tv Russian Involvement in the Middle East - Russian Airpower in Syria CSPAN August 8, 2018 8:56am-9:57am EDT
relationships that bind those partners to the gulf? in other words, the gulf feared russia's involvement with iran, they have now created not just national level and send is but personal incentives for an awful lot of important russians to take gulf interest into account. it strikes me that this is something that gulf diplomacy, economic policy has been very successfully. well, we've reached the time and we do need to keep the skills i would like to close our panel now and thank our speakers very, very much. resume at 1:00. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
well, we are delighted today to have before us retired u.s. air force general frank gorenc. general gorenc retired from the air force after 37 years and four months of service on october 1, 1 to 16. general gorenc had a very distinguished career in the u.s. air force but i think his own personal story about his family with the ritz in the balkans and our family moved to the united states i believe was in 1964, 62, that story about how his family came here come he grew up in wisconsin, he has a brother that served in the air force and that he was come when the brother was at the u.s. air force academy in colorado springs, rank went to visit him
and he was inspired from that day forward to want to serve in the u.s. air force. i think the great story about his family and rising through the ranks is a great it's typical of american immigrant families that come to the united states and succeed, today one of analysts was here today and originally from leningrad and he was commenting how much an inspiration that is to him and to others. when i was preparing for my presentation to introduce general gorenc, i was introduced to them to our good friend, mutual friend general breedlove. and when i was trying to ask about some things to describe general gorenc, general breedlove corrected me and west talk about being a pilot, he said one thing you need emphasize about frank gorenc is that he wasn't f-15 pilot, not an f-16 pilot. and so when i started digging around to bolster my own
knowledge about the difference between the two, one of the things of it is a f-15 has four times the range as an f-16 and applies at a higher altitude. so general gorenc has had the luxury of flying at a higher altitude and so we come to his position, commander of u.s. forces in europe, h he said an ability to see a lot of things going on related to russian ladies also was in a back and his had an experience of also out of aerial operations of understanding kind of what, how russia's been operating and what does it bring to the united states, we asked him today to talk about the challenge of russian air operations. ..
and, obviously, that describes a place that's hard to figure out. it describes a country that has one foot in europe and one foot in asia, and that struggle that they've had along the way with that, you know, is reflected in the views of their leadership, whether it's a czar or whether it's a communist, marxist, len inist or whatever you consider president putin to be today. but in the end they do, in my view, have an eye towards europe and their relationship reinforced that from the very beginning. that was peter the great in the 1600's, basically his aim was to, quote, sever all the people from their former asianic customs and how all christian people in europe comport themselves, which is an interesting view. that was reinforced a hundred
years later with catherine the great who basically said russia is a european state. and that state is defined by a proclivity to go through these cycles that kissinger describes as a rhythm and that's basically expansion interrupted occasionally for a time by the need to adjust its domestic structure to the vastness of the enterprise and this is consistent and i think it's what's happening today. and it really defines the way that president putin operates and his view on the near abroad. and that view is obviously flavored with a good dose of paranoia and power. and so i think it would be worthwhile to go to the real root of that discussion. in the mid 17th century, the foreign minister for czar
alexei was asked to define what the foreign policy was, it was expanding the state in every direction. and, you know, there was a -- one of the journalists here tried to describe the view of the russian ambassador in 1903. and basically his quote was, all russians seemed fixed on a single idea that russia must roll by her irresistible inertia crush whatever stood in her way. you know, and that theme is pretty consistent. and, of course, the best analysis, i still think today, of the russian mindset is -- it's worthwhile to kind of look at that to define the way that the russians would act and in
his telegram he said the bottom of the kremlin's neurotic view of world affairs, russia was highly sensitive to the logic of force. and so i think that's a good backdrop to describe the leadership and then, of course, whoever the leader is of russia, there's a proclivity there to make it, you know, about that person. it was true with the czars, which was described as the liv living icon of god, sovereign as the living law and catherine the great said that russia had to be ruled by an absolute power and the embodiment of the russian-- of the defense of russia
against enemies surrounding it on all side was the czar and i think that's continued pretty much through their whole thing. and so, and then it's flavored by this idea that the russian -- the brooding, expansive russian soul that everybody tries to analyze. you know, which is interesting, and i think you just need to deal with it, but again i go back to my favorite quick read on all of this, which is, you know, secretary kissinger in his book "world order", it's kind of fun to read that every once in a while. he says the russians came to see itself a beleaguered outpost of security exerting absolute will over its neighbors. it's permanently in the grip of conflating temptation and fear. based on the russian experience, ultimately based on
stoic endurance. you know, this is the idea that the russian population is willing to endure anything in order to advance the russian state. and so, i wanted to go through that history lesson because i think it really flavors kind of what's going on today. and in europe, we used to have fun trying to figure out where president putin was and it really came down to two camps. he's either a strategic genius or it's like dealing with a pigeon playing chess. you know, knocks over all the pieces, craps all over the board, and then struts around like they're victorious. [laughte [laughter] >> so i share that kind of fun, you know, comment because the truth is somewhere in between and i've come to believe that there are many foreign leaders that know the west better than the west knows themselves. and i think that's kind of where we are and i think it's
important to think about that. the second thing that i wanted to talk about is this concept of offset. who here has heard about the third offset? okay, i think that this is really important because every offset and offset is defined as a capability that gives the west a symmetric military advantage and we've been through two of those cycles. the last administration talked about the third offset. this administration says you can't talk about an offset like that, whatever, the bottom line, it happened. in the 50's was the first offset, this is where we were conventionally weak. so the offset we chose to pursue was nuclear weapons in all forms. and, of course, we did a pretty good job with that, went through the whole cold war, all that. we went through it. the next offset came in the
'70s. the reason it came in the '70s was by that time the russians had pretty much achieved nuclear parity with us. and so we explored more nuclear kind of asymmetric advantage, for those of us that are old enough, we had a pretty big discussion about the neutron bomb and high altitude electromagnetic volts, but we decided we didn't want to do that and we pursued the technology that gave us a conventional advantage in the form of stealth, microelectronics, precision guided munitions, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. that's what we committed to and that was, and quite honestly, they're still the fruits of what we're enjoying right now with respect to an asymmetric advantage, but the previous administration started talking about how do we get that
asymmetric advantage for the next round of security and stability in the world and we're still arguing about exactly what that is, but you hear about it in the news with respect to space, cyber, ballistic missiles, the ability to deliver nukes on ballistic missiles, et cetera, et cetera. those are the kinds of things explored. i could talk about this topic all day long, but offsets, every three decades we need an offset and that's kind of where we are. and once i start talking about syria, you'll understand why. the bottom line is, today russia has caught up. so what's different about today's environment and today's offset? there's a whole list. there's hybrid warfare. there's nonstate actors, there's state, cyber, missiles,
nuke proliferation and the stated desire to go to commercial r & d to define what that is. i'll leave it at that and you can ask questions about it. this offset is very important. then the other thing i want to mention is change is also a constant and i'll use my career as a backdrop to describe change in the environment and in particular, military force. i'd like to say that i've served in four different air forces caused by three different collapses. i came in the military right into the cold war air force. ten years after i came into the military, something miraculous happened. we won the cold war. and the symbol of that was the collapse of the berlin wall. of course, that bipolar world falling apart created vacuums
which was filled roughly two years later in the form of one of our allies that basically said, hey, by the way, i think that kuwait is the 19th province of iraq. you know the rest of the story. that spawned into the next air force that i worked in and that was the no-fly zone air force. and i love the no-fly zone air force. i loved the cold war air force, it was fantastic. i really enjoyed it. and i worked in that no-fly zone air force until the second collapse came and that was the collapse of the twin towers. all of a sudden that air force that i was in was thrust into the global war on terror air force. i like to call it that. it looked like the no-fly zone air force except we shut down a bunch of bases that we now had to open back up in an
expeditionary way because we closed everything and so we started into the global war on terror air force. and i loved the global war on terror air force. we did a great job adjusting to it just like the army did. and then in 2007, our friends in wall street created high quality bonds out of junk mortgages, right? do you remember that story? that was the third collapse. the collapse of wall street. this country almost went bankrupt during that time and that spawned the fourth kind of air force that i operated in and i call it the global war on terror air force under severe fiscal austerity. you know? and we had to make some huge adjustments to the way that we operated and we've done a really good job. the question that i pose to all of you is what's the next collapse? it's coming. i think we're in the middle of it.
if you have a question or you have some knowledge on what it is, let me know because we didn't do a good job of predicting the other ones either, but in the end, our air force had to provide exactly what we always provide, air superiority, strike capability, mobility, isr and then the command and control to put it together, which is relevant for the discussion on how the russians are doing in syria. okay? so keep that in mind. i promise you, we'll get to syria in just a second. and then, finally, i just want to set up a discussion by saying russian actions speak louder than words. okay? the reality is russia is a relatively weak nation in decline and in their zeal to gain and maintain influence and
expand, they're challenging, directly challenging the quote, international world order. you know the one that we all have come to admire, and the one that we're talking about even today as we try to figure out what these international organizations are doing for us, et cetera, et cetera. i think that was part of the plan, but we'll get to that later. now, manipulating -- and let me throw this number out just to have you think about this. it's amazing that russia, a declining nation, has so much influence in the world given this fact, do you know what the combined gdp of the nato countries is? $36 trillion. that's 36 with 12 zeros after it. do you know what the combined gdp of russia is?
$1.5 trillion. we have two states that have a gdp bigger than russia. and yet, you would think we're in a bipolar world. so i want to throw that out. i'd love to hear what you think about that, but i believe that russ russia, better than any nation in the world, uses the elements of national power better than anyone and on top of that, they know exactly how any western nation is going to use. who is familiar with dime, diplomacy, and what we never talk about is location, resources and population. russia has a move that only got smaller. the population is declining, just like every other european nation is. the average lifespan of a russian male is 60 years old.
resources, i mean, we can argue about this, but we talked a lot about gas last panel. guess what their whole economy is based on? it's a single commodity economy of $1.5 trillion. now, the dime is interesting, because i think president putin is very good at using the dime. but he uses it in a way that basically is declined to amplify their strengths and minimize their weakness. in the meantime, he's working against an adversary that says, i'm going to do diplomacy, then i'm going to do information, then i'm going to do economic sanctions and only at the end will we use economic power. the manipulation of the dime is what we call hybrid warfare, i would argue and i hope that i
inspires some questions. >> behind that is the nation that talks about the limited use of nuclear weapons in response to a conventional reenforcement of nato if we had an article 5. who does that? the russians do it that's why they're so powerful in the eyes of the leadership over there. in the meantime, there's been a creation and i call it the iron curtain of environments. from the baltics, to mediterranean sea is a limited expansion and attempt to deny access and deny area to anybody, but themselves. that's into lenengrad, spills
over. and that's not an accident. that's how you display power if you don't have any. so there's those environments and of course, you have a whole web of frozen conflicts that are basically remnants of the russians all over europe. if you don't know what a frozen conflict is, a frozen conflict is when the military actions are over, there's no peace treaty, there's no political frame work that is in place that's accessible to any of the combatants. the list is long and it's growing, and now it includes syria. crimea, danesk, there are
others in the world, but these are russian-inspired. now, back to syria, so actions speak louder than words. i have a list of things that i'm just going to throw out there and if you have any questions, first and foremost, i think the most important thing about syria is it demonstrated the russian ability and willingness to deploy and employ an expeditionary force which has not happened for a long time and it was a gift provided by the lack of the west meeting stated red lines. didn't cost a lot, but gives the impression that there's real power there. but their willingness to do it says a lot because i know that projecting power is not an easy
task and projecting power is very, very expensive. they demonstrated an increased capability since the disastrous 2007 five-day georgia conflict which they, i guess, created a frozen conflict, but the performance of their air force was an absolute disaster. they lost four airplanes in five days. that's by their-- they admitted they lost four airplanes in five days, but other sources say, it was a lot more significant than that. okay? they demonstrate an increased capacity. they're still there. they're still flying sorties. they displayed increased readiness or readiness that we didn't think that they had, but they did. they demonstrated their ability to rapidly deploy air defense systems, which is not an easy task to do. the s-300 and the s-400 are
inside of that demonstration. they demonstrated their ability to fly long range bomber missions. strategic bombers doing tactical bombing. it looked more like linebacker through vietnam than what we did with the bombers in afghanistan, what we did with the bombers in afghanistan, but they did it nonetheless. they demonstrated their ability to fire cruise missiles from surface vessels, submerged subs and aircraft. and some of those missiles flew a long way and it's pretty clear to me that they were eager to demonstrate their ability to do that. they demonstrated the ability to execute combined arms with coalition partners. that's not easy to do, but they did it. many analysts in this area give the russian air force and the sorties they provide the credit
for providing and turning what was a defensive situation for that government into an offensive situation and it proves again that air power is very important to the combined joint fight. they deployed their first fifth generation fighter, their su-57. it was kind of a short deployment and then just recently, they canceled the program. so, i don't know what they proved there, but the bottom line is, the fact that they sent that airplane over was yet another display that they're an equal partner with equal capabilities inside of-- inside, on the world stage. they deployed an aircraft carrier and flew sorties from that aircraft carrier along with a task force out of the met. this was an interesting deployment. of course, they don't have
carriers like we do, but they have jump jet-- it's relatively jump jets on there. it's a relatively small air group of approximately 12 airplanes. the mig 29, which is the most capable airplane that was on that deck, quite honestly, had difficulties, even though had it the best capability to support ground operations. the su-33 which was the other eight airplanes on that deck, is primarily a fleet air defense aircraft so it had limited capability to support the war fight. you know, but in the end they did use it. but, what they found was carrier ops are pretty hard to do, particularly if you don't do it a lot and if you don't have catapults and you don't have arresting gear, it can be pretty tough to do. they have, in fact, they lost a mig 29 that had an engine failure, but the cables weren't
ready to land, they weren't ready to use the cables and then on the su-33, also crashed. so they lost two airplanes in a relatively short deployment of that carrier and that carrier battle group was an interesting display of power, but the real combat power coming off of that task force was actually not as significant as you would think. and then the-- they also deployed aircraft using aircraft dedicated to electronic countermeasures. now, there's good news and there's bad news about this list. i was in europe as the commander when all of this was happening and i was absolutely thrilled to see what they were showing us. they were eager to show us. we were eager to evaluate. it looked like a lot of the capabilities they brought to
bear were simply ways to test to see if the stuff works. so, it was like a test range. and some of it worked and some of it didn't, but to see them do the expeditionary operations and to see them accept the cost of those expeditionary operations, we'll see how long it goes and we'll see what the results are, but i think that syria, like the rest of the frozen conflicts will become frozen conflicts for a long time. and then i want to end, real quick, with a couple of things. i think that to deal with the russians, given their history, to deal with the russians, given our role, i think we need to continue inside of nato, which is the most successful political alliance in the
history of the world, we have to accept a few realities. the first one is the power reality. nato potential power is not real power. if we have 36 trillion dollars and we're not buying the right stuff, and then creating units and power that is actually ready to execute, it's just $36 trillion. don't be confused by that. that's where the real crux of the biscuit is. there's a transition reality. when deterrence fails inside of nato, prompt and defense must be concisive, just for a poll. how many article 5 responses have there been in nato? one. it was the response to when the united states was attacked by the terrorists. though i'll say, good on nato
for doing that, but the reality is is that nato has yet to be tested with a real article 5 response that could result in a collective defense. so we're in unexplored territory there and a lot of the discussion that's happened with the summits lately is all about that, readiness of the force, which is a threat reality. the enemy has a vote and could choose war. we may not want to fight it, but they could choose it for whatever reason. that hasn't happened yet, but when it does, it will be a test of the alliance for sure. and if the alliance doesn't respond with an article 5 ready to go to collective defense, i think nato is in jeopardy. and then finally, there's a force reality. nato forces have to be ready, deployable and sustainable to be fully combat capable. so the question is ready for
what? deployable to where? and sustainable for how long? with enough money, i could buy sustainability. i can buy readiness, but clearly in the discussions that we're having right now, you know, that this 2%, the 2% goal which the nato countries established, the one that we don't talk about that was also in the summit is 20% of that 2% is supposed to go to modernization. so, that's as uneven as the 2%. $36 trillion gdp, five of 29 of those countries are at 2%. my last count was ten of those 29 have met the 20% modernization goal. and so, i'll close with that. and i will say that my eyes and
ears perked up as i watched the syrians-- or watched the russians execute in syria. and it should make everybody concerned about the capability that they have been able to bring to bear in that area. i'll be perfectly honest. i've been in the business for a long time. i sleep perfectly fine at night, even with their improvements, but the question will and always will be do we have the willingness to respond to an adversary that's operating below the threshold. i don't know what the answer is to that. everybody's got an opinion. i'm happy to hear on that. so, with that, i think i'll close and answer any questions that you might have. >> well, thank you very much. we are going to call on people here real quick, but i want to
use the luxury of my chair here to ask you a question and that is, does the russian military have the capabilities to do another out of area operation like they are in syria simultaneously? or is syria too much of a drain on the resources, you think, to be able to do anything beyond that in another theater? >> i'll answer that with a resounding, i really don't know. i think they could muster it up. the question is how long could they do it and my sense of things is that they have enough on their plate right now in all the places that they're at. but it's possible. >> is the shortage of pilots rumor, is that true? >> i have not heard that specifically, but i would imagine if they're like every other country in nato, there's a shortage of pilots everywhere.
>> even in the u.s. >> particularly in the u.s. and i think we're all working real hard to solve that problem, but, obviously, that's a major commitment and a major cost. >> we have a question, this lady here was the first one up. then mark, sergei and work our way to the back. >> thanks for the preparation. you mentioned-- on the other hand, i want to see what you think about it, the trend, some kind of needs more exploration. said you have seen collapse and i think those three collapse have to be in the republican administration. so the republican administration doing this way, but then there's some kind of contradictory, now we want to say build a war instead of tear
down that wall and you say the population is declining just like china, they are now declining so they want to have two children policy now. so if that's the case, why we don't say immigration instead of deportation. >> limit to one question because you have other people waiting. >> and the system-- >>, but i think your question is outside of what this discussion is about. we're not here to talk about immigration. >> but we are talking population. i try to see whether there's some kind of policy that can implement better rather than contradictory, one generation after another. >> yeah, i get you. i don't have a direct answer to your question. i don't know if any of those collapses -- i describe them as collapses just as to say, but i don't know if they're inspired
by the conservatives or whatever. i mean, this is clearly, you know, out of my lane. what i was just trying to describe, i've been in the air force -- i was in the air force for 37 years and in the end our air force had to adjust to four different security environments while we were trying to provide the same capability for the political leadership of our country, to use in whatever way they want. and worked really hard, you know, not to -- the bottom line is, as a military person, i just tried to follow what the leadership of our country and the american people want to do with that military and so immigration, i think, as we've probably found out, and you can-- this is where immigration does connect with putin. the reality is, is because of that intervention in syria, five million people were put on
the road, they literally walked from syria to europe. was that the right thing to do? you don't have to answer that, i really don't care, but the problem is now there's a mass immigrati emigration walking across and nine million displaced and the chance of that country of rebuilding with the talent there is limited and there's the standard migration that comes out of africa. to your point, i think, immigration is a security issue. issue. >> thank you. mark. >> general, thank you so very much, mark from george mason university. certainly reading an awful lot of russian commentary on the things that you talk about, that there is a sense of
triumphalism, they're doing well in europe, doing well in the middle east, they're even doing well here. but always seems to end up with, is that with russian pessimism so at the end of the day their big challenge is china and they're doing nothing about that and it seems that it is sort of a conundrum. if one is as risk averse as putin, seeing enemies everywhere, why is it that they don't seem to take this chinese threat seriously? if my neighbor was the world's most populous country and getting stronger militarily, i would be worried about it. is it sort of a head in the hand? or if and when china will be a threat to russia, it will be a threat to the west and therefore the west will help russia because it will be in its interest? it is a question mark to what explains their attitude to
china at least in my view that that ought to be considered at least a possible threat to them. thank you. >> i'm not qualified to answer that question, but i do think that it's a good one, and what i'm really excited about, what is the new national defense strategy. who here has read it? i love it. finally, there's a document that describes the common view of what the security situation is. now, we all will disagree pour agree on the content of it, but the focus provided by that document is providing impetus for a real discussion on how we move forward to achieve the vision of this country. and that vision, that strategy, is really allowing the discussion with respect to how big should the army be, what kind of equipment should they have, et cetera, et cetera.
it's providing a focus that up to this point we haven't had because, let's face it, you know, until recently, you know, we've had a strategy that was fiscally constrained, strategically informed. you know, i mean, by any definition of the word strategy, it was weak, in my view, but this document is exciting. that, combined with the nuclear posture review, i think was an important document. the national security strategy is an important document that weaves in all of the elements of national power, and so -- and i think they're all good for one reason and one reason alone, because it brings together a common vision, whether you agree or disagree, so that we can have informed discussion on where we should go and the decisions we should make with respect to organizing, training, equipping, and deploying that
force in conjunction with our coalition partners. >> you, sir. >> sorry, you're next, sir. >> general, thank you very much for your presentation. real interesting. as a person who is -- i would like to ask you many questions, we don't have time and i will have a single question. russia strategy does not have this concept to strategy, but it is implementing this. and russia's action in building there, it is consists of two pillars, and in your view, which pillar is more formidable, the nonmilitary pillar or the military? thank you very much. and thank you especially for bringing attention to the history. >> you know, in my view, for the people in this room, you
should all take a look at that because it's the best defense piece of air space in the world. it's chockful of mobile systems hard to target, that would be a very hard nut to crack, if in fact we had to do it. it's actually russia, the mother land, kalingrad, and the bottom line is, given other polish brothers, i think that's the most important thing for now military-wise because in the end threatens the decision that would be required to
reinforce the baltics if something happened there. because, remember, nato is all about getting concensus, which is not a fast process, and then you have to move force to the place you're protecting. if it was a-- you know, going to be a full-up conflict. and the environment in kaliningrad is a formidable obstacle to overcome, even if the decision was made on time or fast. >> i'm a journalist, daily beast and frontliner. and i've been covering syria. what conclusions do you draw about russian targeting and capabilities in syria? you know, do they pay any attention to civilian casualties?
they seem to have hit a lot of hospitals, if you look at aleppo, and direct attacks were usually credited to the russians. i mean, do they care? they seem to be, as i say, rampant violations. did anybody ever call them on it? i mean-- >> yeah, i mean, i think there's plenty of press on that where people are calling them on that, but by the way, the paradox of precision guided weapons is, the good news is precision guided munition hit their target. the bad news is, precision-guided munitions hit their targets. precision-guided munitions are only effective achieving your strategy if you have the ability to gain intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and then use that intelligence reconnaissance and all of that stuff and put it together in a way that allows you to use those precision-guided munitions to effect.
you know, my -- there's been a lot of reports about the targeting that has been done, you know, and i'll leave you to your own conclusion on that, but the only thing i do know is that it took us 20 years for us to get the targeting, the processing, the exploitation and the distribution of that intelligence to get it to the ph.d. level that western coalitions have. they're not there yet, i would argue. it's an enormous investment to get that kind of intelligence and then to put that into a targeting process. >> you know, i don't know-- like i said, i'll leave that to you. they do hit a lot of hospitals, according to reports. i don't know what else to say. they're either really bad at it, or they do it intentionally. i don't really know, but it is the art of of executing precise
combat power from the air and you know, as-- i don't think -- i don't think it's there, but they say they're being careful about it, you know, but even if you take that for their word, they do hit a lot of hospitals, apparently. that's what the reports say. >> listen, we'll take one more here on the front and then we're going to the back. we've been kind of clustered here. >> thank you, general. i'm jamestown analyst and journalist. you mentioned the no-fly zone air force as one of the phases of your career. do you think that imposing a no-fly zone was going to be the answer in syria? because that was the opposition's demand even before the emergence of the red line narrative and everything else. >> i don't know if it was the answer or not. i do think it could be done,
but, you know, i think everybody in here needs to understand, you know, that when you quote, impose a no-fly zone, you have to do that with kinetic effect. you know, you're literally attacking radar missile sites and all of that kind of stuff. so it's not like a benign activity. now, whether or not it helps on the ground is the argument. and so that was a decision for our country to make. it was clearly an effective way that we managed iraq under the authority of the u.n. sanctions. remember, we had a no-fly zone in the south to protect the shiites from their government and then we had a no-fly zone in the north to protect the kurds from their government. and it wasn't perfect, but it was an act that was, you know, underpinned by a united nations security council resolution and
it we were able to do it, but it was expensive and it had a long-term consequence effect on our force. so, i don't know if it was the answer or not. single domain responses to political problems are challenging. let me just put it that way. i would have preferred a more joint, you know, kind of effort that would allow for whatever goal we were to achieve. the question that was always missing was what do you want to achieve on the ground? what did we want to do with the no-fly zone? i don't think that -- i don't know if that answers. i don't know in that question ever got answered. >> question in the back. young lady has been waiting. >> npr, thank you so much,
learned so much listening to you. in syria, assad's atrocities got worse and the u.n. was mostly to accommodate assad and go after one russian plan for syria after another and now it seems that assad, detested assad has managed to hold onto power and russia is now the power broker in syria that the people are saying, well, we have to accommodate assad and go along with russia's plans and cooperate. so it seems the i think so this that got us into this mess there's more of and i guess i'd like your take on u.s. policy going forward now that things are as bad as they are. >> you know, my opinion is as good as yours. i think that the opportunity to effect what we wanted there is
coming on, to be perfectly honest. and, but i do think, you know, you have to remember we're in uncharted waters. the one thing that we did have in common is the goal to eliminate these terrorist organizations. and how did we do there? i mean, i think we did pretty well against isis. we'll see what happens in the future, but it was, you know, so that was a positive effect that came out of it. where it goes in the future, i really don't know. what it means for the future of the assad regime, i don't really know, but i think in the meantime, it's frozen until we come up with a better idea. >> okay. this woman. you've been waiting. . >> microphone. >> thank you for the
presentation and this would be a question which would follow up the previous question. i have been wondering what would be the human toll in the displacement from the russia's last 18 years of strategic military actions. and i was wondering whether you have seen any figures, including from chechnya to syria, possibly coming through the frozen conflicts, the crimea, in all of these. are we talking here about five million people killed and displaced? ten million people? what would be the total? >> i mean, you have a pretty good -- you have a pretty good knowledge of the toll. you know, i mean, we -- i think that the millions of people that either left syria or displaced in syria and the damage that has happened in syria is going to make that a
long toll. remember, there were irritations in turkey, too, you know, among the eu countries with respect to refugees going into turkey. i think the last time when i left it was three million people and they made an arrangement where the eu would help turkey cover the expenses of that, but with respect to the long-term damage and the toll, you know, i just -- i don't have a good answer for that except to say there's a lot of suffering there. you know, there's a lot of potential, human potential that's not being used. there are more challenges being infused in some of those nations than there are solutions. and i think it's going to be a challenge for a long time. >> just one more question. do you feel that in eastern europe the u.s. is also losing strategic ground? i have a feeling like in the
balkans, in countries what was previously central europe, we are really leaving it much more to russia political influence and economic influence. it is not as visible as the conflicts, but you could sense it in the region, especially places like bosnia, bulgaribulg romania. do you feel that we're losing ground and see that as a long-term loss? >> what's your nationality? >> bulgaria. >> i've been to bulgaria and romania many times. i don't think that we're losing ground there. i think that many of those nations are committed and would prefer, you know, like poland recently offered $2 billion if there would be a movement of u.s. forces to poland, et cetera, all of that. i think they have a long wish list of things that would help the their--
to salve over because of their sense of vulnerability. i think that the nations that you talked about are strong partners in nato. they share our values. i think they all believe that they could get some of the attention that the baltic countries get. by the way, in the south of europe, those nations wish they would get more attention from nato, too, with respect to the migration. so i found, all of the allies that i worked with were strong believers in nato. they just believed that the priorities of nato aren't as good as they could be for their own security. you know, but that's the beauty of being in an alliance. you know, and i thought it was pretty, pretty cool when
president obama, after the invasion of crimea and then annexation, i mean, he went to the baltics twice to assure them, and i thought that was a pretty strong message with respect to our commitment to nato and so i think coalitions are tricky. the bottom line is, we have to continue to communication and rationalize priorities and to make sure that in the end, we could choose to disagree with our focus, but we can't choose to under mine one bet is the commitment to deterrence and the commitment to collective defense should the tariffs fail. >> question here. this woman has been waiting. >> we're on c-span, we want to
hear you. >> i wonder if you could comment to the extent that israel may be collaborating with russia in the syrian theater and how the u.s. looks at that collaboration-- >> i have no idea if that's true or not. so, i just don't know the answer to that question. >> i want to ask a question that didn't come up today and that's about turkey's role in the region and there is a debate, not a debate, but there's been suggestions raised that we can move because of the friction with turkey and move the base and some say no, that's impossible. is that irreplaceable, can we move-- >> nothing is irreplaceable if you have-- >> is jordan --. >> listen, i'm going to answer that question in a more generic
way. our relationship with the turks over time has been spectacular. they have been good allies and you know, i know there's a lot of controversy going on with turkey right now, but the bottom line is, you know, turkey is in nato and you know, i think that that this is a case where we agree to disagree, but the bottom line is, i think, overall our strategic goals are the same and i love going to turkey. i think that the turkish nation has been very good to nato and i think we need to continue to develop and nurture that relationship. you know, because the reality is, it's a very large democratic muslim country that's in our-- the strongest alliance ever. so-- >> okay. well, we're going to have to end on that note and we want to