tv WSJ at Large With Gerry Baker FOX Business September 14, 2019 9:30am-10:00am EDT
trying to do good all the time because your rivals are improving. so yeah, i really like everyt just did. ♪ ♪ gerry: hello and welcome to "wall street journal at large." this week another high profile trump administration official was showning the door. now, what he was fired or quit, national security adviser john bolton is out apparently after months of bickering with the president over foreign policy. mr. bolton was said to be unhappy with a number of the president's diplomatic initiatives including his plan to hold secret peace talks with the taliban in an effort to end the military involvement in afghanistan. the president eventually did cancel those talks. there were also tensions over iran and possible talks with that country's president
rouhani. so the war in afghanistan continues. we remember, of course, how it began. soon after the terrorist asack taxeses of september 11th -- attacks of september 11th, 18 years ago. president bush used a bullhorn to tell the world that the people who brought down the twin towers would be hearing from america soon, and sure enough, the campaign was launched. since the first american troops hit the ground in october of that year, more than 2,000 have been killed is and thousands more wounded. in addition, more than a thousand allied soldiers supporting the u.s.-led effort have per riched as well. so has the longest war in american history produced the desired results? in other words, is the direct military action in afghanistan as part of the overall war on terrorism actually making america safer or not? plus, what does it mean that one of the biggest hawks in the trump administration has gone? well, here to talk about that is retired army lieutenant general douglas lute. he served as assistant to the president and deputy national
security adviser for the iraq and afghanistan wars under the second president bush, and he's now ceo of the strategic advisory services firm. general l are ute join -- lute joins me from washington. thank you for joining me. >> it's good to be with you. gerry: what's the significance of john bolton's departure in. >> well, i think it portrays that the role of national security adviser's got to be one of the toughest positions in washington. across both the bush and obama administrations, i worked closely with four different, very different national security advisers. the best of those bring two key qualities to the job, and here i think this reflects on mr. bolton's experience. first, quality is a relationship with the president, a trusting relationship with the president is key so that the national security advisor can speak for the president among the other cabinet officials. and the second is a process. the national security adviser
sifts sits above the property that brings the different departments and agencies together around the same table where views can be openly exchanged. and when that, those two qualities are absent, it's time for a change. gerry: but they -- surely his departure reflects quite significant differences in approach and policy. we hear these talks about bolton being up happy about the possible -- unhappy about the possible talks with the taliban. it does suggest the president has a somewhat more dovish approach to these issues than traditional republicans. >> well, perhaps. but i also think it reflects that the process inside the situation room in the first floor of the white house has broken down a bit. and i think it reflects the divisions across the u.s. government from the state department to the defense department, the intelligence community and the white house itself. and that's,ing of course, the process at which, above which the national security adviser sits, and it's designed to bring it all together in a coherent
way so that the president gets a full range of options. jer let's look at afghanistan. very much involved with that effort over the years. the president clearly wants to bring the war to an end, wants to bring american military engagement to an end. is it right? is it the right time to deal with the taliban? >> you know, i think there are many parties who want to bring the war in afghanistan to an end. you know, as americans here on the week in which we commemorate 9/11, we're sort of fixated on the american experience which is the last 18 years. but for afghan citizens, this has been going on for roughly 40 years beginning in 1979 with the intervention of the soviets in afghanistan at that point. so there's a lot of, there's a lot of motivation here to bring this war to a close. but i think it's important that even at the 18-year mark while maybe our patience is running low on the continued engagement in afghanistan to remember, a, why we went there in the first place -- this had all to do with al-qaeda -- and second of all, to remember that while the
status quo, the stalemate on the ground today is not very attractive, there's actually a worse possible outcome. and there's an outcome that features a return to civil war, mass atrocities and chaos in afghanistan. so while we may not be satisfied with the status quo, we want to certainly avoid an even worse outcome in civil war. gerry: to put it bluntly, if the united states were to pull its forces and nato, out of afghanistan, do you think we face similar threat to the terrorist threat that we faced on nep? >> so -- on 9/11? >> so not immediately, but i think there's a high prospect that the afghan security forces in which we've invested now for well over a decade might fragment and disintegrate. i think it would put enormous pressure if on a very fragile government structure if kabul itself -- in kabul itself, our partners, the afghan government, and would give an opening to the taliban to gain even more ground and more influence and
potentially invite not only al-qaeda, our original target in afghanistan, but more recently the islamic state branch which is in the border area between afghanistan and pakistan. we could invite those transnational terrorists to use afghanistan again as a safe haven. so there's a high risk here or a worse outcome than what we face today. gerri: so what do we need to do? i think americans really have had enough of this war. they do want troops to come home. a lot of americans have died and suffered as a result of this war in a great effort to protect this country, but people, i think, do want the troops to come home. what do we need to do to be able to draw a line under this in. >> look, i applaud the diplomatic initiative that the trump administration has taken over roughly e the past year. i think they found the single most capable diplomat, former ambassador kalazad, to lead as the u.s. envoy in exploring diplomatic options, political options with the afghan taliban.
but this is an enormously complex set of problems. you have not only three key actors -- the afghan government, the afghan taliban and the united states -- but they are divided across four issue sets. they're divided across the degree to which which the taliban break ties with al-qaeda. these are ties that go all the way back to 9/11 period. we're divided across the issue of how fast should u.s. troops withdraw. we're divided on the role of the taliban in a political power-sharing arrangement with the afghan government, and we're also divided on the timing of the ceasefire. so -- [inaudible conversations] gerry: could we tolerate a taliban government? i mean, is it really imaginable that these people who, again, were the ones who harbored al-qaeda and who are still extremists by any measure, could we really tolerate a taliban-led government? do you think that would be stable, and do you think we'd be
safe with that? >> ultimately, that's an issue for the afghans to decide, and that's why among the issues i listed there's this intra-afghan conversation that needs to take place, to figure out the role of the taliban in the afghan government, the afghan political set. i think what's undeniable at the 18-year mark though is that the afghan taliban are a part of the afghan body politic. the question is will they join in a power-sharing arrangement with the government that leads to stability, or do they still aim for dominance. gerry: it's impossible to say, just very quickly finally, ambassador, i know it's impossible to say exactly when this will be wrapped up, but are you optimistic, you know, that we will soon be sitting down with the taliban or whoever it is and bringing this war to an end? >> well, look, large diplomatic, complex diplomatic engagements like this seldom are a clear, linear progression of success
built on success. much more typical is two steps forward, one step back . maybe over the course of the last week we witnessed one of those one steps back. but this is worth pursuing. this is not going to be won on the ground by military action. ultimately, we will be at a table with the taliban and, ultimately, the taliban will be at a table with the afghan government. this is only a question of time. gerry: ambassador douglas lute, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. up next, after almost two decades of war in afghanistan,s is the u.s. safer today? we'll ask someone who's been at the forefront of protecting americans from terrorism. stay with us. ♪ all right brad, once again i have revolutionized the songwriting process. oh, here we go. i know i can't play an instrument, but this... this is my forte. obviously, for auto insurance, we've got the wheel route. obviously. retirement, we're going with a long-term play. makes sense. pet insurance, wait, let me guess... flea flicker. yes! how'd you know? studying my playbook?
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in our city's infrastructure. how safe are we now, do you think, compared to that day on, in september 2001? >> oh, we're much, much safer. we were totally unprepared on september 11th. we've spent a lot of money, probably a trillion dollars, getting to where we are now. there are no guarantees, but we're much, much safer. homeland security has been put in place in the federal government, national counterterrorism center, a lot of money spent on equipment and probably a lot of waste in that spending of a trillion dollars. but the bottom line is we haven't had a major terrorist attack in this country since 9/11. smaller attacks, but we haven't had the big one. gerri: and other countries have had a lot of attacks since 9/11. have we learned lessons from them as well as from 9/11 about how we protect ourselves? >> yes. i would say that the intelligence communities of the world, certainly developed countries, are very close-ni.
people don't raze that. -- realize that. that communication going on france, england, u.s., germany are talking all the time. so we've learned a lot of lessons. gerry: do we -- intelligence is critical, right? and, again, the u.s. made big changes to its intelligence apparatus after 9/11 and much more cooperation between intelligence agencies -- >> correct. gerry: how do you think that's working 18 years on? >> i think it's working reasonably well. i don't have that depth of insight anymore, but i think -- i'm told this, there are some turf issues, but the cooperation overall is much better, a much better flow of information and more sophisticated tools are being used. gerry: do we -- new york city, you were commissioner for a long time after 9/11. you've been commissioner before 9/11 as well and you were commissioner after 9/11. new york city does feel like a safe city, but it also feels there's a very sort of heavy security presence. there are surveillance cameras every where.
whenever there's any major event, there's police, there are barriers, there's structures. do we have to just get used to that? is that the reality of life now? >> i think so. people don't really complain about that. initially i put something in place we had police on the streets with heavy weapons. it's something that you used to see in europe, but we just weren't used to it. i attempted a lot of complaints. there were no complaints. i think people generally like to see that law enforcement presence these days. maybe it's overdone, but really there are no complaints. we live in a changed world, and there are no guarantees. certainly, having a lot of cops at a demonstration or something doesn't guarantee there's not going to be an attack. less than two years ago, halloween of 2017, individual by the name of -- [inaudible] , uzbeki, represented a truck, drove that on a jogging path by ground zero, killed eight people. gerry: yeah.
>> so the threat is always with us. culturally, we're more on guard 24 hours a day. gerry: how do you strike the right balance? there's always someone -- unless we're going to have a cop, you know, arming each of us or outside every building, how do you balance, how do you assess the risk and get the right balance between security and -- >> yeah. gerry: -- and living out our lives? >> new york is the most litigious environment in the world. there's overresponse or investigations by the police -- gerry: but have we got the balance, basically got the balance right? >> i don't think -- [inaudible conversations] >> because, you know, it goes back and forth somewhat. we tried to do that. when i was in the police department, we had a cadre of attorneys, former u.s. attorneys. we consulted with privacy
attorneys, that sort of thing to try to strike that balance. when we first put cameras in lower manhattan, we worked with the privacy advocacy groups, and we limited the time that we keep the video to 30 days. this was a result of negotiation with the private advocacy world. gerry: let me stop you there because we've got to take a break. stay with us, we'll discuss next how the terrorist threat has been changing since 9/11 and the new types of dangers that we face today. don't go away. ♪ ♪ i'm your cat. ever since you brought me home, that day. i've been plotting to destroy you. sizing you up... calculating your every move. you think this is love? this is a billion years of tiger dna just ready to pounce.
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19, 20 men armed with box cutters, islamists, fanatical islamists. we've seen many of those kinds of attacks, different methods used n. your view, what are the major threats that confront americans? >> i think it's still terrorism, just as you said box cutters, used very primitive tools and the fbi and other agencies, nypd, has done a good job rolling up these people who are at least talking about conducting one of these attacks. but we have to be careful about not fighting yesterday's war. we have to be very much concerned about cyber terror. about 87%, i think it is, of the critical infrastructure in this country is in the private sector. how well are they protected? i'm not sure anybody knows. a dirty bomb, radiological material is all over everyone where in the u.s., in hospitals, for instance. biological weapons are certainly something we have to be concerned about, very difficult to guard against.
drones are being used in the middle east as delivery mechanisms. we need a 360-degree perimeter. gerry: and what's the balance between home grown terrorism? we have seen some home grown islamist terrorists in the last 18 years. of course, the 9/11 terrorists were foreign citizens. how much of a threat is that, and how much have we neutralized that threat? >> i think much of the threat is home grown. there are people being arrested, seems like every two weeks there's an arrest on the part of the fbi. in essence, new york -- not new york, but u.s. citizens. yeah, it is important part of the threat right now, a lone wolf, local people inspired by jihadty messages on the internet. gerry: have we got good intelligence about these kids who are being radicalize in this way? >> no. gerry: do you think we've done enough in. >> no. i'm not sure how we get that, because there are privacy
issues, as you said. i mean, obviously, you can pay a lot of attention to the internet, certain web sites. and investigative agencies do that. there are ways now, there are chat rooms, one on one chat rooms, that sort of thing, that are very difficult to get into. so, no, there's an awful lot that we don't know. gerri: and this is connected, obviously, to some of these terrible gun incidents we've seen across the country. there's a big debate in washington about whether we need more background checks, mental health, what's your take on that? new york is a very safe city these days, in many ways thanks to what you did. what do we needed to do in a very short time about guns? >> well, i'm a supporter of increased background checks. i like the red flag laws, those sorts of things. but i think the problem as far as these mass shootings are concerned, there's almost intractable, it depends on whose estimate you take, but there's over 300 million or 400 million guns in this country.
if we ban, let's say assault weapons tomorrow, we're still going to have millions of them out there. i don't think confiscation something that's in the ethos of america. we just have not done that and probably are not going to do that. so it is a profound problem. hopefully now we have the center for disease control and the national institute of health looking at gun safety. maybe they can give us better insight into what's in these individuals' minds. it's really, it's so difficult to fathom. gerry: thank you very much for joining us and thank you, indeed, for all your great service as new york's police commissioner. my thanks to ray kelly. and just ahead, some of america's most important allies now may no longer be ready to stand with the u.s. in a crisis. i'll explain next. ♪ ♪ -guys, i want you to meet someone.
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♪ gerri: for 18 years america's allies have fought alongside the united states in afghanistan. thousands of troops from europe have been killed or wounded in a demonstration of the solidarity of that continent with america after 9/11. but as the world confronts new challenges and threats, how much longer can nato be relied on as a unified force for freedom? there was a startling new poll this week from the european council on foreign relations showing europeans no longer seem willing to back the united states against potential foreign threats. when asked whom their country should support if there were a conflict between the u.s. and
russia, only a fraction of voters polled said the united states. in most places, obviously, few would support russia, thankfully, but the vast majority said they would want their country to remain neutral. in germany, a country that has flourished under the umbrella of u.s. security for 70 years, only 12% of germans picked the united states. 70% said they prefer to remain neutral. in the france, 63% said they wanted to stay neutral. and it was basically the same when asked about a potential conflict with china. now, of course, we know there are widening differences between the united states and europe on a number of issues, and president trump has voiced fierce and vocal criticism of the european union and many of its leadsers. but it's still troubling that after all the united states has done to defend european security, after all the sacrifices this country has made and burden that it continues to bear to protect the freedoms of people on the old continent that so few europeans these days willing to acknowledge the debt they owe the united states by supporting this country.
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