CD156: Sanctions – Russia, North Korea & Iran

CD156: Sanctions – Russia, North Korea & Iran

Aug 20, 2017

Executive Producers (2): Anonymous, Joseph Clerici

On August 2nd, President Trump signed a new law that passed Congress with the overwhelming support of both political parties, which imposes sanctions on three countries: Russia, North Korea, and Iran. In this episode, we examine the new sanctions and the big-picture motivations behind them. In the process, we jump down the rabbit hole of the U.S. involvement in the 2014 regime change in Ukraine.

Executive Producer: Joseph Clerici and Anonymous

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Episode Outline

H.R. 3364: Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act

Title I: Iran Sanctions

Title II: Russia Sanctions

Subtitle A: Sanction related to terrorism and illicit financing

Sense of Congress

  • “It is the sense of Congress that the President should continue to uphold and seek unity with European and other key partners on sanctions implemented against the Russian Federation, which have been effective and instrumental in countering Russian aggression in Ukraine”

Part 1: Trump Report

Part 2: Sanctions on Russia

Subtitle B: Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia

  • Appropriates $250 million for a “Countering Russian Influence Fund” which will be used for “protecting critical infrastructure and electoral mechanisms” for members of NATO, the European Union, and “countries that are participating in the enlargement process of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the European Union, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Kosovo, Serbia, and Ukraine.” The money can also be used to information distribution.
    • There is a list of nongovernmental & international organizations eligible to receive the money.
  • The Secretary of State will work with the Ukrainian government to increase the amount of energy produced in Ukraine.
    • This will “include strategies for market liberalization” including survey work need to “help attract qualified investment into exploration and development of areas with untapped resources in Ukraine.” The plan will also support the implementation of a new gas law “including pricing, tariff structure, and legal regulatory implementation.” and “privatization of government owned energy companies.”
    • American tax money is contributing $50 million for this effort from the 2014 Ukraine aid law and $30 million more from this law. The money will be available until August 2022.

Title III: North Korea Sanctions

Subtitle A: Sanctions to enforce and implement United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea

  • Expands existing mandatory sanctions to include anyone who provides North Korea with any weapons or war service, aviation fuel, or insurance or registration for aircraft or vessels. Also expands sanctions to include anyone who gets minerals, including gold, titanium ore, vanadium ore, copper, silver, nickel, zinc, or rare earth minerals from North Korea.
  • Expand optional sanctions to include anyone who purchases above-the-U.N.-limited amounts of coal, iron, textiles, money, metals, gems, oil, gas, food, or fishing rights from North Korea. Also sanctions anyone who hires North Korean workers, conducts transactions for the North Korean transportation, mining, energy, or banking industries, or participates in online commerce, including online gambling, provided by the government of North Korea.
  • Prohibits North Korean ships from entering US waters.

Additional Reading


Executive Orders

  • Executive Order 13757: Taking Additional Steps to Address the National Emergency With Respect to Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities, December 28, 2016
  • Executive Order 13694: Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities, April 1, 2015
  • Executive Order 13685: Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting Certain Transactions With Respect to the Crimea Region in Ukraine, December 19, 2014
  • Executive Order 13662: Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine, March 20, 2014
  • Executive Order 13661: Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine, March 16, 2014
  • Executive Order 13660: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine, March 6, 2014

Sound Clip Sources

House Debate: House Debate on Russia, Iran and North Korea Sanctions, July 25, 2017.

Timestamps & Transcripts

  • 1500 Rep. Pete Sessions (TX): The bill that was passed by the Senate risked giving Russian energy firms a competitive advantage across the globe by inadvertently denying American companies access to neutral third-party energy markets where there would simply be a small or diminished Russian presence. The bill before us today prevents Russia from being able to weaponize these sanctions against U.S. energy firms. And I want to thank Chairman Royce for his hard work on this issue. I also want to ensure that we have an understanding of the definition of the word controlling in Section 223(d) of H.R. 3364. For purposes of clarification and legislative intent, the term controlling means the power to direct, determine, or resolve fundamental, operational, and financial decisions of an oil project through the ownership of a majority of the voting interests of the oil project.
  • 1515 Rep. Tim Ryan (OH): What’s happening with these sanctions here in the targeting of Russian gas pipelines—their number one export—I think is entirely appropriate. The Nord Stream 2, which carries gas from Russia through the Baltics to Germany—and I know Germany isn’t happy about it, but this is something that we have to do. And the point I want to make is we have to address this issue in a comprehensive way. We must continue to focus on how we get our gas here in the United States, our natural gas, to Europe, to our allies, so they’re not so dependent on Russia. We’ve got to have the sanctions, but we’ve also got to be shipping liquid natural gas to some of these allies of ours so they’re not so dependent on the Russians, which is part and parcel of this entire approach.
Senate Session: “Skinny Repeal” vote down, July 27, 2017.


  • Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY): Mr. President, and last year we know the United States was victim of an attack by a foreign power on the very foundation of this dear democracy: the right of the people to a free and fair election. The consensus view of 17 agencies is that Mr. Putin interfered in the 2016 election.
Hearing: North Korea Policy, Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cyber Security, July 25, 2017.


  • Bruce Klingner: Senior Research Fellow of the Heritage Foundation
  • Leon Sigal: Director of Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council (SSRSC)
  • Susan Thornton: Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Screenshot: No other Senators in the room

Timestamps & Transcripts

  • 3:48 Sen. Cory Gardner (CO): Last Congress, I lead the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act, which passed the Senate by a vote of 96 to nothing. This legislation was the first stand-alone legislation in Congress regarding North Korea to impose mandatory sanctions on the regime’s proliferation activities, human-rights violations, and malicious cyber behavior. According to recent analysis from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, North Korea’s sanctions have more than doubled since that legislation came into effect on February 18, 2016. Prior to that date, North Korea ranked 8th behind Ukraine, Russia, Iran, Iraq, the Balkans, Syria, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Even with the 130% sanctions increase after the legislation passed this Congress, North Korea is today still only the 5th most sanctioned country by the United States.
  • 21:22 Sen. Cory Gardner: Could you talk a little bit about the timing of the travel ban? Susan Thornton: Yeah. So, we believe that within the coming week we will publish a notice in the Federal Register, outlining the period of consultation and what we’re proposing, which is a general travel restriction, that will be in the Federal Register for a 30-day comment period. And the proposal is to, I think as you know, make U.S. passports not valid for travel into North Korea unless you get—an application is made for a one-time trip, and you get a license or sort of a permission to make that trip. And so that’ll be in the Federal Register for 30 days. Gardner: Is that trip allowable under a humanitarian exemption? Is that the purpose of that allow— Thornton: Right, right. For the subsequent appl— you’d have to make an in-person application for a trip to— Gardner: And are we encouraging other nations to do the same, and have others made the same decision? Thornton: We have encouraged other people to make decisions about restricting travel and other—because tourism is obviously also a resource for the regime that we would like to see diminished. I don’t think so far there are other people that have pursued this but this will be sort of the initial one, and we will keep talking to others about that.
  • 1:12:32 Leon Sigal: A policy of maximum pressure and engagement can only succeed if nuclear diplomacy is soon resumed and the North’s security concerns are addressed. We must not lose sight of the fact that it’s North Korea that we need to persuade, not China, and that means taking account of North Korea’s strategy. During the Cold War, Kim Il Sung played China off against the Soviet Union to maintain his freedom of maneuver. In 1988, anticipating the collapse of the Soviet Union, he reached out to improve relations with the United States, South Korea, and Japan in order to avoid overdependence on China. That has been the Kims’ objective ever since. From Pyongyang’s vantage point, that aim was the basis of the 1994 Agreed Framework and the September 2005 six-party joint statement. For Washington, obviously, suspension of Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs was the point of those agreements, which succeeded for a time in shuttering the North’s production of fissile material and stopping the test launches of medium- and longer-range missiles. Both agreements collapsed, however, when Washington did little to implement its commitment to improve relations, and, of course, Pyongyang reneged on denuclearization. That past is prologue. Now there are indications that a suspension of North Korean missile and nuclear testing and fissile material production may again prove negotiable. In return for a suspension of its production of plutonium and enriched uranium, the Trading with the Enemy Act sanctions imposed before the nuclear issue arose could be relaxed for yet a third time, and energy assistance unilaterally halted by South Korea in 2008 could be resumed. An agreement will require addressing Pyongyang’s security needs, including adjusting our joint exercises with South Korea, for instance by suspending flights of nuclear-capable B-52 bombers into Korean airspace. Those flights were only resumed, I want to remind you, to reassure our allies in the aftermath of the North’s nuclear tests. If those tests are suspended, B-52 flights can be, too, without any sacrifice of deterrence. North Korea’s well aware of the reach of U.S. ICBMs and SLBMs, which, by the way, were recently test launched to remind them. The U.S. can also continue to bolster, rotate, and exercise forces in the region so conventional deterrence will remain robust. The chances of persuading North Korea to go beyond another temporary suspension to dismantle its nuclear missile programs, however, are slim without firm commitments from Washington and Seoul to move toward political and economic normalization; engage in a peace process to end the Korean War; and negotiate security arrangements, among them a nuclear-weapons-free zone that would provide a multilateral legal framework for denuclearization. In that context, President Trump’s willingness to hold out the prospect of a summit with Kim Jong-un would also be a significant inducement.
  • 1:23:06 Sen. Ed Markey (MA): We “convinced” Qaddafi to give up his nuclear-weapon program, we “convinced” Saddam Hussein to give up his nuclear-weapon program, and then subsequently we participated in a process that led to their deaths.
Emergency Meeting: U.N. Security Council Meeting on North Korea Sanctions, August 5, 2017.

Timestamps & Transcripts

  • 3:47 Nikki Haley (US Ambassador): This resolution is the single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled against the North Korean regime. The price the North Korean leadership will pay for its continued nuclear and missile development will be the loss of 1/3 of its exports and hard currency. This is the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation.
  • 6:30 Matthew John Rycroft (British Ambassador to the U.N.): Make no mistake: as North Korea’s missile capabilities advance, so too does their contempt and disregard for this security council. We must meet this belligerence with clear, unequivocal condemnation and with clear, unequivocal consequences. Today, Mr. President, we have banned North Korean exports of coal, iron ore, lead, and seafood. These are the lifeline exports that sustain Kim Jong-un’s deadly aspirations. In simple terms, should the North Korean regime continue its reckless pursuit of an illegal missile program and a deadly nuclear program, they will have vastly less [unclear]. We’ve also capped the number of foreign workers from North Korea. Every year, DPRK sends thousands of ordinary workers overseas. They often endure poor conditions and long hours, and their toil serves to provide critical foreign currency for North Korean government coffers. This is undoubtedly a form of modern slavery, and today we have taken the first step to ending it. The world will now monitor and curtail work authorizations for these desperate ex-patriots.
  • 28:11 Vasily Nebenzya (Russian Ambassador): We share the feeling of neighboring states in the region. The ballistic missiles, which were launched without warning from North Korea, pose a major risk to marine and air transit in the region as well as to the lives of ordinary civilians. We call upon the North Korean government to end the banned programs and to return to the NPT, nonproliferation regime, and the IAEA oversights as well as to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. All must understand that progress towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula will be difficult so long as the DPRK perceives a direct threat to its own security, for that is how the North Koreans view the military buildup in the region, which takes on the forms of frequent, wide-ranging exercises in maneuvers of the U.S. and allies as they deploy strategic bombers, naval forces, and aircraft carriers to the region. Another destabilizing factor in the region is the scaling up in North Korea of the THAAD, the U.S. antimissile defense elements. We repeatedly noted not only this constitutes an irritant, but this also undermines the overall military balance in the region and calls into question the security of neighboring states. We would like to hope that the U.S. secretary of state’s assurances were sincere, that the U.S. is not seeking to dismantle the existing DPRK situation or to forcibly unite the peninsula or militarily intervene in the country. However, we are concerned that our proposed, our paragraph in the draft resolution was not supported. The possible military misadventures by any side are liable to cause a disaster for regional and global stability.
Discussion: Senator John McCain on Ukraine, December 19, 2013.


  • Frederick Kempe: President & CEO of the Atlantic Council


  • Frederick Kempe: Russian president, Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday said he had agreed to loan Ukraine $15 billion and cut the price of critical natural gas supplies. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Azarov called the deal historic. In Brussels a draft EU document, reported this morning by the Wall Street Journal, indicated Ukraine could have gained even more from the West, though with different conditions and perhaps not as plainly put. Had it signed the EU pact, it might have had $26 billion of loans and grants from the EU over the next seven years, and if it had also agreed to the IMF package. While the Ukraine pivots economically eastward, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians continue to pivot westward, standing together in protest for their continued desire to be part of a Europe, whole and free. And it’s in that context that we welcome back a great friend of the Atlantic Council, Senator John McCain, who visited these protestors over the weekend with Senator Chris Murphy, and continues to play a consistent and leading and principled role in supporting democratic change both in Eastern Europe and around the world and thinking through what role the United States should be playing in these challenging times.
  • Sen. John McCain (AZ): If Ukraine’s political crisis persists or deepens, which is a real possibility, we must support creative Ukrainian efforts to resolve it. Senator Murphy and I heard a few such ideas last weekend. From holding early elections, as the opposition is now demanding, to the institution of a technocratic government, with a mandate to make the difficult reforms required for Ukraine’s long-term economic health and sustainable development.
  • Sen. John McCain (AZ): And eventually, a Ukrainian president, either this one or a future one, will be prepared to accept the fundamental choices facing the country, which is this: while there are real short-term costs to the political and economic reforms required for IMF assistance and EU integration, and while President Putin will likely add to these costs by retaliating against Ukraine’s economy, the long-term benefits for Ukraine in taking these tough steps are far greater and almost limitless. This decision cannot be born by one person alone in Ukraine, nor should it be. It must be shared, both the risks and the rewards, by all Ukrainians, especially the opposition and business elite. It must also be shared by the EU, the IMF, and the United States.
YouTube: Victoria Nuland call with the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, February 7, 2017.

Click here to see the full transcript


  • Victoria Nuland: What do you think? Geoffrey Pyatt: I think we’re in play. The Klitschko piece is obviously the complicated electron here, especially the announcement of him as deputy prime minister. And you’ve seen some of my notes on the troubles in the marriage right now, so we’re trying to get a read really fast on where he is on this stuff. But I think your argument to him, which you’ll need to make, I think that’s the next phone call you’ll want to set up, is exactly the one you made to Yats. And I’m glad you sort of put him on the spot on where he fits in this scenario, and I’m very glad he said what he said in response. Nuland: Good. So, I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Pyatt: Yeah, I mean, I guess. In terms of him not going into the government, just let him sort of stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I’m just thinking in terms of sort of the process moving ahead, we want to keep the moderate Democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok and his guys, and I’m sure that’s part of what Yanukovych is calculating on all of this. I kind of— Nuland: I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. What he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know? I just think Klitsch going in—he’s going to be at that level working for Yatsenyuk; it’s just not going to work.
  • Victoria Nuland: Can’t remember if I told you this or if I only told Washington this, that when I talked to Jeff Feltman this morning, he had a new name for the U.N. guy, Robert Serry. Did I write you that this morning? Geoffrey Pyatt: Yeah. Yeah, I saw that. Nuland: Okay. He’s not gotten both Serry and Ban Ki-moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. Pyatt: Okay. Nuland: So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and have the U.N. help glue it, and, you know, fuck the EU. Pyatt: No, exactly. And I think we’ve got to do something to make it stick together because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude, the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it.
  • Geoffrey Pyatt: I think we want to try to get somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing. And then the other issue is some kind of out reach to Yanukovych, but we probably regroup on that tomorrow as we see how things start to fall into place. Victoria Nuland: So, on that piece, Geoff, when I wrote the note, Sullivan’s come back to me VFR, saying, you need Biden, and I said, probably tomorrow for an “atta-boy” and to get the deets to stick. Pyatt: Okay. Nuland: So, Biden’s willing. Pyatt: Okay, great. Thanks.
Briefing: State Department Daily Briefing, February 6, 2014


  • Jen Psaki: State Department Spokesperson

Timestamps & Transcripts

  • 0:19 Male Reporter: Can you say whether you—if this call is a recording of an authentic conversation between Assistant Secretary Nuland and Ambassador Pyatt? Jen Psaki: Well, I’m not going to confirm or outline details. I understand there are a lot of reports out there, and there’s a recording out there, but I’m not going to confirm a private diplomatic conversation. Reporter: So you are not saying that you believe this is a—you think this is not authentic? You think this is a— Psaki: It’s not an accusation I’m making. I’m just not going to confirm the specifics of it. Reporter: Well, you can’t even say whether there was a—that this call—you believe that this call, you believe that this recording is a recording of a real telephone call? Psaki: I didn’t say it was inauthentic. I think we can leave it at that. Reporter: Okay, so, you’re allowing the fact that it is authentic. Psaki: Yes. Reporter: “Yes,” okay. Psaki: Do you have a question about it?
  • 7:40 Female Reporter: This was two top U.S. officials that are on the ground, discussing a plan that they have to broker a future government and bringing officials from the U.N. to kind of seal the deal. This is more than the U.S. trying to make suggestions; this is the U.S. midwifing the process
Hearing: Ukraine Anti-Government Protests, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, January 15, 2014.


  • Zbigniew Brzezinski
    • Carter’s National Security Advisor 77-81
    • Center for Strategic & International Studies, counselor & Trustee
  • Thomas Melia: Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Rights & Labor at the Department of State
  • Victoria Nuland: Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs

Timestamps & Transcripts

  • 32:27 Thomas Melia: Our approach to Ukraine complements that of our EU partners and what they sought in their association agreement, a Ukraine that is more responsive to its citizens, that offers its people opportunities that a growing free-market economy would provide based on the rule of law.
  • 34:19 Victoria Nuland: The point that we have made repeatedly to Russia, and that I certainly made on my trip to Russia between two trips to Ukraine in December, was that a Ukraine that is economically stable and prosperous should be no threat to Russia, that this is not a zero-sum game that we are playing here, and that, in fact, the same benefits that the EU was offering to Ukraine—benefits of association and economic integration—are also available to a Russia that wants to take the same market opening and democratic reform steps that Ukraine has already taken, 18 pieces of legislation having already been completed.
  • 58:43 Senator John McCain (AZ): This is a country that wants to be European. They don’t want to be Russian. That’s what this is all about.
  • 59:52 Senator John McCain (AZ): I’m somewhat taken aback by your, “well, it’s sort of up to the Ukrainian people.” We ought to be assisting morally the Ukrainian people for seeking what we want everybody on this earth to have, and so it’s not just up to the Ukrainian people. They cry out for our assistance.
Panel: Internet and Democracy, Aspen Ideas Festival, June 26, 2017.


  • Ory Rinat: White House Interim Chief Digital Officer
  • Farhad Majoo: New York Times Correspondent


  • Ory Rinat: What drives social engagement? What drives Internet engagement? It’s shares. And that’s not a social-media thing; that’s back to forwarding chain emails. It’s when people share, that’s the source of engagement. And what drives people to share? It’s anger. It’s sadness. It’s inspiration. It’s really rare; it happens, but it’s rare that somebody says, wow, I just read an objective, fascinating piece that represents both sides; let me share it on Facebook. That’s not what people share. And so what happens is we’ve incentivized, as a society, sensationalism in journalism. I was giving an example earlier: during the transition, there was an article in a publication that should not be named that said something along the lines of, Trump transition website lifts passages from nonprofit group. Okay. Doesn’t sound that great. Couple of paragraphs in, they mention that the website actually sourced and cited the nonprofit. Couple of paragraphs later, they quote the CO of the nonprofit saying it was okay. Couple of paragraphs later, they quote a lawyer saying even if it wasn’t okay, even if they didn’t have permission, and even if they didn’t cite it, it was probably still legal. But that headline was so sensationalized, and people want to click on something that makes them angry, and so everybody just needs to take a breath, and it’s not the Internet’s fault. Farhad Manjoo: Well, it’s the Internet ad model’s fault, right? It’s the fact that those sites—Facebook, every news site you can think of—is getting paid based on clicks. So is sort of the fundamental fix here some other business model for online news and everything else? Ory Rinat: Sure, I just can’t think of one. Farhad Manjoo: Right.
Panel: U.S. Global Leadership, The Aspen Institute, August 4, 2017.


  • Nick Burns: Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Bush)
  • Condoleezza Rice: Former National Security Advisor (Bush)
  • Tom Donilon: Former National Security Advisor (Obama)
  • Stephen Hadley: Former National Security Advisor (Bush)
  • Susan Rice: National Security Advisor

Timestamps & Transcripts

  • 9:00 Condoleezza Rice: The liberal order was born, it was an idea, designed after World War II, when people looked out at the world that they had inherited after World War I and said, let’s not do that again. And it had two important elements, and it had one important fact. One element was they really believed that the international economy did not have to be a zero-sum game. It could be competitive, but it could be a growing economy and a positive-sum game, so my gains were not your losses, and that’s why they wanted to have free trade, and they wanted to have a comparative advantage among countries. And as you said, they set up institutions to do it, an International Monetary Fund and exchange rates, a World Bank eventually starting as a European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, which would rebuild economies and actually would become a source of capital for countries coming out of colonialism. And in some ways the most remarkable one, the general agreement on tariffs and trade, which was not a set of trade agreements but rules of the road to level the playing field so that the international economy could grow. So it was by its very nature supposed to get us away from conflict in the international system. They hated the fact that there’d been beggar-thy-neighbor trading policies and competition over resources. It was violent. So they weren’t going to do that again. Then, the important fact: they were going to try to create the democratic peace where they could, so they rebuilt Germany as a democracy, Japan as a democracy, and it was all going to be protected by American military power. And so that was the liberal order.
  • 12:00 Condoleezza Rice: It is being challenged by Russia because Russia unfortunately doesn’t really have a foot in the economic side and, therefore, uses its military power for its respect. But it’s also being challenged by the four horsemen of the Apocalypse—populism, nativism, isolationism, and protectionism—and they tend to run together. And so one of the questions that we ought to be asking is not just the challenge to the liberal order from transnational terrorism or cyber warfare or from big powers like Russia and China but how do we deal with the fact that it does seem that there are those who believe that they were left behind by the global order, and they’re fighting back. They found people who will give them an answer as to why they didn’t succeed. Populists always have an answer: it’s the other—the Chinese; the illegal immigrants; if you’re from the Left, the big banks. And, oh, by the way, the other this time around is not just taking your jobs; the other is dangerous—so refugees and immigrants—and so I think the challenge is this time not just one that we foreign-policy people can understand but one that has to go internally to these societies and see what’s happening. That’s why I’m glad for the Aspen Strategy Group, that we are having this wonderful session that _____(01:30) will help to lead, because this is a really big challenge from the inside and from the out. And, yes, I’m worried that the liberal order might not survive it.
  • 31:00 Condoleezza Rice: Leading differently obviously means finding a role for others—that’s very important—but it also means—and I know we can’t retire from this role, but there is a weariness among the American people, and we can’t ignore it. We can’t as foreign-policy people simply say, look, we’ve had to get back there and lead. We have to say, we’re going to lead because it’s in our interests, it’s with our values, and our allies have to appreciate it, right? And they have to be a part of it. That’s my point. I think we really haven’t gotten from the allies. What we get mostly from the allies is criticism for not leading, because the only thing the world hates more than unilateral American leadership is no American leadership, but we do need our allies to step up, and some of them have. On Minsk, for instance, the Germans stepped up to try and settle the Ukrainian circumstances. But let’s not underestimate outside of foreign-policy leads, the degree to which the American people are asking questions about how much more we can do. Unknown Speaker: Well, this is a good transition point to Russia. Let me just frame it this way: since Putin’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, 20 of the 28 allies have raised their defense spending, and they feel the threat. And I would even say right now, Merkel is leading NATO, not so much the United States; she’s leading NATO on this. So, Condi, you studied the Russians and the Soviets your life; we’ve got a dilemma here. Putin attacked our election and tried to discredit our democracy. We know he did that. Putin annexed Crimea. He still has troops in the Donbass and Eastern Ukraine, dividing that country. He has been a malevolent force in Syria. So, what’s the strategy for President Trump here? How does he respond to this? And we saw this extraordinary situation where the president was essentially repudiated by the Republicans in Congress on this big vote in the Senate and House to sanction Russia. If you were to give advice to him, what would it be? Not to put you on the spot too much. Rice: Well, thanks. Well, the first advice I would give is, be sure you know who Vladimir Putin is, right? And Vladimir Putin is someone who likes to humiliate, someone who likes to dominate, and someone who essentially understands power. And so don’t go into a room with Vladimir Putin unless you are in a pretty powerful position, and that means when you go to talk to Vladimir Putin, first let’s continue the policy that the Obama administration began, maybe even accelerate the policy of putting forces, at least on a rotating basis but possibly on a permanent basis, in places like Poland and the Baltic states so that you say to him, this far and no further. Secondly, I like raising the defense budget as a signal to the Russians. Third, I think you have to say to the Russians, we know you did it on the electoral process; we will, at a time of our choosing, by means of our choosing, we will deal with it, but we have confidence in our electoral system, so don’t think that you’re undermining American confidence by what you’re doing, because he feeds on the sense that he’s succeeding in undermining our confidence. And the final thing I’d say to him is, stop flying your planes so close to our ships and aircraft; somebody’s going to get shot down, because once you’ve established the kind of ground rules with Vladimir Putin, now you can talk about possible areas of cooperation. By the way, there’s one other thing I’d do: I’d arm the Ukrainians. I think that you have got to raise the cost to the Russians of what they’re doing in Ukraine, and it’s not on the front pages anymore, but in Eastern Ukraine, people are dying every day because of those little Russian green men, the Russian separatists, who, with Russian military training and Russian military intelligence and Russian military capability, are making a mess of Eastern Ukraine and making it impossible for Kiev to govern the country. And so I think it’s time to arm them.
  • 33:30 Nick Burns: I think President Obama actually put in place a lot of what Condi’s saying. Is there bipartisan agreement on this tough policy? Susan Rice: I think there’s certainly bipartisan agreement on the steps that Condi described that we characterized as the European Response Initiative, where we got NATO with our leadership to put in those four countries, the three Baltics, plus Poland, a continuous, rotating, augmented presence and _____(00:26) deployed not only personnel but equipment, and we have reversed the trend of the downsizing of our presence in Europe, and that’s vitally important.
  • 36:00 Tom Donilon: It’s important to recognize some of the fundamentals here, right, which is that we are in an actively hostile posture with the Russians right now. And it’s not just in Europe; it’s in Syria, it’s in Afghanistan, it’s in Syria, and it was in our own elections, and it’ll be in the European elections going through the next year as well, and it’ll probably be in our elections 2018 and 2020 unless we act to prevent it. So, we’re in, I think, in an actively hostile posture with the Russians, coming from their side.
  • 40:00 Stephen Hadley: We’re putting battalions—we, NATO—putting battalions in the three Baltic states and in Poland and in Bucharest. Battalions are 1200 people, 1500 people. Russia is going to have an exercise in Belarus that newspaper reports suggest maybe up to 100,000 people and 8,000 tanks—I think I’ve got that number right— Unknown Speaker: This month. Hadley: —more tanks than Germany, France, and U.K. have combined. And we have to be careful that we don’t get in this very confrontational, rhetorical position with Russia and not have the resources to back it up.
  • 58:00 Condoleezza Rice: Democracy promotion—democracy support, I like to call it—is not just the morally right thing to do, but, actually, democracies don’t fight each other. They don’t send their 10-year-olds as child soldiers. They don’t traffic their women into the sex trade. They don’t attack their neighbors. They don’t harbor terrorists. And so democracies are kind of good for the world, and so when you talk about American interests and you say you’re not sure that we ought to promote democracy, I’m not sure you’ve got a clear concept, or a clear grasp, on what constitutes American interests.
Speech: Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton National Security Address, Council of Foreign Relations, November 19, 2015.


  • Hillary Clinton: So we need to move simultaneously toward a political solution to the civil war that paves the way for a new government with new leadership and to encourage more Syrians to take on ISIS as well. To support them, we should immediately deploy the special operations force President Obama has already authorized and be prepared to deploy more as more Syrians get into the fight, and we should retool and ramp up our efforts to support and equip viable Syrian opposition units. Our increased support should go hand in hand with increased support from our Arab and European partners, including Special Forces who can contribute to the fight on the ground. We should also work with the coalition and the neighbors to impose no-fly zones that will stop Assad from slaughtering civilians and the opposition from the air.
Hearing: U.S. Policy and Russian Involvement in Syria, House Foreign Affairs Committee, November 4, 2015.


  • Anne W. Patterson: Assistant Secretary Department of State, Near Eastern Affairs


  • Rep. David Cicilline (RI): Who are we talking about when we’re speaking about moderate opposition, and do they, in fact, include elements of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra and other more extremist groups? Anne Patterson: Well, let me take the civilian moderate opposition, too, and that’s the assistance figure that you’re referring to, and that is groups within Syria and groups that live in Turkey and Lebanon and other places; and what that project is designed to do is to keep these people, not only alive physically, but also keep them viable for a future Syria, because we have managed to, even areas under control of ISIL—I won’t mention them—but we have managed to provide money to city councils, to health clinics, to teachers and policemen so these people can still provide public services and form the basis for a new Syria. So that’s—a good portion of that money goes into efforts like that. There’s also the opposition on the ground, and I think they’ve sort of gotten a bum rap in this hearing because I think they are more extensive than it’s generally recognized, particularly in the south, and they, yes, of course, in the north, some of these individuals have affiliated with Nusra because there was nowhere else to go.
  • Anne Patterson: Moscow has cynically tried to claim that its strikes are focused on terrorists, but so far eighty-five to ninety percent of Syrian strikes have hit the moderate Syrian opposition, and they have killed civilians in the process. Despite our urging, Moscow has yet to stop the Assad regime’s horrific practice of barrel bombing the Syrian people, so we know that Russia’s primary intent is to preserve the regime.

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