tv U.S.- Iran Relations CSPAN June 27, 2015 9:48pm-10:50pm EDT
here in washington people are not so young but naive. this is one of the complaints that i have when it comes to u.s. government view of the rouhani cabinet. david keyes: i think the regime has succeeded in making 98% of the discourse of the nuclear issue, maybe even higher, and convinced the west is how to prevent iran from getting nuke -- nuclear weapons. without nuclear weapons, with purely conventional arms hundreds of millions of people have been killed in the last 150 years. 200,000 people slaughtered in syria, 800,000 in rwanda, tens of millions in world war ii. so i think we need to dramatically and unequivocally restore the focus to the human rights question. when his wife was touring the state department one time in the 80's she would tell a story that there was a huge map on the wall and one of the senior state
department officials said with all due respect you don't really expect us to relegate your husband's release to all these important geostrategic challenges. what you don't understand is those issues won't be resolved until my husband is released. and i think we're aware of the informations. there are lists of hundreds of thousands of political prisoners but many people don't get the link between internal freedom and external peace. and just real quick about the issue of the letters to beg baghdadie. emboldning dissidents also encourages those movements inside iran. there's nothing more fearful for a disdent than feeling alone and isolated and not cared about by the rest of the world. we can do an enormous amount to increase the strength of disdent movements inside authoritarian countries simply by speaking out and supporting them. this helps gives them the impetus to rise up against those who throw them in prison. i think that's another issue
that the west doesn't understand. and i completely agree about missing what has become conventional wisdom of even the arab spring. it's fantastic to look back at the predictions of supposedly smart people in 2009 newsweek said that the best thing for syria was a wise and cares madic -- charismatic leader named assad and in 2010 kerry said he was a partner for peace, prosperity and stability. and in 2011, they said syria was an island of stability. and you look at those talking about egypt as a rock of stability in an island of stability and secretary clinton's famous remark on january 25 is our assessment that the egyptian government is stable. all of these were false and just dangerously wrong in no small part i think because they weren't listening and they missed the fact that the amount
of double thinkers is always bigger than we think and the amount of true believers is typically lower than we think. clifford may: thing i'll push you on a little bit, and i may have mission understood. yes greater emphasis in human rights is called for but that shouldn't mean less emphasis on the nuclear issue. if this regime should get nuclear weapons, the amount of repression and carnage we could see under that nuclear umbrella for the remainder of this century would make what's going on now seem very small. david keyes: no question it q & a would be a large danger. but i think the unfortunate correlator is that people underestimate the danger of the regime staying in power and supporting terrorism and undermining every single gulf country and funding terrorism as far as the eye can see and brutally repressing 80 million people for decades. that's an absolutely untenable and unforgiveable situation which we can work faster to undo.
>> on the next washington journal, ezekiel emanuel discusses a recent supreme court decision to uphold subsidies in the affordable care act, how the aca has been working overall and why reform has become such a divisive political issue. radio and talk talkshow host armstrong williams examines the current state of race relations in the u.s.. gary seymore talks about the iran nuclear program negotiations. we take your calls and join the conversation on facebook and twitter. washington journal live at 7:00 a.m. on c-span. the final portion of our issue spotlight features professor and middle east expert gerald green.
he explores iranian culture and the origins of u.s. iranian mistrust. >> ok. i want to do a contextual talking about iran what i want to do first of all is seen sitting how to begin to the impasse that we are at today. i coincidently was in tehran during the revolution. i was there. i didn't participate, but he i witnessed iranian resolution from the beginnings until the return of -- i was there and saw it firsthand. this is 35 years ago. it was a revolution against the shah of iran.
he got the vast majority of the people in this country to hate him. to get iran is to agree on anything is not easy. he succeeded at this brilliantly. it is quite unfortunate and sad. he had extraordinary resources available to him. trust me. he had a remarkable opportunity. he was ill with cancer in having chemotherapy. all sorts of explanations. it is unfortunate. why do iranians not like us? it is kind of an oxymoron. many would say iran is the most pro-american country in the world. what they mean is not the
government of iran. they mean the average iranian on the street. i lived in the second largest concentration of iranians in the world outside of iran. i have been there regularly since the revolution. it is amazing given those high- level -- between our two governments. the average person actually likes the united states. they like american culture. they like basketball. all sorts of stories -- stuff. having said that, again, you will not love it. i will tell you have iranians -- i will tell you how iranians think. i just subscribed to these use. i will tell you how we look. first of all, it looks like we
support dictatorship across the middle east. this is -- we supported iraq's attack on iran. it was a dramatic event. our hands on this are not completely clean either. there's a brief period of time where we were trekking off and selling weapons to the iraqis. it was a horrible regime up there and evil, if i may use that word. the assad regime in syria. third, the united states favors israel.
what iranians believe is that the u.s. favors the jewish faith over muslim states. states that are populated primarily by muslims. you may not agree. it may not be too. this is the perception. this is what they believe. after the revolution, they took an embassy and they gave it to the -- they celebrate jerusalem day in tehran. iranians believe that we as a country favor the jewish state over the muslim state. therefore, muslim states, we are anti-islamic. there are arguments against that. >> [inaudible] >> ok.
jerrold green: this is what iranians believe he read that we do not like muslims. a guy was murdered because someone thought he was a muslim. we have reasons -- iran is indeed strangled. economic sanctions have worked. the iranians were strangled. they regard as an emotional type of strangling rather than one that resulted in geopolitics. if the u.s. is trying to expel it, isolate iran, we are. there is a reason for it. iranians believe that iran is a great nation, an ancient nation with local interest. they deeply resent what they think we are trying to do. this is all they knew.
there are things about them that they don't like and so forth. it is certainly not going to change. they have their narrative. we have hours. what is ours? they took over our embassy. we have all seen "argo." great movie. i loved it. i've seen it twice. despite how inaccurate was, i still liked it. second of all, the iranian support terrorist and extremist groups. they absolutely do. there was an attack on the
jewish community center of what in buenas aires. these were things that iran has done. they denied the holocaust. i was invited, by this middle-class get from kid, to a meeting in tehran that the holocaust did not happen. the guest of honor was david duke. there was a holocaust denier. i cannot make it. i had a conflict. [laughter] there are people that do deny the holocaust. they threaten to destroy israel. the american people wish to support israel.
it is american policy. i used to live in texas. they love israel more than we did. it was astounding. this is an american issue. not simply an american jewish issue. we are the great satan. they are the axis of evil. there are competing narratives. both work in mobilizing negative energy. what is going to happen? what do we know? this is the one i think is the most important. i have spent my life, i'm reading things about iran and britain by my learned colleagues -- and written by my learned
colleagues. there's a certainty with which they tell us about iran and one another. it is belied by reality. nobody really understands what is going on in iran. it is impossible. the political system in iran is intentionally designed so that it is ok, it is obscure. iranians don't know what is going on. very smart iranians -- it is the nature of the system. they want to avoid what happened to the shah. they want a political system in which it is difficult to overrule the current political order. part of it is the uncertainty that comes in the wake of a resolution. no one wants to make a decision or be at risk. no one wants to take a chance. it is not clear how it works. there's this murkiness.
you know, i feel like helen keller. there's so much that is not evident to us. it is not clear. we lack information. north korea is sort of the old stander of ignorance, but iran is not far behind in terms of the iranian system. i read endlessly and i get frustrated. i did not know about that. political actors. the one that year go all the time is the supreme leader. the supreme leader is many things, one of which is that he is not supreme. he is sort of the political act for, but is a political actor. he is not some autocrat who snaps his finger and things happen.
his problem will continue to get worse if he is not [indiscernible] there is this unique role that [indiscernible] occupied. it is not transferable to someone else. the supreme leader resigns over the islamic republic. not only the spiritual leader, but also the political leader. they need to engage and he really needs to get political interest in iran to support him and work with them. certainly he is very influential. he is not the only game in town. it is a challenge. second of all, the religious sector. it is extremely diverse. not that they all agree. there is race diversity and
differences of view within the religious sector. some are generally conservative and orthodox and some are actually very enlightened and they get it. they get it. they're working within a difficult system. the third is that revolutionary guard. the revolutionary guard is not only a military organization but also an economic entity that is sort of comparable to the people's liberation army in china. the interest are extraordinary. they are very wealthy. they have built an airport in tehran, for example. there is a battle of another group that wanted to build the airport and they lost. they did not have as many guns.
they are again another political entity, which is very influential. none of them are dominant. all of them are important. you cannot discount any of them. the part about the iranian politics that is so fascinating anonymous have access to is that these people has been a lot of time with one another and aging tea and a read poetry. they do politics, if you will. it is a constant series of negotiations. horse trading and politicking. it is how iranian politics always works. it worked this way under the shah. there were groups of people who would go to school together in a similar industry. i'm sure in congress you had -- that group, the people you work with. in the good old days, they could even be with opposite party.
you would do a deal. it is very interesting. they used to do business all the time. iran operates that way. the idea that there is this one source and they are behind everything. that is simply wrong. forgive me, but there is a lot to cover. i want to have time for questions. this era was special because they were basically able to do pretty much want -- what they wanted to do. if we were sitting in either know, tehran, before the revolution and some secret confab, most of these people in the room would have supported him. it is not because we like them but because we do not like the
shah. people like me who are snooty professors -- this old guy, he has got people. we'll use him to get rid of the shah. no city in beverly hills drinking tea and wonder what went wrong. -- now sitting in beverly hills, drinking tea, and wondering what went wrong. that ear was the most -- era was one of the most difficult times. there was the invasion of iraq -- of iran by iraq. there are fountains shooting up red water to symbolize the blood that was shed. this was sort of a 9/11 equivalent to the iranians. it deeply affected the people of iran. it still does today. ultimately, do remember there was a liberal guy week that we
could do business with? it was the rouhani of his age, if you will. all my colleagues were swinging from the chandeliers. a wonderful opportunity. the deal never got made. why? he could not deliver iran. part of it was that the time was not right. it is sort of synonymous. the fact that it was not successful does not mean there was no room for reform here it is simply means that it was unsuccessful. then there was the ahmadinejad run. he had a vision of the bad guy.
he never failed to deliver. i used to call him israel's secret weapon. the israelis must have loved him. so off the charts, that all he had to do was sit there and watch. it was very easy to deal with iran. sanction it. it was easy to deal with iran, to expel iran from the world community and sanction it because ahmadinejad was so inattentive to the issues. he was concerned with the domestic constituency in iran. he wasn't only u.s. sanctions that destroyed the economy, a lot of it is what ahmadinejad himself was doing, ridiculously liberal concessions and subsidies and other sorts of things.
and ahmadinejad in a sense may have been a necessary evil because he may have teed upper ran off of the era in which yet again we are presented with an opportunity for negotiation which is further -- is made further urgent by the development of the iranian nuclear program which upsets everybody as well it should. as well it should. the idea of a weaponized iran -- iran having nuclear weapons, appeals to nobody, appeals to nobody. it really is not something that would benefit the world and frankly i don't believe it would benefit iran. the problem with iran -- not the problem, the challenge with iran, iran is not the country which you can bully. it simply doesn't work that way. if you look at what iran excels at at the olympics, it's wrestling and weight lifting. really, i'm serious. this is a country that's very
very nationalistic but has a strong sense of self. i told people if you go to teheran, i'm sure you all will at some point, your host will take you to something called a zuhrhana. it's a house of strength where people do sort of synchronized weight lifting. it's very, very interesting. the point i'm making is culturally this is not a country that gives in well to -- they have a strong sense of themselves. they're very nationalistic. there's a sort of a marshal quality there. it doesn't work. what's so interesting about the collection is yet again an opportunity for some type of peaceful resolution of our differences with iran emerges. again, i'm skeptical because i'm always skeptical.
we middle east specialists are kind of the oncologists of middle east studies. invariably, we're wrong, we can't do anything, we have no good news. the stakes are so high, they're so important, that i think i certainly supported president obama's attempt to meet the initiative in the spirit in which we would like to believe it's been given. there are no guarantees, no guarantees. having said that, the planet earth is less of a place with iran in a box, with iran in a box that we need to try to find a way without giving away the farm the way we did in syria, i might add, but to try to find accommodation with iran. maybe it won't work.
maybe it won't. but the irony about this and the sort of unusual characteristics is that the initiative to the u.s. and president obama's response has driven iran and saudi arabia to the same corner. that's quite an achievement that iran and israel -- israel and saudi arabia are very, very uncomfortable with the possibility of the ongoing negotiations with iran. some israelis -- some -- you can't say the israelis. they're too interesting and diverse to be the israelis. what some believe and many more saudis believe, is that the iranians are doing this to buy time and they are not sincere. they don't mean it. they will not be able to deliver. iran will do what i believe assad is doing with a chemical weapon's program. in a sense if you accept that accusation about syria, it
deserves to be considered about iran. it is my view, my personal view that the risk is certainly worth taking. and indeed if we are right, the big beneficiaries are likely to be both israel and saudi arabia who will not be under the sword? what if i'm wrong? if you're a schlomo six pack sitting in tel aviv or in riyadh. he was living in los angeles, we nuked, he won't even let us stay in his guest room. i understand that. i really do. i believe in our form of government, i have some trust in the elected officials, maybe more than angela merkel does than others.
this is a serious issue the united states government has been involved in since day one. the first set of negotiations in geneva went very well. wendy sherman who was leading our negotiating team didn't provide any details. the iranians showed up with a detailed power point presentation. this wasn't ahmadinejad clowning around. they showed up with some serious suggestions and everybody walked away from the meeting feeling that this was time well spent. in both countries, this, again is going to be interesting. they're going be naysayers in both countries. there are people in congress say, aha, see, the sanctions are working. it squeezed iran into compliance. let's ratchet up the sanctions
got them on the ropes, they're on the run. elevate the sanctions more. wendy sherman, again, the person from the state department overseeing the negotiations said she does not believe it would be helpful to increase the sanctions now. she said the duplicity is part of the dna -- the iranians didn't like that. so there is something from everybody. but i think the nuclear issue is important. i don't think it's the only issue. where it's going to get sticky is on levels of enrichment, that iran believes it has the right enrich plutonium for uses. the level of enrichment is very, very significant. and we -- the isrealies and the saudis and others are afraid of is that iran will be so close that they can enrich quickly and weaponize. i would not dismiss that.
it's too serious to say it's not a possibility. it's got to be factored into the thinking. the obama administration and the department will say they have this -- they understand it and they have it under control. each country has its own tea party. there are tea -- the iranians invented drinking tea. there are naysayers in iran who will make this very, very difficult. just as there are naysayers who argue we're being tricked. this is not going to work. so the challenge for obama and ruhani, they need to sell one another, they have to sell their own people. they've had such challenges in the middle east, that one of its its -- one of the issues it has to contend with is the credibility on the middle east issues. these issues were all related,
were all related. we're having a little discussion that i purposely stayed out of on does the palestine issue matter? at the end of the day, the symbolism of the palestine issue matters a lot. it's resolved tomorrow, we're not going to be able to retire to a warm climate and not worry about anything ever again. but having said that, if the palestine issue is resolved, satisfactorily in the way to promote israeli national security and gives the palestinians their own right, it gives one reason to dislike and distrust -- one reason to dislike and distrust this in the middle east will go away. there's a list of others have toing do with egypt and so on and so forth. the palestine issue does matter. fwheed to understand how does it matter. what's the nature of the
mattering? there i think we need to be realistic. all of the issues are related. and president obama has all sorts of domestic issues. obama care, the endless list of things. so the question is if we are able to make a deal with the iranians that satisfied him and secretary of state kerry, will he be able to sell this deal to the american people and their elected representatives in congress. it's a real consideration. the same is from iran. it's a two-stage challenge. one is to get a deal with the other. the other is to get the camps to accept the deals. the supreme leader commented. it went well. there were some imperfections. what the supreme leader was criticizing was the phone call between ruhani and obama. if they can't have a phone call, it goes to the level, it shows you how difficult it is to make a deal. let me end by advocating extraordinary humility when it
comes to understanding iran. the da is just not there. we're stumbling around in the dark and trying to make sense of things with fragmented information. and things change a lot. so these are all my personal views. the longer i study iran, the longer i think i should have been a switzerland specialist or something. the longer i do it, the more -- i am always discovering new nuances and new complications and just things that i hasn't figured. the record of middle east specialists, i'm looking at the professor, the real deal of serious political scientists our record is one of uniform failure.
you name it, we failed to predict it. it is. it was an extraordinary wreck. i say don't come to las vegas with people like me. but we're in las vegas. that's normally what i say. we didn't predict the arab spring -- you name it, we didn't get it right. be aware of experts from out of town or even in town, this is not for the faint of heart. let me stop with that. i would be delighted to have questions or contrasting views? yes, sir? [inaudible question] did everybody hear the question? >> let me just -- so for the purposes of a c-span taping, we need every question to be made from the microphone in the center of the room, please? >> the question is, if we make this deal you spoke of with the
islamic republic, are we not selling a six pack down the river. jerrold green: i think it depends on what the deal looks like. and i think we as americans and great iranians in the u.s., some of them need to realize, that the islamic republic is here to stay. it was a country bourn of a revolution, something we should understand. legitimate, it's done things that are not in accord of our values or many iranian's values but this is it. bringing iran back in to the world economy, reintegrating it, opening the country up so that people can visit the country and they can get visas and come here and go to the university of southern california and study engineering or unlv or whatever will benefit the six pack significantly, significantly. >> before we go to the next
question, let me ask you to devote a couple of minutes? can you hear? >> one right here. yeah, ok. there's one aspect of iran's role in the middle east that you might want to touch upon given our limited time, we do so much. this is critical in understanding what is going on in the arab world. which is iran's role as the emerging guardian of the global shiah community. and this is what's getting the saudis to react the way they do. the saudis are reacting the way they do less because they're concerned that iran was going to nuke them than baulz of the rise of iran as the major voice in the traditional world that's gone to arabs and islam. this is a direct challenge with saudi role in the world and how they look at themselves.
i wonder what your comments are on that? >> a very, very important and good question, paul. thank you for raising it. the iranian revolution if you think about it has failed. it was meant to sponsor a series of islamic revolutions around the world. it was supposed to be the model for muslims to throw off the yolk of oppression. other than various groups around the world, no country has gone the way of iran, iran is the good advertisement of creating islamic republics ala iran. the shiah institute is imperative. it's one that's not going to go away. it's very, very important. we can pick our poison. we can line up with saudi arabia where they ear toying with letting women drive cars.
that's a remarkable achievement in the 21st century. or we can make a deal with iran. at the end of the day, i go to saudi arabia a lot. i get it. the saudis are not -- they don't have a lot of alternatives. they're not going to start sending their kids to beijing to the university. i think in a perfect world, we have relationships with all major poles in the middle east. with iran, with the sunni arabs. with the israelis, and with turkey, which i think of as a middle eastern state. what you're talking about is not going to go away. it's very, very important. the question is how will that play in terms of broader
opportunities for economic development and integration into the -- into the world and so forth? i mean, these are countries that are involving. we haven't talked about it at all, we don't have time, is the arab spring. events in egypt, events in syria. this is a region which is undergoing changes and areas of instability. they all feed on one another. >> excellent. >> make questions as brief as possible. jerrold green: make answers as brief as possible. for that, i apologize. >> you pointed out how all these unexpected things happen. don't you think we were helped by that by starting history in
1979 rather than in 1953 and 1952 when alan and his brother got together and overthrew the government. you didn't mention anything about that. another thing that you talk about the danger of iran having nuclear weapons. what about the danger of israel having nuclear weapons. or the united states having nuclear weapons. we're the only ones that have purposefully killed people with nuclear weapons. and what -- i wonder if you could look into the future and see what is going to happen when china becomes the dominant country in the world. it takes over from the united states. what -- how do you think that will affect iran and israel which seems totally oblivious to the fact that this is going to happen? jerrold green: i'm a simple guy.
and i don't disagree with particularly 1953, part of the iranian narrative. you're exactly right. that's part of the story. one of the reasons they don't like us is we brought the shaw back, we kept him in power. israel has nuclear weapons? what are we going to do? call them and, you know, not sure what we can do about it. i don't even like us having -- >> [indiscernible] jerrold green: the wide talk about people who are not here. let's talk about real issues where we can have an impact. at the end of the day, if you are ambitious, you get nothing done. when new staff -- the f word is focus. let's pick our issues and do it. all of these other things you have mentioned may not get dealt
with, but the world will be a better place if we are realistic in our ambitions. that is the f word. >> jerry, i have loved your presentation. it was informative charming, and witty, and most enjoyable to listen to. the only thing i liked that are was our conversation around the table which was a lot of fun as well. i don't think anybody in this room would accuse or mistake me for being a tea party person. quite the contrary. but i come down on the side of those that think a deal with iran right now is an impossibility. i'm going to tell you why. i was part of the original cosponsors of the iranian sanctions bill, both of them, and worked closely with the europeans ensuring they voted for sanctions and the e.u. and
at the united nations. this is something i have been involved with for quite a while. the reason rouhani is reaching out to the united states and europeans is because the sanctions are actually working. we are bringing their economy to its knees. and i am of the mind that if we start loosening up those sanctions and granting concessions before the iranians agree to end their nuclear ambitions, and i do not believe for a minute they are attempting to use nuclear for peaceful purposes, there is only one reason they are working so hard and spending so much money to acquire enough material to make a nuclear bomb. it is my understanding from the latest intelligence information
that they are within a month of having enough material to make one bomb. i think that would be very dangerous for us to lift those sanctions now after all of the time and sacrificed and efforts on the part of the united states and europeans. let those sanctions work. the way they will work is to leave them in place until the iranians come back and come over to our way of thinking and actually agree to end their nuclear ambitions. i find it extraordinary in this day and age that rouhani is considered a moderate when he has been the advisor and right-hand man of the supreme leader. in addition to that, ahmadinejad was a total lunatic and said israel should be wiped off the map.
it was acquiring nuclear capability to do that, or so he said. he was a holocaust denier. now you have rouhani when asked the same question, did he holocaust occurred, he said i'm not an historian and everyone applauded him as being a great moderate. to me, that is not being a moderate. jerrold green: the question? >> why would you possibly think lifting sanctions now would be a help with iranians given their history and proclivity? jerrold green: i did not say we should lift sanctions. i was quoting wendy sherman who said they should not be increased. i don't think we should lift them now. you will disagree with me. i believe we should signal to them a willingness to consider lifting the sanctions in ways that will satisfy your view, which is actually an important view. it is not like you are the only person.
you represent an important segment of congressional and public opinion in this country. your view is not a review. -- weird view. i don't fully agree but i get it. i hope they -- you did not think i was calling you a tea party ier. obama is going to have to satisfy people that hold that view. it is going to be very difficult for him. the question is, how can he address the sanctions issues in a way that will have an impact on the wrong while at -- on iran while at the same time being able to persuade people who hold your view, which is important view, that your concerns are being met? i have heard so many statistics about when in iran can weaponize, including from the israelis, which are wildly different. that is part of what i am lamenting, is how little we know.
what you can say to me is how can you afford to take the risk if there is a 1% possibility, how can you do it? my response is you are right. but having said that, the more desperate iran becomes, the more likely they are to feel painted into a corner to do something that is in our collective detriment, including a wrong thank you iran --including iran. >> you just answer the question i was going to put to you. very briefly, can the iranians be forced to give up their nuclear option? call it that because that is what it is. at any level of sanctions the world will agree to invoke beyond where we are today? jerrold green: it is not only that. iranians are going to have to be willing to submit to intrusive inspections.
they will regard that as infringement on their sovereignty and other things. the bar is going to be high for them. i am not sure if they will meet it. this is not a bad discussion. it is not like i am right. we may not agree, but that is not mean you are wrong. that is what i mindful of. history kind of favors you more than it does me, certainly recent history which is worrisome but it is what it is. >> dr. green, i have a twofold question. first on christian persecution in iran how does the average person feel about that? also the person in prison, is that also on the minds and hearts of the people of iran? how do they feel about it? jerrold green: i think the situation of christian minorities is not good. the situation in egypt was terrible under morsi. one hopes that under the new
regime, it will be better. in terms of iran, being a religious minority is not a lot of fun in an islamic republic of anything. it is not only christians. it is jews and bahais. bahai are at the top of the heat in terms of being discriminated against. christians have had issues. jews have had issues. tribal groups, persians are a minority in a ron -- iran, believe it or not. there are always tribal and linguistic groups. this is not a country that has shown great respect for diversity or pluralism. it is a very important question. the news is not good. in terms of the person in prison, unclear. we don't know. sir? >> generally, i like elephants. but there might be another elephant in the room that might be of concern. would you please comment on
interaction between iran and iraq as you see it currently? jerrold green: that is a really good question. the relationship between iran and iraq, nothing good. the situation in iraq is deteriorating. iran generally believes it has interests in iraq, which it does. it is a neighboring country. to go back to paul's sunni question. the iranians have a shia inferiority cleared -- complex be of these -- complex via iraq. the two holiest cities are in iraq. iran wants a seat at the iraq table. the iraq table is very wobbly and unsteady. i understand their desire to be part of it. but having said that, iraq is
not out of the woods. certainly, we are not on the same side as the iranians. there have been instances on which we and iran have agreed. afghanistan, believe it or not. there was a time when we collaborated effectively with iran. but these things are fleeting and not forever. you are exactly right. certain. -- sir. >> i had a question about iranian domestic economics. we talk a lot about sanctions and how that affects them and their economy. i was wondering what you think about how severe some of their own domestic policies how severe is the recovery going to be from that, particularly the hyatt -- highly educated and severely underemployed young population. you mentioned the city 5% under 35 years old. what is the way forward for them? is that going to involve reprioritizing the massive amount of industry nationalized in iran?
jerrold green: iran economically looks worse than it should because it still has a sophisticated business sector, highly educated people, very good labor force, and a tradition of being an economically very healthy country. they are petroleum producers which we often forget. i think if they continue on this track, we keep the sanctions. it is american law and we have no choice and we need to do it. it will continue to contract. i agree with the congresswoman. i am not sure rouhani would have done this if the economy was healthier. he did. the question is, is very deal to be made? the jury is still out on that. the economic recovery is absolutely possible in iran. but the right circumstances need to be in place. unemployment youth, all of these things, the environment is
a terrible issue. if any of you have been to tehran lately, it is like mexico city. the air is foul, water shortage, there are endless problems in iran which are not being dealt with because they don't have the will or resources or both. >> we have been talking about this as if it were strictly middle east issue. what about their role in northern africa and closer to home with hezbollah in central and south america? jerrold green: i mentioned the bombing of the jewish community center in buenos aires. any of you watching "homeland"? i take back what i was going to say because i don't want to be a spoiler. you are right. iran is involved in all sorts of things globally. this is what paul was saying, sort of the center of a global shia political, religious-based,
inspired political movement. it is not constructive. but having said that, if we remain on this course, is not going to get better. is going to get worse. the question is, will the guys in tehran fullback -- pullback on this if we reach an accord with them? these are desperation moves by a country dealing with a failed revolution, a stalled global role, and is looking for a mission. you're absolutely right. this is not inevitable. it does not have to be forever. it would help us by the way if we would be more attentive to latin america as well. it is interesting the degree to which the united states takes latin america for granted. the chinese are all over the caribbean, all sorts of places. ma'am. >> i have a question and statement.
we talked about iran and you said they want to be a leader in the middle east. we are forgetting completely they are also taking over turkey. turkey is one of the biggest allies in west. they are the right arm of nato. last week, turkey passed a law. you cannot sell alcohol in shops. you cannot sell in any restaurant anymore. between 10:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. selling alcohol is completely banned. jerrold green: it sounds like texas, by the way. it is like that in texas. >> texas can do that. turkey is a secular country. today, october 29, is a day turkey celebrates because they
believe they are secular. my question is, what is your opinion with the involvement of the iranians and the turks? for the first time after the ottoman empire, one more time they are together and taking control of the middle east. what is your opinion? the statement was the congresswoman was absolutely right. i am half persian. i was born in iran. i left very young but i still have my cousins, and i did see all of them this summer. all of them, even though they are very hurt from the sanctions, they are saying it is the only way to bring [indiscernible] islamic republic of iran. jerrold green: i don't think turkey needs help from iran. turkey is a big, independent country.
the movement towards islamization is partly a result of the rejection by the european union. turkey mistakenly wanted to join the e.u. for years, was never made sense to me. turkey is the only country in the world that is central asian middle eastern, and european. they should leverage all three of those rather than going in the e.u. direction which benefits nobody. i don't think iran is a particularly significant actor in turkey. the turks don't love the iranians. they are not going to listen to them. they don't really need any help. the idea they are together? i don't see turkey coordinating its foreign policies with iran. it is a very different country with different expectations and different needs. what it does show is the middle east is a mess. it is an undercurrent of your entire question. if iran is the only good news
coming out of the middle east, what does that say about the middle east? nothing very good. >> there is one issue where iranians and turks come together. that is on the kurdish issue. that is where they help each other to keep curbing rising kurdish nationalism. this will become even more of an issue if the kurds set up an autonomous zone in northeast syria in combination with northern iraq. which brings me to a question from our former president of the council, and his question has to do with iran's role in the syrian mess. if you can address that for a second. jerrold green: the syrian-iranian relationship was always bizarre because if iran is really all about islam and shiism to support the assad family is the antithesis of everything the islamic republic stands for. it is an aggressively minority
area -- minoritian, secular order, but it gave iran entrée into the arab world which it valued and was very important. the idea the iranians are wild eyed zealots is completely undermined by its relationship with syria. it is my view that by not responding quickly to the deployment of chemical weapons by assad regime and delaying, taking it to congress, making a deal with russia, basically assad should send the united states government a thank you note for buying another year or two. you would know better than i do, but you cannot tell us. i always felt the iranian role in syria iranian influence in lebanon and syria was somewhat exaggerated.
i think they were striving to be influential. but the lebanese and syrians are not willing to be dominated by the iranians, so it was sort of a marriage of convenience in which they collaborated. but i never got the feeling iran was pushing the buttons in tehran as things happened in lebanon and syria. having said that, it does not change the fact their involvement in both places is not constructive and is very serious. >> hezbollah in lebanon is totally dependent on iran as a supplier of weaponry and dependent on syria as the channel through which these weapons arrive in lebanon. this whole set up is very critical to the survival of hezbollah's power in lebanon which now rivals that of the lebanese military. they are real power in the country. it is very critical in that respect. jerrold green: i agree with
that. i just never know who needs who more. >> i would say they need iran more than iran needs hezbollah. >> how about russia? russian media portrays iran as a friend were ally -- or ally. how about iranians? have a they feel about russia? do they take russia seriously? jerrold green: everybody sort of takes russia seriously. there are long historical relations between iran and russia. the shah's father was a member of the classic -- cossack military brigade. i think russia is desperately looking for a role in the middle east. the iranians are cynical. they get it. russia might be a useful counterpoint to the u.s. and those forces marsha