tv Hugh Hewitt MSNBC July 29, 2017 5:00am-5:31am PDT
s it mean for shipping? ship the goods. you're a go! you got the green light. that means go! oh, yeah. start saying yes to your company's best ideas. we're gonna hit our launch date! (scream) thank you! goodbye! let us help with money and know-how, so you can get business done. american express open. morning glory, america. i'm hugh hewitt, monday through friday mornings you hear me on the salem radio network from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. eastern across the country. on saturday mornings you find me right here on msnbc. on the eve of the debate of the defense authorization act, there's no one better to talk to than adam stan read december from tufts university. chairman of the board of the u.s. naval institute, chief security and diplomacy analyst
and 37-year sailor of the seas, a four-star sailor that commanded on nail as well. while in the navy he served as commander and nato supreme allied commander in europe from 2009 to '13. he's the first navy officer to have held those positions, also on hillary clinton's short list for vice president and president trump's short list for secretary of state. i personally wish both had stopped looking after talking to the admiral. his books are must-read literature. it's "sea power" that could not be more timely fon the ndaa authorization debate this week, this year and the decades ahead. admiral stavridis, welcome. it's great to have you. >> wonderful to be with you. >> last night president trump made a change of john kelly.
a four star admiral must know a four star general. what do you think of him? >> i've known john kelly since we were in our 20s together back in the late 1970s, steaming around the mediterranean sea. i know him intimately. i know his family. john is a spectacular choice for this job. if anybody can bring order out of chaos in the white house, it's general john kelly, but, hugh, here is the bad news, the problem is not reince priebus. the problem creating the chaos is the president's style. so john has to form a true bond with liss principal as any chief of staff does and bring order out of chaos. that's the principle function of the chief of staff, of a commissioned officer in the armed forces. i think john has the best shot of doing that of anybody i can think of. >> let me talk to you about one of the concerns that surfaces occasionally. we now have a marine general as
chief of staff, marine general as secretary of state, james mad dis. they're in the sea service viss but not main lobsters. mike pompeo at the cia, senator cotton an army ranger. is this too much military around donald trump, especially at those highest three levels? >> i really start worrying if i saw a few admirals in there. in reality, i think that again what president trump needs more than anything else is order and discipline. so i think this might be a special case of an administration where bringing in a disproportionately high number of military would make sense. as a general proposition, i think it probably is a few too many retired senior military, but again, in this administration, it kind of feels like part of the solution, not a problem. >> i'm selling hard sea power because i want everyone to be equipped for the strategic
debate. i left off general mcmaster as the national security adviser. the question in addition to this, world view, is enough non-military world view going to get through to the president as what looks like a war cabinet to me. we're about to talk about north korea which is heavy through sea power. is this a war cabinet that's forming up? >> i know all of these officers extremely well. take john kelly as an example, his principle four-star command was u.s. southern command, everything south of the united states. that's not a war portfolio. we're in the going to go to war in latin america and the caribbean. it's a soft power region. general mattis, famous for saying in congressional testimony, if you don't fund the state department, you'll have to buy me more ammunition. secretary mattis understands the power of smart power and soft power. general mcmaster in iraq, famous in northern iraq for using every tool from strategic
communication to hugh humanitarian relief as part of the solution. this is a unique group of generals who i think are not primed forward. they're certainly capable of conducting war and they've proven that. but they understand the full spectrum of operations. >> let's go to the crisis of the day, week and month, north korea indeed a couple of years. general dunford at the aspen institute told andrea mitchell, of course there's a military option, it would be ugly. in your book "sea power," north korea pops up on 193, you call it, and i quote, most dangerous country in the world. you then say kim jong-un, we tend to be mocking of him but he's quite a menace. are we going to have a shooting war or a conflict that involves a great loss of life on the korean peninsula soon? >> i hope not. let's think of it this way. two streams are crossing, hugh, one is the miniature sairgs and
the hardening of nuclear weapons and the other is intercontinental ballistic missiles that can be fired to reach the united states. it's like in "ghost busters" you don't want those streams to cross. they're very close to crossing. this most recent firing just yesterday tells us that that intercontinental stream is moving. let me shift analogy. at some point this becomes a game not of ghost buster, but dirty harry. do you feel lucky? is that gun really loaded? i think we'll have to make the determination thats the loaded very, very quickly. so that will drive us either to a preemptive military strike, general dunford's point, or we can employ diplomacy and attempt to get china to get this under control, unlikely, or, hugh, we're going to have to live with it and create a very impressive deterrent regime that would make it impossible in kim jong-un's
mind that he would actually use that weapon against the united states. i think we're going to end up on number three. >> this interview, i want to talk about china. but the people's republican of china is becoming a blue water navy. what would their reaction be, admiral, if we came to a shooting conflict with north korea given the array of weaponry that the fleet has dispatched there? >> they would be deeply concerned about two things, the flow of refugees out of north korea which would impose enormous economic burdens on their region which abuts north korea, and secondly they would be deeply concerned about the possibility of the reunification of that peninsula. that's what they want to avoid because they fear the creation of a mega state much as east germany and west germany came together to create this
juggernaut in europe. their game, china's, is to avoid a shooting war because it avoids ultimately a reunification of the peninsula. they're playing the long game. >> let me switch to the other crisis, david sanger, "new york times," said iran deal, the president is looking for a way to rip it up. a lot of us didn't like the deal to begin with. in "sea power" you talk about how it's become a cold war link. how dangerous is that flashpoint, how dangerous is that iran deal given what we've seen unfold in north korea under the 1994 agreement? >> indeed. the iran deal i think was a bad deal, as it was negotiated, but i think, hugh, simply ripping it up at this point would be counterproductive because our allies would fall out of that equation enormously. we would end upstanding alone and steaming into a potential hot war in that region. we've had a hot war in iraq, a
hot war in afghanistan. i don't think we need a new one with iran. so what should we do? we ought to be using our sunni allies, our israeli allies and building a real coalition to stand against this shia, persian, iranian aggression which is driving into damascus, driving into lebanon, driving into yemen. >> iran wants to build a naval base in lebanon. >> indeed they do, and they probably will. watch for one in yemen, so they can control the approaches to the persian gulf. they're playing a maritime game, and that's what we talk about in "sea power." >> a minute to our break, admiral. we don't have enough assets in the fleet. when they do the nda this week, what's the ship mix look like and how fast does it have to get there. >> we've got to go from 275 ships current to 350 ships. every responsible analyst agrees with that. that means 12 carriers, 12
ballistic submarines, 12 big deck ships. we can't face these multi crises that we've been discussing without a fleet of about 355 ships. >> how quickly do we have to get there? >> we need to get there as quickly as we can. i would say that's going to take us eight to ten years. we need to build more, we need to extend the life of some of those ships and we may have to pull a few out of moth balls. >> what about buying foreign ships, admiral? >> we should look at a few different models out there, the australians make a pretty productive catamaran-like ship that we have actually bought. we can look at some of the spanish-style frigates. there are models we can look at out there. ultimately we want to build this fleet at home. >> we'll be right back. we'll continue talking with admiral james stavridis about russia, china and the conflicts around us. his book is "sea power."
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welcome back. i'm hugh hewitt. my only guest this morning, admiral james stavridis, head of the fletcher school of law and diplomacy at tufts university and author of "sea power: the history of geopolitics of the world's oceans." my sincere desire is all the senators considering the nda, spend time unwinding from the obamacare debacle by taking up "sea power." it will be a much better and enlightening debate next week on defense than we saw on obamacare last week if they read "sea power." admiral, let's focus on russia. on page 157, russia will never give up crimea. you go on to write about the
black sea. in light of that, russian sanctions bill is going to the president's desk. you say he's going to sign it. how do we deal with russia going long-term when you admit in "sea power" they're never going to give us crimea back. >> i think crimea is gone. we don't need to accept that overtly, but in our strategic thinking, we should simply recognize it. that means we continue to put pressure on russia, around the periphery of russia. we use our nato allies. we don't have to do this all ourselves in terms of russia. we keep the sanctions on until they modify their behavior in three places. one is ukraine. again, we're in the going to get crimea back, but we can save the rest of ukraine. number two, we need russia's assistance in syria, and long term they're going to have to fall away from assad. think milosevich and the balkans.
three, cyber peace. they have to give us assurances they won't introod in our electoral process. we need to use the sanctions to compel their behavior. i think the white house is doing the correct thing in signing them. >> let's look at the military to fleet thing. up in the arctic, i was stunned by one thing in here more than anything else, you always get a facts that sticks, they have 30 ice breakers, 30 of them nuclear powered. we have six. what is going on at the top of the world that most americans don't know about. is blind man's bluff back, the under the-the-water submarine fleet versus submarine fleet. >> the hunt for red october coming back, blind man's bluff. we'll see undersea competition in the high north. on of the of that, hugh, the ice is melting up there. we could have a debate about the science of this. as a simple mariner,ly tell you the ice is melting. that's going to open the shipping routes, create competition. it's going to open the hunt for
hydrocarbons under water, more competition. it's going to be russia on one side of the arctic, on the other, u.s., canada, norway, denmark on the other side. that competition is going to be highly maritime in how it unfolds. that's why we have to increase our number of ice breakers, our number of ice-hardened ships and be ready to operate in the high north. >> on the submarine side, are we building enough of attack submarines. what about the attack submarines. >> we're not building enough. the coin of the realm in the underseaworld are these fast attack submarines, capable, quiet. we are still a generation ahead of the russians there. we need to build that number, hugh, up to about 65. we're languishing in the 50s. that will be crucial in the arctic. >> let's close our time.
"sea power" talks about our near peer or soon to be peer, people's republican of china. dr. kissinger says there's a party of tigers, mill titarirym. what should the audience know about thinking about china from your point of view? >> first, that the chinese play a long game. they are going to think in terms not of decades, but centuries. number two, ultimately their biggest strategic desire is to control the south china sea. in an area the size of the gulf of mexico. this would be like the united states attempting to annex as territorial seas the gulf of mexico. china wants it because of hydrocarbons, oil, natural gas, which they do not have on mainland china. number three, china will seek to marginalize the united states, push us out, form stronger attachments to the nations of that region. they want to control the trade, the hydrocarbons and all of the
asian periphery. >> are they successfully getting into position where they can deny us access to that part of the world? >> they will if we let them. this is why we need a capable fleet, which we need sea power. hugh, we're not going to find a land war in asia. we're not going to send our army to fight shine nah. but we will be shoulder to shoulder against them and perhaps over time operate with them in the maritime space. that's why sea power matters in asia. >> you'll be on the radio with me this week talking about "sea power. 11 years of sea, the same view the ancient mariners have, and i like that part of it. at the end of it, you left me thinking, do you have political ambitions? ever going to run for anything? >> i've served my country for 37 years in uniform. i look for other opportunities to serve, whether elected or appointed, who knows.
the spanish said [ speaking foreign language ], no one knows the roles of god. we'll see. >> would you be willing to serve under president trump. >> i don't think i'm good policy fit. i had a conversation with president-elect trump at the time, about 90 minutes. i'm not in service of the trump administration and i think it unlikely that i would. >> what's your advice as a bystander, but a man who is obviously a patriot and serves his country and cares about keeping us first in the world and safe. what's your advice to the world if he's watching this morning? >> i would say first and foremost, get the white house organized, under control, stop the distractions. they're hurting us in the international sphere where people look back at the white house in disarray. i think general kelly is a step in the right direction. number two, create a strategy, an international strategy for the united states that relies on our allies. number three, get the inner
agency working together. a team of rivals is fine, but when the horses start pulling in different directions, you've got a problem. lastly, and i hope this would appeal to the president, private, public cooperation. i'll give you a particular point and that's cyber. our greatest threat we which haven't talked about is in the would of cyber. that will require public-private cooperation. >> get the house in order, international, inner agency, private-public. >> succinct and to the point, admiral, congratulations on "sea power," i hope everybody reads it. >> thank you very much. >> i'll be right back with this week's hugh's views. ♪
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are responsible for saving obamacare from much-needed legislative surgery and how many of them face the electorate in just a few months. how are they going to defend that vote to their voters. it was pretty good stuff i thought. then president trump accepted the resignation of chief of staff preebs and replaced him with homeland security secretary, former general john kelly. i count reince as a friend, though not once did he leak me a single story. many friendships in the capitol, especially with paul ryan. they and i like reince priebus not because of what he has done for them, but because he's a good and decent man. like sean spicer reince will land on his feet. he ran the very fair game that was the gop thunder dome of primaries and debates and helped get president trump elected and a good cabinet stood up. i think he will be much missed by the president. general kelly is an american
hero and a very, very steady hand. a crisis is indeed at hand on the korean peninsula, as mike pompeo told me, the president asks him about north korea in every meeting. hard decisions are coming. perhaps the president felt a reset was needed to bring order and a marine, secretary mattis and general dunford, was needed. perhaps the president knows this marine general has a skill set he very much needs even though the president valued reince priebus's service. whatever the explanation, my thanks to reince priebus as chair of the white house chief of staff. he was the quiet affable maker of majorities in 2014 and 2016. friend of all, disloyal to none. that may not work in this dead wood of west wings, but he worked hard and sincerely for the country's best interest as he did for the republican party and the president. i look forward the seeing him for decades to come, advising
good morning everyone. i'm alex witt at msnbc world headquarters in new york. at the half hour, here is what we're watching. defense analysts say the long range missile north korea fired yesterday is capable of reaching the mainland, in fact going as far as chicago. chairman of the joint chiefs dunford calls south korean counterpart to discuss military options.