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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  December 7, 2014 5:00pm-7:01pm EST

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the wind. i can imagine the lives led behind the windows of the house. i could envision goes and life and adventure in the forest just beyond the pictures borders. ..
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[applause] >> good afternoon. the telling of history is
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consequential and recognition is consequential also. i am deeply honored and appreciated to receive the american book award today. i am also very honored to share it with the other recipients today who have presented such rot and real engagements for social life. not the least it is also quite an honor to share the award with previous recipients, some of the people who shaped my intellectual development. kerry snyder, edwards i eat, and very baraka. i want to thank first of all waldo martin column aye author. we spent many years together working on this vote. i want to thank my friends and family in the audience in my many comrades and colleagues who helped make this poker reality along the way.
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there are too many to thank individually. you know who you are and i never could have dreamed of getting here without you. thank you. the recognition is nice, or writing the history of the black interparty let alone the 12 years that, but the sacrifice and commitment of the cost i will go into those today. -- i won't go into those today. i didn't pay those costs for the accolades. in a few minutes i have here today, i wanted to say a few words about why the history of the black panther party is consequential today.
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.. i'm going one of our primary aims in counterintelligence as it concerns the black panther party is to keep the group isolated from the white and black community which may support it. this is point it out in their breakfast for children prom where they actively receive and solicit support from moderate whites and blacks. you state, that the bureau under
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the counterintelligence program should not attack programs of community interests such as the black panther party break fast children because many prominent humane tareans, white and black, are interested in the program as well as churches which are actively supporting it. you have obviously missed the point. the program was a program aimed at dividing the party from its porters and vilifying it. look at the actions of william o'neill. one of the highest placed members of the staff of the fbi on the payroll of the federal government, working in chicago, who helped orchestrate and organize the assassination of mark clarke, fred hampton, and what was he published in the black panther newspaper? articles calling on local panther chapters to torture other members, to torture other members. this is what the fbi was paying. these were the ideas the fbi was take to have circulated. the black panther party members should torture other members.
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why? this is about criminalization, so, why does the history of the black panther party matter today? because if we let hoover get the last word and accept the common wisdom of the black panther party was nat political organization but a criminal one, then those who stand up to unjust authority everywhere are criminals. why does the black panther party history matter today? in 1966, there was a schism and a split in black freedom struggle. the younger generations stepped forward to try to figure out new ways of challenging and fighting for freedom. and if you look at the history of the civil rights movement during its heyday, and you look at organizations like core, that so successfully dismantles formal racial segregation in the united states, and ended jim
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crow, they never made in roads into poverty. so you read the history of core in the north, and years of campaigns, and the best organizers and the best strategy and nonviolent civil disobedience and claims for full incorporation in american democracy, and at the end of these long,drop-out campaigns, you get a job, one job, integrating a formally completely white woolworth0s oar another storm. many similar examples. sive rights and nonviolent civil disobedience never made inroads into the middle class, into the fact that police departments were all white and to the fact there was very little electoral representation. the political machines were exclusionary, that elite higher education was exclusionary, and so in 1966, young blacks around
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the country are trying to figure out how to build a move that can address that. the history of the black panther party is crucial because you can't sit in against poverty. you can't sit in against poverty. michael brown is not an exception. and i don't know if home saw the news of the last couple of days but the fact that the st. louis dispatch published a whole series of false photo indications which suggested that the experts supported the interpretation of the forensic evidence that in fact michael brown has been struggling aggressively with the police officer who killed him, that those quotations were in fact
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distorted fab fabrications according to so-called forensic experts. that's not exceptional because today in the united states, young black men are 21 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than young white men. it's not exceptional because there are more black people under incarceration control today than were slaves at the height of slavery in 1860. it's not exceptional because while the median family income among whites in the united states is a little bit over $100,000, the median family income among blacks is less than $5,000. the expansion of vast expansion, the tripling of the prison
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system, and recent decades, the reverse of gains made in higher education. look at the university of california system by blacks. the great expansion of inequality in this country, show that these trends and not only for blacks but inequality and incarceration are not getting better but have gotten worse in recent decades. so the history of the black panther party is crucial today because you cannot also sit in against jim co. you cannot sit in against in the new jim crow issue should say. you can sit in against the jim crow. the civil rights movement dismantled jim crow, using nonviolent civil disobedience. but you can't sit in against the mass incarceration of blacks. it doesn't work. we need other politics, and so the history of the black panther party is crucial and we cannot afford it be criminalized.
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from 1968 to 1970, for three years, the black panther party was at the center of black freedom struggle. when fred hampton was killed in chicago, it wasn't just radicals that turned out. it was the naacp. it was the urban league, the moderate black political organizations that turn out, but a while the black panther party had a politics they might not support, the party also had a politic they saw as necessary to their interests. they could not afford for the black panther party to be killed, to be beaten to be repriced, while there was not access to higher education, while there was not a significant black middle class, while there was continued exclusion from the main street politics. over the course of those three years, the black panther party had chapters in 70 cities in the country, with dozens, in some cases hundreds and a few cases thousands of young members, who
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dedicated their lives to revolution. people don't remember but the premiere of china, enlai, and the chinese government sponsored a national day in china in support of the black panther party with thousands of dancers and jugglers and performers in the streets. a big state dinner. and signs that said, "down with yankee imperialism." algeria, a center for international mobilizing, and resistance, to colonialallism and other forms of revolutionary mobilization did not have an embassy for the united states in the late 1960s, in '69 2 and '70 but they had an embassy and an embassy building for the black panther party. students for a democratic society, mobilized a good part of the draft resistance, decayed
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the panthers vanguard of the common struggle. but often today, the party is criminalized, and commentators strip it of its political practice. we cannot let j. edgar hoover get the last word. democracy is made from below, and it is never given from above. so if we're to have any chance of challenging the growing social inequalities that face our children, we need to learn from the sweet successes and also the bitter failures of the people who lay their lives on the line for our freedom. so that is why i wrote this book. thank you. [applause]
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>> now you know why i teach at berkeley. i think it was in the late 90s i was sitting in my office, and josh walked in, and we started having over several weeks a series of conversations, and this book in some ways came out of that. it was not a book i set out to write. about the urgency, and the passion of forced me to understand that this was a book that had to be written. and this whole experience on some level has been awesome. jonathan, graduate student.
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robert howe, my dissertation committee. i sat in your home several times. it's all sort of surreal, sort of coming back to me in a way i could not begin to really fathom. i want to thank all of those who helped make this event possible. this atruly august roster of writers and josh and i are thrilled and honored to be a part of it. like josh, i could go on and on about all the people, but i grew up in late jim crow in greensboro, north carolina, and in my personal life, i experienced a lot of black
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politics, but the group that election triidentified me was the -- electrified me was the black panther party. there was a chapter in winston-salem north carolina. i was groomed to be a good negro and i think i fulfilled that promise in some way. but even though i was deeply attracted, i decided i'd go to duke and do whatever they were going to do with me there. and so that whole period for me is one that i write about and study but it's also one that i'm deeply invested in because it's deeply autobiographical, and the other thing i'll have too say is that i understood why people join the black panther party,
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and one of the problems i confronted initially was people trying to figure out, why would anybody in their wright mind join the black panther party. my answer was, why would anybody in their right mind not join the black panther party? but so for me this is not only sort of a scholarly adventure but also sort of a deeply personal adventure, trying to figure out the relationship between life and politics and scholarship. all these comments about the academic world are right on. it's a strange world, and i often feel like i'm on a surreal island somewhere. but meeting and having experienced this extraordinary individual becoming fast friends and writing this book makes it a all worthwhile. i must pay homage to the brave and inspiring freedom fighterred
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of the black panther party, the unsung and well known, the foot soldiers, the fellow travelers, the rank-and-file, as well as the leadership, their tireless and hard work to help realize african-american liberation, african-american freedom is ultimately what we honor with this award. second i want to pay homage to the enduring tradition of radical. want to underline radical. indeed, revolutionary. underline revolutionary freedom struggle. especially the radical and revolutionary traditions of african-american freedom struggle that is the black panther party epitomized -- epitomized. a colleague was bemoaning the fact at berkeley you can't get a radical opinion. and i asked him when you last heard a revolutionary,
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especially progressives. we have enough conservative voices, yours in particular. in our current consecutive -- conservative and neoliberal moment it's absolutely vital we understand enduring significance of the traditions of radical, indeed, revolutionary, freedom struggle. these are things that are not taught. these are things that are not valleyedize validdized and are not understood but are essentially and you can't begin to understand the party unless you have some sense of this. it is equally important from my point of view -- this is my political statement -- that today we revitalize radical and revolutionary progressive extra differences. all too often in my reading today these are unacknowledged and trivialized traditions, especially among the students i teach, who are some of the best and the brightest. a crucial aspect of the party's historical significance is the
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fact that they helped spearhead what josh talked about, an audacious moment in time when the possibility of revolutionary change appeared to be everywhere, when revolution seemed possible, when revolution was in the air, when revolution appeared to be just around the corner. the key issue was not -- and i repeat was not -- that the revolution did not come. but that those like the black panther party, believed and acted upon, and fought for, progressive revolution. that they did so tooth and nail. that the revolution they truly believed in fought for and died for did not come is far less important, far less revealing, than the very fact that the black panther party existed, and
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that their comrades dared to attempt to make it happen. last, i want to highlight another aspect of the party's enduring importance. the party epitomized the tradition of radical youth, and the important of radical youth activism in this country, and i try to work this with my students who can't believe that these kinds of things ever happened, but i think you have to have beliefs, you have to be audacious and you have to be committed. i want to conclude as i often conclude, by invoking the enduring african-american freedom struggle that the party came out of, helped to advance, and still profoundly speaks to. i do so to make clear the spirit of affirmation and resistance,
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the proud and committed consciousness, and the militant action that have propelled forward african-american freedom struggle. at frederick douglass once said if there is no struggle, there is no progress. those who profess to favor freedom and yet dep crick indicate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. they want rain without thunder and lightning. they want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. this may be a moral one, the struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical but it must be a struggle. find out just what any people will quietly assassinate and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.
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and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows or with both. the limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurans of those who they oppress. machine may not get -- -- manhood -- men may not get all they pay for in this world but they must certainly pay for all they get. if we ever get free from the oppression and wrong heaped upon us, we must pay for the removal. we must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others. thank you. [applause]
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[inaudible conversations] one of the giants of american literature has most recently been excluded from its mainstream because of the unhappiness of critics about her most recent novel, see then now. i'm speaking about jamaica kinkade, who has been honored with the american book award this year, and so before inviting my colleague on the board of directors, jack foley to the stage to accept the american book award for jerome
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rothenberg, i'd like to read this statement regarding jamaica kinkade and her award-winning model, and reading this statement on behalf of the before columnus foundation. since then 1970s there has been a proliferation of books, films, and television products that entice a revenue stream by promoting what one critic calls a black boogieman, brute, an extreme misogynist who prey on saintly do no wrong women. some material is financed by men which is their right, who don't reveal how members of their group, members of the cultural elite, treat women and blacks. it was left to jamaica kinkade to offer a glimpse into attitudes of the new york cultural elite toward women, blacks and immigrants. thank you through this novel, was dismissed as angry, it was
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written with a brilliantly controlled fury, the response of the good old boys and girls who have the power to influence the direction of american literature and jamaica kinkade was correct in describe something of the reaction to the book as racist. one critic even used the term bipolar in his description of the book. jake kinkade has written a core courageous and come pelling and rare glimpse into spaces that are considered off limits. for a writers of miss kinkade's background. she also exposes the politics of american literary criticism. which is a veer venal politics by the way. seriously. all about people paying up. i don't me paying dues as good writers itch mean writing those checks.
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in conclusion to today's ceremonies, again, i want to welcome the winners of the book award to the stage immediately following mr. foley's statement, and acceptance of jerome rothenberg's collection. jack foley. [applause] [inaudible] >> thank you, justin. it's an honor for me to accept this. jerome is traveling, those of you who know him, know how much he travels and this is part of unfortunately his inability to be here today. i know how excite he was to receive this award because throughout his life, his entire project has been to be multiple. it is one of the great
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extraordinary things about this organization. i think you can tell from the just diversity of voices, opinions, all of that, that we heard today, which you can find even more as you explore more about the other authors that before columbus foundation has already honored. roth 'berg's entire project -- rothenberg's project begins with the impulse not to be the same as everyone else, and in his attempt not be the same as everyone else, what he discovers is all kinds of people that are in his head. all kinds of multiple positions, understandings, et cetera. he is one of the great reclaimers of native american poetry, and one of the things he did was to find people who could redo that poetry. he found experimental poets, for
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example, to redo native american poetry. there have been many, many, many, anthologies in which he present all sorts of people from all sorts of countries, from all sorts of historical periods. i won't name all of them. they're out there. well, i have witnessed is a book in which we get the personal history of jerome rothenberg. it is the source of the diverse anthologies. there's so many of those things that it's very difficult to sort of even name a few of them. the millennium is the most recent. what we get here is a consciousness that is open to the world, as it is. a consciousness that allows itself to become the other, in allowing himself to move away
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from what he understood to be conventional behavior, he opened himself up to a world, and that a, as a gesture, is what i think we all have to do. i think you can feel that in the energy of what people were saying today. on all levels. opening yourself up to the other who you find out is a mode of yourself. that you are others. that consciousness itself, our minds, are multiple. just as politically we are multiple. the reason we can experience multiplicity in the political sense is because we have it within us, and this particular book, i of witness, is a terrific and wonderful example of someone who is able to do that. so it's a real pleasure for me
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to be able to accept his ward for jerome rothenberg. thank you to the before columbus foundation. [applause] >> it's been a monumental event and i want to thank all of you for coming and staying and listening to these profound statements. you can see the quality, the caliber, and the integrity of the authors and their books is rare, and we don't accept checks or awards but we do accept checks for donations which the before columbus will greatly appreciate to keep us going, to keep this book awards -- we'll take cash, yes. you can even donate a certain sum on a yearly basis, annual
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basis, or monthly basis, we'll accept it all. we don't have the kpfa telethon so we don't have that kind of outreach, but if you believe is this an important institution, before columbus, and the american book awards must continue is a necessary vehicle for it to keep our writers, our marginalized -- the other writers, not just in our heads but the literal flesh and blood other writers to keep writing, please support us. okay. up front, we have a donation basket, and if ishmael reed would like to make a closing remark, it might be -- see, ishmael out front. thank you very much. thank all our brilliant, brilliant writers this afternoon.
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[applause] >> you're watching booktv. >> while in waco we toured baylor university's armstrong browning's library with director, treat patterson. >> robert and elizabeth barrett browning wereville victorian poets, born in the london area, met in 1845, '46, married in 1846, and lived for about 15 years in florence, italy. one of the things most familiar about elizabeth would be her
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novel poem, aurora lee, and then also especially -- she is well know for the 43rd sonet which is use for greeting card, how i do love thee. let me count the ways. the collection came to baylor university in 1918, through the efforts of a.j. armstrong, who was chairman of the english department from 1912 to 1952, and he was very enamored with browning's poetry, talked to browning before he came to baylor, but taught it probably yearly once he came here. he had started his own small browning collection, and gave it to baylor in 1918. in the collection we have letters both by robert and
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elizabeth barrett browning, letters written to them, books they actually owned, many art pieces that belong to them, their furniture. the collection just grew and grew, and at that time it was just housed in the main library. it finally had its own room but because there were so many items collected, dr. armstrong raise it the money for this building. for today i've pulled out some samples of material wes have here in the library and i wanted to point out something that is one of my favorites. this is a sample of elizabeth barrett browning's materials. it is a set that she prepared for the printer in order to publish the sonets in 1850. inside are her hand-written sonets. the interesting story about the
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sonets from the port portuguese, these were written at love sonets from elizabeth to, and during d done during their courtship time, 1845 to 1846, when they were published in 1850, elizabeth had given the poems to browning in 1849, and he thought they were some of the most beautiful sonets he ever read and thought they should be published. she did prepare this set for the printer, and they called them sonetted from the portuguese as a way of veiling the fact that they were love sonets from her to him. he did call her, my little portuguese, as a pet name. she did have a dark complexion. she was also interested in a portuguese poet. so, sonets from the portuguese, they also saw it perhaps people
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would think they were traps places from a portuguese poet. day were trying to veil it, but they were published in the back of elizabeth's poems of 1850, so it didn't take the public long to realize that they were love sonets from elizabeth to robert. then another thing that is very popular here, and many of the scholars come to use, is this other book of the poetry, written by elizabeth barrett browning, but what makes this one so turkly particularly special is on the very back inside of the cover, is a rough draft of sonet five, from the sonets from the portuguese. when we bought this notebooks we had no idea this was in the back of the book, and we were very excited to find out that as far as we know, this is the only
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rough draft of one of the sonets that exists. also in the collection we have many of the books that belong to the brownings, i only have one sample here. this set belonged to robert browning. it is a carrying case and it contains greek classics. he would carry these small books around with him on the train, whenever he went to visit. we've jokingly called this robert browning's kindle. so, as he would travel around, many times he was -- would put an annotation inside the book of where he read the item, what date it was. there are many times we pulled these items out for students to see, for visiting scholars to see. also have a sample of a manuscript that was written by robert browning. this particular one has lines
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from a poem called, plea on. a nice lightness. robert browning here on the left. we like for people who come here to learn that the brownings were great victorian poets, to become more familiar with their works, to maybe want to go out read their poetry when they leave. we always have exhibitions up that are giving insights into maybe other people that the brownings knew, showing some materials that were in their collections. we just want people to come and take a away some new experience. >> for more information on booktv's recent steroid waco texas and the many other cities visited go to c-span.org/local content. >> as this year winds down many publications are putting together their best books list
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for a 2014. here's some of toronto's "globe and mail selections." the history of canada in rise to greatness. in the people's platform, taylor argues that modern technology has rearranged inequality instead of reducing it. also on the list, is the report on wealth and income inequality in europe and the united states. next in this changes everything, naomi cline comments on climate change. and glenn greenwald's no place to hide. >> to me the real lesson of edward snowedden and what he did ex-think i think is so profound that it hope everybody in the world walks away no, matter what their ideology is or what their perspective is, learning and thinking about, is that he was this incredibly ordinary, common, powerless person. he grew up in a lower middle class home. his father spent 30 years in coast guard.
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he had no position or prestige or power. and yet simply through an act of conscious and courage of his convictions, he literally changed the world. >> that's a look at some of the globe and mail's top books for 2014. to see selections from other publications visit booktv's web site, booktv.org. now david rothkopf talks about the leadership following 9/11. it's an hour and ten. >> good evening, ladies and gentlemen. it is a real pleasure to welcome you here tonight.
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it's a pleasure for several reasons. i'm david rothkopf and i'm a visiting scholar here at the carnegie endowment, some for me it's a pleasure because i'm here with friends but also because it symbolizes finally finishing this book. i was not really sure it was done until we came to the day we were giving it out, selling it. so that's a step forward. but it is special pleasure because to kick it off we have a discussion with three public servants who are among the most distinguished in their field, people who i have enormous respect for, personally, and after having studied them, both in terms of what they've accomplished but also in terms of the content of their character. they're great guy guys and i think the they will offer to you wonderful perspective. on the far left is general brett
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scowcroft who has served as national security adviser twice, both in the ford administration and in the administration of george h.w. bush. beside him is brzezinski, the national security adviser in the administration of jimmy carter, and beside him is josh bolt ton, who was most recently the white house chief of staff for president george w. bush. but all of them are more than that. all of them have been people who have thought about the issues we're here to discuss today, for -- throughout their lives, before they were in these jobs, after they were in these jobs, and they set themselves apart by people who think about the issues of the world and the issues of running the united states government as a matter of
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professional objectives, of professional purpose. they have world views. and they are developed on a daily basis. and so what we're going to do today is talk for probably 40 minutes or so, in a kind of a question and answer format. i've been instructed to tell those of you who are live tweeting this event -- i'm tempted to say, please don't, but it's unavoidable in these circumstances to use the hash tag national insecurity. and that at the conclusion of the 40 minutes, we'll have 20 minutes for questions and answers, perhaps a little bit longer, if there are more from you, and then we will head downstairs where there's actually a reception. if anybody would like a book signed, i think i can arrange that with the author.
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and we will have a good time and celebrate a little bit. now, it feels awkward for me to take a few minutes and do the talking when i'm on a stage with people like this. but they have given their consent to allow me to speak for just a few minutes about the book. i am not going to go into great depth. i just want to say i wrote a book call the "running the world. the inside story of the national security council the architects of american power" a hit of the nfc from 1947 to the first term of the bush administration. and it was done in the voices of the people who served in the job and it was a great -- i'm grateful to report a fairly
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successful book, and the publisher came back and said, why don't we do a followup? doesn't have to be exactly a sequel. it's not a directly following the structure of the book. but let's look at the period from the second term of the bush administration through to now because there are such strong contrasts between the way that the bush administration has approached the world and the obama administration has approached the world, and the evolution of the role of the white house and the role of the national security council has changed so much during that period, and has been so central to so many issues, that it would be worthwhile to take a look at it in a book. and i embrace the used -- the idea for several reasons. i liked writing the last book because i get to go out and talk to these people. in the course of this book i spoke to 150 people, including folks like these, including 40 from outside the united states, about half and half from each
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administration, and that for me is the greatest joy of this because i want to say something, and it's really sort of the core of my framing remarks here, which is contrary to the conventional wisdom of washington, contrary to conventional west wisdom of the media, of the people i've spoken to and of the people i've met in washington since i came here 21 years ago, those who devote themselves to public service in the national security arena and the foreign'll policy arena, the military arena, are good people, regardless of whether they're republicans or democrats. the partisanship that has rendered washington dysfunctional and frozen on a variety of issues, is a huge distraction when it comes to many of these issues, and while i'm not saying that there are no people who serve in these areas
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who are partisan, i'm saying it's important to us as citizens and as observers to strip that away. to recognize that all of these people, talented people, people with lots of options in life, come here to serve the government in the best way they know how, and they make mistakes, and they get trapped in group think, and they get pushed by the politics of it, but if we strip away the politics, and we strip away these filters we look at. we're going to have a better chance of understanding how to make the system work at the best possible way. the other point that i want to make is that this period that we are in is a period that is different from any other period in recent history. the subtitle of the book is "american leadership in an age of fear." and what i mean by that is that
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i think that as history looks back, we are going to say that the decade or decade and a half following 9/11 and a number of other incidents that were dominant in the period, including the financial crisis, other kinds of brushes with terror and other bad actors in the world, that this period was a period in which we were back on our heels. that americans felt vulnerable in a way that they had perhaps not felt vulnerable in many, many years, perhaps since the darkest years years of the cold, perhaps for some since world war ii. part of this was a visceral reaction, a visceral reaction to a 9/11 -- the fact that everybody in the united states saw these events take place live in front of their eyes. that's never happened before, a period like this in world war ii there was pearl harbor, but people saw any grainy images, in
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a movie theater a couple weeks later, or they read about it in the paper, ask the response was the way you respond to things you read, intellectual, through the mind first. when you look at 9/11 and saw people falling from the towers, you saw the destruction, it was visceral, through the gut first. america reacted for a decade through its gut. and the consequence of that was wild swings, at least in my estimation. we overreacted in the first instance, and the signature event of that overreaction was a war in iraq. and then, following 2008, and following the general sense among the american public that we had gone wrong to some degree, we elected somebody who said he was going to take the opposite path, and he did. and instead of overreacting to a lot of events, i think we overreactedded to the overreaction.
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we underreacted. and certain issues were allowed to grow and fester and the signature event of that period may also in a tragic irony be a war in iraq. and so these things book-end this period and also suggest, as we swing from one extreme to the other, and we see the system in some dysfunction, that this may not be a period that historians look back on as a golden age in american foreign policy. i think that your general reaction it to demonstrates that is likely to be in the fact. and this is not surprising. every time somebody gets elected president of the united states, we think this is going to be george washington, or thomas jefferson, or abraham lincoln, and most of the time it's rutherford b. hayes.
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we mostly get a president who is good at some things, bad at other things. but the beauty of the system, the reason the national security council system was developed in 1947, was that the people around franklin roosevelt said, we can't go on with this guy managing the way that he managed during the second world war. he was playing one hand against the other. he wasn't communicating. if we were to face another war with the soviets we couldn't do that. we need a system that gets the best opinions, the best intelligence, processes it, filters it to the president and the form of choices, and then is able to implement that. and uses the whole of the united states government in a constructive way. now, i think as we look back to the period of the past ten, 15 years, we find moments when it wasn't doing that. where small groups were making decisions via group think, where they were speaking intelligence
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and misinterpreting it or overreacting and led news the wrong direction, where small groups perhaps today are isolating the president even from parts of his own cabinet, from the full resources of the united states government, and caution problems in that respect. there will also, however, moments in this period where the system worked pretty well. and i think for some reason we have blinders on to it. i, for full disclosure purposes-served in the clinton administration, a democratic administration, that where is i come from in all of this. i try to be objective. but in the past 15 years, the time that the united states national security establishment worked the best were the last couple of years of the bush administration, when george w. bush recognized that things weren't going well, and he said, we have to change the team, we have to change the strategy. we have to change our focus. and what came out of all of that
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was not only the surge, not only the light footprint technique that the obama administration embraced, not only new military team that came into the thing, but other things. doubling down on the millennium challenge, the india nuclear deal. better relations with markets, repairs real estates with the allies, and then in the second big crisis of the bush administration cries there was a remarkable response which whereas controversial but if we look at how part of the world responded we acted quickly, we acted decisively, we nipped it in the bud, and george bush and barack obama actually did a kind of remarkable partnership in handing off in the midst of this crisis and managing it in a way
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that wouldn't have been possible if the team in the bush administration and the team in the obama administration had noen been willing to do that... ... >> it takes imperfect people, and t makes them better. it elevates them through a sense of institutionalized collaboration that doesn't happen unless you respect the
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system, respect the process and use the process. we also talk in the book, and i should say by the way, tara chandra and where's adam? directly in front of me, adam cohen, who are my researchers did such a huge amount of work in this book that they deserve a lot of credit, and when i say "we," i mean all three of us. the mistakes are all mine, but good stuff. they did an enormous amount. but we also look at gaps going forward. we have gaps in the area of science, technology, in the area of certain kinds of regional expertise and dealing with a whole set of other issues. so it's not simply a look at, you know, through the political lens that, you know, other people have done, it's trying to be an objective look at what works and what does and how we can learn from that so as we go forward, 2016 and beyond, we can do a better job. the best way to illustrate why a
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book that speaks in the mouths of the people is the best way to approach this thing is to hear from some of the people that i spoke to. and that's the, that's the objective here. you know, let me start with you, brent. you know, as you look back on the past 10 or 15 years, what sets this period apart in your mind in terms of the function of this apparatus in u.s. national security? >> well, thank you. thank you for that introduction, especially saying i'm on the far left. [laughter] i like that. of course, from your perspective, i'm on the far right. [laughter] so as you will. i think it's useful to go back when we're talking about different nscs, to go back to the beginning in 1947 and what was, what did they think they were fixing in 1947.
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it wasn't just that the president was going off in all directions. but there was no function of government that brought together national security. the basic elements of national security, state department, defense department, intelligence were in the government. but they were all separate, and there was nobody who brought them all together. so the original law was designed to bring together these so that the president could look at national security, not at defense over here, state over here, intelligence here with nobody to help him. and that's how it started out. now, in the beginning it didn't
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work very well because presidents either didn't like it, or in the case of eisenhower, he turned it partly into a military staff system. but that's what really, to me, that's what basically the nsc is supposed to do. it serves the president by bringing together all of the different perspectives that together make up national security. so that he doesn't have to do it himself without his help. on top of that, though, we have to remember that each president we have is different, a different kind of personality. they like to get their information in different ways. just, for example, the first
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president i served, richard nixon, didn't like meetings. he would rather have all of the papers and all of views, then he'd go back to his room or his private office and study them and make a decision. his successor was just the opposite. he was not an expert many foreign policy -- in foreign policy, but he liked to hear the issues examined and explicated by his staff talking to each other. so he loved meetings. it was the way he ingested information. and you can go on and on. each president does it a different way. and he'll do it the way he wants to do it even though that's not the most effective way. and what the system has to do is
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to be able to adjust sufficiently so that he gets what he needs which is a coordinated, consolidated input to look at. and it's different for every president, and what was some of the issues now and the change in the nature of the international system, it's been tougher. >> let me, let me ask a similar question. as you look back, you know, using brent's comments as kind of, you know, preparatory and sort of to lay the groundwork at how we look at the nsc, as you look back at the past 10 or 15 years, do you see, you know, a system that's growing to meet these threats, or do you see one that's kind of spasming back and forth and searching for a right way to function but perhaps not
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finding that it that often? >> i think a great deal depends, first of all, in addition to obviously the capacity of the president, his leadership quality withs and so forth -- qualities and so forth, a great deal depends upon the historical context. there's a great deal of difference when it comes to policy making when your principal rivals are, let's say, limited to only one power by polarity or if there are no principal rivals because you're dominant, and the united states has gone through these phases at different stages. so that makes a lot of difference. beyond that it makes a great deal of difference whether the issues as you confront in the context of these two terribly important words, national security, are issues that
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involve complexity, difficulty defining it, difficulty of deciding what the real choices are or whether you are so invulnerable that you can decide on your own what needs to be done, and you can impose your will on the outside world. i think the fact of the matter is that the united states has gone through these phases, and while there were different styles of presidential leadership, by and large the historical context defined pretty much the pattern of behavior. and in recent years we have transited very dramatically from bipolarity to american hegemony which lasted roughly 15 years at most to the decline of that hegemony to the rise of complexity and complexity of a new type in which we confront not only the residues of
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historical past, but the rise of new phenomenon on the world scene, something i attached a lot of importance to in my own analysis of what is happening is what i call the phenomenon of global political awakening. we had four tastes of that a little bit in the few wars that we waged since world war ii of which we only won one and four of which we didn't win and at best achieved a stalemate and perhaps less than that. in the past it was very easy to fight against weaker opponents because they were politically underdeveloped. that's how colonialism became imperialism and so successful. today when we fight abroad, we increasingly confront populations that are politically awakened and in different degrees of intensity are prepared to defend themselves and oppose us, and that makes the cost for us so difficult. who would have thought in 1945 or in 1990, for example, that
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dealing with a backward country in which rebellion and violence predominates it would take a decade for the united states to achieve its minimal objectives and perhaps not even achieve them? so that, i think, affects the style of leadership. beyond that i think complexity forces us to deal simultaneously with many more issues. that has a bureaucratic effect. kennedy, kennedy's national security adviser had a staff probably just a little larger than the number of deputies to the national security adviser in the present administration. and brent and i and kissinger, we had staffs roughly in terms of 40, 50 senior officers who
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were responsible for different issues in parts of the world. and today the staff writ large is well over 300 people. that creates a bureaucracy which the national security adviser finds difficult to run directly. i used to make sure that my 40 people would be in touch with me every day either personally or in writing. so when i would go home while in the limo, i would read the daily report which i required every one of them would write indicating what they did, who they talked to, what problems they confront, raising issues with me that they think are important and perhaps of presidential significance, and i would write marginal notes on it so that next morning they would have that, and then i would deposit the whole book in the secretariat's office without my notes so that competing officers who sometimes compete over territory and access would know what the others are saying, but
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they would be informed. this is impossible today. absolutelyssible. so responses tend to be much more ad hoc, much more sudden, and we're confronted much more with problems that we understand less than we did at comparable stages measured by decades backwards. look at the rise of islamic fanaticism. to what extent do we contribute to its rise? what does it portend? is it likely to expand? are we going to be bogged down more and more? those are some of the problems that we face. one final point. a great deal depends on presidential character. you mentioned president nixon studying his brief. i had some occasional briefings that i had to give to president reagan because one of the chiefs of staff thought that i was a competent briefer and would be simplistic, and it would be easier to deal with reagan. i had the sense that he didn't read very much at all, but he had good instinct.
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i think that makes a lot of difference. president obama, i have the sense, is extremely well informed. but i also have the feeling that when he meets with his top level advisers, he tends to lay out his vision in some detail and at some length, and that already automatically predetermines the flow of the subsequent discussion with his subordinates. so all of these factors, i think, contribute to a process which today is probably sluggish in responses unless the response is required by the necessities of survival which tends to be disbursted, which tends to be uncertain and clear cut decisions promptly. >> thank you. i do want to give you a sense of
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where we're going to go. i'm going to ask josh a question or two, and i'll go back to each of these guys for one quick follow-up question, so it'll take us about ten minutes, and then i'm going to go to you for questions. think of good questions and brief questions so that we can get enough of them in. but, josh, as you listen to zbig talk about the character of the president, one of the issues is their evolution. and i think one of the things that struck me when i was doing this book is that the first term of the bush administration was marked by a shock to the system, a reaction to the shock, some incompatibility among some of the members of the team, you know, some episodes of group think around some ideas. but, you know, i spoke to congressty, she talked -- condi, she talked a little bit about
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that the first two or three years they were just reacting, you know? that there was no real time to sort of develop a strategy of this kind of thing. and certainly there were tensions within it. so by the time you took over as chief of staff, there was a sense that things were in trouble. and then in the first couple of years of the second term, i sensed there was an internal debate even within the president this which he finally came around and said i need to make some changes. and i just want -- the character so important. can you talk a little wit about how that -- a little bit about how that evolution took place in your mind? >> i can, but first i want to say congratulations on a really, another thoughtful and very readable book, at least the first third is. >> you sound surprised. laugh -- [laughter] >> available on amazon. [laughter] for the bargain price of --
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>> oh -- >> adam? >> money is vulgar. >> $30? >> no, no, better on amazon. [laughter] but it's a very good study, and it gets precisely to a lot of the points that both brent and zbig brought out so effectively, and the one you just raised about the president's character which both of you referred to as critical. and the president's personal style. i think evolution is the right word when applied to president george w. bush's style. he came in with a lot of advantages, a governor, not familiar really with the national security issues and apparatus the way many candidates or new presidents come to the office, but he also came into office having been a student of his dad's administration which had some of
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the most able and most effective national security making apparatus in our modern history. so he had an opportunity to watch that. so he did not come into office as a naive. but his administration was struck with really the greatest national security shock in our lifetimes, certainly in the postwar era. and as condi said, had to respond op the fly. -- on the fly. we were not prepared to deal with an attack on the homeland. we were in an era that as zbig just described, as sort of, as -- it was the end of history in the period when president bush came in. and he came into office intending to be the education president. not intending to be the national security president. he, you know, he was figuring
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and hoping that that whole area would be relatively calm as it had been in the administration that you served in. and 9/11 changed all that. the world had been changing for some time, and the problems had been festering, but they exploded with 9/11. and it was a cascading series of explosions. that occurred over the course of the bush administration. so when you say "evolution," that's the right word, because the first couple of years were characterized by having to make a very rapid response without an apparatus in place that was well equipped to deal with those issues, to try to build the apparatus on the fly, rebuild our military strength and refocus it on the challenges of the day which even the smartest
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people had not fully anticipated. and then learn how to deal with that as time goes on. now, one of the interesting things in your book, at least the first half of it, is that you focus on the processes and the structures to manage what zbig correctly described as an increasingly and sometimes mind-numbingly complex of interwoven problems. and all of that is true, but at the core of it to address these kinds of situations you need a leader that is able to rise above the blur of information and problems that are showing up on his desk. who has clear principles upon which he's making decisions, is able to communicate those to the
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people to whom he has delegated responsibility, and then when he sees things going wrong, to change direction. and that's, that's the period in which i served. i became chief of staff in -- well, i served throughout the bush administration, but the first two years as deputy chief of staff for policy, the next three as the budget director, the most despised figure in -- [laughter] in all of washington except when it comes time to dole out the money to the cabinet. and then only the last three as chief of staff. so i came in as chief of staff at the beginning of 2006, and i saw a president who was struggling with a very difficult situation in iraq and one that he was able to eventually to elevate himself out of the blur of the noise and the happy talk and say, no, this is not going
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well, i need to redirect as much as i love the people in uniform who have been beating their heads against this brick wall now for several years with flagging success, we need to change direction even if there are many, if not most of the people in the military and the administration who disagree. so that's the president i saw operate. and i think, going back to the issue of structure, i think the structure that we had in place and remains in place is well suited for that, that it is a -- we have a white house-centric national security structure which, brent, i think even you will agree is right that the president needs all those inputs. and he needs all of his actors coordinated and needs a focal point for his own top level decision making. and so i think the national security council structure was
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well equipped to make the pivots that the president wanted to make when it was time to change course in iraq even when the defense department might not want to, the state department might not want to, and the intelligence community says not a good idea. >> well, let me ask all three of you then the same question before we open it up to questions. and if we keep the answers fairly brief here, we'll have more time for the questions, and that is let's look at the current period, the last year or two. in the course of that period, there have been a number of things that have taken place that have been very challenging for everybody in the national security apparatus whether it was uprising in egypt and deciding what side to be on in that, whether it was the problems in syria where we, the president last august looked like he was going to make a move, he then decided he wasn't going to make a move. later on, of course, this year
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he realized he had to. the nsa scandal that took place in all of this and how we dealt with our allies during that scandal, the move of putin into crimea and into ukraine and whether we responded to that quickly enough. and i think there's been a lot of criticism in that you hear it in the current campaign, i think you hear it, by the way, from both parties. the criticisms are that it's too white house-centric, it's a white house-centric process, but it's not using the rest of the cabinet well, that it's reactive, that it's risk averse and so forth. we've all heard it. one of the things that is demonstrated in the history of the bush period was that changes are possible. this happens all the time in the system. as you said, the system is designed to be able to change. if you were going to be prescribing for president obama for the next couple of years, what kind of changes that need to be made in order to handle
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better the challenges we face, what would you prescribe? i'll start with brent, then zbig, then josh. >> well, i think the one thing that is fundamentally different is the world is changing. and that calls for a different response. i first served when the cold war was ending. the cold war was a great discipline, because the strategy was given. it was containment. now, how the tactics we argued about, but it was containment. now cold war's over, and what is the strategy? it's not clear, and another thing has happened, and that is the world is changing. and we call it globalization. but look at the information part of it. parts of the world's population
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that never in history were involved in any kind of government or votes or anything are now engaged. everybody knows basically what's happening, and they react to it. take egypt for example. you know, it's very -- it used to be very hard to get people to turn out in tahrir square. it was dangerous business. now all you need is a cell phone. there will be a demonstration at 10:00 tomorrow morning, and you get a million people. it's a different sort of a world. and i think what happened on 9/11 is that there was a quick interpretation that this new world was bringing an attack on the united states and that what we had in 9/11 was only the first attack, and there were
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going to be floods of attacks, and we had to do a lot of things to prepare for 'em. now, it didn't happen. now, did it not happen because we were prepared for it and dealt with it, or was that not the nature of the attack anyway? those are the kinds of things which affect the way the system reacts and also whether or not it's the right way or not. i guess what i would say is the first thing you need to do fundamentally is reduce somewhat the size. because when you've got 350 people, you've got a management issue. the nsc should not be managing. the it's a thought processing system -- it's a thought processing system. and you can't have 350 people sitting down making the policy. so the first thing you have to
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do is triage. what do you need to have in this small group, and what can you push back to the system to solve? that is what the national security needs, national security adviser needs to do. what has to go through the nsc and how, and what does not have to? be nice if everything did, of course, but the president's only one man. and that's what i would do. >> okay. zbig, same question. >> well, i agree with much of what brent said. seems to me we're now in historical phase in which we're inevitably in a reactive mode because the world has become very dispersed, very dynamic, and the threats emanate from many sources. so in a sense, we were always forced to play catch-up in a way with events. that's one point.
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but the second point i'd like to make contrary to that one is that, nonetheless, we need something that we very much lack in our decision making process and that is some organized effort at strategic planning. this thing which strikes me always the most is that we have in the defense department instrumentalities which engage in planning. but, of course, they're focused on warfare. what kind of war, when, how and under what circumstances. we have in the state department policy planning which, of course, emphasizes diplomacy and the technique and peacemaking as the eventual outcome. we have some degree of planning in the cia in the sense that it tries to anticipate the shape of the world some years ahead and feeds that into the policy policy-making process. but curiously, we don't have in the white house, the center of
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the government where the decisions finally have to be made, any organized really central planning, strategic planning organ. and i have for a number of years been trying to advocate the creation of something like that. at one stage when i was in that position, i did have samuel huntington spend two years to sort of engage in strategic planning trying to anticipate how the world might change and how we may then have to react or respond or whatever. i think something like that is needed, and that might force at least some of the discourse on the white house level into a discourse that is more strategic in its own essence in part because it feeds strategic planning into even a response to a challenge. but beyond that perhaps it leads to anticipation of certain events and, therefore, to action by us that is preemptive.
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right now we're mostly playing catch-up ball in different parts of the world, and others are setting the pace for us in part because others have -- [inaudible] they're not world powers, they're semi-world powers, they're regional powers. and i think some comprehensive instrument close to the president, subordinated to the national security adviser and, of course, cooperative with the orr planning agencies of the government would make sense. and my final point, i would try to draw into that on an informal basis through simply kind of social connection evening discussions perhaps led by the president with congressional leaders. because it seems to me strategic planning and policy making cannot be divorced from congress given the nature of our political system. and i think that would enhance the probability that foreign policy can be bipartisan. because if we don't have
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bipartisanship in foreign policy, foreign policy is vulnerable if one party is not totally preeminent, and our system more often than not produces something near balance with a few traitors here or there being able to alter the political balance in any case and paralyze the system. >> i just, you know, in my moderator's, objective moderator's role i do want to point out one thing here. one of the central points that zbig was making there was that the government is better off when it has in the middle of it somebody like samuel huntington who is the editor of foreign policy magazine. [laughter] when you listen to the editor of foreign policy magazine, things go better. [laughter] i'm sure you wouldn't dispute that. >> oh, no. >> no, okay. [laughter] >> although i would take the opportunity to hold up the book again. [laughter]
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>> these are excellent points here. i like brent's notion of making the national security staff smaller, but perhaps each more important than that -- even more important than that to achieve zbig's objective of strategic planning even if there's no such entity right now that does that is you need a national security adviser who sets that as a priority, not the management of the thousand problems that are going on every day. and in a way brent's idea of making the nsc smaller would help which is shed the stuff that isn't absolutely critical to the presidency and to the country, and, you know, just the defense department and the state department. they'll mess up, but they probably won't do a whole lot better with the white house's 10% intervention and let them
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handle those things. deal with the important stuff at the white house. these two guys did that. the national security advisers with whom i worked did that very effectively, two brilliant advisers in condi rice and steve hadley. now for the obama administration , i mean, i tremble to give advice because having been there, i know how difficult the situation is, and people on the outside are always giving advice that's usually, at best, useless. [laughter] but i'll hazard a couple of things. one is that -- and this comes out well in your book, david -- is that i think this administration has defined itself far too much on being not the previous administration. now, i happen to think being the previous administration is not a bad thing to be.
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but regardless of how you feel about that, each presidency, each administration needs its own focus, its own strategic priorities, and it can't be a strategic priority to be not like the other guy. and i think that's led us into a lot of difficulties and problems. the other is turn down the politics a bit. every administration is very political, including the one in which i served. it's actually one of the charms of our system. it works pretty well. but it's not supposed to bleed into the national security realm, and it typically does not. and i don't think it's bled badly into the obama administration's national security realm, but i'll give you one, one example of a contrast where i think the obama administration suffers by comparison.
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and that is that president bush would never allow the folks who were his political advisers even to come to national security council meetings, much less speak up at them. he would have a conversation with his political people, that's always important, but he would decide first what was in the national security interest of the united states and then talk to the political people and say can we get support for this? how do we, how do we do this? decide first what's right and what's in the national security interest. people on both sides of the aisle. this national security community of which i'm only an adjunct member is actually very nonpartisan, folks. folks are really trying hard to support each other. and i think the white house sends the wrong signal when it gives the impression, sometimes the misimpression that important national security decisions are being made with a heavy political calculus. >> okay.
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good place to open this up to conversation. there are people with microphones someplace in the room, so if you could just bring one over to this gentleman here whose hand is up, i would ask you to identify yourself and ask a question. and if you, if you give a speech, then i'll move to the next person. yes. >> my name is steven shore. i think everyone agrees that strategy is cool, but isn't strategy ultimately at odds with shifting winds of public opinion? >> can i go first on that? >> please. >> because it's a follow-on from my previous answer. no. [laughter] >> that is -- folks, that's the prototype. quick question, quick -- [laughter] quick answer. oh, back to this gentleman here. and then we'll come up to you. >> ike nelson with georgetown
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university. i had a chance to work in the clinton administration on technology and economic issues, but many of them were international, so i spent a lot of time with both the nec and the nsc. i was very glad in your book to see you mention the need for more work on science and tech issues and how they influence national security. i'd like to know if you have any specific suggestions, in anybody on the -- if anybody on the panel had specific suggestions at how technology, scientific and economic issues can be brought together, and is any other country doing that better than we do? >> well, let me say one thing ask and then turn it to you folks. i talked to a lot of people on the science and tech side, and they can be very loyal people in the administration, but they're very frustrated by the fact that they were not consulted -- i spoke to one person at an undersecretary level with a critical job who saw the cyber strategy the day it was released from the white house. so better coordination is one thing. but i think that at a more
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important level we have a government of lawyers, okay? we have a government of people who don't necessarily get trained and understand these issues. some other governments, chinese government has a government full of engineers. other governments actually have governments full of engineers. i'm not saying that we need to switch over and we need to have the white house full of geeks. but what i do think we need is that people who recognize the centrality to almost everything that we're going to do, of changing information paradigms, of changing, you know, impacts of biotech and biosciences to the ways societies work and how long people live and what costs what and, frankly, i think we need more capability at the center on these things. there is an office of science and technology policy. it is often a speech writing shop. and it can't be a speech writing shop. you need a president's science
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adviser who is an active adviser in this process. perhaps, brent, do you have a -- >> well, i think these are some of the questions that need to be dealt with that we, frankly, don't know how to do it because they're difficult problems. you know, i actually set up in my last stint a small group called long range planning. it didn't work. it really didn't work. and i didn't have time to figure out how to make it more useful. but that's one of the problems, how do you deal with these things? take the cyber issue which affects the whole country. how do you deal with it? you know, there are various ways to do it. every way has advantages, every way has disadvantages. and figuring it out you're either lucky or unlucky. and nobody's figured out the
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magic way to run a country. a democracy. and that's part of what we're dealing with. we try this, it doesn't work too well, we try this, it's too much of this. that's what we have to do, and we've been doing it ever since 1947 in the nsc system. >> we need to continue to evolve here. let's get a question right here. okay. first -- >> hello, my name is samira daniels. i was really intrigued with your raising the, raising samuel huntington's name because it's -- i've been reviewing samuel huntington's work just more recently, and i think that what you raise is, points to what i see, i attend a lot of forums, and what i see lacking is this kind of conceptual and critical kind of discussions
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that would go on in the '60s, '70s and '80s. and perhaps it can be characterized as -- >> the question? >> yeah -- as intellectual renaissance. and i'm wondering why you don't, why there isn't a samuel huntington. i mean, you're the closest thing to it. you know, what has changed? why don't we -- >> she was pointing at zbig, not you. [laughter] >> that's why i'm moving away. >> so that's my question. i mean, what do we need to do to do that? >> well, in a way strategizing or policy making is a kind of intermediate point between real expertise and depth, particularly the kind of novel problems that are arising to which brent referred to, cyber and science and so forth, and public ignorance. it's the intermediate point. because our public is uniquely
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uninformed about the world. it has no understanding of world history and how history changes people as people discover their own history and redefine it. it has no understanding of events that transpired in the world that affected people's -- that harbor prejudices and resentments and then translate them into political reality, have no understanding of gee ogg by. and ask that's a stunning fact, we don't teach geography practically in schools. and the other side is experts, people who are innovative, creative, thoughtful and deep. but to communicate in a fashion that is self-contained, and what is in between is the political process that tries to find some or sort of middle road and translate certain necessities into something that would be appealing and compelling to the masses, thereby sometimes dramatizing and oversimplifying
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the phenomenon. and that is the role, in a sense, of the president and the staff around him. but to perform the that role, you have to be sensitive simultaneously to the new frontiers of knowledge and of the complexities and of one's own limits of understanding them. and on the other hand, the latent prejudices and the residual prejudices of society that feels for the first time in its history to be frightened by the possibility of outside attack in a variety of ways in our own society. that it's increasingly susceptible to panics, just think of ebola and just think if it became attractive to someone abroad to deliberately spread it in our society. it's not, it's not impossible to do that. so we have a situation in which in a sense policy decisions and strategizing is part of a complex process of compromises and adjustments in which there
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is no good, clear cut solution. and the problem is how do we then in that context decide how power is allocated within that narrow middle group. for example, is any president truly interested in foreign affairs? does every president really come to power really knowing the world? on the other hand, is there a risk that a foreign -- is there a risk that the president will become so absorbed in foreign affairs that he badly neglects domestic issues? how does he strike the compromise within himself? what i'm trying to say is that it's very easy for me to be sitting here and talking about strategizing without taking into account how complex and difficult a process that is and how difficult it is to translate that idea into something ongoing that then results in the state department and defense department but also the domestic agencies working in some concerted fashion. not to mention congress which
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essentially thrives on negativism and intervention, not to mention the fact that it's also increasingly susceptible to corrupt practices acts; namely, fundraising. this is a pet resentment of mine. i was looking at the last elections, and i made the mistake of making a donation early in july to somebody. and ever since then my e-mail has been swamped -- [laughter] by hundreds and hundreds of increasingly threatening demands that i do more. [laughter] or pitiful appeals signed by name. by the highest dignitaries of our country. so we're dealing here with a very difficult and complex process. it's very easy to verbalize it in terms of a solution, but in fact, it's an endless quest which will never produce something that's ideal. >> let me add one thing to that, and i'm going to take one more question, and i'm going to encourage somebody in the far back. there's a woman back will, so
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give her the microphone, in the far back row. but let me say one thing before you begin your question. you know, there are other things that contribute to this strategy void, and part of it's the culture of washington right now. you know, you can't get confirmed as an official in a highly politicized congress if you've expressed views that are outside the box. so people tend not to do it. it tends, you know, you look at learned publications or you look at speeches, think tanks, and a lot of things that are produced are incremental because people are afraid of straying outside the line and someday having that come up in a confirmation hearing and being voted out. but there is also, you know, a kind of peewee football quality to the debate in washington. and one of the things that my great staff here did was we looked at the top ten think tanks in washington which have responsibility for doing this for ten years, and we looked at
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what -- there were studies and events and so forth on. and what you see is a few areas of the world, you know which they are, getting the vast majority of this discussion, a number of areas of the world -- also very important -- not getting any of the discussion. and the area that had the fewest number by far, by orders of magnitude of events and discussions around it could broadly be characterized science and technology. so, you know, in other words there weren't discussions in advance on these cyber issues and on these other kind of issues. and these are -- and i've been affiliated with carnegie now for, you know, the better part of 17, 18 years. it's a wonderful place and there's a lot of good work going on in places like carnegie and brookings next door and so forth, but we are not covering the waterfront intellectually, we are not being bold enough intellectually, and creativity is being dampened within the system because of the pernicious
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nature of the political debate within washington. and that is also dangerous and contributes to this as well. okay. zbig has to go at six, and it's six. so i -- are you going to leave right now? >> yeah. >> okay. [laughter] so please join me in, please join me in thanking zbig. [applause] [inaudible conversations] and let's have, let's have one last question from the back, and then we'll wrap it up. so go ahead. quick question, quick answer. >> thank you. leann bernstein -- [inaudible] this is, actually, a question based on something that mr. bier mr. brzezinski -- >> can you hold the microphone closer to your mouth? we can't hear you. just hold it right up to your mouth. >> there we go. this is based off of something that mr. brzezinski raised and a discussion that's very prevalent in this town right now which is
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decline in american power. that we've moved into, yes, an era of uncertainty. the conflicts between superpower nations are more complex, and the role of nonstate actors is increasingly complex. so i guess the big question that's floating around in this town that i'd like to pose to the panel is where does the united states' leadership go with in this new, presumably new period of history? >> turn to each of you briefly. brent? >> i'm not sure i heard that. >> question is is there a leadership void, is u.s. leadership irreversibly shrinking? how do we lead going forward in this kind of multipolar environment? >> well, that's why we have presidents. but, you know, there is no right answer. we talk about strategizing.
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well, strategy is a means to reach the end. we don't know what the end is right now. you know? is the united states neglecting its world responsibilities? what are they? and why are they? and what's the cost? we're living in a world which is transforming from the fairly neat world, relatively speaking, of the cold war subject to new technologies which are changing everything. the internet, for example, was started just as a way for scientists to communicate with each other. absolutely open. wanted it to be open. now one of the dangers is that it is open. [laughter] and people are using it for nefarious ends. this is not a -- we're not
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discussing a problem which can be solved, because you react to one sort of gulf in your planning process, and another one opens up. or the world changings. changes. we need to keep trying, but we need, first of all, to avoid disaster. and that is becoming an increasingly difficult problem because the world is increasingly a world we've not seen before, and we have to initiate our responses. that takes a condition which doesn't exist in this country right now which is a unified system to get forward the problems are big enough, let's look at them together, the
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executive and the legislative branch don't look at anything together right now. that's the nature of the problem. >> josh? last word. >> i endorse especially the first part of what brent just said which is this is why we have presidents, this is where presidential leadership comes in. the world is, indeed, an increasingly complicated and difficult-to-manage place. substantially more so even today than it was five years ago when i left my service in the white house. so i have a great deal of sympathy and empathy for the people in the white house trying to manage it now. but that doesn't mean we need less presidential or american leadership, it means we need more. and if i can, if i can expand on the answer to this gentleman's question which i hope you didn't find discourteous, i was trying to keep within david's strictures -- >> thank you. blame it on me. [laughter] >> but presidential leadership in these circumstances is
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crucial. zbig correctly pointed out that you need to cultivate the people in congress, but you need to cultivate them so that they're supporting when you lead them, not so that you can defuse the responsibility from making decisions in the national security area. that belongs to the president. i believe president obama failed that test on the way he handled, has handled and specifically handled the syria situation. and i think that's something that is, that the president urgently needs to reverse in the last two years of his term which is exercise strong, presidential, american leadership both domestically and in the world. you may be less popular if you do it, but you will ultimately be much more successful. >> thank you. you know, i think the final point on this is that we can talk about national security processes, we can talk about policies, we can talk about the politics of it all, but at the
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end of the day it comes down to the people. it comes down to who's in the jobs. and the most important job and the most important person in our system is the president. even within the national security act of 1947, the structure of the nsc and how it works is largely up to the prerogative of the president. how it is used, who is empowered, who is in, who is out of the room, who is involved in the message, what the process is going to be, whether the process is going to be respected. that is all a consequence of the president. five out of six of the last presidents of the united states have come to office with almost no foreign policy experience. we don't value management experience in washington, you know? the common misconception in washington is that if you can articulate an idea, you can get something done. that's just not true. the united states government is the largest, most complex organization on the planet earth. if you don't have people who are capable of managing, who
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understand that the core idea of management is empowering the people that work for you as opposed to gaining your power from them or telling them what to do or using them to advance your particular goals, you are going to waste that system. so you need a president who knows where to go, you need a president who knows how to manage, you need a president who knows how to work with his people and with other leaders, and you need a president who is going to be open to other ideas and to the idea of evolution and that he may actually be wrong from time to time. or in a more enlightened future, that she may actually be wrong. [applause] at some point. so i think we've had a great discussion here, but this discussion can continue downstairs. they've laid out a really nice cocktail reception to which you are all invited. but before you go downstairs, would you please take a moment
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in joining these two wonderful guys for -- thanking them -- [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> booktv is on twitter and facebook, and we want to hear from you. tweet us, twitter.com/booktv. or post a comment on our facebook page, facebook.com/booktv. >> tell me about what it was like teaching literature at the military academy and how you got there and how you eventually got to this book. >> well, i got there, actually, a while ago, in 1997, and we were at peace then. i actually wrote an earlier book called "soldier's heart" which was about the transition from peace to war which at first, although it was very wrenching,
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seemed pretty clear to me that i was preparing my students to go to war. this book actually complicates that story because it became clear to me the longer the wars went on that it wasn't so easy and that, in fact, my students were commuting to war, going back on multiple deployments and coming home and coming home -- it's hard enough as it is, but it's even harder when you know you're going to have to go back in a year's time. so this book is about that space in between war and peace which i've called "no man's land," obviously, resurrecting a term from an earlier war. >> so you in '97, you already knew or felt that you were preparing them, your students, to go to active duty? >> well, certainly to active duty. we didn't know what they would be doing. it was a peacetime army at that point, preparing them for every eventuality. but, certainly, when the war started, a new urgency set in as we taught very specifically about what we were preparing them for. >> what was the greatest difficulty that you had as a
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professor at that time? >> when we first went to war? um, i think that knowing what my students might have to do, knowing that they might not come back was always an abstract concept. now it's a very real concept, and that, i think, shapes what we do in the classroom all the time. not that the individual, the discussion of an individual play or poem changes, but we have a deeper context in which all of these discussions go on, discussions of life and death, of courage and cowardice, of all of these issues that you can find in all literature, not just war literature. >> did you, um, have any concern about that before going to teach there? >> i think when i first went there, that, as i said, it did seem very far away. and i thought i was just going there to be an english professor which is, in fact, what i was going to do. but i didn't realize all the different aspects of the students' lives and the
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different aspects of my former students' lives that i would subsequently be involved in. i learned that one doesn't go to west point simply to teach english, that you are enmeshed in a much deeper and broader community. >> how long did you stay, and how did your, um, i guess challenges or struggles change as time went by? >> well, i'm still there, so those struggles and challenges persist as does the great sense of fulfillment and the connection that i have with my students and former students who report to me from all manner of places how important the literature that they studied at west point remains to them. >> um, what's the, um, i guess the greatest takeaway you'd like your readers to have from this book? >> i'd like my readers to understand more fully in a nation in which a very small percentage of citizens don uniforms, about the richness of the intellectual and emotional
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richness of the lives of soldiers and to be able to bridge that gap which i fear sometimes persists between soldiers and civilians. .. i normally live in a warmer climate. i am a visiting professor at

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