PBS NewsHour

Netanyahu urges more Iran sanctions and no nuclear deal in U.S. speech

What are the chances of an Iran nuclear deal now?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif
         as they arrive to resume nuclear negotiations in Montreux

Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

GWEN IFILL: Now we turn back to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, the threat of Iran, and what, if anything, makes for a good nuclear deal.

I’m joined by two foreign policy veterans. Stephen Hadley was national security adviser for President George W. Bush. He’s now the chairman of the board of directors at the U.S. Institute for Peace. And Vali Nasr is a former State Department official and current dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Vali Nasr, let’s start with you.

What was your first reaction to the speech?

VALI NASR, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies: Well, I think the content of the speech wasn’t new. We knew where the prime minister of Israel stood on the deal.

But I think one can say that the way that he laid out the case, it will make it much for difficult for the United States government and Iran to arrive at a deal, because I think the field has been significantly narrowed for the president in particular in order to argue a deal with Iran is actually a good deal. I think the definition of a good deal was largely defined by the prime minister of Israel today.

GWEN IFILL: Steve Hadley?

STEPHEN HADLEY, United States Institute of Peace: I think it was a very effective presentation. People said that the arguments were not particularly new, but a lot of Americans had not heard them in such detail.

I think it was a forceful presentation. I think it will have the impact that Vali said. I think in some sense it makes it probably harder for both Iran and the administration to make concessions. And I think probably Prime Minister Netanyahu helped himself a little bit in this upcoming Israeli election.

GWEN IFILL: So if we think that this speech today could have put a spanner in the works of these negotiations that are under way in Switzerland right now, the president’s criticism of them today was that there was no alternative presented. Is there an alternative to this negotiation?

VALI NASR: There’s no alternative to the negotiation.

I think what the prime minister of Israel was saying was generally that he doesn’t agree with any concessions or compromises. You can’t have negotiations with those. I think what he argued, that instead of negotiating with Iran on the terms of the deal, you have to lean on them heavily through sanctions and perhaps even a military option until Iran eventually surrenders the program.

And that’s not likely to happen, because I don’t think the military option in today’s Middle East is viable. It’s not a given that we can go back to sanctions. And I think the president’s case is that you have to give diplomacy a chance. The president of Israel was saying there is no diplomatic path with Iran.

And I think you have to — people will have to come down as to whether they believe the president that there is a diplomatic path, it’s possible to have a deal, or they believe the prime minister of Israel that says there’s no diplomacy with a country that you can’t trust and that ultimately it’s going to find its way to a bomb through diplomacy.

GWEN IFILL: But I heard the prime minister say two things, that there should be a better deal, which implies that there should be more diplomacy, and also that there isn’t a military option. Did you hear that?

STEPHEN HADLEY: I heard the better deal.

I think he believes that greater sanctions and more time could result in greater concessions by the Iranians. It’s difficult. I think the dilemma for the administration, they will still try to see if they can get a deal. I think they know today the kind of deal that will work in terms of the region, in terms of our ally Israel and in terms of a Congress.

And the real question is, if they cannot get that deal, whether they will decide to it’s better to say, we can’t get there at this time and talk about further extension, and the question is whether the Iranians would accept an extension of the joint program of action, which does constrain their program, to allow more time for negotiation.

Then the flip side is, more time with negotiation, can you actually get a better deal?

GWEN IFILL: Now, it seems very confusing, right? What we know of what’s on the table is a 10-year freeze in nuclear enrichment and then a year to allow it to be enforced. Is that something which — that’s the kind of — those are the outlines of a deal that I think the prime minister said would pave the way to a bomb.

VALI NASR: Ultimately, this is — the problem as far as Israel sees it is that, A, this is not a permanent deal, and, B, that it’s — Iran retains the right to enrichment.

But I don’t think actually the problem is so much a technical agreement between Iran and the U.S. It’s that both sides have to be able to sell this deal back at home. And from the Iranian side now, they see that the administration can come to a negotiation table and negotiate, and then you have this force outside in the form of the prime minister of Israel which at any point in time can come and put pressure on the administration and narrow its ability to sell the deal at home.

That makes it very difficult for them to negotiate. And I think the Iranians can come up with any set of excuses as to why they can’t agree to this freeze. But I think, right now, they’re really worried that the administration is unable to deliver a deal because of the Congress.

GWEN IFILL: Do you agree with Steve Hadley that Netanyahu helped himself politically at home?

VALI NASR: Well, I think the reception he got in Congress definitely helped him.

I think we have to see whether the Israeli public will see any further fallout from his visit here. But, barring that, I think they would see that he was able to come here, was received well by Congress, and made his case, and no damage is done so far.

GWEN IFILL: Elaborate what you meant by that.

STEPHEN HADLEY: Well, I still think that there is an opportunity for a deal here. I think it is still the case that in some sense the alternatives for both parties for not reaching a deal are not attractive.

I think it will be a challenge for the United States to keep sanctions in place, and, of course, without a deal, Iran doesn’t get potentially relaxation of sanctions. So I think there’s still a reasonable chance that we will get an agreement.

The question is, can the Congress — will the president of the United States be able to sell it to the Congress?

GWEN IFILL: There’s a March 24 deadline for this — for these negotiations which are currently under way in Switzerland. What are the chances they can be achieved?

VALI NASR: I think the chances are narrow. I think there is a chance that they agree to some kind of a formula…

GWEN IFILL: By this date.

VALI NASR: By this date, that they agree to some kind of a formula that would extend the negotiations, would give gains to both sides.

But, again, the dilemma is that the way it’s happening now is that, to the Iranians, it doesn’t look like President Obama is the only decision-maker here.

GWEN IFILL: And it seems like Zarif and Kerry are kind of in a box.

STEPHEN HADLEY: They’re in a box.

They will — but let’s be fair. We have heard the case against this deal, this hypothetical deal. The president says they haven’t reached a deal. I think we should all keep our powder dry, see if there is a deal, let the president of the United States and the secretary of state make their case, and then the American people will have to decide.

And the question will be — this is not going to be the deal that many people had hoped for. It doesn’t roll back the program as far as people would have hoped. It’s probably not as long a duration. The question the American people will have to decide is, if this is a deal, you know, what do you do then. And that I think is a subject on which there ought to be some vigorous debate.

GWEN IFILL: Stephen Hadley of the U.S. Institute of Peace and Vali Nasr at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, thank you both very much.

VALI NASR: Thank you.

The post What are the chances of an Iran nuclear deal now? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

What are the biggest barriers to educating girls around the globe?

PEACE CORP  let girls learn monitor

Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now a look at a new initiative announced today at the White House, to increase the educational opportunities for girls around the world.

Jeffrey Brown is back with that.

JEFFREY BROWN: Sixty million, that’s the number of girls around the world who do not attend school, according to President and Mrs. Obama, who today announced a new U.S. government effort to help.

It builds on a program called Let Girls Learn and increases the training received by Peace Corps volunteers and supports local initiatives aimed at educating girls, beginning first in 11 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia and eventually phased in globally.

Peace Corps director Carrie Hessler-Radelet joins us now.

Welcome to you.

CARRIE HESSLER-RADELET, Director, Peace Corps: Thank you.

JEFFREY BROWN: Are the biggest barriers here physical or cultural?

CARRIE HESSLER-RADELET: You know, they could — there are many different kinds of barriers.

They could be physical. It might be that there is not a school for 10 or 15 miles, and so it may be unsafe for a girl to walk to and fro. It may be that there are cultural barriers. Perhaps girls’ education is not valued because the family doesn’t seen an economic return.

It could be that girls are getting married too early, and once they’re married, it’s not considered proper to attend school. Or it could even be economic. They can’t afford the school fees or books or uniforms.

JEFFREY BROWN: So when you have got such a wide range of issues, what specifically do you want to tackle?

CARRIE HESSLER-RADELET: Well, one of the reasons we’re so excited about President and Mrs. Obama’s commitment to girls’ education and specifically the partnership with Peace Corps is because we have learned that the best solutions to girls’ education are really community-based.

And that’s where Peace Corps volunteers come in, because we are working at the very last mile of development, living and working in communities. We know these girls’ families. We know the local leaders. And so we can be in a powerful position to advocate and support girls’ education.

JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so, the initiative talks about retraining Peace Corps volunteers. Retraining for what? What does that mean?

CARRIE HESSLER-RADELET: We’re training volunteers so that they in turn can train local leaders to become champions for girls’ education.

And let me just tell you what that means. For example, Peace Corps volunteers can sit down with a school principal or administrators and talk about why it’s important for girls who are married or pregnant to continue on in school. Or they can sit down with religious leaders or local leaders and talk about why it’s so important to delay marriage until after graduation. Or they can sit down with family and say — you know, ask them about — or to tell them about why it’s so important for girls to be educated because it does represent a strong return on investment.

And then they can talk to the girls themselves and find out the real barriers that they face in their lives.

JEFFREY BROWN: Does this involve new resources? Is there new money coming in? Do you envision, for example, building schools?

CARRIE HESSLER-RADELET: We will not build schools, but we may work in schools that others build.

But what this is actually doing for us is that we’re mobilizing all of our volunteers around the world, starting first in 11 countries. But we’re going to be training our volunteers to be powerful advocates for girls’ education and really working with their communities to identify locally led solutions.

Peace Corps volunteers are already catalyst for actions at the community level. But they will be focusing all their energy on girls’ education and empowering girls.

JEFFREY BROWN: Is there a model or an example that you point to if you want to say, here’s what we want to do, here’s what I want to multiply over the coming years?

CARRIE HESSLER-RADELET: Well, I would love to illustrate it with a story.

And this is the story of Charlene and Kristen (ph). Charlene was the girl who — the young woman who introduced the president today.

JEFFREY BROWN: At the ceremony today?


And Charlene and Kristen were teachers in Liberia. And the first day they walked into the school, they identified two things, first of all, that the boys outnumbered the girl two to one. So that meant that half of those girls’ female peers were not at school. And the second thing they noticed is that girls were really not thriving in the classroom. They were shy. They were intimidated. They were not participating.

And so Kristen and Charlene, along with the Liberian teacher, started an after-school program that became just a powerful place, a safe place for girls to talk about the difficulties they faced in their lives, the barriers to learning. They gained new confidence. They gained new study skills. They saw themselves as leaders. They began to imagine a brighter future for themselves. And they are powerful girls now who are very, very motivated to make a difference in their community.

JEFFREY BROWN: Is this not, though, ultimately up to the governments, the other governments? I mean, one wonders how much could the U.S. push to make this kind of change from the outside, because we have also seen a lot of backlash when the West and the U.S. tries to emphasize…


CARRIE HESSLER-RADELET: Most of our partner governments are very supportive of girls’ education. And Liberia is a perfect example.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf really is a powerful advocate for girls’ education. She saw what a difference it made in her own life.

JEFFREY BROWN: But do you see pushback as well around the — I mean, we do see it in…

CARRIE HESSLER-RADELET: There are in some places, not in the places where Peace Corps works, because we work in places where our volunteers can be safe.

So most of the places where we work actually have a more progressive attitude toward girls’ education. It’s really a question of getting down into the community.

JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Carrie Hessler-Radelet of the Peace Corps, thank you so much.

CARRIE HESSLER-RADELET: Thank you so much.

The post What are the biggest barriers to educating girls around the globe? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Pentagon calls Mosul briefing a mistake by CentCom

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter (L) listens as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Martin Dempsey testifies
         before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2016 on Capitol
         Hill in Washington March 3, 2015.  REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, listens as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Martin Dempsey testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington March 3, 2015. At the hearing, top Pentagon Officials said the plans for the Iraqi-led offensive on Mosul should not have been detailed to reporters in mid-February. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

A U.S. military officer’s media briefing about plans for an Iraqi-led ground offensive in Mosul, including its expected timing, amounted to a mistaken disclosure of “military secrets,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday.

The briefer, whose presentation for reporters at the Pentagon on Feb. 19 was authorized by U.S. Central Command, said the U.S. wanted the Iraqis to launch the offensive in Mosul in April or May, although he also said it might go later.

“That clearly was neither accurate information nor, had it been accurate, would have been information that should be blurted out to the press,” Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “So it’s wrong on both scores.”

It now appears likely that the offensive will not begin this spring, with Iraq’s security forces requiring more time for U.S.-organized training. It has been widely known for months that the offensive is in the planning stages and that it would likely mark a decisive moment in the campaign to dislodge the Islamic State from Iraq.

Islamic State fighters overran Mosul last June. Iraqi government forces folded quickly, leading to the start of a U.S.-led bombing campaign in Iraq in August.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was testifying alongside Carter, said he had discussed the Mosul briefing with Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of Central Command.

“He’s conducting an internal inquiry,” Dempsey said, adding that he is confident Austin will “take the appropriate action.” He did not say what that might be.

The briefing was done by an officer at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida. He spoke by phone to a group of reporters in the Pentagon on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by Central Command.

The episode is remarkable in at least two respects. It was unusual for the U.S. military to disclose in advance the expected timing of an offensive as well as details about the makeup of the Iraqi force that would undertake it. And it was curious that a secretary of defense would wait nearly two weeks after such a briefing to denounce it publicly for having spilled military secrets.

Asked about it by reporters twice last weekend, Carter was more circumspect.

“The important thing is that it will get done when it can be done successfully,” he said last Friday, referring to the Mosul offensive. “And even if I knew exactly when that was going to be, I wouldn’t tell you.” Asked to comment again the following day, Carter said it’s important to keep the public informed, “consistent with security and other considerations.”

On Tuesday he was more pointed and expansive in directly criticizing Central Command.

“It is important that we be open as a department — not with military secrets and not with war plans, which was the mistake made in this case — but we do try to keep the country informed of what we’re doing,” he said. “It’s about protecting them. It is a democracy. And so, openness is important but it has to have limits when it comes to security matters, and those limits obviously weren’t respected in this case.”

The post Pentagon calls Mosul briefing a mistake by CentCom appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

BBC News

sorry, this feed is currently not available