tv Michael O Hanlon The Art of War in the Age of Peace CSPAN August 3, 2021 1:56am-2:45am EDT
director of policy where he specializes in the u.s. defense strategy. the use of military force and security policy. he has a bachelors, masters and phd all from princeton. he served as a peace corps volunteer. from 1982 until 1984 where he taught college and high school physics and french. i really kind of thought that that was the coolest thing on your bio, michael. michelle really needs no introduction. a former under zachary for defense of policy and one of the highest ranking members women ever to work in the pentagon. she is cofounder managing partner. she also cofounded the american security.
that first started on the pentagon. she was literally my first port of call to try to get smart on the issues. welcome to you both. i am really happy to be with you both this morning. i think, or at least i hope, we are in the waning days of zoom panels. we can start doing stuff like this in person. michael, i am sure that you definitely feel that way. what is it like talking outside your book, virtually, for instance. >> it would be a lot more fun in person. i am thrilled that we wind up getting people from all over the world and the various events. we will try to continue that even as we try to get back to face to face. to my favorite people in the national security field. you are both very kind to do this event. more generally the question of
u.s. grand strategy, national security strategy at a crucial moment. >> okay. let's go ahead and get started. really high. the american prosecution of war. can you walk us through some of the main arguments that you lay out here? both learning to limit even while it is defending core interest. >> just a word of explanation. it sort of may feel like a passionate defense of the middle ground. maybe it is. i also felt that it was worth doing.
donald trump wanted to break off a lot of our alliances. keep roasted in his own way, there are a lot of academics who agree with his view that the united states has too many around the world. it basically says the world is in such peril today that we have to be hypervigilant. even the smallest potential aggressions by china or russia because if we do not, we risk wetting their appetite the say that hitler's was in the 1930s. i think that we could make a mistake if we think that way too much. especially if we wind up drawing blood and the superpower crisis where there may be other needs of walking back the hostilities or preventing them. since we are doing this event
while president biden was meeting with president putin and a lot of discussion as a way to protect it, my answer is, no. i feel like we have enough alliances. that is an example of where i think we need to have restraint. i want to have resolute in defending the nato allies that we have in this alliance. i want to be resolute. she has been a voice of this for a long time now. resolute in adding our actions where china is trying to push back and push people out. when it comes to the core security of our allies, when it comes to access to the sea lanes and airways, when it comes to preventing mass distraction from spreading on those issues, i do want to be resolute. i will finish my opening by appealing to political
scientists in the crowd who often create regression based on the data points. those are often very good. they sometimes treat every data point as equally important. there are three big data points more than any others. the fact that world war i happens when we are not engaged, the fact that world war ii happened when we were not engaged militarily and the fact that world war iii did not happen largely because we were engaged. we had these alliances. the resolute part of the strategy is essential. i strongly, and disagreement even as i believe we have extended some of our alliances to look for some ways to respond to a security crises with russia and china not requiring rapid military escalation. >> this is so interesting.
i have a few questions i want to throw at you for your opening remarks. in his meeting tomorrow. one thing that just jumps out at me. directing this at you. at the same time, it sounds like you are saying we should not be involved in this stuff. we should be tackling china. can you make an argument that the south china islands are anything but this? >> i actually really like the framework. the confusion that it created internationally and frankly at home. we have to start by restating and clarifying to ourselves and then to others, the potential
adversary how do we define our interest. what is it that we are resolved to protect and defend? not only treaty allies, but elements of international order that are really important to preserving our ability to trade freely, the disputes over territory or access to resources are resolved peacefully or making, you know -- in that context, those little islands do matter. it is not the territory, it is what they represent. they represent china and flagrantly violating the international that are in china treaty. sort of using, taking action to change the status quo in ways
that are believable and no coordination to national law. i do think we need to push back on that. i also like restraint at the event when you look at the great competition with china and russia. both are nuclear powers. the number one objective here has to be trying to deter conflict in the first place. how do we convince them that we can deny them their success in any aggression they really decide that it is not worth it. that is a strange approach. it does require us investing that to make sure if it comes to it, we can impose those costs. it is, you know, given the experiences of the last 20 years where we were very ambitious in places like iraq and afghanistan , fell short of our
goals for all kinds of reasons that are for another conversation. in the face of really competing, i think that we have to be sort of clear and very focused in our objectives. very ambitious and how we invest in the capability needed to underwrite. i do not think that we should be restrained and aggressively pursuing the u.s. military, for example. we need to be humble and restraint in terms of how we actually enforce in future crises. >> this is great. given that framework then, let me put in a news question for both of you before we go back to the discussion the art of war.
the are insane. this is the first. we all know we will not see something major coming out. i think we have been conditioned by the trump administration to expect craziness. how should we look at this summit tomorrow between, particularly given the branding of your boat, michael, i would like to direct the question to both of you. what is the best we can hope to come out of this? >> i think some of it will be straightforward and we should keep expectations low. president biden needs to be clear. face-to-face from joe biden. it has been said before. not too many surprises. nor should we expect putin to
accept blame. any different behavior in the future. that will be a matter of fact conversation. what i would hope is that the biden administration would also recognize it needs to think fresh about an integrated russit seen. a clearer sense of a new emergent policy towards asia where michelle's thinking continues to when he and others helped create the rebalance or pivot 10 years ago and where our good friend continues to do good things at the national security council. i have not yet seen the same strategy towards russia. you see little things take on importance. companies that are completing the pipeline under the baltic sea. it seems like a unilateral confession. i did not understand that. you get these sort of
name-calling about who is a bigger killer between president biden and president putin. i want to see the conversation elevate. eastern europe. it does not require further nato expansion. also, russia, keep its hands off and get out of places like that. the only way a belief to start that process knowing realistically is to perhaps consider what you may call a dialogue. former senator not in others on the russian side who have a historical perspective on this relationship they can talk and propose some ideas without it seeming like they are speaking for their government or giving a unilateral confession. give some deniability to the government and the idea on how to use the tension in eastern europe hundred europe can be arrived at. just not a person that we can or should never expect to trust or
admire. we can at least look for new framework for that part of the world that will be less dangerous. maybe the best way to start. >> i would just add that i think that the president's trip is actually laying the groundwork to get to a more integrated and strategic policy towards russia. some conversation with our closest allies about what they have been experiencing. how they see russia. how to build some alignment on how we want to go forward. i think that it is very clear, frankly, expectation or interest in a reset. i think the second thing is looking to engage putin to do the resolved part. the resolute part of my
suggestion. this will be a meeting where biden spends a lot of time laying out, you know, how the u.s. news, russian behavior from ukraine to cyber attacks on the u.s. that are affecting average americans to their lack of cyber criminals operating on the shoreline accountable to their treatment and banning on the opposition. but also raising, there are some areas here where you are playing fire here. we could have a crisis erupt into something much more serious. let's talk about, i think in addition, they will propose formal strategic stability costs potentially, you know, actions
in space bar cyberspace that could escalate into a larger crisis. this is really a, these are our concerns kind of meeting. i think very low expectations that putin as the master of chaos and so forth are going to suddenly change in strife. i think that every president has to at least try to reduce these tensions and get this relationship on a less unpredictable or less stable kind of course. it is very much in our interests. >> well, you know, talking just now about a quick escalation, a crisis happening, when putin said a couple months ago, people at the pentagon immediately started talking about what
happens if something goes wrong. you could easily see this escalating. for both of you, i am so intrigued by this idea of restraint. i am curious, michael, the adoption of this kind of restraint to american exceptionalism. >> thank you. you know, a couple of things. let me give a nod, because i criticized offshore balancing. pull back from alliances. eliminate alliances. sometimes it means the same thing in the academic circles. sometimes it means when and where to use force. i think that they are skeptical with the iraq invasion in 2003. i want to tip my cap to them.
the element of restraint is worth trying to follow through on. american exceptionalism is still a concept that is real in the sense of whether we are smarter than anyone else or nicer or more ethical and i frankly doubt it in regards to other democracies, i do think we are exceptionally placed on this planet with the phrase of indispensable nation. we are big democracy here in north america. safe more or less within our borders because we have oceans in canada and mexico on our various sides. most countries would be thrilled to have that kind of geostrategic vision. we are still the world's largest economy with a classic gdp measure. we are still the world's greatest science and technology innovator.
we have far and away the largest military. we have this system of alliances it is good in the sense that it anchors us to key pieces. we are exceptional. there are no other countries that play that kind of role. that kind of power in that kind of positioning. we can go help solve security problems. we are far enough away that nobody thinks we have materialistic designs on their territory. overthrowing saddam hussain without caution. one of the worst dictators in the late 20th century. not a particularly damning complaint in the scheme of history. we are exceptional. there is no other organization on earth or the country that can play this backstopping role and stabilize. another way to put it, by the way, is that proximity does not
necessarily breed for mayor lee garrity. it doesn't breed problem solving proving day in and day out they still have a lot of issues dating back to history. i don't know if they would strike them out better. in europe, putin would welcome less of a role. he can start to divide and conquer. i am not saying he will invade if we need, but i think he will look for ways to coerce. anchoring ourselves to the opposite streams with big alliances or important allies. sort of upholding the rules of the road. it is crucially significant and possible because of the attributes that this country has. it does not mean we have to think we are better or smarter.
because of our constitution, our location, our demographics, our melting pot, who we are as a country, we can do things no one else can. >> still have a pretty unique leadership role to play. even more important in an era of climate change or preventing the next pandemic or the scope and scale of a rising china, a power coming, basically rising in economic and military and fluence. power and influence. while also fundamentally questioning all of the basics of the rule-based order. you know, have governed how we have worked as an international community for the last 75 years. .... ....
>> that would distinguish us from the russians so you reference the pandemic michael argues the pandemic is more significant than 9/11 if that is the case and what should lessons should the pentagon or department of defense take from that to maintain their own relevance. >> the pandemic i think will go down in history is probably one of the most impactful events in a century or more certainly. although we feel we are turning the corner in the united states families to have more work to do but we are
getting to a new place, the rest of the world is just cycling through the worst of it and it will get a lot worse before it gets better so i do think it's an incredible leadership opportunity to try to muster donations with vaccines and so forth and also we need to make the international community to structure to prevent the next pandemic more than we handle that this time around but i do think a lot of these
investments we need to make whether public health our our own technological competitiveness is setting the foundation for the us to continue to lead in the world and with the ability to influence things and prevent conflict in the future when we compete for dollars right now i feel the best thing we can do with that competitiveness internationally is at home. while also maintaining but we need to be infected like the military. >> going back to the pentagon they talked about the four plus one framework you are familiar with.
and that is to focus on the smaller and more extreme states. and with the extremism and it is a useful way for me to have my own thoughts those have not gone away. with the nuclear proliferation climate threats digital threats and then the last piece our internal strength and those economically scientifically within our society within the foundations i agree very much has to be
central not only for the domestic happiness here but power and national security. >> with the parliamentary research center acting director, you argue to avoid costly mistakes and then doors remain open with that of international relations and then talk about the ukraine also? >> and in the united states going back through 2008 she
promised ukraine and georgia no interim security guarantee so i will say first of all i don't think formal american alliances are something the bush administration would've argued against that and i making that promise in some ways we have gotten the worst we put it a bull's-eye a on and ukraine because those want to bring them in so he tries to destabilize those countries to keep them ineligible for any near-term membership. the only way out of this conundrum to my mind is to a large the conversation to
allow putin in russia told their forces out of northern georgia and eastern ukraine what they want into the former soviet space think we have the right dialogue and concept we could do a better job to help georgia and ukraine but to some extent created those perverse incentives that putin look to destabilize with those that are east of nato in and that former soviet space. >> so would you say forget about the membership that's off the table? >> you want to get that
unilateral concession to putin if we are partially responsive to russia's security concerns not that russia's anything to be feared from nato but we expect that russia will in fact be willing to compromise to assure the security of those countries. to the extent that russia invalidates that premise, we may have to reconsider. with compromise in an effort that means verifiable pullout of forces and then recognizing those countries have the right to join any other organization if they wish. >> that russia will backed up
because we have gone from where we were 25 years ago to on the border. >> i don't want to blame us too much but russian pride and human beings will have a natural adverse reaction to those extending to your doorstep that putin didn't have to aggress against these countries are squelch opposition or act as he did or threatened more against nato. michelle had to deal with this in a way that western lives were at risk because of russian behavior i will not defend putin just because we have been offputting in his mind with the expansion of nato but now is 30 members enough? >> the next question from the
vietnamese presences is from the undersecretary of defense what is the most possible scenario in the south china sea what is the best strategic position already waged by the cpp. >> the scenario that i worry about most is some kind of conflict that comes from the fundamental miscalculation on the side of beijing. right now if you turned on the nightly news in beijing you would hear a constant narrative of us to climb covid, the economy is a shambles we are tearing ourselves apart in terms of
her own divisions a cat januaryh they play that tape over and over so they are not getting up so now is the moment to come into our own is a predominant power and with that mindset that will make you lean forward to take some risks you shouldn't take so likely right now they are underestimating our resolve, our staying power in the region and our resilience the one thing the united states is, is resilient to pick ourselves up in stronger and we come back. so the chinese miscalculation we can get away with something through coercion or use of force not expect a response so
then you are in an escalating situation so for a premium on deterrence which is clear communication about our resolve and what we will defend and clear investment in the capabilities we need to do that whether demonstrating current capabilities to impose cost and denies success or whether clear signals how we invest in the budget and the capabilities of the future. it's a long way to say the biggest risk there are things we can do to reduce that risk and i'm hopeful the administration trips to asia working with the quiet we will see more of that. >> staying on the china topic
know how you answer this but it is provocative do you think us should make taiwan a ally to advance independence from china? >> i word not that strategic ambiguity i do think there's an interesting point that the counsel from formulation another proponents of eliminating the ambiguity have raised i would not go as far as they do i don't want to embolden taiwan other get out of jail free card i also don't think militarily we can dominate china near taiwan the way we use to or have that capability and therefore the scenario that would ensue is very complicated and therefore on the verge of that superpower potentially so i don't want to do anything to run the risk to run that type
of scenario but with strategic ambiguity to be reconceptualized if it was a blockade with a cyberattack china has to know there is no going back to business as usual and we will respond is concerned it way and those economic punishments the chart presidency initiated or intensified would be small potatoes compared to the decoupling economically that has to happen if china was to attack with military force. some of that punishment strategy you could unwind if china word relent to end the blockade but we cannot be indifferent even if taiwan caused it. in that sense he is right the notion we might or might not
respond militarily i'm not sure if we would respond to every scenario but in a broader powers since we would have to respond i think we surely would china shouldn't think there is some way it can just keep the seventh fleet out long enough it achieves military goals and then leave them alone there has to be a severe economic strategy to bolster deterrence. >> line of the challenges for deterring china we don't understand them and their calculus very well nor do they understand us we have decades and hundreds of thousands of academics and then some was
right in some was wrong but with china it says stage but the military doctrine says he will stop with the cyberinfrastructure around those military bases. so guess what if you cracked critical infrastructure in civilians will die and if they think that will lessen the american presidents resolve so there is a fundamental misunderstanding to their
approach and then to have some channels for dialogue to make them aware of that to get them to think twice. that's a very real risk of miscalculations. >> so michael argues that china attacks taiwan the united states should move quickly to help defend the island and then go into wider war with china. how can you even manage that? >> it depends on the scenario. when i was postulating in that part of the book was the idea of the chinese blockade to
begin is a partial blockade to tolerate a certain amount of traffic but they tried to say because we caught you moving toward heart independence hypothetically you will pay a price you cannot endure and you have to rethink your ways and withdraw that pledge to declare independence or whatever that is so with that scenario rather than have the united states declare that perhaps taiwan and japanese navies will open not by force if necessary which means you might have to be the first to draw blood against the chinese in a scenario they have not yet drawn blood against us, rather than not be the only plausible first step, i would like to have options putting pressure on the chinese used in the lanes of the persian gulf in indian ocean and assets to minimize
any casualties on the cruise of those ships and interfere with china's economic lifeline so that's the capability combined with economic punishment which requires the preparation for resilience that was alluded to earlier to get into an economic war with china we need to prepare severe not so dependent on rare earth metals that they can make us cry uncle before they rethink their strategy that's a scenario i was thinking. >> we have a three minute warning so this is the last question. i find it surprising given the last 20 years after this entire discussion afghanistan has barely come up so as a
framework for the restraint you talk about in your book, how does afghanistan play out? what do we do? is it time to have a real world situation the next couple of years? how would you like to see this play out? >> it's a tough one to and on with this strategy because it suggest places like afghanistan shouldn't matter that much. and that's why i was against the decision to put things in a place where we can sustain that and with that expenditure
of resources and those that may not remain a hypothetical very long i don't know there is an american rescue plan and with those elements to protect certain parts of the country to have certain american and assets and then they just decided to jettison and then to have options to protect ourselves they may not be as good but they wouldn't be as good for the afghan people in my judgment but i hope i'm
wrong. we have brought the commitment and the expenditure of resources down to a level that i think was with our strategic interest. >> i don't disagree with his assessment and i do worry we will have a downward spiral in afghanistan that could end up looking like a full-blooded civil war or talent then taking major cities back so far very groups the horrific images on the nightly news in terms of innocent afghan civilians. so that pains my heart so i'm sure there's plenty how we protect ourselves or extract the diplomatic presence and
then to lose the primary source of leverage. and what could emerge from further negotiations than the international community will still support whatever that looks like but i don't think we should be very optimistic to negotiate either a cease-fire or a new government as we depart. it will be a very difficult chapter with the end of our military engagement there.