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tv   Washington Post Discussion on Threats to Freedom Democracy  CSPAN  March 22, 2019 12:51pm-1:59pm EDT

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documentary online at >> a "washington post" discussion now on nationalism around the world and the potential threat to global alliances. we'll here from a retired u.s. commander, a "washington post" editor, and a columnist. this is just over an hour. >> good morning. and welcome to "the washington post." live event on the strongmen strike back. i'm glad to see you all this
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morning. we are celebrating publication of our first "washington post" opinion's essay, a new initiative we 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've 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 awe spirgs, the brilence of the essay. i think bob's argument is original, timely and hugely
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important. the panelists who have agreed to join us to discuss and take issue with aspect's of bob's argument along with my colleague, we have three of the smartest people in town who have been both practitioner's and thinkers on the subject. and finally, 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 awe spishous is the subject of bob's argument, generally gloomy and utterly terrifying. but knowing that bob is not by nature generally gloomy or terrifying, i'm hoping it can point us in the direction of
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what a useful response to the development's response described in the essay might look like. and i would like to invite david ignatius to start our discussion. >> thank you for this innovation in our newspaper. if you're a writer and you get to write not 750 words but imagine 7,000 words, this is the innovation we like to see. it's my pleasure to begin our conversation about aauthoritarianism with general john allen who commanded our forces in afghanistan who subsequently was the special envoy to the coalition fighting isis and who's now president of the brookings institution, one of the most distinguished think tanks in the world.
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i want to ask you here in the room with me and people watching if they'd like to be in the conversation, send them to hashtag postlive. i want to begin with the question that's at the center of the essay about authoritarianism and ask you in 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. i think when we -- as i grew up in the cold war era, we had a sense that there was a certain
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inevidentability 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 of things out. 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
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disenfranchised. and as a result of that, this has given rise, it has given the potential for the emergence of authoritarianism for strong men to emerge who seek to harvest the populism that is 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. 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
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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 competitor in china, a competitor in my mind of russia, as we have seen the conditions in certain countries come together to create a populist base that could be harvested by strong men, this has begun to push back on 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.
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its 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 too. the rule of law is in fact a threat to authoritarians. human rights in fact 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. wherever there is an advance of authoritarianism anywhere, there's a retreat of liberal democracy somewhere and the united states needs to be committed ultimately to preserving as much of the world
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order that we fostered as we can with our allies we were 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 shooadows, it was when ther were strong multilateral organizations of democracies committed to the rule of law, committed to human rights, committed to free trade and the interaction of peoples 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 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
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tended to overmoralize american foreign policy to put it in values terms rather than strict terms of national interest. coming at it from the devil's advocate skeptical view, why does this threat in a way that requires such a response as you're describing. >> if we believe in our own values as one of the things i did last night was to re-read the declaration of independence and the constitution. if we 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 aligned very closely,
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then it is something that threatens not just the community of nations not just our allies, but it threatens the social fabric of the united states and of america in particular. so when we see gains by authoritarians that tramples democratic process, institutions, that walks on a free and independent press, that circumstan circumscribes free speech, that would speak to identify and marginize a megt of the society or a faith practiced within that society, that's a threat to us. this is what we sand for. and we should be standing up against that. so again to ask what i hope is an impolitical question, how does the united states combat authoritarianism at a time when many people at home and abroad believe the united states has a somewhat authoritarian president here in washington, d.c.?
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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're 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. american commitment to democracy, american commitment to human rights and the rule of law and 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 the day when you will not hear that
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again and you'll 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'll be involved with not an aver thought or completely off the table which is where we find others frequently as we deal with strong men overseas. so i think there's a very strong american predisposition, a very strong american bias to all of those things that we've talked about which has its values based, we live -- i believe we live our values. and outside the beltway, you go to a state government or a municipal government or county government, democracy is strong there. by and large, people are desperate for reassurance that their democracy means something and stands for something and that their values mean something.
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a large segment of the population feels disenfranchised. that has caused a dynamic that was harvested by certain people. and that dynamic has delivered us into the political environment that we're 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 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 the united states and see that example of people who are the exemp particulars of the values we have espoused for so many years, we live them and seek to
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extend them to those who are our friends and those who are not our friends they'll pay a price for their authoritarianism and auto criteria si. >> do you think this period of national it 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, i didn't start last tuesday and it's not going to end next tuesday so i think again the president is a symptom. he has harvested the outcome of something that is symptomic of something deeper in our society. however, driving the wedge into the society which marginizes segments of our society that has
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exasser baited the issue. 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 governor this democracy, need to be thinking about what are the conditions in this condition which in part and in the -- 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 systemically, 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
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been involved in this war and a lot of americans think what have we gotten out of this. we have active negotiations now with -- speaking directly to theal btaliban. are we abandoning him and do you think the kind of deal that the ambassador is pursuing keeps faith with the men and woman who lost their lives there under your command and that command of your colleagues? >> david, not a day goes buy 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. so for me keeping faith with their sacrifice is very important to me and the sacrifices of their families,
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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 health care, improvements in 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
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government which could be preserved over the long period of time, over the long term, that would prevent the reemerge jens of a regime. we had the opportunity a couple of times to talk to the taliban and that went anywhere at that particular moment. but the truth is, all conflict ends with a peace agreement of some form or the other. and my sense is with the ambassador, who's a great diplomat, that she he is gottens started and i understand that the president has been unhappy about this as was expressed here last week. but that process started without the afghan government necessarily at the table will
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not be a process concluded without the afghan government being a full and complete participate 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, the ambassador, i fully expect that at a particular moment the afghan government will become full and complete participants. while the conversation has begun about the taliban not becoming a terrorist platform and a conversation about the departure of foreign troops, there are some really especially things that the taliban have to agree to. and we have to be skeptical. one of the most important is that the taliban will not roll back the rights that afghan women have achieved, enormous rights they have achieved in
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this period of time of this conflict. there's been a great american emphasis, our european allies has been in this, the eu, 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 be the safety net for that. one cardinommander after anothe 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. >> i understand you to be saying that we should not leave until
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we have some confidence that these human rights that afghan citizens have gained, rights for women, right for people, are preserved. let me ask the audience f you want to join the conversation with general allen, we are #postlive. and i will be looking at my screen to see you questions. another one of the things that 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 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
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be doing next and i'll 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? >> let me applaud the president for having the encourage to speak directly to kim jong-un. there will be those who say that he has legit legitimatized this regime. it is a horrendous 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. the -- this president was handed a very difficult security environment in northeast asia
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and in particular as kim jong-un i think ultimately has demonstrated that he has actually achieved a strategic nuclear deterrent, an icbm that can reach the united states, he appears to have not just been able to miniaturize his nuclear devices in a warhead, he's been able to mate it. the physics associated with that are quite daunting. and our intelligence says he has multiwarheads. 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 for doing this. what i think has not been
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helpful is this rhetoric, first of all the rhetoric that really brought us i think to the brink of the potential for a conflict in northeast asia. and then a rhetoric in the aftermath of the first summit which produced a pretty hallow joint statement none of which has come to past. but rhetoric that said i have solved the nuclear deterrent, there is no north korean nuclear threat anymore. 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 was a substantial factor in their coming to the table. so we depressurized that and the chinese talked back. then the rhetoric for the hanoi summit where we have fallen in
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love with kim jong-un, i think it inflated expectations in many respects for an outcome which was quite disappointing and, you know, again, if the president didn't get what he wanted, not 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. >> 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,
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threatening, shooting rockets over japan every time it feels like it, why shouldn't japan move in that direction. >> we've worked with both career and japan to provide enhancement to their missile defense capabilities. we have worked very closely in terms of networking for missile defense and nothing has really changed with this administration, nothing has really changed with respect to the extension of the u.s. strategic deterrence for the region. the united states extended its nuclear umbrella over south korea and japan. but at some point it is a -- it has 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
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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 deterrents. so the japanese may have to explore that. i would not encourage it. i'm not sitting here and encouraging it. may they have to think in those terms. my guess would be they have. they are technologically advanced that this is something they can do. >> i'm going ask you a pointed question that comes from one of our followers on twitter. >> that will be a difference. >> and it's straight and to the point. 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
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you who are watching or are hear, you need to read the constitution. i think we're beginning to see -- democracies don't happen fast, they don't move quickly. that's the between an authoritarian state, they can twist quickly, but they've got very little shock absorb yancy and there's no other one on the planet that has more than we have. article one is all about our legislator and we're beginning to see now the legislature is beginning to twist a bit on the subject of addressing these drifts, if you will, towards authoritarianism. and i think our founders were brilliant in enshining and embedding these checks and balances and dynamics in our constitution. so our judiciary has remained largely intact, authoritarians
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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. >> great chance. it is such a pleasure to have general allen here with us. thank you, general allen and i want to ask fred hiatt, my boss, to some back on stage. [ applause ]
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>> all right. i'm back. i'm fred hiatt the editor here at the post. we're fortunate to have wendy sherman and malcolm nance and author and expert on the encroachments of authoritarianism into our society and senior fellow and "washington post" contributing columnist robert kagan. let me start with you, wendy. because you were a senior diplomat during the last administration traveling the world and so i'm sure you heard frequently the chinese argument
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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. and 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 bob. first of all i think bob wrote a brilliant essay. the reason it's important 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 phenomenona of liberal democracies is happening all over the world. it's why we have brexit, theresa may asking for a three-month extension, it's a reason why we have a lot of dissension around the world.
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and at the chinese say we can get better transportation, we can reduce poverty in our country, which they have done as you well know, none tnecessary it's authoritarianism for whom. it's certainly not about human rights because we know they're 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 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
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technology because technology has been part of the disenfranchisement of people, of folks feeling 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 -- stallen could wrench them out of agricultural into building big steel factories. but at some point if you wanted to become a modern country, you had to have -- you needed a rule of law. u
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people need to talk to each other and have newspapers. was that wrong or is it -- 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 think it was said about the french revolution that it was too soon to tell. i don't know whether we know yet. the only thing we can be confident of is that expectations in chinese which we had ever since the sort of opening that was led, we assume this opening -- the sort of 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
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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 has an increasingly closed political system. xi jinping has moved things in the other direction. so the only thing i can be confident on, the faith that we used to have, the iron law we believed 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'll find out. >> don't count on it as an inevitable process? >> the other question of course is what happens in the interim. it may be that a hundred years from now it will prove true. what happens in those hundred years if we have an increasingly powerful including economically powerful and technologically powerful china still run by a very rigid kind of autocracy.
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>> still on the technology piece, i think a lot of us also assumed and had a lot of wrong assumptions, obviously, was that the internet was going to be a force for freedom and would undermine dictators. as bob described in this article, it's being used for the perfection of dictatorship and every authoritarian government has -- 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? starting with a hard question. >> no, that's an excellent question. and the phrase there is a force for good. when facebook and media
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organizations started out, they didn't intend to be evil. but gun powder wasn't intended to be evil either, it just moved that way until it perfected itself. social media as it was launched in those first waves in the middle east in 2010 and 2011 and egypt where facebook and twitter were these organizational and information desemination tools which allowed, you know, people who wanted democracy, who wanted to spread the word of freedom and collectivize was really powerful. dictators, they're not fooled. they pay attention to this as well. they also saw that they items could identify all of their foes right down to the individual. they could manipulate information to the point whereas we saw in the 2016 election, we
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saw organizations marrin netting where fake entities were pulling the puppet strings of individuals and making them organize for a purpose. we had what i called 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 russia. autocrats and dictators, they knew how to manipulate information and break the will of individuals. and though we've taken this technology to express ourself, the freedom of speech is a
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weapon system. it's no different to a cruise middl missile. it smashes the psyche. in 2016, you know, it was the democratic national committee that was hacked, it was typical mind set of the american public to the point where people who saw these platforms as hammers and anvils managed to forage a new reality for one-third of the population of the united states. and it is proven, how can we defend against that. for the most part, i think organizations like "the washington post," transparency, and awareness is easily the most -- the best an assetic for that. but then you have an enemy who's going to take that technology and move around. we've seen the russians have moved away from bots in this
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election cycle to humans to where they have tasked out teams who will take that internet and interact on a realtime. so -- >> let me pick up on that. and talk about the response to the cyberwar. our awareness of this started while you were still in office. of course i think the chance that the best defense is to subscribe to "the washington post" is very wise. but beyond that, are we -- what will 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, 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
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to not be focused on this but not really setting the rules of the road for cyber, those rules of the road are quit 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. there's a reason why hamilton the musical was so popular. 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, cybereducation, good cyber hygiene, knowing what we do to protect ourselves, knowing what we expect of our governments, 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 -- as i said to you,
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fred, i teach at harvard. i'm director of the center for public leadership. 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, a professor at harvard wrote a piece some time ago about about how liberal democracy is a salesman and if you go back to the declaration, 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
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i read it is these liberal values haven't always been self-evident to everybody. it kind of goes -- waxes and wanes and there have been other periods where people lost confidence in them. and you don't offer much of how are we going to get out of that or how can it turn around. last time was world war ii. but after a couple decades of lack of confidence, how would a more confident country be responding now and do you see any possibility -- how do you regain that momentum? >> i wrote 10,000 words, i could have written another ten thousand words of -- >> we'll take a vote on that. >> yeah, sure. but, you know, i think -- and i don't think there is one chance. i think, you know, restoring
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some understanding which i think the younger generation does understand that they are being bombarded with fake news. i think more young people are looking to "the washington post" and other sort of responsible and careful media and understanding of the difference between that and what they're getting. but i think it would be -- we need to have another real national discussion about liberalism. i don't mean left and right, i think the liberal values that are in the declaration of independence because i think on the one hand we say that's just right and we don't have to think about it or i don't like it, i prefer socialism or whatever people prefer. but i think we need to have an honest conversation about liberalism because it isn't in a way self-evident and it hasn't been historically self-evident and liberalism is about
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trade-offs. there are things lost. 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've taken a lot for granted. the cold war wasn't a simple thing. but communism, democracy, that seemed nice and simple. this is more complicated. there are weaknesses about liberalism. authoritarians are exploiting this weakness and they're questioning whether it's viable. and so we need to have that discussion. >> 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
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working in the shadows. we are at a point where i'm afraid to say 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 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've had established some semblance of stability throughout the world and it's being tone at the behest of a dictator who was an exkbg colonel. i know how that works.
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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 kbg. >> are we fighting back and if not -- >> no >> why not. >> "the washington post" is further on this front line of this battle area than any government constitution. >> 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're literally putting down or sword. the next president, whoever it is, and i challenge the democratic nominees who are coming for president, they're going to have to announceuate their position on the defense of the constitution has it has always existed. not going back to the norms. anyone can go back to the norms.
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are we going to confront the threat that's before our eyes? people say, you want to have a nuclear war, no, i want a war where the foundations of democracy and 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 ] >> let me turn to you, wendy, picking up from that. i should mention we did invite john bolton to be on this panel and -- >> that would have been fun. >> yeah. 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 authoritarian mold and if not, why not? let me throw that one to you and
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what hopes do you have that 2020 -- 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 who are running who will go defend democracy in a way that malcolm just laid it out and got applause from this audience. i think that madeleine albright who's a dear friend, my former boss, wrote a book recently and she has said repeatedly that although she does not consider donald trump a fascist, he's the least democratic president we have ever had. and i certainly endorse that position. i think one of the things we all need to understand, although i agree with what my colleagues
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have 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 has written about the cultural backlash. is lot of what's going on is that people and that 55-year-old white guy in the middle of our country, but he feels his privilege, his power has been lost. he has lost his manufacturing job to technology more than trade, the people down the street who we liked a lot that can get married, he never wanted his wife to work, he feels dislocated. that sense of dislocation of disruption is what donald trump has preyed upon is what he has
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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 seeing now, the kind of destruction that malcolm was talking about a moment ago and we cannot stand for that or we will lose the strength of your democracy. >> so you write that authoritarianism has an appeal to people who are experiencing that loss and liberal democracy has no chance to that or for them. does that have to be true? is there no way that liberal democracy can take those needs
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into account and still respect individual rights? >> no. it's probably too stark to say that liberal democracy has no chance to it because we've had long periods where, you know, tradition including religious tradition and democracy have coexisted and no place better than the united states. but there is -- there's intention. and i think tension is inevitable. what we're talking about the expansion of individual rights. we expanded it in the 19th century as a result of the civil war and there has been expansion ever since. when there's that 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 i think that when -- obviously when times are most stressful because of an economic crisis or in the case of europe
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because of an immigration influx and this happens in the united states periodically, in the 1920s, for instance, that's when the time that people most react against liberal. in better times, the accommodations get made for easily. there's a lot of factors doing into this. in the case of the united states, i don't think presidents -- i don't think donald trump created this world. he benefitted from it. he's playing on it. but a president does set a tone. and a president is 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 tries to enflame it.
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he's a beneficiary of them. i think almost any other possible candidate in either party is more likely to try to control them because that's the way presidents generally feel their responsibility is to keep these things under control. i do hope if we ever get another president, that -- >> not funny. sorry. >> -- that we'll get a different tone in the white house. [ laughter ] >> i wanted to ask about an aspect of the rise of authoritarianism that we feel personally here which is they're reaching beyond their borders not just in cyber but actually physically sending -- using poison gas in england, the chinese kidnapping from thailand and he's still missing, he's
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somewhere in the prison system in china and of course jamal khashoggi our colleague being lured to a consulate in sbistanl and still no accountability of that. 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 -- and, you know, i'll go right at the president. we have a president who has decided that the united states needs to be part of an axis of autocracies and not part of a democracy. he wants to remove all of the defenses. by doing that, he has wrung the alarm bell.
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he's given a permission slip to do what you please. the abduction, murder of jamal khashoggi is insane. the saudis know, and i've lived in that part of the world, i hang out with these guys, drink with them, and they knew that there are -- >> drink? >> yeah. after prayers. so 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 s s sanctions to ensure that would not happen and not happen a second time if it does happen and ensure there was some sanction related to that, taking away some of their toys. this president has shown that
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he's open for sale and that you can, a, do what you want because we're not going to stop you. the attack in england, the chemical weapons terrorist attack which was carried out by a what we call a class one terrorist group, a state intelligence agency designed to kill two individuals but sickened over three -- two dozen, was literally a terrorist attack carried in the middle of one of our allies. they're using state-level poisons to kill their allies in our nations. this is why i'm saying it might be beneficial or it may have to happen where we have a second cold war where they start confronting these activities on an international scale the way it was in the 1960s to put them back on notice that the united states will not be pushed and we will not allow these activities to occur again. >> to wage a cold war like that,
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presumably, you need need a lot of popular support. you worked for a president who -- i comparisons, but 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, we're tired, why are we building fire stations in afghanistan when i need a fire station here, can you rebuild a popular consensus, that yes, we need to be leaders, yes, we need to be giving foreign aid? where does that come from? >> i think you, can because i think that one of the things that people did understand oust 2008 recession is we're connected to the world, ha we don't live on an island, even though we are buffeted by two big oceans and certainly 9/11 proved that our ocean does not keep us secure. we are connected to the world. and i think that whoever becomes
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president next, and i'm hopeful there will be a new president in 2020, because i think there's a lot of talent out there, that that president not only elevates the values that we've been talking about here this morning, but helps people understand that our government is going to support those 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 trade-offs, no doubt, bob is right about that, but we can manage those trade-offs, we can soften the impact, the negative impacts of those tradeoffs, and we are going to be out in the world, as we lead. when i was undersecretary, i traveled to, i don't know, maybe 60 different countries, while in the four years i was undersecretary and traveled constantly since, and everywhere i have gone, people have said we
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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 most 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. >> very well stated. and we are basically out of time. let me do a 20-second lightning round. we have one more reader question which i wanted to ask, from bob. different bob, i assume. what can we do, what can we do on a daily basis in the lives we lead and the choices we make to strengthen liberalism and oppose the slide to authoritarianism?
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>> that's a terrific question. and i'm glad that question is raised because i do think that 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's 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's a lot of ways for people to express themselves without
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using nasty words. and also in terms of talking to their children and in demanding a good educational system. i really think that it has always been true but it is more true than ever that individuals now really matter, if we're going to sort of save what it is that we've 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 we can all agree with is really a great panel. so thank you very much. and thank you all for coming. >> thank you.
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on this last weekday of the congressional break, we're showing american history tv in prime time. and a look at political history. it features purdue university professor katherine brownell as she teaches a class about political advertising in the 1950s, focusing on dwight eisenhower's presidential campaigns. that's tonight at 8:00 eastern, here on c-span 3. when congress returns next week, the house will be voting on overriding the president's veto, of the resolution terminating his border emergency declaration. on thursday, they will vote on a nonbinding resolution rejecting the president's ban on transgender americans serving in the military. live house coverage is on c-span. >> and the senate begins the week with a judicial nomination for the federal appeals court covering the western u.s. later, federal disaster aid. and a vote to start debate on a resolution dealing with the green new deal. watch live senate coverage on
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c-span 2. the 30th anniversary of the exxon valdez oil spill. remembering president george h.w. bush. and the inventor of the worldwide web. all this weekend, on american history tv. saturday, starting at 12:30 p.m. eastern, three programs marking the 30th anniversary of the exxon valdez oil spill. the second largest in the u.s. >> the captain of the ship got on the radio and called the coast guard in valdez, immediately, and he said, we're, we're hard aground and everybody dentally we're leaking some oil. and he said on the radio, that he was going to try and rock the boat and get off the reef and proceed. which was just a terrifying possibility. the ship was so badly damaged, there is a good chance it would have sunk or capsized. >> and sunday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on the presidency, former secretary of state james
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baker remembers his long-time friend president george h.w. bush. >> i was privileged to serve as his secretary of state for four years. and i was extraordinarily fortunate to serve a wonderful friend and a beautiful human being as we all know. but to serve as secretary of state to a president who understood that he had to defend me, and protect me, even when i was wrong. >> and at 9:00, on the 30th anniversary of the world wide web, a conversation with its inventor, computer scientist tim burners lee. >> imagine we have a big problem, like ch whole climate change, or discover cancer, and the pieces of the problem are in different people's brains but they're connected on the internet, so can the web be a place, so a goal for the web, it should be a collaborative place where anyone who has an idea can very easily put it into the web,
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and whenever, and as i wonder around the space, looking at other people's ideas, i can pick them up and i can put them together so the ability to be able to link to anything and say you're thinking that, well i'm thinking this. >> watch american history tv. this weekend. on c-span 3. president trump and his state of the union speech called for an infrastructure plan to fix the nation's roads, bridges and public transit. the house ways and means committee held a hearing to get a handle on what that entails and how to pay for it. the committee heard from the house transportation and infrastructure committee chair and ranking member on the needs. then industry stakeholders testified on how states are impacted by the lack of a modern infrastructure. this is about four hours. good morning, and welcome to our witnesses and our audience members and thank all of you f


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