Jack Devine (The Russian threat and the role of the CIA)

  • 00:01:34 What are the most vivid memories Jack has from his time at the CIA?
  • 00:10:32 What Jack thinks of James Bond?
  • 00:13:56 What is the actual toolset of the CIA? What powers can it actually use?
  • 00:17:54 How dangerous is working for the CIA really?
  • 00:23:43 What makes a good spy?
  • 00:25:04 Why is Russia such an ‘underrated enemy’?
  • 00:31:23 What are the US capabilities in Cyber?
  • 00:43:02 What will the next global struggle of superpowers be about?
  • 00:49:01 Can we bring in one billion new Americans?
  • 00:56:23 What are the roles of current US alliances? Will Europeans be able to defend themselves in a global conflict?
  • 00:59:45 What is the best use of Covert Operations run by the CIA?

You may watch this episode on Youtube – #81 Jack Devine (The Russian threat and the role of the CIA).

Jack Devine is a former Acting Director and Associate Director of the CIA’s operations outside the United States and he spent 32 years in the CIA.

Jack Devine wrote a book about his experience in the CIA – Good Hunting and recently published a second book – Spymasters Prism.

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So, Jack, welcome to the Judgement Call podcast. We really appreciate it. Thanks for being here. It’s a pleasure to be with you, Thorsen, and I look forward to our chat. Yeah, I think it’s going to be very interesting. You have a very colored history. You spent 32 years in the CIA, and for some time you’ve been acting director and associate director of the CIA. And you also wrote books about your experience. First, the good hunting book, and later what we’re going to talk about today is Bymasters Prism. I was curious when you look at that time, when you were at the CIA, what’s kind of the most vivid memory you still have from that time? That’s a really great question. I remember the day I left the agency. It’s very hard to literally walk out the door. It’s not like most companies. You can’t go back and have lunch. You know, you call your phones not answered, right? So, it’s traumatic. I’m so glad you let you. Well, no, I’m saying you can’t go back. So, it’s very emotional. And I actually, during my career, escorted two people to the door because someone would come and say, Joe’s last day, and he won’t leave his desk, you know, or a sally. And you go down and you walk them out because it is an emotional break. And it’s, I don’t know anything that quite stacks up to the separation. Now, because of the level of jobs I had, I had more access going back and forth. But by and large, it was, when I left, I wasn’t sure what relationship, if any, I’d have with it. But the last day, I walked around the atrium. And again, if we were doing an architectural discussion, I would talk of the beauty of the agency and how the founding fathers designed it. But there’s an atrium. And on the one side, there are the pictures of the various directors. So, on my own walking out the door, you know, I walked by all the director’s pictures, right, thought back to the good and bad, all had merits. And then there’s another wall where they have professionally commissioned paintings of key events in the agency. And one of them was the famous spy during World War II, Virginia Hall, who jumped behind the lines to organize the French resistance with their prosthetic leg over her shoulder. But halfway down the hall, there’s also a picture of the Stinger shootdown of a Russian helicopter in the struggle with the Russians in Afghanistan. And I was part of that CIA effort. In fact, that was in charge of that task for us. So, when I, when I walked by that, that came back as a vivid memory. And you always remember your first tour. And I was in Chile when Allende was overthrown in a coup. And that’s really had a great impact on how I viewed covert action. And then as you come down and around the atrium, you know, you start to think of some of the spies that we had on both sides. And I thought about Rick Ames, who was a spy inside the CIA, who I knew quite well. And actually, he worked for me at the point in time. And then you down to the first level on the right, you have actually, if you’re looking out the door on your left, are the stars of all the people that are died in the duty and are etched in the wall. And you stop and think about some of them that I knew well, that were either blown up or assassinated over, over the course of my 32 years. The other side is a quote from the New Testament that says, they’ll show you the truth and they’ll set you free. And that is just give us the facts, tell us what’s going on in the world. And we, the policy makers will act on it. And, you know, when you think about and ponder your career, you think of what the mission was, you think of the people you’ve known and lost the high points that I just described, the leadership. And then to the unknowing eye, when you walk out to the door, there’s a statue to Nathan Hale. And Nathan Hale was the first spy that was hung by the Brits during the American Revolution. But one life to give to my country. So it reminds you of the vividness of the business. So when you talk about what are those memories, you know, on your last day, you sort of accumulate them over the years, you also reflect back when you write books about your training and all the things you did in CIA and the people you’ve met. But I think the highlights are those that I just sort of walked you around. I gave you a tour of the inside of the CIA. Yeah, I mean, the CIA has this very mysterious and at certain times very changing brand to it, right? So when we think of it, when we think of movies as this wonderful game of spies that’s constantly shifting. And one thing that when we talk about shifting is your experience in Afghanistan, when you were at the helm, when the Mujahideen, the local Islamic forces were fighting the Russians, we supported them to get them aircraft, anti aircraft weapons. And then later on, when we were in Afghanistan, when Al Qaeda became known, they used those and the aircraft weapons against us. And it seems like there is there’s so many, so many variables of this game, right? There’s people on the other side as geopolitics strategy, but things can shift on the ground really quickly within a couple of years. What was your learning out of this time from Afghanistan? Well, my first point would be almost any endeavor in life, it’s worth reading a lot of history. So when you’re going to CIA, you ought to know the history of the institution, and you need to know the history of America and the role of intelligence in it. And this is true if you’re in foreign policy or anything else. So you don’t want to go from pillar to post and just march along. And I spent a lot of time, and that’s why I write books, looking at, you know, the intelligence business and the factors that make for good intelligence, good covert action, and bad covert action. So when you talk about the CIA’s effort to drive Afghanistan out, there’s a couple of things that the audience needs to be mindful of. And that is when the Russians invaded, there was a world rejection of that action, tremendous pressure United States to try and push back. And if you’re going to push back, then you have to go to the people that are going to do the pushing back. And that was the Mujahideen. I mean, you can’t force feed, and people are relearning that lesson, you can’t force feed democracy, you can’t force feed political reaction. So you have to go with what you have. And what we had was a group of people on the ground that truly did not want the Russians in their country. They didn’t want the Prince in, they’ve never wanted anybody. So we were able to mobilize that. But there’s a big difference between the Mujahideen and the Taliban. Taliban did not exist. All right. And Al Qaeda is really a product from the Sudan. I’m not the Sudan from Saudi Arabia, but bin Laden was living in the Sudan. And then eventually went to Afghanistan. In other words, it wasn’t, he wasn’t a homegrown product. So when the Russians left, nature took its course and the Afghanistan, Afghanistanis decided, Afghans decided that they, they were going to create their own destiny and hence came in the Taliban. That is not a national security risk for the United States, whether or not the Taliban controls the Putin tribes or the, in other words, that was not a national security issue. It was only in the big struggle. The problem came when bin Laden, who was living there, ran his attack. So the CIA went back in, special forces went along, mobilized the tribes that were used to, to push the Taliban out. I mean, that’s something people don’t realize. So my hope would have been, we would have kept the covert action program going instead of going in and a full US presence. We should go in, got up, got bin Laden and did what we could to help those that were in our lined up with our national interests, but let it go. So bin Laden was the cause of our entry, but you know, he eventually met his demise, demise, demise there. To the best of my knowledge, there has been no stinger missile used against US aircraft. I don’t know that that, that ever happened. So I think it’s a different, different type of struggle. So the people fighting, the Taliban is not the same, some of them may be of the Mujahideen, but the people have to understand that the Taliban was a product long after America left and decided we were not going to, there was no more national interest in that country. Now long, a long answer because it’s a historic answer. So I’ll try and keep it tighter, but there are, I did want to lay it out so that there’s a full, this, you know, it can’t be a sound bite of a two second answer because it has, you know, a lot of history in it. And there’s a lot of misunderstandings, which you’ve allowed me to articulate. Yeah, I’m glad we’re doing this. So I don’t know enough from that time period at all. What I know is from, from the movie right from Charlie Wilson’s war. You know, these things work. I mean, there is only a limited amount of things you can pay attention to with this information overload and movies for whatever reason, we give it two hours and whatever story is portrayed, it’s off BS, but we give it two hours and we think we know, but obviously we don’t, right? No, but I think you touch on a, you touched on it earlier, touched again, and that’s the role of movies. And I used to be as a young intelligence officer, operative, incensed with the, with the portrayal of James Bond, you know, never had a writer report, never had to do an accounting, never had to go home to his wife, never had to go to the grocery store. All the things that real spies end up in and, you know, and of course he never, never held accountable for anything. So when you look at the real life, there was a gap, but then I began to think, wait a minute, if the world thinks that you, looking the way you do, that you, you are somehow a James Bond figure who’s omnipotent, that is a great marketing device for getting people to come work with you. So I, I eased up on it, but on Charlie Wilson’s war, I didn’t ease up very much. I knew Charlie very well. A lot of good things to say about Charlie was a real patriot and so on. But it wasn’t his war. And I think I mentioned you, but at one point we had dinner in Sparks Steakhouse, which is a steakhouse in New York, where the head of the mafia, Castile Paul Castellano, was murdered at the front step. So to Charlie, that was romance in a really cool place to go. But over dinner, you know, we had her wives and he reached across, put his hand on my arm and said, Jack, I know you didn’t like the book. You’re going to hate the movie. But he knew what I meant. He knew what it was. It really was a war, a US government war, run with, you know, 100 people all doing their own, own thing, I mean, own mission, making saddles, taking mules, buying weapons, a lot of logistics. It doesn’t make for a great movie. I’m not timing, I’m hanging. There is no Julie Roberts. There is a Charlie Wilson, I’m sure, somewhere out there. And I think the problem with it is people shouldn’t look at action as, you know, something that is done on the fly. You know, it’s just, it’s spontaneous. It has to be planned, organized. You have to have people on the ground. There’s conditions, which I go into both books. I talk about it in Good Hunting in the Newer Ones by Masters Prison. What makes for this type of covert action to be successful. And that was why the Charlie Wilson’s war, why it was fun, it makes it look like a congressman and a, you know, and a social life from Texas can change the world. And that, that isn’t the way, that isn’t the history of covert action based on my own experience and plus all my studies about it. It is a lot of tools that we associate with the CIM. Maybe you can tell us a little more how they actually fit in. So one is obviously information gathering and is getting intelligence from foreign sources. The second part is to act on it. And I think there’s a lot of subconscious methods. One would be to make movies, right? To make movies that show the world what portray a picture that maybe actually not be true. This propaganda obviously that seems to be an undervalued tool, at least in that direction. Then there seems to be covert options when we have like Navy SEALs going on and operations when they, when they go into a specific country. How big is that tool so that the CIA can select from it? So when the agency was, remember, first of all, America does not come comfortably to intelligence and secrets. It’s not openness America. So George Washington had a great intelligence service. There’s a show called turn, which talks about it. It’s actually quite fun, even though it’s Hollywood. Lincoln had one. Franklin Roosevelt happened. But what happens every time that there’s a crisis, there’s an intelligence group, and then it’s dissolved. And after World War II, they dissolved the intelligence community. There was a small remnant of it. And the founding, the forerunner, the OSS Office of Strategic Services, was disbanded. So it wasn’t until 1947 that it was organized. But one has to go back and look at its organization when it was created in 1947. And it says, you have to get out there and collect information. Make sure you’re providing early warning that we don’t have another Pearl Harbor. That’s your mission. And then there’s a sentence in there that says, and carry out those special activities as directed by the president of the United States. That’s the only writ. That’s the only sort of underpinning of the action part. So when you look at the CIA, its main mission, at least in it, was to collect information, analyze the information, disseminate the information, and give your best strategic and tactical information. But once the Cold War got started, people began to realize we either put troops on the ground or we use covert action. So that began to take on a bigger and bigger role. And as a consequence, most of the things that the agency associates with the agency is the action part. And the spying part is fairly, this isn’t the right word, benign in the American consciousness. In other words, they expect spying and so on. It’s the covert action where you get into the political, political debates and so on. So in the simplistic terms, James Bond is your covert action guy. He’s not writing reports. He’s not really meeting agents very much. He’s usually booming and banging. And then Nucca Ray in his books, this bio came in from, that’s your espionage, the betrayal, recruiting, what makes for agents. And the agency has always had those two elements in it. And I believe both of them are terribly important. And it’s the, it’s a hybrid task. And I think the agency provides great service to the president when he needs something done that has to be done discreetly and without public knowledge. In his brief, by the way, I should note that it’s important to say those things as approved by the president of the United States, all covert action operation, this is the one thing that most listeners really don’t understand. It’s the biggest thing that I encounter. And that is the CIA is not a rogue elephant out there doing its own thing. I know of no covert action in its history, public, more importantly, privately, I don’t know of any covert action operation that wasn’t personally approved by the president of the United States and wasn’t from about 75 forward in writing. So when you see something, you see the CIA being slammed for some action, everyone needs to understand that they are executing policy by the president of the United States. And the president of the United States is held accountable by Congress and by the people. And that’s the way it should be. So when we’re troubled by covert action, we need to put the responsibility where it belongs in the executive branch and to a lesser degree congressional oversight. I did not know that that’s that’s that’s definitely a fascinating fact and that that changes the whole image of the CIA. I think it’s I don’t have no idea why he’s not more often talked about. When you think about the CIA, and you mentioned that earlier, how dangerous is it for most of the the people who work in the CIA? And obviously, we understand there’s a lot of office jobs, desk jobs, they’re probably less dangerous, they’re as dangerous as any other office job. But is it really something where whenever you work for the CIA, you felt there is a threat to your personal safety or to your family at some point? Is that something you’re really aware of? Well, let me come back to those stars again. I mean, of all the stars, half of them were probably there when I arrived. But of those stars, half a dozen people, I know, personally, no, were either assassinated, killed in action, or the subject of a terrorist attack. So statistically, if you think about your life, to have six people that have been subjected to this sort of risk is, is noteworthy to say, say the least, most people go through life and don’t only when it’s been assassinated or hit by a terrorist attack or blown up in a building, you know, so I knew it’s at least half a dozen, and there’s some that, you know, that are sealed, their identities are still concealed. Every day, I would think when you have a war zone in the Iraq, Afghanistan struggles, you know, you’re going to lose more people because they’re in the ground, IEDs, so you’re going to find a more loss of intelligence officers because they’re in close. They’re usually working in places many times where no US presence is there, and where it is, they’re in the front of the struggle. So I think they’re highly risky. When you’re talking about spying in Berlin, or Mexico City, or London, the risk dropped down quite a bit. Here you’re talking about, there’s sort of understandings, and I referred to them in in the spy master’s prism, as Moscow rules. There’s one set that a lot of CIA people talk about that are really fairly modern, which is how do you operate inside Moscow? How do you put down a dead drop? How do you put the skies on? And that’s tactical, right? But there’s an older set that the founding fathers, and I came in behind some of those who were in World War II, there was an understanding with the Russians that certain things wouldn’t happen. And one of those was not interfering in each other’s country. You could fight all around the world, but Russians were not to be doing political action in the United States, and we shouldn’t be doing it in Russia. Very few exceptions to that over the long, long history. Don’t counterfeit each other’s money, why we would destroy the economy of both countries in the world. So there were understandings. One of them was, we weren’t going to assassinate or rough up each other’s officers. Now there’s a few exceptions on the roughing up, very few. But by and large, you know, the threat from the adversary was there was an understanding. But every country you’re in, and particularly in the day of terrorism, every one of our officers in any city in the world has to be, I mean, I’ve known a couple. I know a couple personally have been kidnapped and tortured and killed. I mean, that’s a terrible record considering that we’re a relatively small organization. So the risks are real and the risk to your family. Because I’ve been in countries where there have been explosions and next to my house and whether my house was going to be overrun and you have your families with you. And these, these are indeed high risk situations. One of the things I’ve learned is if it gets that bad, get your family out, even if you pay for it yourself, right? But when you’re young, and I think of this in my early career, you know, there’s that invincible that it’s a, that’s a real vulnerability, the invincibility, somehow nothing bad is going to happen that we know in life, that’s not true. But when, when you’re in it, and that’s one last comment, it’s like the boiling frog, you know, you have a pot boiling and throw a frog in it. Firstly, things that’s nice and warm and a little bit warmer. Next thing you know, he’s, he’s being cooked. You know, so a lot of people in very tense situations don’t realize how intense it is because they’re, they’re going through the process in such small increments that no single second or a moment reaches the threshold. And then all of a sudden you wake up and you find it, you know, there are people shooting at you. Yeah, I can imagine that’s terrifying. And when, when you make a rational risk assessment of spy board, I almost never come out on that side and say, okay, that’s worth it, right? You need to have some something. And I don’t want to say something is wrong with that, but you need to have an amazing motivation to take that risk on for usually relatively paltry paid is definitely you advance the patriotism. But I think it’s an amazing sacrifice that you do to your country. And it’s, it’s, it’s not rational for my point of view, or maybe it is. Well, what I do is I often interview people that are interested because they know I’ve written books. So, you know, they want to join the CIA. And the very first thing I look at and talk to them is a sense of mission. In other words, if you do not have a sense that you really, you know, if you want to see the world and do, you know, cool things, great, but that’s not you’re not going to stay in the agency, you’re not going to be fulfilled, and you’re not going to be very good. You really have to go in with a sense of mission. During World War II, there was no trouble getting lines of people to join the special forces jumping behind the lines, putting their lives at risk, much like a soldier, the similarities. You really have to believe in the mission. And, you know, you have periods when the world is fairly tranquil and people tend less application to be able to come in or a little more mellow. And then you have 9 11. And there were people 55 years old coming to me saying, Listen, I think I should join the CIA. I’m a cardiologist. I’m a top doctor at NYU. But I want to serve my country. There’s a lot of thank God, a number of people out there that really believe and it is a distinguishing characteristic. And they spot this in the interviews. I mean, they spent them on God, they must have interviewed a million people over the years, you know, that I was there. And they’ve tested and retested. And it’s hard to project the false sense of mission. So, you know, if you don’t have it, you’re really going to melt when the going gets tough. Yeah, I can imagine. I want to talk about Russia and your view of the current Russia. And you said that just earlier, there used to be an understanding that we shouldn’t interfere in each other’s country. That’s obviously changed. We know that Russia is launching cyber attacks against us, has been doing this for quite some time. I’m actually surprised that the US has done that to Russia, maybe we have. What is so unique about the last couple of years? Why is Russia such an underrated enemy, so to speak? Well, that’s the thesis of my book, right, which is, everybody wants to talk about China, we should, it’s going to be and it is the major geopolitical military long term big power struggle competitor, right? Russia’s economy, you know, it’s like Spain or Italy’s, you know, it’s not a competitor in the world, right? It has nuclear weapons, so you can’t ignore it. And it’s punching well above its weight. But when you look at it from an intelligent point of view, who is most aggressive, particularly inside the United States, it’s the Russians hands down. And what I’m trying to do is bring attention back to that problem. And where that surface for me was in 2016, when it wasn’t that the Russians hacked into our political parties, because governments around the world hack into all types of things, the problem was they used it, they actually started using information agitating in the political process, interfering in the electoral process. I don’t think it was decisive, but it certainly wasn’t insignificant. I mean, I think there were a couple of thousand tweet sites, Facebook had, you know, 400 sites, 2000 events, I think it reached 29 million people, they used troll factories, so they were in there. But their message wasn’t great, but they were trying to destabilize, not destabilize, let me correct that, weaken the political process. They don’t want destabilization because they don’t want some wild card in the White House that they can manage the national security relationship. But part of their strategy is to keep their main competitors and adversaries a week. So we spent a lot of time, you know, impeachments and collusion. But the real story is, what were the Russians doing in the bigger strategic point of view? And that really isn’t so much about the political figures, it’s about how do you weaken the political process. And it’s a part of what they call the hybrid strategy, and I’ll get to that. So the interesting thing here, going back to your earlier point, Dorson, is we had rules that we weren’t going to do that. That was broken, walked away from it. And no one seems to be addressing, or knowing how to address it, because the cyber world is so new, new in the last 30 years. In other words, the ability to go into a country and cause political action at a standoff distance is a capability that is immense. And we have no understanding on what we will not do. So it’s clear, that’s why Russian sanctions have been imposed on Russia, not just by the United States, but by Europe, is because they are using cyber. So your question is a really good one. And that is the one about, what’s the response, right? The problem is, this is a very dangerous path, and a very dangerous, and this is where Putin, I think, is overplaying his hand, and it’ll probably blow back. And that is, once you’re meddling in our internal affairs, it doesn’t do any good to fire a tomahawk across the desert, you have to respond in kind. Sanctions are important and useful. It’s not responding in kind. You’re saying, why don’t you respond in kind? The problem is, I think we are a restrained country. People may not believe this around the world, but US power is so much greater than it’s utilized. And I’m glad of that. But we’re restrained because people understand that once you start down that road, they’re going to respond, we’ll respond with more, they’ll respond, and we will have a back and forth in the cyber war with no understanding, no rules, and unlike a battlefield on a military kinetic set, you won’t be able to see it. But I think the recent sanctions, that’s one more thing on this, the recent sanctions, the President Biden said, we’re going to put sanctions, we’re going to expel people, we’re going to go after some of the sovereign wealth, but then there will be unseen. And the question there is, are we talking about responding with cyber activities inside Russia that is similar? And my hope would be, we really need to have a sit down with them. We need to be negotiation from a position of strength for sure. There has to be some understanding, some rows where you can’t see it. People are not going to come to a meeting to discuss cyber publicly, what you can’t do, because then it means you have to admit things that no one’s prepared to admit. So I mean, I’m sure we’re trying to do that, but it takes two parties, two sides, both the Russians and the Americans have to agree that this is desirable. And I haven’t seen so far a reaction from the Russians that they’re interested in ameliorating this problem. Now, hopefully they will, maybe the sanctions will get them there, but I think this is an underestimated problem. It’s not that they have the capability to attack most people that track this type of activity, understand that. It’s really the fact that there’s no control over it right now. And it can only get worse without an understanding. Yeah, I think the cyber capabilities of Russia are given, I’ve worked in the tech industry for a long time. And if you think of hacking, you always go to Russia. And I thought of people who had to do advanced math for me. I went to Novosibirsk and I recruited them. So they’re plentiful and they’re affordable. Their salaries are not crazy high. And the super skilled people seem to be all in that industry seem to be in Russia. So they definitely have the talent. And I think they have the way to hack you as elections is relatively easy, right? Because you don’t have to hack the European elections are much harder because you would have to hack 20 million different votes. Here, we just have to go to the swing states and then play a little bit with it, which is really easy on Facebook, social media, you can play around as much as you want. It’s very difficult to control. I wonder, is the US even able to play at the same level? We know that Israel to an extent is so they’ve been playing that in the Middle East. But on this global level at the superpower that probably of cyber war that China has that too, because they build it internally to protect their own citizens, so to speak, to keep them out, to not have information coming in, keep that information out. But the US never built these capabilities from what I know publicly, and I know you maybe are not able to talk about classified information. But do we even have a capability that would rival what we see in Russia? Right. So I don’t have the scientific data in front of me, nor is anyone going to put it in front of me. But based on my long experience and relationship inside the defense intelligence world, my personal estimate is we have the most powerful capability in cyber warfare of any nation on the face of the air. Now, as I said, we’re restrained on when you use it, now to use it. The capability is there. But let me pull that aside for one second. You know, you talked about the Russian and the Chinese, and why are the Russians so much of a concern is they’ve been in spying in the United States for many, many decades since the 1917, right? They’ve been in with spy groups in the United States. But when you get into cyber, a lot of people understand sometimes the key to it is a human source that puts you inside of a network. So they’ve been doing the spying. Okay, now there’s a national intelligence report that just came out and said the Russians were meddling in a slightly different way in 2020. The Russians, the Chinese looked at meddling and they decided it was too risky, right? So I come back to my thesis. The Russians don’t think it’s too risky. The Chinese do because they have an economic relationship. And the other thing is the Chinese have really only recently gotten into the human game in the United States. They were not really, if you looked at the, you know, going back into the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, the Chinese cases were not really prevalent. They lived in a tightly closed culture. So the Russians have been at this a long time. So they’re very, very deep been. But the one point that I keep coming back to is our elections are hard to influence in the same way that Europe in a similar way, not that Europe agree with you as harder. But, you know, if you’re not really trying to have an outcome, you don’t have to have a strategic polling plan, you just want to cause trouble, trouble. The objective, I think we don’t understand the objective, we get around personalities, instead of the real objective, is to get Americans feeling uncomfortable with their own political process, getting them fighting with each other, not being able to get congressional, because in other words, I’m not saying Putin has been successful to this agree. He didn’t realize what was going to happen. There was how we were going to respond, that with a little adventure in cyber, we have been, we have been politically weakened, but we’re resilient country. And I think we will come back from it. But again, I keep coming back, I think we’re missing, and that’s why I’m writing the book, the big picture, what is really happening? And we need to pay more attention to it. And yet, like many things, there’s this big rush to China, and I get it. I understand it, and I would support the initiatives. But it’s at the expense of an immediate threat, as opposed to one that seems to be laying out there not far over the horizon. But isn’t that, and you correct me if that’s outdated, but it’s like Russia, isn’t this geopolitical foe anymore? Certainly not. We don’t think of it as a superpower anymore. It still has nuclear weapons, no doubt, and it still has some of the smartest people on the planet, and it has definitely intention to hurt America. But we think of it as, as you said earlier, as, I don’t know, probably less of a problem than Iran, definitely less of a problem than China, because China’s on the S, and we know that Russia stabilizes to some extent, and they have capabilities, what are they going to do with it, besides causing trouble? They’re not going to take over, maybe they take over the Ukraine, but as you said earlier, Afghanistan is on a security threat to the US, if they take over the Ukraine, that’s terrible for the Ukraine, but for us, it’s probably not a big deal. Well, be careful if you have Ukrainian friends that might not go over very well. I’m saying it’s terrible for the Ukraine. But let me, let me just take a second to talk about Putin, right? I have a chapter of the spy master president, right? He has a quote underneath, I have a quote underneath saying, there’s no such thing as a former KGB guy, Vladimir Putin, right? I know what he’s talking about, I would say the same, there’s no such thing as a former CIA guy, Jack DeVine. It’s a way of looking at the world, but you probe deeper into Putin, and you realize he wasn’t the KGB, who was head of the FSB, which is similar to our FBI, much bigger in scope, and when you, you look at his career, he was a KGB, often hard to get into that service, it was an elite, he was sent to Dresden, you know, in that dark, dark world of Marcus Wolfe, the Carl of La Courée, you know, and I literally grew up two miles from the embassy, the Russian embassy in Dresden. So, you know, this was not, this is not known as a plush assignment, Paris, definitely not, right? It’s a very beautiful city, but it’s not exciting by any means. Well, back then it was exciting an intelligence point of view, but I mean what I’m saying is, it was in that location that the Soviet Union collapsed and Putin was there, and what I’m saying, his formation is one of Russia, deserves to be a key player at the international scene, and therefore, I mean, we can talk about other aspects of Putin, but his main objective was to bring respect and dignity and a bigger role for Russia. His strategy is a Cold War strategy, and I don’t think it’s suitable for today, but it is weak in your neighboring countries. Russia without Ukraine is a much weaker country, and we need to understand that sitting here in Washington, D.C., New York, California. Ukraine really matters, as you said. So, what does he do? He’s taken over the Crimea, the eastern part, and then he’s trying to, you know, whittle away at the west. So, he’s trying to recreate this world, and that world also had the United States as an adversary. So, while he had, there isn’t any communism, thank God, as far as Russia is concerned. It’s a nation state, but it is the same plan. So, when we say, oh, look, they’re not, they don’t have the economic political might, but they have enough might, enough power, and they’re exercising. The Chinese aren’t going into Taiwan. The Russians went into Ukraine. So, I think there’s a, and I put yet in there, but I mean, I would say the interplay here is they’re punching well above their weight, and they’re forcing us, we’ve been slow to realize it, because the understandable distraction and need to go after terrorism, which reduced the amount of time and effort on Russia, you know, we’re slowly coming back to beginning to appreciate it. And I think we were headed there, but now we have amped up, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t amp up China, but we should be able to, as Terry Ford said or something, you should be able to chew gum and walk, right? We should be able to handle two, two major targets we always did throughout our history, and we should be able to do that. So, I’m afraid that’s a popular sentiment that why worry about Russia? Well, I mean, it’s somebody that may not, you know, they’re pushing, they’re pushing their account pretty effectively. Footprint in Iran, footprint in Syria, right? Meddling in, well, how is this different than the Cold War? It’s, you know, and now they’re using cyber, cyber, like we had these covert action, political things, and now, you know, we’re sitting back and doing cyber warfare, and he’s using it, and we’ve been more timid, not timid, let me restrain, but I think, I think the timeline is wearing out. I think somewhere before long, if Russia doesn’t come to some understanding, we’re going to have to use it in a similar way, and I regret that because we don’t really need a Cold War. Russia should be part of the West, should be part of the European community. That’s not going to happen. Yeah, but why wasn’t, there’s nothing intrinsically about Russia that would stop it from happening. You have a leadership that isn’t interesting. I don’t know if you can make this happen. So, I lift a little bit on Russia and my parents. I don’t think you make anything happen. I’m going to be clear. I said earlier, you can’t force feet, but it doesn’t necessarily, even though we can’t change or shouldn’t meddle in Russia’s affairs, doesn’t mean it can’t change and should change. Yeah. There’s a couple of really interesting points. One is that I always wonder about is, well, we created all the social media companies, most of them, most of the US companies, California companies, it cannot be that hard to rein them in. So, that’s, I’m really mesmerized by this on one side. And then the other thing about geopolitics is, there’s a professor who made these predictions. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out his name anymore. I read a book of his couple of, I think 15 years ago, 10 years ago. And his geopolitical prediction at the time was what will happen. And he put a timestamp to it, it’s 2028. It’s really, we see China, we see Iran, we see Turkey, we see Russia banding together and fighting against mostly that part of Western Europe and Eastern Europe that’s still willing to fight Germany wound, right? But say Poland will and against the US. That’s kind of his new cold war that he predicted. I don’t know when he wrote the book in the early 2000s. And he made a very specific, he said, well, there will be mostly robots fighting other robots and it will be in Poland and this is the main battlefield. And a lot of things are seemingly coming true when this is obviously a fictional picture. It seems like there’s something to it. We definitely see Russia coming up and we see China coming up with more, they are allowed to do more because we are retreating from that world. And we know that Iran is up to something and Turkey, we never know if they are friend or foe, right? Nobody can tell. Maybe even the Turks don’t know. So remember Stalin was an ally of the United States. Yep. There was a communist country, a very repressive country, but Hitler came along and out of necessity, we made an alliance with them and it only lasts one day after the war, right? And then we started the Cold War. So not we started, the Cold War started. So and when we look at these alliances, I mean, the question is, are they ephemeral? I mean, you know, do you have a oligarchy driven Russia and a communist driven Chinese that both look at each other as real potential threats because they share such a common border and an unpleasant history in many ways. Iran is a theocracy, right? That really doesn’t have any common grounds with either of those two countries. And this China, what is its common balance around the world? So it’s an alliance. It’s, you know, when you don’t have anyone else to join forces, you know, you sometimes end up with what they call strange bedfellows. There was a famous by and I go into this that worked for the CIA, he was the number two person in the KGB in New York City. And he, and around 2000, give or take, he volunteered his services and worked for a few years and then, then retired from the KGB and came out in the public. And he’s referred to as Conrad Jay, that was his title. And he said, Well, one of the things really interesting when he joined the KGB as a young man, the number one target was number was United States, number two was NATO, and number three was China. And when I left in 2004, number one was United States, number two was NATO, and number three was China. So what I’m saying is it, I’m not demeaning in any way this theory, and they are where convenient working together. But there’s a long, it’s not an easy marriage, the three of us. French, French, Italian, Spanish, Germans, I recognize it, there’s a history. But by and large, today, there’s a commonality of general interest about what is, you know, how are we going to live in Latin Americans? I mean, in other words, there’s a commonality about in the rest of the world, I think it plays to our favor, when people talk about China controlling the world, and they’ve got to convince people to live like the Chinese live, sacrifice like the Chinese, and you better be, you better be able to speak. And in other words, you’re going to have to be Chinese, you’re not going to be able to stay and be a Kenyan or Bolivian or whatever. So these things sound good if you start to scratch at them. And I don’t think, you know, I think we have to look at them as a short term, short term problem, we should be doing what we can to make those alliances less effective. We should be worried about our own alliance. Are we really strong with all the folks in the Western world, and making sure we’re tight with them? And then I think we could easily counter some combination of Iran, Russia, and China. Easy isn’t the right word. Let me just say one thing about the Cold War. I always thought we had such a huge advantage, because the Russians were operating in a hostile world, almost every country, even neutral countries, worked with the CIA intelligence. They may have been politically neutral, give or take, but the CIA had a forced model plier around the world. The Russians always had a hard time getting allies. This is something that isn’t factored in when people look at the strengths of countries. And also on the American side, you got to make sure you’re watering your plants, is the ability for the Russians to win over friends and influence people, or the Chinese, is you have to have a product, and it can’t be just money or terror, I mean, or fear. So I think they’ve got a hard job to control, to replace the United States as a leader. Oh, I agree with you. Europe and US, Latin American, large parts of Africa and Asia, I mean, it’s a pretty strong, loose alliance, if you will. I know, I agree with you. And it’s when you, I think what, when you just spoke to that point, what’s way too few people put their minds to is the flow of immigrants. It’s when people could go wherever they want to, where would they go? Well, they would go to Western Europe and to the US, right? And so that’s, that’s telling you something about a certain minority, maybe the majority of people all around the globe that would rather come here. If China would open up their borders, anyone can settle there. Well, I don’t think millions and billions of people would, would move. Thank you, right? Russia is the same way. It’s a tough place to be economically. And that’s a really, that’s a really good point that I haven’t heard anyone make, but I couldn’t agree. I couldn’t agree more that there’s not going to be a lot of flow. The other thing is, you’re not going to be terribly welcome. The United States, because of its history, there was nobody here other than Native Americans, there was a very small population. This country was about the frontier, building out from the East Coast all the way across the West. And it was people coming here of every nationality around the world, coming with barely a shirt and their back and making this country, country work. So it was a welcoming place. And then, you know, there’s been different periods where you have to slow down the process because everybody wants to come, right? So then you, we can’t absorb everybody. So we’ll absorb those that are going to provide capabilities, but it’s, it should be country blind. You bring the capabilities, come on in. But Jack, think about this. Matthew Glazias made that proposal. I love it every day a little more. Why don’t we bring in a billion new immigrants? Well, what is the problem? Obviously, we would have to change maybe content on social security. Okay, done. But if you have a billion Americans who are super productive and who pay taxes or more than that, what we create in this world, but we stand out there and say, well, we have figured out the democracy. We have figured out the institution. We figured out how to be friendly. We figured out all these questions and I’ll learn from America. And people do. And then if they want to come here because they kind of live like this, because that country doesn’t allow them, we don’t let them in. I think this is terrible. No, you can’t absorb a billion people. You can’t have one open your border. Well, there’s one. There’s not a billion jobs. I mean, we can only add jobs at a certain pace, right? I mean, a billion people out of work for, for what, but what is important in your point? I mean, we could debate that, but I don’t think we should spend too much time on it. We have an immigration flow, whether it’s legal or illegal, the United States is healthy in getting new blood. But if you look at, you know, China, much of the world has real population problems. In other words, population and production are tied. You need to have a growing population. And in order for economy, I’m not an economist to be functioning. So we have, you know, substantial immigration. I mean, you’re talking hundreds of thousands of people come in every year just walking across the border and they’re absorbed into the system. But look at the birth rates, Russia’s birth rate, China’s birth rate. I’ve just read today, the lowest since like Mao Zedong or something like that. So, you know, in order to be long term, the graying of countries around the world, Americans immigration keeps it young. But mathematically, you know, you have to feed a billion people for whatever amount of time, close them, put them up, not doable, right? We only have 330 million. So it’d be three more, I’d have three more of Mao Zedong. I’m already got 15 grandkids. So, you know, we can’t, we can’t. I know what it takes to go from one child to four, okay? So we’re talking about 300 a billion. But I think the concept, we are, I mean, immigration is good for us. The more you can organize it, the better. When you look at the United States, how it’s been developing to the last 20 years, I feel like having, not having a good enemy has made us quite lazy. And we’ve, we’ve not developed not just our image, but the way we approach other countries, not with the same kind of sharpness we had before. And we, we kind of, I don’t know if we be let the alliance slip because we felt like we don’t, we didn’t need them anymore. And there’s no threat anyways. Or if it’s something else, something more cultural, do you think there is an easy way to rebuild and strengthen these alliances already in good shape? We don’t have to do anything. Well, let me do, you have two big questions. One is, is there a softening of America or will or resolve, right? And again, this was a fabulously, is a fabulously rich country, you know, and, and I want to come back to his formation. There was a theory written, and I haven’t seen anyone address it all the time. It was Frederick Turner said, America’s greatness came from its ever expanding frontier, right? The ingenuity, the entrepreneurial, the energy, the sacrifice that made this country, right? And we ran out of space in the sense of a territorial expansion by 1960. So when Jack Kennedy gave his inaugural address in 1960, it was titled The New Frontier and it’s all for that concept. So he was thinking about our space, right? But when 1960 came, so that challenge sort of came out of it and the Cold War was real, everybody felt it and we were united. So when the wall came down, there was many people written Poxamericana, the, the, the future of democracy, in other words, it wasn’t going to be a democracy will flow. But instead of that, what we really found is a tendency to be more insular, breaking down into special interests. There wasn’t, so we’re losing some of the great consensus that enabled this country to be so effective. In the Cold War, you couldn’t tell what I would go down on the cyclone operation, the Afghan operation, as you referred to. It’s hard to tell, honestly, who was a Democrat and who was a Republican. Charlie Wilson, there was a Democrat, right? And he was pushing as hard as any Republican in terms of making sure that the fight against communism and the Russians was, was vigorous. We don’t have that today. And I think there is an examination country, the country pulls together in a crisis. And the one of the things that surprised me about the COVID 19, and maybe it’s because of uniqueness of it, you know, 9 11 brought the country together six months, not much longer, but for six months, this country was united the way was United World War two and so on. But COVID didn’t unite us. I mean, and maybe it’s just the nature of it, but it’s usually great crisis where countries find their soul again. But you don’t pray for crisis. Why? Because you have family and children, you want to go through the crisis. So we have been blessed. When you look at the troubles of countries around, I look at Europe, you’re one you know, familiar, I mean, the marching of armies across Europe, I mean, the Russians were drawn, they lost 11 million people. Stalin, I mean, America has not, other than the Civil War, you know, the this country’s been spared those those tragedies. And I’m not rooting from it. But somewhere inside, we have to find that that that common core of what really matters. And this is why we’re vulnerable to cyber attack in the political arena. In other words, if we had the consensus, it’d be tougher to break it be tougher to cause trouble if we were united. But if you’re able to go into the system and stir up different interest groups against each other, that’s a vulnerability. So I think that’s something worth pondering the how vulnerable we are on this. The alliances are terribly, terribly important. And you know, I lived in Europe, I lived in Latin America, I mean, serving our country. And, you know, there was a period, frankly, when I was in, in a European country, let me say I visited UK. But when I was there, there was a tremendous split and within the government of whether they wanted to be continental, or, or the special relationship with America, it was starting to fray. And with the election of Blair, I’m not tying it to him, the alliance, they decided we’re going with the American and became more of a special relationship. But, you know, I think the roots are so deep with France and Italy, Germany, you know, today, Poland, many of these countries, I mean, I think these are lasting relationships. And there’s no alternative. You need to go it alone. I mean, is any good thinking German or Italian going to say let bring on that system to the Russian side, let’s run Germany and Italy like we run Russia, let’s bring that Chinese Communist Party in the, I mean, it’s a dying, it’s a dead ideology, but the Chinese are holding on to it and sincerely holding on, that’s the scary part. So I think the alliances are strong. And, you know, I think we continue the work to make them stronger. But why I think the Chinese, Russian and Iranian relationships are not long lasting. And I think the natural relationship between Europe and the United States runs deep. Remember, most Americans have their roots in either Latin America or Europe. I mean, in recent times, from Asia and elsewhere, but during World War II, it was tough on Italians. I mean, because they, you know, they had loyalties to America and their country, and they fought vigorously to defend their country and try and beat the Nazis out of Italy. So I think we’re okay. I just, I don’t want to take, I don’t think we should take Europe for granted, nor should we be taken for granted. Yeah. I do feel that the resolve in Europe is a real problem. Some countries are better than others, but I think the resolve to actually stand for the values they are supposed to represent, and that’s a real problem. And it’s more a problem, say, in core Germany and core France. I don’t know if a crisis we would help, we would help see it again. That would change that. But I think there is certain countries in Europe where the resolve is strong and others where I don’t see they have any resolve. I mean, you can literally roll through it. I would say Russian troops, nothing. They would be welcome, so to speak. I find that really odd. That’s, that’s surprising. Yeah, I think, I think the West has had, you don’t say too much of a good thing, but in a way, we’ve had peace in our countries in Europe. I mean, rampaged by war by centuries, right? I mean, really deadly wars from. They used to have revolutions every 60 years and pretty much every European country. Everything would change. Everything would start over. The currency is gone, all the jobs are gone, and then it would start from scratch. That was normal, like for 40 years. What’s your strength, shouldn’t you say? Look at, look at, look at the UK. I mean, the Hundred Years War. I mean, it was only, only in relatively modern times of it. So Italy was 48 countries, if I remember. I mean, the principalities. So the world has changed. It changed favorably after the cathartics, cathartics, World War II. So, but we’ve had a good living people don’t feel threatened. And I think the best thing that I can recommend is, you know, in our schools, we need to spend more time on history and without modern politics. I mean, just what is, what makes, you know, what was, what’s the history of the world? Because we take it for granted that, you know, you can live a good life and no one’s going to bother you, right? But I’ve been in countries where, you know, you said something bad about the president, you’ll be in jail or worse, you disappear. We, we tend to take in Western Europe the same, that nothing bad can happen. But if you read Western history, a lot of bad things happen, really vicious thing. We have the capacity to kill each other. So we need, we need, that’s why laws and legal systems, democracy, as inefficient as Congress and parliament may be at times, they’re a blessing. Yeah. When we go to places that are not as happy right now, and we see this in Syria, right? So we have Russia on one side, we have the U.S. on one side, we have Turkey, we have Iran, there’s all, everyone is involved. There’s good old, good Cold War conflict, lots of proxies involved. What do you think should we have done with Syria? And I talked to Joshua yesterday, he was very critical of sanctions, especially now that it seems to die down a little and it prevents the country from rebuilding. But should we, should we have not, should we just have relied on covert operations, just let it go, so to speak, get it in the hands of Iran and Russia and then deal with the aftermath? What do you think is our foreign policy recipe? Should we be way more careful with these interventions, but seemingly always end up in a mess and we, we start small and then they always explode and we bring troops and then stay forever and then 20 years later we feel like, well, nothing really has changed once we leave. What do you think should be our policy? When do we switch from one policy instrument to the next one? What’s like kind of a threshold? Right. And this is why your audience desperately needs to read my two books because I go into it in an excruciating detail. But I have a, I have a point of view and that’s why I’ve written the books and that is there is a role for covert action. In other words, you have military operations, kinetic, usually very expensive, very costly in human lives and years to rectify after you have a war. I mean, they’re just, you want to avoid it at all means. Diplomacy, negotiations, constantly, it’s an art form, brinkmanship, definitely needed. But I’ve always felt that there are interests, I’ll just speak from an American point of view, interest around the world when we were representing the free world and the Russians were representing, unless you read the Chinese, the communist world back then, we were, we were representing, representing a world view. And as a result of it, the question was, how do you project your vision? There was a feeling that every American feel of democracy should be everywhere. So we had that warm fuzzy feeling we should do that and, and protect interest. And when you’re challenged by military and covert things, how do you respond? So my view is before you get into military conflict, you have to exhaust all your diplomatic, but before you get in, you look at, is there another way to do this without putting American forces, visible US military units and regiments and battalions on the ground. And then you examine covert action. And I have in the book, the very principles of it, and I’d probably be too much to lay it all out. But basically, one of the key things that you have to real national security interest, the people in the ground have to want what you want. If they don’t, you’re wasting time, money and, and, and life. So there are certain conditions, you can’t force feed a certain path. And we have to keep learning this lesson over and over again. The reason Afghanistan was so good, as I said earlier, in terms of covert action, is they shared a common view. They wanted to get rid of the Russians. They wanted to fight. So, and this was from our point of view, national interest. When we decided to put troops in Afghanistan, or decided to go into Iraq, you know, these are big, big, long term decisions. We’re still in both places, three to $6 trillion, no matter how you cut it, substantial battle lines. When we walk, when, when both are said and done, we’re probably going to be back to where we were before we went in. And the fundamental reason I think in the end was we were trying to bring something there that wasn’t the people didn’t want weren’t ready. And we, we, we had, we were more ambitious than the realities on the ground. We had to go in and get bin Laden, going in and bringing down the Taliban, getting bin Laden, and then leaving people to move on. In the Middle East, it’s a very sticky wicked, right? And you have the Sunni Shia, you have so many different things. You have to pick and choose where you go. And I would recommend we do it with military assistance and diplomatic economic aid and where appropriate. And again, covert action is not to be used in democratic countries, right? I want to be clear. It really should be used against adversarial countries or countries that are working contrary to our interests. But I can’t think of a covert action operation in modern times against a democratic government. Right after the World War II, there was some, but that was defending Western Europe, Italy, but that, that really ended by the fifth early fifties. So there’s a long way of saying, even though CI gets a lot of publicity, negative publicity about covert action, we need to think about using that tool. And we need to think about the cyber, what are the ground rules and how, and I go into this in the book, and I don’t want to beat a dead horse. But, you know, you don’t want a kinetic interchange. You do not want a firefight when you can, you can handle it covertly and working through, you know, surrogates. And that sounds demeaning unless you think about what a surrogate is. And that is somebody that really wants, you know, you can’t hire fighters. You know, you hire them and then when the firefight starts, they’re gone. In other words, you can have surrogates, but they’re surrogates because they have a mission they’re prepared, a mission that they’re prepared to go forward. So I’m an advocate of using our muscle abroad in a very controlled and limited way, which is covert action. I think the covert action costs, let’s roughly speaking, probably around a billion dollars a year in the last couple years of it. And you think of the amount of money that’s been spent in trying to build an army in Afghanistan and so on, and you match it up with what will likely be the outcome. You know, I think I could be a good salesman for using another path. Yeah, I think we’re all tired of these wars, right? It’s just, it’s a PR nightmare sooner or later. It’s a huge problem to actually life’s loss. And there is this crazy expenditure that goes through that just securing the troops who are there, right? So that’s I think 90% of the effort many times. That’s why you don’t need a standing army is the last recourse and a firefight is the last recourse. Colin Powell after the Desert Storm and the Bush administration’s effort to support the Kuwaitis and then push back when Iraq was, he was opposed to taking Baghdad, right? Why? You know, once you take over a country, you own it. If you broke it, it’s yours like in a store. You break it, you own it. And ownership requires huge amounts of time, money, and human resources, which are drained from the body politic. It’s energy, money, lives that can be used in the Kuwaiti elsewhere. What would we do with four trillion dollars today? I know we’d have a stimulus bill, but instead we’re going to borrow the money instead of having it in the bank. I mean, that’s rather a crash analysis and a good economist would say that not it, but my point is still the same. It’s hard to forecast too. When you think of the the Second World War, yes, it was a very costly war on all sides. But the occupation of Germany wasn’t a hard wasn’t hard after 1945, right? It was maybe hard for the Russians, but not hard for France, French and for Americans, right? It’s self organized itself within a couple of years. And that was the French, the French, the Italians, the the the Brits, and eventually the United States. We didn’t have a choice. In other words, once you’re attacked, you know, once you’re attacked, when you have people had in mind in 2000, right? They said, Oh, it’s going to be like Germany. We’re just going to spend like a few years in any self organized going to be another Kuwait or another United Arab Emirates. Well, my point would be you don’t start until you’ve been attacked. In other words, there has to be a real national security, then you must respond. And I’m saying in the cyber area, we’re there and people are picking up on the fact that this is there’s got to be there has to be a response. So it knows when you put arms on the ground, when you’ve been attacked, that’s what armies are built for. When you bring them into democratize a country or push back some internal feud. And if there isn’t a clear national security interest United States in Afghanistan, it really wasn’t the Taliban. We weren’t really worried about the Taliban for years. It was Ben Laden was there and was protected by them. So the objective was you’ve been attacked by him, you go in, get him. But how we jump from that and say, Well, let’s put a big army in that. I think let me come back. These are well intentioned things. I mean, Iraq was well, the people were well intentioned. But that doesn’t mean it’s excusable as as bad policy. In other words, just because you’re well intentioned. You make a mistake in a job, you’re fired, right? No matter what your intention. So the same thing is true here. I don’t think it was, let’s take over Iraq and get the oil. I mean, we somehow drift into this is the problem. And I keep coming back to book. We drift in the thing Vietnam, we drifted in, you know, we should have stayed supporting the South Vietnamese when they were not willing to, in large enough numbers, resist fight, then you have to reduce your support and pull back. You don’t know. But isn’t that normal? So say you do a covert operation, you have to go with that. Say we go to Syria, but we went for covert operations. Sooner or later, someone will take and will take in hostage, right? Or will be shot. I mean, we want to get the body out. So we send more people and then maybe we have more losses of life. And then we say, oh, well, we have, it feels like an attack. So we have to send them to Air Force. Air Force comes in and then we, a couple of them get shot down. We’re like, oh, this shouldn’t be the case. And then it’s so easy from like, literally you have one asset on the ground, even if it’s just a drone, it’s so because you get the same PR nightmare in Pakistan and Afghanistan, it’s almost impossible to control because the facts kind of you make their own facts, right? The people at home, they perceive it quite differently than the original strategy, because you’re not allowed to talk about it because it’s classified. Well, that quote on the Bible that you walk through the door says, you know, tell us the truth, the facts. It doesn’t say, give us your best wishful thinking about how you would like the world and let’s build intelligence and covert action around it. So when you look at a particular incident and it’s come before you, you must react. And proportionality is really hard to arrive at. But that’s one of the ingredients and the arguments for just war, which is proportionality. But you have to respond, you don’t respond, you’re going to get hit again. And this is why the cyber war again has to be dealt with. So, you know, when you’re attacked, you can’t sit there and fold your arm. If someone’s kidnapped, the greedy can you go and it doesn’t necessarily mean you put an army in. But I think in feeling, we only know afterwards as it was a just war or not, because it’s when we go. No, no, no, no. I’m going to send you an extra copy of my books. The first thing, let’s say we’re on it. It’s actually, I steal half of it from the theologians of the 1300s, right, which is an argument for just war. What is what’s an argument for just war? Intrinsically evil. Today in modern language, a real national security issue. In other words, it has to be an honest people around the table might disagree, but coming back to don’t wish, let’s not wish. Let’s be really hard nosed. Is it a national security risk? Two, have you exhausted all other possibilities? Did we exhaust all possibilities before we went in after Saddam Hussein? That’s a question I’m leaving for you. Is there a realistic chance of success? That is a requirement, you know, from from the early writers of a just war. In other words, if you don’t think you can prevail, then you’re not, you are morally obligated for those that are morally oriented, not to get involved in it. Proportionality. Do not send an army in to save one person, right? You send a small unit in collateral damage. You have to make sure that innocent civilians, you have to reduce it, right? So then Jack Devine, not to compare myself to the great theologian 13th century. You need bipartisan support in the United States. You have to buy part of the support. This is going to turn out bad over the long run. Don’t dabble. Don’t do a little covert action. If you don’t really think this is a big deal and you’re not going to, you don’t dabble in it. And sometimes Congress will throw a little money and we can say we’re doing something, right? You got to put the money in and you have to have the people on the ground both to carry it out. They want to do it and you have to have the talent and skill and the agency or the special forces or whatever unit you’re drawing on. So these are, you know, you can sit around a table and you might disagree on each of these points, but I think reasonable people will generally find a strong consensus. And if you don’t have a consensus, if you have one person opposing it, he might be right, but you know, you’re still, you’re in a comfort zone. If people are split five, five, you probably need to keep studying the problem. Yeah. Do you think there is something when you apply all these filters, right? There are filters to not go into full scale wars and I think they’re excellent filters, of course, but you got to have the strength and the vision and also the electorate to let these things play out, right? So the decision is, well, we don’t really know what we’re doing, so we’re not going in. And then we hear this barrage of news two years later, people will get really disappointed of you if the populist things, oh, you did the wrong call. You made the wrong call. That’s, I think it’s not easy to sit these things up, because that’s, I think what we’re very required, each filter that we add, we sit more things out. This is the beauty of democracy. Okay, we can’t, I mean, you can have an autocrat make easy and fast decisions and make you stick to it, right? Until their heads chopped off, right? But in the democratic process, and this is where there’s an obligation, and I actually believe it works in the main. And that is, as I said earlier, no covert action, and I would say no military action can take place without the President of the United States signing it. And Congress approving it and funding it. Why is that so important? It’s the Congress is a check and balance because they have to go back to the people two years later, four years later. So they have to do a litmus test. So what’s that litmus test is, is this going to sell back in my, my bureau? So when we got to Afghanistan, people looked at it and said, Hey, this is a winner. This is not, I’m not going to have a problem. I’ll support it. That’s a good thing. And if they looked at Central America, this doesn’t feel like a winner. And they oppose it. So the democratic process is your best check. And I know a lot of people like efficiency, like you say, Well, look, let’s get this done. Let’s make it really secret. We’ll just tell the president and two people in Congress, right? Let’s not tell state department DOJ or the defense department. Next thing you know, you’re going down a road and you didn’t get the benefit of all this other and you’re not forced to get the will of the American people. You cannot construct covert action without a temperature check. It’s imperfect. But if you make a bad decision on a rock, say, if you decide that or bids, you then are very vulnerable thrown out. And whatever one may think of the American electorate and why we have moments, and I know what we can talk about different things, they have a pretty good sense of their own self interest. And we may be a divided country about it, what it is. But within their self interest, they’re pretty focused on what they want to have happen. And the problem is you shouldn’t do any adventuring unless you have a broad majority. And now we’re split to be nice if we had a wholesome bipartisanship around a set of international issues. I mean, we can’t have everything. We’re too far apart. And I think all leaders, all political leaders at all levels need to work hard to find it because I don’t know if they really understand how debilitating it is in the foreign policy arena, not to have a consensus about where we’re going. I think this is a perfect place because I’m losing my voice. No, we want an hour 20, one hour, I can go in it, I can go three hours, but I’m not, I don’t want to be Fidel Castro today. It’s a tough call. It’s a tough call. No, I mean, I already, your times were valuable. I, this was amazing inside. I only had, we’re a few questions left, maybe we’ll do this next time. Okay, I think that’s a deal. That’s a deal. Sounds good. I’ll have me back. I mean, there’s a lot you talked about before, there’s a lot of many things, but the reason I joined you is it’s not a talking head five second, you know, shouting blurb, right? It’s taken a look historically teasing it out. And I really enjoyed the thoughtfulness of your question, the opportunity to let me tease it out rather than just guess it’s a bad idea, a good idea, or a name. We didn’t name, we didn’t name call anybody. Yeah, I remember that. Yeah, I remember that. Because I don’t want to add to the division among us. I want to, you know, let’s talk substance, let’s leave, let’s leave. President Trump didn’t just hydrate our brains for this conversation. Well, thanks again. I really appreciate that. And I hope he gets to do the same thing next time. Well, I look forward to it. Thank you very much. Bye. Take it easy. Bye bye.

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