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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  May 30, 2014 12:00am-1:01am PDT

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program. tonight, susan rice, u.s. national security adviser to the president. >> it's important for the american people to understand, first of all we will use our military might when necessary to defend our core interests, being our security, that of our people, our homeland, our facilities overseas, when it's necessary to preserve our economic well being and the livelihood of americans, when it's necessary to protect our allies and core partners who may be under attack. >> charlie: let me stop you there. where is our core interest under attack at this moment? >> nowhere except through the persistent threat of terrorism, which we see overseas metastasizing. >> charlie: susan rice for the hour, next.
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>> there's a saying around here: you stand behind what you say. around here, we don't make excuses, we make commitments. and when you can't live up to them, you own up and make it right. some people think the kind of accountability that thrives on so many streets in this country has gone missing in the places where it's needed most. but i know you'll still find it, when you know where to look. additional funding provided by: captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose.
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: susan rice is here. she is the united states national security advisor to the president of the united states. she has served in that role since july of 2013. previously, she was the united states ambassador to the united nations. the obama administration has received some criticism recently for perceived reentrenchment in foreign policy. the president spoke yesterday at west point and hit back. >> ultimately, global leadership requires us to see the world as it is with all its danger and uncertainty. we have to be prepared for the worst, prepared for every contingency. but american leadership also requires us to see the world as it should be. a place where the aspirations of individual human beings really matters. where hopes and not just fears
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govern. where the truth is written into our founding documents can steer the currents of history in a direction of justice. >> charlie: i am pleased to have susan rice back at this table, welcome. >> thanks, charlie, good to be back. >> charlie: the president is making a series of speeches on foreign policy beginning with his commencement speech at west point and will be in europe as well. is he defining obama doctrine? >> for good reason, one is wary of the term "doctrine." i think he's crystallizing his foreign policies from the outset. first of all, the united states is the most powerful and important country in the world and we have been for a long time and will be for a long time and, in recent years, our power has increased. when you consider our military has no peer, when you consider our economy is strong and growing, we are becoming more and more energy independent each year, we have a vibrant, diverse population that's attracting immigrants and is
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demographically strong, we have a network of alliances around the world that's unmatched from asia to europe, we have all of the most powerful tools of leadership and the world looks to us, as the president said yesterday, for help, whether a typhoon in the philippines or searching for the kidnapped nigerian girls. we are dealing with the crisis in ukraine. so against that backdrop, what he was describing is how we should lead, not whether we should lead, but how, and he outlined a viewpoint which i think is very important for the american people to understand. first of all, we will use our military might when necessary to defend our core interests, our core interests being our security, that of our people, our homeland, our facilities overseas, when it's necessary to preserve our economic well being and the livelihood of americans, when it's necessary to protect our allies and core partners who may be under attack. >> charlie: let me stop you there. where is our core interest under attack at this moment?
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>> nowhere, except through the persistent threat of terrorism, which we see overseas metastasizing. the president talked at length yesterday about the fight against al quaida and its affiliates. we don't face a nation state at this point that poses an imminent direct threat to the united states. there are countries that are rising, that are powerful, that have strong militaries. there are countries that are irresponsible like north korea that could potentially pose a threat but, as you said yesterday, the most direct approximate threat we face in the foreseeable future come from extremists, particularly al quaida and affiliates around the world, that may wish to attack our interests or personnel. but what's changed in the last years, charlie, is we had previously in afghanistan and pakistan al quaida core, as we call it, the senior leadership, very strong and controlling.
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they have been largely dealt very severe blows and are much weakened from where they are in the past. but what's happened as we have successfully degraded al quaida in afghanistan and pakistan is that affiliated groups, some loosely affiliated, some really indigenous in their origin, groups like alshaba or al quaida in yemen or al quaida in mali or boko haram which is alaffiliated in nigeria who kidnapped the girls or what we see in syria in the context of extremist groups in the syrian civil war. these regionally-based groups are dangerous and have aspirations to attack american personnel, embassies and facilities and some even are
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trying to develop the capacity to potentially attack the homeland. >> charlie: what's our strategy against them? >> that's what the president outlined yesterday. we l continue to work to ensure that the al quaida core in afghanistan and pakistan is degraded but, at the same time, increasingly, we need to devote attention to these regional-based al quaida affiliates. so yesterday, the president announced the establishment working with congress of what we hope will be up to $5 billion for a counterterrorism partnership fund, and the key word in that, charlie, is partnership because what the long-term strategy must be for dealing with these dispersed groups in various different countries that often have a regional or local agenda in the first instance is to enlist and build the capacity of partners themselves to take on the fight in their own backyards, not us there on their behalf, but
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sometimes us providing the support they need, whether it's training, whether it's capacity building, whether it's the right kind of material support, and sometimes it will be support for airlift refueling as we've done with the french who were active in mali. so this counterterrorism partnership fund will be the foundation of an evolving strategy that will enable the united states to be effective against these groups on a global basis without, in every instance, having to resort to u.s. direct action. >> charlie: is it fair to say that as you decimated the ranks of the original al quaida led by osama bin laden and zawahiri, where we don't know where he is, that these groups have grown in the obama administration? >> they have evolved and become more diffuse. these groups have been around. it is not new that we have a terrorism threat emanating from
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the portion of africa that borders on the sahara, that's been there since the '90s and beyond. we have had, you know, a terrorism concern based in africa, as you recall, back to 1998 when our embassies in kenya and tanzania were bombed. but where you have weak and fragile states that aren't able to control all their territory or conflict zones such as in syria, you have the potential and indeed in some instances the reality of extremists filling a void. >> charlie: will we seek them out regardless of what the wishes are wherever located or do we have to get the permission of the governments where they may be located in order to go after them with drones and other measures. >> our preference is to work with the host government. >> charlie: but not a resistance. >> and we'll do so wherever we can. but where we see a continuing, eminent threat to the united states, and we can act with near
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certainty of avoiding civilian casualties, as the president's policy directive last year said, we will do so to defend the united states. >> charlie: what is their threat to us? do we believe and have intelligence they are trying to somehow launch some kind of attack against the united states or against the united states embassies and the like around the world? >> that would be the definition of continuing eminent threat. it would be to the united states, whether to our personnel deployed overseas, whether to our embassies or diplomatic facilities or whether to the homeland, all of those constitute threats to the united states. >> charlie: the president seems to be articulating a philosophy and a point of view about the world and the world is changing, as he said, in that speech, and he said this a couple of times -- the most important thing i can do is not screw it up and not make huge mistakes because i think he perceives iraq and afghanistan as serious mistakes that drained
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the united states and offered challenges in many ways. is that correct? >> well, i wouldn't put it that way or how he put it yesterday, either. >> charlie: well, but he said it before. >> the president affirmed yesterday his view that what we have been doing in afghanistan has been absolutely essential to our national security. it was necessary after 9/11. from yesterday that the surge that he ordered in 2009 was necessary. we also think it's serving our interest to bring the war in afghanistan to a responsible end. so it's not -- there are times when we must do what we must do. >> charlie: getting involved in a war which the united states gets sucked into it, those are words he uses with those about flashpoints in syria. >> he outlined circumstances in which it may be necessary for the united states to act
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unilaterally to defend core interests. even in those circumstances he said we have to ask ourselves tough questions and be mindful of international opinion but we won't ask permission to do what we must to defend the united states and our interests. but then he also outlined at some length his view as to when we ought to use force or not to address issues of global concern that aren't directly implicating the security and the economic well being of the united states or our allies, and he spent some time talking about these global concerns and there he said when the issue is global -- and syria is a good example or libya is an example of that, and there are many others -- that our strong preference is and aim should be to act multi-laterally to the greatest extent possible because these are collective concerns and, when we're able to act multi-laterally with partners, the action is more sustainable,
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has greater legitimacy, is more likely to succeed. >> charlie: jeffrey goldberg who just did an interview with netanyahu, has done several interviews with the president, suggested to me on this program last night that the president was motivated to speak on these issues, these series of foreign policy speeches because he feared he was losing grip on the narrative of america's role. >> well, i think, charlie, rather i would put it differently. i don't think it's a question of losing grip on the narrative, and i know the president because i'm talking to him every day, was very much looking forward to the opportunity presented by the occasion of the commencement at west point which he had long planned to do to lay out in quite clear terms his view of american leadership and to make it clear that there's no question that america must and will lead on the world stage. as he said, no one else will if we don't. there's no question we're retreating from the world, of
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course we're not. it's not whether we'll lead, it's how we'll lead. what he essentially said, charlie, is we've got to lead with our brains, we've got to use our logic and wisdom and not just our impulses, and when we do, sometimes that means acting with restraint. always it means acting to the greatest extent possible consistent with our values, our laws and our leadership role. then the other thing he said is our leadership role is not defined solely by our military might. it's defined by the strength of our economy, the strength of our alliances, our moral leadership, our values. and, actually, when you look at how we lead in the world, we are the nation above all that can rally other countries to achieve the goals that we desire, whether it's, you know, trying to bring them to the negotiating table, we rally them. >> charlie: after what
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happened in syria with respect to the red line and the military force and the russians, that some people in the region, people who are enemies of ironer and iran supporting syria had some question about america and where it stood and how it was prepared to lead, and that made the president have to go to those countries an and reassure them? i'm thinking of saudi arabia and abdullah. >> let me answer that directly. at the time, there were friends and partners in the united states in the middle east that did act with concern and skepticism, but i was just out in the region, as you know, a few weeks ago i was in israel and met with prime minister netanyahu and the senior national security team and do you know what they said? they said president obama was right. they never anticipated that we would be able to get syria to acknowledge it had a chemical weapons program much less get
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92% of their declared stockpile out of the country, and we will get the last 8% out, and they said that was the president's choice and decision to threaten incredibly the use of force, but when the syrians backed down and acknowledged their stockpile and offered to dismantle it and we took them up on that, that that was the right choice. i actually also think, having spoken to other key american allies and partners in the gulf, including with the saudis and yesyemeni, that turned out to ba wise choice because the goal was to protect in particular not only the people of syria but israel that was directly threatened. >> charlie: prime minister netanyahu also said to jeffrey goldberg this was a smart move by the president of the united states and i applaud what he did with respect to the agreement to get the questions out of syria. but are you saying to me now that whatever reservations that
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our friends in the monarchies and other places had about u.s. leadership in the world, they have been reassured and is no longer an issue? >> well, i can't speak for them. >> charlie: you spoke to them. i did speak to them, but i won't speak for them, and i think they probably appreciate that. >> charlie: yes. but i will say this, the notion hat the united states is unprepared to use military force is belied by the facts. you know, it was president obama that surged our forces into afghanistan. we are trying to bring to a close and will bring to a close at the end of 2014 our combat mission in afghanistan after the longest war in u.s. history. this president has been willing to use force to defend our interests and we also used force in context of collective international law in libya to deal with the threat gadhafi posed. >> charlie: that's not a great place today, is it? >> no, libya is having a difficult time today. >> charlie: what's our role to
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influence libya? >> in libya, frankly, we have tried hard to help a government come to the fore that is legitimate and has staying power. for now that is the case and now they've had a series of handovers from one prime minister to another, they have a rebellious congress that's at odds with the government, and we've also tried very hard to help them build their security apparatus because, remember, gadhafi ran that place for 40 years as a one-man band. there were no ministries that functioned, no institutions to have the state. so -- no institutions of the state. so they were starting from scratch with no history or tradition of knowing how to govern and, unfortunately, the various militia in libya that came to the fore during the revolution have turned on each other, and there are extremists within libya that have gained some prominence, and they are now being countered by those who
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are anti-extremists: >> charlie: with respect to what the president's strategy was, i want to read two editorials, one from the "new york times" and "washington post." the "new york times," the address did not match, lacked strategic sweep and unlikely to detract the right or left. >> i think that's rather ungenerous and inaccurate. if you read the scope of that speech and i encourage people to read it not just listen to it, it lays out in very clear terms a vision of american leadership. it's assertive, it's strong, it indicates when and how and whether the united states ought to use force. it defines the counterterrorism strategy in updated terms and unveils a new set of tools to deal with that threat that has
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evolved and diffused. it then turns to the critical question of how the united states leads by mobilizing nations and partners towards our collective ends. >> charlie: right. that piece has gotten less attention, is vitally important. folks need to remember and understand that most of the problems we face on the international stage, whether trying to prevent iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon through a combination of sanctions and diplomacy or punishing and isolating russia for crimia and efforts to destabilize -- >> charlie: the russian now seem to think crimea is theirs. >> well, it's not. >> charlie: what are we prepared to do, withdraw from crimea? >> dhearl, i don't know if
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sanctions in the near term will cause russia to leave crimea, but several things happened that are important. first of all, russia's economy as a result of the sanctions that the united states and the european partners already put in place have stopped growing. it's close to negative growth. the capital outflows are unprecedented. over $100 billion just in the first few months of this year. the major banks in russia are losing value and profit. >> charlie: but at the same time they just signed a 30-year gas deal with cha china. >> which had been long in the works. it would be interesting to know what the sheas paid -- the chinese paid for the gas, i bet it was a bargain. but beyond that, russia is paying a significant price in terms of its international standing and terms of its economy. >> charlie: if it's paying a
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price in international standing, how is it affecting their actions? is it affecting how president putin weighs his risk? >> well, i think it must be to a certain extent because russia has taken some decisions and different steps along the way that could have gone either way. they'd had more than 30,000 troops amassed along ukraine's border and we and others thought there was a risk they might cross over into eastern and southern ukraine as they had crimea. they have not done so. in the last week to ten days, we've seen incredible indications the forces are redeploying back to their home barracks. i can't tell you with certainty why putin took that decision, but it's notable that he did. in addition, we have now a successful election in ukraine, which was certainly not assured several weeks ago. first round winner decisively in all parts of the country,
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mr. poroshenko, who is well known to the russians, well known to the west and served in more than one previous government in ukraine -- >> charlie: what is the hope for him that he might do? what is your hope that this election will achieve? >> i will answer that, but let me just say, if the russians had hoped to make an election that was credible in the eyes of the ukrainian people and the international community, they did not succeed. i do think the collective action of the united states and our partners has had an impact. with respect to ukraine, again, we've had an impact. we've mobilize it did sources of europe, of the i.m.s., of our own treasury to help support ukraine through this very difficult economic period and, now, mr. poroshenko's challenge is to unite the country, to sustain -- i should say to take advantage of the economic moment that the international financial
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support provides and to find the balance such that ukraine can choose as it wants to both to have close ties to europe but also to recognize that russia is its neighbor and it has to live side by side. >> charlie: you're the national security advisor to the president. off access to every intelligence we know. what do you think they want in respect to ukraine? >> they who? russia? >> charlie: russia, yeah. i think they want a ukraine that's maximally influenced by russia. >> charlie: and we want? we want a ukraine that can chart its own future. >> charlie: and where -- what's -- >> and that is simple, charlie, as letting them choose their leadership, choose whether they want to apply for membership to the e.u., choose whether they want to apply to membership of russia's regional organization, the shanghai cooperationle
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organization. our view is sovereign countries ought to be sovereign. they shouldn't be invaded or threatened by their neighbors. >> charlie: did europe make a mistake -- by that the e.u. and member countries -- should they have responded quicker to ukraine and therefore made a deal early so all of this might not have happened? >> i don't know that it's as simple as making a deal earlier. >> charlie: yeah. in fact, when the change occurred, events unfolded very quickly. i do think, however, that going back many, many months to the point at which the yanukovich government was flirting with greater european integration and europeans were offering it, but this whole period throughout much of 2013, i think, will be an interesting fertile ground for historians to delve into because i think, if you look at it carefully, many
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miscalculations were made on all sides. >> charlie: all sides. i think so. >> charlie: did we see it coming? >> i think we saw that ukraine was fragile, that there was a real chance that the popular sentiment brewing could be unpredictable, but i don't think we saw that russia was going to make a play on crimea. frankly, i don't think the russians planned to make a play on crimea far in advance. >> charlie: so it was almost as a result of what happened to yanukovich? >> well, i think -- i don't think it was long planned and i think, yes, it was in substantial measure a reaction to what happened to yanukovich. >> charlie: what do you expect will happen? how will this unfold, in your judgment, in terms of ukraine, the future of ukraine? i mean, you don't acknowledge that the russians have crime. i
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can't most people do. >> no, most countries don't. and if you look at the vote down the road in the united nations here, charlie, it was overwhelmingly rejecting the russian effort to annex and occupy crimea. the international community utterly rejects this. it has no legitimacy, and it can't have any legitimacy because, in the 21st century, if we start to acknowledge that it's okay for countries to take bites out of one another, it's a recipe for anarchy. nobody acknowledges it except russia and a few of its closest buddies bought and paid for. >> charlie: you're saying our policy is this was an illegal act by the russian government. >> absolutely. >> charlie: and therefore we have to exercise every amount of pressure we have on russia including sanctions and the like to get them to pull out of crimea. >> you're now putting words in my mouth. i said it's an illegal act. we do not recognize it and we have exerted significant
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sanctions on russia as a consequence of that decision. >> charlie: and if sanctions don't cause russia to change its mind, what will we do? >> well, i don't think you heard the president describe yesterday, this again is not an issue from the united states' perspective where the use of force is contemplated or implicated. it is a situation where we want to strengthen the government in kiev economically, politically and give it maximum independence. we want to continue and hold the pressure on russia through economic means, but this may well be an issue that we're wrestling with for some time. the issue of crimea. >> charlie: do you have any information that suggests that vladimir putin acted in part because he believed that president obama was not prepared to stop him. >> none whatsoever. >> charlie: or that president obama was -- >> no. >> charlie: okay. there's nothing to indicate that
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he thought he could get away with this and, therefore, he did? >> well, those are two different things, okay? did putin calculate the west would not go to war over crimea? perhaps. >> charlie: yes. that's different than did we have any information that he thought president obama was weak and wouldn't respond. president obama was strong and led the international community to punish and isolate russia and russia is now suffering, as i mentioned earlier, very significant economic -- >> charlie: does all of europe on the same page with the president including germany who has extensive commercial relationship with russia, are they on the same page with the president of the united states with respect to what we need to do with respect to tough sanctions? >> germany is very much on the same page and the president has met and spoken with chancellor merkel all throughout this crisis, almost every couple of weeks if not more frequently than that and, when she came to washington earlier this month,
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it was, there again, that they reaffirmed as the two of them in the first instance, and other european leaders joined suit in saying that if russia were to destabilize the election last week on the 25th of may such that it couldn't be conducted incredibly, then we were prepared to lead europe and the west respectively towards sectoral sanctions. >> charlie: what changed in syria that makes the administration seem to want to do more than it was prepared to do several years ago in supporting rebels in opposition to the government? has the nature of the opposition changed so that you can clearly identify who's good and who's bad? has whatever you've done through the c.i.a. had an impact so you know how to support good guys and not support bad guys? what's the dynamic that makes
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the administration seem to be more willing to do more? >> there are several answers to that. first of all, the situation itself in syria is getting worse, not better. let's be honest. the humanitarian situation is appalling, and -- >> charlie: refugees. -- and heartbreaking. >> charlie: yes. and, you know, the outflow of refugees, the number of displaced, the use of chemical weapons early on, the use of barrel bombs on a daily basis now, snipers shooting at children, i mean, it wrenches every human heart who's paying attention. now, that's not a unique situation to syria. we've seen it in congo and sudan and many other places, but it is getting worse not better. secondly, as the conflict has evolved and assad has continued to prosecute the war, he has lost control of significant
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swaths of his territory and in that void have come increasingly very extreme terrorist groups. a group called isle which is active in syria and iraq is so radical al quaida had to split from it. >> charlie: they've gone too far in terms of their tactics. >> and then there are al quaida elements which we worry about a great deal. >> charlie: would they have been there in the numbers we are if we had done more when -- >> charlie, i think the answer to that is there is not a degreeo military involvement or military support for the opposition short of direct u.s. military involvement, which the president had in terms of boots on the ground excluded, that
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could have necessarily countered the investment that hezbollah, iran, russia and others have made on behalf of assad. so i think my own view is the answer to your question is no. it may have changed, in some respects, the trajectory of the conflict, but it still would be a raging battle to this day, and we would still have the phenomenon of areas that are outside of the government's control that were attractive to extremist groups. >> charlie: and how far are we prepared now because to have the changing circumstances to support those in opposition to the government? >> well, let me answer that, but there's one other piece to your prior question, which is about the opposition itself. we have been supporting the opposition. the united states government has been actively supporting the opposition, armed and unarmed
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elements of the opposition -- >> charlie: but not as much as everyone wants, you acknowledge that? >> i don't know you know how much we're doing. >> charlie: no, i don't. okay. and i'm not going to get into that. so let me just say we have been providing this support and increasing it for quite some while over the last couple of years. now, the quality, the quantity and i believe the efficacy of our support has increased and will continue to increase in part because we have been able to identify who among the moderate vetted opposition are the partners that we want to work with -- >> charlie: and we can work with them and arm them and supply them without those arms falling into the hands of the people who the most extreme -- >> that remains a risk but a risk we're learning to manage for. >> charlie: but that was the reason in part for not doing more earlier. >> the other challenge, charlie,
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has been that some of our friends and partners who have also been supporting the opposition have not been, in every instance over the years, particularly discriminating as to whom they gave their support. >> charlie: you're talking about the qa)ojñ and who they support? >> among others. now, the good news is that we have gotten to a point where all of the partners that are involved in the enterprise of supporting the opposition are now of the same view that we better be very careful as to who we support and that we want to support those elements that are not extreme, that are moderate, and we're now coordinating and cooperating in a much more effective way. so that's another thing that has changed, when you asked, you know, what's different. the situation's worse and the ability to have an impact is greater, we think. >> charlie: are we going to look at a stalemate and things will go from increasing refugees
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in turkey and jordan and assad will get stronger in terms of his relationship with -- >> there's no military solution to the crisis -- >> charlie: and if russia prepared to play a positive role in finding a diplomatic solution and does what's happening in ukraine hinder that? these things aren't connected. >> well, they could be. whether they are or not. let me tell you why i say that. let me reiterate. there has to be a political solution. there is no military solution. >> charlie: give me an example of a political solution. >> it's a negotiated solution of the sort that we and the russians and other members of the united nations security council envision. >> charlie: we tried in geneva to get a solution, and id failed. >> because assad wasn't prepared negotiate seriously. >> charlie: he'll only negotiate seriously if he thinks he's losing on the ground. >> or not winning on the ground.
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>> charlie: okay. and that's why i say there isn't a military solution by which i mean there will be a clear-cut victor, either the the opposition or government. in all likelihood -- and we've had points in the past that seem to be approaching this -- that the two sides will be ready for negotiation or ripe for a negotiated solution when both sides see they don't have the prospect of military success. if you recall, about a year ago, in may of 2013, secretary kerry was in moscow and agreed with president putin and lavrov that we ought to push the two parties to the negotiating table on the basis of a framework that had been previously negotiated in geneva. it took the parties and it took the russians and indeed the opposition a long time, many
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months, to be willing to come to the negotiating table and, by that time -- and the opposition, charlie, to be honest, was very fragmented, very unprepared initially to come to the table. by the time they came, they performed admirably. but in the months that ensued, the tide turned further in assad's favor. so the end of the day, there still needs to be a negotiated solution. in our view, it needs to be one in which the institutions of the state are preserved. we don't want to see them dismantled as has been the case in other circumstances and it's backfired, but assad can't be part of a credible transition government. >> charlie: so you say to assad that there's no way that anybody is going to complete a negotiation in which you remain in power? >> i don't see a negotiated settlement in which the opposition would accept assad remaining in power. some of the people around assad, certainly those close to assad
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in terms of the effect and others certainly will have a place in any transition. >> charlie: you're asking him to negotiate and at the same time saying to him there is no future for you here? >> no, there's no leadership role for you here. you're not going to be president during a transition. >> charlie: what's the likelihood he'll agree to that? >> not high, he hasn't done it yet, but if he thought the alternative was worse, that's the point in which he might. >> charlie: how do we make the alternative worse? >> the alternative becomes worse when one of several things happens -- his backers back off their support, his economy becomes -- >> charlie: iran's not going to do that, are they? >> -- untenable. >> charlie: the russians won't do that. >> we'll see. but all of them. no, thus far, they have not indicated a readiness to do that. i'm just giving you, analytically, the elements here. so that's one thing that could
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turn the tide. the economic circumstances for assad changing dramatically could turn the tide or the situation on the ground or the international community deciding as it has been unable to do so to date that there is a basis for collective action. >> charlie: is he using chlorine gas, assad? >> there certainly are disturbing reports that he may be using chlorine gas and we're concerned about it and we have tasked the chemical weapons inspectors, the opcw, to investigate that very thing and they are. the chlorine gas is, unlike the sarin gas which was used earlier with a deadly effect, is not actually a banned substance under the chemical weapons convention, but its use in combat or against civilians is banned under the chemical
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weapons convention. so if they are doing that, it is illegal, it is in violation of the chemical weapons convention which they now signed on to and that's why the investigation that the opcw is doing is important and we attach great zig to what it -- significance to what it may find. >find. >> charlie: russia, it's been said we may be entering a cold war. >> i don't think so. russia doesn't lead an ideological block. it doesn't lead anyone but itself in the 21st century. the other thing, the united states, as i said at the outset, it's not a dual superpower world anymore. our strength is not matched by any country, certainly not russia, not even china. when you look at our military, our economy, our demography, our natural resources, our enormous diversity, our partnerships and
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alliances, there is no -- the united states doesn't have a peer. so the cold war was premised on a divided world, ideological camps -- and, by the way, there's no ideology behind putin's russia other than power and money. >> charlie: money meaning? money. money meaning, you know, crony capitalism. >> charlie: okay. before i leave that region to go to china, i want to ask this question -- setting of dates for the takedown of troops -- you know, 9,000 by the end of 2015, zero by the end of 2016 -- some have criticized you saying why did you have to set numbers? why is that necessary? what's the incentive to do that? >> okay, so let me explain that. i appreciate that question. in the first instance, charlie, remember that we have been in war in afghanistan for 13 years,
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the longest war in american history. i don't think any american in the fall of 2001 would have thought that, in 2014, we would still be in combat in afghanistan. our combat mission will end at the end of 2014, and what remains are really two tasks, one is to continue the training and advising of afghan national security forces. the afghan national security forces, the army and police are over 350,000. we and our nato partners have painstakingly invested in their establishment, their training, professionalization, and i can tell you from having been there repeatedly that the quality and the efficacy of those afghan forces are vastly improved. but they're not yet at the point where they can do every function yet independently.
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and interestingly, a lot of what they need to learn to do are the high-end logistics functions, the intelligence functions, making sure that their supply chains worked, that they can pay their forces. and that's the level of training and advice now that we're giving. >> charlie: that's one aspect. that's one aspect. the other, of course, is ensuring we are able to support continued counterterrorism operations against al quaida remnant in afghanistan. so when our commanders on the ground in afghanistan in the region and in the pentagon in washington made their recommendations to the president, it was they, also, that said we ought to have a ramped-down plan, we should continue at the beginning of 2015 to train and advise the afghans at what they call the corps level, the military corps level.
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there are four corps. we and our nato partners will be able to be at the corps headquarters at the level of 9,800 and use the duration of most of 2015 to complete the corps level training our commanders think is so important to give them sustainability. >> charlie: you know the question, the taliban will wait us -- >> here's why we ramped down, because the afghans -- and this is the advice of the commanders to the commander-in-chief -- the afghans need to see the horizon at which they will be required to stand on their own. they have made enormous progress over the last two or three years, and our commanders believe that by the end of 2016 they will not need the level of support that they will need at the beginning of 2015, and they have recommended this gradual draw down of u.s. forces. at some point, charlie, those people who say, well, you know, you are going to tell the
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taliban how long the wait, at some point we're going to be gone. 15 years will be a long time. if the idea is, if you ever say when you're gone, you're going to give the taliban warning, then we're going to be there forever, and that is not the view of the afghans, not the view of the commanders and certainly not the view of the american people. >> charlie: do you think things will change for the better with a new president? >> yes, i think. i think that's a fair bet. i hope so. >> charlie: okay, fair enough. in iraq, if we had been able to make an agreement similar to what you hoped to make in afghanistan, would we be looking at an iraq that was not so divided between sunni and shia and the resurgence of al quaida if there had been anti-terrorist troops remaining in iraq? >> recall what happened in iraq because there's a lot of revisionist history going on
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here. president bush signed an agreement with the iraqys to end our military presence in the end of 2011 when it ended. that was signed before he left office date certain. so for those people who say why are you going to tell the enemy when you're gone, that was the first such instance which, frankly, i'm not sure was wrong. he decided on a date certain when our combat mission would end and it ended. now, what president obama said is, if we are able to negotiate with the new iraqi government an understanding that they approve that allows us to stay with the protections that our forces need wherever they deploy, then we would be willing to leave behind a small residual to help do counterterrorism with the iraqys. they didn't make it and they regret that now. >> charlie: they advised the afghans not to make the same mistake they did, right?
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>> i don't know that to be true, but i've heard that. >> charlie: yes. so here's the point -- it wasn't that the united states didn't make a deal with the iraqys. >> charlie: i know, but suppose the american counterterrorism forces had been there, we would be looking at a resurgence of al quaida and -- >> we would be looking at a resurgence of al quaida because the resurgence of al quaida is largely a function of what's happening in syria. that's where isle -- >> charlie: go into syria and come back. >> they started in syria and moved back into iraq. now, there were some remnants within iraq, i don't want to say there were none. so the syria conflict has been a large factor in fueling what has arisen in iraq. i think the united states has maintained an advisory presence in iraq in our embassy, almost hundreds if not up to 1,000 personnel, which is roughly the sort of arrangement we would have in afghanistan after 2016.
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that advisory role has been valued by the iraqis since they've had to step up and deal with the threat. the question you pose is really one for the iraqis. what do think think would have been a wiser choice? we were not ever going to be doing the fighting for them. it would have been all been them and we are still able to offer support and advice and indeed doing so today. what the president said yesterday as part of this counterterrorism partnership initiative is we're going to ramp up our support not only to the opposition in syria but to the neighbors of syria who are battling this challenge. >> charlie: two last questions. edward snowden in an interview with brian williams said he'd been trained as a spy and, b, nothing he disclosed, there was no evidence that had done damage to any person and that the government has not cited one person that was damaged because of his disclosures.
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was he trained as a spy? has his information damaged any person that we can identify? >> he was not trained as a spy. we have no idea where that assertion comes from. and has edward snowden done damage? he's done immense damage to the national security of the united states in ways that i wish i could describe in public but i cannot. but, indeed, the revelations, the illegal, unauthorized revelations of snowden have given our enemies, particularly terrorists, including al quaida, insights into how we gain information and intelligence on them that have enabled them to change the way they operate and be much more difficult to track. that's just one example. >> charlie: are we in negotiations to bring him back under any kind of considerations that he would do something and we would therefore allow him to come back? >> and what? >> charlie: what are our conditions for him coming back to the united states?
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>> that he stand trial. >> charlie: nothing else? no. by the way, we've got the best justice system in the world with all the protections for defendants that anybody anywhere could hope for. he faces very serious charges. he should come back and face them in court. and if his intentions are honorable as he claims, which is hard to imagine given the damage he's done, then he ought to be brave enough to face the justice system that is the foundation of the country he loves, or says he loves. >> charlie: or says he loves. he's saying he can't love this country if he did what he did? i'm not going to speak for him. >> charlie: my last question, iran. iran. the iranian president indicated he's optimistic there may be some kind of deal by the july 20th deadline. are we optimistic? >> i wouldn't say optimistic.
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>> charlie: what would you say? >> first of all, i'd say we're pursuing these negotiations along with our chinese-russian-european partners with great seriousness. the iranian side has also approached them with seriousness. >> charlie: they have approached them with seriousness? >> yes. the interim agreement that was signed and finalized in january is being implemented fully and faithfully by the iranians and by our side. so that is a good thing because that agreement halts progress in their nuclear program and rolls it back in key respects and, so, we are safer today as a result of that interim agreement than we would have been otherwise. but can we get to a comprehensive agreement? i think the jury's out on that and it's going to be very difficult because the gaps that remain between us thus far are significant. >> charlie: let me turn to a
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note of a north carolinaian who knew maya angelou very well. she was an inspiration to so many people, including young african-american women who have gone on to have enormous success like you have. what did she mean to you? >> charlie, i really appreciate you asking that question. she was a huge figure for me, personally. i mean, part of the reason being -- not just because she was an african-american woman, but, in my youth, before i was corrupted by the business of national security, i was a poet. >> charlie: you were a poet. and i loved writing and studying poetry. and she was, from my earliest
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days as a student of poetry, one of my very favorites. then as i grew up and had more opportunities and exposure, i got to meet her on a number of occasions, and she had such grace and warmth and dignity. she was extraordinarily affirming of everybody she touched and, certainly as a woman and african-american, i just had a great deal of fondness and appreciation for her. her loss is big. it's huge. but she left so much for so many in her poetry and her novels, in her teaching of students down in north carolina. she was a great one. >> charlie: thank you. thank you. >> charlie: pleasure to have you here. >> thanks. >> charlie: susan rice, former
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ambassador of the united nations now the national security advisor to president obama. thank you for joining us for the hour. we'll see you tomorrow night. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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