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tv   The Presidency Theodore Roosevelt the National War College  CSPAN  April 8, 2019 12:00am-12:43am EDT

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landscape has clearly changed. there's is no monolithic media. broadcasting has given way to narrow-casting. youtube stars are a thing. but c-span's big idea is more relevant today than ever. no government money supports c-span. its nonpartisan coverage of washington is funded as a public service by your cable or satellite provider. on television or online, so you can make up your own mind. announcer: next on the presidency, it has been 116 years since president theodore roosevelt made his way to an already historic army fort in washington, d.c. to oversee the cornerstone laying of what is now known as the national war college. the building, whose construction began february 21, 1903, is named roosevelt hall. in about 40 minutes, we hear from the 26th president great-grandson, tweed. first, arkansas congressman
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french hill and janet breslin-smith talk about theodore roosevelt's interest in military education and his role in founding the college. >> i think everybody is seated. there may be others who will be joining us later. they will find a place to sit as well. i am mike maples, president of the national war college alumni association, class of 1993. today we are gathered once again to commemorate the laying of the cornerstone for roosevelt hall, which occurred on the 21st of february, 1903.
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i thank all of you for joining us today because i think it will be a very special remembrance of a very special occasion. i recognize the commandant, present with us today. even though she is trying to hide, dean cynthia is present here, too. congressman french hill is going to be our speaker today. not present yet is tweed roosevelt. who is somewhere in the air between here and boston. due to flight delays because of the weather. jean is out and will try to rain tweed in if possible and bring him as soon as he arrives. dr. janet breslin-smith, our historian, who will also be sharing her thoughts with us today, and jean russell is out there running around as i mentioned. i want to make everyone aware
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c-span is with us today and they will be taping this event for a later showing. you might have noticed when you were out in the rotunda that on this wall behind me there is a large marble plaque. on that plaque, it recognizes contributions of president theodore roosevelt's secretary of war. elihu root was the individual who carried out the vision that president roosevelt had of modernizing the armed forces. in his cornerstone speech that he delivered when the cornerstone was laid, president roosevelt articulated four large goals he had. the largest was the establishment of general staff. he wanted to modernize the army. he wanted to modernize our national guard as a national militia and he wanted to provide for the training of the officers and men of the army.
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elihu root is recognized because of his vision to modernize the armed forces. president roosevelt also said in that speech it should be a matter of pride and congratulation for every american citizen interested in the welfare of the country that the foundation stone of the building was being laid. so our military could be prepared during peace in order for our nation to play its great role in a time of war. with the assured self-confidence of a just man armed, president roosevelt's words. so the cornerstone that gave us this grant building, roosevelt
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hall, our citizens today should find that same comfort and pride that in this building now the national war college continues to serve the interests of our nation by providing leaders of the armed forces and the interagency and provide a foundation for strategic thinking that enables our national security. we are going to go back in time and talk about that foundation that was established with the laying of the cornerstone. we are going to begin our program with dr. janet breslin-smith, who is our historian, a former national war college faculty member, class of 1993, a member of the alumni association board, but i would say more importantly, she is a person who has an unmatched passion for this building and the national war college. janet. smith: thanks so
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much. am i on the right mic? there i am. i want to welcome you back. for those of you who are first-time visitors, i'm glad you have come here to share this day with us and to see this remarkable building. for our alumni, welcome home. it is good to have you back. i know in the years ahead we hope to have more events for alumni. that really take advantage of this building and this institution. to the congressman, i'm so happy you are here to share this day with us. to me, this building, the first moment i saw it, i thought about theodore roosevelt. because to me, it looks like he wanted it to be. it is a building with great shoulders. it exemplifies power to me and stability and strength. i think president roosevelt, from the moment he had the idea
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of world leadership for the united states, he wanted to -- he wanted it to be expressed in this building. let me give you a feel for where we are,self roosevelt hall, and the early history of the national college. fort mcnair was established in 1794. i always thought it was a great military lesson for us. when i first got here as a refugee from capitol hill, i came to this post and i saw this building and i was walking around the grounds that are so beautiful, especially in the summer, and i saw the cannon facing the water. indeed, this fort was designed to protect us against enemies coming from sea. unfortunately, the brits in the war of 1812 decided to come from land. they took this post and they
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burnt the president's residence. they finished destroying the capital building under construction. to me, it is always the first lesson in military planning to anticipate the unanticipated. this is the only u.s. fort that was ever lost to a foreign enemy. during the civil war, the arsenal, and we had a penitentiary here, was often visited by president lincoln. he wanted to see the new design. he would visit the troops here. sadly, after his assassination, those buildings in the middle of the post, the cream-colored buildings, where the courthouse. the places where those of -- those accused of the assassination were held. there was such a fear at the time mobs would take them out and kill them immediately. they were put on a barge in the
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river to protect them. obviously, the courtroom, they were found guilty and the hanging took place across the street from where the officers club is. for us, the civil war era was one of both involvement of the president and sadly the place for the judgment after his assassination. following the spanish-american war and as the united states prepared for a bigger role in the world, it was a time that president roosevelt was looking ahead at our role in the world. mentioned, elihu root was charged with rethinking the structure of the army. the first intent was -- the felt need at the time, and this was in 1899, to establish a war college, not to promote war, but to preserve peace.
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the intent was to enhance military professionalism at the time. to house this new college, the firm to design and build this impressive structure. tweed, if he was here, his great-grandfather intended this magnificent building would be the focal point of the entire post. here it was at the very end of this land between the anacostia river and the potomac. the design of the building was it would be as it is here, in this magnificent setting, and in front of it would be this great expanse of a promenade and grass as far as the eye could see. it would be set alone. when the architect came toward the end of the construction, he had not been on the post. he came in his carriage and saw that despite his plea to the army to take down those
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buildings in the middle of fort mcnair, the army refused. not only were the historic, the army did not want to be told by some architect what buildings to have up or down. when white entered those metal gates in his carriage, he looked down to see the war college, and instead he saw those old cream-colored buildings. he turned the carriage around , refused to look at the buildings, and left the post. this was a passionate architect. during world war ii, the army war college set up by theodore roosevelt closed because during the war, the need to have a headquarters building here and planning office. this building was converted into planning. the rotunda was covered over for
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additional floors, more space for people to work on planning, and in the final years of the , actually 1943, in the midst of war, general eisenhower, general marshall, and the secretary of the navy at the time all came together in the midst of war and said to themselves, when this war is over, this massive world war ii, we know we will never fight a war the same way. we are going to face a different enemy in a different setting in a different time. when eisenhower came back after the end of world war ii, he did something those of you in washington who have worked in congress or on budget appropriations knows the significance of what i'm going to say right now. eisenhower knew this was the army war college. he knew we had to change. he single-handedly went to the congress and said he was going
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to take the appropriations for this building and he was going to take the central mission of this building and create a new institution. he named it the national war college. his vision from the beginning was to make it a different type of institution and that it would be joint. it would have all four services, navy, army, the new air force at the time, and that he would include in it a sizable component of foreign service officers, the state department , and the intelligence community. as he said at the time, we would have to face for the advent of a cold war. we would have to find a different way of preparing our officers. foreign service officers as well as military officers. what i always like to look back at is looking at the charter we had in the era in which we were
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founded, a historian at the time said this college would be concerned with grand strategy and the utilization of natural resources necessary to implement the strategy. it said at the time our graduates will exercise great influence in the formation of national and foreign policy both in peace and war. at the time when you think about it, coming out of the devastation in world war ii, it is interesting to reflect back on our first commandant, who at the time was preparing to invade japan. he was off the shore of okinawa. the horrible, horrible battle of okinawa had finished. before the advent and the use of the atomic bomb, he was prepared for an invasion of japan. he says when he got this assignment, he said at the time i was in manila planning to take the sixth army into japan. i had many pleasant and
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instructive discussions with him. we talked about the problems of military education. i will always remember his basic admonition to me. for the students. he said make them ponder. when admiral hill was speaking to the first class of 1946, he said to them, this is exactly what we propose to do here. we want to give you practical problems upon which to think and ponder and arrive at individual conclusions that you are ready to defend against all attack. he wanted men of confidence. these were all men at the time. he wanted men of confidence who had strategic vision. i go back to that period of 1946 because sometimes in washington , we get depressed about the fatigue between the congress and the president and the sense of dysfunction. when you think about that period, we were remarkably creative. if theodore roosevelt had been with us at that time, he would
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have been proud that within that period of time, we had the national security act, we established a new air force, the cia, the national security council. we restructured ourselves in a creative process that is breathtaking in terms of how fast it happened. eisenhower thought about this college from the very beginning as a source of strategy. he wanted to be the strategic leader. as a mark of that, the first vice commandant was a strategic thinker that really helped us understand the threat of the soviet union in the beginning years of the cold war. kennan was an expert, thoughtful analyst of russian history, psychology, economics. he understood marxism.
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when he came here, he writes about that period in his memoir with deep affection and emotion in his relationship with the military officers he was with. it gave him time to reflect on his own sense of not only the pure nature of the soviet union, but having designed a strategy to defeat it without devastating the world because he was very well aware, we all were, of the devastating power of atomic weapons. eisenhower's vision for this school and the role of kennan's strategy stay with us now. i have no doubt in this class that the students have the same commitment eisenhower's first class had. i know the faculty here has the same challenge with students to make them ponder. because there are no easy answers. there are no school solutions.
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the challenges we face will be more important to have the students be prepared to respond to a person who says, what do we do now? so, welcome. i'm glad you are here to share the post with us. if you are leaving and it is your first time here, drive around to look at the officer houses and those historic buildings in the middle. the cream-colored buildings. take the time to tour this building. it is really, truly a jewel. thanks so much. [applause] >> i have the honor now of introducing our guest speaker, congressman french hill. we welcome you to the national war college. i believe this is your first visit.
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but not to mcnair. as you read in your program, congressman hill represents the second congressional district. you can see his background is in economics. he doesn't serve on financial committees and subcommittees and is in the leadership as well. what you don't see, necessarily, are the other associations he has and the interests he takes up. he has multiple caucus memberships, which include the army, the air force, missile defense, multiple foreign relations caucuses, and interesting, the historic preservation caucus as well. you put all of that together, the military, the historic, the foreign affairs areas, it really brings about every thing we have been talking about.
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he is a practitioner, because he has practiced using economics as part of our national strategy as well. you think about the interagency, the approaches we teach and utilize here, congressman hill really does represent that. importantly, as i was pondering, which i was taught to do at the national war college, i was pondering, why would congress -- why would a congressman from arkansas have such interest in theodore roosevelt? because we not -- we got his name from none other than tweed roosevelt. when we were thinking, who would speak on this occasion to try to relate the laying of the cornerstone to the transition we are in today? tweed did not hesitate. he said french hill. i will talk to him. i had a moment to ask the
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congressman where this interest in roosevelt came from and the relationship with tweed, and what i learned made a lot of sense. first, he is a student of history. he was walking down the street one day, fell in step with an author who had written the definitive series on roosevelt and dove in to it. from that, became a member of the theodore roosevelt foundation with tweed and with whom we have developed a very strong relationship over the last couple of years. congressman, we are delighted to have you. we look forward to your remarks. perhaps in the middle we may have a roosevelt arrive as well. [applause] rep. hill: thank you. good afternoon. it is a delight to be in historic roosevelt hall. it is true in my executive
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branch experience, i know something about interagency coordination, something taught very ably here in the defense university. i described those two years working for president bush 41 as a real effort in being a referee. i worked for secretary of treasury brady and ran the economic policy council on the white house staff, which he translated in, i don't want to participate in meetings with certain cabinet officers. you get to do that. [laughter] >> i know a lot about policy coordination. it is a treat to be here. i want to think the commandant for the invitation. general maples, thank you for your kind introduction. it is a real treat to be on fort mcnair. 116 years ago this week, theodore roosevelt was present for the laying of the historic cornerstone we have talked about this afternoon. a large crowd of dignitaries, officials, and troops assembled
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in honor of george washington's birthday to inaugurate the army war college and commence the work of this magnificent building. as was said, roosevelt hall joined other outstanding examples of work in washington and new york, including columbia university and of course the west and east wings of the white house. we stand on hallowed ground as this arsenal site is our third oldest army post, together with carlisle barracks and west point. for his part, president roosevelt was from a very young age a student of strategy and military tactics. two years after graduation from harvard at age 24, roosevelt authored the naval war of 1812. the book went through four editions in the first six years.
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in 1886, just four years after being published, the navy saw to it that a copy of the book is placed aboard every ship. this work was considered the definitive account of american and british naval tactics. a significant point of the work was to criticize the lack of american preparedness. tr was relentless in his critique of president madison in the lack of preparation. in his lecture entitled, washington's forgotten maxim at the naval war college in 1897 as a newly minted assistant secretary of the navy, roosevelt attacked those who refused to prepare due to the, quote, shortsightedness of many, the sheer ignorance of a vast number, and a selfish reluctance to ensure against future danger
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by present sacrifice among yet others. he left no one out who was unprepared for the war of 1812. but likewise, he found equally, if not more reprehensible, the contemptible war hawks who, quote, brought on the war, yet deliberately refused to make preparations to carry it to a successful conclusion. roosevelt concluded the war of 1812, quote, bitterly did the nation pay for its lack of foresight and forethought. roosevelt would devote his life to lecturing on preparedness as the best way to avoid war. starting with his work on the war of 1812 and ending in his sharp rebuke of woodrow wilson in the run-up to world war i. roosevelt's columns in 1916 and 1917 were replete with lectures
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on what he called broomstick preparedness. that is because the army had no carbines and they drilled with broomsticks in the run-up to world war i. roosevelt would cite one of our first presidents principal maxims at every opportunity. george washington wrote eldridge jerry, there is nothing so likely to produce peace as well to be well prepared to meet an enemy. this was not forgotten by teddy roosevelt. by the time roosevelt was confirmed as assistant secretary of the navy, he was fully engaged promoting the role of seapower as a strategic american activity. the naval war college where roosevelt delivered his talk was the nerve center of american
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strategic planning in a place where naval officers went to advance their knowledge of science and history and tactics of marine warfare. tr was not alone in his concern over america's lack of preparedness and staying true to george washington's maxim. roosevelt kept president mckinley's highly respected secretary of war, elihu root, and equally regarded secretary of state john hay. root had been a longtime pr -- tr supporter, having assisted him in his earliest run for the new york assembly and for new york governor. along the way, roosevelt greatly enjoyed root's wit. tr believed root could succeed him as president if he were not so tightly associated with new york and wall street. for his part, the secretary believed the army staff had grown bloated and subject to the general officers and their personal preferences.
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further, there was criticism of the army's ineptness during the spanish-american war. secretary root long argued for the idea of a general staff for the army, a chief of staff reporting to the secretary of war, and increased professional education. in 1899, roosevelt published a column in "the century" which outlines that ineptness during the spanish-american war. roosevelt put it this way. the mistakes, blunders, and shortcomings of the army management during 1898 should be credited mainly not to anyone in office, but to the public service of the people and therefore to the people themselves who permitted the army to rust since the civil war with no chance whatsoever to perfect itself by practice. any trouble that may come upon the army and the nation in the
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next few years will be due to the failure to provide for a thoroughly reorganized regular army of adequate size in 1898. that is how roosevelt spoke. i do not know how he cut through english classes. [laughter] rep. hill: it is a run-on sentence. for this failure of the senate and the house which took the lead against reorganizing the army, they will be primarily responsible. roosevelt personally, and he became an assistant secretary of the navy, began to really advocate for these changes. he compared it to what was going on in the navy. when complement in navy's performance during the spanish-american war, tr credited the administration of president arthur, who initiated the serious strategic work to build a properly sized navy. roosevelt argued this contrasted with the state of the army. tr bluntly described the state
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of the army in that same article. the bureaus in washington were absolutely and mashed in red tape and held by elderly men who were no longer fit to break through routine and show the extraordinary energy, business capacity, initiative, and willingness to accept responsibility as that which was needed. finally, the higher officers had been absolutely denied their chance to practice their profession which the higher offices of the navy had been long accustomed. this was the idea of maneuvers, having joint force exercises the navy initiated years before. adding to the frustration, the fact that in the aftermath of the civil war general sherman had commissioned major general upton to study the armies of europe and asia.
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his recommendations included the formation of the general staff and a systematic extension of military education. upton's report directed by general sherman sat on the shelves in washington and collected dust for decades. knowing all of this, roosevelt concluded his opinion piece by arguing congress had failed to make adequate provision for a proper army and provide for the reorganization of the army for its practice in times of peace. the. system should be -- the whole step system should be remodeled, he argued. there is no doubt this fully reflected the strong opinions of president mckinley's secretary of war, root. flashforward. mckinley, against the advice of many, named the hero of san juan heights, the former governor of
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, as his running mate. in a state of shock to the nation, mckinley was assassinated while visiting buffalo, new york. roosevelt at age 42 takes the oath of office as our 26th president. on december 3, 1901, roosevelt sent his first annual message to the congress. it was an intensive, detailed list of roosevelt's ideas for congress's consideration. in those days, we did not have a state of the union speech. the president sent up his letter and it was read to both chambers, and on that day, the clerks read themselves hoarse over the course of two and a half hours it took to read the message in each chamber.
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i can tell you each year, members got less and less interested in hearing from president roosevelt. in 1909, his last annual message to the congress, they voted to table it. [laughter] >> i don't think they heard it all the way out. in that first message, the president requested general staff should be created and there should be criteria for the promotion of officers, not just based on seniority. he believed thorough military education for regulars, the national guard, and others in civilian life who desire to prepare for military duty was essential. in his second message to congress in december the following year, roosevelt referred to the need for a general staff as urgent. it has gone from a recommendation to, i'm not kidding you. i want it. after years of passionate
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advocacy, roosevelt secured approval for the army war college here at the washington arsenal site. on that cold february saturday, in 1903 as the cornerstone was laid, roosevelt told the assembled troops and guests, the parade ground do not make 5% of the soldiers' real work. in his real efficiency, officer and man alike must be trained to the highest point in theory and in the practice of the profession. the army of the united states is , and it is not desirable that it should be other than a small army relatively to the population of the country, but we have a right to expect the army shall represent for its size the very highest point of efficiency of an army, any army in the civilized world. as a member of congress, i was pleased the 115th congress took to heart president washington's
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maxim and roosevelt's passion by agreeing to fully fund the department of defense priorities in training and the enhancement of the national guard as well as forward-looking improvements in uniform services both in efficiency and weapon services -- weapon systems, anticipating all forms of future conflict. the budget cuts and sequestered policies of the previous administration left our men and women in uniform inadequately supplied, substantial portions of our air assets grounded, and critically needed training curtailed. i saw that firsthand as i represent little rock air force base, the center for excellence in air mobility and the national center for field training and executive education for the army national guard. it is fitting that during the 1903 george washington birthday week, an impressive masonic ceremony of laying the roosevelt hall cornerstone took place.
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the masonic grand master spread the mortar for the cornerstone of this building with the very trowel used by george washington to lay the cornerstone of the capital in 1793. more important today, we salute the persistence of president roosevelt and recommit that on our watch, george washington's maxim of peace through strength will not be forgotten. thank you for having me today. [applause] >> would you take a few questions? ok. we are going to pass the microphone around. if you have questions, hold up your hands. we will get to you. please wait and ask your question when you have the microphone so we can record it on c-span.
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>> thank you. were other sites considered or was this always the location they had in mind for the war college? reading, they wanted it to be in washington, d.c., and this was the logical site for the convenience and the fact they wanted it to be a comprehensive site not connected to west point. this was to continue education and broaden the education not iny for the guard, but as president roosevelt's speech, those in civilian life who might move to a military career at some point. >> how early was this named theodore roosevelt hall? >> how early? it was, i think dedicated as roosevelt hall on that day. it was named for the president
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upon its completion. >> i am a former student here. same seat. [laughter] >> they never break. so glad you brought george washington into all of this. i always felt when i was here he deserved to be one of the major people we always think about when we think about strategy and success. the question is, and i recall, maybe janet knows, maybe it was senator truman coming over to listen to the lectures -- was that who was? >> yesterday we have pictures in -- yes. we have pictures in our history of president truman. he came over to this auditorium , and i always thought -- there is a picture of it because there are two things that struck me.
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one, he came to work. he sat with everyone else in the auditorium. at the time we were trying to understand not only the lessons of world war ii, but what was stalin up to? when you look at the picture, he is walking down the steps and you are looking out, there was only one car. i don't know if he drove by himself or he had one secret service person, but there was no entourage. it was just truman by himself. the other thing i remember reading about that time that i wish we could bring back, that at the time congressional leaders came to lecture, and afterwards, admiral hill would invite members of the congress, both parties without press, to have lunch. the speaker would address
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everybody in the hall. there would be questions and answers with the students, many home -- many of whom were world war ii -- we had general officers. they would go to admiral hill's house. i always believed the bipartisan support for strategy that lasted all the years of the cold war started here because they had a chance to learn together, ask questions without the press to say, how can we get a better understanding of marxism, of stalin? and that bipartisan trust started at lunch -- well, here in learning and at lunch at admiral hill's house. i always had this romantic notion. we could bring this back, you are invited to lunch anytime you want to come. that the hill could use this as a refuge from all the politics because there are so many things on our plate that we all need to ponder. >> i think all of that is true.
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i think members relish interaction with students. students of the war college. i'm always pleased to come here and participate in the economics class. i have been a guest lecturer for over the last four years. the questions are terrific from people from the civilian side and uniformed side, and foreign military officers. it is always a diverse set of questions. the interaction is terrific. i hope you will continue to invite members to participate. >> that was part of the reason for my question, that you continue to come over here. and some of your colleagues collingswood. -- some of your colleagues would it i understand this building also is the site for congress to
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into the planning meetings. >> we are not strangers to the campus. >> thank you. >> it is a pleasure. thanks for the invitation, and here is to theodore roosevelt. [applause] >> commemorating the 1903 construction of roosevelt hall. this is about 15 minutes. >> first of all, welcome


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