tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg May 24, 2014 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT
of what you command here on this naval ship in new york fleet week. how do you like your job? >> i like this job as much as a new job i've ever had. who could not like this job? you are associating every day with some of the most unique, special people in the world to give completely of themselves, their families. you are doing this at a time when the world is essentially redefining itself. we are in this country, in many ways. >> your own service in vietnam was a defining moment. >> yes. i think anyone who serves our country in any capacity, it is a defining moment. battle, combat, war further defines you. it probably tests an individual as deeply and as widely as you can be tested. i look back on those days,
charlie, every day. it certainly helps me do the job i have now because it gives me some connection to the men and women who sacrifice all over the world. i have some sense of that. i have some appreciation and understanding of what they go through. yes, it was a very important part of my life and i carry that through every part of my life. >> i was with the rangers last night dan general stanley mcchrystal. the sense of camaraderie, there's an extraordinary emotion you feel when you are among young men and women who are in harms way. >> they must rely on each other. if one link in that chain is weak or something happens, then the chain breaks. they rely on each other every day to carry out their mission. there is also relationship
building that is pretty unique in any institution. they have a purpose in their lives. it's a very focused purpose as to why they are doing what they are doing especially at a time since the early 70's when we've had an all professional military. they have choices to do other things and the quality of these young people and our senior leadership is pretty amazing. they choose this profession because there is a purpose and a nobleness. >> department of veterans affairs is now under attack and there is great concern that veterans have not been treated as well as they should especially in cases where some have died. give me your assessment because you were formally in that department -- formerly in that department in the reagan administration. where we lay in recognizing it
needed our concern? >> we don't have all the facts. i think we need to be a little careful until the facts are in and we know exactly what happened and what has not happened. that said, the veterans administration is a very large bureaucracy. it has immense responsibilities. i was the deputy administrator for a couple years in the first reagan administration so i know a little something about it. the dod and the v.a. were closely. anytime there is an issue, a problem, or a veteran does not get service or certainly if a veteran dies because he or she does not get service, any time there is an issue, there is no higher responsibility our country has banned to these
people who served and sacrificed. it's a constant process of getting better, monitoring, managing, insuring in every way we can that every veteran gets quality service they deserve. the v.a. has around 9 million people that they take care of. it's a large department. it is a zero tolerance kind of thing. you really have to come out at that way. we are all concerned about it, not just because i'm a veteran and the secretary of defense. >> but there are ones and want to argue that we need to know the fact but we were late
focusing concern on this. some in your party are calling for the head of the veteran affairs department to resign. is it premature to ask for his resignation? >> i support secretary shinseki. he's an individual with responsibility, as he has said, to be accountable. the president said yesterday, there has to be accountability. there does have to be accountability right up and down the line. i think we have to fix the problem. that's the real focus here. >> after you fix the problem. flexibly know some things went wrong. no question about it. >> people died. >> how is this allowed to happen? someone has to be accountable here, like in any institution. >> in ukraine, there is an election coming up.
the russians and the president of russia, vladimir putin, said he will withdraw his troops along the border. have you seen any evidence of that? >> we have seen preparation for movement of those troops. we have seen just recently some evidence of maybe some minor movement, but nothing significant, nothing that i would yet sign as complying with what resident putin said he was going to do. it is not at that stage. >> when should it be at that stage? >> he said that was occurring now. we think we have at least 40,000 russian troops on that border. you do have to prepare them to get out and so on, but regardless of what's happening now, he said he was going to do that and they were going to move out. even what we are seeing now with the small contingent of preparation, they still have tens of thousands of troops
there. until all of them have moved away from the border and back where they came from, they are not complying with what president putin said they would be doing. >> other than economic sanctions, what options do the united states have? >> we continue to use economic sanctions. working with our nato partners and strengthening relationships, forced posture. we have made a rather significant investment in force fostering. also, other allies are moving also, other allies are moving more assets around in the black sea. >> should be do the same thing for the ukrainians?
>> nato, as you know, is a collect security organization. all 28 members comply with article five of that treaty. when one nation is attacked, all attacked. we are complying with many other request. we are trying to find a diplomatic solution to this. president obama says there won't be and can't be a military solution. >> we can arm them. if it, in fact, comes to the conflict between the nationalist forces and ukrainian forces part of the government there. >> we can, but what we are trying to do is bring those tensions down. the resolution is -- i don't believe president obama has said
this. it will not be resolved militarily. what russia is doing, isolating himself in a very dangerous way for its own country whether it is economic sanctions or their image around the world, how many countries around the world are supporting what the russians are doing? not many. we had a vote about the last two weeks here in the united nations on this issue in the general assembly. i don't know if they got 10 votes. long-term, they are losing the ball. >> as soon as you say that on the front page of newspapers, the president of russia and the president of china having just signed a 30 year deal for russia to supply energy. >> that's one country. >> one big country. >> it's not insignificant. >> there's no question how the world is seeing this naked aggression.
>> but what is the world willing to do? is europe willing to put together and put together a sanctions package to have real impact? is it happening? >> the european union has already sanctioned the russians and individuals on a number of fronts. nato countries are coalescing, and away, i have not seen since the implosion of the soviet union in 1989. it is uplifting. it's bringing western europe together like nothing i've seen in recent times. these are short-term dynamics but also playing for the longer term as well. the energy deal with china was not a direct result of ukraine. >> russians have options in terms of combating sanctions. >> they do if you want to align yourself with a totalitarian government, if that's where you
think your future is, on any issue. that is certainly the russians' option. but i think the world is going in a different direction. the world is going toward more freedom, more options, more rights for human beings. that is where the world is going. >> do you see the beginning as medvedev said, the beginnings of a new cold war? >> i don't think we are seeing the evolution of the new cold war and i will tell you one reason why. one fundamental reason, the russian economy, the chinese economy, the u.s. economy is so interconnected now into an interconnected world. there is a reliance on a global economic dynamic that if you start to unravel that, anyone nation, not that somebody won't
or won't try, but the consequences of that are severe for any nation, the russians or the chinese. do we need to be prepared for every option and every eventuality? absolutely. who would have guessed that putin would have taken this action? >> how about crimea? can we do anything? that's gone. >> we don't accept it. the western nations don't accept it. they are occupying crimea now and that is part of the bigger dynamic here of how this gets resolved in the future. >> you also see some of the best intelligence in the world. what do you think is in putin's mind? what is the calculus he is operating under? >> he has made no secret and has said it publicly over the years that the demise of the soviet union was a terrific mistake. it should not have happened. it was bad for the russian people. i think that is a premise that he truly believes and that is where he starts.
>> is he prepared act on it to regain -- >> when you look at his actions in 2008 in georgia, the actions he's taken specifically, as you know, in crimea. he has not crossed the eastern ukrainian border, but nonetheless, he is in crimea. you do have to reflect on that reality and we have to be very clear eyed about your question. what is the endgame? where is he going with this? he has made all of those former soviet republic -stan's nervous. moldova, some of the nations that are still connected on that western european edge. everybody's very nervous on what is in his mind. i think we need to be resolute and firm.
the west needs to be together on this clearly whether it is the eu, nato. >> i'm asking this also because there are some and former secretary gates, your predecessor, said to me that he was concerned about the west. this was some time ago when ukraine began to emerge with a focus that we now have that the western nations in europe who have an economic relationship with russia would have the same commitment that we would. >> this goes back to my point about the cold war and the interconnects. all of those larger western european nations have some connection whether it is energy, natural gas, some connection to the russian economy. remember that this is a two-way street. there are consequences both ways and i think president putin has a pretty clear understanding about. secretary gates question is very legitimate. it is something i talk about when i meet with my nato colleagues.
it is something that my predecessors, panetta, gates, rumsfeld, all talked about. western european nations will have to do more and commitment to their own defense which means collective security in nato. and so, yes, what happened here back to my point, charlie on the russian actions in ukraine has been in churchill's immortal words, "the jarring gong of an awakening," that i think is starting to release focus from these european nations a bit more on continuing to cut their
budgets and defense. i know we have that issue, too. this is a reality they need to deal with. it is not new. gates and others have talked about it for a long time. >> syria as well? is there something the united states can do they have not been doing to make the potential on the ground different? >> let's briefly examine the complications of this. in syria today, you have a sectarian war going on, a civil war going on, islam extremist terrorists of different varieties. you have the iranians sponsoring hezbollah in there. you have a number of dynamics in play plus opposition forces against assad. they are not all on the same page that they were on. a moderate opposition, that we support and we are trying to help, working with our allies in jordan and turkey, working with the gcc countries.
i just came back from bringing all the gcc defense ministers together for the conference at saudi arabia, jordan, israel. the syria was the main topic. >> what was the assessment? >> everyone has this issue at the top of their agenda. there may be variations as to why, but this extremism, this sectarian war, sunni versus shia, which cuts into the western part of iraq in the humanitarian piece of this that jordan is taking the brunt of and we are helping more than anybody is all part of it. they understand the dangers of this. they understand that this cannot get resolved just by some military solution. what we are trying to do, to your question, and continue to do, work with our partners, our neighbors, the structures that we have, support the moderate opposition, keep focus on the humanitarian crisis which i think we are at about $1.8 billion for the victims of this.
we have been able working with our allies and others at least 90% of the precursors of chemical weapons out of syria. we're making progress on that and there are security issues. we are doing a pretty good job now and that is a tremendous accomplishment from where we were one year ago. i don't think this will be resolved anytime soon. i don't think, as the president has said, the united states tried to interject and its military way, it will only make it worse. >> tell me how you feel about the relationship with israel today and how they feel about the relationship. people are always trying to draw divisions between animosity
between the president and the prime minister. >> first of all, personalities do matter in relationships. they are not insignificant, but the national interest of the nation overrides personalities or differences. i say that in response to any issues between personalities because it's just part of the static out there. some reporters like to go in that direction. let's look at the bigger issues. if it's my opinion, our military to military relationship, united states and israel, is good, firm, as committed as ever. i was told that, by the way, by prime minister netanyahu as well
as their defense minister that i've gotten to know very well. we have spoken to each other a lot on the phone. our commitments to israel's security are the most significant, in dollar terms, they have ever been. we are working very closely with them on a lot of different areas. are there differences? sure. >> speak to the differences of iran. >> that's an area where i think we are coming together. prime minister netanyahu and i had a good conversation about not, as did the defense minister and other leaders. they have always been very skeptical, the israelis, as you know, of the six-month effort for the p5 plus one to find some
diplomatic resolution to the first step of the nuclear --. there are the issues we will have to address, capacity, state sponsorship of terrorism. we're are focused on the nuclear now. i think the israelis still don't agree totally with our approaches. but they have given us, for them, allowance here to try and produce some kind of way out of this. we've talked about this. >> what's the way out? >> if we can find in these six months -- >> july. >> if we can find an agreement to accomplish all the things from our side that we need to accomplish, this is a two way street. the iranians have something to say about this. if we can get in and accomplish what we need to continue to deepen and widen the reality that president obama has said that iran will not have a nuclear weapon, if we can accomplish that without military action from the israelis or anyone else, are we smarter to do that and build on the next step?
the next issue might be ballistic missiles. >> do they have the capability to deliver nuclear weapons? >> they have sophisticated missile defense capability. >> they could if they had it? >> i think they have a situation where they could probably put that together if they needed to. >> i once asked leon panetta and he said he does not think they made a commitment to build a nuclear weapon.
what is their commitment to do? >> i can give you my assessment based on intelligence and so on. i think their leadership has been very clear over the years to certainly have the capabilities to build nuclear weapons. >> the breakout capability. >> in a short amount of time. >> i think that is certainly there. has the decision been made by the ayatollah and other leaders in iran that we are committed to produce a nuclear weapon? i don't know. we cannot take that chance. this is a zero-sum game on that. we are not going to take that chance. >> is it possible though that they could pass an israeli red line before they get to an american red line in terms of where they have gotten to that place? would they still be compelled to act if they thought they were intent on having a nuclear weapons and the united states did not believe they were in the same place? would they act because they don't want to be dependent on
someone else? >> i cannot think for the israelis nor can i speak for any country, but the israelis and the u.s. are very tightly, closely coordinated on intelligence on this. there is very little that we disagree on. >> in terms of where they are? >> yes. >> what do you make of the ayatollah when he says it's against our religion to have a nuclear weapons? you can't go to bed on that. >> i appreciate him saying that, but every indication that we've seen is it does not connect necessarily with where their military has been going on this. i hope the ayatollah believes that. again, i can only base my analysis and judgment as
secretary of defense, certainly, who has a responsibility to the security of this country based on their actions, not their words. >> the president of iran seems to be pretty optimistic that we will make a deal. is that your impression we are optimistic and making progress? >> they think it's possible. they have been saying some positive things about the possibility if we can get there and we are working very hard on this. secretary kerry in the undersecretary, leading the effort on this, wendy sherman, working very hard. our government is completely committed to try to do this. the president of the united states. obviously, we all do with our p5 partners. we will see. we will know a lot more, charlie, at the end of july. >> before i leave the middle east, secretary kerry says he
has seen raw evidence of chlorine gas being used. have you seen evidence? >> the opcw is in there now. they are looking at all of those charges and all of those specific references to what was used, if it was used, where, and so on. none of that i have seen is verifiable yet. until we get those reports back, i don't think we will be able to know verifiably that in fact it was used and what was used. >> afghanistan has a election taking place. it looks like they might have a president in afghanistan who is in favor of the united states remaining, very different from what karzai was prepared to say. is it essential to us to have troops remain? >> it is essential in order to
keep troops there. i think the american public would demand that. certainly the congress would demand that. president obama has made it very clear that it is essential to us having the united states and, by the way, nato and international partners having a post 2014 presents. i think we have a presence there. i think we can continue to help train and provide advice. both of the two candidates both said they would sign it. we know both of those gentlemen well. we have worked with them in the past positions. we would want to work with them. we have a good track record. i believe whoever wins will sign that and we are planning.
>> what is your assessment of terrorism today? we so real with respect to al qaeda that was led by osama bin laden. we now look around the world and we see an insurgence of al qaeda-affiliated groups yemen, africa, even boko haram claims some relationship. what is the terrorist threat today and what is our policy to defeat it? >> let's start with the overall question. what is terrorism? where is it? there's no question that terrorist groups have been and are now affiliated with al qaeda and they continue to widen into areas, north africa being a very clear and sample and some of the middle eastern countries that have the weak, unstable governments.
you have religious conflict. these are all areas that are well-suited to islamist extremist groups. you mentioned some of them. what's going on in libya -- >> and the syria. >> and the north african countries. we are working with them to help. this is not one monolithic challenge where we can identify one monolithic enemy. there are variations of these various terrorist groups. you mentioned syria as an example. some of those groups and there are supporting assad. others are not. others are fighting for
different reasons. some are fighting for political reasons. some are fighting for religious reasons. there is no cookie-cutter approach except this. development of strong capacities and our partners, this is something president obama has talked about the day he got into the white house, what we are doing in the pentagon, helping to build capacity of our partners. we cannot fix every problem in the world, the united states alone. >> we are not the world's police. >> we cannot he. we have to rely on the governments in those areas and their capacities to deal with these problems. whether it is intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, whatever way we can do that, but we cannot fuel the armies all over.
>> are they growing? >> look at what's going on in north africa. >> in syria where they are learning how to fight in a different kind of conflict, they take it back to their and regions including the united states. >> it's a threat. it is a clear and present threat to southern europe, italy, spain. as you move up the mediterranean into europe, those are real-time threats right now. the training ground in the syria is certainly a threat. we know a lot of these groups are training and there are individuals going to syria to get terrorist training and they learn. they then take that back to their home country. it is something we watch very carefully. homeland security fbi, law enforcement. >> the world attention has focused on 200 children who were
abducted by boko haram in nigeria. we don't even know where they are. what is the united states doing? what will we be able to do to bring those children back? >> president obama said the united states will do everything possible. let's start there. let's understand the reality of nigeria. all of those nations are sovereign. we cannot just parachute in -- i suppose we could. >> we have the ability. >> you have to work with the governments. you have to be invited into help. we're working closely with nigerians and things that we are doing. we had a team of about eight teen military people to nigeria to work with the government, with their military, with their law enforcement to advise and
assess what's going on, assess where we can immediately help. since that time, we are flying manned and unmanned reconnaissance drones and we are now sharing intelligence with the nigerians. you know we just recently a day or two ago announced we are putting 80 people in chad. these are not boots on the ground but support people for drones, aircraft, to assist the nigerians and finding those girls. the 80 troops are armed because they are defending our assets there. president obama has made it very clear we will not send boots on the ground but every one of those areas we are helping now -- the canadians, french, british. >> why can't we find them? >> i don't know how many times you been to nigeria or that part of the world, but it is immense.
the canopies and those jungles are as thick as anywhere in the world. these are almost boundless areas, almost borderless although there are borders. there are about five countries there in that area. northern nigeria is where those girls were of that from, where they initially were. there may be some of those girls in other countries. we have information that we don't have any solid evidence pinpointing exactly where. >> if we did, we would go get them? >> would we go get them? we would do everything we could to facilitate helping the nigerians as we are helping them locate and helping them figure out what is the quickest, easiest, fastest, lowest risk way to get the mad and helping
to facilitate the nigerians and getting them out. >> china has been in the news recently. the justice department has indicted some chinese individuals for hacking. what is china doing to retaliate? will this escalate? >> this is a law-enforcement issue. particularly indictments of blatant corporate espionage straight up. >> spying on american corporations. >> stealing secrets, intelligence. >> and providing them back to their own competitive forces. >> are they connected to the pla? >> some of those indicted are members of the pla. >> how do they retaliate?
>> the chinese and the united states are clearly interconnected into so many common interests economically in many ways other than economically. we have cooperative and competitive relationships. as far as i know, we have seen no direct consequence of those indictments. they have made it very clear that they think this is wrong. they are very upset about it. >> do they happen to say we know a fellow by the name of edward snowden? i know you say you do not spy on chinese corporations in order to get information, but you get the clear impression from mr. snowden that the nsa have
surveilled almost everything in sight. the chinese bring that up, i'm told, every moment. >> the defense capability of any nation includes intelligence. surprise, surprise. the chinese are looking at us and we are looking at the chinese. i know the congress wants us to make dam sure we know what's going on with the chinese, russians, and others. that's a different kind of situation. i talked to the president about this with president xi last year in california. >> what did he say? we both live in this world and we both want to trade with each
other. what does he say about the conflict between the two countries? >> i think you take one slice of the relationship but i think president xi in the chinese get the larger context of the relationship. there are certain things that they don't like and we don't like and we bring it to attention. the way to dissolve those disputes is the smart way. east china sea, south china sea, this is the whole point behind institutions of common interest. rather than going to war to each other like we did after world war ii -- and some of that is still going on -- let's be
smarter and resolve it in different ways with international law and so on. we are going to have differences with them. clearly, our economic interests are so much into. i think the chinese understand that. i think our role has to continue to be, especially for our allies, to reassure our allies that we remain resolute, firm, steady. >> secretary gates said he would not want to be secretary of defense understanding the limitations. are we unable to play the role we did in the past because there is an inclination of the american people not to want to
be the worlds police but also because we don't have the resources to do it? >> i will answer that two ways. on the budget, the most irresponsible, mindless act but i have seen since i've been in washington, 12 years in the senate, in and out, is the sequestration, the deferral of responsibility. completely responsible. if that continues, as is the law of the land, into fy 16 and beyond, no question it will cut into the capabilities that america has two in fact carry out its defense to teacher guidance. there's no question about that. that said, let me take another piece of this. the united states of america military is the best. no one is near us with weapons, readiness, money being spent,
any metric you apply. that may not always be the case unless we are willing to continue to do the things that we need to do. also, capacity and capability. i hear different arguments about drawing down our army to a certain number but it will be the lowest since world war ii. come on. does anyone equate capacity capability of our army in 1940 to that of 2014? the men and women serving today versus 1940 are not better, but the technological edge of our services today is light-years beyond that. capability matters. tacit he does and so do numbers. i get that. into the near future, we will continue to be able to --
>> you are worried about what? >> the future. my responsibility, any leaders responsibility of any enterprises to build for the future. not go back and carry on with your hang onto weapons 30 years ago, 40 years ago, and fight yesterday's war. >> if we don't deal with this issue, how we pay for the necessities of our defense establishment, we will no longer be the same kind of power we were. >> we will eventually erode readiness, modernization, and eventually our capabilities. this does not happen in just one year intervals. weapons platforms in thinking into the future, these are years and years out. rhymes saying is if we don't get this sequestration turned around during the pentagon and our
leaders the capacity and the flexibility to make priority choices -- they want to continue to cut the budget would not give us the flexibility to make the tough choices to prioritize but then we will be about the narrow artists and parochial interests of the members of congress only and not about the national security of this country. >> this is a quote from your speech in chicago. he talked about the fact that we are entering a military zone. attracted wars in the middle east and central asia, clearly if you look at the recent polls included, americans are tired of war. 10 years in afghanistan, the toll it took in iraq, especially in terms of the sacrifice of young men and women, they seem to be saying let's focus on america.
the president has spoken to that as well and it's part of his operative philosophy. he wanted to withdraw from two wars. what are we prepared to fight for? that was the cover of an economist magazine. what are we prepared to fight for? >> we are prepared to fight for the interest of our country. does that equate to going back to another 13 years of war? there are variations of that question. the things that we're doing today, charlie, certainly not complying at all with some of the narrative out there that somehow we are retreating from the world.
united states military is an almost 100 countries around the world. we are everywhere. we are connected and everything. our economic strength and our trade relationships, any measurement you put to where we are and what we are willing to fight for and invest in what we're doing, we are doing that now. we will defend those interests. we will work with our allies and partners. the capacity building, capability building we are doing now, as i've mentioned. we are bringing the gcc defense minister partners together. those are the things we are doing. >> are they saying after the redline in syria was passed and there is the questioning of america's will -- we talked to
the people from saudi arabia, from the emirates, do you hear that and do you have to reassure them? >> yes, i have to reassure them, but i don't think that's anything unusual. this is a dangerous, complicated world. you are a little country and you have iran or china next to them, they need reassurance absolutely. we need to give them that reassurance. you mentioned two countries in the persian gulf. i reminded our gcc defense minister partners when i was there we have over 35,000 military personnel stationed in the persian gulf and the middle east. we have the headquarters of the fifth fleet in bahrain. we have centcom in qatar. >> you have a military presence in the region. >> huge. persian gulf and the most advanced tactical platforms --
whether navy or air force -- are right there. those are sovereign nations. the united states cannot get take -- dictate outcomes. we want to continue to try and have as much influence. >> so if they elect morsi, it's up to them. we just stand by? >> we don't stand by but we cannot control a nation of 90 million people. >> i don't think anyone expect us to control. they expect us to have influence because, as you just said, we have influence in the region. >> any influence with any nation has limitations to it. if a nation, as we have talked about, thanks in their interest, this is the thing they have to do or enough people in that nation, we can try to influence
it. we can try to do but we can to adjust based on values, principles, standards, the rule of law. we do it all the time whether it is egypt or somewhere else, but we try to use every influence we can working with our partners. >> within the restrictions you have to face every day, a different, changing world, budgetary demands, what's the strategy? what's the vision? what do i take from that chicago speech, which people view as a kind of definition as how you certainly and the administration looked at the u.s. and the world? >> first, i've said more than once in that speech that the world must continue to be part of our agenda. america must stay engaged in the world. i used some quotes in there on
why. president obama has made it are clear. we will continue to stay engaged, to be a leader, to work with our partners to frame up these coalitions for cooperation, mutual interest, capacity building for our partners. what i was doing in asia four weeks ago when i brought all the defense ministers together, that had never been done before. we are doing big exercises right now all over the world whether it is europe or the middle east, our future is the world. we are connected into the future. we are not retreating but we are engaging in the world. president obama and secretary kerry have been very clear on that. >> there is much more use of special operations, much more
use of drones and technology. the nature of warfare itself is changing. >> it's shifting in ways and dimensions that are unprecedented -- cyber, space. that's the real, dangerous next generation of big-time potential. >> the conflict will be in the cyberspace. >> what others are doing in cyber right now, the chinese, the iranians, the others to militarize this space. what i said earlier about building an institution in my responsibilities, i have to project out into the future the threats and challenges coming so that for my successors and the next generation military leaders, will they have the capacity, capability, platforms, technology, science, investment, research they need to deal with what's coming?
>> this week on "political capital," the head of founder and chief executive officer of iraq and afghanistan veterans of america, paul rieckhoff talks about the v.a. scandal. and the primaries. we begin the program with the ceo and founder and chief executive officer of iraq and afghanistan veterans of america, paul rieckhoff. you heard the president on the ra
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