tv Book Discussion on Strategic Failure CSPAN August 1, 2015 10:30am-11:54am EDT
>> good morning or afternoon however you decide to part this time of day. thank you for coming audience to this book event and thank you audience on c-span for watching us in what would be a fascinating hour and a half discussing new book strategic failure. strategic failure, i think a book that every republican candidate ought to be reading and whose staff ought to be examining chapter by chapter to see how we got in this terrible six that we got in right now the united states position there, and also some key ideas of how we get ourselves out. mark has written a book which i
think comes of kindliness for understanding what's happening around the world couldn't have been in tune with the american public today. poll after poll shows that the american public is deeply disquieted with our position as vis-a-vis other powers inalluding -- including russia and china and allies and are worried about increasing instability and violence around the world particularly with the rise of the radical terrorist organization isis. a lot of people were thinking that when we elected on barack obama in 2008 this is not where
we were supposed to be. today's paper, wall street journal, big front page article why obama doesn't seem to be getting a break. he came wanting to build a new relationship with iran in the middle east, wanting to deal with climate change, restore relations with cuba and also to deemphasis the role of military power and military presence around the world and emphasissing in diplomatic engagement with powers great and small that encompass the globe.
despite obama's great hope for the future, bright new future, instead what he's been hit with is the rise of russia, of china as aggressive power t rise of isis iraq and the possible december -- dis disdis >> his book as you'll find out strategic failure deals with the root causes between those areas. i welcome to this session in hudson institute he brings an
understanding of military history and also a keying grasp as to how it applies to actual policy and shaping of policy. in mark's particular case both in iraq and after -- afghanistan mark moy er professional, also formerly, also formerly from the joint special operations university in which he was teaching he has worked as a consultant to both central demand and also to the international security a book that rewhere i say the history
-- rewrites the history of the vietnam war. it has had an impact in asia, relationship to our past ventures in a future role of asia. i'm really delighted and a chance to ask not just about his book but also how he sees it fitting into the world of the united states in world. so mark, let me ask you as i mentioned, we're talking about the wall street journal article that sense that we have that the relationship between a -- the obama administration of
america's military presence, military spending and also that the relationship to the sudden growing instability around the world that these things are quite of a coincidence. do you agree? >> i do agree with that. i do have competing impulses in the obama administration which i think together has lead us to this point. one thing that you always have to keep in mind was this administration is that from the beginning it has been focused more on domestic issues than international issues. i spent a lot of time looking at. early on we see him getting in afghanistan. like him and johnson had
ambitious relations. we see as also occurred with lyndon johnson over time policy issues keep creeping in more and more. one of the reasons for is that -- was for the crisis keep off the front page. you're not proactively pursuing some kind of strategy which over time will come back to bite you. we also have certainly within the obama administration impulse that says e we don't need to spend. we are going to do less of the hard power. that's been part of this administration's policies, also the idea that we could use
drones as the instrument, that we could afford down to cut down on forces has been central to this approach. and we've seen finally come to go recognize that may not have worked so well, so we're try to go get back. military spending and we can reduce. we saw in world war i and world war ii. okay we don't need this and we have a korean war five years later. i think what also is at work that by cutting defense spending we are reducing capability, we are inviting further aggression.
the nation -- we cannot afford to go through defense and then catch up. unfortunately that usually results in deaths of lots of america that are not well prepared for the next war. we owe it to those people who maintain prepareness in addition to have power. >> lets talk about military spending tanned obama's administration. not just the obama administration but the impact, what reductions when obama and congress could not reach an agreement on deficit reduction. ..
through espionage. we certainly see a rising threat from china and russia but looking long term we want to keep investing and with sequestration, the uncertainty in the environment has undermined what has been going on in the defense sector and in terms of ground forces there is a real concern we don't have enough, we of the world's only global power and part of the administration's approach, their view was we were going to get a lot of other countries to pick up the slack for us. nato tried to get as involved in afghanistan and they let establish nato defense spending is paltry and even though we cut our own spending they are not acting. we can't get the middle eastern countries to do the things we would like. there isn't really a viable
substitute for american power and if you look at iran there is certainly a lot for us to be concerned about. land forces are so relevant as a deterrent also we have to deal with iranian nuclear weapons. at eastern europe, the situation is very troubling we have belatedly seen the obama administration send token forces on a temporary basis, but there is clearly a recognition that we need more forces in eastern europe and afghanistan it is not clear what we are going to do but we need forces given how small ground forces are, we really do need to to do the sorts of things that need to be done today. >> the last extensive ground operation the united states
conducted was iraq. one of the most significant changes in the obama administration is a shift in policy and how to deal with iraq and the role of american presidents there and the question which you see debated in the media which is who is to blame for the growing mass and instability not just in iraq but the entire region but also the role of isis, how do you assess those issues? >> in iraq you can question the wisdom of going in in 2003, given what we know about wm d, there is a strong case that if we had it to do over again, we would have left saddam hussein in power but that is 20/20 hindsight. when president obama comes to
office that is long past. he is faced with a situation where we have expended a great deal of american blood and treasure this is after president obama during that 2007 surge was saying wasn't going to work but by 2009 he agrees iraq brought pretty well, sunni, shiite, kurd slipping together. and at that point iraq was on the road to being a potentially ground-breaking development in the arab world's where you have a democracy that was functioning, different groups largely getting along and so what ever else happened before that, we had an opportunity in iraq, at relatively low cost to see this through, and the military at the time was arguing
the situation is fragile in iraq, we need american troops here in the long term to preserve this and if you look at what is going on in iraq 2009, 2010 you can see clearly the value of the american footprint, military footprint in iraq. we have lingering tensions between shiites and sunnis, arabs and kurds, the forces are there some times on the ground preventing forces from coming to blows. we have u.s. military presence allowing us to influence the iraqi government, prime minister malady --maliki had his shi'ite predilections early on. we wanted to make this work, we were able to tell him back off on provocative actions you are taking. >> this was in 2009-2010. >> in 2010 we had a disputed parliamentary elections. >> to interrupt and remind
everybody, that was about the time the obama administration was touting the peace and stability in iraq as one of his leading foreign policy accomplishments. >> that is absolutely wright. you get to this election in 2010 where sunnis and some secular shi'ites have a slight majority over maliki and there is an impasse where neither side can get at majority and the u.s. has in its power the ability to decide who is going to be the prime minister and a dispute within the administration, joe biden is the president's point man pushing for maliki and we think maliki is not the best candidate, seems to be moving too close to iran, too sectarian but joe biden and his camp win
the day they keep maliki to ensure he is the prime minister and stays on and you now hear the administration blaming everything on maliki is a little disingenuous because they are responsible for keeping him in there. 2011 lot of debate over what the u.s. future is going to be like. for the most part joy biden and others think we will have some presence, most of the debate is how big a presence after 2011 the u.s. will have and the obama administration late in the day brings up claims that the iraqi parliament to approve our presence and give them immunity give troops immunity from prosecution and this will later be used by the administration to say we were forced out of iraq because the iraqis put conditions on it. this was 2013 when things were -- in 2014 if you recall we send our troops back in without
getting those grants approval from parliament. that is pretax, obama himself did not want to keep troops there partly just because he didn't think it was necessary. he was going around telling everyone i ended the war in iraq but wanted to claim we were out, and the last troops at the end of 2011, maliki is unleashed, arrest warrant for his own vice president, the leading see any politician and others get arrested and in the ensuing period and 12 starts to kick a lot of sunnis out of the armed forces which americans are wondering, 2014 why is the iraqi army so bad? we let maliki kick out a lot of sunni officers and a lot of
sunnis went over to isis. so i think -- >> agree recruiting tool for isis. >> perhaps the biggest biggest single blunder of his presidency which there have been of you. the decision not to keep american troops in iraq. >> let's probe a little bit why we did this and why the obama administration was reluctant to push on an agreement some people arguing they never had any intention, they wanted all american troops out. didn't it rest on a fundamental assumption which you have seen very often in certain foreign policy circles, that a u.s. military presence is almost a provocative presence that tends to foment confrontation to stir
up animosity, stirrup anti-american feeling, destabilize countries and regions when we have fought robust military presence and on the converse, when you pull back american forces people talk about the obama retreat, the american retreat, when you pull back the american military presence, as the terminology goes, as small footprint even an invisible footprints, then in fact you are actually doing well in terms of foreign policy and in terms of an american security policy that encourages stability and discourages conflict. is your thesis in this book, what we're seeing is the opposite? >> that is right. that is a debt that the obama administration made in several key places. iraq certainly is part of their argument. you don't need to look far
within iraq to see that argument is false. and early occupation under general katie from 2004-2006, general casey and others were arguing the biggest cause of conflict in iraq is a is enough of a reaction against the american president so let's pull our troops back there is a conscious effort to pull american troops into bases away from the population and the premise that once we do that the iraqis are going to calm down. the iraqi government kept failing and general david petraeus comes in in 2007 and we realize the answer to these problems are americans because the iraqis can't do it so we see americans coming and senator obama in 2007 was saying the americans, we send more troops
to will just stir up joy that's nest more and that turns out not to be the case. it proved false in iraq and there was a sense of pulling out in 2011 things will be better in iraq and we saw the rise of isis didn't work out the administration made the same argument, pull our troops out of afghanistan and in libya the administration said won't sent troops into libya after we destroy their government because it will stir up insurgency. air may be certain cases people don't like americans and it may incite violence but as a general principle arguing this should be
a driving force, the truth is most of these enemies are not driven by the american presence, you are better off in some cases using americans, it is necessary because our allies cannot do what we would like him to do. >> let's talk about afghanistan. the most fascinating parts of your book deal with afghanistan. that is a war, an operation with which we are intimately familiar adviser to asap on that. give your assessment on the trajectory of the obama policy starting from 2009 when they put together strategy in dealing with afghanistan to where we are now and give some idea where you think things are going to go if current trends continue. >> afghanistan has a lot to do with how i came to write the book.
i spent a fair amount of time in afghanistan working on afghan issues. president obama came in in 2009, he promised he was going to ramp up what he called the smart work in iraq, afghanistan was seen as being the war that was popular, the 9/11 attackers came from there. he was going to show he was tough on national security and he does agree to increase troops which i thought at the time was a good idea. most of the military was part of that. he put short time frame on participation against the advice of the military. and many others saw a lot of afghans dredging their bets. not siding with the united states in 2010-2011 and we were going to sell them out as we had
in the 1990s. i and others were dissatisfied with this timeline president obama put upon which seemed to be motivated by politics and the more we know about, the more that is true. the decision to go in was driven by this political self-interest rather than merits of the situation. more troubling for me and a lot of others, in 2011 pull out counterinsurgency campaign. the joint chiefs were saying can i pacify southern afghanistan, and do other hotbeds of insurgency which is eastern afghanistan. obama administration decided it is costly and expensive, and we don't need to do that.
and we do with the military says and we are now saying all these people got killed in southern afghanistan we didn't need to do at and so the way that was presented to the public was misleading. a lot of that let me to write this book along with pulling out of iraq. all lost in the earlier ones, to support things and in 2012, the administration with its own political gains. we have seen as mentioned before, if we pull out of afghanistan the afghans were going to to stop fighting so
much against us, the taliban to be reconciled because america was there and once it was afghans they get together and intensified violence and earlier this year we had of leading the u.s. journal saying afghan forces were taking casualties at a rate that was unsustainable and we have clearly mismanaged relations with pakistan. they continue to support the taliban. we had an opportunity, this was another from with the rapid pullout, pakistani came to the view that america was not in for the long haul so they wanted the taliban to come back they think we are going to leave and india will fill the void and they can't stand for that. it looks like we were not going to have troops in afghanistan. we saw how bad it was in iraq.
if we continue to diaz the late under current plans, afghanistan is going to fall apart and that will have tremendously damaging ramifications in pakistan where we have great interest. >> critic would say it was a hopeless case from the start. we put in the wrong person, hamid karzai, is hopelessly corrupt, the government is hopelessly corrupt. the afghan national army was corrupt and incompetent like its iraqi counterpart. what we look at and look over what is happening in the middle east, what we are saying is societies and countries which are in a state of extensive collapse and failure there is nothing the united states could have done to patch this situation up.
trying to with stablish democracy in afghanistan and in iraq with schools and the united states should have instead maintained a hands-off approach and it is not just the best policy but the only -- the best worst policy in dealing with countries in situations like that. given your experiences in afghanistan do you think this would have had a completely different outcome, needed a different point. than we are. if a different strategy and different policy followed. >> there have been a lot of mistakes made in afghanistan. we struggled because we have vacillated between policy of trying to turn afghanistan into a viable democracy and one of narrowly focusing on our own interests. one thing we got to keep in mind with afghanistan is in the early
days trying to rebuild afghanistan we out forced a lot to the european police for example. we let the germans handle that and assigned few resources to it. it was poorly managed. we lost a lot of time and a problem with our european allies. it will be great to get the french and germans to do things take the burden off of us and the reality is they have not been able to do a lot of things so we got behind the curve on afghanistan. we were sending our resources to iraq. it is a long-term process to nation-building and too often we neglect that. is the generational project end the american people have the patience for this. >> nation-building has become a dirty word in politics. you can't talk about nation building without being shown the
door. >> that is right and part of it is again the hasty approach in iraq and afghanistan we sometimes think we can dump the huge amounts of resources in and it will solve a problem and it is a long-term process. this really gets into the debate in the obama administration what to do, in 2009 a lot of leading figures saying we are going to nation building, we won't call it that but we will do counterinsurgency, pacifies this place, secure it and you have joy biden and another individuale biden and another individual saying that is too ambitious. 2009 general david petraeus, general stanley mcchrystal, they argue the strategy is absurd, trying to focus that narrowly is not going to work in the context
of afghanistan. so in 2009, fast forward to 2011, joe biden is making these arguments, coming up with arguments that counterinsurgency hasn't worked in afghanistan. so he is able to gain new support for his strategy thanks to the fact the general david petraeus and general stanley mcchrystal are moving on and you have more political support for the president moving into senior positions so we get the president to buy off on this strategy and we will use our drones in special operations forces to kill any enemies that happen to be here and by the way this then becomes a tragic not just for afghanistan but for the u.s. presence read large, conveniently allow the administration to say we don't need big ground forces because we can use special operations and drones. >> let's talk about drones for a
second. when we talk about the hands of small footprint approach to american conflict american power everywhere but particularly in the war on terror this has become a hallmark of the obama administration. the numbers of creditor drone attacks if you chart the mom am mom aon a graph from the bush administration is a straight curve up and it is the principle to buy which obama and his advisers deal with the terrorist threat, the terrorist threat they dare not name. this is a reliance which the obama administration justified on the grounds that it has been
highly successful in crippling al qaeda. a couple weeks ago there was a senior al qaeda official in libya who was killed by a predator drone strike and the obama administration has been able to play to these numbers of high-profile, high leadership positions that have been vacated thanks to creditor drones strikes and the body count if i can use that term for the war on terror thanks to the drone strikes as measures of success. what i find interesting about your book and i am going to ask about that but i want to do it this way. what i find interesting about your book is most of us right now are focused on the threat from isis, you remind us that al qaeda far from being an extinct presence is very much alive and very much part of the terror
networks and the growing threats that we have to deal with. what is the relationship between obama's much touted drone strike counter terrorist strategy and continuing growth and continuing viability of al qaeda, not to mention isis. >> guest: drones can be useful, they have scored some successes. the problem with the administration is they turned them into a strategy in many cases as a substitute for other things that need to be done and this is driven by domestic politics. early on the president and rahm emanuel saw this as a way to be tough on national security. a lot of information said to the public about drones was inaccurate. the administration touted the numbers in pakistan. it turns out the vast majority of the people killed in pakistan
were not important terrorists. a lot were enemies of the pakistani government. the pakistani government wanted to get rid of. innocent civilians killed, we have seen most countries don't let us use drugs which mostly pakistan and yemen have we done a lot. yemen, pretty stark case of the limitations. >> back up a second so we understand the full import of that. the fact that so many of these predator strikes and killing of high-profile terrorists and al qaeda leaders in yemen and pakistan isn't because that is where they are hanging out but because those are the two countries with the most liberal policies about letting america conduct those strikes. overtime permissions diminished because we were killing the wrong people or the fallout in
the bin laden raid which was seen as a great example of precision strikes led the pakistanis tiexiera down a drone bass and interfere with the cia which collected the information and even when drones were at their height in pakistan, the subway bomber and that truck into times square, they were actually training in pakistan at the same time. most troubling to beat the drones, counterdrone technology, in pakistan we have seen they moved, al qaeda moved into the big cities where we can't use our drones and too much risk of civilian casualties. the impact of drones, there is still value to them and
surveillance it has gone to pieces, pushing president obama to use counterinsurgency and the administration said we don't need to do that. now we had to pull out our special operators in the cia so we can't do much at all in terms of don't strikes. there was one recent success which got a lot of attention but turned down that was a signature strike which is based on suspicious behavior, we didn't actually know that was a senior al qaeda leader. the world's leaders terry and -- leading terrorist bombmakers in yemen, we have not gotten him. i worry about al qaeda and pakistan, they have been somewhat quiet recently but most indications they seem to be rebuilding in pakistan's cities. that is part -- we pull out of
afghanistan that will impact al qaeda in pakistan. >> host: if the drone strategy isn't working, some prescriptions from mark moyar how to correct the direction. my last question i will get to in a broader sense but for now looking at the drone strategy what is the alternative for the united states? >> guest: certainly a lot of the good alternatives we have lost out now. we made some decisions where we put ourselves in a hole. yemeni year ago we could have been talking about how to build up the government counterinsurgency capabilities. we don't have a government to work with. it will be a lot harder. we do at some point try to build up larger military forces in the case of yemen, trying to get that arab countries to do that. i don't think they are doing a good job.
pakistan, our relationship now is in sorry shape because in recent years we can to some extent ease the pakistani government concerns about afghanistan by maintaining a u.s. presence. we need to increase our presence, the current small footprint is not what our military recommended so we need more troops for the long term. even if we don't keep them forever. and make clear we will keep them there as long as we need to. if it is 100 years, we can tell people, simply conveying the message we don't have plans to pull out its is important. >> do we still have troops in january in germany and south korea? getting on toward 7 years. >> that is correct. >> numbering in the hundreds of
thousands commitments of that size. it is commitments to a specific strategy. your other book which i should mention in vietnam is a book on the history of counterinsurgency, doctoring the evolution of day. what happened as a result of the war in iraq, its very success in some ways did something to poison the well because counterinsurgency became first of all associated with state building which as i say is a dirty word bipartisan consensus on defense, we do not want to engage in state building and it became identified with long grueling processes in which the iraq war unfolded from its hopeful beginnings in 2003 until finally the general betray a surge -- general david petraeus surge paid off on the eve of the
2008 election. as an advocate of counterinsurgency saying this is an important strategy the united states needs to hang on to end the aware of, not the only one but a key one. how do you deal with those who were critics of counterinsurgency and say it either gets us so involved in other countries of fares in which it is a hopeless task, or that takes -- the american public won't have patience for it and it is a strategy that in the long term is one of diminishing returns. >> unfortunately a lot of people think counterinsurgency is self -- a book in the wall street journal called how to lose a war the right way a right way to lose a war. that book makes the argument these kind of insurgency wars
are inherently intractable. my point is counterinsurgency, part of the problem you allude to is the counterinsurgency enthusiasts believe you just had to pull out the manual and do these things and will work great and it is more complicated than that. we have seen some disillusionment and part of the obama administration's frustration with afghanistan was it wasn't as easy as some of the proponents suggested. what i believe and certainly what i have argued is counterinsurgency depends heavily on the leadership and human capital brought to bear on both sides. if you have a strong pull of leaders on the counterinsurgency side chances are pretty good you will succeed and historically we have seen quite a few that worked well. we obscene the philippines, colombia, el salvador, successes
in afghanistan and iraq. we need to move away from the view that counterinsurgency is acute or all or that it never works because it depends on the context and who was involved. >> couldn't you say one of the reasons the evolution of a successful strategy in iraq took so long was because after vietnam and what was felt to be the failed u.s. strategy there [talking over each other] those were put initial vendor allowed to gather dust and forgotten even with the marine corps which was the progenitor of counterinsurgency and this is one of the problems when you don't treat it as an important tool of the box you find yourself in a situation in which you have to go back to the old toolbox and dig it out again and get it to work and you have crucial decade or two of lost
doctrine. >> that is one of the problems we face 2012 the obama administration said we are not going to do prolonged stability operations and there is a sense that we have done counterinsurgency, it was may see, we didn't like it and if we remove a capability to do it we will not do it again and we have seen historically that we get surprised by these kinds of wars. in iraq and afghanistan, we didn't want to do counterinsurgency in either of those places and bush said we won't do these things but we end up in iraq and suddenly things go south and we decide we can't afford to pull out. afghanistan we went in, turned things over to the europeans, they couldn't handle it. al qaeda makes a resurgence and we decide it is in our interest to go back and do counterinsurgency and so i think
we have a -- for the predicting where the next war will be. that we can know we won't have to do these again is very dangerous and are summitry if we are not prepared, the people who will pay the most are the people in the armed forces who won't be prepared for that war. >> host: with american retreat during the six years of the obama administration has now come the advance of other powers russia china, iran. you can't make the argument that the strategic failures you describe in the book is the result of withdrawal of american troops from those countries and those regions. how do you attribute this? there is a pattern here to the way in which these aggressor nations are taking full opportunity but how is it related directly to the way in
which the obama administration policy in other areas have rebounded to creating new strategic threats in other parts of the world? >> guest: cutting the defense budget which was driven to a large extent by what is going on in the middle east has had a global impact i think our enemies have been encouraged by that and more importantly our friends have become more concerned, they doubt our credibility but added to that, they look at decisions the united states has made, the syrian red line we backed away from. the administration has consistently been reluctant to stand up for things, the ukraine is particularly disturbing example where we agreed to protect them if they give up their nuclear weapons that they are under attack and we don't do anything. that is particularly disconcerting.
in the case of china we provoke them by saying we are going to have that to asia and that simulated air defense spending but we end ed up not executing the cavett because we cut the defense budget, did not have resources to send so there has been a lot of missteps in terms of public messaging which is a white house responsibility. you have to pay attention to what the white house is saying and we are below 3% of gdp, has created a lot of worries among countries and a lot of countries want to end up being on the side of the power that is going to the most powerful in their region and they are thinking it won't be the united states. >> host: the conclusion of your
book you have this statement. by the time barack obama vacates the white house could go down in history as a president who fought with america's global capt. see and ushered in a long era of global strife and instability. the next president as obama vacates and the new one moves in, let's assume that he or she wants to reverse that process. now is your chance to tell us about how you would prescribe, what advice you would give the president to reverse that process. what would you do? how would you handle the situation in afghanistan in order to bring that to success or even a victory? >> guest: i would first commits the u.s. to presence beyond
2016. we need to increase the number of troops to 20,000, and got on operations. >> host: not a big jump. >> guest: for iraq the same thing we need 20,000 troops, what we're doing right now, keeping behind the wire in iraq. we have to send people what we have done we can't have the courage to do everything the turks coming, we can't do and are awakening because we have set a joe alienated this unease. we don't want them to take over and put the country into iran's orbit said that will be a long term longer-term process in the case of iraq. broadly we need to increase defense spending, 4% gdp which historically is low but you could justify going to 5% and
certainly 4% is doable. what the next person has to do is engage with the public and this president has done very little to explain to the american people why we need overseas commitments. if you look at polls, public support for overseas intervention is down and a lot of that is the president's fault because if you look if he came to office in 2009 saying he would get tough in afghanistan he felt he had to do that to show he was serious on national security and at the time people support that, he got elected public support has faded because they have seen the president not committed to these conflicts and doesn't allow and explain to the people as more effective presidents of done. people go out and vigorously explain why we need to send 4% of gdp on defense, why we still need to be engaged in the world's and that will go a long
way. the other thing in terms of public messaging is there has to be a new tone. this administration tends to react, no american boots on the ground and we don't want to send american troops where they are needed, this administration is too ready to rule out options and that has encouraged other countries and is a discouragement to allies and we won't be there when things get tough. >> we spend more time talking about what we are not going to do than thinking about what we are going to do. should we open up to questions from the audience? >> guest: that would be great. >> host: have a microphone come around to you if you could give your name and also any institutional affiliation you care to divulge, starting in the
back, the gentleman there. >> thank you for your talk. i teach political science at george washington university. i have a question. 52 days from today would be the 25 food anniversary of saddam hussein's invasion of kuwait. many people said the war ended broadly in february march 1990. how did this conclusion by bush senior contribute to what we are witnessing now? >> that is a good question, would take a lot of time joy -- it might have made sense to go in at that point but at that time we probably would likely have made the same mistake
underestimating what it had taken to stabilize the country. there was an option you could have pursued, decapitate the regime and put the rest of the leadership, let the military run an authoritarian government, had you done that things would have played out differently. is hard to know all the steps that would have come in the interim. looking back in hindsight it would have been great if saddam hussein was still there. iran has become the mud dominant forces and a fair amount of truth to that. we could have prevented iran from gaining its dominant position had we not pull out in
2011 because that opened the door and that will be hard for us to get away from and now you have 100,000 iraqi troops trained by iranians and a small number we have trained but in the long term what we have -- there is still a hope that we can keep it from becoming completely pro iranian because that is the only way you can have a unified iraqi government trying to to do three separate governments. you have a problem with the kurds, turkey is saying they will go in militarily because they don't want the kurdish nation having sunni state is also workable but sunnis, there's not a good way to engage them because we let them down repeatedly and trying to rehabilitate them will be problematic. we have to be in iraq for a long
time. >> then we will come forward. just behind you. >> thank you. my affiliation is not relevant to this meeting. i was wondering what your attitude is to the neocon idea that the middle east is going to advance our political interests or self-interest. do you have any opinions on that? >> i think there is certainly some merit to it. i think in how we got to iraq's position in 2009 is not how we would like to have gotten there but there was an opportunity created that it would have made sense. in 2003 there were a lot of people who underestimate what it would take to democratize iraq.
there was the believe that you introduce the institutions and quickly democratize the country and what experience has shown is culture is a big part of democracy. you have to have a culture that is tolerant and willing to embrace democracy and you don't have that in authoritarian states. is a long-term process. 20 years or more often times is going to be required. in hindsight does it make sense to invade countries and tried to impose democracy militarily. we have seen from iraq and afghanistan is harder than we thought. in terms of doing it militarily, we have reason to be more pessimistic. in the long term i think you can make a case that there's still debate over whether islamic countries can really be made, arab islamic countries can be made into democracies.
i don't think it is impossible. we had a great opportunity in iraq to show it was working and didn't work. tunisia is an option as well. we are seeing catastrophic terror attack on friday that tunisia is in a fragile place and there are certainly people there who want democracy but that is by no means certain. that is something to keep our eye on. >> two quick words in support and partly in disagreement on those points. one is it is important to realize that the professor's questions that one of the factors that would have made the drive to baghdad in the first gulf war a more successful outcome would have been we would not have been in the human leading position a year later of having betrayed the shi'ite
outcome of the war in iraq one of the thing that is helped undermind that were the sanctions. the u.s. sanctions imposed after the war deeply wanding the streets begging for money because there was none. and so the degree to which saddam hussein in power did go a long way, i think to creating conditions that made the u.s. mission of pas -- pass the country. we could be all afternoon. lets move on to the next
question. here we have three in the front here and then we will come to the other side too. here there and then those three. >> hi, thank you for hosting this event. yesterday two major things happened in china economic, first of all was a black monday in the stock market and secondly asian infrastructure. i aa bs was able to launch and with 57 presents, 57 countries signed agreement and do you think this result is reflection of american foreign policy. it's hard to see this country like choose sides.
in u.s. you have a japan by side, but one compared to 50. how america regains the trust and also for taiwán policy and china policy, taiwán is want to play a bigger role with the crisis. if i remember correctly congressmen said this is not to wise politics and that he used more straightforward words, how do you think about the taiwán policy and china policy? >> you know, this is a very interesting important question. we have not talked about china at all. survey ago american foreign
policy takes a long time right now. you have to be selective about where you target. lets talk about china as another example of the obama strategic failures you talk in the book. >> the very telling and troubling development where most of the u.s. allies in the region ended up going along with china specially after the u.s. encouraged them not to. that is a reflection of declining confidence in the united states. i think in part of it is specifically what the u.s. is doing in the asian pacific. china appears to be pursuing a policy of gaining control of waters small provocation.
a case where the u.s. could have taken a harder line. when other countries see not standing firm against china that causes them to change outlook and having covered vietnam, if you look back to 1960s, something aren't that different from then, you have u.s./china competing for -- most countries in asia are conscious of who is stronger. china, their defense budget is building bigger, they're building artificial islands big
ships, that they are going to become a great power. the united states we are declining budget or showing in oh parts of the world that we are in retreat. i think there's a great fear of isolation in the united states which i think is not just a problem with the administration, there's also within the republican party. there's isolation weighing in and i talk about the generation seems to be more incline over isolation. and that again is why i think national leadership can be important in terms of explaining to people -- explaining the american people why we need to be concerned about what is going
on in the south china sea. i think right now certainly america is in the decline in the asia pacific region. it doesn't have to be, but if he keep shrinking the defense budget smaller naval presence. the intent was correct that we need more military forces there to strengthen confidence in us. >> the next question, the gentleman there and then you and you are next and then the lady in the second row. >> you mentioned two things in your response in generation, i don't think the american public understand or event discus geo
politics we misinterpret why the russians go into crimea. how do we deal with the next generation of advisers to the president, okay, because this generation as you alluded to there, they have no experience in the cold war they have no experience in that -- the post cold war period and a lot that you're talking about registry and so forth was a large extent a result of situation in bosnia. how do we get the advisers and staffers that are going to be
advising the next president about the threat environment that we'rele -- we're involved today. >> tremendous question. >> yeah. it will certainly be important for the next couple of decades it's in decent shape, i think generation x has a fairly good understanding of global problems and the dangers of getting disengaged. the experiences of iraq and afghanistan have good jaded a lot of people in the united states. now it's gone to hell. a lot of people will look at that. they'll just look at the final outcome. we won iraq and it was a total
disaster. that could happen to afghanistan you not only have a lot of resent troubles, there also seems to be general view that they are not -- they don't really believe in very much in broader principle baby boom again -- generation. maybe it's not irreversible. we've gone through this before, it's not going to be permanent. that might be true. the great european powers, britain and france, you know, they have -- a hundred years ago you said they would never lose interest. they to a large have lost interest. but they know longer want
inspire and be great military power. i do think there's a danger at some point if we could get to a point where this change in thinking becomes permanent and the u.s. is really going to retreat from world affairs to a large extent, at least in terms of military intervention which i think is particularly concerning because there's not really a viable substitute. you would then allow russia, iran and russia date of birth dominant and known of them are specially compatible in that interest. >> my topic is curds where do
you see us in the future? >> that's a lot of discussion, should we just be giving more because they seem to be pretty good at fighting isis. they certainly have made important gains. well a couple difficulties, one is that some of the areas where isis is located and it's not near the kurds. that would create lots of problems of its own. we've also seen turkey, this has been a problem going back many years. turkey is now talking about really going in and fighting the kurds because of their dears of
kurdish separatism. i think they will play, you know they have an important role to play and we keep supporting them. i don't see them as a cure to the problem. i don't think they're going to go to the isis capital you know partly is because places where we've been able to help them is air power. we're not going to go and demolish a city of half a million people and kill women and children. there has to be other ways. we don't have -- we've only been able to get a couple of rebels. we want you to only fight isis but not the asad government. moist of them don't want to do that. i don't think we've come up with
a solution to that problem. probably we need to take a firmer stand against asad. i don't think much is going to be done syria because he did you doesn't want to take vigorous action. it sounds like we are doing something but we're really not doing much. >> i'm going to play devils advocate real quick. we look at the siflción of syria, iraq kurdish area there. you know what, this is a fire that you let burn itself out. you have isis killing asad forces. you have kurd forces killing isis. let the fire burn out.
why does this in any way become a major subject for discussion to american foreign policy. except for the fact that we are supposedly responsible for that by the invasion of iraq and why should we worry about what's happening now? why shouldn't we look ahead for twhen fire is -- when the fire is out and building associate -- society from there? >> that's a good question. it's telling the obama administration that we didn't need troops in iran, the fact that they are sending more troops they indicate that this is not a problem that we cannot turn our backs on. we got lucky in a number of cases of dodges bullets.
we have seen pretty terrorist attacks where they killed dozens of european tourists is a pretty disturbing sign. we had the beheading of french oil worker. it's hard to isis to get to the united states. if we don't care of anyone else outside of the stronger, you can make a case that yeah, lets not worry about that. you have a lot of americans living overseas that we need to be concerned about. we're taking a policy that are going to pay ransom. we are going to see a rise in that. i do think there's violence is i think creating more radicals. certainly some of them are
killing each other off. if you look at the extremist fighters it seems to be going up and up. now that isis controls territory they're recruiting people. we're claiming that we killed a large number of isis fighters, but their strength is as high as it seems. it seems with regard to isis. >> yeah, they're certainly certainly i think we're going to be seeing more attacks inspired by isis. people come pretty close. they blue up the boston mar then.
they see and the effective use of essential media and now if we don't care, you know, occasionally somebody guns down 30 americans shopping mall, then maybe we can sit back. i think the american people are not going to stand for that. we can argue well more people get killed in car wrecks. well that maybe true. but i think when our security is threatened, the american people are not going to sit back and be willing to take a passive and reactive to all this. >> we might avoid this if we are taking a proactive approach in the first place. you've been very patient so why don't you go ahead. >> i actually have two questions. one you outlined how the vice
president gave lousy advise to the president. hillary clinton was secretary of state throughout much of all of this. for the new president assuming that we know correctly the outlines of the nuclear deal with iran, how would you add -- advise the next president for the strategic failure? >> that's a good question. we're still in the -- there's a lot of historical documentation. i think there's still a lot of open questions. it was interesting the other day said that one of the biggest accomplishments was getting us out of iraq. i do think she was supported in keeping u.s. presence there.
i would say i would give her some credit from that. she did not want to see ma -- maliki took control. this was going to be her great success and how we went in there and it hasn't worked out. that also, the desire of keeping troops lead to the tragedy. in terms of iran, i do think the current deal is not -- is a bad deal for the united states and allies and so i tend to agree
with, you know, a lot of the advice the republicans have. you should not accept this deal. by removing forces from the region we have removed our capability. iran pays a lot of attention of how many forces are in the region. having made clear now and also say at some point somebody bomb iran's nuclear site, how are they going to respond to that. you are -- if you have any comments on that. >> i would love to comment on that. [laughs] >> you know what, we are going to close this down, our time is up. lets thank our author for far
ranging and very eliminating discussion. [applause] >> mark has agreed to sign and scribes copies of the book. take full advantage of that offer. thank you again for coming to hudson and thank you c-span audience and thanks to the audience in the center. [inaudible conversations] >> yeah. >> every weekend book tv offers programming on nonfiction authors and books. keep watching more and watch any
of our past programs on line at booktv.org. well earlier this year i read a terrific book. it's about the period after the end of the revolutionary war. it was clear during that period from 1983-87 that confederation was just not working. it survived pretty well for a couple hundred years. i followed that with an interesting book called the kennedys and churchill about the relati