A panel of top political commentators joins Diane to talk about some of the head spinning events of this last year and to get their perspectives on the challenges ahead.
A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top international news stories, including: Syrian civil war deaths are said to top 100,000, NSA leaker Edward Snowden remains in limbo at a Moscow airport and President Barack Obama arrives in Africa.
- Moises Naim Senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, chief international columnist for El Pais and author of "The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge Isn't What It Used to Be."
- Anne Gearan Diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post.
- Abderrahim Foukara Washington bureau chief of Al Jazeera Arabic.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. During a trip to Africa President Obama downplayed the significance of NSA leaker Snowden. Brazilian lawmakers rushed to enact legislation to address social concerns and quell protestors. And the death toll from Syria's civil war is set to top 100,000.
MS. DIANE REHMJoining me for the week's top international stories on the Friday News Roundup: Moises Naim of El Pais, Anne Gearan of "The Washington Post" and Abderrahim Foukara of Al Jazeera. I invite you to be part of the program. Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Good morning everybody.
MR. ABDERRAHIM FOUKARAGood morning.
MR. MOISES NAIMGood morning, Diane.
REHMAbderrahim, we've got another gruesome milestone in this civil war in Syria.
FOUKARAAbsolutely, now the reports are saying that over 100,000 Syrians have been killed in that conflict and I think, you used the word milestone, and I think it's a word that we have heard many times over since things started in Syria about two years ago.
REHMWhat do you think this could mean for the U.S. supplying of arms to the rebels?
FOUKARAWell, it's not clear exactly, first of all, what sort of arms the U.S. is, the Obama administration is prepared to supply to the rebels. What the rebels are saying, or some of them at least -- those that the Obama administration seems to be contemplating -- they seem to say that they need heavy weaponry, the kind that would create some sort of balance on the ground as the Obama administration has been saying, so as to push the regime back to the negotiating table, there being talk about this Geneva II conference which the Arab League, over the last couple of days has said it's very unlikely would happen anytime soon.
REHMAnne Gearan, unlikely?
MS. ANNE GEARANWell, it's, yes, Geneva II is unlikely at least until late in the summer. The UN special representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, yesterday said as much, but everybody knew it anyway. There's no point in having a peace conference when one side is losing and one side is winning and the rebels have essentially dug in their heels and said, no we're not going to go. I mean, that would be silly. We'd be signing our own death warrant. We won't do it.
MS. ANNE GEARANAnd that really put John Kerry in a very difficult position because he had simultaneously backed within the administration and expansion of U.S. arming of the rebels and pushed the peace conference, and both of those things could happen at the same time. But the rebels lost a good bit of ground between the time the peace conference was announced publicly and the time anything like traction could be gained there.
NAIMTo illustrate how complicated a situation is, there is a story in "The Financial Times" where, Michael Peel, their correspondent in Damascus had an interview with Kadri Jamil who is a top economics minister of the Assad government who noted that they have strong support of Iran, Russia and China. And we knew that except that now we have the details. The minister said that they're getting $500 million a month in support, in financial support...
REHMFrom these countries?
NAIMFrom these three countries in the forms of money, in the forms of oil deliveries and all kinds of support. So, you know, that bodes for a protracted and complex, no, continuing with the massacres and continuing with a kind of strange stalemate.
REHMMeanwhile, President Obama is in Africa, he arrived there two days ago. He planned to visit Nelson Mandela but that plan may be on hold right now.
GEARANYes. Obama said yesterday that he would defer to the wishes of Mandela's family. Mandela's been in the hospital for three weeks with a lung infection. His condition is variously described as critical, or critical but stable, but he is in extraordinarily fragile health. And Obama would, of course, like to say goodbye, but about the last thing he would want to do would be to make a fragile man's health worse or to appear to do so.
REHMExactly. Why is the president not going to Kenya, Abderrahim?
FOUKARAWell, I think when he was first elected, there was obviously a lot of hope that the first country that he would visit was the country that his ancestry hales from, which is Kenya. His recent trip -- there are a lot of other African countries that are wondering, why isn't Obama visiting us? He's obviously chosen to visit Senegal and South Africa. Senegal for the obvious reason, at least from his point of view, is that it has made solid democratic gains, and therefore it warrants a visit.
FOUKARASouth Africa, we all know what the situation is, we all know what Nelson Mandela means for him, and Kenya is the country where his ancestors hale from. Kenya has been caught up in all sorts of problems, violence, electoral or claims of electoral fraud. The Kenyan president, there's even talk of taking him to the International Criminal Court. So it may not be a good idea for President Obama to go to Kenya at this particular point in time.
REHMSome people were interested and even surprised that President Obama made a statement about Edward Snowden while in Africa, saying he would not negotiate with lots of different countries allowing him to return to the United States, Moises.
NAIMYes. Domestic politics never abandoned the U.S. president even when he's in Africa, and so he had to answer a question in Africa. One of the visits he was asked if he was going to intercept any commercial flight that was delivering Mr. Snowden from Moscow elsewhere.
NAIMWe don't know where...
REHMWe don't know where.
NAIM...and he said, you know, I'm not going to scramble fighter jets, American fighter jets, to stop a 29-year-old hacker.
REHMAll right, so let me ask you all, if Snowden did decide to return to the United States, what would happen to him? Anne Gearan?
GEARANWell, there's an indictment, so he would be arrested. The question is, what would happen, presuming he came back to the United States in a public manner and the Justice Department, law enforcement authorities knew where he was? And it's hard to imagine that it could happen in any other fashion at this point. The question then becomes, what would happen to him post-arrest? Would he be treated as a sort of ordinary white-collar criminal? Would he be treated as some sort of special case because of the national security implications?
GEARANThe Obama administration is extraordinarily well aware of the bad PR around the world that surrounded the treatment in jail, the perception of the treatment in jail of the Wiki leaker who is now on trial in military court. They wouldn't want to repeat anything like that, but it is hard to imagine that they would allow him to be released before trial.
REHMWould he get a fair trial, Moises?
NAIMWell, the publicity around him and surrounding the case will certainly make it very complex, but I don't see any other way, except if he go -- some country accepts and gives him asylum. And there is talk, you know, the Russians, he's at a very strange place...
REHMHe sure is.
NAIM...at (word?) airport in Russia where, you know, the Russians claim that he's not in their territory. You know, they have a hot potato in him, and it's a delicious hot potato because they are mining it to the hilt and enjoying the limelight on the case.
REHMSo what is his legal status in this country now that his passport has been revoked?
GEARANWell, he's not quite a man without a country. He's an American, but he's an American caught in an international transit zone which is the ultimate no-man's land without a passport. So he cannot travel as an American citizen. He will have to travel on some other kind of travel document which would have to be granted by another country.
GEARANOr the United States would have to an extradition arrangement under which he would come home with law enforcement escort.
REHMI find myself wondering whether the president was beginning to downplay Edward Snowden by virtue of his comments.
NAIMThere is no doubt that the United States is exerting all kinds of diplomatic pressures on other countries and making it very clear that this is a very important for the United States. And we have seen how other countries are now, if not backing, at least becoming more tepid in their strident statements, and they would just give him all kinds of asylum and protection and safe havens.
NAIMBut it is true that the American strategy now seems to be of them playing the, you know, the invisibility, the public debate about it and at the same time making sure that he becomes untouchable.
REHMAnd what about U.S. relations with China as a result of Hong Kong having let him to go to Russia, Abderrahim?
FOUKARAWell, yes, there is that but let me just say that it's incredible how reality sometimes seems to vie with fantasy. Remember that old movie, "The Terminal" with Tom Hanks? Snowden seems to have found himself at an airport in Russia -- how ironic. But I think, when it comes to Hong Kong, I think one of the problems that the U.S. has is that extradition treaties do not say anything about espionage, and that's one of the difficulties that Hong Kong has faced in this particular case.
REHMAbderrahim Foukara, Washington Bureau chief for Al Jazeera Arabic. Short break here and when we come back we'll talk about another alleged leaker.
REHMAnd welcome back to the International Hour of the Friday News Roundup with Moises Naim of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He's also chief international columnist for El Pais. Anne Gearan is diplomatic correspondent for the Washington Post. Abderrahim Foukara is Washington bureau chief of Al Jazeera Arabic. Moises, let's talk about retired general James Cartwright. He's former vice-chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has now been named as a target of the Department of Justice investigation into the leak of classified information. What's it all about?
NAIMThis is an extraordinary story. This is not a 29-year-old contractor that just leaks information. This is one of the most senior military officers in the United States. He was number two at the Pentagon. He used to be the head of the strategic air command. He was a member of President Obama's national Security Council. He was one of the top military advisors.
NAIMAnd here we have a government that decides to target him in a criminal investigation, which means, one hopes that the government has a lot of evidence that he is the one that revealed the information about Stuxnet. As we all recall, a few years ago, there was this story about the United States working with other countries and being able to penetrate the computer systems in Iran that run the nuclear -- the centrifuges and essentially sabotaging them remotely and creating havoc in the system.
NAIMAnd it's estimated that that attack -- it was one of the first highly public cyber attacks -- delayed the Iranian nuclear program by a few years. And at the time there was a big story run and led by David Sanger of the New York Times, one of our colleagues...
REHMHere on the Friday News Roundup.
NAIM...and is often here with us, who run a very important story detailing how that was done and what were the consequences. That was the first that the world knew about this attack with a virus -- with a cyber virus. And now it turns out that, according to the government, uh, Gen. Cartwright was the source of David Sanger. And so here are two perplexing questions, is, why would such a high-ranking individual that devoted his career to his country and to the military would do such a thing? And the second question is, how did they find out?
REHMHow do you answer those questions, Anne?
GEARANWell, I can't speculate about Gen. Cartwright's motives, if indeed he was the leaker. He has been identified through source -- sources have told the Washington Post and others that he has been notified rather that he is a target. And it appears that he is the principle target. So as Moises said, the way that that would trace back most likely is that sometime after his retirement from government, he allegedly would have told reporters -- at least one, maybe more -- about the origin of the Stuxnet virus.
GEARANStuxnet was a huge story when he was in government. He, you know, and many others were in positions to know about it certainly. He is a -- he was the number two military officer in the country. He was an expert in cyber warfare and cyber malware, if that's even a different way to think about it, which is what Stuxnet turned out to be.
GEARANStuxnet is now regarded as the first time that a computer virus, a worm was used as a weapon of war. And it was specifically intended to target one thing in Iran that the United States and Israel, who collaborated to build it, could not have had direct access to any other way.
REHMSo what's the timing on this? How do we put together the timing? Was the leak alleged to have happened just before the Stuxnet virus was released or after it was all over and done with? And isn't the timing issue an important one?
FOUKARAWell, the timing issue is a very important one for so many different reasons. One of them is that the Obama Administration seems to be going through a barrage of these links that are causing huge problems for this administration, Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks. And then we have Snowden, and then we have Cartwright. And I wanted to add a third question to the two questions that Moises posed a little while ago. And that question is, what else is in the offing or could be in the offing?
FOUKARAAnd I think that the larger theme for me here is that this administration, which has pivoted from reducing U.S. footprint in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq and using drones for surveillance here in the United States, if this could possibly be the price that it has to pay for pivoting from reducing the footprint of U.S. soldiers on the ground to using these sophisticated cyber methods to fight wars, wars of surveillance domestically but also real wars as we heard from Anne in the Iranian case.
GEARANOne interesting and maybe ironic note here is that General Cartwright is a proponent of that smaller footprint. He was the most prominent voice within the senior military leadership arguing against the surge in 2009 in Afghanistan, which did not endear him to his Pentagon colleagues, and certainly did not endear him to his boss, then-chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Adm. Mike Mullen.
GEARANThe two of them did not have a good relationship. And Cartwright sort of became around town known as the White House's pet general because he didn't want to do that. Interestingly enough, in retirement as an analyst, he has spoken quite critically of the consequences of reliance solely on drone warfare.
REHMLet's turn now to Brazil, Moises, because lawmakers there are passing a flurry of legislation in response to the protests that have been going on. How significant are they? What kinds of measures are they?
NAIMWe don't know and the Brazilian legislature has a story -- has a history of passing legislation, and then nothing happens. So we still don't know if this is just cosmetic measures to appease the people that are taking to the streets. President Dilma Rousseff has been acting in a very sort of effective way in embracing the protestors and making their grievances and their demands her own and trying to use the people in the streets and the cry of frustration of the people in the streets to generate changes and reforms in the political system.
NAIMThere is a lot of anger in Brazil, both against corruption -- especially the corruption that it's pervasive in the congress and the Senate. There are almost 200 legislators. There's a story today in the New York Times that identifies 200 lawmakers in Brazil that have -- that's a third of congress that have charges, and they're facing trial for.
NAIMAll kinds of things from -- there is one congressman called Hildebrando Pascoal who is widely known as the chainsaw congressman because he's a member of a death squad that is accused of having assassinated somebody else with a chainsaw and the like. There's another that has embezzled $10 million. And so people are upset about this, and that's not new.
REHMSo the charges of corruption are legitimate.
NAIMWell, they are indicted. Some of them have been already sentenced, but there are all kinds of laws that these lawmakers have passed that protect and shield them from initiatives. Then there is the story of a country where its health system is not that good and transportation is very inefficient. And meanwhile, they're building this very, very expensive stadium and infrastructure for the World Soccer Cup championship for the Olympics. And so the story there is, you know, when your child is sick, take him to the stadium because the hospital is not going to be very effective.
REHMAnd you wrote this week that there are similarities between what's happening in Brazil, what's happening in Turkey.
NAIMYes. And what's the similarity? These are very successful countries, and yet people are taking to the streets. Both Brazil and Turkey have had one of the largest, fastest growing middle classes in the world. They have excellent economic growth. And Brazil even was able to lift out of poverty 40 million people and diminish its legendary economic inequality.
NAIMAnd yet people are taking to the streets. And I think it's very interesting to see and compare how Prime Minister Erdogan is treating the protestors, and how President Dilma Rousseff is doing. As I said before, President Rousseff has just embraced and tried to make her own the grievances and the cries of frustration of the people.
NAIMWhereas Prime Minister Erdogan is denouncing, insulting, attacking and threatening the protestors and calling them, you know, the tools of foreign powers and, you know, participants in a conspiracy against him and his government and threatening them. So we're going to see which of the two strategies is going to work out better for a longer...
FOUKARAI mean, in the case of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, it's obviously a case of be careful what you wish for. Because what the protestors are calling for now was the original platform she actually ran on during the election. The only difference is, as Moises just pointed out, there isn't enough money now left in the country between their World Cup ambitions and the health and education problems that the country's facing. Although she's talking about spending $40 billion, but there is just not that kind of cash.
FOUKARAWith regard to Turkey, I think it's very interesting to extrapolate from Brazil and Turkey to something universal. There's clearly something universal happening around the world. I mean, with these protests people are just protesting just about anything. And, you know, who better to sum that up for me than the Irish poet Yeats, "things fall apart, the centre cannot hold."
FOUKARAIf you look at the United States as having been the center of the world since the end of the Cold War, and you look at this stuff -- all this stuff coming at the U.S., from Russia, not just about Snowden but also about Syria. If you look at what Ecuador is doing, I think we are just at a point in history where governments are no longer able to hold it, at least not the way they have traditionally done so far.
REHMAnd you mentioned during the break Venezuela and how it may be totally willing to take on Snowden, Moises.
NAIMYes. President Maduro -- well, first we have President Correa from Ecuador who has been quite, quite strident in supporting freedom of expression and explaining that Snowden and Assange deserve all kinds of protections, while at the same time in his country he has become one of the worst offenders in violating the human rights of journalists.
NAIMAnd he just passed a gag law for -- that unanimously in the region has been denounced as one of the most severe and antidemocratic law about the media. And at the same time President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela has already stated that he will be more than happy to provide asylum for Mr. Snowden. And President Maduro is in Moscow this Monday visiting President Putin. So perhaps they're going to be talking about that.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's talk about Bangladesh and why the Obama Administration is deciding to suspend trade privileges with that country. Anne.
GEARANThe Obama Administration has been under pressure to lift what are essentially mildly preferential trade preferences to Bangladesh since the collapse of a factory building -- garment factory building in April that killed more than a thousand people. It was far from the first disaster in the garment industry in Bangladesh but certainly the most deadly and the one that really galvanized labor activists around the world.
GEARANAnd some of whom, of course, are part of the democratic constituency in the United States who said, how can you give freebies to a government that allows this kind of thing to happen and did so little to prevent it, and really had such an abysmal record of response once it happened?
GEARANThe underlying problem of course is that Bangladesh is the source of lots of cheap clothing that is sold in many major American retailers by many major American retailers who have direct manufacturing agreements with garment businesses in Bangladesh. And if they don't make those clothes in Bangladesh, to make them at the same price, logically they would have to go somewhere else.
REHMBut let's also think about what kind of an economic impact that's going to have on the people there in Bangladesh.
NAIMIt's huge, Diane. And the administration is also pressuring the European Union to also curtail their imports. And Europe purchases 60 percent of Bangladesh's garment exports. It employs in Bangladesh 4 million people. Eighty percent of the employees in these factories are women, very often the heads of the households. And so the impact is going to be huge. Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of clothing, as Anne said, to the United States behind China.
NAIMSo on the other hand, one has to hope that this has a silver lining. These are crushing pressures that the Bangladeshi government cannot sustain. So perhaps hopefully that would lead to changes in the really horrible working conditions in Bangladesh. And, you know, if we all have to pay one or two dollars more for a T-shirt or a garment made in Bangladesh, but that creates a safer environment for workers, perhaps that's a good trade-off.
REHMOf course, my concern is that the kinds of changes they make will be totally superficial, will let the suspension go, and then they go back to doing business--
FOUKARAYeah, absolutely, they go back to business as usual...
FOUKARA...which is possible. But, look, it's very interesting. A few days ago, I listened to the show that you did about the minimum wage. And I think when the -- in the United States...
REHM...with Seth Harris.
FOUKARAThat's right. When the minimum wage was instituted here in the United States, it caused a hue and cry in many different places in the country. And I think it may be a similar situation in Bangladesh. It's a tough price to pay, but ultimately, given these conditions in which the work is done, I think they would just have to suck it and improve those conditions.
REHMAbderrahim Foukara of Al Jazeera Arabic. When we come back, it's time to open the phones. We'll take your calls.
REHMAnd it's time to open the phones, first to Owensboro, Ky. Good morning Aaron.
REHMGo right ahead sir.
AARONYes. I would like to get your, your opinion on the current crisis with Syria and how it's going to affect American diplomatic relations in the Middle East, and more specifically why the U.S. would support the "freedom fighters" who were revealed by a recent German intelligence report to be 95 percent from other Middle Eastern nations besides Syria and on record al-Qaida.
GEARANWell, I'm not familiar with the German report that Aaron cites, but the makeup of the rebel forces has been a concern for the Obama administration and its principal Western allies helping Syria all along. Both Britain and France have had similar concerns. However, in the context of the current debate about broadening military support to the rebels, the United States says it is confident that it can get the light arms it's talking about sending, or has promised to send, into the right hands.
GEARANThat a year of experience dealing with the rebels and the elevation of a professional general who was a former Syrian military officer to be the head of the Syrian Military Council means that there is a clear chain of command and they can get the weapons where they need to go. There is, however, a big mixture of forces fighting to unseat Assad, many of them highly unsavory and the, you know, that again, that was a concern from the get-go, and it remains one.
REHMAll right. To James in Ypsilanti, Mich., good morning you're on the air.
JAMESI just have a comment about Brazil, and here's my comment. Brazil is spending $54 billion on the World Cup, and they say it would cost $100 million to meet the demands of the people's health care, social issues, et cetera. I suggest that the private businesses commit their profits from the World Cup exclusively for meeting the demands of the people.
JAMESThe people have spoken. I have posted my friend Holly's photos and comments on my Facebook page.
REHMAll right sir thanks for calling. Moises…?
NAIMAnd that's the issue. James is absolutely right, and all of the indignant protesters are essentially saying that. Why should we put up with an underperforming and badly functioning health system or transportation system and bad schools while at the same time we're throwing hundreds of millions of dollars to FIFA, the international federation of soccer, the organization that leads the soccer championships and the World Cup?
NAIMSo that's part of the story...
NAIM...that's a very important part of the story.
NAIMNow, how do you find the money? It's important to note that James suggests private businesses have to put the money. At this point the Brazilian private businesses are the most taxed in the region. Brazilians' fiscal pressure on private businesses is the highest and it's a nightmare and a lot of Brazil could grow more and faster if it simplified its tax structure and allowed a more dynamic investment environment to obtain.
REHMAll right, Anne Gearan, tell us about the attack on the presidential palace in Afghanistan's capital.
GEARANYes. Several days ago on Tuesday, there was a really extraordinarily brazen daytime attack on essentially the front door of the presidential palace compound in Kabul. This is not only the home but the office and the sort of ceremonial heart of the Afghan government, the U.S.-backed Afghan government of Hamid Karzai.
GEARANHe takes great pride in having an open but also a very secure government center. It is his White House. The security measures there have increased over the past several years as the threats directly to him have increased. The Taliban, presuming it was the Taliban that launched this attack, had never had any hope of actually killing him or of really even breaching the front wall.
GEARANAll of the attackers were dead in a matter of half an hour or an hour or so. But the fact that they were able to launch heavy weaponry right straight at the front door of Karzai's house at dawn with many witnesses, including reporters that were lined up for a press conference, is a really a, the best testament yet that the Taliban is not going to go into negotiations quietly.
GEARANThey have agreed in principle to negotiate with the United States, not yet with the Karzai government over the terms of the U.S. withdrawal next year. Those negotiations were set to begin in Qatar, haven't yet and the Taliban is saying, All right, you want to talk? Well, we can show we can fight too.
REHMWasn't the CIA compound also targeted?
FOUKARAIt certainly was and I think, just as an adjunct to what Anne has just said, I think all sides in these negotiations have always said that the fact that we're negotiating does not mean that we will stop, cease military hostilities. And I think the Taliban -- if it is indeed the Taliban who delivered that message to Karzai -- they delivered it very powerfully.
FOUKARAThe irony is that they're willing to talk to the United States whom they consider the aggressor and the invader. They're not willing to talk to Karzai nor is he willing to talk to them. They see him as a puppet of the United States. He sees them as people who are trying to undermine the future of Afghanistan.
REHMAll right. To San Antonio, Texas. Good morning, Ryan.
RYANAnd good afternoon to everybody...
RYANI'm calling in regards to the retired general who is being targeted for investigation of -- in regards to the leaks of the Stuxnet virus. I was wondering, do you think it is related to the Justice Department getting such notes from the AP? And how does this affect the, if so, how does this affect the journalists and source relationships? I will take my answer off the air.
REHMAll right, thanks for calling. Do you see a connection there, Abderrahim?
FOUKARAI'm not even sure I understood what the question was, but if I try to piecemeal what I heard and do that correctly -- is there a connection between the leaks attributed to Cartwright and what the United States, what Eric Holder did to the AP over the...
REHMThat's how I heard it.
FOUKARAAll right. Look, who knows what connections there may be? There isn't obviously -- there's no obvious connection that I can see between those two. I do not see how Cartwright would want to protest against Holder by leaking the information that's attributed to him over Stuxnet.
REHMAll right. And to Cincinnati, Ohio good morning, Bryan.
BRYANGood morning, Diane. I love your show, and thanks so much for the chance.
BRYANI have a comment, and I have a request after that. My comment is about the Syrian fears. Most of the areas that fell under the rebel control it's now like a disaster area where they apply the Sharia law which they will take people to basically public squares, behead people, basically people are tortured. There is no whatsoever human rights. It's all al-Qaida flags.
BRYANIt's the people going from all over the world for jihad in Syria, especially those areas under the rebels. The rebels' area and the opposition recently lost its credibility. It seemed like they could not agree on a group to represent them in Geneva II. They're opportunistic. They have the association from the people on the ground. The people on the ground, they are mostly -- they are thieves and smugglers.
REHMAll right, sir...
BRYANAlso they can -- my request then also, something easier to Libya, to Egypt, they are all fell after this, you know, Arab Spring under the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood and most of those places really, if you feel like which countries supported them, it was Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
REHMAll right, sir, thanks for calling. Abderrahim.
FOUKARAWell, as far as Syria is concerned, there's obviously a lot of misinformation, and there's a lot of propaganda coming out of every side of Syria whether the part that's still controlled by the regime, the part that's controlled by the Free Syrian Army or the part that's controlled by the so-called Islamists whether they have come from Iraq or from Saudi Arabia or from other parts of the Arab world.
FOUKARAIt's really difficult for us as journalists to actually ascertain exactly what's going on inside Syria. What we know for sure -- what I know for sure is that whether Geneva II happens tomorrow or next week or next year, the Syria as we've known it over the last several decades is finished. Syria as an important regional player, it will live outside of history for some time.
FOUKARAWhether there's going to be a solution, whether the fighting will continue, it's very likely that the fighting will continue for many years. The only difference with Iraq is, is that I do not think that the region can afford now for the Syrian conflict to go on. We've seen even the most stable countries around Syria coming undone such as Turkey so I don't think that the United States and its allies or the Russians who are allies of Bashar al-Assad have a real interest in having the conflict drag on. But the reality of it is that it is likely to drag on.
GEARANYou've seen an interesting bit of candor this week about the degree to which the United States is worried about the military coming undone of Syria and that, its effect on the surrounding countries. The current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said publicly the other day that the United States was leaving F16s and a patriot missile battery in Jordan to help with its defense.
GEARANThere's been a patriot missile battery in Turkey for the better part of a year now and also that the U.S. was talking with Iraq about ways to strengthen its military. There's been a real hesitation, given the really desperate, terrible sectarian resurgence, violent resurgence in Iraq for the United States to get too militarily involved there. And Iraq hasn't wanted it to, but now, apparently it might.
REHMAll right. And to Baltimore, Md., Vau, (sp?) you're on the air.
VAUYes. First, I'm sorry about my English. I'm a Brazilian who live in the United States, and I went to Brazil for the Confederation Cup. And I think it's wrong to blame FIFA because Brazil bid for the World Cup and Olympics, and I think we should blame the last (unintelligible) government in Brazil, like Lula, that the whole country, including the United States, keeps saying that, how great it is and his party is -- they're very, very corrupt, very, very -- you know, I've never seen that. And if you go to Brazil, most of the people, you know, they don't work, just collect, you know.
REHMAll right, sir, thanks for calling. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." How much of the blame for Brazil's current situation belongs to the past president?
NAIMWell first, the FIFA which is the soccer, the international soccer organization has very advantageous deals with the countries where this is staged so I'm not blaming them. They are just, have requirements and the countries are happy to comply so the caller is right it's not a FIFA problem. It's a government of Brazil problem. But it is also fair to say that when Brazil was picked both for the Olympics and for the World Cup, this was a national triumph.
REHMPeople wanted it.
NAIMPeople wanted it and so to blame just one government or one party for it, this was a moment in which Brazil was rejoicing to its attainment. Now, it is true that the government of President Lula has been accused of corruption. He's the top, one of his top ministers and chief of staff has been indicted and he's on trial. There are several others, and that is one of the reasons people are taking to the streets, the level and extent of corruption that the country has had in the last eight years or so.
REHMAll right. To Alton, Ill., good morning, Donna.
DONNAYes. I'm calling because I would like to comment on the Edward Snowden situation.
DONNAAnd I'm just saying that I'm really thankful for what he did because I think he did the right thing. Our house and our phone, set during the Bush Jr. administration has been I think, involved in what he was checking into, and I'm really thankful that he has allowed me to better understand what might have been happening to my home and house. And I recall writing the U.S.A. Supreme Court two times that during those years when Bush Jr. was in, concerning, you know, lots of mysterious things that was taking place.
REHMAll right, Donna. And I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear that Edward Snowden's father will be on this program on Monday. Abderrahim, do you want to comment?
FOUKARAThe question that you put to Moises at the outset of this show, will Snowden receive a fair trial? I think this is an indication of the difficulty that the government of the United States will have in trying Snowden if he were to be tried here in the United States.
FOUKARAI heard somebody say yesterday that while he may have committed treason against the government of the United States this particular person who was speaking did not feel that he committed treason against the American people and I think that's certainly one of the hurdles we would hear if there were to be a trial. And what we've heard from the listener, I think, is the epitome of that kind of difficulty.
GEARANYeah, there's a, you know, a real division of opinion at the heart of every discussion about security versus privacy here. I mean, what is a balance? How much of one thing is too much, and how little of another is too little? And do we trust the government to get that balance right? Snowden's considerable supporters would obviously have very clear answers to that, and by his own discussion, by his own admission, he wanted to start that discussion.
REHMAnne Gearan, diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, Abderrahim Foukara, Washington bureau chief of Al Jazeera Arabic, and Moises Naim, his latest book is titled "The End of Power." And have a great weekend, everybody.
REHMThank you, and thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
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