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tv   Inside Story  LINKTV  December 24, 2020 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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al jazeera. ♪ >> this is al jazeera p of these are the top stories, and a reminder of our breaking news about the pardons issued by donald trump. they include charles kushner, real estate developer and father of trump's son-in-law, jared kushner. also pardons for longtime associate roger stone. his sentence had been commuted. also, former campaign manager of 2016, paul manafort. 26 people have been pardoned today. gunmen have attacked the town in
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western ethiopia, reportedly killing more than 100 people. dozens are still unaccounted for. no group has claimed responsibility. the u.k. is now facing the threat of two coronavirus variants after detecting another potentially more infectious strain from two people who traveled from south africa. it has banned all flights from the country. after nine months of negotiations, there are signs the eu and the u.k. are edging closer to agree on a post brexit trade deal. talks between the two sides continued on wednesday as they try to sort out the final details. our correspondent has more now from london. reporter: they were face-to-face on wednesday, and as they continue, there were anonymous briefings by eu officials to reporters, saying the talks were in their final stages. it was not exactly clear how long it would take for the draft text to be looked at and
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approved by the political leaders of course, boris johnson, the prime minister, and the european commission president, urszula delay in, have taken over the leadership of the process. they have been constant contact. >> one man has spent four years in egyptian detention without a trial, rested while visiting family in 2016. a number of rights groups have joined al jazeera in demanding his immediate release. his detention is in violation of egyptian and international law. hundreds of migrants up and left with nowhere to sleep after fleeing a camp that caught fire in bosnia, a campus strongly criticized by human rights groups because of a lack of resources -- a camp strongly criticized. ♪
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steve: hi, i am steve, and i have a question. is joe biden's foreign policy going to be captured by the famous american military? let's get to the bottom line. ♪ here is what president-elect joe biden has already said he wants to do. he wants to think of a global warning as if it is a security threat and would like to with joint -- rejoined the paris climate cord and make a new nuclear deal with iran. engage with foreign leaders, the good and the bad, and make responsible deals with them. but american progressives, who paid a very big role in getting
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him elected, are afraid america will do what it normally does, embrace dictators, look for oil over new about energy, and abandon the two state process with palestine, and expand the military, so what are the critics looking for, and what would progressive foreign policy look like? we are talking with a senior fellow at the center for international policy and senior policy counsel at demand progress, where they have been working with the coalition of progressive grassroots movements all over the united states, urging president elect biden to "adopt a more principled foreign policy." thank you for joining me today. let's start at the beginning. you and your allies out there have gone out to identify 100 what you view as outstanding policy practitioners that suggest to the biden/harris team that they ought to bring a number of these people into the administration. who are these people, and why were they selected? >> yes, absolutely, and thank
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you so much for the opportunity to speak with you today, steve, about some of the work my colleagues and i have been doing about the work to try to influence the biden/harris team and assuring that we get key progressives in national foreign-policy positions, and these are candidates that are forward thinking, talented, qualified, diverse, and, you know, they are committed to assuring that the u.s. take -- that we take a fundamental shift in u.s.-born policy -- u.s. foreign policy, that we are committed to less wars and looking to cut our loaded pentagon budget. these are individuals that, again, collectively, dozens and dozens of individual organizations came together to support and recommend these candidates, and we feel very confident that the candidates that we put forth, again, have
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no revolving door issues or concerns. they are free of corporate ties. these are individuals that have, again, been active in the advocacy world or have been working on similar issues on capitol hill, and they would be phenomenal candidates for the biden team. and the reason we put that forward was to simply show that there is this organized and coordinated effort by the left to put up an alternative list of talented and forward-thinking, you know, progressives and candidates for key positions in the administration. >> i think of some of the names we know now, like antony blinken, secretary of state, or avril haines, for the director of national intelligence, and we have lloyd austin, who is a bit different, a former general secretary of defense, and the
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national, jake sullivan, so how would you characterize the gap of difference between some of the candidates that you are putting forward and that cluster of appointees? >> yes, so as you probably have seen that the vast majority of kind of the key folks that have been nominated or appointed by the biden/harris team two positions were pretty active in similar capacities in the obama administration, so they are what we call -- they have been part of the national security established apparatus, and what we are really hoping to do is that, you know, that president-elect joe biden understands that this is a unique opportunity that we are in. that he sees us in this moment to ensure that the campaign promises that he made to progressives and to the
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grassroots throughout the entire campaign that he lives up to it. you know, a number of our organizations had regular engagement with the biden team on foreign-policy issues throughout the campaign, and they were committed to not only supporting our efforts to finally end our endless wars, that they listened to our concerns about our issues, and we spoke about prioritizing human rights in our foreign policy, again making sure we are not aligning ourselves with countries that are systematically abusing -- you know, human rights violations, that we are not providing arms assistance to those countries, and that they also listened to our concerns about personnel recommendations and what we find, you know, unacceptab really and the sort of folks that they should be elevating in the administration. >> i remember when i was back at the new america foundation many years ago and at the start of the obama administration, our
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foreign policy at that time had three chords. we said to push reset and send a different signal to the world, normalized to some degree relations with cuba, push a credible two state solution with israel and palestine, and third, pick open that door with iran, so this was before was even commonplace to think of some of those concerns, particularly cuba and iran, and the people in your group are ones that i work with, but what we realized over time is that the avant-garde move can become the conventional one, and many people in the obama-biden administration became fans of doing an iran nuclear deal, as i think many progressives are, but how do you handle these shifts in what is conventional verses -- and perhaps controlled by the military-industrial complex and some -- versus those that
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progressives would generally support, because i have seen that with time, those lines shift a bit. >> yes, i think as you noted, biden has made it very clear that he is committed to rejoining jcpoa, and i think that is where the top two, top three priorities for progressives, and, you know, in terms of other commitments that we are trying to get from the incoming biden administration is we are hoping that in the first 100 days, we are hoping in addition to some of the key players you mention, in addition to rejoining the jcpoa, there is an immediate end to u.s. military support to weapon sales, countries that are part of the saudi lead intervention in yemen. we are hoping that there is a clear indication that biden will
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support repeal of the -- that he would support war powers legislation that is going to be coming through congress to reaffirm congress -- >> not to interrupt, but just for my audience, i want to say that what you wanted to see was a repeal of the authorization for use of military force that was set up an 2001. i just wanted to -- is that correct? >> correct. both of them. 2001 and 2002. and in addition to supporting war powers reform legislation that we anticipate coming through congress in the next couple of months, we, you know, are calling on the biden administration, again, as noted, prioritizing rights and foreign policy with a particular focus on countries that the u.s. has both leverage and a moral responsibility due to our provision of military or economic aid and making sure there is in immediate issue with weapon sales and foreign assistance to countries that do
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not meet that standard for human rights and that are committing mass atrocities. and, finally, a key priority for our organizations for, gosh, i do not know for how long has been calling for the bloated defense budget to be cut, so this modest proposal, the vast majority of organizations support it, which, as you probably know, was championed by senator sanders and also representatives in the house with a provision that called for a 10% cut, and that would simply bring the top line for the pentagon budget to what was previously in the obama administration. many of our organizations are certainly calling for greater cuts, but that is something that we are hoping that we can get some sort of commitment from the biden administration, and that is something that our organizations are heavily going to be advocating on, as well.
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steve: can you articulate for us what your groups and your allies think about the israel palestine situation, because secretary of state mike pompeo has been shining a spotlight of many traditional human rights watch organizations and nonprofits. there has already been a major impact on funding, for example, dealing with palestine issues, and undermining, essentially, a lot of the traditional groups that have been watching the israeli occupation of palestinian territories. where is your group with what needs to happen on that, and i should say with the abraham accords and with normalization between israel and many other arab states, led by the uae, i think part of the question would be would there be more leverage down the road, what would be like to see biden to down the road when it comes to palestine? >> yes, so, you know, that is a great question, and it is something that many of our
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organizations -- it is a top priority for a lot of our organizations, and when we are talking about the u.s. not, you know, providing assistance or arms to countries that are systematically violating human rights, we obviously need to have israel in mind in terms of the asks that we made of the biden administration. i can tell you that this letter that i worked on when i was at demand progress that we sent to the biden team in may, and we are doing some follow-ups on that letter, that was a letter signed by over 50 organizations, and our ask was that the u.s. should work to build a future in which all palestinians and israelis live in full inequality by upholding, again, a foreign that centers human rights and dignity for all people, and we specifically called on the biden
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demonstration to use a combination of pressure and incentives, including leveraging the annual $3.8 billion and to get them to come to an agreement that upholds you cure -- to get them to come to an agreement that upholds the agreements. i think israeli's occupation in the west bank and east jerusalem and ending the blockade of gaza and the attacks on civilians, be they israeli or palestinian, so that collectively has been our ask, and, you know, that is an issue that has been pretty challenging. you know, to get key commitments on, and it is an issue that will continue to be part of the progressive foreign-policy platform moving forward. steve: i admire you, because i know how hard it is to
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essentially be the spokesperson for a group of cats. they may not all stay together or see things together, but erase of interesting questions, both about the classic conflict -- but you raise some interesting questions. you have some real realists in the group, including paul, who i have known, who i would say is not someone classically organized around human rights concerns, but he is a huge calculator of american interest. you have got different impulses, essentially, under one umbrella. when it comes to countries like turkey and the leader there, erdogan, when it comes to north korea, which i read in your principles that you give the trump administration some credit for diplomatic progress there. i am just sort of interested in how you manage those lines, saying i have not seen diplomatic progress with north korea, i have seen appeasement of a lot of bad behavior, so how
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do you square those lines in a way that you keep your coalition together, but you also made progress in getting this viewpoint as you to it into the biden team? >> right, and i think the way we have been able to do that was because kind of the underlying framework or theme that has run at the core of whether it was the principles that you mentioned or even the personnel book that we organized and sent to the transition team has been ensuring that we support principles that call for the u.s. to end our endless wars and support a fundamental shift in u.s. foreign policy, and that means supporting more restraint and ensuring that, again, that we are prioritizing domestic needs and meeting the concerns of our community members as opposed to, you know, using a
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resource as -- to further -- increasing the bloated defense budget we keep talking about, and i think the reason why we have been successful in being able to work with many organizations that, frankly, don't consider themselves to be progressive, right? so the quincy institute, as you noted, is a significant partner of ours, and quincy gets funding from the right and the left, but their key mission has been, and they were a huge partner, actually, in the book, the personnel book, that we sent to the transition and supported and recommended some of their own staff members for appointments. again, the reason for that collaboration is because we all want the biden team to understand that we want them to support, you know, this vision of military restraint and
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understand that the way we have been operating in the past few decades has not been serving our interests or our allies. so, you know, ensuring that those priorities are addressed with the administration, ensuring that we have key folks that are going to be advancing those objectives is something that we have been trying to do. steve: i read john bolton's white house memoir recently, "in the room where it happened," and in that memoir, john bolton says that he is opposed to any general being appointed to the secretary of defense spot, and he was referring in that to jim mattis. joe biden has come in and appointed lloyd austin. do you share the concerns that john bolton has about military leadership in that traditionally civilian role? >> yes, a lot of our
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organizations have concerns around that, and right now, many of our allies are drafting sample questions to send to the senate and leading up to his confirmation hearings, and my understanding is that we do have a number of key senators that have, you know, publicly have said that they would not support providing that waiver to general austin, and i think those are general concerns, and there is kind of this difference of opinion, you can say, in terms of general austin's appointment, because some saw it as being better and the alternatives, right? the alternatives, many of our organizations were -- let's just say not happy about that prospect, and a number of our
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allies see general austin' his as someone -- austen's as someone who has wanted to pull back troops, so i think that was kind of a welcome approach to some of her allies. -- some of our allies. steve: what does success look like? i would wager we will not see someone from move on as secretary of defense. but i think when you sort of look at it, is the goal to be in the room and to be heard? is the goal to impact policy? have the folks that you have taught you, and you have an outstanding list, paul pull art, and one of the great nuclear experts, a great iran expert and others, a great group, but what
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if they are in the room and get voted down? what does success look like for you? >> yes, and that is a great example, is we -- we do not just want some token picks, right? we do not want just maybe two or three of our picks to be appointed and put in different offices in the administration. you are right. for their voices not to be heard and for that to be voted down, and the idea is, obviously, to try to get as many friendly and allied voices together and to get as many of them in the same room as possible for that reason, precisely, is strength is in numbers, and we do understand what we put forth is a pipeline, a talent pipeline,
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and these are individuals that if they are appointed in the biden administration, they will be in a great position in four years to be nominated for potentially a cabinet position themselves. and that has been kind of our outlook in putting this project together, and we are hoping that the biden administration understands that we will try to push to get as many forward-looking and talented and diverse candidates in these positions as possible. steve: how have they been responding to you? i know in the economic portfolio, there has been some applause that they have brought in economic progressive onto the national economic advisory team, someone i admit is a friend of mine just announced as a deputy in the office of personnel management, and he is a real progressive out there, an lgbt
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leader, so on that front, have they budged at all? >> so they knew the book was coming, and the transition team reached out once they saw that the first kind of news story about it, and they received the book. right now, from what i have gathered, they have taken the recommendation seriously and will be following up with them in the next couple of weeks. in terms of do we know right now if they are going to be nominating any of our recommendations, it is unclear. that is something for us to follow up with in the next couple of weeks, and, yes. steve: well, let me ask you another question. a lot of the folks you have in your circuit were ones that were hopeful of bernie sanders or elizabeth warren, someone on the
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progressive side of the party, winning, so joe biden wins, and you're trying to impact that, but there has been a lot of criticism that the biden team has not reached out more to the worn and sanders crowd, and i know you are pushing that -- reached out more to the warren and sanders crowd. are you disappointed, or are you hopeful? >> i mean, i am hopeful, and that is because, you know -- and matt and i speak pretty frequently, as you know, and he is someone we also have obviously recommended for a key appointment in the biden administration. steve: i should mention the senior policy advisor for foreign affairs to senator bernie sanders. >> correct, yes, and throughout
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the campaign, the series of calls that we were having with tony blinken and the rest of the biden foreign policy team, so, matt was part of those efforts to assure that the biden team was reaching out to progressives and that they were listening to our concerns, right? at a minimum, what we appreciated was that that platform was available to us, that they had these kind of regular, six-week calls with a handful of groups, and we were able to raise our concerns during those calls, and we are hopeful that, you know, now that they understand that we are going to be holding them accountable to some of those campaign promises and commitments that they made to progressives, so, i mean, i am hopeful. but, yes, so we will see how it goes.
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steve: yes, senior fellow with the national policy group, the progressive 100, we will call it, and i should say, and i want my viewers to know, it is very hard to find in this town think tanks, institutions, nonprofits that have not somehow become part of the military funding complex, and so if nothing else, it is impressive that you found 100 people alive, so -- thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us today. >> absolutely. thank you. thanks. steve: so what is the bottom line? is america really standing at a crossroads? is it time for a clean break from the past? to think about foes and friends from the light of national interest? there should be people in government were not afraid of thinking outside of the box and saying so, but my guess is that biden will do what prisons are supposed to do. get smart people from most if not all -- will do what
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presidents are supposed to do, get smart people from all of not most areas. and that is the bottom line. ♪ o÷o÷o÷o÷o÷o÷o÷o÷ai>úog
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