"writin' is fightin;" airing dirty laundry, another day at the front, blue city, "mixing it up," president obama and the jim crow law. thank you for being with us on booktv today. >> guest: thank you very much. i enjoyed it. >> host: this program will re-air this evening at midnight eastern time 9:00 pm out in california. thanks for being with us. ..
>> unlike the regimes in europe that they were starting this country would be unlike, they wanted to make sure that we had a record of our leaders, what they thought about what they did in office. and also they hope that record would be open as soon as possible. >> if we can get them to quiet down. >> can everyone here? >> there's so much noise over to the right. [inaudible] expect is that what it is? >> it's a big crowd of people trying to get upstairs. we will just speak loudly. in any case, they hope that we americans would have access to what our leaders thought and what they did as soon as possible so we can learn from
their successes and their shortcoming. and as i was saying, donald rumsfeld book is very much, i'm glad it's published and i think you are also. the book is on mr. rumsfeld's entire life but let me give a talk about iraq and then look backwards. great deal of the book is about iraq. i guess maybe the way to get in this country we are in the constitution center, which is passed by a statue of james madison any of the room. as you know, madson gave a lot of thought to war and what president should do and how often americans should get into a. if he came back, and just ask you to tell why do we go to war in iraq, what would you say? >> the answer would be that the congress of the united states passed a resolution, overwhelmingly, favoring regime change in iraq in the 1990s i
an overwhelming vote. and signed by president clinton. the united nations issued some 17 different resolutions, advising iraq that they should conform to the resolutions, the request of the u.n. security council, to allow the inspectors into the country, to provide inspectors the information on the weapons of mass destruction. and the united nations have been repeatedly rebuffed. president george w. bush made a decision when he first came into office that he was concerned about the fact that iraq was firing regularly at the united states and united kingdom aircraft that were supporting the united nations no-fly zones,
and patrolling in the northern and southern portion of iraq. those planes were being shot at almost every day. the only country in the world that was shooting at american and british aircraft. over 2000 times they were fired on. the joint chiefs of staff advise me and the president that they were concerned about the fact that eventually one of our planes, a british plane or our plane, would be shut down and the troops would be killed or taken hostage. third, the united states department had listed iraq is on the countries on the terrorist list. so there were a series of things like that by way of background. next, the united states intelligence agency spent a great deal of time, and determined that they were convinced that the iraqi government had weapons of mass destruction.
destruction, had the confidence to continue developing weapons of mass destruction, and had the capability to rapidly expand those capabilities in the event they decided to do so. you have a country in iraq that had used chemical weapons on its own people, the kurds. a country that had used chemical weapons against its neighbor in iran. and a behavior pattern that persuaded people that they not only had them, but would use them. and we were at a point in our countries history where the weapons had arrived at a point that once you mix them with someone who is willing to proliferate those weapons, and once you give them, allow them with somebody who is demonstrated the willingness to use them as well as proliferate
them, the danger, the lethality was so great that president bush went to the congress and told the congress what they believed. >> was or ever thought of a war declaration instead of going for resolution? >> no. i don't know. that would've been something the department of state would've done. >> we're not a declaration of war since 1941, since world war ii. >> not the korean war, not the vietnam war, not the incursion president clinton was involved in. >> is a war declaration make any difference and would have brought americans more -- >> i doubt it. i think that -- you never know. that's a road they didn't travel, and i can't really say, but i think the resolution passed by congress, and then the resolutions by the united nations provided and underpinning. the other thing i would add to the former president is that
president bush and colin powell and condi rice and the vice president, all of us discussed that they would not be a conflict. and that saddam hussein could be persuaded to leave the country and not require an invasion of the country. and there were messages passed and requests made. and they were rebuffed. i think that saddam hussein very likely was purposefully trying to make the world believed he had large stockpiles. i think that he felt that he had friends in the united nations who might be able to stop the united kingdom, the united states and the grace of the countries that were supporting the coalition and prevent them from going in. and i also think that because president george w. bush's father had gone into iraq after iraq invaded kuwait and cause
them to be removed from kuwait but did not change the regime, good evidence that saddam hussein believed that america would not change the regime, that he would survive even though the united states might come in. so, there were a combination of things taking place that argued for it, and there was a behavior pattern on the part of iraq, and this guide as it turned out, and he refused to leave with his family, which was offered and urged. i mean, war is the failure of diplomacy. >> as you quote in the book. one thing people i think will be very surprised to read about is that president bush never asked you for your advice and whether the country should go to war against iraq. would that violate one of rumsfeld's rules? >> no, i don't think so. i think president bush, i don't
know that he asked colin powell or condi rice or the vice president. he was the president. he was elected by the american people. we had frequent meetings and discuss various aspects of the situation. they worked very hard with united nations to try to put additional pressure on saddam hussein so that he wouldn't continue to resist. and the president did what a president has to do, made the decision. and i assume that he assumed that everyone in that group would have argued vehemently if they disagreed, which no one did. >> how do you think people in the future will look back on that decision in iraq? >> it's hard to know. you know, the road not traveled is always smoother. and one looks at it and thinks what is and what if. i think the little known fact is
that gadhafi, the head of libya him at that point had a very aggressive nuclear program under way. and when the united states went in and change the regime in iraq, gadhafi, who have been working very hard on a nuclear program, very high on the terrorist list, decided that he would forgo his nuclear program, and he contacted some western leaders and indicated look, i do have this nuclear program. i'm willing to stop it. i'm willing to have it detected that i have stopped it because i do not want to suffer same fate as saddam hussein. so if you look at the reach, there's some disadvantage that linger from the conflict, by the same token you have a country of iraq that no longer has a truly vicious regime, that is used
chemical weapons against its own people and its neighbors. is gone. the iraqi people have fashion a constitution, had elections under the constitution, and are finding their way towards, away from the repressive distance to a more for your economic situation. and other countries in the region such as libya are engaged in a behavior pattern that is vastly better for the world and for the region. so, there are minuses, negatives, and there are some pluses. and i think you're an outstanding history and i think it will be people like you who, over time, will lay all those things and with the benefit of some distance make some judgme judgment. >> i think a little while from the. let's go back to the beginning. you were born in chicago, grew up in illinois which was not
quite as prosperous as the count is nowadays. a little village as you write about. went on to princeton. was not a bit of a culture shock coming from the midwest? >> oh, my goodness. it was in the. i was told by the dean of the school i was going to go wrestle. the dean said no, you've got to go to princeton. i said well, why? he said that's where you belong. and i said, i can't go there, i don't have the money. he said i will teach you a scholarship, which he did. so i went. and, of course, most of the people there had gone to private schools. they've taken the freshman courses before, and i got there and i worked my head off. i spent all the time in the library or playing football or wrestling. and never did much other than that. there were no women at the school. it rained a lot.
[laughter] >> not my first choice. and joys, my wife was at the university of colorado scheme their way through college. and it was a totally different experience for me. >> and you also heard a little talk by a priest doing he would run for president, then nominated once, that it's not in the book but until you've actually know some of those words almost by heart. >> i do. >> tell us it was first of all. >> i was in, my senior banquet in 1954, and the former governor of illinois named adlai stevenson had lost to dwight eisenhower already in 52, and he later lost in 56. and it was our senior banquet in college and he came to speak at princeton. he was a princeton graduate year and he gave the most eloquent and persuasive speech about
public service that i had ever heard or will ever hear. it was an evening event, and all of us just sat there listening to this brilliant, he called himself a naked. and as a joke used to say -- called himself an agenda. >> you're nothing to lose but your yoke. i think all of us are getting ready to go into the military, all of us came away with a sense of responsibility. and one of the things he said was, young people in our country have a responsibility to help guide and direct the course of our country. and that the power of america's medical system is virtually without measurement. and if america were to stumble,
the world will fall. and it had an impact on me, and i have put up a website, with hundreds of memos that ideally support the book that we've got here. you can go to an end note and go to the website and actually see the entire memo if i quote a paragraph. but i'm almost positive if we've got adlai stevenson speech on the website and i highly recommend it. it is a wonderfully inspiring speech. >> although he did not tend to become a democrat obviously. was there any point in your early life actually been anything but republican? >> all my goodness, yes. during world war ii as a young man my father was in the navy out in the pacific o on the ker. franklin roosevelt was about the only president in my lifetime
between 1932 and i guess you sworn in and 33, i was born in july of 32. i never knew herbert hoover personally. but franklin roosevelt was the president. he represented the united states of america in wartime. my parents, i and everyone i knew looked to him as the leader of our country, and was enormous the important speaker for young man. >> and you were so taken with stevenson what he said i assume that have something, he ran for congress at the age of 29, very dark course, 1962. most people don't run for congress that early, at least they didn't in those days. it was younger than it is nowadays. what moved you to get in so soon? >> well, i was the longest of
long shots. i had been away from my home district for decades. icon for years to college, three and half years in the navy, then i worked in washington for two congressmen, one from ohio and one for michigan. i never met a congressman before in my life. then i come back to chicago, home, and suddenly out of the blue a woman who was the congresswoman who had succeeded her husband, and it occupied that congressional district from 1932 until 1960. and she announced she wasn't going to run for reelection. and i thought to myself, my goodness, that same family has owned that district for my entire lifetime. either you run -- >> you may not have a chance. >> you may not have another chance. so i talked to joyce, and she's gained, she said. and we got a whole bunch of friends from high school, college and god bless them, they went out there and form, i think with something like 1500 volunteers helping.
people running around with hard tops on the car saying rumsfeld for congress, dealings and buttons, bumper stickers. and sure enough, i was fortunate. one of the things that might help is that president kennedy had gotten elected two years before. and he was so young. >> he didn't run for congress speak he served in the senate part of the term and then he ran for president. but he was a young president, and he'd been elected and was so attractive, charming and humorous. >> that was the second president you saw. you post a picture with eisner during the campaign, and as a new congressman, i think within your first couple of months went to the white house and met kennedy. >> i did indeed. but the fact that we had such an attractive young president had an appeal in the district that maybe to 29 years old running for congress look like maybe he
could ask would be a congressman. >> and so that prove to be. you can to washington and among the things that you did in washington, as you write about in the book, was you attended a briefing by lyndon johnson on vietnam. tell a little bit about that because you spoke up in that briefing in a way i think very few people dead. >> this wonderful vice president, hubert humphrey, was called the happy warrior and was just wonderfully energetic and appealing person. he was vice president, and he just come back from vietnam. vietnam was increasingly becoming a major political factor in the country. it had not been when i first ran in 62, but by then i suppose it was 64, 66, 65. so president johnson was getting complaints that members of congress didn't feel they were being informed about the war. and so he --
>> how ever could have said such a thing? >> i know. so he invited the members of congress down to the white house, and we all went down, at least in large numbers went down, and it was winter as i recall to the invitation came late, and we went in, and it's not destined for young congressman to be sitting in the white house getting briefed by the president and vice president who has just come back from vietnam. hubert humphrey start to give a briefing, and lyndon baines johnson was commander-in-chief. and he was bigger than life. he would pop up every time someone would say something and answer the question. and hubert would just about every to answer, and stop and lyndon johnson would take over. >> that's pretty much the way it was. >> yes, indeed. it was a powerful figure. >> and johnson was talking about the things he was doing to win the war, and you piped up and said like bombing homes?
>> he was -- you know, as a congressman listening to him, i was probably more critical than it would've been as a member of the executive branch being asked questions by members of congress. so where you stand kind of depends on where you sit. but he, he was going to appear at what he was trying to figure out what to do in the war in tranninety and he would go through a heavy bombing period and then it would be a bombing pause and he would hope that would cause a positive reaction from the north vietnamese. or the vietcong. and it didn't. and he in explaining what he was doing was asked a question by democratic congressman from texas about why it wasn't working. and his answer was in effect that it would work.
and, of course, the fact was if you do something for a period and then stop completely, it's confusing. it's confusing to our people. it was confusing to the enemy. and i did ask the question and tried to get some response from him as to how that combination of off and on was going to work. and he said well, the way it's going to work is more of the same. and at that point he was in a bombing which suggested it might not work and, of course, it didn't. he had a tough job as president, and he did his best. >> in retrospect what you think making the decision the way it was fought? >> well, i was in issues, it's hard to say for sure, but in the last analysis that country was going to have to find its way
itself. and the task we had was not to try to go after the north vietnamese or the vietcong alone. because all they had to do was disappear. they didn't have to fight a single battle. they could just disappear, and a week later show back up. they could go harvest the rice and then come right back. and you could have walked u.s. forces from one into the country -- from one end of the country to the other and they would've disappeared. when you pass they would come right back. in my view in retrospect, the benefit of hindsight, the task was ready to try to get the south vietnamese government capable of organizing and training and equipping their own forces, and providing something for the people of south vietnam and the rest of tranninety that offered a promise for them for a future. and i think ho chi minh was more successful in suggesting to the
vietnamese people that the future under him would be brighter for those people. and there was an argument made that the south sydney's government was corrupt and out of touch with the people. that's not unusual in the world for government to be labeled corrupt. a great many of the governments in the world are corrupt. and i don't know that the north vietnamese government under ho chi minh was not corrupt. that was an argument. and the combination of those things i think created a very difficult circumstance or lyndon johnson and the united states of america. >> and in 1968 richard nixon was elected. he comes to you and asks you to take on the office of the economic opportunity, one of the crown jewels of society, not very popular with republican. nixon basically wanted to dismantle it is not a great career move for you i think that
you did. what was your rationale? >> i voted against the legislation when it was passed. sargent shriver who recently passed away had been the person who headed up the office of economic opportunity, and it started under president kennedy, and he and his brother, bobby kennedy, and the justice department had fashioned a program to try to assist the poor in the country. and then president johnson came in with his big approach, and enlarged it and it became the war to eradicate poverty. and if you define poverty he has a certain percentage of our population, and then you try to eradicate it. it's not possible because there's always going to be a certain percentage that fits in that category. they been neatly started a host of programs.
it was the job corps, headstart, migrant programs, health care programs, drug programs, community action program. there must've been 12 or 15 different pro-grants under this umbrella of the war on poverty. the design was that it would bypass governors and mayors, elected officials, and, of course, that had the effect of angering republican and democrats mayors and public officials. because the money would come straight from the federal government to organizations, community organizations that were described as having maximum -- maximum feasible participation for the poor was the concept. and bypassing the myth. of course, what they started to do was oppose local government. local city council and local state government were constantly being harassed, the legal
services program as well. federal government, filed lawsuits, all of the people regards of the political party. they had nothing to do with policy. it was against the structure that existed. so by the time i went in there it was widely disliked. >> but here you're promising republicans come and then we'll talk about you as a future possible precedent. is an integrator for a career like that? >> well, joyce have somewhat of an unusual sense of humor. one night i got home and i went to the icebox and it was a little sign that said he tackle the job that couldn't be done, with a smile he went right to. he tackle the job that couldn't be done, and couldn't do it. [laughter] >> you laugh. at 10:00 at night when is reaching in for a soda pop, and reading that, that slows you
down, i'll tell you. [laughter] >> so you do that. he went on to the next -- the nixon white house and you might in the book you wanted to leave washington after the election of 1972. did you see watergate coming? >> no, i didn't at all. you know, one time someone wrote -- i ended up going over to nato as ambassador to nato right after the 1972 election, and abundance in washington couldn't believe that i would leave the seat of power. i was a member of the cabinet come in the white house. and sunday i'm going off to brussels, belgium. it look like siberia to political people in the white house. the proximity to power in washington, what one would want it and i did just the opposite. i want thousands of miles in the other direction. some wag wrote in some magazine in washington, after watergate
broke, who's the smartest man in washington? answer, don rumsfeld. the statement that he is not in washington. answer, that's right. and i got a reputation for being smart instead of lucky. i had no more idea what was going on -- i mean, richard nixon had just been reelected by one of the biggest margins in history of the country. he won every state in the union except massachusetts and the district of columbia. and no one could imagine that i would want to get away, that i would want to be away from that as opposed to ride in the middle of it. but we did. we took our family and went to belgium. we had a truly wonderful experience representing our country overseas. >> and then gerald ford becomes president after the nixon resignation. your great friend, colleague in the house in the 1960s. he came in saying he wanted a staff that would be close to the wheel. everyone would report directly to the president.
you were brought in after a month when he thought that was not working very well. was that a time, it was said about people who worked for president ford were very much impressed with the fact that presidential power was so much easier. did you see signs of that? >> gerald ford was a legislator, and he was a minority leader. and he functioned on the spokes of the wheel concept where everyone could come to seem. he was a gracious, wonderfully warm decent man. and anyone who wanted to have access to him could. and as minority leader of the states house of representatives, that work. in fact, it was positive. a president of the united states can't do that. it just doesn't work. it's dysfunctional, and he had watched the nixon white house. and i believe he believed that part of the reason for nixon's downfall was that there was what
was called the berlin wall, this type of white house staff system run by bob holderman and john, that they called the berlin wall because they both have names that sounded germanic. and he did not that. and he said he established this anti-conference he asked al haig to stay on and it turned on he felt he couldn't keep al. he asked me to come into and i told him, i wouldn't do it. it couldn't be done, that the model he designed was not going to work. and he said i know that now, but i want to have to get from rem to where i want to be, and just give me a little slack while we navigate over to a rational white house and chief of staff system. >> dick cheney has said serving as chief of staff as your
successor under president ford, yet so many sites with doctor presidents were constrained. congress is moving in and, of course, to some extent they can he say when he became vice president, one of the things he'll do was expand presidential power and attention the other way. did you feel the same way? >> when you have an embattled president functioning in the white house, at that point was it deemed illegitimate, watergate had drained the reservoir of trust in our country. and for the first time in our history a president of the united states had to resign. it was a stunning event. in our country, in the world. and when you drain the reservoir of trust, which is how we govern in our country come we don't govern by command. we govern by persuasion and
leadership. and you simply, you have to be able to persuade. and if there's no trust, you can't persuade. people don't respond to in the white house was in that terrible, terrible, terrible circumstance. the effect of that was that he had a dilemma. should he go for continuity, which would reassure the american people that he, a total unknown who have never been elected president or vice president, with no campaign staff, no platform, no knowledge about the country having campaign the country, no base of support, he felt the need to reassure the country that there would be continuity and policy. the alternative would have been, which i favored, that he would favor change. my view was that if that
institution of the white house was deemed illegitimate, and not trustworthy, then president ford had to create sufficient change that it would be seen not as a continuum of a nixon-ford white house, but as a ford white house. and he needed to make enough changes in the cabinet and the staff that people would see him as stepping forward with a new team. he opted for continuity, and paid a penalty. >> do you think he shouldn't have? >> i don't. i think he should have made enough changes. he changes. he was such a decent, kind man. he said i don't want to let anyone go and have it appear that they did something wrong, because there were a handful of people who did something wrong in the white house. it was not a large number and they were truly wonderful people there. pat moynihan was there and alan greenspan was there, and george shultz was there. they host of -- dr. stein and dr. whitman, and so many people,
wonderful reputations. and gerald ford just could not bring himself to firing anybody. he just didn't want to do it. because he felt it would be a tarnish on their -- >> unlike him. you later in this book, relayed a story about how the elder president bush, george h. w. bush, went to the cia in 1975. do you want to tell us briefly the story and what you feel the real story was? >> what do you mean what i feel the real story was? >> well speed is what the real story was. >> tell the false story and then got screwed. >> gods truth, now you're talking. george herbert walker bush came because i think in 1966. i had been elected in 62. i knew him and served in the congress within. anti-at some point ended up, i think running for the senate. and then he went over to china
as our representative. and he wanted to come back. he told rising ford that he wanted to come back and serve in an executive position. and i was chief of staff of the white house, and periodically i would be as by the president to send in a group of names to the attorney general or director of cia, or some other cabinet officer, department of housing and urban development or what have you. and so the staff in the white house would produce these documents of here are six great names of people in your the pros and cons, and joe the people who favor these, where they rank them. than the present would look at them and asked to have the fbi take a check, or ask other people to bet them out. that kind of thing when and when the president said director colby wanted to leave the cia. and bush's name was on that list. that the staff produced. people had him first, second,
third, fourth, above or below the line. and for whatever reason, there was a myth that was created that because i had been considered for vice president when president ford picked nelson rockefeller -- >> as he had spent and george herbert walker bush have been considered, that we were competitors. so the myth came out when he was sent to the cia, the senate said we will not confirm you've been less you agree that you will not be vice president. so we kind of ruled him out. and i told president ford, i thought he shouldn't do that. and he should definitely not allow the senate to tell him who the country should have as a vice presidential nominee. and i urged him not to agree to it. the facts are that george herbert walker bush begged the president to tell him he would not be vp. he wanted to be director of the
cia, his wife at the quote above that said he was thrilled to be nominated for that. and somehow or another the myth came around that i was the one who masterminded all of this and arranged for him not to be considered for vice president. spoke as you write in the book about that? >> i don't know that he believes that. i finally retired of it and i wrote president ford and said, give me a letter that tells you what the facts are. he wrote back and said you're quite right, george herbert walker bush made me to be headed the cia, wanted to be head of the cia, you had nothing to do with it. and that's the long and short of it. in our world theories get strung out over a period of time until it's like their chicken stock into, not within the fact that they are totally based in midair
without any roots or substance to them at all. >> so let's move the clock up since we don't have a lot of time, 2000, george bush's son is elected president and you go to see him. did you have any thought you would be asked to enter the cabinet? >> goodness know. i was an old man. joyce and i have gone to her 50th high school reunion in illinois, in the year 2000 i think september, and joyce with her perception and wisdom and foresight announced to our friends that this was the beginning of our world period. this was in september of 2000. we had no more idea of the world that i would end up, had no particular desire to. we were happy in life is good. i had been in business for a period of years,. >> was very successful and tell us about that in the book. >> served as chairman on various
commissions. and felt that i was contributing in a voluntary way. >> when he became secretary of defense, how have things changed at the pentagon and washington in general since 1977? >> i wish i knew the actual numbers, but for one thing, congressional staff had ballooned and had gone by a multiple of i've got to believe two, three or four. the defense authorization bill, piece of legislation that the congress passed in each house and then have a conflict and then there's a piece of paper, papers that represent the authorization bill telling the department of defense what it can do for the next year. when i left as secretary of defense in 1976, the defense authorization bill had 74 pages. when i came back in the year
2001, the defense authorization bill had something like 574 pages. that's going to be off by a few but it's good enough for government work. you get a sense of what a change. what has changed is that the department of defense is enormous and there's no way it can be efficiently run. the government is almost inherently inefficient because it can't die. it doesn't go away, unlike a business. when you drive down any street in philadelphia you'll see a retail operation that was there one day and is gone the next. it can fail. government just stays there. and so the inefficiencies compound and the effect of it is that it is not efficient or and to the extent something is not efficient than the congress concerned about representing their constituents, feeling
irresponsibility oversight legislative oversight, see something wrong and decides a way to fix it is to require another report, or to hire more people to monitor something, or to have more hearings and to look into. and so what you see is, is how many people all enough to remember gulliver's travels? remember gulliver? a great big guy and the others were this big. gulliver finally all of the others but so many threads over gulliver, he couldn't move. and no one of those threads was doing the job. it was the thousands of threads that prevented oliver for moving. and that's where we have a right in government. we have so much oversight and so many pages of micro requirements, and so many reports to be filed that consumes just an enormous amount of time. there are over 10,000 lawyers in
the department of defense. imagine, i've got nothing -- i got nothing against lawyers, but i don't know how -- >> there are lawyers walking out of the room right now spent out in your decision can function with 10,000 lawyers. [laughter] >> just kidding me. >> okay. i'm going to push you to skip to the rest of this because we haven't got much time and i want to get to the other thing that happened obviously during that decade. 9/11. in retrospect you think that 9/11 could have been a burden, let's say, say, if you are sort of able to rewind the tape, if early presidents behaved differently, was that to some extent the result of things presidents did or did not do in? >> you know, i'm not one who can answer a question like that.
on the one hand, just logically you say to yourself there must've been something that might've been done carefully. on the other hand, the task of intelligence community is truly difficult. it is just a very, very tough job. the world is a big place. the terrorist networks and the closest decides in many countries make it enormously difficult to gather intelligence that can be useful and actionable. in my adult life i've seen literally dozens of instances where our intelligence community has failed to predict something. there was a very fine book called pearl harbor by robert. the forward to that book was written by, i think you at harvard at the time, named dr.
thomas schelling. and he wrote this forward about surprise. and he characterized pearl harbor as a failure of imagination. and, of course, there were some hearings after pearl harbor what might've been done, who might have known this, was a right to have a concentration of our battleships and mobilize and vulnerable as they were, with all of our planes on the ground on a sunday morning. i look back on 9/11 and i'm aware of the reappraisals and the lessons learned, studies that have been done. and there's no question but the fact that the united states of america, in the case of somalia after being attacked, pulled back, in an instance in haiti
was attacked, some ships. and in bosnia some folks went across the line and were captured and we pulled back several kilometers. in lebanon after the marines were killed in the barracks there at the airport in beirut, the united states withdrew their forces. after the khobar towers and the uss cole were attacked by terrorists, the reaction of the united states was minimal i would say. they were some -- the cruise missiles launched on a couple of occasions, but if you think about, the terrorists that organizing these kinds of activities, they don't have countries to defend. they don't have populations to defend. they don't have real estate and infrastructure that they want to protect. they operate in the shadows come and you can watch an awful lot of cruise missiles and drop an awful lot of bombs and do
precious little damage to a terrorist network. they came away having drawn a lesson, and have said as much. osama bin laden has said on many occasions on video that the united states was a paper tiger. and the united states is hit, it will react, it will not withdraw. it won't reach out and do damage to the people imposing that damage on our country. so, someone could make a case that that pattern, that weaknesses is provocative, that to the extent we behave in a manner that is weak and allows those kinds of things that provoke people into doing things they might otherwise not do. they wouldn't think of doing it if they felt they would be instantaneous punishment for doing it. but listen, the last thing i would do would be to say that there was something somebody
could've done to have prevented september 11. i just -- i would say it's like pearl harbor. it was a failure of imagination, and probably a relatively understandable failure of imagination. >> made a couple of questions from the audience. one is about iraq and vietnam. do think about that comparison? >> there are certainly comparisons and notable differences between the two. the vietnamese were not likely to come and attack the united states of america. the terrorist threat, the dangers of, and iraq was on the terrorist list, the terrorist threat was a very real one to our country. and al qaeda have demonstrated that they would come and attack
america. now, there was no direct link between al qaeda and iraq. there certainly was between afghanistan and iraq. and iraq was on the terrorist list. and iraq and a pattern of having developed weapons of mass destruction. and so they were these things that effected it. but i would say that -- or, i think the differences were greater than the similarities but there certainly were similarities. >> how about in the case, unite both know a lot of people worked for lyndon johnson that one of things the office is the tough thing for them is when someone comes to them and says, i lost my son in vietnam, why did he die? what would you say for iraqi? >> it is the hardest thing. i think anyone who is in a position of responsibility when a conflict occurs, and you, as
joyce and i would go to the hospital and meet the wounded, their lives are changed forever, meet with their families, and meet with the families of those who have been killed, we would think to ourselves when going in, what is it that we could say or do that would help them understand the appreciation that we in america have for the sacrifice, the individual sacrifices and the sacrifices of families as well, because they sacrifice, and they serve. and we would come out of those meetings almost invariably inspite of it, not feeling that we have helped them the feeling that they had helped us. the pride they have in their
service, the cohesion they deal with the units they were in, their desire to give back to the community, you just could not fail to come out of those meetings inspired by the young men and women. the big difference between the vietnam war and the conflicts today is that, thanks to milton friedman and richard nixon and the congress, we have an all volunteer military. every single one of those people who serve our country serve because they wanted to serve. they serve because they consciously decided they wanted to raise their hand and go until protect our country. and that dedication and patriotism and that pride that they feel is so powerful. now, how does one answer that? i guess the answer is that --
>> and what the johnson people said is they will push us to tell the exact with the sacrifice is made for. does anyone ever do that? >> sure. >> world war ii i assume would be, that's not hard. but a war like iraq or vietnam or something that's not full throttle, what do you say to? >> a war that is armies against navy, air force against air force's, that's clear. that's understandable. it starts and ends. they did in world war ii on the uss missouri, the battleship with the signing ceremony. what we went through in the cold war was a different. it was many decades long. it was an ideological competition of ideas stack and it was never going to be a signing ceremony spectators they're going to be a sunny. will we are in today is much more like that. it is a longer period of time, a
marathon, not a sprint. it is a competition of ideas, but for whatever reason, we are hesitant and not skillful in engaging in the competition of ideas. we recognize that the overwhelming majority and the loved ones on the face of this arthur find people who have a religion that may be different from christianity or judaism or other religions, but they are not radicals. they are not terrorists. they are find people. and yet there's a small minority of muslims that have engaged in terrorist acts that organize to do those things. and we are reluctant as americans to take up that debate and compete with those ideas. they are not reluctant. they are out recruiting. they are out raising money. they are out organizing, and they are now planning attacks against the nationstate concept.
because they have a conviction that it is they're going to do that. >> so the fact that we are not willing to engage in that debate, or not skillful at it or reluctant to do it, leaves people with a vagueness as to why, why people have to do things. the wonderful thing i found was that many women in the armed forces is that they are there whether they are serving in korea or in bosnia or iraq or afghanistan. they know what they're doing. they understand it. they are proud of what they're doing, and thanks to modern communications, and e-mails, they are able to compete with their families, and their families up having a sense of what they're doing and why they are doing it. and when there's a loss of life, it is heartbreaking. when there's a loss of land, it's heartbreaking. and yet, you talk to the sound
and you talk to the people. and they don't ask why was i there. they know why they were there. and they are proud that they were there. we are very fortunate country. >> that's for sure. you are a very close student of leadership as well as a leader yourself. [applause] >> indeed. and you have seen a lot of leaders. i guess what i was thinking of -- >> here's the leading scholar on presidential leadership, he's going to ask me a question about leadership. >> well speech i feel like i'm back in the school spent some do, some just write about it. it when people in my line of work right about george w. bush, what you think would be the shortcomings and what achievements of? >> well, i'm 78 years old. i live a third of our country's
history. and almost every republican president was considered not very swift. dwight eisenhower played too much golf they said. he had a poor syntax. my goodness, gerald ford they said play too much football without a helmet. [laughter] >> didn't matter that he'd gone to yale law school. did mattered is one of the world's leading experts on the u.s. budget hundred on the appropriations committee. spent not to mention the best athlete in the white house. >> exactly. he contended he was a stumblebum. i mean, you go from one to -- ronald reagan. he was characterized by clark clifford as an amiable dunce. and then people read his letters and saw that this man was thoughtful, knowledgeable, and while not a micromanager, a strategic leader. and a superb and highly
successful strategic there. george w. bush was described as not curious, not knowledgeable, and he had gone to harvard business school. he'd gone to yale i guess. and was clearly and is an intelligent human being. i mean, i didn't know the man. i worked for his father in congress but i did not george w. bush. and i watched him as a president, and he clearly ask penetrating questions. he worked his way with foreign leaders in a skillful and engaging manner that developed relationships that were constructed for our country. and yet, people made fun of it. all of those president. i don't know quite what it is about our society that does that, but i must say i've
watched a lot of presidents and i would say that george w. bush, when you think what he did with the surge in iraq, -- >> is something you would have supported? >> indy. what he did was interesting. a lot of things combine to make it work. the anbar awakening took place. the training a clipping of the iraqi military had come to a very advanced point with hundreds of thousands of iraqis trained and ready to participate. the iraqi government had matured and was beginning to provide more skillful put the leadership in the country. but what he did, when he added i forget what it was, 20, 25,000 additional troops. it wasn't the additional troops that made a difference. he galvanized the situation in iraq by his boldness. when the congress was about ready to cut off the funds he
made the decision to increase the number of troops. and it caused the people in iraq to say, oh, my goodness, he means business, he's not looking for a way out. he's looking to win. and that caused the political situation in the country to jail and coalesce. and the malachi government went into the south and took care of some of the dissidents. the army, the sadr army which was in an army, is a group of people that didn't get out industry to make demonstration. they went quiet because they did know what would happen. but the center of gravity has shifted from iraq to the united states. as we say in the military, the center of gravity is the real locus of the problem within the united states, and the congress was about to pull the plug. dismantle funding as they did on vietnam. and the boldness of what george w. bush did galvanize the