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tv   Michael Rubin Brian Katulis Seven Pillars  CSPAN  April 1, 2020 1:21am-2:38am EDT

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>> welcome. the scheduling of this book and panel is timing considering the crisis with iran we will get to that eventually but entitled seven
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pillars to look more broadly and more deeply that the instability. from yemen to syria to iraq and iran the region more than ever is in the permanent read the turmoil of endless wars and tragically despite decades of intense and american attention of billions of dollars more often than not a failure. may be the caveat is an absolute failure and to foster stability and a better life for the people of the region. of course the one ultimately responsible for the success or failure are the people who live there. and with today's middle east raises a lot of questions about whether the united
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states should continue to be engaged in the region and if so, how? in this regard the editors of seven pillars, michael and brian and their co- contributors have given us a gift. they identified seven factors that affect stability and examine what they mean and the role they play. the pillars they identified with the legitimacy of islam and ideology education economy and governance i found many of the authors perspective to look at all the problems whether to serve as the basis of the bipartisan approach in the current political environment is anyone's guess.
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and michael ruben and veteran of the bush administration but next is brian who is the clinton administration veteran now with the center for american progress with extensive experience in the arab world. for egypt and palestine working on governance issues for the national democratic institute, contributed the chapter on governance. and then we have a fellow for the middle east at the baker institute and the interplay between religious authorities and policy? and contributing a chapter on islam. trying to keep the conversation and lively and
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not just keeping everybody from going on and on we will talk for a while so to start i will start and ask you and with that analysis that require this kind of approach. but with any metric of the introduction it is not a democrat or republican thing. what we wanted to do is get away from analysis based on the calendar it's too easy and it doesn't work and to do the fundamental rethink of those issues in the region and in terms of legitimacy the common core in the united states that
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people are willing to forgo the governance just so they could have the kurdish national flag over certain buildings and we also want to identify a look at the impact of what we ever talk about in the region how will that change things? how foreign aid impacted legitimacy isn't good governance. and then another conclusion broad issue that was most surprising personally when we went across the region that many people if we asked a question what represents the most legitimate government in the middle east people would say something like lebanon but yet it was thought about in the united states and the parts of the middle east as an abject disaster.
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>> so what is legitimacy? and why is lebanon seen as more legitimate than others? >> we need to abandon the notion one-size-fits-all. but ultimately people wanted legitimacy and the representation of what their identity was but the identities change with time but what is clear is that people were increasingly finding themselves disenfranchised. it isn't just an issue of the arab spring and it just seems to be a failure. and that's why to reconsidering the ideologies that play because 40 percent
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of iraqis before and after the 2003 war 60 percent were born after the 1991 war which means no one has a functional memory of what life was like under saddam hussein therefore they are no longer willing to accept we might have problems from the islamic groups but people are looking at this generation and to see that these other ideologues say these guys don't represent them as much as we complain about politics usually 90 or 95 percent rate in congress in places like iraq is 12 or 16 percent and the fact of the matter is it's a very dangerous moment. >> that form of governance that has evolved or imposed on
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iraq since saddam was overthrown, is it working? did iraqis have to come up with something else? >> great question for my will answer that in the second. and to see what is happened in the last week and just before that young people in the streets of baghdad in major cities and to question and to protest corruption for
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services and a bunch of things that quite frankly when you go around the region that we did together regularly and then quite clearly despite the election the current system is not helping the people. and if you go back to the arab reports of 16 or 17 years ago and in those 15 or 16 or 17 years sense they have gotten weaker. so in a place like iraq quite clearly we do have our differences joking about michael in favor of the iraq war i wasn't.
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he was against the iran nuclear deal i was but the one thing that we agree upon is to dig deeper and the chapter on governance we do but talk about it but not the national governance would under the islamic state i spent a couple of pages on and it shows that response of governance and if content with a government is not responding to plant the seeds for the instability that we saw happened in iraq under the previous prime minister that looks like the islamic state and i think we should have learned by now many years after the iraq war that the united states cannot fix these factors but it's important to factor the fundamental building blocks for stability in the analysis for what we
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will do next in the cycle of restoration which is dangerous. >> it is a phenomenon with failures of governance and failure of leaders in the middle east for a long time. so why at this moment did a group like isys have an opportunity to rise and have such a profound impact? >> the multiplicity factors with the transition where you simply have a bubble that is crushing and if the government is not responding then people will rise up in different various forms. and that was short-lived and doesn't have much legitimacy in the long run and created to the end of one - - to the effect of government and their more tools in a place like iraq and it was a dictatorship it wasn't as much of an open space for people to produce
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change and the theory behind the iraq war we don't want to go back and debate that but the theory was flawed that if we just topple regimes and eliminate or decapitate the top then somehow freedom will spread and why that had accelerated with the islamic state in particular is that you have multiple fights going on inside of iraq with the system of governance that simply was not responding and that's the main point those conditions are still there the iraqis are still looking at the government. >> but i would challenge the notion the old islamic state is that new there any type of movement go back a century before that to sudan but what i do want to throw out it with any numbers of issues of governance the monarchy versus
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republican but what does this mean the nature of america's diplomacy if in many ways we are still limiting ourselves with representative government who are under siege whether they know whether or not? are we missing the broader picture for diplomacy when it comes to the middle east? >> what is the remedy? the united states has to deal with the government that is in power to some sense. >> we have to deal with the government in power but for example how much time do diplomats spend outside the walls of embassies talking and interacting on the local market as opposed to the government?
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we don't want to bring in us policy too much but the aftermath of benghazi is just a lockdown and when you go to beirut the us embassy in beirut is living under the same parameters. >> that's an important point and a strategic point which for us policy in the middle east that began with the events of 1979 with the invasion of afghanistan and a number of things that led to having this engagement primarily be what the military does a look at where we are today and learning what is the next move and what will the military do. and the point is that diplomats have has been decimated the last couple of
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years. there is an understanding we are flying a little more blind in the last point is that it opens up questions whether the united states should actually be spending aid money in countries that simply lack the capacity to do this and maybe there is a strategy for thinking more modestly about our engagement or the outpost where there is relative progress in places like tunisia may be a dollar spent in tunisia may ultimately be better than in other parts of the middle east that we don't even have that discussion because we are reacting to military moves and not thinking about how to diversify the portfolio. >> is religion more important today than it was before? >> it is. very much so but one of the
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fundamental miss cup misconceptions is that we assume that's the case all the time but if you go back 40 or 50 years ago the dominance and the existence but much smaller and much less influential. and how governments were acting in terms of phone calls or domestic policy but over the course of the last 40 or 50 years things have changed dramatically. the iranian revolution was a big turning point but more importantly something that has been mentioned throughout the
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middle east the seventies and eighties. >> but in terms of policy with these were political and economic they failed to deliver on promises and this is what precipitated the rise and the significance of these religious groups and the fundamentalist groups and later the extremist groups throughout the region. the key problem here is the rise wasn't just in terms of their own popularity with the muslim brotherhood in 2011 and 201230 or 40 percent more importantly they can take the parameters of the discussion
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of the policy issues that were ongoing the influence of political groups so much so they felt the need to bring into their own discussions and their own policy proposals one example is what is happening in turkey today they have come to power in 2002 he is a politician but he is so successful in terms of changing the system in such a way the secular parties are unable to determine the agenda and to discuss issues in way outside those parameters. and one problem here is if you
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think about this as competitio competition, that means you in the political actors try to cater because they will want more that carries currency. >> by erdogan has not been successful he was in growing the economy certainly in the early years but he has run into more trouble now and is running into political pushback do you see her of amusing islam as a political tool to advance his political career?
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or is it just so indigenous to the people of turkey every politician going forward will have to encompass religious belief more into their plan? >> i cannot speak to the personal belief. my focus, what i can tell you is religion is an important element and to look over time it changes in terms of the intensity. if you look at the. through 2011 or 2012 and 2013. religion was not that significant of a roll the political prospects were receiving as a result of the corruption scandal and then other issues that have come up
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like losing in the elections that he started to use more religion because especially from among the kurdish and the nationalist vote so what we see is depending on the time that this is important but also for other politicians to go back to the issue mentioning about tunisia i fully agree. tunisia will go much further in terms of policy because it is duly democratized and the underlying support for those religious groups is economic and political issues. once those are addressed first
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and foremost we will see a decrease. >> and to follow up in tunisia. >> you use the phrase repeatedly and it's pretty smart you talk about in the domestic context of turkey which is spot on to understand leaders use religion but the point i wanted to make is that this is about power. it's not necessarily about the right interpretation of religion if there is such a thing but power. second, in addition to the domestic use of religion how multifaceted and dimensional for power and influence and the use of islam with saudi arabia which has its own
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definition and with the birthplace but the main point is the first point think about power and the essentialist interpretation of religion but leaders trying to stay in power to appeal to different themes and to see what they say as their adversary for the competitor in the region that is the most under analyzed an interesting aspect because that spills over into media fights and all sorts of things and something frankly the book doesn't cover itself but america once a better foreign policy. and that is in addition to the use of terrorism and other things a key part of the struggle and competition for power. and just how rapidly things are changing.
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with a complete new set of each population hasn't been born yet. if it is a major influence for religion it will be social media and it is the legitimacy for our leaders or is it going to be populist leaders? and if so how will the traditional muslim scholars looking at the rise of populism and do you think they would rapidly change and put aside whether the united states can keep up. >> great question. and then trying to address this question. a couple years ago we started the project how to support or to distribute across the middle east and what we found
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there were a couple major findings. and those that have great popularity. people look up to them as religious leaders. this is something that has been changing and in terms of social media. that's the change that was precipitated by the turn of the 20th century. and it doesn't have a central authority or a hierarchy. so what this means everyone can be a religious leader and to follow these people. and with that collective class
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and up until the turn of the 20h century. so the class with that religious authority. there was a big void of this preeminence. and early on in the muslim world. this is a process that is evolving was social media. but definitely not the mosques. things are changing fast and quick and with the form of hierarchy.
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>> is this a force for stability in the region? >> what you mean by stability? if you look at turkey and the authoritarian way but if you look at another context in the early 2019 nineties it would be a force for instability because it was stirring up the opposition and trying to get more and that representation. it was totally dependent upon the context. and those of many other religions in the political context and the circumstance
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of the role that it fills. depends on the context. in iraq or syria but it is a force for stability and with those seeming commitments in terms of muslim democracy. >> this is one of the major issues we are witnessing now inside iraq look at the grand ayatollah lee the most prominent religious figure. apparently he is extremely cognizant of what popular opinion is and instead of simply leaving it he has to follow it because if he goes to far out he risks being exposed as the emperor wears new clothes if they choose not to follow him.
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and then to live under saddam hussein. >> they know what is going around in a fall for it and with those thinkers they know what is going on and ultimately that's what religion does for them and religion is a tool and in terms of the power struggle. >> and time to time that is that have any value? is that something the west
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should be encouraging. >> it is an organic process i think we need to play a role in that and certainly right now we have a candidate and his mom hates that but he use that interpretation which is quite dangerous with those constituencies here deeply unhelpful i won't have a comparison are parallel between the two but when the us says things like a point special envoys anywhere from irrelevant to may be slightly unhelpful because i don't think it should be us policy
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to encourage reform of his lawn. for those extremist and more reformist and plays out although my friends that live here in america or europe with their own faith and religion and i would stay away from the use of engagement. when president obama spoke that a lot of my friends in the arab world found offensive especially those that were christian and to be engaged as egyptians or something else. >> i will put this in a different way. and i think one of the it is do to her own navelgazing.
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in which women are educated in morocco has the history that goes back over millennial. of what they are doing with that model often times what you hear it is irrelevant but intellectually and theologically is much more affected asked saudi arabia to have the advantage of oil what has that interpretation. if we are dismissive of other trends. and from what we can see from our vantage point and others
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may disagree with me our own perspective can get in the way. there has to be a limit to what we do in terms of religious debate. and then to do no harm. >> i do think that islam is in great need of reform. the muslim world has a great problem. it is underdeveloped and at this point in time and i'm not saying religion causes this but with the case of violence you look at the muslim world
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today. i cannot remember the figures but eight or nine or killed by other muslims and that is a very important statistic we have under development and under education and one great book that addresses the issue to be published by cambridge university press a highly important book that looks at these issues very critically. the point is there is a great need for reform and religion if we like it or not to be justified were used to justify the ongoing trends and issues in the middle east and far more patriarchy.
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and in tunisia are recently just last year there was a debate about introducing legislation and the most progressive for the parties and to oppose this legislation. so i do think there is a great need because muslims are still trying and struggling to come to terms with modernity. this is a big issue. this is a deep seated issue that needs to be addressed and it's very difficult to come to terms with that. and something i try to emphasize that fundamentalist have been so influential to
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change the mindset but also on the secular side with allied of these issues of lgbt issues and one century ago and it was much more progressive. and ethnic and religious diversity to be it was much more progressive two centuries ago and this is the crux of the issue that they are so important not because they have 30 or 40 percent but because they can reshape the mindset of people and their society. >> you mentioned lgbt and he can correct me if i am wrong
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and we met with officials and universities mohammed the fifth university and we asked to do a town hall with university students and it was a give-and-take and we said we are here from america and you might find this interesting that a lot of people are puzzled about america today the students are asking us what is going on and we said what is different about your generation from your parents? one woman had a head covering and said some of us are lgbt and lesbian and we talk about it openly and then they debated ten or 15 minutes. >> like if they can bring them home to their parents. >> and you pointed out in other countries like iraq that is not the case. >> it's a younger generation will shift back.
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the question is if the generations we have had over the last 40 or 50 years are the outlier of a continuing trend. >> it's not just at the individual level there was much more tolerance of these issues. how many muslim majority countries get the death penalty? >>. >> can you build the mosque in size saudi arabia? and what about the rest of the country's? and that's a big problem. >> does this have to come organically?
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is there a role for government leaders if you say reform is needed how does that come. >> it's very difficult to introduce the subject whether scholars those who wanted to introduce that have been castigated and penalized for other reasons of the official stance and to introduce debates and those fundamental issues going back to socioeconomic developments to have good education systems you can introduce critical thinking and analytical
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