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.
Stocks around the world rebounded on news of Europe’s long-awaited debt-crisis deal. But analysts say lasting stability will depend on its successful implementation. Moammar Gaddafi’s son reportedly wants to turn himself in to The Hague war crimes court. The U. S. withdraws its ambassador to Syria due to security risks but expects him to return there next month. Yemeni women burn their veils to protest crackdowns on anti-government demonstrations. And the U. N. predicts the world’s population will soon hit seven billion people. Mark Landler (The New York Times), Susan Glasser (Foreign Policy magazine) and Hisham Melhem (Al-Arabiya) join Diane to talk about the week’s top international stories.
- Mark Landler White House correspondent, The New York Times.
- Susan Glasser Editor-in-chief, Foreign Policy.
- Hisham Melhem Washington bureau chief, Al-Arabiya News Channel
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Europe agreed to a new debt plan, which sent global markets soaring. Former Libyan president Moammar Gadhafi was buried as NATO announced the end of its operations there, closing another chapter in the country's bloody history. And the world population is set to hit 7 billion people. Joining me in the studio to talk about the week's top international stories on "The Friday News Roundup," Mark Landler of the New York Times, Susan Glasser of Foreign Policy magazine and Hisham Melhem of Al-Arabiya.
MS. DIANE REHMDo join us, 800-433-8850. Send us your email to email@example.com, join us on Facebook or Twitter. Good morning all.
MR. HISHAM MELHEMGood morning.
MS. SUSAN GLASSERGood morning.
MR. MARK LANDLERGood morning, Diane.
REHMMark Landler, start by telling us about the plan to help Greece and other countries get out of this debt crisis.
LANDLERWell, Diane, after weeks and weeks of frustrating negotiations and an all-night session on Thursday, Europe's leaders agreed on the outlines of a grand plan and the heart of the plan is a voluntary agreement with banks to accept a 50 percent write down on the Greek debt that they hold. This was a vital step because without a write down, and an acknowledgement that Greece couldn't pay back this money, you risked having what they call a disorderly default, which could've prompted a credit crisis similar to what we had in the United States a few years ago with the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
LANDLERSo that was kind of the nightmare scenario that the Europeans were desperate to avoid. There were two other elements to it. One was a commitment to double the size of a stabilization fund, in effect, a bailout fund that the Europeans want to put in place as a sort of a firewall to prevent other countries from potentially going into crisis, Italy being the one that people are most worried about, and then lastly, a commitment to recapitalize the European banks.
LANDLERThere are a host of questions around all the parts of this plan, details are lacking. There's still a fundamental question about whether the Europeans and mostly the Germans have the political will to do what it takes. The numbers people are talking about are extraordinary, $1.4 trillion at least, to erect the kind of firewall that will save Europe. So a good week, but not by any means a drama that's finished.
REHMAnd that's the question. Where's the money coming from?
GLASSERWell, I think that's right. You know, all year, the politics of Europe have really been exploding over this very question, which is to say, is the north, is the, you know, sort of industrialized heartland of Europe, Germany but also France, going to continue to accept a euro zone situation in which they're paying for the lifestyle and the bad budgeting and accounting choices of their neighbors to the south.
GLASSERThe fissures that have erupted in the euro zone, I don't think are any closer to resolution. If anything, you could argue that this deal puts so much pressure on a very, you know, sort of unstable foundation of the euro zone, that it may potentially lead us to having a discussion over the next year or two as the consequences of it become clear about the future of the euro zone, whether it's going to splinter apart.
REHMAnd Hisham, aren't people going to China for a fair amount of the money, for example, to recapitalize?
MELHEMIsn't everybody going to China?
MELHEMYou know, we were on the verge of a Greek tragedy. Now we may be having a Greek drama and I'm not sure whether the euro zone is safe. I mean, just think of what Sarkozy said, the express regret that Greece was admitted, and he's absolutely right. I mean, the expansion of the euro zone was ill-advised, the way the expansion of NATO after the fall of the Soviet Union was ill-advised. And I think, yes, we may talk about Europe, but Europe also is not united. And I was in the summer in northern Europe and they don't want to have anything to do with the euro zone. I mean, if you live in Sweden, you just don't want it.
MELHEMAnd I think, I'm not sure now, Greece will implement everything that is expected of Greece to implement because this is going to require a -- not only economic structural changes, that is going to require societal and cultural changes. People in Greece, like people in Lebanon, like many people in America, don't want to pay taxes. They want to enjoy living in a modern society with all the perks, healthcare and whatnot, but they don't want to pay taxes and they're not producing enough kids, speaking of population.
REHMAnd yet the U.S. seemed fairly happy with the outcome, Mark?
LANDLERWell, the U.S. has a simple issue. Europe is one of our larger trading partners and a credit crisis in Europe is almost bound to hit us hard at a time when our economy, not withstanding some relatively better news this week, is still very close to a double dip recession. So for President Obama, this has, you know, a very tangible domestic, political implication.
LANDLERWhat's interesting about the U.S. is we don't have a lot to really offer the Europeans. We don't have money to bail them out, nor do we really have an economic track record for them to emulate. So when Tim Geithner, the Treasury Secretary, goes to Europe and lectures them about recapitalizing their banks or building firewalls, some European finance ministers react by saying, don't tell us how to fix our house. You haven't fixed your own yet.
GLASSERWell, I keep coming back to this term, firewall, which, you know, again, is a term of optimism, it seems to me, rather than one of fact when it comes to what you can do to stop a crisis from spreading and at a globalized moment when, as we saw with the United States' bubble bursting, there was no firewall that protected Europe or the rest of the world from the consequences of that. And I think vice versa. You have President Obama today, writing an op-ed in The Financial Times, pressing and, in a way, lecturing his European colleagues about the need for the bailout plan to include such a firewall.
GLASSERI think it's one of those vaguely reassuring terms to people as if there was such a thing that one could construct. But I'm not sure that it bows to the basic economics of the situation, which is to say they're completely interdependent at this point, in particular Europe and the United States.
REHMAnd yet you saw the stock markets all across Europe, Asia and the United States jump dramatically, Hisham.
MELHEMYeah, look, the international financial system is still brittle and investors wanted to see a sign of hope -- a ray of hope even if it's not based on concrete results. As Mark said, there are a lot of details that are still, you know, waiting to be hammered out. But people are waiting for a ray of hope because this euro zone crisis has been dragging on for a long time. And the Greeks did not deliver on the promises and there's real concern about Italy, which is the third largest economy in the euro zone.
MELHEMSo, yeah, but to go back to what Susan was saying, not only the Europeans are chastising the United States, the Chinese are chastising Tim Geithner and the president because we are not showing fiscal responsibility.
LANDLERYou know, there's a more profound issue that the Europeans have to wrestle with, which is that when they created a monetary union, they left budget and fiscal policy in the hands of the countries. That set up what's basically an irreconcilable conflict. It allows the Greeks to be profligate while the Germans are cautious but lashes everybody to the same currency. And I think there's a recognition that if they're going to save the euro they really need to push further toward a genuine fiscal and even political union.
LANDLERSo in an odd way, this is raising the most basic question about the nature of Europe going forward, which is why I think it's fair to say not only is it early in the drama, but some of the most momentous moments are probably still to come.
REHMMark Landler, White House correspondent for The New York Times, Susan Glasser, editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine, Hisham Melham, Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya News Channel. Do join us, 800-433-8850. Colonel Gadhafi was buried on Tuesday in an anonymous grave. Do the Libyans continue to see him as a threat dead or alive, Susan?
GLASSERWell, it's been a pretty extraordinary week, I think, in many ways as we've begun to think about what are -- what does post-revolution Libya look like? And one of the things we were just talking about was the question of how has this fledgling new government handled the challenge of the killing, the very public bloody videotaped killing of Colonel Gadhafi, and the conflicting statements about it that we heard early on. Should this cause us to question whether the militias that have been unleashed in the revolution are really under the control of the transitional government?
GLASSERThey've now come out and said there will be an investigation of Colonel Gadhafi's killing after days of insisting that he had somehow merely been caught in crossfire, a story that didn't really hold up under the overwhelming weight of the visual testimony that was being released. You know, these tools make it impossible really to do something like shoot your former leader in cold blood with no one noticing.
LANDLERWell, and there's sort of an unresolved strand to the story, which is the fate of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, one of Gadhafi's sons, one who survived, at least we believe, until now and is in hiding. There's talk of him trying to cut a deal with the International Criminal Court in which he might turn himself in and go to The Hague. He might view that as the safest possible outcome given what happened to his father and his brother.
LANDLERThe reports are very sketchy so we don't really know. There's also reports that he's under the care of mercenaries who might be trying to arrange safe passage to a country that doesn't recognize the criminal courts, say Zimbabwe. So there's still that piece of the story yet to be resolved.
REHMAnd what happened to the rest of Gadhafi loyalists who were with him, were around him at the time of his killing?
MELHEMI think the loyalists have been dealt a decisive defeat. I mean, you may find a few here and there, maybe some members of his tribe, but essentially Gadhafi's era is over and it ended violently in his killing. And -- but what is more disturbing now are -- the political development that occurred immediately after, the way the council or the interim government handled the killing of Gadhafi, the investigation and also the speech that was given by Mustafa Abdul-Jalil. We'll talk about it.
REHMAnd now declaring Sharia Law.
MELHEMYeah, I'm gonna talk -- yeah, if you give me a chance to talk about it.
REHMAnd Hisham Melhem is with Al-Arabiya News Channel. Short break, we'll be right back.
REHMAnd I'd like to go back to Libya, Hisham, because NATO has announced it's ending operations there, even though the interim government was hoping they'd stay.
MELHEMLook, I think the ending NATO's mission is the correct thing to do. And obviously NATO's rule was decisive. One could argue that without NATO, Gadhafi would have succeeded in crushing the -- what was initially a peaceful uprising.
MELHEMBut let me talk a little about what happened after Gadhafi. Now there were many stories about how he was killed. They were not credible. When the government claimed that he was killed in a crossfire, when everybody -- witnesses, Libyans and international citizens who were there said otherwise. They should have said, we don't know exactly what happened, but we will promise a thorough transparent investigation, period, and that's it. They didn't do that. That was the first stumble, the first mistake.
MELHEMTo me, politically what was worse was the speech given by Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the head of the Libyan Transitional Council. He spoke extemporaneously in a historic moment and he talked about things that was really surprising. Instead of talking about demobilizing the militias, instead of talking about an interim government that would prepare for election and writing a new modern constitution, he talked about Sharia, he talked about the primacy of Sharia in the new constitution. He talked about, we're going to allow polygamy again and Islamic banking.
MELHEMNow I heard the whole speech and then I went back and heard the speech that was given by King Idris 60 years ago on the occasion of Libya's independence. Now this was a Senussi who belongs to a religious Sufi order. It was – you would expect it to be Pious Muslim. The king was less Muslim than Abdul-Jalil. The king spoke politically about a new constitution, you know. And yet Abdul-Jalil...
REHMAnd here we are.
MELHEM...is talking about Sharia as if people fought and died for polygamy.
LANDLERWe had an op-ed piece a couple of days ago that Susan and I were actually talking about just before the show, which I thought was very provocative by British Historian Simon Montefiore. And he basically offered a tour of the -- of world history and how dictators meet their ends. And, you know, it's a catalog of atrocities of people being torn from limb to limb or hung upside down. And he made sort of an interesting point about Gadhafi, which goes to this issue of how was he killed and what are the responsibilities of the new government in getting to the bottom of it.
LANDLERAnd whatever you believe about those issues, he basically said that tyrants meet their end in the way that they've created the regime and the culture of the country. And there's one particularly interesting line where Montefiore says, when Gadhafi asked his friends and killers, who had known no other rulers in their life, do you not know the difference between right and wrong? He had already taught them the answer. And it was a column that got a great deal of response in our newspaper and it made just an interesting point about the brutal facts of someone who's ruled a country in a certain way for 42 years, and how perhaps there was no other ending for someone like him.
REHMAnd, Susan, what about -- a timetable for a new government and new Parliament seems awfully ambitious.
GLASSERNot only does it seem ambitious, but I think -- I go back to the official ending of the NATO involvement in Libya with zero sense of what the world is going to offer. We are so quick and our world leaders from Sarkozy to Barack Obama are so quick to take the podium and announce their role in the success of toppling this bloody dictator. What's the assistance that the world is going to give to these people? Where are the partners who are going to advance a new pluralistic democratic Libyan government? What about demobilization?
GLASSERWhat about building a new constitution? We have heard nothing from Western government whatsoever about any positive role. It's like, okay, you're on your own. We've dropped a few tons of ordinances on you. We spent $1 billion, in the case of the United States, to get rid of your tyrant and good luck to you, folks.
REHMAll right. So you're talking about intellectual assistance, but surely Libya has the dollars.
GLASSERWell, certainly they have the finances to rebuild...
GLASSER...but they don't necessarily have any of the capacity. So I'm not just talking about moral assistance. I'm talking about where is a plan to put some kind of international assistance on the ground actually to help them, whether it's in the basics of building a legal system, which we just talked about. Libya has been ruled for 42 years by a very particular and quirky form of one man rule. And so they don't have the institutions that would be required to have this kind of transition.
MELHEMPolitically Libya is a wasteland. I mean, it's a country bereft of any kind of institutions, political, economic, judicial.
REHMAnd he made sure of that.
MELHEMExactly. It was a one-man rule and it was a comical, you know, bizarre rule anyway. But they have no legal infrastructure. If they had caught Gadhafi alive, they could not put him on trial in five years because they don't have a judicial system to speak of. They don't have independent judicial in none of this.
MELHEMThey don't have the kind of civil societies that you and I understand in a modern state. They don't have political parties to talk about. There are political trends maybe, the Islamists and others, but we are talking about a country that was pulverized by this man for the last 42 years. So anybody who was going to expect a transformation from this state of affairs into a more representative democratic form of government would probably be disappointed. The transition is going to be extremely complicated.
MELHEMIn Tunisia, it's going to be much better. In Egypt, probably less. But in Libya, it is going to be monumental and extremely difficult.
LANDLERI thought it was telling that the death of Gadhafi happened the day before President Obama announced the return of the final troops from Iraq. Because I think it speaks to a profound weariness on the part of the United States about just the kind of help that Susan and Hisham are talking about. Libya needs it, so does Tunisia, so does Egypt. Our country and the Europeans, for reasons that we've talked about earlier, are not in the kind of mental frame nor do they have the kind of resources they once did to undertake these efforts.
REHMAnd now we have the U.S. Ambassador to Syria recalled and Syria recalled its Ambassador here to the U.S. Tell me what's going on, Susan.
GLASSERWell, you know, I'm so glad we turned back to Syria and the rest of the Arab world because Libya in some ways has been, you know, distracting, I think, from the much broader set of struggles that are going on. Now, obviously, there's been a very bloody crackdown. I believe the latest U.N. count has it several thousand people have been killed in Syria as they have tried to suppress the protests that broke out in the wake of the Arab Spring.
GLASSERThe U.S. Ambassador there has played a very aggressive role. He's publicly gone and shown solidarity with activists. He's actually, you know, been Tweeting and using any tool that he could figure. It's a very murky story...
REHMAnd rather unusual for...
REHM...a U.S. Ambassador to take on that kind of stance.
GLASSERI agree with that. I think it's been a very public and unusually in-your-face approach. And in a way it speaks to the lack of other tools that are available to them. It's been pretty clear since the outset of the Libyan intervention that that option was not really on the table with Syria. Although you do see their next door neighbor and longtime partner, Turkey, taking an interesting lead in trying to support not only the non-violent protestors but even some of those defectors from the Syrian army who've pledged violent resistance.
REHMProviding shelter to them.
GLASSERWell, that's right. On the front page of the Times today is a very interesting account of all the many ways in which Turkey, including providing shelter to the armed resistance in Syria, is going. But, you know, I wanted to go back to the big picture view earlier this week. It was the 70th anniversary of the Freedom House, which is an American organization that was founded to provide democracy assistance. In fact, it was cofounded by Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie.
GLASSERAnd, you know, a young woman from Bahrain, a young Bahraini journalist came and she was presenting one of the awards. And she literally had this jaded Washington audience in tears as she talked about the forgotten freedom struggle, you know, that she and other young Western-oriented, liberal-minded Bahraini -- not just journalists, but students and people all across the board have been undertaking.
GLASSERIn a way, the Libyan story has distracted us from -- there's not one narrative of the American involvement here. And it's much more uncomfortable for us to look at Bahrain where we have not supported the democracy protestors in the way that people here in the United States -- it's sort of out of sight, out of mind and it's a lot easier than paying attention to that more complicated situation.
REHMAnd think about the Yemeni women burning their veils. What a sight, Mark.
LANDLERYeah, and it goes very directly to what Susan was just saying about the uncomfortable questions for the United States. This moment came with women burning their veils, a very symbolic thing. The first time they'd done it in all the months of protests in Yemen. And it was an act of defiance against the government, particularly for brutalizing women and children in the crackdown on protests there.
LANDLERBut look at the situation in Yemen. You had President Saleh who narrowly missed being killed in a bombing, leave the country to Saudi Arabia, recover from his wounds, go back to Yemen where he now sits still in the presidency. He called in the U.S. Ambassador this week and said he would abide by the terms of a deal he'd struck with other Gulf countries to have a gradual transition. But no one took this seriously, given his track record and given the important role of Saudi Arabia and the U.S.'s counterterrorism cooperation with Yemen.
LANDLERYou know, most recently in the assassination of Anwar Awlaki, this is another country like Bahrain where the U.S. has a complex relationship and is balancing values against strategic considerations. And it goes to the complexity that Susan was talking about earlier.
REHMAnd in all of these discussions, underlying them is the growth in population around the world. Staggering 7.1 billion as of Monday, Susan.
GLASSERWell, and, you know, it directly connects up to this story. Sana, the capitol of Yemen, is one of the world's fastest growing cities, actually. It's in the top ten and I think it's a good reminder of the future instability that we may see as a result of demographic pressures. Yemen is running out of water, it's running out of the oil that's fueled its economy. It's bursting with people and it's more and more unstable as a result.
LANDLERWell, and one other point to make about population that actually, I think, links into this week's news, it's a lopsided pattern around the world. You have countries in South Asia and Africa that are growing explosively, countries in Europe and Japan that are growing hardly at all or in some cases is shrinking and more importantly aging. So that when you talk about the efforts to bail out Greece and Italy, that happens against a backdrop of aging societies with fewer young people to join the labor force, having to support a population that's growing old, has depended and relied on generous social safety nets for decades.
LANDLERSo this raises all kinds of issues for how the Europeans confront their problems, let alone all the issues of how these parts of the world deal with so many new people.
REHMMark Landler of the New York Times. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And we'll open the phones now, 800-433-8850. Let's go to Middletown, Conn., good morning Lanaa (sp?).
LANAAYes, good morning Diane. Few governments or religious leaders are addressing overpopulation and the eventual shortage of resources and food especially in third world countries. I blame Christianity for much of this problem and I'll give you a personal example.
LANAAMy brother and his wife are evangelical missionaries in Africa. Part of their mission is to convince women that birth control is against God. So is one to believe that God wants poor women in third world countries to have eight or ten children only to see many of them starve to death? But then without pictures of starving babies on television, how would these religious groups get most of their donations?
REHMNow it's interesting here in this country, Mississippi is attempting to enact a new law that would define birth at time of conception. It goes to this question of birth control. It goes to the question of how do we think about population in this world, Susan?
GLASSERWell, you know, I'm going to say something a little counterintuitive perhaps, which is to say that we've run a few articles on foreign policy making the argument that while certainly this is a present-day controversy and there's no question if you look at the food crisis, the skyrocketing prices for resources...
GLASSER...and water in particular, but also grain prices, buying up of land, for example, by the Chinese in Africa in order to secure a bigger food supply. These are very real present day crises. The flipside is, demographically speaking, what's actually an important new trend is that family sizes are shrinking most rapidly in some of the developing countries, for example, Iran.
GLASSEROf course, we all know about China and its population control methods and you know what that means is that actually after mid-century when, you know, the population is going to go from 7 billion, it's projected to go up to 9 and possibly even 11 billion. However, demographers are saying that after the mid-century, you could even see it topping out. You could see a real crisis of aging in these developing societies that haven't had time to get rich first like Europe and the United States.
GLASSERIran has one of the fastest dropping rates of childbirth in the world and so I think you really have to be prepared for sort of a mind scramble, which is to say, yes, we have on the one hand a population crisis and exploding demand for resources, on the other hand, we have to look ahead and anticipate what's going to happen in these much poorer societies in the world when they age rapidly and they don't have as many children to take care of them and they don't have the benefits of a youth bulge which provides economic growth.
MELHEMIt's true that this is a very crowded neighborhood now, but I think many demographers would say that you can have sustainable economic growth and even with 7 and probably in 13 years, 8 billion, because, you know, every 12 years now we have an additional billion. But I mean, looking at the other trends, as Mark and Susan said, there are conflicting trends.
MELHEMYou have the Chinese now, by the way, and notwithstanding their enforced, you know, policy, they're going to have a serious problem having enough young people paying money so that they will take care of a huge aging strata of people.
REHMWhat about here in the United States?
MELHEMThe United States will be much better than Europe because we are still open -- we should open -- we should maintain our open-door policy in terms of immigration and that's where we benefited a lot. The Europeans are having problems with that, too. You have an aging population in Italy and other places where they will have serious problems in providing for medical care and Social Security for the aging population.
MELHEMIn the United States, we have escaped that. And I think if we maintain that open-door policy when it comes to immigration, we will probably escape it in the next generation, too.
LANDLERA few interesting things I notice in the context of the 7 billion milestone, the Chinese are saying that their one-child policy prevented 400 million births and that in the absence of the one-child policy, we would have hit the 7 billion several years earlier than now.
REHMMark Landler of the New York Times, short break and we'll be right back.
REHMAnd it's time to go to the phones, 800-433-8850. First to Boynton Beach, Fla. Good morning, Mike.
MIKEGood morning, Diane. I'm sort of perplexed. I haven't heard anything on the news about what monies and diamonds and, you know, certificates and so forth that Gadhafi would have had with him. That man would never have been out with no funds with him, you know?
REHMWhat about that, Mark?
LANDLERWell, the caller is, I'm sure, right that he wouldn't be out without anything, but -- and in fact, there had been reports earlier of rebel forces coming across hiding places that Gadhafi had where there were, you know, some signs of wealth, although no huge treasure chest that they came across. So no doubt there will be a huge forensic exercise to figure where he stashed his money and that's probably been underway for the past three months and we may know more about it than we did at the beginning of this process.
REHMWhat about Saif and the monies he might have, Susan?
GLASSERWell, you know, listen, it's all speculation at this point, but let's also remember that Gadhafi was dragged out of a drainpipe. And you know, we've all seen these unfortunate pictures now and so you know, maybe he had some money that he was carrying on him, but you know, in the end, he was -- there might have been something in his vehicle, but he was captured alone and in a drainpipe with a small guard around him.
REHMAll right. To Charlotte, N.C. Good morning, Frank.
FRANKOh hi. I have a question and a comment. Okay. The president announced that he was going to pull all troops out of Iraq by the end of the year and I would like to know what you people thought about how we made our lives or the Iraqi people's lives any better. And my comment is last week you talked about the trading of 1,000 Palestinians for one Israeli soldier, but according to Defense for Children International, okay, the Israelis are not prosecuted for violence against the Palestinian people and if they were prosecuted, you would have an even trade.
REHMAll right, thanks for calling. What have we accomplished in Iraq?
LANDLERWell, we helped. We got rid of a brutal dictator. I mean, that's sort of an indisputable fact about what happened in Iraq and the country now has a functioning, if very flawed, political system. They have parties. They have elections. They have, as American officials love to say, they have actual politics in that country. But obviously, the caller raises a profound question about what an eight-year war accomplished in other respects and the track record there is open to a lot of debate.
MELHEMI think this was the longest, unnecessary war in American history and Mark is right, maybe we know in 25 years when we ask that question if we have real politics in Iraq, if we have a stable government where basic human rights are respected. One could argue that the losses, the American losses and the horrendous Iraqi losses, would have been justified.
MELHEMBut at this stage, I would have to tell you that when the United States leaves at the end of this year, it will not be the United States, the outside country with the most influence in Iraq. Iraq's future now is being shaped and influenced by two regional powers, one of them is anti-American, which is Iran and the other one is Turkey. So after eight years, after 5,000 men and women lost, 32,000 wounded, half of them seriously, tens of thousands of Iraqis lost, we have this situation which is extremely murky where sectarianism rules Iraq today and Iran and Turkey are competing to shape the future of that country.
REHMAll right. To Cincinnati, Ohio. Hi there, Drew.
DREWGood morning, Diane, it's great to talk to you.
DREWMy question for you and the panel is if we should really take any, you know, weight into the recent stock market rise from the European deal being approved...
DREW...and I ask this because more and more to me and many others I speak with is that the market in a way seems to operate off hearsay. You know, we'll hear good news from the media, the conglomeration of our sources, you know. And right now, the general, you know, consensus is that, yes, it's good news, but there's been compromise. However, do you think that at the very first sign of the deal not working out that stocks will once again plummet? And if so, when should we really take, you know, solid hold of information that the stocks are improving or, you know, once again going to plummet? How do we know really what's going to happen?
REHMYou have to have a crystal ball, Susan?
GLASSERThat's right. I was going to say, I left my Magic Eight Ball at home so I can't pronounce on when we're going to know the market for sure. That being said, I think the caller raises a really important point. Right now, clearly, it's early days for Europe and its recovery. If you look at the situation, in some ways it reminds me of the resolution of the American debt crisis this summer by Congress.
GLASSERWhat happened? Well, we put it off, that's what political systems do when they're in crisis and there's only so much they can handle. There are some dates that kick some key decisions into the future for the European stability fund. I believe next June is going to be another critical date and I think that you're going to see this keep going in waves and with incremental solutions that represent the best deal that the politicians who ultimately are running the show again, are going to be able to get to.
GLASSERIn the end, this was a political deal forged by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the French President Nicholas Sarkozy. They're politicians, they're not economists, and this is the best political deal they were able to get today. The markets will forget about it in a while and we'll see next spring and next summer whether it was a lasting deal.
REHMAlright, to Kensington, Md. Good morning, Louis, you're on the air.
LOUISGood morning, Diane. I read someplace that in the year 2000, the Greek government asked an American company, I think it was Goldman Sachs, to produce a set of accounting books so they would be accepted into the European Union. It seems like the books were cooked to produce a rosy scenario and then obviously Goldman Sachs and others in the U.S. lent the Greeks tons of money in the forms of whatever securities they had and this is true. Is there any chance that we can find out exactly what illegalities they might have committed? Thank you.
LANDLERWell, this question of whether Greece cooked its books to get in is one that's been around for years. And it is true that the European Union and particularly the monetary union was a triumph of hope over experience, that a lot of people made leaps. As to the question of whether we'll get to the bottom of it, I guess I'd be a little bit skeptical that we'll ever pursue this as a criminal case, but there's no question that countries like Greece, Portugal, Spain to some extent, and Italy made pledges based on numbers that were not realistic at the time and certainly not sustainable given the politics of those countries and that was probably most egregious in the case of Greece.
REHMWhat do you think, Hisham, are we ever going to find out exactly what happened to get Greece into the EU?
MELHEMI mean, the Greeks were very eager to join the EU for a variety of reasons. Everybody wants to join that club. But you don't have to be, you know, an economist when you look at a country that functions like Greece and with all due respect, I studied Greek philosophy and I'm a great admirer of Greek tradition, but Greece, in many ways, is a Middle Eastern country. They want to live in a European country in terms of enjoying the services of an advanced European society, Social Security, and early retirement.
MELHEMBut there is also a tradition of avoiding taxes and we've seen incredible stories about how the elite in Greece tried to avoid paying taxes. I mean, it's not like here where we hire lawyers to do that, but they violate the law in Greece and they have strong unions. They have a strong labor movement. They have an anarchist movement and they just don't want to sacrifice, especially in terms of paying taxes and regulations and whatnot, and yet they want to enjoy the fruits of a welfare state and you cannot have it both ways.
MELHEMAnd Greece did not really have the kind of leadership that would force people to make hard decisions. Europe, all Europe, is lacking in terms of leadership. Merkel is the only one really because she has a great economy.
REHMAnd there was that photograph of Merkel in the midst of all these men as though she really was...
MELHEMThe Rock of Gibraltar.
GLASSERYou know, I saw that this morning, too, Diane, and I thought it just leapt out at you, right? She's something very unique. She's been dumped on all year, you know, it's been said that, you know, she didn't have the political support at home, that she didn't have the will, that she wasn't really a supporter of the European project to begin with, that she didn't have the economic background, because she came from East Germany...
REHMI wonder who was reporting all those things?
GLASSERWell and you know what? And it's been dumped right in her lap and the answer is that if you want to know what's going to happen here right now, if it weren't for Merkel, you wouldn't even be taking the halting steps that you did have. That doesn't mean, you know, this is a crisis not of her choosing but the solution will come a bit from her making.
REHMAlright, to Jacksonville, N.C., good morning Brian.
BRIANGood morning, thank you so much for taking my call.
BRIANJust very quickly, I have no political affiliation, but I tend to be very conservative. I was in the Marine Corps and I just retired as a naval physician after 22 years. I spent a long time in the Middle East with trauma units and we took care of insurgents. And anyone, regardless of where they came from -- and I wanted to -- I know that the way Gadhafi was brutalized in those images was, I think, horrifying to Americans, but I wanted to express alarm that more Americans weren't concerned about the fact that our own secretary of state had been in Tripoli weeks before that, stating that Gadhafi should either be captured or killed.
BRIANAnd then our own president seemed to be reveling in the fact that this had happened. I think Saddam Hussein had the good fortune to be captured by Americans and I think it's a great deviation from American tradition and I'll take your comments on the air.
REHMAll right, thanks.
LANDLERWell, one thing that I reported on this past week is the internal deliberations that went on in the administration about what to do if Gadhafi were captured alive. It was a subject that came up two days before he was killed between Secretary of State Clinton and the transitional leaders in Libya, and it was a deeply, deeply complicated question, because there were doubts on the American side about whether the Libyans had the capacity to conduct a fair trial at home.
LANDLERThere was also a reluctance to push them to say you've got to send him to The Hague because that would appear to be encroaching on the sovereignty of a country that's newly born. Likewise, within the Transitional National Council, the leadership in Libya, there were the same splits between people that wanted to put him on trial in the country and people who wanted to put him on trial outside the country, turn him over and then some contingent that would rather have nothing to do with the whole process, would probably have preferred the outcome that happened.
LANDLERSo it's a fair question to raise because for all concerned, this outcome, however ugly, avoided what would have been a very delicate situation.
REHMInteresting. To Hollywood, Fla. Richard, you're on the air.
RICHARDYes, thank you for taking my call.
RICHARDI've got a question about the use of the word sharia because I think it does a lot of us disservice...
REHMAre you there, Richard? Oh dear, he must of dropped off. Hisham, explain very quickly for us sharia law and let me remind our listeners you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Explain to us.
MELHEMSharia law means really certain practices that came with the emergence of Islam...
MELHEMPunishment, you know, severe punishment, for instance, theft, you know, they cut off your hand. Sharia law does not give women any kind of equality when it comes to divorce and all sorts of things. Sharia is not practiced in most Muslim countries. There are a few countries from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, Iran, all that, Afghanistan, old Afghanistan. But sharia law is not practiced throughout the Muslim world the way traditional interpretation of sharia should be.
MELHEMWhat you have is many Muslim countries would argue that sharia should be one of the sources of jurisprudence, but not necessarily the primary source. And that is why if you look at the Arab constitutions, they are very much influenced by European constitutions. And when it comes to, for instance, gender equality, this is a huge issue in the modern day Arab world, in the Muslim world, sharia is not good for women and that's why many people were, you know raising their eyebrows when Mustafa Abdul-Jalil was talking about polygamy and sharia and all that as the primary, or the primacy of sharia in jurisprudence, and that's the problem.
REHMHere's an email from Rod in McLean, Va. who says, "Gadhafi was killed in the heat of the capture. It's very hard to control events in a situation like that. Why can't the West just accept that?"
MELHEMWell, I mean, he has a point. I mean, look, we're talking about young men who have been fighting for eight, nine months, fighting a brutal dictator who -- and probably they have people in their own families and their clans who have been killed...
REHMWho have been killed, yeah.
MELHEM...or tortured or jailed or humiliated for most of their lives. So in that sense, we're talking about an undisciplined army. We're not talking about conventional armies here, and you can't compare the American army in Iraq with these young men in Libya. And go back to the point that Mark was trying to raise. If he was captured, whether they send him to the international court of justice, criminal court or whether they tried him in Libya, he will be hovering over the future of Libya for many years and he will be a distraction, whether he is in Libya under trial or in jail or in Europe, somewhere, you know, at the international criminal court.
MELHEMAnd one should not be surprised. If you look at what happened to Mussolini, to Ceausescu, to all of these brutal dictators in the 20th century, that editorial, op-ed piece in The New York Times was spot-on, absolutely.
REHMRight on, yeah.
GLASSERIt has the memorable quote from Winston Churchill. I think it is in that piece about dictators who come to power riding a tiger and then they can never get off. And I think, you know, the tiger is what ate al-Gadhafi this week, but David Rieff called him the man who knew too much, and said, you know, let's be realistic in the way that this caller points out. Western governments were probably happy on some level not to have Gadhafi on trial in The Hague and talking about his dealings with them, the oil money that went back and forth, their efforts to launder themselves into a new form of respectability over the last few years. Those would be very uncomfortable for governments from London to the United States.
REHMWhat about Secretary of State Clinton's reaction to Gadhafi's death, Mark?
LANDLERThis was when she was handed the Blackberry? Well, I mean, it was a dramatic moment. She was sitting getting ready to tape an interview, was handed a Blackberry and reacted very cautiously, because she wasn't sure yet whether it was actually true.
REHMAnd then didn't she laugh?
LANDLERShe said, wow.
GLASSERShe said, wow.
REHMAh, Mark Landler, Susan Glasser and Hisham Melhem, thank you all. 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, Lisa Dunn and Nikki Jecks. The engineer is Aaron Stamper. A.C. Valdez answers the phones. Visit drshow.org for audio archives, transcripts, podcasts and CD sales.
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