Terrorism Forum with Dr. Craig Miller

Terrorism Forum with Dr. Craig Miller


– So welcome everybody,
thank you for coming tonight. Things are a little bit more
informal for this round table for a wide variety of reasons
that I won’t bore you with. But tonight essentially I’m
just gonna answer questions and engage in a dialogue
with you about the topic of terrorism. My goal for tonight first
is to let you all know that I want this to be a
space in which everybody can express their opinions and
feel comfortable expressing their opinions or asking hard questions. The only thing I ask is that
you try to be respectful of everybody else, but other than that, all I want to do tonight is
try to engage in a dialogue with you to be as
informative as I can but also to allow you guys to express
your ideas, your opinions in a forum in which you feel comfortable expressing yourself. So the first part of what
I’d like to do tonight is purely answer informational questions, if you have questions about
the topic of terrorism, about the impact of
terrorism, about the history of terrorism, and then the
second part of what I’d like to talk about are strategies for dealing with the phenomenon,
ways of thinking through the, excuse me, evaluating the phenomenon, and just for those of
you who don’t know me, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. I teach here on campus. I teach courses in history,
political science, I teach an international law course
for the legal studies department, and I got my PhD
from the University of Buffalo in 2010 and I studied, essentially, it would take too long to explain it, but I studied asymmetric
warfare, I’ve been studying terrorism for about the past 15 years. It’s a topic that was near and dear to me. I was, am a native New
Yorker, I am from Queens, and September 11th really stirred in me an interest in understanding
who these people were who would attack us,
what their reasons for attacking us were, because
I thought the answers to those questions were
really the path forward in terms of dealing with
or at least addressing the problem. And I’ve come to believe
that over the past 15 years we did not fully understand who the people who went after us were,
what there interests were, what their networks were
like, and I think the past 16 years of American foreign
policy bears this out. With that I will open it up
to questions and as I said, I should tell you, if you
could come up and speak your question into the
microphone so that everybody can hear you, and I’d like
the first set of questions just purely informational stuff. Are there things you just
don’t know, have questions, like who ISIS is, why
we’re fighting terrorism, what terrorism is? What day of the week it is? I can get that one pretty quickly. It’s Wednesday. Yeah, come on up Trevor. – I was just wondering
like could you describe what the Assad regime is and
how they play into terrorism? – Absolutely. I have the map up just so
that when we’re talking about places that we can all
visualize where it is we’re actually talking about. There is a civil war going on in Syria that’s been going on since 2011. You asked, the question you
asked was about a guy named Bashar al-Assad. Bashar al-Assad is the leader
of Syria, he is a Alawite, that is his religion. Alawite religion is still
relatively a mystery to many outsiders, it’s Islamic,
but it combines elements of Shia Islam and Sunni Islam. And Bashar al-Assad is,
and has been, a dictator. And many Middle Eastern
countries, Iraq for years had a dictator, Syria has a
dictator, Jordan has a king, Saudi Arabia has a king. Bashar al-Assad and his father
and I believe his grandfather were all dictators in the state. Essentially, most of the
states you’re seeing in the Middle East, the countries
rather, those borders were drawn after World War One. They were drawn by foreign
powers who, in many ways violated their own principles
by, when nation building happened in Europe after
World War One, they drew boundaries around countries
based on things like people sharing a similar culture
and a similar religion and a similar language. In the Middle East,
Russia, France, and England drew boundaries around
countries based on the resources they possessed so they
could continue to get access to those resources. Supported dictators in those
regimes that would give them access to those resources
in exchange for weaponry and in exchange for political
and economic support so they could rule the countries. Bashar al-Assad is one of these dictators and comes from a long line of dictators and the country he rules is
primarily Sunni but has a lot of Shia population. It’s diverse in terms of
ethnicity, there’s an Arab population, there are Kurdish populations, there are Christians of
many stripes in Syria, and the regime has essentially
denied political rights to the vast majority of
people in exchange for what they claim was security. When the uprisings happened in 2011, they couldn’t really
make that claim any more and the regime turned on its own people, at least it turned on the
people who were fighting it and used pretty repressive means. Barrel bombs, indiscriminate
bombing of cities with civilians, and,
but let me stop there. So Assad is essentially a
dictator, he is fighting to keep control over a
country that he has ruled by denying people political
rights for as long as Syria has been a country, since
after World War One. Other questions. – The idea of the concept behind terrorism I would guess has been around for a while. What was it called before terrorism, ’cause that seems like a newer word. – It’s not actually that
much newer of a world. The root of the word is
Greek and the Ancient Greeks used this word to describe
people who engaged in political acts of
violence intended to pursue a particular political agenda. You have some early terrorists
going back to Sumeria, you could say that in the ancient world some of those states, the
Hittites are my favorite, they used to like to smash
people with their gods, with their own statues of
their own gods to death. One way to terrorize people. The Israelites, or, ‘scuse
me, the people of Israel, the zealots were terrorists,
right, against the Romans. Launching attacks, Judas
from the historical Bible was a zealot that
launched terrorist attacks against the Romans in an
attempt to get the Romans to stop occupying the state of Israel. And so terrorism has a
very, very long history. The Islamic variant that we
see prevalent in the world right now is certainly not
the only form of terrorism that has ever existed, it’s
just the most pressing form, or at least it seems to
be the most common form at the moment. I know y’all have questions. Are you afraid to ask, afraid to stand up in front of the microphone? Should I bring the microphone
to you, would that be better? Like a game show host? Come on down. Bring it to you. – That’s great. Can you explain the difference between Sunni and Shiite. – I can do it very, very
basically because I don’t want you to get the impression
that these religions are, as the basic differences are
as simple as I make them. But broadly speaking the
division between Sunni and Shia Islam actually goes back
to the founding of Islam. When Mohammed died, there
were several Muslims who had originally pledged
their allegiance to him and followed Islam from Mecca. It was a period in which
Mohammed left Mecca with his disciples and converted
more people in the city of Medina to the north. When they came back they
retook the city of Mecca, they launched campaigns
throughout the peninsula of Saudi Arabia to try to
convert other people to the religion of Islam and then they
were in the planning stages of invading what was
then the Roman Empire, what’s Turkey and the Balkan
Peninsula on that map up there. When they were plotting
this invasion, Mohammed died and there were immediately
divisions between all the Muslims who were
in positions of leadership as to who should succeed him. The consensus among all the
Meccans, Muslims who had originally converted and
were from Mecca was that they should support
Mohammed’s father in law, who was the general who was
in charge of planning the invasion and so they voted him
to become their new leader. The Muslims from Medina were
completely cut out of this negotiation over who
was gonna be the leader and many of them made
the case that the Quran was non-specific as to
how they should choose who was going to succeed
Mohammed and they argued that since Mohammed’s
blood was divine because he was the last prophet of
God, that only descendants of Mohammed could take
positions of leadership. And those are the basic
differences because when they make that claim, a
war breaks out between those Muslims from Medina
and the Muslims from Mecca. The Muslims from Mecca end
up driving most of those Muslims into places
like Iran and to Persia. Those people become Shia,
the original Meccan Muslims are Sunni. The basic difference between
them is, and it goes beyond this but the foundational
difference is ideas over how you can choose leaders. Sunnis, broadly speaking,
believe that people, Muslims, the uma, the community
has the right to choose their own leaders, Shia Muslims
argue that you have to be in some direct line of
succession, the most popular variant of Shia is something
called Twelver Islam, the Iranians are Twelvers,
and they argue that there are only 12 legitimate descendants of Mohammed that you can claim lineage from. So they celebrate different
holidays, they have a little bit of difference, the differences
in terms of culture in terms of like, treatment of women and acceptance of music are more regional than they have to do with
the distinction between Sunni and Shia Islam. But so the basic differences
are in ideas and beliefs about who should succeed,
succeed in leadership and then these differences
lead that the Sunnis have their own traditions
of what they call the Hadith which is the interpretations
or writings about the life of Mohammed. Shias don’t consider those
to be as authoritative as Sunnis do, and so there
are differences in terms of the interpretation of the religion, too. Other questions, remember,
I’ll bring the mic to you. This is full service. If you’re willing to come up. – I want to, I am Krishna
(inaudible), I am from India, I want to add one more thing. There is a war in between
Shia and Sunni just because they don’t want to share the
power and each one of them wants to be powerful
but with due respect to my Muslim friends, and
the Saudi Arab people, there is a belief in Muslims
that Saudi Arab people are the purest and they
don’t want to give respect to other Muslims and that’s
why they have a frequent war even in the Pakistan and Saudi
Arab is not supporting Iran. They recently put a hang sentence
on one of the Iranian leader. In Saudi Arab. – Yeah, there’s no question
that a lot of the divisions in the Middle East fall
along sectarian lines between Shia and Sunni states. So if you’re looking at
this map, Iran is largely a Shia state, Iraq, Saudi
Arabia, Yemen, Oman, those are largely Sunni states,
Georgia is a Sunni state, Turkey is a Sunni state,
but Yemen has large Shia populations, Iraq has
a large Shia population even though for years under
the rule of Saddam Hussein he was a Sunni and so the
fault lines are definitely changing and they are
political and you’re right to suggest that these
divisions are about power, they’re about lots of kind of power, they’re about the power
to interpret a faith, they’re about the power
to control territory, the power to control education,
resources, economics. So I think many conflicts,
whether they’re religious or not at base are about some
form of power in one way or the other. Yeah. – There’s been a lot of
talk about Saudi Arabia finding terror groups
outside of its borders that are not immediately, despite the fact that ISIS and other terror
groups are right outside its borders trying to get to Mecca. What is the reason behind
supporting terror groups if that’s at all true, if
they’re posing more imminent threats themselves? Is there any logic behind that? – That’s a great question and
it’s a complicated answer. The first part depends
on what your definition of terrorism is, and the
Saudis have argued that in some cases the people
they’re fighting are freedom fighters, they’re not terrorists. For, to tie the rest of all
of you into this conversation in case you’re not clued
in, the Saudi citizens and some of those, Saudi
Arabia is a kingdom. It is a kingdom of unelected
people, it’s a dynasty in that leadership is passed
down through and chosen through the family. Families get to choose who
the leadership positions in certain ministries are going to be. Saudi Arabia has a lot of
oil wealth and some of its wealthier subjects have
donated money and there’s direct linkage of this of
the Saudis donating money to groups like Al Qaeda
or the Al Nusra front who fights in Syria. There’s even some suggestion
that the groups have funded directly the Islamic State. The Saudis have publicly
admitted that they are funding rebel groups who are fighting
in Syria, but those Syrian rebel groups claim to be
moderates that just want to topple Assad. The reasons why the Saudis would do this, and again the Saudi government
denies any involvement in it and there hasn’t been
any proof of any connection between them, the Saudi argument
is that we can’t control everything that our citizens
do or our subjects do. Part of it I think is ideology. The Saudis have an
ideology that is Wahhabis that claims that their
interpretation of Islam is correct, although most Muslims, many
devout Muslims I should say make the same claim about
their particular variant. In this case I think
they share some ideology with groups like the Islamic state. I think politically it’s more about stoking a fire with Iran. I think many of the, I
think the Saudis essentially see some of these terrorist
groups as proxies in a war with the Iranians that
if they can continue to keep the Iranians focused
on defeating terrorist groups than they’re not focused on
destabilizing Saudi Arabia or its allies and so I
think there’s a power game, a political game going on too
and I think it’s essentially, it’s a lot like our Cold
War with the Soviet Union where we weren’t really in
Afghanistan except that we were and we facilitated all
the weapons that got there and gave them to these
guys called the Taliban who would never be a
problem for us ever again. And I guess it speaks to the
question, one of the things I’d encourage all of you to
think about are the unintended consequences of our choices, right? In 1979, in the early 1980s
we decided to help to use a group called the Taliban
to funnel weapons to Afghans who were fighting the
Soviets because we knew that the Taliban were extremists in
terms of their interpretation of religion and we disagreed
with the vast majority of their ideology but we
thought the Soviets were worse so the enemy of my enemy was our friend. We gave them weapons,
taught them how to use them, let them drive the Soviets
out, and then left. And what we left them with
was a belief that wow, all we needed were some
weapons, and we just defeated the Soviet Union. And one of the architects
of that was a guy named Osama bin Laden. And Osama bin Laden had
read books and had written writings of his own suggesting
that all you need to do to destabilize a superpower
is get them to commit to a war they can’t really win. Not a war they can’t win
because they don’t have the military power, because
they don’t have the political will to continue the fight
which is what happened to the Soviets. Quite literally many of
these Islamist believe that the entirety of the
collapse of the Soviet Union was due to Afghanistan. I think that’s a short-sighted
view of the collapse of the Soviet Union, but
perception is what matters, not necessarily the reality. – Can you maybe explain in
detail what radical Islam’s hatred and deal is with the West? Maybe in detail a little
bit more than I know? – Sure, just a word on terminology. I don’t have a problem using
the word radical Islam, I just prefer Islamist
or Islamic extremist. The idea being that people who
adhere to what you’re calling a radical view of Islam
or people believe that there’s only one way to view
religion, and that people who abandon that religion can
be killed for it and more importantly that they want
to see a global caliphate established. The base line and if any of
you really want to explore this question in depth
there’s a great article by a guy named Graham Wood
in The Atlantic called What ISIS Really Wants and
it’s a really fantastic look into, he interviewed
guys who were members of ISIS, he interviewed this
Australian guy who wants to be an ISIS member or at least a
self-proclaimed ISIS member. Broadly speaking it’s
an apocalyptic vision. So the, their interpretation
of the Quran suggests that the world is going
to end, it’s going to end at a specific time and
in a specific place. In the south or northwest corner of Syria there’s going to be a war,
according to the Quran, between the armies of Rome
and the army of the believers. And that war is going to
begin with Jesus Christ descending from heaven,
most Muslims recognize Jesus Christ as a prophet,
just not the son of God. But that Jesus Christ
will descend from heaven and lead the armies of the
faithful against the infidels from Rome, defeat them, and
then rule in eternity on earth. And so in many ways I
liken it to communism, in that communism had this
fatalism, and by that I mean the communists believed that
communism was inevitable, it was going to happen,
there was nothing anybody could do to stop it. Communism was the natural
evolution of when you had an industrial society that
exploited its workers, the only reasonable
logical conclusion was that those workers would rise up
and take the capitalists, take the capital from the capitalists. Because the Soviets believed
this was inevitable, they could justify and
rationalize doing anything. If it’s gonna happen anyway, what’s killing 10 million people? They’re probably gonna
die anyway, we’re just speeding up the inevitable. This is essentially what
the members of ISIS believe, that they are going to, the
member of Al Qaeda wanted to destabilize the West because
they believe that at some point after their lifetime,
this war was going to happen. None of them believed that it would happen during their lifetime. The ISIS guys started to make
the case that we’re taking territory which is what
the Quran commands, right, for an Islamic state you
have to control territory which we’re doing, and why
couldn’t it be during our lifetime or a generation
from now in which this war actually happens? And so the ISIS theology or
ideology is essentially that the war is coming, right, and
they’re trying to speed it up. Their hatred of the West,
I don’t know, it depends on what you mean by West, right? I would say that what they
reject about our lifestyle, our ideals of freedom of
speech, tolerance of religion, I would say what they
reject is postmodernism. Do you know what postmodernism is? Do any of you? One of those fancy graduate school words? Weird for the sake of weird
in the terms of the humanities and social sciences it meant
that all truth is relative. Right, that nobody has a
monopoly on what truth is. And that’s the world that we live in. And America as a pluralistic
society we accept the fact that there are going to be
people who believe in different gods, who people who
believe in different ideas and that the law is ostensibly
supposed to treat all of us equally. The ISIS philosophy is no,
we have a book, it’s called the Quran, it explicitly tells
you what is right and wrong, and there’s no interpretation
or what they would call innovation. So for example, the Islamic
State, the Quran in parts of it calls for eye for an eye
type punishments that, and the Bible does this
too, that if you steal you should have your hand cut off. Some states still do this,
some states, Algeria being one of them, Morocco being
another, have decided as a society that we have
a different interpretation and we believe that crime
is more a product of social factors and economic factors,
maybe cutting people’s hands off isn’t the best approach to it. A member of ISIS would
say that well, who are you to innovate on the word of God? And that’s the basic difference. The difference is that
the followers of ISIS and the progenitors of
that movement argue that the Quran is the literal
word of God, there’s no interpretation that makes
sense other than theirs and that anybody who differs
from that interpretation is an enemy, essentially, of God. That help? Other questions. There’s a lot of you in here, so. Yeah, either one of you. Does anybody who hasn’t asked a question? Come on up, Mary, or do
you want me to come to you? Alright. – Okay so hello, okay. This might a weird question
’cause I don’t know, someone was talking to
me at lunch about this and it kinda like sparked something. As if like the word
terrorism, I’m not exactly, I know what it means, but
I’m not sure I’m exactly sure of like what qualifies
for terrorism because if we get engaged in
future on say us or members of the European Union
fighting back to Syria or wherever we are at that point in time. If we’re engaging in bombing
and stuff and we’re hitting civilians there, are we
seen as terrorisms to them, terrorists? – This is an excellent
question too, right? One man’s terrorist is
another man’s freedom fighter. Everything is in the eye of the beholder. And so it all depends, not
even on what your definition of terrorism is because I think that if I’m a goat farmer in Afghanistan and a bomb drops from the
sky and destroys my goats, it doesn’t matter to me that
the Americans were doing it to try to fight terrorism,
because that was terrorism inflicted upon me and my goats. And it sounds comical but
a couple of goats could be a person’s annual salary. And so this is the danger
that we risk in our approach to terrorism, that we either
create more terrorists or create more instability than
existed in the first place. Generally speaking, there
are two types of definitions of terrorism, there’s
a political definition and a legal definition. The legal definition
varies from state to state, the United Nations has its own definition. Generally speaking the legal
definitions suggest that it has to be an act of
violence that is specifically targeted to further an
ideology or a political stance. So you could certainly
make the case that when the United States uses a
drone to kill a terrorist in Yemen or in Afghanistan,
there’s a political purpose for doing so. More often than not, and
this is a truth that you will rarely hear politicians
or the media admit, but more often than not the
person with the most power dictates the message and
dictates the definition. We have no idea how history
is going to view what we do. I guarantee you that the
people in the 1940s in America who were in favor of
interning Japanese citizens did not think that oh, history’s
gonna hate us for this. Like most of them probably
thought well, they’re going to understand the threat we faced. But we look back and are
like, uh, you can’t just take American citizens and start
locking them up in camps because you think they might
attack you at some point. Did we do this after 9/11? Did we have mass incarceration
of people who are Muslims? No, right, we have evolved as a society. We still have many shortcomings
but at the very least we’re not advocating publicly
rounding people up like that. So the definitions of things,
the legal definitions matter more in our time because
the legal definitions have force and weight behind them. The political definitions,
it’s gonna be up to the historians to decide, and
I mean, up to you guys to decide, too. Do you see the United States
using an unmanned aerial vehicle to bomb a goat
farmer, I mean, we’re not intentionally bombing goat
farmers, what would be the point? Somehow killing goats
eradicates global warming ’cause there’s less goat
methane in the atmosphere? I don’t know what the rationale would be. But it happens. War has civilian casualties. And do those civilian
casualties help us or hurt us and I think we can have that
discussion a little bit later but it’s certainly something
that should be discussed and I wish, and this is
not just a criticism of this president in particular
because this is every president, but I wish the
leaders who suggest that we go to war would be willing
to have honest discussions with us about the potential downsides. Because we never really hear that. In fact, in the 2012 campaign,
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama were being, the debate was
being moderated by a reporter called Martha Raddatz, she’s
a foreign policy reporter for I think CBS and Barack
Obama at the time had a plan in place that said in August
of 2014 we are withdrawing all of our troops from Afghanistan. Mitt Romney agreed with this. And so Martha Raddatz asked
both of them to answer the question, let’s say it’s
July of 2014 and the level of violence is escalating. Will you still support
pulling the troops out? And because they both
agreed on the position, do you know what they answer
they both gave her was? That’s not gonna happen. Well here we are, in, what
is the month we’re in now, we’re in March of 2016
and we’re talking about increasing the troop
presence and keeping it there for decades. An honest discussion would have happened if both of those candidates
were willing to say well, if it got worse and these are
the ways in which we think it could possibly get worse
than this is what we would do and the American people
should know when they go into a voting booth that
this is a possibility of this choice and they
should have that information so when they pull that lever,
you’re as well informed as you can be. The point of an open
society is that it’s open, that we ask and answer hard questions. There’s no such thing as a
war that’s gonna work out perfectly for everybody. Point out that war to
me in American history, in any history, and you
and I will write a book and make millions of dollars. War has casualties and
downsides, but we never talk about those downsides
as a society and I think your question speaks to this. We should be asking more, if
we’re gonna call something terrorism, what are we
calling our response to it, or how might other people
perceive our response to it? Thank you. Does that help? – Hillary Clinton has called for Pakistan that when we are keeping
snakes in our backyard and just hoping that they will
bite only to the neighbors. This quote is applicable
for the America also. Although it was quoted for
Pakistan, and from 70 years America is supporting
Pakistan and they are giving donations of millions
of dollars and recently they have given F-16 planes to Pakistan and when India has objection
that why you are giving F-16 to Pakistan then the
reply from the American government was that
this will help Pakistan to control their terrorism. – Terrorism is the new communism. There is a terrorist
under everybody’s bed. – F-16 will control the
terrorism and there is another picture. Pakistan is not controlled
by a political system. Pakistan is controlled by Pakistan army. And they are giving training camps, they are running training
camps of militants. Most of the terrorist have
a birthplace of Pakistan. Pakistan is giving terrorism a new way. – Let me speak to the points you’ve made. And they’re good ones. The United States has for
several decades funded Pakistan which if you look at the
very far corner of that map is right south of
Afghanistan, north of India. Pakistan has an interesting history. In the year 2000 I think, about
a year before September 11th a general named Pervez
Musharraf ousted the president. Pakistan has this awesome
clause in their constitution that says if the military
believes at any point that the government, the
politicians are ruining the government then
they can throw them out and replace them with themselves. Pretty cool to give the guys
with the guns that power. Find corruption every place they look. But the broader problem for
Pakistan is that Pakistan’s military and its
intelligence are pretty much autonomous wings of their government. The elected government does
not have as much control over the military and
the intelligence services as you would expect. And those intelligence services
and military, the members of those services and military,
many of them are either, they’re people who directly
fought or are related to people who fought in the Afghan war against the Soviet Union. And so their sympathies lie
primarily with the Taliban and other groups they fought
with, and the United States has wanted a relationship with Pakistan because Pakistan grants us
access across their border into Afghanistan. It’s a logistical relationship primarily. And the United States has
poured millions of dollars in not only military aid but
other kinds of direct aid that has been used to
support terrorist groups. The problem is that Pakistan’s
not the only country we give money to that funds terrorism. We have just given a deal to
the Iranians that is going to release billions of dollars
that ostensibly the Iranians will use on Shiite militias
in other parts of the world. We give money to lots of
different states that do things with that money that we don’t like. The question is, as with
all these questions, what’s the upside and what’s the downside? What do we get from doing
so and what do we lose from doing so? In many decisions in foreign
relations you have to deal with both, there’s no
perfect solution to anything. When Nixon decided to
open up trade with China, he was heavily criticized for
it and the argument was that some exchange is better than no exchange. You don’t want states to be
isolated but at the same time you always have to weigh
the cost of your influence, like what does the military
do with that in regards to its relationship with
India, and that’s a question that the Indian government
and many representatives have for American
politicians and diplomats every time they show up. – I was wondering about the
infrastructure and the build up of the economy in previous big
wars versus the Middle East. I was talking to my
brother-in-law he said after World War Two we went in
and had local people helping to build up their economies,
they made their economy again, but in the Middle East when
we bomb stuff it kinda just blows up and stays there. Kinda wondering if that has
anything to do with the fact that these groups keep
popping up when there’s no booming economy to supply people to. – So what you’re talking
about after World War Two is called The Marshall
Plan, and The Marshall Plan was essentially the United
States pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into
Eastern Europe and Asia to help reconstruct those
countries, those regions after the war but also
to help rebuild their political and social institutions. And so we poured lots of
money in but it was largely German companies and Japanese
companies and other companies doing the work of reconstruction, doing the work of rebuilding. This is a question that
sometimes keeps me up at night when I think about it. These places are being
bombed into oblivion, particularly Syria. Iraq a little bit less, but the
vast majority of the bombing right now is going on in Syria
but now expanding to Libya. I say the question keeps
me up at night because imagine for the sake of argument
you were a Syrian refugee who has fled your country. You have fled your country
because it’s wartorn and violent, your kids can’t go to school,
the electricity doesn’t run, you can’t go to work, you have no money. So you pack all your stuff,
you make the journey to Europe, you try to get to the United States, you try to get anywhere. Then you get to one of these countries in which your kids can go to school. You can find a job, right? Life may not be, culturally
speaking you may be challenged in terms of the
people who live around you but you can provide the necessities. Why would you ever want to go back to a country in which
nobody’s going to take responsibility for reconstructing? If you want to really disturb yourself, Google Syrian war images
and look at what’s happened to those cities. They literally don’t exist
anymore and I have no idea who’s going to take
responsibility for reconstructing these areas. Because the economy in Syria
wasn’t great before the war and sometimes war can create
opportunity, but you’re having populations fleeing
these regions and going to areas that are relatively more stable and I’m not sure what the
draw to come back, I mean, there’s obviously going
to be the draw to get back to your homeland, but in
order to draw people back you have to convince them
that things are going to be stable, and I have
no idea how that happens. I guess I’ll leave it there. Yeah. Rob that is the most important question. It’s the question we didn’t
ask before we invaded Afghanistan, we didn’t ask
thoroughly before Iraq, we somehow magically convinced
ourselves that if we did it in Libya with just bombs
instead of troops it would magically turn out different. And lo and behold we’re
there at the same place, in fact I could make a case
that Libya is worse than Iraq is right now. But this is the question
I always have about the Islamic State. Everybody says we’re going
to degrade and destroy ISIL. Well then what? Do you want to see the amount
of area that ISIS actually controls? ISIS controls everything here
in Iraq and everything here in Syria, is pushing this
way in Syria and they now have control of this part of Libya. It’s a lot of territory regionally. ISIS is not going to
be big enough to invade the United States anytime
soon, but the broader point is let’s say we degrade
and destroy ISIL here. Well this country’s in the
middle of fighting a civil war, and the government that
looks like it’s gonna win, we refuse to support. So who’s gonna govern that
space after we quote unquote degrade and destroy ISIL? Is the UN gonna take over? Are we gonna hand it over to
Assad, who we insisted must go, is a butcher who can’t be
trusted to govern his own people? We’re really really good at
thinking about displacing people and using force, but
we’re not really good at thinking about what
happens after the fact, and forgive me for being blunt about this but I don’t know how many
times you have to do the same thing and get the same
result before it kicks in that you need to reevaluate your strategy. And there are significant
differences between Libya and Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s no question. But the commonality between
all of them was the removal of an authoritarian regime
without a plan for how you were going to govern next. In Iraq, the Bush
Administration has blamed this on the failure of the Iraqis. The Clinton, Hillary Clinton
who’s running for president is blaming the failure
of Libya on Libyans. This is becoming a pattern too. We invade a place, we
knock over their leader, and then blame the people
for not having a democracy. We tend to forget that
we started a democracy in 1789, right, and 70
years later we had to fight a civil war in which we
killed 600,000 of ourselves to figure out what democracy meant and how it was gonna work. We spent another 100 years
trying to figure out how to make it a racially equal place, and we still haven’t done it. So to make the case that
it’s somebody else’s fault that they haven’t been able
to turn a war-torn region into a thriving democracy
in a decade is laughable, and you don’t need to be
a PhD in political science to figure this out,
you need a library card or a Wikipedia page. It’s a choice in terms, I
call them the Islamic State because that’s what they call themselves. The Islamic State means
the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, Sham is a term
that refers to essentially the region of Jordan, Syria, and Iraq. They were part of an Ottoman
Empire before they were those countries. ISIL means the Islamic
State of Iraq in the Levant, Levant is another word for Sham. The administration seems
to like to call them ISIL, the Europeans seem to like
to either call them ISIS or DAISH, DAISH is an
acronym that spells out the Islamic State of Iraq in
the Levant and is apparently offensive to them. But the, like I would care
that I was offending people who cut off heads. There aren’t but it’s just
a difference in choice of terminology. – Seeing how Russia and
America are both backing different sides of the Syrian
civil war, do you see a slowly blossoming new
Cold War beginning to form or is this just normal aggressions? – I think it’s a Cold War
but I think the ironic thing is that Russia and the
United States are not the major players. Saudi Arabia and Iran are. Because they have more at
stake in the region than we do. It’s where they live, their
forces are gonna be the ones primarily doing the vast
majority of the fighting, if that happened. The interesting thing
that’s happening and my International Relations
students, if they were listening when I was talking this
week, will remember this. After the fall of the Cold
War, the United States convinced itself, as did
many liberal democracies, that war was essentially
a thing of the past. All the major differences
had been resolved. When communism failed as an ideology, capitalism and liberal
democracy were going to happen inevitably. Sound familiar? Sounds like exactly what the
Soviets convinced themselves of it was just their
endpoint was communism, ours was liberal capitalism. I think what’s happening in
the world right now is that thesis is being challenged. Russia is still an authoritarian state. It has liberalized its
economy, China is still an authoritarian state but it
has liberalized its economy. Saudi Arabia and Iran are
both relatively authoritarian states but are in the
process of liberalizing their economies so the
economic front has won out. The political front is
different and so it’s not gonna be the same as the Cold
War because the Cold War was ideology versus ideology. Capitalism versus communism. Russian authoritarianism is
not Iranian authoritarianism is not Chinese authoritarianism. I think the central commonality
between those states is their belief that security
matters more than liberty. For us it’s the idea that liberty
matters more than security and that’s a constant
tension within our society but I think the Russians
in particular have made, and I know Vladimir Putin
has made this argument, case in point, that security
matters more than liberty. In fact, you guys want a quick anecdote? I used to work in the restaurant business, and in 1998, 1999, I worked
with this Russian dishwasher named Vasili. Kid was 17 years old at
the time, and there was a terrorist takeover, a Chechen
terrorist had taken over a theater in Moscow and it
was a stand-off that had been going on for like a day and
I pulled this Russian kid aside and I said hey, what
do you think’s gonna happen? And he looked at me and
took a puff of his cigarette and went, “They’ll throw in
tear gas and shoot everyone.” What? “They throw in tear gas and just shoot.” I said, “Well they’re gonna
shoot hostages, aren’t they?” “Yes, but you kill terrorist
and then you tell terrorist we’ll kill our people
before you get chance.” (laughter) And he was perfectly okay
with this and I was like, different strokes for
different folks, I guess. And so I think that the
tension is not that there’s gonna be a Cold War, I
think what the Russians are assert themselves is on a
global stage our form of government is as viable as
your form of government is and you have to stop treating
us as though we’re this 19th century empire that’s
a relic of the past. And I think we don’t do
ourselves a service and this is another criticism I’ll have
of the political system in the media but you
never hear things from the Russian perspective. And I don’t think what
Russia’s doing in Ukraine or Crimea or Georgia is right,
but they’re not doing it because they’re like
Snidely Whiplashes twiddling their mustaches thinking
about how evil they can be all day long. They perceive themselves to
be under some kind of threat. We may not agree with
that, but they have reasons that they’re doing it that
they perceive as rational and I think if we understood
what those reasons were, maybe we could find ways
to mitigate that without anybody shooting anybody. Which would be the ultimate goal. And so I don’t think it’s a new Cold War, I think it’s a new reorienting
of what I would call a unipolar world after
the Cold War in which the United States was
the most dominant power and I think there are
other states like Russia in particular that are
trying to make the case that it is also a major
player on the global stage and I think Iran and Saudi
Arabia are both making the case or trying to make the case
that we should be the regional powers in this region. And so I wish it was as
simple as the Cold War, but I think it’s more
complicated than that. – Although it is said
that there is no religion for the terrorism, but we
can see another picture. I am sorry if I am hurting
anybody’s sentiment, but the new bomb name
is a population bomb. In 1947 in India after
the partition of India and Pakistan and Bangladesh,
India has a population of 5% Muslims. Now they are 30% and on
YouTube there is a video that which reflects to continue the race, the birthrate should be 2.1 per couple. But in Western world,
the couples doesn’t have eagerness to make the family big. – We have lower birthrates
than the vast majority of the rest of the world. – In the video it is said
that if you have a birthrate of 1.7, then in next 35
years, you will not survive. The race will not survive. – Hopefully I won’t be here. I’m sorry, go ahead. – As per the video, in
next 30 years we will have 10 to 15 more Muslim
majority countries, new. – In terms of the
demographics, and thank you for the question, there’s no
question that birthrates are lower in the Western world
than there are in other parts. The Russians right now are
paying people like $3,000 for every kid they have. If you’re hurting for cash. I’m joking. Birthrates tend to be higher
in what would traditionally be called less-developed countries. Africa has, most African
nations have higher birthrates, Latin Americans have higher birthrates. In terms of religion and demographics, it doesn’t particularly
concern me that there would be more Muslim majority nations,
what would concern me is that there are more
populations in parts of the world that can’t be sustained, that
don’t have access to water, don’t have access to electricity. That’s a bigger concern to
me then whatever particular religion people choose. – [Krishna] I want to add one more thing. – Sure. – Apart from terrorism, there is also war among the religions. Right now, Christianity
has the largest population right now. Muslims are on the second number, and third number atheist, and
on the fourth rank, Hindus. Hindus means those who live in India. The emerge of Islam is
said to be that you’re here to convert the whole world
into Islam and even Muhammad Subuh has written in his book Ghazwa-e-Hind. Ghazwa-e-Hind means you are
here to conquer by any means on India. – Well there’s no question
that there are some variants of ISIS and other Muslims
in the world who do believe in the idea of creating
a global caliphate. I would submit that the
vast majority don’t. There have been apocalyptic
movements in almost every particular religion, I
didn’t know that the atheists outnumbered Hindus now,
that’s pretty impressive. There was a time in which
saying that you were an atheist publicly could lose you your head. I guess I’ll leave it there. Yeah. – With the population increase,
you have to look at it on an economic scale too, I
mean, a lot of these countries are first coming into
their industrial revolution when it shows through different
ideology when the American Dream started and we started
our industrial revolution, birthrate was higher. So a lot of these small
countries are starting to come into their industrial revolution
so you’re seeing growth in their population so
you can’t just deem it to different religions starting to push. – It’s absolutely a question
of societies who have different economies, too. To your point, I read the
other day, do you know who’s outsourcing their manufacturing now? China. To Uganda and Ethiopia. Because the average
industrial worker in China makes $400 bucks a month
which is far too high so they’re moving to Ethiopia
where you only have to pay $80 a month. But this is what happens. Countries become more
industrialized, have larger populations, more of those
populations move into the middle class, populations that
have higher middle classes tend to demand more
rights, demand more control over their property and in
many societies, not all, but many societies, the middle
class essentially makes it so that those rights apply
equally across the board, or at least that’s the goal. The same thing is happening in China, it’s happening much more
slowly because of communism, because of their commitment to
Confucianism and slow change. But the Chinese aren’t idiots. They’re recognizing that
they’re going to have to do something to be competitive
to China’s competitive advantage has been the
ability to sell cheap products and manufacture them very very quickly, they did that through industrialization. So the places in which
you’re experiencing this population growth also
tend to be experiencing industrialization. If you look at population
booms, the graph I show my World Civ students
that I wish I had brought but I didn’t anticipate the
questions about population. The human population line
goes like this until 1850 and then it goes (whooshes). Right there’s like a billion
people on the earth in 1850 and it took us like
60,000 years to get there. And then it took 150 years to
increase that exponentially. And that is I think a
lot of people suggest industrialization, globalization,
the spread of medicines to places where they hadn’t been before, increased life spans,
all contributed to that. What seems to be a pattern
is that the more highly industrialized societies
for whatever reason start to have fewer children. The same thing is happening
in Europe, Europeans are having fewer children, too. It could just be a sign
of tougher economic times. One of the reasons I
honestly don’t have children is I look at what a child costs,
I’m like, dogs are cheaper. And as far as I know you
can’t put kids in a cage when you go to work and
leave them in your house. Apparently you get in trouble for this. But I did see people with
kids on a leash the other day. What is that phenomenon all about? Has anybody else ever seen this? (agreeing) What the hell is wrong with people? This is why you shouldn’t have kids. If you can’t control
your kid without a leash, you shouldn’t have one. – Why haven’t we seen a
discussion about Boko Haram despite the fact they’ve
killed a lot of people and they’ve started to
provide bicycle helmet law. – Yeah, it’s a good question. For those of you who
don’t know, Boko Haram is an Islamist group
in the state of Nigeria that is largely opposed to Western values and explicitly Western education
and Western literature. To answer the question
as to why they don’t get as much coverage. Part of the reason ISIS gets
more coverage is because we’ve been invested in
that part of the world for a very long time and so, for example, what happened in Libya,
our overthrowing of Muammar Gaddafi, I think
largely happened or in part happened because of the media. If you look at that map up
there, see where Libya is? What’s right next to Libya? Egypt. Well right before we
toppled Muammar Gaddafi, Egypt experienced a
revolution in which there were 800,000 people in the streets. Do you know what happens
when you get 800,000 people in the streets? The press from all over the
world descends on that spot. And because there were so
many reporters in Egypt, it wasn’t that hard for them
to get across the border, they were hearing stories
about Gaddafi’s repressive tactics, they were able to
get cameras on those places. Those images coming back
gave the politicians in both Europe and
America, they said okay, now we can sell this
idea that it is a pending humanitarian crisis and it may have been. I’m not suggesting that any
of us have a crystal ball. But I think Boko Haram
doesn’t get as much attention because one, the vast majority
of, Europeans in particular have a similar relationship
with Africa that the United States has with its
Native American population. In fact I had this conversation
with friends of mine in France, I was over in
France and I met these people in the late ’90s, early 2000 in Paris. And they were like oh,
man, how do you guys deal with your Indians? I was like I dunno, the
same way you deal with the Africans you colonized? Everybody has skeltons in their closet. But I think for Europeans it’s
complicated because Europe colonized Africa between
1880 and 1930 they took the entire continent. And then in the 1950s and ’60s
and ’70s and ’80s and ’90s they slowly decolonized. A lot of Europeans it’s hard
to sell to their populations we should go back into this
place because we kinda sorta bear some responsibility for
the divisions we created. This is actually one instance
in which the United States can largely say hey, we
were busy pushing Indians onto reservations when
you guys were doing Africa so that’s not on us. We were making people miserable
in other parts of the world. I think part of the other
reason, Europeans have a complicated history, the
United States has a complicated history, too. When I say Africa, what do
the vast majority of you think of in relation to the United States? Slavery? And more modern? A movie, perhaps, some of you have seen? Oh, Captain Phillips, the pirate one? I was thinking more Black Hawk Down. The last time the United
States sent troops into an African country, those
troops were massacred. You have an ongoing genocide
in Darfur, Africa’s also largely a logistical
problem because if you look at the map of Africa, and I’ll show you, if you are the United
States or the United Nations and you wanna provide support to Nigeria, if the government doesn’t
control the coast, which they don’t, you
can’t go by the coast, which means the only other
way to get your troops in there is to go through like
six or seven other countries. That’s a problem too, a
logistical nightmare in terms of the negotiations that
would have to happen. The other fear I think,
and I hate to say it, is that Nigeria does not
do a lot of massive trade with the rest of the world,
and the massive trade that they do do with
the rest of the world, and there is, there are
cobalt mines in Nigeria that people would like to
exploit, there is oil there, but as long as that stuff is getting out. – [Voicevoer] No one cares. – It’s not that no one
cares, it’s that it’s hard to draw attention. When Boko Haram kidnapped
a bunch of schoolgirls, 200 schoolgirls, that got attention. Do all of you know how that was resolved? It wasn’t. We threw up a couple hashtags,
we screamed from the rooftops about how terrible it was
and then we went back to our iPhones and internet porn. I’m not talking smack about
internet porn mind you, I’m just saying. So I managed to work internet
porn into a discussion of Boko Haram and
Nigeria, rather impressed with myself right now. I think it’s a combination,
I don’t think it’s one thing, I don’t think it’s just
that they don’t have oil like the Middle East did
because I don’t particularly think we only went into the
Middle East because of oil. And if we did we
massively screwed that up. It’s a combination of things. One of the things that
a lot of countries do is have repressive
journalistic tactics by their government, and they do this to basically, like Egypt has been arresting
foreign journalists, Pakistan has arrested
foreign journalists before, you do this essentially to send a message to other foreign journalists,
don’t bring your cameras here. If there’s no visual on
the ground it’s very hard for politicians who
might want to intervene to do anything about it because
they can’t generate support because the vast majority of
you probably couldn’t have pointed Afghanistan out
on a map before 9/11. The vast majority of
Americans couldn’t have, in the same way that most
Russians couldn’t have pointed Serbia out on a
map before World War One, and then they destroyed
their empire over it. So it’s a combination of things. The other broad question
is what do you do? If the government of Nigeria can’t handle that group of terrorists,
if we remove the terrorists, what’s to stop another
terrorist group from propping up and exploiting an already weak regime? And the question I guess we’re not asking that it sucks about is that
there are people on the ground, millions of people whose lives
are being affected by these groups. Anytime my wife complains
to me about anything, and she hates it when I
say this, but I’m like well, at least there’s not
roving bands of marauders trying to steal our children
and take them off into the woods and drug them
up and give them guns and have them shoot at the government. We have that going for us. But our actions do, and this
is why I would encourage all of you who are knowledgeable,
and I wouldn’t encourage all of you, if you consider
yourself politically non-knowledgeable then in my
opinion you probably shouldn’t vote, but if you are and you want to be more knowledgeable, keep
in mind that the decisions that you make are going to
affect the lives of tens of millions of people around
the world, even more directly than they might impact your own. Almost every single presidential candidate is advocating doing more
military action in both Libya and in Syria. That may be a good idea, but
if there’s not another voice up there suggesting that
it isn’t a good idea, then we’re not having a
robust discussion about it. And the same thing I
would say with Boko Haram. I would be in favor of
somebody who had a plan that included thinking
about what comes next. And I haven’t heard that yet
and for the reasons I mentioned I don’t think Boko Haram is going to get, there’s certainly people
in the state department and CIA working on the issue
and we’re providing them assistance, but the government
is like any other entity. There are certain parts of
it that get more attention than others. Tim and then Taylor, yeah. – I think it was earlier
today in class this thing of the 28 pages came up– – [Professor] What are are you
referring with the 28 pages? I haven’t caught that one yet. – Well I think I might
have even heard of it back when Bush was president,
but I think someone was mentioning something about
like Trump bringing it up, like this was what he’s referring to. 28 pages that were not
disclosed or something. – Oh, you’re talking about
the relationship between the Saudis and the hijackers of 9/11? – [Student] Yeah, yeah. I didn’t know. – People can, those rumors
were out there, the 9/11 Commission itself suggested
that there were connections between Saudi financiers and
the terrorists but a suggestion is just that, it’s a suggestion. I’m the kind of person where
I’d like to see some actual evidence, and again, like I
said, the Saudi government doesn’t control every single
thing that all of its citizens do any more than the United
States government can control every single thing its citizens do. For example, cocaine is
illegal in the United States, is it not? How hard would it be for me to
go down and get some tonight? Well my guess is the government
isn’t bringing that in in boatloads, maybe they are,
conspiracy to keep you all like tooted all the time so
you don’t question anything. But the broader point being
that in terms of that, the 28 pages, I don’t have
enough knowledge to really comment but I haven’t seen any evidence. As far as the Osama bin
Laden stuff there is a writer for the Weekly Standard,
a guy named Steven Hayes and full disclosure, the Weekly Standard is a more conservative
news outlet, who has been interviewing intelligence
officials both active and former, speaking under condition of
anonymity, who say there were hundreds if not thousands
of pages of documents that were in Osama bin Laden’s
compound that the Navy SEALS got access to that nobody
has gone through yet. And there are a couple Freedom
of Information court requests out there asking why, these
are documents that are never gonna be subject to a Freedom
of Information request, at least not for a century
or more, but it is, I don’t know if it’s
bureaucratic incompetence, if there’s a fear of the
information that’s contained in there because it might expose,
there’s no question that Al Qaeda was being funded by
governments of other countries. In some instances it’s
certainly possible that we were inadvertently or perhaps
not so inadvertently providing guns to them
when it was in our interest to do so and I’m wondering
if that’s the problem and why nobody wants the
information released. Because my guess is that
generally speaking when information like that
doesn’t come out it’s because there are powerful people
who don’t want to be exposed. But again, I don’t know. All I know is that the
government has not answered directly this reporter’s
questions about whether or not they have even looked at the documents. And I’m not sure why they
would make that a case unless they actually hadn’t. As a historian I would argue
there’s always value to it. But there is value to it too
in terms of people having a better understanding of
what they’ve gotten themselves into, for example. The Islamic State of Iraq,
the Islamic State group used to be Al Qaeda. They were called Al
Qaeda in Iraq until 2012. They were consistently arguing
that the government to, and Osama bin Laden was the
leader of Al Qaeda and these guys had sworn, what’s
called a buyout to him, an oath of allegiance. And that oath of allegiance is binding, as far as these guys were concerned. And they had been suggesting
very strongly to the Al Qaeda leadership, the Islamic State
guys had, that they could actually take territory
from the Iraqi government because the Iraqi government
was weak, and that they could take territory in Syria
because of the civil war that was going on, and
the Al Qaeda leadership under Osama bin Laden
kept telling them no, that’s not what we’re doing,
we are trying to destabilize Western countries, those
destabilized Western countries will get rid of these
weak governments for us, then we step in and fill the vacuum. Well when we killed Osama
bin Laden, the leader of the Islamic State said I’m not
a member of Al Qaeda anymore. Osama bin Laden’s dead, my
fealty and loyalty of oath to him is gone with it, we
have decided we are switching strategies and we will go after
Al Qaeda if they resist us. And so we cheered and
patted ourselves on the back about shooting Osama bin Laden,
again, I’m glad the guy’s dumped in the ocean but
that choice had consequences that we didn’t think through. And it’s possible that
those documents might expose that relationship more fully. – Do you think terrorism
would be still a thing if they didn’t get the
media coverage that it gets? – So you’re asking me
that it’s kind of like the mass shooter phenomenon,
if we stopped covering it as much, would it diminish? – [Student] Right. – Here, possibly. Regionally where the terrorism
has its broadest effect, in places in the Middle
East my guess is no. The attacks, in my opinion,
the attacks that the ISIS members engaged in in Paris
and in the United States were recruiting tools. It was a way to show that
they’re a legitimate, viable group, that they can post,
the more we talk about that what they’re gonna do is
use our news coverage, subtitled in a language of
the people they’re trying to recruit, you put it
on social media and say this is how powerful we are. If I was an ISIS recruiter,
I would videotape every portion of every
presidential debate and how much time they devote to it and
say look, the most powerful country in the world just
spent 40 minutes of a two hour debate talking about our group. That gives you power and legitimacy. And so the flip side to that
is how do you not cover it when it happens? If the press decided not
to cover the San Bernadino shootings, the outcries
against the press would be oh, you’re just shills for the
government and you’re trying to not let us have access to information. This is the quandary we
face in a free society. In a free society, news
organizations have the right to exploit and propagandize
and elevate threats beyond what they are to make money. But we also as Americans
have a choice not to watch. And to pay attention to news
sources that don’t do that. The problem is that the news
sources that don’t do that are few and far between. BBC, NPR, some of the weekend
talk shows are really good. Fox News Sunday, Face of the
Nation’s a really, really good one. But the best way to get a
relatively unbiased picture is to digest a lot of
different news sources, and to gravitate away from
the ones that you think sensationalize that kind of violence. I think you’re right that
it does, at the very least, encourage it or maybe even legitimize it, but it’s still hard, I’m
hard-pressed to see how a news organization,
they’d have to cover it, I guess the question is how they cover it. And all this started with
the OJ Simpson stuff. Remember the white Bronco and
the helicopter following it. Like Americans were like oh
my God, I don’t care about anything else that’s
going on in the world. That’s a football player being
chased by the cops on TV. Gimme a beer. – I think a lot of our
presidents and particularly the one we have in power
now takes a lot of criticism for the way he managed the
Middle East when he came into office, which I think
is reasonable to some extent but I also think that it’s
such a complicated issue that you can make the
argument that he did the best that he could so my question
to you is not who would you vote for, but if your ideal
candidate was in office, what sort of course of
action would you like to see taken moving forward? – Well if I had the actual
answer to that question I’d probably be running. I actually wouldn’t, being
president seems like the worst job in the history of time. I guess the first thing
I would want to see is somebody who is willing
to admit that whatever choices we made had significant downsides and we needed to go in with
eyes open, understanding that whatever choice we’re
gonna make, that we have a full debate and discussion
about if we take choice X, these bad things could happen
and are these bad things, the risk of these bad things,
are they better or worse than what we’re trying to accomplish? I would like to see somebody who was not, somebody who didn’t
believe that you could win a war by just bombing
people, because I think historically speaking that doesn’t work. Eventually it involves
somebody’s troops on the ground. And this is the real hard question. There’s kind of, people
study asymmetric warfare which is warfare between a smaller force and a larger force, make
the case that the problem an occupying force has,
the larger force always has that as long as you’re on the
ground with a military force, you legitimize your opposition. Somebody can always point at you and say, they’re occupying us, they’re outsiders, they want to control our stuff. Even if you’re there building
roads and building schools, all it takes is one
insurgent to blow up a school or blow up a power line
to prove that these guys can’t provide the security. People aren’t blowing
up schools in America but they’re doing it here, they
don’t really care about you. The more you have a presence
the more you legitimize and give people the ability to sustain an insurgency and that’s
really the question with groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda,
is their staying power. Many of these guys studied
the American Revolution and the strategy in the
American Revolution was you don’t have to really
win, you just can’t lose. You drag the war out long
enough to where the other side gives up or loses the political
or economic will to fight. And so anybody is gonna be
talking about doing anything in the Middle East I would
like to be somebody who has a robust understanding
of the history of warfare in particular. And I don’t know that there
are that many people running who do. In terms of what can be
done it depends on where you’re talking about. If you’re talking about Syria, I have a hard time seeing a
viable alternative to Assad returning to power. Because that question I
asked earlier, if we degrade and destroy ISIS, well who
governs that space afterwards, well you already have a
government on the ground who wants to control it. Now we may not like the way
in which they’re going to control it, but they’re hardly
the most repressive regime on earth. China is a relatively
repressive regime that we have open trade relations and
don’t tell them what they can and can’t, granted they’re
not barrel bombing their citizens, but at the same
time Syria is at civil war, and a civil war the government
does have some right to respond if people are
using force against it, the government was using force
against the civilians first, without question. But at the same time I
don’t know who else comes in and governs that space. The other argument you’ve
heard is that people say well it should be Arab
soldiers on the ground, right, it should be Sunnis on the
ground doing the fighting and that would solve the problem. I’m like well it could solve
it or it could make it worse. Because the tensions in the
region are largely religious in nature so I’m not sure
how escalating, if anybody’s sending in troops, they’re
not gonna be mixed Shia Sunni units, they’re gonna be either
or, and somebody is going to resent that presence because
these regions are filled with people of both
Shia and Sunni descent. People of Kurdish descent
and Arabic descent, there are Christians in these regions. And I think democracy takes
time and so I don’t know that even if you overthrew the
Assad regime that all these moderate or so-called moderate
rebel groups are just gonna form a parliament and start
voting and work it all out. So I guess the answer to your
question is I don’t know, but. I just want to be careful. Let me say it this way. I’ve read an article by a
man named George Freedman who works for an organization
called Straight Four, they are a private security
and intelligence gathering firm so they think of them like
global private detectives, if you will. But they’re people who used
to work in foreign policy, ex-military guys, and
Freedman’s suggestion was that the best course of action
for us in the middle east would be to withdraw completely. To pull out our troops, except
for Iraq because we have a partnership with that
government in particular. But that we should pull
our troops out of Syria and if we did so, or stopped
bombing Syria, his argument was if people in the region
know that the United States is not going to come in and
help, eventually when the problem gets close enough
to their borders, they’ll do something about it. So that Turkey might be forced, Saudi Arabia might be forced,
Iran might even be forced to confront this threat
because it was migrating toward their borders. And while that sounds attractive
to me on the one hand, again if we’re going to
think through downsides, does that just turn into a
larger, broader proxy war where different groups start
funding different rebel groups to do the fighting for
them as opposed to sending their own troops into the region. Does it make it worse rather than better. I honestly think the only
thing that’s going to solve any of this is time. There’s no simple solution to any of this, there’s no quick change and
any quick change we think we’re gonna make will most
certainly make things worse. I think if the United Nations
could fulfill its own mandate, I think they would be the best option, but the United Nations has
proven time and time again that they do not have the
political will amongst the nations to enforce the rules that they
suggest we should all live by if that makes sense. So I’m sorry I’m not
giving you a true answer, but the one thing I would
like to see in a candidate is somebody who is willing
to say these are the choices, and these are the upsides
and these are the downsides and I’d want a candidate
who encouraged all Americans to think seriously about the
downsides rather than just always hoping for the best. And I think that has characterized
American foreign policy largely since the Vietnam war. That because we’re America,
things are gonna work out. The other thing that makes
me believe this is we do have one of the finest militaries
in the world so the leaf of many politicians is well
our soldiers are so good, we’re gonna win every war. But wars are not just about
tactics and strategy in terms of your ability to project force,
it’s also about politics and economics and religion
and those things are messy and complicated. – [Voiceover] You say we
need time, how would you then stall a war on terrorism? – I don’t mean time in
terms of us just waiting to stop the war on terrorism. I think in terms of the
Middle East what I’m saying is that I think over time it’s
going to take a long time for any of those conflicts
to be resolved one way or the other, that there
is no quick solution. In terms of, you can’t
take time to fight the war on terrorism, the
terrorists are attacking. The question is is it wise
to think of it as a war, or is it wiser to think of it… I need to choose my
words carefully here too. Is it wiser to think of it
as an outgrowth of violence that’s occurring in the Middle
East that we’re involved in? We have to be vigilant, but we
have an emergency management program here on campus and
if you’re interested in this field it’s a very growing
field but the vast majority of emergency managers who
are soberminded will tell you that if somebody is
determined to do some harm, there’s very little in a
country of 325 million people you can do to stop it. What you can do is try to
be as prepared as you can for when it happens. It surprises me, quite
frankly, that it doesn’t happen more often. It’s not really that hard. I’ll give you an example. You guys all flown on an airplane before? You have to wait in that long-ass
line before you go through security? How many times do you get
checked between the time you step into the airport and
the time you step into that line for security? So how hard would it be to
smuggle a bomb into your bag and wait until that line
was really jam-packed and blow it up? Then how do you prevent that? Do you have to put a security
screener at the front door to the airport? Do you have to put in in the
parking lot, do you have to put it at the parking meter? There’s no perfect system you can create. One of the consequences of
living in a free and open society is that people can exploit
your freedom and your openness to do violence against you. And I think the way you defeat
it is by showing the resolve to be soberminded about your
response, to not overreact. We’re constantly encouraged
to react emotively to things, to react emotionally to school
shootings or to terrorist attacks. I may not be the best
person to talk about this ’cause I have no emotions,
I’m, just ask my wife, she’ll tell you. But I think emotional reactions
certainly have their place but they don’t have a place
when you’re making decisions that are going to affect
the lives of millions and millions and millions of people. Emotion can influence your
decisions, but reacting to every terrorist attack
as though it’s Pearl Harbor is a mistake. Because ISIS is never
going to invade and destroy the United States. The only people that
are gonna do that is us. We stand the greatest chance
of destroying our society, not anybody else. And it doesn’t mean terrorism
doesn’t pose a threat, and I wouldn’t suggest that
it doesn’t because it does. But our response should
be, I don’t even know about proportional, our response
should make sense. Our response should protect
us and protect what we value, and what we value is a free,
open, tolerant, pluralistic society and they can’t,
no terrorist can take that away from you. You can only take that away
from yourself or allow it to be taken away from you. Let me just give you the mic
so other people can hear you. – I was gonna ask if you think
that there’s any diplomatic end that ISIS would agree
with and if there was, other than other countries
saying oh yeah, here, here’s all our land, you can have
it, and if there was, if whoever they would be
negotiating with should give them that chance or if they should
say you had your chance and we’re just gonna destroy you now. – That’s a great question,
right, is there a diplomatic solution with the Islamic State? I guess I would say it depends. I would say it’s less than
likely because their ideology, their calling card, their
recruitment tools have largely been this idea that there’s
only one way to interpret the Quran, it’s our way,
I mean you look at them tossing gay people off of
buildings, beheading Christians and Muslims alike who disagree with them. My suggestion is that no. However, if they were actually
able to create a viable state, well states over time
do evolve so it may be possible decades from now to do so. Many of you may be
thinking this is insane, how could anybody have
diplomatic relations with them? Well keep in mind that in the
middle of the last century the United States partnered
with one of the most murderous regimes in human
history to prevent another regime from becoming even more murderous. The Soviet Union was
responsible for exponentially more deaths than the Nazis
ever were, but we made the calculus that the Soviets
were the better alternative over time and look at where
the Soviet Union is now, it’s certainly not an ideal
model state but it’s a state we have trade with and open
relations with and you could make a case that in fact even
though you could say that the Islamic State’s ideology
might be a little bit more shocking to us in terms
of the actual impact, communism had far more
of a devastating impact than the Islamic State did. I guess the short answer
would be no in the short term, but in the long term,
it depends on how viable they become as a state. The question for me, I
think the question for them would be, their essential
argument right now is that you can’t have diplomacy. The rationale is that
if by having diplomacy, by agreeing to elect the
UN or international law, what you’re essentially
saying is that there’s a law that supersedes god law. And so under the current
leadership I don’t think that’s possible. If they found a way to
quote unquote moderate that, I think anything is possible. I think if you had asked
most Americans in the 1920s and 1930s if we were gonna
be willing to partner with the Soviet Union to
fight a war, the vast majority would have said no. – I was wondering if the
ongoing war weariness that we experience in this
country coupled with the loss of personal freedoms, you
think it’ll make an increase in homegrown domestic
terrorists, things like LaVoy Finicum situation and all the… you know? – For those who didn’t
catch that the question was if, and I think you’re
suggesting that, you’re saying this already happened but
if we continue to decrease our liberties to further
our security, will that lead to more homegrown terrorism. Well that’s what Timothy
McVey’s argument was, do you guys know what Timothy McVey was? He was the Oklahoma City
bomber, he was a former, army or Marines? Was he a Marine? Who was accused, tried,
convicted, and executed by the United States
government for driving a van full of explosives up to a
government building in Oklahoma and blowing it up. His argument was partially
Waco, his arguments were if you read, I shouldn’t be
publicly suggesting you read the writings of a accused
terrorist, or convicted terrorist, but McVey echoed a lot of the
criticisms that modern people have, that our media lied to us about the ups and downsides of complex
issues that exist in the United States, that the government
used overwhelming force, illegal force against compound
in Waco, against people who while were armed didn’t
shoot until they were shot at. I think it’s hard to gauge,
I think there’s certainly an undercurrent amongst,
I wouldn’t say a majority, but a sizable part of the
population that we are skewing too far towards the security
side of the security and liberty balance. And I think it’s always a
pendulum that swings back and forth, as I brought up
earlier, there was a time in this country when we
not only locked up people of Japanese descent who
were American citizens, you guys know that that
was actually challenged in the Supreme Court in a
case called Korematsu versus the United States? One of the guys who was
interned challenged it and the Supreme Court was
like yeah, this is totally unconstitutional, but it’s war. And terrible things
sometimes happen in war and far be it for us to second
guess the administration. You all still know that
technically that’s still legal? The federal government set
a precedent that it is legal to intern American citizens
if we’re in a so-called war and the reason that the Supreme
Court went this this time is ’cause the United States
had actually declared war. It was the last time, in
fact, that we declared war was during World War Two. But they said under collar
of war, the rules are off. They pointed back to the
fact that Lincoln had suspended habeas corpus
during the Civil War. What most people forget
to ask is whether or not that actually did any good or harm. I think we probably would
have won the Civil War regardless of whether or not
Lincoln robbed a few people of their habeas corpus
rights, but he set a dangerous precedent. As to whether it can cause
more, I think it can, but I think lots of things can. I think in a country
of 320 million people, as I said earlier, it surprises
me that it doesn’t happen more because this is one
of the messy things about democracy. When you say 20% of the
population, you’re talking about 60 million people. So if 20% of the population
disagrees with something, that’s not just like 20%
of your class decides that you wanna have notes
for the exam as opposed to being a non open book exam. How do you craft policies that satisfy? And this was the
founders’ biggest concern. When this country was being
formulated, they were all debating whether or not
the country was too big. They debated among lots of
things, but the thing they were all in agreement was
that it was gonna be really difficult to craft a democracy
with five whole million people in it. That’s the size of the
number of people who work for the federal government today. Five million people. And our system is designed,
it’s not purely democratic. For example, look at the
Democratic primary right now. Do you guys know what a superdelegate is? Superdelegate is an elected
official who’s a party boss who essentially they have
like 500 of the votes and you need like 1600
or something to get to, regular delegates to win the nomination. Well the superdelegates
cast their votes but then they can change them whenever they want. So what would be the
purpose of having 500 people who can essentially determine
the course of a primary? Well the purpose of it is in
case the people get themselves in too much of a tizzy and elect an idiot. We wanna have the option
to put in the guy we think is not the idiot. The Republicans are dealing
with this with Trump right now. Trump is scaring the crap
out of the Republican party because he doesn’t believe
the things that the vast majority of them believe
but he still got 30 to 40%, possibly more, of the Republican
electorate in his pocket. The Republicans don’t have
superdelegates, what they have is the Republican National
Committee can change the rules of the primary a day before it’s over. They did it for Mitt Romney
last cycle, they changed the rules to say that the
only candidate who could win the nomination was somebody
who had won a majority of the vote in at least eight
states because they knew at that point that Mitt Romney
was the only one that was gonna meet that threshold. You guys know that the
Senate was not originally popularly elected, the
Senate of the United States used to be appointed by
the state legislatures. Well this was because
the people who had fought the Revolution were these,
or the people who instigated the Revolution were these
high-minded, relatively wealthy, well-educated people. John Adams, John Hancock,
Sam Adams, Patrick Henry. And they stirred up the masses
and got them to do things like tar and feather tax
collectors and dump tea into the harbor and set
governor’s houses on fire. That’s awesome when you’re
fighting a revolution. But then when you have
control of the country and you want a democracy,
how do you justify giving those people power? ‘Cause your concern is
these are the kind of people who were willing to use
violence to get their political point across, we instigated
it, we gotta make sure they don’t turn back on us when
we do stuff they don’t like. So your political system
is constructed so that the quote unquote masses
have representation, but your so-called social
betters can stop you when you get too crazy. The parties are still designed like this. The system has become a
little bit more democratic. You’re never gonna craft
policies that please everybody, the security and liberty
debate is always going to be going on, I think after the
Patriot Act it certainly tilted a little bit more
towards the security side. I am encouraged by your
generation or at least, from my informal polling
your generation seems to be opposed to the idea of
government forcing Apple to create a program, gives
me a little bit of hope for my political persuasion. It drives me nuts too when
I see politicians or pundits on TV saying well they’re only
asking to do that one phone. I’m like, okay, if you don’t
understand how the technology works you need to shut
up, because if you write a decryption program for one iPhone, it works on all of them. Harry Truman tried this
during World War Two, he tried to nationalize
the steel industry to force steel companies to produce
materials for the Korean War. And the steel companies went,
uh we just looked through the constitution and
we don’t see that part. So they challenged it in the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court in
a nine zero decision said you can’t just force a
company to do something because you’ve decided to go to war. But the tension’s always there. I can’t intelligently
speak to whether or not it will increase the likelihood
of domestic terrorist attacks, it certainly will
increase the likelihood of people being more dissatisfied
with their government. How that plays itself
out is an open question. Yeah I mean you all seem
to be asking this similar question about what should we do. I’ll tell you what I think we should do. I think what we should do is
prove to them that they’re wrong. I think their criticism is
postmodern pluralistic societies can’t work. And I think we need to
prove that thesis wrong. And we prove that thesis
wrong by being, having open and honest discussions
about our differences, open and honest discussions
about our policy choices, open and frank discussions
with one another. Prove that tolerant
societies, that postmodernism can in fact work, that we
live in a society in which the only truth we all
agree on is that everybody should be equal under the law. After that it’s up to us to
figure out in the public sphere, religious debates, cultural
debates, we live in a society in which you can do that but
I think continually promoting this idea of openness,
tolerance, and equal treatment under the law, they can
continue to claim that the West is evil, but if all we’re
doing and the vast majority of reaction that Muslims
in that part of the world have with the United States
is through the military and particularly military
hardware, then the terrorists win the propaganda war every time. – I find it so easy for
other countries to wave the justice banner around
under humanitarian I guess purposes, the Gulf War was an
argument for what, for oil, so do you believe there’s
some selfish endgame the United States has for Libya and Syria? – Libya and Syria are, from
the United States perspective and in my opinion, the
product of three people. Hillary Clinton, Susan
Rice, and Samantha Power. Hillary Clinton was Secretary
of State, Susan Rice is the National Security
Advisor right now, and Samantha Power is our representative to the United Nations. All three of these people,
Hillary Clinton was the First Lady at the time,
but both Samantha Power and Susan Rice were in
the State Department of the Clinton Administration
when the Rwandan genocide happened, and both of them
advocated against doing anything, or all three of
them, rather, said it could get worse when we get
involved and we don’t want to escalate the conflict and then
in a period of four months 800,000 people were killed,
the vast majority of them killed with machetes. What ended that conflict and
I wish this was the lesson that they had taken away from
it, what ended that conflict was an internal group called
the Rwandan Patriotic Front made up of Rwandan Hutu Tutsis
who ended up overthrowing the government and over time
trying to construct Rwanda into at least a more
democratic, tolerant society. They’re not there yet but
there’s no genocide being committed and that can all
happen without, in fact, the United States actively
worked against anybody intervening. At some point the United
Nations was asking for armored vehicles to protect
civilians and they were like no, that gets us involved,
we don’t want it. The three, the trifecta there,
Rice, Clinton, and Powers, convinced themselves
that there was a pending humanitarian crisis in Libya. Gaddafi had made statements
that he was going to eliminate them all like rats. Unfortunately I think that
quote was taken out of context, he was referring to the
people who were rising up against him, not the totality
of the Libyan population, but the guy was a dictator. I think the reason we got
involved there is because the three of those people
believed strongly that their lack of action in a
previous conflict led to a genocide and they didn’t
want to stand by and watch another one happen, and I get that. I think that they talked themselves into believing what they
wanted to believe because I think a sober analyst
of Libya would have looked at the situation and said
Gaddafi does not have the resources to do what you’re
suggesting he wants to do. It would devolve into a civil
war anyway, and furthermore, what we did in that is we propped
up one side in a civil war because they were about to
lose, and that’s really why we went in when we went in
because it looked very clear that the Gaddafi regime
was going to put them out, put down the resistance,
rather, and so we decided to start bombing all of
Gaddafi’s, he was using rocket launchers and airstrikes
to target the rebels so we blew up their airfields. Well the message you
essentially just sent is that the rebels on the ground
who were fighting weren’t strong enough to do anything
without outside support. The Chinese would call it a paper tiger. It looks fierce but everybody really knows where the true strength is and
it’s not in the tiger itself but in the person who constructed it. So I think the Europeans
were concerned in particular about the flow of oil out of the region. But I don’t see how
Gaddafi remained in power unless he was selling the oil so I’m not, I could theorize and hypothesize
about what the Europeans were thinking, for us it
was largely the argument publicly made was that it
was to prevent a humanitarian disaster and all three of
the people I mentioned, Powers, Rice, and Clinton
would all admit this that they were the most vocal
proponents of action in Libya, all three of them were also
vocal proponents, do you guys remember when we were
contemplating bombing Syria? Bombing the Syrian government, rather? They were all very vocal
proponents of doing that too because they saw the Assad
regime in similar terms to the regime of Gaddafi
in that he was a murderer who was butchering his own
people, all of which is true. But for reasons that should
be obvious to most people we decided not to intervene
in Syria where we did in Libya and maybe at least in Syria
we sort of kind of learned a little bit of a lesson. I think part of it, we
were also behind the scenes very active in encouraging
Syrian rebels before the war started to rise up, we were
providing them logistical support, providing them
a lot of funding to get their propaganda message out,
and the Syrian government has been critical of us, I
think reasonably for suggesting look, you guys were the ones
that stoked this rebellion. You claim that you’re promoting
democracy and whatnot, but you still helped destabilize a state. And then walked away, although
we haven’t walked away, we’re sending guns in
and bombs and the like. What time is it? 8:30? Anybody have any more questions? Alright, we’ll do two
more, three more, and then we’ll call it quits so that I can give our intrepid cameraman the night off. – So why aren’t we supporting
people that are doing the right thing with regards
to ISIS such as the Kurds who are actually protecting refugees? Why does that not make the news? We don’t support right
action or people who are doing the right thing
anymore, we’re doing things for political means. That bothers the crap out of me. – So for those of you
who don’t know, in both northern Iraq and parts of
northern Syria there are Kurdish populations who
are largely Sunni Muslim but consider themselves to
be a different ethnicity than Arab Muslims. The Kurds control their autonomous
region in northern Iraq, they have zones of relative
autonomy in both Syria and Turkey, but they have been
the fighters on the ground who are doing the most
damage against ISIS. The Kurds tend to be more
moderate and tolerant than some of the other
actors in the region. I’ve heard two, I read a lot
of national security blogs from guys who used to work
in the State Department and the CIA and their
rationale is that the fear with the Kurds, not the fear, but
that we’re willing to arm the Kurds but the Kurds are
not willing to do much more than protect their own borders. And it’s not because they’re
not interested in helping people out, their rationale
is that if we go into parts of Syria that aren’t
Kurdish, we’ll be looked at as invaders and occupiers too
and that Americans get this kind of crazy notion that
as long as we’re all brown, it’ll be fine, but the Kurds
would be seen as invaders too. I still think we don’t
provide enough support for them to hold on to
their own regions in places where they are actively engaging ISIS. Yes. Oh, our response to the
refugee crisis is infuriating and in many ways, I think, illegal. And one thing that none of
the politicians, the press like to talk about is we
hear about refugees coming from Syria, right? But you never hear about
any coming from Libya. There are hundreds of thousands of people who have crossed the
Mediterranean from Libya fleeing a region that we helped
turn into a failed state. And now what we’re doing
is we’re telling that the European Union is telling the Turks we’ll give you money
but you guys gotta seal your own borders so none
of those people can get into Europe. Why would the state that’s on the border with the Islamic State want
to shut off their borders so they can have more refugees? The Turks aren’t idiots, and
from Turkey’s perspective, look, the Kurds are
providing plenty of refugees, and that occupies the Kurds
so they’re not fighting us for autonomy so the Turks
like that, but the Turks are also not going to
close their own borders to prevent Europe from feeling the brunt of its own decisions. You guys have heard the
phrase chickens coming home to roost, I think in many
ways there’s no other way to look at what’s going on in
the European migration crisis. In the 19th century when
Europeans colonized Africa, they called it the scramble for Africa. Well now it’s Africa
scrambling for Europe. Largely because Europe
helped re-destabilize Africa. But I think you’re
right, I think the Kurds deserve a hell of a lot
more support than they’re currently getting
because they are the only relatively moderate forces
on the ground, not the only but one of the more successful
ones and it’s largely because the Kurds can be legitimate
actors in areas that are predominantly Kurdish. But this is the real problem
in the Middle East is that national boundaries were
drawn after World War One around states that had
lots of sectarianism. Different ethnicities,
different religions, different languages, different
traditions, different histories. And again it’s a failure
of European policy. Europeans convinced
themselves that the only way to stabilize Europe after
World War One was to give everybody their own state. That people who speak French
are entitled their own state, people who speak Polish are
entitled to their own state. But for some reason that didn’t
apply in the Middle East. Partly because, I mean,
they still called Islam the Mohammaden Religion. They weren’t even willing
to call it by its own name at that point. Secondly, they just didn’t
know enough about the culture and didn’t bother to understand. The vast rationale is
that these are all people that lived under the Ottoman
Empire, the vast majority of them are uneducated, they’re
a non-industrialized state, these people clearly
aren’t ready for democracy so we’ll help them get there. But if they were really
interested in helping them get to democracy you would have
drawn borders around states that people shared a common
culture, language, history, religion, just to minimize conflicts. Imagine a democracy that’s
like 80% atheist and 20% fundamentalist Christian. And try having governments
that pass laws that make everybody happy. The majority of the
atheists are gonna remove every religious symbol from
any place you possibly could. You’re gonna have a sizable
minority of people who are pissed off at that but
they’re still in the minority. Iraq is a state in which I
think Sunnis make up like 30% of the population but
they’ve been controlled by a Sunni government up
until we overthrew them that only gave the good jobs to Sunnis. The Sunni kids went to the better schools, Sunni kids had better access
to universities and colleges. Shias who spoke out got
arrested, disappeared. And so when you remove that Sunni dictator and you’re looking over
at your Sunni neighbors who were responsible for
like turning in your Grandma? It’s revenge time. And this is the world
in which European states largely constructed. I will say that the
United States doesn’t bear as much responsibility for World War One. Woodrow Wilson, for all
of his faults as a leader, was very vocally opposed
to the Sykes-Picot Agreement that constructed these countries. He made the case that
the principle that guided European reconstruction after
World War One was something he called self-determination. That people had the right
to choose whatever form of government they wanted and
to choose their own leaders and he did someone vocally
press, or at least behind the scenes press the
French and the British and the Russians to not do what they did. At the very least what he
was able to extract from them was that you can’t just
treat these as colonies, you can’t colonize this
place in the way that you colonized Africa. Yes. I have time for one more question. Go ahead, Wes. Wes and Andrew, sorry, I said two. – I’m too short for this. Adapt and adjust. Oh yeah, get taller. So referencing back to
Libya and Hillary Clinton, how much of this is a
you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t? I remember back in high
school, the Darfur campaign, you had like Bono and Old
Navy and everybody else who got on board and said
we need to save Darfur, we need to put troops on
the ground, send tanks in, whatever we need to do from
saving these tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of
people from being killed from genocide. So in that case the American
people overwhelmingly support let’s put troops in. Same thing with Libya, prior
to us bombing Gaddafi’s troops and helping back the
rebels, a vast majority of the American people said
yes, we see the intel, we see troops building up
on Benghazi, we don’t want those 800,000 people to die so
Hillary Clinton as secretary essentially does what
the American people want and then six months later
we go oh well we wanted that six months ago but we got buyer’s remorse. And you see this time and
again, Iraq, Afghanistan, Trump, who is talking about putting
boots on the ground, possibly, in the Middle East, carpet bombing people. And the American people right
now are saying yeah, we want that until three weeks
after we do it and then our bipolarness goes
well actually, nevermind. – Yeah, I mean, I think you’re
right that if the choice is between do we not go in or do we go in, it’s a damned if you do,
damned if you don’t because bad shit’s gonna happen
one way or the other. I do believe that they jumped the gun. And I’m not in the State
Department, I did not have and do not have access to
the same kind of intelligence reports they had on the
ground but I do read a lot of English language Middle Eastern reporting. In fact if any of you are
interested there’s a great website called Al, A-L, Monitor that
is largely Middle Eastern news sources written by
Middle Easterners who live in the regions they’re
writing about and it’s all English language or at least
they have an English language version. But to get back to my point,
I think we had established diplomatic relations with Gadddafi. Bush did anyway, by convincing
them to dismantle their supposed weapons of mass
destruction program. My sense is that if we were
really, really, that we could have been doing more before
it reached that point to try to bring Gaddafi back
to the negotiating table. Bush had already gotten them
there, and again, I’m not saying that the Bush
Administration had many, many foreign policy failures,
but I think in their desire to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, I just think they waited
to the point where they didn’t have a choice. To not go in would be
to witness a genocide or witness a possible genocide,
to go in might destabilize and create a failed state. I think the problem is I
think both Clinton and Rice would admit this, Samantha
Power might be a little bit more on the fence, but
they’re of the belief that Fukiyama, end of history,
capitalism, democracy are inevitable, they’re going to happen. I think if they had a
more nuanced understanding of the world and that in
some instances authoritarians are going to rule and there’s
not very much you can do about it in the short term. If they had more of that
mentality they might be willing to put more economic on Gaddafi
to liberalize the regime a little bit but again
Gaddafi’s point was, and it’s being played out
now, none of these people who you want me to form a
coalition government with are willing to work together. And now we see with him gone
that that’s exactly the case. In fact, the Clinton
campaign is now arguing, and I’ve seen three
different articles on this, that the failure of Libya
is the fault of Libyans. They’re making the case
that the United States supposedly NATO made an offer
that they would put troops on the ground in Libya to
provide security in the same way we had in Bosnia, and that worked. If that was the case, we made
that argument, I guarantee that more Libyans didn’t
remember Bosnia, they remember Iraq and Afghanistan. And how well that worked out. But regardless of the case,
NATO troops didn’t get on the ground. I still don’t think that
ever would have happened. Can you imagine, this is
before the rise of ISIS, can you imagine an American
politician suggesting we need to put NATO forces in another Middle Eastern country? And I don’t think, if they
made the offer I don’t think it was serious. So the only fault I would give them is, I don’t think it was some
nefarious plot, I think they legitimately believed
that there was a potential for genocide. I think the lesson learned
from this should be that if in states like that when you have some kind of nominal relationship
with an authoritarian and you should be paying
close attention and if you see things moving in a
direction that you think is gonna lead to that,
that you try to find other non military means to
put pressure on states and I think Gaddafi in
particular was in a very economically vulnerable position
where we could have been freezing lots of assets around the world that would have made it very difficult for him to hold power,
which would have forced him to make some kind of
concessions, but again, this is as hypothetical
as is there is there not gonna be a genocide, and so
that would be my only criticism. Again, I think Libya is
a foreign policy failure, I disagree with the Clinton
campaign’s assessment of it, but I just wish, again,
when the administration made the case for going into
Libya, there was no talk of this is a possibility. That we’ve done our research
and if we remove Gaddafi, but like when we removed
Saddam, we might end up with a situation in which
different groups who had been repressed in different
ways might not be willing to work together and might
in fact turn their guns on each other. I wish there had been more of
a public discussion of that. And again, the problem
with the Libya campaign is both Republicans and
Democrats supported it so you’ll never really hear,
on all those damn Benghazi hearings about her emails,
nobody once asked the question if hmm, since we’re here
because one of our ambassadors got killed, maybe we should
be asking the question of whether we should have done
this adventure in the first place and put our ambassador
in a place where he was not safe enough to do his job. And the question she didn’t want to ask, and I think you’re right, when
she said that her argument was we’ve got to deal with
the mess and protect our ambassadors, but I think
the better question. The better question would
have been what got us to this position in the first place? Why didn’t we have a more robust debate about whether or not this was a good idea? The problem is most presidents,
I think this president in particular does not like,
I think he likes debate, I just don’t think he likes
his staffers to be letting it known how the debates are going. I think he’d prefer to keep
that behind closed doors, and I get that. But it’s our tax dollars,
it’s our work that funds all this stuff, you know what I mean? So I still think there’s a
role for a public discussion about the potential
downsides of our actions. Andrew and then we will wrap this up. – Bring it back up. Since terrorist groups have
shown time and time again how they can infiltrate
Western civilization, like Western countries and bomb
them time and time again, do you think this could
eventually lead to them, eventually lead to a war
because they’re kind of poking the bear, essentially. Do you think this could
cause tensions between other countries and have them
go to war with each other? – Yeah, I think, not here. I mean I think, as I said
earlier it surprises me that there aren’t more
terrorist attacks here because it’s not hard to get your
hands on explosives and weapons in this country. It’s giant country with 300
plus million people in it. I think the more likely
case is a regional war. One of the benefits to
being the United States is that we’re across the ocean
and we only have two borders to worry about, one with
Canada and one with Mexico. European states have much
more complicated issues, Middle Eastern states have
much more complicated issues because there’s more
diversity, more countries, more borders. And the likelihood of one
conflict spilling over into another region is
certainly there, particularly between Russia and Turkey I
think is the real question. The Russians and Turks are
at odds with one another right now over the Russian
government’s support of the Assad regime, the
Turks want Assad gone. And Turkey is a member of NATO
and that’s what complicates this more. I think partially, I have a
suspicions that the Russians want to see what would
happen if they attacked a NATO country or if
they at least got into some kind of altercation
with a NATO country. Because Russia poked the bear,
as you put it, in Ukraine, they took over Crimea, and
the world went, “Stop it!” And you all know that we had
an agreement with Ukraine that we signed in 1994 called
the Budapest Agreement? In this agreement,
Ukraine used to be part of the Soviet Union, and one of
the things the Soviet Union did was stockpile nuclear
weapons in all the countries that bordered it that
it had alliances with. Well when the Soviet Union
broke apart, Ukraine still had all these nuclear weapons
and they were like yes, nobody will ever invade us. And so the United States,
France, or excuse me, Russia, Britain and Ireland, and
as I’ve said in my class I’m still not sure why
Ireland was at the treaty, somebody needed to bring
the whiskey I guess. They signed an agreement
with Ukraine that said if Ukraine gives up its
nuclear weapons, all of these countries will guarantee and
protect your sovereignty, the sovereignty of your borders. The rationale being, nuclear
weapons are one thing that prevents an army from
invading you because if you have nuclear weapons
and you’re a crazy regime, as my Russian friend said,
well, we’ll blow their troops up too, right? Even if we blow up our own. Well Ukraine gave up the weapons, and then was invaded by Russia
and held up the agreement and were like hey, where’s the help? And we were like, we’ve kind
of sort of been fighting wars already for like the
past decade and a half, we went through a recession,
the political will’s just not there. And the Ukrainians were
like flipping through the agreement going, I don’t see
that part of the agreement, it says we give up the nukes,
you protect our borders. But political realities play
into this so I don’t think there’s a likelihood of
anybody attacking us, but the likelihood of that conflict expanding in the region
I think is significant. I don’t know that it’s going to happen but I think that we need
to be sober eyed about it. As I tell my students in World
Civ one or World Civ two, the vast majority of people
in 1900 believed that a war was impossible. It could never happen again. The alliances they had
formed made it so no war could be local anymore, the
weapons were so devastating nobody would dare use them. By World War Two we convinced ourselves that the most devastating
weapons are the ones that we need to get
our hands on to prevent other people from attacking us. The bone is that very few of these states have nuclear capabilities so
at least there’s that going, but yeah the potential for
a broader war is there, but I still think the vast
majority of states are content to use proxies. You know what I mean? Rather than sending in their own troops funding other troops who are
already fighting on the ground? Because I think the
vast majority of states in the Middle East and in
that region have a stronger sense of history than we
do and know what happens when one army crosses the
borders of another country, that they can trigger. So I think even the Russians
are being very very careful with what they’re doing in Syria because, but it’s still a provocative
move, for the Russians to start bombing our allies
on the ground in a state that borders a NATO ally. It’s a very provocative move. I guess I’ll leave it at that. What’s that? Why are the Russians doing it? Because security matters
more than liberty. Largely because if you look at that map, I’ll show you the map of Syria. In fact, this is the last
question, I’ll make the case to you rather why
geography matters so much. Take a long, hard look at Russia. It has no ports. Where it does have a port
is here, along the coast of Syria. Their belief is that as
long as the Assad regime is in power, they have
access to that port in Syria, the sorties, the planes
that they’re launching into Syria, the bombs, are
coming from aircraft carriers that they have in the Mediterranean ocean. You also should know, to
answer Andrew’s question too, that NATO now has warships here too, and their argument is
that they’re there to stop illegal migrants from going
here, I think they’re really there to let the Russians
know that if you try to poke the bear with a
NATO ally like Turkey, we have warships and can
retaliate instantaneously. Kind of a global game
of chicken, if you will. Alright, well thank you all for coming, I can’t believe it’s ten to 9 already. You all have homework
to be doing, don’t you?

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