A new world order is being built that no one country can dictate, suggests US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, while also assessing USA's action against Islamic State.
And still we are crazy conspiracy theorists. Just watch you MS Media sheeple!!!
And still we are crazy conspiracy theorists. Just watch you MS Media sheeple!!!
CHRIS UHLMANN: Can I take you back to a Senate speech that you made in 2002, prior to the war in Iraq, where you said, "Each course of action we consider in Iraq leads us to imperfect, dangerous and unknown situations." Did the United States make a huge blunder when it went into war in Iraq?
CHUCK HAGEL: We learned a lesson, a very costly lesson again in Iraq by imposing ourselves in a country that we really did not understand. We didn't fully appreciate all the currents in play and the dynamics. I suppose if we had an opportunity to go back and rerun the tape, we would've done it differently. But I was concerned about where this was headed in 2002. But, we are where we are today and we've got to deal with that reality and it's dangerous.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Did the United States and Australia help to create the monster that now calls itself the Islamic State?
CHUCK HAGEL: Well, I wouldn't put it that way. I think the unpredictability of the Middle East, the historic religious ethnic conflicts, the brutal dictatorships, all at some point - and history is rather replete on this point - converges. And I think that's partly what's happened in Iraq, Syria, Libya - all over the Middle East. And so I don't think it was any one country or any one action. I think it was a development of many, many years of intense hatred that was allowed to just erupt. And again, history will sort this out, I'm sure, over many years and I'll leave it to history. But what we now must do and I have part of that responsibility is deal with the reality of what we're facing.
CHRIS UHLMANN: And what you're facing of course is an insurgent force which is particularly vicious. You've decided to have air strikes. Do you know clearly what your mission is now and how it will end now?
CHUCK HAGEL: I wish I had complete clarity in how any mission ends, but I think the first question you ask is the most relevant because that's where everything begins: what is our objective and our mission? President Obama has made it very clear what we're doing there and why, and that is, first, to protect American interests and our people. It is to help our partners. It is to support the Iraqi security forces and help them defend themselves. It is to continue to do everything we can to see that an Iraqi government is formed, which is now being formed, that's inclusive, that brings in all the various parts of Iraq in governing themselves. But in the end, it's Iraq's responsibility. We can help, we will, but our role is limited and the President's been very clear: we will not, the United States, go back into Iraq in any combat mission like we were once in.
CHRIS UHLMANN: And you can't defeat the Islamic State with air strikes, can you?
CHUCK HAGEL: Defeating the Islamic State is going to require more than just air strikes and I think President Obama's correct in his assessment, and I agree with it, that the military option is not the option that is going to end this conflict. First, a government, a unity, inclusive government, must be formed, one that should have been dealing with these things over the last five years that didn't and until that is - gets to some ground where - and higher ground where they can start to deal with these differences, the military, the support, that's part of it, but that isn't going to fix the problem.
CHRIS UHLMANN: How much has Nouri al-Maliki brought on himself?
CHUCK HAGEL: Well, he's been the Prime Minister and he has to take some responsibility here for, I think, in many ways failing his country. When the United States transitioned out of Iraq and the Constitution was clear in Iraq and the elections were held, it was always to be a unity government. That also meant that a wide dispersement of responsibility and power across the Government, including the military and that was never done.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Does he have to go in order for things to improve in Iraq?
CHUCK HAGEL: Well that's a decision that the Iraqis are now making.
CHRIS UHLMANN: He won't go and he's put troops on the street which support him and it's not to defend his nation, it's to defend himself, isn't it?
CHUCK HAGEL: Well our position has been and I think it's the appropriate, responsible one: it's up to the Iraqi people to decide who they want to be their leaders. It's not up to the American public.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Will you arm the Kurdish fighters?
CHUCK HAGEL: We're helping in every way we can, assisting the Iraqi Security Forces. That means, as you know, they, the Iraqi Security Forces, have moved weapons and ammunition and support up to the Peshmerga. Of course we're going to support the Iraqi Security Forces that support the Peshmerga.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Can the central government be trusted in order to support the Peshmerga? Are they moving enough equipment up there? Shouldn't it be direct from the United States?
CHUCK HAGEL: Well this is Iraqi equipment, but we are helping transport it. We are helping get it from Baghdad to Erbil, so we have some real-life assurance and we're helping accomplish that.
CHRIS UHLMANN: The Middle East seems to be aflame from one end to the other at the moment. Can you remember a more dangerous time?
CHUCK HAGEL: No, I cannot. It is as unpredictable, dangerous, complicated, I think as it's ever been. And there's clear evidence of that, and this is again why a military solution is not going to end it or fix it. It's going to have to be much more lasting and real than that. And if we don't all assist in some ways, not to impose, not to dictate, not to get in the middle of it, but help facilitate these political settlements, then the Middle East will continue to get worse.
CHRIS UHLMANN: One of your predecessors, Donald Rumsfeld, said that weakness is provocative. Is the world being emboldened now, or parts of it being emboldened now by what they perceive as a weak White House?
CHUCK HAGEL: Well, I don't agree with that scenario by any metric or measurement. I mean, you take Asia Pacific; we're doing more in the Asia Pacific, with more ships, more people, new initiatives than we've ever done. We're not retreating from any part of the world. Look at the Ukraine, look at our involvement in Eastern Europe. We have a huge number of forces stationed in the Middle East.
CHRIS UHLMANN: But looking at the Ukraine, if you were looking at Crimea, would Crimea have fallen to Russia if Russia thought there would be real penalties for that?
CHUCK HAGEL: Well, again, Ukraine is a sovereign nation, it's an independent country. We can't dictate actions in Ukraine. We support the Ukrainian Government, we're helping the Ukrainian Government, as our NATO partners are, but the calculation that Putin made, which was a very bad calculation, very dangerous, if nothing else, what it continues to do is isolate Russia from the rest of the world, they heighten tensions and the danger and it's brought on and will bring on continued economic disaster for the people.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Do you think that that's the end of President Putin's ambitions in Ukraine?
CHUCK HAGEL: I don't know, but I would say this: the jarring gong of what he did and continues to do in and around Ukraine has galvanised NATO nations like nothing we've seen in 25 years. It is preparing NATO nations to do more, they are doing more, a new awareness, a new reality, a new preparation. So, the calculations made by Mr Putin were the wrong calculations.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Hasn't the gong been heard in a different way in China when they see Russia change the circumstances on the ground and think that they could do the same thing, as they have done in the South China Sea, by planting an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam? *
CHUCK HAGEL: China has made some very wrong decisions, as you mentioned, one of them, and I think, again, what China is finding is nations will find when they push other countries around or when they take advantage of other nations' sovereignty, is an isolation and a response and a reaction that's not in their interests. Now, we continue to strongly oppose any coercion in the South China Sea. I've made that clear, the President has. We have treaty obligations which I've made clear, as the President has. Five of our seven treaty obligations are here in this Asia Pacific area. We don't take a position on a decision in any of these areas, but we do take a position on coercion and we've made it very clear that we'll support our treaty ally.
CHRIS UHLMANN: But as you say, actions and the actions of China speak very loudly and its actions are that it's planted an oil rig in Vietnamese water. It's drawing oil from that and there have been no real consequences.
CHUCK HAGEL: Have there been real consequences? I think there've been real consequences in the response that Vietnam and other countries have had toward China. And these events or actions don't necessarily always precipitate an immediate major reaction from another country or the world community. But there's a price to be paid for actions and there are consequences and there are consequences to inaction as well, to - I think to your point.
CHRIS UHLMANN: If we look around the world at all the things that demand the US's attention, how can we take seriously the idea that you are pivoting to Asia and that you're focusing on that?
CHUCK HAGEL: Well let's start with the Secretary of State in the United States and the Secretary of Defense are here in Australia. Let's start there. I've been to the Asia Pacific in the year and a half I've been Secretary of Defense six times. I've got four trips scheduled this calendar year. We have over 360,000 American military and civilians stationed in the Asia Pacific. We have over 200 naval ships. I could go on. 1,200 marines in Darwin - never been done before. We are committed and we're committed because it's in our interests, but it's in the interests of our partners. We've been a Pacific power for a long time and we continue to be one and we will be one.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Finally, you have a unique seat in the world, a great place to see the world from and you've got a unique history; you're a soldier, you're a senator, now you're a secretary of Defence. What is the thing that concerns you most about what you see in the world at the moment?
CHUCK HAGEL: Well, I think it's the dangerous unpredictability of a world that is I think trying to define a new world order. We've never seen such diffusion of economic power; more people have more say, as it should be, and after all, isn't that why we fought a couple of wars?: to give more people more opportunities to be unleashed from dictatorship and authoritarian governments? We are seeing a new world order being built in the early 21st Century. The United States of America has some responsibility to help lead that. We can't dictate that order; nor can any country. But we can help shape it, as other countries - I was just in India; look at what's happened in India, Indonesia. All of the - your neighbours in this area have a tremendous say in the outcome of world affairs and that's, quite frankly, as it should be, but that also complicates outcomes.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Secretary Hagel, thank you.
CHUCK HAGEL: Thank you.