tv Q A CSPAN May 4, 2015 6:00am-7:01am EDT
i try to look at things people forget about. brian: how often do you write? walter: i started twice a week and i cut back to once a week because i am writing a book. brian: how old were you when you cut your law degree? walter: i was 68. brian: why did you do it? walter: both of my parents lived to 95. the typical age of retirement at the "post" is 70. and i figured i had another 20 years to go. a good friend of mine said what are you, a lawyer? i had covered a lot of trials. my oldest son is a lawyer. and so i went to law school thinking of a practice law. brian: do you use it at
all? walter: i use it because it is a way of looking at things. it makes you think about the arguments on the other side. but it makes you focus on facts, first. that has always been one of my theories. it supported that. but mainly, it made you think about the other person. brian: we asked you to chat with us because they want to know more about the way you look at things. i want to show you something that happened 30 years ago. your first appearance here on c-span. see how much has changed. >> the nuclear debate itself has generally been in the hands in the last 10 years of the extremes. people said you had to have more nuclear weapons or the rugs would attack, and people said if you have more there's going to be a war. and i think this sort of debate
by the extremes created a lot of the talk about we're all going to be killed. i did a documentary called "defense of the united states" and one of the feelings i wanted to show is that, at that point, we were building thousands of warheads. people forgot what one warhead could do. when we used to test weapons in the atmosphere, every time there was a test, a picture would be on the front page. it would scare people to death. people use to keep track of fallout. it was the pressure worldwide of seeing those kind of statistics and seeing those tests that made it easy within months to get an atmospheric test. if you are around in those days, you remember that people used to watch radioactive clouds just float across the world. that motivated people to stop those tests. it didn't motivate them to stop all tests.
they went underground and people forgot about it. brian: 30 years later. walter: i am still stuck in that rut. the book i am writing is about nuclear weapons in it is about the effects they have and have had and how people have forgotten. brian: what has happened in 30 years of nuclear weapons? walter: they have become political weapons. people build them because they want to have supported home, keep their own power, they want to impress their neighbors. they want to have something to threaten somebody with. hopefully, they will use -- they won't use them. brian: when do you expect to have your book out? walter: the hardest thing i have ever done. i'm try to have it finished by the end of this year. it will be out sometime in 2016, that is my hope. it has been more difficult to
write than i thought, because there is more material available. a lot of it is history that we have forgotten. you have to remind people, like i said in the clip, people have forgotten what a weapon can do. it went underground. brian: i found a statistic, but i would just throw it out. i read that of the five day countries on the security council that have nuclear weapons, there are 22,000 warheads among those countries. walter: it is probably less than that because we and the russians have the vast majority, and we have been cutting them back. but we still, both sides still have 5000 or more. the russians are supposed to have 4000 tactical weapons. how usable they are is
questionable. we are up in the 10,000 or so. brian: i want to talk more about iran, but first, you've written a lot about history from time to time. one of the things you write about is the iraq war and, in one of your recent columns, you quoted paul wolfowitz. we have a clip from the hearing he wrote about in february 2003. watch this and give us your assessment now. walter: administration officials said the estimate in the immediate aftermath was certain to be eclipsed when the long-term cost of occupation, reconstruction, and humanitarian relief are figured in. president bush was briefed and he will receive a budget scenario. is that an accurate account?
walter: the idea that it would be eclipsed by future costs ignores the nature of the country we are dealing with. it is already $20 billion per year in oil exports. which could finally be turned to good use. it has one of the most valuable undeveloped sources of natural resources in the world. let me emphasize. if we liberate iraq, those resources will belong to the iraqi people. they will be on to develop them and borrow against them. it is a country that has somewhere between -- over $10 billion in an escrow account run by the united nations. it is a country that has 10-20 billion dollars in assets. to assume that we are going to pay for it is wrong.
brian: what do you think? walter: wrong. it is another example of our totally underestimating our knowledge of other countries. particularly countries whose cultures we do not understand. whose languages we don't understand or we depend a lot on people in such countries who speak english. i think one of the things about the bush administration and paul wolfowitz, who never claimed to be an expert on the middle east or on iraq, and proved it, and history has proved it, is that we look at
things from our own point of view. and get deceived by a. you can go back to vietnam was a great example of the first time we sort of did it openly, but we have a history of trying to think other people are like us. and the world is different. particularly in the middle east, it is a totally different culture. and we would do well to hold back and try to understand the other side. brian: did you feel that way back then when mr. wolfowitz was testifying? walter: i did in a way that -- you have to remember, i sort of was brought up and taught in a lot of ways in a two times i worked for senator fulbright in the 1960's. senator fulbright, one of the first things he taught me is, if you don't understand the domestic issues of the country you're dealing with and their leader you can't have a real foreign policy, because all foreign policy is domestically driven, starting with our own.
that has stuck with me. as he said, maybe law school made it even more important to understand the thinking of the other people you are dealing with. i think it has been a flaw in this country for all the time i have covered foreign policy. brian: when you look back at how we got into the iraq war do you remember any opposition of any significance from anybody? walter: if you go back and read the debate on the authorization that the bush administration sought on the eve of congressional election by the way, so they made voting for authorization an election issue, are you with the u.s. or not? the black caucus in the house was the most vocal group
opposing going into iraq. the democrats in the senate particularly were cowed a bit because they opposed going after saddam hussein after he invaded kuwait. that turned out to be a much less bloody more. they felt embarrassed. and so this time, they supported it. brian: what is your theory about why anybody took us into iraq. how many people do you think think it was a good idea? walter: i don't find too many people who think it was a good idea. it has shaped how we look at things. as it should. but i think, back then, in my toughest moments during the bush administration, i think it was a reaction in good part to their failure to catch osama
bin laden. and therefore, they needed something on the eve of the congressional election. and you had a promotion beginning in august, 2002 of trying to tie saddam hussein discreetly to the 9/11 attacks. and also to the question of, is he back developing weapons of mass instruction, particularly nuclear weapons? neither of which was true. they were aided by a disagreement inside cia between the technical people, who convinced george tenet that he was tried to develop weapons. and the quintessence service which had contrary information. there was a fight inside the agency about it, and luckily, i
knew the people who were objecting and they helped me write some stories before the war, raising questions. brian: what was the reason they were objecting? walter: they were rejected because we did on have the solid evidence that we thought. some agency people thought we had. which some military people confirmed. one of the reasons that i wrote the story on the eve of going in was that i had known the chief inspector for the united nations. they had started going back into iraq and started to look at sites where intelligence from the allies -- including us -- supposedly led them. and they were not finding anything. he originally thought saddam
hussein was rebuilding his nuclear weapons program. but by january or february of 2003, he had his doubts. with his doubts, i talked to people at the agency. but more important, talked to people at the pentagon that i knew were involved in targeting. my theory was, if we had good intelligence about where he was hiding his weapons, we would not tell the united nations, because they would be moved or a could leak out and if we were on the verge of attacking -- which we were -- we had more than 100,000 troops the middle east. we were planning to go no matter what, which we did go. the target or's told me they
didn't know what they were talking about. they were not sure he had them. one person actually said, this is like the old russian theory of making things appear to be there that were not there. that person turned out to be dead right. brian: john spratt and, who is no longer in congress, ecb head of the budget committee. he was questioning paul wolfowitz. how much did the war end up costing? walter: we are still paying for it. it is probably a combination -- with afghanistan -- of $1 trillion. the worst part about it is that we didn't pay for it. this is the first war in which an american president did not ask congress to pass a tax bill to pay for the fighting.
and that is something that i still cannot get over. but it showed that they were concerned that, if they asked for money, they were not going to get it. brian: you mentioned vietnam earlier. i want to run 20 years ago, a clip of robert mcnamara, the former secretary of defense, who is here to talk about his book. you have recently written about this. tell us what you think. [video clip] robert: we believed that it was a domino. if the soviets and the chinese controlled it, the rest of southeast asia would fall. and that the communist strength would be so increased that western europe would be in danger. that's what we thought.
we were totally wrong. but that is what motivated us. it is very hard for people today to understand that. i think we both missed opportunities in a god-awful war. if i may take just two minutes i begin the book by saying that my earliest memory is a armistice day in 1918. we believed it was a war to end all wars, and it wasn't. the human race have killed 160 million people this century. is that what we want in the next century? we're ending a millennia. my god! what is our view? object objective as human beings? my objective is to prevent the 21st century from being a replication of this century. brian: what is your take? you've been at "the post" since 1967. mrs. graham was a good friend
of his. did he ever serve on the board? walter: yes. brian: it took him a long time to write that book. walter: i actually got to know him from some dinners at kate graham's house. and we got to be friends. i read a draft when he was still writing the book. as you can tell, he was deeply troubled about what he had done. what troubled him most, as a man who dealt with details that was his great strength, supposedly, is how little he knew at the time he was defense secretary about the history and culture, the context of what was going on in vietnam and southeast asia. he didn't know the relationships or lack of
relationship between china and vietnam. and cambodia. and russia. i never could understand because there was constant writing about the history, and he said he didn't have time to study outside when i was being handed every day. it is one of the problems in a position like that. in a funny way, you have much less power over the broad picture then you do of the agency that you run. and you can see, it was eating at him. it affected the last decade of his life. brian: what was your position on the vietnam war before got to the point in the mid-1960's
were there were so many troops there? walter: the second time i worked for senator fulbright during an investigation into military foreign policy, which turned into an investigation of the war. and we wrote the first limiting amendments, an amendment to prevent introduction of ground troops into laos or thailand. the amendment put in law the president's guarantee that the troops who went into cambodia would come out by june 1 1970. brian: how is it that a country as rich as this country, with as many people as we have in the state department and the defense department in the cia, that we say, after the vietnam war, we did not understand this people?
after the iraq war, we said the same thing. if you total it all up, over 60,000 people -- people have been killed in these wars. walter: we are so sure of ourselves. in the sense that our form of democracy is what other people ought to accept it we ought to impose people who are harsh on their own people, which is probably the right attitude, but we don't know the limitations of our power. there are, in fact, other people's and other cultures have to decide for themselves. you can't run other people's governments unless you want to occupy them. iraq is just the latest example of even when we had 100,000 troops, and built of their
army, we couldn't make people who half to run the country think the same way we did. as soon as we left only a minimum presence, they dealt with each other based on their history and culture. and so, the people we left in charge mistreated the sunnis who had mistreated them. that's something they have to iron out. we can't do it. people who now say we should have left 30,000 americans are making a terrible mistake, because what happened would have happened anyway. brian: you have written lately a lot about the military. there was a hearing on january 28, the senate armed services committee, john mccain and the chiefs of services
testified. we have some clips we want you to look at. tell us what you are hearing from your perspective. we will start with the head of the chief of staff of the army. [video clip] >> over the last three years we have already significantly reduced the capabilities of the united states army. this is before sequestration will begin again in 2016. in the last three years, the army's active component and strength has been reduced by 80,000. the reserve component by 18,000. we have 13 less active component brigade combat teams we have eliminated three active aviation brigades. we are moving over 800 aircraft from the inventory. we have already slashed investments in modernization by 25%. we have eliminated a
much-needed entry fighting field modernization program, and we have a limited scout helicopter development program. we have significantly delayed other upgrades for many of our systems and aging platforms. readiness has been degraded to its lowest level. fiscal year 2013, only 10% of our brigade combat teams were ready. brian: what do you think? walter: it's a question of what is the threat, what are we preparing for? what we have been preparing for is to fight two major wars. and a half war, which would be an intervention, very much like what we're seeing in iraq at the present time. probably a little bit more robust. we have made all of these cuts.
what we are paying for is essentially, a professional army, navy, and air force that is made up of only 1% of the american people. and represents only 1% -- families and friends. and so we have a professional army, navy, and air force, and probably easily the best in the world to fight either a big war or even a small one. the problem is, we are fighting and facing unconventional enemies. who fight a different way. the fact that we have 12,000 warheads on alert is not going to affect the islamic state fighters.
it will not affect what is going on in syria. and so you need some alternative, and we are developing the best to fight a big war and the best to fight a small intervention war. brian: your guess as to whether or not we will have to fight a big war? walter: i think it is very doubtful, because i think it is one of the quote benefits of nuclear weapons. since their original use, they haven't been used. i think they have prevented major wars from happening. but you can't say forever. so you have to prepare to some degree, and i think that that
is what nuclear weapons are essentially there to do, to try to prevent a big war. brian: you were in the services. how many years? walter: i was drafted at the end of the korean war for two years. i served in washington, d.c. i was drafted in one of the last group of draftees to put in counterintelligence. ironically, i was trained as an interrogator, what has been very useful. served in washington, and that doing interrogation on espionage cases. brian: to put this in perspective, i found this on a website called statista, there are so many statistics you are never sure what is right, but they have a chart that says between 2014-2015, that the
army and their officer corps cut back -- there were 52,000 officers and they cut back by 3277. there were 3125 generals in 2015, and there are 315 generals in the army in 2015. how can you cut out the officers and still have the same number of generals? walter: this is bureaucracy at work. one of the arguments by senior officers are that joint staffing has required general officers to serve in different branches on joint staffs, so there are more staff decisions for generals, even though the bulk -- there are a lot of military at lower levels. the active army has been cut but the reserves and the guard
haven't been cut near as much. you need senior officers if you have to expand the army quickly and call up to have the big war. they are cutting up back. brian: does it worry you? walter: i worry about how you make smart reductions. i just had lunch with a very knowledgeable pentagon official in budget matters. he is much more worried about the fact that we are cutting civilian employees of the military. the congress feels if we cut the army by 10%, you ought to cut civilians by 10%. what was explained to me is the
civilians are taking over some of the jobs that the military people used to do. what they want to cut is to cut the number of facilities the army, avenue, and air force have. which are now in excess, but congress is preventing the system would cut back on less used facilities. we have more than 20% of excess facilities and civilians to keep them going. brian: back to the same hearing, more of the same. this is from the chief of naval operations. [video clip] >> due to sequestration, our contingency response force -- that is what is on call from the united states -- is one third of what it should be and needs to be. sequestration resulted in a $9 billion shortfall in 2013. this shortfall degraded fleet
readiness and created consequences from which we're still recovering. the first round of sequestration forced reductions, it generated ship and aircraft maintenance backlogs, a compelled us to extend unit deployments. our amphibious ready group's in most of our destroyers have been on deployments lasting 8-10 months or longer. this comes at the cost of our sailors and our families resiliency. it reduces the performance of the equipment, and it will reduce the service lives of our ships. brian: and your reaction to the admiral? walter: what he is saying is correct. it is the question of where you put your resources? when it comes to the navy, we are going to spend billions on a
new strategic-strike submarine replacing all the submarines we have in order to have that part of the triad of nuclear weapons, most of the warheads being on submarines. but it is a question -- if you didn't buy all the submarines you could use money for the kinds of ships he is looking for. but also, we are still so far ahead of everybody else. we had 14 carriers, we have 12 and we are on the way of replacing -- the chinese navy bought a russian-built submarine from ukraine, that was used as a museum, and have upgraded it animated seaworthy.
-- and made it seaworthy. it and the navy then chief of staff -- chief of naval operations said he was having trouble sleeping at night because china had one aircraft carrier. the problem with some of the military is that you lose credibility when you say things like that. the chinese need blue water navy because they are totally dependent on getting oil from the middle east. and we provide most the protection. in this is one of these things we have to understand. we sit here and say, why should the chinese have a blue water navy? we will protect them. that is like us saying, well let's not worry about what's going on in europe, because the british and the french are on
our side, let them do it. let them protect our troops. let them protect the seas around europe. china is a major power. it has never been concerned about a blue water navy because it never had to depend so much and never had the capability of building its own navy. now it does. you have to expect it to find its own place in the world. that is this idea of understanding people. brian: from the same hearing the air force general, who is chief of staff at the air force. [video clip] >> my pride has not changed since the lesson i appeared. but we are now the smallest air force we have ever been. we deployed operation desert storm.
the air force had 188 fighter squadrons. today, we have 54 and we're heading to 49. in 1990, there were 511,000 active-duty airmen alone. today, we have 200,000 fewer. as those numbers can down, the operational tempo went up. your air force is fully engaged to tell the excess capacity is gone, and now more than ever, we need a capable, fully ready for us. we simply do not have a bench to go to. we cannot continue to cut structures to pay the cost of readiness and modernization. or we will risk being too small to succeed in the tasks we have already been given. brian: the reaction? walter: it's true about numbers but then you have to put into the equation.
we are building a new bomber that is going to have a limited price of $500 million per bomber. the b-52, which is still in service, didn't cost anywhere need a price. so you are getting a much more capable, much more expensive bomber, so you can't do number equivalence. our new fighter bomber is going to cost a multiple that he talked about. the numbers are going to be lower. one of the major costs of the f-35 is protecting the pilot. do you want drug fighters? -- drone fighters?
but when the cost of pilot aircraft is protecting the people on board, you can save money and have hundreds more. but do you want to turn it over to a drone? you got to make those choices, and figured that in. it is a difficult problem. but that's what people are paid do. there is a limited amount of money. one of the ironies today is that you have a president who is being attacked for being weak on defense, who is asking for it bigger spending on defense than a congress run by republicans, who say he is weak on defense. brian: last one of the generals. [video clip] >> sequester will exacerbate the challenges we have today. it will also result in a marine corps with fewer squadrons that
would be required for a single major contingency. it will result in fewer marines and sailors being deployed in a position to immediately respond to crises involving our diplomatic posts, american citizens or interest overseas. many of the challenges associated with sequestration can be qualified, it results in a human dimension. our soldiers and their families should never have to face doubts about whether they will be deployed without proper training and equipment. the foundation of our volunteer force is trust. sequestration will erode the trust that our young men and women in uniform, civil servants, and families have in their leadership. the cost of losing that trust is incalculable. brian: the headlight on your march 23 column in the "washington post" -- "how congress is doing a run around sequestration."
walter: sequestration is really a dumb idea. congress thought they would reach a compromise before it would take effect. in fact, there was no compromise. it is a great example of my fear about the longer have an compromise as part of what politically we can achieve. so sequestration came in as the only way to cut defense spending and, at the same time, nondefense spending. it is a terrible way to do it. it is irrational. but, since they can't solve the political problem, what congress is now doing is putting the excess money that they are willing to give that the president wants, instead of
putting it into the core budget. where can be divided up in a rational way. they are putting it in the overseas contingency operations account, which is essentially the war-fighting account. your by year. which prevents the military from knowing what a lot of what the military does is multi-year, particularly buying equipment and weapons. so congress, by putting in the war funding account, it doesn't count against the budget limits. so they can say they are sticking to the sequestration or close to the sequestration limits by putting it into a war funding account, which doesn't count against that budget limit. brian: does that mean when the
president says he is asking for $560 million for defense, and you say in your column, asking for more for what they call overseas contingency operations, that the budget is really 610 million? walter: the house has driven up to $90 billion some people get their way. it is that kind of false budging that allows members to go home and say, we are keeping the lid on, when in fact they are not. brian: what is a political and only for the republican led congress aided by some democrats using a gimmick to circumvent the defense spending cuts they have legislated? probably none, because the public either doesn't know or doesn't care. walter: i believe it.
brian: what don't they care? walter: they are not paying for it. this is another example that adds to a deficit, if they want another $90 billion to fight in iraq or syria or anywhere, put back attacks on long-distance telephones. that is what we did in part to pay for the korean war. but nobody, no member of congress wants to say, here is how -- i want this extra money and what they are saying is, make a cut somewhere else. they don't make the cut. it keeps the deficit going. brian: who in this town really cares about the $18 trillion in our deficit -- in our debt? walter: it depends politically.
we are in a recovery. and the amount of deficit is lowering, but i can remember writing a piece in the "post" during george h w bush's term when the deficit was reaching $200 billion, and the country went crazy. i think you get -- the american public has become uncaring about things that used to bother them enormously. brian: why? walter: because the middle class is mostly taken care of. we have sort of given up on the poor.
i'm a democrat, and you can tell, but i think it began during the reagan administration. when, it's forget about welfare queens and is everybody for himself, and you can pull your bootstraps, point yourself up. since then, it is sort of him and take care of your own group. in the spokesman for the poor are totally out. the public at large, for some reason, has not really cared. the worst example i can think of. a story today that senator ted cruz is being supported by super pacs that are going to raise by the end of the week -- maybe not -- $31 million for his campaign. i would about campaign funding.
when i began, when i was covering campaigns. the idea that one person in the last election cycle put up $20 million for one candidate and even more during the general election, and he runs a gambling casino. 30 years ago, it would be unheard of. any candidate who took his money would be tainted by dealing with a gambler. and now, not only is it not tainted, but he runs his own group and public candidates go to him for money. in the public doesn't care. brian: the same thing is happening with rich democrats. walter: oh, yeah good it is happening on both sides.
it is controlling politics in a way that shouldn't happen, but the public at large hardly ever wants to contribute. brian: another column that you wrote -- it was interesting when i read it, and obviously, i will send a by showing a video clip. but i want to talk you through this column. i will be interested in how much reaction -- i would just read the headline. " another nation blazes the trail for iran to develop a nuclear program." but was the reaction? walter: every time i write about israel's nuclear weapons i get a reaction. brian: let's watch benjamin netanyahu before the election. prime minister netanyahu: whereas iran could be armed with inter-continental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs, you
must always remember -- i will say one more time -- the greatest danger facing our world is them marriage of militant islam with nuclear weapons. to defeat isis and let iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle but lose the war. we can't let that happen. [applause] brian: the column was written march 9 after he gave that speech. first-line -- iran may be following the path of another country as it sees clandestinely to produce nuclear weapons. what did you write this and what is it about? walter: it is about how israel clandestinely built its nuclear weapons beginning in the 1960's. and misled the united states a number of times. and then, by the time nixon was
president, we sort of made a deal that if they didn't announce that they had nuclear weapons, we wouldn't talk about it. but you can't not talk about something that everybody else knows. and so, the fact that israel not only has nuclear weapons, but has land-based missiles and a submarine base to deliver them and make some rather an amazing force. if you are in that area, it was an encouragement as it has been in other parts of the world, to have other countries want them. so we make it doubly difficult because we have made this deal that we want talk about it openly.
questions are raised about why does iran want a nuclear weapon. as prime minister netanyahu implied, the iranians are crazy enough to use it. people tell me, they are not let the russians. i was writing about nuclear weapons in the 1960's and 1970's, and into the 1980's, when people who didn't like russia said we had to prepare and build thousands of warheads because unless we had an equal number, they would use them because they were preparing to fight and win a nuclear war. " because they are crazy."
and suddenly the russians become rational. when george w. bush was originally elected, the fear was that the chinese were building nuclear weapons, and because they were such a big country and so many people, they were dangerous because they could use them and take a hit from us in when kill that many chinese, and they are crazy enough to do it. the enemy we don't want to have nuclear weapons is always crazy. they iranians are difficult people. they have a feeling about the united states that is antagonistic. we tend to forget that we overthrew their government. and give them the shaw, who they felt was try a tournament to a
different kind of country. all we remember is that they took our hostages. and therefore, they are bad and they are supporting people that we don't like around the world. in if they got a nuclear weapon, they would wipe out israel with one bomb. because they are crazy. and we think they are wrong. they have a deterrent. the iranians realize that israel now has a deterrent that they cannot defeat. so, one of the things that i feel, having written about weapons for so long, is we reach the point where any country that has the money or the desire politically to build a weapon is
going to do it. and unless he wanted to take on every country, it is a real problem. brian: the nuclear non-prolific treaty of 1967, 190 nations agree to that. did the israelis? walter: no. brian: how me nations today have nuclear weapons that we know of? walter: it is the p5. and pakistan and india, the israelis helped the south africans when their government changed. the whole time the south africans were playing with nuclear weapons, we did make an issue out of it. because we liked the government. we don't argue with the people we like. north koreans have nuclear weapons and we try to prevent
it. obviously, we haven't. we don't have that same incentive feeling about them that we do about the israelis. brian: why does israel and why does the united states think that they can prevent iran from have a nuclear weapons on both of our countries have nuclear weapons? walter: it is based on the assumption -- two things. iran was a signer of the agreement. it is because of under the agreement, you can do it. what they did is to begin their process without telling anybody. and so, they were found in violation -- they maintained
that it is not for a weapon, but certainly not the to a point where they are capable. and the interesting part about the agreement that we are trying to put together is that we are trying to stop a country that is capable of building a weapon who says they don't want to do it from building a weapon, but if the agreement doesn't work there will be no it to stop them unless you go through this absurd idea of bombing. brian: did israel lie to us when we asked if they had nuclear weapons? walter: they used language -- the first time it came up was that we wouldn't be the first one to have nuclear weapons in the region. what they were saying was not
another country, they are actually referring to us because we had nuclear weapons in the mediterranean, and we had nuclear weapons in turkey. to some degree, from day one, it were telling the truth. they just didn't say it was us they were talking about. at other points, they got very close to lying about it. brian: who could deliver a nuclear weapon to this country? walter: depends on how you want to do it. if you put aboard a ship with a cruise missile, the north koreans would probably do it if they can get a ship the close of the weapon on it. certainly, the russians could. the claim is that north korea is
developing a missile that could reach alaska or hawaii. and are probably trying to go further, and the fear is that the iranians would do it, too. what i like to ask is, what is the purpose? we keep talking about stopping iran from getting a weapon and having a years notice. if they built one, what they going to do with it? we feel deterrence worked with the soviets, and has worked with russia, but every time vladimir putin threatens to move a nuclear weapon near his western border, the europeans get very nervous. it is one reason i am writing a
book turbine people, this is not an ordinary weapon. i have found that people who are closest to the weapon, and these are mostly americans, and realize what they can do are the most fearful of using them. a good majority of people in strategic command, once again out of service, turn out to be against use of the weapons. i just came across the fact that you know writing the book. it came out of our very first test in 1946 of how difficult it is to get radioactive material off of a piece of rust. it just stays there. these are long-lasting. i mean, we once had 52 nuclear weapons aimed at moscow. it is just lunacy. one weapon killed 200,000
people. and those were air blasts. if it hits the ground, i'm writing about a nuclear test on the ground, picked up radioactive coral and dumped it on and atoll went to 24 miles away, and it came down for five hours, every teenager was affected and lost their thyroid nine years later. what a real nuclear weapon can do is just totally out of people's minds. brian: if anybody wants to read you, they can find you on the "washington post." a lot of the stuff we have been talking about here, and look
forward to your book in 2016 on nuclear weapons. thank you, walter pincus. walter: thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> programs are available as c-span podcasts. as c-span marks 10 years of compelling conversations, here are some programs you might like. itjay garner john sopko and
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then we will talk about the patriot act. host: the u.s. house is out of session this week, but the senate is back. they will spend a good chunk of the week on iran and look at congress's role in the deal on nuclear weapons. the president is in york city to launch the my brother's keeper organization. it he will make an appearance on david letterman. then carson, carly fiorina, and my cut can be will be announcing this week. the curfew