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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 27, 2009 7:00am-7:30am EDT

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"washington journal" is next. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] host: the detroit news reports that monica conyers, who loudly proclaimed her innocence for months spoke softly in federal court yesterday when admitting she took bribes in exchange for her vote on a $1.2 billion contract, monica conyers wife of john conyers. from the state newspaper in south carolina, governor mark sanford tried to get back to work yesterday in what they called an anything but normal cabinet meeting. sanford admitted -- continued his admittance with the affair with the woman from argentina and apologizeed to his cabinet. also this morning from the associated press, the united states has announced a new drug policy for open yum rich
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afghanistan saying it was phasing out funding for eradication efforts and using it for drug interdiction and alternate crop programs instead. good morning, and welcome to the washington journal. we begin this morning's program talking about the latest developments on iran with sir richard dalton, former united kingdom ambassador to iran. he was at that post from 2002 to 2006, and he will be talking with us in just a few seconds. the numbers, if you want to get involved in the conversation... you can send us an e-mail, and you can also send us a message via twitter. that address is c-span wj. >> first we want to look at a couple of headlines from the
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brittish newspapers. "the telegraph" has this. iran election protestors worthy of execution says the cleric. this is from yesterday's speech prayers at tehran university by ayatollah khomeini, who says the regime's opponents were rioting in defiance of god's will. also this morning in the times on-line, the headline, leading demonstrators must be executed, ayatollah khomeini demands. he says that these people should be treated as people who wage war against god and deserve execution. ambassador dalton, your response to those statements made by ayatollah khomeini. guest: well, it is very wong that anybody who wishes to express their view peacefully should be exposed to that kind of penalty. i'm not in a position to judge who any accusations of that kind might be leveled against. that could be the odd case amongst the millions who protested where people should be
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brought before some court, but in case of the majority, what they were doing was exercising their democratic rights. >> what effect do you think this might have on the protest and the opposition? >> i think it will continue the effect that the actions by the iranian authorities already had, namely, to dampen down the fire of protest. it takes a very brave person to go out on the streets, and there is no doubt that the kind of violence and brutal repression which we have seen has had its effect on people's willingness to do so. host: based on what you have seen and read in the last 24-3 6 hours, what do you believe is the future for physical activity in iran? >> physical activity will continue. this is not going to be a people that will be coward forever. they will abdicate their rights to discuss their government. there are two strands in the constitution of iran. there is the democratic one and
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the the god-given religious one as they see it and at present we are seeing the democratic strand being severely distorted, perhaps even set aside, but that's not going to prevent the holing of future elections both for the parliament in three year's time, and also for the presidency in another four year's time, so political activity will continue. the groups which have been organizing over the last ten years or more to generate peaceful evolutionary change still exists and so do other factions. the lively debate in iran will continue. host: yesterday president obama and angela merkel had a conference at the white house. here is what they had to say about the situation in iran. >> the chancellor and i discussed the situation in iran. today we speak with one voice,
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the rights of the iranian people to have their voices heard, universal aspirations, and their bravery in the face of brutality is a testament of their enduring pursuit of justice. the violence perpetrated agains them is outrage jus. despite the government's efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to that violence, we see it and condemn it. as i have said before, the iranian people will be the ultimate judge of their government's actions, but if the iranian government desires the respect of the international community, then it must respect the rights and heed the will of its people. >> host: ambassador dalton, your thoughts about what the president had to say? >> i think it is admirable. it is the right stuff t makes clear that iran has two universal standards on human rights and civil and political rights are essential parts of the international human rights status, which all countries pay
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attention to, and it's many years now, since any country has been able to claim that its performance on civil rights is somehow beyond the questioning of others, so it's quite right that the international community should say that iran has fallen severely short of that, but at the same time, i believe that president obama and the european leaders are working for the interest of their countries in not putting themes selves in the firing line directly, and not trying to call the results of an election, not trying to criticize directly the procedures there, not saying who it was we thought won the election, given that the facts are not within our grasp. host: our first call for ambassador richard dalton comes from steven in saint peterburg beach, florida, on the line for republicans. go ahead. caller: good morning. i would like to just mention
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that we're having the same problems here in america. i believe that last night we just passed the 1, 300-page bill that was handed to them 24 hours before. i think people should take notice who voted for these bill and vote them out of office come november. host: let's get back on the topic here. caller: well, the topic is iran. aren't we having the same problems in america with things passing that the american people don't want? host: let's move on to brunswick, georgia. mitch on the line for democrats. >> caller: yes, good morning. host: good morning. caller: i wondered why the ayatollah and other clerics initially went after the u.k. before, you know, as far as the rhetoric towards the u.s., why
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was that? guest: that is a mixture of historical and contemporary reasons. the historical ones is that britain has been involved in iran. sometimes we did the wrong thing, including assisting in the replacement of an iranian government as recently as 1953. iranians have long memories and they haven't forgiven us for that. there are also contemporary reasons, and that is to do with the fact that the brittish media are strong, objective and balanced so naturally they have carried voices out of iran to the international community, and then put those voices back into iran, which the authorities in iran find objectionable, so it's been quite easy for the iranian authorities to say to their own people, look, it's not our fault what's happening here, but foreigners have had a hand. they have been quite free in their accusations of a range of countries, not just the u.k. host: next up is tom from tulsa,
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oklahoma on the line from republicans. caller: sir richard dalton, it is great to speak with you. i have maybe an interesting perspective about iran. i have heard that roughly 1,500 iranians are becoming christians daily, and maybe the protestors, some of those are christians, and also one could point -- the number one independent movie in the country right now is "the craw" about a guy named arthur blessette who went to every nation on the planet. he is in the guinness book of world records. he went to every island group, every territory and went to ant antartica carrying a 12-foot cross and people would show up. he went to belfast during the terrorist uprising in '69. it took him 40 years. he started in '68 or '69.
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host: we will leave it there. any spops to the first half of the question? guest: i haven't heard that figure before. the overwhelming majority of iranians are muslim faith and have been calling muslim chapters from the roofs at night to indicate they see themselves in the mainstream of iranian identity and iranian activity. host: in the first part of this unrest, we heard a lot about ayatollah khomeini, and now we're hearing from yesterday's speech at tehran university, ayatollah khomeini. who are these two men and what are their positions in the guardian council? guest: well, iran's constitution is complicated, but as in other countries, there is a person at the top. in the case of iran, the person at the top is the leader of the country, known as the supreme leader, who is not elected.
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he is appointed by a body of experts in the muslim religion, and his job is to ensure that god's will is carried out as they interpret it in the constitution of iran, and in the daily political life of iran. the armed forces report to him. the president of the country, who is the chief executive of their government reports to him, the head of the judiciary reports to him. he has the final say, and he is the arbiter when disputes between different political groups elsewhere in the system are intractable. host: and this is ayatollah khomeini? guest: this is ayatollah khomeini, the sume people leader. a very important service is in tehran at taye an university a number of senior clerics take
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part and deliver their views. their views are often taken as symptomatic of the views of the leadership of the whole, and particularly the supreme leader. that's not always the case. there are occasionally voices that are different in the friday sermons, but it is taken by the iranian people as what the leadership wants the iranian people to think at the time that that sermon is delivered. host: is the support of the clerics unified? is it total behind them in this situation in this disputed election? >> it clearly isn't. there have been statements by leading clerics, dissenting from the official line, but these are a minority. there has been another group of clerics who have been calling for calm, calling for reconciliation between the groups, who vn sided with one or the other.then there is a larger who will be supporting the
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supreme leader an president ahmadinejad. we don't know the exact proportions between these groups, and what is happening in the clerical debate is going to be vital for the eventual resolution of the political disputes that are fracturing the leadership at the moment. host: back to the phones. our next call for ambassador richard dalton comes from gatesville, texas. celeste on our line for democrats. caller: good morning, gentlemen. this is silly but it infuriates me when i listen to the news of barack obama, president obama being accused of doing all of these things. i like the way he has been handling it very gingerly, but if we're being accused of doing all of these things, i say why not go ahead and do it? at least to show the iranian people that we are in support of their efforts?
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guest: i agree with you with the way that president obama has handled this has been excellent. it is quite right that statements should be made, as, for example, the foreign ministers of the group of eight leading countries, including russia. yesterday, that was a very important statement to continue to convey the message, particularly repressing peaceful protests by violence are simply unacceptable. host: next up is richmond, virginia, greg on our line for independents. caller: good morning. i wanted to know how come we haven't heard more from some of the more moderate and middle eastern countries? where is their voice, like jordan, yemen, what have they been saying about this, and shouldn't they be speaking out for more democracy, in that area, also?
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>> well, that's a good point. the fact is that iran's arab neighbors are not quick ever to comment on iranian internal affairs. they are neighbors, and they are nervous about iran's influence in the region, and very often they calculate that to make the kind of comments which you recommend could worsen matters between them and that big neighbor, so they are always cautious. this is also a point here, too, that the internal affairs of some of those countries don't bear too close scrutiny anyway. some have elections. some have elections which a lot of international observers doubt. some don't have elections, so -- although elections are not the be all and end all of a political system based on consent. this would be a very complex
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area for the leader of an arab country to get into if he sought to give the kind of lead which you advocate. host: mona wrote in thursday's "washington post," she calls it the sounds of silence on iran and writes arabs are quiet but their silence is surely tempered with discomfort. the majority of arabs are young, and it's likely that many young arabs watching thousands of iranians demanding to be heard, arabs who are suffocating under dictators of their own thoughts say that's me. guest: dictators of their own thoughts. i'm not sure that is a fair remark, but certainly control of the political space is prevalent, and, yes, we know from experience elsewhere in the world, including in europe in the 1980's and 1990's, that watching people clamoring for
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rights or a big group of those people can have an effect on the political ambitions of others. host: we've got a message on twitter from a.d.r.w.c. who whites it's amazing that iran can be as far on the democracy path that some level of pluralism and dissent is possible compared to our iraq. guest: well, iraq, too, is on that path. that's an excellent thing, too. there are have been several elections in iraq. i feel cautiously optimistic that iraq's development is in the right direction, but yes, as long as people have the wrong image of iran, yes, the power of the authorities is occasionally used in an anti-democratic manner and regular decision making in iran can be affected in the same way, but that parliament is responsible for drafting legislation and is elected every four years. it has to be said that the
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selection of candidates is biased in favor of those who are advocates for the current system, and it is difficult to raise a voice of change inside that parliament, but debate is effective in the newspapers, but again, strong limits are placed on that debate, so, yes, there is a lot of positive about the iranian scene but a lot that is negative, too. host: given that iran and iraq are neighbors and have some history, are the concerns of the government inside iraq different from the rest of the concerns of arab and muslim states in the region? >> the concerns of the government of iraq? host: yes, about the outcome of the election in iran. guest: they are research sharper concerns, yes, because iraq is a very chose neighbor. they have a long border. they have strong religious connections. the sheer branch of -- the shia branch of islam is very strong
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in iraq. it is the dominant branch in iran. pilgrimage sites are in iraq, which is important to iranians with a strong know of people and goods. given the history, which you mentioned, have included the support given by iran for some extremists and minor violence in the first few years after the invasion of iraq, the government in baghdad is very sensitive to iranian policy. it could be that they are hoping that the policy of iran is going to stay moderate towards iraq, and that a more extremist policy isn't going to be followed. host: jonathan on the behind for republicans out of columbus, ohio. go ahead. caller: my point, mr. ambassador , why can't we just let them run their own problems? they can solve their problems,
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and how dare you now tell the iranians about democracy? why can't we let them solve their own problems? host: thanks for your call. guest: in those cases we supported democratic movements but you're right, it is for the iranian people to solve this. all my comments over the last two weeks, that's what i have said. but at the same time, it's right to compare what is happening in iran with the universal standard for the exercise of civil and mill rights, which the international community has agreed on, and violence or suppression of peaceful protests, arresting of politicians who claim that the elections should be investigated, many fan fess tations of what the -- many manifestations of what the iranians have been doing don't match up to those standards.
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the important thing is to know whether if we express a view hike that in response to pressures within our own democracy that we take a stand, whether we're going to be helpful to the situation in iran, whether we're going to do harm, and he so far, i think that the politicians who have been calling the shots for us on these matters in our countries have got the balance right. host: next up is michael from san francisco on our line for democrats. thanks for waiting. caller: good morning. my question is about obama speaking out. has anyone made the connection between the speech he made to the egyptian people and this uprising? i was wondering how much effect it has on the iranian government and him speaking out as much as he has been? >> i don't see a big connection
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myself, although other people might tell you something different. why i say that is that the iranians have been wrestling with the issues that arose in this election for many years, but at no time have they changed the negotiations by saying we will hope that you pick up the offered dialogue on all aspects, open agenda of issues that you want to raise, as well as the issues we want to raise. naturally, that's been widely reported inside iran, but i believe that iranians take decisions about what they do in relation to their own situation overwhelmingly, their own domestic situation, their hopes for a better life for themselves and their children. hoy my girls 3333 writes "have
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we, the u.s., not caused instability in the area? we have not given democracy to that land. they, too, must fight for it. guest: yes, this is no question that we can't give democracy to any land. we can't impose democracy by any means, and that's not our business, but we have a right to say what we think about the internal developments of a country, bearing in mind that the claims that there have been irregularities and distorsions of the election have not come from overseas. they have come from within iran, from leading figures in iran who support the iranian revolution. host: steve on our line for independents. good morning. caller: do you think president obama is correct in that both sides in this hype are nothing but two rattlesnakes and we hope
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they kill each other off? even though it is hardly meddling, the meddling has come from the terror organizations throughout the middle east and the world, and does the rest of the world see that maybe something should be done about this? i will listen to your question off the air, thank you. guest: would you like me to comment? host: yes, yes, please. guest: first of all, i don't think you have president obama's policy right, but i will deal with the second question, and that is what about iran's involvement with issues like lebanon or palestine. yes, iran has very often been negative there an supports the terrorism, moral support, financial support. that is going to be a major focus of international dip moment massey with iran in the future, particularly now that the united states has joined that effort, as it had been in the past, as it was when i was
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an ambassador. host: an ambassador from 2002 to 2006 representing the united kingdom. he is now an associate fellow at chatham house. sir richard dalton is here in the united states for speaking events in washington. yesterday he was at the new america foundation. you can see his speech on their website. we will go back to the phones. saratoga, california, on our line for republicans. next call comes from mary. caller: yes, i can't believe what i'm hearing, and it's constant. in your own country and england, you are now considering allowing them to deploy she ya law in your country. they keep moving forward. now we have a president that says it doesn't matter which side would have won this. we are watching people begging for our help. their signs are in english. they know we need to support
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them. it frightens me how -- obama says that we won't respect them. do you think these mullahs care about our respect? they are supposed to innil late us so the 12th e man can come. to talk about respect and them caring about our respect, it has absolutely no relevance to the facts. guest: the facts are not as you have presented them. you have distorted iranian policy there significantly. there is no call in shia islam for the kind of aggression which you describe, let alone killing. people can, quite rightly, debate why it is that iran is negative in its region of the middle east, but there is absolutely no reason to fear that iran is on the warpath to kill americans. host: next up, birmingham, alabama on the behind for democrats.
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caller: i am so glad you say that mr. dalton, because we in america, just the average person, we do not understand the culture of the middle east. you have scholars that understand this, and they have a better concept of this stuff. the lady that just got off the phone, that's what i'm talking about. we have to understand the culture of another people before we can interfere. why should president obama say anything? he doesn't need to say anything else. what he said the first day was good enough, but the republicans want to take this to a political deal. this is not what is going on. we need toens the culture of a country before we can interfere. that's what happened in iraq. while we're over there with our military -- yes, i have family in the military and i can speak. i have a mother and nephews over there. we have to understand that we
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are part of the problem and playing politics with this. let's get real, people, get real guest: i agree with you. we do need to understand the culture of the middle east. i'm not trying to suggest that the iranians are involved in isolated acts of vie leps which have killed americans. they have and that's wrong and they should be brought to account for that, but the fact is i believe a constructive relationship with iran in the long term is within reach if the western world, united states, in particular, and iran want it. there are now major reasons for distrust, huge disputes, but those are capable of resolution over time. host: was mosadde a puppet of the soviet union?
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was the u.k. asked to help the iranians in 1953? >> there were groups that were interested in having united states and u.k. help but it went beyond that. it was a broad-based appeal for help whichs was the thought, but that was wrong. the reason why mosadde fell out with the united kingdom and united states is because it might lead to add sapgs to the soviet union, but also to the fact that he had nationalized u.k. oil interests are in iran, so it was a bad episode in u.s. history, and politicians in both countries have recognized the fact


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