tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 6, 2017 7:11pm-8:03pm EST
>> good afternoon. i'm a senior fellow of the hudson institute. and it's my very great pleasure and honor to welcome you to this very important conference on behalf of the hudson institute. chairman sarah stern and her colleagues and my own. the hudson institute was founded in 1961 by the strategist herm an con. from beginning, it has been devoted to the free om security and prosperity of the united states and the health of its institutions. it's work is focused on strategies for the long term, strategies that thus deal with our most abiding challenges.
it draws on a wide variety of perspectives and opinions and will do so today and covered a wide variety of policy areas, domestic, foreign, and national security. >> let me first of all in addition thank you all for being here and participating in this conference. this is do r conference is important for the subject and the personnel that will address it. our subject is countering violence extremism. qatar, iran and the muslim brotherhood. we will, of course, explore each of the topics. i hardly need to stress the violent extremism emanate frgt
world. the gravity is evident to the american public ever since september 11, 2001 when so many thousands of our fellow citizens lost their lives. counter there threat is still taking american lives in many places around the world, most recently in west africa. nor i do need to stress that it is also had many other effects on our way of life. some big, some small. at this point, we all know that. but what i may stress and should stress is that the character of the threat has its own dynamics and has evolved over time. for example, the arab revolt of 2011 created additional dynamics that affected and still affect the terrain of this problem. its consequences included the rise of the islamic state of iraq in the levant. opportunities for the
degradation of the islamic republic of iran, as well as further opportunities for their regional enablers. the purpose of this conference is to address the present phase of these dynamics and its future. where are we now and where are we headed? where should we be headed if we're not headed in the right direction? to address these crucial questions, this conference brings together a most distinguished group of participants. this is the second reason for the significance of this conference. our participants in their public and private capacities bring to bear a vast amount of experience. very hard experience, often, and thought about this grievous problem. we will begin with leon panetta.
a man who as everyone knows, given lifelong and distinguished service to our country as a congressman and secretary of defense and as director of the cia. in all of those capacities and several others, he really seems to be indefatigable if you look at his resume, he's wrestled with the problems we're here to discuss. he will deliver his thoughts in conversation. ms. weymouth has also had a very distinguished career and one that has also involved great public service. ms. weymouth has been a senior editor of "the washington post" since 1986. in that capacity, she has performed the invaluable service of helping the american public understand the problems we face and the officials who are tasked with that purpose and sometimes the people who are causing the problem themselves. i think back to an interview
that she did of moammar gadhafi many years ago. please join me in welcoming secretary panetta and lolly weymouth. >> so good afternoon. and thank you all for coming. on behalf of the hudson institute, to what i hope will be a fascinating afternoon. and it starts off with leon panetta, whom i'm sure we will all be fascinated to hear from, considering the number of crises that are going on all over the world today.
so leon, i can't help but ask you, first of all, north korea. how do you see the situation? do you think we're close to war? how do you assess north korea? >> well, first of all, my thanks to the hudson institute for inviting me here. and for having this opportunity. look, we're living in a world where there are huge number of flash points. and danger points. probably more flash points than we have seen since the end of world war ii. failed states in the middle east, isis, the war against terrorism. iran and their continuing support for terrorism. north korea, russia, china, cyber attacks.
i mean, this is -- this is a dangerous world. and it demands very strong u.s. leadership to be -- >> your leadership and you have policies that created -- >> i don't think that's helpful. let secretary panetta finish. okay. okay. i think you should let secretary panetta finish please. [ booing ] >> okay. please.
[ yelling ] >> okay. >> welcome to a congressional hearing. >> i would like to say, i completely forgot, i completely forgot which was my intent to introduce for secretary panetta, as everyone in the room knows, he was secretary of defense. is there any chance people will be quiet? okay. he has served the country as secretary of defense and director of the cia. so i think that gives his views -- oh, my goodness. anyway.
i think that gives his views added -- a great, you know, a great scope. and it's fascinating to hear what he has to say about the crisis of our day, if members of our audience would be so kind as to just let him speak, which apparently is quite difficult. okay, leon. >> okay. >> go for it. >> shall we try again? >> yeah. >> so it obviously is a challenging time for u.s. leadership because of these danger points, and we're seeing that with north korea. north korea has been a difficult challenge for a very long time.
and it's been a rogue nation, and obviously, a nation where we have been extremely concerned about their ability to develop a nuclear weapon and an icbm. which they seem to be making great progress on. and i think according to intelligence analysis, we're probably looking at not that many months before they in fact develop both an icbm capability and a miniaturized nuclear weapon that could be placed on top of an icbm. so the issue then becomes how do we -- how do we confront this challenge to our national
security? the reality is that there have been military plans that have been developed over the years to try to confront north korea. the bottom line is that none of those are very good options because of the consequences. and the concern that ultimately, it could lead not only to many lives -- thousands of lives that are lost in south korea. but also it could lead ultimately to a nuclear war. and so for that reason, you know, the issue has always been, how do you try to engage north korea? and obviously, the effort has been made to try to put pressure on china because china is the one country that has a large influence in north korea, to try to get them to try to deal with north korea and get them to negotiate. that is not proven very effective. so what are we left with? i think in the end, the united states has to implement a policy of containment and deterrence, which is the approach we have been taking. but i think that in some ways, that noose of containment and deterrence has to be tightened. i think we have to obviously increase our military presence and strength in the region. we have to increase our navy presence. we have to continue to support and develop the security of south korea as well as japan. we need to develop a missile
shield, an effective missile shield that can bring these missiles down. in south korea, in japan, obviously in our country. in terms of the threat of icbms. we need to continue to toughen sanctions. and i do think that if china is willing to restrict oil shipments and deal with some of the other commercial areas that they deal with in north korea, that it can have an impact on the north korean economy. so tightening up those sanctions and at the same time, working with our allies, working with china, trying to see if we can't work towards some kind of negotiations with north korea. this is not going to be easy. and we have experienced that. but i think we need to push as hard as we can on the policy of deterrence and containment and try to put as much pressure on
north korea as possible, recognizing that if something were to happen, we have to be prepared to obviously confront them. and also, i might mention, developing both our overtand covert capabilities to try to deal with their efforts to try to develop a larger and more effective missile system. >> how do you think the administration is doing in dealing with north korea? >> i think, you know, the concern is that there's been this exchange of rhetoric between president trump and the north korean leader. the concern i have is when you ratchet up the rhetoric between fire and fury and, you know, destroying the united states, et cetera, what it does is it increases the tension level. in korea, and you have to imagine that there are forces, we have 25,000 troops that are
in south korea, along with south korean security force. the north koreans obviously have forces that are deployed along the border. and, you know, they're in a situation where because of the rhetoric, the tension has risen a great deal. and with that tension is the concern about a miscalculation or a mistake that will ultimately escalate into a greater conflict. and so my concern right now is that it would be far better to lower the volume of rhetoric and focus on developing both our strength and capacity in the region, developing better containment, developing better deterrence, and trying to deal with sanctions that can really have an impact on north korea. and impact on their economy. the main reason we ultimately
brought iran to the negotiating table is because of worldwide sanctions that were put in place against iran. i think we have to think in the same way about doing that to north korea. >> so speaking of iran, do you feel that president trump's threat last week to not certify the iran bill was a mistake, and what did you think of his reasoning? basically saying iran was not complying with the according, that it was behaving very aggressively, that it was restricting navigation, et cetera. >> withdraw. -- yeah, look, in foreign policy, in defense policy, in many ways, your word counts for a lot. and when you tell somebody that you're going to do something, if you fail to stick to your word, it sends a clear message to others that as a result of that you cannot trust america as a
partner. in many ways, you know, we experience that when president obama made the commitment on chemical attacks in -- >> syria. >> -- in syria with assad. that if those chemical attacks took place, we would take action. and when those chemical attacks did take place and many were lost as a result of that, the failure to actually take action at that time sent a message that we would not stand by the word on the red line. i think that had an impact in terms of credibility of the united states and the world. i think the same thing is happening now. with the failure to abide by our word on the agreement. now, obviously, there are a lot
of concerns about the nuclear agreement. the failure to deal with these other issues, support for terrorism, missile development, promotion of instability in the region, et cetera. but an agreement was arrived at by the united states along with our allies. and it was signed into place. and up to this point, the agreement dealing with the nuclear side, even though temporary, is one that all of those that have been involved in the inspection process have said that from the inspection point of view, iran is technically abiding by that agreement. and, you know, we can raise a lot of concerns about other elements there, but at least with regards to the development of a nuclear weapon, they have abided by that agreement. i think as a result of that, we ought to continue to enforce
that agreement. and i think congress, you know, can add, obviously, this issue has now been thrown to congress. i'm a little concerned about that because congress is having a hard time sometimes finding its way to the bathroom, much less dealing with issues that involve an area frankly that the commander in chief, as someone who ought to direct foreign policy under our system of government, that i think, you know, far better for the administration, for the president, to deal with these issues. but since the issue has now been thrown to the congress, then i think congress should hopefully develop a way to increase the enforcement of that agreement,
tie sanctions to the enforcement of it, try to probably make some other recommendations about trying to take these provisions and make them permanent as opposed to temporary. and some other steps with regards to inspection. but in the end, to make clear that we're going to continue to enforce that agreement. because by enforcing that agreement, i think it then gives us the opportunity to work with our allies in trying to apply both diplomatic and economic sanctions. on iran, so that they will ultimately come to the table and negotiate on these other issues. that's not going to be easy under any circumstances, but the worst thing you can do is break your word, have iran basically say, why should i trust the
united states in terms of any kind of negotiation if they're not abiding by the agreement? and therefore, you know, we're not going to -- we will not participate in that kind of negotiation. so i think it's far better, enforce the agreement, stick with our allies, and try to put both diplomatic and economic pressure on iran to ultimately try to see if we can make some progress on these other issues. >> well, that was very interesting. now, how to you feel about iran's actions in the area? and don't you think the -- or do you think the united states should be taking strong actions to contain iran? they have actually already turned lebanon, i would say, into more or less a rubber stamp in the sense that hezbollah controlled lebanon, as our audience knows. i think that many people think they would like to do the same thing now in iraq. thanks to the militias there. so do you think it's important for the united states to try to push back and contain iran? >> look, there are two important threats in the middle east. the middle east has a number of threats.
we've got failed states coming out of arab spring. between syria, which just is in the middle of a continuing civil war. we have yemen, we have libya. other countries that because of their failure, become crucibles for the development of terrorism. and that creates even greater problems. so instability, failed states in the middle east, we're certainly concerned about. but we're concerned about terrorism and the threat of terrorism. isis, you know, we have had some success in dealing with isis and the caliphate, moving them out of mosul.
moving them out of the areas in iraq that they had conquered, as well as raqqah now. but by no means is isis going away. and the worst thing the united states could do is declare a victory and then not confront isis. in other areas. so dealing with isis, isis fighters. they are very likely to now engage in insurgency and we'll see elements of isis not only in the middle east but north africa as well. and so isis is going to remain a real threat. and we have to confront isis. and we have to confront the influence of iran in that region as well. iran provides support for terrorism.
they have supported hamas and hezbollah. and supported elements of disruption in the middle east. we know that. they continue to do that. they continue to try to promote instability in the region. their interest is to try to develop a kind of triangle there between beirut and damascus and baghdad. and we know that they're working on that. the quds force is a force that has been involved in disrupting areas, not only in the middle east, but frankly elsewhere around the world. so, yeah, that represents a threat as well. how do we deal with that? how do we deal with that? that's obviously the fundamental issue. i believe, and i made this recommendation a lot, but it just unfortunately didn't get very far. but i strongly believe we have to develop a coalition, a middle east coalition of countries that will work together in cohesion. israel should be part of that coalition, frankly. because they, too, are concerned about isis and terrorism and iran.
and that coalition made up of moderate arab countries in the region ought to be coming together to establish even a joint military command, identify targets, deploy forces, be able to work together with the united states as part of that coalition. work together to go after terrorist pockets and go after the leadership in terrorism in different areas, using kind of tactics that frankly when we went -- when we did the war in libya, we had 50 countries that were part of that coalition. and a lot of people, you know, were not sure if that coalition would ever work. but the reality was we developed a joint headquarters in naples. we provided the intelligence support. we identified targets. we provided those targets to norway and other countries that were participating.
and we did it in a successful and effective way. i think we need to develop that same kind of coalition in the middle east to have that kind of capability. not only to deal with isis but to deal with containing iran. at the same time. and also, i might add one other aspect, which is providing stability for countries that are unstable now. i mean, you know, the united states, we never really had a strategy for dealing with the arab spring. and i think what needs to be done now is once we're able to try to deal with some of these failed states in terms of the instability, how do you stabilize these countries? how do you provide the support system so that they can govern and so that they can deal with the different challenges that
each of those countries -- look, these are tribal societies. this is tough. this is not easy. but at the same time, if we don't work to provide stability in that region, then it will continue to be unstable and will continue to have to deal with the terrorist threat. so i think ultimately, some kind of unified coalition working together on these challenges makes a lot of sense. >> this past week, as you noted, raqqah fell. and also, which was a very hopeful development, and unfortunately, there was fighting in kirkuk between the peshmerga forces and the iraqi military, which was a concerning development, i would say. what is your assessment of the situation in kirkuk and the -- >> well, look, it's not good. it's not -- this is not a good
situation to have, you know, arab versus kurd. particularly in iraq. look, we have been dealing with this challenge for a long time. and there was even suggestions early on when we were dealing with the situation in iraq that iraq ought to be divided between sunni and shia and kurds. and i remember going to iraq and talking with the leadership there. and almost -- i think without question, every leader i talked to said don't do that. don't do that. iraq is a nation. we need to operate as a nation. and, you know, we put in place some of the institutions to try
to develop some kind of governmental system in iraq. to make it work, everybody has to participate. the kurds have to be there, the sunnis have to be there, the shias, of course, will be there. but they've got to develop the ability to work together and deal with issues. and what happened, obviously, in iraq is that you had a shia government with maliki, who basically decided they were going to get, you know, move the sunnis out, and so they moved the sunnis out of government. they moved the sunnis out of the military, and before you knew it, it became frankly the ingredients that led to the
development of isis. unless they develop the ability to bring the different factions in iraq together so that they can govern together, i mean, this is a country that's got tremendous resources, for god's sakes. it's not a country that has to worry about, how are we going to be able to fund economic development? they can do it. but they've got to work together at it. and i think, you know, if sunnis or if sunnis fight shias and if shias fight kurds, and they continue to have this kind of disruption, then iraq will never be able to achieve stability. now, i was pleased that secretary tillerson was in saudi arabia and promoting greater saudi/iraq relationships to try to bolster iraq, try to limit the iranian influence in iraq. i think that's a good step. but what is needed here is for the united states to continue to push the government there, to develop the opportunity to bring the kurds and the sunnis into
the government to be able to work with them in a unified iraq. that's ultimately what you want. not going to be easy. you know, we have been through a lot. the kurds, look, the kurds have -- you know, we have supported the kurds. the kurds have fought some great battles on behalf of the united states. they have sacrificed a lot. but so have others. and the time has come now where they have to make a fundamental decision. do they want to be part of a country like iraq or are they going to continue to kind of try to go off on their own? this is not, you know, this is going to be a challenge, but i worry that if the iraqis keep
going after the kurds, that we'll have another civil war on our hands in that region, and we sure as hell don't need that. >> isn't iran -- i read reports that general soleimani of iran was in kirkuk last week. it looks like we left the kurds in the hands of the iranians. should the u.s. be more active in resolving this? >> look, there's no question. the every data base that we can imagine. because we really are trying to make sure we count everyone. and that we count everyone one time. >> gentleman from texas yields back.
gentleman from is recognized. >> thank you secretary ross. for your testimony. >> i don't know the geography of the committee. well enough. >> i understand. but leaving president assad in power. i wonder if you felt this was a satisfactory solution to the terrible bloodshed that's been going on? >> look. i think that assad remaining in power in syria is prescription for continuing civil warren instability in syria. that what needs to be done is that the elements that are there and now we've got syrian force who's just were able to take over an important oil area in syria. you've got kurdish force there's
as well. we've got u.s. force there's. we have russians, iranian, we have syrians. you know, this -- right now i think we are looking at a continuing civil war. and it's almost going to be a proxy war. and iran and russia supporting assad. so we've got a proxy war that's going it continue to go on. and the real question is going to be whether or not at some point there is a willingness to sit down and to try to see if they can't find a peaceful solution. we have tried. it hasn't gone very far. as long as somebody thinks they are winning it's tough to do this. and assad right now probably figures he is winning with the russian help and iranian help. i think the united states has to be a force there. i don't think united states can
write off syria. i think the united states has to be a force in working with the opposition and working with the forces that are there and in making clear that the united states is not going anywhere. we are not going to surrender syria to russia and iran. we need to be there and play a role in working with forces to try to ultimately be a check point if nothing else to force some kind of negotiation. >> as far as i can recollect many years ago he put on a high nuclear alert and the russians with drew from the middle east for almost 30 years, but then they marched right back into syria and the obama administration did absolutely nothing, said nothing, did nothing. so i guess putin as usual is testing the envelope to see how far he can go and he stayed there. how influential do you think russia is in the middle east
right now? >> russia, the reason which is this is another flash point which is that we are in a new chapter of the cold war with russia and what putin is doing. you know, putin in many ways is an easy read from an intelligence point of view and point of view of dealing with putin. putin is about russia. putin's basic goal is to restore states of the old soviet union. that has always been his intent. he thought that when the soviet union collapsed that that was the greatest tragedy russia has experienced in its history. so putin is basically aiming at that. but and what putin will do is if
he reads weakness in his opposition he will take advantage of it. that's what bullies do. they will take advantage of -- if they do not think that the other side will respond, then they will continue to take advantage of them. so that's what he did in crimea. that is why he went into the ukraine. he was not really checked in that advance there. sensing weakness again he went into syria and was not checked there. the reality is that putin is going to continue to exert an influence. now that he is -- we have a few thousand troops located in syria along with their air force. they have a substantial military
presence. i think it has to be made clear that we are not going to surrender the middle east to russia and we have to play a role. it means drawing lines or trying to make sure that they do not develop this relationship with iran in order to expand their influence in the middle east. so to do that you have to draw a line. you have to stick to those lines. you have to make very clear to russia that they cannot go into any of their border states and do what they did to the ukraine. and that if they do that we are going to obviously with nato enforce article 5. and that with regards to the middle east that we are going to limit their ability to expand their influence in the middle east.
we have to make that clear and then you have to back it up. and if you do that they will respond. that's the way you deal with them. if you're not tough with putin, if he doesn't understand where the lines are he will continue to take advantage of you. reas very important for the united states to make very clear that there are lines he cannot cross. both in the middle east as well as in europe. >> how do you think the administration is doing with russia? >> not so good. i think you have to make -- you have to make those points clear. we know what russia is up to. what they tried to do here in the united states and trying to impact our election process. a cyber attack on the united states. let's face it. this was a cyber attack against our most valuable institution which is the right of an american people to exercise
their right to vote in an election. they tried to go after that. we're trying to determine how extensive it was and how to avoid that in the future. you have to send a clear message to the russians that because of their aggressiveness in the ukraine, syria and against the united states, the united states is not simply going to sit back and allow that to continue. you cannot just hope at some point they'll be nice guys. it's not the way it works. you've got to be able to make sure when you say something is going to happen, you stick to it. i'm not one that thinks kwou can't negotiate with putin. yes, you can negotiate with
putin. we've done that. we've had some success in the past but you have to do that from strength, not from weakness. >> in wrapping up here, a lot of this conference is supposed to be about been, of course, the jcc has been freed by dispute between cutter and saudi arabia and the uae. i'm wondering if you think the u.s. should be more involved in resolving the dispute or what do you think should happen and how important our air base is to the united states. >> there are divisions.
between sunnis and shiias. in many ways those divisions have impacted on the ability to try to find some degree of stability in the region. if we're going to make progress, then countries have to work toward the same objective. they have to identify what undermines stability in the middle east. what undermines stability in the middle east is terrorism, isis, al qaeda, hamas, hezbollah. all of that terrorism has undermine the ability of that region and continues to do so.
we know they've provided support, financial support for the muslim brotherhoods. for terrorism, for hamas for elements of al qaeda, the taliban. problem is they can't have it both ways. if you're in that region, you have some common enemies. one is terrorism. frankly the other is iran. you can't play both sides of the street. i think it's extremely important. i think gutter has now said that they want to abide by international requirements with regards to financing of terrorism. they've passed laws to try to implement requirements against financing of terrorism. they say that they want to do
the right thing. i think the issue is now to make sure that what they say is what they do. that means making sure they are enforcing efforts to limit their support. we have a defense agreement with gutter. we have a base there. a pretty significant base involved in the wars in the middle east. there's been so efforts to try to work together in that world you've got to be submitted against terrorism. you've got to make clear that
you oppose isis and other elements of terrorism and that you're going to work with other countries in the region to make sure support it. i know that united states, secretary tillerson are working on that. i know that kuwait has provided some assistance the try to bring those parties together. i think you need to have a commitment by gutter that they are going to abide by what they say they're doing. >> you've been around this town for a long time. you have a lot of experience. >> as witnessed from the people in the audience. >> we're members of the establishment. i can't resist asking you, people in the so called swamp continually wringing their hands saying this town has never opinion more divided and
politics never opinion worse. do you believe politics have never been more divided and how dough yo see the town and how do you see this administration's functioning? >> it's a concern of mine. i've seen in my over 50 year career in public life, i've seen washington at its best and i've seen washington at its worst. the good news is i've seen washington work. when i first came back as the legislative assistant to republican senator from california, there were senators on the republican side who worked with senators on the democratic side to develop bipartisan solutions. he had a good friend in bob
michael in is the minority leader. they worked together in the reagan administration as an example. you look at what's up there now and we pass social security reform. we passed immigration reform. we passed tax reform. bipartisan. we're willing to sit down and work together. i've never seen washington as dysfunctional as it is today. both parties are in the trenches. they don't want to come out and work together. when they do they run into barriers of one kind or another. this country will only survive if our democracy is able to find consensus and compromise in working out solutions for our nation.
we can avoid crisis. if not, we will govern by crisis. that's largely what we do today. ultimately leadership has to step up. i have a young son who just got elected to my old seat in the congress. you know what -- [ applause ] >> what he is experiencing and he can't plead ignorance because he saw me in congress. he's a veteran from afghanistan who was able to get elected. there are newer members up there. republican and democrat, many of them veterans who are frustrated by the dysfunction and the gridlock. he's part of a solution's caucus. 22 demonstra 2 democrats, 22 re trying to find solutions. i'm afraid what's happening in washington is not going to change from the top down. it's going to change from the
we're live in baton rouge for the next stop on the c-span bus 50 capitals tour. that he talk about security of voe voting systems. be sure to watch washington journal live at 7:00 eastern tuesday morning. join the discussion. tonight, a look at russia's potential influence on social media during the 2016 election. that's followed by the head of the food and drug administration talking about efforts too evaluate and approve new pharmaceutical treatments and the fda's role in combatting the nation's opioid epidemic.
officials from google and twitter were on capitol hill. the witnesses discussed steps their companies were taking to address the distribution of false advertisements and the creation of fake accounts. this house intelligence hearing is just under three hours. good afternoon. the hearing will come to order. i'll like to offer up a brief prayer for what happened in new york. we come to you today humble, seeking your wisdom, guidance, knowledge as we try to lead this great people. lord, we have circumstances in