CD140: The War Mongers’ Plan

CD140: The War Mongers’ Plan

Dec 11, 2016

No one really knows what Donald Trump plans to do as US Commander in Chief, but the United States’ most influential war mongers have a plan. In this episode, hear the highlights from a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing – a hearing that was kept off of C-SPAN and had no one in attendance – and get some insight into the advice our next President will be given to direct our nation at war.

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Hearing Highlighted in this Episode

Emerging U.S. Defense Challenges and Worldwide Threats, Senate Armed Services Committee, December 6, 2016


*Clip transcripts below

Sound Clip Sources

Additional Reading

Book: The Pentagon’s New Map by Thomas P.M. Barnett, May 2005.

Miscellaneous Sources

Recommended Podcast Episodes

Hearing Clip Transcipts

  • {18:30} Chairman John McCain: Our next president will take office as the U.S. confronts the most diverse and complex array of global security challenges since the end of the Second World War. Great power competition, once thought a casualty of the end of history, has returned as Russia and China have each challenged the rules-based order that is the foundation of our security and prosperity. Rogue states like North Korea and Iran are undermining regional stability while developing advanced military capabilities that threaten the United States and our allies. Radical Islamist terrorism continues to pose a challenging threat to our security at home and our interests abroad, and the chaos that has spread across the Middle East, and on which our terrorist enemies thrive, has torn apart nations; destroyed families; killed hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children; and sent millions more running for their lives. But today—today—President Obama will deliver a speech in Florida, touting his counter-terrorism successes. I’m not making that up. Ugh. Yet, even a glimpse at the chaos enveloping the Middle East and spreading throughout the world reveals the delusion and sophistry of this president and his failed policies. In short, when our next president is inaugurated, just six weeks from now, he will look out on a world on fire and have several consequential strategic choices to make: how to address Russian or Chinese aggression, how to confront threats from North Korean, whether to alter our relationship with Iran, how to improve and quicken our campaign against ISIL, how to counter the instability radiating from Syria, how to ensure a victory in the war in Afghanistan, and I could go on, not to mention the overwhelming challenge of cybersecurity. Our next president will not have the benefit of time and cautious deliberation to set a new strategic course for the nation; that work begins with a series of decisions that will present themselves immediately on day one. That’s why it’s so important to get these things right from the outset. As we ponder these strategic questions, we must also consider our military posture around the world. We must decide the appropriate military presence in Europe and reverse reductions made by the Obama administration under the assumption that Russia was a partner. We also need a fresh look at further steps to enhance U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region. We need to uphold our commitments to allies and partners, including by finally providing lethal assistance to Ukraine and standing by the opposition in Syria. We need to push back against the spread of Iranian malign influence in the Middle East. This starts in Iraq where the eventual liberation of Mosul will intensify the sectarian struggle for power and identity. We need to finally give our troops in Afghanistan what they need to succeed—permanent and flexible authorities to engage the enemy and troop levels based on security conditions on the ground. Here at home we need to return to a strategy-based defense budget. Our next president would need more than $100 billion over and above the Budget Control Act caps just to execute our current defense strategy, which is insufficient since it predates Russian invasion of Ukraine and ISIL’s rampage across Syria and Iraq. This will require our next president to negotiate a broad bipartisan agreement on the budget that brings an end to the dangerous and misguided Budget Control Act.
  • {30:50} General Jack Keane: I’m delighted to be here with Dr. Kagan, a good friend, and let me just say something about Dr. Kagan here and his family. His father, himself, his wife, his brother, and his sister-in-law all made— Sen. John McCain?: All have exceeded—Keane: —a great contribution to this country, believe me.
  • {35:45} Gen. Jack Keane: The reality is we need more combat brigades. The reality is we need more ships. The reality is we need more aircraft. It’s indisputable.
  • {37:20} Gen. Jack Keane: The United States has not fielded a single active protection system on a tank yet or any other combat vehic— But your committee has mandated they do it, and you put some money in there for them to do it. Now, listen, if you don’t know what active protection system is, let me take you through it for a second. You put sensors on a vehicle that track an incoming round to the vehicle, and as the round is about to hit the vehicle, you actually have a kill system on the vehicle that kills the round before it hits. Brilliant technology. Where do we get all of that from? Private sector. It has to do with microchip technology and incredible software programs. Out there on a private sector, smart guys, small-business guys, got it; DARPA had a program over ten years ago to look at this; technology’s proven, and the United States military ground forces still haven’t put it on anything. What’s wrong with that? It has nothing to do with money. It doesn’t have anything to do with the White House. It doesn’t have anything to do with Congress. It doesn’t have anything to do with OSD. You know what it is? It’s the damn bureaucracy inside the Army. They push back on new technology because they want to design it themselves because you give them money to do it. These are the laboratories and the tech bases. It’s the acquisition bureaucracy that stalls this. When I was vice chief of staff for the Army, I had no idea about all of that, and it took me a year or two to figure out what I was really dealing with—bureaucrats and technocrats that were stalling the advance of a great army. That’s out there, and you’ve got to bore into that with this committee. The military and Defense Department needs help to break down that bureaucracy.
  • {43:20} Gen. Jack Keane: Let me just say something about the DOD business side of the House. Certainly, we are the best fighting force in the world; we are first rate at that. But we’re absolutely third rate at running the business-like functions of DOD because we’re not good at it; we don’t know enough to be good at it. We’re managing huge real estate portfolios. We’re managing huge lodging capabilities. We’re one of the biggest motel owners in the United States. We’re managing the largest healthcare enterprise in the world. The amount of maintenance that we’re doing from a pistol to an aircraft carrier is staggering. Those are all business functions. Business functions. They’re all non-core functions. And we’re also managing new product design and new product development, using business terms, and we don’t do well at this, and there’s a ton of money involved in it. We’ve got to get after that money, and we’ve got to do better at it. And I think we should bring in, as a number-two guy in the Department of Defense, a CEO from a Fortune 500 company in the last five years that’s done a major turnaround of a large organization. We need business people to help us do this. We need a CFO, not a comptroller, in DOD. That CFO has the background that’s necessary to look at business practices in the DOD, where cost-basis analysis and performance, internal-controlled auditing, rigorous financial reviews, cost efficiency, and dealing with waste, those are the kinds of things we need—desperately need them because the money is there. You want to do so much more—some of that money is sitting right there in the budget.
  • {46:55} Gen. Jack Keane: ISIS is the most successful terrorist organization that’s ever been put together. We’re making progress against them in Iraq, to be sure. We do not have an effective strategy to defeat them in Syria, because we don’t have an effective ground force. And we have no strategy to deal with the spread of ISIS to thirty-five other countries. I’m not suggesting for a minute that we’re involved in all of that, but I think we can tangibly help the people who are.
  • {47:35} Gen. Jack Keane: In Iraq, we will retake Mosul. How long will depend on how much ISIS wants to resist; they didn’t resist in Fallujah and Ramadi that much. But after we take Mosul, if we have sectarian strife in Mosul, where we do not have unity of governance and unity of security, then that is going to contaminate the political unity and the country as a whole, which is so desperately needed. And that is a major issue for us. The major geopolitical issue for the United States and Iraq is political unity with their government and diminishing Iran’s strategic influence on Iraq. That is what we should be working on.
  • {48:52} Gen. Jack Keane: The Syrian civil war, a major human catastrophe, to be sure, is a tractable problem, I think as any of us have had to deal with. The reality is we squandered the opportunities to change the momentum against the regime—I won’t list them all, and you’re aware of it—but right in front of us, I still believe we could put safe zones in there to safe guard some of those humans up near the Jordanian and Turkish border and that de facto would be a no-fly zone. I think it would also aid the Syrian moderates and likely attract some others to that movement.
  • {49:49} Gen. Jack Keane: Afghanistan—let me just say, the war is not winnable under the current policy. We cannot win. And that’s the reality of it. We’ve got sanctuaries in Pakistan. No insurgency’s ever been defeated with sanctuaries outside the conflict area. Pakistani-Afghan national security forces do not have the enablers they need to be able to overcome the Taliban, who have resurged.
  • {55:55} Robert Kagan: I want to talk about a subject that we don’t like to talk about in polite company, and it’s called world order. We naturally focus on threats to the homeland and our borders, and we talk about terrorism, as we must, as something that is obviously of utmost importance, has to be a top priority to protect the homeland. But as we look across the whole panoply of threats that we face in the world, I worry that it’s too easy to lose sight of what, to my mind, represent the greatest threats that we face over the medium- and long term and possibly even sooner than we may think, and that is the threat posed by the two great powers in the international system, the two great revisionist powers international system—Russia and China, because what they threaten is something that is in a way more profound, which is this world order that the United States created after the end of World War II—a global security order, a global economic order, and a global political order. This is not something the United States did as a favor to the rest of the world. It’s not something we did out of an act of generosity, although on historical terms it was a rather remarkable act of generosity. It was done based on what Americans learned in the first half of the twentieth century, which was that if there was not a power—whether it was Britain or, as it turned out, it had to be the United States—willing and able to maintain this kind of decent world order, you did not have some smooth ride into something else. What you had was catastrophe. What you had was the rise of aggressive powers, the rise of hostile powers that were hostile to liberal values. We saw it. We all know what happened with two world wars in the first half of the twentieth century and what those who were present at the creation, so to speak, after World War II wanted to create was an international system that would not permit those kinds of horrors to be repeated, and because the understanding was that while Americans believed very deeply in the 1920s and ’30s that they could be immune from whatever horrors happened out there in the world that it didn’t matter to them who ran Europe or who ran Asia or who did what to whom as long as we were safe, they discovered that that was not true and that ultimately the collapse of world order would come back and strike the United States in fundamental ways. And so Americans decided to take on an unusual and burdensome role of maintaining world order because the United States was the only power in the world that could do it, and the critical element of maintaining that world order was to maintain peace and stability in the two big cockpits of conflict that had destroyed the world and had produced repeated conflicts from the late nineteenth century onward, and that was Europe and Asia. The United States accomplished something that no other power had been able to accomplish before. It essentially put a cork in two areas that had been known for the constant warfare, put an end to an endless cycle of war between France and Germany, between Japan and China; and that was the stable world order that was created after World War II, that America gradually thrived in, that produced the greatest era of great-power peace that has been known in history, the greatest period of prosperity, the greatest period of the spread of democracy.
  • {1:01:24} Robert Kagan We especially cannot take our eye off what I believe is ultimately the main game, which is managing these two revisionist powers and understanding what they seek. We cannot be under any illusions about Russia and China. We will find areas of cooperation with them—they both partake and benefit from and, in some case, sort of feed off of the liberal world order the United States has created—but let us never imagine that they are content with this order, that they do not seek fundamentally eventually upend this order, especially on the security side, to create a situation which they think ought to be the natural situation which is they being hegemonic in their own region. China has a historical memory of being hegemonic, dominant in its region. Russia has a historical memory, which Putin has expressed on numerous occasions, of restoring its empire, which stretched right into the heart of Central Europe. As far as they are concerned, the order that the United States has created is unfair, disadvantageous to them, temporary, and ought to be overturned. And I can only say that in the process of overturning that the history teaches that overturning does not occur peacefully. And so it should be our task both to prevent them from overturning it and to prevent them in a way that does not produce another catastrophic war.
  • {1:04:00} Robert Kagan: It’s unfortunate that after these eight years in which this signal has been sent that during this political campaign, the president-elect comments during the campaign as well as those of his surrogates have only reinforced the impression that the United States is out of the world-order business—comments about whether the United States really should support NATO allies; comments about Estonia being in the suburbs of St. Petersburg; complaints about the need to defend Japan and is that an equitable thing; the fact that both candidates came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is really, in my eyes, a strategic deal more than a trade deal, designed to pull the United States and its Asian partners together. All the elements of this campaign have only sent even greater shockwaves throughout the world about what the United States stands for. So, in a certain sense, yes, the next administration has a big hole to dig out of; it also has to dig out of a hole, to some extent, of its own making. And so we need to see, in the early stages, in the very early stages, I would say, a clear repudiation of all that rhetoric; some clear signs that this new administration understands the importance not only of reassuring allies but a willingness to bolster our commitment to those allies, because after all, the challenge from the revisionist powers is increasing; therefore it’s not enough to say we’re committed to the defensive allies; we have to show that our capacities are increasing along with those of the increasing threat which, of course, gets to the defense budget, which I don’t have to talk to this committee about.
  • {1:22:00} Robert Kagan: I’m very dubious that unless you actually increase the top line that you’re going to get what you need, because I just think, you know, you can only squeeze so far and be as brilliant as you can be. Brilliant is never going to be your answer, so I think the answer is there’s going to have to be more spending, and, you know, I’m not a budget expert at large either, but I would say we have to do whatever we need to do. We have to—if we need to raise taxes or we need to have some package that does that, if we need to find other ways of, you know, dealing problems like entitlement spending to do it, we have to do it. I mean, I lived through the Reagan years. There were increases in defense budget, which were offset by political bargains of one kind or another that required increases in domestic spending which led to increased defense budgets. We survived the—I mean, in overall deficits. We survived the deficits and won the Cold War. So I would say we are going to have to, as a nation, take this seriously enough to pay for it.
  • {1:46:45} Senator Angus King: So selection of leaders is a crucial element, looking for innovative and willingness to move. Let me— Gen. Jack Keane: You’ve got to force the R&D effort, and you’ve got to talk to civilian—you’ve got to talk to defense industry on a regular basis because the defense industry is spending their time thinking about your function. They’re all also spending research dollars on it. You have to have regular communication with them. Let them know where you’re trying to go, bring them into it to help contribute to it, drive your own people to work with them as well. We can accelerate this process rather dramatically. King: And I would suggest that we have to.
  • {1:50:00} Senator Joni Ernst: I would like to get your thoughts on ISIS in Southeast Asia because I do think it’s something that we haven’t spent a lot of time focusing on—we’re not talking about it nearly enough—and Islamic extremist groups in Southeast Asia, like the Abu Sayyaf group, they are all coming together under the flag of ISIS, and it’s a bit concerning.
  • {1:52:20} Shawn Brimley: One of the tangible second-order benefits that we get from forward deploying our troops and capabilities overseas is we have that daily connectivity, and we have that daily deterrent prowess in places around the region. One of the debates that you see and hear inside the Pentagon, or one of the debates that we had inside the Pentagon as pertains to, say, the Marines in Darwin, for instance, is, you know, you start to break apart these larger entities, like a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, for instance, and you start to put a company here in Southern Philippines and put a task force of some kind in Australia. And there’s a tradeoff between doing that, which gives you that kind of daily interaction with local communities, the ability to do a counter-terrorism operations, for instance. But there is some risk that it becomes more difficult to quickly bring those capabilities back together for a larger threat, responding to a larger threat. And that’s the balance that DOD, particularly OSD, has to grapple with every day.
  • {1:53:50} Senator Joni Ernst: General Keane, could you talk a little bit more about militarily what we could be doing in that region and the use of forces? * General Jack Keane*: Yeah, absolutely. And ISIS has expanded into 35 countries, and we don’t really have a strategy to deal with any of that. We’re focused on the territory that they took, certainly in Iraq and Syria, and I’m not saying that’s not appropriate—that should be a priority—but commensurate with that priority, we should be addressing these other areas as well. And a lot of the identification with ISIS is aspirational but they also have affiliates in these countries—this is one of them—and with an affiliate, they actually sign a document together to abide by certain ISIS principles and rules. And in some cases they direct, some cases they provide aid, but in most cases there’s no direction, and that’s largely the case here. But I believe what the United States can do with its allies is, you know, we’ve been at war with organizations like this now for 15 years, and our reservoir of knowledge and capability here is pretty significant, and it far exceeds anybody else in the world, but we have allies that are participating with us. There’s much we can do with them in sharing intelligence and helping them with training and also helping them with technology—not expensive technology, but things that can truly make a difference with those troops, and I don’t think we necessarily have to be directly involved in fighting these forces ourselves, but aiding and supporting these forces and having a strategy to do that—
  • {1:57:55} Senator Jeanne Shaheen: You also talked about taking retaliatory action against Russia for what they’re doing. What kinds of efforts would you suggest we look at in terms of trying to retaliate or respond to what Russia’s doing in the United States? Robert Kagan: Well, I’m sure there’re people better equipped to answer that question than I am, but I would, you know, publish the Swiss bank accounts of all the oligarchs around. I mean, there are all kinds of things that you could do that would cause— Shaheen: Yeah, keep, keep saying a few— Kagan: Well, I mean— Shaheen: A few more of those because I think those are helpful. Kagan: You know, you could talk about all the ways in which you could reveal stuff about the way Putin has manipulated his own elections. I mean, there’s all kinds of stuff out there, which, if you were of a mind to do it, you could do that would be embarrassing of one kind or another. I mean, these people have money stashed all over the world. They have dachas, they have villas, etc. This is a kind of a Mafia organization where part of the game is everybody holding together. There are ways to create divisions and difficulties. I mean, I’m sure, as I say, there are people who could, if you put them to the task—and for all I know they have been put to the task—you could come up with a whole list of things. And, by the way, I wouldn’t make an announcement of it; they would understand what had happened. But until we do something like that, it’s just open season for them to do this, and so I think we need to treat this like any other weapons system that’s being deployed, because they are treating it like a weapons system.
  • {2:00:32} Sen. Jeanne Shaheen: One of the things, General Keane, that you pointed out is that there is a predilection to try and kill some of the innovative programs so that the Pentagon can actually do those themselves. We had this experience with the Small Business Innovation Research program as we’re going into this NDAA because the initial effort was to try and increase the amount of money that DOD is making available to small businesses to do innovation, and I think we’ve heard from a number of panelists previously that this is one of the best research programs that still exists within—for small businesses to produce innovation that’s used by the Department of Defense. So, is this the kind of initiative that you’re talking about that there may be, for whatever reason, efforts to try and keep it from putting more money into that small-business effort to produce innovation?* Gen. Jack Keane*: I certainly encourage that. You know, the active protection system that I was talking about and that when DARPA made a call to the people to come forward and they knew that this would be an advanced technology that could actually change warfare, the contractor that the United States Army has gone to is a small-business contractor. So here’s this small-business contractor, conceptualized this capability themselves, and it will revolutionize combat warfare as we go forward. They also have technology, interesting enough, and they’ve brought military leaders out to see it, they can stop a bullet. In other words, a 50-caliber bullet, they can kill a bullet. And it’s all because of everything—all of this is available in the private sector. Microchip technology, as I mentioned, and unbelievable software apply to that technology. Well, that’s revolutionary technology that I just mentioned to you. It changes warfare. And so that is something we should be investing in. We should put money behind this. I have no affiliation with this organization—let’s get that straight.
  • {2:05:27} Senator Mike Lee: For several decades, Congress, quite regrettably in my opinion, has deliberately abdicated many of its constitutional responsibilities, and it’s just sort of handed it over to the executive branch, being willing to take a backseat role—a backseat role, at best—in determining America’s role around the world and how we’re going to combat threats that face us. The result ends up being a foreign policy that is made primarily within the executive-branch bureaucracy and Washington-insider circles, informed, as they tend to be, by the interests and the aspirations of the so-called international community. This is a circle that increasingly becomes untethered from any clear lines of accountability, connecting policy, policy makers, and the American people. For instance, the U.S. military is currently operating in the Middle East under a very broad, I believe irresponsibly broad, interpretation of a 15-year-old authorization for the use of military force, using it as justification to engage in a pretty-broad range of actions, from intervening in two separate civil wars to propping up a failing Afghan government. Meanwhile, the executive branch seems increasingly inclined to choose and identify and engage threats through covert actions, and that further helps the executive branch to avoid the scrutiny that would be available if stronger Congressional oversight existed, and they avoid that kind of scrutiny and public accountability. This may be convenient for members of Congress who want nothing more than to just have someone else to blame for decisions that turn out to be unpopular or unsuccessful, but it’s an affront to the Constitution. And it’s more than that; it’s more than just an affront to a 229-year-old document—it’s an affront to the system of representative government that we have dedicated ourselves to as Americans, and I think it’s an insult to the American people who are losing patience with a foreign policy that they feel increasingly and very justifiably disconnected from, notwithstanding the fact that they’re still asked from time to time to send their sons and daughters into harm’s way to defend it. So as we discuss these emerging threats to our national security, I’d encourage this committee and all of my colleagues to prioritize the threat that will inevitably come to us if we continue to preserve this status quo and to exclude the American people and their elected representatives, in many cases ourselves, from the process. So I have a question for our panelists. One of the focuses of this committee has been on the readiness crisis within the military, brought about by the conflicts we’re facing in the Middle East and by a reduction in the amount of money that the Pentagon has access to. The easy answer to this is often, well, let’s just increase spending. That’s not to say that that’s not necessary now or in other circumstances in particular, but setting aside that, that is one approach that people often come up with. But another option that I think has to be considered, and perhaps ought to be considered first, is to reexamine the tasks and the priorities that we’re giving to our military leaders and to ask whether these purposes that we’re seeking readiness for are truly in the interest of the American people, those we’re representing, those who are paying the bill for this, and those who are asked to send their sons and daughters into harm’s way. * Sen. John McCain: Senator’s time has expired. *Lee: So,– McCain: Senator’s time has expired. Lee: Could I just ask a one-sentence question, Mr. Chairman, to— McCain: Yes, but I would appreciate courtesy to the other members that have—make one long opening statement, it does not leave time for questions. Senator’s recognized for question. Lee: Okay. Do you believe that the Congress, the White House, and the executive branch agencies have done an adequate job in reaching consensus on what the American people’s interests are and on calibrating the military and diplomatic means to appropriate ends?
  • {2:10:43} Robert Kagan: I don’t accept this dichotomy that you posited between what the Congress and the President do and what the American people want. I mean, when I think of some of the—first of all, historically, the executive has always had tremendous influence on foreign policy—whatever the Constitution may say, although the Constitution did give the executive tremendous power to make foreign policy. If you go back to Jefferson, the willingness to deploy force without Congressional approval, you can go all the way through 200 years of history, I’m not sure it’s substantially different, but in any case, that’s been the general prejudice. The Founders wanted energy in the executive and particularly in the conduct of foreign policy. That was the lesson of the Revolutionary War. That’s why they created a Constitution which particularly gave power to the executive. But also, I just don’t believe that the American people are constantly having things foisted on them that they didn’t approve of. So one of the most controversial things that’s happened, obviously, in recent decade that people talk about all the time is the Iraq war, which was voted on; debated at length in Congress; 72 to 28, I think was the vote, or something like that. The American people, public opinion, was in favor of it, just as the American people was in favor of World War I, the Spanish-American War later. These wars turn out to be bad or badly handled, the American people decide that it was a terrible idea, and then people start saying, well, who did this? And the American people want to find somebody to blame for doing these things; they don’t want to take responsibility for their own decisions. I don’t believe we have a fundamentally undemocratic way of making foreign-policy decisions; I think it’s complicated, I think mistakes are made. Foreign policy’s all about failure. People don’t want to acknowledge that failure is the norm in foreign policy, and then they want to blame people for failure. But I think the American people are participants in this process.
  • {2:22:26} Senator Lindsay Graham: We’re talking about important things to an empty room. Just look. Just look. So, Iran with a nuke. Number one—I’m going to ask, like, 45 questions in five minutes. Give brief answers if you can. If you can’t, don’t say a word. Do you believe that the Iranians in the past have been trying to develop a nuclear weapon, not a nuclear power plant, for peaceful purposes? Shawn Brimley: Yes. Gen. Jack Keane: Nuclear weapon, yes. Graham: All right, three for three. Do you believe that’s their long-term goal, in spite of what they say is to have a nuclear weapon? Keane: Yes. Brimley: [nods] Robert Kagan: [thumbs up] Graham: Okay. Do you believe that’d be one of the most destabilizing things in the world? Brimley: Yes. Graham: Do you believe the Arabs will get one of their own? Brimley: Yes. Kagan: [nods] Graham: Do you believe the Iranians might actually use the weapon if they’d gotten one, the Ayatollah? Brimley: [nods] Keane: Well, I think that—before I answer that, I think there’s just as great a chance that the Arabs would use their weapon as a first right to take it away. Graham: Okay, then, so, we don’t know—well, let’s have— Bob, you shook your head. If you’re Israel, what bet would you make? Kagan: [speaks, but mic is not on] Graham: Okay, but what if he wants to die and he doesn’t mind taking you with him? What does he want? Does he want to destroy Israel, or is he just giddy? Kagan: [speaks, but mic is not on] Graham: When the Ayatollah says he wants to wipe Israel out, so it’s just all talk? Kagan: I don’t know if it’s all talk, and I don’t blame people for being nervous. We lived under—the United States, we all lived under the shadow of a possible nuclear war for 50 years. Graham: Yeah, but, you know, on their worst day the Russians didn’t have a religious doctrine that wanted to destroy everybody. Do you believe he’s a religious Nazi at his heart, or you don’t know? And the answer may be you don’t know. Kagan: I believe that he clearly is the—believes in a fanatical religion, but— Graham: Here’s what I believe. Kagan: I’m not—okay, go. Graham: Okay, I believe that you ought to take him seriously, based on their behavior. Number one— Keane: I think we should take him seriously. Whether they’re religious fanatics or not, I don’t think is that relevant. Clearly, their geopolitical goals to dominate the Middle East strategically, to destroy the state of Israel, and to drive the United States out of the Middle East, they’ve talked about it every single year— Graham: Well, do you think that’s their goal?Keane: Yes. Graham: Okay, so do you- Keane: Of course it’s their goal. And not only is it their goal, but they’re succeeding at it. Graham: Do you think we should deny them that goal.
    Graham: Good. North Korea—why are they trying to build an ICBM? Are they trying to send a North Korean in space? What are they trying to do? Brimley: They’re trying to threaten us. Kagan: To put a nuclear weapon on it— Graham: Do you believe it should be the policy of the United States Congress and the next president to deny them that capability? Brimley: I believe so. Graham: Would you support an authorization to use military force that would stop the ability of the North Koreans to develop a missile that could reach the United States? Do you think Congress would be wise to do that? Brimley: I think Congress should debate it. I remember distinctly the op-ed that Secretary William Perry and Ashton Carter— Graham: I’m going to introduce one. Would you vote for it if you were here?
    Kagan: Only if Congress was willing to do what was necessary to a followup—Graham: Well, do you think Congress should be willing to authorize any president, regardless of party, to stop North Korea from developing a missile that can hit the homeland? Kagan: Only if Congress is willing to follow up with what might be required, depending on North Korea’s response. Graham: Well, what might be required is to stop their nuclear program through military force; that’s why you would authorize it. Kagan: No, but I’m saying that if I’m—the answer is yes, but then you also have to be willing, if North Korea launched—Graham: Would you advise me— Kagan: —that you’d have to be willing to—
    Sen. John McCain: You have to let the witness. Graham: Yeah, but he’s not giving an answer, so here’s the question. Kagan: Oh, I thought I— Graham: Do you support Congress—everybody’s talking about Congress sitting on the sidelines. I think a North Korean missile program is designed to threaten the homeland; I don’t think they’re going to send somebody in space. So if I’m willing, along with some other colleagues, to give the president the authority—he doesn’t have to use it—but we’re all on board for using military force to stop this program from maturing, does that make sense to you, given the threats we face? Keane: I don’t believe that North Korea is going to build an ICBM, weaponize it, and shoot it at the United States. Graham: Okay, then, you wouldn’t need the authorization to use military force. Keane: Right. And the reason for that is— Graham: That’s fine. Keane: The reason—Senator, the reason they have nuclear weapons is one reason: to preserve their regime. They know when you have nuclear weapons we’re not going to conduct an invasion of North Korea. South Korea’s not going to do it; we’re not going to do it. Graham: Why are they trying to build ICBM? Keane: They want to weaponize it. Graham: And do what with it? Keane: I don’t bel— Kagan: Preserve their regime. Graham: Okay, all right. So, you would be okay with letting them build a missile? Kagan: No, but— Graham: Would you, General Keane? Keane: They’re already building a missile. Graham: Well, would you be willing to stop them? Keane: I would stop them from using it, yes. Graham: Okay. Keane: I’m not going to stop them from— Graham: Assad—final question. Do all of you agree that leaving Assad in power is a serious mistake? Brimley: Yes. Keane: Yes, absolutely. Graham: Finally, do you believe four percent of GDP should be the goal that Congress seeks because it’s been the historical average of what we spend on defense since World War II?Kagan: Pretty close. Graham: Thanks.

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