tv Former British Foreign Sec. Boris Johnson at AEI CSPAN September 17, 2018 1:09pm-1:59pm EDT
trump at the national hispanic heritage month celebration at the white house, it starts at 5:00 p.m. eastern. watch it live on c-span. >> tuesday morning we are live in springfield illinois for the 41st stop on the 50 capital tour. we met former british foreign secretary boris johnson was honored with the american enterprise institute irvine crystal award at the building museum in washington d.c. last week. this is about one hour. >> good evening ladies and john them. please take your seats. good evening.
i am arthur brooks, president of the american enterprise institute. welcome to the 2018 annual dinner and irvine crystal award. we are here tonight with old friends and new friends and good food and this beautiful setting to celebrate a community that we have built together, aei is a community of 250 scholars and staff and 1600 supporters, as many of you know, we were founded in 1938, 80 years ago. this is our 40th annual dinner. it's amazing. some of you have been to most of them. my first aei annual dinner was in 2007. i was a professor at syracuse university and i was invited as a visiting scholar at aei to attend this wonderful event, and my wife and i came down from syracuse like country mice and we looked at this crowd and we said these are people i only ever see on
tv and we were watching the speaker with binoculars which gives you an idea of what table i got and esther turned to me and she said can you imagine hosting this dinner and i said no chance. america is such a great country. within a year i was president of the american enterprise institute. you never know what life has in store for you. this is my tenth year as host of this event, and it's also my last. as many of you know, i announced a few months ago this is the last year of my presidency of aei. over the past ten years, i've given over a thousand public speeches and service of our mission, traveling all over this great country talking about dignity and human potential and gathering support for the magnificent work of aei scholars.
they are just like you, dedicated to the principles of limited government and a free society and the belief that america's values are gift to the world. what a privilege it has been. when i first began this job ten years ago, i will be honest, i was extremely nervous about speaking in public. i haven't done it that much. it was something i needed to get better at. somebody gave me a piece of advice. they told me too read a book, not a lofty piece of literature that are scholars produce, but a book on self-improvement, it's a famous book by dale carnegie, how to win friends and influence people. in that book, dale carnegie brilliantly traveled all over the united states and asks the most successful people the secrets to their success. now in abou book, when he is talking to a great magician of the time in the 1920s, he asks, what is the secret to
your performance. you are the greatest performer of your generation and howard, the magician said simple, gratitude. he said every night before i go out on stage i recite this little meditation, i am grateful because these people came to see me, they make it possible for me too make my living in a very agreeable way, i'm going to give them the very best i possibly can and then right before he stepped on the stage he says i love my audience. i love my audience. that gave me a lot of help early on in this job because gratitude and practice really are the secret to good performance. i was thinking about that earlier today and it occurred to me that as i step on stage tonight and i gave that same little meditation of gratitude and love, it's not just to calm my nerves. it's really a sincere expression of the gratitude and love that i feel for the people in this room, and i want to take just a couple
minutes and tell you why i have so much gratitude toward you. to begin with, here tonight among this group are my true intellectual heroes and some of my closest friends. as a graduate student many years ago, i remember reading the works of great aei scholars and i thought to myself, i will never meet these people but they help me too understand that my views about individual litter. liberty and strength are not weird and i can be in an intelligent cultured person and maybe even a public or professional intellectual and hold these views. i am so grateful for that. nothing gives me greater satisfaction than the support of the work of the scholars and staff of aei, and
particular, i want to mention one, i want to mention the scholar that has had more influence on my thinking than any other single individual. that's charles murray. [applause] charles murray retired this yea year, you wouldn't know it based on his productivity. you can't tell when he retired. he is somebody that i started reading many, many years ago and when i read his work i thought if i could use data and social science like that to try to express things that are going on in human life, then i would be successful and when i finally came to aei and i was president of aei and i called and said charles can we
have lunch and he said you're the president of ae aei. we got together and i realized that he's not just a great scholar, he's a great friend. he was going to be and indeed he has become a role model in so many ways. what a gifted spend to be a small part of his extraordinary career. my life has been immeasurably enriched by my friendships with people in this room and so many other members of this community. these people have not only supported me as i've been the head of this organization, they've taught me about leadership. the rest of my week. [inaudible] this institution doesn't just run on good feelings, although
we have them, we spent about $50 million a year to build our idea agenda and communicate it to millions of people every year around the world. we actually have the most inefficient business model in america. we are in the business of losing $50 million. year in intellectual property. you make that possible. it's incredible. we combine your financial resources with the international resources of our scholars and staff to produce the expression of our shared value on behalf of people for a free society. here's the greatest source of my gratitude. we have a subversive mission that you support. the idea is fundamental to a free society, think about that. a competition of ideas, not agreements on one thing, but
to compete freely, why, because competition brings excellence. napoli brings stagnation and mediocrity. that's true in the economy and electoral politics and it's true in ideas. to get true excellence, we need to disagree and disagree freely with civility and respect and love for each other. that's what we stand for. no party lines. we have a crisis in this country today with too many people in public life not dedicated enough to ideas but rather too many people intent on shutting down that competition with insults and intimidation and even contempt. not leads to mediocrity and it's awfull also morally
disordered. everything the people in this room love someone with whom they disagree politically. in our culture of contempt, when strangers on your side politically urge you to say that your loved ones are stupid and evil, we have a major problem. i am most grateful to be a member of a community that rejects the culture of contempt. we are countercultural, and that's fine. we simply do our work and we remember our mission principles. let me remind you of these mission principles. we are brothers and sisters, human dignity is equal for all of us in all circumstances, in all stages of life, every place in the world. [applause] that progress, we are
progressives, progress is always possible by releasing the greatest source of energy which is human potential and it is the american free enterprise system that has pulled billions of our brothers and sisters together to reach our human potential. it's america's international readership that has set people free around the world. america will always do so. let me sum up what we are all
about at aei. we want america to live up to its promise as a country of ambitious riffraff pursuing happiness, building something good and meaningful, earning our success, sharing our values and serving each other's. these are the principles written on the hearts of the people in this room and substantiated every day by the scholars and staff and supporters and trustees and friends of the american enterprise institute. what fills me with gratitude the most is having been given the gift of leading this movement for the past ten years. god bless you. thank you so very much.
now it's on to our program and a wonderful program it will be. the intellectual program comes first and then supper and then a serious business of drinking and exchanging business cards. >> tonight we are honored to bestow aei's annual award, the irvine crystal award named in memory of our beloved friend and colleague, the late irvine crystal. before we introduce this year's winner, i want to turn the mic over to bill crystal, friend of so many of us for so many years and son of irvine crystal and editor at large for the weekly standard. he will speak for a moment about his father and legacy. [applause] >> good evening. it's an honor to join arthur and welcome you to the annual
dinne dinner. this is a distinguished group. before that there were a quarter-century. [inaudible] that group goes back to 1977. i remember in 2003 when they told my father that the aei board had voted to change the annual award and lecture from francis boyer lecture to the irvine crystal lecture. my father was not much moved by these kind of honors, honestly, but that one meant something to him because aei meant so much to him. i remember later on saying don't you feel a little guilty, a little bad about francis boyer and my father said no, not really. [laughter] he had a good run. i think the irvine crystal award has had a good run and
hopefully there's a few more years in it but it's a dog eat dog world, creative construction and all that stuff that people at aei are in favor of. anyway, and has been a wonderful group. i'm looking over the list, i was remembering that charles who sadly died this summer was the second awardee and that was really a wonderful talk that he gave. my mother who is slightly indisposed, she's in good shape, but couldn't be here tonight and she sends her best too so many old friends and former colleagues. she congratulates lawrence and was pleased, she said it's good that they're giving the award to a magazine editor and i said, my mother said to me, i read the spectator before
boris johnson was born, back in the 40s and 50s and read it under his editorship in the late '90s, early 2000, but i said, mom, boris became mayor of london for two terms and then foreign secretary, he's not just a magazine editor and my mother said for the crystal, magazine editor is the highest title. [applause] which i certainly agree with. i really want to fail word, not about my father this time, but about arthur and arthur didn't know i was going to do this, but his ten years really have been extraordinary here at aei. he followed kristin who i think was 22 years also extraordinary and the lesson i take in management and institutions from the tenure of chris and arthur is that
it's really a good thing for an institution to have excellent leaders. i recommend it to everyone else here who is running institutions. it really is and is a high standard obviously, there's a third of a century under them, a place that really respects excellence, but also respects diversity of views and approaches, it really shows that excellence and diversity can go together, place that has always resisted what's fashionable and tried to look beyond the headlines while also looking at the headlines at times, tried to follow intellectual conclusions to their end and not worry too much about whether they are popular, at least in the short term, all those things really an achievement of the predecessors to chris and arthur, but especially in this last decade of arthur.
he took over an institution that was already strong and made it stronger yet. it's a very good example for us in this day and age that shunning, vulgarity, resisting conformity, avoiding their popularity is the right thing to do, it's very much been in the long-term interest of aei which stands as an example now i think, not just as a think tank but actually to the academic world, arthur is stepping down as you know as president of aei and is also stepping down by going to harvard. i say this as a loyal harvard man, but it's a true fact, honestly, that the intellectual, the caliber of the work of aei, the commitment to truth and honest and respectful discourse, but also serious discourse in terms of calling people to account is something arthur can bring to harvard from aei.
i do want to say i think aei is an example for the country in the world, an example we need more than ever. maybe i can even ask you, i don't have a glass here, but just to raise a glass and join me in toasting will be the last annual dinner, he will be a huge number before he leaves in the summer. this is the last annual dinner he will be at, let's offer a toast to our friends and our leader. >> thank you bill and thank you to all of you. one of the great, one of the many great things about this
job is being able to meet the most interesting people in the world. it's also easy to call them up and fairy would you like to come to aei and they almost always say yes. it's incredible. tonight's award winner is one of those people, someone i've always wanted to meet. probably you have always wanted to meet him too. he is a member of the british parliament, he was a uk secretary of state for foreign in commonwealth affairs he's a best-selling author and renowned historian he's famous for everything from tackling a german politician to having a bicycle named him to his hair. i say that just because i'm jealous. most importantly, this is a man who loves liberty, who
values free enterprise and who understands the role that his country and our country play in the future of the world. ladies and gentle man, on behalf of the entire aei community, our scholars, staff and trustees, it is my honor to officially award the 2018 irvine crystal award to the honorable boris johnson. thank you very much. [applause] thank you very much. thank you. two hello. how wonderful to see you here. how delighted i was, i was under stress because you have
votes last night in the parliament and you had to come this morning and we were watching your flight all the way across the atlantic. >> wild horses wouldn't have kept me away. i am thrilled to be here at the american enterprise institute. you could knock me down with a feather when you gave me the news that i was going to receive the award. i haven't been so surprised since i was 25 and i got a letter from melbourne saying i was going to be a professor of european thought. i thought it may be case of mistaken identity. this is a very important institution. i followed the work of aei scholars and of people associated with it for many, many years, and you have been incredibly influential and
driving for change and it's great to be here. >> thank you for your generosity. on behalf of all of us, i want to start come over to talk about highfalutin things but i want to start a personal level , something a lot of people don't know about you, you were born in america two i was. in new york. where my parents were. i wanted to be close my mother at the time. [laughter] it was a very expensive decision because it turned out that the united states, the internal revenue, anyway, in order to help you guys for the tax on my primary dwelling in london, even though i hadn't been in america for 45 years which i thought was excessive,
so with great reluctance, it was very emotional moment. with great reluctance i had to, what can i do. i was like the man in the bible, he had great possessions, will not my case, but enough. >> so you realize this makes it impossible for you to be elected president of united states. >> yes. [laughter] tell me about your upbringing. one of the things we have in common is that both of our mothers were professional painters. i found it interesting. tell me about your childhood. two my mother is a painter and i always wanted to paint very badly myself and i do paint very badly.
[laughter] she's an inspiration to me. she's very much on the left and i don't know what the relevance of that is, but she is. i'm thoroughly supportive of people everywhere. >> it's good to know, boris is a painter wrote and you are brought up in a mixed household, what brought you to your politics that you currently have. >> funny enough, i was pretty, is. middle-of-the-road until university where it was the exposure to other left-wing students, hypocritical left-wing students and their hatred of margaret thatcher about whom i had no real strong views until then, and
they supported the minor's leader in his attempt to bring down the democratic government of the uk and i first felt the stirrings of conservative sentiment then fundamentally you are contrary in. >> i suppose that's a good insight there. my right wing feelings were triggered, to use a warm word. a sense of outrage at their hypocrisy. so why don't we call it that in the united states. the glutinous hypocrisy. with that win elections in america. >> i think you should give it a go. so, when was your first elective office. >> i won something as a student, i think, but my
first, i tried to get elected in wales in 1997 which was the year of the conservative route since 1906, and i fought. [inaudible] i didn't win there and then i got in 2001. >> and you been in public life ever since. >> almost. >> yes. one of the things that you're really well known for, besides public life, besides political life is being a best-selling author which is pretty unusual. particularly, if it's intellectual work, churchill is you admire great deal and in that great book, boris writes churchill matters today
because he saved our civilization and the important point is that only he could have done it. tell me a little bit about your admiration for winston churchill and the key lessons you learn for him today and we can all learn from him two the key thing about churchill was that he was so fantastic and brave. he wasn't a big guy. he was bullied at school and pelted, he was only 5-foot 6 inches tall and he had a 30-inch chest. he was a run t, shrimpy kind of guy. he turned himself by sheer will, into this extraordinary colossus who dominated so much of british politics in the 20th century, and the key point for me is that although he make so many mistakes and got so many things wrong from
going back on golden's attitude toward indian independence come he got things catastrophically wrong, but one big thing he got right in ma may 1940, when the uk had to make the decision about whether to fight on or to do a deal with mussolini and with hitler and if churchill hadn't been in that room, no doubt at all in my mind we would have come to terms of some kind and he made all the difference because he basically decided it would be a disaster for his country and the british empire and civilization if we did that deal and within a year of that decision, 30,000 british men, women and children had been killed by nazi bombers.
fred 35, but as a result of his decision to fight on i believe he saved the european continent from absolute. [inaudible] so it was a willingness. >> i'm already off script, it was a willingness to think for himself and to be brave. we need to follow that today. >> give me an example. >> give me an example of something we need to be brave and follow our instincts. >> since you drag it from me kicking and screaming, actually didn't, but i'll tell you anyway, i think we need, when you look at our country,
we have a great choice right now and we are in the throes, as some of you may have seen from the news we are in the throes of deciding exactly how to carry out this brexit, we got through almost ten minutes without brexit dement was all over now. >> but we have a choice, and i would just say to all of you scholars and supporters of the american enterprise institute, this is a critical moment for everyone who cares about free-market, about competition , about global free trade, about all the things as you were saying earlier on that have lifted billions of people out of poverty. the uk could be about to come loose of the european system of regulation and government. it could be about to enter the global system of an independent actor again, able to campaign for procompetitive policies.
that's the opportunity and i hope very much that with you, with america we can work together to deliver that agenda and you get the conversation going in my country about exactly how to do it, it is difficult. the last thing we want now is for us, the brits having made this momentous decision to go for brexit, to be sucked back by the traps of evil into the orbit, the regular lunar pole. >> that's the decibel star in case you're not following the reference. >> i love brussels. my daughter was born in brussels. it wonderful town. i love belgium. the fact is, the eu for all
its achievements and there have been great achievements over the past 50 or 60 years, 70 years of the eu's existence , all at six achievements, it really is no longer right in its current form for the uk. we've done the right thing. but having done that, having done that means we've got to make sense of it and there is no point at all and are coming out of the eu only to remain effectively in large measure run by the eu. if you going to take back control then take back control and use it. i hope very much will get the support of you guys in achieving that objective. >> i'm gonna come back to this issue in just a minute, but i want to go slightly backward to another book that you wrote that bears on the subject, you wrote a very popular book about the history of rome, an
issue on which, a subject on which you have some expertise, and i think you observe one of the great things that the romans did was to create a common identity with cultures and languages and tribes, and yet you have also said that you believe rome and the european union bear relatively little resemblance. tell me, why are they so different, so we can get back to brexit and your understanding of your separation from the eu. >> i was living in brussels and thinking deeply about the european civilization in relationship with its part and i have no doubt at all, in a deep freudian way the european integration want to re-create that idea of this great unified whole from the human
empire. it was an amazing thing the roman empire, it lasted from 72 bc to whatever you date it to. some say it hasn't fallen. whatever. it was a long time. it was fantastically successful and i think the differences between the eu and the roman empire are very instructive. you have an attempt to create this unity with the flag and anthems and a sort of political union, i was talking about european president and that kind of thing, but what it lacks is that single charismatic sense of identity and allegiance that the roman empire had.
everybody knew the empire and everybody important around the roman empire had to swear loyalty and in some cases worship the emperor. and then the only real comparative with the roman empire today with that pungent sense of identity, you know where i'm going with this. >> i have an idea. >> is the united states which takes people from around the world and make some american and has this extraordinary global reputation that everyone aspires. the eu isn't like that. they are composed of different proud countries that have their own traditions and their own sense of identity. i think there is a growing sense of european identity, but it's nothing by comparison to the strength of national,
being in the european continent. i think the erosion of democracy in the eu is worrying and you are seeing some bad effects now. >> give us some advice here. were american, your an admirer of the united states, i know you love this country, what you see in identity politics in america that reminds you a little bit too much of the subnational identities that have made the eu project impossible to achieve its own claims and due to its own internal contradictions. one of the warning signs you see. >> it would be in inappropriate for me too comment on american politics. i would say i went to school here, my family went to school
here, you have your allegiance. it's a fantastically unifying culture and i applaud that and i admire that. as for the identity politics, that's a problem everywhere. we need to be unified. i appreciate the fact that you admire that, i pray we never lose it. >> i see no reason why you should. now back to brexit, you have strong views on brexit, a lot of your fellow citizens in the uk disagree with you on this, you are a national leader, people look to you for leadership going forward in your country, who knows what the future might bring, what are your plans for bringing america back together as a people, across the terrible
fissure that is differences on brexit. >> as i say, i think america is in good shape. i'm not in a comment about it or if i were to recover it, i might take a role, but that's not going to happen. in the uk, what we need to do is get on and deliver the great brexit. i have my views about how that should be done, i think it's possible to do that, i think of vision was sketched out at the lancaster house in january of last year, a big trade bill, we need to get that done. then we need to bring people together, i think people will want to come together, the best thing possible to unify country would be if we could have beaten the french in the world cup. [laughter] that was my plan, but were back to the drawing board
there. we came second in the olympics by the way, to you. [laughter] you were modest in your advice to the united states, but i want to talk a little bit about the united states in your view a little bit more. i want talk about the special relationship with the uk. we talked about a lot, it's an important to us and it inspires all of us and i know it's important to you in the united kingdom as well. tell me what does the special relationship mean in your view? where is it, and one of the perils we face today? i ban the for a special relationship because it sounds kind of needy. i'm not sure it's much used in washington, it's a phrase that was coined by churchill, it's part of, it's part of us
trying to be more special, there's an asymmetry and the semi- romantic relationships implied and that's why i reject that term, but it matters, it matters hugely, we too countries do represent values of fantastic importance to our world, freedom, democrac democracy, the rule of law, this stuff really, really matters and those values are not uncontested right now and they're not necessarily prevailing in the way we thought they would be. we need to work harder together and that's why the uk in the u.s. working together with our friends and partners is more right than ever
before. these are two countries that are united by economics, we have a million people go to work in the uk in the u.s. companies, many people here in the states and british companies, it's an extraordinary thing, and i guess i'm told you watch the great british bake-off, is that right? they go. that's the most enthusiastic response i've had all evening. i don't even watch it myself, i'm ashamed to say, but there is a huge cultural, a journalist in new york, there's brits everywhere. that's a fine thing. we can't say a special relationship anymore. i'm starting to think what would be more modern. i'm thinking friends with
benefits. [laughter] that means something different here. sorry. >> benefits, you've been very influential and find finding ways too. [inaudible] what do you believe, given the fact there is a relationship, special or otherwise between the uk in united states, one of the top foreign policies that we should be pursuing together. this is something we thought a lot about. >> we work hand in glove across the world and, to get back to my main point tonight i'm i think free trade, global economy, i worry about the closing in, global trade is not growing in anything like the way it should be. we haven't had a big trade
deal since 1994 which i covered myself as a journalist. we need to be doing that together, we should be doing better and working harder, syria, i've gotta be honest with you, cereal was a policy in retrospect that was not the right one, but i don't want to get into that particular rabbit hole. one thing we should do, and the biggest insight i had as foreign secretary was that the main problems of the world could be addressed if we solved female under education around the world. if we educated women, when i went to sub-saharan africa or south asia, there was countries where female illiteracy was running 50, 60,
almost 80% in parts of africa. in pakistan you have twice as many male kids in secondary schools as female kids. now how can that produce a healthy balance approach to life? you look at radicalization and we look at property, all the scourges that we face, they're all associated with that where women are not treated equally, where women and girls are not treated equally. it's the one thing, do you have a swiss army let knife. do you know what i mean by swiss army knife. it can kind of do anything. twelve years of quality education for every girl in the world would help fix most of the problems in the world, and we should do that.
>> you have very strong views of the future of your country as is appropriate, and a lot of people follow what you think, they admire your leadership here and in your own country, obviously your role in the leadership of the uk could change a lot in the coming months and years. you must have given some thought, i'm sure you have. tell me the two things you would most likely to see your government do in the coming years two social mobility, you think back to what i spoke of earlier, it was about helping people to seize control of their own destiny whether was earning shares or buying their own home homes, fantastically important, and since that big change in the 1980s social mobility is frozen again and we need to recover that in the
uk. i think build a 24 hour airport, not in my constituency, number one for you, your top agenda item is greater social mobility. , one of the reason brexit took place are one of the reasons people voted to leave was because they felt like they were getting up fair chance and are not focusing on those issues come or not helping people enough. they're not being made to feel needed enough and it's a serious problem and i think perhaps for this country too. >> before we finished, i have one question, i really want to ask you, in your public life,
you're in the news a lot, sometimes you see controversy, you're not afraid to take on the hottest issue of the day, tell me the biggest mistake you've made in your public career and what you've learned from it. >> my strategy is to litter my career with so many decoy mistakes. [laughter] nobody knows which one to attac attack. in the course of the past few minutes, i probably have said something that the british media will decide is absolutely outrageous. i don't know what it is, i don't know what it was, but they will find something, believe me. the thing is to keep saying them. i was very proud of the stuff i did in london and people attacked me for the
superhighways, we do these beautiful lanes for the bicycles which unfortunately blocked the taxis and they get very cross, but i defended, we save lives and i think it's a beautiful thing to do for a city. i'm a totally passionate cyclist. >> by the way, bicycles in london are called auris bikes. >> they are, but there is, we have them now too. the electric vehicles. present london is great. except, it was never mind. i'll give you one mistake, it relates to the news today, how we doing, i'll wrap up on this point. when i became foreign secretary, i decided there was no objective reason why we should be quite so hostile to
russia. i thought that, i mean yes, there are lots of reasons to be suspicious, lots of reasons to be wary, lots of reasons to be very, very cautious, but i thought it was possible, i made the classic classic mistake of thinking it was possible to have a reset with russia and i wanted to engage with feldman pruden and see if we can start talking about syria, areas where we had, where we needed to engage. then it just became clearer and clearer to me that was fools errand. : : :