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tv   American Politics  CSPAN  December 6, 2009 9:30pm-11:00pm EST

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considering moving many of the 130,000 civil service jobs in london in the southeast out to areas where the need is greater. would my right honorable friend consider my constituency as a destination for more civil service jobs bearing in mind that the revenue building and planning has six empty floors. >> that's an excellent location for new work and new jobs. as of december 2008, over 3,000 posts have been reallocated from london in the southeast of wales and nearly 300. we want to help areas by creating jobs not causing unemployment. >> sir peter tapsel. >> the prime minister has just told us that he hopes that in a couple of years time we'll have 300,000 troops fighting the taliban. as that happens to be the number that i told the government that
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we would need when they first recklessly went in with hopelessly inadequate troops, grossly underequipped. should he not now as i? >> mr. speaker, mr. speaker can i say president obama will be grateful for his endorsement of our strategy. 300,000 means that there are about 150,000 afghan troops trained and ready to take over responsibility. and that is the task over the next year to train up more afghan forces and i'm very grateful that president obama has made it at the center of what he has proposed. it's what our british forces will do with all our coalition partners and can i think him for his advice. he's not always been -- he's not always been right. he advised
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children's banking and a a savings account, and a post office business account, and a weekly budgeting account for those on low incomes to take advantage of the reduced bill. duce bills. once again we are taking an institution that is well established in the country and giving we are giving it new function. >> each week the house of commons is in session, we air prime minister's questions on wednesday at 7:00 a.m. eastern and then again on sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern. on you can find a video archive of past questions and links to the prime minister's website and house of
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commons. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] >> up next, a journalist who covered the iranian election talks about being jailed in tehran. after that, with malcolm glad well and after that, another chance to see gordon brown. federal reserve chairman ben bernanke speaks to the economic club of washington and takes questions. live coverage tomorrow on c-span 3. and now, a freelance journalist talks about his detainment in an iranian prison following his report of the disputed iranian election and subsequent protests. this forum is hosted by the woodrow wilson foundation in washington and lasts about 20 minutes.
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>> i would like to welcome you to the meeting. i would also like to welcome those of you viewing us on c- span. today's session will focus on the ron's -- iran's elections in the tumultuous aftermath. i want to offer a word of welcome to the woodrow center. the mission of the woodrow wilson center is to provide a bridge between the world of learning and public policy threw its sponsored research at 800 meetings a year that we host. today we are particularly pleased to be partnering with the pulitzer center on crisis
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reporting, a relatively new organization that has already made quite a mark on the field as the news industry goes through the transformation it is going through now. the pulitzer center is providing a unique product, and we're going to hear more about that today and have an example of it. i would, because i just heard a cellphone -- i would ask you to please turn off your cellphone and other devices. today i will turn it over to the founding member who created this organization and who for many years was the bureau chief of the st. louis post-dispatch, and who traveled the world to some
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60 countries doing reporting, and it is a particular pleasure to be partners with the pulitzer center and john himself for today's's meeting, which could not be more topical, so it is a pleasure to welcome you at the center. >> thank you, and thanks to c- span. thanks to the wilson center for coasting this even and to rob. rob's books are among the most lucid, insightful tree this to the challenge we face in countries like iran. they have taught us all about the nature of that country's current government, and so do the headlines we have been seeing the past six months, from the tumultuous presidential campaign last spring, its violent aftermath, continuing
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protests, and right up to this morning with the government of president mahmoud ahmadinejad shouting a defiant note to the international demand for pulling down its nuclear program. we are pleased to be part of this with two people who seem to know a lot about iran and how it has been portrayed in the western media. we have our writer, a photographer, and documentary filmmaker, covering middle eastern current affairs. he is a graduate of oxford university and a fellow at harvard university. he lived in tehran for three years while pursuing graduate study. he was reporting on iran's presidential elections last june on a grant from the pulitzer center when he was jailed at the direction of iran's intelligence committee and a
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held in solitary confinement. he was a consultant on a documentary for the bbc and frontline that aired earlier this month. barbara is one of the most experience diplomatic correspondents and editors in washington. currently, assisting managing editor at "the washington times," she is responsible for the world and national security coverage. she served previously at "usa today," and has written for "the new york times" and "the economist." she has been a senior fellow at the u.s. institute and is the author of "bitter friends, animes, the twisted path to confrontation." i want to take a minute to tell you about how we came involved in this project. this is the non-profit
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journalist organization, founded almost four years ago in january, and we are in the business of filling gaps in coverage to stem the crises around the world. we collaborate with major news media outlets, all across the country and europe and around the world in print, broadcast, and television, and we have an active presence on the web and educational programs of high schools and universities in which we take the journalism we sponsor out to younger audiences and try to engage them in the international issues that affect us all. at this point we are doing on the order of 50 projects around the world. we partner with everybody from news hour to "and york times," "the washington post," most of the major media off cliffs and "the washington times -- media
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outlets and "the washington times) has been a remarkable out in reporting in a number of countries around the world, so we see our approach as being a collaborative model on trying to stretch the available resources all of us have to reach new audiences and engage as many people as possible. i met him when he was a fellow at harvard almost two years ago, and we talk about profits we might do together, and the first project he did with us was looking at the eternal -- internal conflict in turkey as part of a project we did last year, and he went on from there to work for us on the student protest in greece. he covered that, and it developed into a profit for the pulitzer center. in the spring, we decided it
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would be good for him to go to iran to cover the he elections reagan -- elections. as a general rule, we are not about covering elections, because we see that as something the news media does do. there is a conventional media that still -- we still devote resources to those issues. we knew that he was extraordinarily well-versed in iranian and culture. he has done some extraordinary writing on iran and became fluent in farsi and had a wide range of contacts in that country. our hope is going in was that he would be able to report not only on the e election but the context behind it in a way that
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many reporters would be able to do, so we were pleased to work with him and work with editors to know that he would have outlawed and the american and european media. we were less pleased that a week after the election, that on his way out in with his visa had expired, he was tak into custody and detained and held in prison where he had nearly three weeks of exposure and it is very interesting, and i hope we will talk some today about his experience and compare that to the "newsweek" correspondent who just came out i guess after almost four months of detention. they were in the same prison, came in about the same time and had different experiences. after iason cannot, he continued
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to cover the story in iran. i think that his perspective on trends in iran and looking at the media coverage and how the media function in a situation where first they were under extraordinary restrictions as to where they could go, what they could do in the immediate aftermath of the election, and then, you had people being arrested, and most of the foreign journalists being taken out of the country so that there were not able to report firsthand. how the report on the situation as it unfolds in that circumstance? so i think we will begin with iason to talk through the experiences that he had and his perspective on iran today, and then we will turn to barbara, also brings tremendous background on the subject to get her perspective as well, and then we'll open it up, i hope, to q&a. >> thank you very much for coming today, and thank you very
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much for posting me. it is wonderful to be back at the woodrow wilson center. as john mentioned, -- as jon mentioned, we met on my lehman year, which came on the heels of three years living in iran. in fact, i made a secondary fortunate clinton's -- fortunate acquaintance that year, who was also sitting on this panel, who came to give a talk on her new book mit while i was at cambridge. this serendipitous of clinton's has led to us in a way being here today and along the way has led to some journalism being manufactured. i am half greek, half english. i grew up there and learned english when i was about 10, and that opened the way to learning more languages like arabic at university. then i went to iran were either
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in person, and now, i am trying to learn turkish in istanbul. the whole idea behind@@@@@@@ we are basically not an age of the old foreign correspondent who would parachute in, drop a capsule, and get the job done by his local contacts. local contacts are absolutely crucial, today more so than ever, but the budget that would allow that does not exist, so for somebody who is by cultural and more greek and english, it has been a real challenge trying to follow this path of journalism that means learning foreign languages and cultures and starting to write about
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them, not to say i would give you the lowdown on what is going on, but hopefully i will cover the culture with slightly greater sensitivity then would have happened if i did not speak the language. this posits a problem on both sides. on one side, you have countries that are not particularly acquainted with this idea of the u.s. media industry having gone there unbelievable tunnels in the past three years, and in iran, they still think that the "new york times" andy "washington post" -- this is the case still. they do believe that old template still holds, so when someone turns up who is a free lancer, who does not have a specific affiliation, who speaks their language, this is in a way to challenge.
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the english seem to have this unique traits of being found universally suspicious by everyone. then, when you combine this with being greek, you guess with first imperialists, so i'm not doing very well on either side of my background. the other hand on the other side of the process when you are no longer in country or on the ground covering a foreign story, you have to deal with added is back home, and i have made a decision that i write in english, so i write for basically british or american newspapers, and there's a slight hesitancy to entrust someone who is not perhaps fully 100% of one place with telling a story. so again, all sorts of challenges exist. that was the thinking that took me to the middle east and arab world and to three years in iran.
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the absolute godsend of the three years of living in iran, but fundamentally not particularly working in a particularly high profile as a journalist was coming across the pulitzer center, which is in itself a relatively new arrival in the scene in is basically filling in a block that is increasingly getting in deed -- emptied by the gradual destruction of the conservative media. this is the thing that took us to iran in elections over the summer where i returned for basically the second time since i left the country in order to do coverage of the elections, and it was a very strange time. this was not the man that i have lived in between 2004 and 2007, and even with the stand while we were on the streets for those first few days, things would happen later on.
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in fact, things have changed, and perhaps they have changed without any hope of going back. i want to show you a clip now from the documentary that i consulted on for pbs frontline that shows those first few hours and days after the election results came out. there is very shocking election results for some new people, and all the turbulence that followed from that. >> there were a few girls, and we sat on the front line. the police would be more hesitant to shoot at a girl or beat a girl. little did we know that we would be the first people to actually be attacked. of of a sudden -- all of a
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sudden i just felt something in my knee. it was so painful. i just passed out. >> she had been shot in the leg with a plastic bullet. >> the hospital was packed with the injured. i could not stop crying. and then i thought that all these people were going to die in front of me. my uncle's friend just left me. they attacked the arm of the hospital, and these people were, like, screaming and running away. when we think that they actually want to hit people who were laying down on the ground on the floor because there was not enough space. >> i think the regime has been preparing for this for several years in fact, and i think that we saw the first sign of it back
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in september 2007 when the new resolution regard -- revolutionary guard commander announced, to the surprise of many iranians, announced that their greatest enemy was no longer a external threats. the biggest threat to the regime really was coming from inside iran. >> its legitimacy now in question, the regime brought out its -- it was impressive show of strength for a president who claimed overwhelming support and dismissed the protesters as dirt and dust. >> ahmadinejad is a blacksmith's son, and he is at heart a socialist who wanted to be able to help the people, so an awful lot of people voted for him. it is perfectly natural. >> a columnist for a hard-line newspaper plants the violence on opposition -- on the opposition
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leader. >> if he had not said the election had been made without any evidence -- substantial evidence, none of this would have happened. we are not going to give up iran because they have lied. we will not give up brand because we paid such a heavy price to have it -- we will not give up iran because we paid such a heavy price to have it. >> it was turning into a war of numbers. the opposition fought back with a massive demonstration through the heart of tehran, the largest since the 1979 revolution, a fact not lost on a former revolutionary elite, who has turned against the regime. >> they do not want to accept. they do not want to understand. this is the people of iran.
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like the constitutional evolution. this is the majority of the people who want freedom, who want human-rights -- human rights. >> was that particularly audible? that gives you a sense of how fast the events were moving on the ground in this first few hours and days after the elections. it was almost impossible at this point to do real journalism. there would call me when it would the notoriously bad lines, and barbara would say to find something to check on something, and at this point, i think we were 28 trichet 2440 it was before the regime actually criminalize investigative journalism or actually on the ground journalism, and at that
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point, it just became an issue of waiting while the alice ticked down on my visa, which had only been granted for seven days -- i think we were 24 or 48 hours before the regime actually criminalize investigative journalism. things are starting to look really bad. i started wearing local shirts, which did not look like my for insurance -- foreign shirts, and trying to go around in the streets with friends and trying to understand what was going on. this country that i had lived in, and i had really, and which now was starting to slip away in a very dramatic way. all the old trends were still there. there was a paranoid, a sense that the foreigners are trying to create a revolution and that it is up to the hard core of the regime to stop it, to the
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loyalists. there was also a cultural struggle going on, which got very little play in the foreign coverage. you hear about the foreign struggle more in a kind of a reactive way. when the revolutionary guard come out with any plan to create, for example, a second cultural revolution or to islamize schools and universities, or to set of units fighting the spread of news or propaganda, as they call it, but the cultural struggle in my experience, certainly my experience and said the prison when i was being interrogated, is one of the most important aspects of what is going on in iran today if you want to understand. this is something that came out in a piece on "newsweek." he had interrogators who came from the revolutionary guard. i was fortunate enough to be arrested by the minister of intelligence, which, at least, because of the chain murders of the 1990's has gone through a
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certain process of reform, so i had interrogators who were relatively educated, respectful men. obviously, the fact that i was a forerunner -- forerunner -- foreighnener really helped. there were not about to start bidding up someone who was going to be released in the near future. the journalist from "is a" was kicked and punched and also exposed to some outlandish accusations, like he had participated in six parties in new jersey, which was one of the signs of american corruption -- participated in sex parties in new jersey, which was one of the
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sense of american content -- corruption in the eyes of his investigators. because identify primarily as being greek and because i live in the region and also because one of my interrogators spoke arabic, we kept off on a more serious discussions on the west. quite frankly, i explained to them, for me, america had been insane when i moved there in 2007. i really cannot fill in to much, and certainly had not been anywhere close to new jersey. the fascinating thing that came out again and again after we got to the nitty gritty of intelligence questions -- who did you know you have been here? where did you go? what jennie's did you take a broad? and so on. we got into a more philosophical plan. we started talking about neoliberalism and the great threat that it poses in their
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eyes. we started talking about the concept of westernization, which was coined in the 1960's, at least in its current form, and which had to do with the idea that the cultural influence of the west was so powerful that it basically shreds everything in its wake, said the judicial muslim societies -- so the traditional muslim societies have the protection when really tough measures are taken. we talked a little bit about the major proponent of this theory, and we talked about what the muslims might be more susceptible than other people, and i felt -- and this is something that was pointed out in interviews -- that there was a real divide, sort of, between the real world and between the ideas that some of my interrogators had.
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not to say that they inhabited lala land, but, for example, it was cut up into very neat slices, which were either black or white, and there was great difficulty. almost struggled with the concept that someone could inhabit both or have an unbiased view. for example, they asked me about the west against the east, and i said that dubai and was a little bubble of the west into the east, and you could even cut it down into further slices and look at it as being both western and eastern and all sorts of and eastern and all sorts of pictures in there is a new elite running who ran right now, and they are divorced from the revolutionaries of 1979.
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this is a generation who had a good 30 years through philosophy and courses in the west or even the easy to get the grips with this world, and their kids grew up, and they went to university, and they went to denmark for the u.s. and canada, so you have a whole generation who are even more capable of seeing things in shades of gray. then you have the second generation, who seems to be in power today, and many people in power today come from the revolutionary guard, and many of these people, while their colleagues are often copenhagen and washington, they were fighting. they were defending the country in the trenches of the war for eight years, and they did not have the opportunity to do this.
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. running iran in one way or another, and cannot actually taking executive decisions, perhaps they are interrogating people in jail cells, or they are ambassadors to allies of her and abroad. i think it is very interesting to try to understand, try to engage with this generation. a few words about my imprisonment. as i said, i got off relatively lightly. lightly. i only got beaten up what i -- when i tried to get the message out at the airport on the night of my arrest. the islamic republic has a habit of arresting people and then denying it has them while it puts pressure on them to come up with some form of confession. thankfully, because i managed to start shutting of both in english and in farsi that i'm a greek journalist being arrested , the time was really cut down
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-- because admonished to start shouting out. they came and said they had proved that they were arresting a citizen in an airport, steps were taken, and within three or four days, a process of release had begun, or at least a process of negotiation. in terms of the interrogators themselves, i think i spoke enough about them. there was a very amount of just chilling moments. the lack of certainty as to what was about to happen was the worst thing because there would be three or four days at a stretch when i would just be left in myself, and i have obviously no cellmates, nor did i have the opportunity to go out and get exercise. i got my one and only meeting with the greek ambassador, which was a huge blast of oxygen to my system, and back in a solitary cell for another two weeks.
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i was moved from quite a rundown sell into a sort of glittering brand new freshly painted one with a really intense light. the lights were all throughout, but in my old home so, one of them had broken, and the other one was like a 40-watt lamp, and this new one was really intense in your face with reflective mirror is behind and so on. also, i seem to be in middle of an enormous processing center, and that is how i started to get a feel for what was happening in the streets because there were hundreds of people being brought in every day, so when i would be taken out for interrogation, i would normally avoid stumbling over rose applied to all the people sitting cross legged wading for processing for. when i was sitting in my interrogation cell, which was another outrageous luxury because most people were
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getting interrogated in the corridors, i would hear sounds of intense interrogation is coming from neighboring cells or from outside in the corridors. again, because we were talking about culture, because i try to understand culture, and i tried to speak languages, and i try to get across what the place is politics and political pronouncements are about, a cultural thing is very crucial. i have, for example, comments from them, "would you expect? we are going to tear off your fingernails? look at this jail. it is very nice." or jokes about how some people were saying there was raping going on, and did i really fear i was going to be raped in an islamic appropriate jail? the 10180 degrees around when i came out of jail and started
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hearing about these allegations that were being made and started seeing the evidence. i started doing a lot of journalism in the country in which i live, turkey, dealing with former political refugees or people that had escaped iran, some of whom had been extremely badly abused, and one day, i was watching an interview given by an iranian feminist activists, and she was saying that she was taken one day to a large room, which was like a classroom, and there were maybe dozens of desks. those kind of school class desks with the wooden chair and the desk that comes out in front which is all one piece? and there were prisoners sitting on those desks and getting very violently beaten up by jailers, and this whole scene was kind of unfolding in complete silence because those who started shouting would get beaten up more. so perhaps that explains what
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all in all i did not hear that much going on. but in any case, i think it is the understatement of the year to say that iran is in a state of tumult. perhaps it shows us to some extent the mentality of the regime right now. they are in a state of full cultural paranoia, of sitting back and just fighting this perceived western onslaught coming from the outside, and, of course, the opposition is continuing. they do not have the power to go out and take to the streets on a daily basis, even as they tried to do it recently with the anniversary, but you have the students coming out the easter day coming up, a date that is part of the islamic republic's
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calendar of mass demonstrations commemorating the students during the iranian revolution in 1979 against shah's regime, and it will again try to hijack that like they tried to hijack the commemoration of the u.s. embassy storming, and also the jerusalem day. so we have two different dynamics going on right now. the dynamic of continued opposition, a continued crackdown, and it now seems in the last few days that they have gone out to the next tier and are starting to round up people whose names came up during the initial interrogation. not people and particularly wanted -- bets that has already been taken with the really important ones, but now, they are really going for peripheral people. they are arresting friends of people and putting them under a lot of psychological pressure, and at the same time, you have, of course the nuclear developments and how this is
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again -- again, you are seeing sort of moves in the nuclear sphere, which is the most hallowed, the most prized part of the iranian foreign policy that are really can to taking the nobel peace prize when you have the islamic republic coming out and saying that there are going to develop several more uranium processing centers and going to possibly step away from the npt. that really shows the pressure is being felt all over. so i will be really happy to hand this back to jon.. >> great, thank you. barbara, your perspective on coordinating the work of journalists you were doing at the time of the election and since then, your own perspective on where we are today. and perhaps we can all addressed the role that social media played, twitter, and there was a
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lot of coverage about youtube and the impact that that had, how important it was, how valid it was in giving a sense of what was happening on the streets in tehran. >> first, let me thank the wilson center. this is where i wrote my book. thank you, john, -- thank you, jon, for the work you're doing, which is filling an enormous gap for us trying to provide insightful coverage with a very limited budget. i always identify with my reporter's as a former correspondent, but it is fair to say that identified more with iason than any of my other correspondents. i wanted to be there on the streets with him in iran. i was experiencing it, watching it on television, seeing images on facebook, a twitter, so on,
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and it felt almost like i was there within the whole time that this was going on. obviously not the part in prison, although that was a pretty dreadful experience, even on our side trying to get him out and try to figure out what the right words were that we needed to say to impress the iranian government that he was no threat to them and he was actually -- would be more of a threat if he was kept than if he were released. i think what we witnessed over the last six months has been truly extraordinary. we do not know how long it is going to take for the iranian government to change again in some profound way, but clearly, the ingredients are all there, and the behavior of the government shows that of a relatively weak government, i think, that is struggling to come to terms with unprecedented domestic opposition and domestic -- unprecedented international opposition.
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glenn has a been so isolated since the iran/iraq war. the people who are running the show, to the extent anybody is running the show now, are veterans of that war, and perhaps they identify with that time when iran was virtually alone with one allied, syria, against what seemed like the entire world -- one ally, syria, against what seemed like the entire world. perhaps in a way that people try to recreate bad marriages -- you know, if you have one bad marriage, you go and you repeat the pattern. maybe these individuals are trying somehow to go back to that time when iran was all alone. it was besieged, and yet, there was this revolutionary spirit. you see this on the campus is where they are trying to recreate this sort of cultural revolution that took place in the early 1980's, but at the same time, you know that this is an impossible task. as iason pointed out, this third generation is very plugged in.
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iran has -- what? 40% internet usage among the population. it is an extraordinary figure, the highest in the middle east and one of the highest in the world. 80% literacy. this is bound to fail. the question is how long will it take, and how disruptive would be, how bloody will it be? the statements that the iranians have made about starting up new uranium enrichment plants seem like a bomb dust. they have not been able to complete one facility. the facility so has something like 8000 centrifuges, of which only half are really operable right now. it may take years before the facility is completed. they have another one that they started that the west found out about in qom, which is not operational yet. so for ahmadinejad did talk about 10 more, 20 more, whatever, it is really bomb
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dust, but it is their way of showing the outside world iran will not be pushed around. they're not afraid. they can take sanctions, and they can continue to move on. they figure that obama will not agree to military action against them, that the u.s. administration is busy in iraq and afghanistan, and, of course, and can always turn up the heat in both those places if it wants. they seem to think that they can crack down on the opposition internally, defy the rest of the world, and move on. it at some point, the pressure gets too great, they can always compromise. iran has done it before, they ended the iran/iraq war when some hussein was still in power, and that is another reference point i think we have to keep in mind, but one thing that is worrisome to me, and it is worrisome when i listen to iason, and that is the mentality of this particular group. during the iran/iraq war, you had people who had visited the
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west. i remember interviewing one and about his visit and talking about his impressions of the state. one had lived in turkey, iran, -- turkey, iraq, france. many important figures in the revolution had been educated abroad, and you do not have that with this particular if cohort. there are people in the revolutionary guard, members of the force i have met who are the force i have met who are relatively sophisticated, but it does not come from on the ground experience in the west, and this is worrisome. it raises the possibility of miscalculation, and one wonders how far iran will go before it will perhaps make a compromise, and one wonders what measures might be needed in order to
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convince iran to compromise. so it is a very nerve wracking time. for those of us who are trying to figure out what is going on right now, is particularly difficult. i had reported there for some months, actually a young man i found on facebook. he was told after he wrote five stories for me that he could no longer right, that he needed credentials to write for "the washington times." we sent all sorts of letters and what not, and somehow the credentials never came through. so that is why we are particularly delighted that iason was able to get his through and we had him there. since his experience, i have had to cover iran through stories that come out, video that comes out, the killing that i saw on facebook like so many. i was sitting at my dining room
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table and click on it and watched this horrific video of this young women being killed. we have pictures still coming out of the protest demonstrations, people taking pictures with cell phone cameras, and they smuggle it out. i have a couple of iranian americans who write for me, who call their friends in iran and do interviews via sky and on the telephone through twitter and facebook -- interviews via skype. hopefully the iranian government will open up to foreign correspondents. certainly everything we have seen in the last few weeks does not fill me with optimism that they are going to open up to this sort of coverage in the near future. i think i will stop there, and we will open up to your
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questions. >> questions? over here. >> [inaudible] how much was the glory of the prison empire of the past part of the election process -- the persian empire of the past part of the election process? how often is this talked about directly, and how much is it referred to? >> iranians in general have a wonderful idea of their own history. the question was about what the iranians are referring to their glorious history of the great ancient empire during the elections. there is a fair amount of hubris, and again, in his calculations -- and needs open up at the last minute to hundreds of foreign correspondents. they let in people from "the daily show" not exactly knowing
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what they were getting themselves in for, and he got his visa. they opened up hugely, and in what they had hoped would happen did not happen. they had an election, and it appears to have been rigged. during its came out on the street and protested. this attempt to show that there are the most democratic regime in the region, which they insist is still the case, backfired on them because they overreached. the sense of a great civilization is there, and one hopes it will act as a check.
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this is in iran, and not sure we can count on memories of glory to necessarily produce restraint. do you think there are limits? there are limits in the sense that they're going to move people down in the streets with guns, even the -- >> the mogul down in the streets on saturday. but i just going back to the point about the persian empire, and islamic democracy, you will never have preferences to what they considered to be ignorant islamic past. but you do see these elements of splendor or the quest for person splendor -- persian splendo, so
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it will be interesting to see if ahmadinejad is more about a powerful and that will be more about a revival. >> question over here. if we could, if the speakers could identify themselves and where you are from. the microphone is coming to you. >> i am jennifer with "voice of america." i believe you said the iranian regime was bound to fail, and he made in direct reference to social media. do you think there's a potential for social media -- i mean, this new notion of social media can actually bring down a totalitarian regime? >> of all, it is not a totalitarian regime, at least not yet. i would call it an authoritarian regime with many unique features. if it were totalitarian, you would not be seeing these massive demonstrations, and you would not see people risking their lives every day to
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continue to protest in the way they are. i cannot tell how iran's government is going to change. i just know that i think it is inevitable because 70% of the population is under the age of 30, and they are wired, and that is a factor. is it the only factor? no, we have not talked about the economy, the lack of jobs, the fact that iran has the biggest brain drain of educated youths in the region. ultimately, you will have a young society that will have been connected at least through social media, to the outside world, and will be influenced by and in a way that perhaps this generation is not. to make predictions about iran and when and how is not something i think anybody can do. we can sense the trend. that is probably the most that we can do.
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>> social media is not a weapon. it is a tool. basically what they do, whether it is toward or facebook, is in maximizes voices -- whether it is 20 or facebook -- whether it is twitter or facebook. to get an answer to that question, we need look no further than what has been loaded with lebanon. and that a tent at a peaceful revolution that happened they did their own peaceful revolution, and a paralyzed beirut for more than a year. i think it is a matter of in previous decades, the 1980's, really, the 1990's, and the beginning of this decade, you really had the advantage, but increasingly, they are learning
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this tool book and using it for their own purposes. >> question here. >> [inaudible] >> please wait for the microphone to get to you. >> i'm from voice of america. in your documentary, in your opinion, what is the main message that you want to describe? i have another question. you must have had time to talk to the people. what do you think the opinion is with regard to how important is the nuclear issue for them? the government claims that it is for the people. what is your opinion on that? >> these are both really difficult questions to answer. i will start with what should be easier one, even though i actually sort of took a distance
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from the documentary before it was broadcast because it focus very heavily on the human interest sorry, and i was very interested in doing the big picture current affairs and go. i do not know what the ultimate message of the documentary is, but i think it is a pretty detailed look at the killing nadan. what i would argue is flawed -- we did not have access to iran. we did not have access to both sides of the debate, so we managed to speak with her boyfriend, with the doctor who happened to be on the scene when she was killed, and we basically spoke with a couple of people who were close or sympathetic to the islamic republic and could give the official view, but it was very difficult to get conservative voices within the power structure, let alone speaking to the plainclothes who
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were there on the day. with regard to the second question, i think it is very split throughout. it is not a fallacy that the more pressure you put on iran, the less popular the program might become. on the other hand, the iranians, like the greeks, are very famous for becoming more stubborn. i cannot speak for the government, and i know that one of the defining features of 20th century iranian history is that when people get pushed, they react, as we have seen these days, as we saw in 1979, as we saw in 1999. it is difficult to say to what extent the society is behind this project or not.
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it is great to have nuclear power. it is great to be out there, but once you get down to the nitty gritty, i think you start to see differentiation, and that has always been the story of iran. it might be a full-blown ideals, and once you get down to the nitty gritty, there are a lot of questions that come up that have not been thought of before. it is the action of the islamic republic and the people went to vote in 1979 and voted so overwhelmingly in what by most accounts was not a big election, for an islamic republic, they had no idea what they were voting for. they have not heard the word cultural revolution yet. >> question back here? and again, if you could wait for the microphone to come around. >> thank you. i am with the brookings institute of washington. i just want to get a sense of during the early days of protest, with the government
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essentially controlling communication, how much of the protest movement was planned? how did people get the word around as to where to meet, what to do, what to say, particularly after the second and third day? i am very much interested on how much of that was planned. >> great. that is one of the few things i can talk about because that is one of the things is that most of my time doing when i was there. basically running around the streets with friends and trying to figure out what is going on. that was also one of the main accusations against me, i was an agent and influence and i had engaged in espionage. but i was very confused. i had no idea what was going on. i did give the key to my facebook to a close friend of mine, who would then just sort of copy/paste -- she does not speak farsi much -- and less tweets and messages and e-mail them to this -- and list --
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endless tweets and messages and e-mail them to me. and i shall tell them what was the latest on the pro-mousavi media and what they were saying. then, you had the wrong information or the sort of publicly wrong information, where it seemed that several demonstrations were arranged in a way by the government or by government agents and then funneled into the opposition mainstream, so that people would gather in places that have basically been staked out, so you have this confusing flurry of "don't trust these coordinates" or don't go there" or go there." the speed with which different information was coming through even when we were on the streets and the amount of rumors going about what's astonishing.
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mousavi is under house arrest. a committee is looking for the ministry of interior -- no, he is walking toward the ministry of interior. that was actually the rumor that i heard on monday, the day of the biggest demonstration, literally seconds before that demonstration just kind of coalesced into one very pact body. up until then, it had been dispersed fragments of people kind of looking around at each other, looking at the police and wondering if the demonstration was actually going to happen on not, but this rumor kind of not, but this rumor kind of swept through the body of the so it was very confusing, and to a large extent it was organic. as we were going around the
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ministry of interior, we saw people with photocopies of the statement, dispersing them to tourists or just giving people a touch on the shoulder and saying in the lobby at 7:00. very often is just went back to -- for all your twitter, it just went back to 1979. >> the chaos and the confusion and disinformation, none of that is new in situations like this. what was different was the speed with which it was reported around the world. it was on cnn and everywhere else. i am interested in your take on, having come back, when she got back to the west, seeing how it was portrayed. was the real story authoritatively portrayed, and when and by whom, and barbara, your sense of being in the
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middle of that and editing it day-by-day and looking at this morass of material coming out. >> are you member being on the phone to barbara -- i remember being on the phone to barbara 30 minutes after and saying to her, i have seen this, but i am embarrassed to say this, but it is true. i was not sure i would report this first because i had five days left on my visa, and i really do not care to have this exclusive 20 minutes before ap reports it. i would rather just stay in the country. so there were all sorts of journalistic ethics questions being thrown out. >> but that is a different issue. that is where you actually know something. you saw it with your own eyes. that is the question of playing the shorter breaking story to the long-term being there for a few more days. but i am talking about the misinformation, the confusion,
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and seeing that be reported and out there. it is broadcast. how do you -- you cannot put it back in the bottle. how do you bring perspective to that sort of material? >> really, i can just sort of say people lose coverage are like -- scott petersen had great coverage. roger cohen for the "new york times." it was really difficult, actually, to have information when we were on the ground at the day and reading 700-would write ups. at most, i would have to look at my -- at the message is being funneled to me from my facebook or from people outside the country, but really, it was just a matter of calling around on- line networks and just figuring out what they're saying and then making a snap decision -- do we go? do we not go? then you have this item up on the roof -- the snipers. anybody who goes there would be dealt with extremely parsley.
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>> -- extremely harshly. >> who do you call? >> i called people that i knew when i lived there or people that i had met in the demonstrations who were clearly taking some kind of leadership role. we had come to a demonstration at university, which had become a focus of protests, and i met a student there, who was clearly one of the organizing elements. in other day i found myself in a room in one of the tehran university dormitories with one of the student protest leader is glued to his cell phone, directing people where to go, the idea of stretching the police so they would not all focus on one area, tiring the mouth, or these impromptu traffic jams that you saw, which were not so impromptu because they blocked the passage of
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those columns of riot police that would go and basically sort of engaged in firefighting. this is also something that came up when i was in my interrogation cell where the younger in teradata said to me that i'm a work for the intelligence ministry, but it was all hands on deck during the post-election on rest -- unrest, and i was on a motor bike riding behind the guy who was steering, and the only thing to protect myself was a tear gas canister into a radio -- and a two-wave radio, and it adjusted as the places where there were threatening to overwhelm the security forces. it was an interesting game cat and mouse, but you did not know at the time who was the cat and who was the mass. most of the time, it was the security forces, but it was interesting to be in jail and get the glove side of that. >> wish to point out -- it was interesting to be in jail and get the foot side -- the flipside of that.
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you have people who would really messages when it was difficult for them to put things on their web sites or get information out. . use your own sense whether something use your own sense whether you see people screaming death
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to the dictator, and you see people being hit and you see netta dying on the street, and you know this is real. for all the efforts that the iranian government has made, in his not been possible to shut off this kind of communication. it continues. monday is daschle students stay in iran. it next lido's back to 1953 -- it actually goes back to 1953 when they stormed tehran university where there was a protest against the reinstallation of the shah. government has national student day every december 7. it's monday. and there will be demonstrations despite the fact that the government has rounded up scores of student activists. everybody knows this is the day you go out on campus and for
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sure they will protest. and we have two days after christmas is the most important shia muslim holy day and people are allowed to go out on the streets. the iranian calendar will set up opportunities for protests. and there's nothing the government can do about that. >> question back in the back. microphone will come around. >> i have a question i guess for you both. i was struck by the comment that you felt that you were in a new iran when you arrived there in 2009, a very different iran than two years earlier in 2007 and you gave some hints. could you contrast the two a little more. and explain what you think the changes were. and i suppose from that point of view, particularly as an
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outsider like i am, i read things and go to lectures like this, were their signs along the way that these pressures were building? >> i think one of the biggest signs that there was going to be a sea change was in 2002, but several years after the election and basically set off that firestorm of reformism, which in some points actually resembled some kind of rock concert, the fervor which people embraced them, there was a meeting of the conservatives and it was said, we are on the ropes and we have to find a way of getting back and we are going to start slowly. and they started with the parliamentary elections or city councils and they built up to 2005 and to the presidency itself, which was contested and
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won by somebody who was relatively unknown ahmadinejad but was very much a known quantity within these circles. how did this affect ordinary life in iran? i arrived a few months before ahmadinejad was elected president and there was panic and breast beating at the time, but very few things changed on the surface of things at least if you lived in certain parts of tehran. traveling around the country, people are fed up. the reformist experiments had largely had been judged to have been a failure and they wanted something different. obama gets elected on the slogan of change and ahmadinejad got elected on the slogan of change, too. and he invested a lot of money. and in those years, there was bounty and there was a lot of
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infrastructure, which created a bubble and created inflation which made people dissatisfied with ahmadinejad again. but certainly when i was doing it this time on a friday and thursday before the elections, people would say to me, we're going to vote for ahmadinejad again because we want to give him the opportunity to finish what he started. and i would get this in parts of tehran and also in other parts because it seems from several people i have spoken to who are no fans of the islamic republic that will ahmadinejad was going to win it and they believed he was going to win it in the first round, which was shocking to me having come from a steady diet of goings on in the streets of tehran. but i went there to cover and i can't speak for tehran because that's where i lived. but by the time i went back there in january of 2008, things
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had changed and you could see how people dressed, for example or the way in which they had conversations or what was important. i don't know if that was just the effect of three years of ahmadinejad or sanctions beginning to bite or inflation or the steep rise in the price of goods was due to ahmadinejad's mishandling of the economy or both. >> my sense is that the protest of the elections was driven by a sense of rage in an election stolen. it's interesting to look back and ask the question, who won the election. you suggested that there was the view of some that ahmadinejad support and this gets to how the
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question was presented in the west, presented in the media and do you have a sense what were -- >> it is impossible to say after visiting south tehran for a day because after that, everything changed and we were kind of running up to keep up to speed with what was happening in the streets. going back to the cultural thing. there are so many problems with a foreigner in iran trying to say who won. the fact that are you going to gravitate towards people that think like you, because quite frankly, most of my friends and they remind me of the generation i grew up with in greece. there are a great many similarities. why would i gravitate towards
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someone who comes from a different background and look at me suspiciously for being who i am and being union married, i'm 28, which i was at the time, all of these things don't fit in. so i'm very wary of saying i say this happened because i saw this. because what i'm seeing is tempered by who i am. >> i don't think we know. i think the only thing we do know that the government behaved in such a suspicious manner that it is natural to suspect they did steal the election. they announced a landslide win for ahmadinejad about an hour after the polls closed which is ridiculous in a country that had paper ballots. there were a number of reports that ballot boxes were taken away from the polling stations
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instead of people having counted the ballots which had been the normal procedure. and when he talks about the changes in the society and the kind of creeping oppression, it caught us by surprise, because iran did have relatively free elections for a country of that kind. people would always say that the fraud took place before the vote because they would limit the number of candidates, but then the votes would be accurately counted. and you know, what we saw beginning in 2005 was, you know, some election fraud, some manipulation, even at that time, there were reports that ahmadinejad should not have made it into a second round. it's natural to be suspicious and given the numbers also, 63%, especially when you had two other very viable candidates.
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they were quite popular in some they were quite popular in some circles and they had so i think that's some people suggest that it was the reverse. one reason i find it hard to believe that the results were the way they work is because when you look at the last time iran had a relatively free election, he won by 67% of the vote. maybe some of those people had moved over to a more conservative position, but it is hard for me to believe that so many of them did, and up to give ahmadinejad that kind of total. the first time perhaps he had some novelty value, but the second time everybody knew that the economy was a failure. i was last in iran in march of 2008, and i went to sell tehran. even in poor neighborhoods,
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there did not seem to be this kind of love for ahmadinejad, so i do find it hard to believe that he won so totally. >> there is also a compelling theory, but there is no evidence for it, that if you follow the pronouncements of islamic republic officials before the election, there was the possibility of the velvet revolution that they kept talking about. and also the driving energy behind the crackdown and the justification for the crackdown in tehran that this theory goes, it's not extraordinary to believe that there was no ballot stuffing or there was a lot of ballot stuffing, but that is not important because ultimately the votes were never counted. and a result was manufactured, which had a comfortably large margin between the first candidate and the second candidate and which would put
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the possibility of a revolution beyond any shadow of a doubt because it would give the victory directly to the incumbent so there would be no necessity of another seven days of potential violent campaigning and a second round but also it would put it in his favor that they wouldn't be able to take it to the streets and challenge the election as it was. this would dovetail that many officials have spent a lot of time studying revolutions and how to deflect them. perhaps there was an impression or idea that something was being cooked up and they totally came up with false figures. >> couple more questions. back in the back. >> i'm from the state department. can you comment on something that we are here this is more of a post-election protest that has
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generated into a civil rights movement and a larger movement. i would love to hear your comments, thank you. >> yeah. i think it's become very broad and very deep with a lot of different participants. you can tell that from the slogans that are chanted. nobody really chants for musavi. it's moved to death to the dictator. and that can be ahmadinejad. that can be the supreme leader. but it is a broad challenge to the system that that certainly is reminiscent what happened back in 1978 and 1979, with all the study of the velvet revolutions, the security forces should have remembered something about their own society is that iranian people don't like to have their intelligence insulted and they have a very strong sense of justice and injustice. and reveer their martyers and
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you have a movement that has created martyrs and narrative of injustice. you saw that ahmadinejad called people dust and dirt. iranians don't take well to being insulted. so how many people will have the courage to continue, one doesn't know the time frame. but there has been the fundamental breach here of the relationship between government and people, which was not terribly strong frankly before the election, but still existed to some extent or you wouldn't have seen that level of participation. 85% participation in an election is a dream in terms of legitimizing a system. and yet now it is boomerranning against them. >> i would tend to agree with
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you. the three years i lived there. these people could have been part of my own generation in aggetens, coming to age and having different expectations. this is an idea that has been put forth. and the interesting thing that is said of all the people that have come on to this new reality is the old timers thatville jumped into the band wagon and the younger ones from the second generation that are letting this go because they are fighting this cultural shift, but it does seem that perhaps time would be on the side of the civil rights movement people only that it has to be handled in a very delicate and sensitive way and absolutely clear there shouldn't be foreign intervention. this is the bread and butter of the islamic regime and this is
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just the natural organic process that should take its time. >> iran started this process back in 1905 with a constitutional revolution. so they have been struggling for more representative and fair system of government longer than any others in that part of the world. and you the question was about imperial history, but go back and talk about the sort of thwarted effort to achieve a representative government. >> other questions here? >> i'm a freelance journalist. my question is how do you see the recent developments in turkish-iranian relations? and i'm curious what do you
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think that means for the political dynamic for the greater -- for the broader middle eastern region, what this new trend means to you? >> basically, it's interesting living in istanbul, we had ahmadinejad visiting a couple of weeks ago and ahmadinejad visited before. he was in tehran last month. he got a special meeting with the supreme leader who doesn't give these meetings very easily. last time was with putin. ahmadinejad keeps on coming to istanbul because part of the standard diplomatic protocol is to visit and ahmadinejad might have an issue with a staunchly secular founder of a republic in which religion has no place. now the fact that they are doing
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this repeatedly is interesting in itself. and aside from that you have all the economic cooperation that has been vastly flowering in the past few years. we have seen recently that perhaps the sale of the 10 unmanned vehicles are going from israel to turkey and that relationship might be edging back on track again. certainly what there appears to be doing is lines in an intelligent. we have thrust and influence with these actors that you don't necessarily agree with that you don't have so they will listen to us. on the other hand, this plays very well with the muslim world. turkey is about to take over and they will need the goodwill that they can have. at the same time, turkey is increasing its place as a
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regional actor. it's got a nonprominent place in the u.n. security council and finally, domestically in turkey, this is playing out in a very interesting way. i saw a video before i came here of turkish protestors burning pofters of king ap duala reportedly over the recent saudi bottom barredment in yemen. now i have no idea why this is happening in majority sunni turkey, majority sunni secular turkey, but shows there are many changes happening throughout the region that perhaps are more under the radar than they should be. >> one last question.
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>> do you see hard line islamization in turkey in the face of u.s.? >> when you force people to be one thing, they'll react against it. iranians over the past 30 years are getting more secular whereas the trend was more religion. >> i mean in turkey. >> i understand. i'm giving an example of its neighbor. if you take that template and apply it to turkey, it does seem as if things are moving in a more religious direction. at the same time, turkey is a country that is feeling at ease with it self. it spent the last 80 years engaged in a project that could
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be described as cultural schizophrenia. we are more western than eastern. we had this in greece where part of the preparations for entering the e.u., everyone studied in england. or italy. west is good and east is bad, backwards. in our case, islamic, therefore, bad. this is an argument that can be used in turkey. but it seems that turkey is becoming increasingly comfortable with who it is. you have new debates about the minorities and you have armenia and turkey. you have the turks to criticize and the head of the o.i.c. and nato -- it's a very interesting and subtle game that is being played and the ultimate question
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is, is this looking after our own interests as well as cultural or is it fully a cultural agenda of, we're finally coming home and i don't think anyone can give an answer to right now. >> thank you all for coming and thanks for the questions and thanks for the questions and thank you for these excellent [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] >> up next, it's "q&a" with author malcolm gladwell, and then prime minister gordon brown at the british house of commons. following that, house republicans discussed the group known as acorn.
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>> on december 7, 1941, a surprise japanese attack on pearl harbor left to thousand 390 americans dead. the national park service has been collecting survivors' stories about the day. here is one. >> mccain in port on friday afternoon, on december the fit -- we came in port on friday afternoon. we waited in mid channel for the lexington, which at the time was the world's largest aircraft carrier. as soon as the lexington got under way, we took her place. monday, the ship was scheduled to come back to the states, and i would have gotten out. i had saved like four hundred dollars and i was going to go to medical school. bvgi did not go anywhere. i did not go ashore because honolulu in those days was not a favorite port because there were no women. their 2010 for everyone in.
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-- there were 2000 men for every woman. what are all those planes doing out on a sunday morning? i could vaguely hear a droning, which was not unusual. about the time i looked up skyward i saw this group, and i am almost positive there were six of them, coming in a v formation. i saw the bombs drop, and i saw this huge, red flame, black smoke, and i thought oh, my god, somebody really goofed, because those are real bombs. we were used to being bombed with duds. i thought somebody really made a mistake, those are real bombs. just about that time i felt the ship lurched. we were being hit by torpedoes on the


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