Congress expert Norman Ornstein on what the debate over the debt limit says about dysfunction in Congress, and his ideas for how to fix it.
Greece’s prime minister reshuffled his cabinet today amid political and financial crises. The move follows mass protests over austerity measures. Syria’s violent crackdown against dissent caused hundreds more terrified residents to flee across the border to Turkey. Security forces have killed an estimated 1,400 people during the past three months of unrest. NATO resumed daytime airstrikes in Libya today. And Al Qaida announced that a deputy of Osama bin Laden has become the new leader of the terrorist group. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top international news stories.
- Yochi Dreazen Senior national security correspondent, National Journal magazine.
- Jill Dougherty Foreign affairs correspondent, CNN.
- Jeffrey Goldberg National correspondent, The Atlantic Magazine, and author of "Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror."
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us, I'm Diane Rehm. Greece's prime minister appointed a new finance minister. Moscow sent in envoy to Libya, but Moammar Gadhafi says he won't accept any settlement. And the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan took a turn for the worse. Joining me for the week's top international stories on the Friday News Roundup, newlywed Yochi Dreazen of the National Journal, Jill Dougherty of CNN and Jeff Goldberg of the Atlantic Magazine. Do join us 800-433-8850, your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Good morning to all of you.
MS. JILL DOUGHERTYGood morning.
MR. YOCHI DREAZENGood morning.
MR. JEFFREY GOLDBERGGood morning.
REHMAnd congratulations, Yochi.
DREAZENThanks very much.
REHMTell me about this new finance minister in Greece, whether changing the characters in play is going to make a big difference.
DREAZENWell, what's fascinating to me about Greece right now, is that when we look at all the political debate going on in our own country about the economy, about spending cuts, about what a future economy should look like, if you're a Republican or a Democrat, you could look to Greece and see the apocalyptic scenario you think your opponents are going to bring about.
DREAZENSo if you're a Democrat, you look to Greece and say, if you slash social spending and you slash all the social wealth (word?), this is what you're going to have, people by the hundreds of thousands marching in the streets. If you're a Republican, you say to the Democrats, unless we got our budget under control, we'll have to eventually take these incredibly painful measures and this will be the outcome.
DREAZENSo it's fascinating to me, looking at it from here, that either way, wherever you are in the spectrum, Greece is just kind of a disaster.
REHMAnd these protests have turned violent, but where can they go now? Where can -- the people who are making these decisions about Greece's economy, they're being blamed by the Germans, the Germans are saying that the Greeks are simply not doing what has to be done. The Greeks are saying that the Germans are being too tough.
DREAZENRight. And the sort of back story there, it's the Germans and the French actually who see eye to eye on this, which is somewhat unusual. And it has to do as much with private bonds in the private sector as it does with government money. One issue is that the Germans are just tired and angry that the EU is bailing out country after country. They feel like, we're responsible, we save money and these insane profligate, heavily drinking, you know, wino's in Greece are driving the European economy off the tracks.
DREAZENSo that's one part. The second part is, Greek banks and French banks are being pressured by their own governments to roll over the debt, the bonds that those banks own that Greece doesn't have the money to repay right now because if the banks in Germany or France try to collect, that will, basically, drive Greece into default. So one issue is, the governments are tired of it.
DREAZENOne issue is this fight between -- in their own country, the German government and the German banks, and in their own country, the French government and the French banks.
DOUGHERTYWell, I think, you know, if you look at the overall implications of this, it's very serious. Because essentially, what they have to do is, they have to come up with an austerity plan that will convince the EU to -- other European governments to give them the next troge (sp?) of this money that they need. And that's $170 billion. But unless they come up with that, and they can convince people that they're really serious about it, they won't get that money.
DOUGHERTYAnd then if they don't, what happens, you know? Again, we're back to this disastrous scenario, potentially. In fact, I was reading one thing that said it could be a potential break-up of the Euro-zone. And I talked to one senior diplomat here in Washington last night who said that is inconceivable. You know, I mean, that is really very serious if that were to happen. And the contagion effect is what everybody is worried about.
DOUGHERTYNot only in Europe, you have Spain, Portugal, Ireland, who already are in difficult straits. Then the pressure on the Euro, then the pressure on the United States at a point where the United States economy is not doing so well.
GOLDBERGYou know, it seems to me that inconceivable that Greece will be allowed to default. The consequences are catastrophic. Watch on Monday, I'm proven wrong. But it seems as if they're going to figure out a way to keep this going. The interesting demonstrations to me -- the Greek demonstrations are very interesting and the violence, obviously, has demeaning and is deeply problematic for the Greek government.
GOLDBERGBut the demonstrations that I'm interested in are the demonstrations that haven't happened yet, which I would predict will happen at some point in Germany and France and places that are just tired of bailing out the poorer members of the Euro-zone. We've seen this in Portugal now, in Spain, in Greece...
GOLDBERG...the drain is huge. I was talking to a German official earlier this week about this and he said, you know, the people in his country are frustrated by this. They're not out in the streets but eventually they're going to say, why don't we just cut ties? Why are we -- you know, they don't have the relationship -- the Euro-zone is not the United States of America. You know, we don't let California sink into the sea just because they can't manage their money. But I don’t think people in Germany really care whether Greece slides into the Mediterranean or not.
REHMBut you heard Alan Greenspan, this week talk about what could happen if Greece goes into default, Yochi.
DREAZENYeah, I mean, but I think, though, that Jill's point before about the contagion, is kind of exactly right. I mean, that was underlying Greenspan's fears. It's underlying all these fears. I mean, Greece is one order of magnitude, Portugal is a different order of magnitude and Spain is another order -- several orders of magnitude beyond...
DREAZEN...it. So the fear isn't so much, Greece, you know, (word?) Greece. It's Greece -- if that is a domino that leads to Portugal, if that's a domino that leads to Spain. I mean, the other one in that, you know, the acronym that they always use, pigs, which is so funny.
DREAZENIreland being the fourth of them, which is also an enormous, enormous, enormous catastrophe and a huge economy. But Spain is the kind of -- if Spain goes down, then the idea of the Euro collapsing, which seems so unthinkable today, becomes a lot more thinkable.
GOLDBERGLook, we know from 2008 how an infection in one corner of an economy can envelope the entire body.
REHMIsn't it already infecting or affecting the U.S. stock market, Jill?
DOUGHERTYWell, I'm not an expert on this, but it seems that there is a lot of worry. And when worry, even if it's not, you know, realistically based for the -- in the market, it can affect things. So, I think, the -- again, you know, the tenuous unity of Europe and where Europe is going, it's another subject. But even NATO and what NATO is capable, maybe we'll get to that later, capable of doing is another subject.
DOUGHERTYAnd Turkey, vis-a-vis the EU. There's a lot of difficulty in Europe right now defining itself and who's really part of the in-crowd that can keep their economies together.
GOLDBERGJill just made a fascinating point. I didn't think of this, but we think of our country having a little bit of, sorry to use the word from the '70s but, malaise. You know, that there's this kind of feeling that, oh, we're -- China's rising and we're falling. But in Europe, they're having an identity crisis of the sort that they haven't had in many, many years.
GOLDBERGAnd Libya has underscored this. The impotence of NATO, the fact that it really can't exist without the U.S., has caused a lot of deep thinking and now you see economic impotence on top of that. It's a very -- it's going to be a very interesting summer.
REHMAn interesting summer is the way to put it, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic Magazine. He's also the author of, Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror." Jill Dougherty is foreign affairs correspondent for the National Journal Magazine and -- sorry, foreign affairs correspondent for CNN. Yochi Dreazen is with National Journal. And if you'd like to join us, 800-433-8850.
REHMSend us your email to email@example.com. Jill Dougherty, what's the latest on attacks by government forces around Syria?
DOUGHERTYOh, boy. I mean, where do we start? The stories that are coming out are really horrific. You have, you know, use of live ammunition. These are all allegations in a way, although everybody believes it because it's very hard, almost impossible, for the media to get in there. But they are, the government, we believe, is using live ammunition against citizens, rounding people up, rounding men up around the country, complete intimidation.
DOUGHERTYThere have been these reports recently of new towns where the Syrian tanks have been surrounding the entire town and it's a desperate situation. The latest important -- Diane, the latest figures coming out of the state department were close to 9,000 people fleeing from Syria into Turkey. And that's creating another issue.
REHMFourteen hundred Syrians reported killed by Syrian forces, civilians, 300 soldiers and police killed, Jeffrey.
GOLDBERGYeah, we don't know.
REHMWe don't know.
GOLDBERGI mean, this is so hard.
REHMThose are reports.
GOLDBERGI mean, we see -- we get these shaky videos off peoples' cell phones. And somehow they manage to upload to YouTube. But we have no idea. We hear reports of using helicopter gunships against cities. Of course, there's precedent for this. One of the reasons that this is believable is that, the current President's father, the late Hafez al-Assad, killed somewhere north of 20,000 people in a single Syrian town that was under the sort of influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas.
GOLDBERGSo this is a regime that is willing to go to any lengths to protect itself. And the important thing to note, I think, and of those people who were thinking, oh, the Syrian regime is on its last legs, that we haven't seen this sort of uprising in the two larger cities in Syria, Damascus and Aleppo. And if it stays out of there -- maybe Aleppo was touched a little bit, but the Syrian forces aligned with Assad, seemed to be doing a fairly rigorous job of suppression.
REHMHow is Turkey responding to this influx of refugees, Yochi?
DREAZENYeah, part of it, frankly, is that Turkey is just looking at what's going on, on all of its borders with a great sense of alarm. I mean, 9,000 people, 10,000 people, for Turkey, a huge country whose economy is doing extraordinarily well, there's not that big of a risk. Their concerns have to do with who these 10,000 people are. I mean, are there going to be Kurdish people in there from -- as it was the case in Syria, to fuel violence. But they're just looking around them and are terrified.
REHMYochi Dreazen of National Journal. When we come back, we'll talk more, take your calls. Stay with us.
REHMWelcome back to international hour of our Friday News Roundup. This week with Jill Dougherty, foreign affairs correspondent for CNN, Jeffrey Goldberg, of the Atlantic Magazine, Yochi Dreazen of National Journal. I want to go back to Syria. What is the world community able to do about Syria? Anything, Jill?
DOUGHERTYWell, right now, if you talk to the administration, they will say -- we talk about this at the State Department every day at the briefing -- they're taking economic and political steps. Economic, meaning sanctions, they're trying to encourage others to implement sanctions as well. But there is really a problem and it has to do with Libya, because when the United Nations passed that resolution to take military action, to protect civilians in Libya, they had the support of many countries, including Russia and China. Well, actually, they abstained, Russia abstained, but essentially, they were all on board.
DOUGHERTYBut since then, that operation has gone way beyond what Russia and China want, therefore, they're digging in their heels on doing much about Syria. There are also economic issues as well, but right now, there is no cohesion there. And you heard from the State Department yesterday, this message to China and Russia, you're seeing the same picture that we are. Do something.
DREAZENYeah, Libya, this will sound obvious and cliché, but it matters, I mean, Libya is not Syria in any way, shape or form. Right after the Libya operation began, the Treasury Department did a big press release and then had a glowing Washington Post story the following day about how they had frozen 33 billion dollars of Gadhafi's money overnight, and it was the biggest seizure ever. Then when the Syria stuff kicked up, the question to them was, well, what have you frozen of Syria? And the answer was, some money here, some money there. The reason why they didn't do a similar press release is that Assad is smart, and Assad had virtually no money of any kind, either his, his family's his close allies, in U.S. banks.
DREAZENSo that is off the table. Then you look at the military operation. NATO went into Libya, U.S. kind of was dragged to it by France and Britain, with the understanding that this would be short, quick, easy. It's not. I mean, NATO war planes are now strafing, we've got their NATO gunships, which are for the most part mainly American helicopters and gunships. But the NATO operation in Libya has been -- so far, it's failed. So there's absolutely no one in the Pentagon, no one, who's looking at Syria, which has a relatively strong army, a relatively strong air force, and thinking, yeah, Libya's gone so well, let's go do this in a big, strong, country.
REHMAnd explain, Jeffrey, about the gay girl in Damascus. What's it all about?
GOLDBERGI have no idea what it's all about. What's the saying in journalism, three's a trend, and we've had two, I think, so far, two instances of male bloggers making believe that they are lesbians, and in this case, this had, you know, in sort of a semi-tragic overlay, because there was this belief that this imaginary lesbian, Syrian blogger was kidnapped by the Syrian forces and then it emerged that it was a fiction. And of course, this was very dispiriting to a lot of the Syrian resistance. I'm not really an expert on men who make belief that they're lesbian, Syrian bloggers. So I can't offer much psychological insight, I'm sorry.
REHMYochi, how serious...
GOLDBERGYochi can, maybe he can, I don't know.
REHMHow serious was this?
DREAZENYeah, I think it's serious only in the sense that there is real tragedy in Syria. I mean, there is real daily tragedy, and there's real daily bravery. I mean, for people -- if you're a young Syrian and you know that Assad, like his father, has no compunction whatsoever to open up with tanks, with gunships, with mercenaries, and you still go to the streets, that's bravery. And when those stories are discredited by having this bizarre American living in Scotland who fakes he's a blogger, has a girlfriend who thinks he's real, he's posting on a blog whose editor also turns out to be a man pretending to be a lesbian blogger, so it's, on one hand, we can laugh at it, because it's funny and it's absurd.
DREAZENOn the other hand, it obscures the daily tragedy of young people on the streets of Syria being (word?).
GOLDBERGIt says a lot about the internet, obviously.
GOLDBERGYou can sort of make believe you're anything you want to be.
REHMYou know, on the other hand, once we sort of knew, why did this story get so much coverage, Jill?
DOUGHERTYWell, I mean, number one, it's kind of interesting, you know, that it turns out to be a man. But also, she was, "she," in quotes, was talking about life in Syria, you know, politically and personally. And her story was really compelling, from a rich family, politically connected, it was very detailed.
GOLDBERGLike much fiction, it was very compelling.
DOUGHERTYIt was. But I think, Diane, there is another point to this, which is, throughout the Arab spring, a lot of this, as we know so well, has been pushed really through the social media. So when you have a blog it the social media, that is fake, it undermines some of the belief that people might have in what is really real, and it opens up the potential for the government of Syria to say, look, we told you they're lying about us, and here's a good example.
REHMAnd let’s turn now to Pakistan, where very serious stuff is going on. Pakistan arrested several, I think five, CIA informants this week.
GOLDBERGSo they say, yeah.
REHMSo they say.
GOLDBERGIncluding at least one army officer, a major, I believe. This is -- every week, the cycle's in a very interesting way. Every week we hear sort of at the beginning of the week, well, we're on the road to repair the relations with Pakistan, and then boom, you get slammed (word?), you know, a couple days later and you hear that you know, Pakistani informants had alerted al Qaeda people to a coming American operation. You hear stories about these people being arrested for being informants to the Americans.
GOLDBERGThere is -- I mean, the most consequential thing going on in Pakistan this week is that the army chief, who is the most powerful person in the country, more powerful than the president, might be on his way out, because he is seen -- and this might provoke some sort of incredulous reaction in America, he is seen as being too pro-American. The officer core in Pakistan is relentlessly now, relentlessly and harshly anti-American, and he is seen as a bit of a kowtower, and if he goes, that will be certainly a lesson to any Pakistani general or Pakistani officer that cooperation with America comes really at the cost of your career.
REHMI thought it was fascinating to hear outgoing defense secretary Bob Gates testifying before Congress this week on this particular aspect of how everybody lies, how governments lie to each other.
DREAZENYeah, and it's important to keep some perspective on all this. I mean, America arrests its own spies all the time. I mean, if we had -- the Pollard case is an obvious example, but if there's an American spying on behalf, even of a friendly government, they'll be arrested. So it's not so surprising that Pakistan would arrest people spying on behalf of a foreign government...
GOLDBERGBut they were spying on a target that the Pakistani government had asserted it was also looking for. You know, it's different.
DREAZENYeah, but it still doesn't matter. I mean, if you're a country that's so concerned about sovereignty, it doesn’t matter. It functionally doesn't matter. But with Kayani, I think the fundamental question is, it's a devil you know versus the devil you don't know. I mean, the tone of a lot of the coverage this week has been, if Kayani goes, it's such a tragedy for the U.S.. In point of fact, Kayani, over the last couple of years, had done nothing for the U.S., nothing. In 2008, 2009, he approved drone strikes in a way that had not been approved before.
DREAZENHe ordered an operation into parts of Waziristan on a scale that Pakistan had never done before. And so there's a hope that that would continue. I mean, north Waziristan is the target that the U.S. had been hoping for years he'd order his forces into. He hasn't. The U.S. has repeatedly asked for permission to expand drone operations further into Pakistan. He's rejected them cold. So it's alarming that he's seen as so pro-American, that's the reason he may be thrown out. But it's not something where this is such a great ally of ours that if he were to go, suddenly we would take such a huge hit. He's, if anything, like Pakistan, like the rest of the country, at best, he's an uncertain ally, and at worst, he's actively doing little to help us in a fight that would benefit Pakistan if it succeeded.
REHMAnd there were questions to Admiral Mullen as to what would happen if the U.S. simply walked away from Pakistan. Jill?
DOUGHERTYRight. And you know, the administration says they simply cannot walk away. There is no way that the United States is going to walk away, but how do you manage this relationship? And I was speaking with one State Department official who made an interesting point that I think sometimes we forget. Is that they have domestic politics, just as the United State does. And right now, you have a bad combination, because they are smarting, you know, the military in Pakistan are smarting from what happened during the Osama bin Laden operation, feeling that they have been -- that their honor has been besmirched.
DOUGHERTYAnd also angry at the Americans. And then you have the debate here in the United States, you know, over military action almost anyplace, name it. But that domestic component in Pakistan is crucial, and it's not always recognized by American legislators.
REHMWhat about the future of the U.S. drone program in Pakistan?
DREAZENIt's not going anywhere. I mean, Kayani may well take a step that he's hinted he's going to take, and it's now -- at least in the circles I talked to, it's expected it will happen soon -- where there's a CIA base in Pakistan that's used exclusively for joint operations that has been closing down in part because of pressure from the Pakistanis. there's an expectation that he'll formally order that base to be closed down, which would be fairly significant.
DREAZENOn the other hand, as we saw with the London raid, the benefit of having bases sprinkled all throughout eastern Afghanistan is, you can fly those exact same drones over the border from Afghanistan without any problem. So closing that base would be a blow, primarily a symbolic one, and it's expected it's going to happen. It's not gonna stop the drones from flying , it's not gonna stop the CIA from targeting and using missiles to kill people they feel they can kill.
GOLDBERGYou want to hear an irony, the irony is that we might have to stay in Afghanistan so we can operate against Pakistan. Think about where we were ten years ago, using Pakistan as a launching pad into Afghanistan, and now, we're gonna have to run our drone strikes against al-Qaida, which is mainly in Pakistan...
GOLDBERG...because we, you know, pushed them there, obviously. So it's no way out.
REHMOkay, and somebody who's trying to find a way out of Libya is a Moscow envoy. What's Moscow doing in Libya?
DOUGHERTYWell, number one, they kind of want to get their name out there. And I actually know Mikhail Margelov quite well. He's a canny man, and he has been there. Essentially, what he is saying is, OK, we don’t like -- President Medvedev does not at this point believe that Gadhafi should stay in power. However, Margelov is splitting it by saying, well, he can get out of power but he could physically stay in Libya. And the opposition, the TNC, the Transition National Council says no way, that in fact, Gadhafi staying in Libya is Gadhafi staying in power. He has to go.
REHMBut didn't Gadhafi say, we'll have national elections?
DOUGHERTYHis son, Saif, said that. Saif is raising that, and of course, that came up at the briefing at the State Department yesterday, and was royally shot down within two seconds. So nobody believes that there will be any elections. And the sad, perhaps, point about this is that you just have Gadhafi essentially thumbing his nose at the international community, saying here I am. And the debate here in Washington over all of this and the role of the United States in Libya, the air attacks, etcetera, is just fueling that.
DOUGHERTYI mean, Gadhafi, you know, watches TV, he can see what's going on.
REHMSo this War Powers Act being debated.
GOLDBERGIt's actually interesting you mention Gadhafi watches TV, I wonder if he watched the Republican debate a few nights ago, because you saw a level of uncertainty, rather than muscularity, that you usually come to expect from Republican candidates for president. There was, I mean, critics would call it squishiness, and others would call it a kind of a little tone of isolationism creeping in. You know, we've reached our -- maybe we've reached our breaking point, we can't be involved in so many countries at once.
GOLDBERGAnd so, you have now Speaker of the House who argued when he was a mere member of Congress against the War Powers Act, now demanding that President Obama adhere to the War Powers Act, go to Congress to get a declaration of war. And the Obama administration has come with this kind of very legalistic argument that we're not really at war, because we don’t have boots on the ground. It's a very interesting debate, and the Obama administration might lose this debate.
REHMAnd of course, President Obama himself was on the other side of that War Powers argument when he was in the Senate. What about the fact that NATO war planes are attacking Libya today in broad daylight?
DREAZENI think that the more clarity and honesty -- the whole Libya campaign from the start has been shrouded in a level of Orwellian just sort of double talk. I mean, it's -- everyone knows that it's about Gadhafi, everyone. He knows it, the rebels know it, our government knows it, but we couldn't say that. We kept saying it wasn't about Gadhafi, now we're trying to bomb and kill Gadhafi, and at least that's honest.
REHMAnd your listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's open the phones at this point. 800-433-8850. First to Germantown, Md., good morning, Ted, you're on the air.
TEDHi, thank you for taking my call.
TEDMy question is basically why do you think it is that the people of Greece are having such an extreme reaction to these austerity measures, and I'm wondering why we didn't see such an extreme reaction from people here in the U.S. when the Wall Street bailouts were going on?
DREAZENYou know, the second half of that's a really good question. I mean, it's amazing to me, actually, that there was not more public rage and even -- not that I'm in any way encouraging this, but that there wasn't some sort of violent reaction towards Wall Street given the enormity of the bailout. But Greece has had a history political violence, mostly left wing political violence, going back decades. You've had fire bombings and -- you know, there were various Communist linked factions in the '70s and '80s. Greece is sort of a special case in that respect.
DREAZENBut I think the question of why is it that we don't have it here is interesting, and you wonder, during the election, given that the bailouts are unpopular with Republicans and with Democrats, if you won't see this become more of an issue than it had been in the past.
GOLDBERGAnd let's keep in mind, even in 2008, even in the worst of this, we've never approached what Greece is experiencing. Greece, 16% unemployment right now, much higher among young people, college grads. I mean, yes, we all understand that people graduating from college here right now are having a difficult time finding work. Greek kids, Greek college graduates are in a state of despair. And of course, that is -- the despair of young people on the streets is what creates this chaos.
DOUGHERTYAlso, I think it's a different situation because in Greece, you have a government really on the ropes, you know, now about to default. In the United States, the government was not going to default. It was still kind of cranking -- well, I mean, actually, maybe in retrospect it was. It could have. But it was not perceived that the government had essentially just kind of fallen apart, had no, you know, the profligate way that it was, in Greece, behaving. The situation is much more dire in Greece.
REHMWell, and you've got this, you know, you've got this debate here going on about raising the debt level. You've got what's happening in Greece. I mean, aren't they feeding each other in one sense?
DREAZENDefinitely, and you know, there's a wonderful phrase in economics of opportunity cost, and now there's a huge opportunity cost that we're suffering, because investors all over the world who are looking at Europe and are terrified, would love to find a safe place to put their money. And usually, historically, that safe place has been the U.S., and it's not happening right now because they're afraid we're gonna default, or at least come close to a default.
REHMYochi Dreazen of National Journal magazine, we'll take a short break here. And when we come back, more of your calls, your emails, your tweets, your postings on Facebook.
REHMAnd welcome back to the international hour of our Friday News Roundup. A number of you have written to ask about Saudi women defying the rules against driving. Big deal, but it happens fairly regularly and still Saudi women are not allowed to drive. Jill?
DOUGHERTYYes, and I think, you know, it's part of -- well, basically, as I understand it, it's an online movement to get women out and I believe today's the day that they're supposed to hit the streets. We'll have to see the reporting coming out there.
DOUGHERTYBut, you know, I think it's all part of this -- certainly there's women's rights, but there is that movement in the region for people not to be dissed by their government or by their society and it does sometimes run up against Islamic law or what's perceived as Islamic law. But it's truly, I think, a grass roots movement for people who want to be respected and it could have implications for women's rights.
REHMFor women's rights...
DOUGHERTYSpeeding it up, yes, not just women, but people in general are taking to the streets because they want to be respected. They want their rights as human beings.
REHMOf course. Part of the Arab Spring. Jeffrey?
GOLDBERGPart of the Arab Spring, everything feeds off of each other. On the other hand, to say that we're seeing an incipient women's rights movement in Saudi Arabia might be premature. I mean, women can't vote, of course. No one can vote.
GOLDBERGMost women -- you know, it's technically illegal for a woman to be outside without being accompanied by a husband or a brother or a father. I mean, and that's what driving -- it's just a symptom of a deeper desire on the part of Saudi society and religious leadership to keep women literally locked up at home.
DOUGHERTYBut Diane, could I just say one thing?
DOUGHERTYBecause today, in fact, just this morning -- here's another example of how things are changing so quickly. The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva took a vote, just a few hours ago, on a resolution on gay rights and it was led by South Africa.
DOUGHERTYNow, there were a lot of African countries that were not happy with that, but that's an indication of how quickly things are going because the U.S. pushed and at one point they were thinking, well, maybe it won't happen. But it actually did.
REHMExactly. All right. Let's go to Greensboro, N.C. Good morning, Donny.
DONNYGood morning, Diane. My question is, you know, with the economic problems have going on inside the United States and, you know, they're pulling money away from, you know, programs like Medicare, Medicaid to try to balance the budget and things like that. What are we doing as far as government aid to other countries?
DONNYFor instance Pakistan, I know we send a large amount of money to them every year for whatever they use it for. But, knowing that they have one of the largest nuclear weapons programs growing over there, you know, it seems like why would we be financing if they can afford to build a nuclear bomb, a nuclear weapons, why are we giving them money?
GOLDBERGAll good questions, all good questions and the answer is frustrating. The answer -- we can look into recent history in the relationship between Pakistan and the U.S. We used Pakistan as a base against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. We spent billions and billions of dollars there.
GOLDBERGWhen we won that war in 1989, we abandoned Pakistan. Essentially we said, thank you very much, we're leaving now. All those Jihadists, the Mujahideen, who we were supporting, many of them migrated into groups like al-Qaida and then in 2001 we got bit, essentially, by this monster.
GOLDBERGWe didn't create it, but our desire to step back from Pakistan and Afghanistan in such a dramatic way had serious consequences. It allowed this to grow. So by not supporting countries like Pakistan, by not supporting them, by not helping the militaries we could be creating situations 10, 15 years down the road when we have an even bigger problem, they have nuclear weapons.
GOLDBERGYou're right and that's a good reason to stay engaged because we want those nuclear weapons in the hands of sane people. And there's so many extremists there, we have to be there in order to make sure that they don't fall into the hands of the next generation of international Jihadists.
REHMAll right. To Hanover in N.H. Good morning, Phil.
PHILGood morning. I'm calling because it seems to me, both in terms of the Arab Spring, and the Euro-zone issue particularly with Greece, possibly Ireland and Portugal, that more than ever, the interdependence of people, both politically and certainly economically, is coming to the fore.
PHILAnd I certainly think that economics has -- unemployment has had something to do with the Arab Spring as well as with the problems the Euro-zone's having within itself as well as our own domestic issues.
PHILHow can we learn that this isn't just another recession, albeit severe, but that we're precipitously close a worldwide depression? And why can't we, since we are interdependent, learn to and how can we collaborate rather than go to adversarial modes of being, whether it's within nations, among nations or, for example, the Democratic and Republic leadership of our own country?
DREAZENIt's a great question that I certainly -- I wish I was smart enough to answer as well as it was asked. Two points that I would make. One is that it is doubtlessly true that the economy is fueling the Arab Spring in two directions.
DREAZENI mean, if we think back to how this all started back when it was still a story of hope, in some ways, rather than what it currently is, where there's blood and tanks shooting on their own people, et cetera, but it was an unemployed man, effectively in Tunisia, who had -- I mean, it's something like out of a movie, like a Fellini movie, but he had a fruit stand.
DREAZENThe fruit stand was taken away by a corrupt government so he killed himself and that fueled it. But what you're seeing in places where there's not the kind of massive poor, like in Syria, is that the middle class doesn't want to take part in this.
DREAZENThe Syrian middle class feels like its interests, its economic interests, are best protected by Assad. So it's true, both -- on both halves of the -- both sides of the coin. In the street are people who are suffering economically, supporting the government where they still have support of those doing well and that's -- in some way that disconnect economically is what's fueling the disconnect politically.
REHMBefore we take another call, I want to ask you about reports that President Saleh plans to return to Yemen in days. What are you hearing, Jill?
DOUGHERTYThat is a report. And if he were to return -- you know, he was injured in an attack along with a number of members of his government and he is in the hospital in Saudi Arabia. If he is to return, it could be very serious because already the destabilization has taken place.
DOUGHERTYIt's al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. AQAP is -- that is one of the strongest and most virulent strains of al-Qaida is found in Yemen. They are taking some aggressive action already. It's a great concern for the United States.
DOUGHERTYAnd when President Saleh left, he has his vice president in charge. The vice president had actually been in some type of communication with the opposition. That was perceived as being positive.
DOUGHERTYIf he comes back, there is grave concern that this could really spiral downward. That country is almost a failed state and it could be really disastrous.
DREAZENAnd not to make light of something very serious, but with everything related to Saleh, we have to take it with a shaker of salt because this morning, first on Twitter was he's never coming back. Then it was a short time later, he's coming back. Then it was, he's not going back. Then it's going back and this is all just this morning.
DREAZENAnd the honest truth is, no one knows. I mean, this -- the Saudis who are close to him and close -- the Saudis will openly admit, if you talk to them, they don't know what he's going to do and they're the ones who have funded him and kept him in power for decades.
DREAZENAnd it's this weird story. I mean, we were joking about this online earlier in the day, but, you know, the Anthony Weiner resignation watch of, he's going, he's not going, he's going, he's not going, this is the dark, horrible, violent version of that and the honest truth, no one knows.
GOLDBERGYes. No, I was saying Anthony Weiner could take lessons in tenacity from this guy. This guy would win the Nobel Prize for tenaciousness and also obtuseness because I think Yemen has moved beyond him and so there's some hope and no one knows.
GOLDBERGAs Jill points out, there's no good outcome here because Yemen is a country, among other things, without water by the way. It has a catastrophic lack of water. But we're dealing with a country that is not going to be stabilized by the return of this man.
REHMAll right. Let's go back to the phones. West Palm Beach, Fla., good morning, Robert.
ROBERTGood morning. Diane, I'd like to revisit the conversation we had about the possibility -- called about a possibility of the United States becoming a Greece in a violent way. It was kind of stated that we didn't think so. One of your panelists said because we had gone through our worst in 2008.
ROBERTI kind of took issue with that in my mind because we -- unemployment is almost doubled since 2008, our national debt has almost tripled and I'll be honest, I am concerned. I'm not going to say afraid, but I am concerned about this getting to the point where our creditors, like Yochi had mentioned looking at the United States, possibly becoming insolvent and then us taking to the streets. I'd like to revisit that.
DREAZENI mean, it's a really interesting question because you could argue that what's fueling the Tea Party -- both the Tea Party and the sort of mainstream of it, but also the French parts of it that have been actively violent or supportive of violence. You can argue that that's economic as much as is anything else.
DREAZENThat it's concern about the debt, as the obvious level, but also concern about take your hands off my Medicare, take your hands off my -- your government hands off my Medicare. This belief that Medicare is different, but government spending is out of control.
DREAZENI would not be surprised at all, just given -- I mean, the Tea Party as a movement is obviously -- it's not extremist across the board, it's not racist across the board obviously. But there's an element on its fringe, which is. And that element is angry and that element, as we've seen in the Giffords' case and other cases, that element is perfectly willing to use violence. It's not clear to me that we're going to see mass protests, but I agree with the caller, there's a serious issue and there's real fury in much of the country about it.
REHMThanks for calling Robert. Now, to Baltimore, Md. Good morning, John. John?
JOHNYes, how are you?
JOHNYes, hi. I would like to make a comment about what your learned panel said about the European crisis, which I understand is they're basically repeating, you know, some very commonly refuted places and about the crisis.
JOHNFirst of all, that very demeaning acronym of PIGS, in which everybody puts together Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain, as if they were the same economies and the same countries. It's just not that the GDP of Greece, which is 32 in the world, Portugal 38th and Ireland 43rd. Spain is number 12 economy of the world.
JOHNOnly in front of them, you know, China, Japan, United Kingdom, Brazil, Italy, Canada and the (unintelligible) is the 4th economy and the GDP is the -- it's doubled Portugal, Ireland and Greece all combined. So people have to stop repeating nonsensical data, which has no economical backing. Spain is a modern country with the largest high-speed rail system in the world, with the highest green electricity combination of resources in the world and Spain is not going to default.
DOUGHERTYAbsolutely correct. I would have to agree. I mean, I think we were short handing it and the main concern, again, is the possibility of contingent and some countries, you know, Spain and Ireland and, you know, the other countries, Portugal, do have economic problems. There's no getting away from that, but I totally take the point of the caller.
REHMJill Dougherty of CNN and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's go now to Clearwater, Fla. Joanne, you're on the air.
JOANNEGood morning. All reports are saying that the United States' relationship with Pakistan is at its lowest since the 2001 terror attack when Pakistan agreed to be partners in the war against terror. In my opinion is that the relationship has been lopsided from the get-go and despite all the praise that our government has been giving Pakistan, the proof is that the U.S. couldn't even divulge the plans for the operation at the compound where bin Laden was hiding out and my opinion is that Pakistan has been in it for the money.
JOANNENot only that, look at the blood money that the United States paid for those boys that were killed in the NATO attacks and now I'm just kind of waiting to see what the outcome is going to be of those five Pakistanis that have been arrested for feeding the information to the CIA, if all these reports that we're hearing are true.
DOUGHERTYI guess I'd ask what would the, you know, the -- our listener want to do as a result of all that? You know, some of -- her points are valid in some cases. But what do you do? Pull the plug? There is no way because Pakistan is crucial to fighting terrorism.
DREAZENI mean, it's also the case that of the five -- I mean, the reports this morning were that at least three have already been released, possibly as many as four of the five have been released. But it's very easy and -- to bash Pakistan and in many cases they deserve it, but it's also worth trying to put ourselves in their heads as much as we can.
DREAZENI mean, if only to understand why it is they're behaving in ways that we find so baffling. They genuinely see India as a threat. I mean, it's not simply that they use as a lip service. They do as well, but I've spent a lot of time there. My colleagues spent a lot of time there. Pakistanis hate India, they fear India, they see conspiracies all around them. It's the most conspiratorially minded place I've ever been to, even more so than the Middle East and they see the center of those conspiracies, some combination of, the Hindu-Zionist American conspiracy.
DREAZENThey believe it's the U.S. teaming with India, teaming with Israel and again, whether that's rational or irrational, it's how they feel. So bashing them is one thing, but we need to understand somewhat as a country, why it is they act the way they do and that's the reason.
GOLDBERGYou know, Joanne is speaking from the heartland, in many ways, of this issue. I think she represents what many people in Congress feel about this issue. But I have to agree with my panelists -- with fellow panelists, that we make this mistake by mirror imaging and we talk about this in intelligence work a lot.
GOLDBERGThat just because we would react a certain way to a situation, doesn't mean that the Pakistanis are going to react in a certain way. They do have domestic politics as Jill pointed out and the domestic politics are such that many politicians and generals, who understand the necessity of a relationship with American, can't go out to the voters and say that, because they will lose their standing.
REHMFinally, what do we know about the successor to Osama bin Laden, Yochi?
DREAZENYou know, he's exactly what -- he is the person everyone expected to be. What's been funny to my mind is the sort of interesting quasi passive-aggressive ways in which U.S. officials have made clear that is exactly who they hoped it would be.
DREAZENSecretary Gates, yesterday, said that bin Laden had peculiar charisma, which is a phrase I really like, that Zawahiri lacked. I mean, there's been a sort of feeling that bin Laden had a popularity that Zawahiri can't match and that meant, if you eliminate not only the spiritual figure head, the financier, the kind of person who was running it in every sense of the word and replace him with a person who isn't liked and who's an Egyptian, when there's a clash between al Qaida between Arabs and non-Arabs, that meant that's a good thing for the U.S.
GOLDBERGThe interesting thing about -- one of the many interesting things about Zawahiri is that even in al-Qaida, we get reports that he's thought of as an unpleasant man. Now, if you're an al-Qaida terrorist and you're looking at someone and thinking, wow, that guy's a little bit harsh, then you're dealing with a serious problem.
REHMJeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic Magazine, Yochi Dreazen of National Journal, Jill Dougherty of CNN. Thank you all so much. Have a great weekend everybody. Thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
ANNOUNCER"The Diane Rehm Show" is produced by Sandra Pinkard, Nancy Robertson, Susan Nabors, Denise Couture, Monique Nazareth and Sarah Ashworth. The engineer is Tobey Schreiner. Katie June-Friesen answers the phones. Visit drshow.org for audio archives, transcripts, podcasts and CD sales.
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