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tv   Charlie Rose  WHUT  July 6, 2009 11:00pm-12:00am EDT

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>> rose: welcome to the broadcast. president obama is in russia this evening. he met earlier today in moscow with russian president medvedev in an effort to reset u.s./russia relations. we talk this evening to senator richard lugar, the ranking republican on the senate foreign relations committee. >> i believe that at least during the next few years, it is possible not only that the united states and russia will set an example by destroying weapons or disabling them, downgrading nuclear material and doing so really very steadily and with full observation of the world that will encourage others to do like wise and hopefully discourage still others from not getting into the business to begin with. but i do not see, at least within the next few years-- and that's always a question of how many years-- the idea of a
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nuclear-free world. >> rose: we continue our analysis with stephen cohen of new york university, a russian scholar, chrystia freeland of the "financial times", claire shipman of abc news and thomas pickering, the leading american diplomat and former u.s. ambassador to russia and undersecretary of state for political affairs. >> we expanded nato, we left the a.b.m. treaty, russia helped us win the ground war in afghanistan more than any other country in 2001 and 2002 and we gave them nothing, we just expanded nato and withdrew from the treaty and the political class looked at him and said "fool. weakling. we look like pushovers, we give; they take." that's why... that's the real issue of what happened and is happening in moscow. >> i think the big choice for russia still is the choice that it faced in '89, '91, '96, 2000, which is between democracy and pluralism and authoritarianism. and i absolutely do not see how
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appeasing, placating this sort of neo-imperialistic mood which putin has been very consciously building up in any way plays to the positive sides of russia. >> there's been a misreading for almost a decade of what russia needed. there is a huge psychological component to doling with russia as a fallen empire and i don't think very many of our leaders have gotten it right almost since ronald reagan in some ways. and i think what barack obama most needs to do is pay respect to russia in that sense. >> any treatment by the united states of russia as second class is, i think, going to hurt. i think it hurts nothing to treat them as first class partners. it's no question at all that in soviet days the russians wanted to be part of a first-class partnership and the nuclear question is completely attuned to making that happen because there are no other partners, at least for the foreseeable
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future. >> rose: finally, we take note of robert mcnamara, the former secretary of defense during the vietnam war who died today at age 93. russia and the united states when we continue. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin this evening with president obama's visit to
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moscow. today he and russian president dmitry medvedev announced a preliminary agreement to cut nuclear stockpiles by as much as a third. russia agreed to allow the united states military to transport weapons and troops across its territory into afghanistan. the two countries will set up a joint commission to focus on a range of economic, energy, and terrorism issues. the summit is part of the president's pledge to reset the relationship with russia. and here's a part of what the president and also the leader of russia said at the kremlin today. >> ( translated ): on the whole, by characterizing our first day of work as a result of negotiations that we have had, i would like to say that i view them as a fist but very important step in the process of improving full scale cooperation between our two countries which should go to the benefit of both
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states. and if both states benefit by it, that means everybody will benefit by it. i would like to emphasize in conclusion that our country would like to reach such a level of cooperation with the united states which would be realistically worthy of the 21st century. >> the president and i agreed that the relationship between russia and the united states has suffered from a sense of drift. we resolved to reset u.s./rulgs relations so we can cooperate more effectively in areas of common interest. today, after less than six months of collaboration, we've done exactly that by taking concrete steps forward on a range of issues. president medvedev and i are committed to leaving behind the suspicion and rivalry of the past so that we can advance the interests that we hold in common. >> rose: joining me now from washington, senator richard
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lugar, a six-term republican senator and ranking republican on the senate foreign relations committee. for over a decade, his voice on u.s. foreign policy has been a respected and steady one. i am pleased to have him back on this program. welcome, senator lugar. good to have you, sir. >> thank you very much. great to be with you. great to be with you. >> rose: what do you make of this agreement today and its potential to start something serious with respect to arms reduction? >> i believe all of the agreements announced today are very important. but especially as it's been highlighted, the agreement for the treaty to be extended beyond december 5. and especially the inspections. the intrusive inspections that make it possible for some confidence to be with the russians and the united states as to how much we have, what we are doing with it, as well as the rest of the world to be able to observe that data. on the wall in my conference room, i'm able to record what the pentagon reports each month,
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how many warheads have been taking off of missile, how many missile destroyed, how many submarines dealt with or silos. >> rose: president obama spoke to the drift in u.s./russian relations. the term "reset" has been used frequently. what's wrong with the relationship that has to be fixed and is given the opportunity because of the new leadership in washington as well as the change in positions in russia? >> well, many scholars of public opinion have simply noticed that the united states was disapproved of more than approved of by average russians in various polls that were taken. maybe the feeling was not so concerted on our side, but the feeling was on the part of many russians-- both leaders and followers-- that essentially in our press for nato membership, in our press to try to have
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missile defense with which they disagreed... as a matter of fact, many felt unfriendly business relationships that across the board the united states after a promising period when the cold war ended and many russians saw the united states as a potential savior. their republic had taken now a very dim view of it and prime minister putin's popularity really came to the fore as somebody who could provide not only stability but once energy resources came along, wealth. and a very different kind of pensions that kept jobs going in company cities. so for all of these reasons, the atmosphere has not been very good. leaving aside arms control or military cooperation which, of course, terminated after the georgian incidents of last august. >> rose: what should the president of the united states say to the president of russia about georgia and the ukraine
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and nato? >> those countries are dependent upon us and, of course, we could terminate that relationship. we won't do that, but we'd like to have stronger ones. but nevertheless, when push comes to shove, we're a long way from really discussing georgia and ukraine and a sense that there is some agreement about their status because from that standpoint it seems to me the russian feeling is that there are many russians in both countries and russian interests in both countries and these are likely to continue to be pressed. >> rose: do you understand the russian apprehension about nato expansion and their own sense that when you start talking about georgia and the ukraine it's getting too close to home? >> well, i understand it, i don't agree with it. this is why i suspect that there is room for conversation. in other words, russians may emotionally, historically feel
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that this is still russia. but after all, stalin came from georgia, for example, and ukraine... the gates of kiev and so forth are part of the music and history, the artistry of russia. but at the same time, it seems to me that the russian experience is one in which because of business relationships, hopefully because of more interrelations, individual persons throughout the world, there are possibilities for a different kind of conversation. now, with regard to nato, there was always the possibility of russia being a part of nato. that is a part of europe, a part of the security system. the russians for a variety of reasons have chosen not to make that a part of their history at this point. they still are very proud of their country. they appreciate on some days that they are no longer the superpower that they might have been. but at the same time, they
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believe given the weapons they have, the authority that they have, the space that they have that they are different and need to be considered that way. >> rose: where do you think the two countries can cooperate in the immediate future with respect to benefit for both or for benefit of the planet itself? >> well, in the agreements made today, and as i counted them i think there were at least five, some relate to arms, that is both countries are going to destroy 34 tons of plutonium just as a gesture to get rid of the stuff. but also, in a very cooperative way, are going to inventory all of the countries that have highly enriched uranium and in many cases spent fuel from experiments like atoms for peace in the past or other occasions and cooperate together to bring that fissile material back to home of origin. which very frequently is russia.
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there will be attempts to... on the part of both to downgrade a lot of materials, so there is less fissile material. we have a common interest in making certain the so-called terrorists-- whether they be chechen terrorists the russians have been worried about or al qaeda who we have been worried about do not get their hands. and therefore there's going to be cooperation expressed once again of greater inspections at the borders of our two countries so that this 95% of the fissile material, the world has not escaped the two countries that have it at this point and can control it. there is likely to be cooperation on peaceful uses of nuclear energy. energy banks that other countries might utilize without having to go into nuclear development. and all the problems that we are witnessing with the iranians, for example. now, this is an agenda that still harks back to weapons and nuclear and so forth, but at the same time, it's an outreach that
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involves many countries and, like wise, some thoughts about climate change and the future. that is, how is it possible for many nations to substitute nuclear energy for fossil fuels if there is not this kind of cooperation between the united states and russia and very active fuel banks which we encourage. >> rose: in sunday's "new york times" there was a story about president obama when he was a student at columbia and thoughts that he had about nuclear proliferation. you have been out front of that. tell me what you realistically believe is possible. >> i believe that at least during the next few years it is possible not only that the united states and russia will set an example by destroying weapons or disabling them, downgrading nuclear material and doing so really very steadily and with full observation of the world that will encourage others
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to do like wise and hopefully discourage still others from not getting into the business to begin with. but i do not see-- at least within the next few years, and that's always a question of how many years-- the idea of a nuclear-free world. even as i visit with my friend sam nunn and with george schultz and with bill perry and henry kissinger, you know, they have different views as exactly what we're looking at. they talk about sort of encampments at the base of the mountain. in other words, people looking up toward the sky but the peak of the mountain is sort of in a cloud, it's not very clear how you get there, and therefore we're in a preparatory state with these base camps which a lot of good activity is occurring. it would be necessary if you're going to scale the mountain. >> rose: so might as well get something going even though you're not sure exactly how long and where the journey will take
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place? >> correct, on the basis that it would be desirable for the world to be free of the threat of nuclear weapons. in much the way that we have con to that conclusion with regard to chemical weapons. chemical weapons convention-- which the united states signed and the russians may have been surprised, but they moved on. like wise became a part of that. and in our cooperate i threat reductions, a lot of reductions have been in the chemical area so they've had sizable problems. >> rose: what don't you agree with with respect to the nunn/kissinger/schultz group. >> simply that there are a lot of count these are not aboard at all. a person of common sense would say here we are philosophizing about a nuclear-free world but then at the same time we're wondering will we ever get into negotiations with the leadership of iran. and how about north korea?
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and what seemed to be almost weekly missile tests with the thought that some time there might be something else on those missile. and further more we are not really certain about various developments in other countries. occasionally there's a breakthrough, was libya and moammar qaddafi finally shipping it all over to oak ridge, tennessee, and we've had some good breaks in south africa in the past with a program in brazil that didn't get off the ground. but we're not overconfident, particularly in the middle east, as is often expressed. that if iran persists, that other countries-- at least protecting their own security-- will also begin to dabble in the problem even as we are reducing. >> rose: i interviewed last week in aspen, colorado, former secretary of state james baker who said the following. he gives very high marks to president obama on foreign policy, has serious differences about his economic policy.
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and you? >> well, i suspect i would track along much the same trail. i think that the amount of expenditure represented not only in the stimulus package, in the so-called tarp program, the rescue of the banks and so forth but even in the budget that we now have and the one we are considering, a budget that some estimate will have a $1.6 trillion deficit, or maybe even $1.8 trillion for that matter. every one of those dollars has to be borrowed from somebody. if you try to borrow that much money in the united states, interest rates would spike and that would be very bad with regard to our economic recovery and our jobs. so we have become very dependent upon china and its reserves, pan russia, for that matter. large treasury bond buyer. quite apart from european and japanese sources, which have been regulars.
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trillions of dollars now held by these countries. and from time to time, they talk about is there another way to balance our portfolios? so that we are not so involved in the dollar and the event something would happen. for example, inflation in our country brought about by these budgets. now, i understand the president's point of view is you've got maybe one shot at this. you're popular, you've got momentum, clearly health care needs to be solved, climate change is out there, lots of other things, railroads, perhaps. and so you go for it. but in going for it, we may be taking on so many obligations that this becomes frightening to a person like me just looking at the score card. >> rose: and on foreign policy? >> on foreign policy, things have proceeded in a much more orderly way and i compliment the president for his collections of secretary clinton, secretary gates, general jim jones. like wise, a remarkable
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emissaries such as dick holbrooke and our former colleague george mitchell and others to supplement that. usually administrations come in and they take a little time to get people behind the desk in the state department or in the department or in treasury. and this administration has done a little better than some others but there is still a lot of empty spaces. just beginning to get into the ambassadorships. but they moved rapidly with a team of people appointed and who were able to work together, even though each one of them are big hitters, and so i compliment the president and his people upon their travels, their contacts, and like wise it seems to me a very stable situation of good sense as they have approached each of these tough objectives. >> rose: senator richard lugar, ranking minority member of the united states senate foreign relations committee. back in a moment. stay with us.
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>> rose: we continue our conversation about russia with stephen cohen of new york university, chrystia freeland of the "financial times" from washington, claire shipman of abc news and thomas pickering, former u.s. ambassador to russia. i am pleased to have all of them here. i begin with ambassador pickering in washington. what might... what will be accomplished in moscow? >> i think what we will see here are probably the first steps in what we all hope will be a coming together rather than a drifting apart, which was characteristic of probably the last decade or so in u.s./russian relations, centerpieced around the nuclear agreement that they all hope to have done by the end of the year. but with a number of the other things that have been added to it, including i would add perhaps reminiscent of my time in moscow a management arrangement for the u.s./russian regulationships that brings
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together the two presidents in charge of an arrangement where the secretary of state and the minister of foreign affairs of russia will actually perhaps some do some of the whiplashing. but much like the cheer know mere din arrangement which was characteristic of the yeltsin clinton period. >> rose: going ngor ward, resetting the relationship means what? just simply change? does it mean that there were these bad things that they have to fix? >> from my perspective, charlie, it means replacing what was a series of an increasing crescendo of basically negatives carping, sniping, cutting on both sides over a whole set of issues in which there were emphasis placed on the difference. some of them genuine and very real and some of them long term but with almost no positive agenda. the obama administration has started out with a nuclear disarmament issue which is, i think, of high interests to both sides and certainly one that's brought them more rapidly together. but the sense here is the
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strategy is i think to accentuate the positive. we can borrow a term, and find ways to use that to help contain some of the negatives that have been part of the relationship to see whether, in fact, things can go better rather than worse than they have before, recognizing these that these two countries hold 95% of the world's nuclear weapons, they could threaten each other, probably the only two countries that can threaten each other in a very serious way and could really tear up the landscape very badly if the situation deteriorated to the point where they were at swords drawn over a whole set of questions that separated them rather than to cooperate in a whole set of issues which i think quite rightly can bring them together as the foreign minister said just over the weekend when he was interviewed on the subject. >> i think they're smart to start with nuclear disarmament because, as ambassador pickering said, it plays to the russians' sense to the days of the
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superpower relationship. i think the conflict could be in a couple areas. if we had another war like the war in georgia it's very hard to accentuate the positive as ambassador pickering was saying. and, in fact, joe biden possibly owes his job to the war in georgia. so it really has had a direct impact on obama. i the other big area which is just an unknown is how the whole putin/medvedev relationship plays out in russia and how the fall in the price of oil plays out in russia. russia actually is in quite a fragile place in terms of its internal politics. and depending on how that plays out, you could have russia behaving in ways in which this happy reset where we're talking about areas of shared interest, not focusing too much on what's going on inside in russia is just impossible to continue with. >> rose: stephen cohen's book is called "soviet face and lost alternatives, from stall inism to the new wold war."
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out soon, i think. >> now, immediately. >> rose: where is russia in its own sort of evolution and history and moment? >> standing between east and west with a ferocious struggle under way within its political class about which way it should and could go and in part that's what this summit is about, for the rushes. >> so talk to me about the division. is. >> the division is the russian political class believes generally-- and i use the words that of both medvedev and putin-- that it has been repeatedly betrayed and deceived by the united states since the end of the soviet union. that leads a large segment of the russian political class to decide that russia is unwanted in the west. the west will never meet russia's national interest or accommodate russia, and that russia has eager strategic partners in the east. the east means everywhere from iran to china, possibly india and beyond. there is still a small but no
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longer strong pro-western/pro-american faction in the political leadership that hopes that won't happen. but in my judgment, it all depend on whether or not a real reset comes about. and i've seen nothing that's happened so far in moscow this first day that suggests otherwise. >> rose: so what does this president have to do to allay or at least speak to these russian concerns and/or fears. >> one thing: stop the expanse of nato toward georgia and ukraine. that's it. do that and everything we want we get. >> rose: picking up on that and talking about your time in moscow and the journalists you talked to in moscow who are reporting on divisions and where you think that country going and what they need in order to be assured to move forward, claire. >> well, i think stephen's exactly right. and i would add one other thing that... you know, to scrap any idea about a missile defense system in poland and
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czechoslovakia. i think both of those things-- that and the nato expansion-- have pre-occupied russia in a way that we just did not understand in this country. and i think there's been a misreading for almost a decade of what russia needed. there is a huge psychological component to dealing with russia as a fallen empire. and i don't think very many of our leaders have gotten it right. almost since ronald reagan in some ways. and i think what barack obama most needs to do is pay respect to russia in that sense, but i'm not sure that you can pull back... pull the russian people back to this sort of pro-america stance that they had when the soviet union fell apart. i think it's going to be very hard. for a long time putin has been slowly winning over the population with almost a tacit agreement, if you will. you submerge any political
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inclinations you have and i will try to make you rich. as chrystia pointed out, we don't know where that's headed now that oil prices have dropped. and that is certainly uncertain. but for the time being, i think barack obama... it's a tall order to reset this relationship >> well, i would respectfully very strongly disagree with the notion that putting an end to nato aspirations for georgia and ukraine is the right russia policy or slowing down too much on a stronger engagement with eastern europe. first of all, russia policy is not just about russia. it's about the whole former soviet space and while i think it is absolutely right to say the relationship with russia and in fact, russia's whole political development has gone quite badly wrong. actually, eastern europe and parts of the former soviet union and r a tremendous success story. and i think american policy has to have that very firmly in mind
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and be very careful not to give up those successes. but the second point i would make is i don't see the conflict in... i don't see russia's choice as being so much a choice of being between east and west. the big choice for russia still is the choice it faced in' 89, '91, '96, 2000, which is between democracy and pluralism and authoritarianism. and i absolutely do not see how appeasing, placating this sort of neoimperialistic mood which putin has been very consciously building up in any way plays to the positive sides of russia. >> putin's not the problem. i mean, if putin disappeared tomorrow things would not change. pew stin a manifestation of a mood and a reaction. chrystia uses the word "appeasement." i don't consider it to be appeasement when a nation says "we don't want military bases on
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our border," particularly military bases that represent a country with which we've just conducted a 40 year cold war. that's not about appeasement, it's about something else. the expansion of nato has been a catastrophic mistake in every regard. not a single country safer. let me just end by saying this. what happened last august, 2008 which we called the war between russia and georgia in that little province of georgia was also a proxy american/russian war. right on russia's borders. nothing like that happened during the cold war. two countries laid within nuclear weapons are suddenly fighting on ones border. in our history never. that's what the expansion of nato brought you. it's a bomb waiting to go off. it goes off in a small way in georgia and it can go off again. >> i di do agree very much with chrystia's point that this is in my view a strife contest between
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modernizers and outreachers or reformers and the old nationalists on the other. we see evidence of that all the time and the trick for obama is not to go into that particular set of argument bus himself try to find ways that can emphasize things that generally speaking the russians themselves are interested because it takes the curse off the nato expansion and i generally tend to agree with see the stephen on some of that. i think that was unwise and badly put forward. i've been in russia many times and heard the expensive litany of from putin of all of the betrayals and i think some of it is very much worthwhile listening to. it's something obama will have to do. but obama can put on the table some things in which we can move forward on issues that are of common interest, which is the opposite of what the russians have perceived to be the u.s. aproch up until now. and that means two things.
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it means we need to underpromise and overdeliver and there's some of that going on now. it means at the same time we have to keep our word on what it is that we intend to do when we move into things and the russians had a complete impression that we were not going to move eastward and then when we moved eastward that we were not going to set up bases and then after that i think they gave up. similarly we were going to put bases in central asia for as long as we were in afghanistan but they never expected we'd be in afghanistan, what, now a total of almost seven years. so there are serious things that have to be cleared up here between the u.s. and russia. we have serious problems on our side as well. the russians aren't angels in the history of this. but the value of the reset it it can put the reset aside, it can create and deal with new issues that have to be dealt with and i hope there can be talks of frank variety frankly on some of these issues particularly having to do with the disputes abroad which i
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think are never going to be reconciled entirely but in which we can at least have enough discussion to have a broad area of common disagreement if i can put it this way that's broadly understand. we don't yet now i think even know the depth of the fling on both sides on many of these issues. i suspect the president is going to get some of that when he has breakfast tomorrow morning with prime minister putin. >> i do think that one... that barack obama can put aside certain issues without having to give them up. he doesn't have to declare that nato expansion is over there's no need to push the issue right now. that's where i think finesse can make a huge difference. i also think it will be really interesting. you were asking about what people in moscow were talking about and journalists and a lot of my friends who are still there have been focusing on the mystery, the current mystery in moscow, who is really in charge. i think we all know basically it's putin, but there have been
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some really interesting divergences lately between medvedev and putin and some talk and some people have even been writing about mini clashes, if you will. medvedev seems to be moving in a slightly more liberal direction, talking about reforming the judiciary, shortening one lawyer's sentence, a ucos lawyer surprisingly. making moves... giving interviews to liberal up in bus making moves that are decidedly unputin like. and i think navigating that terrain for barack obama is going to be something of a challenge as well because i don't even think they know in moscow exactly what's going on. >> rose: explain to us the relationship between where it's headed and putin and medvedev. >> throughout russian history bureaucrats have looked to the kremlin as the seat of power. and medvedev sits in the kremlin. and they don't like this because they don't know whose rear end to kiss because that's the way the system works. do i line up with him or him?
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he said this, he said that, what am i supposed to think? they don't like that uncertainty but again it's related... claire's been silent on this, i go to the bank on this or there's profound division within the russian political class about whether or not to try to join the west. maybe there is no east for them to go to. maybe ambassador pickering is right. but they think there is. that's the important thing. and medvedev and putin are surrounded by men who represent different point of views. >> rose: if they went to the east, what would that mean? >> it means they never join the w.t.o., which, by the way, putin said they wouldn't. they will not go through with these arms control agreements because the military is completely against them. they will not be interested in a pan-european security system and they will move decisively to divide ukraine into two provinces.
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and they are the largest suppliers of weapons from china, india, lots of countries want them, we don't want them to sell them anymore. there's an enormous appetite and market in non-nato countries for russian hardware and no how. that's all they got. that's how thaw make their money. at the moment, they've been tremendous rey strained by why be restrained if the americans don't want them? >> rose: ambassador pickering? >> a real test will be whether in fact out of all of this there can be more cooperation on a very difficult problem like iran especially with the messiness in iran over the last two or three weeks and, indeed, how that's thrown i think a hand gren grenade in the middle of the efforts of the obama administration to try to deal with iran. although i admire the administration for continuing to try to keep the door open to conversations. i think they're important regardless of what has gone on inside iran, but that's not an easy road to hoe here at home. i think finally the question will be also extremely important once agreements are reached
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whether they could be sold here domestically there's no question there will be opposition, although 60 votes in the senate are very important in selling agreements and i would suspect that plus president obama's renown skills at explaining things and portraying them in the ways i think people can understand and attach themselves to are very, very important aspects of what's, i think, over the next year will determine whether this is indeed a real reset or whether it is just a blip on the way with further nasty and confrontational aspects of the relationship to come. i hope against hope it's not. i think it's important to have a reset and i'm quite pleased with what i see today in the work coming out of the summit and certainly we'll have another look at it after tomorrow. >> what i wanted to suggest charlie is we've been looking at and trying to figure out russia through ideological prisms, is it east versus west, reformers
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versus traditionalists? and i think one thing we can't lose sight of is a financial and an economic prism. russia is governed by men who have very powerful very luke aty vested personal interests and those are really important drivers in what happens. russia as a country is very uncertain and unclear as to what its global role is going to be in this emerging economy. when oil was at $100 it didn't matter because that sort of washed through and everything worked. but even at $70, it's not so great for russia. and it was a very interesting moment when they recently convened this summit of the brick countries and you had the other brick countries saying, you know what? maybe it should be the big countries. maybe russia doesn't really belong here. i think that uncertainty about how russia is going to cope economically in the future is the central driver and really
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plays a role in russia's con commit tonight desire to express itself on the world stage. >> rose: and its confidence? >> and its confidence. >> rose: they sometimes talk about a grand bargain with respect to russia and the anti-missile system. is that possible? is that reasonable? is that a direction that's fertile? >> i think it's certainly what russia wants. that's what i was going to say. i think to get russia to play on iran, russia's going to look for something big because i think everybody assumes... we've done this dance so many times, the yilt looking for sport on iran from rush shachlt and you have to ask at a person point does russia really want to play this game? do they really want to help on iran the way we do? i mean if iran is ultimately solved and iran and the united states suddenly form some sort of relationship, that leaves
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russia a little bit out in the cold and not nearly as much of a power broker. so you have to question just how much russia wants that to happen. yes, russia lives in a dangerous neighborhood. yes we assume india, pakistan, china, the last thing they want is a nuclear iran but at the same time they might not want to invest their capital in getting there. so i think they'd be looking for something big and i think that... i do think missile defense or some sort of a tacit agreement about nato and something about georgia i think they're going to be pushing all of those things which i know will seem less than palatable probably to this administration. but i think missile defense could be on the table, sure. >> don't forget tension with iran does tend to push up the price of oil which is not something counter to russia's interest. >> rose: exactly and they've made that point. the ambassador is laughing. well, go ahead, i'll come to steve in a minute.
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it's true some people speculate in the a conspiratorial way that russia is pleased to see the development of tension between iran and the rest of the world and maybe a bit of destabilizing because it pushes up the price of oil and therefore it will enure their economic advantage and their geopolitical power. ambassador pickering, is that true? >> there may be some element to that. certainly if you've just gone through the roller coaster from $147 down to below $40 a while, you've got to see that. also if people are worried about a solid cohesion in the east, the one country is not going to be very happy about this is china. increasingly heavily dependent on imported oil where price makes a big difference and where in fact they've been trying to scope out for themselves oil fields where they might have greater control in the long-term future. so some of this is adding to the mess as well as maybe briefly adding to russian confidence.
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the question of oil pricess over a long period of time in my view is something where stability on all sides, both producers and consumers, would find a great deal of interest if they could move thplss in that direction. but at the moment it seems so millennial that i don't think anybody will really take part in that kind of an approach. but you've got a cartel that apparently is devoted in some ways to trying to keep prices up. but within reason so maybe over a period of time stability would be something to talk to the russians about as a way of also finding an effort to give them a sense that their economy shouldn't be riding a roller coaster as well. maybe we should be working with them more closely on things like investment and development in things other than the petroleum economy. they have a lot of bright people a lot of capability, high tech information based systems and things of that sort certainly are the wave of the future. there's no reason why russia should be left out of that.
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>> rose: what don't we understand about putin? >> we don't understand about putin all kinds of things. the most important is the very, very interesting set of conversations you've had about who's on top and who in a sense is going to emerge. i think the one thing that wasn't mentioned in that but seems to hang around is that putin is on a platform where he'll stay with a very clear idea that he may welcome back after whatever number of years it is that president medvedev has to serve because he was too young when he left office and this is a way in which in fact he's kept his hand in, maintained a very significant amount of control over the process and will emerge at the end of the day with a good bit of his popularity still intact. i thought it was fascinating while he continues to maintain some serious popularity in russia, he along with ahmadinejad in a poll i saw just a few minutes ago were at the bottom of the heap interinternationally now, that
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may not war arery mr. putin, i suspect it doesn't in some ways. but looking at the longer term future, it would still appear to me from the way in which the balance is being appreciated by most of us outside of russia and many inside russia, a large number of years in the future for mr. putin is still very much an important factor we have to keep in mind. >> rose: would you be surprised if i told you that during his first three or four years in power putin was openly referred to as an appeaser in conducting foreign policies of munich towards the united states? >> rose: that would be surprising. >> but you think about what happened. we expanded nato. we left the a.b.m. treaty, russia helped us win the ground war in afghanistan more than any other country in 2001 and 2002 and we gave them nothing. we expanded nato and withdrew from the treaty. and the political class looked at him and said "fool. weakling. we look like pushovers. we gave; they take." and that's why... that's the real issue of what happened and
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is happening in moscow. i wish you'd ask me another question. which was what are we not emphasize organize missing here? >> rose: okay, what are we not emphasizing or missing here? >> (laughs) i didn't know charlie was that easy to control. >> i'm auditioning for his position here. but not well. i can only do it on one subject, he can do it on every subject. we're not understanding, in my judgment... this is my view in the book how deeply the relationship, our relationship with russia is in crisis and how dangerously. and that this relationship has come to a turning point and therefore one way or another president obama is going to play a historic role for better or worse. >> rose: so the ball is in his court? >> in part. and this is where i sound unpatriotic. but i believe we more than any party created this mess and therefore the first steps to get out of this mess have to be taken in washington. not moscow. now, the prevailing view of the american media and the american
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political establishment-- though i have to say to but the prein tha view i have that. >> rose: that doesn't seem like the mind-set of president obama, either. >> you haven't asked us what the administration has cone. to my mind it's been extremely discouraging. they've done two things that literally shocked me. first of all, they sent out the number one person on national security council, michael mcfall, to say that nothing's open for negotiation. now this was funny to me because i'm old enough to remember when we used to joke during the cold war that are the soviet position was what ours is ours and what yours... and yours is up for negotiation. we're now taking the position, the things that the russians care about we have said before obama landed in moscow are not on the negotiating table. so what's there to talk about? and the other thing, and this is where the drama goes back to your putin question. who in the world-- and thus it
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was a slip-- told president obama to speak negatively of putin on his way to moscow? they gave him bad advice. >> rose: the administration's attitude, as much as you know from all the people that you talk to in washington, how they viewed this and their attitude towards first russia, second medvedev and third putin. >> i think that the administration understands that russia is important. and i think that the very fact that they're talking about needing to reset this relationship and that this trip came ahead of a trip to china, for example, is heartening. and i think it shows that they know a lot of work needs to be done. and i do this that if anybody can listen to all of... all sides and all of the different things that he will hear and take it in and do something with it, it is probably barack obama. he will be good at listening to putin. he's going to see gorbachev, too
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and believe me, he's going to hear the same thing from gorbachev. i think everything stephen is saying is right. we just have no... we have no idea in this country how many years russia has felt really abandoned by the united states. i will never forget just watching gorbachev's face years ago at the malta summit when he... bush senior told him what the big plans that the united states had for russia were, which was basically nothing and no money and no aid. and i think it's... it has seemed that way all along. but i still am not convinced... i mean, i think that they know it's important. but i'm still not convinced that they know what they want to get out of it. yes, the nuclear agreements are critical. but there's still, i think, a sense of sayingness about what the united states really feels it needs or wants from russia. and i don't think that's been defined yet. again, there's a lot of talk about iran, i'm not so sure
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russia is a partner in iran. and beyond that i think they're just not sure and that's probably not going to help. >> rose: ambassador pickering, in terms of history, will the period right after the collapse of the wall and the soviet union disintegrating all the way through the beginning of the iraqi war be viewed in history as a great lost opportunity for the united states to do a lot to engage russia? create confidence? provide a much better world? >> that's not, i think, necessarily a slam-dunk conclusion. it was no question at all that we told stories during that period of time of people not knowing how to take basically a communist system and turn it into something else. it was just no clear vision of how to do it. there was no question at all
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that people didn't want to dump fantastic quantities of money on the problem. there was no question at all that there were serious problems in russia adjusting to this particular set of changes that i think is still part of what's going on. russia is still, i think, in trouble seeking what it's kind of future of itself is and going to be. but there was no question at all that there was a time of transition and some people may call it a time of real troubles. there were no questions at that the early years of the 90s were very hard on many individual russians who were struggling to find a way to stay alive in a very difficult set of circumstances as one system collapsed and the other did not come forward to replace it. so i think anybody who had a grandiose view that there was a silver bullet and that all we had to do was to put that in operation and that in four or five years everything would be changed certainly missed the whole nature of the situation at
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that time and the whole set of difficulties that everybody had. and certainly there were huge problems of serious embarrassment in rush shachlt people had seen themselves and been persuaded that they were at the top of the heap, certainly real competition with the united states in many, many ways. and this all fell away in a radical fashion and put them in a very, very difficult set of circumstances. and there were people in the end of the '90s talking about the russian economy being the size of hungary, at least in terms of its attraction of foreign direct investment and other kinds of things. so this isn't over yet. i think what we're seeing is the latest manifestation of this continued struggle for change and a continued serious effort to find out what happened. now, let me just address one thing that you had raised. the notion that, in fact, in six months russian public attitudes toward the united states at the top at least turned from very an tagist inic to what i would call at least partly resent sieve a
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serious understoodcation that something changed. it wasn't just the u.s. election and i think it wasn't just necessarily the persuasive capacities of the president, although those should never be underestimated. but there was also, i think, an outreach at the beginning of this period that said "here are a whole bunch of items that can be put on the agenda that need to be addressed" and i think those were part of the sum and substance of the conversation that that president had in lon do with president medvedev and they have made a difference. and i was surprised, quite frankly, as i read over the statements that were issued today how much more forward leaning they had been than what we had seen over a long period of time in the past. now, this is not in my view necessarily an iron-clad commitment to the future direction with no swiveling or changing, much more has to be done and much more has to be delivered. but it is in my view much more positive than i expected and i read the newspapers over the weekend and much more positive
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than a number of commentators of note in the newspapers were predicting the situation would be today. >> rose: last word to you. >> i was going to say two things quickly. i do think it's a big mistake to give into this notion that somehow the ways in which russia has gone wrong are america's fault. ultimately, these are russian-made problems. i think there was one really big policy mistake by america and that was supporting, at least implicitly, the loans for shares giveaway of the natural resources to a very small group of oligarchs. and i think the public resentment that that created is a much more powerful driver of putin's popularity than any of this anti-western seinement. maybe in closing, my answer to your question about what we don't understand about putin is what is more important to him: power or money? and my favorite line from my russian friends about shim that the tragedy of putin is he wants to rule like stalin but live like abramovitch.
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>> rose: on that a thank you very much. thank you. stephen cohen's book "soviet faith and lost alternative from stall inism to the new cold war" where he emphasizes the ideas he expressed. claire shipman, thank you. ambassador pickering, thank you. i look forward to more conversations about the global zero commission of which you are a member and a step by step plan to eliminate nuclear weapons by the year 030. thank you all. >> thank you very much. >> rose: when we come back, we'll take note of robert mcnamara who died today, age 93, in washington. >> rose: robert mcnamara died today at his home in washington. he was 93. he served as secretary of defense for seven years under president kennedy and president johnson. his ten-year span, the bay of pigs invasion, the cuban missile crisis and the escalation of the
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vietnam war. later in the week we'll run a larger appreciation with clips of his appearance on this program but for now, this brief excerpt of robert mcnamara on our program. >> i believe today that hoe ho chi minh was not a follower of stalin and kruschev, which i thought he was at time. he was a tito, he was an asian tito. i believed the war in south vietnam was not a war of foreign aggression. i believe it was a civil war. i believe that it was the power of nationalism that was at stake there. that i believe under those circumstances no foreign army can substitute for the people of that country deciding a civil war themselves. it's impossible. now, these beliefs, they may seem obvious to you. they weren't obvious to me five years ago. >> rose: robert mcnamara dead at age 93.
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