tv Washington Post Discussion on Threats to Freedom Democracy CSPAN March 20, 2019 9:01am-10:10am EDT
and expect that just because they're sitting in that room with 200 of the most influential people in washington, if not the country, that their voice and what they're saying will be amplified far beyond the walls here on k street. >> good morning and welcome to the "washington post" live event on robert kagan's "the strongmen strike back." i'm fred hyatt, editorial page editor and i'm really glad to see you all this morning. this is i would say a mostly auspicious occasion for several reasons. it's auspicious because we are celebrating publication of our first "washington post" opinions
essay, a new initiative reflecting our commitment to in-depth opinion, narrative, analysis and argument. and at a time when a lot of us do a lot of fretting over short attention spans and shout-fest arguments, i think it's encouraging that we have had so many readers eager to give time to reading a serious piece of journalism like this online as well as in print. of course, that willingness is mostly a reflection of -- and this is the second reason i would say the occasion is auspicious -- the brilliance of the he is say. i think bob's argument is -- on the ideological challenge from authoritarianism is original, timely and hugely important. third, it's an auspicious event because of the panelists who have agreed to join us to discuss and perhaps take issues with aspects of bob's argument, along with my colleague david
ignatius we have three of the smartest people in town who have been both practitioners and thinkers on this subject. and finally it's auspicious because all of you have joined us. i really appreciate your being willing to share an hour of your valuable time and i look forward to hearing thoughts and reactions afterwards. now, balancing all this good news, and this is why i said the occasion is mostly auspicious, is the actual substance of bob's argument, which is not to put too fine a point on it, generally gloomy and utterly terrifying. but knowing that bob is not by nature generally gloomy or terrifying, i'm hoping that part of today's session can at least point us in the direction of what a useful response to the developments described in the essay might look like. and with that i'd like to invite david ignatius and general allen to begin our discussion.
thank you. [ applause ] >> so thanks so much to fred hiatt for this innovation in our newspaper. if you are a writer and you get to write not 750 words, but to imagine 7,000 words, this is the innovation we like to see. it's my pleasure to begin our conversation about authoritarianism with general john allen, retired marine four-star general who commanded our forces in afghanistan, who subsequently was the special envoy to the coalition fighting isis and who is now president of the brookings institution, one of the most distinguished think tanks in the world. i want to ask you here in the room with me and people watching who are -- the live stream of this, if they would like to be in the conversation, ask questions, please send them
to #postlive. general allen, i want to begin with the question that is at the center of bob kagan's essay about authoritarianism and ask you if what way do you see this movement as a threat to the united states and its interests? why do you think it's on the rise? and what are the basics of what you think we should do about it? >> well, david, first it's great to be with you to see you again. i think it's terrific for the "washington post" to be sponsoring this forum on this topic, but i think on many other topics that i think will be very important to the readership and to our public. i think when we -- as i grew up in the cold war era, we had a sense that there was a certain inevitability to what might be considered the liberal democracy, the movement towards liberal democracy in the world,
and much of the world in the aftermath of the cold war would either be governed by democracies or would be trending in that direction. i think we felt that. the reality, of course, has become different, and bob in his excellent piece has pointed a couple things out. one is that there have been trends of global economy, in global economics, there have been unfulfilled expectations among large segments of populations that have in the aftermath of the collapse of the cold war and the emergence of what we thought was going to be this community of nations, largely governed by democracy, that left a large segment of populations disenfranchised. as a result of that this has given rise, it has given the potential for the emergence of
authoritarianism, for strongmen to emerge who seek to harvest the populism that is easily stoked at this particular moment. so from my perspective, authoritarianism, autocratic governments, are a genuine threat to the united states, but not just to the united states, but to the broader liberal democratic order. you know, we champion that order in many respects. we were the author of the many different facets of that order, whether it was the global economic relationship, whether it was our relationships in terms of security alliances, whether it was the united nations and the idea that all of the community of nations had a stake in each other's futures and in -- a stake in each other's security, the united states was really at the heart of all of that. we fostered a series of relationships which would ultimately create this global order that was based on the
tenants and the principles of liberal democracy. so as that has begun to recede, as we have begun to see the emergence of a peer competitor in china, a hostile competitor in my mind in russia, as we have seen the conditions in certain countries come together to create a populist base that could be harvested by strongmen, authoritarian figures, this has begun, i think, to push back upon the liberal democratic order. let's remember what the liberal democratic order is all about, it's about states that are committed to the rule of law, states that are committed to human rights and equal rights for its citizens, it's states who recognize that while there is this thing called sovereignty, the interaction of people is very important for the furtherance of the good of all human kind.
authoritarian states don't come down on those kinds of issues in the way that we would want our democracies to. the rule of law is, in fact, a threat to authoritarians. human rights, in fact, is an obstacle, commitment to human rights is an obstacle to their capacity to rule their societies. we need to remember that in democracies our societies are governed by the consent of the masses. in authoritarian states they are ruled by the consent of the few at the top who have seized the kinds of authority and power necessary to dominate the society. so wherever there is an advance of authoritarianism anywhere, there is a retreat of liberal democracy somewhere. and the united states needs to be absolutely committed ultimately to preserving as much of the world order that we fostered as we can with our allies, because they were partners with us in this process. we have to be committed to this because as these authoritarians,
as these autocrats come forward out of the shadows, which is what bob's point s they've always been around, it was when they were strong, multi-lateral organizations of democracies committed to the rule of law, committed to human rights, committed to free trade and the interaction of people's and the guarantee of equal rights for all, when we were together as a community then they had little space to maneuver. >> let me ask you, general allen, the skeptical question. we have a president in the white house who among many things he says says something that's, i think, widely felt by americans, which is that we've been through a period of attempted overreach of american foreign policy and some would argue that we've tended to overmoralize american foreign policy to put it in values terms rather than strict
terms of national interest. so, again, coming at it from the devil's advocate skeptical point of view, why does this threaten the national interests of the united states in a way that requires such a strong response as you're describing? >> well, if we truly believe in our own values as one of the things i did last night was to reread the declaration of independence and the constitution, and if we truly do believe in our values, which is that they are enshrined in a set of principles that values the rule of law above all other things and inherent to the rule of law is an absolute commitment to the human rights and the equal rights of the population. if those are truly our values as a people and as a nation and as a community of nations with whom we are allied very closely, then it is something that threatens not just the community of nations, not just our allies, but it threatens the very social fabric of the united states and
of america in particular. so when we see gains by authoritarians that tramples democratic process, that tramples democratic institutions, that walks on a free and independent depress, that circumscribes freedom of speech, that would seek to identify and marginalize a segment of the society or a faith practiced within that society, that's a threat to us. this is what we stand for and we should be standing up against that. >> so, again, to ask what i hope is an in poll tiitic question, does the united states combat authoritarianism at a time when many people believe the united states has a somewhat authoritarian president here in washington, d.c.? how does that work? >> well, i think we need to be clear about the difference between what appears to be u.s. leadership and american
leadership. you are an american leader, these are american leaders before me, there are american leaders watching us from the webcast. institutions like think tanks, universities, these are all measures of american leadership. an american commitment to democracy. american commitment to human rights and the rule of law. when i see our friends overseas and they're scratching their heads about what they're hearing coming out of washington or whatever the tweet is that particular morning, i ask them, please don't make a long-term structural decision with respect to your relationship with us because there will come this day -- there will come the day when you will not hear that again and you will see a synchronization of what we would call american leadership with u.s. leadership again. a leadership for whom human rights is perhaps the first measure of relations with
nations that we will be involved with, not an after thought or completely off the table, which is where we find ourselves frequently as we deal with strongmen overseas. so i think there is a very strong american predisposition, a very strong american bias to all of those things that we have talked about, which has -- it's values based. i believe we live our values. outside the belt way, you go to a state government or you go to a municipal or county government, democracy is strong there. by and large people are desperate for reassurance that their democracy means something and it stands for something and that their values mean something. now, a large segment of the american population feels disenfranchised and that has caused a dynamic, a populist dynamic that was harvested by certain people and that populist dynamic has delivered us into the political environment that
we are in today. it's not the problem of this president. he has, in fact, found himself in a position where this long sweep of disenfranchisement of segments of our population has delivered the political environment ultimately that permits this kind of government to emerge, but i do believe that the american people are committed to these values, that our foreign policy should continue to be committed to these values and we should as people around the world believe, that they should be able to look at the united states and see that example of people who are the exemplars of the values that we have espoused for so many years. we live them and we are an example of them and we seek to extend them, to those who are our friends and those who are not our friends, that they will pay a price for their authoritarianism and their autocracy. >> so just one more question on
this somewhat political area. do you think this period of nationalist populism in the united states embodied by donald trump with authoritarian characteristics certainly in attacking the media, do you think this period will be short-lived? >> well, it didn't start last tuesday and it's not going to end next tuesday, so i think, again, this president is a symptom. he has harvested the outcome of something that is symptomatic of something that is deeper in our society. however, driving the wedge into the society which marginalizes segments of our society by race or by ethnicity or by gender or by faith, that has exacerbated the issue. and there will be a day after. this administration, there will be a day after and for those who
would seek to lead our people, seek to help to govern this democracy need to be thinking about what are the conditions in this country which in part and in aggregation created an environment where this kind of government could emerge? if you don't like it, then we need to decompose why and begin systematically as i know many would like to, to begin to address those issues. >> you were our commander in afghanistan, i can remember visiting you in kabul. i think a lot of americans ask themselves, as you must, how much longer do we do this? it's now 18 years that we've been involved in this war and a lot of americans think what have we gotten out of this? we have active negotiations now
with khalilzad speaking directly to the taliban and its infuriated the president of afghanistan who you know well. >> i do. >> who feels that we're abandoning him. are we abandoning him and do you think the kind of deal that ambassador khalilzad is pursuing keeps faith with the men and women who lost their lives there under your command and the command of your colleagues? >> david, not a day goes by that i don't think about those troops, those who lost their lives, the thousands who were physically wounded, the thousands who have suffered thereafter from ptsd, not a day goes by. so for me keeping faith with their sacrifice is very important to me and the sacrifices of their families, gold star families, blue star families. and i can't tell you how long we need to be in afghanistan, but
the advances that have been made in afghanistan, which is often not depicted, it's often not pointed to, the advances that have been made in the social environment, life expectancy, child mortality, access to healthcare, improvements in educati education, the earliest moments of democracy, all of those things were utterly absent on the 10th of september in 2001. in the aftermath of the attack the united states and the global community went to afghanistan to defeat the taliban and to place -- put in place a government which could be preserved over the long period of time, over the long term, that would prevent the reemergence of a terrorist
platform. the principal opponent still remains the taliban and ryan crocker and i had the opportunity a couple of times to talk to the taliban and that never really went anywhere at that particular moment. but the truth is all conflict ends with a peace agreement of some form or another and my sense is with the great diplomate and well known to the region, well known to all the participants as well, that he has gotten this started and i understand that the president has been very unhappy with this, as was expressed by his national security here in town this week, but that process started without the afghan government necessarily at the table will not be a process concluded without the afghan government being a full and complete participant in that process. so i can understand why he's
unhappy at this point, but i fully expect that this administration and certainly as represented by the special envoy, ambassador khalilzad, i fully expect that at a particular moment the afghan government will become full and complete participants because in the end while the conversation has begun about the taliban committing not to become -- afghanistan not becoming a terrorist platform and the conversation about the departure of foreign troops, in the end there are some other really essential things that the taliban have to agree to, and we have to be skeptical of the taliban's willingness to commit to this. one of the most important is that the taliban will not roll back the rights that afghan women have achieved, enormous rights that they have achieved in this period of time of this conflict. there has been a great american emphasis, our european allies have been in this, the eu has been in this as an entity in
doing everything that we could to try to bolster civil society. and where governments sometimes will flounder, where governments will sometimes become quite wobbly, a strong civil society can, in fact, be the safety net for that. one commander after another, one ambassador after another, the eu, our european allies, our asian partners, they've put a lot of effort into civil society. civil society as an entity in a modern afghanistan is a direct threat to the ideology of the taliban. we better be able to square that circle before we talk about a permanent outcome where the united states withdraws with our partners and leaves exposed the afghans. >> so i understand you to be saying that we should not leave until we have some confidence that these human rights that afghan citizens have gained, rights for women, rights for people are preserved.
let me ask the audience -- remind you if you want to join the conversation with general allen, we are #postlive and i will be looking at my little screen here to see your questions. >> okay. >> general allen, another of the things you did in your remarkable career was play a role as an adviser to the six-party talks on korea, north korean denuclearization specifically. here we are dealing with the same basket of issues. >> sure. >> and i want to ask you after the breakdown of the hanoi summit, first, whether president trump overreached in this very personal diplomacy. second, what's next? what would you as a sensible experienced adviser tell these folks they ought to be doing next? and then i'll just tack on one more question. if you were a prime minister abe in japan looking at this
situation, wouldn't you think japan needs a nuclear deterrent of its own? >> well, you know, let me applaud the president for having the courage to speak directly to kim jong-un. now, there will be those who say that he has legitimized this horrendous totalitarian regime. it is a horrendous totalitarian regime, but having been an observer to the six-party talks where six countries came together with an earnest desire to try to find our way out of this nuclear wilderness, it did not pan out. this president was handed a very difficult security environment in northeast asia and in particular as kim jong-un, i think, ultimately has demonstrated, that he has actually achieved a strategic nuclear deterrent, in other
words, an icbm that can reach the stwauts, the continental united states, he appears to have not just been able to miniature rise his nuclear devices into a war head, he's been able to mate it, which is the physics associated with that are quite daunting. our intelligence community has said that he has multiple war heads. so no other president prior to this one has been confronted with the reality that this regime could, in fact, if this is a suicidal regime and it's never quite clear what their final outcome might be in a real pinch, this regime can reach the continental united states. to an extent i applaud the president in doing this. what i think has not been helpful has been this -- this rhetoric, first of all, the rhetoric that really brought us, i think, to the brink of the potential for conflict in
northeast asia, and then a rhetoric in the aftermath of the first summit which produced a pretty hollow joint statement, none of which has come to pass, but rhetoric that said i have solved the nuclear deterrent. there is no north korean nuclear threat any longer. and what that's done is, in fact, it depressurized those who were engaged in the maximum pressure strategy with regards to sanctions and north korea, which had, i think, a substantial reason, a substantial -- was a substantial factor in their coming to the table. so we depressurized that and the chinese to some extent walked back. then the rhetoric for the hanoi summit where we have fallen in love with kim jong-un, i think inflated expectations in many respects for an outcome which was quite disappointing.
you know, again, if the president didn't get what he wanted, no the permitting kim jong-un to dictate an outcome i think was wise, but the question needs to be what are we doing behind the scenes with our experts to set the conditions for a summit where we have as leaders arrive real expectations for outcomes? showing up and having meetings with no real expectations for outcomes leaves you at a point where we can't even agree on what denuclearization means, and that's an issue. >> and what about my little insinuation about the japanese? i think it's really fascinating to think about their dilemma. why shouldn't japan facing this completely unpredictable threatening shooting rockets over japan every time it feels like it, why shouldn't japan move in that direction? >> well, we've worked with both korea and japan to provide
enhancements to their missile defense capabilities. we have worked very closely in terms of the networking for command and control for missile defense and nothing has really changed, as i understand it, with this administration, nothing has really changed with respect to the extension of the u.s. strategic deterrents of -- for the region. in other words, the united states extended its nuclear umbrella over south korea and over japan, but at some point it is -- it is a logical question to be asked, both in terms of decision-making in the blue house in seoul and decision-making in tokyo as to whether the u.s. nuclear umbrella is credible, whether it can be sustained or whether it might be sacrificed in some form or another for some kind of an agreement that will not --
almost certainly not denuclearize the peninsula. it's almost impossible to imagine that kim jong-un will give up all of his nuclear dee ter terms. so the japanese will have to explore that. i'm not sitting here encouraging it, but they may have to think in those terms and my guess would be that they have and they are technologically sufficiently advanced that this is something they could do. >> we have about, you know, 30 seconds left, i'm going to ask you a pointed question that comes from one of our followers. >> that will be a difference. >> -- on twitter. it's just straight and to the point. >> sure. >> how can we address and stop the growing authoritarianism in the united states? >> well, again, i was -- i'm always renewed and for those of you who are watching, for those of you who are here, if you have not done it recently you need to read the constitution. you need to read the declaration of independence. i think we're beginning to see -- look, democracies don't happen fast, this he don't move
quickly, that's the difference between an authoritarian or autocratic or totalitarian state, they can twist but they have little shock ash soshs ansi. there is no other democracy on the planet with more than we have. article 1 is all about our legislature and we're going to see now the legislature is beginning to twist a bit on to the subject of, in fact, addressing these gifts, if you will, towards authoritarianism. and i think our founders were brilliant in enshrining and embedding these checks and balances and dynamics in our constitution. so our judiciary has remained largely intact, authoritarians start to take that apart pretty early, our fourth estate has never been more important to america than it is right now, the free and independent media,
the legislature is beginning to find some traction and i think all of those interlocking dimensions of american democracy in our society i'm more optimistic than ever. >> great answer. it is such a pleasure to have general allen. thank you, general allen, and i want to now ask fred hiatt, my boss, to come back on stage. [ applause ]
>> all right. i'm back. again, i'm fred hiatt, the editorial page editor here at the post. we're fortunate to have wendy sherman, former undersecretary of state and malcolm is a former naval intelligence officer, malcolm nance and author and expert on the encroachment of authoritarianism into our society and brookings institution senior fellow and "washington post" contributor columnist robert kagan. thank you all for coming. really appreciate it. let me start with you, wendy, because you were a senior diplomate during the last administration traveling the world, so i'm sure you heard frequently the chinese argument that authoritarianism works better and, you know, they're building high speed rail, we're giving up after spending a few
billion dollars somewhere in fresno. how attractive is that in the world and how true is it? >> well, first of all, it's terrific to be here with you, fred, and to be here with malcolm and with bob. first of all, i think bob wrote a brilliant essay and the reason that it's an important essay is that it helps us understand that what we are experiencing now is not brand-new and it's not specific to the united states. that this phenomena of liberal democracies clash with authoritarianism is happening all over the world, it's in we have brexit, theresa may just asking for a three-month extension in hopes of getting something done, it's why we have a lot of dissension around the world. although the chinese, as you say, say that, yes, indeed we can get better transportation, we can reduce poverty in our country, which they have done, as you well know, nonetheless it
is authoritarianism for whom? it certainly isn't the consent of the governed which is part of our constitution and part of our declaration. it's certainly not about human rights because we know uighurs are tremendously not only disenfranchised but undergo horrors in china, we know that it may not be a system that is sustainable over time except without big control, but i think the -- one of the big points in bob's essay that's very important is china is now going to be the owner of so much data about its people, so much control through the internet, so much control through technology that one of the great really challenges we all have is wrapping our arms around technology because technology has been part of the disenfranchisement of people, of folks people like they don't get their fair share of the world, and we need to master that and
make sure that technology is used as a democratic tool, not as a totalitarian tool. >> i think that's a huge point and i want to come back to it, but i want to take a slightly different aspect on technology and ask you a question, bob. i think a lot of people assumed, i certainly did, that authoritarians could take their country up to a certain point, to middle income, they could -- stalin could wrench them out of agriculture into building big steel factories, but at some point if you wanted to really become a modern prosperous country you had to have -- you needed a rule of law, you needed to let your university students express their creativity, you needed -- people need to talk to each other and have newspapers. was that wrong, or was it right, but now it's wrong because somehow technology has changed
the equation and allowed china to be both totalitarian and prosperous? >> i mean, i think -- i think it was ho chi minh who said about the french revolution, it's too soon to tell. i don't know whether we know yet. the only thing that we can be confident of is that expectations that, for instance, in china which we had, i think, ever since the sort of opening that ping led we assumed this interaction between politics and economics would gradually open up china and eventually that may be true, but what we've seen actually has not confirmed that judgment and china has moved up the ladder of production very successfully, they clearly have some of the best minds in the world working, they are competing with us on artificial
intelligence very effectively in what is an increasingly closed political system. i mean, xi jinping has moved things in the other direction. the only thing i can be confident of is the faith we had, the iron law that we believe existed in the relationship between liberal politics and liberal economics is something that we can't have any faith in right now. whether it eventually proves true, we will find out. >> but don't count on it as an inevitable process. >> well, and the other question of course is what happens in the interim? you know, it may be that 100 years from now it will prove true, but what happens in those 100 years if we have an increasingly powerful including economically powerful and technologically powerful china, still run by a very rigid kind of owe tok raes. >> still on the technology piece, i think a lot of us also assumed and i had a lot of wrong
assumptions obviously, that the internet was going to be a force for freedom and would undermine dictators. now as bob described in this article it's being used for the perfection of dictatorship and every authoritarian government has -- or may have aspirations to use social media to become a totalitarian government. is that an inevitable process? how can -- is it still possible that technology could be a force for good and how do you push back against that? i will hard with a hard question. >> no, i think that's an excellent question and the phrase there is force for good. when facebook and social media organizations like twitter started out, they didn't intend to be evil, right? but then, again, gun powder wasn't intended to be evil, either, it just moved that way until it, you know, perfected
itself in dynamite and bullets. social media as it was launched in those first waivers in the middle east in the revolution in tunisia in 2010 and 2011 and in egypt where tampa bfacebook andr were these organizational and information dissemination tools which allowed, you know, people who wanted democracy, who wanted to spread the word of freedom was really, really powerful. as you said, dictators, you know, they are not fools, they pay attention to this as well. in these dictatorships they also saw that they themselves could identify all of their foes right down to the individual, or their opponents down to the individual. they could manipulate information to the point where as we saw in the 2016 election, we saw organizations mario netting, as we call it in the cyber warfare community where
fake entities were pulling the puppet strings of individuals and making them organize for a purpose that they didn't intend to. >> and they had no idea who -- >> they had no idea who was pulling the puppet strings. i actually had what we call an assassination bot come after myself and joy reed and pretend to be a u.s. citizen in denver on an internet forum in san diego claiming that they should come to pasadena to watch us be killed. but it originated in st. petersburg, russia, when all was said and done. autocrats, as you say, and dictators, they know how to manipulate information. this he know how to use intelligence and they know how to break the will of individuals. though we have taken this technology to express ourselves, the freedom of speech itself is now a weapon system in the cyber war. it is no different than a cruise missile to a certain extent and it's the battle damage effects as we would call it in real warfare are that it smashes the
psyche. in 2016, you know, it wasn't the democratic national committee that was hacked, it was the mind-set of the american public to the point where people who saw these platforms as hammers and anvils, managed to forge a new alternate reality for one-third of the population of the united states. and it has proven durable. so how can we defend against that? for the most part i think organizations like the wast post, transparency and awareness is easily the most -- the best anesthetic for this and the best way to wipe up this mess, but then you have an adaptive enemy who is going to take that technology and move around. we've seen the russians, for example, have moved away from bots in the selection cycle to humans to where they have tasked out teams who will take that internet and actually interact on a realtime.
>> let me pick up on that. >> sure. >> and talk about the response to the cyber war. our awareness of this started while you were still in office. of course, i think the answer that the best defense is to subscribe to the "washington post" is very wise, but beyond that, what would we be doing now if we were responding as actively as we should, maybe we are, and what defense is there? >> i think there's a whole cast of things that we ought to be doing and let me say in full disclosure i do some work for one of the technology companies that's trying to create cyber norms around the world. i think that the obama administration, certainly the trump administration which seems to not be focused on this except by setting up a new command structure, but not really setting the rules of the road for cyber, those rules of the road are quite critical. i think we need to start with
civic education in our classrooms. we just heard general allen talk about the importance of the constitution and the declaration. there's a reason why "hamilton," the musical, with as so popular, because it made real for people the possibility and the optimism and the trajectory of who we are and what we are about. people are hungry for that. so i believe in civic education, cyber education, good cyber hygiene, knowing what we do to protect ourselves, what we expect of our governments in terms of creating cyber norms and living by them, working in alliances. i know that's a strange concept these days to actually work with our friends and partners around the world to tackle these issues, but it does help us get to the right place. one of the -- i now as i said to you, fred, teach at harvard, i'm director of the center for public leadership and we're trying to get young people to understand what it means to be an effective principled public
leader and cyber and technology and the right use of technology is certainly part of that. one last point, chris robicheaux who teaches about ethics at harvard kennedy school wrote a piece about how liberal democracy needs a salesman. if you go back to the declaration which the general was talking about, it says we hold these truths to be self-evident and we need to remember that we believe these truths are self-evident and we need to claim them and fight for them and make sure that we fight on behalf of all of the people in our country, not just the 1%. >> on the response, i think part of the message of your essay as i read it is these liberal values haven't always been self-evident to everybody and it
kind of waxes and wanes and there have been other periods when people have lost confidence in them. and you don't offer much of a, well, how are we going to get out of that or how could it turn around. i mean, i guess last time was world war ii, but after a couple decades of lack of confidence. how would a more confident country or confident in its liberal values be responding now, and do you see any possibility -- how do you regain in a momentum? >> well, i wrote 10,000 words, i could have written another 10,000 words on maybe trying to come up with some answers, but -- >> we will take a vote on that. >> yeah, sure. >> but, you know, i think -- and i don't think there is one answer. i think, you know, restoring some understanding, which i think the younger generation does understand that they are bombarded with fake news and i think that, you know, i think more young people are looking to
the "washington post" and other sort of responsible and careful media and understanding the difference between that and what they're getting. but i actually think it would be -- we need to have another real national discussion about liberalism, the liberal values. i don't mean liberalism left and right liberalism, i mean the liberal values that are in the declaration of independence because, you know, i think on the one hand we say, well, that's just right and we don't have to think about it, or i don't like it, you know, i prefer socialism or whatever people prefer, but i think we need to have an honest conversation about liberalism precisely because it isn't in a way self-evident and it hasn't been historically self-evident and liberalism is about tradeoffs. there are things lost. it is sort of two cheers for liberalism and then i think we need to sort of have an honest conversation of what values are we -- what are we elevating over
other things. do we care about individual rights as the primary goal of our government or do we care about other things or do we admit what's lost when you only focus on individual rights? i think we have to have that honest conversation again. we have taken a lot for granted. the cold war was a very -- it wasn't a simple thing, there were a lot of arguments, but communism, democracy, that seemed nice and simple. this is more complicated. there are weaknesses about liberalism, authoritarians are exploiting those weaknesses and liberalism itself is questioning, you know, whether it is a viable -- so we need to have that discussion. >> you know, i know i'm going to get hammered for this because i spent my entire career as an intelligence war fighter, that's in the armed forces and working in the shadows. you know, we are at a point where i'm afraid to say -- and i'm going to sound much like robert kagan when i'm done here -- that it's time for a second cold war.
i'm afraid to say that democracy must be defended right now. we have been under attack and now we have that attack occurring within our own institutions. coming from -- i'm sorry to say it -- our own white house is now attacking the 243-year tradition that has maintained the balance, is attacking everything that has been built since the end of world war ii, the entire atlantic alliance, the trade and treaties that we have had established that have established some semblance of stability throughout the world and it's being done at the behest of a dictator, you know, who was an ex-kgb colonel. well, i know how that works. that's like making me president, there would be spy operations every day all day. and he understands the power of harnessing information and turning that into a weapon system. everything we're seeing, even
though it comes from the russian federation, is really a product of the soviet-era kgb. >> are we fighting back? >> no. >> and if not, why not? >> the "washington post" is further on the front lines this have battle, this battle area, than any u.s. government institution. >> why? >> why? because information is being used as power. the greatest weapon that's being used in this administration is the suppression and manipulation of that information which would empower us to defend ourselves. we are literally putting down our sword. the next president, whoever it is, and i challenge the democratic nominees who are coming for president, they're going to have to enunciate their position on the defense of the constitution as it exists, as it has always existed. not just going back to the norms. anyone can go back to the norms. but are we going to confront the threat that's before our eyes? you know, people say, oh, you want to have a nuclear war. no, i want a war where the foundations of democracy and
the -- what happened in the 2016 election is punished and shown that the united states and its allies will never allow this to happen again. >> let me -- [ applause ] me -- [ applause ] >> turn to you wendy picking up from that. and i should mention we did invite john bolt on this panel. >> i filled it. >> that would have been fun. >> next time, i hope. we're always open to full discussion. but i have a question from a reader, david, who asked, would you be willing to indicate whether you feel trump fits the authoritiarian mold and if not why not? let me throw that one to you. and append to it, you know, what hopes do you have that 2020 -- i mean the campaign, not the result necessarily -- will include a discussion of these
issues? do you see anybody on the democratic party side who you think is willing to lead in defense of liberal values? >> i'll start at the other side. i think there are a number of candidates running who will defend democracy in the way that malcom just laid it out and got applause from this audience. i think that madalynn albright my former boss wrote a book called famous, a warning. she has said although donald trump is not a facist he is the least democratic president we have ever had. i certainly endorse that position. we -- i think one of the things we all need to understand although i agree with what my colleagues said here today, is that people in our country, because technology has moved so fast and because there is so
much social change, one of the other -- one of my colleagues at harvard, pippa norris has written about the cultural backlash. a lot of what's going on is that people -- i'll say that 5 a-year-old white guy in the middle of our country -- i've been married to a wyatt guy for 39 years. i love you all. he feels his privileges and power has been lorts. he has lost his manufacturing job to technology more than trade. the people down the street who we liked a lot now neck get married he doesn't know what that's about. he never wanted his wife to work even though i believe they should have whatever choice they want. he feels dislocated, unmoored. that sense of dislocation, disruption, is what donald trump has preyed upon. what he grabbed and said i understand your rage. and i'm going to stand with you. and even though change as bob
pointed out in his historical essay comes with life and comes with history, disruption is necessary -- the industrial revolution was critical to our economy and our growth, destruction is what we are satisfying now, the kind of destruction that malcom was talking about a moment ago. and we cannot stand for that or we will lose the strength of our democracy. >> so, i mean, you write that authoritiarianism has an appeal to people who are feeling that loss that wendy is talking about of drive, race, religion, family. and liberal democracy has no answer for that or them. does that have to be true? is there no way liberal democracy can take those communitiarian needs into account and still respect individual rights? >> no, i mean, it's probably too stark to say liberal dpkz has no
answer to it because we have obviously had long periods where tradition, including religious tradition and liberal democracy have co-existed and never in any place better than in the united states. but there is -- there is -- there is intention. and i think the tension is inevitable because what we are talking about is the expansion of individual rights. we expanded it in the 19th century as a result of the civil war. and there have been continual expansion ever since. and when there is the expansion there are people who are going to feel that they -- that is not what they want. that's not the country they think they want. and this is happening all around the world. and you know, i think that when -- obviously when times are most stressful, because of an economic crisis or in the case of europe because of an immigration influx -- and this happened in the united states periodically in the '20s, for
instance -- that's when people most react against liberalism. in better times president accommodations get made more easily. there is a lot of factors going into this. in the case of the united states, you know, i don't think presidents -- i don't think donald trump created this world. he benefitted from it. he -- he is playing on it. but a president sets a tone. and a president is the one that can articulate principles and remind americans what matters. and most of our presidents confronted with these kinds of passions and pressures have worked to tamp them down, not to inflame them. i think what makes trump special as a president is that he -- he tries to inflame. and he is a beneficiary of them. and so i do think that almost any other possible candidate in either party is more likely to try to -- to try to control
them. because that's the way presidents generally feel responsibility is the to keep things under control. i do hope if we ever get another president that. >> not funny. >> sorry. >> okay. >> that we get a different tone in the white house. >> i want to ask about an aspect of the rise of authoritiarianism that we feel sort of personally here, which is reaching the beyond their borders not just in cyberbut actual physically, putin sending -- using poison gases in salisbury. at chinese kidnapping ghimahai from thailand. >> and jamaul khashoggi, our colleague lured to a consulate in istanbul and murdered and
still no accountability for that. what -- what do you think of the west's response to these events? and what should it be? >> it's pretty simple. the guardrail of democracy, the united states and its alliances around the world has been removed. we have a -- you know, i'll go right at the president. don't worry about it. we have a president who has decided that the united states needs to be part of an axis of autocracies and not a democracy. he wants to remove the defensive systems because they think they are ant kuwaited him or don't benefit him personally. by doing that he running the alarm bell, give and permission slip to every totalarian nation in the world to do as you please. all right, the abduction, murder of jamaul khashoggi is insane.
it would never have occurred under any other president because they know -- the saudis know -- i lived in that part of the world my entire life. i've been to the dewan, i hang out with these guys and drink with them. they know. >> drink? do you drink. >> yeah. >> yeah after prayers. >> okay. >> they do know that a president of the united states would put his foot down and bring the entire burden of american power on top of them, would offer sanctions, would do anything to ensure that that human right violation would, awork never happen, b not happen a second time it it does happen. and c ensure some sanction related to that. taking away some of their toys. in president has shown that he is open for sale and you can a do what you want because we are not going to stop you. the attack in england, the chemical weapons terrorist
attack which was carried by at what we call a class 1 terrorist group, a state intelligence agency designed to kill two individuals but sickened over two dozen, was literally a terrorist attack carried out in the middle of one of our allies we find they are using state-level poisons,ed radio activeites otoeps to kill allies in our nations. this is why i'm saying it might be beneficial or may have to have happen that we have a second cold war where the intelligence community will now start confronting these activities on an international scale the way it was in the 1960s, to put them back on notice the united states will not be pushed and we will not allow these activities to occur again. >> to wage a cold war like that presumably you would need a lot of popular support. you worked for a president who
while -- i won't go into comparisons he talked about it's time for nation building at home. and so you know there was a sense of okay we won the cold war wae we're tired. why are we still building fire stations in afghanistan when i need a fire station here? can you rebuild a popular skens us that, yes, we need to be leader and giving foreign aid? where does that come from. >> i think you can because i think that one of the things that people did understand out of the 2008 recession is that we're connected to the world, that we don't live on an island even though we are buffetted by two big oceans. and certainly 9/11 proved that our oceans do not cope us secure. we are connected to the world. and i think that whoever becomes president next -- i'm hopeful there will be a new president in 2020, because i think there is a lot of talent out there -- that
that president not only elevates the values that we have been talking about here this morning but helps people understand that our government is going to support knows people who feel left out and left behind. that we are going to create a safety net for those folks, that all boats can rise, that there are ways to move life forward where, yes there will be tradeoffs, no doubt bob is right about that. but we can manage those tradeoffs, soften the impact the negative impacts of the tradeoffs and we are going to be out in the world as we led. when i was undersecretary i traveled to i don't know maybe 60 different countries in the four years i was under -- i've traveled constantly since. everywhere i have gone people have said, we need the united states to lead. we will do our part. but we need you to lead. and it's because no one, even today, has the economic power that we do.
the military power we do, and mostly fundamentally, the commitment to freedom and to democracy that we do. and even when people don't like what we do they hope for us anyway. and we need to return to that. >> um-hum. that's very well stated. and we are basically out of time. let me do a 20 second lightning round. one more reared question i wanted to ask from bob. a different bob, i assume. what can we do on a -- what can we do on a daifl basis in the lives we lead and the choices we make to strengthen liberalism and oppose the slide to authoritiarianism. >> that's a terrific question. and i -- i'm glad that question is raised because i do think that, you know, there has been a long tendency in the united states to say, for instance, our
institutions will protect us. you know, the checks and balances, congress, et cetera. or when we get a new president everything will be fine. the president will fix it. and i think that we need to remember that institutions don't work unless people are demanding that they work. there is nothing automatic in our system that saves us from democracy collapsing. it requires our efforts. everybody's efforts. and i would say now more than ever we need -- every individual in this country needs to be an activist. and needs to be a demander of their politicians, outspoken in what is now a wide open media environment. there is a lot of ways for people to express themselves without using nasty words. and also in terms of talking to their children and demanding a good educational system. i really think it's always been
true. but it's more true than ever that individuals now really matter in -- if we're going to sort of save what it is that we have created. [ applause ] >> well, thank you. i'd like to thank brookings for sharing bob with us. and general allen. and you for the great article and all three of you for what i think we can all agree was really a great panel. so thank you very much. >> thank you. >> thank you all for coming. [ applause ]
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an extra $500. >> but then we realized being an american is about so much more than national pride. it's about the freedoms that allow a country to function in a fair and just manner >> and amid the flurry of facebooking news and other media droves was often frepgt the importantly role journalism plays in the nation's survival. >> the first prize high school central wehner jacob matthew and riley from urbandale high school in urbandale, iowa for fighting for a better tomorrow. >> did you guys that it's almost a 50th aefrs of the tenger v des moines supreme court case. >> what was that. >> a gave first amendment rights to students in protest involvement in vietnam war any show arm bands leading to school suspension. >> this the first ris from william j palmer high school in colorado springs, colorado. for what it means to be american voting. >> but in this age we often loses sight of what america was
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