Burn the Republican Party Down?

It would damage the country, and those who say yes bear some blame for the president’s rise.

Where did Donald Trump come from? Where is the GOP going? Should the whole thing be burned down? A lot had to go wrong before we got a President Trump. This fact, once broadly acknowledged, has gotten lost, as if a lot of people want it forgotten.

Mr. Trump’s election came from two unwon wars, which constituted a historic foreign-policy catastrophe, and the Great Recession, which those in power, distracted by their mighty missions, didn’t see coming until it arrived with all its wreckage. He came from the decadeslong refusal of both parties’ leadership to respect and respond to Americans’ anxieties, from left and right, about illegal immigration. He came from bad policy and bad stands on crucial issues.

He came from the growing realization of on-the-ground Americans that neither party seemed to feel any particular affiliation with or loyalty to them, that both considered them lumpen bases to be managed and manipulated. He came from the great and increasing social and cultural distance between the movers and talkers of the national GOP, its strategists, operatives, thinkers, pundits and party professionals, and the party’s base. He came from algorithms that deliberately excite, divide and addict, and from lawmakers who came to see that all they had to do to endure was talk, not legislate, because legislating involves compromise and, in an era grown polar and primitive, compromise is for quislings.

He came from a spirit of frustration among a sizable segment of the electorate that, in time, became something like a spirit of nihilism. It will be a long time repairing that, and no one is sure how to.

And here, in that perfect storm, was Mr. Trump’s simple, momentary genius. He declared for president as a branding exercise and went out and said applause lines, and when the crowd cheered, he decided “This is my program,” and when it didn’t cheer, he thought, “Huh, that is not my program.” Some of it was from his gut, but most of it was that casual. After the election a former high official told me he observed it all from the side of the stage. This week the official said that after a rally, on the plane home, all Mr. Trump and Jared Kushner would talk about was the reaction. “Did you see how they responded to that?”

The base, with its cheers, said they weren’t for cutting entitlement benefits. They were still suffering from the effects of 2008, and other things. They weren’t for open borders or for more foreign fighting. They were for the guy who said he hated the elites as much as they did.

The past four years have produced a different kind of disaster, one often described in this space. The past six months Mr. Trump came up against his own perfect storm, one he could neither exploit nor talk his way past: a pandemic, an economic contraction that will likely produce a lengthy recession, and prolonged, sometimes violent national street protests. If the polls can be trusted, he is on the verge of losing the presidency.

Now various of his foes, in or formerly of his party, want to burn the whole thing down—level the party, salt the earth where it stood, remove Republican senators, replace them with Democrats.

This strikes me as another form of nihilism. It’s bloody-minded and not fully responsible for three reasons.

First, it’s true that the two-party system is a mess and a great daily frustration. But in the end, together and in spite of themselves, both parties still function as a force for unity in that when an election comes, whatever your disparate stands, you have to choose whether you align more with Party A or Party B. This encourages coalitions and compromise. It won’t work if there are four parties or six; things will splinter, the system buckle. The Democratic Party needs the Republican Party, needs it to restrain its excesses and repair what it does that proves injurious. The Republicans need the Democrats, too, for the same reasons.

Second, if the Republicans lose the presidency, the House and the Senate in November, the rising progressives of the Democratic Party will be emboldened and present a bill for collection. They’ll push hard for what they want. This will create a runaway train that will encourage bad policy that will damage the nation. Republicans and conservatives used to worry about that kind of thing.

Third, Donald Trump is burning himself down. Has no one noticed?

When the Trump experience is over, the Republican Party will have to be rebuilt. It will have to begin with tens of millions of voters who previously supported Mr. Trump. It will have to decide where it stands, its reason for being. It won’t be enough to repeat old mantras or formulations from 1970 to 2000. It’s 2020. We’re a different country.

A lot is going to have to be rethought. Simple human persuasion will be key.

Rebuilding doesn’t start with fires, purges and lists of those you want ejected from the party.

Many if not most of those calling for burning the whole thing down are labeled “Never Trump,” and a lot of them are characterologically quick to point the finger of blame. They’re aiming at Trump supporters in Congress. Some of those lawmakers have abandoned long-held principles to show obeisance to the president and his supporters. Some, as you know if you watched the supposed grilling of tech titans this week, are just idiots.

But Never Trumpers never seem to judge themselves. Many of them, when they were profiting through past identities as Republicans or conservatives, supported or gave strategic cover to the wars that were such a calamity, and attacked those who dissented. Many showed no respect to those anxious about illegal immigration and privately, sometimes publicly, denounced them as bigots. Never Trumpers eloquently decry the vulgarization of politics and say the presidency is lowered by a man like Mr. Trump, and it is. But they invented Sarah Palin and unrelentingly attacked her critics. They often did it in the name of party loyalty.

Some Never Trumpers helped create the conditions that created President Trump. What would be helpful from them now is not pyromaniac fantasies but constructive modesty, even humility.

The party’s national leaders and strategists don’t have a lot to be proud of the past few decades. The future of the party will probably bubble up from the states.

But it matters that the past six months Mr. Trump has been very publicly doing himself in, mismanaging his crises—setting himself on fire. As long as that’s clear, his supporters won’t be able to say, if he loses, that he was a champion of the people who was betrayed by the party elites, the Never Trumpers and the deep state: “He didn’t lose, he was the victim of treachery.”

Both parties have weaknesses. Liberals enjoy claiming progress that can somehow never quite be quantified. Conservatives like the theme of betrayal.

It will be unhelpful for Republicans, and bad for the country, if that’s the background music of the party the next 10 years.

The First Iraq War Was Also Sold to the Public Based on a Pack of Lies

Polls suggest that Americans tend to differentiate between our “good war” in Iraq — “Operation Desert Storm,” launched by George HW Bush in 1990 — and the “mistake” his son made in 2003.

Across the ideological spectrum, there’s broad agreement that the first Gulf War was “worth fighting.” The opposite is true of the 2003 invasion, and a big reason for those divergent views was captured in a 2013 CNN poll that found that “a majority of Americans (54%) say that prior to the start of the war the administration of George W. Bush deliberately misled the U.S. public about whether Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction.”

But as the usual suspects come out of the woodwork to urge the US to once again commit troops to Iraq, it’s important to recall that the first Gulf War was sold to the public on a pack of lies that were just as egregious as those told by the second Bush administration 12 years later.

The Lie of an Expansionist Iraq

Most countries condemned Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. But the truth — that it was the culmination of a series of tangled economic and historical conflicts between two Arab oil states — wasn’t likely to sell the US public on the idea of sending our troops halfway around the world to do something about it.

So we were given a variation of the “domino theory.” Saddam Hussein, we were told, had designs on the entire Middle East. If he wasn’t halted in Kuwait, his troops would just keep going into other countries.

As Scott Peterson reported for The Christian Science Monitor in 2002, a key part of the first Bush administration’s case “was that an Iraqi juggernaut was also threatening to roll into Saudi Arabia. Citing top-secret satellite images, Pentagon officials estimated in mid-September [of 1990]  that up to 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks stood on the border, threatening the key US oil supplier.”

A quarter of a million troops with heavy armor amassed on the Saudi border certainly seemed like a clear sign of hostile intent. In announcing that he had deployed troops to the Gulf in August 1990, George HW Bush said, “I took this action to assist the Saudi Arabian Government in the defense of its homeland.” He asked the American people for their “support in a decision I’ve made to stand up for what’s right and condemn what’s wrong, all in the cause of peace.”

But one reporter — Jean Heller of the St. Petersburg Times — wasn’t satisfied taking the administration’s claims at face value. She obtained two commercial satellite images of the area taken at the exact same time that American intelligence supposedly had found Saddam’s huge and menacing army and found nothing there but empty desert.

She contacted the office of then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney “for evidence refuting the Times photos or analysis offering to hold the story if proven wrong.” But “the official response” was: “Trust us.”

Heller later told the Monitor’s Scott Peterson that the Iraqi buildup on the border between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia “was the whole justification for Bush sending troops in there, and it just didn’t exist.”

Dead Babies, Courtesy of a New York PR Firm

Military occupations are always brutal, and Iraq’s six-month occupation of Kuwait was no exception. But because Americans didn’t have an abundance of affection for Kuwait, a case had to be built that the Iraqi army was guilty of nothing less than Nazi-level atrocities.

That’s where a hearing held by the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in October 1990 played a major role in making the case for war.

A young woman who gave only her first name, Nayira, testified that she had been a volunteer at Kuwait’s al-Adan hospital, where she had seen Iraqi troops rip scores of babies out of incubators, leaving them “to die on the cold floor.” Between tears, she described the incident as “horrifying.”

Her account was a bombshell. Portions of her testimony were aired that evening on ABC’s “Nightline” and NBC’s “Nightly News.” Seven US senators cited her testimony in speeches urging Americans to support the war, and George HW Bush repeated the story on 10 separate occasions in the weeks that followed.

In 2002, Tom Regan wrote about his own family’s response to the story for The Christian Science Monitor:

I can still recall my brother Sean’s face. It was bright red. Furious. Not one given to fits of temper, Sean was in an uproar. He was a father, and he had just heard that Iraqi soldiers had taken scores of babies out of incubators in Kuwait City and left them to die. The Iraqis had shipped the incubators back to Baghdad. A pacifist by nature, my brother was not in a peaceful mood that day. “We’ve got to go and get Saddam Hussein. Now,” he said passionately.

Subsequent investigations by Amnesty Internationala division of Human Rights Watch and independent journalists would show that the story was entirely bogus — a crucial piece of war propaganda the American media swallowed hook, line and sinker. Iraqi troops had looted Kuwaiti hospitals, but the gruesome image of babies dying on the floor was a fabrication.

In 1992, John MacArthur revealed in The New York Times that Nayirah was in fact the daughter of Saud Nasir al-Sabah, Kuwait’s ambassador to the US. Her testimony had been organized by a group called Citizens for a Free Kuwait, which was a front for the Kuwaiti government.

Tom Regan reported that Citizens for a Free Kuwait hired Hill & Knowlton, a New York-based PR firm that had previously spun for the tobacco industry and a number of governments with ugly human rights records. The company was paid “$10.7 million to devise a campaign to win American support for the war.” It was a natural fit, wrote Regan. “Craig Fuller, the firm’s president and COO, had been then-President George Bush’s chief of staff when the senior Bush had served as vice president under Ronald Reagan.”

According to Robin Andersen’s A Century of Media, a Century of War, Hill & Knowlton had spent $1 million on focus groups to determine how to get the American public behind the war, and found that focusing on “atrocities” was the most effective way to rally support for rescuing Kuwait.

Arthur Rowse reported for the Columbia Journalism Review that Hill & Knowlton sent out a video news release featuring Nayirah’s gripping testimony to 700 American television stations.

As Tom Regan noted, without the atrocities, the idea of committing American blood and treasure to save Kuwait just “wasn’t an easy sell.”

Only a few weeks before the invasion, Amnesty International accused the Kuwaiti government of jailing dozens of dissidents and torturing them without trial. In an effort to spruce up the Kuwait image, the company organized Kuwait Information Day on 20 college campuses, a national day of prayer for Kuwait, distributed thousands of “Free Kuwait” bumper stickers, and other similar traditional PR ventures. But none of it was working very well. American public support remained lukewarm the first two months.

That would change as stories about Saddam’s baby-killing troops were splashed across front pages across the country.

Saddam Was Irrational

Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait was just as illegal as the US invasion that would ultimately oust him 13 years later — it was neither an act of self-defense, nor did the UN Security Council authorize it.

But it can be argued that Iraq had significantly more justification for its attack.

Kuwait had been a close ally of Iraq, and a top financier of the Iraqi invasion of Iran in 1980, which, as The New York Times reported, occurred after “Iran’s revolutionary government tried to assassinate Iraqi officials, conducted repeated border raids and tried to topple Mr. Hussein by fomenting unrest within Iraq.”

Saddam Hussein felt that Kuwait should forgive part of his regime’s war debt because he had halted the “expansionist plans of Iranian interests” not only on behalf of his own country, but in defense of the other Gulf Arab states as well.

After an oil glut knocked out about two-thirds of the value of a barrel of crude oil between 1980 and 1986, Iraq appealed to OPEC to limit crude oil production in order to raise prices — with oil as low as $10 per barrel, the government was struggling to pay its debts. But Kuwait not only resisted those efforts — and asked OPEC to increase its quotas by 50 percent instead — for much of the 1980s it also had maintained its own production well above OPEC’s mandatory quota. According to a study by energy economist Mamdouh Salameh, “between 1985 and 1989, Iraq lost US$14 billion a year due to Kuwait’s oil price strategy,” and “Kuwait’s refusal to decrease its oil production was viewed by Iraq as an act of aggression against it.”

There were additional disputes between the two countries centering on Kuwait’s exploitation of the Rumaila oil fields, which straddled the border between the two countries. Kuwait was accused of using a technique known as “slant-drilling” to siphon off oil from the Iraqi side.

None of this justifies Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. But a longstanding and complex dispute between two undemocratic petrostates wasn’t likely to inspire Americans to accept the loss of their sons and daughters in a distant fight.

So instead, George HW Bush told the public that Iraq’s invasion was “without provocation or warning,” and that “there is no justification whatsoever for this outrageous and brutal act of aggression.” He added: “Given the Iraqi government’s history of aggression against its own citizens as well as its neighbors, to assume Iraq will not attack again would be unwise and unrealistic.”

Ultimately, these longstanding disputes between Iraq and Kuwait got considerably less attention in the American media than did tales of Kuwaiti babies being ripped out of incubators by Saddam’s stormtroopers.

Saddam Was “Unstoppable”

A crucial diplomatic error on the part of the first Bush administration left Saddam Hussein with the impression that the US government had little interest in Iraq’s conflict with Kuwait. But that didn’t fit into the narrative that the Iraqi dictator was an irrational maniac bent on regional domination. So there was a concerted effort to deny that the US government had ever had a chance to deter his aggression through diplomatic means — and even to paint those who said otherwise as conspiracy theorists.

As John Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago and Harvard’s Stephen Walt wrote in 2003, “Saddam reportedly decided on war sometime in July 1990, but before sending his army into Kuwait, he approached the United States to find out how it would react.”

In a now famous interview with the Iraqi leader, U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie told Saddam, “[W]e have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.” The U.S. State Department had earlier told Saddam that Washington had “no special defense or security commitments to Kuwait.” The United States may not have intended to give Iraq a green light, but that is effectively what it did.

Exactly what was said during the meeting has been a source of some controversy. Accounts differ. According to a transcript released by the Iraqi government, Glaspie told Hussein, ” I admire your extraordinary efforts to rebuild your country.”

I know you need funds. We understand that and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country. But we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.

I was in the American Embassy in Kuwait during the late 60’s. The instruction we had during this period was that we should express no opinion on this issue and that the issue is not associated with America. James Baker has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction.

Leslie Gelb of The New York Times reported that Glaspie told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the transcript was inaccurate “and insisted she had been tough.” But that account was contradicted when diplomatic cables between Baghdad and Washington were released. As Gelb described it, “The State Department instructed Ms. Glaspie to give the Iraqis a conciliatory message punctuated with a few indirect but significant warnings,” but “Ms. Glaspie apparently omitted the warnings and simply slobbered all over Saddam in their meeting on July 25, while the Iraqi dictator threatened Kuwait anew.”

There is no dispute about one crucially important point: Saddam Hussein consulted with the US before invading, and our ambassador chose not to draw a line in the sand, or even hint that the invasion might be grounds for the US to go to war.

The most generous interpretation is that each side badly misjudged the other. Hussein ordered the attack on Kuwait confident that the US would only issue verbal condemnations. As for Glaspie, she later told The New York Times, ”Obviously, I didn’t think — and nobody else did — that the Iraqis were going to take all of Kuwait.”

Fool Me Once…

The first Gulf War was sold on a mountain of war propaganda. It took a campaign worthy of George Orwell to convince Americans that our erstwhile ally Saddam Hussein — whom the US had aided in his war with Iran as late as 1988 — had become an irrational monster by 1990.

Twelve years later, the second invasion of Iraq was premised on Hussein’s supposed cooperation with al Qaeda, vials of anthrax, Nigerian yellowcake and claims that Iraq had missiles poised to strike British territory in little as 45 minutes.

Now, eleven years later, as Bill Moyers put it last week, “the very same armchair warriors in Washington who from the safety of their Beltway bunkers called for invading Baghdad, are demanding once again that America plunge into the sectarian wars of the Middle East.” It’s vital that we keep our history in Iraq in mind, and apply some healthy skepticism to the claims they offer us this time around.

Joshua Holland was a senior digital producer for BillMoyers.com and now writes for The Nation. He’s the author of The Fifteen Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything Else the Right Doesn’t Want You to Know about Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America) (Wiley: 2010), and host of Politics and Reality Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @JoshuaHol.

The Miracle of Kindness (Chris Hedges)

Emir-Stein Center
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Evil, even in the darkest moments, is impotent before the miracle of human kindness. This miracle defies prejudices and hatreds. It crosses cultures and religions. It lies at the core of faith. Take a brief journey through the eyes of American, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges to Jerusalem, Gaza, and Iraq, and discover the sacred bonds that make us human.

Subtitles: 🇺🇸The Miracle of Kindness 🇪🇸El milagro de la bondad humana

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I studied Arabic four hours a day, five days a week, with my Palestinian professor, Omar Othman, in Jerusalem. We met in my house on Mt. Scopus overlooking the old city every morning. He would arrive with his books and something from his garden, olives, peaches, apricots or a bag of pistachios he would patiently unshell as we worked and then push towards me. Yom fil mishmish, we would say as we ate his apricots, literally meaning tomorrow will be good times and we will eat apricots, but given the long tragedy that has befallen the Palestinians, this phrase is converted into a wistful tomorrow will never come.
Omar, a polyglot who spoke German, Hebrew, and English fluently and who had worked as a teacher in the court of King Hussein in Jordan, was determined I would not only learn Arabic, but the politesse and formalities of Palestinian society. He drilled into me what to say when someone offered me food – Yislamu Edek – may God bless your hands, or when a women entered the room — nowar el beit – you light up the house – or when someone brought me a small cup of thick, sugary Arabic coffee — ‘away dime. A phrase that meant, may we always drink coffee together in an occasion like this.
Omar had a fondness for the Lebanese child singer Remi Bandali, a fondness I did not share, but on his insistence, I memorized the lyrics to several of her songs. He told long involved shaggy dog jokes in Arabic and made me commit them to memory, although sometimes the humor was lost on me.

In March of 1991 I was in Basra, Iraq during the Shiite uprising as a reporter for The New York Times. I had entered Kuwait with the Marine Corps and then left them behind to cover the fighting in Basra. I was taken prisoner by the Iraqi Republican Guard, who in the chaos – whole army units had defected to join the rebels – had ripped their distinguishing patches off their uniforms so as not to be identified with the regime of Saddam Hussein. I was studiously polite, because of Omar, with my interrogators. I swiftly struck up conversations with my guards. My facility in Arabic rendered me human. And when I ran out of things to say I told the long, shaggy dog jokes taught to me by Omar. Perhaps it was my accented Arabic, but my guards found these jokes unfailingly amusing.
I spent a week as a prisoner. I slept and ate with Iraqi soldiers, developed friendships with some, including the major who commanded the unit, and there were several moments when, trapped in heavy fighting with the rebels, they shielded and protected me. I would hear them whisper at night about what would happen to me once I was turned over to the secret police or Mukhabarat, something they and I knew was inevitable and dreaded.
That day came. I was flown on a helicopter to Baghdad and handed to the Mukhabarat, whose dead eyes and cold demeanor reminded me of the East German Stasi. There was no bantering now. I was manhandled and pushed forcefully into a room and left there without food or water for 24 hours.
I awoke the next day to plaintive call to prayer, the adhaan, as the first pale light crept over the city.
“God is greater. There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of God.”
I went to the window and saw the heavily armed guards in the courtyard below. I did not know if I would live or die.
At dawn the women and often children climb to the flat rooves in Baghdad to bake bread in rounded clay ovens. I was famished. I called out in Arabic to these women. “I am an American journalist. I am a captive. I have not eaten.”
A mother handed fresh bread to her young son who scampered across the rooves to feed me. A few hours later I was turned over to the International Committee for the Red Cross and driven to Jordan and freedom.
Where are they now, these men and women who showed me such compassion, who ignored the role my own country had played in their oppression, to see me as a one of them? How can I replay this solidarity and empathy? How can I live to be like them? I owe Omar, I owe all these people, some of whom I did not know, the miracle of human kindness – and my life.

The Reporting Team That Got Iraq Right

As the war in Iraq completes its fifth year this week, The Huffington Post is featuring interviews with and essays by those journalists, elected officials, policymakers and former military officials who spoke out early and boldly against what they saw as an inevitable disaster. They join our Iraq Honor Roll.

In the months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the reporters in the Knight Ridder Newspapers Washington D.C. bureau were virtually alone in their questioning of the Bush Administration’s allegations of links between Saddam Hussein, weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism. The team of Knight Ridder reporters, led by Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel, John Walcott and Joe Galloway, produced stories that now read like a prescient accounting of how the Bush Administration sought to sell the war to the American people. Walcott and Landay spoke with The Huffington Post about the fifth anniversary of the war. Knight Ridder Newspapers has since merged with McClatchy Newspapers. You can read the entire Knight Ridder and McClatchy archives of their Iraq intelligence reporting by clicking here.

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John Walcott, McClatchy Newspapers Washington Bureau Chief

The Knight Ridder team, and now the McClatchy team, has frequently been cited as one of the few that got it right in the run-up to the invasion. At the time a lot of people said the rest of the media was ignoring you. Is that how you and the team felt at the time?

Well we certainly didn’t see anyone doing the same kinds of stories, with the exception of some stories by Walter Pincus at the Washington Post, and much, much later after the Los Angeles Times got onto Curveball. But during the period when I guess, arguably, it mattered, when it could have and should have been a debate about whether to engage in this war, I think we felt that we were fairly lonely.

What was it about the way the Knight Ridder bureau was approaching the story that made it so you didn’t get lost in the same wave of reporting that overtook the rest of the press corps?

There wasn’t any reporting in the rest of the press corps, there was stenography. The administration would make an assertion, people would make an assertion, people would write it down as if it were true, and put it in the newspaper or on television.

Did you guys have secret sources that no one else had access to, or was this just a question of editors approaching the job from a more traditional sense of what a reporter should actually be doing?

It’s both of those things. You can’t do this kind of reporting without sources and you can’t develop these kinds of sources overnight. The fact that Jonathan and Warren and I, and to a great extent Joe Galloway who was also a part of this team, had been working in these vineyards for many, many years was helpful. But it begins with the second part of your question. When the administration made an assertion, a lot of people wrote it down and printed it and we looked at it and said “that doesn’t make any sense. Is that true?” And we proceeded to call people. And very often, and very quickly, people said “no, that’s not true,” or “there is no evidence that that’s true,” or “they left out part of the story.”

How easy or difficult was it, in your view, for the average interested citizen back in 2002 to find out what was going on in Iraq?

Very difficult. But not so much to find out what was going on in Iraq. It was very difficult for the average reader, or TV viewer or internet browser to find out the truth about Saddam’s connection with Al Qaeda and international terrorism, about the real state of his nuclear weapons program, and to find out about the real honest assessment of his weapons of mass destruction program.

Of all the stories that were produced by Knight-Ridder in the run-up to the war, are there one or two that you feel were the most important?

How would you compare the level of media skepticism and the caliber of reporting today on Iraq? Five years later, have you seen a shift?

I think that a lot of the media have been very quick to accept the notion that the surge has succeeded and it amounts to some kind of turning point in Iraq. And I’m not sure there is a lot of evidence to support the idea that the improvements in security are long lasting, as opposed to temporary. I think there is somewhat greater skepticism, but I think a lot of people still find it very difficult to question what to most Americans is a patriotic enterprise.

What questions are the press corps still not asking?

They range from the very classic journalism questions like “where did the money go?” All the money we’ve spent in Iraq to support the Iraq government, where has it gone? I think it has been very hard to play the watchdog role on the U.S. mission in Iraq. We’ve been fairly lonely on that. I haven’t seen other people looking into [delays and mismanagement in the construction of the new U.S. Embassy in Iraq] quite as hard as Warren [Strobel] has. Basic accountability reporting has been lacking. As I said before, I think there was a kind of uncritical acceptance of the success of the surge that may be challenged in the coming weeks or months.

Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers National Security Correspondent

When you look back at that period in the run-up to the war, was there a send in the Knight Ridder bureau that you were being ignored?

Absolutely. It wasn’t that we were being ignored, I don’t know that anybody was really just paying attention. I know that our stuff was getting picked up in the Early Bird – a daily compendium of national security stories that I believe are put together by one of the offices of public affairs in the Pentagon and then circulated around the government every morning. And I know that some of our stuff was getting picked up there because I was getting backslaps from other correspondents who saw our articles in the Early Bird. That’s about as far as it went. As Warren [Strobel] noted in the [Bill] Moyers documentary, some of our own newspapers didn’t even run our pieces.

And what was it about the way that you and the Knight Ridder team were approaching the story from a tradecraft point of view that make it different from what the public was seeing in the Times and the Post and the Wall Street Journal?

I think we approached this by asking the question every time the administration made an allegation “is this true?” “Is this true” is the basic question any journalist must ask any time a government, any government, makes an assertion. Governments do things for their own reasons depending on what the administration is. There could be altruistic reasons. But particularly a government that is politicized as the Bush Administration, one has to ask that question even more intensely. So we were doing that. We were also listening to people who were coming to us and saying “we don’t think this is right. We don’t believe that the intelligence is as strong as the administration is making it out to be.” And indeed you saw that in open source reports. I’m referring to the unclassified version of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction which everyone had available to it, including members of congress.

First you had on September 3, 2002 the famous New York Times “aluminum tubes” piece by Judy Miller and Michael Gordon. That same day you had Vice President Cheney and then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice appear conveniently on the Sunday talk shows to talk about what had been extremely classified information that had appeared that day, in the New York Times. And then on September 10 you had the same allegations made to the world by the President of the United States from the podium of the United Nations. And then the following week the President made the same assertion that these aluminum tubes were for a nuclear weapons program that Iraq had hidden from UN weapons inspectors in an address to the nation. Then you had the unclassified version of the National Intelligence Estimate, which said there is division within the intelligence community on exactly what these tubes are all about.

I raise this point because this was one data point in what we had seen was a trend by this administration of exaggerating the intelligence it had on Iraq. We began tracing It back to right after 9/11 when Warren [Strobel] did the first story quoting analysts as saying it was unlikely that Iraq was involved in the World Trade Center attack. Then he went on to disclose that the former director of the CIA [James] Woolsey had made official visits to Britain on behalf of the Pentagon to check out a cockamamie tale that Ramzi Yousef, who we have in jail for the first World Trade Center attack, was not actually Ramzi Yousef but an Iraqi agent. And then right after the US went into Afghanistan, he and John [Walcott] did a story on how the administration had made a decision to oust Saddam Hussein. And we kept asking the question “why do they keep talking about Iraq when the problem is Al Qaeda in Afghanistan? Why do they keep talking about Iraq?” And we were already in that thinking mode when we started working on the stories in the lead up to the war. We were just doing the journalism that our journalism was pushing at.

Why is it that the folks in the Knight Ridder bureau in Washington had this level of skepticism when the rest of the DC press corps didn’t and the national press corps didn’t? What was everyone else so concerned about?

I think that everyone else, and I have to include myself in this category until we really started peeling back into the onion – everyone was absolutely convinced that Saddam Hussein had a secret weapons program. On the Al Qaeda account, I don’t think anybody ever believed that. Ever. It just made no sense. But on the weapons front, until we really started peeling into that story, I took it for granted. I think that that was the problem: that everyone took it for granted – including in the intelligence community – that he had weapons of mass destruction and it was only once we really started doing the journalism that we started seeing that it might not be true. There was this groupthink that extended beyond the intelligence community into the policymaking community and the journalistic community.

How easy or difficult was it, in your view, for the average citizen to find out what was going on in Iraq and DC?

Back then? I think the fact that you had this repetition of stories in the leading print and electronic media accounted for what we see today is still 40 percent of Americans believing that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. This administration drumbeat perpetuated by the mainstream media, except for us and a couple of other people, swung public opinion behind the invasion. I think Moyers illustrated that devastatingly in his documentary.

Looking at the present, how would you compare the level of media skepticism and the caliber of reporting today? Have you seen a shift?

I think there was a kind of almost an epiphany when two things happened. One: Joe Wilson wrote his expose on the 2003 State of the Union and raised question finally – in the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times, of the administration’s case for going to war. And then secondly, nothing was found in Iraq in the invasion. Then you had people jump on that bandwagon almost, that bandwagon about the 19 or 16 words on Niger and uranium in the State of the Union address. Then you started seeing the White house Press doing what it had not done in the run-up to the war, and that was ask tough questions of the White House.

But there has also been, I think, backsliding. Last summer, when the administration started banging the drum about Iran and its involvement in Iraq, and the threat posed by Iran and how Iran was responsible for these explosively-formed penetrators. That’s all well and good, they were, these penetrators were killing troops. But what this drumbeat did was two things: it obscured the fact that the majority of deaths in Iraq were still being caused by Sunni insurgents, and that this was going on in the middle of the so-called surge. And I think they were trying to tamp down expectations that the surge was going to produce some kind of miracle.

So they needed to shift public focus away from the fact that it wasn’t producing a miracle, so they harped on and on about Iran’s involvement and you most of the mainstream media once again beat that same drum. I did a story when the President delieverd a speech at the Naval War College, and he mentioned Iran something like 27 times in a speech about Iraq. And so I did a story about how he was bashing Iran when the majority of the deaths in Iraq were still being caused by Sunni insurgents. And they were appearing to try to divert public attention away from that aspect and they were trying to tamp down public expectations about the surge. And my story was noted first by my old boss, Clark Hoyt, who cited my story the next weekend in his column, and the following weekend Frank Rich picked up that story. And compare my story about that speech at the Naval War College and everyone else’s where they picked up and ran with the Administration’s line about Iran.

Is this because the DC press corps is lazy?

I can’t speak for other correspondents and how they operate. I don’t want to do that. I, quite frankly, don’t know. And maybe that’s something that academics can definitely look into. I think the press needs to be held accountable for its failures on Iraq. And, by the way, I they have done some amazing stuff since that turnaround. There has been some amazing journalism that has come out of Iraq. Good skeptical journalism that got it right. And as a result you had the right wing and the administration beating on the press – not responding to the substance that the press was reporting. So you had all these complaints that they were not reporting all this “good” stuff. In fact, if all that good stuff was happening, why did the administration feel the need to send an ad

Knight Ridder journalists weigh in on U.S.-Iran tensions

The 2017 film “Shock and Awe” shows how a group of journalists exposed major gaps in the Bush administration’s justification for the Iraq war. It’s a situation worth re-examining as tensions rise between the U.S. and Iran. The reporters at the center of “Shock and Awe” include Warren Strobel, Jonathan Landay and John Walcott. They joined CBSN to take a closer look at the comparisons between the two situations.

The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities | SOAS University of London

The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities was a talk given by Professor John J Mearsheimer at the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS University of London on 21 January 2019.  Find out more at http://bit.ly/2Dv5nlZ

It is widely believed in the West that the United States should spread liberal democracy across the world, foster an open international economy, and build institutions. This policy of remaking the world in America’s image is supposed to protect human rights, promote peace, and make the world safe for democracy. But this is not what has happened. Instead, the United States has ended up as a highly militarized state fighting wars that undermine peace, harm human rights, and threaten liberal values at home. Mearsheimer tells us why this has happened.

John J. Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1982. He graduated from West Point in 1970 and then served five years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. He then started graduate school in political science at Cornell University in 1975. He received his Ph.D. in 1980. He spent the 1979-1980 academic year as a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, and was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs from 1980 to 1982. During the 1998-1999 academic year, he was the Whitney H. Shepardson Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Professor Mearsheimer has written extensively about security issues and international politics more generally. He has published six books: Conventional Deterrence (1983), which won the Edgar S. Furniss, Jr., Book Award; Liddell Hart and the Weight of History (1988); The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001, 2014), which won the Joseph Lepgold Book Prize and has been translated into eight different languages; The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (with Stephen M. Walt, 2007), which made the New York Times best seller list and has been translated into twenty-two different languages; Why Leaders Lie: The Truth about Lying in International Politics (2011), which has been translated into ten different languages; and The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities (2018).

He has also written many articles that have appeared in academic journals like International Security, and popular magazines like Foreign Affairs and the London Review of Books. Furthermore, he has written a number of op-ed pieces for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times dealing with topics like Bosnia, nuclear proliferation, American policy towards India, the failure of Arab-Israeli peace efforts, the folly of invading Iraq, and the causes of the Ukrainian crisis.

Finally, Professor Mearsheimer has won a number of teaching awards. He received the Clark Award for Distinguished Teaching when he was a graduate student at Cornell in 1977, and he won the Quantrell Award for Distinguished Teaching at the University of Chicago in 1985. In addition, he was selected as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar for the 1993-1994 academic year. In that capacity, he gave a series of talks at eight colleges and universities. In 2003, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

This event will be chaired by Professor Arshin Adib-Moghaddam. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam is Professor in Global Thought and Comparative Philosophies at SOAS University of London and Fellow of Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge.

Madeleine Albright’s comments we are the
indispensable nation we have a right we
have the responsibility and now we have
the military power since we’re Godzilla
to turn the world into a different place
to remake it in America’s image think
about the concept of American
exceptionalism no American politician
can you know move one micrometer away
from American exceptionalism right you
know that Barack Obama who got
criticized on this issue was forced to
say that America is the indispensable
nation he used those words
it’s American exceptionalism we’re
different we’re better but that
nationalism juiced the liberalism the
nationalism coupled with the liberalism
coupled with the fact that we were so
powerful coupled with the fact that we
had this template in their head about
how we were going to make the world a
much better place
and we were off to the
races what’s the track record let’s talk
about the Bush Doctrine and the greater
Middle East the Ukraine crisis and
us-russia relations I’ve talked a bit
about that and then the failure of
engagement with China these are the
three most glaring examples of failure
the bush doctor the Bush Doctrine was
designed to turn the Middle East into a
sea of democracies in keeping with
liberal hegemony it’s very important to
understand that the war in Iraq 2003 was
not going to be in the minds of the
liberal hegemonist the last war in the
Middle East it was the first stop on the
train line
the second stop on the train line if you
want to include Afghanistan
we didn’t go
much further in terms of invading other
countries because Iraq turned into a
fiasco but the idea was that we could
use military force or the threat of
military force the threat of military
force to overthrow governments in the
region and install liberal democracies
in their place and therefore produce
peace in the Middle East that solved the
proliferation and terrorism problems I
know this sounds crazy now but this is
the way we were thinking you remember
Afghanistan is finally under American
control by December 2001 and then in
early 2002 the Americans are talking
about maybe invading Iraq the Israelis
catch wind of the fact that we’re going
to do Iraq and the Israelis send a
high-level delegation to Washington to
say why are you doing Iraq you should be
doing Iran
it’s the greater threat the
Americans say don’t worry Iraq is the
low-hanging fruit we’re gonna go in and
do a rack and then when we’re done with
Iraq will either do Syria or Iran next

but we won’t have to do one or two more
of these military invasions before
everybody in the region understands how
powerful we are and throws up their hand
and jumps on the american bandwagon
israelis foolishly believe the americans
thinking that we have found the magic
formula for winning wars and they then
begin to champion an invasion of iraq
right what’s the result total disaster
it’s truly amazing the amount of murder
and mayhem that the united states is
responsible for in the Middle East truly
virtually no successes and nothing but
failures and failures were huge numbers
of people died countries are physically
Afghanistan now the longest war in
American history I know not a single
national security analyst who thinks
there’s any possibility we can win that
war and all we’re doing is checking
can down the road now so that Obama
doesn’t get blamed for losing
Afghanistan and now Trump doesn’t get
blamed for losing Afghanistan to Iraq we
wrecked that country Syria where the
United States displayed of a very
important role in trying to topple Assad
that’s hardly ever repeat reported in
the media that’s a total disaster the
amount of murder and mayhem we’ve
created in Syria no Libya we did a great
job there right with the help of the
Europeans my god right the Bush Doctrine
in the greater Middle East an abject
failure then there’s the Ukraine crisis
and us-russia relations I’ve talked a
little bit about this you know in the
West here in Europe and certainly in the
United States we blame the Russians for
the crisis well I don’t buy this
argument for one second from the time we
started talking about NATO expansion the
Russians made it very clear that it was
unacceptable to them they were too weak
to stop it in 1999 that’s when the first
tranche took place they were to stop too
weak to stop in 2004 which is when the
second tranche of expansion took place
but after 2008 when we were talking
about doing Georgia and talking about
doing Ukraine they said this is not
gonna happen
it was April 2008 at the bucura summit
the bucura Sneyd au summit April 2008
where when the meeting was over with the
declaration was issued by NATO that said
Georgia and Ukraine would become part of
NATO the Russians went ballistic it’s no
accident ladies and gentlemen that a
couple of months later in August 2008
you had a war over Georgia Georgia
Russia war August 2008 Bucharest summit
April 2008 and then on February 22nd
2014 you had a major crisis break out
over Ukraine the Russians had no
intention of letting either Georgia or
Ukraine become a Western bulwark on
their doorstep and the end result is
that neither one of those countries has
come Western bulwark and the Russians
are going to great lengths to wreck
those countries and the Russians are now
going to great lengths to split NATO
apart and split the EU apart so that
they can expand further eastward and
further where we have terrible relations

analysis was based on the idea that
there is a genuine effort in u.s.
foreign policy to export democracy and
some would say that you know this was
more like a Trojan horse to expand US
dominance or hegemony or however you
want to call it and that example such as
Pinochet in Latin
America or the Shah in Iran or or you
know us alliances with with autocracies
all over the world do not really
unprovided of evidence for a real
genuine effort to spread democracy in
the way it was done in in Europe with a
Marshall Plan that was really a genuine
effort to democratize absolutely agree

with you the European continent but with
the Iraq invasion in particular there
was no Marshall Plan there was no really
systemic structure competent effort to
create a democracy the only
administrator that was guarded after the
invasion was the oil ministry
and none
of the others so this is just a point
for my for my own understanding about
the trajectory of of you know what
happened to to the liberal United States
and we used to no good
these are two great issues and let me do
my best to answer them I take them in
reverse order first of all with regard
to what happened with the Shah would
happen with Pinochet Guatemala in 1954
and your comments on the Marshall Plan
remember my argument is that liberal
agenda only takes effect with the end of
the Cold War really about 1990
so I
would argue that the this is just
dovetails with what you said the United
States has a rich history of
overthrowing democratically elected
leaders right and furthermore preventing
the emergence of Democrats in other
cases and furthermore aligning itself
with murderous thugs and dictators
my argument would be then in a world of
realpolitik where security competition
is it play you’re going to see a lot of
that kind of behavior so I’m not
challenging that part of the story in
any way what I’m saying is that after
1990 Oh
but so recently up until Trump the
United States I believe was genuinely
committed to spreading democracy around
the world now a number of people
including some of my really good friends
make the argument that you make which is
dead even after 1990 this is a Trojan
horse their argument is John this is you
know the atavistic realist United States
taking advantage of the unipolar moment
to dominate the globe and then
disguising its aggressive behavior with
liberal rhetoric okay now uh I think
that’s wrong okay and I think whether
you’re you and my friends are right or
I’m right is largely an empirical
question it may be the case in thirty
years when they open the public records
there is an abundance of evidence that
supports your perspective which is that
we behaved in a very realist
we tried to become a global hegemon and
we successfully covered it up and we
bamboozled people like John okay that
that may happen I cannot deny that okay
but my argument to you and to my friends

is that I believe that’s wrong and I
believe that the people who are who have
been conducting American foreign policy
are not that clever they’re fools
they’re fools and they are remarkably
idealistic and I think there is an
abundance of evidence to support my
position right I can’t adduce it all
here or we can’t have a big debate about
it but I do think that’s true and the
reason I go to the case of NATO and I
say that NATO was not about containment
cuz I’m anticipating your question
necessarily from you maybe from somebody
in the audience
right and I’m trying to show you that
NATO expansion was not realpolitik at
it was liberal hegemony but again I
think I’m right in the terms of the
story that I’m telling you
but again this is an empirical question
and as you well know we want to be
humble in this business because we’re
sometimes proved wrong your question
about nationalism and liberalism I’m
gonna make two responses to that first
of all I do think one can make an
argument that liberal democracy is in
trouble in the United States with Donald
Trump as the president I think most
people believe that there is some chance
some reasonable chance he will get
reelected I think eight years with him
could do a great deal of damage to
liberal democracy but I would take it a
step further and say that Trump is a
manifestation of you know underlying
forces that are at play here that don’t
bode well for liberal democracy so I’m
not at all making light of what a
dangerous situation were in and of
course not only applies to the United
States as I told you folks in my talk if
you go look at Freedom House’s data
since 2006 the number of liberal
democracies in the world has been going
down now another fascinating issue you
raise is the whole question of the sort
of omnipresent state in the United
States right that doesn’t look like a
liberal state it looks like it’s
interfering in the management of almost
everyone’s daily life I don’t want to go
into this in any great detail but
basically when I talked about rights I
was talking about negative rights I was
talking about freedoms and the problem
is that in the modern world this is all
to be a good thing we’re not just
interested in negative rights were
interested in positive rights and the
best example of that is just think about
this the right to an equal opportunity
it’s not just the right to life liberty
and the pursuit of happiness we you’re
talking about freedoms those were
we’re talking about rights like the
right to health care the right to equal
opportunity those are called positive
rights and they’re very important in
every society today including the United
States and the point is once you start
talking about positive rights as well as
negative rights the state begins to get
involved in a really serious way and you
remember folks when I told you about the
three solutions that liberals have to
dealing with potential for violence
I said inalienable rights tolerance and
the state and remember that I said that
it’s very important to have a limited
state and the point that you’re making
is that we’re moving away from that
limited state and I think in modern
societies it’s very hard not to do that
I’m agreeing with you because of the end
is because of the emphasis on positive
rights and then when you start thinking
about things like artificial
intelligence the national security state
the ability of the state to intervene in
our daily lives you see that liberal
democracy is a fragile device that
really has to be protected so I’m
agreeing with you in very important ways
in terms of ever saying that was
essentially the point that we are all in
the same boat in many ways trying to
struggle to keep the rights alive when
trying to struggle to keep a democracy
alive here but questions from from the
audience and if I may I take two at a
time John is that okay it’s perfectly
fine I should have said at the beginning
by the way switch off your mobile phones
I mean Jeff reminded myself with a so –
two questions the lady with the colored
jumper yes I forgot to bring over a big
piece of paper
hello thank you very much for your talk
in your talk you mentioned international
institutions particularly the WTO and
the IMF as kind of instruments of
liberal hegemony I’m wondering what do
you see the future of those
international institutions now that
there’s a failure of in of liberal
hegemony thank you okay one more
question the gentleman in the back just
right at the back yes with the highest
hand ah yes that’s what the blue blue
sweatshirt hi thanks you said that
obviously liberal Germany is faltering
is it any more or less faltering than
autocracies such as China Russia Thank
You Jon first question had to do with
the future of international institutions
I believe that in a highly
interdependent world and we live in a
highly interdependent world a globalized
world a hyper globalized world cult
whatever you want international
institutions are absolutely essential
and that doesn’t mean that certain
international institutions won’t die but
if they do they’ll be replaced by new
international institutions there’s just
no way you can do business without
international institutions international
institutions is I learned a long time
ago when I wrote an article on this
subject are basically rules and you need
rules for all sorts of reasons when
you’re doing business and that business
can be economic it can be military I
mean if you have military alliance NATO
as an institution the Warsaw Pact as an
institution if you’re gonna fight the
Cold War all over again you’re going to
do it with a mill
Alliance which is an institution you
need the WTO although I think you need a
different variant of it you need the IMF
the World Bank the Chinese have created
the aii big institutions are here to
Donald Trump can get rid of NAFTA but he
in effect just produced another
institution that looks like NAFTA so
institutions aren’t going away no
question in my mind on that the
gentleman up here asked me about whether
you know the Chinese political system
and the Russian political system were
also failing and maybe failing more so
than liberal democracy I don’t know what
the answer is to that at this point in
time I think that both the Chinese and
the Russians are doing reasonably well
at this point in time what the long-term
future of those political systems is
it’s hard to say so I’m just not too
sure I think in in both the Chinese in
the Russian case a lot depends on the
economy and I think a lot depends on how
much progress they make on the economic
front over the future but I think at
this point in time to some extent
everybody’s in trouble okay two more
the lady in the back all the way
my question is about based on the
relationship between China and United
States do you think we are entering oh
we are already living you know in new
Cold War era and secondly do you think
that sports country US and China will
end up in Susa dated Trump’s will end up
way so City Detra okay second question
yes the gentleman right here would you
wait for the microphone it’s right that
it’s in the front yeah thank you
it’s okay sorry to make you run hi John
thank you for your talk much of the US
political discourse lately around Trump
seems to be focused apart from the
collusion with Russia seems to be on the
lack of coherence of foreign policy and
I think looking at some of trumps
rhetoric in recent years it seems to
align a lot with the core tenets of your
book tragedy of great power politics and
in particular we see Trump adopting an
offensive realist position towards China
we see him somewhat buck-passing Syria
to Russia and we see a kind of offshore
balancing with regards to NATO in Europe
so my question is to what extent do you
think that Trump is a meerschaum
so to speak truth
okay John okay I’ll take the first
question on China and the United States
and the young woman in the back asked me
if I thought there was a new Cold War in
store between those two countries I
think the answer is yes my basic view of
international politics is that the great
powers in an ideal world want to
dominate their region of the world and
they want to do like the United States
did in the Western Hemisphere they want
to be the only great power and they
don’t want any other distant great
powers coming into their backyard and if
you look at China today China’s growing
economically and militarily and I think
that the Chinese are very interested as
they should be in dominating Asia and
that means not only being the most
powerful country in the region but also
making sure the Americans are pushed out
the Americans well the Chinese talk
constantly these days about the century
of national humiliation which ran from
the late 1840s until the late 1940s the
Chinese were weak over that hundred year
period and they were exploited by the
Japanese the Americans and the European
great powers they have never forgotten
and their goal is to make sure they are
really powerful in the future if you
were to go up to a Jap to a Chinese
policymaker or remember the Chinese
foreign policy League and say to that
person you have two choices you can be
twenty times more powerful than Japan or
Japan can be 20 more times powerful than
you do you think it makes any difference
they would laugh in your face they would
tell you we know what happened the last
time Japan was 20
more times powerful than us we intend to
be 20 times more powerful than Japan in
the future and then when you ask the
Chinese behind closed doors what they
think about the Americans running ships
and aircraft up their coast and having
ground forces off their coasts and
places like Korea and Japan they will
tell you in no uncertain terms if they
get powerful enough they will try to
push us out beyond us meaning the
Americans beyond the first island chain
and then beyond the second island chain
and if you look at how they think about
the waters around them they’ve made it
very clear that they think the South
China Sea belongs to them and we’ve made
it clear to them we don’t agree with
that they’ve made it clear they think
the East China Sea belongs to them and
there’s a real possibility they’ll get
into a fight with the Japanese over
those small islands in the East China
then there’s Taiwan which is a potential
flashpoint of great significance China
is not a status quo power so the Chinese
as they get more and more powerful are
going to try and become more and more
influential in East Asia and they’re
going to try and push the Americans out
and you know what the Americans are
going to do the Americans are going to
pivot to Asia and they’re going to try
and contain the Chinese and they’re
going to push back so I would argue that
there is likely to be trouble ahead and
put it in your terms you are likely to
get a new Cold War in Asia second
question had to do with Trump and he
accused me of being in bed with Donald
Trump intellectually this is a
frightening thought
yes right that’s right then we know
there is no connection look to be
serious I think that I think that Donald
Trump has no coherent foreign policy I
think he flies by the seat of his pants
and he has certain intuitions and I do
think apropos your question that some of
those intuitions are consistent with a
realist perspective in other words when
Trump says that he is not interested in
using military force to spread democracy
around the planet that’s an argument
that resonates with realists there’s
just no question about it now another
example that you used was containment of
China right that of course resonates
with realist logic but also you want to
remember that the person who articulated
the pivot to Asia was Hillary Clinton
and the Obama administration the Clinton
administration was also interested in
the pivot to Asia so this is not
something new to trump but it gets
consistent both with the Democrats and
with Trump with basic realist logic my
problem with Trump is that he’s done a
half-baked job of pivoting and dealing
with our Asian allies Trump’s big
problem and this is where you know he
parts for realism his realist believed
that alliances matter allies matter and
if you’re gonna deal with an adversary
like China right you need help from
countries in East Asia and you don’t
want to be slapping him around which is
what he does I also think the TPP the
trans-pacific partnership which was an
economic institution that was designed
to contain China right it was designed
for economic purposes but also for
security purposes he vetoed that or he
killed that when he came
to office that was a big mistake so I
think a lot of what he has done is
inconsistent with a realist approach but
there is no question that he does have
realist tendencies although again it’s
not part of any sort of grand theory of
how the world works okay last round of
the gentleman white sweatshirt thank you
so much for your talk it’s very
enlightening I just have a question with
regards to the Iraq invasion
so you said and I quote there are
virtually no successes in Iraq and I
personally think that there were some
successes for the United States let’s
put aside all of the inexplicable damage
that has been wrought on to the Iraqi
population I think that there were
benefits for it for its economic
interests in the long term we can see
today that although what was done in
Iraq was a failure in many ways many oil
contracts if not all were given to
American country companies like
ExxonMobil war was created which
increases the demand for for weapons
which in turn can increase manufacturing
and selling of weapons by American
companies although all these contributes
to the economic superiority of the
United States and its prominent
companies so we need a question I will
come to the question because we’re
running out of time all right I
apologize for that so we can’t imagine
the United States today without its
superior economy right so I ask can the
Iraqi invasion be seen as a commercial
success for the United States
thank you very much the second question
hi thank you very much for your talk
my question is regarding the European
Union as America focuses on itself more
and liberalism takes a backseat do you
think there is a future for the European
Union and what do you think the future
holds for Western Europe thank you I
should go okay thank you
with regard to your question about Iraq
I thought you were gonna argue that it
had some benefits for Iraq but obviously
you’re arguing that it had benefits to
the United States economic benefits for
the United States I don’t believe that
I think it’s estimated that the two wars
won in Afghanistan and two in Iraq and
the Iraqi war is the more expensive the
two of the two is gonna cost us
somewhere between four to six trillion
dollars over time again when you think
of all that money and and and and the
consequences for the Iraqi people it’s
just stunning right but for the six
trillion dollars I don’t think the oil
companies ended up making much of profit
as a result of the invasion and I think
in terms of arms sales yes we sold some
more arms but not enough to really
matter not enough to really affect the
economy so I don’t think I don’t think
that you’re right that the the United
States benefited economically from this
war but again even if it did it wouldn’t
justify you know what happened in Iraq
and by the way remember that one of the
principal consequences of the invasion
of Iraq was the creation of Isis just
don’t want to lose sight of that
second question a very interesting
question on the EU and the future of the
European Union and you prefaced it by
saying America’s losing interest in
Europe to some extent and as American
interest in Europe wanes what does that
mean for the EU I make two points first
of all I believe that one of the reasons
probably the main reason that European
integration has been so successful and
there has been peace in Europe is
because of the presence of the American
military in Europe its NATO it’s the
American pacifier as I often say to
audiences you know I’ve spent a lot of
time going around Europe since 1990 when
the Cold War ended I have never met a
single policymaker a single pundit a
single academic a single representative
of the foreign policy establishment in
any country in Europe who wants to see
the Americans leave Europe this is quite
remarkable and now I was recently
Romania as recently in Denmark the
Romanians and the den Danes do not want
us to leave Europe and it’s because they
understand that this I’m throw but the
American military presence that NATO
underpins the EU and peace and security
in Europe okay that’s my view so in
terms of the future of the EU what
really matters in terms of the United
States is that we stay in NATO keep NATO
intact and keep American forces here the
second point I would make to you the
problems in the EU today despite all
Donald Trump’s rhetoric have nothing to
do with the United States they’re mainly
Eurocentric problems problems associated
with the euro problems associated with
brexit if you look at what’s going on in
Italy and a lot of these problems by the
way have to do
with nationalism right I’m not going to
get into that in any detail here but
there are real problems in the EU today
but those problems are not the result of
the United States right so the Europeans
have to figure out how to fix those
problems but more importantly for the
Europeans they got to keep the Americans
here in my opinion I think the America
the European elites understand correctly
that an American military presence is a
pacifying factor here in Europe the main
pacifying factor thank you very much
John unfortunately we have to leave it
at that there will be a drinks reception
outside in the foyer but join me once
again to in thanking professor much I’m