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tv   Tonight From Washington  CSPAN  April 28, 2011 8:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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seth myers. live on cspan. and at, follow along with the interactive video player. social immediate comment and live hd video. president obama today announced his nominees to head the c.i.a. and the pentagon. chairman of the joint chiefs of staff admiral mike mullen talks about military operations in the middle east. and a look at protests against syria's government. with a leader of the opposition movement. president obama today announced changes to his national security team. naming c.i.a. director leon panetta to be defense secretary and general david petraeus to head up the c.i.a. from the east room of the white house, this is a half-hour. a seat. good afternoon, everybody. i want to begin by saying a few
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words about the devastating torms t >> good afternoon.ha i want to talk about the devastating storms that have ripped through the united states. especially in alabama. in a matter of hours, these deadly tornadoes, some of the worst that we've seen in decades, took mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors, even entire communities. others are injured and some are still missing, and in many places, the damage to homes and businesses is nothing short of catastrophic. we can't control when or where a terrible storm may strike, but we can control how we respond to it, and i want every american affected by this disaster to know that the federal government will do everything we can to help you recover, and we will stand with you as you rebuild. i've already spoken to the
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governors of alabama, virginia, mississippi, tennessee, and georgia, and i've let them know that we are ready to help in any possible way. i've declared a state of emergency in alabama so we can make all necessary resources available to that state. i've dispatched federal emergency management agency administrator craig fugate to alabama to work with state and local officials, and i'll travel christ to alabama -- travel myself to alabama to work with the families who are reeling from this disaster. i want to commend all the men and women working around the clock for the last few days to save the lives of their friends and neighbors and to begin the long work of rebuilding these communities. these police officers, firefighters, emts and other emergency responders are heros, and they have the thanks of a grateful nation, and we pray for their success, and we stand with every american affected by this
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disaster in the days and weeks to come. now, as we meet our obligations to these americans, we're mindful of our obligation to the safety of all americans, and that's why we're here today. as commander in chief, i have no greater responsibility than the security of the american people and the well being of our courageous men and women in uniform and their families. over the past two years, my administration has done whatever it takes to meet these responsibilities. we've been releaptless against -- relentless against al-qaeda and preventing terrorist attacks and saving lives. we brought nearly 100,000 troops out of iraq if an orderly way, ended the combat mission, and focused on afghanistan breaking the taliban's momentum and training afghan forces, and from europe to asia we forged new
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partnerships and restored american leadership in the world. still, we confront urgent challenges. in iraq, we're working to bring the rest of our troops home as iraqis secure their democracy. in afghanistan, we're moving into a new phase, transferring responsibility for security to afghan forces, starting to reduce american forces this summer, and building a long-term partnership with the afghan people. there's people across the middle east and north africa who seek to determine their own destiny. we must ensure america stands with those who seek their universal rights and that's supporting the international effort to protect the libyan people, and here at home making the hard decisions that are needed to reduce america's debt, we cannot compromise our ability to defend our nation or our interests around the world. these are some of the pressing challenges that we must meet in
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the pivotal days ahead, and today i'm proud to announce key members of any national security team with vice president biden and secretary clinton, will help us meet them. i've worked closely with most of the individuals on this stage and all of them have my complete confidence. they are leaders of enormous integrity and talent who devoted their lives to keeping our nation strong and secure, and i'm personally very, very grateful to each of them for accepting these new assignments. given the pivotal period we're entering, i felt it was absolutely critical that we had this team in place to stay focused on our mageses, maintain momentum, and keep our nation secure. when i took office, bob gates already served under seven presidents, and he carried a clock that counted down the days, hours, and minutes until he could return to washington
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state with his wife, becky. [laughter] i was able to convince him to stay one more year where i was able to convince him to talk to becky about staying one more year. [laughter] at some point along the way, bob threw out the clock. he's one of the longest serving defense secretaries in american history, and as a grateful nation, we can agree that bob has more than earned the right to return to private life which he decided to do at the end of june. i'll have more to say about secretary gate's exemplary service in the days to come. every american must know because he helped to wind down the war in iraq, we're in a better position to support the troops and manage the transition in afghanistan. because he challenged conventional thinking, our troops have the life-saving equipment they needed, and our military is better prepared for today's wars, and because he
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courageously cut unnecessary spending, we'll save hundreds of billions of dollars to be invested in the 21 socialst century. he's one the finest secretaries in american history, and i'll always be grateful for his service. i'm equally confident that bob's agenda is carried out by another great servant of our time, learn -- leon panetta. he appreciates the military families because he served in the army himself and because he and his wife are proud parents of a son who served in afghanistan, and just as leon earned the trust and respect of our intelligence officials at the cia by listening to them and fighting fiercely on their behalf, i know he'll do the same for our armed forces and their families. the patriotism and management skills defining his four decades
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of service is exactly what we need in the next secretary of defense. as a former congressman and white house chief of staff, he knows how to lead which is why he's held in high esteem in this city and around the world and played a decisive role against vint extremism and understands beginning the transitions in afghanistan, we have to be unwaivers against al-qaeda, and as a former omb director, eel ensure as we make tough budget decisions, we'll keep our military the very best in the world. leon, i know you've been looking forward to returning home to your wife, so i thank you for taking on yet another assignment for our country, and i hope you don't have a clock. [laughter] >> i'm also pleased that leon's work at the cia will be carried on by one of our leading
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strategic thinkers and one of the finest military officers of our time, general david petraeus. this is the second time in a year that i've asked general petraeus to take on a demanding assignment, and i know this carries a special sacrifice for he and his wife, holy. after 40 years in uniform leading american and coalition forces in the most challenging military missions since 9/11, he's retiring from the army that he loves to become the next cia director. effective early september pending senate confirmation. as a lifelong consumer of intelligence, he knows that intelligence must be timely, accurate, and acted upon quickly. he understands that staying a step ahead of nimble adversaries includes sharing information with my commander of national intelligence, jim clapper, and as he and the cia confront a full range of threats, david's
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extraordinary knowledge of the middle east and afghanistan uniquely positions him to lead the agency in its effort to defeat al-qaeda. in short, just as general petraeus changed the way our military fights and wins wars in the 21st century, i have no doubt he'll guide the intelligence professionals as they continue to adapt and innovate in an ever-changing world. i'm pleased to announce my choice for the civilian military team to lead the efforts in afghanistan in this year of transition. i'm nominating a superb commander, lieutenant general john allen to succeed general petraeus as commander of the international security assistance force or isaf. he helped turn the tide in the prosince, deputy commander of central command, respected in the region, and has been deeply involved in planning and
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executing our strategy in afghanistan. as the troops continue to sacrifice for our constitute as we tragically saw yesterday, general allen is the right commander for this vital mission. as coalition forces transfer responsibility to afghans, we're redoubling efforts to promote political and economic progress in afghanistan as well. our tireless ambassador helped us increase our civilian presence, and never before have the civilians and troops worked together so closely and so successfully. i personally relied on karl's advice on this mission. after two years in one of the world's most challenging post, ambassador eikenberry's time is coming to a close today. i want to thank karl and his wife for outstanding service.
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to build on karl's great work, i'm grateful one of our nation's most respected dip my mats, ryan crocker is returning to afghanistan. this is a five-time ambassador. ryan is no stranger to tough aassignments. few americans know this region and its challenges better than ambassador crocker. he was the first enjoy to afghanistan after the fall of the taliban. he reopened our embraced embassy there. as a former ambassador to pakistan, he realizes the strategy has to succeed on both sides of the border. as ambassador to iraq, his remarkable partnership with general personnel announcements dreys pro-- general petraeus created a political effort in a long term partnership between the two countries. this is exactly what is needed now in afghanistan where ambassador works with our new special representative to afghanistan and pakistan, mark
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grossman, and i want to thank ryan and his wife christine, a decorated foreign officer herself, for agreeing to serve our nation once more. so, leon panetta, the defense department, david petraeus at the cia, ambassador crocker and general john allen in afghanistan. these are the leaders that i've chosen to help guide us through the difficult days ahead. i will look to them and my entire national security team for council, continuity, and the effort this time demands, and the people on the front lines, the brave troops, outstanding intelligence personnel, our dedicated diplomats will look to them for the leadership that success requires. i urge our friends in the senate to confirm the individuals as swiftly as possible so they can assume their duties and help me meet the urgent challenges we
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confront as a nation. we are a nation still at war, and joined by the leaders alongside me today, i will continue to do everything in my power as commander in chief to keep our nation strong and the american people safe. with that, i'd like to invite each of the leaders to say a few words. i'll actually start with bob gates. >> thank you, mr. president, for your kind words. i want to thank president bush for first asking me to take this position, and you, mr. president, for inviting me to stay on and on and on. [laughter] i also thank my wife, becky, for 44 years of extraordinary patience, but especially the last four and a half years of patience. every single day i've been secretary, our military has been engaged in two major wars and multiple other missions. it's been the greatest honor of
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my life to serve and to lead our men and women in uniform and our defense civilians. they are the best america has to offer. i will continue to give my all to them and to the president right through june 30th because obviously there is much left to do. my highest priority from my first day in office has been to do everything i could for our uniformed men and women in harm's way, to help them accomplish their mission, to come home safely, and if wounded, to get them the best possible care from battlefield to home front. i've done my best to care for them as though they were my own sons and daughters. i will miss them deeply. there will be other occasions to speak over the next two months, so for now i'll congratulate leon panetta and thank him. [laughter] leon i believe is the best possible choice to succeed me,
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and i also congratulate general david petraeus, ambassador crocker, and general allen. i thank you too, mr. president, for the opportunity to serve and work with you. >> thank you, mr. president. i want to thank you and the vice president and your entire national security team for the trust and confidence that you placed in me. i especially want to thank my good friend bob gates, the guy with the big smile next to me. [laughter] he's a public servant without equal, whose tenure as secretary of defense will go down as one of the most consequential and important examples of leadership in the history of the american government. since he, too, was a former cia
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director, i'm hopeful that that experience can serve me as well as it served bob as secretary. speaking of the cia, i also want to deeply thank the good men and women of the cia for all they do without recognition or credit to safe gourd this nation and protect it. they welcomed me to their ranks, and it has been the highest honor of my professional career to be able to lead them. to be able to lead them. ..
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>> my wife sylvia, my three sons, chris, carmelo and jim, their wives, and our six grandchildren. in my 40 years of public life, they have been tolerant beyond measure. and very loving. and because of that, i love them all very much. i spent 40 years in public service. and it began when i served in the army as an intelligence officer in the 1960's. i was proud to wear the uniform of our country. and my respect and admiration for our nation's armed forces has only grown in the decades since. this is a time of historic change. both at home and abroad. as the son of immigrants, i was raised to believe that we
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cannot be free unless we are secure. today we are a nation at war. and job one will be to ensure that we remain the strongest military power in the world. to protect that security that is so important to this country. yet this is also a time for hard choices. it's about ensuring that we are able to prevail in the conflicts in which we are now engaged. but it's also about being able to be strong and disciplined in applying our nation's limited resources to defending america. none of this will be easy, but i am confident, mr. president,
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that you can be assured that i will give you the nation's commander in chief my best and most candid advice about these issues. and that i will be a faithful advocate for the brave men and women at the department of defense who put their lives on the line every day to ensure that we achieve that great american dream of giving our children a better life and a more secure america. thank you. >> mr. president, thank you very much. i feel deeply honored to be nominated to become the 20th director of the central intelligence agency. and i feel deeply grateful for the opportunity if confirmed to
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continue to contribute to the important endeavors to which so many have given so much over the past decade in particular. during that time, i've had the privilege of working very closely with the quiet professionals of the central intelligence agency. i have seen first hand their expertise, their commitment to our nation, and their courage in dangerous circumstances. their service to our country is of vital importance. indeed, it is all the more vital as it is all the more unheralded. in short, i have enormous respect for the men and women of the agency and if confirmed, i will do my utmost to serve, to represent, and to lead those great intelligence professionals. as well as to work closely with the d.n.i. and the other intel community leaders as director panetta has done so superbly over the past 2 1/2 years. as i return to afghanistan tomorrow, i will do so with the sense of guarded optimism about
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the trajectory of the mission and the exceptional civil military team the president will nominate to lead that effort. indeed, i can think of no two individuals better suited than general allen and ambassador crocker to build on the hard-fought gains that i -- isaf and troopers and colleagues have achieved over the past year. during the flight back to afghanistan i will also reflect on the extraordinary leadership that secretary gates has provided over the past 4 1/2 years at the helm of the department of defense. i believe that all in uniform are deeply grateful to him but none can be more grateful to him than i am. again, mr. president, thank you very much for the opportunity if confirmed to continue to serve our nation. >> mr. president, thank you. i'm deeply honored by the
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selection. and i'm grateful for the support and the leadership of secretary gates and chairman mullen. sir, i am mindful of the significance of this responsibility and i am deeply committed to the leadership of the magnificent young men and women of our armed forces and those of the armed forces of this great and historic coalition of nations. i understand well the demands of this mission. and mr. president, if confirmed by the senate, i will dedicate my full measure to the successful accomplishment of the tasks and the objectives now set before us. mr. president, thank you for your confidence.
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>> mr. president, i am deeply honored to have your confidence that of the vice president, that of the secretary of state, that of the national security advisor, for this important mission. the challenges are formidable and the stakes are high. 9-11 came to us out of afghanistan. our enemy must never again have that opportunity. i thought i had found a permanent home as dean of the bush school at texas a&m, as the secretary of defense had done before me. but the bush school is a school of public service and mr. president, i am very proud to answer this call to serve. over nine years ago, i had the privilege of reopening our embassy in kabul after the fall of the taliban. if confirmed, i look forward to returning to build on the
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progress that has been achieved in recent months working with the courageous men and women at our embassy, with our military, with our nato allies, and the united nations, and especially with the people of afghanistan. i also look forward to rejoining my old battle buddy, general dave petraeus, however briefly, and i am delighted that i will have the opportunity to carry forward with another good friend and comrade from iraq, general john allen. thank you, mr. president. >> can i not think of a -- i cannot think of a group of individuals better suited to lead our national security team during this difficult time. while i'm up here i think it's important to acknowledge the extraordinary work that my vice president, my secretary of state, and my national security advisor have done as well. this is going to be an
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outstanding team. i'm grateful for the service that they've already provided. and i'm confident that they will continue to do everything that they can to ensure america's safety and security, not just today but tomorrow. let me also just briefly thank their teams. some of whom are going to be shuffling their own lives. whether it's the c.i.a., or in afghanistan, all of you have done outstanding work, and i'm grateful for your service to our nation. and once again, let me thank the families of the individuals here. all of them make extraordinary sacrifices. michelle can attest to that. and we know that none of us could be successful were it not for your extraordinary support. so thank you very much.
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[captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> live saturday the white house the 2011 white house correspondents' dinner. our coverage includes highlights of past dinners and your comments from facebook and twitter. live on c-span. and at follow with our interactive video player featuring polls, photo gallery, social media comments, and live h.d. video. this weekend, on book tv on c-span2 panels on science, american history, climate change, and the constitution. and call-ins with larry flint,
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sally pipes and walter mosley. a few of the highlights from our live coverage of "the los angeles times" festival of books. get the entire schedule online at and get our schedule sent to your in-box. sign up for book tv alert. joint chiefs of staff chairman admiral mike mullen today talked about military leadership. and developments in the middle east, northern africa and asia. he spoke at a briefing hosted by government executive magazine at the national press club. this is an hour and 10 minutes. special welcome to our guest, admiral michael mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff who is here for the fifth consecutive year. thank you very much for being here. it is early. earlier than we usually start, and so a double thank you for this full rung. i was thinking that we could view this as good practice for
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tomorrow when we have tget up even earlier for the royal wedding. [laughter] . we may not offer quite as much glamour as a royal wedding but i'm sure we'll have a lot of interesting substance to deliver here today thanks to admiral mullen being here. admiral mullen has served our countrfor 43 years, ever since graduating from the naval acady in 1968 and going off to fight in the vietnam war. he has been chairman of the joint chiefs of staff for the past four and a half years and before that was the chief of naval operations so he has served as the very top of our military leadership under two presidents, democrat and republican alike, which says something about how they view him being a straight shooter and a very talented man.
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it is also been a period, a decade of continuing war, endless war. and so he has the job of running those wars. the world is not a very peaceful place. the embers in hot in north africa and the middle east in iraq, afghanistan, north korea, iran and we're keeping a wary eye on china as well. that's not to mention the continuing threa of stateless terrorism or the invisible threat of cyberattack and so since these are some of the worries that admiral mullen has from day-to-day but, of course, he's also concerned of the leave and the forces down there and putting pressure on many defense establishment. and these are some of the topics we'll address with admiral mullen, again, welcome and thank you for being here.
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before we get to the hot news of the day, today's headlines and yesterday's headlines, in recognition in like five months or something in the end of your terrific military career, i thought i'd start with this question. in your long service and escially in your tenure as in your joint chiefs of staff chairman, what did you see your principal accomplishments and strengths? and on the other side of the coin, what has particularly concerned you about the military operations, its reputations and its country and the world. >> from its accomplishments i guess i'd put at the top of the list having to go into iraq in 2004. and assuming the job of cno in 2005 and 2006 were the navy at
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that time is putting thousands of sailors on shore and coming in as chairman just as we initiated the surge and remembering very well actually as if it were yesterday how bad things were there and i was in iraq last week. and it's night and day. it's truly been an extraordinary shift change and the creation of an opportunity for 26 million people that just didn't exist a few years ago. and that came at a great price, obously. and that is a reflection, i think, of our military's ability to adapt and change from the classic conventional force to -- i call it the best counterinsurgency force in the world. but it's also more important --
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it's a reflection of the extraordinary young men and women who serve, 2.2 men and women, active guard reserve who serve in a joint way many of us could not imagine just a few years ago. and i'm very proud of them. they could not have succeeded without the extraordinary matchless support of their families over the course of this decade. families are obviously crical, always have been critical. but from my perspective what's happened in the last decade is they've become important. and even when you're back from deployment, the stressors that they're under as well as those who are actually deploying some
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believe even more because of the worry every single day when you have your husband your wife in the fight. so probably the single biggest area that i am most proud of and just privileged to serve for every day are those -- are those young men and women who make a difference. >> and on the other side of the coin, while you've perhaps started to answer this question, what has concerned you about -- about the military and the status of the military? i know you've talke about the isolation of the military, if that's the right word, only 1% of the families who are actively participating in the military but there may be other things as well. >> well, two immediate thoughts. rst of all, i've spoken consistently about the needs for
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the military to stay apolitical, in what is seemingly increasingly a politicized world, not just the united states. and i think a lot of that has just to do with the 24/7 news cycle and the need, i think, to ensure that we are absolutely neutral. and we serve the civilian leadership, and we need to be very much mindful of that in how wepeak about it in how we engage, whether you're active or whether you're retired. so that's something i think we just have to constantly keep out in front of us to make sure we're not coming off track here. i've been in too many countries where that was not the case. it's a fundamental principle for us as a country that we need to make sure that is very clearly
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and cleanly sustained. and then secondly is what you mentned, tim. i do worry about the contact we have with the american people. the coming up next we have with the american people. we're less than 1% of the population. we come from fewer and fewer places in the country. and i worry about the things that we don't do anymore. through brac we've moved out of neighborhoods all over the country so we're not in the churches, coaching the tea in the schools, living in the neighborhoods. so the relationship or the understanding is often created by just what's in the media and i don't expect that's going to change in terms of physical size. we're not going to move in. i think we have to recognize that as a challenge. and the reason i'm so concerned about it, is america's military must stay connected to the american people. and if we wake up one day and
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find out that we're disconnected or almost discoected, i think that's a very bad outcome for the country. so we all to have work on that. that's part of what military leadership must do and also i think in being a two-way street connecting with leaders and the american people throughout the country. and one of the great anues for that our guard and reserves who live throughout the country, who serve, obviously, out of communities, local communities, and i think we can do a better job connecting there to ensure that -- that that very important connection between the american people and our military is healthy. >> we have one more question on this. there seems to be at least here in washington a great deal of support for in particular
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wounded warriors and people who are coming back from having served and getting out. getting out of t service. is that something that is -- is on the surface -- does it go deeper? do you think that sentiment exists across the country? >> i think it goes much deeper than here. i have traveled fairly extensively over the crse of the last year, year and a half to meet with local leaders in big cities and in small rural areas. about a month a i was out in boise idaho a month ago. i find, one, the american people support their men and women and that i ever families, two, that the local leadership that i meet with is -- they're passionate about connecting with our veterans ashey retn home and their families. and i've tried to work to be
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able to better make that connection. the way i describe it here in washington, our yellow pages in the pentagon is still about 4 inches thick. those of us that work in the pentagon don't understand it. if i'm out in rural america and i have a good idea, how do i connect with someone in the pentagon or the va to try to get that idea across the goal line to help and support our young men and women, and they are by and large -- most of your young men and women are not going to stay in the military, make it a career, although we have a substantial number that do, they are returning at a time at a very robust gi bill so tens of thousands of them are going to school and i think there are generations -- i call them -- they're wired to serve. so they're in their mid 20s. they've seen some difficult times in some cases clearly.
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but i think they offer a gradually potential in the country and with the local investment customized locally which must be because i don't think dod can do it. i don't think va can do it. i think the three of us, dod, va and communities across the country, working together can focus on employment, health and education. and i think with a small investment there, they'll take off and provide decades of service. they, i find, while some of them, and particular the wounded, their lives may have changed but their dreams haven't changed. they still want to go to school, start a family, put their kids in good schools. typically two incomes and they'd like to own a piece of the rock so what i've tried to do is connect with community leaders in ways to be able to create the knowledge of those who are coming home, who they are and
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where they're going and what the opportunities are with those who have given so much. part of this focus has been for the families of the fallen, those who paid the ultimate price. and sometimes we have to be more active in pursuing them in terms of support because their lifeline has been that military member. so the services are all very focused on that and i know in community after community after community they all want to say thanks and to make a difference in their lives so that they can -- thecan literally put food on the table and take off for the next chapter of service wherever it might be. >> at the same time, you've also expressed concern about homelessness. you referred to what happened after vietnam in that regard.
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and we have the new effort by michelle obama and stan mcchrystal who support military families. what's the impetus of that as you see it. >> well, many of thesss those -- the military leadership and our spouses have been working on have actually now been raised to the level of the president and the first lady. and the vice president and dr. biden -- dr. biden and mrs. obama have come to together in this initiative called joining forces. and it really is support our military families. and one of the things they do they give a great voice and it's back to this connection piece so i'm very encouraged b that. and it's focused on the needs of our families. and raising the awareness and the opportunity to -- to reach
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out to them. they are a wonderfully -- military families, a wonderfully independent group. they won't ask for help. it's part of what gets them -- you know, allows them to be as strong as they are, and yet there are -- there are -- we live in a time that has been particularly stressful, tenth year of war, multiple deployments. we see -- my wife deborah sees thousands who have post dramatic stress sympms. kids, children, who are exhibiting the same kind of thing. and again, it's back to this connection. so i really do applaud the efforts. there's been a lot of work that's gone into it and i'm very thankful that the president and mrs. obama and the vice president and dr. biden have taken this on. it's really a big deal. >> let's turn to the top of the news here. we've just learned that leon
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panetta and david petraeus will be cia director. you've worked with both. you're not going to comment of the nominations before they're made by the president. but hypothetically -- [laughter] >> are there tea leaves to be read in the appointment of a military man to head the cia at this particular point in time? >> actually, even hypothetically i can't even answer that question. [laughter] >> again, you said it very well. i mean, obviously, the policy is anything before anything official is announced, i really can't comment on it. suffice it to say, that i've worked very closely with leon panetta as well as with dave petraeus. in dave's case in 2004, and i
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have a great admiration to both men, who are wonderful pubc servants and their service in their current positions have been extraordinary, and then we'll see what happens. >> okay. i won't ask my second question on that. [laughter] >> let's turn to the budget. the budget trends today and what they portend. you have said that the greatest long-term threat to america's national security is america's debt. you also have said, i believe, the years of pentagon budgets including the off-budgeting of the wars has destroyed budgetary discipline in the pentagon. budgets already tight. personnel reduction have already been taken with senior officer abolished and se positions as well.
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i know that you're concerned and many military leaders are concerned about the claim of personnel on resources in the defense departments and the health costs, benefits costs associated with that. how do youiew the budget going forward. what are the challenges as you -- as you see, if you do see, a period of declining defense budget? >> well, i do see that. and the reason i talk about the debt as the single biggest threat to our national security is -- it's basically not very complex math. i thin the worse situation that we are in as a country, fiscally, the likelihood of the resources made available for national security requirements continue to go down is very
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high. this is the third time i've been through this. we did it in the '70s. we did it in the '90s. when you look at the data going back to the '30s, our defense budget goes up and down. and it does so on a fairly regular basis. so certainly this is not unexpected from my point of view. what i've seen and i've been in the pentagon most over the last decade, with the increasing defense budget, which is almost double, it hasn't forced us to make the hard trades. it hasn't forced us for prioritize and it hasn't forced us to make the analysis and it hasn't forced us to get to a point in a very turbulent world of what -- what we're going to do and what we're not going to do. and so i see that on the horizon and we need to be paying an awful lot of attention to that. i have said the defense needs to
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be on the table. and i'm comfortable with that. that said, i'm required to articulate our national security requirements and certainly advise the president and others but particularly the president about how we best can achieve them with the force that we have and we find ourselves at a particularly difficult time for let's say, modernization of our air force. we are running out of life in those assets that we bought in the '80s under the reagan administration. at a time where i don't have to tell you or this audience where our national security requirements continue to challenge us. if we'd been sitting here a few months ago, and you asked me what's going to happen in the next couple months, i would not have put japan and libya at the top of the list of countries i'd be sending the majority of my time on for the time that i
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have. and that just speaks to the unpredictability that's out there. the tragedy and the loss of lives in japan. while there was great focus on libya, at the same time we had almost 20,000 troops and i think 18 or 19 ships in support of that humanitarian assistance and disaster relief for weeks at a time. so the demands, i think, will continue. we just have to be pretty measured about what we're going to -- wha we're going to do and what we're not going to do. i've been in a hollow military before. i won't lead a hollow military. i know -- i know what one is and what it can and can't do, and i think it would be particularly dangerous in the world that we're living in now to hollow out. so we have to -- whatever we have, however we get to our future, it must be whole. and you talked aboututs in
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personnel and that's in the 15, 16 time frame, maybe 14 right now. when i was the head of the navy, out of my budget, it was 60 to 70% of my budget every year, and that's active reserve as well as civilian -- the personnel costs were about that percentage of my budget and i've said it this way, i need every single person i need but i don't need one more. and oftentimes that becomes the -- almost too easy and say, okay, let's immediately do away with forestructure because there's a lot of money there specifically but we must evaluate that against our overall requirement. i've talked about the health care explosion that we've had in our cost, i think 19 billion in 2001, 64 billion in 2015.
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that's not sustainable. so i think we all have to sharpen our pencils and make sure that every dollar we have is being spent well. and we need to be good stewards of the resources that the american taxpayer gives us. and i just think we really have to -- we're going to have to do the hard work to get the right. we've got to come through this cycle, and we will. we've together come through in a very strong fashion back to what i said in terms of the demands of the national security environment. >> and so do you see the ratio changing, the 60 to 70% of the payroll and associated costs are going to pay the associated share of the budget as you see it. >> i don't know thenswer that because we haven't resolved that and we need to recognize the investment as secretary gates have focused on, on the future
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and how we've talked about that is in terms of -- if we get it right to our people, we'll be okay. if we retain in our military right now this most combat -- the most combat force we've had in our history, if we retained the right young junior officers who have been through this -- if we retain the right young ncos in our officers, we'll be just fine and if we don't, almost no matter what the budget, as we come out of these wars, a i believe we will over the next decade or so, then we're going to struggle. we neeon the retention aspect but we should not be blind to the cost and investment to make sure we get it right for the overall defense resources. >> let's talk for a minute a i think an interesting question of
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the relative importance of the uniformed services and whether or not the army's role in that relative scale will recede in that. secretary gate has said that in his opinion, and i'm quoting here, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big american land army into asia or into the middle east or africa should have his head examined. and you have told young cadets that they will lead with a garrison force. how about the army, a? and b, what will be the most important roles for the army and air force and we could talk a long time about that. sorry about that. why don't we start with the army? >> i love our army, my army. and one of the great joys of wearing the uniform for this long. and part of the reaso i have been privileged to literally do that is offering me an
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opportunity to grow in every single job and certainly this job has afforded me this opportunity and i don't think i've learned more than any single subject than our army, who i didn't know well. i knew more about the marine corps because of the navy/marine corps relationship and -- but again i learned a lot more about our ground forces and so -- they truly have been a heroic force and both the marine corps and the army. and i've watched the army change. i've watched them go through this counterinsurgency develop its capability in a way and speed i could not have anticipated. when we get -- what do i worry about, when we get in this environment, there are an awful lot of old saw that people have pulled off the show. we went through it before. we went through it in the '90s. i think as we move forward we recognize that we're living in a different world than the last
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time we went through this or t time before that. that's why the wholeness of this, the comprehensiveness of this challenge in terms of how do we adjust is really important. and i think, younow, a catastrophic adjustment, a massive change in the world that we're living in right now would not very prudent at all. and i certainly take secretary gates' point but my expectation is, most of the senioreaders leadership think we live in this time of, quote-unquote, persistent conflict and we don't know where we're going to be used and we don't know when, but we need to be ready and i think in that regard, all four services, and they're wonderfully unique and wonderfully joint in ways that we hadn't as i said before imagined before, excuse me. and we need the talents and we need the capabilities of a
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four services. so i think -- i mean, i think the fute is very healthy for all four services. there's a tremendously important role for our navy and our air force along with our ground forces. it's really been that combination over our history that has served us exceptionally well. and one of the immediate old songs , well, let's just divide the pie up, the budget, and i think you haveo do that very carefully. as difficult as it has been historically and it has been when we see these pressures, i think we need to lead as the president has laid out and as secretary gates and i have talked about, we need to lead with a strateg view, a strategy before we just start taking out the meat ax and the scalpels and just reduce the budget and then just figure out how to meet that meet that
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number and then after that well, what are we going to do after that? that's exactly the wrong way to do it. d i think a very dangerous way to do it now given the world that we're living in the framework in which we review our national security requirements has really been the qdr. and it's fairly current. a lot of us worked on that. i think given the intensity of the fiscal crisis, the reality of it as well, we need to re-assess that, not throw it out, but look at it and adjust it and given that adjustment, this is where we ought to go. >> let's engage on a tour of the horizon of the world's hotspots,
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arab, spring and beyond. let's start with libya. can you talk a little bit about how you thought the hand-off to nato has gone? and how nato has performed? obviously, there have been some problems, reluctance by various countries to undertake various missions, shortages of precision missiles among them. complexity of command and control but how do you think this nato deal has really gone? >> well, i commanded in nato twice over this last decade, once as the fleet commander down in norfolk for the nato strike fleet and in naples, italy where i commanded allhe forces in the south, which included forces that were assigned to the nato training mission in iraq in 2004 when nato took that mission on as well as the forces in the
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ba balkans. i think someone said it pretty well we've done in 18 days what it took us 18 months to do in bosnia in terms of standing up the command, committing to a mission and execution and i think that speaks volumes about nato's agility in these times certainly compared to where it used to be and i've been impressed with nato and how they execute it and,yes, 28 countries are not participating on the combat side but the majority of countries are participating one way or the other, and it's not all about combat or military capability per se. there's humanitarian assistance. there's the kind of support we need in the hair time environment. so i've been very, very pleased th how nato has both stood up to this and executed it. a few years ago, when i first
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came into this job, both secretary gates and i were fair frequently beat up by critics who say, can't you get more nato forces into the fight in afghanistan? and, in fact, over the course of the two years, nato has stood up in ways i couldn't imagine just a couple years ago and just like this mission. and i think nato is in a much better place than a few years ago. more adaptive, more flexible, more capable. that said, there are some things that have to be addressed that we will learn from this libya campaign that i think not just individual countries but nato as an alliance will have to adjust to -- or adjust having studied those with assistance.
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>> the assertion in the question is like black and white just because we've -- we've done it once in terms of -- which is something actually we've asked other countries to lead more aggressively in previous times and they haven't so to say this is it for the future. i think almost across-the-board, whether it's nato or the united states is -- we just can't be that certain. it's working now. they're leading we. we're in very strong support. the mission is executing well. i fundamentally believe that we've prevented a massive humanitarian disaster that gadhafi would have reaped on his -- on his citizens in
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benghazi. that's the mission is to protect the libyan people and so in that regard i think nato has been very, very effective. and the combination of us going in early, them taking over, them leading has worked very well. >> various people including retired general dubik have called for, you know, more involvement. military advisors, preparation for u.n. peacekeeping force of some sort, and -- and i'm wondering what you think about that? and also whether you think we are following the weinberger doctrine which says you don't go in unless you know how you're going to get out. >> well, i think long term -- clearly the strategy -- and this is really the political strategy is gadhafi is going to be out and needs to be out along with his family. clearly the initial limited
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mission on the part of what we participate in and participate today is to ensure as best we possibly can the protection of the libyan people. there are many, many ideas on what we should be doing, what na should be doing and how to do this. i can only sayeing on the inside, this is as every single operation is extraordinarily complex. it is -- it is not -- when asked about well, when does it end and how does it end? those are unknowns right now. there is an extraordinary amount of political pressure that has been brought to bear and i think that will be not only exist but ratchet up. the arab league has pitched in against, you know, a fellow arab in a very, very strong way.
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so gadhafi is a pariah. we know. and i actually do believe his days are numbered. if you ask me how many, i don't know the answer to that. so i think the political pressure will continue to that emphasized and focused in a way that sees him leaving as quick as possible. he's a survivor. we know that. and so it isn't going to be -- thers no easy solution that's certainly staring us in the face. ..
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>> my question is, is our own security, the united states security compromised by the turmoil in these countries the? no, i survey don't see that right now. and i think we've had a 30 relationship. with egypt. and very strong relationship with -- quite frankly up in an club without the military leadership has been handled and continued to handle it. and what is a constant in all three of thos countries, is this is about the people. these are internal issues. we have a military to military relations with yemen, but it's not been for that long.
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we have worked hard to drink them. so in that regard it's a vastly different in terms of both strength andepth and breath, and gym and then it in egypt. and at the same time it is internal and will continue to evolve there as well. your point israel taking. there is i think the most viral strain of al qaeda that lives there now and the most dangerous strain of al qaeda lives there, and that we all must be mindful of that in yemen as well. and then briefly, in tunisia, that's anoher country that this is principally driven from the inside, and so not that the national security requirements of the u.s. -- we clearly need to keep an eye on a fitness to a
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fact, i don't know, out of the three countries probably the al qaeda threat in yemen is one that is of most concern, although that was a very high concern before recent events in yemen so we will continue to stay focused on them. >> let me see. let's turn to another group of countries. saudi arabia and bahrain. some experts say that suppression of protests there will lead to further revolt, including possibly even in sau arabia, which has been a longtime key ally out there. are we concerned about that? and what are the obligations of what is happening in bahrain for the fifth week? which, of course, has a major installation there, headquartered there i guess. and do we have contingency plans for the fifth fleet if things
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will turn bad in bahrain? >> i travel in that area several weeks ago right at the height of the bahrain crisis. and a couple of things really struck me. first of all, how strongly the gulf cooperation council has come together, all of the countries, and the message to me was that bahrain is a red line very specifically. secondly, there was a belief that iran was behind this. i just don't agree with that. all the information that tells us i've seen is iran had nothing to do with what happened in bahrain, like the other countries it was an internal issue. and i do agree about the extent of the crackdown in terms of potentially opening the door to iran. and i have now seen that this
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doesn't surprise me at all, iran tried to take advantage of the situation, not just their but in her countries as well. which is no surprise. we all continued to be extremy concerned about iran. i want to reassure everyone that we haven't taken our eye off that ball. iran still continues to try to destabilize, they continue from my perspective to develop capability that gets into nuclear weapons. and at they are still the leading sponsor of terrorism from a state perspective of any country in the world. they are more acted out in iraq. and one of the things i have been concerned about is the relationship between the instability in bahrain and how
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that's impacted our capabilities, or what's going on in iraq as iraq continues to go througthe transition. so, it's an area of great focus and great concern. i don't see anytng right now that would jeopardize our presence in bahrain, ur fifth fleet has been there for longtime. and, in fact, the u.s. navy has been in bahrain since the late '40s. we have a long-standing relationship there. and it continues to be a very strong relationip. certainly it's important that we never get to a point, it neer gets to a point in bahrain where that fleet, that capability which is so important, roviding the kind of security that, and support, given ian's stress, which none of us would certainly
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ever want to see askew to the point where that would jeopardize. and i just don't see that right now. >> admiral mullen, you recently returned a few days ago from a trip to iraq, afghanistan, and pakistan. let's spend a few minutes on the issues there. iraq, something of an arab spring arising there a little bit which may be of concern. but i believe you're focused during your visit to iraq was on a pointed question. do they want us there? does the iraqi government want us there, our military there? pass the end of the year, we have 47,000 troops tre now, and i believe that there is only something like a three-week window in which the malik a government must actually tell us that he wants us there or else we will have a train moving out of the country and we will be gone. >> will come as you said where
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47,000 troops and the current policy is we will be completely out of their butt end of of december i wouldn't give this, i wouldn't limit it, or constrain it to three weeks. what i said when i was out there, we have weeks, not months to address this issue. if the iraqi government wants to address it, and so others, that working is extremely hard. and will continue to do that. we think there are gre opportunities with respect to the future of iraq. the challenges are there now are principally political. and the arab spring demonstrations there has ceainly not turned into the kind of demonstrations that have existed and other countries. the security environment is good. that doesn't mean we don't have
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the challenges are that the iraqis, iraqi government doesn't have challenges because there still is a leve of violence, but it's the lowest since 2003. i'm comfortable with the development of it and the leadership of iraqi security forces. they tell me that they will have some gaps should we leave 31 december, intelligencein avtion, you know, its logistics maintenance and support. so we are aware of that and we'll just have to see what the political leadership in iraq does. >> and are you not concerned that the governance structures and the civilian governance structures have not kept pace with the advance is in security forces, and so that the people of iraq are not seeing, you know, real results in terms of their own daily lives, their own economic and social lives?
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>> well, the iraq government certainly has some challenges there. although i think they have improved and will continue to improve. they are rich in resources and i ink economically, fiscally in the next fe years they really will be in ptty good shape. from a security standpoint, again, i think the security forces have performed exceptionally well. so, in many ways the politicians to get all this organize. their ministries have developed a great deal from a -- have really improved over the course of the last few years. so they are a much better shape in terms of delivering goods and services then used to be, but they still have significant challenges. >> great. i'm going to ask -- they could have three or four but i'm going to ask if you'd like to ask questions in about five minutes here. if you would, please come to one
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of these two microphones. pakistan. i believe there is tension in our relationship with the pakistani leadership. i believe that when you traveled there just recently, you delivered a pointed message about the pakistan intelligence service, the haqqani network of terrorists which are dedicated, who are dedicated to killing our people. what is the status of our relationship with pakistan? and could it deteriorate to the point where those key supply routes that supply our troops in afghanistan with the needed equipment could be compromised? >> i think theoretically it could devolve, threatened those lines of communications where we
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bring an awful lot of power supplies and support for the efforts in afghanistan. that said, our relationship is one that continually work on. and right now it is pretty strange. it is straight in great part recently because of the raymond davis? he was the individual that was taken by the pakistanis after a very serious incident where he shot two individuals who threatened him. and we worked our way through that, but in working our way through that it really did strain the relationship. so that's what i -- this was a routine trip for me in the sense that i go there about every three months, but certainly it was not routine in its nature because of th strain -- the relationship that had been so badly strained as a result of the davis case. it's something i've invested a lot of my time in because i
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think it's important we stay connected. it's an extraordinarily complex country, and actually it's an extraordinary complex region. i've talked about our engagement in that part of the world. you can't pick one country or another. it's afghanistan and pakistan. and you have to take the region, put the region into context, if you will, in just about everything that you are doing. so, we've been throgh a rough patch. we've been trough before with pakistan. and i'm actually hopeful that we can, that we will continue to be able to build on the relationship. we understand each other much better than we did a few years ago. we are still digging our way out of 12 years of mistrust with no relationship from 1990-2002. that's just not going to be solved even in a few years we've been working with them. it's going to take some time. but i think a partnership, a strategic relationship with
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pakistan in the long run is absolutely vital to the security, not just in that region but becausef the downside possibilities for security, global security. >> afghanistan, neighboring country, as you say you can't consider them together but with 100,000 troops in afghanistan, and many, many thousands more contractors. i want to ask you, and i believe the drawdown is supposed to start happening this summer in july, is that correct? and so, what do you see as the pace of the drawdown plan? are we in there for the really long haul? what do you think speak with we will start to withdraw troops this summer. general petraeus has not made a recommendation to the present yet so there's no decision with respect to that. but no question that we will. we just don't know how big it
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will be, or from what part of afghanistan per se. it does speak to a very important message of transition. president karzai i think the 22nd of march identified seven provinces for transition over the course of the next year or so. and then we are focusing o getting to a point by the end of 2014 with afghan security forces have a responsibility for their own security. and we think that's doable. we think we can meet that goal. i, on this most recent trip, which was out in these which is a very tough fight as well as down and helmand, was encouraged by what i've seen from security, improvements over the course of last yea so what you hearabout that, i can just verify having bee there, that said, visual be a very, very difficult year.
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it's already started out to be a tough year. we have tragic losses yesterday. we had eight of our airmen who were killed by this afghan airmen who was inside. and every loss is tragic. we know that. these are particularly difficult because it comes from an insider threat. we are working very ard to eliminate that. not just we had been working on this. so this'll be a very difficult year. it's a tough year for the taliban last year. it's going to be a very tough year on the talibans issue because they are by and large out of their own safe havens in afghanistan, and they're going to come back and try to take them. and i think they will meet a force that is more than ready for them. we are starting to see signs of reconciliation and reintegration on the ground there.
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i'm concerned about, one thing, not that i'm not concerned about security, the governance peace, the corruption peace for the governance in a few areas. and i would add rule of law to the. those are areas that have to really start to take traction. and we need to improve in those areas in order to get where we need to get to over the course of the next three years. >> it's an interesting story in the paper the other day about people in rural afghanistan who feel that they cannot trust the government or the united states forces there, trying to help em because if they do the taliban will target them and go after them. and on the other side, they don't like the taliban either. and so, what's the answer? >> the talibans are still i think the numbers i've seen, they are in the nine or 10% at
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that level in terms of how the afghans feel about them. i think most afghan citizens are on the fence to see how this will go. and i'm hopeful that with another year, similar to what we had in 2009, will have much more clarity about what it looks like once we get through this fighting season. so into the october, november time frame, and we're starting to see some good signs copies of local leaders, local governments starting to function in certain places. so, i'm cautiously optimistic at this point, but i don't want to unrstate the very difficulty over all, the challenge we have in front of us. >> please come if anyone has a question, come to the microphone. and let me see. thank you for coming to the microphone. we shouldn't ignore one more country. i'm sorry, north korea and korea
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in general. very high tension levels there. what are our key concerns? i know you're concerned about that. >> we work very closely with them. it's a critical part of the world to ensure stability. obviously, the proximity to china, the economic engine that china is, our relationship with the country, et cetera so awful lot of people focused on keeping that part of the world stable. we do that and great support of the south koreans. and there have been provocative acts and we were a great deal about those. there's also this guy, kim jong-il is not a good guy. and has acted in ways tha have been very dangerous at times. the word is competitive secretary gates said this very well, the word is in five or 10 years, he's looking at a nuclear
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capability which threatens the united states. this is not just bout local security, in the not too long run. that potential exists as wel. and he is by and large starving his people. we know that. and, in fact, his army which is pretty usual, is having a pretty tough time beating food this year as well, or through this winter. so it's a very, very tough, complex situation and an awful lot of us are focused on a. we need it to be stable. we need him to stop the provocations. and what i worry about his as he continues to propagate, as we look at the succession plan for his son, that the potential for instability and miscalculation and escalation their is pretty highnd of great concern. we continue to focus great aunt ensuring as best we can that it
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has to goes in the other direction. >> and, of course, should a war erupted we are involved, right, because we have a mutual defense treaty with south korea. >> six to one is the ration of contractors or civil servants. yet civil servants continue to endure public -- what is your position on the total force structure and who should be doing the work for the government speak with civil servants continue to endure what? >> a lot of civil servant bashing. >> i've worked with our military for a long time. and as i talk about the investment when i was ahead of the navy, the total force, if you will, includes our civilian workforce. they have been extraordinary.
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and will continue to be a vital part of our force in the future. there's no question about it. they bring a level of skill and continuity, and actually dedication and patriotism that equals that of any of us who wear the uniform. that said, all of us have to be realistic about the budget environment in which we exist, and then look at the best way to move forward. one of the things that i worry about on the civilian side is the rules, when we get into a tight situation like this, the tendency is last in first out. and we've got to pay attention to refreshing our workforce, our civilian workforce. so we have to figure out a way to reach our goals, whatever they might be in this environment, while at the same time not sacrificing our future. i think the average age of our
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sibling workforce is about 47 or 48 years old. and we have to recognize that. so leaders have to be very creative and cognizant of this to ensure that this isn't just about, this isn't just about the next 12 months or the next 24 months, but it's a long-term requirement as well. but we wouldn't be anywhere without the great civilian workforce that we have. >> do you think there'll be a shift in that ratio to more civilian is asian? >> i think that -- were that is going on in the acquisition workforce right now. it has been over the course of the last two or tree years, for example. i -- in terms of the overall budget pressure, i think that ratio certainly has potential for changing, but i don't know. i mean, it's natural. many ofour contractors are what i called in direct support of what we are doing as well.
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secretary gates has asked all of us to look at this to see how much of it we really need. i think that pssure is going to grow. >> we will take one hit and then the of the microphone is over here. making, we have -- take that question expect i'm captain ed sector i think you work for my dead years ago. we'll be enterinhim in arlington in two weeks. >> i'm sorry to hear that. >> the question of going to raise this morning is not new. my sister and brother-in-law both served in the army in the early '80s. my son and daughter-in-law are both active duty now. my son and marine intelligence officer just came home from his third tour in southwest asia. my daught-in-law, a service worker officer has been doing drug intervention off the south america. they have been married for six years, and this monththey will have been in the same town for
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one year total. you know, when i was on active duty we paid attention to the joint service couples, and we made promises about allowances in this regard i understand the operational exigencies of our time, but i don't see that anytng has changed in the last 30 years in terms of really making the rubber meets the road. literally, my son just deploys, my daughter get some. my daughter just deploys, my son gets home. it's happened again and again and again. is anybody paying attention t this in terms of retaining people that are critical? >> well, in the mid '90s i was in a position of leadership in the assignment world, and we actually initiated steps to assign dual military couples in
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cross services it and believe we've got to extend that outside, outside the military. i think we have to pay a lot of attention to dual careers, whether a family has one in the military and one not, not so. i will do two things. one is, i would love to take turning into some research in terms of how much this is -- where exactly we are. i know that we're much better th we re in the mid-nineties with respect to that in erms of those assignments. but you overlay that with demands of the war and the repeated deployments and it's much more difficu issues to manage. i know here is a great deal more focus on thi from a leadership perspective than there used to be. and goes to what i said earlier about guaranteing the future. if we don't get young men and women like her son and
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daughter-in-law to stay in, we are not -- our future will be somewhat problematic. i have been struck, it goes back to the dedication and extraordinary young men and women who served right now, i have just been struck by their willingness to do this, to pursue the career. odyssey to meet the needs we have from the national security standpoint, and in many cases even surprised that they will continue to do it because of the kinds of percentages that you just laid out there, one year in six. and yet we have lost -- i have talked to more than my fair share of said i want to get a life, start a family. we just got to slow down. and it's something that i have addressed and people have addressed very, very closely in terms of not just dealing now, but how does this affect our future. i don't think it is my own take on, i don't think it is
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deliberate. i do know -- i have run into so many, many couples that have been assigned or detailed very specifically to make it work as opposed to what's odyssey going on. so i would be hay to tke your name and e-mail address and get back to you with what exactly we are on that. but i know it's a focus of all the services, and i'm very comfortable we have improved. it's not where we were 30years ago, but thatdoesn't mean we don't have work to do. in the lng run, i believe we're going to have to assign people, we'll have to put people at the center here as opposed to the institutions. and i think if we do that, really, no kitty, do that, and assign people accordingly, that this will be well taken care of e. as opposed to the institutions,
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we are protected of the institutions, face the institutions needs and put that up front and in sort of figure out where people go after that. i just don't think that will work. >> good morning, sir. truth in advertising, retired military, retired air force them former defense contractor, current air force civilian. that being said, libya is maybe a one off but maybe a precedent, and i'm concerned if this predent would be applied to syria. i came through bosnia, and my personal belief was that, we can fly over all you want but until you put bots on he ground things don't change much. that was my personal belief and i'm a little concerned about possibly applying the pariah killing his own people through syria, which i perceive to be a significantly greater threat than lya was at the time that
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we bgin this. >> the president has made it very clear that he decries, and we all do, the violence in syria. it needs to stop. i talked about this trip that i took up through the right at the height of the bahrain challenge. is one of the things that struck me, and i think we just have to be very careful about this come is you can't broadbrush this. every single country is unique. every single country is obviously in the region as well. and i don think we can disconnect a country from its region. i think we have to be very careful about how we address each one, and there are differences and reasons for differences in each one. and so, the question of, okay, libya, why not burma i mean, there are, for instance,
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and i've actually, i have actually heard that question as well. i think it is too broad brushed. to your point, said he is a different country. it's in a different place. and while we certainly deplore -- implored the violence and for the killing, i think whidbey remain full of the uniqueness of syria in both its history, its location and what the potential is, and where we are in that, where they are in hat crisis. so, i just don't think that we can say because, you know, one, because one leader was doing something that is absolutely translates to an intervention that involves another leader. i think we have to be very, ry carefuabout that. my comment about how much the limit of air power per se, but would reemphasize what the president has said come and i
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assure you, he has no intent that i am aware of how he made very clear to me, no boots on the ground in libya and that's what we are today. >> we are counting down. we have about three or four minutes left. yes, sir. >> good morning, admiral. thank you for your service and your example that you not on a sacrifice your generation but generations to come. thank you. my question is, how effective are civilian, our workforce to our military leadership? its evolving to our civilian expeditionary workforce is evolving. i was in kandahar in afghanistan a few months ago and sat down with maybe half a dozen young foreign service officers who had come from lima, london, paris, and rio and found themselves in kandahar excited got every bit as excited as young officer in
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the military, about doing what they were doing. and i was very taken by them in terms of their dedication and their service. and the excitement that the generated in terms of making a difference in peoples lives. so i think it's improved. i think we need to continue to focus on this because we are living in an expeditionary world. we are not going to be able to just deal with it from the washington perspective for the future. so, all the agencies come and it's going to be harder now that the budgets are tighter, have to continue to focus on a. but i think we're in much better shape than we were a few years ago. that said, still a long way to go. >> i'm being signaled that our time has just about run out. so, admiral mullen, i'm going to ask you, if you have any final thoughts for this audience
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before we give you a round of applause for being hre. >> lastly, i would just say thanks to all of you, many of you in the audience have served and make a difference. when i think about the challenges we have been through, this is what we're going to do for the next 10 years, we're going to deploy this many times, when you ask these sacrifices, of our people. and we should be mindful we lost almost 6000 young men and women, d tens of thousands physically injured, and hundreds of thousands with invisible wounds like pts. they have been the best i've ever seen, we just never forget their sacrifices. we are blessed to have them. we are a great, great country for many reasons, and one of the underpinnings of that is this extraordinary force of young men and women who serve today. and again, i'm privileged to till be in uniform and ill be
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-- and thank you for your service. [applause] >> tonight on c-span -- a look at protests against sierra's government with the leader -- syria's government with the leader of the opposition movement. rick santorum talks about foreign policy. and later, president obama announces his nominees to head the c.i.a. and the pentagon. tomorrow on "washington journal," we'll talk to reporters tim reed and paul
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krawzak about federal spending. a look at the latest developments in syria with andrew tabler, and we'll be at the national air and space museum to preview tomorrow's final launch of space shuttle endeavour. stewart powell and jeremy kenny will be our guests. "washington journal" begins live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> what i try to do is tell a story with visuals, instead of words. i'm basically writing paragraphs. they just happen to be with images. >> with four pulitzer prizes, she's won the award more than any other journalist. >> i think the great thing about being a journalist is the variety that we get to experience so many parts of the human condition on so many different levels. >> she'll talk more about her craft sunday night on c-span's q&a. you can also download a podcast. it's one of our signature
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programs available online at >> the c-span networks. we provide coverage of politics, public affairs, nonfiction books and american history. it's all available to you on television, radio, online and on social media networking sites, and finalt our content any time through c-span's video library. we take c-span on the road with our digital bus, bringing our resources to your community. it's washington your way, the c-span networks. now available in more than 100 million homes, created by cable, provided as a public service. >> now a member of the syrian opposition based in washington on protests sweeping that tun. news reports say some 500 civilians have died during a government crackdown on protests. more than 200 members of the syrian parliament have resigned in response to the violence. from the hudson substitute, this is just under two hours.
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-- hudson institute, this is just under two hours. >> it's my privilege to introduce our speakers and share this meeting and to welcome all of you, both here and hudson and also, our c-span audience. for approximately four months the arab world has been the scene of dramatic events, especially dramatic in tunisia, yemen, the gulf, and, of course, libya. there have been many, many differences between these -- among these events, but all
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share in common, it seems to me, two things -- dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs, the status quo, a status quo which, in many cases, has been around for 40 or even 50 years, and the desire for some new beginning. and this desire for a new beginning has, i think, led to the popular name given to all of these events, the arab spring. this movement has now come to syria, a country, which, if i might say, is especially distinguished by the unchanged character of its situation and regime. it has an exceptionally -- has lived for an exceptionally long time under the same regime and the same family.
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so in that sense it is an important touchstone of this movement. it raises the question, will the arab spring move forward, move forward as to follow the metaphor to summer, or will it revert to winter, to the past or a continuation of the status quo? >> this is important to the people of syria, as well, i might add, to its neighbor and its people, lebanon. it is also important to the united states. the current regime has been, to put it mildly, no friend of ours. quite the contrary. so the events in syria, and
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especially the most recent events, are terribly important, and we are fortunate today to have three people who can guide us through these events. describe them, analyze them and perhaps even predict the way in which they may be going forward. our first speaker is amar'e hamid, a native of syria, who has, however, been living in this country for quite a while, owing to his activities in that country and activities on behalf of change and liberal democracy in particular. you can speak from there or at the podium. >> i think probably we can speak at the podium. thank you very much for having us here. thank you, lee, and for
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organizing this. this is really an important time for us to give a clear message about what is happening inside syria and what sort of transitional scenarios we are looking at right now. basically i think i will sort of try to speak about three points briefly, so i can allow more time to my colleagues and also for your questions. the first point i would like to address is how we got started. the second point is the transitional period we're looking at right now and what sort of role we are looking at as dissidents and opposition members, that we will see what role the army will play. and the third point is, are we organizing? is there really an alternative to this regime? and who are the key people who will play a role in that? the whole thing got started, actually, in fact, when mubarak
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came into power. because from the very beginning, a lot of people saw an opportunity now finally to begin to challenge the system. the opposition were divided at the time between people who were completely against the family transition and they were in the minority. but most people in the opposition accepted the transition, but made it conditional on sort of an implemented form. and they used bashar's own spetch when he accepted the presidency and -- speech when he accepted the presidency and the nomination and that he will implement some reforms and that he will, indeed, change course for the country. now the inability of him to implement anything was really the problem and created the crisis of trust in his leadership. after the promises were made,
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there was a period that lasted for a few months and there were a lot of activities on the grass-roots level by the dissidents, by the opposition, that created literary sal ons. they tried to form new parties, new movements. they immediately called for social reconciliation, realizing that this is real and that the issue needs to be addressed. they tried to tackle the kurdish problem and had a lot of kurdish officials to take part in the process. i think once i started to realize that this is a very serious sort of development, immediately the crackdown started. many of the key figures in this movement were put in jail of the usual accusation of being part of a foreign conspiracy, you know, embassy are interfering, whatever, foreign funding and all of the thashese are the usual accusations that are always used in these kind of situations to justify
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oppression. so the fact that you're being accused of being foreign conspirators is nothing new. we've been living under this accusation since you were born in syria. if you're not for the regime, you're against it. it's as simple as that. >> even in the womb. >> even in the womb, i think, yes. it's something we've really i am bibed in our culture. -- imbibed in our culture. that was short-lived, but afterwards the dissident community realizeed that we have to be somewhat more confrontational and more organized and there were different sort of paths on how we can do this. there were a group of people, people like me and others, who believed in activism rather than political sort of activities, which is that we wanted to create networks of activists on the ground. not apolitical, really, but not affiliated with any of the
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usual factions. and our message was that by creating a greater awareness among the young people of the needs to bridge the sectarian divide, the role that this will play in facilitating transition, the needs to actually just do something on the ground, rather than talk about socialism and imperialism and communism and all this, which was really the driving force behind this kind of activities. and we've managed to actually create networks that metastasized into the kind of situation we see today. not wanting to dwell too much on this past, but this is how sort of the germs were sort of spread. and after 2005 with the assassination of the prime minister and the fact that all eyes were on syria at the time and the forces were withdrawing from lebanon, his position in
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the country became somewhat weakened. and the travel from -- the battle lines from that moment, really, were sort of shifted and became purely interior. the city can still play a role and whatever, but now they needed to use proxies more and more. and the international community was focused on development. he had a make some promises of reform and change inside the country that he, of course, did not deliver on. but everybody realized now bashar needed to maintain the syrian base, having lost the periphery, having lost the empire, you could say. and ever since that time, the situation in fact became difficult for activists. because he had to make damn certain that he had complete control inside syria. so whatever divisions there were in the regime, whatever chinks there were in the regime, his main task was to fix them and to make sure that he had full control. from the point of view of the
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opposition, also this was an opportunity for us to prevent that from happening, to get our acts together and to see if you can field the greater challenge in syria. obviously, we didn't do a good job, as you can see. at the end of 2007-2008, he emerged once again as a person in charge of the country and we sort of -- despite attempts at unity and the fact that you came off of a declaration and a major document that unified and united the city in opposition for a while, inside and outside the country and was heavily endorsed by the international community, we still couldn't really move beyond that and the organizational capacity. and we still had limited ability to sort of rally the streets to our cause. so in a sense you can say that we lost another battle. but we also won something. we won an experience. and a lot of people after that realized that we really need to focus more on activities on the
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grounds. this high-end politics and involvement in sort of political alliances and forming political parties and coalitions is nonsensical if you don't have the feet on the ground. after that period, 2007-2008, people realized that we needed to work on the ground and this is where the action should be. so now quietly a lot of activists began sort of working on the ground trying tro communicate the message of change, trying to support network communities for the change and articulating the message why the local communities need to be more politically active, how is this relevant to them. and we tried to do this by creating sort of videos on the need for change, on the realities and say, yeah, we crooted the foundation that i headed. we articulated a message on the
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need for democratic change and on the impact of our way of life, why we have, for instance, child labor, why we have poverty, why the problem has not been resolved or addressed effectively in many, many years, under bashar and before him. all of that was a link through the discussion, common-sense discussion, basically, to the fact that you have a system that's not accountable in any sense to the people. we have people in the regime, like he himself and his family, their comrades in the party and the military and whatever, sort of thinking themselves above the law. if we can't hold them accountable, then there is no way we can do any -- implement any kind of reform. we tried to articulate this message as clearly as possible and in a variety of ways. and also, we relied on feedback from people on the ground to articulate this message.
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and for a two-year period, between 2009 to 2011, basically, we've had this message on youtube. we've had it also on an opposition channel, and we replayed it over and over and over again. we really had very limited resources. so we've managed to produce only very few programs. but you kept playing they will. the message was very clear. so we were hoping that by repeating it, it would seep through. now we found out that actually we were pretty successful at that, because many of the messages we hear on the grounds and coming from the protesters seems to have reflected the kinds of dialogue and language that was used in this kind of programs. but we cannot -- of course, the elephant in the room is the incident in tunisia. had it not been for that young man, we would not be talking
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about a revolution today the so, of course, a lot of people finally began to talk to us, reach out to us, send us emails, communicate through our social network sites like facebook and other channels, which was really when the tunisian revolution happened. even as it unfolded. and even before one of the cities was toppled, we discovered that there were people talking to us saying, we can do that. and we've been saying this could happen. we never really believed it. but now we can see it happening somewhere else, and, look, we can do this here. why not? so we began talking about preparations inside. for a long time i really believed that we should push it until august if we wanted to do something, because i felt that the developments are going to be extremely important in a country like syria, where there is limited room for
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maneuverability by foreign media. and, of course, the press is going to be completely negative and is not going to play any role in covering the event. so i felt that we needed more time to make sure that we are covering the entire country and that we have what it takes to actually be able to cover the development on the events in the ground in the international community in a timely manner. but i was outvoted after a period of discussion, basically. and a lot of people inside syria felt that if we don't start now, and soon, because of what's happening in libya, because of the violence in libya, that people would be afraid of actually joining any kind of protest movement. and also, we've already seen some sparks and some attempts, like on february 17. there was a spontaneous demonstration in downtown damascus. 1,500 people raising a slogan that caught the attention of everybody. the people will not be
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humiliated. when a traffic violation led to a confrontation between a policeman and sort of a local community, and immediately people poured into the street. and this was something that was -- a slogan that was raised by the protesters at the time. so i think this kind of spontaneous events -- and a lot of them happened afterwards -- really indicated what kind of slogans needed to be raised, and the people are finding their voice. >> that the revolution would wait for you. >> exactly. so we had to go with the flow of events inside the country. and this is really where the difference between the official line accused on the outside and organizing it and actually where we, in a sense, were being led by people on the ground, new generations of activists, very youthful, enthused. they wanted advice. they wanted some ideas on how things can be done, and they
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looked to us to also be their mouthpieces basically outside the country. but the reality is they are the leaders. >> if you would now say something about where you think the situation is now. >> exactly. i think this is a good point to transition to, because right now we're talking about a self-organizing movement, collective leadership, a new generation, new, fresh blood being infused into the situation, which is why, with all this kind of cracking down that's happening by the regime to the point of deploying tanks, to the point of, you know, using heavy artillery in the city, basically and arbitrary arrests around protesters, lying to the people and saying there are infiltrators and all that sort of tired, really, accusation that is you've heard reiterated throughout libya and egypt and elsewhere and yemen.
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so that kind of development has sort of led this movement to become more adamant. led the protesters to immediately raise their level of demand to reforms, in the first few days, or freedom, freedom, freedom, which is the people will not be humiliated, to the people want to topple the regime, or send your troops . of course,
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that slogan is meant to assure our community that if you are looking for guarantees on what's going to happen, we are telling you, you are going to have a lot of faith through the army. no one is challenging the
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legitimacy of the army. if anything, we want them to stay and play a role as a safeguard of the civility of the states and to help ease the transition and protect minority rights. we realize that the army has an important role to play. we want the leaders and many of the high ranking officers to feel that they are definitely part of the process and to realize that they are safe in the political future of the country will not change as a result of the push for our democracy. we want the political process to be open and to be free from army intervention, but at the same time, we want the army to be there to guarantee the civility and this process is not dominated by extremeist elements
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. but the other extreme, people who want to treat the country as their own system. we want the army to realize that there is a need to transition from this kind of a system where you have a family treating the entire country as their own private feifdom and there is some measure of accountability to the people. so this is basically where we are. we will continue to issue that message and we are hoping that at one point the army leadership will get it. as a result of all of the developments on the ground and the pressures of the international community and this is the last point i would like to make before yielding to the floor, we have been asked about
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an alternative, are they going to be the muslim broots hood, is this a revolution? it is a revolution by activates. the leaders on the ground in syria are in the decision making process and all communities are represented. if you look at the declaration for instance, you will get an idea of what we are talking about here because many of the -- there is a similar structure almost emerging where people are not joining as representatives of their parties but as independents. this is now -- we are trying to feel the alternative to the regime but also to traditional parties. this is not a muslim brother hood or community party thing this is a movement of independence, a transitional
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process that will lead to free elections and we find out, the truth of the political system. the transitional figures are all independent. they are arabs and sunnis, christians and jews, mostly young people. 60% of the population is under 0 and most of the people who died in the movement are below the age of 0. we are talking about a very young population and very young movement and we are talking about the young coalition that we have announced two days ago. it is the initiative for change. most of the leaders inside the country and you can probably get some of the names but we aren't revealing but many have been elected on the local level and emerged as key figures in their
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communities and outside the country there are people like me , loved ones and colleagues and her names will be provided in the list in days to come and will be spokespeople. we will organize the movement and get support from communities in order to make the representation more transparent and more inclusive of the diversity of the syrian movement outside the country. so this is where we are right now. the ailt knife is being formalized and we are hoping that with a key role played by the army, the international community also through sanctions, travel bans, asset freeze and potentially also going to the international criminal court if the repression is going to continue will be
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able to pressure assad in accepting an exit strategy. >> the country and the people who has an exceptionally strong interest in what is going on in syria is the country and people of lebanon. for whom what goes on in syria has had for a very long time a powerful effect, i could say for better or worse, but it has always been for worse, more or less. and -- [inaudible conversation] >> such circumstances generally concentrate the mind. and they generally lead to
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insight and clarity about what's going on in the situation. that has been true of many lebanese but that is true of our next speaker, who is a journalist, originally from south lebanon and if i may say this as someone who is technologically challenged, the new kind of journalist, the most important web publication in lebanon today. and i forget whether you have an alternative site. >> it's part of the same site and it was created just before the first friday of demonstrations in syria. and as interestingly enough, it is often the case that you can find out what's going on in syria from what's going on in
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lebanon. >> definitely. >> and will be telling us what is going on in syria and lebanon. >> thank you very much. yeah, unfortunately, lebanon and syria are linked to some extent, you cannot talk about lebanon without talking about syria. the link is serious, watching hezbollah's -- >> move the mic a little bit closer. >> you have a lovely soft voice. >> thank you very much. is this better? >> watching what happened today by hezbollah but not pushing for the formation of the government by also that would show you that
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they are marking their territory inside lebanon. for example -- i talk about two incidents that happened after the syrian uprising happened. hezbollah -- speak up? is this better? hezbollah, two weeks ago started a campaign in a city in south lebanon where they forced the -- some shops to stop selling alcohol. this is not a big deal. it's not like they are closing liquor stores in the city, but inside their community but they are telling the people we are the authority, marking the territory inside the community. but at the same time, they created a few incidents where news was leaked to a few
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newspapers, which is hezbollah, march 8 newspaper, that published the first news of the newspaper that it was on state-owned property. this has been going on since 2006 after the war when the reconstruction started. and people started moving. but naturally, well, it wasn't that obvious before, but after 2006 -- the money was coming from iran and hezbollah taking care of the reconstruction. they became a phenomenon. why was it leaked to the news now? they wanted the i.s.f. to act so a message can be passed. and when i heard the news reacted. and they went south to stop the illegal reconstruction on state land.
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many villages and towns turned into a war zone. people shot at the i.s.f. and they had to react and they shot at some people and they killed a palestinian guy. during the funeral, there were other problems close to the southern suburbs in beirut. why this is happening now and why hezbollah is acting that way, it's always the people. it's the people who attack. it's the people who attack the investigators. the women, the people. it's always the people who are at the front creating problems and hezbollah is always leading the people from behind. and this is also, i think as another sign of marking the territory in the south, that this is our state. you cannot sell alcohol.
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people are allowed to build on state land because according to the people who were interviewed, they said these are lands that we paid for with our blood. so they have a feeling that they have a right to build on these lands. the state has nothing to do with the state land in the south. this kind of marking territory is also -- i think it's a big sign of fear that they are experiencing now of what is happening in syria. hezbollah knows what is happening in syria now is going to influence its power in lebanon on many levels. syria is key to hezbollah and syria is key to hamas and every organization that is similar in the region. whatever happens in syria is going to influence hezbollah, whether it is although gist particular, when it comes to arms smuggling, whether
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politically in lebanon, when it comes to majority-minority and syria is weakened if the regime falls but allies will be weakened and hezbollah cannot function the same way. they cannot topple the government alone. they cannot influence government decisions alone. there are concerns and they want the syrian regime to stay and they organized this big conference where every single politician in syria and ally in lebanon made statements where a lot of double standards emerged to the surface who supported the egyptian and tue neician uprising, but when it toms to syria, this is a different case. for them this is a conspiracy.
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the regime protects the resistance and for people who are not like hard-core hezbollah members but support them, they tend to be more liberal, leftist communist peoples. for them, the syrian uprising is genuine. but hezbollah is sending these people and syrian people who are being genuine about the demands, hezbollah's existence is more important than people's freedom, demands reforms. the killing, the regime is exercising is minimum, 500 syrians were killed in the streets and much more were arrested and tortured and hezbollah is sending everyone in the region because they will lose their popularity if the double standards exist.
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our existence is much more important than the lives of these people. and this is definitely not something they would like to convey, but they have to, because they have no choice. another thing that is now becoming very obvious to people in lebanon, especially for the people who are critical of hezbollah, but more so of the people -- like the shia communities, there are people who are hezbollah supporters, but they stand to be critical of hezbollah and they are realizing also and this is the main thing for the people in lebanon and the region in general, that all the violence, aggressive messages that hezbollah has been using to defeat occupation, to be on the opposition, all of these aggressive military messages haven't been as the
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peaceful messages that are becoming more effective and tunisia and egypt especially, peaceful demonstrations were more efficient. the demonstrators, people are dying, this is the main slogan for the syrians and not something that they created while demonstrating. this is because of their part of their political strategy. it's peaceful demonstration is definitely what they want to do and hover is going to take over in syria, but whoever is going to come in is going to come through peaceful methods and carry peaceful messages throughout. they won't put up fronts against other people in the regions.
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hezbollah is worried about that because suddenly peaceful methods are being more effective than their own aggressive and violent methods. basically this is a situation of hezbollah but also the indictments that is coming hopefully very soon. nobody knows when it's going to be published. but this will also add to the series of hezbollah, because so far before the syrian uprising happened, hezbollah didn't care about the indictments. and even if they were going to be accused, they know for sure that no one would be able to arrest a hezbollah member and send them to the hague. hezbollah and syria, they agree that they will not cooperate with the tribunal because tribunal is an israeli-american tool to defeat hezbollah. but it is different.
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some people are saying -- i read some analysis saying that whatever happens in syria and even if the regime doesn't fall, even if the regime is weakend, they will do everything to protect themselves and will cooperate with the people who have the capacity to protect the regime, the international community, the u.n. and international organizations. so they might actually cooperate when it comes to the tribunal and maybe they wouldn't when it comes to an existence as a regime. hezbollah might be sacrificed whether it comes to the tribunal or other matters. hezbollah rells they are important but when it comes to their existence as a regime, also, they might be sacrificed.
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there is a concern among the syrian people and in the region also from lebanon to egypt tore tunisia, everywhere, there is kind of a hypocrisy when it comes to the stance towards syria. people are raising a lot of questions why the u.s. and the west so far, how can they take decisive stances. it is kind -- this is a serious issue because i think the west and mainly the u.s. is creating enemies inside the syrian -- within the syrian opposition figures because they feel and they are totally convinced of that and i don't know if you agree, but i have heard many people saying that the u.s. is protecting the regime because israel wants to maintain this
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regime and the u.s. wants to help and protect israel. and this is definitely not a good thing. people do not -- the u.s. definitely is not credible now for the people now. and they don't understand because this is a pro-democracy movement, this is a peaceful movement and a dictatorship which is an enemy to the u.s. so what's going on? they need to be told immediately, something has to change pleadly and otherwise there would be a big problem when this is over and the u.s. will look like -- look hypocritical not only to the syrians but to everyone in the region. this is major. i think i will conclude now and i will definitely ensure that you will be asking questions about that. i will leave the floor to you. >> that is a good introduction
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to the remarks of our next speaker. i would just observe that our principal brings further, that we side with our enemies and hostile to friends or potential friends. this is very mysterious at the moment, but i think our next speaker may be able to explain this. and our next speaker is lee smith. lee is a fellow here at the hudson institute, but also is an editor with "the weekly standard" and written for many publications and still does but publishes weekly in "the weekly standard" and author of a very fine book published last year called "the strong horse power
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of politics and the clash of arab civilizations." >> thanks. i don't know if i can explain it in its entirety but i can venture a guess that i have been writing for the last few weeks and certainly i think it's more and certainly on the surface, this is what it looks like, that we have been siding with our enemies and we have been helping our or rather than damaging our friends around the region both within different regimes and in different opposition movements. it's certainly asking why it seems to be preserving the assad regime is a vital u.s. interest. if you look at a series of statements made by the administration, you see that they have been essentially protecting the assad regime. one of the first statements that came out of the white house was the president, when he -- and
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this was his first statement, i believe, when he -- in his first sentence he warned the regime against bloodshed and next sentence, he admonished the opposition against bloodshed. outrageous. the one opposition movement that the united states has thrown its weight behind in the last four months happens to be the one group that went to weapons almost immediately and the syrian opposition was entirely unarmed and peaceful. the idea that this administration was warning them to avoid bloodshed was remarkable. there were a number of other statements that came out of the administration, some of them -- if you remember what the secretary of state said that she was quoting lawmakers from both
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sides of the aisle who described westernized president assad as reform-minded, making reforms. she rolled it back and said, well, i didn't say that. quoted other people who were saying that. it appears this is still what this administration expects and it keeps talking about. for assad to keep to the reforms that he has promised, as he has rolled out tanks in syrian cities, this administration is still talking about assad reforming, this president who is incapable of spiritual remedy is going to reform his political system now is present pros terous. so why is the white house protecting this regime? the reason is, and this goes back to the obama administration, this romance with damascus goes back to -- i
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think it has lasted for the entirety of the assad regime. if you look at different statements and different officials and envoys and diplomats who visited damascus and spoken with this regime, they come back with t this statement, a man who keeps his word, you can do business with him. what these different promises that the former syrian president kept to to make policy making in the region is unclear. they came back and talked about how what a tough negotiator was and they are even u.s. diplomats who said they wouldn't let them go to bathroom for hours. it is a brief respite from the bush administration, only after people have to remember, this
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was only after the syrians were believed responsible for the assassination of hariri and at that point that the bush white house believed that this regime was incapable of remedy. they were drew the ambassador and tried to isolate damascus. even people in that administration will acknowledge. nonetheless, the solution was not to go 1880 and reach out and try to engage that regime. the reason that they had tried to engage the regime were two main reasons. the first reason is because the peace process is central to the obama administration's middle east strategy. in fact, that is the obama administration's middle east strategy. the point is not just to -- where most administrations policy makers understand the peace process as a way to get all the other arab states on
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board, on a way to bring on the other states, the obama administration understands this is the way to go over the heads of arab rulers and win more the affection of arab and muslim people, that this is the purpose of the cairo speech the purpose of the cairo speech was to avoid -- not to avoid, but around the way u.s. policy makers work, which is to do business with arab states. of course, this is how diplomacy works. states do business with other states. what the obama cairo speech was about was going over the head of arab regimes for better or worse and making the case that the united states would win back or win the affection of the arab and muslim societies. and the way to do this was to -- it's not necessarily to win a
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just and comprehensive peace between arabs and israelis, but to show the good faith of the white house. that is why the peace process is central to the administration, because it is about reaching out to arab and muslim masses. the subsidiary point to that was, if the administration could manage to make room on the peace process regarding the syrian track, what would that would do is they would put distance between syria and iran. the administration was not entirely insensitive to the fact that iran was washington's key strategic concern but to deal with iran, that was the instrument that this administration believed was most useful, the peace process. the peace process, by loosening the syrians somewhat from the iranian access, by showing the
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syrians how much there was to gain from partnering with the united states and from jumping sides as egypt had done with the camp david accords and jumped from the soviet side to the u.s. side, this is what the u.s. meant to do with the syrians. now, what we have seen over the last month-and-a-half since the middle of march, what we have known all along is that this will regime has very significant strategic interests of its own regarding the peace process and regarding its alliance with the iranians, we saw this during the entirety of the bush administration, people within the beltway, people -- europeans, arab officials were warning the bush administration, you need to bring in the syrians, why are you isolating them. someone needs to show the syrian what they need to have and need
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to be persuaded that it is their best interests to jump sides and the fact that the bush administration is not doing that is a major flaw. well, that is what the obama administration came to office to do, to show the syrians it was in their interests to jump sides. in the last month-and-a-half, again, this regime will not reform. regimes whose snipers are picking off its own children are not apt to make peace with their own populations let alone with the state of israel. it is ridiculous that this administration is looking at this regime of capable of reform. there is no middle east strategy. there is nothing else they have going on. there is nothing moving on the palestinian track aside from the unity deal which is bad for the
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administration and peace process. when that happened, you could see the syria track will become even more important. it's going to be very difficult for this administration to find a way to cut the syrians loose. i don't think they are protecting the syrians because there is -- i imagine there is a lot of conflict in the administration, what is we going to do with him shooting his own people in the street. this is a serious conflict with the administration. the same thing happened in 2009, june, 2009, after the iranian elections when the green movement took to the streets and the administration was very slow to act. as someone explained in an article in this week's "new yorker," a former administration official explained, the reason the administration was so slow
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to react is because they wanted to engage the irans -- yirnians that is going on today with the administration in damascus and looking for a way to engage the syrians. it's about the administration's middle east strategy. that's all they have right now. so with that, i'll conclude and open it up to questions. >> i would like to make a couple of observations and pose a couple of questions and our panel will poke each other if they like, and maybe aisle start with this last point, which was raised, how to understand american policy and it is a great mystery. and i would hope people in
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lebanon, syria and elsewhere might be persuaded that it is a mystery, that it requires an understanding which we don't exactly have. and there are two aspects to this. one as lee has, there has been an extraordinarily long indulgence. syria was a, very important, and b, a good and useful and productive relationship with them and for the region was just around the corner. and this predates any views. predates any serious expression on the side of the israelis for a hope with a deal with the syrians and goes back to the 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, the
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number of u.s. secretaries of state who have stood on the tarmac at damascus airport in between visits is extraordinary. probably set some kind of u.s. diplomatic record. such that it looks as if somehow or other, the syrian regime be wished two generations of american policy makers and analysts. and i use the term bewitched re luck tantly. but -- reluctantly. it should be stressed so people understand that this is not a new thing and shows perhaps either our particular crdul inch
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ty. and i would say also it has been heightend under this administration for the reason that we lee says plus. the cairo speech is a remarkable speech because it was not about the middle east at all except incidentally. it was really about our relations with the muslim world as a whole. all 1.3 billion muslims. and somehow -- and that's a clear ambition of that speech is somehow to restore a relationship or create a relationship between us and all the world's muslims and somehow or another, everything else hangs on that or derives from that. i think that's probably the clearest explanation for the preoccupation with the palestinian-israeli thing.
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the notion that somehow all the world's muslims care about that terribly much and if you could solve that with the world's muslims -- that may seem far too global for people living in downtown beirut. but i think there is a very powerful aside to that. the other thing i wanted to say and this leads to the question. the centrality of syria is a dogma in almost every account of events in the middle east and it is repeated endlessly in the newspaper accounts of today's events. the sentralt of syria and stability of syria and if you open the paper today you will see those phrases continually. the question i pose is how central is syria and if it is so
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central to the region, what is the region going to do with regard to syria? there are two large players in the region besides outside parties, namely the turks and the iranians and i would be -- and i'm sure the audience would be interested in your reflections on how the present dynamic may draw them in, what their calculations are, so forth. let me start from one particular situation and that is the situation where it began. and that's where the regime thinks it could end it. dara is not a village and only 75,000 people. it's not -- not that far from damascus, but it's on the
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border, not in the heartland of syria. why is taking on so much importance and why have they decided to bring in tanks? it's horrible enough that when they are shooting people with rifles and machine guns, but tanks? what's their thinking and what is the thinking of the neighbors? >> i'll answer the question about dara. it is really heartbreaking to watch the situation happen there and the international community failing to come up with a clear condemnation of the developments there. and years ago in a sort of a tv program, i was interviewed about the change and whether it's going to happen or not. and i say one day you will be
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able to take to the streets and fight peacefully for our freedom and the main goal will be for us on the outside ferodser outside and our role will be to shed light on the development so we prevent it becoming another hamas. and you know -- it is a city in 1982 that was destroyed by assad forces because they tried to crush the rebelion in the city. there are 200 armed people, that is true, but they destroyed half of the city and killing 30,000 people in order to get the 200, which we agreed were terrorists. no one denied it at the time and no one disputed it at the time. killing 30,000 people to stop 200 terrorists is really not a situation you want. so the kind of threats that the regime is using and when assad
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said about infiltrateors and armed gangs, it immediately, to us, rang alarm bells because this is exactly what you are afraid of, by throwing this accusation, you will have a situation where the government will move in full force against the pockets of resistance and will justify it like they did in the past. we are trying to document the type of movement you have on the street to show there are unarmed protestors and show they come from different sorts of backgrounds and to be very clear about getting the information out as quickly as possible so the international community realizes what they are dealing with and realize the true nature of the movement and not fall into the regime. of course, we cannot make it
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blindly. if there are some people who want to see assad as a reformer for whatever reason, i don't think we can make them see. this is a situation that is behind us. >> actually since -- there may not be fully blind but may need an eye doctor. >> exactly. but unfortunately, the eye doctor seems to need an eye doctor at this stage. we are talking about a serious situation. humanitarian situation. the city has been under siege for several weeks and under the last week, the siege is no electricity, no water, no food in and out and no medical supplies and tanks invading, artillery shells, gun fire, bodies thrown into the streets. you cannot get videos out of the city because for one simple
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reason there is no electricity. you can't charge your cell phones which are used to capture images you are seeing. there are although gist particular problems along these lines, but you still get images every now and then and can communicate with some eye witnesses on the ground up until recently and we get who are filing tales. it's difficult to corroborate everything but on the basis what has happened before we can say the situation is scary and the fact that you might be witnessing a massacre basically while we continue debating the final points of what american sort of ideological interests are -- >> the proper reference point here is nearly 30 years ago and
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hamas and preparing another hamas as a demonstration lesson. the idea is they chose the city because it can be isolated easily and they want to send a message to the rest of the syrian population that you aren't going to put up with protests. it's interesting to see that the protestors were throwing stones and rocks at the tanks, so they aren't being coward and it is interesting to realize that even as this intervention is taking place as hundreds of arrests are happening in many suburbs in damascus and other cities and you know, that the movement keeps putting numbers in the streets and still people protesting in other suburbs.
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and people were still willing to defile and they got out in numbers and when they realized they were defeated by the army and if they want to come here, we will meet them. we are having a situation where people have to realize that the majority of the population are extremely young. the protest movement is based on youth participation. and young people break the barrier of fear. they can be rational. they aren't going to be afraid of marksism. marksism is a very sort of our culture and when it gets adopted, the islamist, everybody has a certain aattachment. we sid fine, we'll die for freedom. we are tired of being lied to and when a city official comes out and says there are armed
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gangs immediately and it deepens and our position hardens and our demands escalate, more people added to the black list. we don't want that situation anymore. we cannot stand it. so whether people are betting on outside abilities to contain it, i tell you it's not going to be contained. we will inflame it again from independence the country, from outside the country, this is going to end the way we want it to end with the regime toppled with asawed -- assad either in prison or if they still have a small chance of ending up in london in a small flat viewing the royal wedding. but there is not a solution. assad has to go. that's it.
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>> everyone should take into consideration and consider many times. you were talking about the peace process and why the u.s. actually wants syria or expecting syria to be part of the peace process, i don't think syria would be interested in peace for a very obvious reason for me. i don't know if you agree with me, but i think conflict is very important in protecting the regime and maintaining the regime. the syrian regime survives on conflict. because of conflict, it allows the regime to arrest people and create a state of fear where everyone is not allowed to have
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freedom of speech because of the state of emergency which is based on conflict. and that's why they support hezbollah and hamas and they support the iranians because they support conflicts. i don't think they are interested in peace. this is something that everyone should reconsider whether syria is key or not. it is key to iran. it is key to hezbollah and ham ause and it is important as an ally. they either want a major role in the region and they have at this time, but they aren't playing a major role now. hezbollah is playing a major role in the region. they are there to assist them and keep some bargaining chips to negotiate. and that's it. and no, i don't think they can use these chips anymore. >> i think that's probably true.
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it is actually forgotten that there was a deal proposed between israel and syria in which in which assad withdrew. i think that tends to reinforce your point that they never wanted to settle because of the advantages of having the conflict continue. >> i agree. this is one of the problems that i think neither this administration or many administrations before it who have tried to drag syria to the peace process have understood this. sitting with the syrians strengthens their hands. it's one of the things they want. they want prestige given it by the united states and united states brings it in the peace process. ahmad -- maybe if you want to open it up to the auppedens, but
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my question has been over the last few weeks, why do we continue to talk about what happens after assad? there are people in this city who should contemplate this, but after all, the syrian regime has painted itself as an adversary of the united states. it helped facilitate the flow of islammist fighters into iraq, killing thousands of u.s. troops in iraq. it killed u.s. allies, iraqi alies and killed our allies in israel and in the palestinian territories, this is clearly an enemy of the united states. why do we care what happens after? i believe it's true especially in the middle east that things can always be worse. no one has made a good case what can be worse than this
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particular regime. at least two or maybe more secret nuclear facilities, warheads pointed to tell aveef and its support for terrorist organizations throughout the region, alliance with iran, what could possibly look worse? someone needs to make that case, a regime that gets to the bomb and fires those warheads on israel. the only thing that has restrained damascus has been outside pressure on da must cuss. they don't limit themselves, but the limits imposed on them that managed to rein them in. do you have any idea? >> this is exactly one of the problems. for a long time we have been asked about the alternatives and for a long of time people are painting scenarios that the situation is going to be worse and worse. when people talk to me and said
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alternative is the muslim brotherhood. and i tell them i have been working as an active it for many years and among my colleagues i'm not going to elected but part of an alternative. you know, considering the background -- if i may. >> they are trying to identify. i'm a syrian and come from that background and this background. it's really a ridiculous to have to defend ourselves and to say. but what's more ridiculous when people say well toes mostly protests.
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it's one thing about societies, that civil societies have been decimated and the only place we can meet freely is a mosque. the imams -- all of them are appointed by the state and have to follow the line of the state and those who don't are immediately removed or have to go through the same kind of security hell that every dissident has to go through through. to face on this in the stages is normal. we have no other choice. but the other thing is, it seems to me that there is this kind of craziness going around that if you are religious, you are an extremeist. do we have to reneg the faith in order to be moderate? yes, the majority of the city and people are religious, whether they are christian,
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muslim, sunnis, the majority is here connected to the faith. a liberal would wish the situation was otherwise. people are questioning it. but this is the situation for liberals probably everywhere. it is an important part in our societies, if not global societies. you know, and this is something that people have to try and understand. if you are looking for alternatives, alternatives have been staring you in the face for years and years and years and all of the opposition members who came out and spoke basically were moderate, liberal. there was a rational town that is pro-peace, pro-west.
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many people will say this is going to change once they come to par, but we have been consistent and on message. and our own vested interest lies in developing our countries and building universities, hospitals and roads, but not in a case with war with israel and can lay havoc. we are not capable of waging that kind of war at the risk of the future of our question and more and more destruction to the next generation. we aren't interested in that. there are diplomatic means. diplomacy can work. almost it worked. and at the last minute, we want commitment to the diplomatic. we are committed to the diplomatic process and we want to get the golan back and we
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have support in the international community and get the golan back. israelis want to give it back if we can find the peace agreement. we aren't worried about that but developing our own country and what we are worried about is getting rid of the only obstacle in our path towards a better future, which is a small plight of people that uses conflict in the region to press themselves and keep themselves in power. assad days are numbed. people who are afraid of the alternative should snap out of it. i don't know how delusional they will continue to be after all these years and these attempts and making them see the light. and now you have people being killed in cold blood in the streets and snipers killing children for crying you out loud and no one is disputing the veer
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asity of the videos or human rights organization. everybody says yes, this is true. snap out of it. we want it to going behind and brace the alternative. >> what has it said to you, you are speaking to the people in the administration? what are they saying to you? >> i haven't spoken to an official since obama came to office. there were some people who did and basically the language so far has been consistent with what you have seen with the statements coming out of the white house. condemned violence and assad reform and basically, it has been annoying. >> technical definition for american action created largely through the libian crisis which
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is a humanitarian crisis. i'm just wondering -- killing children is an element of that. >> secretary clinton explained the libian intervention and using airplanes against their own people. if i'm the syrian regime, i interpret that as a green light to avoid using six-wing aircraft. >> by the way -- the transport was by helicopters. they used choptters in the conflict and today and this morning, we had reports that there was airial bottom barred meant and i couldn't confirm that. i wouldn't put it past them anymore. they got into a situation where
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the international community, especially when they issued a clear document by the national security council that they are the feeling powers and to do anything they want. unless the international community adopts a language of sanctions and implements serious targeted sanctions against members of the assad regime and unless there are clear warningings that will go to the tribunal if you persist it. >> there will be another -- there will be sanctions but focus on him. >> well, i would not agree with that and i also do not see the u.s. working on it by itself and having much impact. the e. you is important. the europeans isre


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