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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 6, 2009 7:30am-8:00am EDT

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not certain its own nuclear capabilities can deter iran, what steps can we take to reassure israel our nuclear guarantee would deter iran, because as -- if i use you suggested, you said that we have sufficient credibility that if we offered a nuclear guarantee that that would be a deterrent to iran and how are we going to persuade the israelis that even though their nuclear capability cannot deter iran, ours can? >> well, fest of all, any guarantee by the united states to the region would also be designed to discourage other countries from seeking nuclear weapons. and designed to protected them as all and the focus is not entirely on israel, as far as israel is concerned, i think there is a legitimate question to ask, how serious are this israelis when they make the argument about the existential threat and the iranians bass they are suicidal go attack them, and they are going to parish and so, we would be in a
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sense addressing an issue which really has not been discussed seriously in israel, namely how serious really is this argument, the moment the iranians have the bomb they'll be inclined to extinguish 3,000 years of national history for the dubious satisfaction of damaging israel somehow. so i don't take the argument seriously, myself. >> thank you, doctor, from the new america foundation: i'd like to take you back to the part of your remarks in which you identified some of the themes or ideas that seem to be shaping a good deal of policy deliberation here in washington, about how to proceed with negotiations with iran. the whole notion of trying to develop various forms of at least prospectively coercive leverage as a way of arguably
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increasing the chances that negotiations would succeed. and you referred to the idea of winding up in advance -- lining up in advances international support for much more severe sanctions than we have before and you referred to, perhaps -- yeah, okay. i wanted to ask you, particularly, with regard to whatever may be ongoing in terms of u.s. programs to support dissident groups, promote democracy, however it is described in iran, do you think it is important in order to maximize the chances for diplomatic engagement to work, is it important for the united states in some way, to show that it is stepping back from these programs, and also, on the international sanctions angle, does the idea that we are trying to line up this support before negotiations even begin actually
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undercut the chances that they -- negotiations might succeed rather than providing some leverage which would help them succeed. >> well, i think it is clear from what i was saying that i feel that if we do these things openly, you know, ratcheting up plans for the sanctions and so forth, that this is knots helpful negotiations, because, it creates a more coercive at moss fear for negotiations in which one part feels it is in effect compelled to negotiate under duress. this doesn't mean, however, we cannot make these plans. obviously, one always engages in contingency planning. but, doing it overtly, openly, as has been talked about i think is counterproductive. so, this is why i am skeptical about that approach. and i suspect that it either involves a misjudgment of the iranians, or perhaps, as even advocated in the hope that it will contribute to a stalemate and then, failure of the
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negotiations. because i'm not convinced that everybody in the bureaucracy, necessarily, shares the same goals, regarding the negotiations, as the president has articulated. now, as far as democracy promotion is concerned, over other activities, i think the distinction is precisely that, between democracy promotion, and other activities. the other activities are the not explicitly discussed, and their extent is certainly not subject to very specific knowledge, in the public domain. but, the -- there are some indications over the last several years, that the promotion of democracy, perhaps, is not limited to human rights advocacy, ngos, instruction how to vote, how to organize free elections, but, may go a little further than that, such as for example encouraging ethnic
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conflict, within iran, and if not by us then by whom and support for the mujahedeen stationed in northeast iraq, still under u.s. protection, having been labeled at one point as a terrorist group, but that label being written and removed, and activities of this sort, i think, probably, if they are opportunities to a significant degree would also be something that we need to be reexamined, if one is really serious about negotiations. i don't think it is in our interest to engage in activities which may unintentionally have the effect of fusing iranian nationalism with shiite fundamentalism. and i think that combination is the source of support for
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iranian extremism. and, mahmoud ahmadinejad has nurtured his political chances through that and i think the more the iranian population, particularly the urban intelligentsia, the urban middle class and the younger generation feels that there are real benefits to be had in a constructive relationship with the west, and in particular with the united states, the more likely is there a political change within iran. in the longer run. and, hence, in the longer run that is the way, really, to achieve something that implies a significant turn towards democracy. there is a form of -- democracy in iran already which we tend to disregard and if you look at these elections today, that are ongoing, can anyone in the room tell me with confidence, and i certainly cannot answer the question, with confidence, who is going to win? now, if you ask me about russian
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elections, in 2012, i'll tell you right now who is going to win. [laughter]. >> if that person is alive. and then -- and that is a rather basic difference, isn't it? and so we have presidential elections which are complicated, but, in a sense, democratic. and i wonder how many people know that there is a woman who is a vice president in iran right now. how many know in this country, not in this room, there are more women in iranian universities than men? and a lot of professions, such as law, or medicine, doctors, and lawyers, are very heavily permeated by women, not to mention the nobel prize in literature was also won by a woman recently, she is iranian. this is not the sort of stereotyped country of medieval islam. it is a very complicated
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mixture. in which nationalism plays a very important role. and a sense of imperial tradition, plays a very important role. and a sense of the country's own worth and also a country which for more than 8 years, maybe longer than that, for more than 80 years, almost 100 years has heavily focused its own sense of internal change, on western europe and its model, specifically the germans. german universities, german education, and all of that, has had very high standing and major impact on the -- on iran, very much like turkey. and the country with which most iranians have most frequent contact including vacations, is turkey. and every time they go to turkey they must notice some significant differences between turkey and themselves, which are probably attractive to them, so, this is a much more complicated country than the notion of the knew crazy ayatollah, and an absolutely lunatic quote-unquote
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president, it's a serious country which is, unfortunately, in the midst of a kind of an extremist binge, but with which if tackled intelligently is bound to -- if one can judge on the basis of its own socioeconomic levels and its history. yes, ma'am? sn>> i wanted to ask you to examine the scenario of an iran that does not come back to the u.s. and agree to any kind of negotiations, even at they settle down, after the elections. what should the u.s. attitude be, hillary clinton already spoke of crippling sanctions, haven't we somehow boxed ourselves in already with comments like that and the vague deadline of the end of the year? what she response be in h country if they don't come back and also a question about obama's speech yesterday, there has been a lot of criticism that
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he was a bit too squishy in terms of his use of language, he talked about violent extremism and never talked about islamic extremism and didn't talk about terrorism, did he go too far on the other side on his effort to reach out? thank you. >> well, if iran chooseses not to come to the negotiating table, then it will set in motion consequences which we do not need to talk about, before they take that decision. i certainly -- i'm not so naive a person as to think if they don't come to table it should have no effect whatsoever it will have an effect but there is no need to try tone ties them to come to the table by issuing implicit or explicit threats fwhaus will be counterproductive. my sense is there is a fair amount of interest in iran in
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negotiating. actually. and i think there are some indications from the iranian elite that that is currently the case. even in a totally different level, relatively insignificant but rather symbolic level, i have experienced that myself. they view me, correctly, as a person who wanted the united states to do much more than it did to prevent hoe maine from a-- khomeini from assuming party and that was my position and i never had any illusions that khomeini will resulted in a regime that is liberal, democratic, progressive. none the election i have been asked by the iranians recently to appears on iranian television, to discuss the relationship -- they wanted me to discuss it with one of the key advisors of the supreme leader, and i said i wouldn't do it on that basis, because i have no assurance that that will not become a rather hostile debate
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between the two of us, and i see no merit in rehashing the past, so i would rather appear on their television in which journalists ask me questions, and i lay out my point of view. and they agreed to that. and they taped -- sent people over here and taped 27 minutes and i said, nothing will be cut and they said nothing will be cut and actually broadcast it, on tehran television, and of course, throughout the interview i refused to get drawn into the business of, well, you overthrew... and you made the diplomats hostages and i said, let's forget the past and it is in our mutual interest or not to deal with the set of issues and i kept repeating that, basically and they -- the full text of the interview was reprinted in four newspapers in the tehran without any cuts, and then, the leading newspaper adifferent one came to me in -- for an additional interview and just published it
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a week or so ago. and well, that to me is a hint of some desire to engage in the a dialogue. it certainly was not designed to stimulate more hostility, because i didn't play that game. and i didn't let myself be drawn into that. and then, "newsweek" actually produced on its web a telephone conversation with the first foreign minister and their -- co many after the revolution and myself, mr. yasdi whom i met in algiers when he and -- the prime minister came to algiers shortly after co many took power and i went and met with him on behalf of the president and i told them we are prepared to deal. with the islamic republic of iran, and, if they wish they can still have even a military equipment relationship with us and so forth and they were very sort of positively inclined, but, after they went back to
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tehran, about a week or so later, the extremist elements staged a coup and overthrew them and neither one was imprisoned and yasdi is still alive and we had a retrospective discussion which is recorded, and made public which, again seems to me to indicate there is, within this complicated body politic, at least a strand that deserves being exploited. on obama's speech and his language, he didn't talk about islamic terrorism. well, we had eight years of islamophobia sanctioned from the tom-down and heard constantly about jihadist terrorists, islamic taste risz, the caliphate and so forth and so forth and in a sense creating publicly a sense of an american perception of the world of islam, dominated by these
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people. and in effect, putting the same box, the moderates and the extremists. how would some other people feel if in the case of ira activity in northern ireland we only spoke about papist terrorism. catholic terrorism. roman catholic papacy as its on tiff and so forth? my guess is the 60 million americans in the country would find that offensive. and wouldn't be helpful. in isolating the ir. a and that is what we did. i think it was foolishness and stupidity and mindless. and it goes further than that. our previous president in his last state of the union message, his last stated of the union message, confidently predicted that the struggle against terrorism will be the defining
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ideological challenge of the 21st century. now remember when he delivered that speech, it was february, 2008. would anyone in 1908 predict that the 20th century will be dominated by the rise of hitlerism and communism? would anyone in 1808 predict that the rise of nationalism will define the politics of europe? it took enormous intellectual courage on the part of our previous president to act as a historian of the future, to make that statement. but, that was the official vision of the future. by the president of the united states. i think it is a very good thing obama is offering an alternative vision of the future. one which i think is more compatible with the spirit of the times. one in which in fact we really
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need a reconciliation of civil zagsz and not -- civilizations and not moralistic sanctioning of the clash of civilization, so i approve entirely of what he said. as a philosophical statement. this was a politically philosophical statement. defining his sense of what we are about, and where we are headed in the century and not a policy statement. but it does imply policy. it does imply policies i happen to favor. yes, please? >> national council on us-arab... [inaudible] thank you, john duke anthony national council on u.s.-arab relations, to add to flint's line of questioning and your response, about ethnic divisions and mujahedeen, et cetera, where
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would you put the u.s.-funded broadcast into iran from the clinton administration, on wards, allegedly to drive a wedge between the government and the populous, on one hand, and, the los angeles-based broadcast as well. could this in any way be a game-breaker, game-changer, if the iranians said we want both of those stopped as well bass we don't do that to you and we are trying to -- because we don't do that to you and trying to discuss and have diplomatic debates on an equal footing. >> i will not dodge your question, by pleading ignorance, but, i have to plead ignorance, i really don't know what these outfits do. i don't know what our official broadcasts say to the iranians, whether or news or whether more politically oriented ac nal sees and -- analyses, i have no idea
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what the people in l.a. are doing, there is one simple pointed, however we cannot do anything that restricts or freedom of expression and i'm not quite sure whether that freedom of expression can be limited when american citizens decide to address issues in the country of origin or country of special interest. i think there will be really serious problems, so i don't think our freedom of speech can be subject -- a subject of negotiation with a foreign government, and, unless there is absolutely clear evidence that it's not freedom of expression but advocacy of some sort of violence or something to that effect and in which case there may be legitimate foreign objections and i imagine if someone was broadcasting to the united states from a country with which we have diplomatic relations, urging that, say, muslim-americans to start engaging in, let's say, suicide terrorism, we would have legitimate grounds for going to the government and saying, wait
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a minute, you guys better get it under control. all right, in the back, all the way. >> thanks, the stimson center. i wanted to ask you about the role of third parties in helping persuade the iranians perhaps taking the risk of some new relationship with the united states is worth it. while i certainly agree that many in the iran eppian elite are in dreegd by obama, certainly, there are power centers in iran that are not persuaded it is in their interest to change their relationship with us, would you if you were national security advisor be calling up india or turkey or indonesia and saying, can you help us out here and how can we persuade the iranians this is the right thing to do. >> without being a national security advisor, actually i have done a little bit of that, through of course, much more limited and less important contacts. that i currently have, but, absolutely, yes. i think if there are countries
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that can have a constructive influence on the iranians and if they are amenable to doing so, we should encourage them. you know, i would add china to the list. i think once you have mentioned -- the ones you have mentioned, turkey certainly is involved, no doubt about it. i don't know how much influence the indians have in iran, maybe there are people who know more about that particular slayings ship, i just don't know. do you know? but, does anybody know? india? all right, well, anyway, i agree with you. >> okay. we can't lets you get out of here without commenting on the peace process, so i was wondering, put -- >> which one? >> right. the other one. whether -- if you could comments on the linkage to the extent
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that it exists, between engagement with iran and arab-israeli diplomacy. >> i think the debate which comes first is futile and pure rightly -- purile and each affects the other and if there is no progress on the israeli-palestinian front and they issue there by becomes more intractable, it's not going to help in our dealings with the -- iran. because indirectly hamas and hezbollah and others are involved and vice-versa. if we don't have any serious movement with the -- iran, not necessarily movement towards real agreement but serious movement on a whole set of negotiations in which some issues might move forward more rapidly than others is also going to create a more negative atmosphere in the middle east. so i would say the two are kind of interactive and i don't accepted the israeli position we have to deal with iran, resolve it before we get serious in the peace process, but i don't think the opposite of that is true,
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either. it is an interactive process, both issues. poison the atmosphere and both issues are potentially dangerous and damaging. >> a follow-up. to what extend, though do you think the friction of settlements developing in the last few days, especially, will affect or constrain to any stents the obama administration in terms of their post-iranian election engagement mentsz. >> i don't think it will limit it either way, i think what it has done, however, is elevated one specific issue, very explicitly. into a policy issue. because, the rest of the speech, i think there is nothing this in it that is really precisely binding or precisely a clear-cut test. but, this issue is quite precise. and he's putting the united states on record as saying, the settlements are illegal, and there are -- they are unacceptable, they are damaging,
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they have to stop. well, that is a fairly categorical definition of a problem. and, they'll have to be -- there will have to be accommodation on the part of the israelis or it -- its absence and in one way or another is going to affect what is happening, and in some way, in some way, affect the relationship. so, that issue has been joined, and that is one very specific, concrete policy consequence inherent in what was said. yes? sn>> dr. brzezinski, as you kno there is an argument made by a friend -- about grand bargain as, you know, alternative, or as a way of going -- negotiating with iran and of course, some
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argue that, iranians are not ready and make argument against this. now i would like to know, where do you stand and if you do not agree with the grand bargain, approach, how do you, you know, debase it. >> i'm not sure i agree or disagree with the grand bargain approach. it is a grand slogan, basically, the fact of the matter is, if there are negotiations, they are going to involve a variety of issues. and not all of these issues can be discussed pell-mell at the same time. so, there will have to be some set of negotiations, going on, presumably in some relationship to each other. through special task forces, or subcommittees and so forth. and on that basis, we'll be able to judge, what issues are moving forward and towards a potential resolution, though, perhaps continue gen on progress and other issues, and at some point, we'll be able to decide whether we can resolve some issues
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initially and others later. or whether we wait in the conjunction of all of them. i don't think it is possible to prejudge that until we know what the position of the other side is, what possible agenda for the talks is, and on that basis, organize a process which, at our end is going to be complicated by the fact which i first mentioned in my comments, namely, that not all of the participants on our side have similar views, and, which would be complicated, also, on the iranian side, by the likelihood that the iranian government, one way or nor is going to be divided on these issues and there will be ongoing political debate within iran even as the process unfolds. so i don't think i can answer your question, yes or no. all right, yes, sir. >> this will have to be the last question. >> okay. >> dr. brzezinski, question for you.
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you mentioned the north korea-iran formulation and iran, saying we don't want, don't seek and the religious connotation, but the same nix report you mentioned in 2007 argued with high confidence that iran was seeking ostensibly did want nuclear weapons and so how do we prevent them from prevaricating and drawing out negotiations such as they have been doing and there by pursuing the technical timeline, such as a time if and when they assess they want nuclear weapons. thank you. >> first of all, the report said they were seeking nuclear weapons at one point. >> were seeking. >> were. were and they were not at this present. >> said they were keeping the options open. >> that is a rather different thing from what you said earlier. and they are keeping their options open, that is rather different and i think the point of the e negotiations is that these options are at some point closed. that is the whole pointed of the exercise. the negotiations, presumably have as their objective, an
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arrangement whereby we have confidence that what they are ostensibly claiming is true, because the option is foreclosure and that is the objective of the exercise and whether that will succeed or not we do not know in advance but i don't see any other way of proceeding, but in any case that is a different situation, from the situation with -- the north koreans who say something very different and therefore the goef negotiations are defined automatically as being in you a different context, north koreans, we want them, seeking them and we have them, what are you going to do about it and we have to decide, are we going to bribe them to get them off it? are we going to pressure them to compel them to get off it? are we going to intimidate them? who is going to be helpful and so forth and that is different from the situation with the iranians. thank you. [applause].
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>> i think a combination of clarity, candor, and breadth of vision is what we look for from dr. brzezinski and we got what we were looking for today. inclusion i would like to thank -- in conclusion i would like to thank all of you for coming and joining us today and there are still copies of a number of recent rand publications on the subject available outside, those of you who have not picked them up already. and, inclusion -- in conclusion i would like to thank those who provided support for the organization of this event, and i'd like to thank all of the members of our middle east board, including dr. brzezinski, who are in attendance today, and i would like to thank other on the rand staff who did all of the work, to make today's event possible. so i'd like to thank them as well. [applause]


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