Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 11, 2013 6:00pm-8:01pm EST

6:00 pm
gdp. not the greatest advertisement that added -- that argentina was the first of try. it is a good idea. it is linked to housing prices, linked to commodities, and these involve legal changes, they involve a lot of changes in order the able to do this. the general spirit of trying to plain vanilla debt is where you want to head. that may involve some regulation. he have regulation about the government having a monopoly over current say. but we allow these very close substitutes. the think it is good, but maybe in their way, it is not so good. abb want to had future where we have an atm at the fed, instead of intermediated through banks. there can be some service contracts there. you want better deals, if you want more interest on your money, then you can buy what is basically a bond fund that they
6:01 pm
be very liquid, but you're not guaranteed you will get paid back in full. i would think it would be a wonderful future where our grandchildren look at these plain vanilla bond bank deposits like they look at dvd's, that that is, what am used to do that ? that is a crazy. we do not do that anymore. there is really a scope to do that. i think we need more public education about the financial sector, about finance in general , and i speak certainly of public tv, radio, internet, but much more broadly about hopefully providing balanced analysis, and then a be helping them understand some of these, located contracts that they now have to buy because we do not have anything except an atm at the bank. and then finally, of course, the mythical system is at the core
6:02 pm
of -- the political system is at the core of all the financial crises, and we need reform here. can we ever not have financial crises, depending on how you look at it? i think the imf will always be in business. we have a human element that i think we'll be with us for a long time. cani think that we really involve the system more ambitiously and maybe do better. thank you. [applause] >> the last speaker is larry summers. i am very glad for the .pportunity to be here i had an occasion to speak some stan'sago about remarkable accomplishment at the imf when he left, and i had an occasion some months ago to speak about his mark boal
6:03 pm
accomplishments at the israeli central bank when he left israeli central bank. i will not speak about either of those, shirts as afternoon. instead, the number that is in my mind is a number that i would guess is entirely unfamiliar to most of the people in this room, but is familiar to all the people on the stage. 400, and 62.4, that is the course number that stan fischer's course in monetary economics at m.i.t. for graduate students was. it was an important part of why i chose to spend my life as i have, as a macro economist, and i strongly suspect that the same war forfor olivier or
6:04 pm
been or for ken. it was a remarkable intellectual experience, and it was remarkable also because stan never lost sight of the fact that this was not just an getting theseame questions right. -- game. getting these questions right made a profound difference in the lives of nations and their peoples. i will leave it to others to israelout the imf and him and i will say to you, stan, thank you on behalf of of all and everything you have taught us ever since. [applause] with the vast majority thehat has just been said,
6:05 pm
importance of moving rapidly, the importance of providing liquidity decisively, the importance of not allowing the languish,problems to the importance of directing sound and comprehensive frameworks to prevent future crises. were i a member of the official scourse atwould dico some length on each of those e in a sound way, but i am not part of the official sector, so i will not talk about that. i will talk about something else that seems to me profoundly connected. and that is the nagging concern that finance is too important to leave entirely to financiers.
6:06 pm
we have all agreed -- and i think our agreement is warranted -- that a remarkable was job in the 2007-2008 that an event in the fall of statistics, most gdp, industrial production, employment, world trade, the -- the stock market, worse than the fall in and 1930, -- in 1929 that bears a way very little resemblance to the great depression. then and many others -- ben and many others, and that playbook
6:07 pm
will be a hugely important one in next time there is a panic, and that time will surely come somewhere and some ladies. but there is i think another situation that torrents are close attention and tends to receive insufficient --lection, and it is this the share of men or women or adults in the united states who are working today is a centrally the same as it was four years ago. four years ago the financial panic had been arrested. the tarp money had been paid back. credit spreads had substantially normalized. there was no panic in the air. four years ago. that was a great achievement,
6:08 pm
how rapidly that happen. but in those four years, the share of adults who are working has not increased at all. behind fallen further potential, as we would have to find it in the fall of 2009. and the american experience is unique in this regard, and this experience is not completely unique, as work has documented, in the wake of the financial crises. i remember at the beginning of the clinton administration, we engaged in a set of long-run mobile economic projections. japan's real gdp today is about half of what we believed it would be, what the imf would believe it would be at the time, what the world bank believed it would be.
6:09 pm
pillar of both classical models and keynesian models, that it is all about fluctuations, fluctuations around a given mean and what you need to do is have less volatility. of older ideaset that i have to say were pretty stany rejected in 14462, -- [laughter] a set of older ideas that went under the phrase secular stagnation are not profoundly important in understanding japan's experience and may not be without relevance to america's experience. let me say a little more about in thoseled to think
6:10 pm
terms. you go back and you study the crisis,prior to the there's something a little bit odd. many people leave that monetary policy was too easy. everybody agrees that there was imprudentunt of lending going on. almost everybody believes that wealth as it was experienced by households was in excess of its reality. money, too much borrowing, too much wealth. was there a great boom? capacity was not under a great pressure? undermployment was not any remarkable low level.
6:11 pm
inflation was entirely quite yes it. so somehow -- quiescent. so somehow a great bubble was excessugh to produce any in aggregate demand. now think about the time after the financial crisis. i always like to think of these crises as analogous to a pal your -- a power failure or analogous to what would happen if all the shot -- if all the telephones were shut off for a time. would co the connections would go away. output would go away rapidly. economists would explain that lectures today was only 4 % of the economy, so therefore you % of not lose more than 3 the economy, but it would be stupid.
6:12 pm
it would be stupid. thatuld understand somehow, even if we did not exactly understand in the model, that when there was no electricity, there was not going to be much economy, and something similar was true with andect to financial flows financial interconnection, and that is why it is so important to get the lights back on and on it is important to contain the financials. experiment where for three months, two months, 80% of electricity went off, gdp would collapse. but what would happen to the gdp afterwards? we expect there will be a lot of the stuff orre all inventories got run down and got produced much factor, you would respect -- you would expect once things got normalized, you would have more gdp. but four years later you would substantiallyg
6:13 pm
less than you had before. so there is something odd about if thatl normalization, was what the whole problem was, growth. continued slow so what is an explanation that would fit both of these observations? the short-term real interest rate that was consistent with full employment -2% or -3%to sometime in the middle of the last decade. what would happen? that even with artificial coming fromdemand,
6:14 pm
all this financial imprudence, you would not see any excess demand, and even with a relative resumption of normal credit conditions, you would have a lot todifficulty getting back full employment. demonstrated -- it has been demonstrated absolutely conclusively that panics are turtle and that monetary policy can contain them when the interest rate is 0%. been demonstrated absolutely conclusively. it has been demonstrated less conclusively, but presumptively, but when short-term interest rates are 0%, monetary policy can affect a constellation of other asset prices in ways that
6:15 pm
support demand, even when the short-term interest rate cannot be lowered. just how large that impact is on demand is less clear, but it is there. whereagine a situation natural equilibrium interest rates have fallen significantly below 0%. then conventional macroeconomic thinking leaves us in a very serious problem, because we all seem to agree that whereas you can keep the federal funds rate at a low level forever, it is much harder to do extraordinary ,easures beyond that forever but the underlying problem may be there forever. it is much more difficult to
6:16 pm
say, well, we only needed the shorturing interval of the crisis if aggregate demand -- if equilibrium interest rates cannot be achieved given the prevailing rates of inflation, and most of what would be done under the auspices -- if this woulds at all correct -- be done under the aegis of preventing a future crisis would be counterproductive, because it would in one way or other raise the cost of financial intermediation, and, therefore, equilibriumower the interest rate that was necessary. this may all be madness and i .ay not have this right at all but it does seem to me that four years after the successful
6:17 pm
ises, there'scraz really no evidence of growth that is restoring equilibrium. in has to be concerned about a policy agenda that is doing less with monetary policy than has been done before, doing less with fiscal policy than has been stepsefore, and taking whose basic purpose is to cause there to be less lending, borrowing, and inflated asset thans then there was -- there was before. so my lesson from this crisis lesson,overarching
6:18 pm
in that the world is under internalized, is it is not over until it is over, and that is and cannotright now the extentelative to of financial panic, and that we may well need in the years ahead to think about how we manage an the zeron which nominal interest rate is a inhibitord systemic of economic activity, holding our economies back below their potential. thank you very much. [applause]
6:19 pm
>> good. we now turn to the question part of the panel. is there anything any of you who want to take up about what the others said? ben? >> that was a fascinating comment at the end, larry, about the negative interest rate. another course we had at m.i.t., esther samuelsson, this is a relative of yours -- [laughter] uer,ere talking about birnba he was saying there was always the possibility of leveling a hill so the locomotive could get to a certain destination with less fuel, which meant there was always a positive rate return available in the long-term, seems that the real return is negative.
6:20 pm
and monetary positive, but on the fiscal side, the return to public investment, as long as it is real, as long as it is above zero, would always be an approach, right? it would always be profitable at negative interest rates. >> vacation did not permit my --cussing every asset of >> i do know about leveling out a hill. it requires there be perfect property rights they can get benefit of that. if you think of it as a public investment, it is the point that there may be a case for what
6:21 pm
would in some ways thinking would be a permanent fiscal expansion, which you're constantly undertaking projects of a kind, and i think it is precisely the question of how one should think about the near- term and long-term, medium-and long-term fiscal policy, that the kind of argument i made goes substantial extent , and i think what i was attempting to raise a question , -- i do not know whether an alt-f6, where they say in the long run the school
6:22 pm
consolidation will be profoundly important so as to maintain and increase soundness of what what takes place now. in the most recent report from the imf, some question as to precisely how it should be read, but it says every industrialized country in the world is in massive long-run problems with respect to its fiscal situation. maybe that is right. maybe they can solve it two years from now and everything will be ok, but i look at the record of the last four years and i think that is much less clear. you said something which i think is worth thinking about. the point, you made which is obviously right, that if you generate inflation, then
6:23 pm
you can have at as negative a real interest rate as you want, it is often assumed from that that monetary policy can necessarily solve the problem alone, but that depends upon the ability of pure monetary policy to achieve any desired inflation. if yous no question that use elton friedman's famous lines, a dripping to the popularization of, if you drop enough dollar bills from it helicopter, there's no question you can get as much inflation as you want, in the classic annomics lexicon, that is expansion of fiscal policy because you are making a transfer, and we have done a lot of quantitative easing, and the inflation rate in the united states is not conspicuously higher than before we would
6:24 pm
start. answer the question of in what ways that zero interest-rate name bind over the longer term is i think important. the kind of thing i'm talking about is not a purely hypothetical possibility, painted with the broadest brush. the economic history of japan for the 22 years from 1992 2012 has substantial amounts of what i was talking about. use thegoing to privilege of the chair to ask a question to all four of you. i was struck by what i perceived as the implicit assumption that the next crisis is going to be a financial one, and i'm just has been whether this intentional or not. it seems there are some the school problems on the horizon, maybe not on the scale that
6:25 pm
larry accused the imf of force catching -- of forecasting, but there are potential natural disasters. one of the lessons of the crisis is how globalized the world is, how globalized of supply chains are, how the flooding in thailand affects the world. i am just wondering whether in the end it is the a financial crisis that is a nasty one, or this is just the one we got. any reactions? any of you? >> financial crises are sort of entirely human made. they represent entries in books or electronic readings or pieces of paper. this is a very different proposition from a natural disaster, for example, and different sets of tools and different sets of responses. that is the are running thing about financial crises. iny seem to be coming from so e
6:26 pm
some sense nowhere. i asked my grandmother about the depression and her telling me how children do not have shoes because their fathers did not have jobs and issued -- and a factory had to be shut down, and the natural response, was, why don't they put up the shoe factory? it has to do with coordination of individuals in a couple dated financial and economic system. evidently very important phenomena. we have seen them in emerging advanced economies, but they seen to be a different type of problem than a climate crisis. believe you certainly can't have fiscal crises -- you --tainly can have first real fiscal crisis. looking at the european situation, everybody is impressed by all the forecasts of political instability that were made at the beginning of the crisis seemed not to have
6:27 pm
resulted in any major political changes or political crises in europe, at this stage. the question is, how long, if way, howorld is on its long the political situation can't continue without governments wanting to do things which create financial crises, which are more based on fiscal policy mistakes than on monetary policy. they may to lead to financial it is notng because quite sure how you define a debt crisis in which a government loses the capacity to finance its debts, or in which inflation results from something like that. ,ut there are other sources which almost always, as you think about them, will get linked to some political
6:28 pm
developments, and we have been very much tied up in our world of the economy, per se, without asking how the political -- how citizens interact with what is going on in the economy and what impact that has on the political system and the government. >> first, i think we would agree with larry that public investment is too low and it would make infinite sense now to do more because it pays for itself and so it is a non-issue that is done in a sensible way, that is incredibly true in the united states, but a number of under countries. -- other countries. if you're at talking about a crisis, there is an interaction between fiscal and financial -- i am incredibly worried about the environment. i favor having a carbon tax. and you can cut taxes and such. i think the financial crisis will be first.
6:29 pm
i would try to reach a judgment about whether there was going to be war in the middle east for after the risk want to be pervasive and failures. in some sense i took question to be all about financial crises. ofould in one way sort relate to the spirit of your question, which is it seems to me that if you read kindle- burger, the impression you come away with is there is some combination of complacency and euphoria that preceded each of these crises. and it feels to me like we are a way away from complacency and euphoria. accidentthink it is an that there were very few financial crises in the 35 years after the second world war. i think it had something do with the fact that people were still
6:30 pm
careful in a way, in the aftermath of the depression. you sort of asked me today, in the global economy, are there ore problems in the >> it seems to me there are more problems of underconfidence so i think it's going to be a while before we have another financial the 2008at will fit in , the nor dicks in the early 1990's, japan at the end of the 1980's, the depression, 1907. i think that's a long time off. i think those kinds of chris sis are a long time off. i think in a world of near zero
6:31 pm
interest rates various kinds of borrowing can go on for a fairly long time. so i'm not sure i see just what other crisis within the remid of this panel will happen unless and i guess this was another way of thinking about the point of my remarks, unless you think the fact that the global economy is roducing two to three trillion dollars less out put than regarded as its capacity every single year and that there are more kids living at home because they can't get jobs after they graduate from school in the industrialized world than there have been in decades, you could regard that as a kind of continuing crisis that's with us today. i guess that seems to be the cries sthace ought to be the preoccupation.
6:32 pm
>> there are enough people until the room that there should be a few questions. >> i'm going to be greedy on questions since there aren't a lot of people. been doing we've fiscal austerity at the wrong time? for the others because there is a lot of talk about liquid i did ty and solve si and the parents of acting quickly. when you act quickly and do the stress test does it matter if you sort it out or is the important things to divide the banks into two piles and as long as you divide them into two piles and there are some members recapitalize nd
6:33 pm
some that's okay? >> that should keep you occupied. >> i don't think it was thought he fiscal policy was con spicously austere in the period friar 2007 and 2008 and i think it's hard to construct a counter factual for the period 2003 to 07 with no bubbles and reasonably rapid growth since the bubbles are now seen as having been the cause of a significant fraction of the growth that there was, what shock could have drive low decrates down, there are a variety of candidates but let me mention two.
6:34 pm
the first in your sphere of expertise and something ben wrote about some years ago when he spoke about the savings glut, the substantial flow of capital from trade surplus and current account surplus nations that desired for some reason to accumulate reserves on a substantial scale is one answer. a second answer which i'm inclined to think is more important is this, the capital good of our sage the computer and is information technology. the relative price of information technology really toif everything else goes down 20% a year so the same amount of savings is producing vastly more pital than it used to and so whatever the right investment
6:35 pm
savings balance was before, you need a different balance now precisely because capital goods are becoming substantially cheerp. another way of looking at what i've said is to look at the balance of private sector or the . what you see is a deterioration really toif savings and without quite extraordinary monetary policy that would be true an even greater extent and part of the reason is that capital goods are cheaper. my read is that the most important tron stress test succeeded that was they convinced theave something was going to be done and no banks were going to fail on a disoral way and there wasn't going to be any generalized regime of
6:36 pm
editor >> some have current price soss liquid city the first step if you restore liquidity. then you can find out who is insolvent and that has to be addressed by capital injections which are beyond of the central bank which is why they cannot be responsible for ending crisis. >> it does make a difference if not all of your problems are liquidity problems and i assume there are banks which have
6:37 pm
better assets and bnks which have worse assets and if they have worse assets and you are supposed to do these tests actually as well which makes it kosher completely. that you are supposed to do these evaluations at more or less normal conditions not at the crisis conditions and assume if you find banks that are broke it would be better to close hose ones than the other ones.
6:38 pm
>> that had something to do with the stability of the financial system. >> it surely did. the fact that the stock market kind of went up 15 or 20% a year every year through the 1950's even though economic performance was lousey and getting worse as it was seen at this time had something to do with a growing sense that the world would kind of revert to normal and some decreases in the risk premium but no doubt what you are of the g is a portion story as well and it's an
6:39 pm
interesting question the extent to hich one could go back hat in modern world. >> i have a question in terms of lesson learned from the last episode, the recession in the u.s., some would say that a lot of policy makers attention went to strengthening the financial center wall street and that there was considerable success there. and too little was done to prop up mainstreet meaning the mortgage holders, those who were under water and that for various reasons that was left besides. and it took sometime for the housing markets to recover hence the delayed recovery. so while we can accept as mr. summers just explained the
6:40 pm
importance of the financial sector in terms of providing the electricity to the system, the others might have also been neglected and might have been a reason for the delayed recovery. so i was wondering whether any of you or all of you have any thoughts on that. thank you. >> i was in the administration nd was involved in those policies. i don't think anybody involved feels fully satisfied with the way it played out and i think the pace at which resources were decrubte was less -- distributed was less than was anticipated or was desired. but i think much of the come tear does miss the mark. everyone understood that housing was at the center of the crisis. everyone understood that there a guy that was about to get
6:41 pm
foreclosed in a way that was going to turn house into being worth $100,000 and if he got his mortgage reduced he'd be able to pay it and everybody would be happier. everyone involved in making policy 100% understood that. so the failure to understand that was not the reason for any error nor was the error out of any kind of loyalty to wall street. everyone would have liked to have done fantastic things for millions of voting americans. so that's the wrong theory. so what was the issue? and i'm not necessarily saying it was dealt with correctly but here was the problem. the problem was that there were a set of households like the one
6:42 pm
i just described for which if you came along and reduced the mortgage it would be an im3r06789 and be terrific for everyone. for every one of those households there were six who were paying their mortgage, were just paying their mortgage to their institution every week. they were just paying it. and there were a lot of others who didn't buy a house because they thought they couldn't afford a house. and they didn't want to go excessively into debt. and so the question was what do you do? what you want to do is do something for the first group and not do something that turns the six other people into people who are going into default and needing to be bailed out by taxpayers or putting a major burden on an already undercapitalized financial institution. so the programs were designed in quite complex ways to target the
6:43 pm
place where the assistance would be effective and avoid setting off defaults that would be expensive for taxpayers or being b a major problem for the financial institutions. relative to the people who designed them, they probably committed more of the error of not reaching people who should have been reached and virtually none of the error of reaching people who shouldn't have been reached and setting off a set of defaults. but that's easy to say with the benefit of hindsight. if you had created a situation where all over america people were deciding that they needed to stop making payments so that they could qualify for mortgage relief programs, you could have easily exass baited the
6:44 pm
financial crisis. if you had said that the government was going to take on a liability that bore any close to resemiblens of the magnitude of the total under water quantity of equity in the economy, you would have been taking on a vast expenditure. so there may well have been better ways of having done it with hindsight and the programs evolved to be more active and didn't set off an ep dem mick and they may should have been that way much earlier. but the theories that it was either stupidity or veryalty that caused more resources to flow to housing i guess i would nsist are wrong. >> we have time for one more question. >> do you think that europe will be able to achieve a banking
6:45 pm
yuan i don't know -- unit? >> yes. >> yes but it's going to take a bit longer, quite a bit longer than the present schedule. >> okay. >> i have a question in troords student loan debt and this being a potential cause of a next crisis. i recently had a conversation with one of the major banking associations and they are concerned about this too just with the pure amount of debt that student versus and the lack of jobs out there, especially ood paying jobs. decpwhriffs thinking that the chairman of the federal reserve very well qualified to address that question.
6:46 pm
>> so you raise two issues. you raise the student debt issue and you raised the jobs issue. and i think that let me start by saying that you talked about the employment population ratio. i think the unemployment rate probably understates the degree f slack in labor market. i think the ratio overstates it because there are important downward trend in participation. with that being said i think we agree there is an awful lot of slack in the labor market and a lot of young people living with their parents and that's an important emper tive and why the federal reserve is taking strong actions to try to support job creation. that's a very important issue. first loans, in the
6:47 pm
place i think it's a good thing we have student loans obvious. it wouldn't be good if people count invest in their own human capital and make that investment. unfortunately student loans are not underwritten in any way so we're relying pretty much on the borrower to make the judgment about whether this is a good investment or not and it's not always a good judgment. in terms of financial crisis, i think it is the case that student loan debt had is not dischargeable in brups si is a burden for many people to buy a first home, affecting other purchasing decisions they might make effecting 06b8 their overall financial condition. so in that respect, it is yet one more drag on to the extent
6:48 pm
that there is a lot of student debt with people held by people who are not working, it's obviously another drag on recovery. i don't see it as a source of financial crisis per southeast simply because it's primarily the asset of the federal government and not of financial institutions. so what fwked ultimately is another fiscal cost but i don't see it affecting the stability of the financial system anytime soon. but it is a serious issue and i think more thought needs to be given into helping people make better choices when they borrow to make sure that they are making good investments with the money that they borrow. >> we've come to the end of the panel. is there anything else you want to add? good. well otherwise, let me thank all the people who have made this
6:49 pm
conference a success, the office for the panelists. i want to thank some of the organizers, not the long list. with apology to the others let me thank those who organized the onference. and thank you stan for giving us an excuse to put this conference together and we learned a lot. thank you very much. [applause] >> president obama spoke as a veteran's day certificate main
6:50 pm
today. he mentioned the ter rays tacks and tend of the war in affering. here is a look. -- afghanistan. here is a look >> on tour after tour after tour in iraq and afghanistan. this generation, the 9/11 generation has met every mission we have asked of them. and today we can say because of their heroic service the corp of al qaeda is on the path to defeat, our nation is more secure and our homeland is safer. there are men and women like the soldier and soon to be veteran i met a few months ago who deployed to iraq twice. he survived not one but two -- excuse me three separate ied explosion. when she was well enough she
6:51 pm
deployed again this time to afghanistan where she was often the only woman in our forward operating bases. she proudly wears the combat action badge. she is committed to helping others recover from the wounds of war. helping the troops she says is what i'm all about. my fellow americans that is what we should be all about. our work is more urgent than ever because this chapter of war is coming to an end. soon one of the first marines to aflive afghanistan 12 years ago will lead his marines as they become one of the last group to deploy in this war. in the coming months more of our troops will come home. this winter our troop levels in aving will be down to 34,000 --
6:52 pm
afghanistan will be down to 34,000. the longest war in american history will end. >> that is some of the what the president said today. you can see all of these dements about an hour and ten minutes from now here on c-span or anytime at >> ms. kennedy is well known as skile icon.
6:53 pm
6:54 pm
we are all delighted to see you here today. already, our president has
6:55 pm
recognized the dignitaries who are here. are very pleased to present our speaker today -- i am very pleased to present our speaker today. this is a critical moment between the u.s. and iran. t is in the headlines. between iran and its regional neighbor, friends, and foes. we are on the eve of potential negotiations on iran's nuclear activities. there's a new president in ffice in tehran. we are privileged to host two-day one of our country's knowledgeable and long-term experts -- today one of our countries knowledge one long-term experts. dr. jerrold green.
6:56 pm
[applause] >> i will not take the time to go through his bio. it is very extensive. let me just mention the highlights were a few highlights. we first met when we were both consulting in santa monica about three years ago. he later became director of international programs and development at rand. and he oversaw the activities of he center for asia the civic policy -- asia pacific policy. at the same time, you directed the rand center for middle piece public policy. -- he directed the rand center for middle east public's erie it is very -- public policy. it is very wide-ranging. e first became aware of each
6:57 pm
other and got to know each other hen he was teaching at ichigan, the university of michigan. later he moved to the west coast. he had a stint in the real world. with a private equity firm. for the last several years and a recognition of his very broad experience and knowledge, he became the president of the pacific council on international affairs in los angeles. but his main expertise is centered on iran and the middle east. i'm delighted that he has taken the time to come today and talk to us about some of the critical issues of the moment. [applause]
6:58 pm
>> can you hear me? i'm not sure i need a mic. if you can hear me, let me know. i really want to say thank you to paul for inviting me to speak. he is my pal from 30 years -- some 30 years. he is also an extraordinary distinguished expert on the middle east and frankly patriotic american. he disappeared for seven years working for uncle sam in orthern virginia and doing important sorts of work. we have been friends for a long time. his knowledge is remarkable. an expert as someone from out of town -- i'm sitting at this table. i'm talking to congress in berkeley. a member of the house foreign relations committee and the middle east subcommittee.
6:59 pm
when you get face time with someone of that level of xposure back in washington, it is something to be treasured. just came back from iran two days ago. ou want to talk to someone about iran, he is the one to talk to. finally, a professor wrote a book called "why men rebel." i read it as a graduate student. the are the same age, but i was dumb and did not get into graduate school until i was old. you really are living in a remarkably interesting community this is just one voice. it is on a different one. -- only a different one. i will talk about iran. what i want to do first of all s try to understand how we got to the impasse we are at today. i coincidently was in tehran during the revolution. i was there.
7:00 pm
i didn't participate, but he witnessed iranian -- i witnessed iranian resolution from the beginnings until the return of -- i was there and saw it firsthand. this is 35 years ago. it was a revolution against the shah of iran. he got the vast majority of the people in this country to hate him. to get iran is to agree on anything is not easy. he succeeded at this brilliantly. it is quite unfortunate and sad. he had extraordinary resources vailable to him. trust me.
7:01 pm
he had a remarkable opportunity. he was ill with cancer in having chemotherapy. all sorts of explanations. it is unfortunate. why do iranians not like us? it is kind of an oxymoron. many would say iran is the most pro-american country in the world. what they mean is not the government of iran. they mean the average iranian on the street. i lived in the second largest concentration of iranians in the world outside of iran. i have been there regularly since the revolution. t is amazing given those high-level -- between our two governments. they do not have six packs. the average person actually likes the united states.
7:02 pm
they like american culture. they like basketball. all sorts of stories -- stuff. having said that, again, you will not love it. i will tell you have iranians -- i will tell you how iranians think. i just subscribed to these use. i will tell you how we look. first of all, it looks like we support dictatorship across the middle east. this is -- we supported iraq's attack on iran. it was a dramatic event. our hands on this are not completely clean either. there's a brief period of time where we were trekking off and selling weapons to the raqis.
7:03 pm
t was a horrible regime up there and evil, if i may use that word. the assad regime in syria. third, the united states favors srael. what iranians believe is that the u.s. favors the jewish faith over muslim states. states that are populated primarily by muslims. you may not agree. it may not be too. this is the perception. this is what they believe. after the revolution, they took an embassy and they gave it to the -- they celebrate jerusalem day in tehran.
7:04 pm
iranians believe that we as a country favor the jewish state over the muslim state. therefore, muslim states, we are anti-islamic. there are arguments against that. the u.s. has a lot of luzon's. >> ok. -- has a lot of muslims. >> >> ok. this is what iranians believe he read that we do not like muslims. i guy was murdered because someone thought he was a muslim. -- a guy was murdered because someone thought he was a muslim. we have reasons -- iran is indeed strangled. n emotional type of strangling rather than one that resulted in geopolitics.
7:05 pm
if the u.s. is trying to expel it, isolate iran, we are. there is a reason for it. ranians believe that iran is a great nation, an ancient nation with local interest. they deeply resent what they think we are trying to do. this is all they knew. there are things about them that they don't like and so forth. it is certainly not going to change. they have their narrative. we have hours. what is ours?
7:06 pm
they took over our embassy. we have all seen "argo." great movie. loved it. i've seen it twice. despite how inaccurate was, i till liked it. second of all, the iranian support terrorist and extremist groups. they absolutely do. there was an attack on the jewish community center of what is taught us -- when sns -- uenas aires. i was invited to believe it or
7:07 pm
ot, this jewish -- i was invited to a meeting in tehran that the holocaust did not happen. there was a holocaust denier. i cannot make it. i had a conflict. there are people that do deny the holocaust. they threaten to destroy israel. it is american policy. it was astounding. we are the great savers. they are the axis of evil. we are the great -- there are competing arratives. both work in mobilizing negative energy. what is going to happen?
7:08 pm
what do we know? this is the one i think is the ost important. i have spent my life, i'm eading things about iran and britain by my learned colleagues -- and written by my learned colleagues. there's a certainty with which they tell us about iran and one another. it is belied by reality. nobody really understands what is going on in iran. it is impossible. the political system in iran is intentionally designed so that it is ok, it is obscure. iranians don't know what is going on. very smart iranians -- it is the ature of the system.
7:09 pm
they want to avoid what happened to the shah. they want a political system in which it is difficult to overrule the current political order. part of it is the uncertainty that comes in the wake of a esolution. no one wants to make a decision or be at risk. no one wants to take a chance. it is not clear how it works. here's this murkiness. ou know, i feel like helen keller. there's so much that is not
7:10 pm
evident to us. it is not clear. we lack information. north korea is sort of the old stander of ignorance, but iran is not for mine in terms of the iranian system. i read endlessly and i get frustrated. i did not know about that. political actors. the one that year go all the time is the supreme leader. the supreme leader is many things, one of which is that he is not supreme. he is sort of the political act for, but is a political actor. he is not some autocrat who naps his finger and things appen. his problem will continue to get worse if he is not there is this unique role that occupied. it is not transferable to
7:11 pm
someone else. the supreme leader resigns over the islamic republic. not only the spiritual leader, but also the political leader. they need to engage and he eally needs to get political interest in iran to support him and work with them. certainly he is very influential. he is not the only game in town. it is a challenge. second of all, the religious sector. it is extremely diverse. not that they all agree. here is race diversity and differences of view within the
7:12 pm
eligious that -- sector. some are generally conservative -- extremely conservative and orthodox and some are actually very enlightened and they get it. they get it. they're working within a difficult system. the third is that revolutionary guard. the revolutionary guard is not only a military organization, but also an economic entity that is sort of comparable to the people's liberation army in china. the interest are extraordinary. they are very wealthy. they have built an airport in tehran, for example. there is a battle of another group that wanted to build the airport and they lost. they did not have as many guns. they are again another political entity, which is very influential. none of them are dominant. all of them are important. you cannot discount any of them. the part about the iranian politics that is so fascinating anonymous have access to is that these people has been a lot of time with one another and aging tea and a read poetry. they do politics, if you will. it is a constant series of negotiations.
7:13 pm
horse trading and politicking. it is how iranian politics always works. it worked this way under the hah. there were groups of people who would go to school together in a similar industry. i'm sure in congress you had -- that group, the people you work with. in the good old days, they could even be with opposite party. you would do a deal. it is very interesting. they used to do business all the time. iran operates that way. the idea that there is this one source and they are behind everything. hat is simply wrong.
7:14 pm
forgive me, but there is a lot to cover. i want to have time for questions. this era was special because they were basically able to do pretty much want -- what they anted to do. if we were sitting in either know, tehran, before the revolution and some secret confab, most of these people in the room would have supported him. it is not because we like them, but because we do not like the shah. people like me who are snooty professors -- this old guy, he as got people. we'll use him to get rid of the hah. no city in beverly hills drinking tea and wonder what went wrong. -- now sitting in beverly hills,
7:15 pm
drinking tea, and wondering what went wrong. that ear was the most -- era was one of the most difficult times. there was the invasion of iraq - of iran by iraq. there are fountains shooting up red water to symbolize the blood that was shed. this was sort of a 9/11 equivalent to the iranians. it deeply affected the people of iran. it still does today. ltimately, do remember there was a liberal guy week that we could do business with? it was the rouhani of his age, if you will. all my colleagues were swinging from the chandeliers. a wonderful opportunity. the deal never got made. why? he could not deliver iran.
7:16 pm
part of it was that the time was not right. it is sort of synonymous. the fact that it was not successful does not mean there was no room for reform here it is simply means that it was unsuccessful. then there was the ahmadinejad run. he had a vision of the bad guy. he never failed to deliver. i used to call him israel's secret weapon. the israelis must have loved him. so off the charts, that all he had to do was sit there and watch. it was very easy to deal with iran. sanction it. he was attentive to these issues.
7:17 pm
he was very much concerned with the voters, his domestic constituency in iran. it wasn't only u.s. sanction that is destroyed the economy, a lot of it what was he himself s doing ridiculously liberal concessions and subsidies and other sorts of things. and he in a sense may have been a necessary evil because he may have teed up iran for the row has been any era in which we are presented for an opportunity for negotiation had is made further urgent by the development of the iranian nuclear program which ub sets everybody as well it should. the idea of a went niesed iran, iran having nuclear went answer peels to nobody.
7:18 pm
it really is not something that will benefit the world. frankly i don't think it will benefit iran. the challenge with iran, iran is not a country which you can bully. it simply doesn't work that way. if you look at what iran excels at at the olympics, it's wrestling and weight lifting. this is a country that is very national list i can, has a very strong sense of self-. when i go there which i'm sure you all will at some point, your host will take you to a house of strength. it's when people do sink niesed weight lifting. it is very interesting. the point i'm making is culturally this is not a country that gives in well to bullying.
7:19 pm
they have a very strong sense of themselves, they are very national list i can, there is sort of a martial quality there and it simply doesn't work. what was so interesting about the election is that yet again an opportunity for some type of peaceful resolution of our differences with iran emerges. nd again, i am skeptical because i'm always skeptical. we middle east specialists are the oncologist of studies. we are wrong and can't do anything and have no good news. but having said that the stakes are so high, they are so noornt i think that i -- important that i think i supported president obama's attempt to meet his
7:20 pm
initiative in the spirit in which we would like to believe it's been given. there are no guarantees. there are no guarantees. but having said that the planet earth is less of a place with iran in a box that we really do need to try and find a way without giving away the farm the way we did in syria i might add to try and find a accommodation with iran. maybe it won't work. maybe it won't work. he ironny about this and the unusual characteristic is that the rouhani initiative to the u.s. and president obama's response has driven i ran and saudda arabia into the same corner. that is quite an achievement. -- saudi saudda arabia are both very
7:21 pm
uncomfortable. what some israelis believe and probably more saudis believe is that they are doing this to buy time, they are not sincere, they don't mean it. he will not be able to deliver and they believe that iran will do what i believe assad is doing with the chemical weapons program. and in a sense, if you accept that accusation about syria, it certainly deserves to be considered about iran. it is my personal view the risk certainly worth taking. and indeed if we are right, the big beneficiaries are likely to be israel and saud day rabe i can't who will not be under the sword of some sort of nuclear program. what if i'm wrong?
7:22 pm
hat's question if you're sitting in tell aviver -- tel aviv, when we get nuked he won't let us stay in his guest room. i understand that. i really do. but i also do believe in our form of government. i have some measure of trust in our elected officials, maybe more than angela americale does or others and this is a serious issue that the united states government has been deeply involved in from day one. i think if iran is serious or unserious it will be revealed relatively quickly. the first set of negotiations in geneva apashtly went very well. wendy sherman who was leading our negotiating team didn't provide any details. the iranians showed up with a
7:23 pm
detailed power point presentation. they showed up with some serious suggestions and everybody walk add way from the meeting feeling this was time well spent n. both countries, and this again is what is so interesting, there are going to be anyway sayers in both countries. there are people in congress who will say see the sanctions are working. it squeezed iran into compliance. let's ratch chet up the sanctions, they are on the run let's elevate them more. wendy sherman from the state department who is over seeing the negotiations said she does not believe it would be help to feel increase the sanctions now. this was after irritating the iranians by saying duplicity is part of their d.n.a. they didn't like that. so there is something for everybody. tibble nuclear issue is
7:24 pm
important but i don't think it's the only issue. where it's going to get sticky enrichment. of iran believes it has to right to enrich plu tone yum for peaceful uses. the level of enrich sment very significant. and what we and the israelis and saudis and others are afraid of is they will be so close they can enrich very quickly and weaponize. it's too serious to not say it's a possibility. the obama administration and the department of state believe that they have this -- they understand it and have it under control. each country has its own tea party. there are -- the iranians invented drinking tea. there are naysayers who will
7:25 pm
make this very difficult just as there are in the united states who argue we are being tricked and this is not going to work. so the challenge is they need to sell not only one another, we need to sell their own people. again the obama administration has had such challenges in the middle east that one of its -- one of the issues it's going to have to contend with it's credibility on middle east issues. these issues were all related. we were having a little discussion that i purposely stayed out of on does the palestine issue matter. and at the end of the day the symbolism matters a lot. if the palestine issue was resolved tomorrow we're not going to be able to retire to a warm climate and not worry about anything ever again.
7:26 pm
if it is resnolved a way that promotes national security and gives them their own right, it gives one reason to dislike and distrust us in the middle east will go away. there will be a whole list of others there having to do with egypt and so on. but the palestine issue does matter. it's just we need to understand how does it matter, what is the nature of the mattering and there we need to be realistic. so all of these issues are related. and president obama has all sorts of domestic issues. obama care and endless list of things. so the question is if he is able to make a deal with the iranians that satisfies him and secretary kerry will he be able to sell this deal to the american people and their elected representatives in congress? and it's a real consideration and the same consideration exist
7:27 pm
in iran. so it's sort of a two stage challenge. one is to make a deal with one another and the other is to get your camps to accept the deals. the supreme leader commented on to new york. trip he criticized the phone call between him and obama. if two guys can't have a phone call and goes to that level, it shows you how difficult it is to make a deal. t me end by advocating extraordinary humility when it comes to understanding iran. the data is just not there. we are really stumbling around in the dark and trying to make sense of things with very fragmentary information and things change a lot. so these are all my personal views. the longer i study iran, the longer i think i probably should
7:28 pm
have been a switzerland specialist because the longer i do it i always am discovering new complications and just things that i hadn't figured. the record of middle east at ialists -- i'm looking the real deal, our record is one of uniform failure. you name it we failed to predict it. it's an extraordinary record. don't come to las vegas with people like me. that's normally what i say. but we didn't predict the arab spring. you name it, we didn't get it right. so be very aware experts from out of town or even in town, is is not for the faint of heart. i'll be glad to have questions r contrasting views. >> [inaudible]
7:29 pm
>> for the purposes of the c-span taping we need every question to be made from this microphone in the center of the room, please. >> the question is if we make this deal you spoke of with the islamic republic, are we not selling the ress six pack down the river? >> it depends on what the deal looks like. and the thing that we as americans and iranians in the u.s. need to realize islamic republic is here to stay. it was a country that was born out of a revolution. it is legitimate. it has done things that are not
7:30 pm
in accord of our values or many iranians values but this is it. and i think that bringing iran back into the world community, reintegrating it into the world economy, opening the country up so people can visit the country and they can get visas and come here and study engineering or hatever i think will benefit significantly. >> before we go to the next question, let me ask you to -- te a couple of minutes there is one as spect of iran's role in the middle east that you might want to touch upon. given our limited time we can only do so much but this is
7:31 pm
critical understanding what is going on in the arab world which is iran's role as the emerging guardian of the global shy had community. and this is what is getting the saudis to react the way they do. they are reacting the way they do less because they are concerned iran is going to nuke them but because the rise of iran as the major voice in the muslim world which traditionally where to saudi arabia islam began this. is a direct challenge to the saudi and their perception of themselves. that also speaks to how iran per seeves it's own role in the middle east and elsewhere. i wonder what your comments on that are. that's >> that's a very important question.
7:32 pm
the iranny revolution has failed. the iranian revolution was meant to sponsor revolutions around the world. it was supposed to be a model for muslims to throw off the yolk of oppression and other groups around the world no country has gone the way of iran and iran is the good advertisement against creating islamic republics. having said that the issue is imperative and that is one that is not going to go away. it's very important. so we can pick our poison. we can line up with saudi arabia where they are toying with letting women drive cars. that's a remarkable achievement in the'1"st century. or we can try and make a deal with iran and at the send end of
7:33 pm
the day. i go to saudi arabia a lot. they are not going to send their kids to universities in beijing. they are stuck with us and we are stuck with them. but traditionally we made choices in the middle east. i think ultimately in a perfect world we would have relationships with all major pulls in the middle east. with iran with the arrabs and israelis and even turkey which i think of as a middle eastern state. what you are talking about is not going to go away. it's very very important. the question is how will that play in terms of broader opportunities for economic development and integration into the world and so forth. these are countries that are evolving. what we haven't talked about and don't have time is the ar abspring. this say region that is
7:34 pm
undergoing extraordinary changes and your question highlights one of the most important areas of instability but not the only one and they all feed on one another. >> let's make questions as brief as possible. >> should make answers as brief as possible and for that i apologize. >> you pointed out how difficult it is for to us predict what is going to happen, all these unexpected things happen. but don't you think we're helped by started history in 1979 whenr than in 1953 or 1952 they got together and overthrew the government. you didn't mention anything about that. another thing that you talked about the danger of iran having nuclear weapons. what about the danger of israel having nuclear weapons or the united states having nuclear weapons. we're the only one that is have purposely killed people with
7:35 pm
nuclear weapons. and i wonder if you could look into the future and see what is going to happen when china become it is dominant country in the world, it takes over from the united states? how do you think that will affect iran and israel which seems totally oblivious to the fact that this is going to happen. >> i'm a simple guy. and i really don't disagree with particularly 1953 which is part of the iranian narrative. you are exactly right. that part of the story is one of the reasons they don't like suss keptought the sha back and him in power. israel has nuclear weapons. what are you going to do? i'm not sure what we can do about it. don't like us having --
7:36 pm
>> [inaudible] . >> why talk about people that aren't here? let's talk real issues where we can have an impact and at the end of the day if you are too ambitious you get nothing done. i give my staff the f word lecture. new staff the f word. that's focus. let's pick our issues and do it. if we can solve the palestine question. if we can make a deal with iran. there are so many ifs. the world will be a better place if we are realistic in our ambitions and that's the f word. >> i have loved your presentation. it was informative and charming and witty and it was most enjoyable to listen to and the only thing i liked better was our conversation around the table which was a lot of fun as well. but i don't think anybody in this room would mistake me for
7:37 pm
being a tea party person, quite the contrary. but i come down on the side of those that think that a deal with iran right now is an impossibility and i'm going to tell you why. or let me not talk about that. but i was part of the original co-sponsors of the iranian sanctions bill both of them and worked very closely with the europeans in ensuring they voted for sanctions in the eu and yoo united nations. so i've been solved in this for quite a while. the reason he is reaching out to the united states and to the europeans is because the sanctions are actually working. we are bringing their economy to its knees and i am of the mind that if we start loosening up those sanctions and granting concessions before the iranians
7:38 pm
agree to end their nuclear ambitions and i do not believe for a minute that they are attempting to use nuclear for peaceful purposes. there is only one reason that they are working so hard and spending so much money to acquire enough material to make a nuclear bomb. it is my understanding from the latest intelligence information that they are within a month of having enough material to in fact make one bomb. and i think that would be very dangerous for us to lift those sanctions now after all of the time and the sacrifice and the efforts on the part of the united states and the europes. let those sanction work and the way they are going to work is make it worse right now which i'm of the mind we should but just leave them in place until
7:39 pm
the iranians come over to our way of thinking and actually agree to end their nuclear ambitions. and i find it extraordinary in this day in age that he is considered a moderate when he has been the advisor and the right-hand man of the supreme leader. and in addition to that when total lunaticas a and was acquiring nuclear capability to do that or so he said and was a hol cost denier. now have you rouhani when asked e question did the holocaust acur said i'm not a historian. that to me is not being a moderate. >> the question. >> the question is -- >> why would you possibly think that lifting the sanctions now would be a help with iranians
7:40 pm
given their history? >> i didn't say we should lift the sanctions now. i was quoting wendy sherman who said they shouldn't be increased. >> what do you think? >> i don't think we should lift them but where you will disdwrea with me is we should signal to them a willing tons consider lifting the sanctions in ways which will satisfy your vie which is an important vufmente you represent an important segment of congressional and public opinion in this country. your view is not a weird view. i don't fully agree wit but i get it. i hope you didn't think i was calling you a tea partier but obama is going to have to satisfy people that hold that view and it's going to be very difficult. so the question is how can he sort of address the sanctions issues in a way that will have
7:41 pm
an impact on iran while at the same time being able to persuade people who hold your view which is an important view that your concerns are being met. the other thing is i have heard so many statistics about when iran with weaponize including from the israelis which are wildly difference. and that's part of what i'm la meanting is how little we know. what you can see to it seems to me how can you afford to take the risk if there is 1% possibility there it's a month how can you do it? >> having said that you're right. but the more desperate they become, the more they squeeze them the more they feel painted into a corner to do something that is in our debt triment including their own. >> you just answered the question i was going to put to you. briefly can very
7:42 pm
the iranians be forced to give up their nuclear option, let's call it that because that's what it is at any level of sanctions that the world will agree to impose beyond where we are today ? >> it's not only that. the iranians are going to have to permit very intrusive inspecs, intrusive ininspections and there is a will they allow that? hey will regard that as an infringement on their sovreignty. the bar is going to be high for them and i'm not sure if they re going to meet it. history kind of favors you more than it does me. rtainly recent history which is worrisome but it is what it is.
7:43 pm
>> i have a twofold question rst on christian persecution thatlso the prison there s on the hearts and minds of the iran people? >> i think the situation of christian minorities across the middle east is not good. the situation in egypt was terrible under morsi and one hopes under the new regime it will be better n. terms of iran. is g a religious minority not fun. they are sort of at the top of the heap in terms of being discriminated against. christians have had issues, uice
7:44 pm
elephants but there might be another one in the room. can you discuss how that's been impacting what i've been discussing. >> the relationship between iran and iraq, nothing good. the situation in iraq is deteriorating. iran generally believes it has interest in iraq which it does. it's a neighboring country. , go back to paul's question
7:45 pm
i can't ans have a shy fear orty complex, the two holleyest cities are in iraq and iran wants a seat at the iraq table and the iraq table is very unsteady. so i understand their desire to be part of it. but having said that iraq is not out of the woods and certainly we are not on the same side as the iranians. there have been instances which we've agreed. afghanistan, believe it or not there was a period of time which we collaborated effectively with iran but these things are fleeting and not forever so you are right. >> i just had a question if we weren't americay enough already. i'd like to talk about iranian domestic economics. we talk about sanctions and how
7:46 pm
that effects them and their economy. t i was wondering how severe are some of their own policies, how severe is the recovery going to be for the highly educated and underememployed young population, you mentioned 65% under 35 years old, what's the way forward for them? is that going to involve reprivatizing the industry in iran? >> iran economically looks worse than it should look because it has a very sophisticated business sector, highly educated people, a good labor force and a tradition of being economically they are ountry and petroleum producers which we ouven forget. we keep the sanctions which under circumstances it's
7:47 pm
american law it will continue to contract. i agree with the congresswoman. i'm not sure he would have done this were the economy healthier but it's not. economic recovery is absolutely possible in iran, obslutely but the right circumstances need to be in place. and unemployment, the youth bulge, all of these things, the environment is a terrible issue. gron any of you have been there lately, it's like mexico city, the air is absolutely foul, water shortage, there are endless numbers of problems in iran which are not being dealt with because they don't have the will or resources or both. >> we have been talking about this as if it were strictly a middle east issue. what about their role particularly in northern africa and closer to home in central and south america?
7:48 pm
>> again i mentioned the bombing of the jewish community center. any of you watching homeland -- i can't say anything without smoiling. i take that back because i don't want to be a spoiler. iran is involved in all sorts of things globally and this is what paul was saying, sort of the center of a global political religious based inspired political movement and it not constructive. but having sthead if we remain on this course, it's not going to get better but worse. will the guys in teheran pull ack if we reach an accord with them. they don't do this because it's good for iran. these are december perelation moves in a country with a failed revolution sand looking for a
7:49 pm
mission. so you are absolutely right but this is not inevitable and does not have to be forever. it would help us as a country if we would be a little more attentive to latin america as well. it's interesting which the united states takes laten america for granted. i have a question and a statement. my question is we talked about iran and said they want to be a leader in the middle east and whatever they do in iraq but we are forgetting they are completely taking over of turkey and turkey is one of the biggest ally in west and as we call them they are the right arm of the nato. last week turkey passed a law, you cannot sell alcohol in their shops, you cannot sell in any
7:50 pm
restaurant anymore. and between 10:00 in the p.m. and 10:00 in the a.m. selling alcohol is completely band. >> sounds like texas by the way. it's like that in texas too. >> that's okay. but texas can do that. but turkey is a secular country and today is the day 29 of october it is the day turkey really celebrated because they believe they are secular. but my question is what is your opinion with the involvement of the iranian and the turks and and f them are not arabs one more time they are together and taking control of the middle east what is your opinion? and the statement was congresswoman was absolutely right because i am half persian, i was born in iran.
7:51 pm
i left very young the country but i still have my cousins and did see all of them this summer and all of them even though they are very hurt from the sanctions, really sanction bothering them but they are saying it is the only way to bring [indiscernible] . >> i don't think turkey needs any help from iran. independentvery big country, the movement towards islamization in part is a result of the rejection by the european union. turkey mistakingly wanted to join for years and years which never made sense to me. turkey is the only country in the world that is all three. they should leverage all three of those instead of going in the eu direction which benefits nobody. i don't think iran is a significant actor in turkey.
7:52 pm
they don't love the iranians, they are not going to listen to them and they don't need any help. the idea that they are together, i don't see turkey coordinating its policies with iran. it's a very different country with different expectations and different needs. but what it does show is the middle east is a mess and that's kind of an undercurrent of your entire question. if iran is the only good news coming out of the middle east what does that say about the middle east? nothing very good. >> there is one issue where iranians and turks come together and that's where they help each other to keep curbing rising nationalism. this will be become more of an issue if the curds set up a zone in northeast syria and in combination with northern iraq which brings me to a question from our former president of the
7:53 pm
world affairs council and his question has to do with iran's role in the syrian mess. so if you can address that for a second. >> the syrian iranian relationship was always bizarre because if iran is really all about islam and shism to support the assad family is the an tith sis of everything that the islamic rep republic stands for, this was a mine tarne secular non-religious political order but it gave iran an entremendous into the world which it was valued and very important. it puts the idea that the iranians are wild eyes sel lots is under mind by its relationship with syria. it's my view that by not responding quickly to the deployment of chemical weapons by the assad regime and delaying
7:54 pm
and taking it to congress and making a deal with russia, basically assad should send the united states a thank you note for buying it another six months or year or two or whatever it is. my view of iran and you would know better than i do but you an't tell us is i felt the iranian influence in syria and lebanon was somewhat exaggerated. i think they were striving to be influential. but the leb needs and syrians are not willing to be dominated by the iranians so it was a marriage of convenience in which they collaborated but i never got the feeling that iran was pushing the but tons in teheran and things happened in had lebanon and sir yafment but it doesn't change the fact their involvement in both places is not constructive and very serious. >> there is no gain saying the
7:55 pm
fact that lebanon is totally dependent on lebanon as a sup plire of wentry and dependent on syria as the channel which they arrive. so this whole setup is critical to the power in lebanon. now they are power in the cuntriff. and so it is very critical in that respect. >> i agree with that. i just never know who needs who more. >> i would say he is ba will you needs iran more. >> how about russia? they portray iran as a friend or ally. ow about iranians do they take russia seriously? what is their sense of russia? >> russia, everybody sort of takes russia seriously and there
7:56 pm
are long historical relations between iran and russia. the shaw's father was a member of the military brigade and iranian brigade but i think that russia is decratly looking for a role until the middle east. the iranians are cynical. they get it. they understand russia might be a useful counter point to the u.s. and to those forces that are marbled against it. but russia is not eager for iran to develop a nuclear weapons capability. they are concerned abouts islamic based activity along its southern border. so they will tolerate certain iranian behavior but probably not too much and the iranians i don't think have great expectations of russia nor should they. > i would add to that and also
7:57 pm
ask to you comment as far as iran is concerned in a sense russia is a rival on the oil and gas export front, far more critical to the iranians is the budding relationship with china. and china is becoming very aggressive nits purchase of natural resources and in establishing all sorts of channels to build on for the puche. and india also derives a lot of its oil imports from iran. it has been seriously affected by the sanctions and it's tired of them and trying finding ways of getting around the sanctions. so in a sense we should not think that iran is isolated in a box when it comes to the sanctions. in fact, there are rising number of emerging major powers that find it in their interest to work with iran and get around the sanctions. and so that is also part of the
7:58 pm
picture. >> absolutely right, i agree. >> anymore questions? >> yes, please. [inaudible] >> for the interest of the rest of the audience the question has to do with whether there are other intermediaries that could work with iran other than the united states and germany might be a candidate? >> well the talks in geneva is not bilateral u.s. iran. the eu involves a number of other powers. at the end of the day we don't need mediators we need the countries to decide to make a deal and once they do it will happen or it won't happen. the iranian foreign minister got
7:59 pm
his m.d. at the university of denver which is where condoleeza p.h.d.. her >> all of these other collateral issues which deby latize but it is global because there are all of these activities elsewhere which impinge on our ability to make a deal and selling our own peoples, the iranians theirs and us ours. >> have you made great contribution to our understanding of how complex the picture is and filling in some of the blanks. i know it would take weeks to fill in all the blanks but this was extremely useful and thank you so much for coming out. >> thank you for having me, i appreciate it. thank you. captioning by the national captioning institute coming up on c-span tonight
8:00 pm
president obama marks veterans day at the tom of the unknowns. and our series of first >> president obama marked veterans day a wreath at the tomb of the unknown in arlington national cemetery. mr. obama spoke about ending the war in afghanistan. paid honor to richard overton. this is just under an hour. [bells]


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on