tv Cross Talk RT July 31, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm EDT
hello and welcome to cross talk where all things considered i'm peter lavelle the arab muslim world is a place with complex and turmoil be it revolution civil wars or external meddling it could be no doubt this region will never be the same again it would also appear that the old that neo colonial order for much of the region is coming to an end but what is replacing it and who is on the right side of history.
to cross-talk the middle east in turmoil i'm joined by grant smith in washington he is the director of the institute for research middle eastern policy and in london we cross the charles wolf he is a writer broadcaster and political commentator all right gentlemen in fact that means you can jump in anytime you want and i very much encourage it grant if i go to you first in washington we have turmoil all across the region and particularly in egypt libya tunisia syria iraq i can go on and on bahrain is this a regional civil war it's what we're seeing. i think you can make an argument that even though we've got nation states that you can make an argument that there is a conflict between two major parties that's broken out across the region i think you see entrenched elites that don't have much representation given over those they rule you have protesters who have been fired up usually by some abuse arbitrary abuse by police affecting their their meager
economic life and breaking out in the revolution i think that if you if you defied in kind of a classical civil war assen ario where it's a couple of entrenched groups duking it out so that you could make an argument that there is a region wide civil war but obviously there are some pockets that have been able to resist that you usually by hauling out the checkbook ok that was one point of view when grant in washington charlie jump in in london well i think the argument can be made either way i don't quite see it yet at the point of civil war it's almost like in medical terms i think of a heart that's fibrillating it's not pumping effectively democracy or society is not operating affectively. is grant said you have a lot of different major and minor players involved. and then on the larger scale
obviously you do have a very big players the influence of russia and iran in the region countered a bit by the influence of the united states in the region but this is a sort of a different time it's almost hard to put a handle on i think what's going on for instance in egypt doesn't necessarily mirror woods going on in iraq or afghanistan. i'm not someone who generally believes in revolutions even though our country grant and i you know fought a very successful one in. you know out of it came a very successful state but for the most part of water revolutions don't work so you know this this supposed to green revolution that we saw going over the last several years we're seeing isn't working you know as the who saying here's to the old boss same as there's the new boss same as the old don't you think i'll be fine you know charlie want to think outside players are playing a big role not i mean you name some but what about saudi arabia in the united states supporting a coup in egypt i mean that's not promoting democracy is it charlie. well i think i
think the problem with with some of them are it's a it's a funny one with the united states of interest. or other guest has to say i think some of the problem has been disengagement by the states and the mr obama has taken the sort of lead from behind situation so. you're seeing where vacuums are getting filled for instance syria's a great case in point people saying well we can't arm the rebels now because al-qaeda is involved well al qaeda was just filling a vacuum that wasn't necessarily there a year ago mr obama held back and didn't do anything and now we're paying the price for it and inaction has always been a curse whether you're talking about inaction getting into world wars or other conflicts you know once you get in it on late stage it makes is twice as hard. to find a resolution as you think what you and i did and it was for it could have been a positive outcome if they'd been an intervention is that what you're saying. considering all the other other sales intervention i'm not even necessarily saying
in intervention putting boots on the ground but but we had the united states took a lead from behind course especially with syria and did to an extent with libya and i think we're now paying the price for that well the libyans doing really just great these days libya's doing this great grand go ahead and jump in i think it is i think it's not completely accurate to say that the united states has been leading from behind we saw at the beginning particular of the egyptian revolution that the u.s. was very much interested in seeing mubarak or his name successor continue in power and if you look across the region the united states would certainly be apoplectic of gutter or bahrain or saudi arabia suddenly face these same pressures and i think you know behind the scenes it's very difficult for any outside observer to know what's going on but the fact that obama went to egypt fired up
students with that his famous speech in cairo but then doesn't appear to have been doing too much i don't think that it's accurate to say that they wouldn't have been happy with some sort of continuance of the status quo particularly in egypt which is such a big recipient of funding for its deep state army which keeps a lid on things i think we all understand that you know egypt's economic driver one of them certainly is ten to fifteen billion dollars from the canal what sort of the rest of the world considers to be absolutely critical as an economic lifeline i mean you're never going to see any of the major world powers look away from the suez canal and pretend that they aren't affected by what happens in egypt but. getting back to my my previous point i mean. saudi arabia and u.a.e.
and god are in bahrain and oman were all able to haul out their checkbook and deliver a little bit of what people were asking for ramped up the social programs they were able to decrease unemployment's social spending in saudi arabia is a grand thing are also triggered by deleting dollars and also to unleash jihad it's into syria is well ok documented well that's i mean. obviously obviously that's. on lease jihad us into syria send troops across the causeway to bahrain i mean obviously they're foreign and domestic policies are are rather different not so but neville and when there's a border to be crossed charlie you want to weigh in there and let's let's go let's let's remember the world is not a perfect place and the art of foreign policy is not a perfect place and there's no necessary consistency between how you deal with one
nation state versus how you deal with another. in a lot of this stuff i remember henry kissinger once at a conference i was at you know said listen he says you know you have all these different countries the cables come in from your embassies and you react to them it's not like there's this grand master plan you have to deal with what's on the ground and i think for instance looking at egypt yes i think the u.s. government would have been in their interests and in the interests of israel as an ally to keep mubarak in place he wasn't you know the greatest domestic leader but you're right he kept the lid on things and kept peace treaties and kept stability in the area so then why does the united states i'm sorry charlie why does the united states always talk about democracy then i mean it's hypocrisy is unable. no i don't i don't think it is you try and move nations where you can to democracy but i mean do we have democracy now under morsi. morrissey's got on chance and more of the more as he's gone the reason morsi was gone was was the country was was going down the tubes economically when when for instance the parking lots is as someone
put it the other day i thought some of the best when the parking lots outside the pyramids are empty and the tourists aren't coming and the economy is sinking in and into a whole you've got to do something that's a reality in a morsi came in and he blew it. you know and that's just the end of the story you know i think there's an argument to be made as far as mubarak you know i don't necessarily like to subscribe to the he may be an s.o.b. but he's our s.o.b. but unfortunately in some cases i have to admit to there's some relevance to it a grant which you like to apply to well you know it we're basically trading egypt as a were panama and you know if we have our noriega in place kind of the hell with the panamanians and to a certain extent a lot of the anger on the streets and i think well warranted has been the united states' position again of funding this deep state propping up the army
keeping the canal open for traffic all the while egyptians seeing kind of their political views and ability to affect policy absolutely muted for what you just mentioned basically it's better to maintain this peace agreement with israel than to allow a messy developments or experiments in self rule from the you know the greater mass of egyptians and i think i don't think that's going to be for able to fly anymore it's been surprising to hear some of the arguments for alice ousting morsi as these charges of. you know allowing a little bit of tunnel based aid to flow into gaza strip and being in league with hamas as though that were never a big a big gyptian option or big egyptian problem is if anyone actually cared about that
sort of thing so the idea of deferring and continually negating any sort of nationalist fervor in egypt and keeping the lid on these tens of millions of people in the name of preserving a peace deal that. you know that's been in place for so many decades i don't think that's going to fly in the longer term we know that that peace deal they have charlie intra that peace deal is rather important because there is wider stability and you know let's let's be honest here nations and you know be at the united states of great britain or or russia cetera are acting in self interest they have to act in their own sense self-interest that's that's pretty much the first rule of charley you're saying you're saying the egyptian people don't have a right to vote on that treaty a referendum that's democratic oh no i'm not saying i'm not saying that at all but but that treaty has been in place for thirty years it's keeping wider stability in the area you know it again you want to the problems of syria me going to go back to syria syria is
a massive problem because look what's happening to jordan when you have refugees flowing into jordan at this unsustainable rate you have jihadi flowing into syria and getting trained up there are going to then go back into home nations such as here and to and to unite all right gentlemen i'm going to jump in here we're going to go to a short break and after that short break we'll continue our discussion on the middle east staying with our team. with. the. technology innovation all the developments from around russia we've got the future covered. british.
welcome back to cross talk we're all things are considered i'm peter lavelle to your mind you were discussing the middle east in turmoil. ok glenn if i go back to you in washington charlie mention the first part of the program that the united states is leading from behind but you know it seems to me that the united states is still trying to micromanage the entire region from country to country looking for its clients its new clients and maybe in a new neo colonial environment how do you react to that. i think it's there's a certain degree of well they are absolutely you know let's just think about what precipitated for example a lot of the problems a syria we have been locking down syria through accountability acts through all sorts of legislation to shut down and limit diplomacy between the united states and
syria a lot of the people in the israel lobby here in the united states wanted to extend that to saudi arabia they wanted obviously the syrians out of lebanon for reasons having a lot to do with israel and not much to do with the united states so i would go beyond that and say the fact that the u.s. has really defined a lot of its interests in terms of what the american israel public affairs committee and a lot of these groups that are so active on capitol hill want as opposed to maximizing u.s. trade ties or trying to have more of a productive a gauge moment with civil society that's gotten us into a lot of trouble and i would disagree with charlie in saying that maintaining the peace treaty with between israel in egypt where israel gets a great deal and all sorts of access to military technology building the wing of the f. thirty five lots of technology transfers and basically gets
a bunch of tanks to keep their population down is not well received in the region it's a very toxic formulation and it might be good for the israelis and a pragmatic be able to trumpet it as a victory in washington but it over the long term and worse we're reaping the harvest right now it's a disaster because it really wants to people become aware of what the dynamic is in the region through social media and as the state loses its grip on information of course a people are going to react and they're going to want to renegotiate and have more of a say in their government particularly in foreign affairs over these important issues . charlie how do you react to it going on sorry i go ahead charlie jump in i just i just i just don't totally buy that argument i don't think that the peace treaty between israel and egypt has anything to do with social conditions domestically i think that you know one thing that we haven't fully done is we haven't leveraged
now that the aid going to the state of israel is defensive in its actually a lot of it's to benefit the united states it's buying maybe loans to the israelis but it's forcing them to buy from u.s. companies so i don't know how does israel serve the interests of the american. any sort of how does it use or the other way around it's a huge law it's it was a huge liability go ahead charlie you go ahead let's finish your point. remember israel has legitimate defensive need against people on their border but you know one thing the united states isn't doing i don't think or we could do better is to leverage the aid we're giving to countries especially to egypt where we were we say you know we try and move countries towards a democratic model where you played on a mound with israel it's well darling would you like to leverage it too with israel in its treatment of the how much of any incident that well considering that israel is of a free and functioning democracy i'm not sure we're quite worried you're pushing the human rights agenda and what about twenty percent of the population are second
class citizens. well know that they're not actually yes they are israeli citizens have full rights in that area and the palestinians are an undefined quantity but that's getting amount to a peace treaty talks we'll see what happens with mr kerry i think he's on to a folly unfortunately but we'll see what we agree on but we agree on a whole point grant jump in i would i would tend to disagree look israel benefits greatly from the technology transfer of all of these systems such as the. the iron dome and the agreements with lockheed and boeing to provide all sorts of access to u.s. technologies so in terms of an aid package yeah they buy a lot of equipment from the united states this allows them by the way to advance and invest intelligently and secretly in their nuclear arsenal which is something we haven't talked about up until now but it doesn't really provide the united states with anything the united states doesn't call on israel to patrol the border
with saudi arabia or intervene in iraq it's never fired a shot in terms of defending a u.s. interest as defined by washington in the region egypt does get the short end of this and if they're basically buying tanks it's not and if you sort of make that it's a. developing any technologies and so the aid really benefits the u.s. it benefits the deep state in terms of having something that's mainly going to serve to repress the population if it comes to that but nowhere near the benefit that israel receives i'm sorry if this is just not there charlie you want to react to that i'm going on i can't i'm sorry i can't agree i mean israel is is is an american interest because it is an ally and it's a democracy in a very unstable part of the world and as far as technology i'm not even anybody i want to turn only way to you know what they did was real is an apartheid state how do you react to that statement because more people come or not let me finish my point let me finish my point i'll let you finish. more and more israeli say that is
well it's not coming outside of israel will veto israel a soon rights organization you're saying to have voting rights not it doesn't hold me that that's that's just an old canard with respect peter it just doesn't hold what about resendiz of international law and the occupation of the west bank is that you know it's not a given that a democracy working late a minute when peter it democracy is peter democracy is working. you know what the problem is is again the border has to be defined by two parties and it hasn't been defined yet and these are disputed territories there's nobody on the occupied territories under international law they're not disputed they're neither disputed they are the occupied under international law and that's western i'm sorry they're not yet until i've got to say we're going to disagree and say it's going to be impossible that is no use going our and i'm sorry it's not going to exile a long term canard that territories conquered in war during the one nine hundred
sixty seven conflicts which by the way israel started the idea that these are not occupied territories but the they're simply disputed territories is absolutely ridiculous i mean nobody can make that argument it's today it's just simply not true but the bigger the bigger problem here is the senator are if you flip through the nine eleven report and you see some of the causes were explained for the hijackers taking the horrible action of attacking our pentagon in new york city it was precisely over this issue they see day in and day out on the desire of the measuring satellite analysis to tell you things are getting wound up so many lies i recited for gold and i also didn't want the occupation of u.s. troops in saudi arabia so the say that this dispute over so-called you know disputed territories is is something you could ignore and then claim that israel is
some sort of asset to the us it's not. it's an albatross around america's neck and i just got on from it i'll. let you know if you're bad here and we're going to change gears we're going to change gears i want to ask both of you charlie and we look at what's going on in the greater middle east right now who's on the right side of history. well i would hope democracy is on the right side when major claim of a nation relayer is not because the united states doesn't support democracy in bahrain it doesn't support it in egypt so let's look at players who's on the right side of history well. well oddly in that case noah is probably on the right side of history i don't think the russians are on the right side of history and on the assyrians or on the right side of history death we don't think the iranians are on the right side of history country of my early when i mean it's not quite as easy as ok. i'm sorry no it's ok ok ok granted because you want to answer that question for you just means that you guys are not on the right side of history sir there are all
sorts of good guys if you if you take a horizontal cross-section just about every students who cares about the future of their contrary put them on the ass it column you could also put in the column people who are small vendors and people who want to get ahead in life who are pushing for greater economic freedom we don't want to see the tunisian police shutting down their fruit stands i mean there's a whole wellspring of interest in creating greater prosperity and having more participation in government but they're not going to get there if you've got secret military support to a deep states that you know arbitrarily throws out the inconvenient leader here it's not going to happen if the u.s. continues to send in shills like martin indyk into the region former apac research director pretending he's going to be a neutral harvard or of the israeli palestinian conflict and it's not going to
happen if the united states and the i.m.f. and other multinational or n.g.o.s believe that they're going to be able to engage in dollar diplomacy because that's not working anymore either so it's i really believe that stepping back and sort of disengaging from some of these levers that have been successfully pulled in the past is probably the right course i just don't see you know again building up the deep state allowing a fake peace process to continue and clamping down economically is going to have any results whatsoever charlie in new york in london just. yeah i just don't understand what grant's. thing with the peace agreement again that was one of the few things that's important to the region was it was keeping stability in the region between those two states and rather have them giving them the chance to develop in the egyptians develop i think we all want that i agree with what peter's
what grant is saying about you know the small trade of course everybody is in favor of that but again you're dealing with realities on the ground you know you look at the palestinian situation look at the gaza strip they're under the cultural of hamas what to do i mean i would say cut off the aid it's not that easy hamas is get a get a free pass to run the same with north korea i mean i know we're going outside the middle east now but you know kim jong il what do you do on the one hand you know well you know he has a government in the north koreans have been invaded anybody for a while the israelis do it every few years right gentlemen we've run out of time many thanks he might get some washington and in london and thanks to our viewers for watching us here are to see you next time in remember rules.
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