From The Archives: A 2008 Conversation With Barbara Walters
A conversation from the archives with Barbara Walters about her 2008 memoir "Audition," a story of family challenges, celebrity gossip and blazing a trail in TV news.
Guest Host: Melissa Ross
The search continues for others involved in the Paris attacks after a chief suspect is killed in a raid. France and the U.S. step up air strikes in Syria. Russia confirms it was a bomb that brought down a civilian airliner over Egypt. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top international news stories.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Gunmen seize hostages in a hotel in Mali, reportedly killing three. French and Belgium governments push for strengthened counterterrorism measures following the attacks in Paris and Russia confirms a bomb brought down the civilian airliner over Egypt. Joining me for the international hour of the Friday News Roundup, Yochi Dreazen of Foreign Policy, Shane Harris with "The Daily Beast" and Ed Luce of the Financial Times.
MS. DIANE REHMYou're always invited to be part of the program. Join us on 800-433-8850. Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. Thank you all for being here.
MR. YOCHI DREAZENGood morning, Diane.
MR. SHANE HARRISGood morning, Diane.
MR. EDWARD LUCEGood morning.
REHMGood to have you all here. What do we know about this attack in Mali? It would seem that the hostages are out, but what do we know about who did this and why?
DREAZENIn terms of who did it, unfortunately with Mali, you can take -- it's almost like a deck of cards and pull out any one of them and they're all very likely. There is an Islamic State affiliate that is believed to be operating in and near Mali. But remember, also, Mali was where al Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb, that's where they conquered the north of Mali and held it for months.
DREAZENThis was prior to the Islamic State capturing part of Iraq and Syria. This was the first time a terror group conquered and governed territory. I spent a month there for The Atlantic and they had built a government. They had taxes. They had a post office, a postal system. The French went in. They were bombing. They had different African nations sending ground forces to evict them from the north. But they've been coming back steadily. They've been killing African peacekeepers. They've been mounting attacks in and around Bamako.
DREAZENSevare, another major city, had a hotel seized where several people died. So you have the Islamic State potential. You have the al Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb potential. You have some offshoot group that have been operating in the north as a potential. The one thing we do know is timing wise, whoever it is, it's not a coincidence. If this was the Islamic State, they want to have the same press the Islamic State is getting.
REHMAnd Shane, are they after the French? Are they basically targeting the French?
HARRISI think that's the first thing that comes to mind, as Yochi was saying. I mean, the French have been there, would have to have a military presence there as well. This feels very opportunistic. It looks that way following on the Paris attacks. If this is ISIS or an affiliate, a demonstration of saying we can hit you here, too, and make you pay, but it was also a hotel frequented by Westerners. There were Americans in the hotel. There were Germans. The U.S. embassy is not far from that hotel and American special forces did respond to that attack so it could also be aimed broadly at the West, even though there's more of a French nexus there.
REHMAnd now, apparently, Ed, all the hostages are out.
LUCEYes. They're all out. The raids, the joint U.S./French raid was successful and there were only three deaths. I mean, only, I say. Obviously three too many, but it was relatively low casualty by the standards of some of these recent hostage situations. I think it's worth noting that there've been two horrific suicide attacks in northern Nigeria in the last few days by very young girls. A 13-year-old girl in one attack and as young as 11 in another and that have taken 45 lives -- 46 lives and this is Boko Haram, you know, who have switched their franchise from al Qaeda to ISIS.
LUCEAnd there are also Boko Haram elements in northern Mali so this sort of adds to Yochi and Shane's points about the whole confusion and melange of different groups trying to exploit the publicity following the Paris attacks.
REHMAnd how much do we truly know about the Paris attack, Ed?
LUCEWell, a frightening large new amount with every single passing day it seems. I mean, the fact that the French believe that Abaooud was in Syria until as recently as Monday and, you know, hadn't been aware of the fact that he'd been to-ing and fro-ing from Syria is deeply alarming, I think. So the more we learn, the more realize we should have known.
REHMAnd bragging about the fact wherever he was that he was free to move back and forth, Shane.
HARRISThat's right. I mean, he was a very useful propaganda tool, I think, at the time to say he could kind of move back and forth like this, but we have to take that very seriously because it appears he was correct. He has ties to people in Syria who are known ISIS fighters who've actually been targeted in French airstrikes as recently as five or six weeks ago.
HARRISSo this is an individual who, it appears, did have real freedom of movement and is being described as sort of the operational kind of ringleader of these attacks. He's also been linked to four of six other thwarted attacks, French officials are now saying. So a very, very active person, probably in touch with multiple cells. I think this really points to what is clearly a major intelligence and security failure here in France and in Belgium as well that they did not have eyes on this guy as he was moving back and forth.
REHMHowever, didn't I understand that U.S. intelligence had warned the French earlier this year that something was to be expected?
DREAZENI mean, I think there was a lot of chatter. I think there are two issues, one that's -- well, one that really matters. The number of people that France has on its official watch list, depending on the numbers they pull out, one is 11,500, one is 8,000. They just don't have the resources to do it because each one requires personnel, requires money, requires analysts on the other end so that if they're eavesdropping to someone speaking, let's say, in Arabic or in any of the dialects of Africa to translate it and France just doesn't have the infrastructure to do it.
DREAZENThere is a major, major intelligence failure, without question, that we can say has already happened, which is the conventional wisdom for quite a while, up until the Russia attack, was al Qaeda was focused on attacks in other countries. ISIS was focused on controlling territory and wasn't focused on attacks in other countries and that's now been proven tragically wrong, first with the Russian attack, now with the attacks in Paris, possibly the attacks in Beirut as well. So the intel analysis on the macro level that al Qaeda and ISIS were fundamentally different, without question, we could say that was completely entirely wrong.
REHMI would think that certainly American citizens would be hugely disappointed considering all the money that's gone into U.S. intelligence.
HARRISYeah, more than $50 billion, by the latest figure that was released about four weeks ago and that's just the national, nonmilitary, unclassified portion of that budget. And, you know, this raises significant concerns about how well do we understand the nature of these transnational cross-border ambitions of ISIS. We saw them making threats about attacks in Washington and New York this week.
HARRISIf there's anything that we should really take away from this latest week, it's that when ISIS says it's going to do something, believe that that is exactly what they're trying to do. And to Yochi's point, we can no longer just assume that this is a group that is going to restrain its ambitions to building territory in Iraq and Syria and not take the fight elsewhere.
REHMDo you believe that the threats against Washington and New York are authentic?
DREAZENI think they're credible insofar as I think that's what ISIS would like to do. I think they would have a harder time launching those attacks in the United States because I think that we do have probably better security measures in place. That does not mean it's not possible. It's not low risk and I don't think they would have any trouble finding guns in this country and the things that they would need to do those attacks.
DREAZENThey hit incredibly soft targets. It would be the equivalent -- the Paris attacks, someone described it as, you know, going through neighborhoods in Brooklyn, you know, sort of like young, hip neighborhoods where people are hanging out, they're enjoying their time outside, they're going into clubs. We have ample numbers of targets like that in the United States and not just in New York and in Washington.
LUCEWell, I think it's worth mentioning, it might be slightly overlooked at the moment, that Belgium has the laxest gun laws in Europe and the homicide rate from gunfire from firearms in Belgium is seven times what it is in Britain which has one of the strictest and that a lot of these operations have involved the Belgium arms market. And the foiled attack on the high speed train earlier this year, the attacker was believed to have purchased arms there and several of these attackers are believed to have gotten their equipment, their explosives, their arms from Belgium.
LUCEAnd I think this is going to become a much larger -- if you listen to the tone of irritation from French officials about not just the Belgium lapses in intelligence, but Belgium lapses in terms of monitoring arms sales, that's going to become a bigger factor in the days ahead.
REHMAnd what about implementing new and tougher security measures in France, Yochi? How far will that go?
DREAZENYou know, France, when you think of the creation of the EU, it was basically France and Germany that created it. And one of the things that those involved were most proud of was the Schengen. I mean, it's a weird name and a weird word that doesn't ring right to American ears.
REHMHow do you spell it?
DREAZENYeah, winning the spelling bee. But they're proud of the fact that after millennia of war where borders were always seen for decades in the 20th century as a place where if got to the border, maybe you got further, maybe you didn't, that you had border-free travel, that a passport, once you were in the EU, you can go anywhere. And that was something they were proud of, that is an historic accomplishment. And you're seeing that fall away day by day, week by week in every attack that happens, every attack that's foiled, the likelihood of it permanently falling way gets larger and larger.
DREAZENAlready today, you have the French say that they want to have a much stricter passport control system, even just within France, that somebody crossing into French territory has to show their passport where they didn't have to show it before the attack. They want much greater powers for the French president. They want much greater surveillance powers. They want the ability to search houses without warrants, the ability to detain suspects without warrants.
DREAZENSo you're seeing just a massive law enforcement change and then also a massive pivot away from the values the EU had prided itself on for decades.
REHMAnd, of course, French police now being able to carry guns. But, you know, it worries me that those passports considering the number of fake passports that are out there. We're gonna take a short break here. And when we come back, we'll talk further about what's happening in our world. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back to the international hour of the Friday News Roundup, this week with Shane Harris, he's senior correspondent with The Daily Beast and author of "At War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex." Yochi Dreazen is managing editor of Foreign Policy. He's the author of the book "The Invisible Front." And Ed Luce is chief U.S. columnist and commentator for the Financial Times. His book is titled "Time to Start Thinking: America and the Specter of Decline."
REHMHere's an email from Anastasia. She says though I'm a lifelong Francophile who grieves for the lives lost in the attacks in Paris, I think it's important to place equal emphasis on the many Muslim lives lost in attacks in other parts of the world, such as the suicide bombings. Muslim lives matter, too. And the problem is that Muslims are finding themselves carried under this blanket term that somehow people are assigning barbarism to all Muslims, Ed.
LUCEYeah, 97 percent of the victims of -- I mean, the number of areas -- but the most plausible database, 97 percent of victims of terrorism are Muslim, people worldwide are Muslim, and we forget that, that the numbers you see in Syria, in Iraq, in Algeria, in Nigeria, every week match or dwarf what we've seen in Paris in the last week, and yet of course our response to it is because it's so much closer to home. It's disproportionate to the numbers and to the risk compared to what Muslims around the world face.
LUCESo I think the danger in a situation like this is we reinforce the whole narrative that they don't matter.
REHMAnd you see here in this country, as we were talking about in the last hour, governors in 31 states now saying they will refuse to accept any migrants. Now how you keep people out when they simply have visas to come here, who may have stolen passports, who may have forged identification, I mean, how do you do that?
HARRISWell, there's a system in place that is supposed to try and catch at least the fake and stolen passports. Any people who are traveling to the United States, we screen their passports against an Interpol database that checks for these kinds of things. You might not be able to catch everyone. I think what was very interesting in this debate among the governors was this presumption that the governors have some authority to seal borders in this country. They do not. It is a federal issue, and I think this is to a large extent -- was, you know, an expression of, you know, many emotions probably.
HARRISBut it's politically untenable.
REHMAt the same time what they can do and are doing is denying funds.
REHMTo support those refugees. So they may have to go elsewhere. So how about information-sharing? How about intelligence-sharing? You all have said that the intelligence here really, really fell down. What more can be done in that regard, Yochi?
DREAZENThere needs to be a lot more money. I mean, we know, roughly speaking, what the U.S. spends. You know, Shane pointed out that the $50 billion figure is non-military, and it's the unclassified. Add in the military and the classified, it's doubtlessly much, much higher. France and England have both announced plans to hire, in the case of England it was 1,900, I don't know the number for France, but significant numbers of new analysts, new spies, covert, new -- especially people who are better at surveillance using technological surveillance, people who can eavesdrop, whether it's phone, whether it's email, whether it's Web traffic, whether it's the Dark Web that is being used, sort of sophisticated encryption technology that's being used to communicate.
DREAZENThere's an ongoing debate here about -- between Silicon Valley and the government about if Apple is building in really good encryption that the government can't break, can Apple be forced to allow the government in. That debate's been going on for a long time. You now have people basically saying, and I think in the case of John McCain almost verbatim saying, these companies will have blood on their hands because they are refusing to allow the government to have a back door into their systems.
DREAZENIt's an interesting point. Just one other thing very quickly. We're in this crazy election season where people say things that are kind of easy to laugh, shake our head and move on, but we should call what we're hearing now in this country what it is, and it is bigotry. When you have Donald Trump, and we were talking about this in my office this morning, and I recognize that as a Jewish-American this may hit me in a somewhat different way than it might hit some others, but when you have a major presidential candidate, leading in the polls, talking about registering Muslims based on their religion, talking about giving them special ID cards, I mean, this is sickening. I mean, this is something...
DREAZENThis is really bigotry, and it's very scary to me.
LUCEYeah, and I'll pick up on the intelligence-sharing point in a second, but just to follow on from what Yochi's saying, I don't think people hearing this news of 31 governors denying access to Syrian refugees will know that they don't have the full authority to carry that out. I think this will just be more than half of America has said no to Syrian refugees, Muslim databases, and the damage in terms of winning the hearts and minds side of this, which is where it really matters, in the Middle East and elsewhere, is incalculable. It's not just a bigotry question here on the ground in America. It's about America's effectiveness in terms of fighting the war of hearts and minds.
LUCEBut the intelligence-sharing proposals France came up with after the "Charlie Hebdo" massacre in January were very concrete. They were stuff you would've thought would've been in place already in terms of information-sharing between airlines, border posts, Interpol databases, that were either not there or were very incompletely in place. And nothing was done. Nothing was done.
LUCESo between January and...
REHMWhat should have been done?
LUCEWell, money is one thing. To get all the border posts -- I mean, there's a whole sort of series of Greek border posts, and you imagine the Greeks aren't going to come up with the money on their own. They're going to need EU money to do this. They don't have the computer system. They don't have the databases as a matter of routine. Many of the posts don't have access to that information. This is the first port of call for most of the refugees coming across by water. So it's not just a sieve. This is a gaping hole.
LUCEAnd -- but that does require money. Athens isn't going to come up with it. It requires Brussels, Germany and others to come up with it. And this was very clearly understood and agreed to by the EU in January. Nothing was done.
HARRISJust one other point on this, too. We were talking a lot about technological surveillance, and it is the case that ISIS fighters, and maybe even in this instance, are using commercially available encrypted communications that makes it exceptionally difficult for even very expensive and robust systems like ours to find them. There's another argument here of what is needed, which is more human intelligence, which is more people being able to infiltrate into these networks, report back what's going on from the ground.
HARRISOne of the better sources of information about ISIS has been freed hostages from ISIS who can talk a lot about where they've been moving, how they move people. We captured the wife of a main ISIS logistics man in a raid some months ago. She provided an extraordinary amount of information. There needs to be an investment in classic, old-fashioned spying, as well.
REHMAnd what about Russia, Yochi? How much will Russia's cooperation with France and the U.S. make a difference?
DREAZENWhat will be interesting to see is whether the Russian airstrikes begin to shift in a noticeable way from what they had been, which was under the guise of bombing ISIS, actually bombing the guys we had armed, trained, to try to fight Assad.
DREAZENThe Pentagon is now admitting that they are seeing a shift where although the strikes are not really being coordinated with the U.S. in any functional or substantive way, they are seeing more strikes hit Islamic state targets, as compared to rebel targets.
REHMAnd that's because the Russians learned the bomb was onboard.
DREAZENExactly, exactly. And in the immediate aftermath of the attack, it was very interesting that Vladimir Putin, hawk of hawks, chest-pounding, macho guy, it took him a while to acknowledge that this had been a bomb. For days he was saying no, no, no, no, no, this was Metrojet, this was an engine, this was something other than a bomb, which was a surprise to me because normally this is a man who loves to use military force, who loves to be a sort of martial leader.
DREAZENNow that he has acknowledged it's a bomb, you're seeing the tempo of Russian airstrikes escalate. You're seeing the number of them that are hitting Islamic State areas escalate. I mean, one number that was fascinating, it came up at a congressional hearing last week, they were asking the Pentagon how many U.S. airstrikes had there been that month. It was about 100. And they asked -- it was eight to one. I'm forgetting now if it was 100 to 800, or if it was 1,000 to 8,000, but it was eight to one Russian to U.S.
DREAZENSo that ratio is astounding, and you will see without question the Russian numbers go even higher.
HARRISVladimir Putin is also using this as an opportunity to demonstrate his military capability to the world. So this week there was a sortie of 25 long-range Russian bombers that went against Raqqa. That is one of the biggest military flights in recent modern history. It is extraordinary that he sent that many planes in. So it's not just about attacking ISIS and some of these other groups and trying to prop up Assad. Putin is using this as a demonstration of his global military reach, as well.
LUCEIt's interesting, Francois Hollande, France's president, is coming here, to Washington, D.C., next week.
REHMOn Monday, yes.
LUCEExactly. Then he goes to Moscow. And we were talking earlier, before the show, that it's remarkable how many senior world leaders are beating a path to Moscow. It was a pariah a few months ago. Now it's Grand Central. And Putin, you know, I think is playing this very, very well. How this pans out in terms of grand coalition potential and cooperation between Russia and the U.S. in terms of coordinated airstrikes and intelligence-sharing, et cetera, is another question entirely.
LUCEBut the thing -- the leverage is moving his way the whole time.
REHMAnd just two years ago it was as though he was irrelevant, and now he is building Russia up to be the major power he wants it to be.
DREAZENRight, and you're seeing two things that are fascinating, kind of illustrate it. One, people vote with their feet. And as you watch world leaders, whether it is Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force, the most wanted -- for a while the most wanted anti-U.S. fighter in the world, go to Moscow. Two weeks later, Bibi Netanyahu, dire blood enemy of Iran go to Moscow. Now you're watching the Gulf States, who for decades have come to the U.S. for protection, they are going to Moscow. You're seeing the shift of interest and power go there.
REHMThat's really interesting.
DREAZENBut the one win that Putin has had which is unquestionable, Vladimir Putin years ago believed Bashar al-Assad should stay in power. The consensus in the West was he had to go. Now you're seeing leader after leader, politician after politician, all say basically, in some cases explicitly, he can stay, he's not the focus right now. Hollande said, kind of pro forma, yeah, Assad should go at some point. But then he said our enemy is Daesh, using a different name of the Islamic State.
DREAZENHillary Clinton yesterday, giving a major foreign policy speech, again said the focus is the Islamic State. So what Putin has wanted for years, which is Assad to remain in power, to not be a pariah, he's won.
REHMAll right, let's go to Mimi in Bethesda, Maryland. You're on the air.
MIMIHi, thank you for taking my call.
MIMII have a quick question, but I just want to start out by saying I'm definitely all for taking refugees, particularly children and women. If they want to take a little longer to investigate other people coming in, that's fine. But why haven't I heard anything about United Arab Emirates or Yemen or Kuwait taking refugees? Is this a Shiite-Sunni issue?
MIMIWhy aren't they being called on?
HARRISThere have been some calls on them, and I don't necessarily think that the numbers are that impressive of people that they've been taking in. There has been, you know, obviously a large human exodus into Western Europe. I mean, people are making the choice to go there. But yes, there have been calls on those very governments to do more to support these people. There's obviously a huge number in Jordan. I think it's at least more than a million refugees. It's probably higher than that now. But there is a regional responsibility issue in play here, too, and that's something that the Obama administration and others have brought up.
REHMAnd you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. Yochi, you were talking about the influence that Russia is currently playing. What is the possibility now that Russia is playing such a strong role for some kind of peace settlement in Syria?
DREAZENI think you can envision a scenario in which Russia maintains the Assad regime, if not Bashar al-Assad, that they're able to say we are transitioning the person Bashar al-Assad to a beautiful villa in Sochi, built from the Olympics, empty ever since, Bashar al-Assad welcome to Sochi, but his regime staying, led perhaps by another member of the Assad family, led by someone who isn't a member of the Assad family but is in the Assad governmental structure, in other words the exact opposite of what the U.S. did in Baghdad.
REHMAnd so what does the U.S. do in the face of that kind of compromise?
DREAZENRhetoric aside, I think the U.S., if they felt as if the person taking power was not directly to some of the worst atrocities, and if they felt that that was a potential to a peace deal, rhetoric aside that they would take it in a heartbeat.
REHMAnd all of that because they don't want to see Syria broken up, Ed.
LUCENo, and there have been plans circulating. There have been ideas circulating along those lines. You know, I think the key question about Assad and whether it's enough to remove him or have a period of transition before he be removed is whether Saudi Arabia agrees. And Saudi Arabia sets the line for the Gulf region. And if Saudi Arabia agrees that this is acceptable, then you might have a deal on your hands. But this has been apparent for quite some time, that the only kind of settlement you're going to have is one where Saudi Arabia and Iran are going to sign up to it, and if Russia can bring along Iran, and the West can bring along Saudi Arabia, then you have the building blocks for some kind of settlement.
REHMHow likely is that to come into being, Shane?
HARRISI think it's more likely than it was a week ago, before the Paris attacks. I mean, I think that this is -- there is something driving people together, however tentatively and furtively, towards some kind of -- I'm kind of hesitant to use the word coalition but some sort of agreed-upon settlement where it's going to be a compromise. Not everyone is going to get everything that they want.
REHMAnd should Syria be settled? Should there be a compromise put in place? How might that affect the activities of ISIS, Yochi?
DREAZENI think if there is a settlement, part of it would have to be that the countries around Syria, whether it's Iraq, whether it's Jordan, whether it's Turkey, whether it's the Gulf States, that they then focus all of their forces, militarily, financially and otherwise, on battering ISIS. I think basically what you'd be trading is a bloody regime, a regime that has done horrific, horrific atrocities, trading that regime staying in power for the effort to destroy ISIS. I mean, that would be -- Shane's exactly right that it would be a compromise people wouldn't love, in part because you would be accepting the continuation of a bloody regime, because you believe ISIS is a more dangerous threat.
REHMAnd is it also because looking back, having removed Qaddafi and Mubarak, we realize what mistakes those were, Ed?
LUCEYeah, I think that's definitely part of it. It's certainly been governing Hillary Clinton's response. Her speech on Thursday at the Council on Foreign Relations showed a sort of modesty, I think, that she might not have had in this situation had Libya -- had the chaos in Libya not happened. But, you know, I think the key thing with Syria stability is to get the Sunni population feeling more secure. And until they do, ISIS is going to continue to have an open field.
REHMAnd we'll take a short break here. When we come back, more of your calls, comments. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back. Time to go back to the phones, 800-433-8850, to Haverhill, Massachusetts. Richard, you're on the air.
RICHARDThanks very much, Diane. Saudi Arabia and Turkey, their hatred for Assad, they're responsible for a lot of what's gone on in both countries, well, particularly Saudi Arabia in both Iraq and in Syria. Saudi Arabia has supported al-Qaeda and ISIS with arms and money, and Turkey, they're so involved in worrying about the Kurds and letting also -- also they let so many -- they never blocked off their borders. They've got so many volunteers go into Syria to fight for ISIS and al-Qaeda and the al-Nusra Front. So -- and, you know, it just doesn't seem there's any end to this Sunni-Shiite divide, Diane. I don't know when it's going to end, but they just hate each other so much.
HARRISYeah, I mean, I think you're getting exactly to the factionalism, the regionalism, the complexity of all of this. And I mean, you know, I think the Obama administration to some degree would be agreeing with the caller right now. The extent to which you see this president being extremely reluctant to try and use U.S. force to try and influence events in this region, which I think he rightly believes are simply more complicated than a problem for us to solve, certainly not unilaterally, this is going to have to be a long-term regional solution.
HARRISAnd I mean, we talked about where does this end. I wish I knew. But I think the ending comes from someplace in that region, in this part of the world, of these people having to settle this. It's just, it's terribly vexing, but it's not, it's not something that we're going to wave a wand and solve by any means.
REHMAll right, to Josh in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, you're on the air.
JOSHHi Diane, thank you so much for taking my call.
JOSHSo I wanted to clarify two issues with the idea of an encryption backdoor. The first issue is you cannot create a government backdoor into an encryption algorithm without making it irreparably insecure to hackers. So if we create a backdoor for the government to get in, it also makes that encryption vulnerable to people that would want to steal, for example, credit card information.
JOSHThe other issue is the issue of trust. I think we've seen very clearly with the NSA bulk surveillance program that the intelligence agencies can't necessarily be trusted to act constitutionally and get warrants for surveillance. So I don't think it would be wise for companies to add a government backdoor and trust intelligence community to use that in a way that's lawful.
LUCEI think that the caller makes a very good point, but the politics is going to push more and more on this as time goes on. It's interesting, Europe had a ruling recently that the safe harbor agreement that the U.S. and Europe had wasn't working because of what Edward Snowden had revealed, and they're both now renegotiating this. But it's worth pointing out that European individual countries have far more intrusive surveillance systems than the United States does and far fewer legal protections.
LUCESo there is an element of double standard here. And I think the encryption debate is not one that would be happening in Europe, most of Europe, right now, Germany being a very big exception.
HARRISThe issue of trust, and the caller is right, by the way, on the technological aspects that you can't build a backdoor that only the government can get into.
HARRISThere is a lack of trust on the part of technology companies towards government in the wake of the revelations from Edward Snowden. In an ideal world, the government would have partners that it felt it could work with in times of crisis and get access to communications. That's to some degree how things have worked in the past. We are not there because of this breakdown in trust. You're seeing the companies proactively implement this encryption. The government has a lot of work to do in repairing that breach of trust with those companies and is trying very hard to do that right now.
REHMHere's an email from Jules, who says, please talk about the social and economic conditions of Muslims in France. Don't these conditions contribute to disaffection and recruitment of youth to become foreign fighters as much as any factors? Yochi?
DREAZENIt is accurate, and there has been conventional wisdom for quite some time that in some of the Muslim communities that are around Paris that tourists would never go to because they are hideous blocks of skyscrapers, that you have immigrants from North Africa, whether it's Tunisians, Algerians, people who had a history of coming to France because of the connections with former colonies, that because unemployment there is so high, you had rioting when President Sarkozy was in power, and he derisively referred to those areas in a way that was widely seen as derogatory towards Muslims.
DREAZENAnd so there has been a feeling that those particular areas on the outskirts of Paris are worrisome, that they are places where France has not integrated those communities and where there is violence. That said, the conventional wisdom about individual terrorists is often wrong. The ringleaders of these cases were Moroccan. They were relatively well-adjusted. They were relatively well-educated. They came from not wealthy families but not impoverished ones.
DREAZENIt was very interesting. A story ran in the last day or so that the family of the suspected ringleader had hoped for his death, that when they had gotten word some years ago that he was dead, the family said thank God because he is going to bring shame to our family, he's going to do something bad. He at one point brought his younger brother, who was just 13, with him to Syria. So the parents of the family -- sorry, the parents in this family and his siblings were horrified by what he'd become.
DREAZENBut the conventional wisdom that terrorists are poor, uneducated, taken advantage of, in this case was completely factually wrong.
LUCEAnd it hasn't been true all along. If you think of the 9/11 attackers, these are people with degrees. Some of them had doctorates. And if you look at the London underground attacks in 2004, these were British Muslims. Some of them were employed. If you look at the attempted attacks, you know, with mixing liquids on transatlantic flights three or four years later, the group that was arrested there were employed people, some of them again with graduate. So I think the tendency to boil it down to economics is too narrow. This is a social question, more broadly. It mixes with the economics, but it's a lot more complex.
REHMAll right, to Miami, Florida. Tarasic, (PH) you're on the air.
TARASICYes, hi, hello. Diane, Ms. Rehm, it's me, Tarasic. You can call me Taras for short.
TARASICI happen to be an American of Arab descent, a Palestinian-American. And my take, or rather my suggestion, on the Syrian/Iraqi refugee crisis is that I believe that -- I think that the humanist solution for dealing with the refugee problem from Syria and Iraq is setting up -- having international communities come together, with the participation of the United States, of course, setting up some kind of U.N.-mandated processing camp for these refugees, maybe in the United States or in some neutral geographic location, where it wouldn't be like an internment camp or a concentration camp at all but just a processing camp where these people can be cordoned off from the war zone and be in some stable place where they can be processed and where participating countries willing to accept Syrian and Iraqi refugees can take in these countries, and that processing center would be a locale where these refugees could be processed and then...
REHMAll right. All right, thanks for your call. Shane?
HARRISWell, I mean, many of the refugees are already in camps. I mean, they're enormous. There are millions and millions of people who have been displaced. The question is where are they going to go back to. I mean, they presumably would like to go back to their homes in Syria, what may be left of them. I don't think it's quite -- I get where the caller is coming from, but this...
REHMBut many would like to come here.
HARRISRight, this isn't just simply a logistics problem.
HARRISYou're talking about a massive displacement of humanity unlike anything that has been seen in recent human history.
LUCEWell, I mean, somebody asked earlier why the Saudis and the Emirates were taking so few refugees. I don't think any refugees particularly want to go there. I mean, if you look at where they're voting with their feet and across the water, it's Europe, and it would be the United States if it was more easily accessible. So that's clearly the situation. Right now, Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, is dealing with very strong requests from President Erdogan of Turkey, you know, to pay the Turks more money to treat the 2.2 million Syrian refugees on Turkish soil better, to give them some rights.
LUCEThere's talk of a three billion euro package. The quid pro quo that the Turks is a visa waiver for Turks to go to Europe, which I think was politically difficult a week ago, is now inconceivable.
REHMAnd what is Hillary saying about refugees coming here to the U.S., Yochi?
DREAZENShe's basically using it as a chance to bash Republicans. She's saying that we can and should do more, that the numbers we are allowing in are too low, and frankly they are. They're pitiful. The idea that we are taking in 10,000 to 17,000 in total, while Germany is taking in 800,000 in a year is staggering.
REHMBut then she's distancing herself from President Obama.
DREAZENFrom the president. Yeah, she's trying to distance herself from him on all things Syria-related, to say if we had armed them earlier, like I, Hillary Clinton, suggested when I was still in office, maybe it would be different. If we set up a no-fly zone, like I've been saying for six months, maybe things would be different. If we didn't use words like contained, maybe things would be different. She's trying as much as she can to distance him on all things about the Islamic State, believing, I think correctly, that politically no one is looking at President Obama's handling of this and thinking yeah, that's pretty good, let's keep going what he's doing.
REHMAll right, to Yellow Springs, Ohio. Henry, you're on the air.
HENRYYes, please. You comment that Russia, you know, is doing 10 more, 10 times more bombing than we are and everything, but looking at the last 15 years, we have rather a dismal record of killing civilians in our bombings, in our firings and attacks and everything. And so of course we want to be very, very cautious, whereas Russia, they -- they're new boys on the block, and the cruise missiles, you know, no one said how many civilian casualties were there. So I think, you know, you have to let up a little bit on how cautious we are.
REHMAll right, Ed?
LUCEI have to jump in here and say Chechen. Now Chechnya, you know, might not technically be outside of Russia's borders, but the brutality with which Vladimir Putin basically razed that country, that territory to the ground, in order to stamp out the separatist rebellion there, is something that no United States action or misguided, you know, attack in Afghanistan could come anywhere close to. It sort of stands out as one of the most brutal interventions by a country. So I don't think they're the new kids on the block in this game.
REHMAnd do we have any idea what's happening currently with Ukraine, which seems to have moved completely off at least the media landscape?
DREAZENI think if you're the government of Ukraine, you are crying into whatever alcoholic drink you have closest to you because whatever small amount of pressure the West is willing to exert on Vladimir Putin to stop meddling in Eastern Ukraine or to give back Crimea, that's gone, and that's gone forever. I think you can officially...
REHMGone forever, you believe?
DREAZENForever may be overstating it, but I can't imagine any time in the next few years. I mean, the fight against ISIS, this is going to take a long, long time.
DREAZENAnd as long as that fight is going, as long as there is a belief that Russia could help prevent terrorists from crossing into the U.S. or Europe, no one is going to care about the Ukraine.
REHMDo you agree, Shane?
HARRISI think that's fundamentally right, and you can see the reporting from monitors there on the border, day in, day out, that there are convoys going back and forth. It's sort of business as usual, frankly, of how it was back when we were more concerned about this, before events in the Middle East came to dominate the stage. But, you know, if the price that we ultimately have to pay for bringing Vladimir Putin into some kind of alignment that we fight ISIS together, as we sort of agree to look the other way on Ukraine, I think we're going to pay it.
LUCEIt's just worth mentioning, though, I agree more broadly with what you've both said, but it's worth mentioning the EU is set to renew sanctions on Russia, that the defense and energy...
REHMIn regard to Ukraine.
LUCEYeah, in regard to Ukraine, and there's pretty much consensus on that. So, you know, it might not be pushing hard on him, but it's not dismantling what's already in place.
REHMAnd you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. And to Elizabeth in St. Louis, Missouri, you're on the air.
ELIZABETHThank you for taking my call.
ELIZABETHI'm 87 years old. One brother was killed and one was crippled in the second world war. And I keep hoping that the world is going to achieve peace. There seemed on the Internet such an intense desire for people to reach out to each other, to know more about each other. How can we bring some stronger emphasis on this side of the human spirit?
REHMBut you have so much nationalism going on at precisely the same time. It's as though all of the connection that the Internet has created has not just a positive side but a negative side, as well, Yochi.
DREAZENAnd not just nationalism. I mean, this is -- if we're looking at the violence in Israel and Palestine, a lot of the videos that are being shared, these are social media videos. These are being -- videos that are either posted to Facebook of stabbings, of the aftermath of shootings. If we look at the radicalization of Muslims across the country in the U.S., some of the attacks that have taken place here, the Nidal Hasan attack near Fort Hood, these are people who made the connection with the people who radicalized them over the Internet.
DREAZENAnd, you know, the caller, and God bless having this long, beautiful life, but...
DREAZENI wish we could say that in my lifetime, the lifetime of my children, that we would get to a point where this type of peace she prays for happens. But it's hard to look at the events of the world today and say it's going to happen.
REHMI have been seeing videos of young boys being trained to use guns, boys six, seven, eight, nine years old, in countries where they are trained to be fighters, Where they are trained to attack. I mean, is this going on in just one part of the world, Shane?
HARRISNo, I think it's probably -- there's a culture of violence in many places. I mean, we have a culture of violence in this country.
HARRISAnd I'm not trying to draw false parallels here, but, you know, I think it is in human nature -- you know, that's why we call it winning the peace, you know. I think we are somehow predisposed as human beings to court conflict. And I know that's a grand statement, but I think that it is backed up by what you're seeing on display in the world right now. And I mean, it's -- we talk about the second world war. There are many ways where the state of the world doesn't look all that different, fundamentally, at the root, and maybe -- you know, it's a sad commentary, but maybe this is who we are and that actually winning the peace is something to strive for that is rare.
LUCECan I make an optimistic comment, which is in response to what that wonderful 87-year-old lady said, that if you look at the numbers, deaths from wars are actually drastically lower today than they were all through the 20th century. The actual statistical trends are down. What we see in the palm of our hands and on our screens gives us a different impression. It jars with that because we're so much more able to see it. But your chances of dying in a war or dying from a disease or dying young are far, far lower today than they were 30, 50, 70 years ago, and I think that trend should be borne in mind amidst all the gloom.
REHMAll right, we'll keep that in mind, try to keep it in mind as we look at what's happening in the world. Ed Luce, chief U.S. columnist and commentator for the Financial Times, author of "Time to Start Thinking: America and the Specter of Decline." Shane Harris is senior correspondent with The Daily Beast, Yochi Dreazen, managing editor of Foreign Policy. Thank you all.
LUCEThank you so much.
HARRISHave a good one.
REHMAnd thanks for listening, all. Have a great weekend. I'm Diane Rehm.
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