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The Security Implications of the Trump Presidency

The Security Implications of the Trump Presidency


[MUSIC PLAYING] OK. We should get started
in the interest of time. We have a lot to cover, and
a very little amount of time. I’m Peter Andreas, here
from the Watson Institute and from the department
of political science. I run the security
program here at Watson. This panel discussion is part
of a series of ongoing institute events related to the
election of Donald Trump. Today we, of course, are
focusing on the security implications of his presidency. The news these days,
as we all know, is all Trump– nonstop
Trump, 24/7– as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist. But the rest of the world will
present serious challenges, obviously, to the
next administration, including in the
realm of security. So what are the
implications, for example, for military intervention,
nuclear proliferation, the status of the Iran deal,
cyber security, and homeland security, and that great
wall that Trump promised us? At this point, we
obviously still have more questions than
answers– more speculation than real forecasts– but we
have some excellent crystal ball gazers here today. All part of the Institute’s
security program. Jeff Colgan, Tim Edgar,
Stephen Kinzer, Catherine Lutz, and Nina Tannenwald–
who’s rushing over from teaching her classes. [INTERPOSING VOICES] Perfect timing. I’ve asked each to speak for
no more than seven minutes, so we have enough time
for discussion at the end. Believe me, they
grumbled when they heard about the time limit. But do the math, and we want
to leave time for you folks to weigh in with your
questions and comments. I’ll start off with
just a few comments. Hello. All right. The cyberwar has begun. I’ll start off with
just a few comments about the great wall of Trump. Now, make America great
again was the core theme, one could say, of his
presidential campaign. Applied to border
security, that means regain control of our borders. It’s kind of a nostalgia for
this myth– a mythical era, which I would say is really
about historical amnesia because to regain
control of our borders really suggests that they were
ever controlled in the past. Which they, in fact, never were. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is you signal
your commitment– controlling the border– and what
better way to do that than something imposing
very visible, very concrete, and call it a wall? And, in fact, I would say that
build that wall– the rallying cry to build that wall– was
quite possibly the single most popular chant at Trump
rallies during the campaign. Trump promised a great
wall, he even called it a beautiful wall. He said no one builds
walls better than I do. He’s a real estate
developer, so here’s something very [INAUDIBLE] his
master construction project. Critics were as
dismissive of this wall as they were of him as a
presidential candidate, but now he’s obviously
been elected. So what about this wall? What can we actually expect. I’ll speculate that
he’ll not only build it, but it will be a
political success story. What do I mean by this? Well, words matter. Here I’m going to say I’m a
full blown social constructivist in the new Tannenwald tradition. Whatever is built there,
or is there already, Trump will call it a wall. Words matter. What exactly is a wall? A wall sounds like a very
concrete, clear thing. But, in fact, if you look
it up in the dictionary, it’s a pretty fuzzy
term– what a wall is. In fact, what’s already
there is a very wall-like in some places. What’s interesting is
that Trump’s predecessors deliberately shied away
from ever calling it a wall. This is bipartisan, whether
Republican or Democrat, no one wanted to use the word wall–
except for a fellow named Pat Buchanan. Who some of you in the audience
may remember from the ’90s. He famously ran for president
several times, and guess what? One of his key themes
was to build a wall. But at that point
in time, he was shunned as an extremist,
thought of as insulting Mexico, sending the wrong signal
to the world, and so on. Trump has actually
embraced– he’s the Pat Buchanan of the
21st century, in a sense. So he’s broken the taboo
of calling it a wall, and has taken ownership
of it therefore. And in fact, much of
the wall, I would say, has already been built for him. There’s actually, in fact,
been a border building frenzy since the early 1990s. Some of you have noticed,
some of you have not, but it’s been politically
popular to make political commitments to
more border enforcement. And the way to do that has been
to throw more fencing, more border patrol agents, more
military technology– including drones and other
surveillance aircraft. In fact, the size of the border
patrol doubled in the 1990s, and it doubled again
in the last decade. We’ve used military
technologies and hardware that were previously off limits
to law enforcement now applied to the border. We’ve taken drones
that were previously used in the Middle East, and now
deployed them along the border. So what is Trump doing? He’s just taking it to the
next level, I would say. He’s going to continue
the construction project with his own signature
of calling it a wall, and you can imagine the
press– you know, press event with the beginning of
his new construction project behind him and breaking ground. What will happen when his
supporters and critics say the wall is still too porous? Well he’ll do the same
thing that politicians have done in the past, which
is– in my second term, I will make it bigger
longer, stronger, wider. And yes, people will
keep digging under it, and go over it, and
around it, and so on. Many of them will
die– tens of thousands of migrants have
died trying to enter the country in the
last few decades. Smugglers have
profited enormously from this border
construction boom, but it will be a political
success story just as it has been in the past. Thank you. I will now go in
alphabetical order, or at least in the
order of the panelists– and Jeff Colgan’s next. Thanks. Thanks. Are you going to time us? Yes. OK. All right. You’ll pull me
when I need to get. I’ll tap you. Exactly. All right. Well, thank you. Trump’s election
certainly has a lot of implications
for foreign policy and international security, as
Peter said, and many of them are pretty scary. But before we get
to those things, I think it’s actually
important to think about how our foreign policy
rests upon domestic politics. And to that end, I
want to speak to what I think of as the even larger
dangers of a Trump presidency, and that has to do
with what’s going on with the erosion of
democracy, rule of law, and the risk to a healthy media. And I don’t assume that
everyone in this room has the same policy
preferences as me, or even that voted the same
way, has the same partisanship in any way, but I do
assume that all of us oppose what I’ll
call illiberalism. By illiberalism, what I mean is
actions and rhetoric contrary to the rule of law, to
checks and balances, to democratic institutions,
and to the protection of minorities. Donald Trump is a man who has
a long history of rhetorically denouncing those things. He, 25 years ago,
expressed admiration of the Chinese
government for the way in which it responded to the
Tiananmen Square protests. He has repeatedly
expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin, who is
an autocrat leading Russia. He has– during the campaign
and even after the campaign, he threatened to lock up
his political opponents. And he has claimed,
since the election, that 3 million
illegal votes were cast against him without
really a shred of evidence of any kind. These are things
that should alarm us, even if you felt
it was worth casting a vote against an
elite in Washington that was out of touch or that a
policy process that, you know, embodied by Hillary
Clinton that seemed frozen, or dysfunctional, what have you. Sympathies– emotions
that I can certainly have real sympathy for. But instead, what I
woke up with the morning after the election was
a real nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach–
I think many people did. And I think that that feeling
was there for a reason. That I don’t want
to have the emotions I had in the first
48 hours where I just was in a fog for 48 hours. But I do want to keep some of
the emotions that were there around resolve and around
activism that are going to be really important
in the next four years, in the way that America responds
to what is very likely going to be some actions
that seek to increase the power of the presidency and
that de-legitimize political opposition to those moves. So the question I think I want
to put on the table for us to think about is
how to distinguish between two different trends. One is a trend towards
presidential power consolidation that’s
been going on for quite a while– that
President Obama did, that President George
Bush did, et cetera. Taking actions that increase
the power of the White House relative to the other
elements of the US government. And contrast that against steps
that a Trump administration might take that are actually
of a different nature– different in kind–
in the way that they undermine the democratic
institutions of this country. And I think the key
thing to recognize is what we’re talking
about is not necessarily a return to mid 20th
century fascism. The question is not
whether you know Trump is comparable to Adolf Hitler. The real risk is much
more subtle than that. Today’s autocrats keep
the rhetorical commitment to democracy. They keep the window dressings
of elections and voting, and yet they undermine,
simultaneously, the more fundamental
social practices that make elections meaningful. And so consider how Putin
undermine democracy in Russia, or how Hugo Chavez did it
in Venezuela, or Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. They did it gradually,
they did it slowly. They certainly did not roll
out the tanks in one big event and have a real attack
on the way things go. Instead, I think we
ought to consider 10 signs of creeping
illiberalism, or democratic erosion. These are 10 signs that
political scientists have put together. These are not 10 signs
that I put together because this is not my
area of research expertise, but I’ve been sort of
boning up on this topic because I think scholars,
and even concerned citizens, have a real obligation
to know more about this. So here are 10
signs that we should be thinking about as potential
things in the future. Media intimidation
and restrictions. Second, identification of
crises or political paralysis that justify emergency
measures by the executive. Third is attacks on minorities,
and scapegoating of foreigners. Fourth is closing of space
for civil society– especially funding restrictions,
legal cases, raids on NGOs, et cetera. Fifth is a rhetorical rejection
of the current political system– a discourse shift. Six is the expanding–
expanding the size of courts or other bodies,
like electoral commissions, to stack them with partisan
judges or other officials. Common move in other countries. Seventh, modifying rules
to impose or eliminate term limits on officials–
especially election officials. Eight, a weakening of the
legislature or intimidation of legislation– of legislators. Ninth is the silencing
of political opposition. And 10th is a
significant increase in internal security forces. The key point to
keep in mind here is that if there were
good, reliable indicators of democratic breakdown,
then the breakdown itself would be
unlikely to happen. Breakdown mostly happens
when it is unanticipated, and supporters of a democracy
fail to mobilize against it. So what do I got, two minutes? Nope. OK. 30 Seconds. OK. All right. So if you’re interested
in more, Steve Walt wrote a piece on foreign policy. And there have been
others that have that I urge you to consider. My main message
on this is that we need to prioritize
about what we’re going to see in the next
four years or eight years. I would not argue that we should
be focused on policies– much as the climate change is
near and dear to my heart, I’ve sort of accepted
the fact that that has to be a lower priority
than more fundamental concerns around governance and rule of
law in the next four years. So I will stop there before
I really get the hook, and be happy to speak more
about this in Q&A. Thanks. [APPLAUSE] Tim, do you want to speak
from here or go to the– It might be a little
easier to speak from here. Sure. Can you hear me fine
from here, or I’ll go there if that’s better. Just pull your mic over. Ah. Thank you. Thanks. So I wanted to talk a little
bit about what Trump calls the cyber, and to say a
little bit more about it than he did– which
was mainly confined to the cyber is so big. I agree with that. I think the cyber
is so big, so I think this is one where
Trump and I agree. And first, I’m
going to start out with putting aside–
you know, this was the cybersecurity
election in many ways. So the 2016 election
involved hacking of e-mails of John Podesta
and the Democratic National Committee, Wikileaks–
the first example really of a foreign power
directly or indirectly interfering in US
elections in a way that the US is usually
on the other side of, in terms of other countries. And I don’t mean to be snarky
in saying that, I actually mean that it does make
it more difficult for us to object on a principled
ground to propaganda operations directed against us. I want to put a
little bit of that aside for now because I think
we would have been talking about that a lot more if
Hillary Clinton had been elected than if Donald Trump is
elected, and the reason is Trump is going
to be the president and he’s going to
set the agenda. One commentator
after the election said that when you look at
Trump’s kind of outlandish way of talking that what you
saw was the reaction of two different kinds of people. That people who were
opposed to Trump, and especially more educated
people, took him literally but they did not
take him seriously. And that people who were his
supporters took him seriously, but they did not
take him literally. I think that’s a
mistake on both counts. I think we need to take him
both seriously and literally, and I think that we’re in the
process of starting to do that. And that is maybe
part of the reason for Jeff Colgan’s feeling
in the pit of his stomach. I know it was for me. Now, Jeff also talked
about Trump’s admiration for Vladimir Putin. Masha Gessen, who is a
longtime journalist and critic of Putin– who has now left
Russia to come to the United States– had an excellent
article about this in the New York Review of Books called
Autocracy Rules For Survival basically saying,
here are some things to keep in mind when you’re
looking at whether somebody might become an autocrat. Her very first rule was
believe what the autocrat says. I think that’s an extremely
important rule to keep in mind. In other words, take what
the autocrat says seriously and take it literally. When somebody tells you
what they’re going to do, assume that that is what,
in fact, they want to do. So I decided to take
Masha Gessen’s advice in a couple of pieces
that I’ve written recently about the election. One is called– well I
forget what they’re called, but one is from the
Christian Science Monitor about closing the internet up. And another is for The
Century Foundation, and it’s called turnkey tyranny. So I want to talk about
those very briefly, starting with turnkey tyranny. Ed Snowden talked about
the idea that, OK, all of you people who defend the
NSA like you great Tim Edgar, maybe it’s under control now,
maybe we have rules of law. There’s a FISA court,
there’s privacy protections– but what happens if
somebody else is elected? It will be like turning the key. These capabilities are
just too scary to put in the hands of a major
government agency. I disagree with that for a
number of complicated reasons I don’t have time to go into,
but I think he has a point. There is, in fact, a key here. We are talking about policy
that could be undermined. I wrote a piece in which I
explain ways in which Obama might make it more difficult
for Snowden to do that and, in fact, already has
by reforming and opening up surveillance in a way that
we haven’t seen before. But I think we’re
fooling ourselves if we think that
it’s done the trick. That we have a tyrant proof
intelligence community. We have a lot of
professionals that care a great deal
about the rule of law and have been trained on
things like executive order 12333, which guarantees
privacy protections. But those are policies,
and they could be eroded in important
ways– and we need to be looking out for that. My second piece,
which is perhaps a little bit more provocative,
was about shutting down the internet. And what I said here is looking
at something Trump said, actually, more than
a year ago, he said, we are losing a lot of people
because of the internet. We have to talk about,
maybe in certain areas, closing that internet
up in some way. He also said he
would want to call Bill Gates to ask his opinion. Now this got a lot of
wry smiles and amusement from people who took it
literally, but not seriously among the educated class. A lot of fodder for
late night comics. Look, Trump is an idiot. He thinks you can
call up Bill Gates and Bill Gates will
turn off the internet. I think we need to
take it seriously. You’re talking about
lots of countries that Trump says he
admires– China, Russia. They close the internet
up in important ways. It isn’t a technically
impossible thing to do. It may be more difficult
in the United States, but there are certainly
ways to do it. And what’s more, if we
think that our constitution and laws will prevent such
a crazy autocratic idea from going forward,
we need to look– to take a close
look at those laws. Some of them are on the
books from a long time ago– emergency powers. After 9/11, we saw how they
could easily be resurrected by President George W. Bush. This is a different
example, but it could be done in a similar fashion. Section 606 of the
Telecommunications Act of 1934– this is the same
law that allowed Roosevelt to seize communications. Allows, perhaps, Trump
to do the same thing when it comes to the
internet– and I explain why. Now Jack Goldsmith, who is a
law professor at Harvard Law School, has said don’t
worry about all this because there’s so many
checks and balances built into the system,
and– especially in the wake of things like
the Snowden revelations– there’s so many eyes in the
president this couldn’t happen. And I kind of– I have to
respectfully disagree with him, and the main reason I do is
though although I actually agree with him about all
these checks and balances, I think he’s ignoring
the Trump factor. He’s ignoring the possibility
that a president may not just– just may not care
about how things look. May not care about
an Inspector General report that’s embarrassing. How would Trump have reacted
to the Abu Ghraib photos, for example? That’s an example of
checks and balances that helped us to reform
some of the excesses in the war on terror that
Jack Goldsmith talks about. So I think we need to take Trump
both seriously and literally, and I’ve started to try to
do that in those two essays. [APPLAUSE] Stephen Kinzer. Thanks. It’s great to see you all here,
and another example of what Watson has to provide
this community– which is a wonderful thing
to be a part of. Uncertainty is the
real central reaction that we have when thinking
about Trump and foreign policy. We really don’t
know what he said, and the few things that
he said that I’ve liked he has also contradicted and
other things in other things that he’s said. So we’re still waiting. Now one of the things
we’re waiting for is still to find out who’s going
to be our Secretary of State, and I think you could
argue either way. This could be something
really important because, since Trump is not
an expert on foreign policy except for watching
the shows, maybe he would like to listen
more people around him. Therefore, who he picks
will be even more important than it might have been
for other presidents. You could also make the
opposite argument, though. That he already knows
what he wants to do, and he doesn’t care what
those people tell him. So he’ll just put them
in for window dressing. That would actually
follow a tradition in which foreign policy
has been pulled more and more into the White House. So it wouldn’t be
anything radically new. Therefore, it’s
still uncertain– not only who the Secretary
of State will be, but whether that
will matter at all. Now Trump enters the
presidency at a time when the United
States has had nothing but a string of foreign
policy failures. Every single one of our
major strategic goals for the 21st century
has been a failure. We did not manage to
prevent– contain North Korea, we did not contain China,
we did not contain Iran, we did not make
friends with Russia, we did not calm down the
situation in Eastern Europe, we did not resolve the
Israel-Palestine problem, we have not stabilized
Iraq, we have not stabilized Afghanistan, we
have not calmed down militancy in the Middle East. So he comes in with
a real losing record. But two realities that
face the United States now are, first of all, at least
relative decline in our power. We’re not going to be
as powerful ever again as we were in 1970, or
1980, or 1990, or 1995. That’s something we
just have to accept. That’s a reality of the world. And another piece that
leads to is, more than ever, we’re going to be– a need to
rely on partners, on allies. And not the way we used to. We’ve always had
alliances, but they’re alliances that we dominate. Our partners are not real
partners, they’re subservient. That doesn’t work anymore. We need to have partnerships
that are on a more equal basis. So these are two huge
psychological adjustments for the United States–
to adjust to the fact that other countries are
getting more powerful, and that at least the relative
power balance in the world is changing. And second, we have to use
diplomacy and compromise more– even with the people
we want to get onto our side. The appointments
we’ve seen so far lead to reasonable fears
of military dominance of foreign policy,
and the militarization of foreign policy has been
one of the great trends of recent American history. Trump’s approach to diplomacy
also sounds very troubling if it’s going to be
based on the approach that he used to do
business negotiations. Business negotiations and
diplomatic negotiations are completely different. In a business or
legal negotiation, your goal is to triumph. You want to get absolutely
as much as possible. If two lawyers are fighting
over a pot of money, the one that gets the
most is the big winner. If you can get 95%,
that’s an even bigger win. But diplomacy is not like that. In diplomatic
negotiations, you only get success when
everybody walks away from the table feeling
that they got something. Trump has never been involved
in that kind of a negotiation. So this requires a shift
in tone and approach that having military men
making foreign policy doesn’t necessarily guarantee. If Trump really wants
to drain the swamp and make America great
again, his real challenge in foreign policy is to
end our foreign wars. Deescalate the wars we’re
in, not start any other ones. Now, that debate has
really not begun. And I fear that although
I had some hope, as Peter Andreas said, that–
in foreign policy at least– Trump would be the Pat
Buchanan of the 21st century and really pull America
back from empire, I’m not sure I see that. Actually, I see the debate
continuing more or less as it has been. That’s why people, like
those you see in front of us, are not part of this debate
because the debate is essentially we’ve decided to
drive our car off a cliff. Should we wear
seat belts or not? We don’t want to participate
in that discussion. We want to say,
wait a minute, maybe you shouldn’t drive
the car off the cliff. But the debate has not
been widened to that level. And I’m hoping that it will,
but I’m not optimistic. Now when it comes
to ending wars, what specifically
have we accomplished with this election? I think we reduced the
possibility of war with Russia. I do believe that Hillary
Clinton’s anti-Russia militancy could have spun out of control. I don’t think she
would have started a nuclear war with
Russia intentionally, but tensions are so high
right along the Russian border and in Eastern Europe that,
given attitudes and prejudices on both sides, that was a
very dangerous situation that could have spun out of control. So I think we dodged a bullet
on Russia with the election, but Iran becomes more
likely as a spot for war– which is almost as bad. Although, at least Iran
doesn’t have nuclear weapons. Let me just read you a
couple of quotes from some of our new public officials. Here is our new Secretary
of Defense, General Mattis. “Iran remains the most
single belligerent actor in the Middle East. It is the single most enduring
threat to peace and stability.” “Hoping that Iran will become
a modern responsible nation is a bridge too far.” And I love this one, “Iran
is not a nation state. Rather, it is a revolutionary
cause devoted to mayhem.” If you believe that, it would
be pretty irresponsible to leave it all alone. So I see that we are increasing
the possibility of conflict with Iran. Here is our new national
security adviser. “Iran represents a clear and
present danger to the region. Regime change in
Tehran is the best way to stop the Iranian
nuclear weapons program. Evil does not
recognize diplomacy.” If that’s true, then what’s the
point of negotiating at all? And the Iranians have
picked up on this as well. Here is the supreme leader.
“Our problems with the US will not be resolved
if we retreat from our position
on nuclear program. They will ask us about
our long range missiles. After that, they’ll
ask about our support for Hezbollah and Hamas. Then they will pressure us to
support human rights the way they do. If you back down
about all of these, they will ask why is
our religion mixed with our government. Then they will ask us why
Iran is such a large country with a large population. The Americans will
never let us alone.” there is some basis for that,
and we have a serious problem emerging in Iran. Six months from
now there’s going to be a presidential election. When Bill Clinton came in as
President of the United States, the Iranians responded by
electing Mohammed Khatami– an open minded reformer. When George W. Bush became
president of the United States, the Iranians responded by
electing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After Obama came
in, the Iranians responded by electing Rouhani. Now we have Bush. Six months from
now, there there’s another presidential election. We could have this spiral
down into a situation where Iran also has
a leader who wants to confront– who wants a
confrontation between Iran and the United States. So what I’m hoping
is that on day one, President Trump
arrives in office and says I’m announcing
a new partnership. It’s going to be
Russia, Assad, and us, and we’re going after ISIS. That’s it. All it would require
from us, besides the psychological adjustment
of working with Putin, would be to pull back from
our demand that Assad must go. But other than that, it
would be a way for us to break out of some of
our strategic paralysis. And that might be a way for us
to begin thinking, in new ways, about the rest of the world. So that’s my hope
for what he might do. [APPLAUSE] Cathy Lutz. Can I– oops. Is this going to work? Take this one. [INAUDIBLE] Ah. Both of them, there we go. Yeah, my job was to talk
about the military budget under Trump– what
could be expected there. And I think I appreciate
all my colleagues reminders that we really all should
have our hair on fire about the prospects of what’s
to come in the next four years, particularly in terms
of that question of these basic
democratic principles that Jeff was talking about. So, in some ways, to talk
about Trump and his– what we can expect from
his– the military budget that he would
propose is a little like asking about
expecting there to be a normal sort of
set of political processes that go on for the
next four years. The irrelevance of
fact to a lot of what he’s done through his
campaign, and what we can expect going
forward, I think, also suggests that I can
present you with lots of facts, but we won’t necessarily
be seeing those as really very much involved at all in
the political deliberations about what happens. We’ll expect more
to see spectacle and political efficacy
of that spectacle be the determining factor. But, in general, I think Trump
sold his candidacy in part on being tougher
than his predecessor. He had a lot of
contradictory things he said about being
less interventionist, and having a concern with the
size of the military budget, but now it’s clear
that he intends to raise the military budget. He claims it’s in
sharp decline, and I’ll come to this data in a
minute, but mostly he’s been calling for an
increase in spending to boost– and boost
particularly elements of the military that are
not relevant to the fight against terrorism. He’s been calling for
increases in various kinds of military hardware for
the Air Force and the Navy. In particular, more ships,
more troops for the army. You know all very,
very expensive items. Just increasing
the army the amount that he wants is projected
to cost $35 to $50 billion for the first term,
$22 billion is expected to be the
price tag for what he’s called for in terms of
increasing subs construction. But a recent article by Bill
Hartung, a military spending expert, suggests that,
despite all these large ticket items adding up to much more
this, than that, in fact, politically what’s
most likely is that he would come in at
around $90 billion a year more for the military budget. Even this, of course,
makes no fiscal sense. There is magical
thinking around what he claims for where this
money is going to come from, in terms of cutting
into waste and fraud at the Pentagon– which people
have been saying for decades and not succeeded at
making even a dent in. But certainly, military
industry stocks took a huge jump at
news of his election. They had been steady
state tracking the S&P, and it suddenly jumped up
and have stayed up there. His appointment of the
variety of generals, or prospective appointment
of these generals, also bodes well for
the military being seen as the primary tool of
American foreign policy– even more so than it is now. Again, this is
General James Mattis, General Michael– Lieutenant
General Michael Flynn. Again, both men with records
of quite extreme statements on, and provocative
statements on, America’s relationships with others. General Petraeus,
General John Kelly, Admiral Mike
Rogers– all of whom, again, are possible candidates
for, again, a range– not just of national security or defense
department related positions, but even for state department. And this, of course, is
a threat to the notion of civilian control
of the military. We’ve had generals before
in those kinds of positions. But quite rarely,
and in fact what we could expect to
see here I think, is much more
military, the Pentagon determining when
and how we deploy, and how we allocate
budget dollars. And again, this is all based
on the simplistic argument that more Pentagon dollars
means more security. The other thing that Trump
asserted during the campaign was that America’s allies have
been freeriding on our security spending. That one of the ways he’ll
be able to afford a bigger, stronger, more muscular– read,
more masculine macho– military is by having these
leeches get on the program and contribute more money. But in fact, we can– if you
look more closely, which Trump has not– at the actual deals
that the United States has made with our allies around security
spending– for example, Japan– 75% of the cost of
US military bases in Japan are paid for straight
out by Japan. The other 25%, again,
paid by the United States. But even that doesn’t
count for– account for the Japanese
security spending which, as an ally of the
United States, should be counted, in some sense, in
the US column as a security asset. And it certainly doesn’t
account for the fact that to call that US spending
in Okinawa, for example, a gift to the Japanese
is to disregard the fact that the United States
is there because it’s putatively in the United States
national security interest to be there. And again, this is– we’re
talking about billions of dollars. Japan is now spending billions
to relocate US Marines from Okinawa to Guam. There’s story after story where,
again, the money that’s being spent for the US, or in sort of
theoretically joint interests. But again, with one
powerful partner and one subordinate partner–
despite the fact that things are becoming less unequal
than they have in the past– we still have unequal
terms of exchange when these funds are
being pulled together. The United States still
is, in some way setting, the agenda more fundamentally. One of the things I
wanted to point out is that, as we look
forward to the debates that are going to happen in
Congress under a Trump administration and a
Republican Congress, there are many ways to fool
most of the people most of the time about
military spending– and I just wanted to point
out a couple of them. One is to ask about
the US military budget as a percentage of GDP. As the Heritage Foundation
here in this slide shows us, that will suggest
that we’ve been in a steep and dangerous
decline in our spending. If you look, however, at
the actual inflation control dollars, you can see that our
national security spending– or at least this is
Pentagon spending– actually has been in very sharp growth. And these lumps for the
warfighting should not mislead us to think
that this is a decline. Of course, we’ve
been withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan. But again, this is like– the
GDP argument is like saying, you know, I have
$100,000 income, therefore I should
spend $30,000 on a car. And even if my transit goals can
be satisfied some other away, and even if– and
it’s especially insane when the argument’s made
that I should do that because my neighbor, who
has a $50,000 income, has just spent
$15,000 on his car. So I need to keep up
with him by spending more as a percentage of my income. Right? It just makes no sense. What is your goal? You’re trying to be mobile. Right? What’s your goal? You’re trying to be secure. That should be the
first question. OK. So another thing
you can do– can we go forward another slide? Do I– I don’t have the–
Peter, can you just advance it? Do we have control? All right. Well, anyway– OK. Again, this is relative. One more slide forward. The other thing you can do
is pick your time frame. If you go back to the
whole 20th century, you see, again, a
very slight change. If you take a more
narrow time frame, things look precipitous and
dangerously, again, in decline. So watch your axes when
people present this. You can also– you
should also fail to compare Pentagon
spending with other elements of domestic spending. So if people don’t
do this GDP argument with education spending,
where the United States is at number 58 in terms
of spending on education as a proportion of GDP. And you should also just
use the Pentagon budget, don’t use the whole
national security budget. You would be over
$1 trillion, if you took the whole national security
spending range of spending. With the Pentagon budget, you’re
down closer to $600 billion. So huge difference. So in the end, I
think we can expect Trump’s military
spending choices to have the same profile
as his choices so far. They’ll be a populist,
nationalist– white nationalist– masculinist
appeal to his call for various kinds of national
security moves in spending and in strategy. He’s going to claim to have
a bigger, badder military with more men, more equipment. One quote from him recent–
during the campaign was, “I’m going to
build a military that’s going to be much stronger
than it is right now. It’s going to be so strong, and
nobody’s going to mess with us. But you know what? We can do it for a lot less.” So again, he’s going to
be the smart businessman. But again, we can–
the reality is going to be like the recent move
with the carrier company, which is to say there’ll be
a spectacle of change in the direction that
satisfies the populist, white nationalist,
masculinist audience and fans of his administration,
this spectacle of bringing jobs home– that we’re
going to go overseas. But the reality will be,
as it was with carrier, a little bit
different– $700,000 being spent on state
tax incentives. In other words,
state tax money– payer money– to keep
these 1,000 jobs. Basically bribing carrier to
keep those jobs in the United States. I think, in the realm
of military spending, we’ll see that Trump will
stand in front of– in Groton, Connecticut at the
General Dynamics and he’ll talk
about how many jobs are being created by
his additional spending on the Navy. But he will be, in fact,
creating far fewer jobs with that spending
than he would have with education or
other spending which– one more slide forward–
economists have looked at. Two more slides, sorry, forward. Three– there we go. Have shown is actually
just not at all a reasonable way to–
the military budget is not a jobs creation program. It shouldn’t be,
just on principle, but it certainly isn’t
in economic reality either– where $1
military spending creates far fewer jobs than $1 of
infrastructure spending, or educational
spending and so on. So I’ll stop there. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Last but not least,
Nina Tannenwald. Thank you. All right, my focus is
nuclear weapons and the Iran agreement– and a
little bit on Russia. So I’d like to start
with what Trump has said on nuclear weapons. So during the campaign,
he said a number of times that he thought that the biggest
problem in the world today is nuclear proliferation. And so he has repeated that. But he’s also said
that he thought maybe Japan and South
Korea should get– be allowed to get nuclear weapons. So those two statements
would contradict each other because that would
represent proliferation. He’s also said several times
that, “I would be the last one to use nuclear weapons,”
but he wouldn’t rule it out. So he’s said nuclear
weapons are a last resort. He would not want to use them,
he would be the last person to use them, but he wouldn’t
rule it out– rule out their use. And in that, he is
completely consistent with all past presidents. No past president
has ever up front ruled out a use of
nuclear weapons. Now there are
different ways to talk about how likely
you are to do that, and to suggest what
your attitude would be. But in that sense–
in that regard, he’s completely consistent. The issue of–
the image of Trump with his finger on
the nuclear button, though, has been something that
has rattled some people include Hillary Clinton, who
said in her speech accepting the Democratic
presidential nomination quote, “A man you can bait
with a tweet is not a man we can trust
with nuclear weapons.” So when Trump takes
office in January, he will have sole authority
over more than 7,000 warheads and there is no
failsafe in this system. So the whole point of the
US nuclear weapons control is that the president has
sole authority, sole decision, to use them. Only the president can use
nuclear weapons, and whenever he decides to do so. Now the Secretary of Defense
could oppose this decision, but then the president could
fire the Secretary of Defense and just get him out of the way. So there– and then there is a
long sort of chain of command, and there are codes, and so on. But in the end, the only way to
prevent a president– President Trump, or any other president–
from launching a nuclear attack is to elect somebody else. So there is no stopgap. There’s no formal
failsafe system here. That does leave some
people sleepless at night. I’ll come back to
the issue at the end of the issue of when a president
poses a national security threat. Modernization of
nuclear weapons– so this is undoubtedly an area
where Trump will push forward. So there’s a current US plan,
under the Obama administration, to spend about $3
trillion modernizing the nuclear arsenal. The Obama administration has
argued, sort of implausibly, that this is a necessary
part of disarmament. That these weapons
need to be updated. And there was likely– in a
Democratic administration, there would likely have been
cuts in these modernization plans in various ways. This is one area that
we’ll clearly go forward. There’s lots of Republican
support for modernization of all three
triads– three parts of the triad of the
US nuclear arsenal. Trump is in favor of this,
there are people at the Pentagon who are in favor of this,
this is a huge expenditure that is part of this whole
story of the military budget. So that will,
undoubtedly, go forward. I think relations with Russia,
in this regard– especially on the nuclear
issue– is possibly– is one of the positive,
potentially positive, aspects of Trump’s planned foreign
policy to the extent that we can know
what that could be. So we do need a
reset with Russia. US-Russian relations
are at an all time low, and the hard one US-Russia
security cooperation relationship, the
nuclear security cooperation relationship,
that’s been built up since the 1970s has
basically been totally dismantled and unraveled. And we are now in a situation
where you have this increasing salience of nuclear weapons
in the US-NATO relationship in Europe that we haven’t seen
since the end of the Cold War. Russia is
saber-rattling, there’s build ups on both sides, US is
putting missile defenses in. It’s really worrisome. Obama and Putin had a
terrible relationship. There is a potential
here for Trump. Trump says he wants to
make nice with Putin, so there is a potential
for improving that. We do need to work with
Russia on Iran, on Syria, on many things. So improved
US-Russian cooperation would be very important. The Republican hawks in the
Senate do not like Russia, will not like this. And so, if Trump
wants to go this route he’s going to be fighting
with his own hawks in Congress over this. And the Pentagon is
quite also anti-Russia. But there’s– but we need–
there’s no arms control going on, there’s almost no
security cooperation, so this is an area where,
potentially, Trump– the change in the Trump
attitude might be welcome. OK. Finally, the Iran agreement. So Trump said numerous
times on the campaign trail that he wanted to tear
up the Iran agreement. He’s now chosen a
Secretary of Defense and a CIA director who
are both very anti-Iran, and very hawkish on
Iran, and very critical of the Iran agreement. The Republican Party platform
rejected the Iran nuclear deal as binding on the
next president. It takes the form of the
executive agreement, which means, in principle,
it’s easier to undo because it’s not a treaty
that the Senate signed on to. So there is potentially support
for throwing this agreement out. In fact, I think this
will be quite hard to do. In part because it’s a
multilateral agreement– so it involves the European
countries and Russia, and they care a lot
about this agreement. The European allies care a
lot about this agreement. There’s a lot of countries
doing business in there. Sanctions have been lifted. If the United States
says, oh, no we’re going to– we want to
renegotiate the agreement, and get stronger terms, and
put more sanctions on Iran, the European allies are
unlikely to go along with that. And the sanctions– the reason
we got the Iran agreement in the first place was
because the sanctions were multilateral and
everybody put on sanctions. You’re not– US unilateral
sanctions aren’t going to have the same effect. One reason that it’s
really not to our advantage to undo the Iran
agreement right now is because the United States has
basically met its obligations under the Iran agreement. That is, in terms of lifting
sanctions against Iran in repaying Iran frozen
assets that we have from arms sales from a long time ago. And so the only thing– so
we’ve completed our side of it, most of it, and so the only
thing that would happen here is that Iran would be
allowed to walk away without the monitoring
that the UN provides. In reality, I think what’s
going to happen– so even Israel, which was very
opposed to the Iran agreement, Israeli security officials are
now saying don’t throw it out. It actually provides security. What will really happen
in the Iran agreement is that Trump and the Republican
critics of the agreement will try to hold Iran
to the absolute letter the terms of the agreement. So what they’re unhappy with
is that Iran is a little bit nickel and diming some
of the requirements. A sort of gray
area of violations is really hard to figure out. The Obama administration has
tried to smooth those over. Trump will not want to do
that, and his advisers– Pompeo and Mattis– will
not want to do that. They will want to– every
single little nickel and dime violation, they will go
after and hold Iran to those. They may try to fix
some gaps in it, which involves missile
testing– which is not really part of the JCPOA,
the joint agreement, but they would like it to
be part of the commitment. So I don’t think that’s
going to disappear, but there’s going to be a
lot of politics around it. And I do agree with
my colleague, Stephen, that there is much
more hostility to Iran, and this is an area where,
if the agreement which should disappear
then we are really in a very serious
potential for an escalation to conflict with Iran. Thank you, Nina. [APPLAUSE] OK. Well– Before we start
on the questions, let me just make
one announcement. For those of you
interested in Iran, we are having one of the Iran
nuclear negotiators, who’s an Iranian diplomat– former
Iranian ambassador to Germany– speaking in this room
on Monday at noontime– Hossein Mousavian. So if you want to see–
he’s a person very tied into the Tehran mindset. He knows exactly
what’s going on there. This will be a great moment,
and a very authoritative voice. And I encourage
you all, if you’re interested in Iran’s
perspective on this, to come on Monday at noon. Perfectly timed talk
from this topic. We’ve covered a lot of ground. We’re almost on time. We are wide open for questions. Please indicate in
your question who you are asking the question to. We can go until 1:30. Do you want to collect a few? That way– Yeah, collect a few questions
to make it efficient. Start here. Hi. So this is a
question for Timothy. So, just as a quick
background, I almost took over Tor– which is
anonymity software that is used by dissidents
in repressive regimes. As a result of this, I got
targeted for a cyber attack on my home network and
pretty much discovered that the offensive
capabilities of cyber far outweigh the defensive
capabilities of cyber. And there is a little–
there’s a little chance that your average person
or industrial company could defend against the
[INAUDIBLE] that are being used and the automation
that’s being used. I talked to some friends who
ran DARPA war games about this, and they agreed. So the question is,
in a realm where Trump is offering
warnings against companies for offshoring jobs
and is threatening political opponents, is there
any hope for Fourth Amendment protections to stand when the
slightest suspicion can just obviate them in a FISA court? Let’s take a few more questions. My question, I guess, is
for any of the panelists. And it is– what do
you think the perceived or real potential impact would
be of a loosening of libel laws on a free press, particularly
when media outlets are already under tremendous
financial pressures? So that we won’t have as
many embedded journalists because we’re too
busy paying out to people whose feelings got
hurt because of something that was written. And how will we, as
a country, supposed to be an alert citizenry if
we’re not getting as much news or we’re getting a
different kind of news? One more question, then
we’ll take it to the panel. Thank you. That was really a
brilliant panel, and I don’t think a word was
wasted so that things were not talked about. It should be of no
surprise to anybody, but I was surprised in
the discussion of place, geopolitical faults, and the
actual international relations that the word Ukraine
never came up. And it seems that
Ukraine will occupy a crucial place in whatever
negotiations are undertaken with the reset with Putin. And in the name of,
perhaps, the renunciation of American empires Steve was
hoping for a deal with Putin to save Assad or to crush ISIS. Where does Ukraine sit in? And there’ll will be a
huge discourse around this, and in the name of
watching and tracing how that discourse plays out. The discourse will be that
Ukraine is essentially still the borderlands, a place of
unrestrained ethnic hatreds, on a base that produces
a failed state. And anything that is
done to stabilize it, federating it, or
once again subjecting it to direct Russian control
sort of is called for. And what I want to say is–
the word Ukraine literally means borderlands. We used to say the Ukraine. Ukrainian independence,
since the ’90s, has built been built
around the idea that we are no longer
the borderlands, and we reject the
article of the. And the civil war that
has been taking place within and around
Ukraine is actually being fought in Russia. Meaning, Ukrainians who speak
Russian and Ukrainians who speak Ukrainian are– I mean,
on both sides of the conflict the major and most interesting
discussions are in Russia. OK. I think Stephen might
be the best person to start with that question. But Tim, do you want to
actually start with the cyber– Yeah, I was going to say
that the cyber– the’s not supposed to be there either. You all know that. Do my Trump impersonation. Exactly. So, yeah. So your question really
goes to this issue of libertarian panic,
which is something Jack Goldsmith accused some
us of being involved in. But he accuses in very
odd way of saying, you’re all involved
in a libertarian panic and that’s great even
though it’s false because that’s the way in which
we make sure it doesn’t happen. And so basically
what he said is, I don’t think Trump
is going to go back to abusing civil liberties
in this dramatic fashion. But I think the
fact that you think I’m wrong about that
is part of the reason that that’s going to happen. And, you know, I’d say
the glass is now more half empty than it is half full,
but it’s still only half empty. We do have laws, and
protections, and controls. You know, the FISA court exists,
all of those things exist. And the question
is– how much do they get pushed by a
Trump administration? And we don’t really
know the answer to that. But his general attitude
toward surveillance gives us pause and cause
for serious concern. So, you know, I’d say
there’s a couple of places to watch out for. One is that, next year,
Congress is supposed to renew the law
that allows for PRISM and upstream collection
to go forward. That’s section 702 of FISA. So the debate over
that renewal will cause Congress to rethink some
of those surveillance powers. And the other big
area is encryption, where we’ve seen
Trump, again, very much on the side
of the government saying that he wanted there to
be a boycott of Apple products because of their refusal to
cooperate with FBI’s requests to unlock an iPhone. So, you know, this is one of
those terrible ironies where, in Silicon Valley, I
think people’s heads just couldn’t get their minds
around a Trump presidency. And so they were all
focused on Clinton, they were all focused on why
isn’t she better on privacy, why is she saying these weak
things about this and that, and they never really
stopped and thought about well what’s
going to happen if she loses and Trump wins. OK. Let me try to
address a person who knows much more about
the subject than I do. So I think the Ukraine
problem is part of a larger problem of European stability. I don’t believe there’s
going to be a stable security architecture in Europe unless
Russia is involved in it. Now, what should be the policy
of Europe toward Russia? Should it be more
confrontational, or should it be more
compromise oriented? There’s quite a debate going
on among European countries on this subject. Some, like the Baltic States,
and Poland, and Britain want to be more confrontation. Others like Bulgaria, Czech
Republic, Italy, France want to be less confrontational. Now, right now Europe is taking
a more confrontational policy because we’re paying the
bills and we want a tougher, more confrontational policy. I would tell my
friends in the Ukraine, take a look at the recent
history of Honduras. Honduras is a little
country that’s living next to a big giant. Honduras had a government
a couple of years ago– about five years ago
now– the United States that we didn’t like. So we allowed the
military to overthrow it, Secretary Hillary
Clinton applauded that, several members of
Congress went down to Honduras and thought it was
great, and the president was put on an airplane
in his pajamas and thrown out of the country. Now we got the regime we liked. Things haven’t gone
so well in Honduras. It’s one of the most violent
countries in the world, and has many other problems. But we got the regime
we wanted, and Honduras and other countries
in that neighborhood have had to live with
the cruel reality that the Westphalian
ideal has to be adjusted to power realities. Now, what does that
mean for the Ukraine? Here’s my interesting solution. Remember the Austrian state
treaty back in the 1950s? There was a question
of whether Austria was going to be in
the East and the West, there was a lot of
debate, there were a lot of occupying
troops still in there, and a guy– who
I don’t have much regard for, John Foster
Dulles– negotiated a great treaty in which Austrian
neutrality was permanently guaranteed. I like to see something like
that as a model for Ukraine. I just don’t think it’s
right for the United States to expect that Ukraine should be
a Western European and pro-NATO ally and Russia not react. Jeff, you want to say a
few words about illiberal– I mean, the libel law
possibility, I think, is one way in which you
could imagine the free press in this country being
bullied and intimidated in the next few years. I think that the things that
we ought to be concerned about are that– but also a
couple of other things. So one traditional tactic
by populist leaders is to try to develop their
own channels of communication with the populous. So Hugo Chavez had his own
weekly television show. He would on for hours
at a time, sing songs, do all kinds of
things, but it was a way of kind of continually
connecting with the population. And it may be that Trump is
happy with his Twitter account, and that’s doing enough for him,
but it is certainly possible that he decides to build
his own Trump network television– which was
kind of an idea floated even prior to the
election– and then he moves in that direction. Another possibility is to
really keep an eye on Fox News. There are at least
signs in which Fox News is starting to resemble
a state run news organization. Not that it actually is
state run, by any means, but it becomes a mouthpiece
for a set of interests that are really
striking in that they are very coordinated in the
way that they develop messages. This has been true of
kind of right wing media for a long time, but it takes
on a completely different dimension to it with
Trump coming into power. Can I just follow up on that? What do you see as
different about what– Can you speak into
the microphone? What do you see as
different about what Fox News is doing now as in
comparison with the Bush era, where clearly they had a very
strong pro administration? Yeah. I need Dan Nexon
here, who has actually been posting on this recently–
writing about this– about how you can almost track
the ways in which Trump will make a statement, and
Fox News will corroborate it. And these are often
statements that are actually completely false, but Trump
will make a statement that’s totally false and then Fox
News will report it as fact because Trump said it. And the various ways
in which they’re sort of working back and forth. And I can’t give
you good examples off the tip of my
tongue, unfortunately, but I do think there
has been a shift. OK. [INAUDIBLE] I may be wrong– I may be wrong,
but I think neither of you addressed the question of what
might happen in Europe in part as a consequence of Trump’s
win– such as how Brexit is treated, how the France
elections will come out, and how he will, or should,
react to Poland, and Hungary, and so on. In other words, the European
Union may fall apart. It’s quite a serious possibility
if any of those things happen. It may not fall apart, partly
because of Angela Merkel, but she may not be safe
from the next immigration from the Middle East. But I think it’s important
to– in your predictions to go to what change
in Europe might mean for the new administration. More questions? Hi. This is not so much a question,
but just an explanation because Peter saw me kind of
start laughing once– when Stephen mentioned Honduras. Now Ukraine has nothing
to do with Honduras. Ukraine has nothing–
Russia’s relations with the US have nothing to do with the US
foreign policy towards Russia. They have everything
to do with what’s happening in Russia internally. And to say that somehow the
Obama administration, you know, alienated Putin– that’s
not what happened. Putin invaded Ukraine. To say that Europe is
being confrontational towards Russia– that’s
not what happened. Russia attacked a neighbor and
violated the European order post-World War II. So to say that– and the
United States had nothing to do with it, other than
the United States has certain principles
such as respect for international borders–
which the United States isn’t shy about asserting. So that’s my two cents. It’s not a question,
but I just wanted to say you guys thinking
that this has anything to do at all– and that
Trump– now the fact that Trump’s friendly with
Putin is good news because it’s going to stop us from having
nuclear war with Russia, no. It’s actually going to make
it more likely– that Russia is going to be encouraged
in continuing this behavior and unleashing nuclear
war with somebody else. And I think it’s really
bad news that Trump is friends with Putin. But you may or may
not want to respond to that’s, it’s not a question. I’m sorry. It is a question
if you basically ask someone on
the panel, what do you think of what I just said. [INAUDIBLE] a few things about
the Ukraine. [INAUDIBLE]- We should– Two things. Sorry, we need to pass the mic. Just that the crisis in
Europe and the alignment of Putin with
illiberals in Europe as part of the project
of fractured of Europe is wound up at the hip with
the problem of Ukraine. So the two things have to
be held together, Steven. We need to take another
question for the panel. Thank you. Hi. My question is for Jeff and
Timothy in particular, I think. And you mentioned
that obviously we have the consolidation of
power of the president hands, but there is another
trend of consolidation of news and information in
the hands of the information technologies– in the
hands of Facebook, in the hands of
Google, and so on. And these industries
are, you know, California, Silicon Valley. Obviously they don’t
like Trump and they– and so I suppose the
question is– is Trump going to have some
kind of an internal war with these entities that
are starting to control so much of the news, or
for the public knowledge, public opinion? And what does this kind
internal war look like if it does– if it does happen? OK. Plenty for the panel
to chew on, and digest, and pontificate about. So do we– let’s start with Jim. Sure. Thanks. Yes, I think that’s right. I think that Silicon
Valley and Trump are on a collision course
on a number of issues– on surveillance, and
privacy, and encryption. You go down the list. Silicon Valley is used to
having an ear with President Obama and his administration. I think they’re in for a very
rude awakening, actually. I don’t think they realize
just how much influence they actually had over
the administration. And I think that one
way in which we’re going to see this play out
is over this controversy over the so-called fake
news, which is– obviously there was in fact fake news. We know this is
documented propaganda. Either directly by the
Russian government, or inspired by– in some
cases– pro-Russian groups in Eastern Europe. And the call has
been, well, Facebook has to do something about this. Well, this is a very
dangerous proposition. Facebook now is supposed
to be in the position of being an editor of news. And yet, it is a
legitimate question to ask because it turns out
that a large number of people get their news from
Facebook– which means they get their news from
what friends post on Facebook. It doesn’t mean they
get it from Facebook. And Facebook exists,
as a company, precisely because they don’t
produce this kind of content. So I think that this is an
example where illiberalism could be a big problem, where
Mark Zuckerberg may feel like he needs to curry favor
with Trump in some fashion– that could be very dangerous
for internet freedom. And yet, at the
same time, I think you’re absolutely right to
point out this enormous clash– this sort of cultural clash–
because there would probably be a massive revolt
from Facebook employees, from Silicon Valley,
from programmers if it looked like something
like this was happening. Can I just to add–
and I think you’re putting your finger on something
very real here– that I think information is going to be
one of the key battlegrounds in the next few years. And I’ll just say two
things about that. One is that the unhappy
marriage between capitalism and democracy has its greatest
friction point in the media. So the media is trying
to serve two masters, and it never does
that very well right. It has to satisfy a
bottom line, which means providing
entertainment, primarily, versus also trying to
provide the information that is essential to democracy. And that’s a public purpose
versus a private purpose, and the media always faces a
difficult choice about which one of those to serve. And lately, it’s been serving
one much more than the other. The other thing to say is that
we are really already seeing a change in the
availability of information of unbiased statistics that
it is really important. And I want to call
attention to the fact that Kansas– the state
government of Kansas– has been running a conservative
experiment over the last four to six years, where
Senator Brownback came, eliminated the
income tax, wanted to do a bunch of major changes,
and promised that this would lead to great economic growth. It’s led to terrible
economic outcomes, and the way they’ve dealt
with bad economic news is by banning the publication
of state statistics about those economic outcomes. So that they’ve
eliminated the statistics as a way of dodging
the bad news. And that’s the kind
of information warfare that I think we’re
going to see more of in the next little while. Down the line. Yeah. So I will respond– I will
take this as a question. I want to push
back a little bit. I mean, I don’t always take a
realist viewpoint on things, but I do have some realist
genes and those realist genes think that great power
relations are important. And I think the United
States is not blameless. I mean, let me start out by
saying I think Putin’s a thug. I think Ukraine is
absolutely wrong, what Russia is doing
in bombing civilians in Syria is absolutely
wrong– it’s abominable. At the same time, there
is a longer back story here about the failure to
reconstruct a European security order after the end of the
Cold War that included Russia. Right? And so Russia has a long
list of grievances here about NATO pushing eastward and
sort of not taking into account Russia’s kind of interests. And now the United
States has pushed ahead with missile defenses
in Eastern Europe, which it insists are not targeted
at Russia– that they’re targeted at Iran
other than to defend against the Iranian missiles. But Russians don’t
really believe this, and so they feel like
they are surrounded. So there’s some long term
failures of imagination, in my view– failures
of imagination having to do with the
missed opportunity to reconstruct a broader vision
of a European security order after the end of the Cold War. That being said, that’s partly
how we got to where we are now. And so I think the
immediate explanation for the bad relations
right now is what you say– it’s Russian aggression. But I do think that great
power relations are important, and we need Russia’s cooperation
on a whole bunch of things. And we do not want US–
that US-Russian relations to be the place where
nuclear war breaks out. The Obama relationship with
Russia is down, down, down. We don’t know what
Trump will do, and he’s got opposition
from his hawks who won’t like– who
are very anti-Russia and won’t want to make
nice with Russia very much. So it’s very unclear
what will happen, but there is a potential
there for improving relations that could actually have
some benefits– both in terms of nuclear cooperation
and cooperation on other security
issues, like Syria. Dietrich’s question
about Europe– I mean, that is a
fantastic question. To me, that’s kind
of the deep risk. We can think about– I mean,
there are policy issues that Trump might pursue. I think there’s issues that
we might call deep risk. One deep risk is how the
intelligence community thinks about national
security threats when the president
and his top advisers are potentially national
security threats. That is how these
people– their ability to handle crises, or
emergencies, or so on. The second deep
risk is, I think, the fraying and the unraveling
of the European Atlantic order. And we’re in the position
right now– interesting historical development
where the major upholder of the post-war
liberal order, whatever you think of it– it’s good
points and its bad points– is Germany. The two leading democracies–
the US and Britain are pulling themselves out. That leaves France,
that leaves Britain. I mean France, and Germany. Cathy? It’s interesting. A number of the
questions so far have been about freedom and
the impact of the Trump administration on our sort of
sense of what the natural– the Democratic order
of things should be. But I think what’s going
to be harder to see, and harder to
resist, is the impact on the political
economy of our security. So looking at the
redistributional effects of the choices that
the Trump administration makes about where to
spend security dollars. It’s going to be
a massive effect. When you talk about this amount
of money, this kind of increase in the military
budget, you’re talking about fundamental changes
to the way in which people are employed, how much they
make, where wealth accumulates. And for the military
budget, it tends to be white male
labor that benefits. So there’s going to be a massive
redistribution from women to men, from across
racial groups to whites. And again, this was
part of his appeal. And he can, but probably
won’t, point to that. He’ll say this is
good for everybody. But I think those are some
of the questions that we’re going to be, I think,
wanting to ask ourselves as much as these questions. And one of the things that–
one of the ways in which it will come up, although
I think this is a very limited part
of the problem, is in terms of
Trump’s businesses. People say, OK,
his foreign policy is going to follow his
business interests. He won’t divest, he will meet
with people– as he already has– who have interests. And people are already piling
into his hotels in Washington– his hotel in Washington
to curry favor, and so on. So I think those are
as important as some of these strategic
questions we might have about how he should– what kinds
of choices he should be making. Stephen, and then Tim. But Stephen, do you
want to– your comments were Ukraine relevant,
even if you didn’t actually explicitly say Ukraine. And if you have any thoughts
on Dietrich’s comment about the future of Europe, that
would be interesting as well. I do think Europe is in a
real crisis of confidence now. It’s very distressing. I would like to see
that relationship– the transatlantic
relationship– strengthened, but not in a military way. I’d like to see us more
involved in a political sense, not determining security
policy for Europe. When we talk about the rights
of individual countries and how that plays
out in real life, I think about this– so we were
involved in a project aimed at pulling Ukraine
into an alliance which, if we had succeeded,
would have allowed American nuclear weapons to
be right on Russia’s borders– as they are in some
parts of the Baltics. Now if Mexico were to make an
agreement with the Russians to open up a base in which
nuclear weapons would be placed in Tijuana, Mexico,
under the principles of national sovereignty, would
have every right to do that. But we would never tolerate it. We would bomb that
base, as well we should, because we couldn’t tolerate
such a threat so nearby. So those are the
difficult calibrations that big powers and small
powers have to make. OK. Well, I wasn’t planning
to address Ukraine but I really can’t
let that go by. We were not involved
in a project, the Ukrainians elected
a new government. The new government said they
wanted an association agreement with the EU, it had
nothing to do with NATO. So Russia attacked
Ukraine because their favored government
was thrown out of office by– well, they didn’t
elect a new government– and I think Stephen will
probably correct me on that, so let me correct myself. Their government was driven out
by a popular uprising because of its corruption, and Russia
was upset about the fact that their crony
government had been taken– had been thrown out. And so then the annexed a
major part of another country, in violation of their
treaty commitments. So, you know, I think–
I think the idea that Trump’s election
is going to somehow make that all go away because now
we’re friendly with Putin is just nonsense. I mean, it’s a huge,
massive crisis. It continues to be a
huge massive crisis. And it’s not happening because
if anything the United States did, it’s happening because
the Ukrainians did something that the Russians
didn’t like and they tried to push them around. Now it’s true that
we try to push around Latin American
countries all the time, and have in the past, but
that doesn’t necessarily make it right for Russia to
do it to their, you know, neighbors. Didn’t we have an
assistant secretary of state handing out chocolate
chip cookies to demonstrators and telling them, go
overthrow your government? So the fact that [INAUDIBLE]
was stupid enough that her PR person told
her it was a bad idea to be openly siding
with demonstrators does not mean that
we were the reason that this government fell. The government fell
because the [INAUDIBLE] was occupied by a
popular movement of nonviolent protesters. Anyway, I wanted to
see something else– and I’m sorry because I want
to– this is too difficult. I wanted to basically
just ask Nina just to tell her that–
maybe this will be comforting to
you, about the fact that nobody can stop Trump
from pushing the button. I counted three ways
that he could be stopped from pushing the button. The first is an outright
refusal by the military because it would be a war crime. So, you know, if Trump woke
up tomorrow and decided, let’s just nuke Putin. I’ve decided that I’ve
changed my mind about him. They would refuse that
order because it’s clearly a violation of the
laws of war, and they would be right to do so even
though the president gave them that order. That would, in some ways, be a
little bit of a coup d’etat– so it would be a
constitutional crisis. Second thing is, there’s
the 25th Amendment. So vice president Pence
could get together with– as long as he gets
the vote of half the cabinet, they could declare
him incompetent and he could become
acting president. That is, in fact, a
constitutional way to remove the
president from power. Again, it’s a bit of a
constitutional crisis because it’s never
happened before and people kind of wonder what
if the president starts saying, hey, I’m not incompetent. But under the words
of the Constitution, it’s actually quite clear
what the procedure is. The Vice President convenes
the cabinet, as long as half of them sign a letter and send
it to the Speaker of the House he becomes acting president. And then, of course,
there is impeachment. Although I think
that impeachment would probably not work to
get his finger off the button because it would take too long. But those are the three
count ways I count. Now that’s not very
comforting, I think. I think those are all
kind of a little bit doomsday-ish scenarios,
but it gets back to the broader
point I was making about this kind of
libertarian panic. I think it’s actually
a useful exercise to go through this panic and
to think about, oh my god, this might happen, what
would happen as a result because I think it makes
it less likely to happen. Nina wants to jump
in before we– Can I just respond on that? So I think– I think the
major starting point would be the firing
officers who say, I’m not going to fire nuclear
weapons because this is potentially an illegal order. So we actually have a case. So there was a colonel who had–
who was a decorated Air Force pilot in Vietnam, who was
then placed, positioned, in a missile silo that was
going to be his posting. And so he asked for
his job, how would he know if the order to
fire was legal or not. And for that, he was
demoted from his position. He did not get the
job, he was demoted, he was kicked out
of the military for asking that question. Well he might have demoted
for asking the question, but they’re all trained that
you can’t obey an illegal order. That is true, and it’s
actually a very important issue that I think should get some
attention in the current times. Dietrich has two things. I would say, just note, the best
and most interesting panels, I hope you agree, are the
ones where the panelists don’t always agree with each other. It’s a good thing. Dietrich has a two finger. We also have time for maybe
one or two more questions to conclude the
session, but Dietrich, do you want to jump in? Several people said–
Timothy was the last one– we had nothing to do with Ukraine. That’s not true. The Ukraine’s integrity
was guaranteed by Russia, the United
States, and Great Britain. And neither of them
remind us of it. And the fact is it
was not an agreement that the Senate approved,
but it was still three governments
agreed on the integrity of the Ukraine– including
that vacation place for Moscow. So I wanted you to take me
seriously, but not literally on that point. Obviously, we have a lot
to do with the Ukraine. We have important
relations with Russia, with the Ukraine,
everything else. My main point was that
their political change, in the case of the [INAUDIBLE],
was not some CIA plot. That was my main point. Let’s take two more
questions, and then some concluding
thoughts from the panel. I was thinking, in
terms of the Ukraine, how many nuclear
weapons are there– how many nuclear weapons are
present in Ukraine presently? Zero. Zero. I mean, they used– [INAUDIBLE] the Ukrainian
borders in the exchange of– If they had nuclear
weapons, they never would have been
invaded by Russia. Let’s get onto
some other topics. [INTERPOSING VOICES] Interesting thing is that
none of the panelists mentioned Ukraine, you’re
totally right about that, but the discussion certainly
has turned that way. Ukraine arguably regrets
not keeping nuclear weapons after the end of the Cold War. Let’s take two more questions,
and then the panelists can have a final say. I’m curious as to
why there wasn’t much discussion about China,
unless there’s no security implications to China. One of the countries
whose economy has been most challenged by
candidate Trump, of course, is China because of the trade. You know the article I read in
The Atlantic by Jeff Goldberg, I think– interview
with Kissinger– talked about the potential
of conflict between the US and China over trade. Certainly if Trump makes good
on– if we take those promises literally, then we’re
going to have some kind of a confrontation with China. Is that– is my
conclusion correct? That the panel
doesn’t think China is a security issue for the US? [LAUGHING] One more question. My question is more
domestically focused, or maybe internationally. I mean, I think it’s
clear that Trump is not going to be able to accomplish
half of what he said, potentially. And so internationally,
that might be a good thing that he can’t accomplish
what he’s saying. But domestically, does
he anger a population that’s already pretty angry? And instead of them being
able to march pitchforks to the White House,
we see people turning on each other
because of proximity. One of the things that I’ve
noticed on my Facebook feeds is the number of people
who are sending me all sorts of notices about
how many black people have now started buying guns. Now, of course, when
you read about it– the people who are
sending it to me are talking about
the inner cities. And when you read about
who’s buying guns right now, it’s people with
college educations. People, like me,
sitting in this room have more to fear now than
we thought we should have. So I’m really concerned that,
maybe internationally, he’s not going to be able
to do a lot of damage, but he is going to do so
much damage internally that we won’t have to worry
about international threats. Not to be depressing. All right. Final thoughts of
my fellow panelists on either of these
questions, or comments. Well let me just
respond to two of them. First of all, on China, you’re
right that was an egregious omission on our part. I don’t think the United
States has any vital interests regarding Syria– even Iran. I’d argue that what
happens to Ukraine is not of vital interest of the
United States, but China is. China is a very serious
foreign policy challenge to the United States. And I would argue, it’s
the greatest foreign policy challenge we’ve ever faced. We have never had a
situation like this where you’ve got
a country that’s coming that’s
bigger than we are, going to be richer than we are,
more populous, long tradition, great regional leader
over many centuries. We’re not prepared for this,
and China is assertive. China is feeling its
strength growing. I do see a potential
for conflict there. I don’t see it as
immediate and volatile as the situation in the Middle
East, but over the long run– if trendlines continue–
I do see a possibility of serious conflict with China. And the one comment I would
make about that illiberalism is essentially to
agree with you. Frankly, so far I’m not
angry at Trump for statements that he’s made or
bad policies that I think he’s going to follow. But the one thing
that I already– it already really frightens
me is that some people who are Americans are
afraid to be Americans, and to be the people they are,
and walk around on the street, and be who they really are
inside– and that’s really bad. So I agree with you that
our greatest contribution to global stability would be
to build a society at home that would be a model for
others, and we’re going in the opposite direction. Can I– Nina. So on the China issue–
I think it’s useful here to look at the
position, the views, of the advisers– of the an
incoming Secretary of Defense, national security advisor
Flynn, and the CIA director. So these– to the extent that
Obama had a pivot toward Asia– sort of, there’s a
debate about that– it’s going to focus
back on the Middle East. And already, these
guys are really obsessed by radical Islam. And so Flynn is really a
self-declared Islamophobe. And so they’re
going to be looking at Asia through the lens
of jihad, of Islamophobia, and there are already
statements of that effect. So Flynn has said
something like, we have to be watching
China and North Korea for their connections
to global jihad. All right? So that– I mean,
that is the lens in which they are going to
now interpret our Asia policy. And these are the
three– at least two of the three top advisers
take this Islamophobic view. So that’s the lens through
which foreign policy is going to be conducted,
including Asia. Can I? Sure. Can I just– Cathy, go ahead. I appreciate the last question
because I think it really does direct us back to think
about the way in which all of these– all of these
politics are local politics. Right? And I think one of the things
that we have to be alert to– and, again, Jeff and
Tim, in some ways, gave us this list of things that
we should be alert to– should include this notion that the
Trump administration will turn on particular domestic
audiences, or fractions of the population,
as he already has during his campaign at any
crisis moment internationally. So that the flag burners
will become suddenly, again– and also all over Fox News–
as a way of diverting attention from the enemy without
becomes the enemy within. So I think– yeah,
keeping care on that. And also, thinking about the
university’s role and the ways in which a panel like this
can, under autocratic states, become a criminal act right
to even speak these words. And this is something
that we also need to be really
vigilant about it, and assert our right to continue
to speak and not self-censor. Tim, your final comment? Sure. I can’t resist pointing out
that it’s pronounced “Jina,” but, yes, here is where the
cyber is so big is actually probably correct. I think– I fault myself for
not discussing the China issue, but this is an area where a
real cyber conflict, perhaps, is more likely to happen
than virtually anywhere else. And part of the reason I
think that it may be true is that when you look at
Russia and it’s offensive cyber activity in the past year,
it was directed essentially to help Trump get elected. You know– that may or may
not have been their purpose, but that certainly
was the effect of it. So I don’t know that
the Trump administration is going to be focused
too much on going after Russia for its offensive
activity in the cyber realm, whereas with China the
focus of its cyber activity has generally been
industrial espionage. And when you look at
Trump’s economic policies of trying to bring
back, you know, the great industrial
manufacturing of the United States and having a sort
of hypernationalist view of the economy– that
this is a competing– we have competing countries. And if they’re winning,
that means we’re losing. And if we’re– there’s this
kind of win-lose proposition, he’s going to react,
I think, very, very strongly to Chinese
industrial espionage and view it as kind of a direct
assault on the United States. So maybe the chances
for a cyber war have gone up with China
if they may or may not have– in a way that we
really haven’t thought about. OK. Jeff? Great. Three things. One on your comment, and I
absolutely share your concerns. And I think that, in
a sense, the thing that we can do most, as
individuals, is to fight fear. And one of the things that we
can do in a university setting is to express solidarity, and
to have events, and to make sure that we are reaching
across our usual lines, and make sure that we
are supporting people who are, in fact,
threatened now in a way that they weren’t previously. I never thought that Harry
Potter would actually have personal lessons
for our society, but it turns out that
maybe fighting fear becomes a real one. Right? The second thing
is just on China. I do think the trade wars
are a real possibility. And in fact, I wrote two days
ago in the Washington Post a long column about why I
think Steve Bannon and Trump’s economic team are moving us
back towards a world in which we reenact Smoot-Hawley act of
1930 that led to the trade wars of the 1930s, and
the political upheavals of the 1940s–
which is, obviously, a very, very dark prospect. And so, hopefully
that doesn’t come to bear with respect to China. But if his moves towards
China are even half as damaging as that, it would
be kind of immeasurably bad for the US and for the world. Last thing is that you
called attention to China. I’m amazed that we’ve got to
the end of this panel and nobody said North Korea. And so, in terms of
security threats, one can point to a lot
of blinking red lights around the world,
and we haven’t talked about that one– which I
think is a real concern. Stay tuned. Thank you so much for coming. We’re over time. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC PLAYING]

13 comments on “The Security Implications of the Trump Presidency

  1. who is this fool talking at the start? firstly Putin has a higher approval rating amongst his citizens than any other leader in the world, secondly count yourself lucky Trump beat Hillary…every speech she made she threatened or lied about Russia…at least Trump intends to have good relations with Russia…unless you are a comp!eye idiot, you should want that, rather than nuclear war with Russia..

  2. Know little of Trump as 'politician' so this provides me another level of comparative analysis as I think of President Obama and before him
    GW Bush. Much to chew on..not to mention, digest. A journalist, this allows me to ask some other questions as America uses its power/ how each
    Administration will differ applying / using it. Fascinating, at best.

  3. Timothy Krager heard you loud and clear– Trump will clearly set the agenda and we ought to take Trump factor seriously. However,
    At this juncture most yet to believe/ accept the fact he's president -elect. Twitter @VernaPolitics

  4. Stephen Kinzer enjoyed your presentation on How Iran is now seen/ considered. Sadly, just had to laugh. We are indeed facing a new world order

  5. What struck me most was how full of themselves these people seem. I wonder what they would have thought of their words if they could have heard themselves BEFORE the election.

  6. Ship of fools, useful idiots with useless perspectives. these are thought leaders from stink tanks let you know what is important. With "High Confidence" they will contribute little, or sore losers puking on their own shoes.

  7. Trump is a salesman. Hillary cheated Sanders,Karma chose Trump. Thank you Trump for taking out the garbage.
    Now kick the can down the road.
    Yes get your rump in gear for the trump,
    the path to no where.

  8. remember today the avoidance of truth is politics, poor impulse control tweets virtual reality the quick sand of …Money talks…people die. America at it´s best. The need for an enemy to have a World under control is the neurosis of America. We own the world disease that poops out Donald Trump. O´Bama ushered in Donald. remember.

  9. Reagan was butcher of Central America, Bush butcher of IRAQ, Afghanistan, Obama butcher of Middle east,genocide of Yemen, Drone dead over 6000 Muslims flooding Europe with Refugees as revenge. Thanks USA O´BAMA.
    Mind you all Presidents since TRUMAN have blood on their hands SHAME of America first to kill always.

  10. getting chummy with Russia will IMO lead to Putin taking the piss. iE paradoxically more dangerous because neither side will have demarcated the line in the sand and Hubris by either side may lead to misunderstandings

  11. until these folks are willing to be in battle how can anyone respect their arguments? Bright as they may be until they engage with policy outcomes they can't be believed.

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