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tv   Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates Discusses the Role of the Military  CSPAN  July 4, 2020 8:00pm-8:46pm EDT

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level of collaborative spirit within the ilkntific community of this or stature in my life. news, s very encouraging things have moved as fast as they can possibly move. by the have hopefully end of this month two to three drugs e four potential including antibodies that will virus, they are still in advance studies, i cannot comment on which they work or or which settings they work on. or five or ve four six new modalities to treat the virus.atory phase of the announcer: watch tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q & a. next former defense secretary thoughtstes shares his on american leadership in international affairs during an hosted by the chicago council on global affairs. e also talks about his
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experience serving under presidents george w bush and barack obama. this is 45 minutes. > my name is steve, on behalf of the crown family, it's my pleasure to welcome to you the econd annual distinguished lecture or u.s. foreign policy. we hosted lecture former defense secretary jim audience front of an of 900 people, a situation that unthinkable today. the pandemic has transformed ociety and international relations, along with protests, there are fundamental questions america's global leadership, image, and power. these questions have elevated work of tance of the the lester crown center on u.s. policy and the chicago council on which i and my founded. this is a forum for a discussion f perspectives on the big
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global questions. it can be policy makers, military leaders and journalists and analysts on the council same time to discuss their insights and others.lic the center produces original research to deepen our proposed ing of the solutions to critical global challenges including their report, the annual chicago council survey of opinion on u.s. foreign policy. the 2020 installment will be released later in the summer. as the council approaches its centenarian in 2020, the center enhance this to important work well into its century. turning to this afternoon's program, it's my honor to welcome our distinguished speaker, by way of a recent introduction, he was the 22nd of defense under both president george w. bush and president barack obama. an officer in the united states air force who orked in the c.i.a. before
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being appointed directly with the agency. he was a member of the national in four staff administrations and served eight political of both parties. his nongovernmental leader roles including president of texas a&m from 2002 to 2006. e is credibilitily chancellor of the college of william & mary. e is the author of four books his r. gates will be in a conversation today with the president of the chicago council affairs since 2013, served as a u.s. permanent 2009sentative to nato from to 2013 and on the national staff under cil president bill clinton. co-author. adies and gentlemen, please
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join me in welcoming former secretary of state and official of the c.i.a. dr. robert m gates and ambassador. thank you, steve, and thanks to the crown family for the nvaluable support of the council which allows us to deliver the timely and critical a eign policy analysis to growing national and global audience. elcome to all of you today for joining us. if this is your first event with us, please take a moment to website at r we host over 100 programs, we do research on a whole variety of issues that may be important to you. the record, a n recording will be available on our website and on social media after we finish. please share this with your family and your friends. reminder, the council is an independent and nonpartisan expressednd the views
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by individuals we host are their own and do not represent the or viewsonal positions of the council. i'll start a conversation with and after about 30 minutes or so, we'll take your questions which you can typing into your browser. submit the question you would to ask secretary gates. lease also consider purchasing secretary gates' latest book. a chance to t had purchase before today's event, in the chat t function here on zoom. thank you for joining us here really ernoon, it's reat to be back on the chicago council. sec. gates: it's great to be back here with you.
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vo: congrats on a terrific book, it's a good and easy lead. ou chronicled the exercise of power over the last 30 years by four different presidents, we'll comment on the themes and -- commonalities in a moment. you were in the administration of george w bush as the cold war winding down and as the gulf war was taking place. of the c.i.a. or in the final couple of years of that administration. in thatut yourself back situation at the end of the administration looking forward post-cold war period, what did you think that world would look like and what did you think, what did you think at hat time america's role in it would be or should be?
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sec. gates: most intelligence officers are pessimistic by nature. n fact, the "washington post" at one point called me the lightning and the darkest cloud. when i stood in my office at i was director in december of 1992, i was really about the future. we, the united states dominated world in a comprehensive way ilitarily, politically, econnormally, culturally, as i ay in the book, unparalleled since probably the roman empire. some e actually making progress on middle east peace the demise after the iraq gulf war and we obviously have good relationship
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with russia at that point president eagan and bush had both worked with we had reached out to yeltsin, the president of russia and the leader of the union, if you will. i really thought the future was bright and we had a great team in the first bush baker was ion, jim ecretary of state, dick chaney was secretary of defense and sokov was national ecurity advisor, we worked together smoothly and it looked like the prospect was very bright. ivo: when you read your book, it doesn't look like the last 30 that every panned out in he way you were hoping in some
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ways. the big question is what went wrong? sec. gates: that was the germ of n idea that really led to my writing the book was given where 1992 and t the end of fast forward 30 years and we are at every turn by challenges both internal and xternal, perceived as withdrawing from a global leadership role, in some respect we are. we're fighting three crises here inside the united states, a racial a es, an economic crisis, public health crisis and thayer ll linked together in one way or another and we're paralyzed. the congress can't do anything consequence because of the partisan divide. -- wanted to go
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we get look at how did in his place, particularly terms of the world. what were the things that went rong and where there successes that we could point to. review 15 book to different foreign policy challenges that we experienced years, the ast 30 bvious ones, russia, china, iran, iraq, afghanistan, but the right thing and not getting into syria, did thing in the way so the about others, book is really, tries to address did uestion you asked, how we go from the pinnacle at the 1992 to where we are today.
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ivo: before i get to sort of answer which also lays out your where we need to go, as major national15 security issues, crises, pick one or two where we did it it right, wewe got did the right thing and it way.ed out in the right sec. gates: the two biggest in esses that i write about he book is colombia on a bipartisan basis under three successive presidents, we were its to help colombia pull of becoming brink a state controlled by criminal syndicates. president clinton and one of the lessons was we local partner ng in president uribe who was strengthen the institutions of colombia. he was anti-corruption.
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he was dedicated to democratic and he ls and ideals wanted the colombians to do it themselves. of then on the other side the coin, the congress actually limited the size of the presence the u.s. could have in colombia. people, lly it was 400 u.s. people in uniform and it finally grew to 800 but that was and the same thing on civilians. so it forced an arrangement in support of e columbians going against them themselves. provided the equipment and intelligence, but they carried the fight. the other aspect of it, this is instances in e which the state department was there were many
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agencies that were involved, the or ice department over 10 12-year period trained something columbian judges. the main point was we had a partner and we were in support of that partner rather than doing the job ourselves. the other success was president initiative to deal with africa.aids in and, again, it had broad for tisan support considerable funding, tens of illions of dollars over an extended period of time that literally saved millions and lives in africa and one of the things that made it ork was that a number of different agencies in washington had a role in it, but the designated a single
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person to be in charge in the tate department who had authority over the budget and over the programs so there was a and an integration of all the government efforts in that was very, very are and the entire project ended up being really enormously successful. were two important successes i think during the period and quite honestly, out examples that i cite, two are about the only successes. ivo: i was going to ask you about the other 13. where you think we really got it wrong and the get to the we'll lessons that we learned from both of those about where we should go in the future. we go back those 30 years, where wrong? really get it sec. gates: i think one of the main lessons of the book and it raws on our experience in
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somalia, haiti, iraq, and fghanistan is that in every case, our initial military and ement was successful the original military mission was accomplished quickly. the taliban and al qaeda were usted from afghanistan literally in about five weeks. overthrown in time.arly small period of our original humanitarian effort in somalia was very successful our troops. but the one characteric all four had in common that led to that we undertook to, we undertook nation building. to change the culture each of olitics of those countries, each with its own long history, some like
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a long history with in every instance those a failure.gely were and we've spent many years in iraq and afghanistan and one of the points that i make in the book is that i we were in a position to have left afghanistan in january 2002. we had an internationally recognized government there, all f the different parties have come together and agreed on lead y to be an interim leader. the government had international recognition, a number of countries were prepared to afghan te money for reconstruction and construction nd that would have been a moment for us to leave. but in every case, it was the a success, sion was but only when we expanded our
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and became too ambitious in terms of what we were going to try and do in each these countries that we ended up getting into trouble. factor in success and failure seems to be that if you're going to involve yourself a nation building exercise or helping a nation to solve the and y and economic political problems that may have led to the conflict, if you don't have a partner that on the leads that ground, you're not going to be able to success, you can't do it someone else. sec. gates: you cannot impose country. on another one of my favorite quotes is from churchill where at the end 1944 was urged to overthrow a greece, ship in athens, who was actually a very strong impose a e allies and democratic government and churchill's response was democracy is not a har lot to be picked up in the street at the point of a tommy gun. the point is you can't impose
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at the point of a gun. so if you're going to be nation building, i think what we didn't understand hope my is the lesson i book teaches, is it really is a and it sayndertaking predominantly civilian undertaking. what we can do is encourage them, give them help as we did colombia in institution building training judges and getting law, a to the rule of variety of civilian agencies nvolved such as development assistance with u.s. agency for international development and so n, so if we're going to be involved in nation building and in some places i think we can be at very low cost, it has to be a civilian-dominated understandwe have to that it's a very long timeline. had troops in south korea, we've had them for 70 years.
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south korea did not become a democracy until well into the 1980's. it was a long process. we had tens of thousands of troops in the country for that so this is not something that can be done with say, rt time line or, as i at the point perfect a gun. ivo: let me remind our audience, to ask a question of secretary gates, you can do so browser and o your ask a question there and we'll few minutes.n a the overarching lesson, i think, this set of issues point to that really is at the core of book is that the overmilitarization of our foreign policy, that the is not only just a very united ument that the states has, but has displaced other nonmilitary instruments
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engagement broad. nd part of it is a very strong military, the other part of it weakening state department and economic instruments and other instruments of power that we had. why did that happen? cold war after the with the peace dividend, the military actually gone down and means of our y poweren emphasized more than it turned out they were? sec. gates: a lot of people one of the e that significant contributing factors o success in the cold war were the nonmilitary instruments of power. the cold war took place against backdrop of the biggest arms buildup, arms race in the world, but the because the soviet union and the nited states could not fight without both countries being destroyed, that competition took place using other means.
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for example, our decades long soviets deny the technology that would assist their military programs, but modernization of their economy. trategic communications, the united states information agency, you know, it's hay day in the kennedy administration under people like dward r. murrow and in the reagan administration under people like charlie wick had reached to every corner of the world. 1990's, i think because of the hubris that came with war and our e cold standing alone atop the world, you will, i think that the ongress and presidents essentially thought that these instruments could be dismantled. it was the congress in 1998 that eliminated the united states information agency, the congress wanted to time eliminate u.s. agency for international development and
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clinton refused to do that, but then tucked the agency under the state department where had less independence and lower profile. all of these instruments that we either dismantled or saved of resources, even as the military, t had some budget cuts during the 1990's after the end of the cold war, but it remained so it was kind of -- it was a man bites dog story when at the first year of secretary in the fall of 2007, i called peech in which i for more resources for the state department. obody had ever heard of the secretary of defense calling for more resources for the state secretary of t as state condi rice would like to remind me, i had more people in than she had in the foreign service. with respect to vermilitarization, it kind of
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recalls the old principal, if the only tool you have is a hammer, than every problem looks like a nail. nd so i think we began to look at international problems through that lens and that was view the reasons in my hat we overmilitary advertise ourover military advertised foreign policy. it was a tool rather than a last resort. ivo: the muscle memory for these you point out in the book that president trump tried to cut state department assistance by 30% in 2017, again in 2018 and those numbers,ed but those numbers are still is necessary hat for the state department to be the kind of effective rganization that you think it should be, the economic instruments could be stronger capable, the
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communication ability of the more robust. to be is eed more resources, how that going to happen? sec. gates: one of the ironies f the last 20 years or so is that as congress has become more of more soured on the use military force, at the same time they have cut the resources for nonmilitary instruments of power, so kind of where are you going from there? don't want to use the military, but you're not going the civilian sector of foreign policy, the instruments, then how do you sustain global leadership. my concern is that we are perceived and are ithdrawing from our global responsibilities. i think it's because people don't understand and our leaders educate the o american people that engagement n the world is not about some
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objective, uistic for our public health and security is for us to be able to shape the international environment and we through these instruments, through institutions we have helped and through our allies and friends. make in the book is, if you're going to be able o sell the congress on providing more resources for these nonmilitary instruments, that so have to recognize many of them are outdated, that our national security structures based on the 1947 law that was passed sort of in the of the cold war and the eed for a restructuring of the national security apparatus, the tate department needs significant reform, both culturally, and
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other agencies i think need change as well. nly if they're willing to make these changes or if they're willing to make these changes, then you have a stronger go to the congress and get more resources. i think part of the problem is them ss doesn't see operating very well and, therefore, just didn't want to more money into a structure that it doesn't think works or effective. vo: before we go to the questions which we will very oon, another question for you that when you look at the world we're living in today, threats like covid today are killing more people we see itary threats, with the pandemic, we see it 280 an estimate that some million people are facing near climateon in the world, change really fundamentally changing some very big ways in societies are
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organized. these are becoming the new kinds as hreats that i know you the setting of defense -- dealtary of defense had to with it. how does it mean for the government, for the way they these things or tackle these issues. how do we integrate these in our national security strategies? sec. gates: i think we need to, national security structure itself needs to be modernized. s an example, under the national security act of 1947, of the formal members national security council are the president, the vice president, the secretaries of and defense, period. the director of national chairman of and the the joint chiefs are advisors to the n.s.c. four are the only members. there is no one that has a guaranteed place at the table, has anything hat to do with economics, economics, not to
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mention the other problems that we're facing and why shouldn't a more flexible national security council that the permanent presence of the secretary of the treasury, but perhaps others in arena, but also the in public bring health officials and people on the environment because the truth of the matter is, the national security as strong as it is in 2020 is still far more effective the domestic policy side of he white house and it has been that way almost forever. and part of it is that the has so much more authority in the national arena to be able to get things done than he does in the arena.c and so in the gulf war, the that we had ittee
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under the first president bush up handling a whole array of problems that were not national security, but ere dimensions of the war that had to be addressed. is for the he start executive branch and the to figure out er what kind of a new structure in place and t then i think you can begin to rgue as i said before for the resources for these nonmilitary functions. be clear, i'm not talking about a zero sum game here. not talking cutting the defense budget. i'm talking about finding the the ional resources for nonmilitary instruments. believe me, the disparity in cost is extraordinary. from ive you one example
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the book. when we intervened in libya, our military if you put together all of the proposed civilian programs that , some of which were implemented, most of which were not, the total cost was about $200 million. a fifth of the cost of a relatively brief military engagement. soldiers you00 sent overseas, everyone thousand soldiers, the cost is about $1 billion. it kind of put things into perspective. ivo: it certainly does. let me move to some of the questions we are getting online. if you want to ask a question, we will get to it. first question that we have -- to what extent does racial injustice at home limit our ability to implement our foreign policy objectives abroad?
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sec. gates: i think that the united states as a model for itscracy and for the way political life is conducted has been tarnished in recent years. i think it's for several reasons. so paralyzede're politically. people look at china and the chinese will say look at what we've done. we've brought hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. we have 21st century infrastructure. people look at us and see we are totally paralyzed in terms of addressing any of our big problems here at home. whether it is immigration, education or infrastructure, or as we have seen this week, the ability on the senate to agree on basic police reforms when it comes to racial injustice. --, i think racial injustice
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this has been a constant factor for america for really our whole history. i think that the negative impact in the past has been minimized by the fact that we were seen as trying to solve the problem. and we did make progress. not nearly enough progress as we have seen, but i think most foreigners saw the united states as a model and a country that recognized its flaws and was trying to address them. recognize them and admitted thei r fallaws, but still attemptingo remedy them. i think that the broader circle of failures has tarnished our overseas, just as the 2008-2009 economic crisis tarnished the model of american capitalism as far as the rest of
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the world was concerned. our inability compared to other countries to get control of the coronavirus is contributing to the image of an america that, frankly, for the first time in our history is perceived as incompetent. ivo: that leads directly to the next question which is about china and the degree to which we are engaged in a war of influence with china. the hearts and minds of folks abroad for influence in international institutions. now competition that is shaping what is happening in the world. competitions developing? how can the united states come out of this in a way that makes sure we are not on the losing end of it? sec. gates: the problem is the chinese have been investing for
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years in the nonmilitary instruments that we've been discussing. and it started before president xi. at one pointjintao allocated $7 billion to expand the chinese strategic communications effort around the world. they have built confucius institutes. there are over 500 confucius institutes and universities around the world. we have about 80 of them in the united states that are basically tools for chinese propaganda, to monitor chinese students studying in the united states and so on. they have built television networks. they have purchased communications systems in other countries, particularly in africa. they have made a worldwide investment in promoting the chinese example, promoting the chinese model, and promoting chinese policies. they have one of the most
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obvious instruments that they have been using is development assistance through the belt and road project. it is roughly a $1 trillion undertaking. and dozens and dozens of countries all over the world have these projects. now, you can argue that some of them saddle these countries with unsustainable debt. a lot of them are white elephant projects. there's corruption involved. the chinese required that the countries used chinese companies in using these projects. nonetheless, scores of countries have signed up for these projects and it is a huge, global effort by china, in effect to shape the infrastructure, particularly in developing countries. but they are even doing belt and road projects in italy and some of the south american countries. this is another area where they have been willing to invest a
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huge amount of money. so, we need to back up -- as i say, how can the country that invented public relations be so far behind in this arena? it kind of goes back to the dismantling of the u.s. information agency and more. and on the economic assistance side, development assistance, we need to change the way we do it. another contribution that second president bush made, and that was creating new criteria for foreign assistance projects that were created through the millennium challenge corporation and so on. criteria of countries we support, that would provide assistance, they actually support the united states. and making something we evaluate. great of a cabability -- greater accountability. above all, we need to be more creative about how does government and the private sector in the united states
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totally outweighs the state fun ding that the chinese government can provide. how do we galvanize the private sector? how does the government incentivize companies to invest and develop in countries? in projects that make sense, that are profitable, that benefit both the american company and the receiving company. we can do that. we do it all the time. our companies invest all over the world. how can we help structure a partnership out of that that advances our interest? ivo: another question coming from the audience here is the u.s. has long been blessed by two -- but in the world of cyber, that largely becomes irrelevant. what are the key implications of the cyber threat for our known security and how should we deal
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with them? sec. gates: this is where i think our leadership, both in the white house and in the congress, has fallen short. in terms of educating the american people that we can't isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. our oceans don't work anymore in that respect. we should have learned that lesson once and for all in 2001 when a bunch of people out of afghanistan became the first people to attack the continental united states since the war of 1812. then comes the coronavirus, again, coming from outside our borders and we can't stop it. and, you have cyber -- our economy is totally integrated into the rest of the world. if you don't believe that, just ask american farmers in the midwest who sell huge amounts of their crops overseas, including to china.
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most, ie, cyber is the think as i described in the book, probably the most significant weapon in a nation's arsenal today because not only can it be used for political purposes in terms of communicating messages, in terms of planning bots trying to create division and trouble with another countries, and between other countries, it can be used to disable or reorient weapon systems. they can be used to wreck economic infrastructure. so, this is a monumentally important tool. and one of the criticisms that i have in the book is both the chinese and the russians have figured out how to use cyber to interfere in our democratic processes. and frankly, to set americans against one another and to try to set us and our allies at odds. we really have not done any of that.
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we have developed cyber tools to defend our infrastructure, to defend our weapons systems, but in terms of using cyber offensively, the united states really has no strategy and it does very little. why can't we use cyber to get behind the russian and chinese firewalls to tell their people what their leadership is actually doing and how corrupt they are and so on? an intelligence analyst. that is where your background is. you look for patterns in order to understand what is happening today and where we may be tomorrow. a question related to that is what similarities or differences do you see between the current global situation and the 1930's? the global depression that was there. the very real potential for global war that existed in the 1930's. is there -- can we learn
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lessons from that period that are applicable today? sec. gates: i actually think that the more accurate comparison is the pre-world war i period. you have a number of great nationstates competing with each other for power, markets, territory, influence and so on. you don't have effective international institutions. you have sort of unbridled economic competition. you have rising powers,. before world war i, it was rising germany and was perceived to be a declining or stagnant britain. with chinae that now and the united states. and you have these massive militaries and we are deployed everywhere.
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leadersorld war i, the a sickly blundered into a world war that nobody wanted and nobody expected. one of my worries is that when tensions are as high as they are between us and the chinese, between us and the iranians, between us and the north koreans, us and the russians -- and with all these deployed forces, what is the risk of an incident in the south china sea or the baltic sea with the navies or air forces escalating out of control? we had a lot of agreements with the soviet union to prevent just that sort of thing. we had an agreement on incidents at sea, how to prevent incidents at sea. specific procedures on how you having aid getting -- situation escalate. analogy, thethe
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one analogy -- i think one of the reasons that world war i is a better analogy is i don't think you have anyone right now, at least in eitherted states, who is ignorant of or unwilling to face the challenge posed by a china or a russia. there is not anybody saying let them conquer whoever they want, we will just a out of it. -- stay out of it. i don't think we have that. rather what i see is this unbridled competition between great powers that has its own risks. ivo: as you rightly said in terms of the cold war, we put together engagement. we talked to each other while we were competing and agreements, and that's not happening. what we are seeing is these troops deployed and the lack of
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conversations that are happening. i think that is the purpose of you writing the book, "the exercise of power," in order to lay out a series of steps that needs to be taken and answer nonmilitary instruments of power. create a symphony of power. so, i've got to ask, there is an election coming up. i think that's what they are saying. who's most likely to make the changes you think are necessary? sec. gates: well, in all honesty, i am not sure. i've said some negative things about both of the candidates in the past. guess part of the problem is i don't see anybody even talking about these issues. in fact, i don't think either of the candidates is really talking much about any issues. so, i don't think we have any basis on which to judge because , neither partyte
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has any set of coherent ideas on how you address any of these problems that we've been talking about today. and it would be nice to see some of come up and say here's how we will begin to address some of these problems. whether it is the nonmilitary instruments of power, how did you integrate nonmilitary instruments? what role should the united states be playing? i think that is pretty fundamental. and neither candidate is talking about that. my hope would be somewhere down the road before november, somebody will actually begin discussing some substantive issues and give us some guidance in answering the question you ask. ivo: i hope they do, and if they do, they should do it at the chicago council on global affairs. secretary gates, you have been


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