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Islamic State militants gain ground in the Syrian border city of Kobani as the U.S. steps up airstrike. Turkey says it will not take the lead on a ground operation in the border region, despite pressure from American officials. Thousands of protesters return to the streets in Hong Kong after the government calls off talks. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un misses a key political ceremony, extending the mystery of his whereabouts. Questions arise about a connection between the cyber-attack on JPMorgan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. And the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to two children’s rights activists. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top international news stories.
- David Sanger National security correspondent, The New York Times; author of "Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power."
- Kim Ghattas State Department correspondent, BBC; author of "The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power."
- Matthew Lee Diplomatic writer, Associated Press.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Islamic State militants gain ground in a key Syrian town on the Turkish border. Thousands of protesters return to the streets of Hong Kong after the government calls off talks. And west African leaders plead for more aid to fight the Ebola outbreak. Here for the international hour of the "Friday News Roundup," David Sanger of the New York Times, Kim Ghattas of the BBC and Matthew Lee of the Associated Press.
MS. DIANE REHMYou are welcome to join us. Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Send us an email to email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And welcome to all of you.
MS. KIM GHATTASGood morning.
MR. MATTHEW LEEGood morning.
MR. DAVID SANGERThank you.
REHMGood to see you. Kim Ghattas, what's the latest from the Syrian border town of Kobani?
GHATTASWell, the air strikes by the coalition seem to have made some -- have had some impact on stemming the advance of the militants of the Islamic State. The Kurdish fighters within the town and around it are fighting back quite hard, but it's not a won battle. And there are very concerned calls by the UN, envoy to Syria, for example, Staffan de Mistura urging the world to do more, reminding the world of what happened in places like Srebrenica that, you know, we need to make sure there is no massacre in Kobani.
GHATTASBut I think that while there has been a lot of focus on what has been going on in Kobani, it's important to keep an eye on the wider picture, which is that overall, the Islamic State militants are not really on the run after several weeks of military airstrikes. In fact, it appears as though they may be overrunning Anbar Province in Iraq which will be very concerning, as well. So, there are a lot of moving pieces in the situation.
SANGERI think Kim is exactly right. When you back off and you say, why are we concerned about Kobani? It's because there could be a horrific humanitarian disaster there, whether there are the killings or whether there is an effort to evacuate those people who are left in the town. But in the end, for Kobani, you have to ask the question, is it a strategically vital place or is it a politically vital place? Strategically, it's not all that important. Politically and symbolically, it is, because we can see it from the Turkish border.
SANGERAnd thus, you could see those TV images of the IS tanks and you can see the smoke rising and so forth. So, it's giving us something we really haven't had in this war in Syria, which is live imagery. Strategically, losing Anbar and particularly how the IS has, the Islamic State forces have moved in nearer to the Baghdad Airport is probably more important, because if they are -- get, they're right now within eight or nine miles of the airport. If they got in much closer, the threat to commercial aircraft is gonna be so great that you're gonna end up with a situation where you probably can't fly in and out of the capital of a country that we spent tremendous blood and treasure to try to preserve.
REHMSo, Matt Lee, what has Turkey's agreement or lack thereof, been with these groups fighting right along their border, practically?
LEEWell, I think -- I agree with both David and Kim 100 percent. But I also think that Kobani has not only shown -- given us live TV images of the fighting that's going on between the militants and the Kurds there, it's also given us live images of Turkish tanks doing absolutely nothing. And I think it's hard to underestimate the symbolic and the propaganda value that Kobani and its fall, if in fact that happens, which I think is probably likely, given the fact that the Turks don't seem to be interested in doing anything.
LEEI think that will give the militants a huge propaganda victory, and may, in fact, help them in their fighting in other places in Iraq, like in Anbar, as both Kim and David mentioned. The Turks, you know, are -- this is a very, it's a very sensitive issue for them, and it's -- and they're playing it without any emotion at all. They hate the Kurds who are in Kobani, defending Kobani right now, probably as much as they hate ISIL. And I think that their calculation right now is that by doing nothing, one of their enemies is getting decimated. And the other one can be dealt with at a later time.
GHATTASIt's important, also, to see Kobani in the bigger picture of what this coalition is really about, because yes, it may not be important, necessarily, strategically, as David pointed out, but it does highlight the divisions within the coalition. One of the reasons why the Turks don't really want to rush in and do a lot about Kobani is beyond the Kurdish issue and their fears of Kurdish separatist ambitions is the fact that they see this coalition as having, you know, needing to be about something different than just attacking and rolling back ISIS.
GHATTASThey want to focus on bringing down President Assad. And that goes right to the heart of the conflicting agendas at the heart of this coalition. You have different camps, different goals. And Turkey is trying to use this to put pressure on the US to change the end goal of this coalition, and that is something that the US is resisting. They want a buffer zone on the border. They want to focus on bringing down Assad and that would really expand the mission that President Obama has set out.
REHMAnd there's also the question of returning that buffer zone to Syria if, in fact, that conflict should take place.
SANGERWell, that's right. And, you know, Kim has gotten to the strange evolution in American policy here, of this conflict, where you had a President in President Obama who would not enter the conflict when he called it a civil war. And, even though he declared that Assad had to go, the United States has done very little to make him go. Now, we're in the odd position that in fighting ISIS, which actually does, over time, pose a threat to the United States and its allies, if it is able to create this safe zone for plotting of the kind that Al Qaeda did in Afghanistan prior to 9/11.
SANGERThe administration feels as if it's got to make a choice and prioritize first on ISIS and it has recognized that, you know, Assad is going to be a necessary evil for some period of time. And, as Kim says, you know, when you've got an alliance here that has different goals, you're going to end up with a differing allocation of resources.
REHMThe other point that you raised, Kim, is the question of just how much good these air flights by the US and its allies are doing. Are they having an impact on these ISIL or ISIS forces to at least hinder their progress? From what you said, it doesn't sound that way.
GHATTASSo far, it's still a sort of ebb and flow. They're on the retreat in some places, but advancing in others. I think one of the reasons why they have suddenly started focusing on Kobani is because they are suffering some losses in Iraq and so they are trying to use this for advancement. But then, now we're hearing that they're making a lot of progress in Anbar. But the problem with the coalition and the strategy, from all the conversations I've had with people from the region and people here in Washington is that there is a problem in the sequencing.
GHATTASNot only are the end goals different, depending on who you talk to. The Turks want one thing. The UAE want something else.
GHATTASBut the sequencing is also problematic, because airstrikes on their own aren't going to be enough to regain the territory that ISIS has taken. So what do you do about that? You need people on the ground. The US isn't about to send troops. The Turks are certainly not willing to just go in there and, you know, send their soldiers in without being guaranteed a way out. So you need local capacity, and you don't really have that, neither in Iraq, fully, not yet.
GHATTASAnd certainly not in Syria where there's been a lot of humming and hawing about backing the rebels and which ones they are over the last three years, to the extent that whereas, you know, two years ago, perhaps, it was possible to map out a number of groups that the west could have worked with. Right now, they are so splintered, so radicalized and so all over the map that it's become, you know, a very difficult option to consider.
SANGERAnd so under-trained.
GHATTASAnd so under-trained.
SANGERI mean, you know, we think we're having a hard time organizing the Iraqi military. To sort of get together, can you imagine taking what is essentially a non-military force and making that the ground force. And that raises the next big risk, which is we become the air force and the Iranians become the ground force.
LEEOr militia backed by Iran. That's exactly right. I mean, what you have right now, the free Syrian Army, which only half existed, or even, I'm not even sure half is the right way to say it, about two and a half years ago under General Idris, has now been reduced to just, you know, a collection of small cells. Which are under-trained, if not completely untrained. And completely under-equipped. And ill-prepared to take on these militants, who are using weapons and equipment that they -- made in America, that was given to the Iraqis.
REHMAnd there's a report on NPR this morning that these successes, however you measure them, on the part of ISIL, or ISIS, is a great recruiting tool, that more and more want to join a winning side.
GHATTASYou know, I was watching some of the interviews that various media organizations have made, have conducted over the last few days with members of rebel groups in Syria, and the anger that they have towards President Assad and towards the US for not helping Syrians under shelling from President Assad is really going to be a problem.
REHMAll right. Short break here, and when we come back, your calls, email. Stay with us.
REHMAnd on a vocabulary front, our first emailer is Jennifer who says, "Can you please explain why different people use ISIS, ISIL or Islamic State?" Explain it briefly, Matt.
LEEOh well, I think it has to do with the fact that people are very reluctant to call them the Islamic State because they don't want to confer upon them any kind of recognition of actually being a state. I think people -- so ISIL, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, that's out because it has state in it. Islamic State is out so, you know, people go about -- you know, you just have to describe them as I think the AP is...
REHMHow about Islamic militants? Can we let it go at that?
GHATTASYeah, well, you know, the French have gone the other way which is they're using the Arabic word because, you know, ISIL or ISIS is really a translation of the Arabic name that the group has taken, Islamic State in Iraq or Islamic State in the Levant. And that becomes Daesh Dawlat al-Islamiyya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham. So Daesh is the word that the French are using because they don't want to use the word Islamic State. And going beyond that, the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said, not only am I going to call them Daesh, I'm going to call them the throat slitters of Daesh because we need to remind people on a daily basis how brutal they are.
LEEThe Australians are calling them a death cult so...
REHMDo you want to weigh in?
SANGERWell, the New York Times, after -- for the longest time calling them ISIS has just changed its style, the column Islamic State in part because that's what they call themselves. But we do quote people frequently using the phrase Daesh. And of course the members of the Islamic State don't care for that because they want to get across the concept that they are...
REHM...that they are a state.
SANGER...that they are a state, yeah.
GHATTASAnd they don't like the word Daesh because in Arabic it has a -- it resonates with a word which is Daeshi which means to quell to quash someone.
REHMInteresting. Here's an email from Phil in Indiana. "Could Turkey's refusal to help Kobani be related to the release of Turkey's prisoners by ISIS several weeks ago? Is this the missing quid pro quo?"
LEEWell, I -- you know, that's possible but there is another factor here which we haven't mentioned yet. And that is the shrine that is sovereign Turkish territory which is in -- solidly inside Syria and is surrounded on three sides by the ISIS-ISIL fighters. Turkey is treaty-obligated on behalf of the Muslim world to protect this shrine. And its troops are there, a small number but still a sizeable number who are cut off from resupply and from anything. And I think this is a big sensitivity as well for the Turks, not just the fact that their diplomatic hostages were released from Mosul.
GHATTASYou know, the Turks are a difficult player. And President Erdogan is known as a prickly leader. And they are seen today as adopting a policy that could backfire not, you know, moving in to sort of help Kobani. But I think they're also getting overly and perhaps a little bit unfairly criticized because everybody has domestic politics that they need to think of. What exactly does the U.S. want Turkey to do, send in troops? They have to figure out what does that mean for them as a country sending in troops. They would be at war with Syria. What is the way out?
GHATTASAnd the Turks feel that they've been - you know, they've made a lot of mistakes but they feel that no one's really paid enough attention to what they've had to suffer through with the influx of refugees in their country, the instability it brings to their own country. So when, you know, debates about foreign policy take place in the U.S. and there is frustration about what this administration is doing or isn't doing, it's too easy to then blame, you know, the allies because they have their own interests and domestic agenda that they need to take care of.
REHMAll right. David Sanger, let's turn now to North Korea and the absence of Kim Jong-un who has not been seen for at least I think it's five weeks.
SANGERSince September 3, yeah.
REHMFive weeks and now we're on the cusp of this huge gathering in North Korea bringing all parties together. He hasn't been seen yet.
SANGERHe hasn't. We have had North Korean official radio say that he has been ill. And of course he was seen with a limp and he's -- but he's only 31.
REHMAnd we should say he has a family history of what, kidney disease, liver disease, all kinds of physical problems.
SANGERThey live pretty nicely, if you're running...
REHM...and he's indulged.
SANGERRight. He's -- indulged would be the great understatement. And I think the best book on this subject was written by his father's chef who described all the meals he'd prepare on the, you know, train trips to china and so forth. And Kim Jong-un himself is a bit overweight, quite overweight these days. And some people suggested he did that deliberately to look more like his grandfather, the country's founder, Kim Il-sung to whom he bears a great resemblance.
SANGERBut I think it may be pushing things a bit far, as the rumor mill has in the past few weeks, to suggest that all of this means that there's been a coup, that he's lost power and so forth. First of all, anybody who's bet on a successful coup in North Korea since the end of World War II has consistently lost money, okay. Secondly, people in North Korea who thought that they could get in the way of the dynastic succession have not only lost money, they have frequently lost their lives.
SANGERThe most recent one was Kim Jong-un's uncle who, if you believe the American intelligence analysis in 2011 when he took over when his father Kim Jong-il died, the uncle would really run the country and Kim Jong-un would be a puppet and so forth. Uncle got a little bit greedy. Uncle was running his own businesses. Uncle was cutting out Kim Jong-un. Uncle got executed.
SANGERSo I'm a little reluctant to jump on the bandwagon of this is the end of the Kim dynasty. The moment will come at some point. The country will collapse at some point. We are highly unprepared, as the Chinese are and the South Koreans are, for that moment. But it doesn't feel right now like it's upon us in part because three of Kim Jong-un's top aides all showed up in Seoul at the Asian games on Saturday and negotiated a probably meaningless agreement to restart North-South talks. But it doesn't feel right that the three aids would show up...
REHMBut there were shots fired across -- between North and South.
LEETrue, true. That was the release of some South Korean propaganda balloons over the border, which engendered that -- which started that altercation earlier today. I mean, I'd just say, one of the wonderful things about North Korea analysis is that you're never wrong because you can spin the most wild fantasy rumor about it and no one's every going to deny it. So it's really -- you know, people can come up with these, you know, absurd or extravagant theories and never be called out and told they're wrong. But I think David's absolutely right on this. I think that it's very premature, very hard at the moment to read anything into Kim Jong-un's missing.
REHMOkay. But let me ask you how long he has to be gone before you all begin to believe the rumors, Kim?
GHATTASWell, it depends which rumor. Maybe he's just taking a break and he's on holiday. He works very hard on these public appearances all year long. He made 33 of them, a record number, just, you know, one month this summer. And it's important to remember that he's disappeared in the past for a number...
REHMFor this long a period?
GHATTASWell, this is the longest but he disappeared for 21 days in 2012 and 18 days in 2013. So there is a precedent. This is the longest. I think we're at about 37, 38, 39 days, so it is the longest. But, you know, I think that, you know, David and Matt make very good points. If -- you know, we can bet on all sorts of things but, you know, there are signs that the country is still holding together with the people who are closest to him.
SANGERAnd I showed up in North Korea around 1990 and 1991 on a tour when the North Koreans foolishly let a group of western reporters in. And Kim Jong-un spoke at a big rally. And it was the first time North Koreans had ever heard his voice. So, you know, we're so used to this media age where you've got to be in front of the cameras all the time. The North Koreans aren't playing by American television rules.
REHMAll right. Now, you said earlier that if North Korea should fall, Russia, China far more prepared than the U.S. or South Korea.
SANGERNo. I said that nobody was prepared for it. And, you know, the evidence for this goes back to WikiLeaks, Diane. If the -- some - -the most fascinating stuff in WikiLeaks, which we published in November of 2010, were the cables of these painful conversations between the Chinese and the U.S. and the South Koreans and the U.S. about what would happen to a collapsed North Korea. Well, the first problem is, if North Korea collapses you're going to have some loose nuclear weapons running around. And people are going to want to make sure that they grab them. But do you want the South Koreans grabbing them and becoming a nuclear state? Does the U.S. and China go after them?
SANGERSo it would be nice for the U.S. and China to have quiet conversations to make sure that we don't have conflicting military forces.
REHMDo you think that's going on?
SANGERWell, you know, no, I don't because the Chinese are afraid that if it leaks, which it almost certainly would, that they are planning for a North Korean fall. And yet at the same time, you know, the few times that the U.S. and China have not deconflicted themselves on the Korean Peninsula, it hasn't worked out terribly well.
REHMAll right. Any other thoughts on North Korea?
LEENo. I think that we've covered it pretty well, as much as it can be covered in the absence of any, you know, real hard information about where Kim is. Maybe he's just on an all-vegetable diet right now.
GHATTASWell, I'm here but we're talking about Kim Jong-un.
REHMAnd what about his wife? Have we laid eyes on her?
GHATTASWell, we have in the past, right.
REHMOh, no. Absolutely.
GHATTASShe's been at some -- I don't think we've seen her for the last few weeks as well.
REHMWe haven't seen her in the...
GHATTASWhich is why, you know, my favorite theory is that he's just on a well-deserved holiday.
REHMAll right. Let's talk about JP Morgan and other major financial institutions that got hacked. And indeed the suspicion is now it was Russia's Putin doing the dirty work.
SANGERWell, the suspicion now is that it was Russians doing the dirty work but the two questions are, was it Putin? In other words, was it state sponsored or state sanctioned in any way? And the second question is one of motive. Was this a hack in order to get into JP Morgan's accounts and the 76 million accounts that were touched by this or was it an effort by Russian hackers, patriotic hackers to basically say, we've seen the sanctions on Russia. We know where you live as well?
SANGERAnd President Obama's been asking this question himself in briefings that go back to the summer. And the amazing thing is, no one can actually give him a definitive answer. It's almost easier to give answers about Kim Jong-un. And...
REHMWhich are none to begin with.
SANGERRight. And that tells you something about what makes cyber attacks so different than the traditional attacks that we're accustomed to. Because in traditional attacks, even when we were terrified in the Cold War of the nuclear age, you could see where the attack was coming from. In this case, months of investigation has not really taken you back to the attackers.
GHATTASIt's really fascinating and as a sort of -- as somebody who doesn't know very much about the cyber world but as somebody who's a citizen and who does a lot online, it really worries you. What does this all mean and what sort of, you know, further attacks might we witness in the future? How does this all work? I think what is most puzzling is that no money was taken. We don't really know where it was coming from.
SANGERThey didn't even get account numbers. They got names and...
GHATTASThey didn't -- they got names.
GHATTASThey got names.
SANGERRight, as JP Morgan is very quick to point out. But there were -- we identified in the Times the other day, several other financial institutions were hit that wouldn't confirm publically they'd been hit and wouldn't tell you how far they got.
GHATTASYeah, because determining whether you've been hacked or not is, as far as I understand, quite a subjective process as well. And as David was saying, I was reading this very interesting article about it and it was described as somebody just walking into your house to figure out where is the open window that they can later come back and use to come and get you.
LEEI think you should look at this as a warning shot, but I don't think it's quite yet. I don't think you -- you know, I'm not ready to become the Gene Hackman character in "Enemy of the State" and move into some disconnected warehouse outside of Baltimore with no link to the -- you know, off the grid. I don't think that it's that -- we're not at that stage yet. But it is, it's very worrying. And it's not just the Russians who are doing this. It's the Chinese as well.
SANGERMatt's got sort of Gene Hackman like...
REHMI do think he played the role well.
SANGERYeah, he could do it.
REHMAll right. And pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong have returned to the streets after talks failed with the Chinese. What's that all about?
LEEWell, the chief executive of the Hong Kong government said basically they called off the talks because the protestors said that -- sorry, the protestors said that they were going to return to the street. And that they were using this -- the Hong Kong government thought that this was a threat and this was a -- they were threatening an illegal action, that is taking over the streets, occupying Central in Mongkok, downtown and, you know, downtown Hong Kong which is really quite a small area. And so the talks are off and the protestors are coming back to the streets, I think, as we speak.
REHMIn as great numbers as previously?
LEENo, not yet. But there is a fear or a hope among the protestors -- fear among the government, hope among the protestors that it could -- that they could become larger than they were in fact in the past.
GHATTASIt's a little bit unclear how this is going to be resolved because what the protestors want and what Beijing is willing to give, you know, I don't see how you can reconcile that. And the protestors...
REHMAll right. Lay that out for us. What do they want?
GHATTASWell, the protestors want an election in 2017 that is completely free and fair where they can choose just -- where anyone can run and anyone can vote for whoever they want. What Beijing is laying out as an option is better than what's been the case in the past where the chief executive was elected by a 1200-member committee. What they're saying can happen in 2017 is there can be direct elections but the candidates still have to be chosen by this 1200 member committee. So it's democracy but not quite.
GHATTASAnd it reminds me very much of the municipal elections in Syria. I know, very far away but, you know, they also talked often about the Hong Kong model for their economic progress without giving political advancements where, you know, the government said you can have free elections in the municipal elections. You can choose anyone you want but we're going to give you a list of who is approved to run.
REHMKim Ghattas. She's State Department correspondent for the BBC and author of "The Secretary: A Journey With Hillary Clinton From Beirut to the Heart of American Power." Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back to the International Roundup, our regular Friday feature. And we're going to go right to the phones, 800-433-8850. First, to Peter who's here in Washington, D.C. You're on the air.
PETERHello. I wanted to ask about the situation with the Kurdish defenders, they -- they're besieged. Why are we not, or at least not yet supplying arms and heavy equipment to them? The United States has the skills and experience to do air drops of even very heavy equipment in large quantities. And it seems to me as though that's what it would take to avoid what's otherwise going to happen.
SANGERWell, the debate about doing arms shipments has been a long one. And with the Kurds, until recently, the U.S. policy has been to give the arms to the Iraqi government and hope then that they would then share them up with the Iraqi Kurds. Only recently has the U.S. begun directly arming the Kurds in Iraq. And in Syria, you know, the great concern has been that any kind of heavy arms could fall into the wrong hands. We have a long history of arms not going where we wanted them to go. And the early experiments in arming the rebels in Syria, generally, indicated that the most extremist, Islamic groups ended up getting a hold of the best of the arms.
LEEAnd let's not also forget that the Kurds, specifically in Kobani, the Kurds who are defending it are linked to the PKK, which is a designated terrorist organization.
GHATTASBoth by the U.S. and Turkey.
LEEAnd Turkey, so, you know, they're -- it's politically dicey here. It's not just a question of helping the underdog.
REHMAll right. To Sam in Columbus, Ohio. You're on the air.
SAMWell, hello, Diane. I am a big fan. I listen to your show almost every day.
SAMYou're welcome. My comment is, in regards to U.S. policy, foreign policy, I grew up in the Middle East, and I am not naïve to think that every problem in North Africa or the Middle East is caused by the U.S. I do, however, question the legitimacy of the media to translate the problems over there. And specifically, I want to see if your panel will discuss any correlation between the ongoing fights between the Palestinians and the State of Israel and if that's really, you know, fueling any form of hate in this whole dilemma of the ISIS. You know, more than 2,000 innocent civilians were genocided (sic) a few weeks ago. And it looks like that was just put to the side.
GHATTASYou know, we have so many awful headlines and stories around the world, from Ebola to ISIS to violence in Africa to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, that it's true that sometimes in the media, you know, we can only have so many headlines...
GHATTAS...on our front page or on television. But I do think that what we are witnessing in the region -- whether it's in Gaza or even within Israel or in the rest of the Arab world -- is a growing level of radicalization everywhere. It is becoming really difficult to stand out as a moderate, liberal speaker. And without wanting to compare countries and situations, there was a level of hatred in speech by Israelis towards Palestinians during the Israeli-Gaza War that was quite shocking to a lot of Israelis. And so the discourse that we're hearing coming out of the region is really being -- is fueling the violence and feeding the violence. And I think that is something that needs to alarm everyone.
GHATTASAnd beyond thinking about military campaigns and counterterrorism, I think we need to start thinking about how we move beyond that with education.
REHMAll right. And another alarming aspect of what's happening globally is Ebola. With six people quarantined now in Spain, presidents of three West African countries pleading for more aid to fight Ebola -- Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone -- what do you see happening, Matt?
LEEWell, you know, this is a huge, huge concern. And I think, we saw, in just the past two days, Secretary of State Kerry really making impassioned appeals to get more countries involved, to get more medical personnel, more equipment, more money to these three affected countries. There are countries that have the ability to help that just aren't stepping up to the plate right now. He, in particular, called out China. And so the U.S. is ramping up its own efforts in these three countries. And I think that we can expect to see pressure grow increasingly on other countries to step up and really contribute.
SANGERWell, you've seen the U.S. send out this military group that's supposed to, I think, have 17 facilities set up by the middle of November. But so far the progress has been very slow because, as they have arrived, the countries really were not in condition to go accept them.
REHMAnd you're also having money held up on Capitol Hill...
REHM...by Inhofe of Oklahoma because, he says, the Pentagon needs those monies.
SANGERWell, the amount of money involved in the treatment of the Ebola and if they'll send this, is such a tiny fraction of what is an over $500 billion Pentagon budget, if you don't count the additional cost of conflicts, so, which, of course, has increased greatly over the past few years. The -- but there is a good question here about whether we are seeing some free riders. And China's a really interesting example of it. Because China's a case of a country that has exploited a lot of these areas for their natural resources and yet has not mobilized as fully.
SANGERNow, for the Chinese, this is a change in view. And remember it was only a few years ago that they got out and engaged in the fight against piracy. But for that, they could see their direct interest, because they were moving goods and fuel through those areas. In the Ebola case, the idea of the Chinese sort of stepping in to help on a public health problem -- and, you know, you can understand President Obama's frustrations at various moments, when he says, you know, where are the other great rising powers that talk about how they want to be treated equally with the United States?
GHATTASYeah, when he was, you know, speaking recently, President Obama, in an interview, said, you know, when things go wrong in the world, people don't call Moscow or Beijing. They call us. That's how we roll, I think he said. What is worrying about this health crisis is that the world -- the World Health Organization and the CDC seemed to be a little bit slow in reacting in the beginning. And now, you know, everybody's mobilized. But I read this one sentence, which I found worrying, which is, The math still favors the virus. The epidemic will only begin to decline when the number of people that someone infected can contaminate falls below one. And we're not there yet.
SANGERRight now, it's above two.
GHATTASAbsolutely. We're not there yet. So without wanting to sound alarmist, there is a lot at stake. And the concern is, you know, what do you do about air travel internationally? I'm getting on a plane this afternoon. I'm going to Lebanon. But, you know, I might be in the airport with somebody who's just come from Africa. You know, there need to be better safeguards and more awareness of how these viruses can travel around the world, to make sure that this can be controlled.
LEEAnd I think also the fear that we're seeing. I mean, there are growing calls in Congress now to essentially quarantine these countries -- to cut off, at least cut off people who have been there from coming back to the United States. Now, the administration is resisting this. And I think it's probably wise. But these kinds of calls are only going to get stronger as long as the epidemic continues. And, you know, this case in Spain, as well as the case in Texas, just very disturbing.
REHMAll right. Let's talk about Kenya's president, who has gone before the international criminal court to face crimes against humanity -- the highest-profile case that the ICC has ever seen, Matt. There's some question about whether he, the president, went ahead and put himself forward, knowing what?
LEEWell, I mean, I think that this is a very unusual case. It's the first time, I mean, people don't usually present themselves to the ICC for prosecution. They generally get -- have to be found, hauled in, much in the same -- much of the way that we saw with the war crimes trials for Yugoslavia. None of those people actually, you know, turned themselves in, per se. The case of Uhuru Kenyatta is going to be interesting. I think that there is -- certainly there was enough evidence of wrongdoing to bring the charge. But whether that's enough to convict, I think, is a separate question entirely.
REHMSo you think that the case may be heard...
LEEI don't think that -- well, this is just my own speculation -- but I don't think that he would have gone, presented himself willingly, if he was confident he was going to be convicted.
REHMAh. All right. Let's go to Dane in Morrisville, N.C. Hi, you're on the air.
DANEGood morning, Diane. Hey, I have a question about the ISIS conflict. It seems to me that Twitter and YouTube are their main recruiting mechanisms. I was wondering why the companies themselves would allow terrorist groups to use their services in such a way?
SANGERVery good question and extraordinarily hard question for Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and everyone else. On the one hand, they don't want to become conduits for hate speech. They don't want to become conduits for recruiting. On the other hand, they are busy right now trying to keep countries like China, but not exclusively China, from blocking their services. Because what is one country's hate speech is another country's free expression. And so the Chinese would turn around and say, Well, just as you want to cut off recruitment for ISIS, we want to cut off recruitment for those people who are gathering in the streets in Hong Kong.
SANGERAnd so you get to the question of, is this a state responsibility? Is this a corporate responsibility? And who makes those calls? And, you know, the United States itself has found itself on both sides of this. On the one hand, we have the State Department out with Internet freedom units that are helping dissident groups get up on the Web. And on the other hand, we have forms of speech we certainly want to stop.
REHMDavid Sanger of The New York Times. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." By the way, he's the author of "Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power." We cannot let this hour go by without talking about the dual Nobel Peace Prize awarded today, Kim, to two wonderful people.
GHATTASAbsolutely. There is so much that is so wonderful about this Nobel Peace Prize this time. Seventeen-year-old Malala Yousafzai, known for her advocacy for education, from Pakistan, shot by the Taliban in the head in 2012, made an incredible recovery. And then an Indian advocate for children rights, Kailash Satyarthi, if I pronounce this correctly, who's in his 60s and his fight -- has been fighting since his youth against the exploitation of children. There are 60 million children in forced labor in India. And so, it's a great message of hope for the younger generations, for this focus on education, on empowering the youth.
GHATTASBut you know what I also found amazing is -- because at the basis of it all, the Nobel Peace Prize is also about fraternity between nations -- and you have an Indian and a Pakistani, who've been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. And he has already spoken about the need to reach out across the borders.
LEEIt is true. It's finally something these two countries, which are always at -- seem to be always at each other's throats, that they now have something to share. I've noticed that Prime Minister Modi of India has congratulated the Pakistani, Malala, on the award. And, you know, anything that can bring India and Pakistan, two nuclear armed rivals, closer, has got to be a good thing.
REHMAnd apparently, Malala says she and Kailash have asked leaders of India and Pakistan to join them at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, which is lovely. And she is the youngest, at 17.
SANGERAt 17. Sort of, you know, makes you wonder, what do you do at age 18, if you've won the Nobel Peace? It also means that she could have a long lifetime of advocating in these issues with the aura of that Peace Prize around them. It also marks a little bit of a change, Diane, in something we saw happening in the Nobel Prize Committee -- Peace Prize Committee, the past number of years, which I think they've gotten beyond. There were a number of years where the Nobel Peace Prize was given to people who were not George W. Bush, right? So Al Gore got it for the work he did. The IAEA and its head at the time got it, in part because they had stood up to the Bush administration on Iraq, quite bravely.
SANGERBarack Obama got it for -- in his -- the first year of his presidency for advocacy of positions that seemed very different from the Bush administration. I wonder, today, how the Nobel Committee would look at that, given where some of those policies have gone since? And the president, himself, gave -- had to give a speech at that time about why presidents sometimes need to go to war. Now, I think, you see them returning a little bit more to the concepts that were there in past years.
REHMAs opposed to making judgments perhaps ahead of time?
SANGERPerhaps, as well.
REHMPerhaps. David Sanger of The New York Times, Kim Ghattas of the BBC, Matthew Lee, he's diplomatic writer for the Associated Press. Thank you all so much.
GHATTASThank you for having us.
REHMHave a great weekend. And enjoy your weekend, everybody. Thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
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