tv After Words with Bret Stephens CSPAN January 19, 2015 12:00am-1:01am EST
switching the focus from international to domestic concerns. this is about one hour. >> host: hello, i am bob come and i'm here to interview a bret stephens who is a pulitzer prize-winning columnist of "the wall street journal." .. we want less engame. in the middle east. we want to turn our backs on a war on terror that seems to many people to be unwinnable. we want to provide less by way
of military assurances firepower, in east asia, in europe and this is a replica in a sense of american -- the pattern of american foreign policy behavior after the first world war. people with good historical mind know that we had a president named woodrow wilson who win to war to make the world safe for democracy, and after the war was over and after it was won, a lot of americans concluded that as the british like to say, the game hadn't been worth the candle. they did not want to remain engaged in global affairs. they did not want to police the world order that had been established at versailles. and we turned inward in the 1920s, under republican administrations and again in the 1930s fores much of the roosevelt administration, at least until the late 1930s. the retreat i'm speaking of now largely replicates that pattern, that history.
and the argument i'm making is doing so, is not going to mean that our foreign problems are going to abate. in fact they're going to become worse. we are inviting a global disorder which is the subtitle of the book which is going to come around to haunt us. i started writing the book a couple years ago. i think now at the beginning of 2015 some people might say i've been vindicated with the rise of isis invasion of ukraine chinese aggressiveness toward its neighbors, iran's steady march to a nuclear -- some kind of nuclear capability. so i'm worried about the pattern of american foreign policy. one point i make is retreat is a choice. it's a choice that one administration has made. it's a choice that another administration can reverse. >> host: your book was published in november so some viewers may have read it. a lot have yet to read it. we're speaking to both those
people who have read and it yet to read it now. make the distinction between retreat and decline, on page 22 in fact. we're in retreat but we're not in decline. >> guest: you read it. >> host: what the difference between retreat and decline. >> guest: i'm glad you asked that. decline is something that happens to countries for reasons that are typically beyond the reach of any one political leader or even several political leaders to reverse. france has been in decline for a very long time. generation after generation of french political leaders have tried to stem that decline. they haven't succeeded. japan is a country in decline for reasons that have to do, for example, with demography or attitudes about immigration. prime minister aberdeen found it real -- prime minister abe found that hard to turn that around. russia is in a tremendous amount of decline. i don't fork for a second think that the united stateses in a decline, and there's an entire
chapter in the book explaining precisely make that case, the united states for sure is going to remain the dominant economic political social power, if you will and probably military power, throughout the rest of my life probably my children's life as well as maybe well beyond that. the nations that are not in decline, can still be in retreat, and nations on decline can still be on the march, as we're witnessing today. so that's the distinction i want to draw and it's because we're not decline and will remain the world's number one, that our enemies or our adversaries are still going to be gunning for us in one way oar another, whether it's the militants of islamic states whether it's chinese generals seeking to kick us out of east asia, whether it's russian politicians seeking to revise the conclusions of the cold war.
>> host: you messenger your subtitle the new isolationism and the coming globe disorder. why coming? >> guest: someone -- i won't say who it was but a prominent person who read and liked this book said, i like it very much. the only problem is the word, coming. it should but the current global disorder. i think in fact it's going to be i'm afraid to say you ain't seen nothing yet. it's going to be worse. for example, the fall in oil prices. all of us are celebrating as consumers if we drive a car, not having to pay four bucks for a gallon of gas. and we think that it gives us leverage over countries like russia and iran that perhaps we didn't enjoy before. my sense in fact is that russia and iran will become more dangerous as oil prices decline because they're going to seek other ways to get out of their economic predicament. typically think of a country
like argentina in the early 1980s, reeling economically. it inslade faulkans. iraq in the late 1980s, oil prices falling, it invaded kuwait. so the decline is going to be worse you. asked about the isolationism, and one of the objections to the book that i've heard so far is isolationism is a dirty word. almost lime antisemitism. i don't believe that. isolationism is actually perhaps the most venable american foreign policy tradition. thomas jefferson, his first inaugural address, peace, commerce, and friendship with all nations entangling aligns with none. eye isolationism second is pretty well when getting from portssmith to new york took three -- was three weeks or so on a hazardous sailing trip.
becomes much less viable policy alternative when we are 30 minutes away from a russian or chinese intercontinental ballistic missile. but isolationism is a serious approach to foreign policy. it's a moralizing approach to foreign policy. tells us on the whole, we ought not to met until other people's business. on the whole, foreign policy will inevitably have unintended consequences and those unintended consequences will come back to haunt us. on the whole we should be spending our national resources not on a large military, not on bases in japan or germany but right here at home, rebuilding our infrastructure improving our schools and so on. and the case for isolationism, or what i call isolationism, is a strong case. it's a smart case. and it has to be dealt with that way. can't just be dismissed as a bunch of yahoos because they're making fundamental claims what
the united states ought to be about. i happen to think they're wrong but don't want to dismiss or denigrate them. >> host: i take it your a conservative as a cullummist for the walkway are "wall street journal." >> guest: yes use would you call your book conservative? >> guest: the heart of a book is a case for a conservative foreign poll circumstance but conservative doesn't mean george w. bush's freedom alleged, and in fact much of my book is dedicated to criticizing what i see as some dangerous strains in the republican establishment's foreign policy views over the last decade or so. when george bush said in his second inaugural that the policy of the united states was over time to rid the world of tyranny, that struck me as -- i think struck a few other people as substituting utopianism for important policy. foreign policy exists like all
politics in the realm of the possible. i don't think we'll ever find a world free of tyranny because we'll never fine a world free of human beings with malice and evil and amibition and greed in their hearts. so somewhere in the middle of the bush administration we became infat wait with the idea we were going to plant the seeded of democracy in the heart of the middle east. that strikes me and most of our viewers would agree, as an overly ambitious if idealistic and misbee gotten foreign policy. you listen to people who associate with the tea party and take sarah palin he view of the crisis in syria let all la sort it out -- let allah sort it out. i don't believe in her foreign dock christian when county comes to syria. that has meant 200,000 people dead meant turning a domestic
crisis within syria into a massive regional crisis. it's create the power vacuum and the chaos which has been filled by hezbollah, which has been filled by islamic state. it's multiplied our problems rather than kept them at arm's length. so i'm a conservative foreign policy thinker. with probably the most storied conservative editorial page in america today, but this is a -- my barbs are bipartisan. >> host: you're critical of both president obama and rand paul who likely to run for president next year. any indication that either of them or aides to them had read the book. >> i know that friend of theirs have read the book because probably the nastiest reviews i've had have been on the more libertarian leaning side of the aisle. there are democratic leading thinkers who take me to task for other reasons. a comment in the "blonde globe" was basically said this idea of
retreat is exaggerated. obama has been engaged but engaged in a different way. i think the libertarian angle it more pronounced because they take the accusation of isolationism as some kind of stain on their character. i'm trying to say, no guys, you're operating in a great foreign policy tradition. i just happen to think that since the second world war it hasn't been an especially plausible one. >> host: we have 45 minutes left. i'd like to leave the book for just a moment and talk a little bit about the author. introduce yourself. you are 41 years old. is that correct? >> guest: 41. >> host: and you were raised in mexico city. >> guest: yes. >> host: describe that. what that was like. >> guest: well, first of all it's -- i was born in new york, and i'm wondering why wikipedia keeps insisting i was born in mexico. but i was born to a father who had been born in mexico and had
a family business there, when i was an infant we moved there and that was where my childhood was. i think being born -- being an american raised outside of the united states for a significant portion of time is terrific in two senses. first it means i speak a foreign language fluently. i'm acquainted with another culture intimately. but it also gives me a much richer appreciation of the united states. just to give you an example, when i was a child we used to every few month mist parents would pack up our ltd station wagon, drive from mexico city to mcallen, texas. i haven't been back to mcallen texas, since i was a child, but as a kid i remember it as heaven on earth. it was interesting because all you did was cross a little river, not a particularly broad one, the geography was the same but it was a different world. a world where you could put a glass under the tap in the sink and you could drink the water from the tap.
and i remember to this day this strikes me as kind of miraculous. when i'm thirsty i don't get bottled water. i pull on the tap and get a glass of water. made me aware've what we in the us consider undane and taken for granted, that is quite extraordinary given what the rest of the world is like. before the advent of bottled water to drink water in mexico you had to boil water or else ran the risk of becoming seriously ill. so gave me an appreciation of the specialness of the united states that i don't think i would have had if i'd simply been raised in westchester. >> do you consider yourself a mexican american? >> no. i'm an american citizen. put it this way. during the world cup if mexico hadn't been going up against the united states, i would have reed for mexico. and i'm tremendously proud of what mexico has accomplished over the last few decades, even
despite the headlines about the narcotraffickers. i love the country. it's one of the reasons why i think, unlike many conservatives, i have always been sympathetic to a more liberal immigration policy. what mexicans lattin americans have contributed to american life is just as great as what immigrants of all stripes, my distant forebearers who came from light wayney and russia and other places have also contributed. that, too maybe makes me a conservative with a different angle. >> host: where did grew to high school. >> guest: a boarding school in massachusetts. a terrific wonderful, nurturing place. boarding schools gate terrible reputation as kind of cruel, capricious elitist schools. i thought it was not only fantastic education thought there were caring teachers. i thought there was a great emphasis on participation, volunteerism. i started an alternative
newspaper in high school which gave me my first kind of taste of the joy of writing something and having it read and reacted to. >> host: why al earntive? there was a mainstream paper and we thought we could do better. we wanted to provide some competition on campus. >> host: on political grounds cultural? >> guest: well mainly the official campus paper published four or five times a year, and we were dedicated in a school of 300 students to coming out every other week. so we published many more editions and we ended up getting ourselves into all kinds of trouble by riling the faculty and saying things that now in retrospect look a little sophomoric but it seemed fun. >> host: have you been back your high school. >> i have. it's beautiful. >> host: university of chicago. what did you major in. >> guest: i majored -- the short-and-i majored in political festival. the long answer i majored in a program called fundamentals
which really was a continuation of the great books program where we would spend a small group of students and a professor, a senior professor would spend an entire semester sometimes two, reading just one book. so, for instance reading aristotles ethics, reading utopia, reading this debate offed federalists and antifederalist. so kind of an effort to really understand these writers and thinkers as they understood thinkses rather than the way political science or history operates which is more metta if you well. >> host: were you student journalist in college? sunny was not. i wrote one or two pieces for the school paper, but the university of chicago does not -- i worked probably harder at the university of chicago than i have at any other time in my life. and i look back on it with mixed
feelings because i think i was supposed to be having fun and partying in college. instead i was closing the library almost every other night. on the other hand when i look at what i write as a columnist the way i think, firms of reference, they're so deeply influenced by what i was reading at the university of chicago that over time the echo signal becomes stronger, not weaker and i feel that much more grateful i had a first class education. >> host: after university of chicago you went to the london school of economics. why? >> guest: good question. why did got to graduate school? seemed like a good idea at the time. if i could do it over again i would not have gone. >> host: why? >> guest: i think it was the time was misspent. >> host: and then what happened? >> guest: then i went straight to work for "the wall street journal." i did a brief internship with the "journal." when i was graduate student i wrote on -- on a lark i wrote an
op-ed for the -- for my own edification really then i thought let's see if i can get this published. so i sent it to "the wall street journal" and the published it. it's a wonderful feeling that to this day the memory of waking up in in the morning, the day i knew the piece was published -- this is before the internet and so i ran out to the nearest book seller, bought a copy of the paper, and anxiously turned the pains, and there i saw my byline in the "wall street journal" and it was a marvelous sensation. >> host: the topic. >> guest: nationalism in democracy. and so on the basis that i was given an internship. i got in touch withed thed a it applied for an internship. there was a two-weeks internship in the brussels office of "the journal. wow wow i don't foe what exactly
they were thinking but on the basis of the very brief internship they hired me itch went to work for "the journal" in new york city city and then shortly after that -- make a couple years after that, went to brussels. started writing ft. the u.on union a great deal. brussels has a great education, reporting for brussels and seeing a different world and spending time among a very diverse assemblage of europeans. then i started covering the middle east out of brussels and not long after september 11th out of the blue i got a phone call from the publisher who asked me if i'd be interested in being the editor of the paper. i was 27 years old at the time. thought, seems interesting. in jerusalem. >> host: what was that like? >> guest: this was the height of what was now remembered as the second -- a entered of recuring
suicide bombings. cull minimum mating in the terrible bombing of the city sad dinner. almost 30 people dead. encirclement in gaza. the invasion by u.s. forces of iraq. this also cope sided with my time there. it was like growing up fast as a journalist, and having the responsibility for a newsroom being thrust into a position of some managerial responsibility was eye-opening it was tough. i was there -- i was an intern for a little shy of three years but the felt like -- every year felt like it was the equivalent of seven. >> host: those three years in israel, how do you think that affected the way you look at politics and philosophy?
>> guest: well i mentioned going up to mcallen as a touchstone in my political world view. when i was living in israel met my wife there our first child was born in israel. there were -- must have been four or five suicide bombings within a 500 or 600-yard radius of my apartment, give or take and there was a suicide bombing which i remember vividly in january of 2004, literally just down the street from where we lived. my wife and i were fussing over our newborn baby, 8:30 in the morning. we heard a blast. i walked right out and just about the first person on the scene of the bombing. and it was a bombed out bus on a street that was at a little bit of an angle. aza street. a block shy of the prime minister's residence, ariel
sharon, the prime minister. to see a suicide bombing and the effects of a suicide bombing right after the bombing -- not 20 minutes later when they've put out the fire, removed the -- started to cover the corpses but immediately afterwards gave you a visceral sense of the horror of terrorism horror of these attacks. so it's important -- i mean on the one hand i wish i'd never seen it. on the other hand it's been instrumental to my moral and political education, to understand what is really meant by the word, literally by the word "carnage." what it means to blow people up. and i've never lost sight of that. i think maybe this must be true of everyone who is close to the scene of lower manhattan on september 11th. you just understand it in a
visceral sense that i think people who haven't quite seen it up close will never understand. >> host: we're about midway through the interview and we should return to the content of the book. before i do that tell me why did you decide to write this book and how did that go? >> guest: well, my standard joke is my mother had been urging me to write a book, and if your mother nudges you long enough you end up writing it just to get her off your back. that's part of the truth. but she was a nudge and it did help me get -- start writing. a couple years ago, in 2012 i sensed that we were entering into a period of disorder and this was a time when broadly speaking most americans would have argued that we actually had a kind of a window from history that the global situation was relatively benign. there were problems here and there but on the whole we had
executed a responsible exit from iraq we were making a responsible transition in afghanistan. we had reset relations with russia. we were trying to build a sensible new relationship in east asia. so forth and so on. i think most -- i think most americans agreed with that view. that was the view that was being promoted by the obama administration al qaeda on the path of defeat. tide of war receding. most americans agreed itch felt differently. i look at europe and felt confident that struck me as being at the beginning of its economic troubles. you looked at russia and realize this was a country where democracy was effectively being abolished and replaced bay copied -- i don't want to see neosoviet but neoczarrist ruler who has territorial amibitions and showed that with the invasion of georgia. i looked at china and the microaggressions, to borrow a
term in the east and south china sea, to anyone with an understanding of the first world war, you cannot -- the origins of the first world war are a story of crisis at the periphery backing crises at the center. i looked at iran continuing to move towards nuclear capability and iraq descending into increasing chaos as -- what we then called al qaeda resurged. so i had this idea we were entering into a period of global disorder and i fleshed that out in an 8,000 word article in "commentary" magazine. after writing the article i thought here is a theme -- in fact what really unites this theme is that all of this is happening as america has turned inward, and we already have as i said this, historical experience of what happens in the world when america turns inward. there's a connection, and so it was on that bay si is started to write the book. >> oo commercial question, your
publisher, sentinel conservative imprint of penguin random house, what what's first printing, number of copies. >> guest: i don't know itch think right now we're somewhere over 30,000. >> host: in print. >> guest: probably more. >> host: okay. >> guest: but my agent would know that. >> host: another question. how many have sold? do you know? of the 30,000? >> guest: last i saw was about 14,000 or so. but again i'm almost reluctant to say this because i could be wrong. but i think it's in that ballpark. the it's selling well. >> host: about to happen. >> guest: about to happen and the lovely thing about c-span if if may shamelessly flatter the people who are watching this show is literal readers who care about the world whether they agree with offering i say or not i think are sensible intelligence worldly, and this
book hopefully is a contribution to their sense of the world. >> host: we have about a half hour left. let get back in the book "america in retreat." age 8 the quote from john kerry, secretary of defense. >> guest: state. >> host: secretary of state, excuse me, yes. secretary of state. the era of the monroe dock trip is over. -- doctrine is over. that's worth applauding. that's not a bad thing. explain that and what you think of it. >> guest: i think the monroe doctrine has served not only us but served lattin america well and i say this as someone -- for. >> host: for those who forget the monroe doctrine i? it was wrote when quince si adam was secretary of state but is the doctrine the united states will not allow european powers or foreign paraphs intervene and met until the affairs of the western hemisphere and right
now the chinese are becoming patrons of the regime in venezuela, of an increasingly -- friends of an increasingly ill liberal regime in ecuador. this iranians we now know have extensive ties in latin america in places like venezuela. russia is once again threatening at least to boost its traditional or pre-cold war era security ties with cuba. i'm not exactly sure how american interests are well-served by secretary of state reviving a foreign policy doctrine that most people probably don't spend all their time thinking about. simply no order to announce it is dead. we do not want russia, china, or iran intervening in lattin america, and i don't think quite frankly venezuelans, cubans or ecuadorians do, either.
>> host: back to the book. plenty of criticism of president obama, which there's much in the book. not the only one criticized. you refer to him as -- compare him to the legendary king k newt. explain to readers. >> guest: the viking king 0 maybe english doesn'ting on your sense of history, who stood on the shoreline and commanded the tide to recede. to prove his god, like powers that king could command a tide to recede. when the president says the tide of war is receding he can only observe that tide receding. he cannot command it to recede. we cannot simply say, you know what the war in iraq is over and our -- we are going to put an to end what used to be called the war on terrorism. the president at the national defense university in may 2013 gave a speech effectively saying exactly that. we cannot allow this war on terror to define our generation,
and so we're going to change our attention to something else, and by the way great news al qaeda or core al qaeda is on the path to defeat and all the other terrorist groups affiliates of al qaeda offshoots are what he later called the jv team of global terrorism. this is an effort by the president to simply say, let's not pay so much attention to this global jihad problem. lo and behold within a few months of him offering this pronouncement, we saw a massive resurgence of terror throughout central arab world. a year later in 2014 isis whatever you want to call it took over mosul now controls a territory that is enormous, has decided, has declared it's a caliphate. this one of -- as misbegotten a
prooffensement as george w. bush's notorious, mission accomplished moment on that aircraft carrier in 2003. >> host: in the book you also write at one point, only in the age of obama do wars end by means of attitude and expectation adjustment. of learning to, quote, move on, unquote in the parlance of left wing politics. >> guest: yes. this is. >> host: what about vietnam? there is an analogy there? did vietnam do that to -- >> guest: well look, vietnam -- the war in vietnam gave rise to that wonderful phrase from george aiken the liberal vermont senator, let's declare victory and come home. i'm not going to get into the install because it's a complex analogy and in a sense almost an hour's worth of television time. but let me speak to what the president was saying help was
saying, what we need to do is stop hyperventilating about this terrorism threat. i mean, lots of people -- okay, so, for example, 12 journalis have been murdered by -- or 16 people were recently murdered in paris, a number of car afternoonis who provoked jihaddists islamic fanatics with their cartoons, but 16 people how big is that? how important ought that to be? let us turn our attention -- in that speech he said -- referred to some woman who had been badly scared in the terror attack and this woman's comment what you know i move on. now that's very admirable for this woman who suffered atrociously in a terror attack to say that's her reality. it's very hard for a nation to do that. leon trotski supposedly once say you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you. we may not want to be interested in jihad. we may not want to be interested
in the middle east but jihad and the middle east are interested in us. >> host: also in the book you write about peripheral conflicts. you mention spain in the 1930s. syria in this decade. and pain and that a little bit to readers. >> guest: spain -- the civil war in spain became a proxy war in its day. the 1930s which is -- imy understanding liberals in america supported getting involved it in. >> guest: right. there was famous abraham lincoln brigade, a distant relative of mine very famous -- later very famous composer went and fought in the abraham lincoln brigade. george orwell was involved. but this was a wore -- war that in a sense anticipated the kind of conflict the world would have less than a decade later. the nazis were very involved
supporting franco that's, i'm sure, everyone who is watching the shows i familiar with the painting -- and people who are on the left came in to support the republic, came in to support the over jet union as well on the other side. so this was a kind of proxy war that kept burning and burning in increasingly horrific ways. the stringses stringses of what happened in barcelona and cat lone ya today -- cat lone ya today really match the information, the images coming out at this very moment from homes and the -- so these become proxy wars that burn out of control and help set the scene for larger conflicts to follow. >> host: what should be we doing in syria now? >> guest: now it's very difficult. it's very, very difficult. it's almost like asking a doctor well, we had a patient who two years ago had a stage
one cancer. now it's at stage four because the patient or the doctors or society or whoever has simply refused to treat it. let me tell you what we should have done. we should have intervened early when the protests were entirely people when al nusra didn't exist, when isis didn't exist. when there was a real chance to overthrow bashar assad, probably by using exiled syrian politicians, bashar assad's former vice president, by a dissident syrian generals that could have formed a coalition to hold the country together. could i promise a perfect outcome? of course not. we're in the realm of moot history if you will. but we did nothing then. so then it became a military con district we had the free syrian
army which comparatively speak is it a group we could have worked with to overthrow the assad regime and deal a blow to hezbollah and to iran and a strategic blow also to russia. with did nothing then. all of a sudden jihadis groups started forming and the problem we went from stage one two three to this sort sort of stage four cancer we have right now which is that the work people hezbollah on the one side if its backers of the asaud regime in iran, and the islamity stays are contending for supremacy. right now someone like rand paul urging from the beginning to have no involvement, can say well look it's just one group of bad guys against another group of bad guys, and a plague on all their houses. but that doesn't justify the policy of inaction that brought us to this terrible path where right now syria is not just a crisis in syria. it's a crisis for the entire world and it's a geopolitical disaster for -- i think the most
important thing to do now is first of all target the assad regime, season no-fly zones to protect what remains of enclaves for the free syrian army. continue to target it in a much more muscular way. we need a shock and awe campaign against islamic state, not a policy of pinprick bombing. and create some kind of base-if it's possible -- again, i'm not anymore -- i can't say with confidence that it is -- that some third alternative is -- third way could emerge in syria. but now it's a much more difficult task than it was before because inaction has consequences that are often worse than the consequences of action. >> host: you're also critical of paul bremo's actions in iraq and call him the new douglas macarthur, why? >> guest: he was a wannabe
douglas macarthur. douglas macarthur took over in japan in 1945 and proved to be one of the most brilliant administrators and recouldn't instructors the world dd -- reconstructors the world has seen. we think of douglas macarthur as a general, master of the landings in the philippines and korea, but he actually set japan on the course where it's now this pacific -- i mean that in the peaceful sense -- pacific technology include advanced first world liberal democracy all thanks to douglas macarthur. that happened pause of the unique circumstances after world war ii and the genius of this administrator. paul bremer came into iraq with a near zero approach that everything in iraq was totally destroyed, to thely broken and we had to disband the entire iraqi army. we had to debaathize much of the
establishment in iraq, and that proved to be toxic. it's an evidence of how much damage the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time can do. we should have moved swiftedly to restore sovereignty to the iraqis themselves. doesn't mean to get our troop outside out but restore sovereignty to the iraqis and should have not tried to turn iraq into an exemplary state. if you want to ask me what -- in a nutshell, cliche what i miss view of the war. we were right to go into iraq to make an example of saddam hussein. we spent 400 lives in that effort, took nine months to pull him out of the spider hole. we were wrong to go into iraq to try to make iraq into an exemplary state. that was another 4,000 lives and a misbegotten effort which failed in firms of iraqi political culture and failed in terms terms of american political culture. i don't think americans will stand for ten-year efforts to stand up countries like iraq.
>> host: elsewhere in the book you talk about the absence of tax americana. >> guest: to some extent it's misbegotten because it's a derivation from a true empire. america is not a true empire. people -- you hear rand paul say we have troops in 130 countries but that's only try if you count marine detachments in embassies in paris or madrid or stuff like that. the packs american yaz the accurate sense is america as the backstop as the guarantor of a certain kind of global order where we provide security guarantees for our friends that are meaningful and they keep their own behavior in check that we provide a military presence throughout the world that keeps countries like russia china, from being tempted into aggression, and that from time to time punishes certain sorts of gross violations of global order, for example, setting a chemical
redline in syria and then allowing it to be tramp eled without consequences. >> guest: at the end of the book you called for more military spending and for more -- for us to get more military employment and more soldiers, and for us to become the world's policemen. who is going to support that? people -- especially politicians? what politicians would support what you're calling for? sunny suspect quite a number of them would. the problem is the term wow world policemen" has got an bad rap. got a bad rap in part because of the way we conducted ourselves in iraq as i just described. to be a policemen is not be a priest. you asked about vietnam earlier. it was really -- among the many mistakes in vietnam, the idea of a campaign for hearts and minds is in some ways wrong. hearts and minds is a work of priests. or preachers.
a policeman is simply in the business of shaping patterns of behavior. he is the guy in blue who is standing right there and if you're a little old lady ask you want to shop in your nearest bodega here in new york she'll look at that policeman and say i feel safe. he is there. if you're a hoodlum looking for trouble, you look at that policeman and say i'm going to take myself elsewhere. and if you're a bad guy you want to not knock the old lady over the head, the cop will stahl stop you or arrest you. that the polled of the world's policemen. that's the world that the u.s. largely filled and fulfilled for most of the postwar europe and for all the travails of the post world war two era we never suffered a major war as we need world war ii. we created a free world and stood up countries like south korea by defending them, and --
a lot of people watching the show will powell thunder samsung phone. samsung -- that little piece of technology in your pocket is part of pox americana what happens when we defined freedom at its far frontiers. and we created a world that bends toward freedom, even if it isn't going to move inevitably and completely there. american values western liberal value, then they're not the norm they're aspirations. that's the world with made by shaping certain patterns of behavior itch hope there's a candidate gearing up in 2016 and -- i may have heard from some of these candidate who are interest inside the thesis -- who looking for a foreign policy. we understand they don't want the pore -- pore ridge, which is too hot, the president bush recipe and not too cold, the barack obama poreridge.
so what's the best policy? this book is an effort to haver that ruse u just right forridge. >> host: want to go to the next presidential campaign. let me step back with a question. if we spend more money on getting being the world's policemen dot that mean we have less money to spend on domestic problem inside. >> guest: well, a couple points. yes in some sense, it means that. although, we have as much money to spend as we are growing our economy. and if people had confidence in our economy, if confidence to buy our debt. we now spend well under four percent of gdp on defense. that's historically a very low figure. during the carter years we were spending close to six percent on difference. during the eisenhower years we spent 10% of gdp on defense. the average between 1962 and 2007, from basically the cuban missile crisis through the end
of the cold war-clinton year and the return to the war on terror, what 5.5%. right now we're spending very little on our defense and it is showing up in the fact we have or moving towards the smallest arm we have had since before the beginning of the world war ii before the beginning of conscription the smalleses navy since first world war, an air force, very old, people flying planes as old as their grandfathers are in some cases, b-52s built in the early 1960s. and we need -- elsewhere we do need to spend money on defense. defense is a core responsibility of government. people say what about the debt, the deficit? the essence of our debt and deficit problem comes from entitlements. europe is both bankrupt and defenseless at one in the same time because they went for
precisely that recipe. >> host: hillary clinton, not mentioned much in the book. there this prediction of the future -- talk about why you didn't write more about hillary and what you see of her presidential campaign, assuming there is one. >> guest: well i didn't want -- look, i do write about hillary. they're an entire chapter in the book people are perusing the book store after they watched this show turn to chapter nine. which is -- >> host: set in the future. >> guest: set in the year -- christmas day 2019. hillary clinton is president and she is easily beaten rand paul. >> host: this is in -- this is not a prediction. >> guest: no -- put it this way. i kind of pulled out my inner tom clancy for a chapter in the book and i wanted to offer a scenario for the future that was plausible. the first thing write about in
that scenario is the price of oil is going to plummet. the value of the dollar is going to rise. this is going to sharply hurt the economies of commodity dependent countries like russia, and so far the free disks -- prediction looks good. so i write about hillary in that sense. i'm not chuck todd. i'm not a writer about political personalities. and my sense is that hillary clinton are foreign policy to the extent it's like her husband's, falls more into the mainstream of american foreign policymake aring in the post world war ii period than barack obama. barack obama in my view represented a fundamental break from the post-world war ii bipartisan tradition to gun with harry truman tipped with jack kennedy, richard nixon, ronald reagan, bill clinton and george w. bush so my sense is she would
be comparatively a much more realistic can less ideological foreign policy president. is she my first choice? probably not. >> host: whoa is your first choice? sunny i don't have a first choice because i don't know who the field is. >> host: well, who in the field are you most interested in? >> guest: i honestly don't know. so far the people in the field have not been notable for their foreign policy -- maybe marco rubio has established a profile on foreign policy in a way that other would-be contenders have not. the guy who worries me -- look, i'm absolutely frank about this. the guy who worries me is rand paul. i understand rand paul is not his father. i think this father sells foreign policy moonshine in my view. ron paul. and just as george w. bush was not george h.w. bush, rand paul
is still a work in progress. you can even hear the evolution in his thinking. some things he has said worries me. the basic view -- i think rand paul comes as close in the republican field -- comes much closer to barack obama in terms of foreign policy outlook than any of the other prospective republican presidential contenders. barack obama wants less of a foreign policy or a global footprint for the united states, for the sake of building bigger government, and rand paul wants for it smaller government. >> host: you interview politician jazz? we often immediate with politics in "the wall street journal." >> host: on the record off the record? >> guest: the best changes are off the record exchangeses. it varies but it's an opportunity to spend an hour or so with a interesting political figure, a governor, a senator, a prospective presidential
candidate or some people of note, and really get to pick their brains and see if they're cavable of answering the follow-0 questions most politics will prep for the obvious questions. you're a journalist and know this as well as i do. they sort of have read the four-page kind of cheat sheet but where you really start to see these guys at work is when you start probing a little further and asking -- wonder of i they have given any kind of thought to monetary policy the value of the dollar the nature of american military engage. what we got 0 right or wrong in afghanistan and iraq. why that matters for the present. that's important. it's important to be able to put these -- especially the next presidential contenders -- to that kind of test. i would much rather instead of these debates we have to have a kind of c-span hour of the sort
we're having now where a guy like you can really push each of these candidates to see, what happens after they say i don't know we need a strong america or america is the de -- one cliche or another. push them and see if there's in depth there. a president can't just operate in the realm of sound bite and cliche. >> host: ever interviewed president obama. >> guest: never have. >> host: what question would you ask? >> guest: what are you going to do to change your national security team for the remainedder of your two years in office? i think we're entering into a uniquely dangerous period of time when our odd sir varieties overseas thinks there's a weak publicless indecisive president who is more interested in his domestic legacy than foreign policy legacy and that's very problemammic, and you see it in the come bin face of incompetence and indifference that helped explain our no-show
in for their the political rallies in paris. i would start to ask about the nature and confidence he has in his team. if that were an of the record conversation. he would never say something publicly but that's what i would like to. no. the next two years are beg to be very choppy waters for the united states. it's not just that our enemies think we're weak and irresolute and this is an opportunity to do at they please. our allies are also worried, and if you're an israel or saudi arabia you may ask yourself whether american guarantees of the sort you relied on for decades are any good and whether you don't need to start refrancing your foreign policy in ways that might nonetheless involve the united states at a time and mapper that isn't of our choosing. >> host: we're down to two minutes left in the hour. and so i want to read to you the last sentence you write in america in retreat and ask you to explain it's little bit.
you write: do not dismiss america from its job as the world's policeman, either. when the thugs and for laws show up in their neighborhood as they do you'll be grateful to know that cop is still walking his old beat. reassuring presence in a still dangerous world. make that case why america should be the world residents policeman. i don't think that's possible'll image. >> guest: wire not north dakota. it's a lovely country but we're not a country that is just going to be irrelevant for the rest of the 21st century. we're still going to be the premiere, the preferred target for terrorists. still going to be the country that china is going to want to replace. we're still going to be involved in the struggle and the future of little countries from estonia to taiwan to israel, poll land and sew on. we'll be the world's number one
country for the rest of the century because this is a country with amazing capability of renewal and regeneration. and so we're not going to be able to essentially say well we just want to be a pleasant little country on the fringes of the world, leave us alone. the world will not leave us alone, whether we like it or not. so we have to decide how we want to behave in that world. so for almost seven decade wed shouldered the world of being the world's policeman and also benefited the most from being the world's policeman. we benefit from this remarkably free prosperous, technologically advanced integrated networked world, and we want that world to carry on. no one who is watching this show would say, well this is the ideal world, and i don't think everyone watching the show says, what i really want to do with my life is be a cop. but nobody in this -- watching this wants to live na a neighborhood without a cop. so we don't want to live in a world without a cop either. i would rather have america be
that cop than have vladimir putin or ban ki-moon or ayatollah komen any. so we have to face that choice with sobriety and seriousness about our options and understand what we're doing in -- as well as policeman, is not altruism. it's above all self-interest which is the great basis of all smart american policy. >> host: on that note, thank you. for writing the book and talking about cincinnati thank you. >> that was "after words." airses every weekend on
booktv at 10:00 p.m. on saturday 12:00 and 9:00 p.m. on sunday and 12:00 a.m. on monday. and you can also watch "after words" online. go to booktv.org and click on "after words" in the book tv series and topics lives on the right side of the pain. >> here's a look at upcoming book fairs and festivals around the country. booktv will have live coverage of the satisfy van fa book festival from the 12th to the 15th of february. then on march 14th and 15th 15th book tv will be at the university of arizona with live coverage of the seventh annual tucson festival of books. the following week the virginia festival of the book will be held in charlottesville virginia. from mary 25th to the 29th 29th the city of new orleans will hose the tennessee williams literary festival. lit us know about book fairs and
festivals in your area e-mail us at book of of@cbs2 news.org. >> from my father i inherited my confidence my resilience, my passion, and my audacity. looking back all of the i was never explained to me in this way, he taught me the spirit of -- which is the greek idea of honor, and doing the right thing, even when one's own interests or even one's own life is in peril. growing up, while i never felt anything but australian there were two stories 0 about the second world war and greece that i always kept close to my heart. the first was in 1940, when muss mussolini. italy's prime minister asked the great prime minister for free passage through greece and
on the spot at 3:00 in the morning, without hesitation without consultation he said no. it was a spirit defiance, and quite incredible when considering just how vastly outnumbered the greeks were by the italians. it prompted sir winston churchill, the greatest figure of the 20th century in my mind to say, it is not greeks that fight like heroes. but that heroes fight like greeks. and then again in 1943 on the island -- the german military commander ordered the bishop and the mayor to prepare him a list of the jewish community on the island. his plan was to deport the entire jewish community to
concentration camps in poland. the word had gone out that any greek hiding a jew would be executed on the spot. instead of preparing this list the bishop and the mayor went to the jewish community on the island and they sent them into hiding in the mountains or with christian friends in the countryside. they returned to the german military commander and presented him with a sheet of paper. the list. that the german military commander was after. there were just two maims on the piece of paper. the bishop and the mayor. they told the german military commander that it was the entire jewish community. it was the spirit that was behind both of those acts and its that precise spirit that has encouraged me to answer what i