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tv   After Words with Bret Stephens  CSPAN  January 25, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm EST

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this. every word is written on this because the nature of my life in my service in congress doesn't allow me to find time in front of a computer to write. so i have an idea and start writing it. here's something or see something right on this. my staff thinks i'm the most unfriendly boss they could work for because whenever i'm with them, and cars planes, trains are actually was onto planes and a train trying to get down the unsparing and day. all i'm doing is picking at this. so i apologize to my staff. but now they know what i was doing. i wasn't writing mean things about them. if the ethics committee approves the contract,. serve. >> the question was do we have subsidies? cs tax credits for poor people who can't afford a gun.
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tax credits were gunmakers make sure they can make the guns. there's a new research and development grant to make sure we are making the best gun. is everything you would expect in a bill like this. i'm sorry? yeah, every gunmaker in america has something in this bill. it is kind of have a say in the book a loaded business tree but loaded in a different sense of the word perhaps. any final questions or comments? yes. [inaudible] >> it is funny you should ask that. do you know paul reiser? great comedienne. one of the funniest guys around. he is a friend of mine and in fact he has a blurb in the book. he read the "washington post" story today and he said, did you dictate this thing where did you really use your thumbs?
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i said i'm bipartisan. but it was all done with my fingers. now in fairness i would work on a passage, sometimes the paragraph for weeks, four weeks sometimes. and keep going back to edit back to it again and stay on that on this until i was satisfied and then i would e-mail it to make a thing created a whole compilation of chapters. at the end of the process, used a laptop to do the final editing. the first draft of everything was done on this. everything was on this until we got mostly because i never believed it would be published. i figure, why do i need to spend time. i just never saw myself as an author who's going to be published, who needed technology
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he and i didn't have the quiet time that an author needs because in congress there's no such thing as quiet, particularly in this congress. there's a lot of screaming and yelling. [inaudible] >> i don't know if i'm allowed to endorse products. on c-span. you know what i'll give it this endorsement. if you're going to write a book this is a really good product to write a book on. >> sera, it's a delight to hear you tonight. it's always nice to hear an accomplished novelist right now. it's hard to believe you didn't have a wordsmithing college earlier. >> i was crazier is i was crazier is when i told you read three less ambitions. i wanted to play outfield for the match except i couldn't pitch, i couldn't bat was that i was not going to happen. i started right in fourth grade
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stories. i loved writing science fiction. i had done two books published before this both anthologies of great speeches, worried a short introduction in the process. my staff will tell you as a member of congress, i do all of my own speeches. all my own stuff. with the exception of constituent mail, where i have a legislative correspondent everything my office puts out in my name, i write. it is a therapy. i do it twice a month column for "huffington post" my last one was called kings of the hill. satire parody of what were going through. they did a piece during the fiscal debate. so writing has always been and i'm serious about this.
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it is a true release. forget being a member of congress. in any test job you've got to have a release. some people of yoga. some people go to the gym. some people are like morris and the watch an old black-and-white movie or the mets. my release was always just writing and was always very therapeutic and a salvation actually. >> so long as it continues to run congress? >> i've got a lot to work with. >> thank you all very much. i thanked him again at politics & prose. [applause] >> steve will be up here signing to the right of the table.
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] !
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>> hello, i'm iambs up to. i am here to interview bret stephens come a pulitzer prize winning columnist for "the wall street journal" and author of "america in retreat." bret, what is the retreat all about? >> guest: well it is an america that over the last six years have been a way that we haven't been in decades decided that the better course for foreign policy is to have a lot less of the foreign policy. we react to the perceived overcommitment of the bush administration. we want less engagement in the middle east. we want to turn our backs on the war on terror that seems to be unwinnable. we want to provide less by way of military assurances, firepower and east asia, and europe. and this is a replica and a
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sense of the pattern of american foreign policy behavior after the first world war. people with a good historical mind now that a president named woodrow wilson who went to war to make the world safe for democracy and after the war was over and after it was one, a lot of americans concluded that the game had been worth the candle. they did not want to remain engaged in global affairs and did not want to police the order established upper side. so we turned and word and again in 1830s for much of the roosevelt administration at least until the 1930s through the retreat and speaking of now largely replicated that pattern. the argument i'm making is doing so is not going to mean that our problems are going to abate. in fact they will become worse.
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we are inviting it global disorder, which is the subtitle of the book which will come around to haunt us. i started writing this book a couple years ago. now at the beginning of 2015 some people might say i've been vindicated with the rise of isis, the invasion of ukraine chinese neighbors, rand study march through a nuclear come as some of nuclear capability. so i'm worried about the pattern of american foreign policy. the choice that one administration has made. >> your book was published in november so some of our viewers have read it. so we are speaking to both of those people who have read it and get to read it. he made the distinction between retreat and decline.
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what's the difference between retreat and decline? >> 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 buried in 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 the decline. they have it succeeded. it have to do with democracy or attitudes about immigration. the prime minister is really hard to turn that around as well. russia by the way is in a tremendous amount of decline. i don't for a second think the united states is in decline. there is an entire chapter in the book making the case that the united states for sure is going to remain that dominant economic political social power
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fewell and military power throughout the rest of my life probably my children's life as well may be well beyond not. the nations that are not in decline can still be in retreat because they make these choices and russia can still be on the march as we are witnessing today. so that is the distinction i want to draw. its because were not in decline because we will remain the world number one that our enemies their adversaries are still going to be gunning for us one way or another whether it's the militant of islamic state, whether it's chinese generals seeking to take us out in east asia, whether it's russian politicians seeking to revise the conclusions of the cold war. >> host: you mention in your subtitle the new isolation in the coming disorder. why comment by
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>> i won't say who it was but a prominent person who read said i like it very much. the only problem is overcome it should should be the current global disorder. but in fact i'm afraid to say you ate seen nothing yet. i think it's going to be worse. for example, the following oil prices. we drive a car, not having to pay four bucks for a gallon of asked and we think that it gives us leverage over countries like russia and her ram that perhaps we didn't enjoy before. my phantom fact 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 or decrement. think of a country like argentina in the early 1980s it invaded iraq to the late
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1980s again under oil prices. it invaded kuwait. the decline is going to be worse. you asked about the isolation and one of the objections i've heard so far is isolation is a dirty word. it's almost like anti-semitism. isolationism is actually perhaps the most honorable american foreign policy tradition. thomas jefferson as peace, commerce with all nations and alliances -- isolationism in many respects is a foreign policy that's theirs as well when getting from a poor smith to new york with three weeks or so on a hazardous sailing trip. it becomes a much more viable alternative when we are 30 minutes away from a russian or
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chinese intercontinental ballistic missile. isolationism is a serious approach. it's a moralizing approach to foreign policy. it tells us on the whole week i've not meddle in other people's business. on the whole foreign policy will inevitably have unintended consequences and we stand not on the military bases in japan and rebuilding our infrastructure and schools and so on. so the case for isolationism or what i call isolationism is a strong case. it's a smart case that has to be dealt with that way. it can't just be dismissed because they are making fundamental claims about what the united states is about. i happen to think they are wrong, but i don't want to dismiss. >> is a columnist editor for the
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page for "the wall street journal" i think you're conservative. >> guest: yes. >> host: would you call your book conservative? >> guest: yes, the heart of the book is conservative foreign policy. the conservative doesn't mean george w. bush freedom and gender. in fact, much of my book is dedicated to criticizing what i see as dangerous strains in the republican establishment of foreign policy views over the last decade or so. when george bush said in his second inaugural that the policy of the united states is overtime to rid the world of tyranny that struck me and i think struck a few other people as substituting utopianism for foreign policy. foreign policy like all politics is the realm of the possible. i don't think we'll ever find a world free of tyranny because were never going to find a world free of human beings with malice
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and evil ambition and greed in their hearts. so in the middle of the bush administration, we became infatuated with this idea that we are going to plant the seeds of democracy in the heart of the middle east. that strikes me and most of our viewers would agree is an overly ambitious idealistic and misbegotten foreign policy. now it's sunny the wheel is turning and a lot of people who associate with the tea party and we take sarah pearland and her view was what all is sorted out. i don't believe in the foreign policy doctrine when it comes to, for example, syria. letting all of sorted out has spent 200,000 people died. it has meant turning a domestic crisis in syria into massive regional crisis. it's created a power vacuum, which has been filled by islamic
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states and multiplied our problems rather than kept them at arms length. so i'm a conservative foreign-policy thinker at the editorial page in america today. but my barbs are bipartisan. >> host: yes, you were critical of both president obama and grandpa who are likely to run for president next year. any indication either of them are of them have read the book? >> guest: i know friends of tears have read the book because the nastiest reviews have been on the libertarian leaning side of the aisle. they're a democratic leaning thinkers for other reasons in "the boston globe," basically said the retreat was exaggerated. obama has in fact been engaged in a different way. i think the libertarian angle is
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more pronounced because they take the accusation of isolationism as some kind of spin on their care are. what i'm trying to say is you are operating in the great foreign policy tradition. i just happen to think that since world war it hasn't been especially thoughtful. >> host: we have about 45 minutes left. i would like to leave the book and talk about the author. you are 41 years old. is that correct? >> guest: 41. >> host: you were raised in mexico city. describe that, what that was like. just go -- >> guest: first of all, i was born in new york hurt i wonder why wikipedia keeps saying i was born in mexico. i was born to a father who was born in mexico and had a family business they are. when i was an instant, we moved there and that was where my childhood was. be an american race outside of
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the united states for a significant portion of time is terrific. 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, my parents would pack up our station wagon and drive from mexico city to mcallen texas. i haven't been back since i was a child but as a kid i remember it is heaven on earth. it was interesting because all you did was pass a little river. it was a different world. it was a world where you could put the glass in the sink and you could drink water from the tap. i remember to this day when i'm thirsty at night i don't get
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bottled water. i just put on the tap and drink a glass of water. it made me aware that a lot of words here in the u.s. leads to the men name and every day and taken for granted is quite extraordinary given what the rest of the world is like. before the advent of bottled water, you had to drink bottled water or you ran the risk of becoming seriously ill. it gave me an impression of the specialness of the united states that i don't think i would've had if i'd simply been raised in westchester. i'm an american citizen. put it this way. during the world cup this mexico hadn't been going up against the united states, i would've rooted for mexico and i'm tremendously proud of what mexico has accomplished over the last few decades despite the headlines about the narco traffickers. i love the country. it's one of the reasons why i think unlike many conservatives
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i've always been sympathetic to liberal immigration policy because i think what latin americans have contributed to american life is just as great as what immigrants of all that came over from lithuania and russia have also contributed. so that's two i think maybe alters and makes me a conservative with a slightly different angle. >> host: more about the author. where did you go to high school? >> guest: a school called middle front. a nurturing place. boarding schools get a terrible reputation of cool, even the best schools. i thought it was not only a fantastic education they were caring teachers, great emphasis on participation all truism. i started a little sort of alternative newspaper in high school, which gave me my first taste of the joy of writing something and having it rather than reacting to it.
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>> host: why was that alternative quest to >> guest: there was a mainstream paper and we thought we could do better. >> host: colter? >> guest: mainly the official paper published about four or five times a year and we were dedicated 300 students coming out every other week. so we published many more and we ended up getting ourselves into all kinds of trouble by riling the faculty insane things that now they look a little sophomoric >> host: i have. it's beautiful. >> host: university of chicago. what did you major in? >> guest: the shorter answer is i majored in philosophy. the long answer is fundamentals which really was a continuation of the great books program where we would spend a small group of students and the professor -- senior professor
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was banned for an entire semester sometimes two, reading just one book. for instance, reading aristotle reading thomas more's utopia, reading the base of the federalist and anti-federalist. so it was kind of an effort to really understand these writers in thinkers as they understood themselves rather than the way political science or history operates. >> host: were you a student journalist in college? >> guest: i was not. i wrote one or two pieces for the school paper. the university of chicago does not -- i worked harder at the university of chicago then i have any other time in my life. i look back on it with the vague feeling because i was supposed to be partying and having fun.
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on the other hand when i look at what i write as a columnist the way i think, my terms of reference they are so deeply in florence by what i was reading at the university of chicago that over time, the eco-signal becomes stronger not weaker and i'm not much more grateful that i have a first-class education. >> host: after that you went to london school of economics. why? >> guest: good question. why did i go to graduate school? it seemed like a good idea to time. as i could do it over i would not have gone. >> host: why? >> guest: the time was misspent. >> host: then what happened. just going to brief internship at the journal. when i was a graduate student i wrote it off to four -- i wrote an op-ed for my own edification
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really. and i thought let's see if i can get this published. i sent it to "the wall street journal" and they published it. it's a wonderful feeling that to this day the memory of waking up in the morning the day i did the piece was published, this was before the internet, so i ran out to the nearest bookseller bought a copy of the paper, anxiously turned the pages of marisol might highlight in "the wall street journal" and it was a marvelous sensation. >> host: was the topic? >> guest: the topic was nationalism and democracy. on the basis of that, i was given an internship. i got in touch with the editor, applied for an internship in the brussels office of the journal. i don't know what exactly they were thinking, but on the basis of a very brief internship, they hired me. you went to work for the journal
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in new york city shortly after that maybe a couple years after that, went to brussels. i started writing about the european a great deal. brussels has a great education and spending some time among a very diverse european. but then i started covering the middle east out of brussels and not long after september 11th -com,-com ma sort of out of the blue i got a phone call from the publisher of the jerusalem post to asked me if i would be interested in being the editor of the paper. i was 27 years old at the time. >> host: in jerusalem? >> guest: in jerusalem. this was the period of recurring suicide on maine's culminating in that terrible bombing in the city at the time you the
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theater dinner. almost 30 people dead by israeli forces at the west bank. the invasion by u.s. forces of iraq also coincided with my time there. it was like growing up fast as a journalist and having the responsibility for a newsroom being pressed into a position of some managerial responsibility was eye-opening. it was tough. i was there just shy of three years, but if felt like every year felt like it was completely equivalent. >> host: those three years in israel, how do you think that is a fact of the way you look at politics and philosophy? >> guest: well, i mentioned going up as a touchstone in my political worldview.
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when i was living in israel, met my wife there. our first child was born in israel. there've been four or five suicide bombings. i would say of five or 600-yard radius to my apartment, give or take. there is a suicide bombing from which i remember vividly in january 2004, literally down the street from where we live. my wife and i were fussing over our newborn baby at 3:30 4:00 in the morning. i heard a blast walked right out and i was just about the first person on the scene of the bombing. it was on a street that was a little bit of an angle yet just about a block shy of the residents of the prime minister. to see a suicide on main and the effect of a suicide on main right after the bombing, not 20
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minutes later when they put up the fire that started to cover the court says but immediately after give you a visceral signs of the horror of terrorism, the horror of these kinds of attacks. and so it is important. i'm 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 literally by the word carnage. what it means to blow people. 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. but you just understand in a visceral that people who have a quite figured out close. >> host: we are about midway through our interview.
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we should return to the content of the book. before i do that tell me why you decided to write this book and how tobacco. >> guest: my standard because my mother had been urging me to write a book. you'll end up riding it just to get her off your back. that's partly the truth. she was the match and it did help me start to write. a couple years ago in 2012 i sensed that we were entering into a period of disorder. i was a time when broadly speaking, most americans would've argued that we actually had kind of a window history, that the global situation was relatively benign. there were problems here and there, but on the whole we executed a responsible exit from iraq. remake in a responsible transition and nastiness and. we had reset relations with
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russia. we were trying to build a sensible relationship in asia so forth and so on. .. to anyone with an understandingof the first world war the origins of the first world war our its authority of crises at
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the periphery becoming crises at the center. i looked at iran continue to move towards nuclear capability and iraq descending into increasing chaos at what we've been called al-qaeda researched. so i had this idea that effect we're entering the period of global disorder and i flush that out in about an 8000 word article in "commentary" magazine. after writing the article i thought here is the scene and in fact, will really unites this is that all of this is happening as america has turned inward. 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 basis that is sure to write the book. >> host: your publisher signal which is conservative of penguin random house, major factor. what was the first printing of your copies?
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>> guest: you know, i don't know. i think we are somewhere over 30,000 year probably more but my agent would know that. >> host: all right. another question you might not know. how many have sold do you know over those 30,000? >> guest: the last i saw was at 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. i think it's selling well. >> host: and the c-span boost is about to happen. >> guest: and the lovely thing about c-span if i may shamelessly flout the people are watching this show is literate readers who care about the world, whether they agree with everything i say or not i think are sensible intelligent worldly. in this book hopefully as a contribution to their sense of the world. >> host: we have about a half hour left so let's get back to the book "america in retreat."
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page eight, a quote from john kerry, secretary of defense. secretary of state, excuse me. the air of the monroe doctrine is over. that's worth applauding. that's not a bad thing. explained that and what you think of it. >> guest: i think the monroe doctrine has served not only as, but latin america will. i say this as someone who -- >> host: for those who forget remind us estimate it was actually written by john quincy take that john quincy adams. it essentially is the doctrine for the united states will not allow european power or foreign powers to intervene and meddle in the affairs of the western hemisphere. look, right now the chinese are becoming patrons of the regime in venezuela, of an increasingly liberal friends i should say
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liberal regime in ecuador. the iranians we now know have extensive ties throughout 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 interest are well served by a secretary of state reviving a foreign policy doctrine that most people probably don't spend all the time thinking about simply in order to announce that it is dead. we do not want russia china rand intervening in latin america, and i don't think quite frankly venezuelans, cubans or ecuadorians do either. >> host: back to the book. part of your criticism of president obama which is much in the book, not the only one criticized. you refer to him as compared to
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the legendary king -- explained to the readers. >> guest: the viking king who stood on the shore line and commanded the tides recede to prove his godlike powers. when the president says the tide of war is receiving, he can only observe that hide receding. he cannot command it to show we can s.o.b. said you know what? the war in iraq is over and we're going to put an end to what used to be called the war on terrorism. president of the national defense university and may 2013 give a speech effectively saying exactly that, and we cannot allow this war on terror to define our generation. so we're going to change our attention to something else. and by the way, great news, al-qaeda, core al-qaeda us on the path to defeat and all the
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other terrorist groups and phyllis of al-qaeda offshoots, or 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 but lo and behold within just a few months of him offering this pronouncement, we saw a massive resurgence of care throughout central arab world. a year later in 2014, isis, what are your to call it took over mosul. now controls a territory that is enormous come has decided come is declared it is the caliphate. this is as misbegotten a pronouncement as george w. bush's notorious mission accomplished moment on that aircraft carrier. >> host: in the book you also
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write at one point only in the age of obama do wars and by means of attitude and expectation adjustment of learning to quote move on unquote left wing politics. what about vietnam? is there an analogy there? did vietnam do that? >> guest: will walk i mean -- well look vietnam gave rise to the wonderful phrase from george aiken, liberal vermont and senator -- lived -- let's declare victory and come home. i'm not going to get into the analogy because it's a complex analogy and in a sense it's almost an hour's worth of television time but let me speak to what the president was saying. he was saying, what we need to do is stop hyperventilating about this terrorism threat. lots of people okay so, for example, 12 of journalists have
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been murdered or 16 people were recently murdered in paris. a number of cartoonists who provoked jihadists islamic fanatics with their cartoons. but 16 people, how big is that? how important that the courts let us turn our attention to that. he referred to some woman who'd been badly scarred in the terror attack and this woman's comment was i move on. that's very admirable for this woman who suffered a atrociously in a terror attack. it's very hard for nation pashtun leon trotsky supposedly once said you may not be interested in war but war is interested in you. one could say he may not want to be interest in jihad. we may not want to be interest in the middle east but jihad and the middle east are interested in us. >> host: also in the book you write about peripheral
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conflicts. you mentioned spain in the 1930s, syria in this decade, and compare them. explain that a little bit to the readers. >> guest: spain, the civil war in spain became a proxy for in its day, in the 1930s house but my understanding is liberals in america supported getting involved in. >> guest: right. there's a famous abraham lincoln brigade. a distant relative of mine, a very famous, later a very famous composer went and bought in the abraham lincoln brigade. george orwell was involved but this was the one that brought in a sense or anticipated the kind of conflict that the world would have less than a decade later. the nazis were very involved. the germans were very involved supporting franco. i'm sure everyone has watched the show is my with the taping -- and people who on the left
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came into support the republic came into support the soviet union as well were on the other side. so this was a kind of proxy where they kept burning and burning an increasingly horrific ways to the descriptions of what happened in barcelona, catalonia but they really match some of the information, images that are coming out at this remote in the outskirts of damascus. cities become proxy wars allowed to burn out of control, and they help set the scene for larger complexes to follow close to what she would be doing in syria? >> guest: now it's 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 the stage for because the patient or the doctors or society or whoever has simply refused to treat it.
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let me tell you we should have done. we should have intervened early when the protests were entirely peaceful, when al-nusra front nixes, when isis didn't exist, when there was a real chance to overthrow bashar al-assad probably by using exiled syrian politicians bechard assad's former vice president, by a dissident syrian general. they could have formed a decent pluralistic coalition i could've held the country together the outcome cannot promise you that would've had a perfect outcome? of course not. we are in the realm of mood history if you will. but we did not invent. so they began a military complex and we have something called the free syrian army which compared with speaking with a group that we could have worked with. we could've worked swiftly and effectively to overthrow the assad regime to deal a blow to
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russia. we did nothing then. all of a sudden jihadists groups started forming and so the problem came we went from stage one, two, three, is stage four cancer we have right now which is the worst people, hezbollah on the one side with its backers of the assad regime in iran and islamic state on the other are contending for supremacy. so anyway right now someone like rand paul it was purging from the beginning, have no involved whatsoever to say, look it's one group of bad guys against another group of bad guys, and it played on all other houses but that doesn't justify the policy of an action that brought us to this terrible path where right now syria is not just the crisis in syria. it's a crisis for the entire world and it's a geopolitical disaster for the united states. i think the most important thing we can do now is first of all target the assad regime, establish no-fly zone to protect
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what remains for the free syrian army, continue to target in a much more muscular way islamic state. we need a shock and awe campaign against the islamic state, not a policy of pinprick bombing. and create some kind of space if it's possible and again i'm not anymore, i can't say with confidence that it is that some third alternative, 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 are also critical of paul bremmer actions in iraq and to call him the new douglas macarthur. why? >> guest: well actually he kind of reminds me of he was a wannabe douglas macarthur. douglas macarthur took over in japan in 1945 improved to be one of the most brilliant
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administrators and re- constructors the world has ever seen. we have douglas macarthur, when you think of douglas macarthur as a general master of the landing and the philippines and korea but she actually sent japan on the course where it's now this pacific, i mean that in a peaceful sense, not just a geographic sense, pacific technological advanced first world liberal democracy, all thanks to douglas macarthur. that happen because of the unique circumstances after world war ii and the genius of this ticket administrator. all bremmer came into iraq with a near zero approach that everything in iraq was totally destroyed, totally broken, and we had to disband the entire iraqi army. we had to be baffled by much of sort of the establishment in iraq and that proved to be toxic. it's an evidence of how much damage the wrong man in the
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wrong place at the wrong time can do. we shouldn't move very swiftly to restore sovereignty to the iraqis themselves. that doesn't mean getting our troops not necessarily but to restore sovereignty to the iraqis themselves, and we should have not tried to turn iraq into an exemplary state. if you want to ask me what in a nutshell in a cliché what is my view of the war we were right to go into right to make an example of saddam hussein. we spent 400 lives in the effort, took about nine months to pull him out of his spider hole. we will do the right to try try to make iraq into an exemplary state. that was another 4000 lives and a misbegotten ever which utterly failed in terms of iraq's political culture it failed in terms of american political culture. i don't think america will stand for 10 year efforts to stand up countries like iraq. >> host: elsewhere in the book you talk about pax americana. explained that. >> guest: pax americana is
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forgotten because it was a true empire. america is not a true empire. we have troops in 130 countries but that's only true if you count marine detachment and the embassy in say pairs formatted or stuff like that. but pax americana in a sense american 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 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 from time to time punishes certain source of gross violations of global order, for example, setting a chemical red light in syria and that allowed it to be trampled effectively. >> host: at the end of the book you call for more military
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spending and for more military employment more soldiers, and for us to become the world's policeman. who's going to support that? what politicians trip to i suspect quite a number of them would. the problem is the term world policeman has gotten a bad rap. i think he got a bad rap in part because of the way we conducted ourselves in iraq as i just described to to be a policeman is not to be policed. get asked about vietnam earlier. among the many mistakes in vietnam, the idea of a campaign for hearts and minds is in some ways wrong. hearts and minds is the work of priests for preachers. a policeman is simply in the business of shaping patterns of behavior. he is the guy in lieu standing right there come and give you a little old lady and you want to
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shop in your nearest bodega in new york, she will look at the policeman and feel safe. if you are a hoodlum if you're sort of looking for trouble come you look at the policeman as they i've got to take myself elsewhere. and if you're a bad guy and you want to knock the only vehicle that had come back up on this going to stop you or arrest you after. that's the role of the policeman. that's the role that the u.s. largely filled and fulfilled from most of the postwar era and for all the travails of the postwar -- post-world war ii we never suffered a major war as we did in world war ii. we created a free world that instead of countries like south korea, by defending them come in so a lot of people right now watching sure going to reach into the pocket applaud their samsung phone. samsung, that little piece of technology in your pocket is
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part of pax americana. it's what happens when we defend freedom at its -- we created a world that been stored freedom even if it isn't going to move completely there. american values, western liberal values when they're not the norm for their often the aspiration. that's the world we made by shaping certain patterns of behavior. and so i hope there's a candidate giving up in 2016 and i may have heard from some of these candidates who are interested in the thesis were looking for a foreign policy. they understand that they don't want the porridge which is too hot, which was the george w. bush recipe, but they don't want the porridge is too cold which has been the barack obama recipe. so what's the just right temperature for american foreign policy? this book is an effort to offer that just write porridge. >> host: we have about 12 minutes left and i want to go to
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what's going to happen in the next presidential election but when you step back and question if we spend more money on being the world's policeman, does that mean with less money to spend on domestic? >> guest: look, a couple of points. yes, in some sense it means that, although we have as much money to spend as we're growing our economy. people have confidence in our economy and confidence by our debt. we now spend well under 4% of gdp on defense. that is historically a very low figure. during the carter years we were spending close to 6% on defense. during the eisenhower years we were spending about 10% of gdp on defense. the average between 1962-2007, basically a cuban missile crisis through the end of the cold war the clinton years and the return to the war on terror was about 5.5%. right now we're spending very little on our defense and it
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showing up in the fact we have are moving towards the smallest armed with had since before the beginning of the second world war, the smallest navy we've had since about the first world war and air force that is undercapitalized, very old. people are flying planes that are as old as their grandfathers are in some cases, b-52's were built in the early 1960s. yet we do need to spend money on defense. defense is a quote responsibility of government. people so what about the debt and deficit? that comes from our entitlements. that's where the money goes. if you want to address in a serious way our debt problems, addressed the entitlement problem. you will not do it on the back of the pentagon's budget. europe is both bankrupt and defenseless at one and the same time because they went for precisely that recipe. >> host: hillary clinton was not mentioned much in the book although there is this prediction for the future. talk all the bit about why you
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didn't write more about hillary and what you see of her presidential campaign, assuming there is one. >> guest: look, i do write about ever. or is an entire chapter in the book. people are perusing the bookstore after they've watched the show. turn to chapter nine, which is set in the year christmas day 2019. hillary clinton as president and she is -- >> host: i think she is easily beaten rand paul. >> guest: this is my scenario. put it this way. i kind of cold that my inner tom clancy for a chapter in the book and i want to offer a scenario for the future that was plausible on current trends. by the way the first thing i write about in that scenario when i wrote this up well over year ago is the price of oil is going to plummet. the value of the dollar is going to rise. this is going to sharply hurt
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the economy of commodity dependent countries like russia and so far the prediction looks pretty good. so i do write about hillary in that sense. i'm not shocked todd. i'm not a writer about political personalities. -- chuck todd. my sense is hillary clinton foreign policy to the extent it's like her husband's, falls more into the mainstream of american foreign policymaking in the post-world war ii period and barack obama. barack obama and what he represented a fundamental break from the post-world war ii bipartisan tradition begun with harry truman continued with jack kennedy, richard nixon, ronald reagan, bill clinton george w. bush. and so my sense is that she would be comparatively a much more realistic less ideological foreign policy president.
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is she my first choice? probably not. >> host: hoosier first choice transferred i don't have a first choice yet because i don't know who the field is. >> host: who in the field are you most interested in? >> guest: you know, i kind of say don't know because so for the people who are in the field have not been notable for the foreign policy credit. maybe marco rubio has established a profile on foreign policy in a way that other would be contenders have not. the guy who was me, and look i have to be frank about this. a guy who worries me is rand paul. i understand rand paul is not his father. i think his father sells foreign policy moonshine, in my view ron paul. 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. but some of the things he has
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said worries me. but basically, i think that rand paul comes as close in the republican field or comes much closer to barack obama in terms of foreign policy outlook than any of the other perspective republican presidential contenders. barack obama wants less of a foreign policy of the global footprint for the united states for the sake of a bigger government and rand paul wants it for the sake of a smaller government. >> host: did you interview any of these politicians at all? >> guest: we often meet with them. >> host: on or off the record of? >> guest: the best exchanges are off the record exchanges but it varies. but it's an opportunity to spend an hour or so with an interesting political figure, a governor senator prospective presidential candidate or some people of note and really get to pick their brains and see if they're capable of answering the
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following questions. most politicians will prep for the obvious questions. you're a journalist so you know this every bit as i do. they have sort of read the four-page kind of cheat sheet but when you really start to see guys at work is when you start probing a little further and wondering if the given any kind of thought to monetary policy, the value of the dollar, the nature of american military engagement, what we got right, what we got wrong in afghanistan or iraq, why that matters to the president. it's important to be able to put especially the next presidential contenders to that kind of test. i would much rather instead of these debates that we have to have kind of a c-span our sort we're having a work i like you can really push each of these candidates to see what happens after they say i don't know we
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need a strong america or america is an indispensable country, or one cliché or another. push them and see if there's any doubt. because the president can't just operate in the realm of sound bites your. >> host: have you ever interviewed president obama? >> guest: i never have. >> host: what question would you ask him? >> guest: what are you going to do to change your national security team for the remainder of your two years in office. i think we're entering into a uniquely dangerous period of time when our adversaries overseas and that there's a week, feckless, and decisive president who anyway is more interested in his domestic legacy and foreign policy legacy. and that's very problematic and i think you conceived in the kind of combination of incompetence and indifference that help explain our no-show in the political rally in paris. i would start asking about the nature he has -- if that weren't
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off the record conversation but you would never say something publicly but that's what i would like to know. i think the next two years are going to be very very choppy waters over the united states. by the way it's not just that our enemies think that we are weak and a resolute and this is an opportunity to do what they think, our allies also worked to if you are in israel or saudi arabia may ask yourself whether american guarantee, the sort your light on for decades and decades are many good if you don't need to start freelancing your foreign policy in ways that might nonetheless involve the united states at the time and manner. >> host: we are down to two minutes left in the hour, and so i want to read to you the last sentence you write of trenton and ask you to explain it a little bit and that's where you'reyouwrite, do not dismiss america from its job as the world's policeman.
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when the thugs and scofflaws show up in your neighborhood as they sometimes do, you will be grateful to know that cop is to walking his old beat reassuring presence in the still dangerous world. make that case that why america should be the world's policeman. i don't think necessary popular image. >> guest: what about new zealand? newseum is a lovely country. we are not a country that will be irrelevant to the rest of the 20%. we are still going to be the premier, the preferred target for terrorist. but we are still going to be the country china is going to want to replace. we are still going to be involved in the struggles and the future of little countries from estonia to taiwan to israel, poland and so on. we are going to be the world's number one country for the rest of this century because this is a country with amazing capability of renewal and regeneration. and so we're not going to be able to essentially


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