tv Robert Gates Exercise of Power CSPAN June 28, 2020 10:00pm-11:11pm EDT
to have the secretary of defense in the 19 nineties there are many issues today surrounding national defense and our military. should they be used to quell domestic unrest like the recent protest or should they be terminating arms control treaties? and even contemplating resuming nuclear testing. should the names of leaders be removed from bases and statues be removed from public places? to address these questions and many more, today we will have unique conversation between two recent secretaries of defense, doctor robert gates and general james matus. as secretary of defense secretary gates served under george w. bush and barack obama and author of new book exercise of power.
doctor gates was an officer in the was therefore spending 27 years at in the cia and served as cia director to become the first career officer in history to move from entry-level employee to head of the agency serving as a matter of the national security staff in four different generations and each president of both political parties for his contributions he was awarded the presidential medal of freedom, the nation's highest civilian award by president obama and also three-time recipient of the distinguished intelligence metal one of the cia's most prestigious honors. in conversation today is general - - general mattis 26 secretary of defense 2017 through 2019 and is now a distinguished fellow at stanford university hoover institution.
serving over 40 years in the marine corps starting as an infantry officer. he later served as commander of forces command and nato supreme allied commander for transportation also directing the military operations of more than 200,000 soldiers and sailors, airmen coast guard and marines and allied forces across the middle east as commander of us central command. he commanded forces in the persian gulf and the war in afghanistan and iraq war he has been outspoken recently about the president's use of military troops with domestic unrest in washington. please join me now to welcome general mattis and doctor gates for this unique conversation. >> thank you doctor duffy it is a pleasure to be here with the commonwealth club that is devoted to finding truth for over 100 years we will
recognize that doctor gates grew into his leadership role with the background doctor gates is my former boss predecessor in office and an inspiring role model like and in one recent review as a foot soldier who rises to highest command in reading your book one that i would be reassured was required reading for cabinet officers as they come into office, i was strict and extract you are tripping large part of america's 25 year decline of status and prestige as a failure post cold war president and congress to recognize resources to effectively use personal nonmilitary instruments of power. can you explain the fundamental failure and the significance of the title you chose for your book? >> first of all, thank you for
this and the commonwealth club for inviting me. the journey of the book began with a question in my mind of how the united states had gone from a position of supreme power probably unrivaled since the roman empire in every dimension of power in 19932 way country today beset by challenges everywhere. how did that happen? how did we get here? so i began looking in all major foreign-policy challenges we have had since 1993 looking at what we had done and not done that contributed to that decline with our role and power in the world. what i came up with was a set
of non- military instruments of power that played such an important role in our success of the cold war against the soviet union and largely was neglected after the end of the cold war at a time we continue to fund military, we basically dismantled all nonmilitary instruments of power from diplomacy to economic leverage and strategic communications and more. we can go into that later. as i look at the situation of these challenges from somalia and haiti, 1993, right up to our relationship with russia and china today, north korea.
it occurred to me we failed in many respects to figure out how to compete with these powers outside of the military realm. the reality is the challenges that i write about for all practical purposes i consider 13 to be failures that's why the title there are failures they are a couple important successes and lessons to be learned, but we had a lot of problems during that 27 year period and i would conclude by saying that the wars in iraq and afghanistan both began with very quick military victories. the problem that i identified whether iraq and afghanistan or somalia or haiti or others
, once we achieved military victory, we change the mission and decided to move to bring democracy and reform the governments of those countries and that's where we went into failure. >> i would like to go more deeply into what you mentioned with this symphony of power and they took a few notes from your book that give a brief overview to the types of instruments you are referring to where they may be more applicable or more likely to be used in the military form of power. and if not then why? so start please what do you look to to bring into the forefront? >> those instruments of power are the military but also
cyber. in my opinion cyberhas become the most effective weapon that a nation can have because it can accomplish military , political and economic harm to one's adversary. it's difficult to identify who perpetrated a cyberattack it takes time to figure out attribution and the more damage done the more important it is to identify exactly where those ones and zeros came from. so cyberis a huge player in a way it never has been before and can disarm weapons , redirect weapons shut down infrastructure and countries it's a versatile weapon and it doesn't take the enormous expenditure dollars were many
that a nuclear enterprise or a chemical or biological would represent. cyberis important we have been good at developing it for military purposes but i think we have not taken advantage of it in the offense of way with respect to either political or economic targets. another instrument is economic measures that can be both carrots and sticks and the truth is as i make a point in the book we developed the sticks part pretty well. we levied sanctions and it has become complicated for a lot of countries because we have so many sanctions figuring out how to do business international and stay within
us law to be a full-time enterprise we have that down pretty well in embargo's and tariffs and sanctions and someone. where we have fallen down and once had real capability to use it as an asset to encourage and induce other countries but we would like for them to do and follow policies whether loans and discounts or trade concessions, we are very good at sanctions the not so good to figure out how to deal with us now president clinton and president bush were both pretty good with africa when they arrange debt relief for
african countries back in the 19 nineties and early 2000's. that helped a lot of african countries. but that is a rare example using those as an instrument of power. strategic communications or the cold war propaganda, how do we get our message around the world? the chinese have developed this. several years ago they allocated $7 billion for the chinese to build a strategic communications network around the world. we on the other hand in the united states we dismantled the information agency and put public diplomacy into a corner of the state department. parts of the government do strategic munication there is
no strategy. each goes its own way and we lack the capabilities and the reach the chinese have. there are a variety of other instruments i will briefly mention things like intelligence and how we use it with other countries, science and technology higher education, culture, as we watch russia and china interfere in the internal affairs of other countries we had failed to use their own nationalistic feelings to help build their resistance to at the chinese and others are doing. we haven't thought about it in that way but religion has played a big part in international affairs particularly since the end of the cold war. all you have to do is look at the role of religion to motivate terrorists to see it has real power. there are a dozen or more instruments and the problem is
we don't have the resources nor have we figured out a cohesive or coherent strategy on how to bring them together in a symphony to play together and each strengthens the over - - the other and the united states. >> why haven't we enlisted these other instruments? america has the power of intimidation if we are threatened in a perfect world we need the military and cia why do we summon those instruments of inspiration? why it is the reluctance? >> it is a tough question to answer. part of it is that the congress was reluctant to fund these nonmilitary instruments
going back to the end of the cold war. congress disestablished usia and they wanted to disestablish the us agency for international development. president clinton stop that but it still diminished usaid to bring it under the state department rather than an independent agency. congress has not funded the state department properly. the state department has been starved for resources except for a couple of brief periods during the george w. bush administration there was an increase of foreign service officers so the reluctance that congress hates development assistance. they consider it a waste of time i we spend it at home and they don't see how that can benefit the united states.
it's a big part of the reason is that reluctance of congress to fund it and in all honesty reluctance for all part for administrations to push for such funding. the irony for me as at a time when congress is more and more resistant to the use of military force of iraq and afghanistan come at the same time to make the nonmilitary instruments. >> bringing up the war in iraq in the often what we call in the department of defense we go into iraq and what is happen so often is lack of imagination in the white house and state department how to access nongovernment civilian
expertise to strengthen nonmilitary capabilities and to have no appreciation for the importance of the private sector or contractors as an instrument of power. it just begs the question how can we leverage the private sector? we keep the government out of some market things. how do we enlist the private sector to enhance our ability to exercise power? how do we do that? >> first is to recognize it has something to contribute and then you can figure out how to make it work. what frustrated all of us in the department of defense through all of iraq and afghan war experience, was the
relatively few number of civilian experts. we were in nationbuilding but yet we had very few relatively speaking civilian experts in country helping to make that happen. one of the instruments that had effectiveness in iraq and afghanistan but at a time at the peak of our presence in iraq, we had 170,000 troops in the country and 300 sixties civilians in the entire country of iraq. what i propose the secretary of defense, it got no traction was one of the things we could provide help with was to help both the afghans and the iraqis in terms of improving
farming techniques and how they took care of their herds. and because they are both basically world countries. 's - - world countries so i suggested to the state department go to the land-grant universities. and then to texas a&m so i knew what they were doing around the world in terms of faculties working in inhospitable and insecure situations. ask them to help and partner with us and augment what we are trying to do in these countries. many faculty members were already in those countries. how can we help and provide funding. also we had the advantage the head of the national association of land-grant universities of mcpherson who is the president of michigan state university but also the head of usaid under president
reagan here is a guy who knew what we needed to do to galvanize these universities to be a powerful partner. nothing ever happened. similarly we confuse the private sector to figure out how we counter the growth initiative this trillion dollar program of infrastructure building airports and highways and sports arenas and so on in most places around the world. a lot of these are white elephant projects. the chinese make these countries sign contracts. they don't pay much attention to do things honestly or in ways that benefit the people of the countries that are
receiving. we cannot compete with that. the chinese through state owned enterprises can find the cash to fund these projects we cannot do that. the economy doesn't how that we are not structured that way. we have a private sector that invest all over the world and how can the united states partner with private companies from the united states and invest in these developing countries and brain jobs and environmental concerns, sustainability, in a way that doesn't saddle these countries with projects the end up to be useless or huge amounts of debt. we don't do much in the way to try to incentivize companies
and that is a resource we could make better use of. finally we have these enormous number of churches and charities that do projects around the world whether health or getting rid of diseases like the gates foundation and others. often they don't want much to do with the government, but is there a way we can augment their activities to work in partnership with them? how can we work together? and frankly there isn't much done to move down the road. these are three examples where i think we haven't been very imaginative to leverage our great strength to translate
into efforts of what i would call is shaping the international environment to serve our national interest. we don't need to be altruistic it is the responsibility of the president and the government to advance american interest in protect them around the world. that means you have to shape the international environment and these are the tools to use to shape the international environment. >> we have tried on many occasions to shape the environment and as you point out varies successfully. and multiple countries to gain peace and stability and one was with columbia. that worked. why did that one work when it did a number of other failures?
>> columbia was a success. it was a success under multiple presidents. by the late 19 nineties, columbia was on the verge of becoming a narco state the leftist insurgency, the farc was on the verge of taking control of the country and the government. that what made our author on - - effort to control and defeat the farc was first of all we had very strong partner in columbia. the president of columbia was very strong and honest and was determined to defeat the farc. so we started with a president who was them one --dash
dedicated to democratic principles and rule of law and determined to be the fight at considerable risk to himself. he survived a number of assassination attempts. second, there were already basic institutions in columbia. they were week but were established and we could help strengthen and then inside columbia that includes police and military but also the judicial system. over the course over the partnership, the justice department trained 40000 judges in columbia. the third reason for success i actually give credit to congress to limit the number of americans who could be in columbia at any given time to help the colombian government
so they limit us to 400 military people and contractors that eventually rose that was that the colombians had to fight the fight themselves and our role had to be to support and train and help them to carry the fight to the farc. we couldn't take over the enterprise of the limits that congress put on a so we are there in support of the colombian government and that was a reason for success we could help them but we would not run the show for them. another factor was this plan had bipartisan support in congress and was funded over a
period of ten years or more by three successive presidents we had time to make things work with the bipartisan support so for the cost of $10 billion of the ten or 12 year period we hope the colombians put on the farc and originally counter narcotics and cultural and political change to brain democratic principles honest government and someone. without realizing and thousands of years of history
we are still facing problems at the beginning of the united states with the race issues in the united states today so we still have the imperfect democracy. so thinking at the point of the bayonet to other countries is one reason first of all we have been involved in these long-lasting wars. but it's also one of my favorite quotes from winston churchill late 1944 he was approached about overthrowing the dictatorship that was very supportive of what the allies were trying to accomplish to
be the germans and the nazis. they wanted him to install the democratic government and churchill's response was and then of the point of a tommy gun. you cannot force a country with a rudimentary democracy today. that the cost has been extraordinarily high. a lot of the iraqis that he dominated government. so there is a long and tough road ahead for iraq but this
is to bring social cultural change basically using the united states military. we should encourage democracy and provide the tools. and then move toward democracy but that contributed to several failures during this period. and with the lack of imagination and those instruments and then to be too ambitious. i argued against the intervention because i didn't see where we had any national interest. >> you have two quotes this
so what does that look like in your vision? >> john quincy adams had another quotation coming on the same document we should go abroad in search of monsters. don't go looking for trouble. with wilson and adams have to coexist. and the beginning of the republic to see ourselves as the city on the hill as an example for the rest of the world to follow and then all we could to advance interest with reform abroad so where i draw the line is use the military to make that happen
you can't force the country into democracy they have to be developed one of the lines we all use to have one election is not synonymous bringing democracy to a country. it's based on rule of law and institutions. the role we can please help to develop these institutions. but the civilian part because it's our people helping develop our own institutions to encourage the development of those institutions. usaid and private foundations in the united states funded a huge number of nongovernmental organizations in the 19 nineties to encourage the development of democratic
institutions and the rule of law. it is evidenced those are working in the 2000's vladimir putin eliminated the ability of the ngos to work in russia. so there were thousands of these so to use a variety of tools on intelligence capabilities the cia action played a big role and to take on the communist regime there were three institutions and cia and pope john paul ii in the labor union to the afl-cio.
and then to encourage those democracies and it's us helping them not forcing it on them. >> looking at china's advantages and with the economy going into certain places perhaps loading up the debt on countries that cannot pay it and to develop over some sovereign decisions. do you think the strict moral standard weakens us in this competition and that authoritarian model and then to practice on their own
people and to take a moral stance in the world and by your allies and diplomatically the moral sovereignty. >> america, as much as we love and admire and believe it is in the unique force for good and to see the results of that and most of the cities the last few week weeks. but we do stand for some things and it's not by
accident on tiananmen square in the spring of 1989 the chinese students erected a statue call the goddess of liberty that looks like the statue of liberty it's not an accident there waving american flags not an accident and the iranian regime after shooting down the airliner that they had painted an american flag on the steps and people are walking around that flag not to step on it. and the world knows they are flawed but also and we know what we believe in and work
every day to make actions coincide with belief and with what we professed to admire the most democratic countries. we need to be a model and then to tackle any of the big problems we face whether infrastructure or other things we still have to battle racial injustice. but we are trying to fix these things and other countries recognize that. so to profess the ideal to create democracy the ideology if you will is still to be
admired around the world. the truth is, i think it is tarnished now as a result of several things over the last dozen years. the 2008, 2009 economic crisis undermines the american economic models what they wanted to emulate. and that this is a problem than other countries see and that economic model is what they want to follow. and then it would just fit in with today's political campaign. but what is new is a paralysis to get things done in the country because the two political parties are frozen
and all practical purposes and this is compromise. but right now and then to anything in particular and to bring hundreds of millions out of poverty to have an incredible 21st century infrastructure and we get things done. so our model are the one that you look to to look at the chinese mab their approach, the chinese approach is better than american.
and that ideology and liberal democracy and capitalism to be a model for the rest of the world we have repair work to do at home. but i still believe most of the people in the world stands for freedom and human and political rights. that is our ace in the hole we just have to work at making it even more credible. but this right now we have a competition in the world it is as old as democracy itself and the competition between democracy and authoritarianism. so communism is dead. but authoritarianism and
that's the real danger to defeat it twice on the 20th century if we don't address our problems and figure how to move forward with the country and in the 21st century we will be at risk. that's a long answer to your question but i believe the ideology of freedom to compound that ideology is an asset in the world, not a liability. >>. >> and what they represent to others. how does america do it? we learn something from it.
and then to prevent that last part. and now we will switch to the audience questions but as they watch what's going on in dc someone approach me and my colleagues, why should they go into government? but yet you went in not for one tour and air force are cia what you say to the young people today about government service of what i consider to be the noble work because it's not built yet we are still building it so what you say to young people who say why should i follow doctor gates and put my life's work into
the country or even five years or two years? >> first of all you don't want to look back and realize you only live for yourself. george h.w. bush once said the only way to have a full life it must be some measure of public service. public service has never been easy. and with the cia in 1966 and then to live through watergate and join the national security council staff a few months before nixon resigned. i used to tell people to join the national security council
after he hit the iceberg. through all the challenges of the seventies. and then you have to believe what we stand for. i have written about public service no matter how jaded somebody may seem on the outside that most public servants the idealist and romantics in the optimist believe they can make the country in the world a better place to live.
and it's a mistake to think that we can service at the federal level but what we have seen during the coronavirus is an extraordinary emergence of the local and state leadership. you have to go to work for cia are put on the country's uniform alone come i hope you do but working your local community in the state level there are many ways you can provide public service to help your fellow citizens i hear people all the time talking about their rights as citizens you never hear anybody talk about those obligations. everybody he puts on that uniform puts her life at risk. and it seems not so much to ask and find ways to serve the
country at some level and some things i have seen i'm sure you have, there is that degree of voluntarism i feel there is a better insight than most people my age now the largest university in the country. i have led the military with millions of young people willing to put on the uniform and national president of the boy scouts with their willingness to step up and serve. and then to stop the volunteerism.
you don't have to be full-time to make a contribution. >> when most of the food banks are served by volunteers that are retired and covid keeping them at home we have high school kids now they are volunteering to come in. and with a comment of world war ii marine a country doesn't have to be perfect to be worth fighting for just improving. we need people to fight for it. and with the local school district and city council it doesn't have to be in a higher level but with the us military
it's not surprising with the military used as a tool of intimidation against the american people that this goes back to the recent events of lafayette square. >> i don't think we are at risk of that. and with some confidence is the strength of the reaction with the retired senior military including yourself. and with the chairman of joint chiefs of staff that working for a presidents every single
one must use the military as a prop. the only institution that has broad bipartisan respect and support and to be the backdrop i warned them about that. what happened at lafayette square actually will have a long-term benefit because first of all on apology for being in the wrong place at the wrong time but also the acknowledgment it was not the right thing to do. and in all fairness he and secretary esper secretary of defense didn't know what they were getting into. and the chairman at least with the federal up in front of the church.
but the reassertion to remain a political and it is a reminder to everyone with that bright red line of not getting involved in partisan politics. >> and that insurrection act that allows them to use of regular military troops domestically that people have to recognize there is a difference between the regular army in the national guard. they are taught basically to do one thing to kill our enemies the national guard has many purposes.
and to see handing out food at the food bank or sandbagging her help in a natural disaster we have seen it in iraq and afghanistan, but they are also trained and crowd control from the town or city where they are deployed have to take off that uniform and go back to work the next day dealing with the people facing in a demonstration they are citizen soldiers. i didn't see anything in lafayette square and to be handled by local federal law enforcement augmented by the national guard. there still a need for the regular troops to understand that distinction between the guard.
>> when you get into a situation like this and the steps back and cooler heads prevail. to some of the themes in your book how they should reestablish themselves to the allies. part of my marines and sailors and soldiers and airmen and coast guardsmen. and i knew we were a threat to authoritarians the bigger threat is of the united nations so how do we reestablish with that reliability is someone to
count on if you talk about things being furnished it's pretty clear that right now they don't have that same degree of confidence. what do we do here looking to the future? >> it has a quote for every situation one worse is having allies is not having allies. one thing that disturbs me about the current foreign-policy they are a unique instrument of power russia and china have no allies. people with shared values with a history of working together
and then to increase the defense spending we have to keep that pressure on they are not doing as much as they should but that doesn't mean we walk away from them if they are unsuccessful. >> so on the economic arena so for the playing field to be level they have to make structural changes in the way they operate. with foreign businesses and then think how much more powerful for our side of the table with all of them that say to gather you must make these changes the way you level the playing field or pay
an economic right one - - price for they love to deal bilaterally with countries because in most countries they can intimidate. and as you suggested they hate a multilateral situation to face aid or ten countries all arguing with them about their policies. the defense minister in asia telling the chinese minister of defense how offensive the aggressive actions in the south china sea it's a big asset. and you don't understand the willingness how do we fix it? i think actually a change of frederick to reach out and consult with allies before we make decisions and maybe
adjusting the position to take into account there is nothing sacrosanct about 25 or 30000 troops in germany and may be there is a reason to move them to poland or someplace else. but that's a discussion that should flow from that discussion of our allies and of the strategy and what's behind it. and to take 9500 troops out of germany because they are annoyed at angela merkel for not coming to the g-7. >> when one of your colleagues tell the generals and admirals
didn't realize it was 18 inches long when she wanted to make a point and cannot remember and says we'll do things with our allies not to our allies. and thank you for your leadership and your service and that they can respond to that part male or female or republican or democrat. i'm not interested he went to bed with. and it was a privilege to serve. is there anything you miss about working in dc? >> and that opportunity to interact and then i was the
only person in washington that went to iraq for vestry on - - rest and recreation. to see those 22 and 25 -year-old men and women. and their service and the desire to help them and with those political fights in washington. i spent a lot of time there. and i went through everything. for confirmation processes, processes, nothing like to pick up the "washington post" in the morning and wonder what
question what would be the question looking at our history in this pretty raucous period what is a lesson he would leave with us here believe we will all be reading it again but what would you lead us with? >> guest: two things i would like to say first of all those who wish us ill would be making a historically bad decision to underestimate american resilience and our ability to solve our problems. to fix what is wrong or make progress towards a more perfect union that they have. the other lesson is it goes back to the constitution and that is
to remember that the constitution itself is a bundle of very significant compromises. the american government only works in american society only works with compromise. with understanding everybody has to come out ahead and that we are all in this together. if you can't sit down, i mean nobody gets their way all the time and in every way so figuring out how to compromise and move the ball forward, ronald reagan was one of my favorite presidents. he was considered to be by a lot of people and ideologues but he was actually pretty pragmatic and his attitude in dealing with the congress was if he can get 60% of what he wanted from the congress, he would take it, pocket it anforget it and go bao get the other 40%. so he was always trying to get everything they wanted bu he wao
understood that he couldn't and he was willing to settle for half because it was better than none. and i wish our leaders across the political spectrum would remember that lesson for american history. >> host: is a lesson that will withstand the test of time. it's critical that we do so and i think you it's good to see you again author of exercise of power america's failures and a new path forward. we encourage all of you to buy a copy and please send it to exhort elected leaders and told them to read it. and also express our appreciation to all the viewers joining us online. we've had a wide range of programs coming up so please visit the website for more
>> what does that do when he notices an injustice like this and amplifies it does it do anything, am i over think things that it makes him a? >> i think it certainly resonates. we didn't have twitter 40 years ago. to have an outlet that you can voice how you feel about certain things without having to call a press conference or worry about how your message is going to be broadcast you have the power -- and he's used that masterfully.
a lot of people understand the feeling that don't understand with them having that feeling so the fact that he understands there are going to be part of society that understand him feeling that way but he should not publicly convey feeling that way but he still does it, that says a lot about him. i'm not going to say that he's willing to risk but how important i think he feels it is to have his voice out there to support other voices that are not like his that feel the same way that he does. i think that he understands there are a lot of people putting out petitions.
>> here's why i think that is going to fall on deaf ears. to use the word we come and this is the complement of being black in america we have to deal with that white america doesn't understand how they separate us because and white america's eyes, when he uses the word we they are like you are not a part of them. in all actuality, he does but it's in a different way so the backlash is going to be now you are fostering to include yourself in a part of society you don't exist in anymore and we know ther there's no suffocan of black folks regardless of what the status of life we live in but most of white america doesn't understand that, so i