tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN August 27, 2014 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT
rights issue not just as the right thing to do morally but that opening up this closed society is critical to the peace and stability of the region, we will begin to utilize it as a tool in the war against theocracy and dictatorship. >> do you want to add to that? but i've been writing for 30 years or something that there is -- il identity -- i did think david put it like that. this is a real identity between moral imperatives and strategic imperatives. it is rare that you find such a perfect fit of one into the other. thethe degree to which beend of -- the method has
the same as gorbachev has been a real throwback for me. i can those days after one dictator after another emerged, they all had very human aspects. they liked jazz. music, anddixieland so there is a kind of human element to him. rouhani is a man of the system. ease up your product of the system -- he is a pure product of the system. and lived age in it in at all his life. and now here he is at the top. people don't talk much about what he is really all about and what he really wants. why does he take all of these different positions? because the main game that is being played inside iran right among the various factions
is who is going to succeed khomeini. khomeini is believed to be sick. i mean, it's true. he should have died long ago if he is a six at -- if he is as sick as some would say he is. but no one would be surprised if he dropped dead tomorrow. characters,f these the rouhani's, the ahmadinejad's, the rafsanjani's, etc., they are all maneuvering for succession. they're all trying to make sure. so rouhani is acquiring support everywhere. if you are acquiring support everywhere, then that means each individual faction has greater and greater influence over it own enemies.
that is why the iranian government is setting records for executions, tortures, censorship's, so on and so forth. incomparably worse than ahmadinejad who was seen as a nasty, vicious, hardliner stop and rouhani -- a nasty, vicious hardliner. and rouhani is much worse. this tells us, among other things, that there are these fractures inside. i want to make one point about what we know and what we don't the, since you started with known unknowns. no knownthere are unknowns. look at our history in anticipating internal developments inside the country. ofk at the big uprising 2009, which was bigger than the uprising that overthrew the shah in 1979. ,ore people in the streets
cover larger areas of the country, and so on and so forth. i think it is fair to say that no one inside government saw that coming. position,a serious either to make polity or -- make policy or affect policy. they were amazed, because up until then, the conventional wisdom had been there had been no opposition of any significant inside iran, and even if it existed, they don't have leaders that they're going to follow, so doesn't matter and just forget about it. there isn't going to be an insurrection inside iran. people -- and then there was this big insurrection and people said, of course it was there. we could see it all along. and it is irresistible. if you go back and read the press of 2009, june and onwards, you will see that the
intelligence community and the policymaking community were saying, we don't have to do anything, because these people are irresistible. look at them all. they're going to win. it is sort of a precursor of assad is going to fall, no assad is going to win, no assad is going to fall, no, assad is going to win. bottom line, we don't know. we didn't know in 2009. and we don't know today. what we do know is that the there'sccess if something serious to be afraid of. we can say that. the increase in slaughter and mayhem, the increase in censorship, all of that the speaks a regime that doesn't think it has control and is worried. plus, whenever more than three people gather on a street corner
they are either arrested or broken up or beaten or sent home or whatever. but i will last a couple more questions, but if you want to ask a question, just signal me and i will get to you. you talk about record numbers of and -- executions and incarcerations. i guarantee you, mostly will don't know that. most people think we are in a of reformahmadinejad and moderation. if you simply read the media, as i suggested earlier, you would get that impression. does that not suggest -- let me -- thatth ali on this they are effectively winning the public relations war right now and, perhaps, the media are not doing their job in terms of uncovering what is happening in iran and they are not technology not? -- not acknowledging that? flex absolutely. -- >> absolutely.
mr. romney is a very educated man. he is a trained lawyer. very. rouhani is a educated man. he is a trained lawyer. and mr. ahmadinejad spoke like a truck driver. jackethani is in silk and expensive suits. for,illion are accounted these are some of the findings of this government. mr. ahmadinejad managed to isolate iran diplomatically. , yes,uhani and rafsanjani they are succeeding. and the rest of the media is not paying attention. they should. they should, to begin with, start reading what mr. romney has said -- mr. rouhani has said over the years. 1979, the islamic republic experienced its most spread torest and it
the entire country. which politician do you think it was who went to the public and supported the revolutionary guard and the police suppression of the students movement? it was mr. rouhani. it was mr. rouhani who systematically as chairman of the supreme national security newspapers,banning and now people are expecting that mr. rouhani, of all people, is going to allow freedom of the press? why? y echo -- why? the is the mistake of press, that they do not pay attention. they do not take a look at the history of those individuals. and therefore, we have expectations that are totally immature. some people in tehran have these
kinds of expectations. this is why they voted for mr. romney, but you cannot blame them. they are young and not -- mr. rouhani, but you cannot blame them. they are young and naïve. here in washington, this is the problem i have when it comes to the u.s. government view of the rouhani cabinet. discord --een the discourse about the nuclear issue and most of it has been how to prevent iran from getting nuclear weapons. with purely conventional arms, hundreds of millions of people have been killed in the last 100, 150 years. 200,000 people slaughtered in syria. 800,000 in rwanda in 100 days. of millions of people with non-nuclear weapons. we need to dramatically and unequivocally restore focus to the human rights question. for second. the his wife was touring
state department in the 80's, she would tell the story that there was a huge map on the wall and one of the state department officials said, with all respect, you don't expect us to relegate your husband's release to all of these geostrategic challenges, and what she said was, these will not be solved until my husband is released. there are hundreds, it is not thousands of political prisoners , and many do not get the link between internal freedom and external peace. just quickly about the issue of the letters of baghdad he. andissue of dissidents individual rights, there's nothing more fearful for a dissident than feeling alone and isolated and not cared about by the rest of the world. we can do an enormous amount to increase the train -- the strength of the dissident movement inside authoritarian countries possibly by speaking out and supporting them. this helps give the impetus to
rise up against those who throw them in prison. the westnother issue does not understand. i completely agree with michael about missing what has become the conventional wisdom of even the arab spring. it is fantastic to look back at the productions of supposedly smart people. in 2009, newsweek said for the best thing -- the best thing for syria was a wise and caring leader named assad. in 2010, john kerry said he was a partner for peace, prosperity, and stability. in 2011, serial was an island of stability. and that assad regime was far from over shortly before he fell. and you hear others talking about egypt as a rock of stability and an island of stability. and secretary clinton's famous remark on january 25 that our assessment is that the egyptian government is stable. all of these were false and dangerously wrong, in no small part, i think, because they were
not the same to these dissident movements. it is always bigger than we think and the amount of true believers is typically lower than we think in authoritarian dictatorships. >> yes, greater emphasis on human rights is called for. but that shouldn't mean less emphasis on the nuclear issue. if this regime should get nuclear weapons, the amount of repression and carnage we could see under the nuclear umbrella for her manger of the sentry would make what is going on now seem very small. >> no question, it would be an infinitely large danger. but i think the unfortunate corollary of those is people underestimate the danger of those regimes staying in power countries funding terrorism as far as the eye can see, and brutalizing people for decades. that is untenable and an unforgivable situation, which we
might -- we need to work fostered to undo. -- work faster to undo. >> we have some questions. step up to the microphone, if you would. >> we run an e-learning institute for law and civil society. my question or comment is about 2009,l's point that in policymakers in america were saying things like these guys are going to win and we don't need to do much of anything. i question that, because president obama in one of the few things he said when people were chanting for him to do something, say something, the "barack hussein obama am a you are either with them or with us," speaking of the regime.
he had just taken office and he reportedly sent a couple of letters to khomeini. the green movement was inconvenient, and a wrench in the works of what the it ministration thought they could achieve with khomeini. a biglot of iranians feel sense of betrayal from america because of that. i wanted to voice that here. >> that is a good point. do you want to comment on that? it is true. i agree with everything you said. and of course, iranians feel betrayed. they were betrayed. they are right to feel betrayed. at the same time, the consensus time wasry at that that this is a huge thing, the , and it continued and
it went on and on and they said, you know, they're going to win. wrong,t easy to be systematically wrong about everything from beginning to end, but we are trying. and in that case, we did pretty well. >> this discussion raises a point that i would like to tease out, if i could. getting back to what you said about strategic clarity versus moral clarity, there is a view, i would say on the realist right and the multicultural left that moral clarity is an impediment .o strategic clarity if we talk about what is going on in the islamic state in moral
terms, in terms of good and evil, we get a's -- get away from the possibility of good, strategic thinking. i would argue the opposite that it is necessary for strategic clarity. but that is the following. when you decide to, for example, to support the green movement in 2009, when you're deciding to support the nationalist interior, the quick equation -- the equation is, what can they do? the question right now is, should we be supporting what is movementhe nationalist ? and i think it gets to the moral question of supporting the people that hold those values, or if wehey may lose, support them only if it's utilitarian 10 -- utilitarian.
that waswas an op-ed outrageous. the dissident that spent nine years in the gulags of the single happiest day was when the american president called the soviet union evil, because finally, someone have the audacity to speak the blinding truth about that incredible evil. i think that too many times today, i think what it boils down to is a loss of confidence in our own values in our own civilization and our own power. and when you compare situations to today, it is not a one to one difference. american policymakers like to to say it is -- like america is a superpower who took on evil and said, don't bother causeowers that could
nuclear holocaust. it doesn't have that power today. people are afraid to confront iran on the nuclear rights -- this human right issue. when they try to work on a nuclear deal, human rights are not on the table and that is just outrageous, both morally and strategically. >> dana marshall, transnational strategy group. the question is really more of a challenge. taking af myself as moral view of this, and i'm very moved by what you are saying about not forgetting the human rights aspects. but i want to challenge you. what do we do about this? the west has been applying some pretty severe sanctions toward the islamic republic. it has had the effect of seeming
to start negotiations again, good or bad. let's leave this to the side. but my question is, for those who cannot have a colloquy with the foreign minister of iran, and for those of us who think that a letter or two, how effective is that? how much do we put on the table? i mean, honestly. not just saying, o, let's put this as the loss -- last talking point, but what will it take to move this agenda forward? and how likely is it that we will be joined by those areas that are even closer and have more leverage? such as the islamic republic and europe? >> look at reagan and the soviet empire and i think you can answer your question just from historical events. when reagan started speaking out against the soviet empire and saying that it's day in history
was finished, people yelled and screamed at him. they said he was dangerous. when jackson-vanik was up for grabs, you cannot imagine how many leaders of various communities inside the united states came to people who were advocating it and said do not put the soviet union with its back against the wall, things will get worse. the things that people like david hear everyday when they speak about what is going on inside iran. and as we know from all the dissidents, speaking out made life better. supporting dissident groups inside the soviet empire eventually was a crucial part in bringing down the whole soviet system. if we could bring down the soviet empire, how could anybody doubt that we could bring down this hollow, corrupt regime in
tehran? it does not begin to compare. yet whenever we have this discussion, people always talk as if it is big, powerful, massive, they are brilliant. they make mistakes all the time. can i make one point about iran? keep it in mind. iran, on paper, should be one of the most successful countries on earth. they have everything. when we sit down and draw up a checklist of what does it take to be a booming, democratic, successful country, iran has it all. even an educated middle-class and women with a significant role in society. they've got it all. now, go into the streets of the major cities. what do you see? a basket case. record numbers of suicides, drug addiction, prostitution, you name it.
all those indicators of social malaise and failure. these people, brilliant, as we invariably think of them, have wrecked a country that was very hard to wreck. sort of like venezuela in that regard. my journalism days sent me to venezuela. everybody said god is venezuelan, you cannot wreck this place. food drops out of the sky, trees grow twice as fast. iran is one of these countries where it takes a lot of work to wreck it, they've wrecked it. so, support the opposition. what are we waiting for? as was said by soviet
dissidents, it is morally right and strategically right. and it will probably work. everyone is afraid of them. everybody thinks it is crackpot and crazy. and yet, the track record, historically, is pretty good. ask robespierre, sometimes it works. >> there is a certain generation in the american foreign-policy making community that has experienced the cold war. they know how the system works. one of the things some younger people have forgotten is that there is a thinking process that began as an arms agreement and then it proliferated to encompass human rights issue. most unfortunately, the brilliant people who are in government right now in the u.s.
did not think of a similar model for the nuclear negotiations with the islamic republic of iran. maybe because it was not a priority, maybe they had no recollection of how things were done in the cold war period. and that, of course, is very unfortunate. take a look at the right, iranians are successful everyplace in the world but inside of iran. that tells you something about the system, which is called the islamic republic. >> there is something you can do on a personal level and then more on a diplomatic level. a few weeks ago, my organization, advancing human rights, relaunched movements.org, which links dissidents to people around the world with skills that can happen. it is like craigslist for human rights.
thousands of people have come asking for something, legal help, pr help, policy health, some of them want a song written. you can go to movements.org and find somebody from syria, saudi arabia, russia, china -- it is open to large dictatorships. we have had songs about sergei magnitsky and about syrian refugees and so forth. we need to have a rabble rousing. i came up with the idea to rename the street in front of the chinese embassy liu xiaobo plaza, congress voted to change the name in front of the embassy to liu xiaobo plaza, just as they did with the soviet union. and it got in their face. it was for their imprisoned nobel prize winner. the fact that the foreign
forster can claim ignorance a political prisoner, we can do that. why is every street in front of the iranian embassy not named after a political prisoner? it has some effect on the soviet union. the press covered it massively, liu xiaobo plaza, the chinese had to answer for this outrageous violation of human rights. suddenly, the chinese were put on the defensive. on the national level, i think traditional things like raising the names of these political prisoners in meetings. when you do go negotiate in geneva or vienna, you have to -- you cannot say we will get to human rights later. saudi arabia and officials said of course we will raise human rights, but then they ran out of time. raise the names, a guy like one dissident said the fact that he was on the cover of "the
economist" saved his life. after 10 years in prison, he said it saved his life. attention, attention. linking any improvements to the iranian economy to improvements in human rights is a critical letter, which is underappreciated. -- critical lever, which is wildly underappreciated. >> let's go to the north a little bit. >> i wanted to talk more about the green movement. i'm a believer that the green movement is not dead and iranians are very smart, like boxers, waiting for the opportunity to come again and get out into the streets when they feel it is appropriate. what can the west or the u.s. do this time around when the opportunity comes? i am sure it will come again, it is a matter of time. what should they do to support people? what things can i do?
-- what sorts of things can they do? >> one of the things that the islamic republic cannot control is spontaneous uprisings. they can infiltrate any political organization, they can infiltrate even the smallest cell. the intelligence services have learned all the tricks of spy craft from the kgb and from the shah's secret service. they know what they're are doing. they are very good at this. but they cannot control when massive uprisings spontaneously break out. massive uprisings need communication. among those who participate in the uprising. there's also a need for further mobilization of the public for a specific cause. there you need public broadcast systems. the islamic republic has a highly censored institution
because it has strategic value for the regime. most foreign broadcasters to iran are extremely cautious in their coverage of the green revolution. one of the things that could be done and should be done is to provide not only support from the media only when things happen, but also prior to it. we do not have a single media, not even voice of america persian, there is no room for debate. and it is trying its best. there are a number of other countries broadcasting to iran, none of them would be willing to provide those kinds of services. there is a lot of wish that can be done when it comes to the media. and then we also need to look at ourselves. most iranians, one of the reasons why the green revolution was defeated was because of the
divide between the leaders of the movement and the followers. chairman mao, you do not usually quote chairman mao zedong, he used to say that a husband and wife sleep in the same bed but they do not share the same dreams. that was the problem between leaders and followers of the green movement. leaders wanted to reform the system, followers wanted to get rid of the system altogether. that was the big issue. in egypt, one of the reasons why the mubarak regime collapsed is because the leaders said that we are going to stay until mubarak is gone. in the green movement, leaders urged supporters to go home so they could negotiate with mr. khamenei in the dock of the -- the dark of the night. as soon as the people had gone
home, leaders of the movement had nothing to negotiate with and they became captives of the regime. i think from the u.s. side and those who are interested in better development in iran, media and communication. when it comes to iranians, think hard if this regime is capable of reforming itself. it is a valid question and something we need to discuss. >> the main thing is that the leaders of the u.s. have to stand up and embrace these things. had reagan failed to embrace the movement, it would not have become what it became. since we now have an administration who does not seem at all interested in endorsing, supporting, embracing an anti-regime movement in iran, quite the contrary. all the evidence that i have seen is that this administration wants to work with iran and
coordinate and have a big deal with iran. as long as that continues, no iranian is going to risk his or her life to bring down this regime, hoping or anticipating or expecting he or she will get american support. that support has to be explicit, outspoken, and continuous. that has to come with all leaders of the administration, starting with the white house. >> a question here. >> director of radio fardah based in prague. a small provision to what was said about the media of iran, particularly persian speaking media. radio fardah provides such an
opportunity for debate and for questions and exchanging ideas. both inside iran and outside iran. >> is a great job that is being done at radio farda, following the tradition of providing radio broadcasting to eastern europe. iran is facing a similar problem and i think a great job is being done. thank you for your service. >> i'm a consultant to aipac. i know this is not the main focus of the meeting but i would appreciate hearing from the members of the panel what you think would happen with a nuclear talk between iran and the u.s. >> the state of the talks. ali? >> unlike many in washington, i am not concerned that you have someone here who lives and is
-- who just lies and is just deceptive and makes promises that the person is not ready to keep. i think there are three different approaches in iran but comes to the nuclear issue. all of them strategically agreed that a nuclear bomb rouhani is -- a nuclear bomb is desirable. all of them strategically agree that a nuclear bomb is desirable. mr. rouhani believes that, so does mr. rafsanjani. they believe god is on their side. each group has used different tactics. mr. rouhani's goal is longer-term, they believe right now iran is on the verge of bankruptcy and sanction relief is needed to keep the system afloat. on the other hand, you have the revolutionary guard. the revolutionary guard wants to get the bomb as fast as possible. they believe fundamentally it would end like pakistan's
nuclear bomb, iran would be forgiven and sanctions would be removed because you round would beexactly because iran would a nuclear armed state. no one would like to see and economically bankrupt nuclear power. the argument that the revolutionary guard is making. mr. khamenei is oscillating between the two power centers. every second day he extends support to the line of mr. rouhani, the second day he supports the revolutionary guard and says he does not believe in a positive outcome of the nuclear negotiations. on the one hand, he understands the rouhani argument, that iran needs to get sanction relief. on the other hand, mr. khamenei cannot afford to alienate the revolutionary guard. the next time people go to the streets of tehran like in 2009, he needs the revolutionary guard to suppress the public dissidents.
that is why we see him oscillating. the difference between these three groups is not so much strategic but tactical. as soon as the worst sanctions are removed, as soon as iran's economy has stabilized, we will see tendencies where mr. khamenei is backing the revolutionary guard. so iran would walk away from the table and things would change. these are some of the expectations that i have right now. which is very pessimistic. >> i will say a word on this, even though it is out of my role as a moderator. i'm familiar with the study of this being done by a number of people at fdd. one of the things we have to worry about at this point in the negotiations is that rouhani will -- two things -- one is that rouhani will pretend to
have made significant concessions and the obama administration will pretend to believe them. one way this might happen is to what is being talked about here as the sunset provisions. the idea that you would say ok, how about this -- you will not have nuclear capability during the life of this administration. the next administration is not going to be our problem. one hopes that those who are thinking about running for office in are aware of this. 2016 the sunset provisions would tie iran's hands, at least make the breakout period reasonably long -- no more than a year -- but only for a few you're the -- but only for the next few years. at that point, there are no more restrictions on iran than there are in japan. that seems like a plausible and distressing narrative that we
could see unfold as early as this november. this agreement that holds it off for this administration is spun as a good deal, a deal we should all applaud. and, in fact -- we're just opening -- the one thing that might stop, ali has mentioned this. the revolutionary guard, who is in a rush, and probably khamenei is not young and healthy, he might have a different timeframe and not want to wait. i want this now and i don't see any reason why we can't have it. i throw that out for your discussion. if you think i am wrong, please say so. happy to disagree in this forum. >> just bring down the regime and then you do not have to worry about this. >> next question? yes.
>> will it be that what is being played in iran is good cop bad cop. but the goal is exactly the same. they know exactly what they are doing. this administration and other administrations play a role, whether --[indiscernible] and they do not have to worry about it. or we are not going to change anything anyway. the iranians are moving forward with the nuclear plan. the goal is the same. they think that even holding it back just for strategic reasons, it is much farther ahead than you really think. that is the problem with that.
my question is, on this side, we have the useful idiots. the people who really want to see america being reduced and having less influence in the world. the press is a much more amorphous thing. they've been playing along all along with this game. what will wake the press up? this is the only thing we can do. the government is whatever the government is. we, as organizations of individuals, the only angle -- what would that be? >> the first thing is to be realistic about what a journalist can or cannot do inside a totalitarian regime.
and still survive. years ago, i went to grenada on the first anniversary of the american invasion. i let with a tv news crew. -- i went with a tv news crew. the correspondent, we were walking in the hills outside a city and he came across some man and they knew each other and they embraced. he said good to see you, how are things? the local person said great. now, they are not going to torture me anymore. what do you mean torture? the guy took off his shirt and turned his back and you can see the scars. the correspondent said how long have we known each other, five years, 10 years? i've been talking to you and you never mentioned this. why did you never mention it? the guy looked at him like he was a madman. you cannot expect that journalists inside countries where people are routinely tortured, killed, locked away and so forth, are going to have reliable sources who are going to tell them the truth about what is really going on in that country. it cannot happen.
>> [indiscernible] the country that is completely sold on the way things are, they have to be changed. >> that takes us to a your problem, which is the educational system. when you look at the people talking about the world right now, your heart sinks. because they do not know anything about anything. and that the words they use to talk about the world show you that they do not know. they do not know because they have been dumbed down by an educational system that only teaches them certain kinds of doctrine, rather than
information so they can think by themselves and arrive at their own conclusions. when the candidate for president talks about 57 states and you say well, that was a slip of the tongue. then you go on to all the other things that the same person has said over the last six plus years, it is astonishing. it becomes a characteristic of a whole generation. excuse me if i vent on this. when i was in the white house, when a draft reagan speech started to circulate, all of us eagerly jumped on it. if you get the presidential speech, that is what policy is. secondly, we did not want him saying something stupid, ignorant, misguided thing. obama, nevermind policy. obama says so many wrong things, false facts.
he gets so many things wrong about the world. just as matter of simple respect, people are obviously not doing that for him. that is not happening. there are two possible reasons. one, he has made it clear is not going to happen. he is going to write his own damn speech and if you do not like it, shut up or get yourself elected. the second is that they do not know. they don't know that when the president goes to cairo and say muslims brought printing to the middle east, that it is three times wrong. not just wrong, but triply wrong. the chinese brought it, they sold it to the middle east, they did not want it, they sold it to europe and in portuguese jews brought to egypt in about 1492. wrong, wrong, wrong.
when you ask the question, we have journalists talking about the world in ways that alarm you, and me, obviously. if you want to fix that, you have to fix the schools. that is a really big undertaking. >> bring the microphone so we can hear you. a follow-up and comment in those areas. >> [indiscernible] i agree with everything you said.
there are those who know and are quiet. the press is a distribution of people. some are very dumb and have not learned anything. but some who know and choose not to call the president or the policy or any of those things. that is a process that has to be in place. those who know and are quiet. that is a question -- [indiscernible] >> briefly, there is so much information out there already. every minute, there is a new youtube video of slaughter in syria by assad's forces. we saw the guy who showed tens of thousands of photographs of people starved and killed. it does not move policy, seemingly. for a lot of reasons -- fatigue, isis is worse, so on and so forth. it requires -- we'll write op-eds frequently. i am often frustrated about the little impact in op-ed has, even in "the new york times," people forget about it. it requires a new way of thinking about how to use information to push it and to impact people who can make policy decisions.
i'm not sure that we need a bunch more journalists covering good things. even when we do know, we fail to act. that is a spiritual and a moral failure more than a lack of information. that is a much tougher thing to broach. >> i would say one thing. it is in a way worse because anyone who you hear on npr saying i have been to iran 12 times in the last five years, you know that means they have not done anything too seriously offend the regime and all those times. and, therefore, as brave as they may be, you have to take with a grain of salt what they are saying. nobody at this table can say i want to find out for real what is going on, i am going to get some notebooks and apply for a visa and go to tehran and find out what is going on. journalism is in a total crisis today in terms of what can be reported.
it also coincides with a crisis and that there is no business model for journalism anymore. this is a subject for another panel or many more panels. there is a lot of noise and very little signal. >> let's go back there. >> the previous post was in vienna. i know what the game is for negotiations. i want to stick to it ali said about helsinki. i believe the cornerstone of every and fair elections. -- of every democratic state is free and fair elections. without that -- they are not going to solve anything. is iran going to have an atomic bomb at all, that is a technical issue. pakistan, india, china, russia have it. what is going to happen with the
regime? ali said helsinki, human rights. how realistic is it that we have free and fair elections in iran? if you have a democratic government then you can negotiate because democracies do not go to war with each other and talks. >> ali, want to respond? >> thank you. mr. ambassador your country has , gone through very harsh his circle times, just like ours. -- historical times, just like ours. you have experienced even greater harshness then our country has in many ways. most unfortunately, many of the intellectuals in my country draw the wrong lessons from what happened in central and eastern europe. many of them still live in a world of utopia. those who are in power right now, they believe the
establishment and continuation of an islamist ideological regime in power. some parts of the opposition are misleading them in deceiving them so that there would be some kind of communist utopia at the end of the rainbow where iranians can find peace and prosperity. this is very unfortunate. ideological experiences in your part of the world show this is not a path iran should follow. concerning helsinki and how realistic it is, i think some parts of it should be imposed on iran. if the u.s. government genuinely takes spread of democracy as a model very seriously, that should be tied to the nuclear negotiations. this is not the case. this is one of the issues that we really need to talk more with the obama administration about. we also need to make the leaders
in iran understand that a democratic transition, a slow democratic transition would even be in their own interests because a violent turnover of the regime and the system would be much worse for the system, the country, and current ruling elites. they are seeing a gradual maturity among large parts of the opposition, particularly in the u.s., where even those who are victims of the regime abuse human rights. former political prisoners, those who have lost family members, they say we do not want revenge. we want justice. justice is fundamentally different than revenge. there are those who generally -- genuinely talk about the south african model. the committees.
about committees and those who say keep all the money you have stolen. but make iran a democracy. pressure from within, where domestic opposition and opposition abroad says justice is more important than revenge and we care more about the future, a brighter future, then an about correcting the injustices of the past. those negotiating with the regime in tehran also pay attention to the plight of the iranian public, that would be a combination. and we certainly do need to learn from your experiences, mr. ambassador. >> i want to follow up on that. the agreement on this panel in regards to human rights is probably not widely shared nowadays. i think the obama administration has not made human rights a priority, rand paul does not think human rights internationally should be a priority. the un's human rights council has become a forum for human rights violators.
and that is accepted by most of the world. even major organizations are selective about human rights, that is why your organization came into being. this is a challenging time to make the case. and by the way the arab spring , has not -- we have not seen human rights flowering from the soil, as some had hoped. this is a challenging time to promote human rights with moral clarity or as a strategic imperative. >> no doubt. you got to the heart of the challenge i face everyday. on capitol hill and in the state department, it is just too frequent to hear yeah, this democracy stuff, but better sisi than the brotherhood and better assad than isis. just go down the list. better king abdullah than what waits in the wings.
people in policymaking circles and even amongst the general public do not understand what tyrrany does to increase radicalism. they do not have to question where the muslim brotherhood came from, 30 years of brutal dictatorship that decimated political discourse and wrecked the economy, that helped give rise to the muslim brotherhood. isis in syria is in no small part a consequence of the combination of brutal dictatorship for the last decade and a half and western inaction to stop it. the quicker we understand that opening these societies is absolutely critical to the fight against the radicalism, the sooner we will act on human rights. that is not to negate the importance of simultaneously
combating and liberalism -- combating illibrism. if you polled people and say what is the punishment for leaving islam? and a high percentage say die, that is a cultural issue. it requires social and cultural reeducation. identifying true moderates and not fake moderates and supporting dissidents and liberals and democrats and moderates is absolutely crucial to our own safety. until that link is recognized, we're going to keep this vicious cycle alive. where the west supports a brutal dictator who suppresses his own people. where in egypt, the only forum is you go to the mosque and rant against the jews. radicalism grows and instability increases.
i think we are repeating the same mistakes of the past. go back and read "the case for democracy." it is all in there. >> the other thing is modesty. as we judge our own ability to see what is coming next and forecast what is happening. and what david said about the brotherhood reminded me. i did not know anything about the brotherhood. i don't to those countries. but in any case when they came , to power, i asked all the experts on the brotherhood, ok, what is going to happen now? what should we expect. almost all of them said this is it, they are in for x generations, two, 3, 4. they have been preparing for this for 80 years and they are ready and they are organized. as we know, they fail in two months, three months, or four months.
something like that. they failed almost at once. these were the great experts who told us that the brothers were going to rule for generation after generation. we are not very good at figuring out what is going to happen next. it is not easy. the experts on the brothers had the advantage of knowing what the brothers wanted and intended, which is a big part of good intelligence.
for heavens sake, do not think that anyone has a reliable crystal ball or even a good magnifying glass. you have to keep fighting and you have to keep at it. that is why it policies of the sort we are talking about here, which combine moral and strategic wisdom are so valuable and so important. it is always very discouraging to me, when we get national leaders who do not appreciate that who've run from it in the name of false realism, which is based on this conceit that we can see the future when we cannot. >> a very precise example, people say there are no liberals in egypt or saudi arabia. ask yourself about where it might liberals be if they had received tens of billions of dollars of support going back decades. that alone would not have created jeffersonian democrats, but rather than funding these theocratic these tyrants, imagine if a fraction of that support went to actual dissidents, as small in number as they maybe. that would only help them grow. hosni mubarak got over $50 billion of military aid. ?nd what did we get from it we got instability, a coup,
muslim brotherhood. another $10 billion would not have kept him in place. the same is true for countries like saudi arabia, the president just signed $60 billion worth of arms to a country that does not let women travel without a man's permission and kills you if you bring a cross or bible or try to build a synagogue. does that strengthen liberalism in saudi arabia or give hope to democratic dissidents? or does it cut the rug from under them and keep in power these dictators which only help foster instability and radicalism in the societies. >> we have another question -- take the microphone. >> we were talking about the spiritual and moral failure that we can control in democracies about the media in particular. one thing nobody wants to hear about, i do not really even want to mention it, among the iranian american community, we have a spiritual-moral failure. sometimes it is real, sometimes it is manipulated. particularly under the guise of the national iranian american
council. all the people who had to leave the country because of a lack of freedom are now being sold this line, this association that the best thing that we can do for our homeland is to not support sanctions, to not talk about human rights, to not talk about political prisoners. it is all a game and it is all it is all a game and it is all meant to create war and bring suffering to the iranian people. when we talk about moral and spiritual failure, we as iranian americans are not doing our part, unfortunately. i would even wager that more than half of iranian americans are falling prey to this propaganda that is being developed right here in america. >> i spent a week in london meeting with iranian dissidents. i met with opposition sources. i would say i just met with
so-and-so. they would badmouth the person i had just met with. they say oh, he takes money from shady sources, he has no influence inside iraq, he's a joke, or he is connected to the regime. and i was flabbergasted for the past seven or so years, i've worked with dissidents in the middle east, a really matters, all this undercutting and backstabbing and inviting. when jews were fighting for jewish rights, they got 250,000 people in washington. that made a big difference. i pretend to be iranian because i grew up in l.a. it is difficult. >> the iranian government is very adept at causing fractures and splits outside the country. groups like the national iranian
american council, it is not that hard to caused splits in the community if you are clever. >> and i was in copenhagen,, i finished university and started speaking in public. there would be a gentleman from the iranian embassy and he would not ask any questions. he was always wearing the same suit and would come and go, no exchange. at one point, i said i need to have some fun with the gentleman. i said hello, very polite exchange of words. i asked him, could you tell me how many spies you have in denmark? he said we do not need any spies, iranians come and report on each other so much that we do
not have enough administrative capacity. we dislike each other so much that we forget the big enemy, tehran. there is a systematic infiltration attempts. whenever you organize a poetry reading anywhere in europe, somebody's is going to stab you with a knife. if you and your wife go to a poetry reading, you do not expect somebody to get stabbed with a knife. at the same time, the mosque is also organizing a competing poetry evening, at which there are armed people who are taking care of the situation and nobody gets stabbed. the regime provides safe alternatives even for cultural activities for the community. to make things more interesting,
the regime manages to establish opposition movements. it is the intelligence ministry itself control and even the opposition. this is big brother, these people have been reading orwell too well. we need to be stronger and forgiving even if somebody, we believe, is working for the regime. even that person is our family member. it may be a distant relative. we are better. >> i will ask everyone to sum up, state if you can the one policy change or legislative initiative that would be most helpful in regard to the situation we are discussing today. >> tie the nuclear negotiations with the human rights issue in
iran. that is the one issue i hope president obama and the administration coming after will take up for consideration. >> does that mean that unless you get agreement on the nuclear portfolio and on the human rights portfolio, sanctions will be increased and the pain will be greater for the regime and for the people. >> that is correct, that is one of the side effects of sanctions. in the longer term, the iranian public will benefit. >> david? >> speaking out whether it is tied or not about human rights and making the strategic goal, ending the regime and not keeping it in place without nuclear weapons. even if that comes about, it is profoundly dangerous not just for iranians but for the entire world. >> michael? >> systematically support dissidents and freedom movement inside iran.
and start at the top, from the president on down. every top policy maker and spokesperson for the american government. go to international meetings, whatever they might be. whether it is the olympic games or nuclear negotiations, go with lists of political prisoners and demand their release and keep at it. >> i want to thank our panel. [applause] thank you all for coming, we will be in touch for another session before too long. thanks again. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014]
>> a live picture from the white house briefing room this afternoon where we are expecting today's administration briefing to get underway shortly. we will have it like when it gets underway. one of the items we expect questions on will be this cbo's updated budget forecast released by doug elmendorf. economicowers its forecast to 1.5% per 2014. half the growth the administration projected in 2009. patty murray released a statement on the budget office. is furtherort evidence that our near-term budget outlook has improved significantly. with the budget deficit
declining to where third -- to one third where it was one year ago. we should be tackling education, jobs, infrastructure and research while continuing to look for waste to address our long-term budget challenges. briefing set house the bit underway in just a couple of moments. -- set to get underway. we will go back to the national press club this afternoon for remarks from matthew rosenberg. he was invited back to afghanistan recently. that is expected to begin at 2:00 p.m. eastern. later today, the future of former campaigning with obama and mitt romney campaign staffers. they are expected to talk about the midterm races, discussing
those from a technology standpoint. today here on c-span, starting at four clock p.m. eastern. -- starting at 4:00 p.m. eastern. now we wait for today's white house briefing, a discussion with congressional reporter discussing the obama administration's actions on veterans affairs, just discussed and offered yesterday. with the's begin inspector general's report. what is the headline coming out of this independent review? guest: the headline was those 40 deaths that happened -- that
have been connected to the long wait times. they could not connect any patient deaths to problems with delays in care. -- theks over at the ba v.a. say that is very significant. it is a good report for them. the details a lot of mismanagement at the phoenix v.a. folks have pretty serious diseases, cancer diagnoses, but still had to wait months, some nine weeks, some six months to get any follow-up appointment scheduled. i got a chance to talk to the deputy secretary last week. he said it is still a bad his report and still an
embarrassment for the department. host: how extensive was the investigation? guest: it was an in-depth report. it's been four months coming through, working not just on their own, but working with the department of justice and the fbi on possible fraud and obstruction cases. found was really widespread problems. investigations of other sameities have turned up issues -- a similar issues some systemic cultural problems that the v.a. has been struggling to address. host: what did they find out about suicide and suicide prevention related to the care that these veterans get? guest: it is something we have heard a lot from veterans organizations over the years.
the same story as a lot of different medical issues. when veterans can get in and be seen by someone, the care is awfully good. the problem seems to be actually getting in. we saw some reports and this ig review of folks who have had suicidal ideas and serious mental health issues. but were put off for weeks or months for follow-ups that could have been key in addressing their issues. host: you mentioned a cultural issue. that has been brought up repeatedly. guest: they have 24
recommendations. the v.a. has signed off on all of them. in terms of the cultural issues, it will start with bea taking a step back and looking at this report and going men -- going more in-depth. seeing which employees made mistakes and if those mistakes were malicious. motivate --olks who who manipulated data to protect their bonuses? they will hold folks accountable. we have seen a handful of firings. 70 personnel actions against various employees. that will be what lawmakers had what lawmakers and outside groups will want to see next. host: president obama in north carolina announced steps he has
taken to address care and other aspects of v.a. care. what did he say? guest: it was a pretty wide-ranging speech before the american legion annual convention. he unveiled 20 new executive orders. on a variety of topics. expanding some new mental health programs in pilot programs to deal with suicide prevention. some programs to deal with transition issues for veterans who are looking for jobs or simply trying to deal with student loans and mortgage loans. a real brown bag of issues. the reaction has been mixed. host folks think these are nice steps, but nothing revolutionary -- most folks. the president said these are
important steps. important to keep moving forward and keep finding ways to fix the problems facing the v.a. and problems facing veterans. talking the speech with about american involvement. the government can't solve all these problems. bringing the idea of teamwork together. in light of these scandals facing the ba, the concerns of the care their, new emphasis on all of us, all of the country coming together to rally around veterans. host: what are the biggest issues for veterans? guest: right now, the biggest issue is trust in the v.a. veterans groups have been shaken by this. they see the v.a. as a critical will for them moving ahead. -- critical tool for the moving ahead.
whether or not private health care can fill the void and other services can be there. veterans don't want to see that. they love the v.a. and they want the v.a. to be a strong resource for them. the scandals of the recent months have scared a lot of folks. veterans won't have the faith in the system to go get their disability benefits or deal with ape and to seek medical help that they needed. the lead in ptsd. these are things the veterans groups want to see the v.a. improve in. right now, that is going to involve fixing the of image -- fixing the image of the v.a. host: we will be talking to our
viewers about this what else needs to be done to help veterans as well. this is a tweet from the speaker of the house yesterday -- unemployment for veterans is an unacceptable 9.2%. what is the situation? guest: the post-9/11 veterans, the number that has been bouncing around quite a bit. to get a handle on because there are smaller sample sizes. it is a tough job market out there for returning vets. obama will address this with some of the executive orders yesterday. he made the point of wanting to .ind jobs for truck drivers make it easier for them to get the certification they need to
transition to the job market. the overall veterans unemployment number has been a bit better than the national unemployment number. as you know, unemployment is still an issue in every sector. especially for the guys just returning from afghanistan who had doubled old words in iraq. there is a feeling that more can be done to reward their service and give them the skills they bring back -- take advantage of the leadership and the reliability and the service specific skills they bring home. thank you, sir. we continue to wait for the white house briefing to begin with josh earnest. we will have live coverage as soon as it gets underway. one of the topics we expect cboto address is the
predicting slow growth for the u.s. economy. the forecast says the economy will grow by just 1.5% this year. undermined by poor performance during the first quarter. the obama administration addicted -- predicted it would grow by 3% this year. today's white house briefing set to begin. we just got the briefing two minutes ago. it should get underway in just a moment.
>> on friday, september 12, the president will deliver remarks budget ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the national service program. this event will kickoff a year of service for 75,000 americorps theers and recognize 900,000 americans who have served through americorps over the last two decades. additional details will be released soon as they become available. you want to get us started? >> now that the president has met with secretary kerry, is there a decision on syria imminent? position to read out those meetings. the president does meet with the secretary of defense had secretary of state when aaron town. and secretary of state when they are in town.
they are closely watching the situation in iraq and monitoring the ongoing military activity against isis in iraq to protect american citizens and interests in that country. we are also carefully wafting the effort of iraq's political leaders to create a lyrical inclusive -- government. that thatid all along is a key component of the competence of strategy that the president is quick to put in place to deal with this situation. while this obviously is something that drives news coverage and captures the attention of the public, military action alone will not si andiently confront i
deal with that threat on a sustainable basis. the military can make a substantial contribution to stabilizing the security situation. for us to have a sustainable solution, it is critically important for iraq's political leaders to unite the country so they can have a united front as they confront faisal -- as they confront isil. the united states is also deeply engaged in conversations with regional governments who obviously have a very clear vested interest in the outcome. unite states is also in touch with our partners in western europe and around the globe to engage the international community. all of that is ongoing and the conversations talked about this ongoing effort.
i'm not in a position at this point to give you a whole lot of detail. >> because he does often talk about wanting an interfacial coalition -- international coalition, will he need that before he goes in? the would anticipate that threat posed by isil will be a topic of some conversation at that meeting. there will obviously be leaders of some countries that have a vested interest in the outcome. we will have the leaders of some countries that we believe can and have already demonstrated a willingness to play a constructive role in dealing with this challenge. set up not at this point a time frame for a presidential decision.
>> has the president seen the video? >> i don't know the president has seen that video. i have seen the video and i've seen the reports about the video. are withand prayers the family as they indoor this very tragic situation -- endure this tragic situation. the administration is deeply engaged in seeking the return of every american who is currently being held in that region. i don't have an update in terms of the president's -- whether or not the president has seen the video in question. i know that the members of this administration have been in tough with the family on a regular basis, but i don't have anything to share in terms of
guidance that was offered to him about the business of limit the video. >> good this put her son in more danger? >> i'm not sure of an analysis on that question. desperate about the safety and well-being of her son. understandably so. that is why our thoughts and prayers are with his family in this difficult and trying time. >> you talked about engaging with regional governments in western europe and around the globe. i'm wondering if you can give us a list of countries that the u.s. has approached. >> there are a large number of countries that the united states has engaged. we are in regular conversation with those around the globe. we have been in touch with them on this particular issue.
would point out, the department of defense just yesterday named seven different western countries who are providing arms and equip and the kurds. that is one example of how our allies have been enlisted in this effort. there are a number of other countries that have made pledges of humanitarian support. humanitarianre situation in iraq. a large number of displaced persons within that country. there are some religious, ethnic minorities in the country that are still a very grave risk from the violent extremists. ways in whicht of countries around the world and countries in the region can contribute to solving this problem. the other important role that i should point out here is there is an opportunity for some of the regional governments that
do have influence over the sunni tribes in western iraq that can be enlisted and engaged in the effort to beat back the threat posed by isil. we are interested in this governments in the region using their influence with sunni tribal leaders in western iraq to engage them in this effort. there is an opportunity for regional governments to step up and lend some support to moderate members of the syrian opposition who are fighting isil forces in syria. there are a large number of ways that countries around the world can contribute to this effort. the united states has the s around thee nation world. >> has the united states conducted surveillance flights over syria? >> i'm not in a position to talk
about the operational details. what i mentioned yesterday is are -- there is none higher wing of the pentagon that is responsible for developing contingency plans for the commander-in-chief if and when he should need them. those plans are based on a number of things, including the analysis of intelligence. out those pointing facts, i'm not in a position to discuss or confirm reports of specific operational details related to america's intelligence. >> [indiscernible] did convene ant meeting in the roosevelt room earlier today with members of his economic team. this included members of the cabinet and senior economic advisers who work your at the white house. they discussed a broad range of
things, including some of the broader trends we are seeing as it relates to our economy. , among otherd things, the labor participation and some of the things we can do to address labor participation rates as well as long-term employment rate. these are a couple of issues that are perceived by some who know more about economics than i somehat this is worthy of attention and there was discussion of some policy options for dealing with and try the negativeome of impacts that things like long-term unemployed men are having on the economy. specificof proposals, i'm not in the discussion. >> [indiscernible] >> i assume you are reviewing --
referring to the case of oberg all. .- bowe bergdahl it is the policy of the united states of america that we do not pay ransom or make concession to terrorist groups to secure the release of hostages. that is a policy that has been in place for a couple of reasons. it is well that many extremist organizations use the revenue stream of ransoms to finance their broader operations. in some cases, it is the lifeblood of their operation. collecting ransoms and rolling that money to broader operation. , paying ransoms only puts other american citizens at risk of being inept -- being kidnapped. the last thing we would want to do is heightened the risk even more -- heighten the risk even more.
of sergeant bergdahl, the president of the united states is the commander-in-chief and he has a commitment to an unimpeachable value, we will not leave american women and men in uniform behind enemy lines. that is typical of the end of armed conflicts, for there to be prisoner exchanges. that is what we saw in this case. sergeant bergdahl was returned to the u.s. in exchange for a handful of detainees from guantanamo bay. the secretary of defense certified that steps had been taken to sufficiently mitigate the threat that was posed by the release of those detainees. therefore, the transaction was executed and resulted in the return of sergeant bergdahl. who's safe return we celebrate
and are certainly pleased by. , our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those innocent americans who are being held hostage by extremist groups in the middle east right now. is exertingtration significant influence in resources and time and effort to secure the release is of those individuals. we will not pay ransom, but united states is engaged diplomatically to try to secure their release. the united states and the president has ordered a military mission to try to free the hostages. the mission was well executed -- then on release hostages but did not result in the release of hostages air.
>> the fact that you have a thousand people signing a petition on the white house people signing a petition on the website does not change policy. circumstances of his hostagetaking are tragic. our thoughts and prayers are with his family. the united states is committed to doing everything we can to try to recover him and rescue him safely and as soon as possible. we certainly call on them to release him. it is the policy of the united states and has been for quite some time that the government does not pay ransom for american hostages. not only do we not -- we don't ask others to pay ransom to
secure the release of american hostages for the reasons i laid out. only serves to allow the terrorist organizations define it or operations and pose greater risk to the lives of other americans. roger? >> can you talk about the recruitment campaign and other countries -- in other countries? who is leading this? the secretary of state? >> i would not -- recruitment campaign is your word, not a word that i could use or would use. let's take a step back. here.e out people isof a lot of that the most important,
powerful and effective tool in the president's toolbox is connecticut military action. there is no doubt that forceful military action can play a role in stabilizing the security situation in iraq. in vividave learned terms over the last decade or so is that a us-led military enduring is not an solution to this situation. after all, more than 100,000 american troops spent nearly a decade in iraq to try to resolve the security situation in iraq. it cannot create opportunity for nhe iraqi people to seize a close of government -- inclusive .overnment
disappointingly, they pursued a more sectarian agenda that put a lot of pressure on that country and caused it to be so weakened that isil could step right in and make significant territorial gains across the country. that americance military might alone cannot solve this problem on a sustainable basis. we need a comprehensive solution that includes the use of american military force, but also requires the engagement of an inclusive by iraqi government that can rally the country and unite the country in the face of this existential threat they face. that will have the effect of strengthening their security forces. they can know that they are fighting on behalf of united country. will improve coronation
between the kurdish security forces and the iraqis security forces. there is a role for regional governments to play and governments around the world to play. because of the threat posed by foreign fighters. tos element of outreach countries around the globe to engage in this effort is part of the conference of strategy that .he president has laid out i know there are some headlines in the paper today that would lead some to believe that the united states has begun a new diplomatic effort in pursuit of this one goal. this element of our strategy is something we have communicated en locations -- multipl occasions. can you talk about -- who is
doing what? >> this outreach takes place at a variety of levels. the state department at the most important role to play. there are important relationships in the intelligence community. the u.s. intelligence community deep relationships with countries around the world where they can use some knowledge and analysis to benefit this ongoing effort. >> [indiscernible] >> uc readouts from the president of the united states calling his counterparts around the world to talk about situation. this outreach and engagement is taking place at the highest level, but also a levels were you expect.
's role?ice his ro >> she has counterparts with whom she speaks regularly. i'm not in position to detail any specific phone calls that anybody is making at this point. she certainly is involved in a separate, but similar way that many members of the president's team are involved. i want to ask about the story in the times today about the administration pushing for an international treaty on climate change. nothing is done on paper yet. i'm wondering if you can speak in general about the white house supporting the expansion of a human treaty with voluntary commitments and a name and shame strategy that was described in
presidentt are >> the has reticulated -- articulated the need with rest the threat climate change poses to human theth and our economy -- need to address the threat. effort an international to combat global climate change -- the plan he laid out builds on the steps he has already taken, including doubling fuel economy standards, increasing production of wind and solar. thepresident put in place first ever limits on carbon coal-firedrom plants. impact, the causes of climate change.
what we have also said that the president has taken these steps on his own, but we would welcome any sort of cooperation we would receive from anybody on capitol hill, democrat or republican, who would be willing to engage and work side-by-side with the administration to make progress on some of these goals. the important legislation that could be passed in pursuit of these goals. the president has not been shy about having to lead on the international stage as well. u.s. president laid an important role in copenhagen in 2000 and in trying to broker some china andbetween other countries. the president talks regularly about joint steps that can be taken to reduce the causes of climate change. there is important agreement hfc's. to agencies -- to this is something the president regularly raises and international forms as well. agreement atritten
this point. based on what you have just heard me recite about the priorities the president places on dealing with climate change, you will not be surprised to hear that this is something that officials at the state department are working on very closely and intensely at this point. because that agreement is not written, it is not yet clear exactly what sort of role congress would be required to this be the kind of agreement that will require congressional approval in terms of exceeding 20 treaty? or is this the kind of agreement described as a political agreement in which there would be transparency about with organization or which countries are living up to the standards? this is something that the administration is very hard at work on. >> all of that did not quite
answer my question. if the administration actually supports the name and shame idea and voluntary expansion. >> the agreement has not been written, so i don't want to get are pushing toe include an agreement. we are pushing to broker the kind of agreement that would tangibly have an impact on reducing the causes of climate change. and the causes of the kind of pollution that has a detrimental effect on public health in this country and committees around the world. we are pushing hard on this and the president has played a leading role in the past. in terms of whether the details are going to be in that agreement, they have not started writing the agreement yet, so it's hard to say. the name and shame thing you are citing is a strategy that would
be pretty effective as it relates to the agreement that was brokered in copenhagen in 2009. i would not rule out that strategy. what strategy will eventually prevail will be related to the content of the agreement. >> a democrat from west virginia said they would do anything because it stopped the administration from working outside the confines of a treaty. i'm wondering if you could talk my back there is a flaw in that argument. just because congress does not support it does not mean the american people to support it. there is a lot of stuff the american people support that the commerce does not. nothat the congress does
co. agreement,orked an , if youhypothetically are negotiating a treaty that does not require approval, is enforce? >> we will see. the -- let me try to answer your question this way. we would not want to enter a situation where we did try to broker an agreement that did require some sort of senate ratification and then have that fall victim once again to dysfunction in congress. we are going to weigh all these
priorities about how impactful it can be with the international community. what is the likelihood that congress would book their own in action for and take important steps on something as important as reducing the cause of climate change. all of these things will have to be evaluated in the context of the negotiations and content included in agreement. >> you've been pretty clear to happen ins addition to military action in iraq. what is the equivalent in sera -- in syria? >> the elements of that strategy would not be entirely dissimilar to the strategy in iraq.
it means supporting elements of the opposition that have demonstrated the desire to lead the country in a way that the flex -- reflects the diversity of interests in the country. that is why you have seen the administration support elements of the moderate opposition. we would continue to engage regional governments to continue their support for the moderate opposition. this would be impartial to pursuing the political strategy that would unite the country in syria. right now, because of the sectarian way in which the assad regime has governed but also attacked their own people, it has created a de facto safe haven for extremists like isil to thrive.
thatis why it is important there is leadership in syria that can unite the country of syria to confront this threat. that is why we have been supporting the moderate elements of the syrian opposition. it's why we will continue to urge regional governments. we have seen significant from otherns t countries around the world in support of trying to meet the humanitarian needs of displaced persons in sharia. there is an important re.anitarian need the -- persons in syria. the broader question in the minds of people asking some questions in this room and
writing stories in the newspapers is, what role does the united states military have in that strategy? it continues to be an open question. >> in iraq, there is an effort to form an inclusive government. syria is in a civil war. nothing diplomatic going on. >> there have been periodic conversations between assad regime and the elements of the moderate opposition in syria. there has not been the kind of collaboration among different elements of the opposition that we would want to see. i'm not trying to downplay the challenges there. but, this is something the
president is routinely looking at. we are always reviewing our strategy for dealing with syria. bill? >> with the moderate opposition you've just referred to, with the same collection of doctors the president once described as armed them,if we would they be able to do something in syria? >> i'm talking about the fact that there is not a military solution to the situation in syria. require.ng to difficult political -- it is goingnd to required. difficult political difficultion -- very political accommodation. this is a longer-term prospect. i'm not trying to dissuade you from that. -- doctors and 10 distance
and dentists are likely to be better at forming an inclusive, professional government then they are going to be in the trenches facing the hardened fighters that are going to be armed by mr. assad. >> the effort and outreach you so eloquently described, does this have to be complete before there is any possibility of armed action against isis? my expectation would be that this element of engaging the international community will be -- i don'that is think we will ever be in a donetion where we are talking to our international partners to address the asuation in iraq and syria
they confront the threat of isil. that will be ongoing. to need this sustained involvement of the international community to support the efforts of inclusive iraq government and to use their influence. this is going to require a sustained effort and this administration is willing to lead that sustained effort. >> can the president decided to allow bombing inside syria? >> sure. thepresident has said -- national security advisor has said the president will not hesitate to order the use of military force to protect americans in that region. one quick thing. you have anything on ukraine saying they're been
invaded by the russians at the port way south? >> what we have seen from the efforts is a continued to destabilize the situation in eastern ukraine. i see the specific reports. i'm not in a position to offer our own analysis of that military movement. it would be consistent with the other types of destabilizing military activities that russia has pursued in ukraine. these are the same kinds of activities the international community has called on president clinton to and. end. todent clint like to see is russia to roll back their military from across the border and stop providing weapons and training to the separatists and
to use their influence with the separatists to try to reach a critical agreement with ukrainian government. ed? >> you said the pentagon has an entire wing that is planning. planning takes place all the time. , the state department said the pentagon has given the president a range of planning options. that would be different than just planning. to just give it to the president. is that true? does the president have planning options? >> what the pentagon has made clear and this is what my colleague was referring to -- they are prepared to offer the president contingencies. they are always doing the kind of planning that is required to meet the requests and needs of the commander-in-chief. if you should order military action, they want to make sure they have plans available to carry out that action.
i'm not in a position to disclose what sort of plans or conversations the president has had with his military planners. i can't confirm those individual reports because i'm not in a position to get into those detailed conversations. is referring to this idea that the department of defense is routinely engaged in developing plans for the president and can be ready to present them if and when he needs them. >> tomorrow, the un security council is meeting to discuss the initial report. which is very serious. , the report claims that isis has been carrying out chemical attacks. since that was a red line for the president previously, in a different context -- if the u.n. is correct that isis is using chemical weapons, that is war crime. does that constitute u.s. military action? that unitedware
states has assessed that i so has used chemical weapons -- that isil has used chemical weapons. we are addressing so many of the challenges that we are faced with interior through the u.n. both russia and china have played a pretty negative role in the effort to mobilize the national community on this -- the international committee on this. the president is going to convene a meeting to discuss the threat posed by foreign fighters. that will be an important opportunity for the president to discuss with the leaders of the world, what can be done cooperatively to try to counter the threat of those individuals western governments. -- to western governments. in syriarican killed over the weekend, allegedly
fighting on behalf of isis. what is the president's reaction to an american citizen going with all the turmoil and crisis? americans fighting on behalf of isis. >> i have not spoken to the president about it. can confirm the death of one american in syria fighting on behalf of isis. he was affiliated with isil. there are thousands of foreign fighters from more than 50 countries. who have traveled to syria to arms along with isil. we are concerned about the risk those individuals pose to the 50 countries from which they travel. in many cases, these are individuals who have western passports and have some freedom of movement in our modern transportation systems. we are working cooperatively with interpol and other law
enforcement agencies and the home when security agency -- homeland security agencies to mitigate the threat they face. these are individuals who will have been radicalized and trained. we arere the reasons why concerned. this is something we've been working on for months. it is something eric holder has been making about. chiefesident's counterterrorism advisor has been outspoken about this. discussing efforts to coordinate our efforts to protect the west from these individuals. >> the president talked about james foley yesterday.
he said justice would be done. i wonder if you could be more specific. that is a broad statement. just military action. it will be a range of things. there is no strategy. >> we will leave this briefing at this point. it continues online at cspan.org . now to the national press club. matthew rosenberg will be talking about afghanistan. he was expelled by the karzai government. >> i will open the floor for a q&a. questions will be from credentialed media and club members. when you are recognized, please identify yourself and your organization before asking your question. no speeches, please. just a question. our guest today is "new york