tv Charlie Rose PBS November 1, 2010 11:00am-12:00pm PST
>> welcome to the program. we begin this evening with a conversation with oxford historian timothy garton ash. >> what was a wonder of modern history, the checks and balances of the american constitution, have somehow got clogged up. and the gridlock wasn't particularly in congress. he said thinking about this that in a way america's problem is the battle between the ipad and the filibuster. rose: right. >> between the wonderful powers of innovation that you see in silicon valley and the blocking power of the filibuster and the supermajority in the senate. plus the drastic polarization, the shouting between fox news and msnbc which gets worse every year i come back to the united
states. >> rose: we conclude with robert dallek who has written a book called "the lost peace" the gat debate i would think is how do you fine a policy, a larger design, a vision of how you are going to deal with the hostility there radical islamists. it's sort of like at the start of the cold war when cano came up with containment that truman sported, sponsored. brought into. we don't have that. nobody put forward the kind-of-grand design dealing with this danger out there to the united states. and for the foreseeable future i think this is the great debate. >> rose: ash and dallek coming up. >> funding for charlie rose was provided by the following:
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city, this is charlie rose. >> timothy garton ash is here a professor at oxford university and one of britain's most distinguished historians and a senior fellow at the hoover institute at standford university. he published a if you book called "facts are subversive" a collection of his essays over the last decade. i'm very pleased to have timothy garton ash back at this table. welcome. >> great to he sue. let's start with the cameron government. where they have been clear in terms of a decision made you know, to talk, to try to put into place very strong ideas about the place of government, and the necessity of austerity. >> yeah. you know i've just spent the last three months if in the united states and the contrast between gridlocked, polarized american politics
and the way in which a coalition government, liberal consvative government in britain is moving forward with dramatic deficit cutting. but also launching a discussion about the question which i think is the question for all developed, advanced democracies which is what is the role of the state. it's not as in the american debate government good or bad. it is what government should be doing and what it should not be doing. and that is the debate we're beginning to have in britain. and i think it's one of the most exciting debates i've known for a long time. >> rose: tell me the aspects of the debate. >> well, my dear friend tony-- wrote one of his last books in the great defense of social democracy. the problem with that is, of course, that the well fare states as we have them today in europe are unsustainable. we simply cannot afford it. just as in a way the united states cannot afford its medicare and social
security. so the question is who should do what to sustain a social democratic ideal, an ideal of equal liberty. are there things the state should simply stop doing all together. for example. are there things that can be best done by private initiative. >> and what are the likely things it should not do. should it not run its prison system. should it not be in charge of its bridges and its ansportation systems. should it not be responsible for what? >> where does it as they say the rubber meet the road. >> well, i think the rubber meets the road particularly in, for example, the entitlement system of social security system. where in many european countries you have people who have spent their whole lives entirely living off the state on benefits. the state providing housing. now a that is unsustain-- unsustainable. bt is bad for them
personally. to be deprived of any meaningful work. and c it creates a huge amount of rentment in the wider society. >> rose: where is europe today in the face of one, greece and sovereign debt, germany with with the kind of response it's had, france with the debate about tensions and also about roma. >> well, of course a lot of this book is about what has happened to europe in the last decade and it is an extraordinary story. because in the last decade we almost completed the unification of our couldn't tent. >> almost. >> something that -- well, almost because there's still the balkans, there's still ukraine. but still, never before in european history has so many european countries been liberal democracies in the same economic, political and security community. i mean i always say to my british euro skeptic friends this is the worst possible
europe apart from all the other europes that have been tried from time to time. so there is a great achievement there. and the single currency. and now we're playinging defense. now we're on the defensive in all sorts of way. the single currency is under threat. the social model is under threat. the integration of muslims is a huge issue. and there is the great emerging pog we ares. >> so does europe need a strong leader? >> that's not how it's going to be. the old henry kissinger line, you say europe which number should i call, it's always going to be --. >> rose: henry today says he knows the number to call. somewhere in brussels. >> it is somewhere in brussels and it is a very nice english lady caed cathy ashton but you know the joke is that when you ring that number, a recorded message says, if you want to get the european foreign
policy for british foreign policy press one. for french foreign policy press two. >> rose: so that means is there really a europe. i mean is the european economic union enough to make a europe. >> there is a europe and it is a family of nations, an extended family which is working in historical terms, or indeed in contemporary world terms. i mean there is no other continent on which very diverse countries, 27 of them now, working so closely together. but europe will always be a conference call and hillary clinton knows that very well. >> rose: but also the question is whether it is pulling against itself now, because of greece and germany and, you know, yes they came to the rescue but yes, there was great opposition too. >> well, i think there are two different questions here. one is whether the euro was a bridge too far. and i think the answer is that to take in the south europeans, what is sometimes called club med, was actually a bridge too far. that is to say there was a sustainable monetary-- which
is sometimes called the nordo or the neuro, a north european monetary union of compatible, if you will, protestant economies with sufficient fiscal and monetary discipline. and the problem is that for political reasons it extbdzed to take in club med and that's now proving very difficult and very bad for the south european economies, not just greece, spain and portugal. so that is one problem. the other problem in my view-- . >> rose: tt's the weak problem. >> that's their problem. the other problem is we have got our act together in many ways and economic policy and our internal affairs. can we get our act together in foreign policy. again i write about this in the book. the next debate will be a world of-- grints, brazil, china, india, russia. >> rose: how do you think the french look at all this in the presence of mr. sarkozy. >> you will remember that at a certain point a slightly
disappointed harold mcmillan said of de gaulle, he says europe and means france. and there was some truth in that, that until german unification which we marked the 20th anniversary of just the other day, france was effectively the center of europe. it was the driver of the european-- you -- >> and france is therefore much more ambivalent about the european project because it's not sure it's that old european project any more. and it feels somehow that germany is now really if he center. having said that, in my view, the much larger problem we have is not france but germany. because what drove the european project as you know for a half century was a combination of the french
driver and the german motor. and now the french driver is not sure where he wants to go. and the german motor is not sure if it wants to go there. >> rose: well said. you also said that europe needs a children ilio gaullist or a gualo churchilliast strategy. that is a great leader frame of mind. >> it means something absolutely fundamental to our time, that europe cannot continue to identify itself in the gaullist sense as the opposite of america. the alternative poll,-- pole, the rival to american. that is the gaullist version. but nor as in the children chilean tradition can we if britain simply see ourselves as a junior partner in the special relationship with the united states. what you need is a strong european union which sees itself as a partner to the united states, not a rival
to-- rival to the united states. >> is that acceptable to the united states that you know? >> i think to the united states we have today, absolutely. i any it's hillary clinton was sitting here she would say that is exactly what we want. >> a partnership with europe. >> yes. >> rose: we're not a senior partner, we're both -- >> well, let's leave that, as vague. senior, whatever, they will economies of equal size. they are massive. >> rose: but the growth rate of the united states economy is a bit higher expectation than the growth rate of the european economy. >> you know what, and also in military power there is no comparison. so it's going to be doing slightly different things. but maybe when it comes to afghanistan or pakistan actually the civilian side is at least as important as what the military can do. >> rose: and tell me what it is that europe is prepared to do in pakistan and afghanistan. >> well, europe gives more than half the official development aid in the whole world. and in civil kwan
reconstruction as in the balance begans-- balkans, on january dam ree type operations, on state building, europe has a lot of experience. and frankly if you talk to the u.s. military, they will say our problem is that counterinsurgency is 80% civilian, and 20% military. and what the united states has at its disposal in power resources is kind of 80% military and 20% civilian, so actually there is a great compliment aeroian there. >> in my view it is -- . >> rose: you are saying that somehow europe whether you are talking about germany or france or england, britain s more prepared to do a or better equipped to do the so-called nation building. >> yes, state building is how i will put it, or the 1i68ian sized. >> rose: they are not crazed about the word nation building. >> nations take decades to build and they build themselves in conflict. >> rose: but if you sit down and talk to people who are involved in afghanistan,
when they talk about governance you are talking about nation building. >> yeah. >> rose: it's a bit like talking about liberalism in make. are you all talking about the same thing but you don't want to use certain words. >> yeah. >> rose: nation building is creating a governing community that can stand on its own. >> right, right, right. >> rose: that is counterinsurgency is about. >> right. >> rose: and what the military does is to create enough security so that can take place. and as long as there is no security it can't take place. >> that's correct. but this is one area in which you know, and there's a slight sense on my part of disappointment in the way the obama administration handled this. >> rose: we're going to get to that. >> they did rather come and say okay, so how many boots on the ground. where is your military contribution. and that was a litmus test of europe's loyalty, ability to deliver. i think there was a bit of a mistake. because i think there is this deep compliment.
>> rose: because the physical dynamic in europe would not allow boots on the ground. >> because in this case there are british boots on the ground. >> rose: but david cameron is inclined to certainly not add to it. >> but in most european countries, people feel very reluctant to do war. they don't feel reluctant to do other kinds of thin that are equally important in combating and defeating terrorism. >> rose: didn't you have a european businessman tell you that europe is like detroit. >> yes. >> rose: and what did he mean? >> well, i mean you know, the rust belt and old industry and aging poppinglations and so on. i am again having spent the summer partly in silicon valley. >> rose: very good point. >> one knows what he means. on the other hand, you know, 23 you-- if you fly into munich airport in southern germany, you fly over house after-- house after house which has two solar panels on the roof.
one for the water, one for the heating. so they've already got that. they've got to solo power. they've got to clean tech. they've got to places that the united states is only just beginning to go to. so it's a mixed picture, i think. >> rose: come to the united states and the obama administration. how do you assess the first two years? >> well, i describe in the book the unforgetable moment of being in washington just outside the white house on the evening obama was elected. and it felt almost like a velvet revolution it felt like a fantastic moment. >> rose: what did it is a, you think, the obama election. >> well, that the united states could elect this youthful, charismaticafter kwan american-- african-american with a ground campaign using new media, with great sort of social mobilization and
with the flood of hope. reminded europeans of so much that they had admired and loved in america. which they had kind of forgotten. so enormous hopes were attached to that but i have to say, if you go back and read that chapter which is a miniessay i wrote a couple of days after his election, i already said i think he cannot meet these expectations. hope we must but the burden of problems he will face, both in theworld and in the united states, is so great that he will struggle to realize those goals. and unfortunately, that's what we found. let me say something that may surprise you. i think george w. bush was in some ways more attuned to europe than barack obama. now you may find that an extraordinary statement. what i mean by that is attuned is perhaps not the right word but he had certainly inherited from his father a certain attitude to
the historic west, the transatlantic community obama himself writes beautifully about this in dreams from my father, that he stopped off in europe for a few days on his way to kenya, saw the sights, and he thought himself i didn't feel at home here. this was not my place. the cultural connection was not as strong. so i think there is that cultural element, although of course in terms of his social and economic policy he's much closer to a european approaches. but also, he's a man as one of his aids put it to me, his world is north-south rather than east west. yes, he has a different mental map of the world. and his-- . >> rose: so north south meaning what. >> meaning that the world of emerging powers, the world of the global south, rather than the old east-west map where the access goes through europe, through berlin, to moscow.
and i think there is probably some truth in that. i think also that he is as i understand him, very pragmatic results oriented. that is to say in his approach to europe, after a couple of big speeches, it's not been soaring rhetoric and visions of a faired historic community marching from the past to the future. it's been what can you do for us today. how many troops are you sending to sav began stand. and europe has been strangely disconcerted by that. as have european leaders by the fact that he doesn't ring them up often. >> rose: doesn't consult them. >> doesn't consult them. >> rose: and that used to be the argument against george w. bush. he doesn't call -- >> but you know, i mean i think if you totaled up the phone logs i would guess he rang the chosen partners in europe, the favored ones. the tony blairs.
>> rose: i'm going to come back to a point you made about obama. do you believe that he somehow in his, the way he thinks about the state, is somehow a close, close to a social democratic model in europe. >> everyone has to be careful here to be a socialist. >> rose: but i mean socialist in europe are not exactly what -- >> that's right. like liberals in america. we have tomato and tomato as it were. the way i would see it is this. >> rose: . >> i read his inaugural as a real attempt to change the discourse in the united states. and to say not is it government good or bad but what should government do for us today. which as i said is exactly what we need it seems to me failed in that attempt, as i see the american debate, it's still very much government good or bad for
or against. so i suspect that he would like to get to the point where not just the european social democrats but also conservatives like david cameron or liberals like nick kleggar when are you debating what the state should and should not do. but i don't think the politics are letting him get there. >> rose: the american political system, do you think it's dysfunctional? >> i do. profoundly depressingly, shockingly, disturbingly dysfunctional. >> rose: is it because of politics or is it because of the nature of the institution? >> well, i think that you know, what was a wonder of modern history, the checks and balances of the american constitution have somehow got clogged up. and the gridlock in washington, particularly in congress, i said thinking
about this that in a way, america's problem is a battle betweenment the ipad and the filibuster. >> rose: right. >> between the wonderful powers of own vacation that you see in silicon valley and its blocking power of the filibuster and the supermajority in the senate. plus the drastic polarization, the shouting between fox news and msnbc, which gets worse every year i come back to the united states. you know, i come from a country where we have something called the bbc. and with all its faults, it means you turn on the radio, television in the morning to a civilized, lively but civilized discourse about political difference. here it is all shouting. i think that's a huge problem. problem number three, the role of money in politics. i mean in getting re-elected to congress, now after the citizens united decision in,
you know, the attack ads and so on. i mean i think those three together do make a highly -- dysfunctional politics which i say the united states as i may say so as a great friend of this country, simply can no long afford. you know, i get to talk to quite a lot of people when i'm here. and i just hear this more and more from different quarters. we cannot go on like this. we have to change this and if the two parties can't get it together, maybe we'll try something else. i mean the pew poling shows more and more independence. so maybe there is something staringing there. and what we saw in britain which is of courses a very different situation, is that, you know, we have a slightly frozen politics for a long time. and then an almost chance constellation whi meant that the third party, the liberal democrats held the balance of power. absolutely broke the ice. and suddenly we broke through. so i mean i would love to see such a moment come,
don't know how, don't know when, in the united statesment but what i do know is that we haven't got much time left. we the united states and we europe. because if we don't get on with it, china and india and brazil will be eating our lunch. >> rose: you believe that this story of our time is a rising china and india and other emerging nations and the struggle of the united states to be relevant? >> and europe. the west all together. for many years after 9/11, a lot of people would have said this decade is about the war on terror. the long struggle against islamo fascism or islam or whatever. now i think that's a real struggle which will continue for many years. it a serious problem. but i don't think that will be the chapter title in the history books.
i think come 2010 as we enter the next decade, we see that the deeper underlying story is the re of aisha. >> rose: so the story of 2010 to 2020 is the qenses of the rise of asia and other american-- other emerging regions. >> so of an increasingly post western world, i world in which the west taken all together, europe's united states, no longer are able to set the agenda of world politics as we have what, 200 years. >> rose: and you think those decisions will be made between 2010 and 2020. >> no, i don't. i think that 24 is a gradual process. that obviously countries like china have major, major problems and issues of their own about political reform, as india and elsewhere. so that the real danger is not that we end up with a
multipolar world in some sort of new international order but that we end up with a no polar world, at least in the 2010. where no one is able to make things happen. >> what do you think the chinese want. >> i think the chinese want, one has to ask which chinese, of course, whether we mean leaders or people and which people. but if you take the leadership, the current leadership, i think they want first of all in the formula of the famous chinese proverb, wealth and power. they want their country to be rich and powerful. secondly, i think they want to be the leading power in asia. not in the world but in asia. and thirdly i think they desperately want recognition from the post imperial west, from the countries that
humiliated them for 200 years which is why the recent nobel prize which i support, which i think is a good award, is, of course, the leadership, another slap in the face. do remember that in 1989 when the soviet union collapsed, and its empire disappeared, the chinese communist system nearly collapsed too, or certainly went through a huge crisis. th's only 20 years ago. for them it was a huge trauma. so for them i think the communist party leadership who learned the lesson is still very insecure. very worried about its own continuation and power. the truth is, i believe, that the only way for them to survive and strengthen their country is precisely political reform. and i think someone like prime minister-- probably understands that. >> well, i mean the
interesting thing about them, whatever decisions they make, you get the impression they have a serious conversation with themselves about what it is they want to achieve. they're not afraid to ask themselves, look, we know that we use more cole than anybody-- coal than anybody in the world. we're a coal burning nation to fuel the economic growth and the manufacturing base that we have to create the products that we can export, you know, and therefore give us the kind of growth that we have. they understand that. they also understand that there is a future in which that dependent-- dependence ought to change. and so they have made a more massive investment in alternative energy than anybody else. and both inerms of the amount of the investment in existing whatever it is, whether it is solar or wind, but also in trying to create and find through research and development the new solution. so it, there is an awareness of what they have to do. even though they believe they might not be able to do
it right now. >> here's the thing. maybe china will ride to the rescue. but by becoming even stronger, and a bit aggressive. because-- . >> rose: in other words, if we began to fear what china might do. >> i remember a former british foreign secretary once said to me at the height of the squabbles between europe and america over iraq, he said if only we had brezhnev back. he kept us together. and they weave a sense in whicif we were looking at it historically, the discipline of the competition of the world war with the soviet union kept the united states on its toes. and suddenly you have no more great competitor. you are the hyperpower, the uni polar world and hubris and intel against sets in. and many-- indulgence sets in. and may be of the problem i think are in a sense of result of that hubris and indulgence, of these last 20
years. if now we again see there is a really serious competitor over there, in authoritarian capitalism in a country even bigger than us, that might focus them out. >> i mean thinking of that, and thinking of the sweep of history, it was, in fact, sputnik that got john kennedy to say in ten years we'll put a man on the moon. >> absolutely. >> it was the idea of looking and perhaps, you know, the other fellow may very well be in a much stronger position than we ever imagined. >> yeah. and remember serious writers and philosophers thought well into the 1970s that in some respect the soviet union might overtake the united states. that now looks ridiculous. >> they also thought japan might overtake the united states. >> there is a history of thighs things but even thinking it it sometimes concentrates the mind. but what i would say is this,
that you know, radical islamism, big problem. but an ideology which is almost entirely of the past, looking backyards to the middle ages. >> underlining fundamental as radical islam. >> fundamentalist irmtion islamism that say problem we have to face. china is presenting, is developing in this imperial pragmatic way you described. i mean you know, one of chairman ma owe saying was seek truth through facts. they believe in facts. is developing an alternative model of modernity. >> rose: the chinese. >> the chinese which is authoritarian capital ism. and if are you sitting in a poor african country, it's not today self-eviden that it is better to do it t american way than the chinese way. >> rose: first of all, it clearly what the chinese have said after the economic collapse is that we're not so sure that we even want as much of your model as we thought we might have.
>> correct. >> rose: in terms of markets. >> that's right. >> rose: and believing in capitalism is a different thing. they have seen the wonder of cap tail-- capitalism. >> but authoritarian capitalism. >> rose: as an alternative model. >> correct. >> rose: there is also the issuthat is interesting to me is can you have the kind of economic power they're having without making a significant transfer to military objectives. >> which they are already beginning to do. the military industrial complex is doing very well, thank you. and the claim over the spratt elling aisles which is like something out of a 19th century imperialist history book is i think some indication of that. so you know, poor kennedy m his rise and fall of great powers was not all together
wrong. >> rose: but when he wrote it wasn't about the world today. >> his problem was it appeared 20 years too early and he got the wrong writing po. >> exactly. >> too small problems i concede. but nonetheless the basic point is there is a pattern here and you in the united states now have the problems with imperial overstretch and entitlement overstretch. china is as it were -- >> but europe is even bigger. >> entitlement overstretch we have. imperial overstretch we got d of a little time ago. >> david brooks wrote an interesting column in the new yo sometimes in which he looked at the decision by the government of new jersey not to be able to spend the money for-- which would have enhanced the entrepreneurial opportunity for new jersey, right. >> yeah. >> rose: and he couldn't do it because of the amount of entitlement commitment intention that they were obligated to do.
>> yes. the united states is a lot more european a lot more like europe than people think. >> rose: and especially in terms of government employees. >> yeah. and we are so, in short, we are two heavily burdened giants carrying a lot too much. and we better get into shape again. >> you know what is interesting to me, if you look at the travel plans of foreign leaders, they go to silicon valley, you had juntao before they come to washington, d.c.. >> just a few weeks ago i met the president of chile who was doing exactly that. >> rose: they come in to say what is it, the magic of america is out here. >> yeah. >> rose: and that's what we see our kids using. that is what we see changing the world. >> yeah, yeah. >> rose: the reflection of technology. >> yeah. >> rose: finally in this book, though, back to nomenclature, you seem to say that what america needs is liberalism, but they're
afraid of it. >> well, you know, there are all these odd little anglo-american linguistic differences. you say tomato, we say tomato. elevator, most of them are trivial. but one which is truly not trivial is the fact that as soon as you enter american aspen either from britain or from canada, the word liberal completely changes its meaning. >> in the united states it sort of means someone who like -- >> say what it means. >> it means government and forn education. >> soft on crime, big on government. >> all of that, and this is, it's almost as if you know its word chrisian had acquired some completely weird meaning in the catholic church.
because this country is of course the em bodeiment of liberalism. it's built on liberalm. back in england the word liberal is still directly connected to the central belief in individual liberty that is what a liberal believes in, and the importance of individual liberty. and what i argue in the book is, and i hesitate to say this on th airwaves. barack obama is a liberal. but in that classical sense. it might be-- believing in equal individual liberty. but he won't dare use the word. >> rose: and a balance between what the state can do and what the private sector can do better. >> well, indeed. but a balance which is designed to enable people to maximize their liberty, not to restrict their liberty. >> this book is dedicated in memory of raffle-- 1929 to
2009. liberal, european, friend. we also lost tony judd a great friend of yours. >> indeed he was. great, great. you mentioned two dear friends of mine who sadly passed away. and both tony and i, i think, fought the battle not only for the literature of fact not only for nuanced understanding of europe but also to try to restore this true mening of the word liberal. >> so the most important responsibility of america for its own future is to one, give true meaning to what the word liberal means but also come to some kind of political collaboration as they may have done in britain in order to create as efficient a process for dealing with its big problems including the debt and including energy and
including taking care in the traditional way of health care and social security. a safety net. >> physician, heal thyself. what we most need from the united states is that it does those things you've described and so releases the fantastic energies and dynamism of this society which you see every day of the week at breakfast at 7:30 in silicon valley. with the indians and chinese and australians sitting down together to innovate and generate. and we desperately need that. the bestservice the united states can do to the world is to regenerate itself. >> rose: the interesting thing about it is that so much of the world wants it to see a united states that way. because that's the united states that they admire. and that's the united states that they believe is important. and that's the united states that they believe can
influence them and that's the united states that they want to partner with. >> that's right. that's right. it's as it were, the google country. >> rose: facts are subversive. timothy garton ash, political writings from a decade without a name. professor at oxford university, and at the hoover institution at standford university. thank you for coming. >> thank you. >> wrob ert dahl sek here, the author of several books on presidential leadership throughout american history. his latest is the lost teeth, leadership in a time of horror and hope, 19 4r5 to 1953. it explores a decision making that lead up to the cold war. i'm very pleased to have him back at this table. welcome. look at this book, giant, they lost the peace. >> yes, yes. it speaks volumes about the
misjudgements that even the best and the brightest can make, as we know from the experience with vietnam. >> rose: so u have all these people who looked exhausted by war, perhaps, but shaping the post world. >> yes. >> rose: what did they fail to do? >> well, what they faile to do was to be, i think, more understanding, more astute. you know, frederick necha said convictions are the greatest enemies of the truth than lies. and they hiped stalin, for example f only he could have under stood that the united states was genuinely, decently feeling or feeling well about them. feeling good. they had made huge sacrifices in the war. stalin had to believe that the post world war was going to bring a renewed conflict between communism and cap tailism. could be no other way that the inevitable struggle between the two systems you
see, well, the united states was feeling benign toward the soviet union at the end of the war. and if stallin hadn't tried to gobble up that east european empire f he had been more receptive to american initiatives to get along with him, he might have avoided the cold war. he made the mistake of believing that they could outbuild the united states in terms of arm aments. that they would catch up on atomic bombs. they would eclipse us in terms of military power. well, yeah, he iested mightily in building up the soviet military but what did it do? it destroyed -- >> in the end it toppled the empire. >> exactly. destroyed the soviet system. change khai scheck, powerful dominant leader in china. could not accept the proposition that he had destroyed his influence with the mass of his society through his core rums, his ineffectiveness, the
ineffectiveness of his military and wouldn't compromise with the communists and the communists had no intention of compromising with him. stalin and roosevelt thought they could force the nationalists and the communists into some kind of coalition government. that was another illusion, you see. and so you end up with a civil war in china. the greatest mistakes i see out of that postwar period come over korea. and korea, and kimmelson, leaders of north and south korea, they think each of them believes that they can unify the peninsula under their control and they're dying to get into a war with each other so in 1950 kim gets the go-ahead from stalin to attack. mao is willing to let kim launch a war. and sigmundry couldn't be happier because he thinks
can defeat north korea, move up the peninsula, occupy the whole thing. -of-course the united states would be drawn into the fighting. he understood that. and of course they were both dead wrong. 3 million koreans will per anybody that fighting. the peninsula will be devastated by the conflict. >> they end up at the 49th parallel. >> exactly. exactly. and so what is gained from this conflict that, and we lose some 35,000 men. now truman makes the mistake of crossing the parallel. he's under tremendous pressure not just to contain north korea which he does by driving the north koreans back across the parallel but under mccar thur's prodding, mcarthur tells him the boys will be home by christmas. the chinese if they come into the water,-- war, they won't fight. i have seen them fight in world war two. he forgot that those were the nationalist bombings as o toesed to ma zhay tung a communist bombings. and he is convinced, mccar thur is convinced if they
come into the war, he said it will be the greatest slaughter. they have no air power. and we will slaughter them. well, again, dead wrong and of course the war becomes a horrible stalemate. >> the lesson of this is that smart and wise and great leaders can make serious mistakes. >> oh, terrible errors. >> there is also the question you raise of whether we necessarily should have gotten into an arms race. the choice was with the united states. >> yes. >> and you suggested perhaps if the united states had went to russia, they could have had an understanding so that nuclear weapon was never have made their appearance. >> you know, charlie, who knows. i mean you know, it's easy for me to speculate and i will be the first to acknowledge that some of these speculations may be dead wrong because truman i think made a mistake at pots dam when he casually said to stalin, well, you know, we have this new more poer withful weapon.
and stalin who knew we were developinging it from spies on the manhattan project, stalin said to him good, i hope will you use it well, you see. now wouldn't it-- . >> rose: is that what said, i hope you use it well. >> use it well, i hope you use it well. and how much better would it have been if truman had said to stalin look we're developing this weapon. but you know t can't be a battlefield weapon because if you drop anatomic bomb on the battlefield will you kill your own troops as well as your enemy. therefore it's like poison gas. maybe we'll have to use it toned the war against japan but let's then find a way to bar it from development. stalin thinks he can outbid, outrace the united states in an arms competition. truman when it comes to the hydrogen bomb in 1950, he asks his advisors can the russians do it. and they say yes. he says well then we must go ahead. george canon wrote a 79 page memo.
he is the hero of this book in many ways. he wrote a 79 page memo telling achison and the white house that it would be a mistake to start building hydrogen bombs. he said we have a hundred to one advantage in atomic bombs over the soviets at this point. if we approach them and try and find a way to reach some accommodation. he didn't know that we necessarily book, you see. but it wouldn't jeopardize america's safety because if they exploded a hydrogen bomb we could catch up easily and we had the advantage of the atomic bomb force the time being. >> rose: you have a piece here called the tyranny of metaphor, three historical myths that have been leading american presints into folly for century. is obama wise enough to avoid the same fate. someone universalism, whose faith in america's power to transform the world. two is appeasement. the misguided fear that conciliatory talks are a dangerous weakness and three contain testimony, the misguided belief in a
surefire effectiveness of military strength. of course containment was exactly what george canon praeferped. >> exactly. but not the military side. although he regretted later that his pnouncements on containment were so evangelical that it facilitated the buildup of nato. he was against nato. he said if you build this military alliance, the soviets are going to respond in kind and will you get into an arms race. not a military conflict. >> so what is the judgement of history about nato. >> i think the judgement of history is that it worked. it contained the soviets but canon's proposition was that what we need to do is use things like the marshall plan, the truman doctrine, economic and political containment. >> president obama, what does he need to know and how do you assess his leadership in the first two years? >> i don't have to tell you. he's an extremely bright man. being with him, frankly, was
like being with a colleague at a sell thar in a university. and of course as a university teacher i enjoyed that greatly. i don't know that it is such great politics when you go out. although he is pretty good at that too, i would say. but you know, i find him to be a very intelligent man. he understands the tyranny of metaphor. he understands the dangers, i believe, of overkill in this kind-of-militarism that we have become so caught up in. >> he is reading history too, as you know. recently peter baker herr a very interesting piece including an interview with the president. you read it. >> i read it. >> what did that say to you about president obama, reading that piece. >> well, it said to me that he is very mindful of history. he understands the terrible difficulties of handling that office. indeed, i think he's mindful of what william howard taft said. people think the president can make the grass to grow,
the skys to rain, business to be good. and of course he said it's nonsense. presidents don't have that power. and of course obama knows that too. but you are ere. you are president. and expectations exist. see i think in some ways the greatest problem that this president had was that there 2008 when he first ran, he was not so much a candidate with a positive vision but he was the anti-bush. bush was in such poor -- >> at first he was the anti-clinton. >> well, right. but then he became the anti-bush which was even more appealing to people. because the mood in the country was so antagonistic to bush. bush fell down to about a 24% approval rating which matched the law of harry trau man. political people come to this table and say elections are never about the past, they are always about the future. barack obama was aboutope and change. >> yes. >> but if you look at presidential. and karl rove sat and said it's not going to be about
bush or even a referendum on bush it will be about obama and whichever candidate promises the future. and can articulate a hope for the future. but if you look at a whole series of elections, jimmy carter was a reaction to nixon. >> yes. >> ronald reagan was a reaction to jimmy carter. >> absolutely,. >> george bush was a reaction to bill clinton. >> yes. >> absolutely. there is no -- >>. >> rose: i done know if elections are a referendum on the past or a vision of the future. >> well, you know, charlie, to some extent they always have to be part of a vision of the future. because nobody can run for the presidency without pronouncing on some kind of larger design, some sort of vision of where they are taking the country. but essentially, i believe, what people are voting on is the past. in other words, how do these guys perform. well, you know, the democrats seem poised that to take losses in this
congressional election. why? well, because people are unhappy. are they so enamoured of what the republicans are promising. they want change. they want something different from what has occurred in the immediate past. and so i think it is very much a reaction to what s gone on in the-- in washington and the hands of those who hold the power. >> rose: do you think beyond the strategy of getting those legislative victorys? >> that the president has existed the kind of leadership, leadership in terms of being at one with the country, understanding where the country was. >> right. >> rose: and the way that franklin roosevelt -- >> i couldn't. charlie, you know, at the second dinner, i told president the following i said when franklin roosevelt died and his train was proceeding, funeral train
was proceeding to the north, there was a man standing by the tracks that was soning. and somebody said did you know the president. he said no. but he knew me, see. and i said to the president, i said president obama, i said mr. president, i said it's trust. trust is the political coin of the realm. people trusted franklin roosevelt. eleanor there was the story that after franklin died somebody stopped eleanor on the street and said i missed the way your husband used to speak to me about my government. now you can imagine someone saying that about any politician now? but roose investment connected brilliantly because on those fire side chats. >> why can't obama do that? >> i'm not sure. he talked to us about all this at that dinner. i'm not sure. but clearly it has not happened. you know, they've tried to find a bumper sticker to speak to the nation and they came up with what the new foundation. my friend doris concerns
goodwin said to me it sounds like a woman's girdle. >> what's the great debate of our time? >> well, currently the great debate is how do we repair the economy, get back to prosperity the way we -- >> that's not a great debate. that is a question of -- >> well, it's an anguish, let's say. but the great debate i would think is how do you find a policy, a larger design, a vision of how are you going to deal with the hostility from radical islamists. it is sort of like at the start of the cold war. when canon came up with containment that truman supported, sponsored, bought into, we don't have that. nobody has put forward the kind of grand design in dealing with this danger out there to the united states. and for the foreseeable future i think this is the great debate.
this is the great anxiety. >> can i suggest something that is coming up fast at least to challenge that idea which is at least with the rise of asia, and on top of that, the notion of kind-of-an authoritative capitalism versus a market capitalism, that the great question will have to do with a future in which there is enormous growth on the part of emerging nations and then there is the united states and the question of how they come to grips, you know, with the competition, peaceful competition in the future. >> yeah. >> i think it's a very interesting proposition in terms of world or international economics. and you could well be right. certainly we are thinking in sort of muted ways about the competition with china now. it's not, you know, sprung to the forefront of
everyone's consciousness. but it is there. it's an issue because of the chinese currency and the trade deficits that we're runing. but i think if you are right, this is an issue that will sort of come into focus in the future. it's not quite there now. i think the apprehension, the anxiety is mainly focused on this competition with radical islam. >> rob earth dallek, the lost peace, leadership in a time of horror and hope. 1945 to 1953. an extraordinary group of people here on the cover of this book who somehow helped fashion the time after the war. thank you for coming. >> my pleasure as always, charlie. >> thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org