tv Sen. Duckworth on Iraq at Center for Strategic and International Studies CSPAN May 7, 2019 6:02am-6:58am EDT
the mueller investigation. of open theunder book.com talks about his groups new report which found several fortune 100 companies had received billions of dollars from federal contracts, grants and direct payments. sure to watch "washington journal" live at seven eastern this morning, join the discussion. sunday on q&a, the new book a good american family captures the fear and paranoia of the red scare during the 1950's through the story of his families on ordeal. sunday night at eight eastern on c-span's q&a. >> next, senator tammy duckworth talks about u.s. policy in iraq. the illinois democrat is a former almy -- army helicopter pilot and served in the veterans affairs department before being elected to congress. the center for strategic and
international studies hosted the event. studies this is just under one hour. >> good afternoon. [inaudible] it is my special pleasure to welcome toit is my special pleasure welcome senator tammy duckworth. if anything happens, i will be the control officer and i will direct you either out or back. someplace to go.
senator duckworth is the senator from illinois and recently elected. the first senator to give birth in office. this is a wonderful achievement and previously represented illinois and house of representatives where she was elected after serving in iraq. she just came back from iraq from her first trip after leaving iraq under different circumstances and is here to talk about what she saw and what she learned and how that should help inform us moving forward. sarah, thank you for coming. >> thank you. >> so, you were in iraq on a congressional delegation. >> yes, i met the delegation. >> we were able to meet with all of the government leaders with the prime minister they were
gracious to make time for us in baghdad and we were -- i was able to visit my shoe down site and then we went up to the region and met the prime minister and had a very good conversation and was able to see the changes because when i served in iraq i flew all over the country's and could see the changes that have happened. >> what changes did you see? >> when i is to go to the kurds there's one hotel at the top of help and that was it and we landed on a hillside and would walk up to the hotel and now it's a high-rise and modern an and -- there is unfinished areas where 2014 with i.c.e. is happening but it's very vibrant
and [inaudible] this is an international cosmopolitan city here and very different to be in the same country but to also to the different -- >> know it's always hard on the government trip to judge what security feel like because they want to keep you secure but did you get any sense for how activity had changed whether there was more commercial activity and how that felt? >> i sense a lot more commercial activity in baghdad but when i was there in 2004 it was the height of the worst times there so it was in a and these things go out side and the green zone was massive. there were now that we were there they took down the c
barrier and it was nice to drive out what happened inside the green zone was to see people driving around in the commercial entity with a lot of college students and people going to school so it's nice to see all of that and to see -- [inaudible] it's not an image of bag that i seen in the past. >> one thing i've seen you talk about is in many ways the sense that we are out of the woods in iraq and a little bit misplaced and that you have felt that there are dangers lurking that we need to be careful about. >> i do think that iraq is in a precarious situation right now. prior to me going i also find it obsolete that isis is defeated and now it's time to focus on
development and that isis is no longer around and have to deal with widows and orphans. that is truly not the case. isis is defeated in the sense that it no longer host territory but a personnel of the fighters are there and i learned many of them have been ordered to be intentionally captured so they can use some of the camps to reset and get fed and stronger and be around and be able to survive to fight another day. then you have 30000 isis widows and orphans that must be dealt with otherwise that will be the next iteration of isis fighters in a short period of five-ten years. >> there is also a deep suspicion of the broader population that in fact all of them fall into this isis category that they might say they are not isis now but in fact every city in iraq substantial part of operation is
considered to be suspect. >> there is that sense and i think people also thought people got up and went and joined the fight against isis and were able to repel isis in both sunni and shiite did that not just one particular group and also have to say the sunni publish and certainly is somewhat justified in their sense that they were mistreated and that they bought into something with isis that they had no idea what they were getting into. this is as many displaced sunnis out there as well. what we have now is the iranian backed militia fully ground that the population's are christians and you see them go back there even though isis is no longer there because the militia is holding its ground. >> generally, coming from his office -- [inaudible] >> yeah.
>> that's a piece of iraq that has always puzzled me that the problem that the secretary and identity becomes so strong that then the map becomes more determinative than it can be in pockets of this and that and almost red lining in the u.s. racial sense and that -- that's the problem in iraq in kurdist kurdistan, and how did people talk about that problem, the problem of secretary as him being so important to the way iraq works? >> well, government is set up we help them by the constitution and the government is set up so that there's this division where as you do right now a president who will be from one group and then the ministers of the various heads of the ministers
that have a shiite and then you have to have the right coalition of the right backing group and this is why so many of the positions remain unfilled. that said i will tell you that i was pleasantly surprised that uniformly among all the leadership i met with there's a real sense of at least an effort to present a national iraq identity that when they talk about becoming isis from baghdad they talk about [inaudible] the iran backed militias were there as part of the fight they were careful to state americans were there and they talk about the iraqis and it was not the sunnis that brought them off but the shiites about them off. there is an iraqi nationalism that i got the sense they are trying to foster and build and i especially get that from the prime minister.
>> do think there's an american rule in encouraging that or is that something that largely iraqis have to work out among themselves? >> i think there is an american role and they are always very encouraging and -- [inaudible] >> i [inaudible] i also sense the young people especially in the baghdad area that the iran backed military have overstepped
their bounds and then they felt like i ran had gone too far and they were pushing back against that. >> that is one of the hardest things for me is realizing how much influence iran still has even though we were the ones who fought a lot of the war. we go to iraq secretly and the iranians going to iraq with big parades and were you concerned about security but you don't see those concerns. how much influence to have more influence in iraq was there ways to build more influence? is this something that is followed to its equilibrium? >> i think we need to engage more. it has to be beyond the military solution and we were joking in
the back were sometimes we think we fought the war, we won so why are our trip so there? the best decision without the u.s. forces hold the coalition together and the constant combos without remorse we don't need to be the main forces and be there with our coalition partner and that's on the military side. we have to engage economically as well and that's one of the complaint i heard from their people is that i'm tired of the [inaudible] we are like the dumping ground for iranians goods low-quality. >> to get pushed up by cheap chinese goods. [laughter] >> exactly. but i hear from other people in the kurdish area that i want to buy stuff from amazon that can't any credit card or the banking system here is not good enough. this is where the empty bar. we need to engage economically
as well as diplomatically and militarily. >> how do we do that? mac not a lot of help from our government. they have to change some of the issues. for example, the d step process. if you are a businessman and want to do business in baghdad it takes you three months to get a visa and single entry visa. in the kurdish area it's pretty quickly and multi- entry and this is easier to get in and out and have some sort of ability to build those relationships and make those investments and certainly in baghdad the prime minister said he is working hard to abbreviate the process but there's no minister of interior there and is the minister of interior and that's a lot on one man's plate to handle. >> of the things you think the government is to do in terms of legislation, guarantees,
incentives and i know we worked a lot with gulf states to encourage them to invest but what other u.s. government components to help the iraqi economy along? >> any gothic to invest would be very helpful, i think. being a friendly to the iraqi government to fix the more economic problems and spent time looking at those issues something as i said is bureaucratic and is the visa process that will -- i was happy to hear the pie minister was just last week out in europe signing a deal to develop a natural gas capability and they burned their own natural gas and by natural gas from iran but they been burning down because they have not developed the process.
that was a major step forward so i'm very happy they did that. >> are you worried about the level of iranian influence? to think that is something the iraqis are adequately concerned with? >> i'm worried about it but i think we should be focused on what can i say to do to be a good ally to the iraqis and i don't think that this idea of trying to keep iraq not saying that were trying to do but when i talked to the general public they should be beholden to us and liberated them and i don't want iraq to be a little brother but to be an independent, strong domination in the middle east with its own ties across multiple so i want to encourage them to have saudi arabia so as an independent, strong nation enough the best allies for u.s. interests and i don't think that should be this either or zero-sum game.
i want them independent. that is better for us than anything else. >> let me ask a hard question. i know you are new on the armed services -- not for lack of trying. there's a lot of whining. >> how important should iraq be as the u.s. thanks about the middle east and you have to rack and stack all interest in the least but where does iraq fit and where should it fit and how much more to be put a lot into iraq and how much more should we put in? what should we do less of so we have more bandwidth to do more if iraq? >> i think iraq is very important to u.s. security and where isis is right now that is
pretty much pervasive but underground if we don't do something to support the iraqi government and help them move the ball forward and encourage them to deal with their internally displaced and encourage them to find a solution for isis widows and orphans other than the current solution which is put them in a cap in the middle of the desert and do nothing with them because that's just isis training camp waiting to happen. we need to do that and i'm helping them deal with these issues. that will allow them to become stronger in the meter in the region. iraq has the potential to be a real leader and a real ally to us. they are independent and they have got the stuff to be a real leader in the region and have to figure out their internal issues because the so much being thrown at them right now and that's almost like they become the battleground for [inaudible] and
now u.s. iran issues and it does not -- [inaudible] we need to stop declaring the iranian republican guard a terrorist organization out of the blue without talking to key advisors and both diplomats and military leaders and we need to -- into the region and aircraft carrier. >> with farmers. >> right, into the region. i had crafty it might daughter's preschool this morning so i have not caught up on my reading. >> pno said they were already going there. >> this is the thing. you get the right house and camping up the temperature often
unbeknownst or unannounced an unsolicited from the diplomatic department or leaders on the ground and then the state department and their military have factors like -- >> and a man in the and menstruation willing to be led by the state. [inaudible] >> if you have someone that you have appointed maybe call and ask their opinion. when i sit in the armed services committee and ask every four-star officer who comes in front of the committee and every diplomat and says will you consult for the president tweeted that we are pulling out of syria and not the one who said yes but they all say i learned about it on twitter. that's a problem. that's a problem. the allies don't know whether or not -- why would your allies listen to the diplomat from the ground and military leaders when all the work you have done to
try to build relationships and move the ball forward is undermined completely by a twe tweet. >> stemming from the white house watches on the web thing women show bipartisanship and [inaudible] what our strategy -- strategic objective here at the resources and here's what we'll do more of and less of and here's where we will stop doing another places so we can afford to do it? >> i think economically and militarily i think maintain a position within the coalition but really push our roll away from the combat type of role where were in that advice role we need to push the iraqi military to do some of the things that they are not doing very well off. doing their own intelligence operations and maintaining equipment and giving away the
army national guard and the 44 guys down there and its logistic unit and i said that on top of people and it's [inaudible] they have four tanks that have never been driven and f-16s sitting in arizona that have never been flown. you got to stop just buying new and push for maintaining what you have and that needs to happen and they are perfectly capable of doing this but we have to say the days of buying a new tank is over. that is cemetery department. maintaining and being the rebar for that military coalition moving forward and letting the iraqis handle themselves economically we need to engage economically and that means i
think the chamber of commerce to the whole delegation there and i don't think much came out of it but that's the kind of thing we need to do more of. >> you have been on this bipartisan government -- (-left-parenthesis how did planning for the trip change the way the armed services committee worked and how did it -- is the act of traveling with colleagues fundamentally change your relationship or build on what was already a positive one? >> if you announced [inaudible] a couple folks had to drop off and hope that when i do this again they will come. martha blackburn, she had really wanted to go [inaudible] i don't
think we voted the same way on anything but it would have a good opportunity to get to know her and has been positive about wanting to go. donnie isaacson and i have known each other for a long time and it was nice to develop that friendship and already coming out of iraq have identified several things that they will work on together in terms of legislation and legislation more economic to try to move the ball forward a little bit. >> has iraq become more of a bipartisan issue now that it's less on the front page and does that enable the senate to come together or is iraq so far of the front page the people don't have positions on it? >> i think it's so far off the front page. i really do. wheat one, isis is to be a bit if anything it could be from
fodder for presidential candidates. >> what do you see the spillover from syria being like in iraq if isis is able to reestablish itself over the border in the absence of an american presence and with that necessarily come over to iraq is the border secure enough that the iraqis have the means -- >> the border is totally porous. this is where i think the curtis region and the kurds are doing an amazing job it at 1.1.8 billion of the 3 million of displaced permit are going to the chris areas and they are have real challenges of their own preparation trying to deal
with making sure they get enough payments and deals they have to make with baghdad and all those relationships and then have all these -- and this one little region you have more displaced persons than in the rest of iraq. that is quite remarkable that they're trying to do with her doing and you got these fighters going back and forth so this is where we have to as country make it clear we stand with our kurdish allies. they've always been there when they've called on us and we cannot abandon them. not only was the impetus for me to -- [inaudible] this is the dangerous place. >> do you think the menstruation made a mistake not being more supportive of the kurdish referendum or should it have been earlier and headed off? how do you thank you handled the
whole issue? >> should have headed it off. >> early? >> you i think the kurds ended up hurting themselves with that referendum and it was not helpful. on the ground i don't think it was very helpful. i think they are still having to deal with those issues. >> i think we have time to go to the audience. if people have questions here we will have a roving microphone and if i could ask you to identify yourself that you only ask one question and that you answer the question in the form of question which is not to make a long speech and say what to think of my speech. >> if it is not a question and you want to make a statement then you have to run for office yourself. [laughter] ...
>> the sense i got from our leaders on the ground was less of a threat from the shia militia but more of the seizing of power so they have an election just last year and the lowest voter turnout but the shia militia were so well organized they were tabled to get the people whereas overall across the population of voter turnout was closed and now they have a seat in the parliament. in power politically is where i got more of the sense of conce
concern. >> in the front row. >> thank you. i am the representative. thank you very much for the things you've said and four visiting. i couldn't agree with you more we need to widen the relation ship between the u.s. and iraq and the kurdistan region. i often say to our american friends you've invested so much in the country but how well do you know us? you don't know our music word cuisine. you probably do by now but since
they've invested so much in the country in human capital, political, treasure and blood we need to get to know each other and the commercial and cultural ties as you said are the key. it's a struggle for us as well help to maintain the interest. what we fear is that iraq, kurdistan, all of us will muddle through the challenges in the organizations. many of them are not really under control. we will somehow muddle through while others turn their attention away and then there will be another crisis and everybody will have to parachute him again. how can we avoid that without being overly alarmist and being
realistic? we need the united states to be the course and do their rounds to remind people don't focus all of your attention elsewhere. i think the u.s. should be able to multitask and maintain an eye on iraq and kurdistan and help us get through the situations. thank you for all of your support. >> i had a comment product with the affairs that they are trying to encourage iraqi leaders to take more trips to the u.s. but there's also this sense if i don't get to go in the oval office, i'm not going. we should get more members to
meet with house and senate members and get the relationships to do more of this. they are important to build but i don't see that coming out of baghdad as much into this critical. it's a great resource of iraqi americans and kurdish americans who can help build those relationships that we are not leveraging that the way we should. i don't think the word is law be but getting them to meet with us more regularly is important and it doesn't have to be a state visit.
you mentioned the men and women in the glad you mentioned that. i'm also more concerned about the children because these adults made decisions whether it was good or bad. what are your thoughts but they should do to ensure that these children are taken care of? it's important for people to understand these are the children of isis fighters who are not give him i iraqi
citizenship. they will not take the women and children back. the bottom line this is where i had the greatest frustration because i spoke with the refugee program and people who were there and the iraqi leadership they were more worried about the solution in the middle of the desert and it's like all you're doing is warehousing kids are going to be radicalized. of the 10,000 children under the age of five or younger suppose a next generation in less than ten
years if we are not careful. >> picking up on the question i did spend about three weeks there and met who explained that while they welcomed the women back, the religion passes through blood. you can't convert a so the women who were coming back with isis children, they didn't know what to do with them because the constitution, article 26 requires that if you register a child with a unknown father, the child automatically is registered as a muslim and that automatically changes the woman's religion to muslim, so it's genocide by constitution. that that's one issue and then
the other is some i heard from up to 100,000 or more families including the mothers. to reach out and say we've got to be radicalized and reintegrate these folks back into the community. >> that is the question. the iraqis have to come to some sort of a willingness to want to reintegrate persons back into society and there is a resistance to that and they don't want to deal with the problem. it is overwhelmingly got to deal with these other things first.
we can't advise consent to that circuit is a real issue. i spoke to folks who are there and what did they do to forgive and reconcile. isn't there a tradition of payment to right the wrong and move things forward actually they are now sometimes holding territory that was you couldn't even go back to because they were never there in the first place, so it's a conundrum. i don't know what the solution is, but we have to work with the government to try to figure out what that solution is. we can't just turn our back on
it. it's the next generation that's going to be late and by the way isis is making payments to the radical 30,000 they are successfully able. they are still very powerful and very much have the resources to function. i am with the voice of america service and my question is you've recently talked about iraq especially the revolutionary guard. as a member of the armed services, do you have any
recommendations for the administration or are you willing to go along with the resolution and if i may ask a second question what is your appraisal do you see any sort of even limited engagement against the targets of? >> is claiming it brought a greater naval presence but if they are saying we were on our way there anyway, what i got from going there was an unnecessary poke to the eye and this will idea was that much
>> thank you for this interesting presentation. you described a lot as isis has gone underground, displaced persons, the corruption of the reconstruction of the area. do you think it is possible for iraq to address the problems is that something like the far-reaching decentralization that was proposed a decade ago, might that be something to consider? >> i was impressed with the current leadership now especially with the prime minister and the speaker. brilliant men who are trained to do something, maybe not always what america wants but they are trying to move forward and i got
the sense i know that there is criticism but what i got from them is more than nationalism than wanting to look to iran so helping them move the ball forward and being for getting them to do things like signing a contract to develop natural gas. let's do something to make it more attractive. they have great resources, 800,000 young people entering the workforce every year.
that's a challenge but also a resource. i don't know an area you have people of that age that cancels [inaudible] we've tried to persuade them to sign certain kinds of deals and parameters. the anchorage men and urging the mood in iraq virtually every year since 2003. >> we can't be here forever. >> i think it's different. there's been a different combination of folks in leadership now.
it is an example of good type that could be made. they showed them that can be done if you put in these policies. now they are doing it while they are dealing with 1.8 million displaced. there is the case to be made and i said they were signing a gap develop a deal which is critic critical. in some ways it' that's what hed he was going to do and we will see what's next. >> and he is going to have an economic question i know. >> thank you, senator. you mentioned the importance --
>> investment banker. you mentioned the importance of iraq for the u.s. and i do not see iraq on the radar screen in the u.s.. a flurry of particles from your visit but that's about it. i travel throughout the world in asia and the middle east and it's not on anybody's radar screen but it has become important for iran and this week it's become even more important with the end of exceptions to 1 million barrels of oil per day iran is now hard pressed to find outlets and the only one that is available and is easy to deliver is through this by going into iraq so it was an easy outlet
for 1 million barrels or more and it becomes an orphaned if we are sitting there looking at small bits and pieces of these other issues. what kind of a strategic vision do you have and what has to be the centerpiece of its because isis didn't develop in a vacuum. within an environment of an absent of the central government in power and now iraq is facing a secular situation. there has to be some sort of an economic strategy. that's the other part of it, we have to be that reform working in the community to come up with some sort of a plan.
unfortunately, we continue as a nation to enact these decisions without talking to our allies which is frustrating and yet iran is there every single day and we see what is in the parliament so they are there in a way that we are not and we have to change how we engage as an international community but a greater emphasis on the financial develop and is something that we need to focus on. >> a question right here. >> first i wanted to say thank you for your service for all you do and second, i want to ask how you think that the contractors can continue to support government efforts in iraq,
specifically where do you think the support needs to be focused and i ask that from a company that has almost 3,000 years overseas in iraq that we run the air base and the largest medical facility and by one or how else we can support the u.s. goals and efforts in the country. >> the current model cannot be sustained long-term and that's where the forces are out. so for example they are being maintained by american contractors. we have to shift in this mode over where they are doing it themselves.
>> is there a reason you think they don't want to do this? it's also american politicians who've been part ohave been par. what we need to do is work with the iraqis to develop the capabilities and let's use contractors to do that so that they can set up their logistical networks and view these things themselves and get out of this mode where it's just using that link budgethebank budget and the ministry fails but then they don't have enough people to maintain them. >> question in the back.
the trump administration provided waivers for a few months at a time and they've been threatening to withdraw before the purchase from iran so the last one is going to expire in june. what would be the consequence of the united stateifthe united stt and sanctioned iraq for continued energy sales? >> it would be devastating because a huge percentage is employed in government and they are paid from oil sales. it would be detrimental to their economy and push them closer to iran and that isn't helpful to us at all. one of the things i heard it time and again if they wanted
some consistency in the policy to commit at a consistent level over a period of multiple years. instead of a pendulum for five or ten years of doing something again they were not saying give 10 billion. don't do these two months at a time or three month at a time because we can't make a decision and we are paralyzed moving forward because no one wants to work with us. >> similar to the kind of agreement we have with israel and egypt, where they understand how many years out where it' >> exactly.
that would empower the leaders that are there dealing with a tough situation that would empower them to make the tough decisions they have to make. >> is ther their congressional support for the? how can they win it, what would it take to win congressional support for that kind of commitment? >> a lot of hard work on the -- from people like me doing my job. it also requires some confidence that you've described. i don't think they are a dream team i'm just saying what i've seen and there is an effort there.
i do think that he's resisting everybody with a path forward, very young and dynamic and a lot of changes. it could be this summer and the whole thing could fall apart. >> i'm wondering how you get congress to do that kind of a commitment when the politics are fragile and there's the perception of a threat from iran and the oil sales and ingredients that you set your
trip persuaded. >> the argument that has worked for us. ultimate to that, to some sort of a long-term study commitment is an iraq that continues under the control is a research and isis or year or two years from now so this is one of those things i talk to my colleagues and say this is good, guys. either we make commitments now or we look at putting the troops back to help or we will be seeing them grow. you've presented a remarkable picture of a country that has opened the state promise in serious danger that you have
issues coming from isis, iran, the divisions in the country and get leadership that is visionary and can work in new ways and presents opportunities for the united states we haven't had. i appreciate you coming i'm glad you got [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ,> at 10 a.m. eastern on c-span the senate judiciary committee hears testimony on how intellectual property affects the cost of prescription drugs.
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