Behind the lies of Congressman George Santos. Diane talks to the owner of the small weekly paper that first broke the story, and a Washington Post journalist who is following the money to see who financed Santos's political rise.
Secretary Of State John Kerry travels to Cuba for the raising of the American flag at the U.S. embassy in Havana. China devalues its currency for three consecutive days, roiling global financial markets. ISIS claims responsibility for a bomb blast in a Baghdad market that killed at least 60 people. The Greek parliament approves a new bailout deal. Turkey sees a surge in violence, including an attack this week on the U.S. consulate in Istanbul. And the trial of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian concludes in Iran – he now awaits a verdict. A panel of journalists joins Diane to round up the week’s top news.
- Paul Danahar Washington bureau chief, BBC; author of "The New Middle East: The World After the Arab Spring."
- Missy Ryan Pentagon reporter, The Washington Post.
- Nathan Guttman Washington correspondent, Channel 1 Israeli News and The Forward.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. China ends three days of currency devaluations that had roiled world markets. After an all-night session in Parliament, Greek lawmakers agreed to the terms of a new bailout and Secretary of State Kerry is in Cuba today for a flag-raising ceremony at the new U.S. embassy. Here for this week's top international stories on the Friday News Roundup, Paul Danahar of the BBC, Missy Ryan of The Washington Post and Nathan Guttman of Channel 1 Israeli News and The Forward.
MS. DIANE REHMDo join us, 800-433-8850. You can send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And welcome to all of you.
MR. NATHAN GUTTMANGood morning. Thanks very much.
MR. PAUL DANAHARThank you.
MS. MISSY RYANThank you.
REHMPaul Danahar, this big move by China this week that caused lots of people lots of anxiety and cause the markets around the world to plunge, why was China devaluing their currency?
DANAHARYou can basically look at Chinese foreign and domestic policy with using two words. Domestic instability and foreign is shocking because all the Chinese want to do is create a stable environment in China because they don't want a lot of young people out of work with nothing to do, starting to get agitated, particularly now we have this internet phenomenon that is eating away at China's capacity to control the people that are coming of age in China.
DANAHARAnd so when they go around the world, all they want to do is buy things to keep those people happy and when they're at home, they just want to keep those people employed and shopping because if they're doing that, they're not worrying about politics. You see, the deal that they have with the Chinese people is your lifestyle will get better, but you're not going to get the vote. And if they don't see their lifestyle getting better, if they don't see the next generation being richer than the generation before that, they're going to start asking why and they're going start asking for their rights.
DANAHARAnd so this is all about, basically, saying, we don't care about anything other than being able to sell to the rest of the world, getting that money back into the Chinese economy, then pumping the Chinese economy and keeping our people happy. So the devaluation is basically about keeping Chinese goods cheap and being able to sell easily to the rest of the world.
REHMGo ahead, Missy.
RYANI would just add that, you know, I think people are still trying to unpack what the economic implications of this will be, especially for the United States. I think it's more clear for Asian countries and even for Europe. But what this does do is it reinforces questions about the fundamental soundness of the Chinese economy. As we know, there has slowing growth. There was a big, dramatic drop in the stock market earlier this year, which prompted intervention by the government, slowing exports.
RYANSo really, I think people are now taking more seriously the question of what does a slowing, less forceful growth in China mean for the world economy.
GUTTMANIt's interesting because for years, the U.S. has been complaining about China manipulating their currency rate and, basically, artificially holding it lower than it should be. And now, actually, this devaluation is bringing the yuan closer its real market value. Now, of course, it's not a free economy right now so the government still controls the rate, but by releasing a little bit, the flexibility of the currency rate, it brought us a little closer to what the market value is and it does reflect the slowdown in the Chinese economy.
REHMSo what does it mean for the worldwide economy and specifically for the U.S.?
DANAHARWell, I think -- it's not a massive, massive drop. It's a big drop over two days. It's not a massive, massive drop that's going to have a real huge impact at the moment on the American economy unless it keeps going down. If it keeps going down, then it will begin to do that. Because at the end of the day, it's still quite cheap to buy from China and it's still quite expensive to sell to China because of the difference in exchange rates and the goods that are being exchanged.
DANAHARChina's sending low value stuff and America's sending high value stuff. And most of the people in China that are buying the high value stuff can normally afford to pay a little bit more because they're not your average, you know, Chinese person. They've made a lot of money from being involved in new businesses that are sanctioned by the Communist Party. Most of these new businesses are not allowed to fail. Like Chinese banks are not allowed to fail.
DANAHARThat was why when the stock market went down, it was a huge shock for a lot of Chinese people. When I used to live in Beijing, all the young people I knew used to go and buy shares without understanding how the stock market worked because they got double their money within a month. And, suddenly, this new generation have seen that value go down and they're really confused about how this economy thing works.
DANAHARSo everything China's trying to do now is to calm things down, put some organization back into the process. And if that means they lose some friends abroad, they really don't care. It's all about home.
REHMBut there's been talk about the possibility of a currency war. Tell me what that means and how that really could affect global markets, Missy.
RYANWell, I think would just be a race to make exports more competitive and this has been the criticism from -- that we've heard this week from people like presidential candidate Donald Trump and even Senator Chuck Schumer who are worried that this is sort of an unjustified attempt on the part of China to compensate for the fact that its own internal manufacturing costs are now not what they used to be, vis a vis other countries who are now coming into the global economy.
RYANBut what I think we could see in the United States is just the fact that this may make American exports to China less competitive, things like oil and there's some speculation that it could even delay a rate hike from the Fed.
GUTTMANExactly. I think most economists agree that right now, the impact won't be very great, but if this devaluation continues, you could see a need by the Fed to protect American exporters. And the way to do that, of course, is by keeping the interest rates at zero. So that could impact, actually, America's domestic market in the way that every home owner, every loaner will know.
REHMI wonder if this rush to devalue their currency could affect the U.S. Fed's decision or postpone their decision as to whether to raise interest rates.
DANAHARWell, possibly. And I think what the Fed recognizes is that China has very few mechanisms to fiddle around with its economy. In America, bad companies are allowed to go bust. People are allowed to lose their jobs so that other people can create new jobs. In China, they can't do that. They can't afford to have people losing their jobs, getting out of work. They can't afford for things to collapse.
DANAHARAnd so the Fed will recognize that China has limited tools with which it can manage its own economy and it knows that it wants to manage its economy for political reasons. So the Fed, I think, will look at this and say, let's see where it really goes. Is it going to be a long term trend down and do we have to react to that or can we bounce our way through (unintelligible) ?
REHMPaul Danahar, he's Washington bureau chief for the BBC and author of "The New Middle East: The World After the Arab Spring." Missy Ryan is Pentagon reporter for The Washington Post. Nathan Guttman is Washington correspondent for Channel 1 Israeli News and The Forward. Missy, the Greek parliament agreed to new bailout terms. What are the international creditors now expecting of Greece?
RYANWell, we still need approval from the Eurozone finance ministers who would actually be lending this additional credit to Greece. But, you know, this debate, you know, I feel like we've been having this conversation for a couple of years now. The question is whether or not Greece, from a political perspective, will be able to make good on the requirements wrapped up in the bailout agreement that are, you know, related to economic reform and fiscal austerity.
RYANYou know, and there are a lot of people within Greek society who are just at wit's end and really don't want to stomach anymore reductions in, you know, pension benefits or government salaries. What we're seeing also is -- are divisions, growing divisions with the ruling Syriza party and I think that's a sign of the limits of Greeks ability to support these kinds of measures.
REHMWhat's that mean for the Greek prime minister, Paul?
DANAHARIt's pretty good, actually. He's likely to go to a new election later in the year and get more votes back. There's a good chance that the left-wingers within his already left wing party will actually break away and form another party. But he's proved to be incredibly popular, bizarrely, because he's broken every single one of his campaign pledges, which was about non austerity and fighting with the Europeans.
DANAHARBut there's a recognition in Greece that they can't afford to be outside the Eurozone because so much money has been pumped into their economy. They hate the austerity. They hate being bullied by the Germans. They're sick to death of being the sick man of Europe, but they've got nowhere else to go. And the reality of the Eurozone is allowing Greece -- and in the beginning was nonsense, economically. It was a political decision.
DANAHARAnd keeping them in is exactly the same and it's about the politics of Europe. It's not really about sensible finance or economics, which is why Greece is in such a big mess. So he will probably lose some of his party, have an election and come back stronger.
REHMBut the Greek economy is doing a little better than expected, Nathan.
GUTTMANYes, there are signs that it's actually doing a little bit better as expected. The question is, is it doing good enough to actually convince the Germans and the Eurozone that the Greek economy is on some path to sustainability that will allow it to pay back its debts. And the Germans are still very skeptical about that and that's why we're seeing them wait on the sidelines a little bit. There is another big payment expected next week from the Greek.
GUTTMANSo even though there are signs that maybe Greece is changing course, it's still not enough to convince the Europeans.
REHMAnd in the meantime, Greece is struggling with massive waves of migrants. We'll talk about that after a short break. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back. Missy Ryan of The Washington Post, Nathan Guttman of Israeli New Channel 1 and The Forward, and Paul Danahar of the BBC are with me. We were beginning to refer to the massive migrant movement into Greece, Missy, just before the break and the fact that they were kept in a stadium overnight, crowded into this stadium without water, without food for hours.
RYANI mean, you can -- you can only imagine what these people were going through. After, you know, the ordeals that migrants have encountered on their way to get to Europe, you know, coming from places like Syria, from North Africa, risking their lives. At the same time, Greece really just seems to be overloaded. They have -- there's an estimated 140,000 migrants who have arrived in Greece so far this year. And I think the largest number came last month, in July. And it's coming, as we were just talking about, at the worst possible moment for Greece, at a time of deep societal and political division over, you know, the future of the country, over whether or not Greece can afford to be a nation that welcomes people who are, you know, arriving at its doors in a time of crisis.
RYANAnd I think it just underscores the continued inability of European countries, as a whole -- not just Greece and Italy, the ones that are being hardest hit -- to come up with a unified solution for the migrant issue, which doesn't seem to be letting up at all.
GUTTMANAnd it's basically a global issue. But the countries that are impacted more than others are, of course, as Missy mentioned, Greece and Italy that are closer to the either the coast of Africa or to the Middle East. And that's -- and their country is struggling more than others. But of course there is a need for a global strategy to deal with it. The number of refuges worldwide is higher than it has ever been in history. Some people put it at 60 million. And immigration policy and refugee resettlement policy around the world hasn't been updated to face this. So you have basically people trying -- fleeing the worst forms of hardship in their own countries -- especially when you look at the Syrian refugees -- and they're being met with no -- no one to help them.
GUTTMANSo some of them are still stuck in Turkey or in Jordan or in Lebanon. Others are seeking other places in Europe. But there's no policy to help them there.
REHMAnd Greece's policy was simply to say, "Don't come."
DANAHARYeah. And I think the reality is that no country in Europe wants anybody else's huddled masses. They don't even want them from within the EU. So you have all these migrant issues, in the U.K., for example, they don't want people from Eastern Europe coming over. The Germans have always been really hostile towards groups around their nation. And this is being compounded now with people coming from outside Europe to get into Europe, when Europe itself is already arguing with each other about whose people they should be allowed to take. So it's a problem compounded on a problem. And the Greeks can't afford to look after their own people, let alone somebody else's.
DANAHARAnd the other nations know that if they get into Greece, they won't stay in Greece. They'll try and move up, maybe try and get to Calais and then go into the U.K. So this kind of very hostile approach towards refugees from outside is a reflection of the hostile approach toward refugees already within the EU and the hostile nature of the reaction of every single country to people around it at the moment. Because people are going through an economic downturn they still feel and they don't want someone else coming in and getting a bit of their pie.
REHMAnd the refugees trying to get from Calais into the U.K., they're being blocked there as well.
DANAHAROh, yeah. And they're being put in camps just like -- I mean, not as badly run as the one in Greece -- but they're being put in camps. A lot of criticism of the U.K. government and the French government for the way they're handling this issue. But nobody wants these people. Nobody sees them as being people that deserve the right to stay in the country they're trying to get into because they're saying, "Well, why can't you go to the first country you got to? Why are you coming to our country? You're in France, stay in France. You know, if you -- you're away from the thing you were running away from. We don't want you."
DANAHARAnd the French are saying, "No, they want to go here. Let them go here." And so there's no real policy that sorting this out.
REHMBut there's a particular point about wanting to get to the U.K., in that, then they can get to every part of the EU.
DANAHARYeah. And part of the big draw for many refuges is the belief -- because it's increasingly a belief, not a fact -- that they can come to the U.K. and get a lot more social benefits than they can in other countries.
DANAHARAnd the British press is full of all these kind of horror stories of how someone -- the latest one was how a woman from a part of Eastern Europe managed to send an email to get the right details so that she could then be getting free health care in Hungary without even going to the U.K. And the U.K. media picks one or two kind of really rare examples and blows it up as a "look what's happening to our nation." So and this is all over Europe really.
RYANI think that history may view this as one of the major moral failings of our time. And I don't want to just load blame on the European countries because, you know, the United States -- it has been a major provider of assistance for refugees, certainly from the Syrian conflict. But the U.S. also has a role, or has had a role in some of the conflicts that are producing these huge numbers of refuges, you know, for example, Syria and Libya. So I think it's something that we just have to view as the international community at large, not just European countries -- and especially not those that are struggling with their own internal crises, such as Greece.
REHMHow are -- how is the world going to decide how these refugees are taken in or distributed? There's got to be a plan of some kind put into place. You're shaking your head.
GUTTMANNo, I think if you have a plan, you take responsibility. And nobody wants any responsibility. I think that, you know, people are hoping the -- when it began, when the Arab Spring began and the Middle East began to fracture and break and people started running away from it, understandably, people could see what was going to happen but they turned a blind eye to it. Because as soon as you say, "We need to do this," you're kind of owning the problem. And nobody wants to own the problem.
RYANAnd, you know, there have been attempts this year among European leaders to discuss and come to a resolution on this issue. But I think their failure to do so really reflects the unresolved disagreements over sort of the nature of the European project as well.
REHMHow many refugees has Germany taken in? Do we know?
DANAHAROff the top of my head, I don't. But I mean the Germans have always had issues with migrants, particularly the Turkish migrants. And they don't even recognize people who are kind of second-generation Turks as being -- second-generation Germans as being German. They still see them as being Turkish. So the Germans themselves have a big issue with how they deal with people that have come into the country illegally and have even been born in the country. So, you know, you've just not got a plan there. You -- it's a bit like the euro, you know? It's kind of -- there's a political idea behind it but it doesn't really work.
GUTTMANAnd just going back to how do you discuss it, how do you solve this issue? Naturally, no one expects Europe to absorb millions of Middle Eastern or African refugees. But there are numbers that they can absorb. And there must be a decision on, how do you set priorities? How do you deal with these people? Some of them will have to be resettled in other countries. Some of them will remain in refugee camps. But a large number needs to be eventually resettled in Europe, part in the United States as well. But that's a responsibility that the developed countries need to take on.
REHMAll right. Let's talk about what's happening in Turkey. Attackers in Istanbul opened fire outside the U.S. Consulate on Monday. It's one of several attacks this week in Turkey. What do we know, Nathan?
GUTTMANWell, we know that Turkey is actually going through a lot of turmoil right now, basically since it started its latest campaign -- this double campaign against ISIS and against the PKK. And I think the Turks knew that this would be coming. They expected a surge in violence and we've seen an attempted attack against the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul. We've seen other attacks which are mostly attributed to the PKK, to the Kurdish underground. And for -- in terms of the Turkish internal position, this in a way kind of helps President Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu and send the message that, "Look, we have here an enemy -- we're facing an enemy here with the PKK."
GUTTMANAnd it does help them politically when they try to drive home that message. And we're seeing that, even now, as the Turkish -- the AKP, the Turkish ruling party is trying unsuccessfully to form a new coalition. The whole issue of terrorism and what they see as the Kurdish threat is playing a major role in that.
RYANI think what -- there is, again, yes, so much going on in Turkey right now. And I think that, you know, for example, they've allowed the United States to begin launching airstrikes from the Incirlik Air Base for the first time.
RYANThe United States and Turkey recently came to an agreement to create some sort of safe zone or ISIL-free zone in Northern Syria. Turkey has allowed the United States to train Syrian rebels on its soil, who have now been inserted into Syria. And I think that this, in conjunction with the other things that Nathan mentioned -- such as the PKK strikes and the internal arrests that have also occurred over the last couple of weeks -- really highlight the fact that while Turkey and the United States are allies and share a number of objectives and their sort of national agendas, they also differ in a lot of areas.
RYANAnd the fact that the PKK strikes really put the Obama administration in a quite awkward position, at a time when they are trying to coordinate with Syrian Kurdish rebels in Syria and with Kurdish fighters in Iraq, I think that it's a pretty complex time right now in the Iraq-Turkey-Syria arena. And I don't expect it to become any more simple.
DANAHARI think, if you look back a few years ago, the stated foreign-policy aim of Turkey was zero problems with neighbors. And then their neighborhood collapsed. And they are trying to rebuild some kind of policy to take into account the fact that they don't know who's going to be running Syria. They know that big chunks of it are being run by this crazy group called ISIS. They don't know whether Iraq's going to exist. They've fallen apart -- the relationship with Israel has fallen apart. Egypt's in turmoil. They don't really -- they haven't really worked out what the world's going to look like.
DANAHARSo they don't really know how to have a policy yet. So everything is kind of knee-jerk reaction. The PKK think scares the hell out of them because they can see this little entity being created on their border that might start eating its way across their border.
DANAHARAnd so the Turkish -- the reason why Turkish foreign policy looks confused is, it's confused. They don't know what to do.
REHMAll right. We've got lots of callers. I want to take a call from Johnson City, Tenn., about the refugee issue. Jule, you're on the air. Go right ahead.
JULEThank you. I personally resent the fact that the United Nations is not playing a bigger role in this problem. We know that it's an expensive venture. We've propped them up. They do play a role. And I think that they should intervene more than what they are. It seems as though that everything is left to the level of the government in our country, as well as other countries.
REHMAll right. Thanks for your call. Can the U.N. play a bigger role here in terms of determining where and how refugees should go?
DANAHARWell, the U.N. can be involved in trying to advise people about where they think people's responsibilities lie. And America can buy into the idea that the U.N. has some kind of overarching idea behind the creation of a policy. But this is about taking people in to other people's countries. And everyone is going to think that it's a good idea for somebody else to take them. And it'll be very, very difficult and, you know, it's so difficult to get anything through the U.N. that everyone can agree on. The idea of having a policy on something as domestically sensitive as this, I think, is pretty unlikely.
RYANAnd I think, I mean, to be fair to the U.N., they have done a lot for refugees over the past number of years. You know, for Syria along, they have played the role of coordinating distribution of assistance and also, in many cases, being seen as a neutral player that can actually deliver assistance in conflict zones. But, you know, again, the United Nations is a reflection of the support that is provided by its member countries. And so if there isn't enough political and financial support, you know, its abilities are limited.
REHMMissy Ryan, Pentagon reporter for The Washington Post. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." To Richard in Bethesda, Md. You're on the air. Go right ahead.
RICHARDHi, good morning. This was another question about refugees...
RICHARD...but also, it's a combination question/comment to dispute something that was said before about Germany. We have a number of cousins that live over there and we were there a few months ago. According to the most recent reports, they have taken in over 175,000 refugees. And, indeed, each town -- many of which are only a few thousand people -- have a quota about how many refugees they'll take in. There was even a recent story about a conservative member of the Bundestag, from Merkel's Party, who's personally taken in two, I think they were Eritrean refugees. So, first, it's that, you know, Germany has certainly done its part.
RICHARDBut also, have any of your panelists heard about what individual countries have decided -- not in terms of, you know, are you going to move them to the U.K., are you going to move them to France -- but are they actually going to do about the refugees that are currently there and maybe trying to settle them and habilitate them as Germany has done with, again, about 175,000?
DANAHARI think the thing about Germany is that they originally were quite resistant to the idea of accepting a lot of EU migration. The frustration then became -- many of the most educated and highly qualified move into countries like the U.K., frankly, that had a very open-door policy. And then the next wave came and they were bringing less highly skilled things to the market and they were starting to eat away at some of the jobs lower down the kind of job-chain, food-chain, if you like. And that did create some tension. Now, the Germans have done quite a lot. But there's still a big issue in Germany about accepting immigrants. There's still a big issue about the German economy.
DANAHARThere's still a massive issue in Germany about being made to feel that they have to pay for everything in Europe. They have to pay for what's going on in Greece. They have to pay for what's going on in Italy. They have to pay for all of this stuff. And there is a quiet, seething resentment in Germany that they're always having to pick up the tab. And that's also true when it comes to immigration.
REHMAnd to Indianapolis. Thomas, you're on the air.
THOMASHi, Diane, and guests. I wanted to comment on the Turkey situation. I've been -- it seems like the Kurds have been the only ones that have stood up to ISIS and really stood up to ISIS during this whole ISIS conflict. And it seemed like as soon as the U.S. made that agreement with Turkey about the air base and all, Turkey started attacking the Kurds. And it just seems like we're giving cover and that we're essentially complicit in attacking the Kurds, when they've been our greatest allies against ISIS. And...
RYANI would -- I would actually disagree with that. I mean, there's, you know, have been tens of thousands of Syrians and Iraqis who have lost their lives fighting against the Islamic State and other organizations and also against the Assad regime over the past few years. I mean, the Kurds are particularly effective fighters. And I think that's in part a function of the fact that they have had to fight over the last decades as a persecuted minority.
REHMAnd, so far, just to give you a figure here, we have some 180,000 people who've applied for asylum. And Germany and Sweden are the most popular migrant destinations. Short break. Right back.
REHMAnd welcome back. There has been really an investigation from the New York Times, revealing how ISIS is justifying rape. It was really an extraordinary story. Missy, what did you take from it?
RYANSo, this sort of tracks other actions of ISIS that have, since the group appeared, been coupled, they've coupled acts of violence with theological justifications for what they're doing. And in this case, what this excellent New York Times article shows us is that they have used religious rulings or theological justifications for the systematic use of rape. You know, including against young girls. And that they have deemed it permissible to be seen as an act of religious devotion for men, for ISIS members, to rape women. And I think that it just, again, shows us the extent of the depravity of this organization.
GUTTMANI think, also, what this really horrifying story highlights is the fact that they did manage to construct this religious, theological basis for these acts of atrocity. Which are directed only, right now, at the Yazidi minority. In Iraq, it was also coupled with this bureaucracy, this infrastructure of abuse. They set up special prisons to hold these young women and girls. They had this mechanism of selling them off as slaves, as sex slaves. So, they had it covered from both sides, also the ideological, theological level, and also the practical way of how to deal with it. So, it was all pre-planned.
REHMAnd also how to recruit Muslim youth.
DANAHARYeah, indeed. And I think the important thing to take from some of this is there is a -- there are competing jihadi ideologies. We've seen, this week, that al-Zawahiri has pledged allegiance with the Taliban. There's been a big rough going on on the internet between the jihadis over who is the legitimate ruler, if you like, of those who want to carry out extreme jihad. Is it the Taliban? Is it Al Qaeda? Is it ISIS? And what ISIS is trying to do is create an ideology to expand an idea. Beyond just being a terrorist group that will be a focus for people who want to get involved in this kind of thing.
DANAHARSo, we're seeing a narrative being created that they are hoping will make them the most popular of all the crazies going on around the world. And that will draw people to it, and part of it is saying to young, frustrated men, who are clearly slightly deranged, because they want to join ISIS, here look. Come. You can have a sex slave. And it's part of creating this entirely weird concoction of religious ideology mixed with some kind of mumbo jumbo of how you can justify it to create an idea that people will be drawn to.
DANAHARAnd unfortunately, increasingly, people are being drawn to it and we're seeing these kinds of acts carry on. One of the most bizarre things about the article was how a guy released one of these women, giving her a little bit of paper saying...
REHMA certificate. Yeah.
DANAHAR...you're now emancipated. Because he was going off to blow himself up. I mean, it's beyond belief. The problem is, it's actually happening.
REHMReally, really horrible, horrible story. In Iran, the trial of Jason Rezaian ended in Tehran this week. Is there any idea when the verdict might come, Missy?
RYANDiane, we think that it could come as early as Monday. And as you know, he's facing charges of espionage and a few other charges. The trial has been characterized by a total opacity. We don't know much about the charges or the purported evidence that the Iranian government has against Jason. The lawyer has seen the docket and says only that, you know, there's nothing to suggest that Jason has done anything other than, you know, what the three of us here have done as journalists.
RYANAnd, you know, the Washington Post and, you know, and many other news organizations, and I think the international community is trying to stand together and make the case for this being a travesty. And we want him to be released immediately.
REHMAll right. Let's go to Gary in Arlington, Virginia. You're on the air.
GARYThanks, Diane. I really appreciate your in depth coverage of these issues. I just wanted to respond to something one of your panelists said earlier. Regarding the Chinese currency, China has 3.7 trillion dollars worth of foreign reserves. That's three times the next country, Japan. And more than the US and the EU countries combined. While, if anything, what they would need to do to get their currency to a market level would be to sell off over three trillion in foreign currency reserves.
GARYWhich would cause their currency to go through the roof. The other statement that was really problematic -- China has violated the intellectual property of high speed trains, US built routers from Cisco, focused on dominating numerous high tech product areas. They are not building low tech stuff. They are build high tech, high value stuff. And using currency manipulation and state supported capitalism to do it. So, we need to be honest about what's going on here. This is not anywhere close to a market value for their currency. Thanks.
DANAHARThere's, unquestionably, China is trying to transform itself from a low value economy to a high value economy. When I was living in Beijing, you could see that begin to happen, because they were moving -- they were allowing jobs to go to places like Vietnam and Myanmar and Laos. The problem for China is, whatever they're doing internally, it's all about, as I was saying earlier, stability and keeping people employed. And if that means that they have to have low value jobs to keep people employed or they have to get -- they want to have, obviously, high value jobs, because they can compete across the rest of the world.
DANAHARThey will do that, but I think the point we're all trying to make is China's economy does not work like anybody else's. China manipulates its economy to keep running at home.
REHMAll right. To Tim in Lambertville, Michigan. You're on the air.
TIMHi Diane and panel. Here's my question. Perhaps counterintuitive. If the Republicans do kick the props out from the G5+1 authority, might that not open the door to Merkel and Holland to not only withdraw from their Iran sanctions, but also to pull out from their NATO based support for all our meddling in Eurasia. Specifically Ukraine and Syria. And might not that be the best thing that could happen to us.
GUTTMANSo, basically, if I understand the question, is what happens if Congress votes against the Iran deal? Is this an excuse for the Europeans to break off of other treaties? It doesn't seem to be in the cards right now. There doesn't seem to be any appetite in Europe to do that. And we haven't seen any indication of it, so it seems highly speculative right now.
REHMWe talked in our earlier hour about the enormous lobbying that's going on, especially in regard to New York Senator Chuck Schumer on his vote on the Iran deal. Do you expect this deal, ultimately, to pass? Missy.
RYANI do. I mean, I think that, my expectation is that there will be a resolution against the deal, that the resolution against the deal will pass in Congress, but then it will be vetoed and I think the veto will stand.
DANAHARAnd in many ways, it kind of works for everybody. The Republicans get to moan about it, Obama gets his new policy through, and everybody's happy. Because at the end of the day, there isn't really an alternative to this, if this deal does happen, things will break down internationally. The Germans and the British and the French and the Chinese and the Indians are all dying to do business with Iran. And it will fall apart. So it has to be done. One way or another, it has to be done.
REHMNathan, the New York Times had a piece this week about an editor at your publication and his trip to Iran. Tell us about it and what he came away with.
GUTTMANSo, this is an extremely unusual story. Larry Cohler-Esses, the Forward's Assistant Managing Editor, asked for a visa to Iran two years ago. He lived in Iran many years ago, before the revolution, and was eager to go and cover the country right now. And of course, Iranians are very reluctant to give journalists visas in general. Especially one coming from a Jewish newspaper. But suddenly, in the last couple of months, things changed. One could believe that it's because of the deal signed, because of some sort of attempt by the Iranians to try to reach out to Jewish Americans, to Americans in general.
GUTTMANTo show the other face of Iran. So, Larry was granted a visa and spent what seems to be a fascinating week in Iran. His story is already online, and I think the main take away from it is just how multi-faceted the Iranian society is. And one of the issues he focused on is whether Iranians really believe this thing that many of us in the West look at as a wish to wipe Israel off the map, to quote, probably, an inaccurate translation of former President Ahmadinejad. And the impression he got over there was that there's a variety of opinions.
GUTTMANThat many people, even Ayatollahs, even people who were in the Revolutionary Guard, they have a more nuanced approach towards Israel. They definitely are not big fans of Israel. They view it as an occupying power. They think Israel carries out atrocities, also mainly because the information they get is filtered by the government. But still, there are very few who believe this idea that Israel does not have the right to exist. So, in that sense, it was interesting to see that there are so many different approaches towards this issue of Israel in Iran.
REHMAnd what about the deal with the US?
GUTTMANThe deal with the US is a main concern for people in Iran, according to this article. They view it as a way forward, but...
REHMCertainly lifting sanctions.
GUTTMAN...exactly. And that's the concern that many people expressed in this article. They're worried that the money, the openness, the funds coming into Iran right now, will be used by the regime to prop up other players in the neighborhood or terror organizations. Instead of actually having it trickle down to the people.
REHMI see. And then circling back to Jason Rezaian, if the verdict goes against him, how might that have an impact on the deal with Iran and the US, Missy?
RYANI don't know that it will have a direct impact. First of all, we certainly hope that that won't happen. Secondly, I don't know that it will have a direct impact on the vote over the deal. I think that, you know, his detention, obviously, increases skepticism about the intentions of the Iranian government. But I think that the Forward story and then the -- our uncertainty about the Jason's situation underscores is that we're really in unchartered territory with Iran right now, after the nuclear agreement.
RYANAnd there are so many questions that -- about how Iranian decision making may or may not change in the wake of the nuclear agreement. I think we just need to wait and see.
DANAHARI think Nathan made a really good point. We just -- Iran is not one solid block of government. It's so divided. There are so many shades of gray, that trying to work out how anything will impact on Iranian policy is incredibly difficult, because everyone in Iran is fighting for position. They're all fighting for their own little corner. I think the American government has been quite (unintelligible) in trying to delink the case of Americans being held in Iran with the deal over their nuclear power.
DANAHARSo, I mean, obviously there'll become -- there will be pressure if he is jailed in some way, but the hope is that the sensible bit of Iran will realize this is not doing anybody any good and they'll find a way around letting him out.
RYANAnd there -- there have been indications from Zarif and Rouhani that they were inclined to release Jason and those statements were less audible in the months immediately prior to the deal. So we hope that they actually prevail.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Hans, you're on the air.
HANSI was -- I'm referring to a comment earlier on you had, concerning refugees. And I want to point out is pretty much a lack of mentioning Switzerland, in general, on your station. Switzerland is a little over seven million people, and they have taken in quite a lot of refugees, historically. I mean, if you travel to Switzerland today, it's a different picture, you know? You have immigrants from Africa, from Turkey, Sri Lanka. I mean, you name it. They're all there and it's quite a burden also, for Switzerland. You know? Because of the size also, of the country.
HANSAnd also, and also, I want to mention that there are quite a lot of...
REHMI'm sorry. He's gone.
DANAHARI think the caller's point reflects something we were discussing earlier. Every nation in Europe has an issue, an immigration issue, within their domestic policy, and it's a very, very difficult thing to resolve.
REHMAll right, and finally, the new US embassy in Cuba opened and raised its flag today in Savannah. In Havana. Talk about why that flag raising is important now.
RYANThis is the first time it's been raised over the US embassy in Cuba since 1961. I think it's the first visit by a US Secretary of State since the 1940s. And obviously, this is a huge breakthrough, considering the decades of isolation and the embargo that's still in place. And the Obama administration rightly is highlighting the fact that this is, you know, it was well past time to take this step. At the same time, they are under to make sure that they're not appearing to sanction the ongoing human rights problems that exist in Cuba. And sort of stick their nose in the face of domestic opponents to this move.
REHMSo, what is going to happen with these sanctions? They are still an argument, big argument in Congress.
GUTTMANWell, of course, not many in Congress, there are those who aren't easy with this, especially on the Republican side. First of all, because of the suspicion towards Cuba. And also, because this is a major foreign policy issue for President Obama. If we look at the images of his legacy in foreign policy, in raising the flag over the embassy in Havana will be one of them, alongside the handshake between Kerry and Zarif and the withdrawal from Iraq. So, not many in Congress want to allow the President to enjoy this foreign policy achievement.
GUTTMANAnd there are legitimate questions that are raised about, do you want to lift all sanctions without getting anything in return from the Cubans, in terms of the freedoms, in terms of the human rights within Cuba. So, that will still be a process. But we are starting to see already, direct flights from the United States to Cuba. Cruise lines and more openness for Americans traveling there. So definitely, once this dam is opened a little bit, we will see a flood eventually, because of business interests.
DANAHARAnd I think we've had a generational shift here. I mean, the politicians in America are, basically, still talking to the same generation that grew up with -- during the Cold War. The younger generations of Cubans seem to have moved on. I was in Havana just a month or two ago, and there's massive excitement in Cuba about the Americans coming. One person said to me, we're very happy Europeans came, but we really want to see the Americans coming in. So, there's really a lot of enthusiasm.
REHMPaul Danahar of the BBC, Missy Ryan of the Washington Post, Nathan Guttman of Channel 1 Israeli News and the Forward. Have a great week, everybody.
DANAHARThanks very much.
GUTTMANThanks very much.
REHMAnd thanks for listening, all. I'm Diane Rehm.
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