tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg December 21, 2015 7:00pm-8:01pm EST
sounds like my ride's ready. don't get stuck on hold. reach an expert fast. comcast business. built for business. >> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: bruce riddell is here. he served in the cia for 30 years and was also national security advisor to war presidents. his new book is called "jfk us forgotten crisis." gem ofalled a minor elegant history writing. i'm pleased to have him back at this table. you love the idea of an elegant gem of historical writing.
you said to me, this is the most fine i've had. what was it about the experience ?hat resonated with you bang bang bruce: we're talking a lot about character of a president because we are in our presidential campaign season. this is a man who demonstrated unusual character in the white house. he faced some of the hardest decisions any president in american history has faced. about the invasion of india which comes simultaneously with the cuban missile crisis. he handled to huge global crises simultaneously. in both, he showed unusual depth
of thinking about the problem and thinking it through, not necessarily doing the easy thing or the thing his advisers told him to do, but in the end, coming up with two important victories. charlie: with people urging him to bomb cuba. >> virtually his whole cabinet wanted him to go to war in cuba with the russians. and the president were the only two looked at this problem and said that is crazy. if we do that, we are initiating a nuclear apocalypse. 50 plus years after the cuban missile crisis that it was even more dangerous than i thought it was at the time. at the time, the cia thought there were maybe 6000 soviet soldiers on the island. there were 50,000. they thought the only nuclear
weapons for for the intermediate range missiles. there were tactical nuclear weapons on the island. the russian commander in cuba had artie been given authority to use tactical nuclear weapons the minute the american invasion began. charlie: it would have rained on miami or further north. kennedy's right to get a lot of credit for that. what are argue in the book that is if you realize at the same time is also dealing with an invasion by communist china of democratic india, and invasion which the chinese scored victory after victory, and were on the brink of breaking through and dismembering india, and he dealt with that crisis at exactly the same time. he also helped to bring that crisis to a head.
china and india have the longest disputed border in the world. it remains the longest disputed border in the world. they also have an argument over tibet. china regards tibet as part of historic china. india regards tibet as part of its cultural sphere, at least, and has supported the idea of autonomy for tibet for a long time. in 1962, mousey tongue decided he had had enough and was going to teach the indians a lesson -- mao tse tung. charlie: had they done something he thought went beyond the pale? several things. the indians had what they called it forward policy. they kept pushing their patrols more and more forward, what provocatively. a very stupid thing to do when you recognize that the balance of power on the battlefield was overwhelmingly in chinese favor.
wasprime minister nehru responding to pressure from his constituency and the media that said we have to stand up to the chinese. secondly, the united states was secretly supporting the tibetan independence movement. we were doing it from a base in what was then east pakistan, today, bangladesh. from the chinese perspective, they saw these airplanes flying over tibet, dropping supplies and trained people to the tibetans, coming from the south. plotassumed we were in a with the indians. how much the indians knew about what was going on and what we were doing is hard to say in retrospect. certainly from the chinese perspective it looked like the indians were pushing all their buttons and they decided enough was enough. india and invade teach them a lesson, and take
the territory that they wanted the most permanently, which is what they ended up doing. from the president's standpoint, first of all, we don't want to countrymocratic defeated by communist country. this was the height of the cold war. charlie: the notion ofnehru with a knot alliance policy, and then hello, washington. bruce: he has to come crawling to the united states. kennedy handled it with finesse. grovel or make nehru bed for assistance. -- beg for assistance. we begin in airlift of supplies to india immediately after they asked for it. within days there was a steady flow of jet transports coming into india and delivering , and then smaller american aircraft taking those
supplies right up to the front lines. the other thing that kennedy did was he made sure that pakistan stay neutral in the war. charlie: tell the story of the dinner at mount vernon with the head of pakistan. in hisearly on presidency, the first summer of his presidency, he invited the pakistani military dictator to the united states. jackie kennedy won to do something special. she did not want to have just another state dinner at the white house. she had just been with the president to her sigh and to vienna. she was looking for the equivalent of versailles. we don't have her sigh. what we do have is mount vernon, the first -- we do not have versailles. she persuaded the ladies association that runs mount vernon to let them use it for a
dinner. everybody who mattered in the kennedy administration was there. bobby kennedy, the whole cabinet , but there was also business to be done. the pakistanis had cut off our use of the airbase in east pakistan that we're using to send supplies to the tibetans. it was a subtle way of indicating they were not happy with what the united states was doing. theere now about to woo indians and not pay enough attention to the pakistanis. the president took the field marshal for a little walk in the garden. we don't know exactly what they said to each other, but he put on the kennedy charm and convinced him to reopen the airport and allow us to continue using it. a fact that is very hard to find and it took a lot of research and talking to people who knew about the cia operation
to find out that it was at that dinner at mount vernon that the president used his personal charm in order to advance a covert operation with the cia. charlie: what's interesting here is the role of diplomacy. the u.s. ambassador to india was kennedy's friend, john kenneth gaal brave. he played a major role. >> he was kennedy's number one advisor and effectively became number one advisor on what to do. that is a diplomat who is going given bynd what he is the united states and becoming his closest confidant at the height of the crisis. when it looks like the chinese are going to probably carve up
wrote andia, nehru letter to the president. askedcond letter he wrote kennedy to intervene in the war directly, to go beyond just providing supplies, but to send 350 american combat aircraft to india to begin fighting the chinese air force and begin bombing raids into tibet. chinese day, the unilaterally stopped. kennedy never had to answer that letter. it's one of the great what it's. charlie: why did china stop? bruce: hard to say. the chinese government today still does not open up its archive to researchers. tung was a very peculiar dictator. he did not confide in anyone else.
he saw that the united states was firmly coming in on the side of the indians and he did not want a direct confrontation with the united states. number two, he probably felt i've made my point, i've humiliated the indians. ru died about a year later, a broken man. as you said earlier, here is the leader who led india to independence. he spent literally years in british jails, and here at the height of his career, he has to come to the united states and to london and to ask for help. charlie: tell me more about what you feel about kennedy. vietnam and other things with part of his challenge. bruce: it's another great what if. would he have gone into vietnam? i don't think so.
part of the reason for that is john kenneth galbraith. he was an unofficial back channel advisor on vietnam. his reports back to the president work, this is a catastrophe that's only going to get worse. don't plunge into this. would he have listened to that advice? what strikes me the most about john kennedy as president is the learning curve. , a disastero office at the bay of pigs. disastrous meeting with khrushchev indiana. within six months, you have the berlin wall going up. years, he started to figure out how to get it right, in the critical moment, the follow-up 1962, he doesn't listen to his advisers, does not rush into conflict.
together with how you think president obama is performing in the crisis he faces. bruce: i think president obama has a learning curve, too, but i think deep down, profamily, barack obama does not want to get america into another quagmire in the middle east. he has noeople say serious strategy. i don't agree with that. strategy tocult articulate to the american people, but he does. you look at has body language when he talks about the whole thing. i think washings fascinating about barack obama is he is not very good at hiding his emotions. his body language gives him away all the time. when he talks about the war against islamic state, the war in syria, you can see this is an issue he is very reluctant to get america to deeply dragged into. charlie: do you think it is
because of analysis, because that's what he promised to do when he was campaigning, i will get us out -- get us out of afghanistan and iraq? think some terrible circumstances have led to the rise of isis. and he has changed course. bruce: getting out 100% from afghanistan would have left a mess, just like getting out 100% .n iraq i think it goes beyond his campaign promises. his look at this problem has -- i think syria could well be a quagmire for the united states, and he is smart to try to limit the degree from
american ground forces. charlie: i using drones in airstrikes in bringing in a coalition. and trying to find a partner who is willing to do more. i think what he could do better is the getting rid of assad part. we are not going to build a coalition of syrians until they believe we are serious about getting rid of assad. charlie: how do we do that, especially when his best friend is the russians? bruce: the notion of a no-fly zone over syria -- how are you going to do that? are you going to shoot down russian jets? the bigger reason is to preserve russia's strategic stake in styria. -- in syria. syria is russia's last ally in the middle east.
charlie: to preserve its strategic stake and increase and enhance its reputation as a player of relevance. bruce: the argument he wants to ,ake is, you can depend on me with the americans, it's not so clear you can depend on them. i think we can do more in the covert action realm, not only building eight soon alternative but also causing troubles for the assad regime. i don't want to get real because that's not particularly helpful. i don't want to suggest that we use one tactic or another. regime has assad lot of weaknesses. it has lost the support of a great deal of the syrian public and a great deal of the syrian military. we should be playing on those
crack in the regime. if there are other generals who are thinking about, what is my future? we will never know what a different approach in 2012 could have been, but i don't think it's too late still for thective efforts to divide aside regime and see if you can break it apart. putin's gambit on the syrian war? putin is a kgb officer. he has not changed because he is no longer in the kgb. he wants to project power and his own personality. that is what this is all about. russia's last ally in the arab world. they are alls, gone.
he wants to preserve some russian influence in an area of the world which russians have regarded as strategically important to themselves since catherine the great. charlie: and also because it was a listening post. bruce: they don't want to be out of the game. then said himself, dissolution of the soviet union was the greatest political disaster in history. he's not trying to re-create the soviet union, but he's trying to make russia a great power again. the question to me, is he making the same mistake in syria as his -- formers did in boss did in afghanistan back in the 1980's? if barack obama fears it is a quagmire, put isi going in on the weaker side.
nthe majority of syrians are sunnis. charlie: does this present an opportunity for some kind of rapprochement for the united states and russia? putin wants to be at the table, and for syria, that means whatever cease-fire conference that tries to come up with a proposal and a way out, he wants to be seen as equal to obama at that kind of a deal. theing russia is back at big tables of diplomacy and high-stakes politics. i think obama is reluctant to give him that. if he's going to give him that, he wants something from putin, and that something is to deliver the assad regime. charlie: how do you get rid of and is the united states
on the only course they have available, to try to work with the russians and find a way to transition him out? bruce: there are two ways. one is a coup from within his own regime, and i think that is a possibility. think there are others in the region who would help us to do and are we prepared to spend a lot of money to make that happen? billions, billions. money --our of the other alternative of course is to persuade the russians that as part of an agreement, we may have to go to mr. assad and say we have a lovely retirement
package for you. and give him basically an ultimatum. you've got to do this, or else we are pulling out our support. the problem we face with isis is that isis is now embedded in four civil wars in the middle east. it has fused with those civil wars. charlie: embedded with numbers of people are just a small cadre? bruce: it's no longer just a terrorist issue. it's become part of the failure of the arab state system in the wake of the failure of the arab spring. that is what is permitting it to operate, the chaos that came out of the arab spring. the same is true for al qaeda. that is what makes this so hard to do. that's where i'm quite sympathetic to the president's problem. if it is true, as i think it is,
that isis is embedded in the iraq and syrian civil war's, the classic counterterrorism strategies of decapitating the leadership and gradually squeezing the territory they hold, it's not likely to really resolve the problem. charlie: what are the rules of engagement here? your they go in get his permission for taking out a high-ranking leader? bruce: the truth is, this is a pretty glove -- closely regarded secret in the white house. my understanding is that a drone operation, if at all possible, is approved in the white house before it is carried out. if they see on imagery from the is not where they thought he was, but they've now found him and he's getting ready to move somewhere else, you may not be able to call the president.
the director of central intelligence is going to be called and he will make the decision. his strong preference will be to make sure that the president is in the loop either before or as quickly as possible. charlie: and to minimize collateral damage. how long do you think the struggle against isis will go? bruce: i see this as a long-term problem. i would not say just isis, i would say al qaeda. we've been at war with al qaeda since 1998. we've had moments when we were close, i think, to achieving a significant strategic victory. we are not near that anymore. the problem was the failure of the arab spring in the fusion of al qaeda in the islamic state with the civil wars and the breakdown of governors in the arab world. i think the problem will last for years to comp.
charlie: what will happen to saudi arabia? bruce: saudi arabia is in trouble. oil prices are well below what they need to sustain their state. any economic moves to get away from being a welfare state are going to be very unpopular. ask,audi's are going to don't we have some role in making decisions about the country? secondly, the kingdom is in the midst of the transfer of power, the succession of power from one generation to at least the next generation, and maybe to the generation beyond that. saudi arabia has been ruled for the last 100 years by either the founder of the modern kingdom or his sons. systemen a very stable for a long time, but sooner or later they're going to run out of sons, and they have literally
reached that point. that means the legitimacy of the next king is not based on the legitimacy of the last five, all of whom could say i'm the son of the founder, now we are going to the grandson. that is a big deal. to be having that economic problem and the succession issue as well as living in a region that is filled with problems and chaos. that is an awful lot to try to manage at one time. is this king different from king abdullah? bruce: >> king abdullah was a reformer. giving women the right to vote in municipal elections. municipal elections are not a big deal. by giving women the right to vote, even for in consequential positions, is a big deal. charlie: and not only that, to run. and some of them actually
one. men voted some saudi for women. that is a big deal. the king could have turned it off, but he didn't. you don't know why he decided to do that. but by the standards of --the crown prince is a skilled counterterrorist professional. he is also something of a reactionary, like his mother was before him. -- like his father was before him. he only has daughter so presumably he is a little more interested in gender. he is not a reformer like king abdullah. charlie: people sit at this table and say that within the next 10 years we will be closer to iran than we are to saudi arabia. bruce: they can look at the
geopolitics and say there is a more natural relationship between the united states and iran that was interrupted by the shah's bruce: i think we need to be very careful how we do this. not only did the iranians really want to be our friends, i keep a close eye on my pocket every time we do with them. we also have to keep a close eye on the saudi's. saudi arabia as a very important partner to the united states. isrlie: a lot of it intelligent services. bruce: the saudi's like a lot of arab regimes are fundamentally police states at the end of the day. the security services are the
most important people. accident that the crown prince was minister of the interior and that he runs the secret police in the country. it is not an accident that he has now been elevated -- he has demonstrated that he is really good at it. i have called him the prince of counterterrorism. he is really one of the best counter terrorists in the world. he even survived three or four assassination attempt by al qaeda on him. it is not likely that your head of the secret police is going to be a closet reformer who wants -- who once he becomes king decides to change the fundamentals of the system. charlie: the book is called "jfk's forgotten crisis." bruce riddell, thank you. back in a moment, stay with us. ♪ bring your family and friends together
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a new book explores those areas from a range of perspectives, it is called "growing global, lessons for the new enterprise." welcome. >> great to be here. charlie: here you are having been a very successful executive at ibm and it comes time to leave that job. what did you decide? had you come from there, that moment, to this moment? >> anyone, about to retire, regardless of stature -- you need to find something to keep yourself going intellectually. something to keep your brain going. when you are running ibm or any other large entity, your brain is going all the time. then there is a point that needs to be filled. i thought that was a business need and a societal need, with the world changing so fast, during my tenure, eisen certainly -- i sincerely
believes that business leaders -- we stay out of public service. we are not completely prepared. it does not mean there's not a lot of great professional schools available to them or a lot of great programs available to them, but there was so much change both in the global world, the emerging economies and now engage in the global economy's. nowtechnology world between , data clouds, business models. when i was retiring, these were ideas and concepts. i personally believe that they would have a massive impact on corporate structure. charlie: how did somebody with all the brains that were at ibm -- >> two reasons. one, the business model. the financial model. the fact that if you think about the profitability of the small things versus the big things, it is a lot less.
your financial business model continues to push you in a direction of increasing profit. this would sit -- this would reduce profits. the other one which i thought was much more important. you may not like it, but you understand it. the other pressure which we really misunderstood on our part -- we did not see it as a platform. we saw as a technology and a device. we never thought that client/server, could be a computing platform that would replace midsized and large computers. we do not see it that way. we felt to do the things required in complex computing you needed what we were offering. was therehat happened were many applications that people used that were good enough so this client/server platform was not going to run a bank or an airline. it could do a lot of things that we used it with large computers. office work, presentations, all the sorts of things could be
done in this technology base. we missed that ship. you see that happening today. these disruptors today which really are occurring -- although they may not have the same robustness of technology as traditional seder actions -- traditional solutions. you see with oracle. even though it may not have the technical robustness of the previous technical solution that was being provided, it is good enough for what it does. it is good enough to get a cab service. it is good enough to book a room. now, will it move a trillion dollars of currency a day? no, it want. they're all these other areas that the technology can be applied which can be disruptive. talk for a moment about the power in the mainframe. >> when i started at ibm, there was more power in that device than within the mainframe fortysomething years ago. there is more and that device.
there is more storage in that device than we had. in fact, apollo 13 did not have nearly -- we have four computers i think it was our maybe six computers on apollo 13 that ibm did. not even close to one of those. that is what is happening. of thee combinations microprocessors and the combination of storage and now battery life. you need batteries to power. this technology factors -- microsoft almost missed the alternate. -- miss the internet. companies --t big is it simply that there is somebody somewhere in the garage who is going to create something that will disrupt you? sam: this is the point that we talk about a lot in the current book. what is a? what are these trends? charlie: why don't the company see them? sam: they do. charlie: they can hire the
tolity to have the capacity see what everything is going on. sam: bill is brilliant. we were partners together and we competed together. there are not a lot of people smarter than bill gates. happens to you, you are running a big public company and you see these trends. you see them emerging, but you have this business model where they were extremely successful, pc and then the software called the productivity suite were processing technology, outlook, microsoft outlook, powerpoint, word, that was called a productivity suite. that was tremendously successful. large software, large share position. you watch this emerging technology and you look at this and you can't imagine that this
-- that phone -- think about it that phone will do what we did on a pc. that pc is going to do what we did on the mainframe. this is what happens. it is not really do what we did in the mainframe, it does not do what you do on your phone, but it does lots of things that you like. and because it does those things, you don't use a pc anymore or a laptop. use a phone or an ipad. because it solves your problem as an individual. that's what happens. here is the business impact of that, you can see that. what happens is the new stuff grows like crazy and the old stuff slows. that is what happens. microsoft was never in any risk of going out of business. it was always extreme the profitable. drove up earnings and cash. never has a financial problem. it has a growth problem.
the growth problem is because these things shift on you and that's what causes that. a lot of that in a lot of these trends that we talk about are these trends that we are seeing today. in both technology and on globalization. that is how these things can connect. i think the world today, which is different and perhaps when i'll use your statement that maybe microsoft was slow to catch up to the internet. charlie: that was bill statement. sam: