. one of the issues we tried to address but we acknowledge quite frankly the limits which we do it is every time you change u.s. policy, other actors change their responses. possible that in response to the u.s. stay behind dachshund do you ramp-up support or new york or down or what. thisink we dispose of particular one in a satisfying way but we are alert to the fact that every time you change one , there ist of change just a limit to how much one can
syria. did a solid have a hidden hand? hand?ad hav ea hidden >> i think that it would have placed syria in a better position to respond to the rise of isis so that the power imbalance between those groups would not have been pronounced as it was particularly in 2013-2014 which is when they began to metastasize in syria.
one of the tragedies here is one of timing is that the best opportunity to strengthen the syrian moderate was earlier. clear, i would not argue that this would be divisive, it probably would have been more opportune then than 2014. by 2014 the balance of military power and balance of ideological in syria had very much shifted to the extremists. empowering the syrian opposition to go after isis would have been a much tougher hurdle. we discovered later in 2014. with respect to assad's role, i think you flight a important piece of it which is often forgotten. the syrian role in fostering a q
i. there are two other ailments as well. provided the conditions in which a movement built on back allies sunnis could foster in syria. it created the situation in which groups like isis could seize territory in which they could establish training camps, all of the things that extremist organizations needed to do in order to flourish.
but i would think that there are two factors that were insufficiently appreciated. was simply the nature of the regime. regime inhe minority a sunni dominated country. i think there was fear on the assad. a sod -- if he wins it would open the floodgates to revenge killings and cleansing against the allied community. that may have been a reasonable fear. would imagine he served closely to what happened to gaddafi. basically he observed that it was very hard to think of what for afe is it plan was dictator like him. after it became clear there were a few places he could go externally.
tothe back of my mind as whether 10 years we will be asking ourselves whether the rise of post isis terror groups from that part of the world was -- itable and whether it wanted to you to unpack a little more about the relationship of >> we do look at the decision to not pay the beforeecurity forces they decided we are going to keep paying them. that is under a whole basket of, if we had managed that more effectively, particularly the first six months or so. could we have gotten a different outcome yet?
we look at that as under the umbrella. you don't invade or if you do invade having no better. this is an area where we have a disagreement. i have the 10 things that could have tripped the other way. 10 decision that could have been made a slightly different way. i think if you make all of those get away you might be in a different place in 2003. violated our criteria that we put up front. we do minimal changes not maximal changes. that is going to be written at some point when i get out from underneath this area it is funny you mentioned the surge. we did promote -- propose the sure if theye not would let us keep writing longer things. i wanted to include it to show
that we did make some choices that if we had not made it could've gotten even worse. there is a negative bias in our analysis. produced that may have negative consequences. what about a decision that produced consequences for this story but might not have been i believe if we had carried out that analysis we would look to the point that you raised. the tribal awakening had, within it, negative elements. those were minor compared to what would have happened if we had been if you did in iraq 2006, 2007. get the collapse of the security forces we saw in 2014. ,n the heels of the u.s. defeat
options coming back in and summer 2014 to rectify the situation. the rise of isis would have been even worse and might have come even sooner. >> i think the point you raise is important. i don't mean in my language to imply that protection is unimportant either in syria or today. the point i was making was simply that the scope of our analysis was would this have prevented the rise of isis? we look at that as an ancillary benefits. i think this is related but totinct to what we ask
prevent the emergence of a failed state. same depthdone the of analysis we had done on these of his things. is i think it is a very close call simply because , wedifficulties of doing so looked at these options many times and decided they would be too severe. efficientuences of an intervention had been worse than anyone ever imagined. in terms of destabilization of the region, europe politically. russian military power into the middle east. i'm not quite ready to buy into, i'm at least somewhat some pathetic to the argument that if you add up all of those horrible
calls of non-interventions there is a case to be made on separate grounds for doing more in syria. >> i think most people -- the organizing stills of their leader. and i'm a discussion not sure his name is mentioned anywhere which is surprising. was there ever a time when he became a person of interest and ,e might have taken him out having a effect on the rise of isis and intelligence failure -- theures on our part to
dynamics of the rise of isis by taking out its people in a critical moments. how do we know he would not have risen from the dead yet again? there is a lively debate about how much strategic effects you get from the cavitation. we have argued about this, but not in this piece. my view is that is clearly not a silver bullets. activitieswith other it can have a strategic effect. by itself does not have a strategic effect. if you overlie on that and ignore the other lines of action than you do not have an effective overall strategy.
this piece was more at looking at all of the rest of the stuff, setting aside the decapitations. that's unfair to your question are what gavees counterfactual history a bad name. if heather had been strangled in the cradle, what would have happened? those trying to avoid echoes or comparisons. >> the i think i would happen to add, i don't think it is a stretch to suggest u.s. intervention earlier than 2014 could have had significant military effects you given how hard we have been trying to find the sky and kill him since mid-2014 with a lack of apparent success, it may be that even if we appreciated precisely how important he was he would have struggled to finish him.
>> tv producer. the isis leadership was at one time confined in one of our prisons. our good friends were instrumental in financing isis that our nato i like turkey allowed free passage of fighters to the battleground that on one we dropped weapons into territory controlled by isis. army while they were engaged in battle with isis. doesn circumstantial evidence suggests that the united states role in the rise of isis might be more correct in that it would not be the first time we used islamic extremists in pursuit of our secular aims. >> i don't find a possible at all. wasn't think that the u.s.
directly trying to create isis as an arm to be used for some other strategy. isis inbation of prisons, which you flagged, was more unintended consequences of bad detainee policy area incarceration policy than it was a deliberate intended result. that is why our story is more of a tragedy than a crime story. not what the was president wanted to happen or the result of the policy choices that were made. we argue that in some cases alternative policy choices, which could have been taken, would have produced a less tragic results. i make clearly is
that these were all decisions that were taken by people of goodwill and good intentions who were trying to deal with extremely difficult problems. to go backely proper and criticize, to say they might've have done better. this might have been a better first. to be ino important the dilemma these folks found themselves in. they had to guess about what outcomes their policies would bring. cautionmethodological about history in the first place. it is an important endeavor and one that shows light on this and other policy issues. >> they play multiple roles and
i think that there's more for the sections that described, they were not the key factors u.s.were shaping decision-making in 2002, 2003. the success of the ypg, isis, makes complement it -- complicated one of the pieces described. one of the problems was a 2011 scenario. who could we have arms that would've been effective against isis? theyresent himself said are not fighters. who could we have armed? we found a very effective paramilitary force, the
syrian-based kurds. enablersined with u.s. and special forces units, that became the legal arm that broke had there been -- has there been something like that in 2011, have they been able to see some thing like that made yourble, analysis would've been different but that is a hard call. >> in particular because when we -- it was in the context of a counter isis campaign. when we were thinking about aiding rebel factions in there was not the
hostility between the ypg and aside regime that would have been needed to make that part percent viable. the other thing i think is important to keep in mind is was the u.s. decision incredibly, -- controversial double medically and internally this is turkey's al qaeda. this is a group they are most worried about. took the shock of isis overrunning most of eastern .yria as well to push the obama administration or any administration to take the step that took a cost with turkey. the only thing i would say is that the kurds play a big role
in their vulnerability in precipitation -- precipitating u.s. intervention against isis in august 2014. we were very worried about the .ulnerability it was less of a stretch to intervene on behalf of the kurds which generally behaves well then it was to intervene on behalf of the maliki government. the elephant in the room [indiscernible] much smarter than isis.
structuree deep into -- infrastructure. and then the question is who is going to fight them? the only people who fight them so far are russians and syria. what about them? do you think it is going to be [inaudible] >> this piggybacks on heather's question to an extent and goes well beyond the scope of this
.rticle the other article is what is next on the war on terror. we weigh the different choices that the trumpet menstruation is thing now they are up for grabs in the troubled ministration. we conclude along with you that it is unreasonable to expect the problem will go away once isis is defeated. isis is a manifestation of a deeper problem that will still have to be addressed after say isis is defeated. there will still be a network that has to be confronted. that is why we identify the pros and cons of different sources the ministration can take.
>> i will say that i think that is right. peter mostly took when i was going to say. the other point is that it they do.n what modern-daytinue the version of the popular front strategy which is integrating themselves deeper into the syrian opposition and basically focusing on establishing political military power within a syria. that is a very serious problem from the u.s. perspective. if they really focus on developing external operations in the way we have seen some indications so far, that is a much more serious problem and the decision they make will in turn affect the decision we make in terms of what level of
resources to the threat. it has to do with a lot of things involving what is the political endgame in syria. any type ofo which extremist organization that has control over a significant amount of territory population is properly deemed a threat by the united states. especially when the organization has shown indications of being able and willing to carry out significant external operations. the way they prioritize those will have a significant impact on how grave the threat is perceived to be by american policymakers.
>> what is america's interest in keeping ulnar said -- them at bay without redeploying the trusting not so trustworthy arab allies? >> the vested interest is in preventing the sort of situation you had in afghanistan 2011 where you have a capable and globally inclined terrorist group that is able to operate relatively freely because of the absence of effective governing authority. good question to be asked as to what level of resources we ought to devote to preventing that occurrence.
if you believe that you can actually mitigate the worst havens with ae light-to-medium footprint which is robust campaigns against these groups coupled with special operations forces and advisers on the ground where the numbers of the troops deployed is in the single thousands rather than the tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands to -- thousands. then i think the interest is sufficient to justify the expenditure. >> i started this session by saying with pride that this is a really excellent article and there is much more of this thoughtfulness and seriousness and sobriety in the article.
i recommend it to all of you. it is free online in the june-july issue. please join me in thanking our speaker. [applause] >> c-span "washington journal," live every day with news and policy issues that affect you. charleston, west virginia, for the next stop on capitalsn bus' 50 tour. you sure to watch c-span's "washington journal" live at 7:00 eastern this morning.
join the discussion. secretary james mattis and joint chiefs of staff chair testify at a house armed services committee on military strategy in afghanistan and south asia. live coverage beginning at 1:00 p.m. eastern on c-span3. now a panel looks at ways to identify and prevent recruitment by isis and al qaeda. america posted the -- new americ hosted the talk. following the panel discussion, they took questions from the audience. this is 90 minutes.
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