tv Discussion on Middle East Policy Under Biden Presidency CSPAN November 20, 2020 2:16pm-3:21pm EST
frank caswell discussed the past and future of technology and then mark and sonya on the potential effects of the coronavirus will have on soety. in 9:00 p.m. eastern on "after words" political scientists and thor deborah stone talks about her book, counting, how we use numbers to decide what matters. she's interviewed by data scientists and author kathy o'neill. watch the tv on c-span2 this weekend. >> up next, former ambassadors at foreign policy expert discuss the incoming biden administration and its impact on middle east policy. we hear about u.s. relations with turkey and lebanon with recent peace deals in israel. here is a look. >> good morning and welcome. i am terry fireside, senior vice president at the middle eastern institute and i'm pleased to welcome you all to today's eve
event. election 2020, president-elect joseph biden. following a contentious u.s. election joseph biden will be the next president of the united states and leaders in the middle east have mixed emotions about that as adults, especially those who have prospered throughout down times presidency. the entire region undoubtedly will be
four years. >> me say a few things about leading up to the inauguration that should happen on january january 20. one that the electoral event itself in the u.s. resonates in the middle east and america has been the leading democracy in the world for two centuries and the middle east since the late 19th century up till yesterday was still combating or struggling over the issue of what is the best political system, should it be a form of monarch or goal or military authoritarianism or islamic system or a democracy in these things are very real issues, particularly among the populations of the middle east.
president trump has been somewhat an opponent of the institutions and values of democracy and a free press so it was a time when that american example was taking a beating around the world but also in the middle east. i think the election of joe biden is somewhat of a restoration of the course of democracy in the u.s. and remains fragile and remains threatened but that, in and of itself, gives encouragement to those of the middle east to believe that democracy is the future rather than authoritarianism or some form of islamic government. secondly for the audience i think it's important to note that obviously president trump still has eight, nine weeks left in his administration and might, you know, do dramatic things in the middle east that could relate to iran, whether more sanctions or some form of estimation could be sudden troop
withdrawals from countries like afghanistan or iraq and syria or something else that we haven't foreseen and joe biden might be met with more surprises a few weeks from now. another factor is that the senate under republican san but it's still not certain if the republicans maintain control of the senate that means of president biden will have to find common ground with senate leadership on domestic issues but probably foreign policy issues as well hence that will affect this foreign policy. having said that one note also that u.s. two big picture issues as you mentioned the u.s. during this election cycle is going through a once in a century pandemic the biggest economic sense the depression so the
voters and much of the administration is going to be focused on domestic issues. when it comes to foreign policy issues the middle east is quite in the back of the queue and there are some global foreign policy issues like going into the climate change agreement and rebuilding trade and relations with potential allies and asia and restoring america's resins in the un and multilateralism and in a more direct sense the focus on the competition with china and competition with russia and when you look at the democratic party platform the middle east is the very last paragraph of the very last page and maybe that is not a coincidence and that this is really going to be a high priority. having said that the u.s. has continuing and enduring interests in the middle east which really haven't changed much from obama to trump two
biden and those are continue to be a free flow of energy to the goal market as well as regular trade routes remain open and it is continued focus on countering weapons of mass destruction and focus on counterterrorism and counterterrorism dictates america's military presence and as well as great power competition with china and russia. those are not going away in the u.s. reduce its footprint in the middle east but it is not going away and not turning away. in terms of policy much change much continuity and i think the area of where we might see most change is between trump and biden is on iran policy and that obviously president biden would want to go back or go forward
into the nuclear deal with iran and would want to renegotiate some aspect of it but certainly wants to get back into the general perspective of that nuclear agreement and to try to have a negotiated check with iran. we can talk about that later and on israel palestine he welcomed the peace agreement between israel and three arab countries and certainly would want to encourage more but he will resume talks with the palestinians and u.s. relations that we support there and encourage the palestinians in the press and to resume bilateral negotiations. on counterterrorism and general we can talk more about it but there's no magic bullet and no secret sauce and there is not going to be any dramatic changes they are unless trump implements them and on weapons of mass destruction as he mentioned he has a different approach to iran's nuclear program and iran has now been much more nuclear
material that it had before trump withdrew from the agreement and in a more general sense i believe the biden administration will give solutions not just pressure and threats and i think the biden administration will lean on allies and multilateralism and bringing many global players around the table rather than going it alone and i think of biden administration will do two things, one is social health and economic issues because certainly the region will go through also a great pandemic and a great economic contraction and i think a biden administration would be more understanding of that and will be alert to social economic issues and certainly to end with this because i started with democracy as an important dynamic biden administration will also foreground and the issues of human rights, civil
society and political participation and good government and the right of people to express themselves and to choose their leaders and hold them accountable and i think we will do that in a diplomatic way but that will be back on the table with the biden administration so those are my opening thoughts. >> thank you, paul. let's turn next to general for his thoughts about one aspect that you touched on paul and that was the security and military environment that would include ct and certainly include our approach to iran and afghanistan is also something that is on the front burner as far as the administration is concerned. joe, if you could talk about how you see the biden administration developing on the military and
security side. >> thank you, jerry. good to be with everyone and thank you for the invitation. i think the question at hand here is the future of u.s. military presence in the region and when we talk about this that and at least three different bends here. first is the notion of ongoing operations and what i'm talking about here is afghanistan and iraq and syria as a separate but in afghanistan as everyone knows we are at a point where there are ongoing reconciliation and they are not progressing as fast as anybody would want them but they are in the process and this is been the object of president trump's strategy for the last three years, get 28 reconciliation between the government and the delavan so what we now have seen at least in some open media here has been some discussion on whether they are making an intermediate media
withdrawal, somewhere in the range of 5000 u.s. troops on the ground and further reductions of this and of course are dependent upon progress in the talks but certainly some indications of from the current administration when extreme there would be again the lower in terms of this. also consideration is our status of our nato-led coalition this is an important consideration that has to be looked at and of course the long-term usc pm just in afghanistan and afghanistan does remain a location where there is a presence number of terrorist organizations and this is something we will continue to look at. looking across that iraq and syria here we see about approximate same number of troops on the ground who are continuing to provide assistance
to the iraqi security forces and syrian democratic forces and to continue to consolidation of the campaign against isis and continue to provide security in the areas of which we have the greatest amount of influence but of course, also at stake, is regional instability bird we need to remember what brought us back to all iraq in 2014 was the outflow of instability that came out of this region and impacted our interests in other areas and imposed greater threats to the country. iraq forces and to some extent influences and syria and leverage against iran has been an important generation for us and again there are u.s. ct interests here. this aspect of ongoing operation will have to be but the second i would highlight is iran and paul talked about this and the approaches of the trump administration and the previous obama administration cannot be more different pressure campaign
versus focus on jc poa and a more diplomatic open dialogue approach here so there are very significant differences here. there has been a buildup to some extent of additional conventional and other forces in the region that are designed to support the pressure campaign and sustainment of this of course comes at a cost to readiness of our military forces and our desire to keep things in other areas and of course, the recent agreements between israel and gulf arab nations does offer an opportunity here for greater alignment and more pressure against iran in the region so this will be the second bin of areas that the new and menstruation will have to focus on. some of this area of great power competition, as all our viewers
are sure, i am aware, great power competition really is the main element of our current national defense strategy retaining our competitive advantage against great power actors such as china. this area of course has seen persistent encouragement from china and russia and others here who are trying to observe their own influences on the area and it goes without saying that the middle east will be an area where we will need to compete and to one extent or another whether it is one of the other national power but certainly inerrant we have to look at. that will mean we have to look at things like security assistance programs, foreign military sales et cetera and in this area we have some of the largest programs within the u.s. government and of course, now with the agreements and potential for f35 to go to the countries for example like that uae this is a very important
consideration. for the new administration stepping into this first and foremost, obviously they have to open for reasonable and inclusive transition that has not materialized and there is still time for that to take place and hopefully there will be an opportunity once we set aside the politics of the current election. i think it will be important for the new administration stepping forward to be ready to articulate interests and priorities and the region. this will be what i think many of the partners will be listening for. of course, that will be the proliferation and iran in a different place today and this will have to be addressed and we will have to look at that.
second of all, we will be protecting the homeland. our enduring concern of terrorist organizations in this area presuming our influence again this will be a part of the competition and confront other actors creating instability from outflowing of the region and giving resources but it's definitely for our partners but these will all be interests that the new administration with a long enduring interest that the new administration will need to address. as paul indicated and i do agree there will be a heavy emphasis on the diplomatic side and i do expect and would strongly encourage they talk partners, both in and out of the region and return the dialogue to something that is bent more normal and were expected of u.s. interaction in the region and this will be very important in reassuring our partners both in
and out of the region of our strategic liability that there is an element of continuity in our approach that their considerations will be brought into this. i also think it's important that the new administration not immediately dismiss some of what is happened over the last several years there are elements to build upon from a security standpoint certainly fact that the taliban and the government of afghanistan are talking to some extent in something that ought to be built on an is the fact of the region and the depth of soul the money came as a result of his own malfeasance over a long time but it sent a strong message to the region and they may offer an opportunity for the administration to leverage that as they look to the new approach or different or new approach towards iran.
the open normalization of israeli golf, arab relationships i think does provide an opportunity to build on with this and this is regardless of how you this does have a stabilizing effect on the region but struggles with stability and so it should must agree standpoint should be something we build on for it finally, we've had success in our ct campaign both against al qaeda and against isis and most recently either of these groups are completely gone and they can come back but the approaches we have taken in the work that has been done has kept them was suppressed and kept them off our shores and largely off of that of our allies. we need to look at filming on the successes that we have in the past. i will stop them. >> thank you so much, joe.
let's now turn to [inaudible] to talk a little bit about how turkey fits into this larger picture that i think paul and joe have lined out in turkey is clearly going to be an important player on many of these issues, including energy and the whole issue of the broader relationships in the region and civil conflict and a number of states in the region. as well as the challenges on the u.s. turkey relationship itself. >> thank you, jerry. good to be with you this morning. i will start with the laws for turkey u.s. relations. there has been a lot of anxiety with the outcome of the u.s. elections. president aird yvonne was the first will leaders to congratulate president-elect biden and in the sense of
worrying is that it's understandable and if you look at the trump administration why trump could not fix all of erdogan's problems and president trump went the extra mile to shield him from congressional sanctions over turkeys purchase of 400 missile defense systems and the indictment of state owned land or [inaudible] which is being accused of helping iran sanctions so those days are gone. i don't think that biden will be taking punitive measures against erewhon or adopting an approach but i do think we will see a
stronger pushback from a biden white house against turkey where it runs to interests and i think this is biden's approach to foreign policy in general and to turkey in particular will be a mix of principal and system so lesser member that biden was part of the administration on italy and also it's true that many of biden's advisors served in government and they were left with a [inaudible] behavior from dragging their feet in the fight to attracting kurds both in turkey and in syria but there will certainly be those in the biden team who will think that
being too harsh on turkey or completely disregarding the interests in the region would push erdogan closer to benefiting russia so this is, i think, it will look like. normal blank checks for them clamping down on the turks and on the position in the media but we can accept the biden administration will be a lot more vocal with gulags law and human rights in turkey and i think biden will take a approach to this and as you all know turkeys [inaudible] violates u.s. law and specifically the counting on the adversaries through sanctions act which mandates penalties on those countries with purchases of
russian arms but [inaudible] recently testified to the system and i think biden will oppose those sanctions and remember he has a full range of options from bombing to severe financial measures. i don't think he will want to destroy the turkish economy. even those, by the way, will have significant ethics on investors in turkey. looking at some of the policies biden might pursue in the region as well as the atlantic ic challenges and advantages for turkey. if i did not expect it to work to strengthen nato and check russian adventurism and that's
why [inaudible] addressing the deep cracks within nato due to [inaudible] turkey is friends with greece over exploration rights and even the trump administration has been very critical of what it saw as turkey's aggressive approach so i thank you can expect from the and biden administration they are but biden's efforts to curb russian influence might also be opportunities for turkey corporations and he will probably ramp up support for countries such as ukraine and georgia to pushback against russia to help them improve their implementing to extend russia pressure and that is an area where turkey and the u.s. can incorporate. tookie is been cultivating with
ukraine and supported nato enlargement in the region to include georgia so that is an area where they can incorporate. another important item that presents challenges and opportunities in the u.s. media presence in syria will remain we can expect a closer partnership between the u.s. and the this could mean a stronger u.s. push to include the un blocker in geneva and that has always been an age old problem and we will continue to poison [inaudible] that doesn't mean that turkey and the u.s. cannot incorporate in syria. turkey's presence in egypt, for instance, and support for the anti- regime there has presented a regime take over in a major
refugee and that is an outcome the u.s. has been pleased to see. biden administration will probably want to help and support turkeys operation in turkey has a presence in libya and against eastern courses led by [inaudible] and the u.s. is largely remaining on the sidelines there and i doubt biden will want to have a more muscular approach but also a diplomatic process on the way and the biden demonstration will support those efforts and [inaudible] i know i'm running out of time so let me wrap up with this.
[inaudible] partnership depends on shared values and it's not possible and something that the biden administration will do and a partnership [inaudible] as long as erdogan is in power but the two countries can still incorporate that i think this will be an approach of the biden and i will ended there. >> thank you. >> let me come back to a question and there is one country that touches actually there are several countries but one country in particular that touches on all of the issues that you that the three of you have talked about and that is saudi arabia. one of the big questions and of course we know that the saudi's
did not really do much to hide their disappointment over the outcome of the election. saudi leadership was one of the last two congratulate the trump administration or the biden team on their victory and there are issues that are coming up on the agenda that will touch saudi relations and their question about human rights and civil liberties in the domestic affairs and jamaal khashoggi and there is the conflict in yemen and but at the same time there are also enduring interests for all you touched on energy is being still at the heart of u.s. regional policies and definitely going to be the case for at least the next four-eight years and there is also the question of great power competition and
there are a lot of discussion about will the biden administration decide to cut off arms sales to saudi arabia for example or limit them as the obama administration did in 2016 and they will go back and will they stop selling receipt precision guided in particular but will that open the door to greater russian trainees engagement and would the saudi's in frustration turn to russian armed sales or chinese armed sales as an alternative to the u.s. and what does that mean for larger u.s. objectives. there is a lot that is going on in saudi arabia that is pulling the biden administration or the biden team in different directions and how would you try to balance those issues and where is the sweet spot, if you will, in terms of relationship with saudi arabia going forward? >> thank you, jerry.
i don't know the one good in terms of a sweet spot but rather than on, unsteady balance between interests and differences that, you know, and up in a certain place and what do i mean by that? i mean certain leaders that have been dismayed by the outcome of the election i think a number of us mentioned that you i think jerry and your introduction set a number of the leaders have been dismayed and they talked about president erdogan and his personal relationship that certainly applies to the leadership in saudi arabia both [inaudible] and the crown prince and don't forget that surprisingly president trump who ran in the electoral campaign bashing islam and muslims and his first foreign trip to saudi arabia and this event so
certainly there is dismay and in the meantime there was the killing of jamaal khashoggi and escalation of the war in yemen paid also, for minister benjamin netanyahu in israel challenged obama and congress when obama was president and the democrats don't forget that and put all the eggs most of the eggs in the trump basket hoping trump would be elected so he will have political troubles. i think the president in egypt as well got a pass in a warm reception from president trump and i don't think that will be there. having said that, united states as all of us are saying at the end of the day driven by interests and heavy concerns. in saudi arabia and in the golf in general saudi arabia remains the swing producer of energy, even at hydrocarbons are not exactly as central as they were
to the u.s. years ago or the foreseeable future hydrocarbons remain a global strategic factor and the u.s. cannot walk away from that energy relationship like it doesn't want to walk away from control of the [inaudible] in the persian gulf or in the red sea and second, saudi arabia is a major oil economy and its central to the u.s. dollar protecting its status still despite everything we go to global currency and that has been under threat in saudi arabia is and remains allies and that economic sense. i think the piece deals that the uae and bahrain and sudan have implemented with israel also our political game changers and that obviously these peace agreements
particularly in bahrain never have gone ahead without support and encouragement from riyadh and saudi arabia so i think for an incoming u.s. administration to have the heavyweight golf countries effectively normalizing relations with israel is, you know, a new reality for them and is something that they value and they would want to build on. i think that the friction is going to be over human rights and over the crowned prince himself and his responsibility or not for the that jamaal khashoggi killing in that leadership question certainly will not have the warrants that we had under trump and i think and as i mentioned some other leaders will have a warmth issue but again, i don't expect them to walk away from egypt or israel or any of those big players. yeah, i would think there is
more continuity there and even evolution after the peace agreements between israel and some key golf countries but friction over human rights and over the personal relations that are there. i think a lot will be debt depend on who ends up being the u.s. secretary of state and who is the secretary of defense because in many administrations is not necessarily the president who, you know, manages the day-to-day affairs but can put some distance by sending a credible secretary of state who has his ear or credible secretary of defense but i think those appointments will also tell us a lot about managing a whole range of very difficult relationships in the middle east because very few of the countries have a good human rights record and who are good democracy. >> thank you, paul. in the same context in the gulf
region joe where clearly we have so much of our military and security investment there needs to be a couple questions from the audience and one is from dana which is how do you see the regional security evolving out that the u.s. g approved armed drones and that u.s. 35 to uae and the qme issue with israel has been a settled and so what to expect in terms of congressional attitudes going forward and also interests from other members of the audience in another aspect of that and that is you know, the assessment of the iran maximum pressure campaign if the biden administration is going to be changing its approach and going
to be looking at we engaging iran on the jcp oh eight and others use how do you see that effecting our overall security in the region? >> thank you. as i look at the foreign military sales because we have 35 that you just mentioned we see this as a potential opportunity here and i think this is weight we have to look at it. who has been a long desire to have a network of partners in the golf that could protect themselves and could act as a bulwark or deterrent against iranian aggression in the region. and maintain security across this important area. i think there is an opportunity here with that. the challenge, of course, has been bringing all of that together so perhaps with f35 to
the uae this may provide us an opportunity to finally do what we wanted to do and that is to begin to integrate these capabilities for a more cohesive approach across the gulf region and you know, i think that is the way we have to approach this frankly and i don't know that there is any other approach at this particular time other than trying to bring us all together and this has been the big challenge for a long time and it is one we need to address and if we are going to produce our own reliability on a partner's and focus on the things that are truly x essential to the united states we have got to do this and we got to have a reliable partnership and capabilities in the golf. in terms of the assessment of the maximum pressure campaign you know, i don't know that there has been a significant
change in terms of some of the things that iran has been pursuing and certainly the death of soleimani was a key point and a key aspect of this and a very clear message from our administration in terms of what the redlines were with respect to that and i don't know that we seen a good assessment of how that has played out with all the other arms in the appendages that cost him soleimani put in place and all is that how it affects the region. i do think there is certainly more assessment that needs to be done here and i do think that perhaps that is one of the things that the incoming and administration do and i would certainly expect from the biden administration would be a very careful and deliberate look at what the region looks like and what is the common thread
assessment here and where are we in terms of the nuclear capabilities and where are we in terms of exporting of terrorism and influence across the region and where are we in just in terms of what is the maximum pressure campaign has done. i think there is been a very fulsome assessment of that as we make decisions and i don't think it's a turn one off, turn the other one on approach but i think we have to look at exactly what the situation is. >> thank you, gerald. one of the key aspects of the current situation in the region is the tension between turkey and the key golf states and that uae particularly in egypt disagreements over clinical islam, muslim brotherhood but also spilling over you mentioned
libya and that is a clear area where there is obviously a tension between the gulf in egypt against libya and against turkey and their libya approach. this is obviously a complication for the u.s. to achieve its objectives if, as the administration biden team has talked about if they want to get more deeply involved in diplomacy to end the syrian conflict they need a good relationship with the turks and yet there is also an interest in drawing saudi arabia and the uae back into the syria issue as a way of hopefully getting diplomatic outcome. if we want to resolve the libya conflict we need some kind of a notice of bendy between the
turks who are different objectives. in your perspective how deeply involved should the new biden administration be in trying to help smooth over issues between turkey and its adversaries in the arab world? is it even possible and is it something that we should consider to be a priority? ... >> the ones who are more uncomfortable partners in the relationship. as you mentioned, they're worried about turkey's support for muslim brotherhood, when turkey left the international
efforts to investigate khashoggi, and in general i think turkey's seen as an increasingly assertive mill e tear force that undercuts -- military force that undercuts the interest of these countries. and saudi and turkey, they're also competing for power, and they're on the opposite side in the region. but despite those problems and disagreements, erdogan still wanted to preserve the relationship with the king, with the saudis. so it is, i think, his motivation during khashoggi campaign was to try to sideline the crown prince. and he was talking to his close relationship with the king, and that hasn't really happened. so if you looked at turkey/saudi relationship, saudis are more uncomfortable there. but if you look at turkey's relationship with the uae and
egypt, there's a fundamental existential problem there from point of view of erdogan. that's something that opposition parties have been pushing for, is really this goes toward erdogan because he has built his postcoalition in 2016 based on the motion of being against coups. is so he can't just come out and admit or have a working relationship with the sisi regime there because that's about domestic legitimacy and survival. and that's sort of the approach to the uae. erdogan has accused the uae as being behind or supporting the 2016 coup, so i think the differences there are a lot more difficult to reconcile. but i see, again, if you look at turkey/saudi relationship, saudis are more uncomfortable,
and they have gone out of their way and joined the aipac turkey camp in libya, in syria. the syrian kurds in eastern med train january, saudis have supported the -- [inaudible] so those problems are from saudi points of view i think also existential, and it's going to be difficult for bidening add managers to really iron out -- administration to really iron out those differences. >> paul, i would be remiss if i didn't ask you about lebanon, and, you know, many years ago i was a relatively young officer, the assistant secretary of state to the near east so often referred to as the lebanon desk
officer. lebanon has not occupied quite the same status in subsequent administrations, slipped down the screen a little bit. but lebanon is, obviously, it is a pivot point for many u.s. policies, many u.s. interests in the region. it's in a terrible situation. what should this new administration be doing about lebanon? >> well, thanks for raising lebanon, gerry, this has been the worst year in lebanon certainly since the end of the civil war in 1990. as most people know, a complete collapse of the economy, a log jam in governance and politics and an uprising that has been trying to change the system, of course, hit by the pandemic like everybody else, and then on august 4 the largest peacetime blast devastated tens of thousands of homes, killed
thousands of people and traumatized an entire population. the country is in very, very sad shape. the u.s. has interests in are lebanon. the u.s. has an interest in lebanon not completely collapsing and falling apart. if it were to completely collapse and fall apart as a state, that would mean a return of some of the terrorist groups that were pushed out of lebanon by cooperation between the lebanese army and the u.s. military. small al-qaeda, isis enclaves. it would mean, certainly, hezbollah getting much strong or in the country even than it is now. it would mean a flow of refugees, both lebanese and syrian to cyprus and then to europe. so a whole bunch of problems. the u.s. has an interest in shoring up and trying to stabilize lebanon which is not
easy to do particularly because the lebanese ruling class is not helping itself. the trump administration, and i think this will be continued under a biden administration, has been quite positive and supportive of lebanon. a lot of support for the lebanese army, and this will continue. a lot of support for hosting over a million and a half syrian refugees. that is likely to continue. and a lot of promise of serious economic support both through the imf expect world bank if the -- and the world bank if the lebanese government undertakes long-needed reforms that everybody agrees needs to happen. so i think the policies are there, but lebanon is still falling apart because of a political class that is hopelessly corrupt and hezbollah which has its own agenda, which is not always the welfare and the economy of the people.
a new dynamic which has emerged is the maritime talks which the u.s. is mediating between the lebanese government and the israeli government. now, in effect, what does that mean? in effect, that means that america is mediating talks e between hezbollah -- which is the real power behind the government in lebanon -- and israel. which is a very interesting dynamic. and that is an indication that hezbollah feels under pressure because of the collapse of the country around it and perhaps because of the maximum pressure campaign and wanting to perhaps buy time until the end of the trump administration. but i think an incoming biden administration will certainly pick up on those maritime talks, both lebanon and us israel have an interest in them being resolved. lebanon needs to move forward quickly on offshore gas exploration and extraction. but more importantly, i think the u.s. and the international
community should keep the pressure on the lebanese oligarch key, as it were, to undertake the reforms that have long been needed so that the world can help lebanon. lebanon, you know, as you indicated, is a kind of microcosm of the world around it. you have the shiites, you have the turkish president, you have, obviously, hezbollah presence, you have american/are israel interests, you have the assad regime, so it's in a very difficult neighborhood. and maybe one comment i will end on making a bit to lebanon, small example of a semi-failed state, that when you look at the middle east in general, the middle east is in a state of civil war in the sense that the middle east is at war with itself. and the main players are all engaged in wars against each
other. turkey, iran, uae, saudi arabia, egypt and israel to name a few are all engaged in proxy wars against each other in various parts of the region. and when, you know, historically europe was in a european civil war between 1914 and 1945 until leaders decided that this is a lose/lose situation, and until the leaders of the region and hopefully with encouragement from united states will really undertake, open up serious talks with each other to deescalate conflict in the region, to work towards normalizing relations with each other. it's quite something that arab countries and israel normalized, something never imaginable perhaps a few years ago, why would it be so hard for sunni and shiite states to normalize? to my mind, this is
childishness, this is not leadership. particularly at a time as we're heading into the first decade of the 21st century, we're going through a once in a century pan demick -- pandemic, poverty is skyrocketing, the unemployment is skyrocketing, and many of the leaders are still engaged in lose/lose gains that, you know, even in the 19th century would have been not a great idea. let me stop there. >> well, that's an interesting place to stop. we only are have about five minutes left, and so i want to put a question to all three of you, and that is if joe biden is watching this conversation -- and if he is, we don't know --
if you could take two minutes, what would you tell him, what would your elevator talk be for him, what are the key issues of what should he do over the next four years in the middle east? and let's go in reverse order and start with ganule. >> i think the main issue is sanctions. as i said, there is a broad range of options. the least damaging measures which could, which would effect turkey's industry but not collapse it. and you have other muddle of the road sanctions -- middle of the road sanctions which could include more symbolic measures like exporting bank credits with harsher measures. and you have the nuclear adoption which includes prohibiting transaction in foreign exchange so the -- [inaudible] to financial institutions. so i think, and i think that's
what he will do. but i would really urge the new administration not to take the nuclear option because -- and i'm sure there will be people who will be making same case that that would really, that would further push erdogan closer and closer to putin. the other option would be best bet to change behavior. >> thanks. and, joe, what should we do on the military security front? >> this'll sound strange coming from a soldier here, but i actually think one with of the perhaps most important things a new administration should do is put in a full sweep of a diplomatic pressure campaign of its own on the region; that is, make sure all of our embassies have ambassadors in them, make sure all the back offices that
support this many back at the department of state are fully manned and have the experts in them to really work. i think this would send a very, very strong message. and i don't say that as a criticism of the current ambassadors that are in there, they're excellent, they're all excellent, but we still have a number of locations where chef chef -- we have charges or people in an acting position. and the most important symbol i think we send to each of the countries of the region is is our commitment with diplomatic relationships. if we are concerned about long-term continuityies i think this is an extraordinarily important aspect. they will, they will create the backbone upon which our strategy and decisions and other things will be made in the future, and they should be very careful in their consideration of that early on. second of all, i think the new administration should try and be as deliberative and as inclusive in their discussions about the directions that they are going in the region as they can be.
we don't need a lot of whip saw kind of decisions here. what we need is we need some deliberations, we need some continuity, need some reliability, we need some confidence, and we need our partners to know that their interests are being taken into consideration as well. >> thanks, joe. and, paul, last word to you. what should we do over the next four years? >> yeah. i mean, i would sort of lean on what joe was saying, and what i was saying before, that we need to recognize that the region is at war with itself. and as long as that's the case, you can put out one fire here, and it'll i erupt somewhere else. you can stop a group here, it'll pop up somewhere else. the region over time needs to be brought to an integrated, normalized relationship with itself so that it's no longer the sick man of the world. so what that means is,
certainly, a diplomatic surge is sort of what joe was mentioning, but clarity that the u.s. wants to push, first of all, for all major players in the region to be in talks with each other. and if they refuse to talk with each other, there should be consequences and an insistence from the u.s. that the regional powers should not be involved in approximate is city wars or have -- proxy wars or have have any proxy presence in other third countries other time and to make that clear as well. now, that's a long haul, but it's important to set that agenda because until the middle east is at peace with itself, none of the other problems can be properly addressed. in a more sort of focused reflexion of that, i would -- reflection of that, i would say there should be immediate diplomatic efforts to bring the war in yemen to a negotiated
end. you've been very involved in that, gerry, yourself. i think it's complicated, but i think it's doable, and i think the same effort should be put to bring the libyan civil war to an end. both of those are doable with some heavy diplomatic lifting. there should be efforts on syria but, of course, that is much more difficult, and i'm less hopeful there. lead with diplomacy, work for deescalation, regional negotiation, cooperation. let me end with one thing, is that as the u.s. becomes more taken or obsessed with, let's say, great power competition with china and russia, i would warn that we should not -- i mean, the rusk that great -- the risk is that great power competition in the middle east will lead to more competition and conflict among countries in the middle east and more problems for the u.s. and for china in particular. i would say that we should also be aware of the need for great
power cooperation in the middle east. if we can get on any issue, whether it's syria, yemen or libya, some alignment between the u.s., europeans, the russians and the chinese, it'll make life much easier to get some of the regional players in line and to get some of these horrific problems resolved. thank you, gerry. >> thanks, paul. and that's the last word. i want to thank our three outstanding panelists today, paul, and ganule, for their contributions. i hope that you all learned and gained some insights, some understanding of the issues that are before us over the next four years over this hour of discussion. this is the first of our post-election webinars. we will be scheduling others in
the near future to drill down on some of these issues in a little bit more depth and to expand the ap per cure a little bit -- aperture a little bit. i want to thank our panelists today, i want to thank all of you for tuning in and being a part of this conversation going forward. until next time, thank you. >> thank you, everybody. >> the trump administration announced this week that it's cutting troops in iraq and afghanistan to 2500 by mid january. well, tonight at 8 eastern here on c-span2, today's house armed services committee hearing on the effect of withdrawing u.s. troops from afghanistan. >> booktv on c-span2 has top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. coming u this weekend, saturday at 1 p.m. eastern from the recent virtual brooklyn book festival, authors veronica ambers and sandra garcia on
the suffrage movement. then, clarence taylor on the history of civil rights in new york. and at 7:25 p.m. eastern, adam hiingbotham. on sunday at 1 p.m. eastern, more from the brooklyn book festival as authors discuss the past and future of technology. then, mark hoenig and sonya shaw on the potential effects the coronavirus will have on society. and at 9 p.m. eastern on "after words," political scientist and author deborah stone talks about her book, "counting: how we use numbers to decide what matters." she's interviewed by day tea scientist and author -- data scientist and author kathy o'neill. watch booktv on c-span2 this weekend with. >> irs commissioner charles
rettig testified before the house ways and means committee on oversight. committee members questioned the commissioner about irs audits, the backlog in processing tax returns and agency operations for the next t filing season. >> okay. good morning. welcome. i call to order the subcommittee on oversight. i want to thank everybody for joining us today. we're holding this hybrid hearing in compliance with house resolution 965. accordingly, i am joined but members here in the hearing room as well as approximately ten members on the remote platform. that's outstanding, and i want to thank them for joining us. before we turn to today's