Monday, April 04, 2016

THE TECTONIC SHIFT - U.S. Task Force on Support of Middle East

"Task force tackles how U.S. can support vulnerable Middle East" PBS NewsHour 3/30/2016


SUMMARY:  There have been tectonic and tragic shifts across the Middle East and North Africa in the five years since the beginning of the Arab Spring movement, with hundreds of thousands dead and millions more displaced.  To examine the role America has played, and will play, in the region, Judy Woodruff talks to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Since the start of the Arab uprisings five years ago, we have seen a tectonic shift across the Middle East and North Africa, upending the political order of the last century.

What began with hope has dissolved into civil war, extremist violence and strife.  The human toll has been enormous, with hundreds of thousands dead and millions more displaced.  And the role the United States has played and will play in the Middle East is now being examined in depth.

One group looking at these issues is the 'Middle East Strategy Task Force' at the Atlantic Council, a think tank here in Washington.

Its co-chairs of the task force join me now.  They are former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served in the Clinton administration, and former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.  He served in the George W. Bush administration.

And we welcome both of you back to the “NewsHour.”

Secretary Albright, let me start with you.

Why take on this added responsibility now co-chairing this task force?

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, Former Secretary of State:  Well, it's great to be with you and with my friend Steve.

The reason that we did this is because we're concerned about the fact that people are looking at the Middle East kind of in short-term ways and doing Band-Aids that have been going on, and that it was really important to take a deeper, longer look, because the issues, as you raised them, are going to take a long time to resolve.

And we needed to really take a deeper look.  We also wanted it to be bipartisan, and we looked at a number of areas.  One was the security issue, but governance issues, issues to do with religion, refugees, education, the economy.  We had papers that we did with that.

And then we went to the countries in order to really get a view of what is going on.  We also have a lot of international advisers, but part of it, Judy, is — and the way that you opened this, it is as serious and terrible as you described, but it also has whole opportunities.  And those are the things that we wanted to look at.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And that's what I want to ask you about, because you have just come back, as the secretary mentioned, from a trip to the region.

Many people look at this part of the world and they see a crisis in every country, whether it's ISIS, or a repressive leader or a refugee influx crisis.  How do you see the region?  Do you see it as a collection of problems, or a place that has a manageable set of issues that you can get your arms around?

STEPHEN HADLEY, Former National Security Adviser:  Well, it's very tough.

I mean, it is a crisis in the Middle East, but it's also a crisis from the Middle East.  And what I think people don't realize is the global consequences of this.  There are, of course, economic crises, but we have, of course, refugee flows that are taxing neighboring states.  They are a real problem for the European Union, putting enormous stress on the European Union.

There is, of course, a terrorist problem, which is increased, as we saw, with attacks on Brussels and Paris.  So it is a crisis in the Middle East.  It is a crisis from the Middle East.  It's affecting the whole country — the whole globe.

At the same time, as Madeleine pointed out, there are positive things going on.  One of the things we noticed is, youth are playing a role in their societies.  They are empowered, they are connected, they are entrepreneurial.

And you are seeing start-up commercial ventures starting.  You are seeing start-up bottom-up community organizations that are trying to solve local community problems.  There's a real bottom-up entrepreneurship that is going.

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