Iraqi government forces advance down a street June 2 in the Saqlawiyah area, north west of Fallujah, during an operation to regain control of the area from the Islamic State group.

Iraqi government forces advance down a street June 2 in the Saqlawiyah area, north west of Fallujah, during an operation to regain control of the area from the Islamic State group.

The German parliament votes to label the world war one massacre of Armenians “genocide.” Turkey denounces the move and withdraws its ambassador. Iraqi forces halt their advance on Fallujah amid concerns for civilians trapped in the ISIS-held city. Hillary Clinton attacks Donald Trump in a foreign policy speech, calling his ideas “dangerously incoherent.” The U.N. cancels planned humanitarian air drops in Syria, citing concerns over security. Venezuelan officials delay a decision on allowing a recall vote for the country’s president. And a search team has detected signals from the black boxes of the crashed Egypt Air plane


  • Mark Landler White House correspondent, The New York Times; author of a new book, "Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power"
  • Elise Labott Global affairs correspondent, CNN
  • Uri Friedman Staff writer, The Atlantic, covering global affairs
  • Nicholas Casey The Andes bureau chief of The New York Times based in Caracas


  • 11:06:53

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Assaults on ISIS intensify in Syria and Iraq. Germany's parliament moves to declare the World War I massacre of Armenians a genocide angering Turkey and Latin American countries pressure Venezuela over that country's commitment to democracy. Here for the international hour of the Friday News Roundup, Mark Landler of the New York Times, Elise Labott of CNN and Uri Friedman with The Atlantic.

  • 11:07:29

    MS. DIANE REHMThroughout the hour, your comments and calls are welcome. Join us on 800-433-8850. Send us an email to Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And welcome to all of you.

  • 11:07:50

    MR. MARK LANDLERGood morning, Diane.

  • 11:07:50

    MS. ELISE LABOTTGood morning.

  • 11:07:51

    REHMAnd Mark Landler, I want to congratulate you on your new book, "Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power." Congrats.

  • 11:08:08

    LANDLERThank you, Diane. That's very kind of you.

  • 11:08:10

    REHMAnd let's start with ISIS. Major assaults underway on the group's strongholds in both Syria and Iraq. What's the latest on each?

  • 11:08:23

    LANDLERWell, it's actually a complicated story because you actually have four major ISIS strongholds that are under attack. In Syria, you have the buildup to a major offensive against Raqqa which is the capital of the Islamic State. That's a combination of Arab fighters and Syrian Kurdish fighters all backed by the U.S. as well as an area called Manbij, which is just south of the Turkish/Syrian border, another stronghold where there is an offensive underway, same mix of fighters involved in that.

  • 11:09:00

    LANDLERAcross the border in Iraq, you have two separate areas of engagement that the more bitter one at the moment is in Fallujah, which, if you recall, is the city that ISIS first conquered in January 2014. It was really the first moment that the world recognized the existence of this self-described caliphate. And then, in Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, there's an offensive building. It's not yet, I think, fully engaged, but there it's against a combination of some Iranian militias that are fighting in that, again, Arabs and Kurdish Peshmerga coming from the east from Iraqi Kurdistan.

  • 11:09:43

    LANDLERIn that case, as well, you have support in intelligence, in airstrikes and targeting from the United States and other coalition members. If you recall, President Obama has said that getting Mosul and Raqqa out of the grip of ISIS was one of the goals he informally set for himself before he leaves office. So we're now beginning to see, I think, some of the dramatic moments in this struggle and it could be the first time, really, that ISIS has lost significant territory since this campaign began.

  • 11:10:18

    REHMHow do you see it, Elise?

  • 11:10:20

    LABOTTI completely agree and I think what -- particularly in Syria, where they're trying in Raqqa and Manbij, what they're trying to do is deny ISIS these last areas, these last pockets of logistics basing. That's where they bring in fighters from Turkey, from Europe. And that's where they're also getting their supplies. So they're really trying to choke them off from their resources and for the first time, you really get the sense that ISIS is on the back foot and the momentum is really with the coalition.

  • 11:10:52

    LABOTTYou have this offensive against Raqqa and Manbij. You have this offensive against Mosul and that's building -- I think it's taken a little bit of momentum away from -- the Fallujah part has taken a little bit away from the big prize, which is Mosul. But there is a sense that ISIS is losing ground. The one problem is that there are some splits among the fighters against ISIS on both sides of the border. In Syria, you have the Syrian democratic forces, which are Syrian Arabs.

  • 11:11:25

    LABOTTAnd you have Kurds and there's this kind of unlikely marriage and they're working together, but there is some fighting. And then, on the other side, as Mark said, you have these Shia militias backed by Iran and there is real concern about retribution against Sunnis after the end of this. So there is a concern that that could lessen some of those gains.

  • 11:11:45

    REHMAnd Uri, you've had some resistance on the part of Turkey to having these Kurdish fighters involved.

  • 11:11:55

    MR. URI FRIEDMANYeah. Turkey's not happy with this because they see the YPG in Syria and the Peshmerga in Iraq as allies with the PKK, which they've been fighting for decades. Erdogan has been prosecuting a campaign right now and so he's not very happy with the U.S. for kind of working with these forces. On the other hand, there's not really much of a choice because the Arab fighters, for example, the Free Syrian Army in Syria are very small. We're talking about hundreds, thousands, not a lot of force.

  • 11:12:22

    MR. URI FRIEDMANAnd while it's problematic to bring in these Kurdish forces, too, in Arab city and have them govern, they can get to that city and weaken ISIS and then you can have kind of a vanguard of Arab fighters. And that's some of the thinking about why it's worth working with these Kurdish forces, even if it antagonizes Turkey and even if those Kurdish forces can't govern afterwards.

  • 11:12:43

    REHMSo how realistic is the -- I don’t want to go so far as to call it optimism, but there's a different feel about what you all are saying.

  • 11:12:56

    FRIEDMANThere is optimism. I want to kind of throw a little bit of cold water on the optimism a little bit. So director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, recently said that he doesn't think that Mosul, the Iraqi city, and (word?) stronghold in Iraq is going to be retaken during the Obama administration. The Obama administration has said that they want to do this, but it's a real undertaking. And then, there's a question of once you take over, let's say, Fallujah, who governs?

  • 11:13:20

    FRIEDMANWho is actually governing that territory? And that's a really big question. And the third thing is, you know, ISIS' biggest weakness and its biggest strength, in a way, has been its -- that it has an address. It has territory. That has attracted fighters. It's given itself -- given the organization legitimacy. But if you take that address away, if you take that territory away, that doesn't mean ISIS goes away. It just means it kind of mutates into a different kind of organization and that can involved more ground forces.

  • 11:13:49

    FRIEDMANIt can involve -- it can mean that airstrikes are less effective if you don't have a place to target.

  • 11:13:53

    LABOTTI think this is one of the problems that the U.S. really hasn’t necessarily learned over the years, particularly in Iraq, is what happens the day after. And, you know, as Uri was saying, there are a lot of concerns about the Iraqi government right now. President Abadi is very weak and there's questions about his ability to hold his government together. And then, in Syria, the U.S. has this, I think, a fantasy that the Kurds, after they help liberate these areas like Manbij and Raqqa are just going to go home, then the Syrian Arabs are going to be able to rule there.

  • 11:14:31

    LABOTTSyria is in the middle of a civil war and, you know, even though, obviously, Assad is still clinging to power, there's a lot of questions about who's going to hold the territory that they gain from ISIS. So, you know, they may win the battle, but the war, how they handle it the day after is just as important, if not more.

  • 11:14:48

    REHMAnd what about the humanitarian conditions existing in all this fighting, Mark?

  • 11:14:57

    LANDLERWell, you know, in Fallujah, you have a lot of families that are trapped inside the city. They've been encouraged, in fact urged and warned to flee by the advancing Iraqi forces, but ISIS is not letting them. And so there are large numbers of people that are trapped inside all of these places.

  • 11:15:15

    REHMWho can't get food or water.

  • 11:15:17

    LANDLERThat's right. And then, that says nothing about the parallel civil conflict in Syria itself, which, you know, came into the news because there had been sort of a self imposed deadline by the international community that if they couldn't get humanitarian relief into parts of Syria that are either under siege in the ISIS conflict or with the Syrian regime, that they should -- the world food program should begin unilateral air drops of relief on June 1, which, of course, was this past Wednesday.

  • 11:15:50

    LANDLERThat hasn't happened yet, in part because the United Nations has decided or at least delayed temporarily a decision on the argument that they need some kind of authorization from the Syrian government and none has yet come.

  • 11:16:04

    REHMSo you've got babies. You've got women who don't have anything at all.

  • 11:16:12

    LANDLERRight. I mean, there was just a convoy that came into a suburb of Damascus and it didn't even bring food. It brought some medicine, shampoo. Like, really, I mean, these are just not even cutting -- scraping the surface of what these people need. And the problem with air drops, which is like a last resort, is that they're inefficient. You know, you don't know if the pallets that you're dropping are getting to people. So this is really kind of the worst way to deliver food to people who desperately need it and there are many, many areas in Syria right now that are besieged mainly by Syrian government forces.

  • 11:16:42

    LANDLERThey're usually rebel-held areas. There's estimates that about 600,000 people in Syria right now are under siege and, like, 4 million are hard to reach. So this is a real, real issue.

  • 11:16:52

    LABOTTAnd what you've seen really and particularly in the Middle East, in Syria and Iraq, is this politization of aid and about the ability to get aid there. It used to be that humanitarian aid was completely sacrosanct and...

  • 11:17:05

    REHMYeah, absolutely.

  • 11:17:05 would continue fighting. You would be able to get aid through. The Syrian government has, you know, really stonewalled this aid and the international community not only furious with the Syrian government, but also Russia, who this is one area they say that they want food drops, but they don't seem to be putting the necessary pressure on the Syrian regime to allow the aid through. The regime let this one convoy of I would call it non aid through, but that was just to avoid maybe some of the air drops.

  • 11:17:35

    REHMElise Labott, she's global affairs correspondent for CNN. Uri Friedman is staff writer for The Atlantic covering global affairs and Mark Landler is White House correspondent for the New York Times. Short break here. We'll be taking your calls, your comments when we come back. Stay with us.

  • 11:20:02

    REHMAnd welcome back to the international hour of our Friday News Roundup. At the top of the news, certainly Hillary Clinton's foreign policy speech yesterday, Uri. She was headlined to give a foreign policy speech but most of her speech seemed to be about Donald Trump.

  • 11:20:30

    FRIEDMANYeah. I mean, there -- it wasn't a lot of policy specifics or kind of big, grand visions about how the U.S. should conduct foreign affairs. It was more kind of using foreign policy as a vehicle to discuss the differences more broadly between her and Donald Trump. And I thought it was a real way -- she was kind of connecting the dots of a lot of discrete attacks that she's made over time.

  • 11:20:50

    FRIEDMANI think one interesting thing was trying to kind of wrest the security mantle away from Donald Trump -- the idea that you may think that, you know, when terrorism happens, when we're concerned about national security, we go to Republicans sometimes or we go to him because he talks tough. But her argument was he's actually really dangerous for security and will undermine security.

  • 11:21:12

    FRIEDMANShe actually had an interesting argument where she -- it was kind of like a self-interested argument for our U.S. leadership, which is, our national security and our economic prosperity depends on U.S. leadership. And Donald Trump will create a situation in which the U.S. is not leading, in which the U.S. is fearful and withdrawn from the world. And so that was kind of her overall critique. It was a little bit like LBJ versus Goldwater in '64, where you have the Daisy ad of kind of saying, you don't want this guy's finger on the nukes.

  • 11:21:42

    LANDLERThere was -- that was one historical echo. And there was another one, which I think goes to Uri's point, where she actually put Donald Trump in the category of those who blame America and disparage America's role, and almost presented him in the same light that people in the 1980s, Republicans, used to pain Walter Mondale and the Democrats, a sort of blame America first argument. So I thought that was really fascinating too.

  • 11:22:09

    LANDLERI mean, one of the broader points I'll make about Hillary Clinton's foreign policy is that I think she genuinely does advocate for a more engaged, more muscular view of American foreign policy than either Barack Obama, whom she served as secretary of state, but in some respects than Donald Trump, who for all his contradictory and incoherent rhetoric has actually talked about staying away from nation-building, withdrawing from our alliances in Asia and Europe. It's a sort of a neo-isolationist view that she was very much rejecting and presenting herself as a fervent believer in American exceptionalism, a believer in the value and the importance of engagement.

  • 11:22:52

    LANDLERSo I thought that it was an interesting, if light on policy details, and Uri's right about that. I thought it was a very interesting way of framing the debate over foreign policy in this election, which is fundamentally going to be engagement versus isolationism.

  • 11:23:08

    REHMTough speech.

  • 11:23:09

    LABOTTIt was a very tough speech. And to kind of bring the two together, I thought it was kind of like LBJ-Goldwater, but 2.0. Because then she was talking about, do you want decisions on nuclear weapons and getting involved in military conflict based on what Donald Trump reads on a tweet? And so she was talking about, you know, basically this was about he does not have the temperament...

  • 11:23:30


  • 11:23:31

    LABOTT...temperament to be commander-in-chief. That when you're making these weighty decisions -- and you're not just making them on behalf o the U.S. -- the U.S. president is really (word?) the leader of the free world.

  • 11:23:40

    REHMNor on just how you are feeling.

  • 11:23:43

    LABOTTOn how you feel and on your own, you know, personal slightings by world leaders, you know? And so, you know, look, North Korea's going to make fun of the U.S. leader every day. You can't take that personally and then make a decision to launch a nuclear weapon. I think that's what she was trying to say. And then, you know, it is true that this was mostly about Donald Trump. I think maybe it wasn't billed by the Clinton campaign as a major foreign policy speech. The press, I think, billed it as that.

  • 11:24:12

    LABOTTThe campaign was pretty honest about this is a repudiation of Donald Trump. But because everyone was looking for these foreign policy specifics, she kind of did a half-hour litany of Donald Trump and then said, oh, yeah, and I know a thing or two about this foreign policy stuff, having been secretary of state. So I think Hillary Clinton does -- you can question her record on certain issues. You know, she's very vulnerable on (word?) on Russia for instance. But she has this foreign policy bona fides.

  • 11:24:40

    REHMShe didn't mention those.

  • 11:24:41

    LABOTTAnd Osama bin Laden. She has the bona fides on the foreign policy. Now she just wants to paint the distinction and the contrast between her and Donald Trump.

  • 11:24:50

    FRIEDMANOn the question of her foreign policy bona fides, I think one open question is whether her experience is a political asset for her at this moment in time. She said, I've been to 112 countries. I've, you know, brokered truces between Hamas and Israel. But we're in a moment when it's not entirely clear the electorate wants the experience of someone who has been involved in robust American involvement in the world. So Pew recently came out with a poll showing that 60 percent of Americans say that they agree with the statement that America should deal with its own problems and let other countries deal with their own, 40 percent disagreed with that.

  • 11:25:31

    FRIEDMANNow I would say, we're not -- I don't think we're at like a low point for that. I think like before ISIS in like 2013, Americans are -- probably had even more fatigue for American involvement in the world. But I think one thing that will be interesting to see is whether this argument about substantive experience and substantive knowledge is a political asset.

  • 11:25:48

    LANDLERI'll just add one more point to this because I think that's a very valid observation to make. President Obama has some of the same characteristics in his foreign policy view that Donald Trump has. He criticizes free riders, countries that don't pay their fair share. And he wants, too, to avoid the nation-building business and to define American interests somewhat more narrowly than other post-war presidents. So to that extent, there's a very faint echo of Obama in some of what Donald Trump says.

  • 11:26:20

    LANDLERAnd Obama feels very strongly -- and this is something I do get at in my book, if you'll forgive me for plugging it for one moment -- I think President Obama feels fervently, at the end of 7.5 years, that he has his finger on the pulse of Americans on what role they want in the -- to play in the world and what role they're no longer willing to play in the world. So I think it's very much an open question to whether Donald Trump's vision, which as I said is a very slight echo of President Obama's, is more in tune with the electorate...

  • 11:26:50


  • 11:26:50

    LANDLER...than the more activist vision of Hillary Clinton.

  • 11:26:51

    REHMInteresting. Interesting.

  • 11:26:53

    LABOTTAnd also, look, the polls also show that foreign policy isn't necessarily the big issue. And whether that's going to be important to people that it isn't, those ideas for Donald Trump seem refreshing.

  • 11:27:04

    REHMAll right. We're going to turn now to Venezuela. We have joining us by phone is Nicholas Casey. He covers Venezuela for The New York Times. He's based in Caracas. He joins us by phone from New York. Nick, thanks for joining us. Paint a picture for us of daily life in Venezuela today. I mean, I have images of a thriving country, doing well. And yet that is not happening today.

  • 11:27:45

    MR. NICHOLAS CASEYYeah. You're absolutely right. I mean, it's important when you think of Latin America now to be able to separate Venezuela from the rest of the region, where things stand. It's really rare that anyone has seen this kind of dystopia happen in this part of the world and in this way. If you're in Venezuela, you're not going to see a major conflict that's taking place. There's no war. There's no tanks.

  • 11:28:10

    MR. NICHOLAS CASEYYou know, even if you go into the malls, you'll see that there are movies that are playing. But if you're in those malls, you may see that the lights are off because there is no power. There may be no water. And if you go into the hospitals, you'll see that there is no medicine, no antibiotics. There are people dying on the floor. And if you go out at night, you will see that there's very few people who are on the streets because at this point they are so terrified that they will be kidnapped or killed. The homicide rate has skyrocketed in Venezuela in these recent years.

  • 11:28:43

    MR. NICHOLAS CASEYAnd as you've said, this is one of the richest countries -- was one of the richest countries in South America. It still has the largest proven reserves of oil. So for this to be the place that you see this kind of dystopia is totally surprising.

  • 11:28:59

    REHMSo how does that compare with what the country looked like, say, 15 years ago? And how did it happen?

  • 11:29:09

    CASEYWell, if you looked at the country even 30, 40 years ago, you see -- it was one of the most quickly modernizing countries in the area. It was being fueled a lot of the way that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf had been, it's development was being fueled by all the oil revenues that was happening. Now beginning in Hugo Chavez' time, when he came, he took the country on a dramatic shift. And one of the most problematic policies that he implemented were price controls. The price controls brought the cost of making food even lower to what it was to sell it. That meant that the production of a lot of foods vanished in Venezuela. People weren't making milk. People weren't making corn. People weren't making a lot of things that you needed.

  • 11:29:55

    CASEYThis wasn't a problem though because there was so much oil money. You could just buy it. You could just import it with the dollars that you were getting from the oil. The big problem began when the oil prices started to fall. And there now isn't enough money right now to pay for even the foods. And you're having long lines of people throughout the country trying to find food that just isn't there.

  • 11:30:19

    REHMSo, Nicholas, how much of this can be attributed to Maduro? How much of it is his fault? How much of it is the falling oil prices? How much blame is at his door?

  • 11:30:39

    CASEYWell, economists will tell you there are two things happening and that there are two main aspects to blame. One is the policies that I just described that changed the economy in such a dramatic way. But -- and this happened in the last, you know, two decades. The other is an age-old problem for Venezuela, which is it's resource curse. The fact that there is so much oil in Venezuela is actually a problem because the entire government is mainly being funded not by taxes, not by buy-in from the people who are voting, but rather by this huge reserve of oil. And this means that there are a lot of very bad decisions that are being made because the country isn't accountable to anything more than its own oil supply.

  • 11:31:22

    REHMSo what about Maduro, Mark Landler?

  • 11:31:27

    LANDLERWell, Maduro has been fighting -- as Nick knows better than I do -- this lengthy battle over a recall vote. He's trying to fend off these efforts to hold a vote that could force him out of office. I was able to take part in a briefing with intelligence officials in the U.S. about two weeks ago on Venezuela. And they were fairly skeptical that Maduro was actually going to finish his term. And they laid out a number of possible scenarios. One is that the recall vote actually happens and he gets forced out of office. But even short of that, they raised at least the possibility of either a sort of a palace coup, where senior people around him will force him out, or a military coup, which I think they viewed as the less likely option.

  • 11:32:14

    LANDLERAt the moment, they say that the senior commanders of the military remain loyal to the government. But there's some question about the loyalty of the mid-ranked officers. So there's at least a hypothetical chance of a military coup in the country.

  • 11:32:28

    REHMAnd, Uri, what about the influence of the OAS, the Organization of American States? What influence do they have to get a referendum going?

  • 11:32:42

    FRIEDMANWell, Luis Almagro, who is the head of the OAS, has a very testy relationship with Maduro, the Venezuelan president. They -- long spats going back a while. Recently Almagro called for, in mid-June, a meeting to kind of potentially kick out Venezuela from the OAS for its anti-democratic practices. Maduro accused him of being a tool of Washington, a tool of the right in Venezuela. And so that -- their relationship is bad.

  • 11:33:07

    FRIEDMANWhat OAS does have is convening power, just to bring countries together and say, for example, they had a meeting in Washington this week where they said, what about, can we try to broker some talks? Because that's one of the best scenarios for how this ends, which is negotiations. Though it's hard to imagine the Maduro government doing that. So they are trying to find a way, even maybe brokered by the Pope, of all people, to get talks going.

  • 11:33:31

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And finally, Nicholas Casey, how likely do you think it will be that talks get going again?

  • 11:33:46

    CASEYI think it's possible that the two sides talks. What I think is more probable is that the talks drag on past the time that they're trying to have this referendum. The opposition in Venezuela isn't looking to have a compromise right now. They have seen the laws that they've passed tossed out by the courts. They've even seen protesters that they've sent out in the streets to try to call for this referendum beaten by police officers. So at this point, they want to hold a yes or a no vote as to whether Maduro stays in the presidency or whether he goes. And I think that's the most likely option. It's most likely to happen next year. But I think that's probably the endgame to what you're going to see here. And you'll see a new president of Venezuela at some point.

  • 11:34:28

    REHMNicholas Casey. He covers Venezuela for The New York Times. He's based in Caracas. Thanks for joining us, Nick.

  • 11:34:39

    CASEYThank you.

  • 11:34:40

    REHMAnd let's turn now to Turkey. The German Parliament this week approved a resolution calling the Armenian Massacre a genocide. How significant is it, that Germany has stepped in here? Elise.

  • 11:35:00

    LABOTTWell, it's very significant for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's significant because German has been dealing with, it's whole history, trying to come to terms with its role in the Holocaust. And I think this is part of the kind of reckoning of history that the German people and the German Parliament certainly are moving towards that. But bring it to more to current day, it's very significant because at the same time Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel is working with Turkey and President Erdogan on a deal on migrants and how Turkey will take some of the burden and try to ease some of the burden of Europe of these millions of migrants that are coming into Europe.

  • 11:35:41

    LABOTTAnd there is this deal that they have been negotiating between Turkey. The German Bundestag has been very upset about this deal. They feel that Merkel has been kind of giving a path to Erdogan and some of the authoritarian and human rights concerns in Turkey.

  • 11:35:57

    REHMAnd didn't Turkey recall its ambassador?

  • 11:36:00

    LABOTTTurkey recalled its ambassador.

  • 11:36:02

    FRIEDMANIt did. And I think that the -- Erdogan's going to be very angry about (word?) . It's going to further fray this agreement that they have. And so Merkel is in a terrible position. She had an added domestic component to this, which is that there was a cartoonist based in Germany who was viewed as having a...

  • 11:36:20

    REHMFemale cartoonist.

  • 11:36:21

    FRIEDMANYeah, that's right. Who was viewed as having insulted the Turkish Prime Minister who -- Turkish President, sorry, who brought a lawsuit against the cartoonist. And the question that Merkel faced was would she allow this litigation to go ahead. And she bowed to the demands of Erdogan to do that. So the lawsuit is going ahead. She was, you know, vilified in the German press for having caved to the Turks on this issue. So in a way, some people have interpreted her decision to allow the Bundestag vote to go ahead and to -- she avoided the vote, she didn't show up on the day of the vote but she didn't come out and oppose it -- was viewed perhaps as her making amends for having allowed the case against the cartoonist to go ahead.

  • 11:37:07

    REHMAnd there was also the case of Miss Turkey, who apparently posted a poem anti-Erdogan.

  • 11:37:16

    FRIEDMANYes. She had posted a thing on Instagram that was kind of s satirical take on the anthem, that mentioned a corruption case in which his family may have been involved.

  • 11:37:25

    REHMYou know, sensitivities around the world are growing. That's all there is to it. Short break here. We'll be right back.

  • 11:40:03

    REHMWelcome back. We have a question from Susan in Baltimore, Maryland. She says, "I'm curious about Russia's support of Assad, and what the Russian people think about this. Do they hear the same news that we do?" Elise?

  • 11:40:23

    LABOTTWell, I mean, they have access to independent media, so they know what's going on, but I mean, generally, the Russian public has -- polls show supports President Putin in his support.

  • 11:40:35

    REHMHow can you possibly know that they are saying what they really feel?

  • 11:40:41

    LABOTTBecause there is a sense of the Russian population that buys into Putin's idea that, you know, Syria is one of its closest -- it's really its only major ally in the Middle East, and he's protecting Russia's interest there. It's akin to what he's -- I mean, Ukraine is certainly closer to home, but he's -- when he talks to the Russian people, he does this in the name of, you know, strengthening Russia, protecting it, and you know, expanding its power and influence across the world. I think that there is probably some sector of the Russian population that looks at human rights and this horrible, desperate situation for the Syrian people, but generally, they did support the Russian military intervention in Syria.

  • 11:41:21

    FRIEDMANThere was an argument when the cessation of hostilities was called, a couple of months ago, where the Russians went along with this plan and said that they would begin to sort of withdraw some, if not all, of their forces from Syria, that Putin had recognized that there were limits to the political popularity of Russia's involvement, and that if Russian casualties began to grow, that it could become a liability for him. I haven't really seen any evidence that he's decided that it's a liability for him, but at least that decision indicated an awareness on his part, that it could. Can I just quickly...

  • 11:41:59


  • 11:41:59

    FRIEDMAN...clarify one thing from earlier?

  • 11:42:00

    REHMYeah, absolutely.

  • 11:42:02

    FRIEDMANI referred to a German cartoonist who had been accused of insulting Erdogan, the Turkish president, and Angela Merkel allowing a lawsuit to proceed against him. And I meant to say a German comic. His name is Jan Bohmermann, and he is a he. I think I confused you, Diane, by calling him a cartoonist. Just to clarify.

  • 11:42:23

    REHMAnd I -- yeah, I simply made a mistake. Let's go to Steve in Washington, D.C., you're on the air.

  • 11:42:32

    STEVEHi, Diane.

  • 11:42:34


  • 11:42:35

    STEVEI just wanted to ask the panel, in the rush of covering politics, about the use of language to define Hillary's policy, foreign policy viewpoint as muscular or hawkish. First of all, if it was two women running against each other, would those be the words you would still use? And secondly, instead of muscular and hawkish, don't you think that her thoughts are simply more in depth, because she's been in Washington since 1993?

  • 11:43:07

    REHMHow do you react, Uri?

  • 11:43:10

    FRIEDMANWell, I think muscular and hawkish have become such clichés in Washington that it doesn't' really matter who, what gender is running. I think people just use those terms reflexively. I think -- you can definitely describe Hillary's views as substantive, that she has a lot of experience to draw on, a lot of knowledge to draw on. I think it is also true, though, that we've seen a little bit of an inversion of the usual way that Republicans talk about foreign policy and Democrats talk about foreign policy and election. Donald Trump has certain tendencies that are kind of not in the -- that are kind of left of Hillary, to a degree.

  • 11:43:47

    FRIEDMANAnd in some ways, what you saw yesterday when she spoke about her foreign policy was almost a defense of the bipartisan foreign policy consensus, about the importance of U.S. allies, about the importance of stopping nuclear proliferation, about the importance of international law. And so in some ways, she is kind of not embodying the typical Democratic position, but something a little broader, and something a little more aggressive than what Donald Trump sometimes advocates.

  • 11:44:15

    REHMTo Karen in Cleveland, Ohio, you're on the air.

  • 11:44:19

    KARENThank you, Diane. My question goes actually to what the panel has just said, and to several minutes ago, the panel described Donald Trump's foreign policy views, at least to a certain extent, as non-involvement outside U.S. borders, yet Trump seems to have on many occasions said exactly the opposite, including discussing carpet bombing ISIS, which I assume would require U.S. intervention. So my question is, how confident is the panel that we know what Donald Trump's foreign policy views are, with respect to involvement in foreign action, let alone what he would do if he actually sat in the president's seat?

  • 11:45:00

    REHMGood question.

  • 11:45:00

    LABOTTIt's an excellent question, and I think when you heard Donald Trump make his recent foreign policy speech, there were wild fluctuations in the same breath in terms of what he would do, and how, you know, muscular his foreign policy would be. And I think there are a lot of questions. He did talk about bombing ISIS, but he also talked about lessening U.S. military involvement, and he talked about -- he wasn't gonna lay out a plan for ISIS, because he wanted to be more unpredictable, but at the same time, he said that U.S. allies need to be able to count on the U.S.

  • 11:45:35

    LABOTTSo I don't think there's a lot of understanding about Donald Trump's foreign policy. I think that Hillary Clinton has laid out a much more detailed foreign policy, but again, Donald Trump's supporters seem to not necessarily be looking for those specifics, but to be looking for this kind of, you know, attitude that they feel that they're looking for in a U.S. leader.

  • 11:46:00

    REHMWhat about Bernie Sanders's foreign policy? What do we know about what he wants to see?

  • 11:46:08

    LANDLERWell, Bernie Sanders is not someone who spent a lot of his long career in Washington focused on foreign policy, by his own acknowledgment. I think he would be very much in the progressive Democratic end of the spectrum on foreign policy, working with allies, eschewing the use of ground forces in almost any foreign conflict. You know, he's hit Hillary Clinton very hard on her vote for the Iraq war, as recently as yesterday after her speech. On the Israeli-Palestinian issue, he actually staked out sort of an interesting position, which is a little - I don't want to use the word neutral, because it's a very freighted word, but sort of suggesting that the U.S. would play a true, honest broker role between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

  • 11:46:55

    LANDLERThat's actually an issue as we head into the Democratic Convention, because Bernie Sanders, owing to his success in the primaries, will be able to put his representatives on the platform committee, and some of the issues that may emerge this summer will have to do with the U.S.'s point of view on the Middle East peace process, and on Israel, and Hillary Clinton has staked out a traditionally, staunchly pro-Israel position, at least in the context of this campaign. So there are these interesting differences that we may yet see play out between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

  • 11:47:27

    REHMI saw a headline on the web yesterday that said, is Bernie Sanders anti-Israel?

  • 11:47:39

    FRIEDMANHmm, that's interesting. No, I think that he just, you know, has a little bit of a different view than typical, than what you often hear U.S. positions are on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One thing that was interesting, he didn't go to AIPAC to speak, which people interpreted in any way that -- you know, you can make all kinds of interpretations about...

  • 11:47:58


  • 11:47:58

    FRIEDMAN...a speech that didn't happen, right?

  • 11:48:00


  • 11:48:00

    LABOTTBut he did give a speech -- instead of going to AIPAC, and he said that he was, you know, campaigning on the other end of the country, and out west, and couldn't do it. But he gave a very powerful speech about his vision for the Middle East and I will say, I won't say it was anti-Israel, because he did speak about Israel's security, but he spoke in very harsh terms about Israeli treatment for Palestinians, tantamount to war crimes in some sense. I mean, I can't remember if he used the actual words, but I really felt at the time that it was, you know, very antithetical to anything you've ever heard any candidate say about Israel, or its treatment of the Palestinians, and I kind of thought it was the luxury of someone who knew that he wasn't necessary gonna be president and have to cater to that lobby.

  • 11:48:47

    LANDLERCan I make one more point about Hillary Clinton? Because this discussion of hawkish and muscular, and I agree that these are clichés, I've made a personal pledge to purge the word muscular from my vocabulary, at least writing in the "Times." That said, if you look at her record in the first term of the Obama administration on virtually every single issue having to do with intervention or use of military force, she came down steadfastly on the side of more. Whether it was the deployment of troops in Afghanistan, where she was to the right of the Republican defense secretary, the intervention in Libya, supplying arms to the rebels in Syria, supplying lethal weapons, defensive weapons to the Ukrainian troops, which she is in support of, her views, I think, for a Democrat are very much in the direction of an openness to and a comfort with using military force, and a belief that intervention can end well for the United States.

  • 11:49:42

    LANDLERAnd I think that's the huge difference with President Obama. He generally believes interventions end badly, and I think she has a more optimistic view of the power of the United States abroad.

  • 11:49:52

    REHMAll right. To Chris in Texarkana, Texas. You're on the air.

  • 11:49:59


  • 11:50:00


  • 11:50:00

    CHRISI'm, hi. I'd like to ask a question to the panel about the indication in Hillary's speech about Trump's potential breech of national security, which I agree is a huge potential with him. However, I feel that that might not be a stone that she should throw in the glass house that she's in right now that was created by the inspector general of the State Department, saying that she left us open to the possible breech of national security, not necessarily an actual breech, but there was the potential. And do you guys think that that is something that she needs to address directly?

  • 11:50:35


  • 11:50:35

    LANDLERThat State Department I.G. report was very bad for Hillary Clinton, because it really indicated that she didn't comply with the regulations. It left open the issue of whether she broke the law, that's not for the I.G. report to decide.

  • 11:50:52

    REHMThe FBI.

  • 11:50:52

    LANDLERThat's for the Justice Department, based on an FBI investigation to decide. But there's no question that they believe that she should have asked for permission to do this, and had she done so, the answer would have been no. There are other troubling things in tins report that go to her judgment in using the private server. There's indications that on two separate occasions, some outside forces tried to hack into this private server. So I think there's no question that this is an issue that she needs to develop a strong answer for, and frankly, she struggled in that regard. She spent a lot of time offering half apologies, she's become a little more fulsome recently in saying it was just flat out a mistake.

  • 11:51:33

    LANDLERBut I do think that Donald Trump will be able to use this to his advantage in the coming months.

  • 11:51:37


  • 11:51:37

    FRIEDMANYeah, I know, I think it's -- it's defiantly something she's gonna have to keep addressing and addressing in news ways, because Donald Trump has made that kind of the centerpiece of his attack line against her. I think just more broadly, it was interesting that on the question of national security, Hillary didn't spend a lot of time in her speech on Thursday dwelling on her own policy recommendations on national security, so there was no -- Libya was not mentioned once, Iraq, which she has apologized, her vote in -- under the Bush administration. She has not, she has apologized for it in the past, but she did not mention in this speech.

  • 11:52:11

    FRIEDMANI understand why, as a politician, you would not want to dwell on things that are a checkered record. On the other hand, she has a record, you know, if you're doing a job interview, and you say, I have learned from this experience that X or Y about, lessons about how to be, you know -- Trump doesn't have that record, she does. But she didn't really dwell on what she's learned from these experiences in her speech yesterday.

  • 11:52:31

    REHMAnd you know, Mark, in recounting the votes that she took and the actions that she was in favor of, she's a lot closer to the Republican thinking about foreign involvement than Democrats are.

  • 11:52:50

    LANDLERWell, some, you know, as Jeff Goldberg tweeted yesterday, except for the discussion of the Iran nuclear deal, this is a speech that Marco Rubio could have delivered. It was a fairly strong speech, and her foreign policy, I think edges more in the Republican direction. Now, I also agree with Uri's point, though, that in a sense, what we're talking about is a bipartisan consensus on foreign policy, and as a mainstream Democrat, Bill Clinton, for example, would also come down I many of the same respects. I think the reason that Hillary Clinton looks a little different this year, for a Democrat, is that she's following a Democratic president who I would argue was outside that foreign policy mainstream.

  • 11:53:35

    REHMInteresting. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Here's an email from Eli. "Could Mark Landler elaborate on his statements in "Alter Egos," the book you wrote, "on the number of Hillaryland members who accompanied her to the State Department, and that he writes in some ways, she never ceased being a candidate."

  • 11:54:09

    LANDLERWell, when Hillary Clinton joined the Obama cabinet in 2009, she extracted an agreement with the President, the incoming President, that she would be able to bring a fairly large number of political appointees, much larger than you normally are able to bring in as an incoming cabinet secretary. And so the State Department had upwards of 100 people who either came from her Senate office, political action committees attached to her, previous Clinton campaigns, Clinton Foundation, and so the State Department, during this period, was a more political entity than, for example, it would be now with Secretary John Kerry.

  • 11:54:51

    LANDLERShe used some of these people for a lot of sort of interesting and in some cases innovative things. She raised $60 million, for example, privately, to pay for a U.S. pavilion at the Shanghai World's Fair. This is something she used these political appointees for. She brought in some well-known bold face names, Ronan Farrow, the son of Mia Farrow, to be a sort of ambassador to youth. So this is something that made her unusual among secretaries of state. The other point that I think the writer is alluding to is, she did think of herself as a politician even through her time as secretary of state, and one of the proofs of that is her reliance on polling and her sensitivity to her public approval rating throughout her period as secretary of state.

  • 11:55:35

    REHMOne of the people she brought with her to the Department of State was her very close aide, Huma Abedin, whose husband, a former politician, about whom there is now a new film, called "Weiner." And it talks about their lives together, the scandal that brought him down. I find myself wondering, that film is an independent film that scored well at Sundance, and now is being widely distributed. Is that film going to in any way enter itself into the political campaign against Hillary?

  • 11:56:32

    LABOTTI mean, I wouldn't be surprised if the Republicans try to use it in that way, I don't think necessarily it will. I mean, as we get closer, and we'll see how popular the film is. I heard it's very good, actually, but I haven't seen it. I think the relationship between Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin is well documented. I mean, some would say that that's Huma Abedin's real marriage is to Hillary Clinton, and not Anthony Weiner. And there have been, you know, all of Hillary's inner circle, there have been a lot of questions about. But I don't think necessarily it will be, Huma Abedin herself will become a major issue.

  • 11:57:11

    REHMIt's going to be interesting. Thank you all so much. Elise Labott of CNN, Uri Friedman, staff writer for the "Atlantic." Mark Landler of "The New York Times," author of "Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power." Thanks for listening, all. I'm Diane Rehm.

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