'This Week' Transcript: Rep. Paul Ryan


NASR: Arab street. And until such day where there is some common ground between our street and their street, we're going to have this disjunction. It's possible, for instance, on the issue of Al Qaida that we can -- there can be some sense of common interest between Americans and the people of the Middle East. But on issues of Arab-Israeli issue, on Iran, and on a number of other issues, the gap is still too wide, and we're going to see that opinion of the region is going to get reflected in the foreign policy.

AMANPOUR: And now, on the Middle East, people also are now asking about the development this week, the rapprochement between the Palestinian Authority, supported by the United States, and Hamas, which the U.S. and Israel say is a terrorist organization. What does that mean for the peace process? And is there one?

MILLER: It's not even noon and I'm already depressed talking about focusing on this issue. I mean, Vali's point is a good one. And before the Middle East issue, our street cred is way down. We're neither admired, feared or respected as much as we need to be, given the fundamental nature and vital interests that we have in this region.

We're involved in three wars where the standard for victory is not can we win, but when can we leave? We are responding in a very difficult -- and it's understandable way to both the Arab spring in Egypt and Tunisia and the Arab winter in Bahrain, in Yemen, and in Syria. So our prestige and power...

AMANPOUR: It's events-driven.

MILLER: For sure. Our prestige and power is way down. And what history teaches us is when, in fact, the United States presides over breakthroughs on this other issue, the problem of the much too promised land, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, our street cred was actually up. We demonstrated both in warmaking and peacemaking -- Kissinger, Carter and Baker, the three -- that we could actually succeed. Right now, we're stuck. We're stuck in a region we can't fix and we're stuck in a region from which we cannot extricate ourselves. Bad news for the great power.

AMANPOUR: It sounds pretty bad news the way you're saying it. And I wanted to ask you -- there was an article in the New Yorker this week which quoted an administration official as saying that the policy right now was lead from behind. What does that mean, lead from behind?

NASR: Well, I don't know the exact context in which that...

AMANPOUR: Talking about Libya and elsewhere.

NASR: Elsewhere. But the real issue for us is this, is that we have a disjuncture between our means and our goals in the region. We're not dealing with events in only one country. We're dealing with events over a vast region that may be unfolding over a number of years, and we have to find a way to have a sustainable policy.

And therefore, if we push too hard, if we remove governments, then much has happened in Iraq or Afghanistan. We're going to own it afterwards. We have to do the state building, which has not been easy or cheap for us. And therefore, there is a sense that we need to calibrate.

AMANPOUR: So is right now the net positive for the United States -- the net result positive, or negative, or is the jury still out in the Middle East in that region?

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