tv Charlie Rose PBS June 22, 2011 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
>> charlie: welcome to the program. tonight four the "new york times" columnists look at the united states, its economic policy, its foreign policy. they are tom friedman, david brooks, david leonhardt and roger cohen. >> i personally think we need a third party. i think we're caught in the middle of a corrupt monopoly that cannot get to the right answers anymore because of a lot of deeply imbedded things that have happened to american politics. >> put some baiers between our immeate needs and our long term needs and we have to have a government that's structured around long term needs but essentially we need leadership. >> when we look back a the first te we will say it was very much defined by health reform. it was a big accomplish many that came with enormous costs. >> europeans and everyone i think are asking where is u.s. headed. it cannot go on with these levels of deficits d debts, something has to be done.
>> charlie: america seen through four the "new york times" columnists, next. all across america. it's ha, every time a storefront opens. or the midnight oil is burned. or when someone chases a dream, not just a dollar. they are small business owners. so if you wanna root for a real hero, support small business. shop small. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose.
>> charlie: on wednesys presidenobama willnnounce how many troops he will bring home from afghanistan beginning next month. the announcement follows months of debate within the whitehouse comes incrsing concern over the war and our roll in the country. we face a number of challenges at home. unemployment remains high at 9.1%. the housing market continues to suffer and the u.s. debt has surpassed $14 trillion. this will pose a significant challenge for the president in the 2012 election. joining me is a group of columnists from the "new york times," from washington david brooks from new york, david leonhardt, roger cohen and tom friedman. they have wul won too many awards to talk b i'm pleased to have all of them on this program today to talk about america. what's the challenge for us? because wherever i go around the world, the thing they say is we want america to take care of their businesses at home first
so that they can lead the world and play an important part as the rest of the world changes. >> charlie i think the world does understand america provides a certain global government and global goods, public goods that stabilize the world and fuel the global economy. to me we are the tent pole that kind of holds up the world. if we buckle, yourkids will grow up in a -- will not only grow up in a different america, they will grow up in a different world. ouchallenge to do four things at once. i thin we have to stimulate the economy a little more because clearly we're rolling back their signs ar rolling back into recession. i think at the same time they put down a long term plan to address simpson bowls kind of way, fundamental fiscal issues. at the same time weeed to raise revenue because we have to invest to renew, refresh and inscrig rate the sources of our strength, whether it's infrastructure, education or government-funded research. we have to do four things at once. what does that mean. it means we need a hybrid
politics. because those four things don correspond to agenda of our two parties. how do we basically develop a political platform and a mandate for those four things. >> i would add a couple things to what tom said which i basically agree with. but first there's a cultural element here. it's not just a problem in washington, it's a problem in the culture, a nation where people have distrust of authority, don't trust government, unwilling to accept sacrifice, feel very threatened, want more government than they are willing to i pay for so there has to be a gigantic education campaign to go under that. and then the second thing i uld add, and tom talks about a hybrid politics. i would say we've had it and we just have to rediscover it. and i goack perpetually to my hero alexander hamilton who created this politics. he got us out of big government versus small government debate. he stood for limited but energetic government to enhance
social mobility. so people in the hamiltonian founding gives people a chance to rise and succeed, the grant college act, the railroad legislation, the homestead act. it's really reving that tradition which real cuts against our traditional polarized tradition as seems to be the case. >> charlie: how do you do that? do we need more of a republic. >> we have to understand what the founders did, we can't really trust ourselves. we have to put some barriers between our immediate needs and our long term needs and we have to have a government that's structured around long term needs. but essentially we need leadership. i'm struck again and again as you know, i'm an admirer of barack obama but the paivity and the lead from behind on some of these budget issues are frustrating and then we need intelligent slaryd high. >> i had coffee with the mayor
of chicago rahm emanuel and he's restructuring it pretty intelligently. they are cutting badges bute's also attracting jobs and lengthening the school day. because emanuel can't isn't ill 's a frenetic effort all at once. you set some cuts but also some growth opportunities. it's that sort of energetic crack of leadership one step at a time that i think is something we're missing on the national scale. and just finally i would say i'm way more pessimistic than the markets are in the near term and the far term. >> charlie: one of the criticisms of the president is he ted to do too much at the beginning and taking on healthcare as well as the economic issues as well as unemployment. and that therefore he might have been better focused on one thing which was the economy and the jobs. >> the only thing i would say as tom mentioned those four things that need to be done, i don't think you can do the pain
without gain just politically. so you got to do those things. somehow it's sequentially got to mix them in together. >> charlie: what do we need david. >> we need a lot. there's a short term stuff autopsy was talking about. we do need more help for the economy. >> charlie: stimulus? >> yes. >> charlie: action by the feds or what. >> it's become a dirty word but more action by the fedso roog long term rates. they can't reduce short term rates any further. people debate can the fed do more or not do more. someone who believes strongly the fed can do more is ben bernanke. he says when short tm interest rates geto zero the feds do more. the feds are choosing not to do more now which i think as mistake. >> charlie: out of a fe of only flation. >> it's a combination of thing. real politics, peter diamond a well-known nobel prize nominee withdrew because he heard he wa't going to be confird. you have akewed spectrum on the fed where people are
rather cull, fair on one side and always worried about inflation and concerned it's going to take off whether it's extremely lower or moderate or high they're worried about inflation. we do not have a similar thing on what might be considered the left of the fed section. we don't even have much of a center left. we have sort of a center left. but peter diamond was certainly closer to the center of a fed spectrum than some of the people who actually had rolls in the fed recently. so bernanke is in a trick e potion. if he wants to remain a moderate kind of in the middle of theed and keep the confidence of his colleagues he has to dress fairly far to oneide and sometime away from the dot. i think the fed is part of it and you can sign a federa pay cut which has more bang for the bucks than the broad scale stuff. that's short term. i agree absolutely with what david and tom said abt the long term stuff. >> charlie: is the president right to extend the bush tax cuts. >> i don't think he had a choice politically in the end. i think the president and democrats made a bad mistake in not taking care of it when they
had control of congress. but once they didn'tet it done before the electio they really had no choice once you got to december 2010. >> charlie: you are now living abroad in london, is it different there, trying to deal with austerity. >> charlie it's dealing with it in a much more direct and aggressive way. and cuts are coming through now which are beginning to hit. and there's stalk of something close to a -- talk of something close to a general stri. it's very dficult. strikes made diving in you're is an interesting moment in the world because you've got rising powers, china, india, brazil. >> charlie: change in asia and t arab world. >> what we don't yet know is what they stand for. what's their big idea. what are the new powers bringing to the world. looking to america for leadership and as tom said america is still the tent pole but it depends on everyone asking where is u.s. headed. it cannot go on with these
levels of deficits and debts. something has to be done but the one thing president obama has not articulated is some broadvision for the united states to compete in the world. energy is one, obvious area. i was recently in copenhagen. in copenhagen they are now heating the entire city ts winter, last winter by burning their own garbage. there are dramatic changes go on. why is green technology being lead by scanned -- scandinavia and asia. >> charlie: let me open that up to everybody. the idea of the obama leadership as david said has no acted boldly where he might have wanted him to act. >> my own sense is that we're not supposed to say who we ved for as congressmen so don't tell anybody. but the reason i'm suspected to
have voted for barack obama is, i went to obama for one reason because i thought he could change the polls and not read the polls. i thought he was someone because of his his or tore cull skillsd the way my colleagues talked here to actually change the polls. mying biggest disappoint i see the guy reading the polls as closely as ever. roger referred to energy. let's look at the last year charlie, you and i talk board of director this before. climate change. those two words climate change became a four letter word in american politics under barack obama's watch. it's against the lawn the republican party. mitt romney was just so courageous, he actually saidhe believes in science, oh god. and rush limbaugh said you're out of the party, pal. there go his courage. >> charlie: he suggested that he thought man contbuted to
global warming. >> that's right, exactly. so wt is so disturbing is that, that we don't, we're not having an ult conversation about what are the real problems so my frustration withbama reallyflows from that, as david referred to is kind of passive leave from behind. i mean rorschach test. we all ran around the table barack obama, what comes to mind right now in the middle of this crises. i tell you it's a blank sheet of paper for me. no real strong sense of how he defines the problems, where he wants to go, what his bottom line is. so i really feel if you look at the last 15 years of american politics, if you are we had george w. bush at the reagan revolution to its logical extreme and beyond for tax cutting. then obama came in and took the fdr revolution to its logical extreme of beyond with healthcare. thank you very much, both of you have now completed the ageneral dawes of your icon i been --
iconic leaders of the 20th century. will someone bridge to the 21st and i thought barack obama would do it. >> crlie why hasn't he done it. what's the reason. is it simply reading the polls. is it simply by nature a cautious temperament. >> i'm really not sure. he's an interesting complicated guy, i feel like there are doors to rooms there a lot of us -- >> charlie: you never got the opportunity -- >> what to me the fundamental thing that's missing there is, sometimes i wonder if obama knows why he was elected. he is elected to do building at home. that's theriving force and everything should have connected with that economic, education, infrastructure, healthcare all for that goal. but i feel so often charlie, that he just wants to kind of make things okay. i don't want to be okay. i wantto be great again. i want to have this country be
great again and i don't sense that coming from him. we're going to do things and make it okay. that's what i'm missing. >> i sometimes have been thinking recently as president he's shown he can be a really great senator, which is toay that his natural skills are for the deliberation, for the organizing of coalitions, but the getting out front part and the sort of actively determining and shaping history part, we've seen somimes but not a lot. i'm sort of mystified one of the big things going here on the debt default is this biden commission. i was thinking lyndon johnson faced this incredibly complicated set of issues, can we imagine him appointing him a humphrey commission or appointing his vice psident. d what is more important right now than the rewriting of the social ctract which is invoed in the debt, involved in fixing medicare, in the inastructure, involved in the budget. that's the most central thing
going on righ now. why is it the biden commission and not the obama commission. people say once he becomes involved it becomes super polarizing and it all falls apart. that's a bit of a rashization they've used too much to put him back in the shadows. i just wish i knew if it comes from some sort of deep sense of caution he doesn't want to put himself out there or for some other reason, i simply don't know. >> i think his parting position is cautious. it's bridge building. that's his up bringing, that's his only work experience, that's his starting position, his foundation. but then he has these spasms almost of leadership and risk taking. taking out osama bin laden was a big risk and he went against the council of many people close to him. he tk a mor risk on that that could have blown up b time. he took some risks, he's really gone quite far in supporting the arab spring. the on healthcare right at the end we did see energetic
leadership. but then he seems to just fall back into this kind of passivity thatroubles americans, i think and what you want is more consistency in the energy sid of his leadership and the risk taking propensity tha is in him mewhere. >> he made this decision really on, a real politic decision to try to pass healthcare reform. i think they made the right call you can't really do that with an outside game, you have to do it with the inside game. you can't go and convince the senators you need. >> charlie: you got to the it early on because after that you have less of a chance. >> yes. i think both those decisions were right. i think they made one mistake and one down side. the mistake they didn't follow through on the early on idea. they took way too long. they didn't realize as a democrat recently said to me when republicans do big legislation they do it fast because they understand that it's messy because they understand that by the time the election comes people sort of forgotten about some of these things, they did it slow.
and i think the health reform is an achievement. we're the only country in the world where millions of people don't have health insurance. that's not a good thing at all. it has some promising ways to try to control costs. but it did come with this huge cost which it absutely came to define the obama presidency. and i do wonder in retrospect now that we know the economy is so weak. now that we know that it absolutely made him look like a partisan polarizing figure, maybe they should have done something else. should they have done some sort of he green energy push that would have served under a different name. i don't know but i do ink that when we look back on this first term we will say it was in many ways defined by healthcare reform. it was a big accomplishment that came with enormous costs. >> charlie: what's wrong with the american economic recovery? >> well again, this is one of those short and long questions. in the short term recovery from financial crises is usually slow. they are oven uneven, they're
painful, businesses, household, and unemployment lags. they took the ball in 2010 in terms of driving this recovery forward and we're paying the price for that. they sort of lost the courage of conviction with some of these stimulus programs. but that's the short term. in some ways the long term is more interesting and the long term i find worrisome. i think this country has a better set of problems than any other country but we have a real society problems. tunnel talks about stapling visas to people, we don't do that. we attract talented people and then we send them elsewhere. >> charlie: that's a congressional issue. congress hasn't been willing to face up to that. >> yes. a lot of these are political ises. what's worrisome they aren't just political issues because we don't have drive enough politicians. david mentioned this early. they're political people with us as a people. why we have a deficit is the reason people want more benefits than they're willing to pay for. this isn't simply a matter if we only get politician brave
enough to tell the truth. we need to be willing to hear theruth and it's true we have a politician that can persuade us of the truth, that we're now on schedule to get much more medicare benefit than we pay taxes. >> charlie: what ought to be the debate coming up over the next two years abouthe american economynd the roll of government. >> h we've grown in the moist and how can we grow in the future. the i think there's a connection between those two things. we've groin in the past by making investments in things like education. i think th century with the american century to borrow a phrase from two economists because of the education century. i don't think we've grown in the past necessarily because we've cut taxes. just look at the bush yrs and clinton years. clinton raised taxes growth grows and bush cuts taxes and there's no growth. why we've grown in the past, it will help us maintain our position. >> charlie: we have to do that as well as finds some revenue enhancement. >> one of the reasons we need reduction in spending we need a
budget that's not a budgefor a rising nation it's a budget for a declining nation. if you spend too much of your resources making old age comfortable which is something a rich country should do but if you spend too much of it you're not spending on tomorrow. we're not spending on the next great medical treatments on green energy, on education. >> charlie: all right. let me turn and the three of us were in cairo at the same time when the transition overwhelming impact took placehere you have written that egypt is more important than afghanistan. you had been recently there talking to peoe and eressed some concern about what follows, where are we with respect to the arab spring with focus on egyp >> well i think the first thing that you covered this charlie, as roger and i, it's really been a privilege to do this, one of the most remarkable news stories i've ever covered. each on of these countries is on a different trajectory. so let's talk about what roger identifies as the most important
to a dege is certainly egypt. you know, it's still in a very fragile state. they have scheduled parliament tree elections for cement. that first parliament will then write a constitution. that constitution it will lay the basis for presidential elections. and that's all i think to the good. the problem is, you know, there's two things that you need to be successful if it's an e engineering democracy. you ve to have real parties and real parties have to have real leaders. right now tell me who is the leader of the progressive forces in egypt. no one's really truly emerged. they haven't found that and at the same time, you know, what egypt has lacked, what all of these arab countries have lacked is a really quality institution. it's about government, it's about institutions that can deliver services in a non-corrupt way for the people and that's a long drawn out process. i still believe egypt has a positive slope to it.
i still believehese arab rebellians we necessary but you know, as the question keeps haunting me is a question a russn scholar once said abo russia, is the unnecessary impossible. it was the arab spring both inevitable and too late. the hole is so deep and this is the mismatch and this is where is the parallel between us and the arab spring i find. we both -- bin laden really messed us up. we both wasted the first decade of the 21st century. so now the hole is deeper and yet political power is more diffuse. so no one can aggregate enough political power to make the right moves foo -- to take the right steps to generate what we need to get out of this hole. the same questions i ask about america i ask about egypt or any of the others. who will tell the people. who is going to tell people what
we really have to do. we wasted a decade, and so did they. i think that's the challenge. i remain hopeful, i will be the last person to, the very last -- rob will be second to theast, i will be last. [laughter] but i'm watching closely. >> charl: you said you had a spliel on your face and a -- smile on your face and a pit in the stomach. >> it's a cultural reference point. it's a country that's been asleep for a long time and now it's awakening. the reason why i think it's more strategically important the outcome in egypt than afghanistan than the united states today if in this major arab country you can get a somewhat decent society, a semi at least functioning democracy withittle transparency. then that is going to be a tremendous disincentive to
radicalism, to jihaddism because peop have been driven by these despots by having n means to express themselves, by being disenfranchised. they've been driven toward the extreme. so if you can get that in egypt and we're some way from that, then i think that will be of tremendous -- >> charlie: you're concerned about what might be coming. >> i'm concerned about what i see haening with the army in egypt, although i will be grateful for the egypan army for avoiding a blood she. this is not easy. e hole is deep as tom just said. shine the light, let's get the forcesut. look at today, there's aather mong photograph i thought on the the front page of my newspaper today wyers in the gowns where the former dictator has just been sentenced and fined. the and this is good. what has happened in tunisia.
you've had the return of the leader ganucci and he's been doing some bad things. you know i hear that some of what's been coming out the mosques in tunisia has not been positive at all. but at the same time i hear from friends this that every day you have some new civic group that arises and is, you know, carrying forward some agenda. so i think these societies are bubbling. they are bubbling in a messy way. we're going to have an election in october and presidential in egypt soon after. the trajectory is broadly, messily in the right direction in those two places. >> what stcke, just picking up on roger's point in tunisia, cairo, this trip got a brand new office, we bring progress to e people and good things to life, the ge thing. >> charlie: running for
office -- >> i've had a running conversation even when they were running from mubarak and whatnot. i could just smell it. they know this revolution is not by them, of them and for them. and they know this. and that i think is really important. they know that people are somewhere else. >> charlie: david, let me turn to libya. the president has said he doesn't need the war powers act because of his own argument about that. >> on the war powers things i agree with him. i'm not a fan of that act because i think the president should have leeway to do things like this. the idea is these aren't hostilities. my first rule of politics is don't be a schumck. i think he twisted himself arou
aroundisc legalistically you should lean to getting rid of the bad guys. it could be a messy 30 years. i myself have lost no faith wht does development look like. we have half development in increasing secularization, increasing industrialization, increasing democracy. we should be open-minded about what development is going to look like. but i do think in this time we should be leaning forward with our values for democracy and stng institutions wldbe leaning agnst the dictators at which he was lining a lite harder in syria. our ability to control things is limited but we should be leaning. i think he's adapted toward if i may say a more bush foreign policy of leaning and of regime change. >> charlie: bush 43 or 41.
>> i meant 43. when the president said in london many years ago that we can't accept the stability, he was still essentially right. we can argue about iraq. i happen to think if sadaam was still in power, probablyome would disagree with that. nonetheless that cites instability over the long run is our iend, regime change is possible. i think he put obama in a more cautious way obviously is sort of consistent on the same path as president bush was. >> charlie: iraq. you wrote a piece about iraq. i'll just stay with that. the lesson with iraq that might apply with what's happening today. >> what we learn from iraq is what it takes, charlie, to take onef these highly fractured triballized ethnically divided countries from where they are under authoritarian regime under a more progressive model with a positive slope. what we learned is it takes a
trillion dollars, seven years and a civil war where every party in that country, you show what you got by, they burn themselves up and get them altother to slowly write their own social contracts and pray that it rises. the now ihink iraq is going to rise. i think it looks like this but i think it's going to have a positive look. >> charlie: do you reach a conclusion therefore based on what you know today and what you see rising, the war itself. >> what i would say about the war are two things. one is that whatever happens in iraq, we overpaid for it. and i have nothing but regret. it's a trillion dollars and for that we overpaid. whether we overpaid for nothing oner wther we overpaid for something that makes a contribution to the transformation of the middle east, i think remains to be seen. i remainhopeful that it will. i think if you have cairo having a positive slope and you iraqi, the other great baghdad, the other great arab capital with a
great positive slope, you start to really build theomentum and wait, i think, to change the whole region. the world will be a better place for that. and that's how i would really frame the issue. >> charlie: what are the budgetary economic dimensions of u.s. involvement overseas and the considerations that gates is saying as he goes around the world. >> t mentioned iraq and afghanistan is really expensive. he could have done a huge amount domestically. it's not lives lost but it's a tragedy. going forward one thing i've been struck by is just about all the bipartisan groups could have come up with deficit plans on the order of $100 billion a year what we can afford to cut from our military spending and still do basically what we want and need to do with our military. that's a lot of money, $100 million. that's really money. we're trying to find an average of 200 a year. they're not going to cut a
hundred out of the military but if they did it would get them halfway there. if you combine bringing troops from from iraq and afghanistan you actually can get real savings. it doesn't get us anywhere near the savings we need but it's a big help. so it's great that gates has been talking about the potential for savings. his numbers are still tiny. he sort of invents a new base line that's growing real analysis and he cuts a little bit off that but it's less important than the fact the secretary of defense has been putting outthere the notion the military nds to be more hard headed on financial matters. >> charlie: afghanistan and all the troo, david, the numbers i'm seeing reporte today is that the president obably wants to bring back 20 to 30,000 troops. how do you make the president's decision-making on this. >> i think he made the right decision on the surge. i'm pessimistic today on the state of afghanistan about i would call him on that, a john carry foreign relations study
saying it's not working out so great in afghanistan. so i think if we do, it depends how quickly the draw down, the 30,000 number will get a lot of attention but if we drag it out through another fighting season then i think even those of us who supported the effort into thinking made the right decision and doing the surge in afghanistan one can say we gave it a good shot and he'll either produce good results at the end of another fighting season or two or not. but i think we can say that you know he gave the surge its full chance too what it can do. >> i think the president's right, we've got to switch from counterinsurgency to counterterrorism. bin laden is gone. we're not going to transform afghanistan over night into some wonderful democracy, we're ing to make incremental progress. we've already made a huge investment. how we're going to bring any pressure at all on the
manipulative and duplicitous, sorry dude, we're out of here. we're notstaying her indefinitely to prop you u and get told by you every other day that we're stupid or do plic tuesday. we're hoping afghan doesn't slide back to where it was -- >> charlie: does that take a thousand. >> something in that ballpark or maybe a bit more but we have to send a message for the reasons we were discussing at the beginning of the program and david just talked about. we need to switch priorities a about. >> i just want to say one thing because i was not in favor of the surge. i think we have four choices in afghanistan, do early, do late, lose big, lose small. i prefer to lose early and small. there's no victory. >> charlie: that would recommend what policy. >> going down to the absolute
minimum presents we need to maintain a counterinsurgency it's hugely bad behavior by pakistan and the afghan governnt. this is what happens in all. they've done the same thing in the arab raeli there. they can arrest these guys and not those guys. making it real simple for you pal, we're gone. we know just whi taliban are good and which are bad and you will kill the bad ones because your life ll depend on it because i'm tired you telling me you can't do this and scratch my ear like that. >> charlie: with pakistan obviously the kind of issues in that relationship is becoming different than it was yet at the same time we're sending aid over there. at the same time we understand because of the nuclear issue that ts is a very fragile but important nation state. >> i think it is and it's really fragile and important for india and china and i look forward to them managing it into the future. >> charlie: you are prepared to say i you guys can't fix it,
it can't be fixed. >> we have different kinds of insecurity in this world we're going into and i personally would love to see the president look at the american people in the eye and say look we're going to extract ourself from this theatre. it may come from a cost, we'll do the best we can but there's no perfect security in the world but spending in excess of $100 billion a year forever will so feeble us over the long term this is a risk we have to take. >> i don't know how much mey we need to spend in pakistan but i do think that pakistan nukes political extremism. that's about as explosive a combination as i know i the world. so we need, i think we need a relationship with pakistan, w need to keep supporting. we can't just say okay work this one out guys. we need to be tre because w are the ten pole and that's one important part of the tent pole that pakista not go sky high.
so i guess i would say, i don't know what the solution is but we've got to keep trying to work it somehow. >> i guess that's why i'm feeling, you know, ininsensitive to roger's point. we don't know what to do. pakian is part of the united states and not india. they need to become a country in and of themselves and understand their strategic depth is not in afghanistan. if you think your strategic depth is in afghanistan and not your public schools and public institutions and building that up, you are see on the wrong track that there's nothing i can do to hem you. >> charlie: you make a decision based on the fact you can't have an impact. >> we've been trying for a long time. >> charlie: okay. >> i'm a believer in owrship. it's te these people take ownership of these problems. they project them all on to us, you know, until we say this is yours.
that was beauty of trafalgar square. >> hey we're not going to do this all for everybody anymore. >> i guess if i were the president, i would say okay tom, do you want to say okay it's on your plate, what's their capaci. who are we handing off to and how capable are they of picking off the responsibility. afghanistan, we've done our best with nation building, i'm not sure we know how to develop a country in afghanistan or anywhere else in the world but i do think we know how to build an army and from what i understand the building and security structure in afghanistan is a reason to be there and partner with them to make thoor they function. that is a reasono be there. so i would say you can't just say you know, you guys are manipulating us, you guys are awful and we're going to hand off the problem to you it's your responsibility, pal, if there's no capacity there. i think capacity building is a reason to say in both those
places. >> i have to disagree with brother david there. i think capacity is a function of ownership. we defeated the taliban governme in afghanistan with 400 american advisors. because the northern alliance, okay, the afghans led this, okay. when they le it, we are superfluous. when they won't lead it and te ownership there aren't enough american troops to make it work. what is when we leave it will be divided by a south and north and will they be any worse off, will we be any worse off? i really don't see it. rather than fuing this massive cltoocracy. >> this is the deaf little of imperialism. we have done quite a bit of work around. if you look at the places where i mentioned this program before,
85 countrieswe talk raw sees have wristen and the u.s. was heavily involved in building capacity. we know one fact when capacity isn't there, then they just revert back to autocracy. tom's point is a real problem we're creating incredibility pendency problems in afghanistan right now, and nonetheless i think it's a risk worth taking because we know simply pulling back in most of cases does lead to authoritarianism. >> there's a reason to be that, to build up the army and the police forth. >> charlie: and governance. >> the way they will never stand on their own two feetis make it open ended. build it up as you begin to move out and as you move out we say okay now we've shown you the way do it. we have a lot of influence and
it was decisive during the terrorist square revolution over the egyptian armyunded to the tune of 1.3 billion. that doesn't mean we have to be in egypt. >> charlie: what is it you think we can do about iran today. >> i'm not sure there's a whole lot we can do in iran today. the forces that were behind the incredible uprising in 2009 when there were two million people in the street and they were on razor's edge, they've been repressed brutally by the islamic republic. think iran i weak right now, very divided, there's a tremendous row going on between the leader and ahmadinejad. he went into such a sulk recently for 111 days. 9 the parliament is investigating him for vote
buying in the 2009 election. so the a republic is brilliant with inertia. it's kind of drifting and i don'know what the spark is. i do think that they could bring people out on straight again. i do think the nuclear issuend we've been warning of iran, hasn't happened yet. does not mean we should stop being vigilant. here's the middle east. let's do a zero sum game. one's egypt. what's the other one well maybe it's iran. we have another relationship with iran for 30 years it's not go for u.s. interest no it's not. when we open to china did we agree with china with anything no we didn't except we wanted some sort of relationship instead of none. i don't think there's any of that. i think obama at the beginning was trying to think very broadly in that way about iran and then
he got crimped by political pressures of various kind. so i think we're still very stuck. >> just quickly, charlie, two of the most important things we can do to change the situation in iran is to get iraq right and egypt right. i've always believed that what happened in iran in 2009 was partly impacted from the fact the you had superior in their minds iranian, persian iites looking ross and seeing inferior arab shiites for over they wanted, having hundreds of parties a the rest get to choose out of a list of 250. they're watching that. there's a huge amount of flow. get iraq right, get egypt rht, a positive slope and they will sit there every day and say let me understand this. these guys have a democracy and we don't. we didn't see it coming in 2009. we won't se it coming in 2013
but something will happen. but get those right so you got th model working. >> charlie: speaking of the arab spring, there are two places they did not touch, israel and the palestinians. where are we today with the palestinians having done some kind of coming together with hamas even though they're not showing up recently. where are we and what does this all mean -- [laughter] bring it home to barack obama. [laughter] >> you know, you really have one partity provided now between hamas and fatah to make a big
decision. the israelis aren't interested. israel today i'm sorry it happens the most inbred unimaginity government it's ever had. we talked about this so many times real issues, security, legitimation, whatnot. these one simple -- you can say what you want and all these american jews criticizing obama, it's all crap, okay. can i say thaon your show. it is pure crap, all right. the guy is trying to do the right thing. >> charlie: obama. >> obama. he's not anti-israel, he's not anti-semetic, it's all nonsense. one thing's missing. what is netanyahu's plan. he keeps saying i'm ready for a really tough compromise. i'm going to take risks, i'm ready to really -- well show, put it on the table. we'll agree, disagree. when you don't do that, you have
to sort of wonder. what's behind that. not to let the palestinians off the hook for a second. let's move on. we're all tired of this. >> i should not really be disagreeing with tom. [laughter] >> well you know what, i would not say the shortage in the middle east is a shortage of plans. tom can't walk into somebody's office and they're pulling plans out of their desk drawer. >> that happened once. >> i probably been the 20 times and ever time i go there's another plan on table, os low process, a loan plan, whatever, the mitchell report or whatever. there's always a bunch of plans. to me, and this was the problem with obama's policy. it's not about finding a magic line on a map. and so he sort of emphasized that. it's a much deeper problem,nd i'm not a greatan of the netanyahu government but any gornment that could make
serious with syria whose real nature has been exposed, with hamas and iran's real nature that's been exposed. that's not going to happen. the peace process is the arab spring. the arab spring is the peace process and it's going to take us a long time to get there but unless the arab spring spreads, i don't see any -- these are the most brilliant. >> charlie: what's the likelihood that the arab spring process even in terms how far a certain level of non-violence goes to the palestinians? >> nothing could send the arab spring into reverse more quickly than another flare up whether in lebanon or in gaza. if you got another war involving israel on one of those fronts, nothing will be more radicalizing and more disruptive to any progress than that. so as long as this problem festers that problem is always there. i do agree with tom, i must say. we had so many new ideas in the middle east in the la six months, and this is the most
stirring event of the 21st century. doesn't mean it's gng to go -- >> charlie: can't it happen with israel. >> charley, again, what i'm seeing from the israeli point of view, i don't know if they're a positive partner. i don't know. israel is a fundamental test. >> there is no test. there's no new ideas from israel. >> you can say all those thgs and test again and tt again because the alternative is israel becomes a permanent colonial power in the west bank that cannot be good. show me how this ends any other way, and how can that possibly be good for the long run health of a jewish demoacy. so that's all -- i'm not -- i lived in beirut for five years. i understand the neighborhood, okay. but let's keep testing. wake up every morning, how can we overcome this obstacle or that obstacle. >> charlie: if you had a
magic wanted that could convince tanyahu that israel was secure and would be secure. its security was taken care of, would they then be prepared to make a deal along the lines suggested by the every president clinton, presidentbama. >> we don't know. >> charlie: even if their secure was determined -- >> there's a logical component here. >> he has two states and two peoples but his party s not and i think the question is still on the table from all netanyahu's statements, has he internalized his statement. ise genuinely interested or is he actually using tactics to keep kicking the can down the road as long as israel is relatively quiet and relatively prosperous and hope in the end no it's not two states for two peoples, it's one state between the river and the sea with all the problems that tom has just described. >> charlie: we saw in the republican debate some sense of
a conversation that seemed to alarjohn mccain so much that he started talking about isolationism is coming from the republican party. jon huntsman announces today, what kind of foreign policy debate will we have in the upcoming campaign. >> i'm a little dubious that isolation -- it depends where you sit. parties that sit are more isolationists than parties that control the wtehouse because on they do that they contro the military which they enjoy doing. because they have a global responsibili. when you're in opposition it's really to say it's really messy over there in labia and afghanistan, that's just get out. so everye indulges that. the republican party when bill clinton was in fice looked like a pretty isolation es party and when george bureaucrat comes in offic they don look that way at all. i'm dubious all of this is sweeping the republican party in one way. i'm also dubious and this is
related, it's the underlying question is, is the party becoming more libertarian in a rand paul direction. he's very anti-government at home but very anti-interventionism abroad. that clearly has been an eleme to the tea party but i'm very dubious that's ever going to be a major part of the republican party even if you look at somebody like sarah palin, pretty interventionist, pretty supportive of being abroad internationally and supporting brake which is -- barack obama which is pretty odd for sarah palin. >> charlie: isolationism is coming up. >> here's my shot. there are a few ways in which the republican party is inching toward getting more serious about the deficit. for a long time they haven't been. they controld the presidency, both houses of congress and some definite. >> charlie: this is the paul ryan argument. >> this is related to paul ryan. so what you can see is that whatever you think of paul
ryan's plan, paul ryan essentially suggests either radical changes to medicare or get rid of medicare. >> charlie: providing another means to finance it. >> providing another means to finance it. you now see republicans talking a little bit about the costs including the economic costs of war. you see ever so tiny signs that some republicans might be willing to closing tax and polls for revenue. there was a story in politico today. so we're not there yet but you actually can, if you're trying to look for reasons for optimism, you can see ways in which the republican party may be ching for the more fiscally responsible position. >> charlie: in the end, are we in decliner or are we capable of dealing withur issues. >> relative in decline in that if you look at 1990, after the end of the cold war, the united states does not have the domination it had then or the ability to dictate the course of
events. but it's still a country of fantastic capacity to reinvent itself. look what's been created here in the last ten years. the whole world of the social media essentially has come out of this country. to imagine there's some precipitous that the united states is not capable of launching itself again in some very positive direction, i think i will be mistaken. in one way charlie if you feel optimistic about the united states is to look at europe today because europe is in a really big mess. >> i mean i do think we have a series of challenges that we have to sw ourselves capabler dealing with. we have to get education right. we have fallen behind in education. we have to thinkbout the deficit and what kind of investments. we have to stop spending so muc of our resources and medicare and on military stuff. i'm optimistic but we're at risk
of not good stuff. >> charlie, the way i describe myself. there's two polls in this country, there are the exceptionallists because that's become another entitlement now. it's somhing you get with your soal security check. you get to say we're exceptional. and then you have the declinists, you know. and i think where both roger and david, the way i describe myself, we say we are optimists but we're frustrated optists because we see the huge potential and we're frustrated it's not being tapped. david i share with you, i think we are heading for absolute decline if we don't basically get back and rediscover the sour sniessments do -- >> charlie: do you believe we have the capability to do that. >> i do believe we do because we always done it in the past. i personally think we need a third party we're caught in
american politics which is for another sw. i hope this system blows it wide open and i hope the tea party -- >> found dationl auntistic, look ateople under 30. their social indicators a phenomenal. they're extremely hard working, responsible, community oriend generation. maybe the biggest mid life crises in human history in ten years. [laughter] they're very inspiring. secondly, we are still something that china will never be. we're a crossroads nation. people can come here from all over the world and magnify their tenants. talents. i've made a career making fun of all of the decline warning or the last 30 or 40 years but i'm more opt -- we have a duopoly every more incapable of
function. and we have a middle aged problem. we have a book called the rise and decline of nations. as they become more middle age they become incrusted with arrangements and habs and things wch slow them down. i think th's happening certainly on a governmental level the crony capitalism which is now the form in washington. i think it's happening economically, really the decline in small business formation, the stagnation how far middle class wages, these are long term problems not cyclical problems. so i'm much more pessimistic than i was and see a potential at least for someabsote decline without some sort of gigantic shake. the political system in the wake envisions, i see a third party right there now and i sort of hope so. >> charlie: thank you david brooks, thank you david length heard, thank you roger cohen and thank you tom friedman.