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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  April 17, 2011 10:00am-11:00am EDT

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world war i was created by the rise and power of germany and fear created britain and then many others are transporting it into the future and saying the 21st century will be the rise of the power of china and the fear it creates in the u.s. it's bad history. bad history because if you look at britain and germany, germany had passed britain by 1900 in terms of it economic power. if you believe what i said earlier and supported my facts that are in chapter six of the book, china's not going to pass the u.s. for another couple of decades, if then. which mean we have time. we don't have to get alarmed and overly fearful. we have time to manage this relationship. it will not be easy. the dangers that china -- because it thinks the americans are in decline -- suffers from hubris which says we can press them harder. and the americans thinking we're in decline suffer from fear which means we overreact or
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react the wrong way. .. >> you have military power among states. they are the united states is the only power, the only country to project power globally. i think it'll stay that way for another couple of decades. if you look at the middle board of economic relations, the world is multicolored. it has been for a couple of
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decades. this is the area where you can act as a unit. when it does act as a unit it's a country that is bigger than the united states. you have china, japan and others that can help balance american power. you know pull a dirt -- whethere agents like the terrorists and al qaeda or transnational crime syndicates, or whether it be in personal forces like pandemics are global climate change, power in this domain is chaotic. it makes no sense to use all your categories of unipolarity or multipolarity to understand this. the only way you can deal with these issues that are creating new and more important challenges from this bottom chessboard of three-dimensional game is by getting cooperation. that's going to require much
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more use of soft power as well as mixed with hard power. iin the area and what we see isa need for a new and far more sophisticated strategy which we need to think of power sometimes as a zero-sum game and sometimes as a positive-sum game. we need to think to power over others. as far as deterrence or naval balances. we also need to think of power with others. for example, dealing with climate change or pandemics or tears. we have to learn to do both of those at the same time. that will require much more sophisticated understanding of power and how you combined hard and soft power into the effective smart our strategies. to summarize, when hillary clinton said in the and not go hearings, that smart power meant using all the tools in our toolbox. will have to be much better at
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using all the tools in our toolbox then we have been so far. and in the process of encouraging a as i tried right in his book. so that's enough for me. i would much rather hear from you. over to you. >> thank you very much, joe. i wonder if i might start with the question before throwing the floor open. 20 years after the end of the cold war, 20 years after publication, it seems to me that in many ways the united states is still trying to define the role of american power in the world. what are we trying to do with american power and american purpose? and given what you've written here could you outline for us just a few of the tenets you think should underline the narrative of america's role in the world? >> it's a good point because i don't think you're going to find a nice easy slogan, although there's sometimes what can
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replace containment. i think looking for the bumper sticker may not be helpful. if i had to choose a bumper sticker, smart our strategies that use hard and soft carpet or in a book i talk about the need to overcome this difference between liberalism and realism. i say somewhat facetiously. i don't find this dichotomy very useful, that you need both. but what that means in particular is thinking through how do you maintain your position as a strong military power, and not squander your resources your how do you maintain your economic strength at home, and how do you project your soft power and learn how to do that in the right proportions? a combination of hard and soft power is not easy. if you take something like counterinsurgency strategy, which i know people work a lot
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on, pioneers on, that's a good example which you combined hard and soft power. going is interesting because instead of saying i maximize my heart are by how many i can kill, you say no, i want to maximize how many civilian minds i can win. and that is not measured by how many of the enemy soldiers i kill. smart power also requires figuring out how to organize the government so you can use both the resources of state department and the defense department and combined in any effective ways. in our political culture we have this bizarre thing that we can't think clearly about this. we have a government of one giant and a lot of pygmies. there was an account that was in the pentagon which secretary gates said should be transferred to the state department. and when it was transferred from pentagon to state, congress cut
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in half. that's ridiculous. until we learn how to think more clearly about what smart power is, they need to combined hard and soft to reinforce each other, we're not going to be very good at effective strategies. right now is a congressperson, congresswoman i should say, who's a good friend of mine said you're absolutely right about needing to use more soft power. i just can't get up on a political platform and say that. there's something wrong about our ability when we can't talk about it, half or a third of the components of what goes into using all the tools in the toolbox. that's what i tried to get at when i do smart power as my bumper sticker, it doesn't solve all problems. it tries to get people to think of more sophisticated way of what is involved in combined the power.
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>> thanks for coming. i'm just wondering i think you said total foreign policy and it seemed like the american people don't always, they want to know who the enemy and who is not. do think that would be a problem selling that to the american people and do you have any idea how to do that? >> well, it is a problem. it is a problem because it's much easier if you're clear white hats and clear backpacks, and that's all there is to it. when somebody is a white hat one man and a black cat another, sometimes it is great, then have the more difficult way to think your way through it. take china. there's some areas where we and china are rivals. if china tries to push us out from the coast to the second island chain, that's pretty much a zero-sum.
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i think we'll stay much closer than that. something we can debate in another context but that could be easier. if on the other hand we want to deal with something, do something about climate change, the better china gets a climate change the better off we are. they are better off, we are better off. so in some situations where it is zero-sum and other situations is a positive sum, there will be some that are mixed elements of both. so it's hard, it's hard to get public to think in those terms. it's much easier than back in the cold war, iron curtain, it clear line, good guys on this site, bad guys on this site. the world in which you have the rise of the rest and the diffusion of power from state and nonstate actors will become much more complex world which will require much more subtle strategies. and that's hard in our political culture for politicians to
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explain that. it's much easier to do the simple white hat, black cat. black hat. >> you said about the u.s. will probably be the dominant military power for decades to come. the only one to project power globally. but what about simple white hat, black cat. black hat. asymmetry? we were humbled by asymmetry in the form of roadside suicide bombs in iraq and let me in afghanistan. might for instance, a power like the chinese use a more high-tech subtle version of asymmetry to come as you just said, tried to lock us out of the first island chain? might we be in danger of having the world's greatest navy and air force, but meaning less about what we can ask we do with that? >> i think that's a great question and that's why i have a whole chapter in a book on cyber
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power. because if you think of the naval domain, americans appear to -- american superiority in the ocean, you can say we have naval superiority and it is likely to stay. people say my goodness, china is developing a carrier. there's a long distance as you know better than anyone. so the question then gets to asymmetries, and the interesting question, the chinese military talk about asymmetries and if i had one, if i had minus one carrier and americans at 11, i would talk about asymmetries. the question is can they really do it. i think if you look carefully at the cyber domain, the americans are still way ahead on cyber offense. but at the same time we are more vulnerable because we depend on cyber. the question is how do we
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improve the resilience and robustness of our systems? just taking this issue pushing americans pass first island chain, people made fuss about 21 ballistic missiles which can hit a carrier. guess what? we can use cyber the other direction on that as well as their using ballistic missile. so cyber cuts in multiple directions. there's also the point people say there's no deterrence insider. yes, there is deterrence. it's a different type of deterrence. it's not the deterrence in which you bomb their city after they have bombed your city. deterrence through entanglement. why is it that china has so many dollars and doesn't dump their dollars to bring the u.s. to its knees? because they would bring themselves to their ankles. the same thing why doesn't china use cyber to essentially bring the americans to their knees? because it could bring them to their ankles. and that i think, we have to
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begin to think through what these asymmetries mean, there will be some military domains where we will remain well ahead. there will be other military domains where i don't think you can count on superiority. i think we can't count on superiority and cyber but which we can do the smart strategy to make sure they can't remove our capabilities in, let's say, the naval domain. >> you said you consider yourself a liberal. niall ferguson, professor at harvard just published an article stating the obama administration's response to egypt was a disaster. as a liberal realist how would you create the administration spots and looking forward towards how they should respond to iran and other countries?
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how would you look at that? >> i think actually obama's response in egypt is not a disaster. and this is, this is a good example of what i mean by needing a strategy. if you think about, should i abandon the government, should i forget the government, no, so i. governments are still the most important actors. isolate major objectives of hard power world by bouncing iranian strategy by maintain the peace between israel and egypt. to just say this when we overthrow mubarak the better, and suppose you wind up with chaos after that. that's not a foreign policy. a human rights policy is part of a foreign policy. is not a foreign policy. it's a human rights policy. if you think of stability only working with the government and you ignore civil society, particularly in this civil society that is powered by information, that's an inadequate foreign policy also.
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the trick for obama or any government now is how do deal with governments and also deal with the people in tiger square. or military aid, for example, give you some influence over the government. that's a form of hard power. your narrative gives you some influence for the people in past year square. and i think the obama administration was trying to walk this tightrope and it wobbled several times. but i think it got down that tightrope relatively will. so i think new israel. he loves to simplify things. i don't think he got this one quite right either but i think it is a good illustration. is a friend of mine so i have -- we've had debates, lots of fun with it. but i think the key here is to learn how we going to combine your hard power, dealing with a government come into soft power dealing with civil society, and
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do them without one canceling out the other. i would argue that it was not easy but i don't think the obama administration did that badly on it. >> when given a second and third look around him for coming back to myself. >> i was wondering if you could just say more about how the u.s. should possibly change -- [inaudible] is largely made up of people of a certain age group, that often may be anti-american and how you think we should balance our narrative on a very, very thin line to walk? >> it hard cash that it is hard. are supported israel is not much farther in of the arab world. if you realize america's soft
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power doesn't just go out of government policy, it grows largely out of our civil society. and that's important because sometimes when we had a policy the government is following which makes is very unpopular, we can also have a soft power narrative that helps save us come if you want. go back to vietnam and think about the vietnam war. america was enormously unpopular around the world are people were marching through the streets all over with anti-american protester but watch with a scenic what they were not sing of economies -- they were singing martin of the teams we shall overcome. that's a level of ours desire with soft power. simply come after the iraq war very unpopular policy terms. but in terms of you look at the polls, even in the arab world, the muslim world more broadly, on issues like culture and
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technology and science technology, the americans to a certain amount of appeal. so we will have to realize a large part of our ability to project the narrative is not just government. it's society. and we ought to be -- chris is an expert on this. but we should be supporting the governments role in developing soft power is partly public policy and the passion a very free to there's a wonderful statement of walter cronkite who would say, famous broadcaster, which he said the most important part of human fumigation is not the 6000 kilometers, distance that you cover. it's a last three feet, the face-to-face communication. and the reason is there's credibility, when you're talking face-to-face and interaction
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with another human being, you judge that person from uss them. you have a sense whether it is credible or not. when you listen to what broadcasters coming from government, government has its own reasons to say what he sang on the broadcast. i suspect them. so you often you lose credibility. so policy matters but i'm not saying policy doesn't matter, but the point is if we think the projection of soft power s.o.b. with the government does, or public diplomacy, or so forth, and a simple government narrative we are missing a major point. the fact that they are 700,000 foreign students in the united states, the fact that the bill and melinda gates foundation is working on eradicating malaria in africa, these are the things that are true -- or hollywood in its own way. i mean, these are things that are generating a lot of america's soft power. the more the government stays out of the way of that, or is
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able to support it with a cut off so it's government controlled, that's i think the right way to generate american narrative. >> i'm just wondering what teacher up at night in terms of threats to the u.s. you seem very optimistic and i'm just curious what makes you worry specter are things that make me worried. anand, in fact, i deal with in e book. when i use to be just the national intelligence council, i would say to the various and the less after they had done their alignment of scenarios and assign probabilities to them, now, to which you think all this is wrong which makes you sensitive to assumptions you put them. so as i write the six chapter of the book on balance, the americans will still be the most powerful country in the next couple of decades of this entry,
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i asked myself that question, could make it all wrong? there's a variety of things. we failed to do the deficit and we failed to hand our secondary education problems. but the one that matches your question of what would make me the most worried is a nuclear terrorist attack on american cities. perhaps not one but a series in which we decide the right response is to close down, to curtail our civil liberties, our freedoms to curtail access to the outside, you know, to hunker down. that would have immediately undercut that power that we get that i quoted. it would be a way for us to shoot ourselves in our foot. and i think there is a last to hide of a probability that we could react that way. in other words, a series of large-scale, much larger than 9/11 terrorist attacks that
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plague into, pulled in, hunkered down, isolation, curtail civil liberties which is another way of undercutting our soft power, that world i think we can do ourselves considerable damage. and so that's the one that probably more than others keeps me up at night. >> you talked about being able to use power in concert with others, and i'm wondering what you think about a multilateral institutions like nato where it is yet a multilateral but kind of built in the cold war area for hard power purposes, do you think there is a role for an institution like that? do you think you should change with the future of that going forward? >> that united states has an
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extraordinary capacity to work with allies. i mean, there's an old conventional wisdom of the 19th century that alliances are temporary. your allies today are your enemies tomorrow, and these are mere conveniences. look at nato. hear something that starts in 1949. it's still going today. i was at the munich security council, as were others, and it was interesting to see that these countries to have a lot in common. they work closely together. when i was responsible for nato affairs in the pentagon, one of the things that struck me was how excruciatingly boring nato meetings were. that that was all too good. it was a lot of committees, a lot of mid-level people coordinating, seeing each other, not on a great concert halls a, but developing networks so when you want to pick up the phone and say we have a fuss over something, there was someone on
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the other end who knew you in a face to face way that you could get this thing solved. and so i think nato still has a role. it's not the same role that it had into the heart of the cold war but it is still an extraordinary important part of reassurance. and the reason that our military power remains important, one of them is reassurance. look at the situation with china. china doesn't reassure its allies. it scares them. so those allies want the americans. america reassures its allies. it's the soft power part of our allies is that makes them so effective. and i think as anne-marie slaughter put, she's the outgoing director of policy planning at state must not go back to the woodrow wilson school at princeton, said the real secret of americans success is our ability to create and maintain networks. some of those are formal alliances, some are not. but if the world is going to need more networked power, the
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americans are probably better at creating that network power than anybody else. and nato is just one good example of that. so i remain a believer in nato's importance. it's not going to play the same role in the hyper cold war but it is to import in this research and passionate in this reassurance of networking. >> a policy question and a process question. the policy question just spoken very well with the integration of smart power, soft power, hard power. but perhaps talk about, what ends the think american power should be directed to achieve, and what i think more useful to young people in the room, you patty great career of mixing academic studies of
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international relations and prices. one of the lessons that have carried over from the academic community to service in the government, and what do you wish would note you at got into the government the academy didn't teach you? >> the first question is easy to answer than the second. but on the question of to what ends of american power, i think if you look at, at the united states role, as the largest country if we don't produce public goods that help herself to help others, nobody else will. there's a theory of collective action that goes back that says it's easy to free ride to call it the biggest doesn't free ride because when the biggest free ride, they notice the difference. if you're a small actor and you're not going to miss much difference whether you free ride or don't be right. you might as well be right. americans are free riders in the '20s and '30s. china is a freeware to some
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extent today, can't afford to be much longer. but the americans do how it makes a huge difference whether we take a lead on something or done. whether it be military stability, whether the financial stability, whether it be climate change, whatever it is. these are things that could be good for us and good for others. if we don't do it it's not clear who else has the scale that we have to do it. i think that ought to be a guiding principle for american foreign policy. it's not that we are acting out of our national interest. it's that we're defining our national interest in a broad gateway rather than in their way. and it is in the seventh chapter of the book, i tried to go into that in some detail. on the question of academics and government as a career, they are very different in the sense, you know, when i came into government in the carter administration the first time, i
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had -- my total managerial, i managed one person from my secretary. and some people think i got the sign wrong in that relationship. so i guess it into an area where i was a bottle for nonproliferation policy, and i had to not only managed a staff but had to coordinate bureaus with hundreds of people in them. and it was on the job learning. like the proverbial being thrown into the swimming pool. if you did learn quickly, you are going to drown. and very quickly i learned if you try to do it yourself, which is your academic tendency, sit down in a closet and write the answer, you're going to drown. i've got to find ways to get these other people to support me. and perhaps that's where i discovered the soft power. i found that getting others, you know, attracting others to want to support you was crucial. and so i found ways, for
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example, i was doing the sector as states staff meeting in the morning and i could've taken the information which came from a small group of eight to 10 people and hoarded it. instead, what it did was tell these other bureaus, guess what, you come to my office and i will share this information with you, and i will also parcel out the work. so others want to come to my meetings because it was helpful to them, useful to them. so it essentially i learned this idea of on the job delegation and soft power bite essentially swimming in a pool when i didn't know how to swim. but at least it was the fear of drowning that perhaps helped. but the other thing about academic and government work is the difference that time makes. in academia, the premium is to get the right answer. so you want to get an extension
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on your papers so you can fine tune it and get a few more footnotes and get an eight. yes, you are getting an extension or you want to get this book written, but it's not quite like it like it might take me a couple more years. if you take a couple more years. here in government, if you're tasked to write a paper for the president to brief him for his meeting with the foreign minister of a visiting country, and the president speaks with the foreign minister at 4:00 and to working like crazy on this paper is it's not quite right, you finally get it quite right at 5:00, it's an f. not a minus, it's an f. it would've been far better to get a b+ come in time, and a perfect product delay. and that different in terms of time, the role that time plays in academic world, than any
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government world, is really quite difficult for many academics to get used to. they are just different prices you put on time. and so there are a lot of little things like that that you notice any difference of cultures. but i find it, i found in my experience, it was quite exhilarating to go back and forth between two very different cultures. it meant that you were pushed into a situation where, as i said one metaphor, you either swim or drown, or another way of putting it is it's a steep learning curve. one of the things that's most interesting in life is getting pushed into the steep learning curves. even writing the chapter on site and this book, i am still not expert but i had to make myself smart enough by cyber that i could write intelligently about cyber power. that was a steep learning curve, and anytime for the interns come in time have an option to take
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one job which is comfortable and another job which is a steep learning curve, take a steep learning curve but it just makes life a lot more interesting. >> in your book you reference the relationship between the balance of power and interdependence, i.e. u.s.-saudi relations relating to oil into could i was one in which would take would be on the balance of power and interdependence pertaining to science and technology evolving at the rate at which it is now. >> well, it's an enemy -- interesting question. technology change is so dramatic that it can, they can exaggerate asymmetries. what i argue in chapter three of economic and it dependence, it
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is not interdependence that gives power. it is a symmetry and interdependence that gives power. so if i depend on you and you depend on me equally, there's not enough are in that relationship. but if i depend on you and you don't depend on me, there's a symmetry that gives you a lot of power. so as we try to understand how would science and technology effect interdependence, someone affect power, science and technology can increase interdependence. the interesting question is to ask does it increase the symmetry or the asymmetry methods. in some areas it may and in some areas it may not. it's hard to generalize, but to go back to the question earlier, one has to ask, for example, if you're looking at the technological changes in cyber, how is it affecting those asymmetries. you can also have a balance of asymmetries. in other words, i may depend more on you in one area, you
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depend more on me in another area. that gives a balance of asymmetry. so the example you used, u.s. and saudi, we depend on saudi oil. saudi dependent on america ultimate america protection. so the bows of asymmetries meant that at time weren't there was a facial oil embargo against the united states, in fact we were not cut off. and, in fact, american naval ships were supplied with oil quietly at the time. so balance of asymmetry can also make a difference. so you want to look carefully at each technology and ask how does it affect not interdependence but asymmetries, and are there counteracting balances on asymmetries. >> you spoke at length about the cyclical nature of american decline, how currently it is paired with a fear of a rising china. i think part of that implication or one of the implications of
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that, that china has not bought into our soft power. and there's been much debate about how china has embraced economic civilization while refusing political liberalization. i just wonder what your thoughts on maybe the united states changing its soft power strategy towards china so it might bite into that in the future. >> the question of whether china political system in will work for the long-term or not is an open question. jokingly, we sometimes call it market leninism. you know, there's a willingness to use markets but you want a leninist, communist party to control that each group. one of the big questions that china is going to have to face is can you continue that? what are the problems of doing that as you get to high levels
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of per capita income. if you look at the expense the places like south korea or taiwan or elsewhere, after you get a certain level of per capita income, there's more of a demand for participation. and it is more of a demand for participation, you have a problem of how do you adjust to that, how do you pull the middle-class society? and china hasn't coped with that yet. but as they think about this, i don't expect them to become like american democracy, but i think there is an interest in ideas that are coming out, not just of america but of europe and elsewhere, as they try to think their way through this. so i don't think it is our job to make the chinese like us, in either sense of the word. to make them look like us to act like us. i think they will evolve in certain directions on their own.
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a former american ambassador to china pointed out 20 years ago i think that there are more chinese free now than anytime in chinese history. that as china has realized, not democratize, pluralize you know longer have to wear a mao jacket. you cannot travel abroad. there are lots of things you can do. you can even go on the internet come into this great firewall, way to jump over the firewall. chinese have more freedom than they had before. this is likely to continue. i don't think it will be a sudden change, but i think it would be a continuous change. that means a lot of american ideas get through. a lot of other ideas get to come and the chinese will recombine them in their own way. so nobody knows what the future of china will become including commission shall. -- president hu.
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but i don't think you look like it does now. >> we have time for two more questions. >> you said something about the u.s. hasn't yet worked out an effective integrated, or integrated hard and soft power. how realistic do you think it is that the u.s. will be able to develop an effective smart power strategy? >> well, it is interesting. if you look at -- if you look at the statement that donald rumsfeld made, if it is quoted in the preface to my book on soft power, he followed me as a keynote speaker at an army conference after i've been mourning speaker. one of the general said what about soft power about soft parties as i don't know what it means. robert gates, secretary of defense, when he was serving the bush administration in 2007 gave a speech saying we need to
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invest more in our soft power. and it may be odd for secretary of defense to plea for more resources for state department, but that's what i'm saying. so there's a big change just in the process of one administration, as you've seen the change in personnel. and then when gates and hillary clinton worked together in this administration, there's been a surprising comedy of a willingness to have state and defense worked closely together. it takes a long time though to change the course of the supertanker. government bureaucracies don't change quickly. and particularly when you have 435 hands on the wheel, which is congress. given, remember the case i gave you a minute or two ago about an aid program that was transferred. so are we making progress toward a smart power approach to
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strategy? yes. are we there yet? no. long way to go. and part of it is bureaucratic inertia, but part of is the political culture, that same reason that a congressman says i can stand up and justify this aid program because it is in defense. i can't support it at the same level if it is in the state. we've got to get a lot smarter in our political discourse before we can really have a smart political strategy. >> i want to follow up on a question you just answered. [inaudible] what's the next step? how do we take it and put -- i know that been proposals in the past about how cute revamp our national security organization. what do we need to do in order
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-- we don't have a row so you always have someone who has the same kind of accommodation. >> you're right. you can't honestly date with a top leaders personality is going to be. and i can make a big difference. on the other hand, you can try to get an idea and approach more broadly understood in the attentive public than in broader public. in 2007 richard armey and i co-chaired a commission at the csis on smart power which was a bipartisan. and the idea was to have a group of significant republicans and significant democrats talk about exactly that, how do you get this beyond the idiosyncrasies of personality to be something which is more broadly understood in the policy discourse. gym locker has had this project to think about how you
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reorganize the american government. cnas makes a contribution here. many places are beginning to think about this. so it's not going to happen quickly, but if it just relies on personality, you're right, then it changes as a personnel change but if you get a broader consensus or understanding of the points i'm trying to make in this book, about the need for smart power strategy. in fact, that gets into some minds in congress and press and graduate politicians start telling that more broadly to the electorate, then it may be more less personal. but any democracy that basically depends on consensus, it is not a fast process. >> joe, thank you very much for a great conversation. thanks also for your continued friendship to cnas. most particularly to our interns were not only important part of the team. but an important part of the
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ethos. we know you're off to new york so we'll get to hear more. but thanks to all of you for coming. thanks to so many of our interns are coming back, and joe has a few minutes i think to chat and sign books before running for his plan. so please join me in thanking him for this afternoon. [applause] >> remarks of joseph dyer at the university distinguished service professor and former dean of the kennedy of the kennedy school of government at harvard university. discussing the changing nature of power and global affairs. to find out more is at >> we're here at cpac with thomas wood, talking to him about his latest book. tell us what it is about. >> it is about the crisis that enforcement would about to face. it turns out the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming
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train. because we have got that on a situational in the best scenario we will start paying once windows a year just in interest on the national debt by 2020, but also unfortunate in some programs are underfunded by like $11,120. there's no combination of taxes or borrowing or printing the money that could possibly solve this so we have to start acting like adults and fix it now. >> where did you come up with a tidal? >> that was the publisher's idea entirely. very much on the old cold war days. the idea we have to rollback not just what government has done but also our expectations after because the resource won't be there. the government is going to renege on a lot of the promises it has made to people. we better prepare ourselves so it doesn't hit us in a sudden calamity. >> do you propose a solution? >> i do towards the end. and, of course, no good author gives and all the way. there are some things we can do to ease the burden on the system. you turn 65, the government says to you, you can either get all the benefit you are entitled to,
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or you forswear them and the rest of your life are totally exempt from income, gift and estate taxes. i would immediately take tremendous pressure off the system. no one would have considered that five or 10 years ago. we are staring default in the face and it's is a choice between that and unplug granny. i think people consider alternative. >> booktv has covered over 9000 nonfiction authors and books since 1989 when it all began with book notes, c-span's original hour-long author interview program. you can watch these programs online at >> yvonne thornton, the author of "the ditchdigger's daughters" presenter fall of memoir that focuses on her professional life as a double board-certified specialist in gynecology, obstetrics and maternal-fetal medicine. dr. thornton reports that at the time she began her studies back
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in 1970, 5% of the special interviewed were women. today, 70% are women. >> thank you for a lovely welcome and introduction. victor hugo once said there's nothing like a dream to create the future. now, as i stand here today, i am the daughter of a ditch digger. my father was born in new jersey, and basically he was one of 10 kids. before i go into what my father did being a ditch digger is that many in the audience may not know what obstetrics is or what maternal-fetal medicine is a what gynecology is. obstetrics is a field in medicine in which you deliver babies. and i have delivered 5542 babies due date and i have overseen
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about 12,000 deliveries. [applause] >> thank you very much. now, what i do and obstetrics is is a very special type of us that tricks. i get extra training that they call people like me maternal-fetal medicine specialist, or high-risk obstetrician. and what are we? what are those obstetricians who deal with patients who may die or their babies may die during pregnancy. those women have diabetes, lupus, epilepsy, fibroid function, kidney failure, those who have triplets and quadruplets or quadruplets and quit droplets. those are very coveted and the average obstetrician may not be able to handle or feel comfortable handling it. so with respect that i haven't obstetrician's obstetrician. so again anybody can deliver a baby. using taxicab drivers and police officers but this national with delivering babies. all the way that basically a
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police officer and then have midwives who delivers baby. people like me, i'm not doing one of delivers a baby. you have midwives and you go up to the next step, general practitioners who deliver babies. but as far as babies deliveries are concerned i'm at the top of the food chain being a high-risk obstetrician. before i was in maternal-fetal medicine special as i said i was the daughter of a ditch digger. my father who was the child in the great depression and those of you in the great depression, just some historical perspective back in the great depression was when 25% our country was out of work. my father was from a family of 10, and by the age of 15 he dropped out of high school. he dropped out and came to new york city to meet my mom. they met and they married at age 18. and basically they found a little tenement house up the street. we're at 103rd street.
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when i was born, my mom and dad lived at 75 east 119th street. so i'm the kid of the hood, yes. so the fact of the matter is they had two children, and three children being me. at 18 years of age have a better high school dropout, world war ii was waging. and my father was drafted into the navy. he became a seaman second class in the united states navy. before he left my mom, he kissed her goodbye and said okay, that's the end of that. when he came back he had one child. he had done. done it is my oldest sister my father's name is donald and in those days you need to have a son to carry on the name. you need to have a junior having a girl was like a consolation prize. my father said and that's great but lets keep trying to to get that boy. in those days, the cinema and the movie stars, tyrone power and clark gable.
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let's get a clark gable. let's get a tyrone. let's try a second time. second daughter came out. jeanette. jeanette was named after jeanette mcdonald and nelson eddy. we went in after movie stars. okay, go back and again. data get that boy. advocate that sun. the third one, me. yvonne. i was named after one of the diane quintuplets. they were from canada. the likelihood of having spontaneous quintuplets is one in 65 million. and so that was the odds that we had, my family had of having dogs that would not do anything. i was named after it on. my father said if this is another go, the third one, i'm going to drown it. and that's what i learned how to swim. [laughter] but other than that, my fuzzy we've got to get that clark, got to get tyrone. fourth child comes. rita. [laughter]
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>> you know, rita hayworth and the fifth one is in the. linda darnell. so by the time my father was 27 years of age, he had five kids. all girls, and no boys. my mother said, i'm trying, i'm trying. i'm tired of all of. five kids? he said the only son you will is the one rising up in the morning because i've had it. my father and mother, they were wonderful people come a young lady was molested outside the tenement. we moved to another housing project in new jersey. in that neighborhood, 60% of all the girls of color, the black crowes were pregnant by the time they were 16 or 17 years of age. they are on public assistance and they were unwed. that was just the fact that that which is the statistics of our neighborhood. we have to go back 50 years ago, over 50 years ago before affirmative action, title ix, and basically if you were not a boy you were dead me.
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and my father was ridiculed. he was ostracized. he was basically taunted for not having a son, and the whole neighborhood kind of laughed at him. you can't have a son, what good are you? but my father would say that's okay, my teacher going to be doctors. anti-plan to defend the. and the more they cheered him, he said my kids will be doctors. they laughed even harder because it was preposterous that five little dark skinned girls, would ever be anything that our poverty would allow us to be. my sisters and i didn't look like vanessa williams. we didn't look like mariah carey or any of that they are scanned movie idols that you see today. my sisters and i look more like the sisters of a quick, okay? we didn't have any role models. when i was going a. we didn't have any role models other than a black woman called ethel waters with a big bag of laundry.
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we have basically people on one knee in blackface, yes in blackface singing mandy. and that we had butterfly mcqueen from gone to the wind. that was our role model. there were no other role models for women. they were distinct gender roles. you never saw a man pushing a baby carriage if you just didn't see. it was distinct gender roles. women stayed at home and then went on to quote unquote bring home the bacon. women were expected to be cheerleaders. not businesses. if they were a lot out of the house they were expected to be secretaries in an office and not secretaries of state. women were expected to marry a doctor, not be a doctor. all of this in the 1950s was preposterous, and that my father who was a ditch digger, was a janitor, and sent my fat girls, my little dark skinned girls will be doctors. my dad of course without an education, he had to do menial
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work. he worked in the slaughterhouse of new york. he pumped home heating oil. he was agenda. he laid a brick. that was my day. now, my mom was from west virginia from the rural town, and a coal mining camp if she came to new york to find a venue and she met my dad. she had three years of college. three years of college but she couldn't afford the last year because you have to pay the tuition if you are a senior. she didn't have the money and she had to leave college with a straight eight average, can you imagine that? she didn't have the money. so what happens to the dreams of first? my mother wanted an education for a so my mom and dad, having lived in the projects with the kids and said no. our kids are not going to grow up and be i'm glad mothers. they built a house, brick by brick. it took them four years to build that house. they build the house where there
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is better education, better teachers, and he was from that time where the teachers expected us to do what it might have a choice that i want straight a's, though. the only point to is an eight. he said i don't want any curved letters any. i don't want any b's, c's, d's and your debt. it was pointed letters, all a's. that was my mom and dad. they said you have to strive to do your best. we had wonderful, wonderful attitude, a great committee, but basically sometimes my relatives pretend that we didn't exist. all of us, can you imagine six girls and two pairs, eight people coming over just to say hello to one of our relatives? he pretended they wanted him. that shades would come down. my father would say don't worry, one day when you're a doctor, they will watch and it was a
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come on in. but you see, being a woman and being a black woman, my father knew that we are born to be hurt. so what do you do about that? he said, education. education is the only thing that while value to rise and stand on equal terms of anybody, be they white, black, male, female, rich or poor. that's what my parents wanted us to be, well educated when. that was the dream. the dream hardened into a determination. ironclad determination that fueled our lives for many, many years to come. but running on a parallel track was music. my sister, donna, she said she found a saxophone and a box of cracker jack when i was growing up they have great prices. they had little whistles, and a box of cracker jacks, my sister found this little plastic red
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saxophone and said daddy, what is this? he says it's a saxophone. she said can i have a real one? now, my father is building a house, trying to put food on the table to close on or about. i can honestly tell you having five girls, and basically raising $6, my parents raised a foster child, so he raised six girls in our family. but he was a if it's good for you, it's going to help you learn, expand your horizon, i will find a way to keep it. and he found a way. he went to one of his own military buddies and said that i have a saxophone? i know you have any and. i just need for a month or so. i will have it to you back. you know how kids are. they are interested and after a while they lose interest. i can do the saxophone back in a few weeks. to my sister's credit she played that saxophone all without lessons.
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screeching and squealing that came out of that saxophone was unbelievable. she slept and ate with that saxophone. but the sounds were just horrible. my parents had we need to find some way to teach the child. in a middle school there was an elementary music teacher, and who said sure, i will teach her daughter. donna was on the alto saxophone and my mother went with her and sat in the back of the lesson, and did her crochet. those of you in the 12th grade probably, the tale of two cities can do you remember that character? she kept doing her needing, but she was listening. my mother was listening in the back, and it was very good because when my sister was told something by the teacher, when she got home my mother said didn't he say to go through those and go through that scale? and consequently my sister learned it very well and very rapidly with regard to the
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saxophone. a few years went by and music was in our household. we are baby boomers. my sisters and i. we are born one or two years apart. my sister said if i'd like saxophone and my other sister was playing guitar, i said, let me play something. my sister want to a larger saxophone, a tenor saxophone. my father said great, i can pawn the alto saxophone site and get the other. i said no because i want to be involved. everyone is getting attention. i said i can do it. i can play the alto saxophone. my father and dad answered cooky, you can even breathe much less play the saxophone. i can do it, i can do it. so he praised the saxophone on the chair and i approached the saxophone with a scientific eye. i blew all the air out of my body into that saxophone. the next thing you know they were taking me off the floor. i think the. my mother


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