Myanmar's new president Htin Kyaw (L) and his wife Su Su Lwin (2L), with the first and second vice presidents and their wives, wait at the start of a dinner reception following a swearing-in ceremony in the capital Naypyidaw on March 30.

Myanmar's new president Htin Kyaw (L) and his wife Su Su Lwin (2L), with the first and second vice presidents and their wives, wait at the start of a dinner reception following a swearing-in ceremony in the capital Naypyidaw on March 30.

President Obama hosts a nuclear security summit in Washington with world leaders from more than 50 nations. One goal is to strengthen ways to keep nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists. North Korea apparently fires another short-range missile into the sea – just after a meeting between President Obama and the presidents of South Korea and Japan. Pakistan makes hundreds of arrests in the Easter bombing at a park and playground that killed dozens. And in Myanmar, a new era begins as the nation swears in its first democratically elected president after more than half a century of military rule. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top international news stories.

Guests

  • Paul Danahar Washington bureau chief, BBC; author of "The New Middle East: The World After the Arab Spring"
  • Jia Lynn Yang Deputy national security editor, The Washington Post
  • Matthew Lee Diplomatic writer, Associated Press

Transcript

  • 11:06:53

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. World leaders met in Washington for a nuclear security summit. France says a suspected ISIS operative arrested near Paris was planning an eminent attack. And Myanmar swears in its first democratically elected president. Here for the international hour of the Friday News Roundup, Paul Danahar, Washington bureau chief for the BBC, Jia Lynn Yang, deputy national security editor at The Washington Post and Matthew Lee, diplomatic writer for the Associated Press.

  • 11:07:33

    MS. DIANE REHMThroughout the hour, we do invite your questions, comments. Call us on 800-433-8850. Send us an email to drshow@wamu.org. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. And it's good to see all of you.

  • 11:07:51

    MR. PAUL DANAHARGood to see you, too.

  • 11:07:52

    MR. MATTHEW LEEGood to see you.

  • 11:07:53

    MS. JIA LYNN YANGNice to meet you.

  • 11:07:53

    REHMThank you. And Paul Danahar, I'll start with you. Today is the final day of this nuclear summit. The president is expected to speak shortly. What has been accomplished?

  • 11:08:10

    DANAHARProbably not very much, if you look back over where Obama hoped to be this stage into his presidency when he made nuclear security a really big deal. He has made some strides. He's tried to tighten things up and a lot of smaller countries, Georgia, Ukraine, have gotten rid of a lot of their nuclear material and, obviously, post the Brussels attack, there's even more concern now about whether we see groups like ISIS getting a hold of some kind of radioactive material they can make a dirty bomb with.

  • 11:08:38

    DANAHARBut frankly, we're expecting the president to give his press conference at 6:00 PM on a Friday evening, which is about as close as you can get to burying a story. That's normally where you put bad news, not good news. So he'll get 20 seconds on the evening news. That's probably all he's expecting to get out of this conference.

  • 11:08:54

    REHMJia Lynn, how do you see it?

  • 11:08:57

    YANGI think that's right. I mean, one of the major players here, Russia, is not even present. And in the past, the U.S. and Russia were starting to cooperate more with tracking nuclear and radioactive materials. That's fallen off the map so a really major player is not even here so progress is pretty limited.

  • 11:09:14

    REHMMatthew Lee.

  • 11:09:16

    LEEWell, it's hard to disagree.

  • 11:09:17

    REHMYeah. How strong is the concern about potential for foreign terrorists to get nuclear material?

  • 11:09:29

    LEEWell, I think it's quite strong. It is certainly a fear that we have seen come to fore more since the Brussels attacks with the emergence of news that some of these people were trailing or surveilling employees of the Belgian nuclear facility. So that coupled with the fact that there is a lot of kind of loose nuclear material floating around out there, particularly coming out of, like, central Asia and the caucuses and we've seen arrests and attempts to buy and sell alleged nuclear material in the past.

  • 11:10:14

    LEESo I think that it is a big fear. And if anything could come out of this conference, I would think that it would be tightening up on that. But at the same time, it's hard to disagree with the argument that some make that this kind of summit is not much more than a kind of vanity project for the president in his last year.

  • 11:10:34

    REHMAnd during the summit, Jia Lynn, you had President Obama having private meetings with representatives from China, Japan and South Korea. What are the top issues with those nations?

  • 11:10:53

    YANGIn short, North Korea. So the UN Security Council just issued the toughest sanctions in many, many years against North Korea. That was because of sort of unusual to see any cooperation between the U.S. and China. So you've got Xi Jinping meeting with President Obama and talking about that, but there's still tension there, right, because the U.S. is also interested in putting nuclear missiles in South Korea to counterbalance North Korea and the Chinese don't want that.

  • 11:11:19

    YANGThey're usually tussling over the South China Sea. That's still going on. So in the midst of signs of new cooperation, there's still that old tension.

  • 11:11:25

    REHMSo you would doubt that there would be a new point of agreement between the two?

  • 11:11:32

    YANGI don't think much beyond what they've already hashed out at the UN.

  • 11:11:36

    REHMAnd in the meantime, you have North Korea shooting off a short range missile right after that meeting?

  • 11:11:46

    DANAHARYes. This is another case of the young man in North Korea waving his hands and saying, look at me. I mean, you know, they -- North Korea is all about being taken seriously or being listened to or just trying to get onto the international stage. And when the Americans and the Chinese are talking, North Korea doesn't want to be left out. It's a reminder both to the American leader and the Chinese leader that neither one of them has complete influence with this guy.

  • 11:12:10

    DANAHARI mean, the Chinese have a lot of influence and exerted it, but even they can't hold him back so this is just North Korea playing bad again and showing that actually no one can really control what it does.

  • 11:12:20

    REHMMatthew Lee, explain what happened with President Erdogan of Turkey. He came here. President Obama, at first, did not agree to meet with him. Then, there were protests yesterday. What went on?

  • 11:12:36

    LEEWell, President Erdogan, who is coming under increasing fire from the countries all over the place, mainly the West, Europe and the United States in particular, for his increasingly authoritarian behavior came to Washington, had an appearance and a speech at the Brookings Institution. And one of the things he's been criticized for is a crackdown on the press, on media, and prosecuting journalists. And outside of the Brookings Institution on Massachusetts Avenue yesterday, we saw, you know, a confrontation where some of his security guards roughed up a couple of reporters or at least one.

  • 11:13:16

    LEEAnd then, made some pretty insulting comments about another. That was before the police and the Secret Service intervened and things calmed down a bit. But what's interesting about his Brookings appearance, Erdogan's Brookings appearance, was that he was asked about this assault on the media that's going on in Turkey right now and he basically said that, well, these people aren't real journalists and then launched into an argument that boils down to essentially, I can do anything I want to because 52 percent of the Turkish people voted for me in the last election.

  • 11:13:52

    REHMWow.

  • 11:13:55

    LEEYou know, it's pretty stunning. This is, you know, he's the leader of a NATO member and integral part of the administration's strategy in the fight against ISIS and yet, you know, one of the prerequisites for being a NATO member is that you have to be a democracy. And, you know, Turkey is really skirting the line right now.

  • 11:14:13

    REHMAre colleague, Yochi Dreazen, was there during this confrontation between Erdogan's guards and some or one of the reporters and he said it got pretty intense, Paul.

  • 11:14:30

    DANAHARYeah, I think we've seen worse at a Trump rally, to be honest, to keep into some kind of perspective. I mean, it was a little bit of an altercation. I think what's interesting about the visit by the Turkish president is he came here in 2013, that was his last state visit, and if you think back then where he was in the international stage, he was seen as an example for the new Middle East that will emerge from all these kind of -- from the Arab Spring and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt were fighting him.

  • 11:14:58

    DANAHARAnd everybody was talking to him about how you transition from an authoritarian army regime to a democracy. He was flying high when he came here last. And as Matt said, if you look at the gradual decrease in his authority in the rest of the world in the way that he's looked at by the Middle East where he really thought he was going to become a kind of big grand figure, he's really, really gone downhill.

  • 11:15:17

    DANAHARAnd as he's gone downhill in popularity around the world and at home, he's become more and more authoritarian, to the extent that President Obama, who used to talk about him being the man he talked to the most, doesn't even really want to meet him for a public cup of coffee.

  • 11:15:30

    REHMJia Lynn, did he actually meet with him later?

  • 11:15:33

    YANGNot that we know of. They've had a meeting scheduled with Secretary of State Kerry, but otherwise, you know, the snub that we thought it looked like, looks like it was.

  • 11:15:43

    LEEThey did actually meet, but it was in the context of the much larger dinner that was held last night. And clearly, you know, he is no longer the flavor of the month that he once was. I do a lot of traveling with Secretary of State Kerry and I remember when he came in, that's exactly right, in 2013. It's hard to remember a trip that Kerry took in those first six to eight months that didn't involve a stop in either Ankara or Istanbul. And now, not much of anything.

  • 11:16:15

    REHMHow is that or how are those images that you saw on U.S. television going to play at home, Jia Lynn?

  • 11:16:25

    YANGWell, potentially really well for Erdogan's more nationalist supporters who want to see him projecting power and strength and even if Obama doesn't give him a one-on-one intimate sit-down, he's still saying, you know, I'm not gonna put up with protesters or journalists I don’t like showing up at my events. So it really plays very well into this image at home.

  • 11:16:44

    DANAHARAnd also there was apparently a meeting that he had with former administration officials, former members of government earlier to his summit meeting and he was trashing the Obama administration so he came fully expecting to not be welcomed and he sort of went on the front foot and started criticizing the administration. So, look, the relationship that used to be there, used to be really important where the Americans thought they could manage a lot of the trouble in the Middle East with the Turks -- if you remember, they're old policy was zero problems with neighbor.

  • 11:17:15

    DANAHARSo they were all about reaching out to the Middle East and being everybody's friend. It's gone completely pear-shaped and now you have a situation where perhaps the man that Obama put most of his ambition in for being able to manage the problems he saw in the Middle East by remote control, it's all fallen apart.

  • 11:17:30

    REHMSo what about refugees in Turkey right now, Matt?

  • 11:17:35

    LEEWell, there is no doubt that Turkey is shouldering a huge burden here and has some real needs in terms of the millions of refugees that are there and that's why we've seen this deal with the EU come through.

  • 11:17:51

    REHMMatthew Lee, he's diplomatic writer for the Associated Press. Short break here and when we come back, we'll look at what's happening in Iran. Stay with us.

  • 11:20:02

    REHMAnd welcome back. Here in the studio today, Jia Lynn Yang, she's deputy national security editor at The Washington Post. Paul Danahar is Washington bureau chief for the BBC. And Matthew Lee is diplomatic writer for the Associated Press. If you have questions, comments, give us a call, 800-433-8850. We were talking before the break about the Nuclear Summit and President Obama is speaking about that now and will hold a press conference later this afternoon. Iran's Supreme Leader spoke out this week about Teheran's testing of ballistic missiles. What did he have to say, Matt?

  • 11:20:57

    LEEWell, he said that we're going to keep doing it and no one's going to be able to stop us. He says that this is the way forward. This is the way that Iran needs to protect itself and so there's no reason for them to stop. And technically...

  • 11:21:12

    REHMBut I thought part of the agreement with the U.S. and lifting sanctions had to do with no longer nuclear weapons testing.

  • 11:21:24

    YANGSo this was a key point in the negotiations.

  • 11:21:26

    REHMYes.

  • 11:21:26

    YANGThere was a long-standing ban from the United Nations against Iran testing ballistic missiles that were -- that would be capable of having nuclear warheads. Actually, during the negotiations, the Obama administration agreed to sort of soften that a little bit. So instead of saying, this is really legally binding, kind of opening up, you know, we really discourage you from doing this. And critics said at the time, you know, this looks like a giant loophole. And it creates this very gray area where it's not clear if Iran does -- acts, you know, what are the consequences?

  • 11:21:58

    YANGSo you see U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power saying, you know, tough language like we discourage this, we don't want you to do this. But it -- it's -- they've softened the resolution enough that it's not clear what kind of teeth it has anymore.

  • 11:22:09

    REHMSo no repercussions, Paul?

  • 11:22:13

    DANAHARWell, there's nothing to be gained really by overplaying this in terms of how they respond. Because at the end of the day, you're not going to be able to persuade the Iranians -- which is why they didn't really try -- to not carry out the sort of conventional testing of their weapons. Because they see themselves as very isolated. I mean, they don't have any allies to kind of fall back on if they get themselves into another nasty war with a neighbor. So the Iranians are always going to say, we're not going to be giving up means to protect ourselves because no one's coming running to our aid.

  • 11:22:45

    DANAHARSo the reason why the American administration softened this is because it was a no -- it was a non-starter in many ways.

  • 11:22:50

    REHMYeah. So Iran's going to push this as far as they can. But do I understand correctly that there are diplomatic efforts behind the scenes?

  • 11:23:02

    LEEWell, there are always going to be diplomatic efforts behind the scenes. The problem is that Iran is basically saying, no thank -- you know, we're not interested. They're certainly not going to renegotiate the nuclear deal, although they might and have said that they don't think that the West -- the United States in particular -- are living up to their end of the bargain of the nuclear deal. They don't think that the U.S. has eased enough of the sanctions and there are moves now afoot within the administration to expand the sanctions relief beyond what was in fact required by the nuclear deal.

  • 11:23:39

    LEEBut I think it is a very important thing to realize that the U.N. resolution, which contains the nuclear deal and also the missile language -- in that, the missile language went from what was before, thou shalt not, basically, fire missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons, to we call on you not to.

  • 11:23:58

    REHMHuh.

  • 11:23:59

    LEEAnd so the Russians and the Chinese and the Iranians...

  • 11:24:01

    REHMLanguage, language.

  • 11:24:02

    LEE...are all...

  • 11:24:03

    REHMYeah.

  • 11:24:03

    LEE...exactly. I mean, technically, they are correct. A call upon is not the same as thou -- as a commandment. And so, you know, it's very difficult to see how the Security Council is going to come to any agreement on the missile part.

  • 11:24:19

    REHMAll right. Already this morning we've had numerous questions regarding Myanmar. First comment on Facebook, could the panel discuss the astounding historical path that Myanmar/Burma has navigated, that only a handful of countries have achieved. The world should be so proud of these people. And if it turns out well, it could be an amazing place. Paul.

  • 11:24:58

    DANAHARI think it has been a remarkable transition. It wasn't very long ago that journalists were basically either banned or, when they got in and they got caught, they got thrown out. So the transition from where we were 10 years ago to where we are now is astounding. And I do think that President Obama and his outreach has made a massive difference there. I think, at the end of the day, also there was a realization that many of the neighboring countries, India, for example, were dealing with the regime there. So they were never going to be able to really contain it. And so engagement and moving it forward was the way to do it.

  • 11:25:30

    DANAHARSo I think really we should, as your listener says, reflect upon the fact, this is a remarkable achievement. Now, how far it goes, because the military have not given up control of many things. They control all the security and the defense and some of the home ministry stuff and they're not out of power yet. But this is a big, big change from where we were.

  • 11:25:50

    REHMAnd currently you have the new democratically-elected President Htin Kyaw, under law, the most powerful person in the country. He was hand-picked by Aung San Suu Kyi, who cannot by law stand for president. How come?

  • 11:26:14

    YANGThat's right. The constitution says that, if you have a family member who is a foreign citizen, you cannot be president. And two of her -- her two sons are British citizens. So that removes her. But she has said that she's wanted to carve out a role for herself that is, quote, "above the president."

  • 11:26:29

    REHMWhat does that mean?

  • 11:26:31

    YANGWell, we got a sense of that actually just in the last 24 hours. So the first bill to be put before this parliament is basically saying that she should be a -- sort of a prime minister role, which would, in theory, maybe make her even more powerful than the president who was just named. So she already has a number of sort of ministry titles, overseeing education, other domestic issues. This would be yet another sort of sign of power. The opponents are saying, well she doesn't need all these titles. She's already powerful enough. But, you know, as Paul pointed out, the military still has a lot of control. And so you can see her trying to navigate and trying to assert as much in the face of that.

  • 11:27:09

    LEEWell, and not to put a damper on all the enthusiasm that has been expressed, and I will say, you know, we have come a long way. I was based in Southeast Asia in the mid '90s. We're a long way from when the junta was calling her Mrs. Aris, because of her husband Michael Aris, now late husband, and really just running roughshod over everything. And there has been a remarkable change in Myanmar. And I don't think we should deny that.

  • 11:27:33

    LEEAt the same time, Aung San Suu Kyi has, in the eyes of a lot of people, not turned out to be exactly the beacon of democracy that she once was. She's got some very controversial views on the Muslim minority, the Rohingya, and the -- and has ignited some recent controversy with an interview in which she was like -- she said something about the interviewer was a Muslim and she didn't -- she said, I didn't know I was going to be interviewed...

  • 11:28:02

    DANAHARThat was a BBC interview, one of my colleagues.

  • 11:28:04

    LEE...didn't know I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim or no one told me. The -- and now we see the beginnings of what, yes, could be a very genuine and very responsible way to kind of put it -- the check -- a check on the military and the security forces by giving her -- by getting a new title or increasing her power. But it may not, you know, there is potential there for overreach, I think. And so I think we have to be -- well, celebrating the -- Myanmar's transition, I think we also have to be careful in proclaiming it...

  • 11:28:36

    REHMNot to overstate.

  • 11:28:37

    LEE...a complete victory. Exactly.

  • 11:28:39

    REHMOn the other hand, clearly, Aung San Suu Kyi is going to carve her own path.

  • 11:28:49

    YANGAbsolutely. She's foreseeing the first signs of what that actually is going to look like. And she doesn't have a successor that anyone knows of. So she's really trying to become the titular leader of the country.

  • 11:29:02

    REHMAll right. And just to let you know, speaking at the Nuclear Security Summit, President Obama said 102 nations have now ratified a key treaty on standards for protecting nuclear materials. He said he expects the treaty will enter into force in the coming weeks. He also announced today, the U.S. is releasing its inventory of highly-enriched uranium, the first time in more than a decade that the U.S. is releasing these figures. How big a deal is that?

  • 11:29:46

    DANAHARIt's -- look, I mean, they've got to have something to say when you've had all -- 50 world leaders in Washington for two weeks. So, I mean, look, it's great. It's progress. But is it like -- is it going to be headline news story tomorrow? No. I mean, and they know it's not going to be a headline news story tomorrow, which is why they had the summit on a Thursday and a Friday and the press conference at 6:00 p.m. on a Friday night, when half of Washington's gone off for the weekend and the other half is dreading having to do work over the weekend. So, I mean, no, this is not a big deal. It's nice. But it's not a big deal.

  • 11:30:15

    REHMJia Lynn.

  • 11:30:15

    YANGYou can also see in the president's own budget, they cut the funding for programs meant to stop nuclear proliferation. So if you actually look at what they've been doing, they also -- they never, you know, all of George W. Bush's nuclear weapons programs continued, all of them, added some more. So, you know, you have to look at the details for what they've actually accomplished.

  • 11:30:33

    REHMAll right. Let's talk about Brussels a week and a half after the attack there. What is the latest on those investigations, Jia Lynn?

  • 11:30:48

    YANGSome progress but also some stalled out. So those -- that surveillance photo that everyone saw of the three men at the airport, the man in white...

  • 11:30:56

    REHMRight. Right.

  • 11:30:57

    YANG...so they thought they'd apprehended...

  • 11:30:58

    REHMWith the hat on.

  • 11:30:59

    YANGYes. Him, with the two suicide bombers. They thought they'd apprehended that man. It wasn't him. At the same time, you're seeing signs of arrests indicating a broader network of people connected to the people behind the -- both the Paris and Brussels attacks. So, a man in France who they apprehended and found tons of explosives and weapons, really looking like ready to go for an imminent attack. Another man in Italy also tied to them. Basically, you're seeing, you know, this is not an isolated group of people. They're -- we see more and more connections every day between the Paris and Brussels attacks. And there -- that means there could be more imminent attacks.

  • 11:31:39

    REHMAnd what about the criticism of the Brussels police, the investigative authorities? Did they fall down on the job?

  • 11:31:51

    DANAHARI think there's a general acceptance that on some levels they did. And I think what Jia Lynn was saying about how we're seeing this widening network, as that's revealed, we're seeing how many mistakes were made allowing these people to come back anyway from Syria. Because nearly everyone that's being picked up now, they realize are, hang on, he was on our radar. I mean, these are not like the guys in San Bernardino. These are people that have been in trouble with the authorities for violent crimes, that have gone off to Syria. In some cases, there have been a miscommunication between one government and another.

  • 11:32:20

    DANAHARAnd then you had the situation in Brussels where the bomb that went off in the Metro was something like 40 minutes after the Metro was supposed to have been shut down. So Brussels is not coming out of this good. And every time they make some progress, it often reveals failures in the past that led to these guys getting so far.

  • 11:32:38

    REHMHaven't they also said that many of the terrorists in Europe are now those who were born in Europe, Matt?

  • 11:32:48

    LEEThat is true. I mean, there's -- and now European -- home-grown European terrorism, particularly among radicalized Muslim communities, is an enormous problem. I think, the one thing about the criticism of the Belgians that intrigues me a little bit is -- with the big caveat that clearly signs were missed, clearly people fell down on the job -- you know, a lot of this criticism of the Belgians is coming from people who don't exactly have perfect records in the prevention-of-terrorism area themselves. I mean, you know, a U.S. official saying that the Belgians are crap, essentially, and they have a horrible trade crap. You know, well let's hope that that guy wasn't working in the months prior to 9/11.

  • 11:33:32

    LEEAnd the French, I mean, my god, there have been two horrible attacks recently. For the French to come down on the Belgians so hard seems to me a bit rich.

  • 11:33:39

    REHMYou know, they're still using that same phrase -- they failed to connect the dots -- same phrase used when 9/11 happened. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And then there was a nephew who was arrested and then later released. What was that all about? A nephew of Yasin Attari (sp?) -- he was the nephew of the El-Bakraoui brothers who were the suicide bombers. I mean...

  • 11:34:19

    DANAHARYeah. They said they didn't have enough evidence to hold him. But, I mean, again, the problem is that they are on -- they're kind of pulling back the covers on these networks and finding things as they go along. But, I mean, we've seen Belgium has some, you know, has some rather obscure laws about what is or isn't enough to arrest someone. We had that classic case where they couldn't go into the guy's house where they thought he was being held because of a local law that said you mustn't carry out a raid between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.

  • 11:34:45

    REHMExactly.

  • 11:34:46

    DANAHARBut when you're trying to -- I mean, to be fair to them, I guess some of their kind of legal officials are slightly sort of one hand tied behind their back when they're trying to fight this case.

  • 11:34:55

    REHMAll right. Let's open the phones. We'll go first to Charlotte, N.C. Saeed, you're on the air.

  • 11:35:03

    SAEEDThank you, Diane. I find it very disturbing that we hear so many people congratulating Myanmar and Burma on democratizing their government, when they're actively carrying out a genocide against their Muslim population. It's very disheartening, as a Muslim, to see people congratulating people who are carrying out vicious atrocities and burning people on the streets. I've seen videos on YouTube of children being tortured and cigarette butts being put out, and their only crime is that they're Muslim.

  • 11:35:47

    LEEWell, I mean, he -- the caller is right. In Rakhine State where the Rohingya are mainly, there are horrible things happening. The U.S. -- you know, it's interesting, when Secretary Kerry and the administration determined 10 days ago or two weeks ago that the -- what was going on in the Mid-East, in Syria and Iraq again, was genocide being perpetrated by ISIS against Christians and other religious minorities. The same day that they did that, they were also required to report to Congress about whether the situation in Myanmar with the Rohingya was a genocide. And they opted not to declare that a genocide. They said things were bad and certainly atrocities are committed but that it did not rise to the legal level of genocide.

  • 11:36:31

    LEESo while I can understand the caller's sentiments, at least in terms of the U.S., what's happening there is not technically...

  • 11:36:39

    REHMAll right. Give me the rationale behind the difference that the U.S. decided one was and the other wasn't.

  • 11:36:47

    LEEThat's -- it's an excellent question. And it's not really...

  • 11:36:50

    REHMTotally political.

  • 11:36:51

    LEEIt's not really clear. But clearly they were under huge amounts of pressure from the Christian community, from others in the states, from Congress, on the ISIS genocide declaration, but not nearly so much on the Rohingya and the Myanmar situation. And I -- but I just want to point that the caller is, you know, absolutely right, that there are horrible things happening in Rakhine State.

  • 11:37:14

    REHMMatthew Lee, he's diplomatic writer for the Associated Press. Give us a call. Your comments, questions are always welcome. Stay with us.

  • 11:40:01

    REHMAnd welcome back. Here's an email from Michael, who has a very brief comment. He says, two men, all in black, wearing a single glove would have raised a flag in other places. Does Belgium suffer from the same political correctness seen in the USA that prevents people from speaking up, Matt?

  • 11:40:32

    LEEWell, you know, here's the thing. We clearly, sitting here in the studio, don't know the full circumstances of this, and it is not -- but what is clear is that these guys had not yet gone through security. They had just gone into the front door, you know, of the terminal. And so, you know, unless some passerby or, you know, whether that passerby was a policeman or a security guard or just a regular, another passenger, would have noticed this and thought it was suspicious enough to either stop them or point this out, we just don't know.

  • 11:41:06

    LEEBut had they passed through security, there's just no way to tell. I mean...

  • 11:41:10

    REHMThey couldn't have passed through security.

  • 11:41:13

    LEEWell certainly not, but this is why there's a big call now for the security screening to be moved to the parking lot, basically.

  • 11:41:18

    REHMRight, to the parking lot.

  • 11:41:19

    LEEYou know, soon it's going to be if you have a ticket, you've got to go through the detector before you leave your house.

  • 11:41:24

    REHMWell, do you believe that is going to change here in this country and around the world?

  • 11:41:30

    LEEWell, there will be great pushback, I think. I mean, the inconvenience of it, for one. But then again, you know, we've given up many conveniences to...

  • 11:41:39

    REHMAbsolutely.

  • 11:41:41

    DANAHARAnd in many countries around the world, they do do that. I mean, you can't get into an Indian airport without going through a layer of some security because they've had a number of attacks over the years. I think it's not -- there are countries that do it. It just means that you have big crowd of people outside, and if you want to blow people up, you can just blow them up outside. I mean, it doesn't change anything. All you're doing is moving the crowds around, and the bombers go for the crowds.

  • 11:42:01

    DANAHARSo if you push everybody outside, they'll attack people outside.

  • 11:42:05

    YANGI think there's also some concern that, you know, Islamic State attackers can infiltrate your security. So it just depends on your security checks, and if someone gets through, then the whole system sort of falls apart.

  • 11:42:17

    REHMAnd here's an email from Sue regarding, quote, homegrown terrorists. Is this not also a problem of lack of assimilation of those who wish to fully integrate into their new country? I see definite parallels here in the U.S. Why are we not concerned about the full assimilation of those coming to both Europe and to the US?

  • 11:42:46

    DANAHARWell, often, I mean, the people that have been carrying out these attacks in Europe have been born in the country they've been attacking.

  • 11:42:55

    REHMExactly.

  • 11:42:55

    DANAHARIt happened in my country with our 7/7 attacks. And so it's not a case of necessarily, you know, the assimilation process because their parents brought them up in an environment that was with everybody else. I think what's become a problem now is it's so much easier when you're a disgruntled teenager, and you want to lash out at something, to go onto the Internet and be in many ways groomed to become an Islamic militant in the same way that people are groomed into child abuse and whatnot. It's a systematic process of looking for people that can be turned.

  • 11:43:25

    REHMAll right, let's go back to the phones, to Providence, Rhode Island. Marie, you're on the air.

  • 11:43:34

    MARIEGood morning.

  • 11:43:35

    REHMHi.

  • 11:43:36

    MARIEI just wanted to comment on your point, Diane, about not connecting the dots and note that I certainly witnessed, often in government, myself that people are so specialized these days, and it's in government, it's also in the private sector, and some sense it's also so disempowered within their specific roles that it's very hard for anybody to be in a position to connect the dots, it seems. You know, and I think that federal government seems to believe we can solve this with technology somehow, you know, finding key words, whatever, but the reality is it's a broader social issue, and I just think that until we really get at some of those root causes, we're not going to make progress.

  • 11:44:17

    REHMThanks for your call. In the case of 9/11, there was a lack of cooperation.

  • 11:44:24

    LEERight, and I think we're seeing that, as well, in Europe. It's the same issue. It's just kind of what they call stove-piping, where, you know, intelligence agencies and police departments don't always connect, don't always share the information.

  • 11:44:37

    REHMOr want to.

  • 11:44:37

    LEEExactly because there's great, you know, internal kind of -- well, I don't want to say jealousy, but there's, you know, there are people...

  • 11:44:44

    REHMCompetition.

  • 11:44:45

    LEEPeople are competing for budgets, scarce money, and so they don't want to let go of their own little area. And what we've found and what we've seen is that unless you can end or at least punch a bunch of holes in these stove pipes, disaster can happen.

  • 11:45:01

    DANAHARIt's really true in Europe, as well. I mean, Europe's particularly -- you've got that problem because, you know, Europe hasn't worked out how to put all of its institutions together, and because there's no borders now, you've effectively got one big area to operate in with different -- I mean, even in -- I think in Belgium I read somewhere that within Brussels, there's six different police units, I mean like independent administrations. I mean that's just...

  • 11:45:21

    LEEAnd how many languages?

  • 11:45:21

    YANGRight.

  • 11:45:23

    DANAHARYeah, I mean, that's just one city. So Europe really does have a big -- America has a problem with your federal structure and the different, but at least you've got an overarching umbrella where you tackle things. In Europe you don't have that.

  • 11:45:34

    REHMLet's talk about Pakistan, Jia Lynn, where 200 militants have been arrested in the Easter suicide bombing at a playground, 200 people arrested.

  • 11:45:48

    YANGYes, they really did quite a sweep after this horrific attack on Easter Sunday, where Christians were targeted, but many, many Muslims were also hurt. You know, the group that claimed responsibility is a splinter group that broke off of the Pakistani Taliban, and the Pakistanis have made some progress. In parts of their country, they're rooting out these militants. This a perpetual problem in Pakistan, of course, but obviously they haven't covered all the areas.

  • 11:46:14

    LEEThat's exactly right. I mean, when you do it -- when one of these bombings or attacks happens, as horrific as it is, it seems that the reaction in Pakistan, and elsewhere -- but is kind of, you know, let's go out and round up the usual suspects. Most get released because they didn't have anything to do with it, or they can't find any evidence that ties them to it. But one wonders, as we were talking about before, why these people who they think are capable or are ready or are planning such attacks are not being more closely watched in the first place.

  • 11:46:53

    LEEWhy round them all up after the fact? Why not take a look at them beforehand? I'm not saying mass arrests for no reason, but if you suspect people, surely they should be given some extra attn.

  • 11:47:04

    DANAHARAnd I think the thing about Pakistan is it's always had a very complicated relationship with Islamic extremist groups. I mean, some of them are -- they're accused of actually generating to carry out attacks in Kashmir with the Indians. So some of the -- what happened in Pakistan is they were -- some of their ISI, their intelligence network, were allowing some of these groups to form, or these kind of men to form, with an intention of managing them. And some of these guys just splintered away from the management.

  • 11:47:31

    DANAHARAnd so we've seen with, you know, with Abbottabad and bin Laden being there, the Pakistanis think they're better at managing their extremists than they often are, and sometimes they -- one goes off the radar screen and attacks them. And the Pakistani Taliban are a very different form from the Afghan Taliban, and the Pakistani -- and the Pakistanis, to be fair to them, were trying to say that to the Americans. Look, these are two different groups of people, but they are all lumped together, and they all kind of grew out of different angers and frustrations within the country, kind of the structure of Pakistan.

  • 11:48:04

    DANAHARAnd the Pakistani Taliban now are probably much, much more extreme than the Afghan Taliban ever were, and they see themselves as attacking the Pakistani nation and other communities within Pakistan, particularly the Christians, and it's quite a big Christian community in Pakistan.

  • 11:48:18

    REHMAll right, let's go to Mark in Arlington, Virginia. You're on the air.

  • 11:48:25

    MARKHi, thanks for taking my call.

  • 11:48:27

    REHMSure.

  • 11:48:28

    MARKExcellent hour, very articulate panel today.

  • 11:48:29

    REHMThanks.

  • 11:48:30

    MARKI wanted to ask for clarification of two things that were mentioned earlier in the hour, the first about there was a reference, I believe, unless I misconstrued it, to -- in the context of the deteriorating relationship with Turkey that there was a requirement to be a democracy to join NATO. That doesn't sound right. I think he meant the European community because in the past of NATO, of course, we had for example the military regimes in Greece, and I believe Spain was an original member of NATO under Franco.

  • 11:49:05

    MARKBut the second clarification was, there was a reference to -- I may have had this wrong, too, but I think I heard a reference to new deployment of American nuclear systems to South Korea. My understanding, what I've been reading about, is the THAAD system, which is a non-nuclear defensive ballistic system, but maybe I missed something.

  • 11:49:26

    LEEI can take both of them. It's a -- it was not a requirement, democracy requirement was not existing when NATO was originally created. It has come in since NATO expansion. So the former Soviet states that are now or in the Soviet bloc that are now members of NATO, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, had to meet the democracy requirement. You're correct that Greece and, you know, Spain and other countries did not have to. But that is now -- but that is now the case.

  • 11:49:58

    LEEIn terms of THAAD, you're absolutely right, it is not new nukes going to South Korea or what they're discussing. It is the THAAD, the high-altitude missile defense.

  • 11:50:09

    REHMAll right, and here's a listener tweet. Aung San Suu Kyi fails to speak against racism of minorities. She's no Dr. King. The USA should be careful not to upset Muslims further.

  • 11:50:30

    DANAHARI think there's a reasonable kind of statement that she is not -- she has proved not to be the kind of the shining light that everyone was expecting her to be on all issues, and she's been quite controversial over her lack of forthrightness in terms of condemning the attacks on the Muslim community in Burma. In many ways, you know, she's grown up in an environment, I guess, where her supporters can see no wrong. And she can see no right within the military. And I guess that's kind of left her with a very -- and I'm guessing, but a very black-and-white view on many different issues and not much exposure, I guess, to anything other than many levels fawning kind of foreign politicians who just saw her as this kind of wonderful figure.

  • 11:51:11

    DANAHARSo what we're probably seeing now, she comes out of her home, beyond the fence, is a little more insight into her character and how she's going to deal with these very complicated issues.

  • 11:51:19

    REHMJia Lynn?

  • 11:51:20

    YANGThat's absolutely right, and I think the West has sort of limited -- limited leverage now. A lot of sanctions were lifted and because of this sort of hailing of progress. So in a way, you know, we kind of have to watch from a distance to see how it plays out.

  • 11:51:35

    DANAHARIt is -- it is very difficult, I think, for a lot of pro-democracy leaders who become icons of their country, of their struggle. It's difficult for many of them to make the transition to actual leadership once -- you know, if you're a dissident, that's -- you can be a phenomenal dissident and a real role model for a lot of people, but transitioning from that to actual leadership can be difficult for a lot of people, and I think that that's what we're seeing with her now.

  • 11:52:13

    REHMLet's go to Houston, Texas. Josh, you're on the air.

  • 11:52:19

    JOSHHi, thanks for taking my call.

  • 11:52:20

    REHMSure.

  • 11:52:20

    JOSHI just wanted to make a comment about I guess where we are as a country, you know, going back to your discussion earlier, when Edward Snowden leaked all the information that he did. One of the justifications that he gave was that the country never really had a chance to have a conversation about this. Is this where we want to be? And I'm just wondering, it seems like we're inevitably heading towards some kind of mass surveillance to try to protect us. Do you think that as a country we're ready to have that conversation now?

  • 11:52:50

    DANAHARIt's interesting, if you look at, I mean, the country that I come from, England, I live in England, the number of cameras around the whole country, I mean, you can't walk down the street without being on four or five difference cameras.

  • 11:53:03

    REHMExactly, exactly.

  • 11:53:05

    DANAHARAnd the English, and it isn't like -- it's something that's kind of annoyed a lot of the Welsh and the Scottish, but the English seem to have accepted that. We -- we've given up a lot of our securities in the U.K., or rather our privacy, rather, for security in the U.K. And I guess in -- and it happens by stealth. You know, you just end up having more and more cameras, and you have cameras on a restaurant or cameras in a bar or whatever, and eventually the whole nation is covered. And I guess the point is, at what stage do you think I feel so insecure I'm willing to give something up in return.

  • 11:53:38

    DANAHARAnd I think incidents like San Bernardino, for example, will only make people err more on the side of giving up their privacy to get more security.

  • 11:53:46

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Do you agree?

  • 11:53:48

    LEEI do, and I think, you know, what's striking is the number of attacks recently in Europe and Turkey, how there's -- all of a sudden, there's video. There's CCTV video of the actual detonation, the last three in Turkey, even outside of the restaurant, the Bataclan night massacre in Paris. All of a sudden, this stuff, you know, there are -- are they actually doing anything? No, they're filming the explosion. They're not stopping them. It's really kind of crazy

  • 11:54:17

    YANGI will say, though, I mean, as you see with the fight playing out between the FBI and Apple over the San Bernardino attacks, I mean, Silicon Valley in a ways is, for people who care about civil liberties, they've become your best advocates because they're the ones who control the technology on the phones, and that's really where the most, you know, useful surveillance you can imagine is going to come from.

  • 11:54:32

    YANGSo long as they're making devices much more secure, they're resisting the government's requests, you know, to some extent there's a check on the government's power there.

  • 11:54:39

    DANAHARBut I also think if you look at the generation beneath us, they're freely giving up their privacy.

  • 11:54:46

    YANGTrue.

  • 11:54:46

    DANAHARSo, I mean, you know, there's the sort of the teens and the 20-year-olds, I mean, they're putting everything out there. So whether our generation sees it as a big issue, maybe the next generation just won't, and maybe that'll make it easier, I don't know, to actually kind of track people.

  • 11:54:57

    REHMBut you know, it sounds as though you're talking about two different things, the videos when young people use their iPhones, whereas you're talking about the cameras the government places on the street to try to not only catch traffic violators but also to see what's happening.

  • 11:55:17

    DANAHARYeah, but I think it's a mentality about what -- how you see your privacy. That's the kind of point I'm making is that if people become less and less bothered about their own privacy, perhaps they'll be less and less bothered about what the government is seeing. I mean, you know, we can't walk down the street now probably without being on somebody's mobile phone, which we don't have any control over. So I don't know how it's going to change, but certainly in my lifetime I've seen much less worry about privacy and much more worry about security.

  • 11:55:40

    REHMAnd people I have heard say if you're not doing anything wrong, why are you worried about it? So what if they see you going down the street?

  • 11:55:51

    LEEWell, right. The problem is that when it becomes -- look at the situation we have in the District of Columbia right now with all these cameras just for traffic violations.

  • 11:56:01

    REHMRight. And what has happened?

  • 11:56:03

    LEEYou know, and so if you're going 34 miles an hour in a 25-mile-an-hour zone, you're not expecting -- you're going to get a ticket now.

  • 11:56:10

    REHMYou're going to get a ticket, and traffic violations are down because of those cameras.

  • 11:56:18

    YANGThat's true, that has become a fact, an unfortunate fact of life as a driver. I still think, though, that Snowden, I mean, even just having a caller raising this issue, there is this kind of pervasive sense that the government is watching, and I'm worried about that. And I think his documents really created that sense. And if that had not happened otherwise, I think people wouldn't be talking about it as much.

  • 11:56:38

    REHMAll right, Jia Lynn Yang, she's deputy national security editor for The Washington Post, Paul Danahar, Washington bureau chief for the BBC and author of "The New Middle East: The World After the Arab Spring," and Matthew Lee, he's diplomatic writer for the Associated Press. Thank you all. Have a great weekend.

  • 11:57:06

    LEEThank you.

  • 11:57:06

    DANAHARThank you so much, Diane.

  • 11:57:06

    YANGThank you.

  • 11:57:06

    REHMAnd thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.

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