tv In Depth Adm. James Stavridis USN Ret. CSPAN August 21, 2020 3:34am-5:34am EDT
you'll move ultimately in a different direction. more prosaically it comes from a period in my career when i was a four star admiral, fish issuing the u.s. sorry command and' charge of all military activities south of the out and i was very hopeful of going pacific next as a commander of u.s. pacific command. which is a very traditional position for a senior admiral. my boss, wonderful boss, secretary defense robert gates, bob gates, said, stavridis. we're going to send you to nato. i was the first and thus far the only admiral to be spree supreme am lied commander in nato and just an accident of timing and faith and secretary gate' decision. so from the nato perspective i was at the dental admiral who became the supreme allied expired but the navy was an
accident as well, one it, as a career? >> guest: somewhat. so, let's go way back. i grew up in a marine corps family. my father, george stavridis, proud colonel of marines, fought in korea and vietnam. i grew up in that environment, and so went to quantico high school south of washington, dc, went to navy think iing i would be a marine corps and here's the accident. at any first year the navy send everybody out on a cruise and you go out on a ship. i went out on a beautiful cruelser out of san diego, and i walked up on the bridge of that ship in the evening, gotten away from the pier late in the day and i got up there and the sun was setting and i looked out on all that ocean and all that light and i was like, st. paul
and the road to damascus, just wanted to by a sailor at that point and be in ships. so i went home and told my dad and my mom, shirley, and they were -- kind of hoping i would be a marine but they got over it. years later when i pitch on my first star as an admiral my dad said, i think that came out okay for you, jim. >> host: you almost left the navy after five years, correct? >> guest: i did. i graduated from annapolis and went to sea for five years. i spent three of a destroyer, out of san diego, and then went to mayport, florida, where i am coming to you from today. out of my home town. my mom lives here, my in-laws. and at the end of that five year pe year period i was on an aircraft carrier as my second stipulate. a destroyer and an aircraft
carrier. at the end of the five years i could launch a missile. i was a very capable mariner but i couldn't launch an idea to save my life. and the navy stepped in and made me an offer, as the sagos, i couldn't refuse. i went to the fletcher school of law and diplomacy at tufts university, graduate school of international relations, and i learned how to launch an idea there i think, and that is when i began to shift the focus of my career from exclusively focusing on maritime operations and being a mariner, which of course is a part of my life and career, but also trying to be involved in the world of ideas. came out of my time at fletcher in the early 1980s. >> host: as supreme commander of nato, 2009 to 2013, you say in the accidental admiral you wrote 250,000 words, mainly to teach
yourself, not others. >> guest: indeed. i felt as though a big part of my job as the supreme allied commander of nato is to take ideas and move them across this enormous command. at the time there were 28 nations in nato. today there are 30. three million people. men and women. almost all volunteers on active duty. another four million in reserves, 28,000 military aircraft, 800 ocean-going ships. you get the idea. a very big command, and i felt as though part of my job was communication of the key ideas, of the strategy. so a spent a lot of time writing for my own benefit because i learn as i write, and also for the benefit of those in the command. >> host: one of the chapters in at the book is about the
chateau. what is that? >> guest: the chateau is the official residence of the supreme allied commander of nato. it's a beautiful french chateau which is on 26 acres. it's maintained and financed by the belgian government it's in belgium just south of brussels, and it's not only a lovely place to live but also a strategic communications platform. it's where the supreme allied commander will host a dinner for all of the heads of state and government of the nato alliance. you'll host the senior military officers from rope the alliance. you'll host partners, allies, friends, and opponents. one of the most memorable dinners we held there was for the -- my opposite number in the russian federation, the supreme
command e. of the russian military. i like general makarov. we're bought 5'5", we're not towering people and i used to joke to secretary gates, my boss, he would call me after aid immediate with the general and say, how did the meet going and i'd say, sir, i it was great, we saw everything eye to eye which we did at our towering 5'5" height put it's an exam of the fact we need to engage not only with those who are already on our team but if we're going to succeed in creating real security, we have to engage with those with whom we have disagreements and this was a good example of that. all that occurred in the chateau. >> host: from that book, the extental admiral, you write, throughout my time as the nato strategic commander, i was often asked what kept me awake at
night. my simple one word answer to what really kept me awake may surprise you and that's convergence. >> guest: indeed. what i particularly concerned about because i'd looked around in those years -- this was ten years ago -- i was concerned about afghanistan, libya baskans, piracy, cyber security, but what increasingly concerned me was the potential of convergence between groups against the united states, terrorist organizations, if you will, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. those are like two streams of threat and it's kind of like in "ghostbusters," you never want to let the streams cross. so i worried a lot in those areas of al qaeda finding its way to a nuclear device. we have to continue to be concerned about that in the context today not only of
al qaeda but about the islamic state, about boca haram in algiera, al-shabaab in eastern africa, these groups continue to try and find ways to obtain weapons of mass destruction. so, yes, i worry alight about convergence, and over the last ten years, my view has added to that concern, i cyber, and cyber security. because these groups are becoming more and more adept at using the tools of offensive cyber capability to go after our finances, our infrastructure, our medical establishment, are all quite vulnerable, so to the contest of ten years ago when i was very focused on extremist organizations and nuclear weapons, today i am equally concerned about cyber and cyber tools in the hands of such organizations and also in the
hands of rogue states like north korea. >> host: can you get isolate when you're the supreme commander of nato? >> guest: of course. you have to fight every day in a job like that to break out of the cocoon your staff will try to put you. in this is true for any leader of any sizable organization. your staff will want to take control, will want to dictate the tempo, the organization of your day. they'll want to schedule your trips. want to control the information coming in. they'll want to control your communications going out. that's the nature of staffs. they do that because it creates order where otherwise chaos might exist. and it is a commendable and a natural function of the staff. but as a commander, i would argue, you have to fight against
that isolation. you have to rage against the dying of the light, if you will to pick up dylan thomas' poem, you have to fight to get out of that cocoon, to find sources of information that can come into you, to find ways to communicate simply and truly to your organization, into demand that you have a voice in your schedule, in where your priorities are. let's face it, your greatest asset as a commander, whether you're the supreme allied commander of nato or the ceo or exxon or the president of harvard university, if you're the leader of a large organization, your most precious asset is your time. and how you allocate it and prioritize has to be reflected in your time, and one thing i would do as a practical point to be made for those in such
positions, we can often think that our priorities are x, y and z. and a very good exercise every six months is to get out the calendar and look back at the previous six months and say to yourself, am i prioritizing my time in alignment with my supposed priorities of x, y and z? and i would find occasionally, more than occasionally, that i would be prioritizing with my time a, b and c, despite the fact my stated priorities one x, y and z. so, it is crucial to break and to use your own view of what your time should be and how it should be spent, and all of that means getting out of that isolation and that bubble that a typical staff will try to place a leader in. >> host: was it easier to do to
get out of that bubble when you were on a ship and could wander around on your own? it. >> guest: it was and i wrote a book about that years ago. when i was in my 30s, called "destroyer captain" and it is a very short book it and simply was a series of excerpts from journal is kept the first time i took commanded a sea. was lucky enough to be the captain of uss barry, brand new guided missile destroyer and i wanted desperately to connect with my crew, and on a ship like that -- it's a big ship. it's 500 feet long, longer than a football field by considerable distance. has crew of 300 to 350 depending on the configuration but it's a small universe unto itself, especially when you're out at
sea and as the captain, you get to decide how you want to use your time. are you going to sit in your chair on the bridge kind of surveying the beautiful ocean? are you going to spend the time locked in your cabin doing paperwork? those are real options. or are you going to get out on foot patrol in your ship and know every one of your sailors and their back story and ask them questions and understand what brought them to the navy. all of that i think is part of being a good captain, and it's not only done in ships at sea. think it's part of any good organization that desires to get out, move around, know your people, all of that contributes to effective mission accomplishment. >> host: what is articlely burk class mean. >> the u.s. navy for every type of ship, destroyers, cruiser, aircraft carriers, sub marines
the first ship of that type is -- that's called a class, and that type is the first ship is the class leader and thus of the every destroyer of that particular type built exactly the same as the first one is called an arley burk class kea exterior. for example, i commanded ddg52, hull number 52. my wife, laura, is the proud sponsor -- that means she got to break the champagne bottle to christen the shipment the is she sponsor solve dgy113. from 52 to 113 and every one of those destroyers is called an arley burk class destroyer, built along the lines of the very first one. so it's wonderful to have a ship
named after you for anybody. it's a deep honor, but a particular honor to be the lead ship of the class and that honor was bestowed on admiral burk the greatest of our destroyer officers, the most impactful surface line chief of naval operations. he was the cno for six years, an iconic naval figure and all the ships in that class are ar leey burk class destroys. i'll close by saying mine this, second of the class, was named the barry after john barry who is not terribly well-known, revolutionary war navy captain, a contemporary roughly of john paul jones, and was a superb naval officer. those who served in the barry are very proud of that and proud to be the barry just like my wife is proud to be the sponsor of 113, the john finn, named for
a medal of honor winner at pearl hash per, and all of white house served in any of those destroyers are very proud to be destroyer men and women, and to serve in an early burk class destroyer. >> host: admiral all of your books contain leadership lessons and one of those lessons are a combination of lessons is, bold autonomy versus organizational fidelity. >> guest: you have to have boat and there's always a tension for a leader in the traditions and cull culture of his or her chores can collide with innovation, and a good leader knows and you'll hear me say this again i suspect in the course of a two-hour conversation -- life is not an on and off switch. it's not a binary choice between
simply accepting tradition or innovate constantly and constantly change. that's a false choice. instead of thinking of it as an on and off switch we need to think of it was a rheostat, a gill like the dimmer in your dining room that you adjust to make the lighting just perfect. a good leader has to find that balance between respect for the traditions and the heritage of the organization against the innovation that is necessary to keep that organization moving forward. i think that's one of the real keys to leadership, and i'll give you a practical example from one of my heroes, winston church which, the secretary of the navy of the british royal navy in the early part of the
20th century and constantly watched to innovate and drive change and he was constantly in conflict with the art -- admiralty and one point he heard to many times we can't do that, it's against the traditions of the navy, and churchill exploded and said, tradition? i'll give you the traditions of the navy. run, bugger and lash. in other words, there is time when we have to move forward. luckily for churchill he found somebody in sir jackie fisher, in early 20th century british admiral who was an innovator like churchill and the formed a partnership with helped move the royal navy along. >> host: admiral you moe recent book is called "sailing true north." what is true north. >> guest: true north ised a
here's to what we broadly con conceive over of as moral and ethical behavior. you are trustworky, you are honest, you care about others, you are kind to others, you have empathy and try and put yourself in the shoes of the other, and not just your friends and family but in the shoes of your opponents and those with whom you disagree. you believe in things like democracy, liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of education, gender equality, racial equality. we execute those values imperfectly but they are the right values and when taken together, that value set, plus the personal qualities i mentioned a moment ago, that is what it means to sail true north. >> host: in that book you wry,
quote: i am also motivated by a greg sense that we are witnessing the slow death of character. >> guest: we are. i also say in the book that i think we overshare publicly and we underperform in thinking about our character, our internal debate, and here's an important point about sailing true north. it's not a book about leadership. it's a book about character. those are two very different things. leadership is a big door. a big door that swings in the world that influences others. and that door of leadership swings for good or for ill. we think of franklin del know roosevelt, a top president along with washington and lincoln.
that door of leadership he exerted to get usually to the great depression, to get us through the second world war, that door of leadership was enormous and it swung for good. on the other hand, thing about a leader like poll pol pot of tam boda, ruthless, thug, but an effective leader. he could mobilize a society. his big door of leadership led to an awful genocide in the killing fields of cambodia. leadership is that door, but big doors swing on small hinges, and that small hinge is character, it's the human heart. it determines where your door of leadership is going to swing. so i wanted to write a book that talked about character. we're -- frankly we are awash in books of leadership. just walk through an airport.
you'll see dozen of them in every become store. we are underweight in books about character, about this idea of sailing true north, and so i chose to write about that topic and in the category of write what you know about, what a concept, decided to write about character in the context of admirals and the sea. and i chose ten admirals from history, going back 2500 years ago to a greek admiral, all the way through the late 20th century. admiral grace hopper, a woman dragged the navy kicking and screaming into the computer age. their ten stories are stovers character, hence the title the back, sailing true north, ten admirals in victim of character. that's the idea of the book. >> host: we'll'll get into the admirals in a minute. but to go back to your quote
about character, you said, like you said, we overshare and our attention spans have shortened. are those comments directed at any one in particular? >> guest: no. they're directed at all of us. but i think we can all point to public figures today who would benefit from doing a little more reading and doing a little more thinking and a little more internal contemplation, and to take the example into the twitter sphere and the world of twitter, recently twitter expanded from a maximum of 140 characters to 270 characters and createed a firestorm month twitter users who said it's going to make the tweets just too long. think but that for a minute. that's 270 letters. and so my argument is, sure, we
need tweets. they're like a shot of espresso but you don't want to have a diet that consists of 50 shots of espresso before lunch. that's not a healthy diet you neat a diet that has some tweeting in it, some short punchy reading. you need to be reading, mill view, newspapers and understanding the daily cycle of news, you need to understand events through things like reading the economist magazine, for example, which is i think one of the great magazines in the world. it is almost 200 years old. it has no bilines in, helps no reporter ego involved. it is resolutely journalistic, and it is detached from the daily news cycle and in addition to all of that we need to find time all of us to read some books, both nonfiction which we
talked but but i would argue also great novels help us understand the world. so, your reading diet is like your physical fitness diet. you don't want to do just one exercise all the time. you want to have a pretty broad based diet. >> host: what is the back of your business card say? >> the back of business card is blank and perhaps i should think about putting something clever back there. i'll tell you a quote i like a lot that i would think but putting hope to back of my business card, which is a quote of the greatest of modern greek writers, in serbia that greek and on his tombstone he has the following idea which the quote i would put is, the same as the quote on his gravestone, which is: i want nothing, i fear nothing, i am free.
and i would want it there because i think we need to be fearless in our lives. we need to do what we think is right without currying favor or fear and we need the perspective that whatever we do, we're only here for a brief moment or two in this world. so, if i were going to put something on the back of my business card i'd put this quote. >> host: in the leaders bookshelf you write that a thomas jefferson quote is on the back of your personal business card. >> guest: it's actually on the front of my card. >> host: okay. >> guest: i think i had you there. that one is very famous quote by our second president, someone we should all admire and jefferson said, i cannot live without books. and so on at the front of my business card is that on the bottom. >> host: well, we're going to
play a little video from 2015, it and was from c-span program. it's from retired admiral you mention her in your most recent book, sailing true north. see if you can recognize the voice. >> when i've been in command, i would say that's when you get your greatest sense of satisfaction. and some of it is when you're in command, you're with sailors and marines, and they are people who make miracles happen in every mission and you just can only be delighted as a leader to help work people through to mission success and to be an observer of that and then to congratulate every single individual on the team who helped you win the day somewhere. >> host: admiral stavridis, decide you recognize admiral howard's voice. >> guest: of course, how dare you give it away without asking
me to come up with it. that's my very good friend, admiral michelle howard, who is he first african-american to be a four star woman admiral in the out navy. she is a little dynamo. maybe 5'0". i always like being around m-because i'm actually taller than she is. she is as you heard in that clip, thoughtful, kind, she is somewhat who absolutely sails true north. i first met her, believe it or not. win she was a midshipman at the naval academy and i was a few years out of annapolis and i went back to see a play there mid-summer night's dream. she was part of the cast in mid-summer night's dream. she is really quite a remarkable person, just retired as a four-star navy admiral in charge of naval forces in europe. she is someone i have enormous respect for and hence the reason
she is part of a profile in sailing true north. >> host: and in sailing true north you write that, quote, love of country despite the manifest flaws and mistake wiz often make as a nation is a quality that leads to service for others, and improves a society lucky enough to develop true patriots. >> guest: it's so true. and i want to make a point here since you raise this idea of service, which is the following. people say to me all the time, and i appreciate it, admiral, thank you for your service, thank you for your 37 years in the u.s. navy, and i appreciate that a lot. here's my point, peter. there are so many ways to serve this country. certainly the military is one. but how about our firefighters, how about our emergency room technicians, how about our police? how about our doctors and nurses on the frontline of fighting
covid? how about teachers? think about an elementary school teacher in rural south carolina, where my sister ann came up through her career working in the charleston school district. teacher starts there for $32,00. teaching a packed classroom. you think she is serving the country? boy, i do. i think we need to talk and think a lot more about service. that is inextricably tried to character. and i believe that we ought to thank people in the military but we august to thank all of the boom i just messengered and i'll throw in a few more. our diplomats, peace corps around volunteers, our cia officers. we have so many different ways you can serve this country and i'll throw in another one which may really surprise you. how about our media? when i would go into afghanistan
as the supreme allied commander, surround by my personal security detail, wearing bulletproof attire, steel helmet, i would look over to the side and i'm seeing a journalist there, someone like my friend, richard engle, who is our foreign correspondent at nbc news. richardeningle is standing with a ill-fitting very small probably not really bulletproof vest, and he's get a flip phone. i'm armed with a .45 caliber weapon that i'll never use because i'm surrounded by special forces who are going to use theirs very capably if push comes to shove office the sagos. all of those of people serve the country in a wide variety of ways. so my pitch whenever people say to me, thank you for your service, is, i appreciate that, go find a teacher and tell her, thank you for her service.
go find a firefighter and thank him for his service. go find a diplomat and thank her for working as the deputy chief of mission in a big tough embassy overseas. a lot of ways to serve the country. michelle howard embodies one form of that kind of service. there are many others. >> host: and that's another one of the leadership lessons that come now your books, being a part of something larger than yourself. >> guest: you have to be. and i heard that phrase for the first time when i walked in the door of the u.s. naval academy in 1972. otherwise known what 1.2 million years ago. and it was funny, peter, just over the last couple of days the class of 2024, which arrives this year, 2020, it's a four-year course, they went through their induction day and of course because of covid they're coming in over the course of several days actually to create social distancing, but
it was the same to look at those young faces of men and women imbued with this desire to take on a huge challenge, to be part of this class that walks through the door well over a thousand, and to be part of serving the country to be part of something bigger than just yourself, and i saw that in the class of 2024 as they walked in, got their shades shaved, looking a lot like mine now, and they continue. i know that class will be yet another marvelous class of graduated from annapolis, all of them part of this unbroken line of service and it's not just annapolis, it's of course i have to admit -- but certainly the air force academy at colorado springs, the merchant marine
academy at kings point, new york. all of these schools of places where young men and women go to choose to be part of something larger than. thes and that's the first step in the journey of leadership and the journeyoff character. >> host: thank you for joining us on booktv. our guest is retired admiral and author, james stavridis. he served in the u.s. navy from 1976 to 2013, including a stint as commander of the u.s. southern command, and supreme allied commander at nato from 2009 to 2013. he served as the dean of the fletcher school at tufts after that, and currently works for nbc news and is an operating executive at the carlisle group. he is the author of self books, some co-authored, some his own, here's a partial list. he was an editor on an update of
command at sea. he wrote the accidental admiral which we have talk about a bit. specifically about his time in nato in 2014. the leaders become shelf came out no 2017 with coauthored be r. manning answerle. sea power the history of geopolitics of the worlds oceans cam out in 2017. sailing true north came out last year. 10 admirals and the victim of character. he has new involve coming out in 2021, entitled 2034, a novel of the next world war. if you have questions or comments you would like to make to admiral stavridis, here's how you can do so. (202)748-8200. eastern time sews, (202)748-7201 in the mountain or pacific time sewn and you can text in a question.
(202)748-8903. that is the text number. and we have all our social media sites as well, twitter, facebook, newscast. make comments there as well. @booktv is our handle. we'll scroll through the addresses so that if you want to make a comment to the admiral, you can do so. now, admiral, we talked about some of your books but one book we didn't mention was a proposed book called veep stakes. what was that about? >> guest: well, in 2016, right about now in 2016, i was vetted for vice president by candidate hillary clinton and john podesta who was her campaign manager, former chief of staff of the white house, is a friend of mine, john podesta called me up and said, admiral, would you be willing to be vetted?
i said, sure. i've always said i'm open to the idea of service. by the way i'm a registered independent. i have always been so. in addition to being vetted for vice president, i was invited to trump tower after the election to have a discussion with president-elect trump about a cabinet position. so i mention it in the context of i'm a bipartisan figure. so, i've said to chief of staff, the campaign manager, john podesta and of course secretary clinton was nice enough to call me as well, sure, i'll be vetted. that turned into quite an experience, it's quite an experience to be vetted for vice president, and it means providing the campaign with every article you have ever written, every media appearance you ever made, all of your bank records, all of your social networks, all of your school
transcripts, your dem records, medical records, every tax return going back 20 years, i think. it's a big long process, and it's also done with a lot of secrecy because it was something the campaign wanted to keep secret as long as they could eventually it broke in "the new york times" and became public, but for well over a month, six weeks, it was quite done behind the scenes. so i would be sending all of this unbelievable, highly sensitive information, basically to a bunch of e-mail addresses, and at one point i said to a very close friend and adviser of mine, retired navy captain bill harlow who i a former spokesperson at the cia and knows the intelligence world well. said to the captain, hope i'm not actually sending all this
information not to the clinton campaign but somehow i've been maneuvered into sending tote russian intelligence. that got us both chuckling. we found that implausible but we started to think about that would make a pretty interesting novel and so we did a treatment of a kind of hapless individual who is chosen to be vet for vice president, who starts sending all this information he thinks to the campaign, except unbee meant to to -- unbeknownst to him he is actually sending it to an intelligence organization, and that's what i described to you as probably the first quarter of the book. when that it is revealed then he has to figure out how to get out of this, and so we thought it was clever book. meant to be tongue in check, kind of like move by chris buckley, thank you for smoking,
or elmore leonard style, an entertainment. but we wrote it all up and sent it off to our agents, and to our publishers and our editors and it was resoundingly rejected because everybody said, just so implausible that a campaign would be tricked like that. now, you know, four years later, i'm not so sure. who knows. maybe we'll du that one off. that's the store of veep stakes which is what is happening right now as former vice president biden, who knows the veepstakes quite well personal he -- permanently is the process of picking a woman as he said to be his candidate. so it's apropos of the moment. a fun little treatment to write up. still available if anybody is watching this. >> host: what do you think but military folks serving in elective office? >> i'm 100% in favor of it.
can i give you a really good example? how about president dwight david eisenhower, who was not only a superb general, a brilliant organizer, was the supreme allied commander of nato, was also the president of columbia university, a lot of people miss that turn. and went ton be i think a highly successful two-term president of the united states. there are many marvelous booked out there about eisenhower. i'd encourage people to read crusade in europe, which is his autobiographical treatment of his time in map and he also someone who sail true north and made his occasional mistakes in life, and in politics, but i think overall was a superb kind of mid-20th century president, and during a period of time when there was real danger in a cold
war of erupting, he was someone who managed that set of challenges brilliantly from '52 to of 60 and a great book about that is evan thomas' ike's bluff, about the way that eisenhower, who was a superb bridge player, could bluff this joe joe political opponents so there's one example. frankly, we could good on in the subject but i think plenty of precedent amongst our both elective office at the level of senators and representatives as there is at the level of our eisenhower and i'll close on another one, who kind of got away i think in a sense, and that would be colin powell. i wish collin paul had chose top run for elective office. i think he would have ban
remarkable president of the united states. he was a fine secretary of state as well as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. really a remarkable individual in so many ways. think there is room for superb service from senior military in an administration both effective and appointed. >> host: well, let's hear what our callers have to say. we i begin with jim in california. you're on with general james stavridis. >> thank you for taking my call. want to say how impressed by your use of the word kindness. not a quality i normally associate will military figures and i think it's quite wonderful. my question is, how far in advance does the military plan in terms of weapon symptoms strategy and so far and how many decades, and kind of on a related note, how can we diffuse
what looks to be increasingly growing tension with china in the area of the south china sea? i notice two carrier groups going there now and i'd like your thoughts on that. >> host: jim, are you former navy? >> caller: no, i'm not. >> host: thank you, sir. >> guest: jim, thank you for your question. you're in callant day so i'll say, that's a hot question on both counts. planning, the military is the absolute bastion of long range planning. we're quite good at mid-and short range planning. i'll put some times on that. i'd say short range planning is in the one to two year frame. mid-range planning is in the three to five to seven year frame. long range planning is five to ten years without outlier plans that look even further than that.
military planning is both tactical, in other words, if god forbid we got into a war with china, we have plans for how we would execute that war. if we got into a war on the korean peninsula because kim jung ewan woke up in a bad mood and toadsed to attack the south. not an impossibility. we have detailed plans to deal witness that. we have long range plans and a good example would be during the mid-year period in 20th century between world war 1 and world were 2 the navy in particular did a great deal of detailed planning for naval campaigns that might occur if we ended up in a war with japan, for example. so, militaries are very
exceptional machining organizations. having said -- exceptional planning organizations. i will say that -- i think it was eisenhower who said, no plan survives first contact with the. the in other words, the enemy gets a vote and so you can have a beautifully orchestrated plan but the enemy residents actions will be part of how that plan unfolds, and i think it was general patton who said that a in plan violently executed is better than a perfect plan that you never get around to putting on the table. what he meant by that was -- this is true for all of news every walk of life, right? you can let your desire for perfect become the enemy of really good. you have to know when that toe put your pencil down, put your
plan in place, resource the plan, be prepared to execute it and know there will come twists and turns. i would say one of the real skills in the military is planning -- i'll close on this by saying it is formally taught as a process, even to our young men and women at our service academies, again, when they hit mid-career points, the commanding staff college, for example of the army is legendary bastion of detail planning and our war colleges for our lieutenant colonels, navy commanders, navy captains, our army marine corps colonels, they study planning again at each level, learning more, developing more detail. so yes we're very good at. that doesn't mean the plans are perfect but there is, i assure you, detailed plan for virtually every contingent si the military
could encount jeer the other question is. the other question is of the moment. what can we die -- i'll rephrase it. what can we do to avoid stumbling into another cold war this time with china, or god forbid to get in a shooting war with china. i think that is the most important question that our government should be thinking about internationally right now. that relationship between the united states and china. and let's face it, we have some significant disagreements with china. their intellectual property theft. cyberintrusions. the chinese claim that the entire south china sea, huge body of water the size 0 the caribbean in the gulf of mexico combined, china claims that south china sea as territorial seas of china. they want it because it's full
of hydrocarbons, oil, natural gas below the surface, fisheries and above all because 40% of the world residents trade moves through there. we are concerned about human rights with china. how they treat their 1.5 million, muslim descendents in china who are push into encampments that are concentration camped. we're concerned but human rights in hong kong which ought to have another 30 years of two systems one nation. so we have a lot of disagreements with china. so to your question, how do we approach china? i'll tell you three quick things number one, first part of your excellent question, we need a plan and here, again, i can assure you the military has plans for military engagement with china, which i deeply hope we avoid. we don't have a national plan. we need one.
so my view would be take someone like dr. henry kissinger, our greatest living expert on china, surround him with the most talented people who understand china, economically, and the world of finance and the world of culture and history, the world of military operations, et cetera, have that brain trust, qualify it's commission if you will, creating national strategy for how we approach china in this 20th century, so number one, let's get a plan. number two, philosophically use the following approach. confront where we must but cooperate wherever he we can. in other words avoid that kind of mindless cold war tension that existed between the united states and the soviet union for decades. we should have a blended two-speed approach which says, we will confront you, china,
intellectual property helicopter. we'll confront you on your excessive dry. territoriality in the south hope sea. we'll confront when you seek to intrude on our elections which i fear may happen this year like russia did in 2016. so confront where we must but let's find some zones of cooperation. cooperate where we can. where can we cooperate? we can cooperate on the environment. we have shared desire to address the environment more responsibly. i hope the trump administration or whatever administration comes into power in november, for example, will return to the paris peace accords. we could cooperate with china on the environment. we could cooperate with china in the arctic where china that significant desire to move through those seas as that ice is melting in the north. we could cooperate with china on
medical diplomacy. how about the u.s. and china working together to address covid-19 in the emerging markets reasons the world? it's the right thing to do from a humanitarian perspective and it's also pragmatic include and prosakely the right thing for our economies so the markets can stay open and raw materials can flow to china to the united states, for manufacturing. we can cooperate with china in disaster relief, when great tsunamis sweep through the pacific. the united states has hospital ships that. i deployed them as a senior admiral to the latin america and the caribbean. china has hospital ships. can they work together? we should confront where we must, cooperate where we can. and third and finally, we need to be respectful of china. their history, their culture. one of the chapters in sailing
true north is about a chinese admiral who in the early 1400s was conducting voyages throughout the south china sea and the indian ocean to the coasts of -- into africa, remarkable mariner weapon need to understand that culture. doesn't mean we'lling a questions in claims to own the spire south china sea but we need to put ourselves in the shoes of china, study them, understand them, read their literature. if we are going to do the first two steps i mentioned. that would be my prescription for dealing with china as we good fulfilled thank you for a great question, jim. >> host: next call comes from perry in detroit. hi, perry. >> caller: hello. and thank you for taking my call. i have a comment and a quick question to the admiral.
again my name is perry. thank you for the call. i'm also a navy vet. i was a cryptologist, i was part of the naval security group activity. the admiral said something but service and a i'm a huge proponent of service. i work the the va. how do we turn or reinvigorate the conversation but personal service for our country at this time where it seems like the narrative now is everything is about me, me, me, or about the more darker parts of our country how much do we turn the conversation into americans serving america as a whole? and thank you for taking my call. >> host: admiral? >> guest: what a deeply meaningful question,perry, thank you. and as the saying goings, thank you for your service of eye.
glad to talk to a fellow navy vet and thank you for your work with our veterans and that entire organization, veteransed a, headed up by a good friend of mine, robert wilkinson, a good friend, and previously by bob mcdonald. you're all serving the country. you are part of the culture of service. you have asked a gut question. how can we effectively move the nation to sail true north? and i think service is an enormous part of it. i'll give you'll three quick ideas. this is part of a much longer conversation. number one is, those who are serving need to talk about it. need to talk to others in our communities. they need to be active role models. they need to be engaged. they need to post what they're doing on instagram and linked inand facebook and twitter, talk but service, all of us need to do that. maybe not everybody will write a
book about it but every bit counts because our national life is an enormous conversation. it zigs and zags and it's a big messy chewy conversation, and that is the beauty of america and it's also one of our challenges. we're not in an authoritarian country where one set of voices predominates. so number one, perry, let's all of us who are involved in service, and believe it's important, let's all talk about it. both permanently, -- personally, on social networks. write a letter to local knew. take the question you just asked me and frame it and send it to adrift newspaper. that's number one. we have to talk about it. -- number two is, to all of us -- i say this again as a centrist, and as a registered
independent, vote for candidates who you think will treasure the idea of service at every level. look at a candidate's background and say to yourself as a voter, is this candidate going to be somebody who personifies service? who will embrace the idea of service? who will support those who go into service? and believe me issue understand how politically loaded a comment like that it is today, and here i am talking to you whether you wake up in the morning watching morning joe on msnbc and by the end of the night you're watching to see what rachel maddow says says orow wake up in morning with fox and friends you're on there with brian killmeade, a friend of mine for example, and by the end of the night you can't wait to hear what sean hannity has to say. i'm talking to everybody across
the political spectrum. we ought to get behind candidates who believe in service, and i'll tellie u you why. because service at the end of the day service is nonpartisan. it's bipartisan and nonpartisan. so i think as voters we ought to be looking for candidates who have the kind 0 qualitied that led you, perry to join the u.s. navy to toe continue a life of service at veterans affairs and thirdly, longer conversation but a third idea is we have to incentivize service. we ought to have a system -- with did the to some degree today, for example, the military has the ability to go into the military and collect something called the g.i. bill that will help pay for your education later on. ...
line. >> 748800 if you live in the eastern central time zone 274-8201 that's in the mountains pacific time zone you can send an e-mail to book firstname.lastname@example.org. and you can text a message in and if you do text a message and, if you would include your first name and your city just like we ask for our callers (202)748-8903 that is the text number. and finally we have several social media sites all ready to take your comments, facebook, twitter an instagram, just remember @booktv is our handle. let's take that next call from albert in arkansas. albert please go ahead. very few citizens understand countries and how people are
and other countries around the worl world. their poverty status the rich status their education status, one of the things i ended up joining the peace corps when i was a young man back in the 70s. just nothing about first-hand knowledge all the sudden poverty you don't look people if you live in central america i would like you to talk about and then about the peace corps i appreciate your service balance and education balance in reading reading for high school was helping her involved in some of that,
thank you very much sir. >> thank you sir. albert i will return the compliment as a did to my navy shipmates, bury a moment to go and say thank you for your service in the peace corps. i'm with you with all my heart about the importance of the peace corps. let me have a specific couple comments there. as peter said earlier a little while ago, when it finished up my 37 year career in the navy, my long misspent youth in the navy i started to think about what could i do next with my life? and i started to ask mentors and everybody had a plan. some people said you need to go into the defense industry and work with high technology project other said you need to go into business, focus on the emergence of tech. others said you could go and
be an operations director for a big non- governmental organization like the red cross. there were a lot of good ideas. and i asked the mentor that i respect the most of all the people i have the privilege to work for and be around and i mentioned him earlier, secretary of defense robert gates. secretary gates instead of immediately giving me a plan, he said well, you know admiral , what kept you in the navy for 37 years? that would give you some clue as to what you might want to do next. and i thought about it. that is a great question and i had not really thought about in that context fraid what what had kept me in the navy? there is a lot i liked about the navy. i liked wearing a sharp looking uniform i liked being in america operating a ship on
the ocean i like traveling around the world i liked all of those things. the thing i love was mentoring young people. with taking care of young sailors and helping guide the gorgeous trajectory of their lives. so i said that to secretary gates and he said you should go into education. and you know, those were the most powerful words for me. we forget this about the secretary everyone can or member he was the director of the cia everyone in or member he was the secretary of defense and obama administration what he do in the middle he was the president of texas a&m he helped me he mentored me become the dean of the fletcher school of law and diplomacy. that, albert, was where really
came in contact with the peace corps because the largest single cohort background with all of these marvelous graduate student to come to the fletcher school come out of the peace corps. and so i learned a lot and i met so many young bright men and women who taken two years out of the very busy impactful lives and devoted them to effectively mentoring others. that's what you do in the peace corps typically. your teaching others to do a wide variety of things from agriculture to cultural education, it is a marvelous way for somebody to give to the world but at the same time to serve the united states. because by becoming a peace corps volunteer, you go and represent your country and the best possible way. in a way that young people of
other nations who look up to and respect, you are really putting your time or your idea is. not everybody does that. so i have a norma's respect and i will close on the peace corps, albert, by simply saying one of our very close family friends is the cook sleep family. one of their young daughters, young by my standard suck, someone in her 20s just came back from two years as a peace corps volunteer. we were at a wedding of her brothers just a few months ago. i had a chance to sit and talk with her in-depth about her experiences in east africa he was a wonderful way to serve the country i completely commend it to anyone who may be listening we ought to incentivize it in the same rewards to young man or woman who decide to go into the marine corps so two thumbs up
for the police corporate so advil before we get to our next collar i been pronouncing your last name for year wrong. some hearing something different from you is that correct? >> i say stavridis i think that sounds roughly like what you are pronouncing. believe me i've been called everything you can imagine i must comment mispronunciation is admiral stradivarius. [laughter] so pretty much anything works you've got it right. so gary in brooklyn please go have your question or continent or admiral stavridis. >> admiral, that was a perfect career change for you. i cannot think of a better person with the balance and thought process to work with young people. i too works in nonprofit for
35 years with people with disabilities battered women disabled vets homeless formerly in our serrated it's not about making money i never made a lot of money in my life it's about giving back and helping those that are less fortunate. i think that is a great move that you made. i know the young people will be very thankful down the road. i just wonder say thank you for the free ivy league education today. he picked up where you left off when i was watching you on c-span sailing true north and as soon as i heard you argue about character that transitions leadership on is the enabler of leadership you quoted like napoleon's said a
leader is a dealer in hope. you mention 4-foot ten african-american young lady who came from a challenging background that took down the somalia pirates to become the first four-star admiral african-american woman you said she had immense character. there's one thing i want to ask you before i go admiral and in your three-step plan with china i did not hear you mention anything about the media. you have a picture in your office you said of the uss maine that blew up in the harbor in 1998 causing the outbreak of the spanish-american war. there's a lot of media with their journalism that claimed the spanish were responsible for blowing it up. i enqueue said the word they were called terrorists back
the then. later on. >> host: could you get your question very quickly question works mech yes i'm sorry. later on when the navy salvage the ship discovered it was not suing gary i have to apologize working to leave it there there's a lot on the table for the admiral to respond to. >> gary i will finish her story for you because it's a very good one. uss maine battleship blows up in havana harbor immediately the yellow journalists if you can call them correctly spins the story of a mind that's place on the exterior of the ship that blew it up, terrorists by the spanish launched this war and fact, when the navy salvage the ship 50 years later we discovered that blew up because of an internal explosion probably a
boiler powder magazine. i keep a picture of the main on my wall to remind me of that incident. they are two really powerful lessons here. the first one pretty obvious, wherever you are, however high and mighty you are you recognize your ship can blow up underneath your feet at any moment. have a plan b, realize the world can change forever and it incident that is a good thing to hang on your wall. the second thing is really the point you were making commentary, which is that before you take action before you lose your temper and in this case start a war, or choose someone or fire someone before you do that make sure you have all of the facts right. so many times that initial set of facts that you are just so
sure out to be not so much. kind of like when united states invaded iraq. we knew that saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction. that was false intelligence as it turns out. no one wide, but for an intelligence community's got it wrong they got it terribly wrong. we ended up going to war. think how different the world would be who knows, better or worse how different the world would have been if we had not launched into iraq. another example think that's why keep a picture of the battleship maine on the wall in my office wherever i am there's one here outside that door. the other photo i keep which i hope you can see over top of me is a picture of myself and senator mccain amended tilt that up for one second period
that is me and john mccain, senator mccain. senator mccain is someone in my view who sailed true north he made many mistakes in his life personal and political but he was a hero in hanoi hilton and when he went to congress to represent the state of arizona he did what he thought was right without turning fear or favor as the saying goes. i think that in addition to stories as part of your narrative it's important to have people that you respect and you can look at their story i think what you will find for most people is those stories of personal challenge in overcoming a challenge but being a prisoner of war. they deepen a character. and knowing people like that and sailed true north in their lives i think it's an important element of finding your own voyage of character.
>> host: alright admiral we will play who is this game again here is another video clip of someone you mention in in sailing true north. >> every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. it seemed a little ridiculous at the time particularly in light we were aspiring to be real warriors tough hardened seals but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over. if you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day will give you a small sense of pride and ill encourage you to do another task and a nether and a nether and by the end of the day that one task completed blood turn into many tasks completed, making your bed will reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. if you can't do the little things right, you will never be able to do the big things right. >> admiral? >> easy one again my very dear
friend adam built mcraven. and many of you will of seen his book, make your bed which i believe that the service and the. >> guest: gave at the university of texas which was also titled make your bed. i included craven in my book just not because he was a ceo -- not because as a thinker and a writer all those things are true. i included him in my book because he is very resilience. in a norm as part of character is how you perform in adversity. i think it was abraham lincoln who said not all men can stand adversity if you test a man's character, give him power. i think admiral mcraven personifies that for me he is resilient, he handles being in a position of powerful position extremely well.
and in those cases in particular he has dealt with medical challenges in ways that i cannot comprehend. i've been very lucky in my life to be extremely healthy. i'm going to touch the wood here i assume it's a wooden chair i've never had a stent i've never had a night in the hospital and mid my 60s i've been very lucky. bill mcraven, not so much into examples is a relatively senior officer he was in a terrible parachuting accident, his parachute did not open or partially opened and somehow he survived that. but he ended up hospitalized for a significant period of time. as a result he was not part of the first wave on terrorism despite he trained his whole life as a ceiling here was in a hospital bed he came back
from that injury, went on to a great career as a senior seal officer. and then ended up with a form of leukemia. very debilitating one that creates cycles of taking chemicals and having it reversed for a period of time and back again. he has dealt with that stoically, quietly, he does not hide the fact nor does he trump the fact, he deals with it. i remember talking to him once we were sitting in the bus driving back from dinner at the white house with president obama's a matter fact. i turned to bill and said how are you doing? how are you doing with the leukemia? and he said, jim, it's just another mission i deal with it every day. and you know that's the kind of resilience and i have a lot
of respect for. that is why i included bill in sailing true north let's hear from paul in orlando. so thanks for taking my call, thank you for c-span. admiral would've treated us for landlubber civilian like me to it talk to you. i start every day on "washington journal" but peter, i've got to confess every now and again i catch the admiral on on morning dope. i really do value your opinion. i'm very concerned about how aggressive china is becoming an peter, forgive me i came in mid programs of this is redundant i am sorry. i would like to get, i have some ideas of my own on what a response to them breaking the treaty over hong kong would be , i would like to get your
comments, admiral of i don't see anything wrong with telling china there is no student visas this fall at any american university. i don't see anything wrong with kicking some of the chinese government owned companies off the new york stock exchange. and i would love for the wto to reclassify china not as a developing country, but as a developed country. i will take my comments off the air, peter we love you on c-span2, but we miss you on "washington journal". thanks gentlemen and have a great weekend. >> host: admiral? >> guest: a couple of points we covered some of the cell builds audit pick up on your points. i think all the things you mentioned are examples of very
reasonable responses that ought to be considered as part of a larger strategic framework. i think you would probably agree listen to you, what we need here is not a onesie, tuesday, let's pull this credential and pop this one more and we need a coherent strategic planner think the three things you mentioned for all worth considering. in addition to the ones we mentioned earlier in the show, very important element of this is taiwan. unlike hong kong which is part of china's sovereign territory, the world community acquiesced in 1997 with the caveat that the 50 years following 1997 that hong kong would enjoy status as one nation, two systems. in other words they would have a distinct system of jurisprudence is this set laws
and regulations dealing with arrests they would have a distinct economic situation et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. china is violating that now so in addition to the points you made in the things i mentioned earlier, i would add were looking at her relationship with taiwan. china resolutely and determinedly wants to pull taiwan into china's sovereign or they believed they believed it's part of taiwan serenity. whole community does not agree with that. we could build on that by increasing weapons sales to taiwan by conducting more military operations there pull
into port into taipei, into all of the places all of these i think would give china pause would be deeply annoying to china but it would also give pause to them. i think we need a spectrum of responses some military, some diplomatic for example with taiwan some that are importantly, economically based, education as you suggest to track diplomacy all of that needs to part of the approach with china and it needs to be done coherently and part of a holistic plan. i want to make a really important point here by the way. we have hundreds of thousands, millions of chinese americans who live here in the united
states. many have been here for many generations, some have more recently arrived. one of them is my son-in-law, doctor jimmy wong. jimmy is a first generation american. he is the first of his family born here. his parents immigrated here as students, his mother became a very successful dentist, his father became a very successful investor. jimmy is a physician he's on the front line of covid, he is a result of the immigration the united states has enjoyed from china over the years. we need to be very careful here that as we seek to bend our relationship with china in more appropriate ways and i completely agree with the comment about china and the wto we need to be careful we
do not break that relationship and end up in a very severe cold war or god for bid a shooting war neither of which are impossible. we recognize there are deep cultural, diplomatic and personal relationships that are at play here. including some i regard as a real hero. my son-in-law who is a physician. >> and admiral has a new novel coming out next year called 2034. a novel of the next world war. this is a text message we received for you admiral. >> i am a 33 year active duty officer, why are more americans not extremely concerned about american statues grants, washington, other great u.s. historical figures are being gleefully taken down our history is definitely under attack by the
left wing, it simply is. thoughts? >> i disagree with the most of what i just heard. although i agree with a portion of it so let me try to un- package that. first of all i do not believe any statue anywhere ever should be torn down by a mob. that is just not in my view appropriate. we ought to have a national conversation and we are beginning to about which statues of what individual from what. if history are being re-examined and for my money as i look at the spectrum i would say for example the confederate generals and admirals who took up arms against the of knighted states of america, therefore were by definition traders not only to their oath, to support and defend the constitution of the united states, but also took
up arms against their nation and defense of a system that included slavery. i don't think those individuals passed muster to use a military term to have statues put up about them. i think where there are such statues and there are many of them around the country, i think it is time to have a commission probably will come to the conclusion as i have comments to to take them down. put them in a museum, study the history of the civil war. it is a cautionary tale for our times. i think confederate generals and admirals, should not be glorified with statues in our public places. on the other hand, we have our founding fathers. i am well aware of the instances that my fellow veterans points out systems of
individuals who have gone after general and president grant i'm very aware of taking down thomas jefferson who was a slave owner. i understand that emotion but that's a different set of circumstances than the ones i mentioned a moment ago. and so the world should not make these decisions based on retired admiral james stavridis news. we should have a collective conversation. my vote would be taken on the statues, take down the monument monuments, of confederate admirals and generals. for my money, washington, jefferson, grant, not perfect, slaveowners, but in the broad
spectrum of their life and times, their contributions are striking and that there statues and monuments need to remain on display. perhaps indicating that in addition to all that is known, making the point that jefferson helped slaves. that is a valid historical points. to me it does not rise to the level of tearing down the jefferson memorials or tearing down monticello, as presidential home outside of charlottesville were my daughter, christina, went to university. i think there is for meaningful conversation here i do not believe ever mobs should be tearing down statues or tearing down anything else. i would guess that if i set down with my brother officer we could have a meaningful conversation about his concerns, my concerns it could
be a microcosm conversation the nation should be having. >> : : : i want to talk about is the uss stennis which periodically comes in here to be reshipped. i'm a korean war veteran, and as the admiral knows, the army is in the process of contemplating name changing. and i'm thinking about one that the navy might consider, and that's the uss stennis. i've wondered often -- [inaudible] any knowledge for whom the ship is named. john stennis became a u.s. senator from mississippi in 1947 and served in the senate until
1989. and he voted innumerable times against all civil rights legislation, and he also voted against a proposition to, for dr. martin luther king's birthday to be a national holiday. and he got a ship named after him not because he was a ticket segregationist -- strict segregationist, but because he was the head of the appropriations committee. and whenever the name would show up in front of -- the navy would show up in front of him with their request for the coming year, he was only too happy to fulfill them because he was a big fan of the military. >> host: all right, steven, let's get an answer from admiral stavridis. >> guest: terrific question. another example of national-level conversation we
ought to be having. and i think that someone like john c. stennis, about whom i am not deeply versed, he was also a prosecutor who prosecuted or failed to prosecute a significant case involving the murders of african-americans in mississippi. i don't know all the details of that. you correctly point out from my limited level of knowledge about john c. stennis his propensity to be very supportive of segregation. and utterly failed policy in every dimension. so i would certainly be open to a conversation about uss john c. stennis and whether or not that would be part of such a sweep of name changes. in the good news category, as you may or may not know, the u.s. navy just announced that it would name its next nuclear-powered aircraft carrier
the uss doris miller. i know a lot about doris miller who was an african-american, came out of texas prewe-world war ii -- pre-world war ii. ended up as a cook because that's about all you could do in the navy before we managed to get away from segregation in the u.s. navy. and on december 7th,1941, dory miller, nickname, was a cook working in the mess and heard the attack on pearl harbor, charged up to the bridge of the ship, tried to save the life of the commanding officer of the ship, then went down to the firing deck on the ship, took personal command, if you will, charge of one of the anti-air war guns, probably shot down a japanese aircraft. untrained to do that.
no, no regard for his life or his safety. he was awarded the navy cross, the second highest decoration. probably should have gotten the medal of honor. if -- bull the good news -- but the good news is again the navy has now chosen to name the next nuclear aircraft carrier the dory miller. so ship names always have a little bit of controversy to them. i think as i look at navy ship names, there are a couple others in addition to the john c. stennis we ought to look at. we have an oceanography ship named the maury named for a confederate naval officer. we have a ship called the chancellor's bill named for the confederate name of the battle. these are things that are worth looking at alongside the pretty obvious ones, to me, are the army installations around the country which are named for
beauregard and lee and jackson and bragg. these are generals who took up arms against the united states. i think those are pretty clear decisions. the other decisions, again, let's have a conversation, let's take this as a national, teachable moment, and let's move forward in a way that does not tear awe part or -- apart or destroy our history. i don't think that's what's happening here. but history is like a river. the plains indians say you never cross the same river twice because the river moves on. that's what history is. it's a river. we need to look at it with clear eyes, understand that the river has moved on. what does that mean for us as a nation. i think that's an important conversation. >> host: admiral, how did we get where fort bragg and fort hood were being named after confederate generals? and some of these forts were named during the 1940s during
world war ii. >> guest: they were. and this is a long, complicated story that has to do with things that were going on in the south at that time. and in many cases, these were collections of southerners who felt as though the south would rise again or had been unjustly invaded by the north. i mean, this was part of the zeitgeist in praises in the south -- in places in the scott. and these -- in the south. and these were not, as you point out correctly, peter, not named in the immediate aftermath of the civil war, but part of a growing sense in the early part of the 20th century that we needed to somehow glorify the proud south. and this is part of the rise of the ku klux klan, and it's a
continuation of many national political figures including woodrow wilson who often is named after this kind of thinking. and, again, that river has moved on, and it's time that we had that conversation, made those changes. i would be very surprised if these bases are not changed. i would be very surprised in the robert e. lee statues and high schools are not addressed. and i think it's high time they were. >> host: in sailing due north, you write about admiral chester anymore miss, calling -- nimitz if, calling him a leader of leaders, but you also indicate he was not respectful of women and non-whites. >> guest: indeed. and so how are we to judge someone like a chester nimitz in that regard? let's play the tape of his life. he comes out of texas, like dory
miller who i was speaking about a moment ago. he's never seen the ocean when he goes off to nap -- annapolis, yet he rises to become the most iconic war-fighting admiral in american history. he takes command of the pacific fleet not as he always thought he would, standing on the deck of a big, beautiful battleship. he takes command after pearl harbor. every battleship in pearl harbor, the smell of cordite from explosions is still in the air when he takes command a couple weeks later. bodies are still being attempted to be exhumed. there's still hundreds of them in the arizona today. he takes command of a broken, shattered u.s. fleet, and what does he do? resilience. he builds teams. he quietly takes the very best of the existing staffs, he
reshapes them, he finds the war-fighting leaguers like bull halsey who was a handful to operate with, but he also finds the kind of quiet warriors like add miller raymond -- [inaudible] he figures out how to tag team their qualities in commanding parts of the pacific fleet. he has to work with douglas macarthur, an enormous ego, as essentially his army counterpart in the massive pacific theater. he does everything right in terms of prosecuting that war, and he sits on the deck of the missouri, the battleship, and signs on behalf of the united states the document of surrender with the japanese empire. it's a pretty remarkable swing. along the way he was, like many of his time, not respectful of women or their role. he was not respectful of people
of color. he was, in that sense, a product of his times. he would not, in my view, be someone that we would say to ourselves, well, he was this way in the 1940s, we'll judge him by the standards of the 2020s. i don't think that's a valid test. but that's different than stonewall jackson taking up arms against the united states of america, killing thousands and thousands of union soldiers in defense of slavery. two very different cases. so i stand with chester nimitz and honoring his memory. again, putting it in a context and understanding the history of what he's doing. i'll close by saying this, pete wear, by the way: we are doing things now, i'm sure, that in 50 years people will look back on us, choices we've made about
artificial intelligence, about bioethics. we are doing things now that in 50, 70, 100 years are going to look, oh, so wrong. that river of history will move on. it will judge us as well. i'm willing to be judged, and i hope that those who judge me a hundred years from now understand the context of the times but also willing to make hard decisions about my legacy, whatever it is. >> host: walter, st. johns, arizona, please go ahead. >> caller: hello, admiral. first, i'd like to thank you for coming on c-span and also c-span inviting you in as a guest. from your, the way you answer questions, make presentations, your collective thinking, cognitive thinking is so superlative.
you're probably in the top three people i've seen -- [inaudible] and i'm ec-navy. ex-navy. love the navy. first ship was a destroyer, and i left the navy from a fast frigate,1084. i love the navy and realize that the navy is the number one spokesperson for the united states. as sailors, we're all over the world, and people in those countries went out of their way to talk to us and asked us questions. so we were p.r. representatives, superlative. i was the first person off the ship and usually the last person back on. any place we stopped, stop every block or two, found somebody that spoke english and asked questions about the i country, the people. the one common denominator all over the world that people had regarding americans, they couldn't understand why the americans were so happy.
that means something, that the americans were so happy. but i have two questions which i'm sure everyone in the military would love to hear your answers for. in general, you've touched upon these two questions but not directly. the, based on the state of things, matters in the world today, i'm sure you remember back -- >> host: hey, walter, if you could get to your questions very quickly, appreciate that. >> caller: number one question is how would you rate the non-nuclear war standing of the world right now. is it very good? >> host: great. and the second question? >> caller: second question is knowing what you know, what would be the top four circumstances that could happen in reality that would trigger world war iii? >> host: thank you, sir.
appreciate that, walter. go ahead, admiral stavridis. >> guest: yeah, those are big questions. i would say if it were a clock and when the clock turned to midnight, we end up with a world war, i think the clock is somewhere like quarter of, twenty of. in other words, it's a real possibility, but i don't see it imminent. i don't see it about to happen. another way to think about that clock is the cuban missile crisis, which i think you alluded to. i would say the hands of the clock were about two minutes to midnight. so we're safer than we were at the height of the cold war in a cuban missile crisis kind of situation. you asked for four scenarios. i'm really going to give you two, although there are outlined bits of it. but the two possibilities that could drag us into a world war
would be a conflict between china and the united states which could occur in the south china sea. as a result, inadvertently of the two navies bumping up against each other, an incident that then escalates even as we're doing this great program for c-span2 at the moment, there are two navy carrier battle groups in the south china sea. again, these are seas that china claims as territorial waters. so from the chinese perspective, we've got two carrier battle groups, like, steaming around the great lakes of the united states. could that escalate? possibly. again, that would be an escalation i'd be concerned about particularly. a second one would be a cyber attack, and this could come from china, russia, even north korea and iran have significant cyber
capabilities. and we think to ourselves, well, how bad can a cyber attack be? okay, i won't be able to go on the internet for a couple of days. think again. the internet of things as it is called today has about 20 billion devices on it, and it is the backbone for transportation, electricity, water, all of the fundamental structure infrastructure in -- fundamental infrastructure in our society. so a cyber attack that went after infrastructure here in the united states would demand a significant response, and i think that could lead to an escalation. i'll throw one other one into the mix, and that would be russia in a scenario where russia has a dramatic change of leadership. i think that's unlikely. i think vladimir putin has probably solidified his control
over that country. but i can see is scenarios where russia falls out of totalitarian control, if you will, and yet russia has 8,000 nuclear weapons. that is very concerning. and then fourth and finally, india/pakistan. here are two nuclear-armed powers who are constantly at each other's throats. at the moment the nuclear capability of both is under control and under good control of the military in both countries. but that could certainly lead to a nuclear exchange which would be disastrous globally. so there's some scenarios that ought to keep you awake at night. but again, i want to leave you with the thought that we have been in a worse position before. i think we were much more at risk cuban missile crisis, five
minutes to midnight, two minutes to midnight. today i think we're kind of twenty minutes to mid if night, meaning all -- midnight. meaning all of the scenarios i talked about, there'll be leadup, there'll be time to allow diplomacy and economics and other non-military aspects to help pull us back from the brink. if that is -- that is certainly my hope. >> host: eleven minutes left with our guest, admiral james stavridis. nancy, st. james, florida. ing hi. >> caller: hi. fascinating show. thank you for taking my call. i wanted to talk for a minute if about leading up to your next book, admiral, and the preface to myhusband and i were at the southern festival of books back in october of 2019 and met elliot ackerman who was a thoughtful speaker. he was on a panel also recorded
on c-span for booktv discussing war and the military. he had written places and names on war revolution and returning. he was sitting with another author, clay risen, who wrote the book, the crowded hour, and it was a great program. so we met him, and i'm curious about the process of you co-writing your next book, 2034, with someone like elliot ackerman versus writing novels on your own or your nonfiction on your own. and then could you give us a little insider's peek into your upcoming novel, 2034, due out in march of 2021? >> host: thank you, nancy. >> guest: i sure can. and, by the way, bob mccomber is himself a very serious author, a whole series of books about the american naval captain peter wake at the end of the 19th century and early 20th
century. and, please, give my best to bob mccomber, a dear friend and a great writer. i'll tell you how i became a novelist. i wrote nine books, and they were all nonfiction. and i've always wanted to write a novel. i love fiction. any book list that i offer to people is going to be two this thirds fiction. i think we -- two-thirds fiction. i think we learn best if fiction, from reading fiction. so i went to my ed editor at penguin press, wonderful guy, scott. i said, scott, i'm to write a novel. and scott looked at me and said, admiral, you're a great writer, but you are no novelist. [laughter] i said, yes, i am. i was like a little kid. i can write a novel, i know how to write fiction. and he said, all right, all right, all right, fine. go ahead and, you know, give me an outline, give me a sample chapter or two. so i did all that, i sent it to
scott and he called me up and said, admiral, you're a great guy, you're a great writer, you are not a novelist. i mean, i was crushed. but scott said, but i have an idea. i know a novelist, elliot ackerman, who himself was short-listed for the national book award for his second novel, dark at the crossing. elliot has a new novel out which i highly recommend about a love triangle in us istanbul. so scott said, admiral, how about if you and elliot take your idea about a novel about a world war with china and collaborate on it. so, nancy, the way we did this was i would do kind of the outline, the big idea of the geopolitics, the strategy, the war fighting, the technology. elliot, who is truly a gifted novelist, would then write the people into it. he'd make the characters come alive. and i think it's a nice mix as a
it's come out. and the sneak peek is the subtitle which is 2034, that's the year, so it's set roughly 15 years from now, 2034: a novel of the next world war. and it's a story about how the united states could, in fact, stumble into a real war, a shooting war with china. and what would that look like. how would it start. would there be nuclear exchanges? would there be strategic nuclear exchanges, or would it stop at tactical nuclear exchanges? what role would india play? because as this century unfolds, the role of india going to get more and more important. what is the impact on people who get swept up in a global war like this? the cast of characters have both
chinese and americans and indians and russians and iranians. it's a very rich pallet of -- pa let of carriers. it's not a long book. it's definitely not a tech no-thriller. it's not tom clancy showing you the latest device in the war. it's a cautionary tale about what a war might look like, what its impact would be on real people and countries. and i think, i think it's a very moving book, at the end of the day. and i think of it as some of the literature that came out of the cold war was cautionary. the novel fail safe, about the united states and russia almost getting into a nuclear war and having a tactical nuclear exchange, or the novel the bedford incident about a navy destroyer that seeks to track a russian submarine, expect
captain of that destroyer becomes a modern-day ahab, as in moby dick, tracking that submarine game and the cat and mouse game they play off the coast of greenland and how that could have dragged those two nations into a war. or on the beach by neville shoot, an australian, about a nuclear education change that contaminates the world's environment. these are cautionary tales. they're novels, they're fiction. they're not designed to be predictive. they are, hopefully, the opposite of predictive in that they are cost-sharing. >> host: as we do with all or authors who are on "in depth," we can them what some of their favorite books are, what they're currently reading. admiral stavridis sent us two pages worth, but we're going to show you a couple of those, and that includes margaret atwood's
the hand maid's tale, the guns of august, a brief history of seven killings by marlon james, some other books that he included include tom wolfe with's bonfire of the vanities, underground railroad. the hand maid's tale, admiral? >> guest: oh, what a marvelous, marvelous work of imagination. i'm going to guess that many people will have seen the series on cable television which i think is okay. the book is so chilling, it will stop your heart. it is about a patriarchy that dominates women. it is about the ultimate authoritarian state. it's deeply moving, beautifully written. every year, peter, when the nobel prize for literature is announced, i wake up hoping that it is going to be margaret
atwood because of the scope of her imagination. she's won the booker prize twice and, i think, is among the greatest of living writers. she's canadian, by the way, for folks who don't know that. the hand maid's tale the ultimate cautionary tale for our time about an end game of an authoritarian state. it's a beautiful book. >> host: currently reading the splendid and the vile by eric larson, the glass hotel by emily st. john and red dress in black and white by elliot ackerman who is the co-author of his upcoming new novel, "2034." charles in fayetteville, north carolina, we have one and a half minutes. >> caller: good morning to you -- or good afternoon to you, gentlemen. thank you very much for taking my call. admiral, i also am a u.s. navy man having served aboard the uss ryan mccormack as the vietnam
war was wining down. and i have one -- winding down. and i have one very important question for you, i think, and that is what are your thoughts regarding a person who has not always lived their life sailing true north, but who wants to end their years here on this earth in that direction? that is to say, making the necessary course changes in their life that their life may exemplify sailing true north? thank you very much for your service, sir. >> guest: thank you very much for yours as well, shipmate. i remember ryan mccormack very well. i think turn for turn, those adams class guided missile destroyers were the most powerful ships we ever put to sea, so well done, you, for sail anything a perfect destroyer.
you question is a perfect way to end our conversationed today. i couldn't have have scripted it better. and, again, i want to go back to john mccain whose portrait is above me here. john mccain would be the first to anytime that his life was not -- admit that his life was not always sailing true north, and any of us who were honest would say all of our lives are a series of left full rudder or right standard rudder, maybe backing down a little from time to time. but the more you sail at sea, the more you understand that you can recover the course, you can come back from a bad turn, you can reverse course completely if you've really gone off the rails. and there are so many instances of that in literature, in life, and i think we need to celebrate those who have that capability above all. some people are very lucky, and they kind of instinctively sail
true north. my wife laura is like that. she has the purest, good heart of anybody i -- goodest heart of anybody i know. very few people are like that. the vast majority of us have to find our way on that compass rose to sail true north. i can only encourage everybody to do three things. think about it in the quiet hours of the night, ask yourself how am i doing. number two, look for examples in life of people who are doing that, who have come back from deeply challenging situations. that's what sailing true north is often about, in my book. and, number three, read, read, read. find those stories and celebrate them with others. thank you for a great question, and thank you for your service in the navy. >> host: and as admiral stavridis writes in his most recent book, "sailing true north," the outlines of success are not always apparent in early