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tv   Former Vice President Biden on U.S.- Russia Relations  CSPAN  January 23, 2018 9:00pm-10:23pm EST

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>> next, former vice president joe biden on relations with the kremlin, russia's interference in the middle east and the foreign-policy approach of the obama administration. the event hosted by the council on foreign -- of foreign relations is one hour and 20 minutes. >> good afternoon. i want to welcome one and all to today's council on foreign
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relations meeting. i urge you all to read it. we talk about how countries have failed or either dealt with the legacy of their own past. this deals with countries like south africa, but also the united states, given our complicated legacy as well as russia, china and others. i would invite people to look at it. the subject of today is another article in the magazine. i should probably introduce myself. my name is richard hoss.
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i work here at the council on foreign relations. >> and i work for richard. richard: we are joined today by the gentleman on my right, joe biden who served as the 47 vice president of these united states and now leads the biden center. for diplomacy and engagement. let me say something about this center that is based here in our nation's capital. it will officially opens its doors february 8. the mission of the center is to develop and advance smart policy and influence the national debate on how america can continue to lead in the century and is founded on the principle that a democratic, open, secure, tolerant and interconnected world benefits all americans. full disclosure, the former vice president and i go back more than 4 decades.
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he was a newly minted senator, i was a wet behind the ears young staffer on the senate side of the hill. over the last 40 plus years, we have had continuing conversation about the world and our country and our place in it. the only thing output as a caveat is i'm not sure we distributed the time equally in our conversation. mr. biden: this is maybe the only audience that will think it was you. richard: never go up against a pro. sitting to be vice president's right is michael carpenter. he is our senior director at the penn-biden center. he is the former secretary for russia and eurasia and the two of them are the co-authors of the recent article in the same
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issue, "how to stand up for the kremlin, defending democracy against enemies." their piece addresses many of the same issues as the report by our own bob blackwell on how to respond to russia's intervention in the 2016 election and how to respond to the geopolitical challenge that russia poses to u.s. interests around the world. i returned from moscow a few days ago and i was struck by how limited this relationship is. it is less expensive than it was a during the four decades of the cold war. i am struck by how limited our -- different our views of the world are but also, and it comes out in the article, by the case for exploring the possibility of limited cooperation and meeting the challenges posed by north korea's nuclear missile program or trying to reduce conflict in
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eastern ukraine or syria. with that, let me thank both of you for being with us today. thank you for writing for our magazine. let's start. i will ask questions for a few minutes and then we will open it up to you, our members. let me start with the basic question. is it accurate or useful to describe where we are with russia as second or new cold war? mr. biden: it would be a little bit of an exaggeration. the cold war was based on a conflict of two profound ideological motions on how the world should function. this is basically about a kleptocracy protecting itself. that is a vast oversimplification. this is about the kremlin and i.e. putin in particular doing
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everything he can to dismantle the few structures that were set up and russia that were trending toward or squinting toward democracy. there is an overwhelming -- i think a basic judgment has been reached that in order for russia with all of its profound structural difficulties to be able to sustain itself and for this cryptocracy to continue, it is much easier if you're dealing with 28 different nations not in union with each other and not a western economy that is coordinated. it gives them more room to wander and engage in the activities they have engaged in which is essentially when the wall came down, everything that was part owned by the soviet government was now owned by apparatchiks.
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i am vastly oversimplifying. it is a basic decision that they cannot compete against the unified west. i think that is putin's judgment. everything he can do to dismantle the post-world war ii liberal world order including nato and the eu is in their immediate self-interest, they view. richard: let me ask you the same question. if you had to describe an elevator, what do you think of the essence of russian national security strategy and how they would defined success for themselves, what would be the?
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-- >> russia has 3 principal goals. it is to weaken democracy internally and another is to divide the country's in nato and the eu internally. to deal individually with those nations as opposed with a united front. and to undermine the rules of international order which in moscow's perspective, is slanted in favor of the united states because it promotes other norms of democracy. and other norms in the international sphere, international integrity and sovereignty that russia feels can trend west when it wants to. what russia has done is taken the fight from a was originally just contained to the post-soviet space and taken the fight to europe and to the united states by subverting our institutions internally. by using sometimes hard power but often corruption to undermine these democratic institutions internally. richard: one might describe
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u.s.-russia ties, they are not good. looking backwards over the last quarter of a century, it is always anticipating what history will grapple with. was this inevitable? was this something about the nature of america and what the world order consisted of -- something of russian political culture that despite the optimism, 25 years ago when president bush talked about a new world order, was it an inevitable or was to some extent, does western policy bear responsibility for the current state of affairs? did we have to get to where we are or could it have been avoided? >> it is hard to to say it could
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have been avoided but it is easily able to identify why did that's why it did not happen. it was not because of the expansion of nato. as you may remember, that was my primary responsibility for the senate and the only time i had a real serious and elongated disagreement and debate with pat moynihan was on the expansion of nato. his argument was to vastly oversimply, much more articulate than i'm about to state, but this is not the time to worry , the new leadership in russia, that they are about to be surrounded and overtaken and etc. i asked the reverse question. what happened if we did not have nato? does anybody think that the expansion of nato did not occur that somehow the fact that a kgb thug ended up in control of that country would have been altered?
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i do not see any evidence to suggest that would be the case. i would argue that you would very much likely see more use of military power and force. one of the things we talked about and i will not go on any further -- as all these eastern central european countries were freed, they all had their own agenda, their own historical fears and concerns. they were all engaging independently and activities that could have been destabilizing to the entire region.
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part of what we did is to stabilize and give some assurance to each of those countries that they should yield toward what would be more considered a basic democratic instinct in policy than to go the route some of them were considering going. i do not think it was the reason -- i do not think the expansion of nato -- the debate will continue -- was the reason why the instability -- it was inevitable that russia would take the role it took. i think there a number of things when you think about it. you have written about and many of you have -- richard: not going to mention the name of the book? mr. biden: you just made me forget the name of the book but is a very good book. i strongly urge you to buy two copies. think about it. all the countries in the world that are coming out from under what is essentially been -- either decades if not an entire history of corruption and
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dictatorships or oligarchs running those countries. i spent a lot of time, i spent more time than any member of our administration trying to deal with making sure that this revolution of dignity did not blow up in the face of what is a great opportunity for ukraine. the corruption is so endemic and so consequential that it is really hard to get out of the system. i think there are at least 100 years of history and beyond in russia that made it difficult to actually set up these institutions. richard: everyone in this room i assume knows, last month, this administration published its first national security strategy.
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among other things, it calls for the united states to rethink the policies of the past two decades when it came to several countries, china and russia. but it focused on russia. policies and -- in those policies as being based on the assumption that engagement with russia and its inclusion in international institutions in global governance would turn it into a benign actor and a trustworthy party. the national security strategy said that this premise has turned out to be false. do you agree with the national security strategy? >> i do not think that the premise that engagement with russia is destined to fail. especially if you look over the long run. what we have seen is an increase of russia acting out both in its periphery in europe and here in the united states. looking back, i think we could also see that there were some missed opportunities.
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the goal of integrating russia into both international and economic institutions, the imf, the wto and the world bank after the fall of the collapse of the soviet union, but also norms based institutions like the council of europe. i think that was the right choice to make then. going back to your question about, was this inevitable. there was a certain original sin where the ex-kgb elitists captured the institutions of the state in russia. you cannot get around that. you saw that prior to the last administration.
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he saw in georgia in 2008 with the cyberattack in estonia on 2007 and yet, there were contingent events that shaped the flow of russian leadership and how it responded. one was a massive protests in russian cities in 2011 and 2012. all of the sudden you had the putin regime, which seems so stable, starting to look fragile. there is one event where putin shows up at a martial arts event amongst the crowd that is his base and they are jeering and booing him. that had a profound impact followed up as it was by the arab spring in terms of internal interaction. we saw the result of that ended up being confrontation. i do not think that was inevitable. i do not think that having tried to integrate russia into these institutions was a mistake. >> it might have been a mistake in the past but you say we should not give up. mr. biden: i do think that we cannot give up.
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we need to do a number of things to make it clear to russia that they are going to pay a price for the things they have done in addition to making sure that we advertise to the russian population in all of western -- and all of western europe what they actually are doing. here we are, we are talking about russian interference in the united states and whether there was collusion between the trump administration and russia. that has obscured on a much larger discussion that should be taking place about whether or not what russia is doing and the rest of the world, in the rest of the world right now. what it is doing in europe right now. part of it is pulling the band-aid off. for example, we recommend in the international commission and immediately we got a response from a number of european leaders wanting to set up an international commission, an independent commission made up of all parties in europe to actually spend time and do what
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we have not done here. look at what russia is doing in europe right now that they, -- that their public do not know. part of this is there is not much discussion and our leadership has been abdicating. your point is, there are 3 ways you lose power. one is to abdicate. part of it is going out and -- it almost sounds sophomoric -- tell the truth. lay out what is happening out there and get the international community to join in in terms of providing the hard data after some serious looks as to what is going on. the second thing, if you are sitting here and when my grandchildren are writing their senior thesis to some great university about what happened to russia, and 2018, what was the consensus in america about what russia was going to look like in 2030?
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well, i would not want to be in the position, i would not want to be in a position no matter what approach i took of having to lead russia. look at the state of russia now. there are an enormous decline. they have a second rate military power, they have significant advantages geographically where they are engaged, they have a nuclear arsenal that could blow up the whole world, but in terms of their efficacy, their capacity -- it is the minimus compared to ours. they are in a situation where are and oil-based economy. you have it going from a market
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value of $350 billion to $300 billion in the last 10 years. what do you do if you are a democratic leader of russia? what do you do? how do you provide jobs for your people? where do you go? how do you build that country? unless you engage the west. i do not know how that happens. i have not given up hope, i am not naive about it -- i have been a very strident voice in the last administration about putin in russia as i am now, but that does not mean that this is how things are going to be. the last point i will make, when my dad had the expression, "never backed a man into a corner where his only way out is over top of you." take a look at russia now. where do they go, they are incredibly dangerous.
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the life expectancy is changing, they are expecting to be 20% smaller population by 2050, i can go on. it is really going to be a tough, tough time to get them to the place where their citizens think they have any future. the last point, this new phony nationalism and populism that is being used by charlatans all across the world, the only thing keeping putin where he is is that they can demonstrate they are powerful again. eventually, he is going to have to produce something. i do not see where it gets produced. richard: in the piece, the two
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of you say there is no truth of the united states and what putin seems to believe, that they are seeking regime change. should we seeking to regime change and if we should not, what should we be thinking in political change inside russia? what is an appropriate agenda for the united states. mr. biden: there is a lot of brilliant minds sitting in front of me. i have an opinion. [laughter] richard: you are sitting here and they are not. mr. biden: look, folks. we cannot make this about a conflict between russia and united states. we have got to make this about a conflict between the russia
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oligarchy and the people. there is no country in the world that in fact is comfortable with wholesale corruption. wholesale corruption. not based on any ideological rationale webbing has an christian wealth has occurred how it has. the fact of the matter is, the lot of the things that we can do and should be doing to make it clear that russia has violated these norms and still be willing on strategic matters to talk to them and cooperate. >> would one of them be publishing what we think is putin's net woth? mr. biden: yes. i'm all for publishing. especially, when i had a no money. [laughter] mr. biden: when i did my financial disclosure, the
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headline is, no vice president has served with fewer assets been joe biden.' all kidding aside, i seek to expose the truth and we should be friends with what is the underground portion of civil society and russia. we should not be silent. part of that is laying out in stark relief what russia is doing, how they have turned corruption into a foreign-policy tool and a weapon that is being used in extremely well in western europe and other parts of the world. it is a matter of us speaking up and speaking the truth. we do not have to make any of this up. article -- this is where you jump in.
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>> it will be the last time you do that. [laughter] >> in the article, "washington needs to spell out clear consequences for interfering with a u.s. democratic process or tampering with critical u.s. infrastructure." what should we be doing? not in terms of protecting our infrastructure or voting machines, but what should we be doing? should there be and what should it look like in terms of our retaliatory dimension to u.s. policy? and what is the were to happen again. >> my sense is that we need to look at this more broadly than the narrow scope of election meddling. the strategy of strengthening our alliances, helping our partners in europe by investing in energy security, reducing vulnerabilities at home -- i think this is key.
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in terms of financial transactions, money laundering, real estate deals, we need to make ourselves i harder target for russia. we need to impose costs. they need to be able to look back on what they are doing now in five or 10 years and realize that the cost outweighs the benefits. otherwise, they will not stop. they will stop if they see that cost-benefit ratio is different. richard: what is wrong with the notion of a centrally telling them what the costs will be? >> one of the things we say in the article is that we need to expand our communication. we need to have a more robust dialogue. what we consider to be on acceptable in our democracy. when to telegraph very clearly -- the last of administration did during the campaign -- this is unacceptable and there will be consequences. the dialogue is very thin and needs to be expanded. mr. biden: we should be very clear about it and just not compare buttons in public. this is about communicating specifically. specific actions we are willing to take relative to their interests.
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that is not something he are going -- the president should call out and call a press conference. it should be made very clear to russia and russian authorities what this means. i think it should be initially in private. if it continues to occur, pull the trigger. look at the republican-controlled congress did.
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they overwhelmingly supported giving the president this very broad authority to censor and take action against russia for their behavior. we have not said a thing. can you imagine -- if any of you were heading up the state department or the cia or a president or vice president, can you imagine not having called together all major agencies that have something to do with our interests in russia and began to put together a game plan? to the best of my knowledge, i may be mistaken, the staff i have at penn includes my national security advisers and a number of very serious folks who play major roles. when i am told, i keep asking -- they must be having some conversations. there must be a discussion going on as to how to better coordinate law enforcement and intelligence efforts. there must be some discussion. to the best of my knowledge, unless you all know and you may
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very well, i do not know of any systemwide analysis being going on within this administration. so what the hell are we doing? we got to do something out there but let's keep moving. i do not get it. >> picking up on that, should the obama administration have done more once it was learned >> this was a moving target. what we were originally told around august and september, we knew they were up to engaging in time to be legitimized, the electoral process.
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that's the report we had was not very detailed. point we had -- the only engagement with the house or senate i was not asked to lead because -- anyway. i was being sent to the hill to sell it. but the gang of 12 were called together and we laid out to them and the intelligence committee laid out to them exactly what we felt was happening. we did not know the extent of it then either. the president and i would sit there literally. everybody would walk out of the are and say, what the hell we going to do? mr. president, if you unilaterally say this was happening, he will be accused of trying to tip the election and in less you can give harder
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data, you will be in a terrible position and it will play into the delegitimizing of our electoral process, which initially, the intelligence community thought this was all about that. so, we went up and mitch mcconnell, who i get on with well, mitch mcconnell wanted no part in having a bipartisan commitment that we would say essentially, russia is doing this, stop. bipartisan. so we could be used as a democratic weapon as a president using the intelligence committ e community. the constant attack is on the of intelligence. political organization
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run by barack obama to take on his political enemies. who would have sunk it, but it was done. this constant tightrope was being walked as to what would we do. the second big play was we said ok, here is all the data. here is what we know. why don't we put out a bipartisan warning to russia, hands-off, man. four there will be a republican. they would have no part of it. that, to me, hanging around that body up there longer than anybody around you have been doing it meant a dye had been cast. the politicalbout play. the moment the president at that time would come out and say, by the way, the russians are doing wouldnd hacking the dnc have been turned into the president making this play. and then we learned more and we
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learned more immediately after the election was over. but we did have a conclusion -- i will stop there. there was a consensus in the intelligence committee when the president gave a face to face warning overseas in a conference that we saw no evidence which really worried me in particular, but everybody, of actually going into the voting rolls, going into the voting itself. cyber toting on using go into and strip the roles of democrats and republicans. we had no evidence of that. it seemed when the remarks were made, it did not move any further. the bottom-line line was, it was tricky as hell. now, maybe wesay should have said more. but i ask you a rhetorical question. can you imagine the president in
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a press conference in october, and this fellow and bannon company saying, the russians are trying to interfere in our elections and we have to do something about it. what do you think would have happened? that is a rhetorical question. i have a view, but i generally muted. what you think would have happened? with things have gotten better or would it have further looks like we were attempting to delegitimize the electoral process because of our opponent? that was the constant battle. had we known what we knew three weeks later we might have done something more. >> can i say one other thing in addition to that, especially in the fall of 2016, the focus of the ministration was on the cyberattack. we knew they had injured to -- we knew they had intruded into 21 states' infrastructure.
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that was the preoccupation, not flipping addresses to change registration. in termsearned so much of the propaganda campaign, the misinformation on facebook and twitter. i think we both feel that that warrants an additional response and provides the right authorities to be able to amp up the cost even further. i was showing characteristic restraint. tois time for our members ask questions, wait for the microphone, introduce yourself. please keep it short. hearw you are all dying to about the latest challenges facing amtrak. here is to keep the focus on the issue du jour and
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the article and russia and u.s.-russia relations. margaret warner, icu with a microphone. >> my question is, should we actually be going on offense in the information war, in the cyber war, in terms of delegitimizing not just exposing the corruption, the playing offense the way they are playing offense? the answer is yes, but not necessarily in the cyberspace. most of what happens in cyberspace is altering information or preventing information from being able to come forward. i think we should be on the offense of of making it clear exactly what we know russia and orpington in particular is doing. -- russia and or putin in particular is doing. we should be working closely with our european allies around the world and exposing and getting them to stand up and it
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knowledge with us that this is what is happening here. that message gets through. to go back, when i got here, the vestige of that cold war was an attempt to broadcast the truth into russia. and i think somehow, we have to have as the democracies of the world, have to be better coordinated at every level and every place, doing just that, broadcasting to the russian people what is happening to make a clear this was all designed to vast amounts of wealth and corruption. yes, ma'am. all the way in the back. this meeting continues to be on the record. you have just been read your miranda rights. yes, ma'am? [laughter] >> throw. >> rachel, congressional
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quarterly. vice president biden, to be a senatorore specific puto and van hollen would -- youns on russia, might be familiar with the legislation. these are sweeping sanctions. do you think this is an theopriate step and that consequences have been adequately fought through? n: it issident bide an appropriate step. i do not believe the failure in doing that equals the failure to take these steps. in terms of our interest. were i in the senate, i would be supporting that. >> right here in the front. i will try to get as many as i can. nks, richard.
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i would argue russia's attitude to the united states changed not because of nato expansion, but because of the iraqi war expansion. the middle east is one area where russia seems to be doing quite well. it has excellent relations with all the parties in the region, unlike the united states. advice on howour we deal with russia and the middle east, in particular syria. vice president biden: you had war, but youaq also had libya, which russia resented, which they thought was something of a bait and switch. they thought they were signing on to something more limited and obviously, it grew beyond that. looking back, those cases, iraq and libya and now we have to
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get into the question of how we deal with russia and the middle east now. i will try to be brief, but it is an essay question. no, it is totally legitimate. there will be a lot written about libya and wine some of us thought it was a tragic mistake, the policy. i am serious. it is now public. totalt think that is the cause, but it added to the perception on the part of mess moscow as to our intentions. that -- i, i do think do think russia concluded two things. in notre was danger engaging and opportunity if they did, but very limited. i predict you will see moscow in theg its presence
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region, not expanding its presence. they have found themselves -- they have got a tiger by the tail and if they want to own that issue, then have at it. n enormousbe in ab difficulty. initially they wanted to get back physical control of the eastern mediterranean with the courts and airports. that made sense from their perspective. what does not is how do they rebuild? it is a country that has been so fundamentally fractured. how does that happen? where do they get the hell to do that? realnk they have got a problem, but we have a problem as well because i don't think -- the one thing i look at and we talk about this a lot, my team, is that one place the
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administration essentially maintains the policy we had begun with the same people that we had doing it was the anti-isis campaign and that had been successful. not the day to day handholding and badgering. joke, i wouldot a spend -- there was not a week that went by that i was not on the phone -- literally both cajoling, threatening, negotiating among them and between them, etc. it is really, really, really a difficult circumstance to think about being able to establish a in the absence of al qaeda. in the absence of isis. it is still incredibly difficult. multi talking about
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billion dollars of investments that will be needed to rebuild these cities. one of the things we are not --ng much about, we are not we have lost and there are some experts in this room. have lost the notion among our european friends that we know what we are doing, that we have a plan. that sounds like i am just trying to criticize. i am not. but there was -- we were building in overarching consensus, whether it would have ponied up is a different question, that unless you want iii, you better move and figure out how you stabilize in you stabilize raqqa and m osul. those ways require significant investment. i think we took the lid off with our saudi friends when we said, anything you want, man. we are with you.
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and our israel he friends. there was not much of a coherent plan. but the idea that this is of some great benefit to i think the biggest beneficiary short-term is not russia, but iran. that is another story. i wish i could say it more societally. did you want to add anything? here., in the middle >> thank you, scott from the world bank. moderator: if you could move closer. >> you mentioned you believe russia's interests, which lie more in terms of engagement with the west, but i'm curious about your assessment of the relationship between russia and china and the direction that might head. vice president biden: i don't think it goes anywhere good for russia, or for china.
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i spent a lot of time -- apparently i was told by the folks at state that i have spent more time in private meetings xi jingping then any other world leader. i don't think xi jingping looks to russia as anything more than an occasional foil. somedea that there is benefitsendi, that russia and china -- i don't favor that goes. i got here as a kid, 29 years .ld and running for the senate at the time, there was this great thing, this connection running from moscow to beijing. it was going to overtake the world. it, ioking back on
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remember saying, i don't get that. it is one of the most guarded orders in the world. i don't understand where the mutual interest lie. i don't see that here either. there are places where each will use the other for their benefit relative to us. and i can see that happening, but the idea of there being a , alliance,artnership between moscow and beijing in the near term, i don't think it is in the stars at all. >> mr. vice president, i wonder if you might expand on the earlier questions about syria. this has been touted as a great foreign-policy success for the united states. especially forward, with the delicate balance between all the players and
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region,lly iran in the is there a way forward for the u.s. aggression cooperation and visdoes that play vis a russia being looked? look, letdent biden: me organize my thoughts here. that the idea -- i used to always, i would say to the president, when our kids are writing their doctoral thesis only as good question, what are we doing about the arab spring, "whatestion starts out makes you think they could do anything about the arab spring" in the book.
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syria is a classic example of the biggest conundrum that we have to deal with. now, the nonstarter is, for ssadia, the idea that a stays in power and continues to control means there is a guarantee that there will never be peace or security in that many lawscause so have been broken here. there is no way he can put that together. and there seems to be no willingness on the part of the russians at this point to work out and we try to 15 different vivendi, trying to figure out how we have a transition of power. tocould work with russia
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essentially take parts of the country. that will be a divided country for a long time. you think we have a problem in iraq. there is no united principle in syria, in my view. i could see where you could work out a place where there was essentially safe harbor for certain parts of that country and you could drastically reduce the number of people being displaced and killed. we tried that as well and they re. not play fair the whether they influence iran or iran influences them, i think iran, if you noticed, got upset recently with the actions russia was taking in syria they made it pretty clear they were. went, ok, well i am not so sure where we will be. now --owned know enough i will conclude it this way.
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what was the, hardest part of leaving the by's presidency. there were two things. losing air force two. [laughter] vice president biden: and not getting up every morning and having a detailed national security briefing on what was happening around the world. was -- i am behind the curve in what may or may not be the opportunities that exist. but in like of what turkey just did in the northwestern province and what they are attempting to do in light of the distance being created between the united states and turkey relative to the curves, i don't have enough granular data to be able to give you a better answer than i have now, which is i do not think russia can in fact dictate to iran what happens in syria.
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and i don't think russia has the capacity to do the things almost everyone would agree, even if it is the continued leadership stays in place, to make the kind of multibillion-dollar investment needed to stabilize the country. >> i can't help you with the airplane, but [laughter] >> no, i get it. issueed to but one other on the floor, which is ukraine. this administration, unlike the administration you worked with, provided unlimited defense articles to ukraine to think that was a wise decision and more broadly, do you see any scope for any sort of deal on eastern ukraine? vice president biden: the answer is yes, i think it was a wise decision, but i was pushing that we left.ears before
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the reason is, the more you up the ante, the cost to russia for their aggression -- and as you all now and as you know better than everybody, the one big lie going on about ukraine and the rest of russia is no russian soldiers are engaged, they are not dying. nobody backs are coming home, etc.. overwhelming is opposition for engagement in ukraine in a military sense. do i think there is potential to be able to be solved, but it takes two things. one of those things is missing. i and desperately concerned about the backsliding on the corruption. i will give you one concrete example -- i thei, but that was
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assignment i was given. i remember going over, convincing our partners that we should be providing for loan guarantees. over it 12 or 13 times and i was supposed to announce there was another $1 billion loan guarantee. that theycommitment would take action against the state prosecutor and they did. so, they were walking out of the press conference and i said, we are not going to give you the $1 billion. they said, you have no authority. you're not the president. i said, call him. you are not getting the $1 billion. we are leaving here in six hours, if the prosecutor is not fired, you are not getting the money. well, son of a bitch. [laughter]
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>> when we left he was fired and they put in place somebody who was solid. they made genuine, substantial changes institutionally and with people, but one of the three institutions, there is now , yes.iding and they had made the commitment that they would not do that. when we left, the first thing i did mikeot of time, as because this was his territory as well and people like charlie corruption and victoria -- there were a lot good people working on this. we spent a lot of time with vice president pence because i was worried that they would make a omission rather than co-mission, failing to do or say certain things. that was at the time when there
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was a grave concern among the foreign policy leads that may be a deal was made to live say ft sanctions. whether that was true or not, that was the message. they did some good things and now -- what is his name? there? they have over kirk boker, solid guy. we spent so much time, as you know, because i went to you for advice, we spend so much time on the phone, making sure everybody renzi would
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walk away. thank god merkel was strong enough at the time to stand with us. she did not like it either. i said, look, simple opposition. if in fact you do not continue to show progress in terms of corruption, we are not going to be able to hold the rest of europe on these sanctions. and russia is not going to roll across the inner line here and take over the rest of the country with their tanks. of the plan, they will take the economy down. and that is when it all goes to hell. to the best of my knowledge -- -- it is a very difficult spot to be in now when foreign leaders calmly.
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and they do because i have never, ever, ever said anything foreign leader about a sitting president, no matter how fundamentally i disagree with him. it is not my role to make foreign policy. but the questions across the board range from, what the hell is going on, joe? to, what advice do you have for me? i give the names of people in the administration i think to be knowledgeable and committed. i say, you should talk to so-and-so. what i do every one of those times, i first call the vice president and tell him i received the call, tell him and an him whether he has objection to my returning the call. administration's
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position, what do they want me to communicate to that country? i am aware pressure of, correct me if i am wrong, no pressure that i am aware of on the present leadership in toaine to hold them together be able to continue what looked like was a real possibility of turning minsk into something that was doable and much tougher than germany wanted us to be. but we were moving in that direction. now it looks like the pressure is off. and it requires day to day. >> can i jump in? this i might be my only chance. vice president biden: you will get something you did not expect, the last word. the agree with something vice president said. that is the major issue, helping
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ukraine succeed and if they do not succeed internally in terms of fighting corruption and establishing the rule of law, it is a lost cause. i truly believe putin's play here -- he would be happy with a negotiating, but as long as it turned is turned into something similar to bosnia, we will see the dirty money flowing into key iev. and we have elections coming up in 2019. vice president biden: one of the things that came up, was refraining along those lines, the one thing putin could never count on was russian tv reprisals because ethnic russians on the ukrainian side, that would politically put him in a difficult situation, not to defend russian policy, but to expand. there is a way i think we could have insisted that not happen
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with serious sanctions against ukraine if that occurred. and i'll think that is real. -- and i don't think that is real. >> thank you. i want to thank the vice president for being with us today and i want to thank him for four and a half decades of externally service to this country. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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>> to c-span's "washington journal," live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. dcare live from the convention center for the 2018 auto show. we discussed the future of auto technology and ridesharing technology. and then we discussed the hearing on automotive technology and the issues facing regulators. curt myers with the pennsylvania department of transportation shares his view on the state's approach to driverless vehicles. "washington's journal." join the discussion. henry kissinger and george
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schultz and former deputy secretary of state richard armitage testified before the senate armed services committee. see live coverage at 10:00 a.m., here on c-span. president trump arrives in switzerland on thursday and friday he addresses the world economic forum at davos. he is the first sitting president to address the forum since president clinton. we have live coverage, beginning at 8:00 a.m. eastern on c-span 2. >> president trump imposed trade on solar panels and washing machines. he says this will benefit the u.s. jobs market and workers. veryd trump: thank you much. i am thrilled to sign


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