On this special Sunday episode of The Editors, Rich interviews retired lieutenant general and former national-security adviser H. R. McMaster about his newest book, Battlegrounds.
The Editors is hosted by Rich Lowry and produced by Sarah Schutte.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
What are the strategic challenges facing United States and how should we deal with them? Will discuss all this and more on this special Sunday edition of the editors rich, lowering joined by the great Hr Mc master author, the new book bout a grounds. The fight to defend the free world. You will say to a national view: podcast a regular schedule. Programming will resume later in the week if
podcast on NASH, review, dot, com, clean the corner, we're delighted to have you but it'd be easier for you and better for us. If you made it part of your feet at any of the streaming services out there from Spotify to Itunes. If you like what you hear here, please consider giving us a glowing five star review on Itunes. If you don't like what you hear here, please forget, I said missing a terrific master thanks so much for joining us, their riches great, be with you. Thank you, sir. Relations on the book. I wanted to start out here and our conversation, yes situating you a little bit for for people who might not be as familiar. I should be about HR master. How long were you in the motor for third thirty, four years of commission service and then for years it at West Point
and how did you do to your family? Have a military background or were you were the where they were the first to serve or how to come about that? You want to West point and serve for many decades. What we get my my father volunteer. Serve in the increase of war joined the army. At eight seventeen went, there is a private first class went to create, came out as a sovereign first class and then went to. The reserve was familiar with with military service. With the wife of the military family. We didn't buy tab, but I was always drawn to service in our armies. What now, what I wanted to do from almost my this memory, so just walk us through give us the real capsule version? So I have to West point: where are you where you stationed? What what do you do and how do you end up plain such bigger role in Iraq and Afghanistan and eventually become present trumps. National security adviser origin
Nothing in my career ever worked out as I had desired, initially have spoken, so I was I was commissioned from us Eighty four commission in aviation- I really want to fly scouts scout helicopters and be in the air cavalry, but but I got to afford Ask Turkey on my way to fight school, anythin Astigmatism, why this Fort Knox Home of armour you now at our officer and a request Instead, you go to Heaven. Train is well known that cost efficient requested. Then, after after that, you up to to Germany, which was the of the front lines of the cold war, and this will have up for her Texas and had so what, by all groups, can like that, but a rhetoric, like I want to change that and say you know in the army gave me saudi tremendous opportunities, tremendous opportunities to the lead some soldiers in and build tee, Linda and it also to four graduate study to study history and a teacher was pointed, so I would just say to young you young men and women, should
in our military could be tremendously rewarding, especially the less cage, oh of service, being part of something bigger than yourself in and being part of a unit. A team there. The really tat grows into a family, a family, a wish. The matter. Women next to you is willing to give everything, including their own, lies from you. So so I had looking back on it rich as I've been extremely fortunate across my career. Tremendous variances and its work with was just extraordinary people So something azure, I've always wondered about that. I'm afraid to ask it is: how did you come back to be called a charge? Childhood thing was, military thing about what I'm Herbert Raymond Junior Mother Mimi was petrified that I would be called Herbie chuckle for a the very beginning of those hr, which of course, once my friends figured out,
that I didn't want to be called Herbie, that's what they call it. It's a nice so up However, my rather varies a joy to see the the scene and stripes. I think what is I guess if you call me more recent I'll, kill you or something like that. I favour a story. The military name is Ulysses. S grant wish, I didn't realize until recently was totally arbitrary and basically a bureaucratic snafu at tat when he was adopted it at West Point for some reason that they thought Use Ulysses S Grand was Ulysses S grant for forevermore where's, the Lucy's I've leaves just as middle name, so I've written a very serious book and that this is this is not a
book hotel. All you have. If you have a note at the beginning, explicitly saying yeah, you know many people would like you to do that. That's not what you're going to do, instead of a real serious consideration of the strategic landscape currently facing the country, how we got here and The mistakes you think have been made and in a better way ahead. So first, I just want to dig down a little bit kind of the foundations of your thinking about all this as something that comes up constantly, and you see mistakes. It is the Vietnam WAR and you see mistakes of Vietnam repeated in various mistakes. We we ve made around the world are the last couple decades and of course, you, you wrote famous book about the Vietnam WAR, dereliction of duty to tell us what what is you're take on Vietnam. What were the mistakes that the United States made in that a strategic mistakes,
that the United States made Vietnam, which we enjoy duty. I write about the pitfalls in national screw decision making in connection with the Vietnam WAR during the crucial period in which the adult was transformed into into an american war. And what I found is that it really have a lot to do with personalities and relationships within the Johnson administration and a process was really designed you to give the president the advice he wanted to hear right in, and so that's that that was the first mistake and if the president wanted president wanted to avoid. It a decision on fear not because he was prioritizing his is domestic agenda. In any particular getting elected in its own right in nineteen sixty four and in passing. Society legislation in eighteen sixty five. He saw Vietnam crisply as a danger to those goals, What his advisers did you say they helped him up your view, by giving him
strategy for Vietnam. That would help him avoided tough decision. But, of course, that's true. He was fundamentally flawed because it was disconnected the very nature of that war. This is the strategy of graduated pressure What sad about it is the present principle mill three vices and many of the civilian of thought that this was a strategy that was doomed to failure? But they didn't tell the president that at least tell him in and it really clear terms. Instead, what they did is they compromise principle for expediency? You know he just get first bombing, resolve you'll get the first troops deployed. We argue over time of four first as you did this better connected to the nature of the war, take more resolute military action that we think it was necessary at the outset and then of course, but that did as it did obscure any kind of consideration, prevented consideration of long term costs and consequences, so retrospect it was like every decision Johnson made what was made to it, We'd get us
to make it an american war, but that's not what you wanted me: the war. The wording come with one big decision, the worst kind of smoking on catch me, and so what I would I, when I took over the jobs ashes visor, I really was determined to avoid They avoid the pitfalls that I'd identified through my research on on how why Vietnam became an american war silk how is the strategy in Vietnam disconnected from the reality of the war? Was it not acknowledging that this was basically a wharf counter insurgency, and it just counting up bombing bombing, runs in doing body counts. Just just wasn't getting us anything. Exactly and so, instead of really understanding political nature of the war and the importance of strengthening the effect. This and the legitimacy of the government. In Saigon, as well, as the shopping enemies, armed forces, instead the? U S, What area under was more than a particular prioritized which also come? Who did them too?
in the beginning, which is kill more of the car, and so in his one meeting, which is quite revealing leading up You? U, Marcus, Asia, the war in Vietnam, the deployment of large, a troop units the bombing of the of the north and had just given a speech at Johns Hopkins University. It was it's a speech that historians like to refer to an early nineties five he lays out a peaceful vision for South EAST Asia introduces an idea because River dealt a project and so forth and edit and what historians have said in the past as it is it you look. Johnson was was really the humanitarian, but this was really focused on on a peaceful wishing to South EAST Asia. It decided before the speeches he needed to give a speech. To quote this is Johnson Placate, the sobs sisters. Peace societies, but then what He gave that speech. What did it has yet to bring?
the joy she's, the staff to make sure they stayed honesty to make sure that I knew he was really determined to do to support their advice in connection with the need what an intensification of the military effort there and when it when he comes when it comes to the office. He said, and I need you, recommendations from you. I need you to tell me how to kill more vehicle and then, of course, that there was no broader discussion as out of a really will killing were viewed not connected. Would she raises a sustainable political outcome in the sentinel,
get to work out a way towards ten prefers a little bit more. So there there too interpretations of Vietnam to interpretations of our current predicament. One is that the american way of war fundamentally should be about big conventional battles with clear victors, clearly losers, clear time frames and just wars counter insurgency are just not or thing shouldn't be. Our thing, then, there's no school thought that this is exactly the wrong lesson to draw from Vietnam, where we needed to do way to counter insurgency warfare and when things actually looked,
more and more or less. We are doing MAX boot, interrupted this book, savage wars, apiece, basically arguing. You know that this this kind of warfare has been a constant through throughout american history, but TAT today have a lot of people saying you nonetheless, in Iraq and Afghanistan too, don't do those cup ever again at war with China and South China see that's another thing, but soaks where you on that. Which, sadly, we tend to define war, as we would like it to be. This. Is this idea to introduce in battle rounds of strategic narcissist greedy for wars. We defined the world as we would like it to be, instead of actually how it really is and what what happens? I think periodically across the world. In this way, at least at least since the beginning of the year, The twentieth century is: is this tendency the boy
that really really the next wars can be fundamentally different from all those who have gone before it's gonna be fast, is gonna, be cheap, is gonna, be affair. And an american technological military prowess is gonna win the day you very quickly and at low cost? And of course, what would these concepts of our future wore their most recently in the ninety. Nine is the so called revolution in military affairs orthodoxy what they would be neglected, the very nature of war as being political right consolidation, a notary gains to get with sustainable political outcome s not enough face were. This does not require and enters a great book on this by not his shadow of war and the artist of govern She calls it Mary denial syndrome, the second element of of the nature of orthopedic like this, a worse human and unless you
address it through your strategy, which is driving the violence and that then you're only treating the symptoms and in your balance, will be disappointed and people fight sexually for the same reasons to cities identified twenty five years ago. Fear honour and interest the third continuity, I think it is in the nature of war, is it uncertain? The future course of events depends on what you're adversaries and enemies decide to do not just on what you decide to do. Work progresses wars, anything but linear. But if you, if you think about the practice, Recent years of your announcing years ended the hence you hit the numbers troops. You're gonna happen whether what the bridge, what withdraw schedule is what you're gonna do what they're not gonna do at sea the initiative to your enemy your closet was the nineteenth century, crushing philosophy, for a war said that war is continuous interaction of opposites, an
We we neglect at our own, then finally morsel contest of wills, and this is where we can really come up short in recent years, as I described this battle grass about how american leaders have not done a good job. Explaining to the american public really to far mental aspects of of the wars that were in first. What are these? What are the stakes What is the show? What why should Americans care about this conflict? What what is it risk that we have to add that we have to? We have to protect and then and then that the second aspect is what is the strategy? What does the strategy there's going to get us to assist it'll outcome consistent with our vital interests and its fashionable these days? Richer say all we need to end these endless wars were weary, but I think that and why there is a great deal of public support for the four these long and Emily is disappointing wars. At an end, I can assure you that Afghanistan is an american leaders, haven't been describing to the american public. What what is at stake
and what is the strategy so and in contrast to a strategic narcissism, you advance strategic. That, the which, for some of our more more hawkish hard headed listeners out their hr, might might sound to soften squishy. But what what it but is strategic well I'm kind of a hug you guy rich people, know that you know about me but buddy. What strategic narcissism, is a term I borrowed and amusing from an So the story names Zachary Shore, which are if you know it, but he besought tab on your programme. I think he is Adele brilliant here, a great book, you're a break raper Cobb blunder. Why smart people make big bad decisions, are done decisions or something like that? She's really. I think it an expert it at cognitive traps that we can fall into it and in his book, another boycott assessment.
The enemy. He is reduces this idea of strategic empathy and its should be confused with sympathy right at empathy. Strategic empathy is our ability to view complex problems and challenges from the perspective of the other, and two in particular pay attention to what are the ideology: what are the emotions? What are the aspirations that driving constrain? The other minutes goes back to Sangsue. Obviously, no you read of it. It's it's a a fundamental lesson, and I think also tell you don't do that is Americans We rush right. Ok, what are we gonna do about a problem before we actually frame that problem
and try to understand and on its own terms. So it is the opposite of mirroring mirroring, which I used the same. Basically, the same concept is as narcissism. What you look at your enemy, you see see a version of yourself and I guess the great proponent of strategic empathy is Lincoln as well who, throughout his adult life, including in the war, was would say very often well. If we were in their place, we do exactly that the same thing to strategic empty, as is being willing to put yourself in and the place of, of the other, try to understand his motivations and interest, and today the extent you can accommodate them, or at least take account of them in your own calculations. Absolutely, I think, that's exactly right and and and Lincoln was it was actually shorter leader who did have that who did have that their quality, and I think,
Military commanders war are effective are, though, to pay particular attention to what how their enemies, thinking with your enemies, the currency that will not just the physical strength of their enemy, but also their psychological strength. And are you are you maybe this dimension Lincoln of Grant, I think, grant actually had that what was very strong in the area of strategic emphases as well yeah ice just chest just about to mention that is his first major engagement in his you scared men were scared and then they got over the hill whatever it was an end, the confederates had run away, and that was when you have a great insight that you know what they're scared to him and that's right his credibility as a commander. What was was realizing actually that that debt, that that was
and exporting it absolutely, and you know, I think I think I hope this quotation is correct, but in that after that battle, he reflects on it in his memoirs, and he may see how your vision that a distant the distant mere of an army is not the best place from which to judge what is going on in front because he had had ridden the fraud and he saw all the candidates Sidra of of a battle in an anti you, though, the wounded, and it's you stop. It must be, it was terrible up there and it gets to the fraud. Any meat was Sherman and at an end, situations very calm and is actually the enemy other than this in a panic. So I think it is a great example of of all of the need to pay particular attention, to what your adversary is experiencing, so that you can can protect against dangers
but also, very importantly, sees on opportunities yeah. So, let's, let's digging more specifics, I you you have a major treatment of China, your excruciating about the approach which we had China, basically the last thirty years, and I think that most people round to this. This view is that the centre right that we are now even important respects. So now the question is, is what what did to do about it in, and you basically argue for a middle way if an opening words words in your mouth, where we're going to two frankly acknowledge that they're a competitor, but within limits, accommodate in certain respects. Their rise is: is that correct in and correctly, if not an elaborate.
I don't think we should a comedy. The chinese Communist Party at all had to think when we had to distinguishes is really that. Not concerned about is it is trying to cross. Bring right. It is the chinese people really enjoy enjoying a greater degree of prosperity and security in, and it's free It would be nice right for the chinese People were concerned about are the policies and actions of the Chinese Communist Party, policies and actions that are stifling the freedom of the chinese people internally, but now increasingly exporting China's authoritarian and until this model, in a way that disadvantages. Free world, and this is what we have to be concerned about This is why we have to return to a range of competition that we vacated based on the fundamentally flawed assault. The China have be welcomed into the international order. Play by the rules with liberalized,
economy and as it prospered would liberalisers form of governance is very clear. Undersea jumping that that hasn't happened. And adopt, and so we saw that the policies strategy that we put in place during the first year of the trial, illustration: I believe that those were long overdue. So what? What are those areas, its strategic competition that we had vacated that we need to return to. Well? Has China has three interconnected strategies that demanded that, though the we compete, the first of these and the overarching one and- and I think that you're, the most comprehensive one is called military. Civil fusion Essentially what that means is we can't mirrors and Chinese and think that our policies or chinese companies ought be like the ready, other international co
they're, not chinese companies have to act as an arm of the chinese government and what they are charged with. His extracting is much sensitive technology and intellectual property they can apply that really to two goals. One is to be a dominant position in the emerging data economy and the second is to give the people's Liberation Army rational advantage over us, and so the EU has for too long we have allowed these companies to list on: U S, exchanges, so that investors are funding, essentially the development of the People's Liberation Army, an end and the the parties ability to data Fair advantages in the emerging global economy and in the end, and also we have been really to pass seven really negligent in protein
are our research programmes, many of which are government funded and our infiltrated by people's Liberation Army scientists right. So so said, so that that's one aspect of of returning to the to competition, and it really really our response Yoke across across up not only just in the public sector and government, but but in the private sector as well? And it then It is that these, the another aspect of this another aspect of this is is it is China's effort to influence ass it in a way that diminishes arc, our confidence to control the narrative internationally, and- and this is why we have returned to the arena of competition of of nation and and and communicate more effectively to counter chinese malign influence? It has pursued its objectives in this area, mainly by your two tactics: worsted co elites in the other.
Is to dominate the narrative. So so we have to be produced Listen that are becoming more and more sophisticated will be seen recently in the way. The cove in nineteen pandemic that that the Chinese Communist Party should have wasted on on the world. Is this very aggressive, Wolf Warrior diplomacy, so So is it aside its technology available of technology, their development, its information, and then this is Second strategy that the charter is is pursuing. Is it is this one built one road? one by one road, is really chinese investment in countries in a way that sets a debt trap for governments and gives China influence over those guns. It's great store, vile relationships with countries in a strategic, strategic locations, and and and this requires, I think, our efforts to help governments resist this kind of
predatory behaviour and with some people, since it can a new sort of form of of colonialism. Almost and so this is it. This is an element of of competition as well. And then what you see is a third area for for China. Is this this export of this? This is technologically enabled orwellian surveillance state and internal too to China, you see really campaign of cultural genocide in January the repression of freedom in it in Hong Kong, but the sis is being is being exploited places you with Zimbabwe's a great example, too great sort of poster child of a country where hey this is what happened It's what you entering into this kind of our relationship with China what would argue in in a book a richer. We are really two main approaches to this. This. This complex challenge, one, is what what what
to reintroduce range of competition and to defend against these various forms of sophisticated aggression. But then also is it to make ourselves stronger. Writer to strengthen what China perceives as our weakness turn those what what they perceive as witnesses industry? What does it I d come his party fear they fear freedom of speech. They fear information into their the population. That is not that they go beyond the information in the end that you're the propaganda that they feed, they feed their population So, let's get better at that ourselves this that we have certainly in our society, authoritative sources of information, but then also, maybe we do our best to penetrate. The great fire wall to get different, different information it too, to the to the chinese people. And another in other. Another way to make ourselves stronger, is through your isp promotion of rule of law supporting those who are looking for democratic reform in other continents. Right, I mean it.
What the Chinese got forty years more than that The thing is that the trial, People might demand one day to have a say in how their government and so I think it is important for us to. The tit also taught me size. You know what we are about the the principles that we lay out that the commission intends in our constitution, but also laid out and in the end you when you first The declaration of universal human rights as well, so I have that a friend who is involved in some Chinese he is, is a former republican politician and some, U S, China, commissioner, something goes over, their allied has conversations and that the last time I saw him he had just come back from us.
It is five years now there taken Taiwan they're. Just there is taken it. You know, and we should get used to it, and I have had an another friend very involved and think about strategy, and what not you you were generally supports. The approach of of recognising China is better but says, look we're we're fooling ourselves that this really very well could lead to military conflict that were not prepared for, and we need to be shifting our military spending and are our military resources to focus on on addressing what could be the serious conflict with China down the line. What what do you want to make those two points. What is I think, a great way to reconcile them is to recognise that we have to we have to deter the aggression of China. Come export. Nobody wants a conflict right in the best way to, I think, to prevent conflict. It is to go back to Thomas shelling in the in the night
in view of that, I team, Sixtys and Seventys existed by denial to convince the party to convince the p. Liberation Army, they cannot accomplish their objectives through the use of force. So these are the Taiwan which I agree- and I are right about this about- It is probably it is that it is the most dangerous flashpoints they could be to a war with with China. And I think with the ministration, is done in recent months. You know making public the six shorts in Taiwan, the arms sales to Taiwan, in particular, is very important. Taiwan ought to make itself is, as it is said in the past indigestible Right but by force and and that involves building up there there, their military capabilities that to make it clear to the peoples of irish army. They couldn't accomplished objectives, an acceptable cost, but it also China is engaged with, with with it, with a whole range of pernicious forms of it, action in in Taiwan as well. I try- Collado leads. You try to create a dependence,
he's the economic dependency is that they produce the will of the taiwanese people, of course, but how many people have been subjected to reverse dessicated? Your power again a campaign or over sustained period, but what we is is is a very strong rejection of that throwing the elections in Taiwan at the beginning of this year. So so present size been birch, she'd been very strong and the people have learned? I think the townspeople have learned from experience of how car writers, and so I think that the will of the Taiwanese People is stronger. I think that was our to Taiwan, are extremely important, but then U S military capabilities across the Indo Pacific region is very important for us to have four position forces there, which trying to try to do militarily, which- and this is this will crisp rose- writes about in large it in his book. The killed chain recently
is that they try to create these certain exclusionary areas of primacy diplomatic in economically, but militarily as well, and in trying pushed the United States essentially out of out of the Pacific region, but Ford position people go? U S forces turn this. With which I would like that to TAT is denied space automatic, They turned it into contested space right and so shall I think that, yeah? I think that that all of these aspects of the competition military competition, diplomatic, economic, are immensely important, because if we have tried to succeeds. The world will be We will be less safe, less prosperous it unless free. So
Let's turn to Iraq and Afghanistan. You had a big big grow in both you're. Quite tough, on are misunderstandings, to put it mildly, a prior to two going going into Iraq to describe those. What what? What did we get? What should we have been thinking? I did that we didn't at the outset, for which I am emission this, this orthodoxy, the revolution military affairs, Refuge war, was gonna, be fast, cheap, efficient ways to stand off range and some people call this kind of the Rumsfeld approach of the light footprint approach and we thanks for what it would take to consolidate gains. We had very successful initial military campaigns both in Afghanistan and in what two months after nine eleven waited tell. Strolled out of Kabul and an industry of Kabul really mainly with with
with the afghan militias empowered by extremely capable courageous you, a special operations forces intelligence officers at the end he power right so, but but that was insufficient to consolidate gains and get to a sustainable political. How come because we relied so much on these militias militias essentially captured the nascent afghan state after the Taliban were drip were driven out, and so we we neglected the activities, the ashes, the efforts to consult. They gave not that deterred Afghanistan into Denmark, you hope, or just to make Afghanistan a viable. Afghanistan again, and so, with your, we neglected that the consolidation of gains in both places We took our. I just call. Maybe the George could stands at approached war and think that way just leave on a high note and this short war mentality led to complications
actually lengthening complicated, though, that the wars in both places rich. In many ways we could have made it harder for herself a meteorite Afghanistan can be hard Eddie, right or posted on Iraq is gonna be difficult, but we made it just about for the we could have with mister did use that work that were behind behind the evolution those conflicts Until we made some adjustments surgeon, Iraq is a great example. That's what I hear met you when you- and I beg your davis- ask your workers in Europe. Baghdad in meeting some of my friends and colleagues, and talking about the evolution of that conflict up. But I think that that would be a bit In that light, those adjustments prematurely. So just I'm just have just what you wanted of rack interact. After the other assures the reinforced reinforced Everett rack, which was much more than a reinforced military effort an effort to align all of our activities to
medical strategy, a political strategy to end the sectarian civil war as the first step in removing sources of support a fort for both your Al Qaeda in Iraq, as well as as this shit islamic militia, that were largely sponsored and and and and directed by the IRAN, is an end at succeeded. I made it deserves succeeded. But we will we disengage We had a very small number of troops there in December to that eleven, when Vice President Biden travels to Baghdad. Calls President Obama from Baghdad, as is thank you for allowing me to end this goddamn war? I'm just think about that The assumption is that wars and when one side, engages now. Sadly, happened, is the rise of basis by twenty fourteen ISIS in control. Here too, the size of Britain, a shoe at hearing catastrophe, the greatest refugee crisis since the Us-
the end of world war two and at a real threat to us. Because this was an area in the tigris and river valleys that ISIS was using the plan, prepare and ended up. Less acute attacks against us, just like the Taliban did give me safe haven to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan prior to September, eleven two thousand and one sadly we're replicating. I think that same mistake in Afghanistan today in believing that a war will end when we disengage- and it's not going to tell us on the right special and populist right. That stands theories call it jokingly, is increasingly popular and the thought as well. If, if we're gonna do this, why would save ourselves a bunch of grief knock over the bad guys and leave and a specialist card to rack? Maybe not not too tall what what is here
How do you think about that point? Well, this is what some people are calling now you do the real school, but I think it's it's early unrealistic and is basically an ideological arguments for disengagement as and it of itself And you, I understand the frustration with long indecisive wars, costly wars, in Afghanistan and in Iraq and in white appeals YO to those who are sceptical about the wars him in, but but I what I see, as is often times they circle, straw, man, ridge of aid. We were trying to impose jeffersonian democracy were trying to build countries in our own image, and, of course, the term nation building has become a term of derision, but what I trying to do is distinguish between that package. Straw? Man, fundamental need to consolidate gains, we had to do that across our history of upper. My friend, Conrad Crane is greatest great, a story and you,
It is in this. Among us they called avoiding Vietnam essentially makes the point never been able to know Do it again, and so I think what happens is what were perpetually set off for difficulties, because we don't acknowledge I that the lessons that we even most recently and
We are, we continue to deny the need to consolidate gas. So as commissioner, as if their trip with with you and then went, nuts subs got one. The relatively brief trips in and not not particularly harrowing, were better training Butscha one thing just just struck me and this this is when the surge was a turn things around is that, even though we had great success pacifying the country, the the Prime Minister's time molecule correct, we basically do is like really tied in to IRAN and they're. Just just limits to how much we could control doesn't know.
Lastly, important political peace. So how should we think think about that? The visa for you, you're out you're, actually read about actually read about that, and so. Biology your mom, he was, was securing in his view right. He was. He was the head of a wing of the dollar area, a party that designed to run kind of when activities again the dawn and and he'd be tested see you at a pseudo, not behind every tree among the Sunni Community and Anne was interesting and important. To understand. I think about disengagement, Twenty eleven that wasn't the military disengagement that was also diplomatic, disengage and I remember a conversation I had with senior person at the embassy. Around their time and a city. What are you doing about this? sectarian publicly symbolic, is putting back in place because really were a path,
more trying to warn him that that is the can again beleaguered they will consider terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda or really Al Qaeda to point out which was ISIS as patrons and protectors and view them as pages of protectors, because, ok, would that the only way they can avoid the duration is it is by is by inviting these groups in and supporting these terrorist organisation and any Ezra. God has woken up. That's that's the Iraqis problem now and that even Brill Recognising that there we were in a competition for influence over the policies and actions the nature and in many ways of the of the iraqi government seated background to the right is that I think would happen. Next was predictable.
I mean it was set up. The ISIS for assisting come out of nowhere right ISIS gained strength based on on a return of of large scale, sectarian violence first in Iraq, so that eggs from one NATO is just
Much control. Can we ever have over that? You know we can. We can send our guys into a town liberated from Al Qaeda and Iraq liberated from the sheer bushes, how the people in the town basically jumping for joy, that we ve come in and done that you're. Throwing candy to add at our troops want one inside it had on why these trips is, we want someplace were kids were, were running, try, Candy Addison, it might have been your friend a topic to reverse it s, not a good sign. You know that that means have been really bad just got better, but we can do, but just I'm just wondering how much control we have over that the high end, a political peace and in a foreign country and a foreign culture, but we do not control, but we have yet to receive. Information would describe what to describe and battleground that in the last chapter I miss you bite described it
lessons I brought with me from Vietnam and how I try to put a process in place within the National Security Council to ensure that we'd we didn't media experience. Does the same pitfalls in and and one of those what one of those procedures we put it. Ways essentially is we look at these complex challenges is crucial challenges, our security and our prosperity. We first engaged in what we call it puts the small group framing session during which we tried to understand these challenges, their own terms, view them through the lens of our vital interests, answer that so so what question? What? Why do we care what's estate for us and then craft? Overall? goals and more specific objectives. But your point, which is what we did Ok, we need. We need some some assertions assault. Especially concerning the degree to which we have in force or over this complex challenge
and we being not just the United States but also like minded partners- and this is an important aspect. Policy development, strategy vote, there is often times skipped in Washington right and so shall I think that put us in good stead. Member what I can to be able to solve the problem you have so to speak in Iraq and Syria. But we can take action to prevent it from getting worse and two and to give us influence it in a working toward over time, a political outcome, this consistent with our vital interests there. This is the case I would say in Eastern Syria, where it was, the other forces, were working with the syrian defence forces, your wars and kurdish forces associated with it. With you, the Waikiki wreck, a kurdish, separate organization, much bearded, hated by Pressure, unwanted and the Turks because their ties to a terrorist organisation called the Piquet.
That's a problematic ally for us in connection with your weight with her. They are regarded by the Turks, but it, but you if we work hard to you to try to change the dynamics of those security forces o overtime and we were able to it was indirectly the control that territory. What do we get out? Will we get some political leverage because that just happens to be were about sixty seventy percent, cheers. Oil reserves are in those reserves, Russia wants that ran, wants control over the side, wants control of the rebel The country they all just destroyed right, and so, if they ignore, deny those resources that gives you political leverage, it also helps disrupt. You're, the so called iranian Land Bridge to the Mediterranean. The idea that a rat would hope to you to place a proxy army on the border of Israel. So so you didn't that's, not a solution to approve
a bright put it, but it is it is it is it? Is it an aspect that the serious strategy that that gives us leverage and prevents the situation for worsen. And the New York evaluate the numbers are troops. There were three hundred irish three hundred grand. I believe these are the visa These are our levels of commitment They are below
store grand words in post conflict situations of where the debate, as least on on the right. I understand the frustration of clinical forever wars, but were down to a level of troop commitment in its places, its really low. So so we have some people who the intensity of their opposition to are our continued engagement would mean would make more sense if you're still a hundred fifty thousand troops in these places were reduced was not anymore. I wanted a pivot answered. Ask you some bigger, quick, but perhaps completely unanswerable, questions broader gauge about about american history and american military history.
I haven't done justice to the book at one should pick it up battle grounds, but let me get drawn on some some other things did. Do you think, just as general matter, broadest possible gauge the United States, national security history throughout history. Necessary policy throughout history has has served a country well. Yes. Well, I think it. But the overall record is: it: is mixed bridge rape, so what we tend to have, as we have ten, we tend to have periods during which we adopt unwise policies, unwise approaches and then sadly, we wake up to those once there is a crisis right. So By this I mean, if you just go through various Those were his really just the post cold war period there, you? You see, really America becoming engaged in the world and the eighteen. Ninety eight right within the spanish American WAR
and ended in a belief during that period of time that that America does have introduced a broad based on your that, the growth of the? U S, economy and the growth of? U S, interests. They came with the result of that war. You then have engaged in what is a protracted cup in the Philippines. Your four, for example, for the for the first time with America, The broad like that, and you have about war weariness associated with at a but but you have you a garrison essentially in the Pacific On on on the Philippines witch which is it is. I is one of the targets of the EU. Japan about were but but on your I think you have American. I think that the targets the timeframe to look at his eighteen, ninety eight on and what we today, I think, is not unprecedented. We have a beer a lot of gauss really about the degree to which the EU should be engaged.
Which is in many ways you could say this is a little bit like the put the pre war one period, as more Macmillan has written about in a. I think, you and when I say called the rhyme of history that she's done cover bit of over prize on in the kid in the current foreign affairs, the first us in foreign affairs I would read anything Margaret Macmillan rights that were forthcoming books in the excellent as well. Ever been allowed. Parallels mated nineteen thirty shredded having to do with the other party, Our financial question, two thousand eight we have adopted recession. Now we also have grave doubts about it of America's role on in the world of any desire to disengage from complex competitions overseas Oh yeah, I think he's analogies are helpful in that, at least they alert us to the fact that at times we base our foreign policy our national strategies for assumptions about about the world and what is at stake- and we tend to oppose these really fast.
Of of either black full engagement in your nation building and making war on our image. What you know what, with some of these being the Visa rector's of trenchant, we might Kafka Ideological school of view that call cells. Real is required. Liberal hegemony is what were pursuing its astronomy That's not true right, but as it is, It's either that either liberal hegemony or disengagement and cut it. A new form of isolation is and so I know what I'm argue for it in the book is: have a something between abacha, just a rational, standing of these complex. On their own terms, recognising was at stake and then, and then working with you know, with with partners, the two Yoda to shift the balance in favour of the free world, so in your view, who is the best general and your sister? Ok, I'm an actor I will give you gonna. Give you three. That's ok right. I saw
May I ask you, for the second best was that if you answered the best I can get. Ok take a road George Washington right I mean I mean, look at look away. He had to deal with them in you. I think you do just a phenomenal leader, and it has tremendous vision, as as soldiers general is as an estate. I, to George Washington, I put a bright up right up there, then I would say your grant it. I think I think, are granted As we had been underrated, I think now you know what she knew biographies out. And a resurrections memoirs, China and India You met her on the history channel. I think America's realising that the tremendous talent and then how unlikely that story has also been you would emerge. Regrettably, Isaac at your breakfast said the tremendous liquor again. In answer to bring up tomorrow. Maybe I'll give you a more baby. It George
Marshall here George Martians because of his example of professionalism, Great Old S, name by my one of my own advisers who wishes to phenomena historian dont Higginbotham, who wrote a great book called the wharf american independence but he also has a collection of us is called Washington, in the american military tradition in that some is. Yes, an essay comparing Washington and Martial, it's just a brilliant sinister, a brilliant say about two great leaders and then coming to maybe them the more recent history I think created your create neighbors. You know what I was doing. Research on Vietnam, I was. I was going to a lot of the world history, no sorely s great book. I am unable to cough up because thunderbolt a biography but I was retailers histories and there was a really vibrant rural history programme, whose Vietnam is your army was it was in his introspective period, king it. How do we improve our professionalism? How do we get factor renaissance in the army, assault
all these leaders were interviewed and what are the standard question from the war college. Students were doing. These interviews was what what generals in history in history you know. Did you admire the MOSS and many of those contemporaries of aims, or maybe just slightly junior to him, create neighbours should also use somebody who inspired respect did it at all levels. In all year, his car back in world war? Were, and then he was he was that it was a very competent, more time commander who integrated over tried it to achieve politically, with his military efforts and development of the vietnamese forces in Vienna. I'm having their many others. I mean a technical committee in Combat earnest Harmon. There were two. I would put him right at the top of that that list for out for general ulcers but I could go on also stop. There, though, creates battles in american history greatest battle. In american history GOSH
I think, the different categories right. Ok, so, let's go back. Let's go back the revolutionary war about trend in prison. I mean I'd: stick. I think we're great commander agree, commander. She's opportunity were others. She only difficulties right and an that's. What Washington Data Transfer Princeton I think I even more than Saratoga, which was a big turning point in the war. I think that was it that that was it. That was a deterrent point, maybe in a revolutionary war I would say that there was no storm. Absolute. Absolutely absolutely, I think, are in this house could strike you. As is odd. You know, but you know, could grant you know, grant at Richmond right that which was YO he's been. You he's been criticized Rikers, it was so bloody, but you, The clause which said the military genius has three components, intellect courage and determination and what were granted-
with that that, through series of envelopment, simply continue you're just to to push hard on all the other confer should bring the warden conclusion. It was just. It was kind of the critic. Raw was the end of the vision that put in place when he took over the army. If you read rats instead, actions to the army's that began. I campaign, I think it's one of the clearest examples of of clear clear in your committee. Vision of an and then in terms of just tremendous surprise is overwhelming tactical victories. Your Mccarthy's flawed right. Will you gotta go into one in short- and this is Another example right enough example of sir? The other leadership and opportunity were other, saw, only difficulties right in and you think I could go on about this, but but about different battles in an end and what made them, I think words of study.
But there are more the study because he was a circle. Howard tells us where we have to study war it with depth in any context, and by studying it down, and battles in particular We seek to tidy outlines of history to dissolve, and you see the real deal contingency it in. How bad the interaction of the psychological, the human dimension of war, with which on Keegan, writes about in the conclusion of face a battle right where he says that it is that the more it is human right worries War is the story in large measure of men and women now, of course, are trying to I can see how their instinct were self preservation. Achieving some aim over which other you're, trying to kill that right that paragraph fish battles, just absolutely brilliant at that that gets do. Are we just got about four minutes left and right, pushing here with you, but I have to ask questions, but both both big but
they'll, be mindful that that you need to run to your exact. So I fear that that quoth he just cited does that humans instinct. I a huge humanistic self preservation, we're talking earlier about fear and grant realizing the other side's afraid to how did Adam men and women deal with it just when they, as he said in a civil war when when they see the elephant and edge it me another. It's made something I've never woke will reach. You know, I think I think it is incumbent on military leaders to steal. De L. Their units against fear, fear, is debilitating in battle and combat. Because of these two hesitation, hesitation in combat can can lead turn it to an opportunity for your enemy and the loss of your soldiers. The other. The other aspect of fear is, you can lead to pour decision making for decision.
They can not only make units vulnerable but can also place since civilians it sweetheart innocent civilians. In and led source to forget the importance of a below the LAW of war, really your theory of just or restrictions in the unfortunate in connection with discrimination and proportionality, and so the waited to two to the princess ahead How do you steal? Your unit is with Comcast year confidence. Confidence is the bulwark against sphere, and you, with accomplice, comes from. It comes from coffin in their own abilities soldiers are willing to fight the usual weapons under all conditions, a battle, but it comes also confidence in them. Meters in their leaders and combat power in our army comes from sir just leading soldiers and maintain its leading cartoons? So the facing imposition of the right leaders, is the most important thing a commander can do.
Because, ultimately, confidence comes from the team, a team that, confidence in how they can fight together, how they can they can respond immediately together at a very difficult situation in battle, and so that confidence comes from from building those bonds of of common purpose and mutual respect, and really love with in an organization, because you know What psychologists tell us is the opposite of of of beer is love. And what would your bound together as an organization. It creates this this bulwark against fear and, of course, that conference also comes from tough realist. Training right, I mean a good Yunus good units fail and training he pushed the limits of their capabilities and and this is the experts and I've had it in combat with units used to have have have thought it all with with distinction encourage. These units were confident
We were confident in our sitting in each other and our ability to fight together as a team seltzer to last question just about the the american projects in general. Enough lot lot of division of Senate than American. Our challenges you said set them out your book or even after Mr Pessimist, I'm enough Most right. I think it might get worse before it gets better, because if you know what we see on the horizon here you how we're at each other's throats your how we we are increasingly polarized. Along new issues of race and inequality of opportunity in and over, over hot button political issues in and how we see. Now this interaction rich between you know between identity, politics, him and bigotry and racism in and how and how the social media and the algorithms associated with it, and the average of the companies that have voiced this on us
Driving is apart right with more and more extreme content how we get up, formation, depending on where your political leanings are from one particular work and how Americans are not really grounded in really. A common understanding of of the challenges we face, because what getting is an ideological perspective from here from a particular cable news out I'm worried about all this were being driven further and further, apart from each other moments to come together, and this is one of the main innovations and running the kind of book that I wrote, I mean I want people across the political spectrum read this in our civil, respectful, meaningful questions about about the challenges we face. We have two all work together. I think to create the right then used to bring the bring people together for discussion is that there are longer than you. Two hundred and forty ready characters, or whatever on twitter and ended This article is immensely important for all of us to get behind this effort to what I would refer to in about a grounds
a restoration of not only our strategic competence, but our confidence, our confidence in who we are ass, people and our confidence in democratic principles and institutions and processed he's right. It should be. It should be possible to recognise the nobility of our experiment in democracy, in our republic vote acknowledging the flaws right I mean we should we should acknowledge, certainly the great blight on our ray of slavery and how it took us. You also hundred you To reconcile that profound contradiction with with the cut our constant you, but that also to celebrate. He met a patient of four million Americans in our most destructive war in history. But then again, of course, to acknowledge the rise of a Jim Crow on the coup cuts, clan and inseparable equal and then and then the triumph, though of the of the civil rights movement in the dismantlement, at least of the digital era, aspects of separately, going and Jim Crow and then didn't
recognize it still. Work in progress is still work in progress. I think we should be able to acknowledge that we should be acknowledged, ignores the great promise, and nobility of America, but also recognize that that our journey it to improve and strengthen our republic is far from over. Ok, that's it for us. In this
to a national view, podcast and you re broadcast retransmission cow this game. Without the express written permission of National View magazine strictly prohibited this park ass, it have produced by the incomparable Sarah, should he who makes a sound better than we deserve. Thank you, a charm master and thanks everyone for listening where the editors and will see you.
Transcript generated on 2020-09-27.