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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 11, 2014 4:30pm-6:31pm EST

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our relations as a country with china, with russia, with india, with the european union -- which is not a state yet and not in some cases not a state yet -- japan, brazil, if you want to add others, perhaps continental countries where the real sweep with strong economies or growing economies with real potential for the future, a potential to be rivals or partners. and our challenge, obviously, is in our foreign policy, whether we can work to make one and not the other be the outcome of that relationship. it's not all diplomacy, but diplomacy has a lot to do with it and, in fact, can help in an important way. china is slowing down in its economic advancement. that should please some. it certainly isn't pleasing to the chinese. china is shifting some of its economic focus from
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export-driven growth to domestic demand-driven growth, and we should be grateful for that. we're concerned about chinese expansionism as we're concerned about russian expansionism. new elements, perhaps, on the scene and how and in what way we deal with them. it's critical, in my view, that with major countries that are part of what now is a multipolar set of directions, if i can put it that way, from the major countries of the world, that we seek several things. that we seek to find those win/wins which can buttress a relationship and make sure that there are on both sides real investments in that relationship rather than major competition. for leadership. and that's significant. much of those relationships relates to personal relationships between leaders.
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when it sours, things don't go well. when the relationships get defined by negatives, as our relationship with russia has been defined, i think unfortunately on both sides from time to time, it takes on a kind of version in diplomacy of ankle kicking. but then it gets worse. and i can answer questions and talk further about some of those issues, but we have real opportunities with friends and partners. we have opportunities to use diplomacy to seek a better sense of where countries are going and where they would like to see themselves -- what they see as their role in a major world in which we are still looked to for leadership despite some of the declines. another set of questions intimately connected with the rivals and partners question because they all seem to play in it in one way or another is the issue of weapons of mass destruction. they've been around now for 60 or 70 years.
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we have had evidence of use. happily, not nuclear use in wartime since august of 1945, and that's a fire break that we should work hard to keep and perpetuate. we're concerned about proliferation. we talked a moment ago about iran and how and in what way they can provide a problem for us as they could. even worse, i think, in north korea. we have some capacity to contain, but the question of whether we can roll back a north korean program or not is a highly contentious one and a very difficult one. north korea exists on the edge of great uncertainty. the potential for serious instability and a potential, obviously, as we saw when the world began to wring its hands with the one month absence of kim jong un. that raises the specter of
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difficulty for us, and it won't be easy. i think that beyond that we owe it to four quite serious cold warriors, henry kissinger, schlesinger, perry and sam nunn. you know, we have to take a serious look at whether we can get rid of these things, and if so, how? a lot of people or were taken up short by that. there was a theory that in the world of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. if somebody develops in their back garage a nuclear weapon and threatens a denuclearized world with it, will that be the end all, be all of nature? happily, we see conventional force playing some role in that. happily, we see the potential for some serious interest in moving in that direction. and it will be a challenge, obviously, if we can make any
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progress there, but we've made progress in other fields as well. a third and important issue, or fourth and important issue for us is perhaps also connected with the larger players. it's 2008 and 2009. the cluster of questions that runs from basically the failure of our home mortgage system to report honestly on what it was that was being marketed as clusters of home mortgages all the way through to macroeconomic crisis, potential failures of major banks, in some cases the failures, major involvement by the governments in stabilizing the economies and propping them up, a real crisis in europe certainly, great potential for a country like greece more or less to drop out of the world economy for a while. and significant challenges in how and in what way we institutionalize a little better the operation of the world
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financial system and the world banking system, how we bring it in in a way that accords with some of the institutional attentions we have paid to trade and the regulation and, indeed, the international role played in evening up the trade picture, removing unfair practices and seeking new ways to move. we are now challenging the world with two major trade agreements, east and west. they can provide an important and, i think, very significant addition to multilateral trade arrangements which have fallen on hard times. they're an important complement to the many bilateral trade agreements we have around the world. we are recovering. the rest of the world is not doing as well, particularly in europe. it's important, obviously, for world stability that we continue to move ahead, and it's important that we not produce,
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once again, the kind of behavior in the united states which helped to unhinge a great deal more of the world's economies than we ever anticipated. the next question that i think is important for us, it's been around for a long time, is countries on the path of development and change. i call it poverty, growth and development. i look at food, water and health as major ways of dealing with the cluster of questions. i look at many issues that come out of this set of problems, not all economically determined, but in many cases they are. everything from failed and failing states to crime and narcotics to migration. again, to effects on trade. a whole series of intimately
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related issues that have to,(e
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>> we do need constantly i to think about how and in what way we deal with that part of the war -- world, whether it is for reasons of the best sort or self-interest reasons of the best sort. they're remarkably combined in what we see out there now. and i think that no one has had
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an entirely successful foreign aid program. and i suppose the opposite is also true. no foreign aid program has so colossally failed that it hasn't helped somebody. but we do need a to -- do need to think about it. we have jumped from pillar to post too often, in my view, from a focus on agriculture to a focus on health to a focus on education. when the reality is that most countries need all of the help in all of the regions in whatever way they can. we have struggled with the issue of good governance and how important that is to make progress in dealing with that issue and how we cannot produce that. that has to come from the state itself, from their own people. and leadership has been very differential, and we see across the board serious problems. but we have no opportunity to recreate the colonial world.
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that's gone. and in many ways, we have to operate in a situation where we have fully to respect not only leaders, but publics while at the same time seek to work with them to persuade them that their future can be better and that we're in a position to help. i just talked some time ago about energy, the environment and climate change. i won't say a lot about that. i do think that as we move ahead, climate change is a hugely befuddling and very challenging problem. it's one of the few problems now whose life span is a great deal longer than ours. and, therefore, those who are comfortable and have reached advanced age but are still in charge of decision making feel less imperative and less immoretive about venturing -- imperative about venturing large
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amounts of money to deal with something that they find very hard to detect. but we are seeing this gradually, year by year, increasingly bringing difficult news to us. the best scientists tell us that, indeed, it's a real phenomenon, and we have now seen significant disappearance of traditionally iced-over areas. the argument is, of course, that normal variations in climate are producing this, none of it is manmade. those particular challenges are real. i believe, in fact, now it has gone on so far and so fast that we have to look at the manmade possibilities, and we have to deal with it. and i suppose you can sea for those of -- say for those of us who have children and grandchildren and beyond, we ought to look at it from their perspective as much as our own, and i hope we do.
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but it is a very difficult problem. we have done a pretty good job in part because we learned how to get gas out of shale. in moving away from putting excessive amount of carbon in the atmosphere, but we are a long way from being there, and that challenge will remain. and let me wind up now very briefly, as i've already overstayed my time, i'm sure, much too much. one other question: our government is not well prepared, in my view, or organized to deal with the problems of the 21st century. and that was before we saw the standoff at the o.k. corral which takes place on a daily basis on capitol hill. i think it is significant that we need to move in the direction, particularly in the executive branch, of how we can deal with problems worldwide and domestic on a much stronger whole-of-government basis.
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we are still too stove piped. we're still, in many ways, two separated in our ability to bring the full concentration of the government across a broad spectrum to deal with issues as they come up. mobilization times are slow, our military have shown the way in being able to put the three -- or the four services together to be able to deal with their problems, but they're showing -- their showing the way has now opened the door for the civilian side of the government to move that way. and finally, internationally our institutions, we have many, maybe many too many, they are all spread out. some of them lack what i would call the commitment to deal with the problem. other areas, i think, lack better institutions. i mentioned banking and finance a while ago. and so there are even if we are able to get our domestic government in shape significant challenges out there in the
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world whether it is at the united nations or at nato or all the other institutions that are out there. i won't dwell at length on that. you've been kind to listen to me for so long, and let me now open the floor to your questions. [applause] >> all right. >> do you want to start? >> i will start here by saying we have til, um, a little after, ten after eight, so we've got -- >> we can go to 8:15. >> okay. we'll go to 8:15. so we have some 20 minutes for questions. really in the interest of getting as much student participation as possible, i will, i'll forgo the first question, and let's just go right to the audience -- >> why don't you pick, because i can't see. >> all right. right here. >> so -- >> can you wait for the microphone? it's coming to you.
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>> thank you. um, so at this point in time the united states is probably like the largest superpower in the world, but at the same time we're living in an increasingly multipolar world. but there are a lot of other countries or blocs like the e.u. that have significant power, so how do you foresee ideally the united states playing into all these problems that you've touched on? like, should we be leading the charge on all of them? should we purposely be stepping back and trying to get other countries to take the primary responsibility for a lot of them? how do you see that playing out? >> i think it's a great question, and i think that there are a couple of ideas here. i think we consulted more with our friends during the cold war than we have since. that's my experience. we learned a lot. and our leadership was very effective because they played a role -- even though they were going to follow us -- in supporting the direction in which we chose to go which was
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often in many ways informed by their ideas. so i think participatory, consul thattive ways of -- consultative ways of proceeding even with people we're estranged from are very needed. russia, for all our problems with ukraine, is still playing a positive role in the iranian negotiations and seems to be continuing. if anything, maybe more positive. why? i don't know yet, except that i guess they don't want iran with a nuclear weapon either. i think that i also mentioned that with many of these countries and with many of these problems, we have common interests. we don't want the world run by islamic fundamentalists. we don't want people with nuclear weapons all over the place. there are things that we can do to strengthen the international financial system if we're prepared each to ante up. and in many ways, one of the
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great tricks of leadership is getting everybody to believe that your best idea was really their best idea. and so i think that's where we should be in the diplomacy. i think that the notion -- final point -- that we were a unilateral superpower, if you define it as we could do anything we wanted when we were in that state without the help of anyone else, i don't think that ever existed. and we never operated that way. we may have operated pretty preemptorly at some times, and that was a mistake, but i don't think we operate toed in a way that totally -- operated in a way that totally disregarded everybody else and just went out hell for leather doing what we wanted. >> okay. please here. yes. don't turn around, you're the one. [laughter] you've got the dot. >> in your talk you mentioned
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some of the challenges facing global institutions today, specifically i wanted to know -- and this has been discussed a lot -- whether or not there has to be or should be structural reform to the united nations security council. and specifically, is it time for the world to consider elimination of the veto power? >> well, i'm glad you asked that question, because i was lunatic enough when i was the u.s. representative to the u.n. without asking washington to give a speech every once in a while to say we should really take another look at the veto power. it wasn't working in our interest. [laughter] happily, nobody heard that, or if they did, they were kind enough not to to come down on my head. [laughter] look, i have thought for years that if you chalked up the veto power and those who exercised it, most of it was for ephemeral or rather silly reasons. china exercised a veto in
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guatemala case over taiwan, something silly. we did often in the middle east, i think, when we really didn't need to. but it was an easy way out. i also think that a proposal which said let's take genocide and let's make that a particular case for reform, and while there are disputes about it, we pretty much can define it. it's easier to define than terrorism. and let's say now, and i thought there was a time when we could convince the five permanent members. not now. but let's say there is a time when you could convince the five permanent members unless three of them said they were prepared to vote against a draft, that we -- they would all agree to abstain or vote in favor. and that would do several things. that would crystallize the negotiations on a draft, and it
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would give us a better chance to get a tougher draft on genocide questions which, in my view, is very important. i think you could take out of the mix right away things that states as they, as a clause in the nuclear test ban treaty that if it's in your vital interest to go back to testing, you have an out. but i would, you know, limit that as much as you possibly could. but i think moving it away from those kinds of things would be important for us. i think you could maybe extend it to non-proliferation and maybe to state-to-state aggression over international boundaries. and that's a way forward. it may not be the only way forward. another structural change is, obviously, to put states on as permanent members who, in fact, are now very large, prepared to play a major role on the world scene. i won't say are nuclear powers because if it happens by circumstance that all five
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permanent members are nuclear powers, but i don't want to make a hurdle somebody has to jump through to become a permanent member. it's time then to cut down the veto. it's a perfect opportunity so that it isn't overused. i think it would help transform the security council a great deal if there were constructive thought given to that. do i think there's a chance in hell that will happen? no. [laughter] >> all right. let's move over to this side for a question. yes. please. >> so regarding the arab spring, how effective do you think it has been given that egypt had a horrible experience after only a year, libya is essentially a failed state and syria is still in the midst of a civil war? >> and iraq isn't doing so good, and yemen is a mess. >> and isis is on the rise.
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>> other than that, everything's okay. [laughter] it seems like the monarchies have escaped pretty well, although in some ways i think they paid their way, if i could put it that way. and made sure that their people got advantages consistent with the kind of autocratic rule that they have. and maybe are beginning to think that they have to open up. do i think the arab spring was a howling success? no. do i think it brought about changes that in one way or another were engendered by popular opposition? yes. did popular opposition channel itself into the right course in one way or another or could we help it? probably we couldn't help it much. and probably in one way or another significant forces that were at work in the country were more significant than the people who opened the door to tahrir
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square, unfortunately. will it change again? i don't know. i think president sisi has to know that he's not being judged against the mubarak standard. he's not also being judged against the hover -- morsi standard. he's being judged against a slightly more liberal standard than we saw before. but will that, in effect, engender change? will the military in egypt give up power? will we see something moving on to political parties and political competition in the near future? many i'm afraid not. i wish i could see it, but i don't think it's going to happen. >> okay. >> i think tunisia's a happy example, but even tunisia's got problems. [laughter] >> okay. i'm still looking to this side for a question. yes, all the way in the back. >> touching back on russia and the potential energy crisis with
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russia and the e.u., there's the idea floating around that the wants to export more oil and natural gas to the european union in the next few years to maybe counteract russia's share in energy there. is this going to be plausible in the next few years? is this something that's going to be more effective than the current sanctions than we have, or should we be looking at something more multilateral outside of the u.n., obviously? >> yeah, another great series of questions, because everybody's wrestling with this issue now. i would say the following: i think that one of the effects that we would feel at home if we began to export gas -- and i'll talk about why that's hard -- is that european gas prices are three times ours. so once the marginal british thermal unit of gas begins to go at higher prices, i suspect it's going to drive up domestic
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prices. that'll push inflation, that will not give us the advantages we have now of cheap energy, protected in some ways by our failure to export. to export gas, we have to build expensive liquified natural gas compression and freezing facilities two, three, four years at least to get them underway. one of the things we can do, i suppose -- and we are doing -- is take less of the world's gas, although we're heavily reliant on canada and mexico, can maybe less of the world's liquids. and so, in fact, we push that surplus in the direction of people who need it. my own feeling is that the most effective sanctions on mr. putin in the long run will be to take advantage of his strategic error of not using his oil income over the last 15 years to diversify
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and strengthen russia's economy outside the area of hydrocarbons. and so he's very vulnerable to market changes. interestingly enough, the present drop in the price of oil has an effect on russia. the general feeling is russia has balanced its budget at about $100 oil, and it's now down at 80. so that's having an effect. i think also russia's political fast and loose activities have had a serious effect on the russian economy, more than i think any of us expected to see at this stage. a serious increase in capital flight, many billions of dollars have left. almost no foreign direct investment. a ruble exchange rate against the dollar that's gone 10% against the ruble. almost no growth in the russian economy. oil price is down, so income is
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down. they may well account for at least mr. putin's temporary paying attention to the minsk agreement of early september over how to deal with the problem in ukraine. not beautifully, not perfectly, not without exception, but some of that's happening. if we could get the europeans who are now between 40 and 50% dependent on russian hydrocarbons weaned off that, that would in many ways give them the opportunity to say to the russians our rauf take so -- off take so low from you, we can temporarily suspend that or find other sources. to do that, we have to find other sources for the europeans. happily, as i said earlier, iraqi oil is undies turned, and it's been growing. it's gone from a million barrels a day to almost three and a half or can get there.
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that if we have an agreement with iran, iran can get up to three million barrels a day. it's down to a million barrels because of sanctions. that could fill back some of the losses. it is also clear that in other places in the world they are beginning to look at exploitation of shale. not all of it as good as ours, but not all of it totally unproductive. and so that will begin to change some of the oil availability that we can see. and so maybe we can convince the europeans -- germany has to lead, germany so far is not ready to move. germany is getting rid of its nuclear, although that's a not until 2021 or 2022, so we have some chance at least with germany to bridge the gap. but i think there are all of these kinds of things plus new technologies. interestingly enough, solar is coming down in price, and we seem to be doing better. wind has been less productive,
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although it's been expanded in many places in this country, in europe. china has perhaps one of the greatest wind farm production capacities of anybody even if, in fact, it's not a particularly big piece of china's production. ..
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three intensive months of bringing it together pushing on resolutions for sanctions for increase inning with tightening this drain zone saddam hussein. didn't produce the gold who want a better produced a coalition had enough of the basis that even the members of the democratic party voted enough to support u.s. military involvement which in itself to produce a result in large measure because we had a limited political goal in mind and stuck to it. >> this will have to be our last question and please.
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>> thank you very much. tying off of russia and china you mentioned the problems with many of these relations being helped and we talked about solutions regarding sanctions and pressures that you mention what kind of positive aspects can we utilize to improve our situation with these characters? whose importance clearly isn't going to diminish anytime soon. >> i think that for people who are particularly hard to deal with then we have to turn to leverage. and clearly what leverage we have has to be articulated and operated in ways that are effective. sanctions if broadly applied, have the disadvantage of punishing the populations for the sins of the leader. i used to say back when we were dealing with saddam hussein that
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he owns the last chicken sandwich in iraq, but he makes all the decisions. on the other hand targeted sanctions have some interest in possibilities. it is also true that over the years the u.s. treasury was loath to impose financial sanctions because they thought it would destroy the world banking system. so far that hasn't happened. they have been among the most effective in iran because in effect they say to the international banking system, if you want to do business in iran you won't do business in the united states. it's a pretty harsh judgment but it means in fx that we dry up the country's ability to trade, the country's ability to export in-somethings which is very important and bad in itself itself is a pretty zirconia an and -- for cownie and sanction
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and has a lot of effective one of the drivers and iranian interests in early agreement on the nuclear question is that because president rouhani wants to be able to demonstrate to this population that he can change the economic equation as well as bring iran back into the world community. so that does have some effect. threats of war play a role. inducement sometimes. we seem to always be more interested in spending trillions of dollars in war rather than billions of dollars may be to buy up somebody. that's not a very happy circumstance but in some cases it works. in some cases we have found financial solutions, international problems. some big, some small. i have a great pleasure going to china to explain why we bombed their embassy in how we did it in belgrade but the end result was that each side compensated the other because there was a lot of damage done to our buildings in china as a result
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of chinese encouragement of popular, put it this way, demonstrations. so each of us paid for the damage that was done to the other hand that's a way of settling international disputes. going to court is not a bad idea and many countries have settled boundary disputes that way. courts have been pretty good about it. they take into account the international legal regimes that apply to that better agreed by state and which states work under and that would make sense if in fact we could do so. big powers don't particularly like to do that. we did go to court with nicaragua. we lost. and we decided we would give up compulsory jurisdiction. i mind you not the right answer. >> well i hope you will join m me -- we certainly want to thank ambassador pickering and i hope you'll join me in thanking him not only for this evening but for his extraordinary career and
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his enormous contribution to this country. [applause] >> thank you, thank you.
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>> the 2014 midterms are over or just about over in most races anyway and we look ahead to the lame-duck session. we are joined by bay hill's rebecca shabad that covers congress for the hill. looking ahead to the 113th lame-duck session the headline you piece funding bill will wait until december. you write in that article that the timing would give lawmakers just a day or two to debate and vote. they have a deadline in december. what is that i'm what's going to be included in the sauna this bill? >> guest: that's right bill. they basically just have a day or two based on what i've been
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told by people at the house appropriations committee to pass an omnibus spending bill that would fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year which would be to the end of next september. the problem is that the spending bill that lawmakers approved in september expires in december 11 which is that week, and people only have just a few days to debate and vote on the bill. otherwise what could happen is lawmakers might choose to expand the continuing resolution that's currently in place for maybe a short period of time until until they passed the omnibus spending bill. >> host: this short-term extension -- extension sound like they have done that in the past. how much is in this though? is basically the levels they agree to the budget passed earlier this year and what other surprises me we see in that omnibus spending bill? >> guest: that's correct. the level that will be in the omnibus spending bill will be at the level set by the budget deal that paul ryan and patty murray reached last december so it will be around the $1.04 trillion
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mark but otherwise it's hard to tell exactly what's going to be new in this omnibus spending bill. obviously the white house sat for two separate funding requests that are pretty major. one is for the ebola fight in one is for the war on isis. those are the two funding requests that the administration sent to congress in the last week and lawmakers will obviously have to debate these requests and it's possible they could wind up in the omnibus spending bill. that's what the administration is hoping for but of course there could be republicans who oppose those requests. >> host: you tweeted about that administration request to $5.6 billion. you should treat this said democrats call for isis were voted the lame-duck so not only is there not much money but whether the president had voted to do this, correct? >> guest: president obama has
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said that he does have the authority to carry out these military operations in iraq and syria however he has said in the last week that he will seek an authorization to carry out these operations and in the middle east. the problem is that a lot of democrats do want this war authorization vote to happen in the lame-duck session since they do have control of the senate. however republicans want it to be pushed until next year when they have majority in the senate. i think that might be what winds up happening. the republicans might get their way here because they only have about 15 working days in session during the lame-duck session at the end of this year and i don't think they will be able to get much done besides a spending bill and maybe a few other things. i think something as large as an authorization bill would have to have more time for them to debate and vote on it. >> host: let's move onto the senate and the nomination of loretta lynch to replace eric
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holder's attorney general and the president making the announcement last weekend. interesting that hill and other organizations reporting about the possible delay in her nomination the headline in the hill says democrats are unlikely to ram through the obama attorney general pick. why would senate democratic leaders delay the consideration of her nomination and wait until a republican majority takes control of the senate? >> guest: i think democrats are not too concerned about her nomination. i think the white house put her forward as somewhat of a bipartisan choice. she has been confirmed twice before by the senate as u.s. attorney in new york so i don't think they will have to will have to hard time getting her through. even john mccain said earlier today that he thinks that she will get through a republican senate next year so i don't think democrats are too concerned. and again they don't have too many days to debate and vote on this sort of thing in the lame-duck session.
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>> host: last week senator mcconnell the incoming, likely in coming majority leader of the senate. what are his potential efforts in terms of repealing obamacare? >> guest: well he has said repeatedly that he does want to repeal obamacare. i wrote a story a few days ago about the number of conservative groups trying to push mcconnell in the next congress to repeal obamacare. he has kind of projected that he could use this tool called reconciliation to push it through which would only require 51 votes in the senate which he would have. however there are a number of legislative and procedural hurdles that he might face as far as getting the full repeal through. i think what would be much more likely that may be president obama would be willing to sign is maybe a repeal of the medical device packs, maybe something on the employer mandate, something that might get bipartisan attraction. >> host: both the house and senate republicans and democrats
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will hold leadership elections this week. what are the races we should keep an eye out for? >> guest: i think this will be too controversial. they are obviously holding, republicans are holding their leadership elections on thursday as her democrats in the senate. i think what we are really looking at is what's happening in the senate. obviously the two sides are going to flip. mcconnell is going to get the majority here. there are some races that are open that are not too controversial and as far as john boehner, i think he's going to get the speakership again. there might be a few key party republicans that might choose to put their name in the hat but i don't think you will have to hard of a time. it seems pretty clear that he will be the speaker again. >> host: it looks like his dad was strengthened by the results of the election. rebecca shabad covers congress for the hill. read more at the hill.com and also on twitter.
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rebecca shabad, thanks for the update. >> guest: thanks. now the politico holds an editorial series which features an interview with united service organizations president j.d. crouch and former iraq and afghanistan war commander general stanley mcchrystal. it's an hour, 20 minutes. [applause]
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>> hello everyone. how are you? welcome to this event this afternoon. it's a real privilege to post dr. j.d. crouch and susan glasser and later on stand mcchrystal and jim vanderhei for today's conversation. it's an extension of our innovative partnership with politico and it couldn't be a better day to do this. on the eve of veterans veterans day, a day that is set aside to honor those who are serving and those who have served this great nation. you know nobody really signs up in the military for the recognition. they stand up, they take the oath and they are going to jump in the something and be a part of something. they are going to make a difference and they are going to make contributions.
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it's not really any easier today for the drawdowns and the budget cuts and really a more diverse threat. if you take a look at this all volunteer military that we have is a smaller force than they are at a high operational tempo. i can tell you with certainty that those coming home today, it's a little more complex than it was when i made the transition a few years back. that's why i'm so proud to have that the bank of america with my good friend lewis to drive change and have that opportunity to support the men and women who serve. this company is fully committed to supporting those who are transitioning to civilian life. it's pretty neat to see and so what else is very valuable today is to be able to hear from a couple of very distinguished gentleman and listen to what they have to say and what shape their careers the way they
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became the superb leaders there today. if you are here with us today are listening in and you are a member of the military we want to thank you and we want to thank your families for your service and for your sacrifice. with that let me turn it over to susan glasser who will facilitate today's conversation. >> thank you very much. [applause] well hello to everyone. thank you so much for joining us today. i'm delighted to be joined by j.d. crouch who doesn't need very much introduction but suffice it to say not only is he the new head of uso but he brings an incredibly interesting array of experiences here in washington whether it's at the pentagon, at the white house in his new role in the private sector, imagine that. so you know i thought we would really just jump right in to the
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topic because on the one hand it seems somewhat crazy. we are doing a series about leadership in washington. sounds like a punchline on lately tv. so i thought we should really start without fault line that you have observed first-hand between political leadership or lack thereof and how difficult it is to lead in our political climate today. that military culture and how it was which is to say almost the definition of organizing very large groups of people to take action together. so you know is there an inherent conflict between our political and military leadership? >> you know i don't think so. i mean i think you know, churchill said once at the summit politics and strategy are one, which is to say that you
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know whether you are a military leader or a political leader you really have to focus on what are the important things that face either country or company or whatever does and to focus on those things in a laser-like way. everyone is expecting you to do that. you have to be able to communicate to people and that means not just talking to them but getting their buy-in and then you have to be able to build a trustful team of people that can help you make it happen. and so those elements i think our classic. they are true on the political side. they are true on the military side. in some respects one of the differences is we actually train our military leadership to be leaders. a lot of people in washington come to washington, they are smart people, they are bright, they are well-educated but they really never had much experience
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in being trained. i think you do see that difference here in this town. >> let's talk a little bit about that. we talk about training, the pentagon what goes on? when you then saw the political class in action, those smart people at the national security council and the like, the world of ph.d.s. what we are being greedy and that they had been trained on? >> well, they may not have known how to manage people. they may not have known how to get the best out of individuals. one of the points we were talking about earlier is this notion of empathy. leaders need to have empathy. they need to understand what their customers are thinking. they need to understand what their opponents are thinking.
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they need to understand what their employees in the context of the uso for example. we are an organization that has 400 employees and over 29,000 volunteers. so understanding what is it that makes those volunteers take and why did they come to do what they do? i think that question of empathy is something that has been lost in our political dialogue. we don't listen to what the other side is saying. we are already thinking about scoring our next set of points rather than really understanding putting the shoes in the other person socks as it were to figure out that maybe there's a way forward. >> that's an interesting point about point scoring. some people would say that one of the big differences between military leadership and political leadership or lack there of right now is we are missing a shared sense of purpose and goals. it's easier to organize a large
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group of people to accomplish something when you have a very clear chain of command and a sense of what you're trying to do. the mission has been framed for you and effect. how much do you see that as being one of the things that hampered political leadership in washington? >> well obviously political leaders have a broader palette that they have to paint on, and a broader canvas i should say that they have detained him and they have to take into account a lot of the other factors. i mean, the military does too but don't kid yourself. military leaders have to operate in a political environment as well. they have to know how to deal with political leaders. they have to know how to deal with people in the countries that they may be operating in, whether they be friendly forces or nonfriendly forces. i actually think there is not
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that much of the difference between the two. some of our most skillful military leaders have gone on to the political leaders in america. it's not an accident as the russians would say. it's not an accident comrade. >> there is no accident. >> there is no accident exactly. >> let's talk about specifics. probably one of the most interesting examples of late george w. bush's presidency the decision to surge troops into iraq when many people in the as will well is outside of the party were questioning it. should we just pull out of iraq lacks this was seen as a risky move at the time. clearly there was some leadership involved. tell us first of all what that was like from the inside. how was there clarity around how we should make a pretty audacious decision at the time?
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>> well you know president bush came to the then national security adviser steve hadley and me and said look we need to obviously do a review of iraq. things are not working and he gave the following strategic guidance. i'm not going to quote it directly because i don't remember it directly but it was something like if we can win i want to win. if we can't win, we need to get out. and we need to find a way out. and so we did a comprehensive review. both steve and i went to iraq and of course pulled all elements of the government together to try to look at this and basically came to the conclusion that there was a way to turn this around. but you are right, it flew against the conventional wisdom in washington at the time. one of the elements of leadership is being willing to
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have the courage of your convictions and being willing to act upon that and that is what i think the president did. whether you agree with iraq or not, whether you agreed with the decisions to the surge or not he had convictions and he was willing to stand up and say i'm going to take this and go all in. an interesting element of that, very late in the decision process before was announced some people said well, you may remember we put in six combat brigades, 6.5 combat brigades. somebody said why do we put one in and see how it goes and if we need more we'll put another one in and if we need more we will put another one in. i remember him saying i'm not going to make six decisions about this. we are either going to make forces available to the military leaders and let them use them as they see fit or not. and i think again that's another
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example of an element of leadership which is you have to have trust in your team that they can execute once they understand what the strategy is and what you communicate to them. >> i'm glad you raised that because many people would say that example, the decision by president bush stands in stark contrast to some of the decision-making early on. not just the decisions to go to war. we were talking about my husband's book on the presidency earlier and one of the things that reached out in that account at 2003 was that there was no one moment. you could argue it was a murky decision-making process around the actual invasion of iraq. i'm curious because you did see the archivist from different vantage points, was there something different than changing in the terms of the leadership in the decision-making was there a better process?
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>> well one of my professors used to talk about the inter-ocular trauma test which is when the facts hit you but -- hit you between the eyes. there's nothing like reality to focus. this was a policy that was going bad and it needed to be turned around. it needed to be fundamentally changed and you know there was an alternative narrative out there which was the baker commission report which basically was talking about kind of a slow, steady pull out at that time. and clearly that inter-ocular trauma test force people to be more clear about things. i give a lot of credit quite frankly to steve hadley for running a very positive process that was inclusive of people's views but that got to framing up
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a distinct set of decisions. one of the things we love to do in washington is muddled things together. take a little bit of this in a little bit of that and model them together and did end up with something where everybody walks out of the room thinking you know their particular position prevailed. i think quite frankly you saw a little bit of that in the beginning of the bush administration where people walk out of the room thinking that their position had prevailed and therefore there really wasn't a clear vision and a direction. >> certainly historically there are a lot of examples of leaders who have encouraged that kind of creative ambiguity and tension among their advisers. bill clinton was famous for that at various times. certainly there have been a lot of examples in american politics. it doesn't mesh very well at all with a war. >> it can be very dangerous in a wartime situation. >> it seems like you did take
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something specific away from washington in terms of your own personal learning about leadership which has to do with leading and what the decisions are in finding a way to make them happen. >> the first thing really starts with learning, getting an understanding of what's going on on the ground. you know i will give you an example. you remember back i think it was in late 2005 or early 2006 that the marine who headed up the intelligence operation testified in front of john mccain's committee that anbar province has lost and it was headline news in the "washington post." i went to anbar province at october to anbar province in october and i'm at with some of the senior leaders operating out there as well as the troops on the ground and i said we are being told back in washington that anbar is lost. the military guys come the younger ones in particular shuffled their feet and they
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threw a map out and they said sir and now they were going to it down and explain to me, it's real simple sir. there's a river that runs through this thing and there's a road that runs down the river and right now we can control two-thirds of that with the force we have and we are beginning to see the sunnis in this area getting tired of al qaeda in iraq wanting to push them out. they are not going to come over to our site if we don't demonstrate that we can protect them. so that was nice because i had a group of people on the ground who were living it every day who knew what was going on. ..
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>> tell me a little bit about that. you know, coming to the pentagon, working there, what kind of leadership styles did you see there, and which did you see, you know, along the spectrum from more to less successful? there's a sort of a caricature of a military leadership style that wouldn't necessarily be called inclusive, right? >> right, right. you know, i ran into all kinds of different personalities. i mean, it's hard to sort of isolate one. i think one of the things that don rumsfeld was good on was focusing on what's important. trying to figure out what is important and focusing on that. in his little book, "rumsfeld
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rules," which he sort of collected over the years, he said you manage through your outbox, not your inbox meaning that place can bury you if you go to the pentagon. the secretary of defense basically has enough work to fill up 24 hours a day just from what his staff is preparing. so somebody who really says i'm going to figure out what is important, i'm going to stay on that message, i think, was a really interesting lesson that came from that. >> well, and, you know, but that, that does get at, i think, a really interesting question too which is where does accountability factor in to leadership? you know, obviously, secretary rumsfeld in the end left the pentagon, the president asked him to lee after the midterm -- to leave after the midterm elections in 2006. you know, there was a sense that the iraq war was not well managed in its early days, and, you know, how much of leadership is luck, how much of it is, you know, can you be a good leader
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and have a terrible result? >> yeah. well, anybody who serves at a senior level whether it's ceo of a company or an organization like the uso or in a senior government position, you know, you, you're there really at the behest of the people that you're serving. i mean, and i think that's the ultimate accountability. and you have to expect that, you know, it isn't a question of whether it's fair or not fair, it's a question of what is right for the country, what is right for the organization, what is right for the people that you're serving. and if that means that you exit stage left, that's what it means. and if you don't -- if you don't walk in thinking that, i think you're fooling yourself, and i would question whether you can really be a good leader. >> on this question of can you be a good leader or great leader and not achieve great results, you know, how much do those two things go together? >> well, i mean, sometimes people have been faced with
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no-win scenarios, right? they have situations -- and so in a way, you know, you can ask yourself how well did they manage that really bad situation that they were put into. but i find that, you know, usually great leaders will turn a positive result, right? they're not, they're not necessary -- they're not going to be remembered for failure. >> or maybe they're smart enough not to take on those challenges -- >> indeed. [laughter] >> i want to make sure that we get a chance to get some questions from the audience. >> sure. >> give me a little bit of a sense quickly about your new challenge at the uso. you are very new to it. >> right. >> and i've always found that when you come new to an organization, it's those first few months when you're seeing them very clearly, right? you're coming as an outsider -- >> right. >> you have a crisp sense of what makes sense, what strikes you as doesn't. so what's your outsider's view
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of, wow, here's three exciting things i can do with this place? >> uh-huh. it's absolutely a national treasure, the uso was founded by franklin roosevelt in early 1941, well before we were in the war understanding that the war was coming. talk about a guy who had strategic vision, who really saw that we were going to need something to bring, to help support our troops overseas. and it has really been a treasure at providing support, connecting people and the like in ways that in some ways are hard to explain if you haven't been a customer. if you see a young 18-year-old show up in kaiser's -- [inaudible] and waiting to go off to fight in afghanistan, he's never been out of iowa before, he walks into the uso center, there's somebody standing there who looks like mom, who hands him a
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ham sandwich and a cup of coffee and says sit down, soldier, relax. i'll make sure you get to your flight. the impact of that a thousand times a day, in fact, 30,000 times a day, that's how often we see these people, 30,000 times -- >> 30,000 times a day. >> yeah. it's just unbelievable. >> uh-huh. >> and so it's a great thing. now -- >> there's a big data opportunity. i don't know what you're supposed to do with that, but fascinating. 30,000 interactions. >> yeah. having said all that, organizations have to change and stay relevant, and so where do we see some of the things? one of the things, we have learned to be veriageville and expeditionary -- very agile and expeditionary. i like to say we've got facilities in kansas and kandahar, and we've learned how to be in all of those places and, obviously, they're very different. but at the same time, the military's now going to be deploying smallerdeployments. we're starting now to support, for example, the operation in
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western africa by providing satellite networks that can connect the troops to their families back home. it's the one thing that commanders really felt strongly about. a lot of concern about, you know, their potential exposure and those sorts of things. and so being able to connect with families back home is a really important thing, and that's something that the uso has really specialized in. but figuring out how to do that in an environment where we may be sending 500 troops or a thousand troops, not the large numbers that you've seen in the past. and then, finally, we're really focusing a lot on what's called transition right now. we're not a veterans organization. we support the active duty military and their families. that's our focus, and we'll keep that focus. but making sure that they can be successful veterans as they transition out is a really important part of what we do, and so we support programs and deliver programs across our 160
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centers having to do with, you know, hiring, hiring heroes and building stronger families. a lot of stress on the families as a result of these multiple deployments. in some cases both mom and dad are deploying. so that's a very unique thing. and the stakes for this are huge because this is an all-volunteer force. >> but it's really, it's very interesting as a leader, you're talking about, basically, a realtime reinvention of your model into multiple, different models, you know? it's just -- >> absolutely. what i'm calling it internally is reimagining our programs. >> uh-huh. >> and along the way we also have to do something which is called refreshing our brand. >> uh-huh. >> because most of the people in this room, i'm going to guess, think, when they think about uso -- >> 1940 -- >> bob hope, and they think of airport centers, right? >> that's right. >> and we do so much more than that. but we haven't penetrated the consciousness, i think, of americans in terms of what we do.
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and that's one of the things that is a really important part of my mission. i want to make sure that, you know, people who are under 50, under 40 know what the uso does, know that it's a national treasure that really helps to -- >> luckily, the under 41s don't even know who bob hope is. [laughter] >> that's right. but they know who robin williams is, and robin williams was a huge supporter of the uso. >> so let's grab a couple of questions from a audience, if we can. >> sure. >> hold on one sec. can you do the microphone? thank you so much. >> absolutely. mark johannson, i work with boeing, and i enjoyed your little input on satellites as we're providing those services to the troops. but you had a great discussion on leadership and the very tough situations and recognizing uso serves veterans, what about the tough situation at the v.a.? how does a leader get ahold of that and turn that around?
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>> great question, thank you. >> well, as you know, my predecessor, sloan gibson, who was president and ceo of the uso is now deputy secretary of veterans affairs. so he's going to have an opportunity to work that problem along with his boss. you know, again, i would go back to a little bit what i said earlier which is, first of all, you know, you have to have a period of sort of a new leader does, a period of a voyage of discovery where you're figuring out what is really wrong and needs fixing as opposed to what the hype is in the newspapers and things like that. once you've done that, then focusing on the two or three things that are critical to the success of the organization. now, i don't know what those are for the v.a. i know, you know, i know that sloan is certainly focused on that, and i wish him the, you
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know, great success. but i think it's the same, the same thing. you can't do, you can't do everything. and so particularly in a time period that's limited by the politics of our, of our system. so for somebody like him and his boss to make those kinds of changes, they really have to figure out what's important. >> just a quick two-fingered intervention on that, there's been a hong-running debate about -- long-running debate about having this free standing v.a. versus the pentagon. obviously, the people inside the pentagon have a lot of opinions about whether this should be more connected to what they do. do you have a fixed policy on that, whether we have the right set-up to succeed? >> no, i don't have a view per se on it, but i think, i think that in washington all too often we're not open to looking at, you know, more radical solutions to things. and whether it's a new
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organization or it's a different -- or even a collapsing of an organization or putting things back together in the way that makes sense. now, having is said that, you know -- having said that, the pentagon's got a lot on its plate right now, so to give it another mission on top of that, i think there's some logic in separating the two. i think they're very different activities, and you really want the military and the active duty military, i think, focused on, you know, the threats to the country however defined and not necessarily focused there. but you need somebody, obviously, focused on the veterans' issues. >> that's great. let me switch tables for a second. here you go, sir. >> thanks very much. brian -- [inaudible] >> brian, can you get the microphone? sorry. >> brian bender with "the boston globe." good to see you. on your discussion of military leadership and the unique skills that young men and women gain in the military that's different
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from a lot of other sectors of society, when we talk about veterans, we hear a lot about veteran employment, helping soldiers transition out of the military. i'm wondering if you have thoughts about how as a country we can do a better job of tapping into that unique set of leadership skills when people are coming out of the military? i read the other day that congress now will have the lowest number of veterans in generations. >> right. >> if not ever. and i'm wondering if i you've given any thought of how you tap into that. >> right. well, 1-2% serve now, and that's why the health of that all-volunteer army, all-volunteer military, excuse me, is very important to all of us in this room. because they're doing, in a sense, doing the job that, you know, we expect of them, but they're also doing a job that we are not doing. it's not the same as it was in the post-world war ii or even the vietnam period. i do have some views on that
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subject. i think the incredible leadership skills that have been built up by these young folks, you know, we trust them, for example, with an enormous number of direct reports under very stressful circumstances. it's not unusual for a lieutenant or a captain to have, you know, $500 million of equipment under their command. can you imagine in your business giving somebody at that age access to and control over $500 or a billion dollars worth of capital, you know? your board of directors would all, their hair would fall out, right? so they really -- and they've learned to do multiple things, you know? we've got second lieutenants, captains and majors who were fighting in the morning, having tea in the afternoon with iraqis or afghans and building projects
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in villages in the evening. so they're pretty good multitaskers. so i think the problem is often on the soldier side is helping them understand how their skills translate into something that is useful in the private sector. and so i think we almost need a medium here. and somebody, you know, people who can help them take that experiencial leadership skill set that they developed and turn it into the kinds of language and understanding that a company, will appeal to a company. and on the company side -- and bank of america's a good example, they're all in on trying to hire more of our veterans -- but i think on the hr side we need to invest in sort of people who know how to help those people be successful once they get the job. getting the job is actually the
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easy part. it's staying in the job, being successful in the job that is going to be the bigger challenge, i think. and, you know, a lot of these folks coming out, they don't just want a job, they want a career path like we all do. and so i think those two things can really be helpful in creating a successful environment for that transition. >> okay. i think we have time for just one more question. so go ahead. >> ben fernandez, u.s. army. so you talked a little bit about the 2006 surge, and if you look at the process, there's been several discussions of the civil-military problems recently with syria, with afghanistan surge, you saw it back in the bush administration and the iraq surge, certain military leaders certainly did not agree with that. question for you is some of the problems, do you think there is a problem with civil-military
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relationses? and if so, is it institutional or personal relationship? and what should or can be done to make it better or to sustain whatever good success there is? >> yeah. well, you know, you only have to, you can go back to vicinities and see problems of civil-military relations, so it's not exactly a new phenomenon, right? and in times of stress, those things tend to come out. i think one of the things that is very helpful to our military is when you have sort of clear decisions about the direction that you're going to take. so one of the reasons why the surge, i think, was successful was even though there were different points of view on the military -- and, quite frankly, you want those points of views expressed, you don't want to suppress those points of view. and the process we ran allowed a lot of that stuff to come out
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and people to debate the various points in front of the president so that the president had all the information he needed to make the decision, and he made a decision. but military, once a decision is made, is actually very good about, all right, we got it. now we know what we have to do. and i think where you see the worst aspects of civil-military relations is where decisions go unmade. and that's why that decisiveness is a really important part of leadership. >> we have to get to our next panel which i know people are excited to hear general mcchrystal. let's just close on that note. i'll exercise my prerogative here for a final question while we finish up lunch over there. today we're looking at being right back in iraq and in syria in ways that clearly president obama tried very hard to avoid having to make a military decision.
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we've heard a lot of criticism, obviously, about how long it took to make the decision, what is the goal of this conflict. i'm just curious, you know, having seen the whole arc of our decision making from 2003 on in iraq, what are your thoughts as we return militarily to that country where we sacrificed so much, there was so much national anxiety around why we were there in the first place, and here we are all over again? i'm just curious what your views are of the war in iraq that we're now back into? >> yeah. well, you know, the truth is we really have been in iraq since the gulf war. i mean, you know, a lot of people forgot that bill clinton waged an air war over iraq throughout his entire presidency. and that it was president clinton who signed the legislation which actually talked about the need for regime change in iraq. and i think one of the, one of
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the issues really surrounding that is the fact that iraq's an important country. iraq's an important country for, from a cultural standpoint, from an economic standpoint and a political standpoint in a part of the world that's very important to us. and i think that's one of the reasons why you see the decisions that have been made and the desire to sort of see whether or not we can't sustain our position there and sustain the position of our friends in the region. so it's not surprising to me that we just had an announcement, you know, this week of another 1500 soldiers going in in a support role. but still because the stakes are very high there. four presidents learned in a way that you can't ignore iraq. >> i'm not sure if a sobering note to end on or not -- [laughter] but thank you so much, j.d., this has been a terrific
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conversation. i'm now going to welcome to the stage my friend and colleague who's our leader at "politico" and general mcchrystal. thank you. >> very good, thank you. >> thank you. [applause] [background sounds] >> general, how are you? it's a pleasure to e see you. thank you for coming. this is a great honor. thank you, first, for your service and thank you to all of those here and those watching in live stream land who have served our country. great person to talk to about leadership. you've been a soldier, been a leader in the military, lead your own business, you're an author, you're the star in a ted talk. if you go on to ted, there's a ted talk where i never thought
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someone could get so many chuckles from talking about how you get suited up for a parachute. when was that moment when you said, i can be the guy, i can be the leader? most people don't have the ambition or the self-servitude to do it. when did you think you can? >> i think you first focus on trying to be competent at what you do, whether it's banking or reporting or whatever you do, and you spend a lot of time on that. but parallel to that, you're in positions where you lead, particularly in the military. and i think when i was a lieutenant in my first assignment at the 82nd airborne division and you're making every mistake known to man, you, you have times when you think that you just don't have the knack to connect with people or -- and you try, if you're like me, you try every style. you try being a real nice guy, then you try being a heavy-handed autocrat, you bounce back and forth. so i think for me it was probably about five or six years
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into that when suddenly i started to find out who i am. i didn't try to be anybody else -- >> you're how old at that point? >> i'm sorry? >> you're how old at that point? >> i'd be about 27, 28. >> you're a captain? >> and you suddenly can do things that seem right for you. you're not reading books and trying to be george patton or trying to be ulysses s. grant or trying to be anybody else. you just have sort of figured out what your abilities and limitations allow you to do. so i think it was about that point when i thought i could do it, and i also found out that i liked doing it and i wanted to do it. >> what did you think you were really good at back then that you've realized now in retrospect you weren't? >> yeah, it's funny. in the first parts of my career, i thought i was very good at running things, and so i became very much a micromanager. when i had a mechanized infantry baa -- battalion, 14 armored vehicles, i put them all on the same radio frequency.
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i thought, my god, i'm an amazing leader here. [laughter] and to some extent that's probably the most obedience i've ever gotten since, but i found out that -- well, i thought at that point that if you really got control of things and if you understood everything what was happening and you made the decisions like that, you could control things to a level that you could get the standards that you wanted. i learned not long after that that that's true to a certain sized organization. maybe about 100, 120 guys, like an infantry company. once you get past that, it doesn't work anywhere. you try to get through to people, and suddenly you realize that model was wrong to begin with. what i learned to do, and i had some support with some sub board nates of mine who weren't -- subordinates of mine. hey, listen, your role is not to
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do our jobs. your role is to help us do our jobs, to give us an environment to do that. and i think that started a change in the way i think about leadership that continued through the rest of my career. >> you said, quote: i came to believe that a leader isn't good because they're right, they're good because they're willing to learn and to trust. basically the self-awareness, i don't think people appreciate enough out of great leaders. your greatest weakness as a leader is what? >> i've got a bunch of them, and i'm not being falsely modest here. i will -- i'm lazy, for one. >> i can tell by your career. [laughter] >> i mean, i'm actually lazy in ways that don't show. i won't do all the reading, the prep, i won't study something. i don't think when i went to most military schools, i never read the fms, i escaped from my career not having read a lot of those things. i will make decisions too quickly sometimes. people will come to me with information, i will get a certain amount of information, and i'll want to be decisive so,
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boom, i'll make a decision, and sometimes that's not yet informed enough. i get moody. i don't think i'm as bad as i used to be, but i will get frustrated, and that will make it hard for people to interact with me. it's not stuck on one time of the day, it's not morning or night, but i will do that. and when i get tired, i'm not as good a leader as when i'm not tired, particularly if i'm, you know, exhausted physically. i lose my patience. and, of course, that makes it hard for people to deal with you. and -- >> what's a specific adjustment you've made to offset one of those weaknesses? sleep more? >> i do try to sleep more now, but one thing is to sort of step back and don't make yourself responsible for doing too much. as you get more senior, one of the first things you learn is your job is to create an ecosystem into which people can operate. so do that. don't fall into the temptation of doing what you did when you
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were younger because you're still good at it or you think you're still good at it, because that's not your job anymore. when we were going over to afghanistan, i remember dave rodriguez, a classmate of mine, was selected to be my deputy and to go over initially, and then he took combined forces afghanistan, the three-star job, and he told me, he goes, stan, we're going to go over there, and you are going to deal with president karzai, and i'm going to fight the war. and i'm, you know, office of the pentagon, i said, no, rod, that's not the way it's going to work, because i'm a great war fighter, and i really like war fighting, so i'm going to do that and you're going to do the politics, which probably would have been better. [laughter] but he goes, no, you don't get it. only the commander can do those things that only the commander can do. only the commander can form a relationship with president karzai. only the commander can do those things, so we have to do this. and he was, of course, completely right. so it took a little bit of self-control to then sort of divorce myself from moving forces around on the map because
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that wasn't where i should best spend my time at. >> you wouldn't have gotten where you're at and had the confidence that you do had you not made some brilliant decisions along the way. take us behind the scenes where you feel had i not done that, i made a smart decision, and it saved lives, or it changed the trajectory of a battle or changed an institution, is there like a very specific one that you can walk us through? >> yeah, i mean, i pick my wife. i asked her to marry me, that was literally brilliant. [laughter] no, i think the thing i am most proud of was not a single decision, it was in joint special operations command x what we did was -- and what we did, we had an organization that was functionally excellent. i mean, we were better than any organization has ever been at the kinds of things that that very elite organization was designed to do. and it was designed for a very specific, high-end counterterrorist and special operations missions. and because we were so good, that was our identity.
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our identity was in this excellence and what not. the problem was we weren't right for the problem at hand in iraq starting in late 2003 when i took over. what i'd found was we could do what we were doing at this incredible level of effectiveness, but the war kept getting worse, and we weren't making a big enough contribution to changing that fact. so it was one of these moments where you come and you say we can continue to do what we do and do it really well, and people pat us on the back and say you're great, and things can get worse, or we can step back and say we have got to make a bigger contribution to the overall effort at the risk of stepping away from that which is comfortable to us and what not. and we made that decision. and that was one of the ones that i became most committed to, and it really carried on through the whole time in command because we were changing what we did, who we were, how we interacted with other organizations, and we were doing it in a way that was at least
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upsetting internally to the organization, it was well received by some of our partners, and it was not well received by others, you know, other federal agencies and other military groups and what not. but it was fundamentally essential for us to perform the part of our role in the fight in iraq and, of course, afghanistan. and so there wasn't a brilliance to a single decision i made, but what i will say is i learned that once you make a decision like that, it's consistent commitment to it, it's never giving up the energy on that. you know, you turn something, and then you've got to start pushing it and overcome inertia and momentum. .. finish
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when i took command in the fall of 2003 it was a great organization and yet we need to change because the requirements had changed. not only have the requirements changed the requirement is changing so instead of us having to figure out the problem and worked a perfect solution to it what we had to do was aim at a moving target. al qaeda and associated movements was this resilient network of associations. it was constantly morphing. it was a dynamic moving target
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so as a consequence i didn't have a clue when we started. all he knew what we were doing wasn't right and so what we did was first overcame the momentum just get everybody to the idea and one of my young officers coined the thing, sir you can't steer anything until it's moving so let's get it moving and then we will fi fix it. a lot of people, not a lot but some said we need to do a study and get a perfect plan of where we are going but the reality is we didn't know where we were going because we didn't know where the enemy was going and we hadn't yet figured out what worked so instead the minds of the command became what we are going to do is start moving and develop this organization that senses learns and communicates across the organization those lessons and adjustments in real time faster than i have ever seen before. that's what it became. the organization became this organism that just took an information taken hard lessons
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sometimes and fought at great cost and adjusted constantly but instead of having a top-down structure where there's integrity painfully pushed to the top and studies pushed and we created this. it was not just flat. it was this organized -- organism like the more information about everywhere so decision for me closer to the problem because everybody was learning at the same time. we call it shared conscious is now in its contextual understanding that gives you this confidence that you know the big picture and therefore you don't have to ask permission exactly how to do this task because you know the big picture. you know what needs to be done and no one can give you the right guidance from the top because things are changing too fast for that to work. >> was the worst decision you make? >> while they're a bunch of them. i think the places were i most think i failed was in certain relationships and every time i
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spend a lot of time making sure the relationship was an organization of individuals were was right. it paid off in. in other cases where it wasn't dysfunctional as it needed to be and for any number of reasons i didn't fi fix it fix it and i dt enough effort and that the command paid the price. and if somebody in another organization irritates you and you just don't like them every once in a while he say guess what i'm just not going to deal with that person and not find an excuse not to pay the price for that is incalculable. when you are in a leadership position you don't have -- you can have whatever personal things you want but you don't have the luxury of allowing them to be operationalized by what you do and don't do in being petulant or whatever. i was very lucky with the people who surrounded me because a number of times i would literally go against the wall and pound on the plywood and say
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we are cutting off diplomatic relationships with that organization. they talked me back in the legend they say sir you i say that relationships are more important than they were always right. they were repeating my own mantra back to me but indeed i think that's the thing that can so often separate an otherwise great plan. >> in the book you spend a page and a half and in the article you have written a blogpost recently talking about that. people are familiar with the narrative but what were you thinking going into it? is the military and your think i'm going to give these guys access and block. you were pretty clear about it. >> i wouldn't give myself credit for that because i spent years in jsoc where there was no public so i wouldn't give myself credit. i did understand was important but contextually we did a whole bunch of press. the war in afghanistan in the fall of 2009 in the spring of
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2000 was very popular in the u.s. senate wasn't very popular in europe. so we felt this incredible need to communicate the story to build up support. i took the first 60 minutes interview in december 2009. literally i did it kicking and screaming. some of my team said you got to do this my said oh my god the last thing i want to do is go on "60 minutes" that extreme close-ups sort of thing. but they said if you don't do this we are not going to be able to get the public audience in the era people to make the case somehow we need to change the strategy, so he did. and we did a whole bunch of media and a number of them came to me on this one and they said we want to do rolling stone. like you i said rolling stone? i don't read it why would i do that? they said it's a different audience in this piece should be focused on this. it was one of a number. it wasn't a unique thing and
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tell the story came out of course. >> nobody knows afghanistan better than you do. you were there and spent a lot of time thinking about what works and what doesn't work any change the approach in afghanistan. what will afghanistan look like five years from now? >> of course it's impossible. i think the afghans, they are survivors. we have proven that many times over. the question is are they political commentators? that's the big question. they have an army they are proud of and they have the capacity to be an effective society that is durable and taliban pressure. the challenge will come in their eternal politics. the people in afghanistan lack confidence and a lack confidence and external relationships and countries like the u.s. and they lack confidence with neighbors like pakistan will give them the breathing room to do it and then they lack confidence in their local politicians and their lack
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confidence in their national politicians. so when you lack confidence in something you withhold your participation, your support. think of the malls confident person in the world is the farmer because the plant something, confident that it's going to be something that they can harvest later. in afghanistan you start to see a lot of behavior in many cases of people who are taking a short-term view of things because they think that things are going to stay tumultuously you have to protect what i've got right now. if we lack similar confidence we wouldn't put our money in the bank. we wouldn't send their kids into the military are things like that. we would invest in those things in the society. afghanistan has got to get over that and the government has to be the most part of that. if they can pull it together and i actually think they have a reasonable chance to do that then i think it will motor along. it won't be perfect but no country is that i think that it will. they can't do that then it's
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going to be different. >> what would it look like if we said no? >> that depends on when you pick your point in history. if we had done nothing in the 80s to support mujahideen potentially the soviets would still have have been happy to clear that nothing in 2001 that al qaeda would have remained there. have we left after al qaeda was ejected after late 2001 and left the afghans to their own devices what we would have had was a country that was damaged by the soviet war. then traumatized by another decade of civil war and the rise of warlords. then suddenly the appending of the taliban government on the fall of 2001 they had 20 years of this incredible sort of upset and kids hadn't been in school and all these different things so had we walked out there than i think what we would have seen is arise of the warlord driven civil war that had been in the
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early 90s. the taliban were accepting in 9496 because they swept it away. i think that's what would have happened. >> the young gentleman over there 13 or 14 years old. when we think about we have this debate now about isis and we authorize these military forces to going kill people who want to kill us if they're ever going to be a point for that young man or for any of us that we are not at work with decisive manifests itself in some other acronym that wants his use the same cruel means to terrorize us here or is that just the reality forever? >> if you look at modern society in their something i call the power of one single individuals now with another medic weapon in the u.s. can have quite an effect. a singular individual with a weapon of mass destruction chemical biological or nuclear can have quite an effect. single individual at the
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computer can have an effect. there applies than small groups who didn't agree with us but they were over yonder and they didn't matter so much on a daily basis. most of us remember the barbary pirates. things like that lasted for 20 years but they only affected part of our economy until we decided to act on it. so i think the differences you have got these organizations which before didn't have the reach of the technology were didn't have the media standing to do much which actually encouraged it because they see more about it and they go well if they did it i can do it. so i think at least for the foreseeable future 10 or 20 years it's likely we will see a series of challenges from groups from across the spectrum not maybe just against the united states but against other existing structures, government
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structures and business structures religious structures. we will have all of those under resolve and we will have those difficult decisions over how we want to deal with it. in some countries there's going to be a great temptation to lock down and the government is going to get tight control and technology also helps both ways. you can know a lot more about people now so i think there's a chance that we are going to go into this incredible police state in many areas. people want order and many are willing to pay quite a price for order. so that will be one possible. the other possible is to get this chaos and areas you can't control like somalia was and what not were you just have this lack of centralized control and people are going to do with it themselves. in the middle would be a perfect sweet spot. maybe democratically run government with enough control that you could have society with property rights and whatnot but enough freedoms of people don't
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have their civil liberties infringed. but that's a pretty delicate sweet spot to maintain. history hasn't been in that sweet spot so we are going to have to work really hard to work toward that. i think it's going to be a challenge. it's not -- i don't think that kind of society is an automatic end state to development. you progress in a democracy and civil rights and all these things. instead of this balance that you maintain and protect every day. otherwise it tilts way -- one way or took the other. >> it's clear and then we'll go to questions. it's clear in the next presidential election in one of the big debate is about leadership in the context of global leadership and how much certainty and how much -- help robust military presence we ha have. i'm not going to ask you to critique the commander-in-chief the look of the last two commander in chief to talk about what are their greatest drinks when you look at them as leaders
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as it pertains to global positioning? >> i think first and foremost is both the presents i got to work with care and they got the right intentions. that's not always obvious. both of them were trying to get the right outcome for the right reasons. both of them were challenged with very different circumstances where they came into power and the offense that changed george w. bush's presidency and the things that barack obama has challenged. so i think both of them have that challenge. i think the thing that we probably, the two things that we need to think the most about his credibility. when you have a foreign-policy it is based upon credibility. part of the credibility is your values and willingness to reflect them. the part of credibility is your ability to do something in your willingness to do it.
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if for example the united states says we would like this happen or not happen the world everyone in the world except calculation. they said one can united states cause that to happen or stop it from happening and are they willing to do at? these are two different things that they go together. if they question both or either then they make a calculation that says maybe we will try this. maybe we will do it sell american credibility matters a lot and it matters to our allies and that matters to our potential foes. i think you only build that up to demonstrate it. you can't talk your way through it. he can't get up and say these are our values. you can't say we are going to be strong unless you show you are strong and firm. credibility is the key thing. >> it's been hard to build up. almost every single day it's a new challenge and you take the critics of the president.
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saying we should have been in syria earlier and we have to go after isis. these are complicated things and being able to show credibility or in -- or consistency is that even possible? >> that's what makes it so darned hard. a president uses the credibility and his predecessors established for that individual can add a little bit because of their personal words and actions but the reality is you are operating and building it for your succe success. a lot of it is not going to come until -- but the second one is relationships. think about who we do things for. if you have a phonecall right now and someone asked hey can i borrow axe amount of money or can you give me x. amount of money money people fall into two groups. those who would return a call for say yes and those to whom you would.
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relationships that's a pretty simplistic view that relationships matter a lot. they're not just between countries but between people. one of the things i was struck with overtime is so much of not just politics but diplomacy is built on the sinew of personal relationships. people place great value, great importance on those. if we think we can go in and just make a stated case of searing logic about what position we will sell today that's not my experience. my experience is what people do is they do a much more complex calculus of do they trust you? do you have that relationship and do they value the relationship to give a little bit on this one so they can maintain that relationship in the future? so i think this give-and-take of relationships between individuals and organizations is really really important and it doesn't come automatically. it's another thing you have to work at. like i tell people if you think about marriage you get buried in
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new live happily ever after welcome to the real world. get married, work your rear end off every day at it or you don't live happily ever after. that's the sort of thing we sometimes don't pay as much attention to us i would hope we would. >> let's open it up to questions. there is a microphone. start here and work your way up. >> general thanks for your service. my question is about shared sacrifice. i have two sons on active duty when they came back from a middle eastern country but i think we have been working so hard that the rest of america does need to worry about because we have a force that i think there's a huge disconnect between the military and families and what they have to go through and what everybody else understands. i think there's a refusal to connects between the policies and i wonder about your comments
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on that. >> thank you for your service and thank you for your comment. first is within the military. it's a two bladed sword here because on the one hand exactly as you describe it the military didn't get out of touch with the civilian side of society and the civilian part of society doesn't get it. during the civil war one out of every 68 americans was wounded so everybody saw or knew somebody who was wounded. now it's like one out of every 7300 americans. that sacrifices in this early fell. the other side is when you have a military that becomes more insular and i used to go to bases all the time and every time i got to a base or platoon i was almost sure that the squad there were somebody was the son
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or daughter or friend of mine at service. on the one hand it's very comfortable because you say hey osher mama that sort of stepped in on the other hand we are seeing ourselves all the time. the military can start to get self-righteous. not intensely that the military can start to say well you know where only people out here fighting. it hasn't proven much in the military but that's a dangerous thing to have. second i would say most americans are announced to do anything except vote and pay taxes. the reality is if we think that citizenship that's not my view of citizenship. as you may or may not know i'm the chairperson for the effort for national service for all young americans. that is not military service but something. teaching, conservation, everybody does a service here for a modest living stipend for $50,000.
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not for the work you get done during that year but for the difference it makes for the person that does it because you become different. you have a different sense of contribution different feeling of pride. in reality it to know people you wouldn't know otherwise. he suddenly go wow they are not so different are they are not so bad. it changes every of citizenship and that's a critical way of doing it. >> we will work our way up here. >> thank you for your service. a quick question you allude to earlier about the axis to computer. we saw obviously with the arabs during in benghazi and now isis at the world of social media plays in the pr battle for my question to you is whether current and future military leaders to prepare for that side of it? is their training in what will that be like in the future? >> what you really saw play out
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is the power for a complexity. two things came together. the speed and interconnectedness and suddenly they wound themselves themselves with the speed they have never seen in history. the reality is nobody knew what was going to happen when the arab spring started. it wasn't like the discipline movement that started with a plan etc.. what it was was this series of things that fed off of each other in a completely unpredictable fashion impossible to predict. social media allows that to happen and it produces this swirling level of complexity that our organizations and leaders are prepared for right now. we saw the egyptian government was just stunned by two rear square. called for a demonstration. a week later all those people showed up in the government didn't know what to do. the u.s. government was also chasing the information and chasing the developments.
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what i think the key is going to be and what i hope the military is doing now but every organization has got to do is change the mindset. they have to say we are not preparing for anything in particular. we are preparing for this constant change and we are preparing to be adaptable. you say well how do you do that? the reality is to create teams and you create ways of communicating very semi-to the experience we into in jsoc so every day you walk out on the field are playing a different sport. so you go wow today its soccer and smarts soccer and smart. if that's stunning up the difference and i think that's what organizations have to do. you no longer have to protect your ability to do one thing to just get it right. it's frustrating to people and that's why the structures and the role of the leaders will be dramatically different or kept himself looking at headlights and get run over.
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>> there has been a lot of discussion about military relations. some people talk about an institutional level and you talk about a personal relationship. what can be done to improve from institutional standpoint or if you could talk about the personal part. >> if you go back in history and you look at team of rivals with was president lincoln put together and remember how good it was in the last couple years of the war and had this good relationship. it took some painful years to get to that. you look at the beginning of any of our major efforts where we have to work together. ultimately it takes good relationships. it takes people who can trust each other but you can't do this thing we just keep going through through people until you find out people in happen to be from the same hometown or like each other. he can't build a structure and expectation based upon
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serendipity of like personalities are mutually agreeable personalities. you have to create organizations and create processes that force that. one of the things i would say is giving back to a sports team you might have been on in the beginning of the season your approach typically to hold the people together and you start practicing. a number of things he did just get them together. we take the united states most senior leadership the national security council who are going to execute a war and we get people who really don't know each other. they come together in a room in suits or dresses and so you were sort of in your special personality because i'm not always exactly like this. you want them to suddenly become the statement and that they are from different backgrounds. military guys have a different background and civilians are different and it didn't for the most part spend it together.
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they didn't often read the same books and is true across parts of the military as you take the intel servers in the department of state. they are speaking different languages. it's all english but different. we expect this team to come together seamlessly and i think that's unrealistic particularly at the speed that is happen. we need to step back and say if you want teams like that to work you have to create a process to put that team together. i always joke with people. we are going to go to war again. i tell the president to take his top people and build a white water raft and take several cases of white water raft and done by the media. to all those things you do white water rafting and get to know each other. just pull each other out of the water and see each other when they are not in a suit and protecting someone. not because you are going to solve policy problems but because when you are doing these
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interactions you can lookinbill you know i disagree but i know you are not a total. let me as least calibrate my fears to listen. people often say that's a kumbaya thing. i will tell you what, don't agree. as long as we are going to do this with people and i don't think i would change in the near term, we need to do that. >> i want to give one question to the side of the room and we'll ask a question of the general. what is one thing that leaders on the civilian side who came over from the military, like they get it so right and if you could export that to the civilian side. >> they are remarkably similar want to get past acronyms. i think they military talks about leadership allowed 11 you say that's not important. that is important. your efficiency ratings the name of your job typically the way
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you are admired or not admired all this is leadership terminology. there's rarely a bottom line that says that person made x amount of number or got this many bills passed. that person motivated into care soldiers that sort of thing. just the focus on talking about it and making it so overtly the culture actually helps to be true. i think that would be advantage for new position. >> we will wrap up on this idea. do you have a question but a? all right. >> i have a question. how do you see drones getting more involved in modern warfare in the next 20 or so years and how is that going to affect troops on the battlefield? >> what college are you in right now? [laughter] that's a great question. first off i'm a big fan of unmanned aerial vehicles and i think maybe not in my lifetime
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but in your lifetime you will fly on commercial airliners that are remotely piloted. it's going to happen. once my generation said that can ever happen, it will. i think unmanned aerial vehicles will be prolific and everything to include ground vehicles. there are two things to them. on one hand for special operating forces unmanned aerial vehicles allowed us change the way we thought. there were certain technologies, precision weapons and it weapons the internet and unmanned aerial vehicles. everyone thinks because we can choose someone -- something no. in the old days if we wanted to raid your house we would use 120 people because it would take any of them and create a quart a half a mile from your house to stop anybody else from reinforcing it and stopping the people inside from getting way. we take others others for command and control and have a small force to raid it.
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nowadays by using unmanned aerial vehicles all those things can be done because you see you had to put security as a hedge against what you didn't know. we could do rates of 20 peoples announced that one raid with 120 we would do six at the same time with 20 each. we have sped up the pace of what we do. so hugely effective. in efficiency and effectiveness. the problem with unmanned aerial vehicles as they allow you to lower the threshold of-somethings. you could fly over an area with no risk to americans and you can shoot missiles down our drop bombs and it feels almost antiseptic for us. i tell people in 1998 you won't notice the people in the room will. president clinton shot tomahawks after we had intelligence on osama bin laden at one time. if you asked

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