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tv   Michael O Hanlon The Art of War in the Age of Peace  CSPAN  August 2, 2021 10:46pm-11:36pm EDT

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david stewart is to practice law in washington dc. he gave that up over 15 years ago to write history and his first book was all about the constitutional convention in philadelphia called the summer of 1787 that was 2008. one year later he wrote about the trial of andrew johnson then focused on ehrenberg and then james madison. now in 2021 looking at george washington and his mastery of politics any time on >> welcome. it is good to >> welcome. it's good to be here with
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michael and michelle for the launch of michael's new book the art of war in the age of peace. they don't need an introduction so i will be very brief. at the brookings institution he specializes in defense strategy committees of military force and american national security policy. masters and phd from princeton and physical sciences serving as a peace corps volunteer 1982 to 1984 and high school physics was taught in french i thought that was the coolest thing on your bio. michelle needs introduction
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the former undersecretary of defense for policy and one of the highest ranking members women ever to work in the pentagon cofounder and managing partner and a bachelors degree from harvard and the masters from oxford but when i first started on the pentagon beat she was myry first port of call. welcome to you both i'm happy to be here with you this morning i year in the waning days of resume can also given they were on board with it like talking about your book virtually quick. >> this would be a lot more fun in person although i am
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thrilled that we in the zoom world and the various events that we do and even if we get back face-to-face. two of my favorite people in the national security field and feeling the grand strategy at at crucial moment. so with the art for to be detail specifically one of the biggest themes is an with the main arguments that you layout here even while it is
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defending a great interest quick. >> yes. just a word of explanation is why a decided to write the book. it may feel like a passionate defense of middle ground. because there are ideas out there with those who are in one direction or another like pot like donald trump even though he proposed a in his way there's a lot of academics that agree with a view that the united states is too many commitments around the world. but that the world is in such peril today and we have to be hypervigilant and try to meet very firmly and meet the potential aggressions of china or russia because it's the
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same wayit that hitler's appetite was wedded and we could make a mistake if we think that way too much to draw first blood in a superpower crisis there could be other needs to walk back hostilities or preventing them. and since we're doing this event there is a lot of discussion if ukraine one —- my if adequate answer is no. i really feel wee have enough alliances. that is an example of where we need restraint but i would be resolute and to be a voice for this for a long time resolute
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in the western pacific for example were china is trying to push back and push people out. when it talks about the core security of our allies and access to the sea lanes and airways and with the weapons of mass destruction on these issues and want to be resolute and there is a powerful case for doing so. and appealing to political scientist in the crowd who create aggressions based on data points. those
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tackling china. can you make an argument that the south china islands argument they are anything
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but? >> i a really like the framework of resolute restraint because given the last four years and the confusion it created internationally franklyll at home we have to start by restating and clarifying c to ourselves and then to others how we define our interesting and whatever we resolve to protect and defend? that includes elements of international borders that are important to preserving the ability to trade freely to make sure disputes over territory are resolved peacefully and so in that context it does matter with
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china flouting and those that are with the treaty and taking unilateral action to changen the status quo according to international law. so with that resolute piece if you look at great power competition china and russia. the number one objective has to deter conflict in the first place and how do we convince them or have the ability to impose such cost there is a
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more restrained approach. so thatt if it comes to it we can prosecute a campaign that given the experiences of the last 20 years where we were very ambitious in places like iraq and afghanistan all kinds of reasons for f another conversation, but we have to be clear in our attention and resolve to be very focused in our objective and very ambitious of the capabilities to affect the calculus. >> that we shouldn't be constrained i don't think
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that's what mike was saying that we need to be humble and restrained in terms of how we actually employee force in the future crisis. >> this is great given that framework before we go back a biden and putin summit but then we all know that chances are we will not see him something coming out with a four years of the trump administration so how do we look at the summit tomorrow given the framingg of your book? what is the best we could hope to come out of it?
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>> some of it will be straightforward and keep expectations low. president biden needs to be clear of russian behavior vladimir putin needs to hear it nor should we expect putin to accept blame or apologize for any different behavior in the future it's a matter of fact conversation. but then it needs to think about and integrated policy which i have not yet seen. i have seen a clear sense of a policy toward asia where continuing to go back to have the rebalance or the pivot and
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with that same integrated strategy to take on disproportionate important like women lifted the sanction on companies for those under the baltic sea it seem like unilateral concession and i did not understand that but then you have name-calling of the bigger killer between president biden and president putin. i want to see the conversation elevate that the only way to start that process is to consider and then like former senator nine on the others that have a historical perspective on this relationship and can talk and propose ideas without it
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seeming like they are speaking for their government or unilateral concession or look like a weakness to the government. we will not have good relations but this is not the person that we can or ever should expect to trust. . . . .t what they've been experiencing how they see russia and how do we try to rebuild some alignment on how we want to go forward,
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vis-à-vis putting russia together. i made it very clear frankly there's no expectation of or interest in a reset. it's more looking to engage to do the result part. the areas from ukraine to cyber attacks on the u.s. that are affecting average americans to the lack of accountability holding cyber criminals operating accountable to the treatment, and now they are banning the opposition. but then also raising some areas here where you are playingng wih
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fire and we could have a crisis much more serious. let's talk about in addition, things that they will oppose strategic stability talks between the u.s. and the mission government to talk about not only nuclear issues and arms-control but actions in space bar cyberspace that could inadvertently escalate into something of a larger crisis. these are our concerns kind of meetings prudent as the master of chaos and so forth are going to suddenly change but any u.s. president has to at least try to reduce the tensions and get this relationship on a less unpredictable and less stable kind of course.
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we talked about the escalation of crisis happening when putin said all those masks of the border a month ago and we were pretty soon people at the pentagon immediately started talking about what happens to something that goes wrong. you could easily see this escalating. i'm intrigued by this idea of restraint and i'm curious about what the adoption of this kind of restraint with due to the overall idea of american exceptionalism. >> thank you. a couple of things, first let me give a nod to another school of thought in academia because i criticized offshore balancing a minute ago.
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it needs to be careful about using force and a lot of academics that i know were understandably and perhaps presciently skeptical of the iraq invasion in 2003. the element of restraint and a lot of the thinking is worth trying to follow through on but american exceptionalism is still real in the sense whether we are smarter than anybody else or nicer or ethical. we are placed on this planet in the way madeleine albright used to say we are a big democracy here in north america safe more or less in our borders because we have oceans and canada and
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mexico on our various sides. most would be thrilled to have that kind of geostrategic positioning. we are still the largest economy by classic gdp measure, one of the to biggest overall. we are the science and technology innovator. we have far and away the largest military and systemm of alliancs but it angers us to keep pieces of terraint in eurasia and we ae exceptional. to play that amount of power and positioning we are close enough to eurasia that we can help with the security problems and we are far enough away that nobody thinks we really have materialistic designs on the territory.
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that isn't a particularly damning complaint in the scheme of history how the nationstates behave towards each other there's no other that can play this role and destabilizing to keep theaters. it doesn't necessarily breed familiarity or problem-solving it can breed contempt. they approve they still have a lot of issues dating back to history and i don't know that they would sort them out better. in europe, putin would welcome less of an american law because they could start to divide and conquer and i'm not saying he's going to invade them militarily that he would look for ways to coerce and so the fact we have
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the stability to anchor ourselves to the opposite extremes of eurasia with big alliances and important allies and sort of uphold the rules of the road is crucially significant because of the attributes this company has an americans. exceptionalism doesnt mean you have to think we are better, smarter, more ethical or superior it means you recognize because of our constitution, demographics, melting pot and who we are as a country we can do things nobody else can and that's going to be true for quite some time. it is even more important in the era ofnt transnational threats like climate change and preventing the next pandemic
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will while also fundamentally questioning all of the basics of the rules-based orders that have governed how r we work. i think it's important the thing that has changed is that we can't just assume we will remain that leader i think the last four years have certainly shaken the confidence of our allies and given what china is doing and how they are investing we have to seriously invest in competing economically, technologically in key areas and militarily to have the confidence that we can do to her and defeat aggression if we have to in the future so we cannot rest on our laurels. and when i think about restraint
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maybe i'm reading too much into your term because i don't agree with the school that says restraint is pulling away from your commitments but we do have to suppress our appetite in certain areas so that we can put more bandwidth and resources and energy on retooling and reshaping the military to be perfect in the future because we are going to ask them to do very different things in very different ways. to work in the indo pacific in the maritime there has to be a
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risk management the restraint from day-to-day focusing on how do we prioritize them and accept and manage the risk. >> you both for a second sounded a little bit like jim matus when he was to argue what would distinguish us as we had allies. but you've referenceds the pandemic. where does covid fit in here? michael argued that it's one of
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the most impactful events of in a century or more and we are turning the corner in the united states with more work to do getting to a new place the rest of the world is cycling through the rest of it and it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better so i do think as an incredible leadership opportunity for the united states to try to muster as we saw at the g7 from the developed world to the developing world we do need to make much greater investments in our public health
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infrastructure in strengthening our surveillance ability. we want to be able to prevent the next pandemic and there will be a next one whether it's inee public health or our own technological competitiveness setting the foundation for the u.s. to continue to lead in the world and i think for our ability to influence things and prevent conflict in the future. those things will compete but right now the best thing we can do for our competitiveness internationally and maintaining the tools to be effective and
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that includes a strong military. going back to the pentagon they talked about a four plus one of framework that you are familiar with it of course that was to get us away from just focusing on the smaller states like iraq and north korea that ask some extent in the post-cold war defense planning so the four plus one with russia and china, north korea, iran and extremists and what i propose in the book is a useful way for me to organize my own thoughts that we adopt a second four plus one. some of them may have been exacerbated but it includes biological threats that are man-made and nuclear proliferation, climate threats,
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digital threats and the last piece our internal strength or lack thereof and a central focal forces politically and otherwise economically, scientifically so strengthening america's foundations not only for our domestic happiness but our national power. >> this is from the georgia parliamentary research center acting director. they should like expanding nato members. on the other hand they promise to georgia the doors would remain open and one day we would be a member according to the vision that reminds me of some
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realistic geopolitical vision of international relations. a small state like us will remain alone against those like russia. what is your solution for those like georgia and i would throw ukraine in there as well. >> i do think that we have some obligations to think about it here in the united states because going back to the summit under president bush we promised ukraine and georgia membership but we did to say we would plan to include them. it's not something that we have to feel obliged to for any country that might wish for them. we don't have enough power to defend everyone on earth. i would have argued against that process. but i also believe that by making that promise in some ways we got the worst of the world on georgia and ukraine because putin knows we want to bring
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them in and therefore he tried to destabilize the country's to keep that in eligible for any near-term membership. so the only way out of this conundrum to my mind is to enlarge the conversation and allow for some new type of security order that would require putin and russia to pull the forces verifiably out of places like northern georgia and eastern ukraine if they want to sanctions relief and if they want our commitment to this new order that will not extend data further into the former soviet space. we could do a betterpace job heg than in the last 13 years with rovers incentives that have increased the likelihood and putin would look to destabilize those so i want the concept for essentially not alignment of the countries east of nato and former soviet space.
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>> forget about the promises of the membership that's off the table. >> we have to be careful we ?don't want to give that unilateral concession to putin. it needs to be part of the equation and hear if we are partially responsive to russia'v security concerns, not that russia has anything to fear but there is a psychology about this and if we are going to try to be partially responsive, we expect russia will in fact be able to compromise and work with us to ensure the security of the country's. to the extent russia invalidates that presence we may need to have to reconsider. with compromise and an effort to work together from everyone for
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russia that means verifiable pull out of its forces in eastern ukraine and northern and southern georgia and recognizing they have the right to join any other organization if they wish and qualify including perhaps the european union. but in return they will want nato not at its doorstep that's why they are acting up is because we've gone from where we were 25 years ago to centrally right on their border. >> i don't want to blame us too much. i agree with some of that but i also think the pride and being what they are there is going to be a natural adverse reaction to the alliance set up to compete in thes cold war. putin didn't have to behave the way he did. he didn't have to regress against the countries and squelch opposition in his own party. michelle has had to deal with this in a way that america and
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western lives were at risk because of the behavior. we might have been slightly offputting in his mind with expansion of nato, but i do think that we should maybe ask whether 30 members is now enough. this next question is from jeannie. this is for both doctor o'hanlon and the former undersecretary defense. what is your most possible scenario in the south china sea and the best strategic position that's already been waged? >> the scenario that i worryce about most is a conflict that comes from the fundamental miscalculation on the part of beijing. i think right now if you were td
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turn on the nightly news in beijing, you would hear a constant narrative of u.s. decline. our economy is in shambles, we are tearing ourselves apart in terms of our own polarization and division. look at january 6th they play that tape over and over again. now is our moment to come into our own. that will make you take some risks you m really shouldn't ta. if they are likely right now underestimating the result and a staying power in the region and commitment to the region, they are underestimating the resilience. it's one thing that the united states is resilient. we come out of crisis and pick ourselves up and get stronger.
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the biggest risk is that they can get away with something through coercion or use of force and yet finding they do get a response and then you are in that flighting situation so again it puts a premium, which is clear communication about the result and what we will defend and clear investment in the capabilities we need to do that whether it is demonstrating how we can use current capabilities to impose cost and deny their success were cleared up signals and how we are investing in the budget in the capabilities we need to do that in the future.
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on the trips to asia and its work with the quad. >> okay. staying on the china topic i know how you are going to answer this one but i'm going to pose this as provocative if nothing else. do you think that they should be a formal ally? >> no, i would not. but on the issue of strategic ambiguity with other proponents of eliminating the ambiguity have raised i wouldn't go quite as far as a get out of jail free card and i don't think that militarily we can dominate china near taiwan the way we use to
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they get very complicated i don't want to do anything on the risk of that kind of scenario but i do think that where strategic ambiguity could be reconceptualized, let's say they had a blockade and cyber attack i think china has to know there is no going back to business as usual after that, and we will respond in some big way and the kind of economic punishments that the trump presidency initiated or intensified against china, those would be sort of small potatoes compared to the decoupling that would have to happen if china were truly tomi
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attack with military force and some of that you could, some of that punishment strategy you could unwind if china were willing to end the blockade but there's no way we can be in different to that scenario. in this notion we might or might not respond, militarily i'm not sure if we would respond to each and every scenario but in some broad national power sends including economic tools, we would have to respond they shouldn't think that there's a there is away to get this just so where they can fleet out long enough that it achieves its military goals and otherwise leaves them alone diplomatically and economically. it has to be an economic punishment strategy if nothing else as the needs. one of the challenges is we
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really don't understand the strategic calculus very well. we had hundreds and thousands writing about the calculus and had a sense of what they value. but it's a much more nascent stage and i will give you an example. the military doctrine starts with the are going to stop the u.s. from projecting power into the region with massive attacks on cyberinfrastructure around the military bases and attacks onar the assets and space. well, guess what. if you attack critical infrastructure like the grids around the military bases, you will affect power in the hospital, you're going to affect, and americans, civilians
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are going to actually die in that case. and if they think that that is goingie to lessen an american an presidents resolve to respond as opposed to actually increase it, so there's some fundamental misunderstandings and miscalculations based on the a h and i think we need to have some dialogue to get them to try to think twice about that because they should move quickly without going into.
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postulating on that part of the book was the chinese blockade and they tolerate a certain amount of traffic we caught you moving towards hypothetically we are going to make you pay a severe economic price you cannot endure perhaps the taiwan and the japanese navy's will open up if necessary which means we might have to be the first ones
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to draw blood against the chinese in this scenario where they might not yet against us it might be that first step will and to interfere with china's economically so that's the kind of capability and defined with economic punishment which requires the kind of preparation we get into an economic war with china we need to have prepared so we are not so dependent on the semi conductors and anything else and to rethink their coerciven strategy. that is the kind of scenario.
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this is for both of you and i would like you particularly the resolute restraint that you are talking about in your book, how does afghanistan in the next ten orni 20 years play out what you are laying out what for instance is that the time to start thinking through how would you in a real-world situation with
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places like afghanistan it shouldn't matter that much and therefore would receive less emphasis and i think that is true but i also think we have managed to bring down the commitment to afghanistan to a very sustainable level of a few thousand troops which is why i was against the decision to go. to actually sustain that and wea need essentially to balance the commitment and expenditure of resources with the strategic esstakes involved. for the hypothetical you mentioned which unfortunately may not remain a hypothetical forhe very long. with the sanctuary emerging in afghanistan including working with elements within afghanistan as the country falls apart to protect certain parts of the country if they even have or in the neighborhood some of this may require more time and attention and effort.
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anyway, we had a broad commitment and the expenditure of resources down to the level that i think was constant with our strategic interest and i wish we could just stay there. lots of very gruesome and horrific images on the nightly news in terms of afghan
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civilians. i agree there's plenty going on so how do we protect ourselves and then how do we either protect or extract our diplomatic presence and so forth. by removing a very small portion that sort of had its finger in, we have lost our primary source of leverage. we can still try to use the prospect of international assistance to whatever government could emerge from further negotiations with sort of state of the taliban and if you don't cross the street and redlines the community will still support a combined government whatever thatat looks like, but i don't think we should be very optimistic about their willingness to negotiate
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either a cease-fire or a new government and the military engagement there. >> [inaudible] everybody, read mike's book. t it's terrific.
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