SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: I really appreciate Lee Hamilton, who was a colleague for many years and now is the director extended to me this opportunity to come and really share with you my initial thoughts after a year of having been out of out public office and having really tried to reflect on where we're at.
I've spent 40 years since I was 15 years old -- my dad was a career soldier and convinced me at the battlefield of Verdun in 1958 that civilizations do die and that understanding where you are and where you need to get to in order to survive is in fact the first priority of leadership.
And so in that context, I'm going to talk to you about my reflections on 40 years of having thought about American national security. And I want to put it into context. I am particularly pleased to be at an intellectual center which tries to bring together ideas and power, because I think that's probably the most difficult challenge in a free society in the Information Age. You have lots of people who have power and lots of people who have ideas. They're almost never in the same room. And the people who have power are too busy to learn anything, and the people who have ideas are too busy to figure out how to get power, and the result is you have uninformed power and irrelevant ideas.
And that's not very healthy. And I think this is a particularly appropriate time. I first began to work on the U.S. role in the post- Cold War era in 1989 and talking with the Bush administration at that time about it, because it was very obvious to me as a historian that with the collapse of the Soviet empire, that all of the underlying fundamental assumptions of American foreign policy had to be rethought from the ground up. I feel that even more strongly today. I think we basically have lost a decade without any profound rethinking. I don't mean this as a criticism of anybody. This is a city in which the urgent routinely drives out the important, and that's a bipartisan affliction.
But I do think it's important to understand the nature of fundamental change points what Peter Drucker describes in a book called The Age of Discontinuities, when you're doing one thing over here and there's a break and you're doing something else over here. In some ways, if you look at British history, for example, the administration of William Pitt the Elder at the time of the Seven Years' War was such a break point. Prior to that, Britain had a large army fought on the continent of Europe, was focused on the European balance of power. Pitt recognizing the rise of trade and the rise of manufacturing decided that Britain's future was as a financial power on a worldwide basis, shifted from providing manpower to the continent to providing money, so that he was paying countries to be their allies. Shifted most of their military effort overseas in a combination of the Royal Navy and the British army, and as a result, the modern British empire was created.
That was a very profound change from the strategic understanding of the world prior to 1757. That particular model of a lean army, a financial commitment to the continent, a focus on a strong navy and a focus on the world outside Europe, survived with Pitt the Younger during the Napoleonic Wars and finally has changed only around 1902. But the British don't realize it's changed. So while they're shifting from a primarily anti-French focus -- the last anti-French crisis was 1898 -- to an anti-German focus, they don't realize the implication of that, which is the need for a large continental army. They don't do the things necessary to follow the strategy they've shifted to.
After the First World War, they were clearly much weaker. They clearly couldn't sustain being a worldwide power. Yet they continue to shift just enough resources into places like Singapore to guarantee that when they fail, they'll lose the optimum number of troops, rather than facing the grim reality by 1920 or '21 that they were no longer capable of both sustaining force in Asia and sustaining force in Europe, and they had to choose.
Now these are big changes. We face similar changes. Prior to the First World War, we had a very conscious strategy, which was to not be involved in European wars.
In 1917, much against his will, Woodrow Wilson was drug into the First World War. This was not something he wanted. It was not something he campaigned on. But he found it in his judgment unavoidable.
After the First World War, we made a profound shift in the nature of the country, and with a very large amount of planning -- and I think this is one of the great examples of frankly a good bureaucracy -- the American military developed what they called the Rainbow Plan. They looked around the world and said: What are all the possible things that could go wrong? And so they planned for a war with Japan. They planned for a war in Europe. They even thought about the possibility of world-wide war.
By the time the Second World War started, we were very fortunate. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had been undersecretary of Navy in the Wilson Administration and had thought a lot about the world. George Catlett (ph) Marshall came out of the First World War as chief of staff in the First Army, understood a lot -- had been an aide to Pershing -- understood a lot about the nature of warfare at a coalition level; Dwight David Eisenhower spent 20 years studying the necessary requirements. By the time you got to the Second World War, you had a mature group of people who made a profound set of basically correct decisions.
Coming out of that, there was a tendency to say: We won the war, demobilized, come home. And Harry Truman in a series of very courageous steps -- all of them controversial; all of them with tremendous arguments -- decided the United States had to remain a world power. We had to build a world-wide set of coalitions. We had to invent a Central Intelligence Agency, a Strategic Air Command, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. We had to design the Marshall Plan. We had to create foreign aid.
You look at the total number of inventions -- social inventions -- between 1944 and 1951, it is an astonishing achievement. And then for 40 years, my father being one of them, this country put its young men and women across the planet. My dad served for 27 years in the U.S. Army as an infantryman. And we contained the Soviet Empire. At the end of that time, it collapsed.
And now we find ourself, I would argue, in a series of discontinuities. Let me give you some examples. There's a scientific and technological revolution much bigger than we understand yet. There is the collapse of the Soviet system and therefore a vacuum of how you organize the world, because an anti-Soviet coalition obviously makes no sense since there's no Soviets to be anti.
There is the emergence of a series of world systems -- world telephone systems, world air travel systems, world financial systems -- things that the world -- our understanding of the oceans as a system. And I think you have to think about systems of behavior in a way we historically didn't.
There's the speed of information flow -- something which no prior society had to deal with. There's the complexity of topics. Are we talking today about global warming? Are we talking today about Y2K? Are we talking today about terrorism? Are we talking today about drugs? Are we talking today about international trade?
I mean, just take the list of topics out of any week of a major newspaper and realize that every one of those topics goes across the president's desk sooner or later as a problem for the American people to think about sooner or later, and it's a level of complexity combined with speed we're not used to.
Then consider the complexity of events. If something happens in Kosovo, how does it relate to Moscow, and what does that mean for Chechnya, and what does that mean for the Russian distribution of weapons of mass destruction to Iran, and what does that do to Israeli security, and what implication does that have for the United States? That's just a tiny example, but it's an ongoing process, where not only are there more events at greater speed in more places, but they relate to each other with a complexity which we're not used to.
There's also I think -- and this is a point that Lee referred to -- the growing complexity almost overwhelming of leading an information age democracy -- something that Chairman Regula lives with every day and I used to live with. But just think about the complexity of government-to-government diplomacy. When the president meets the German chancellor live on television while people who are watching the TV are on the Internet talking to each other about how to either help or hurt whatever it is they're watching, this is a much more complicated dance than the founding fathers envisioned when they wrote the Federalist Papers.
There's also, I think, the objective reality that we are shifting from a defensive national strategy, in which we had to be involved in the world so America could survive, to a national strategy based on the notion that the United States should lead the world. That is a very big change. I happen to believe in it. I think it is unavoidable.
I think without the United States the world will be in chaos within a matter of months. But I think the American people need to have a debate and understand why we have no choice. And I think we don't.
I think the people of Seattle were wrong about trade, and I think that the Buchananites are wrong about isolation, because I think both are repudiations of the 21st century. I think it's sort of silly to run around and say, I don't want to live in the century you're going to be in.
But the fact is the United States has a positive role to play in the world. It will be an expensive, complicated, controversial role. And we have to spend the time domestically explaining it so that we understand why we're doing it and how to measure it.
I also want to suggest that there has been an abject failure of international aid in both Russia and sub-Saharan Africa, which needs to be contrasted dramatically with the achievement of free enterprise in East Asia and Latin America, and that there are profound lessons -- which I'll come back to later -- about the difference in the last 10 years in Russia and the last 40 years in sub-Saharan African, and how wrong the government-to-government approach has been in approaching them.
I also believe we have to recognize -- and this is the greatest single worry I have -- that there is a threat of truly violent nations using weapons of mass destruction in ways that our military cannot war-game because we will not accept the consequences.
Now, I grew up in the generation in the 1950s where people thought seriously about nuclear war. I think (inaudible) you go back and read Philip Wylie's "Tomorrow," which is about a weapon going off over a city the size of Kansas City, and you say to yourself: How serious is it for Iran to get a nuclear weapon, how serious is it for North Korea to get a nuclear weapon, how serious is it to have leakage from Russia? And then you add in biological and chemical weapons, and we are, frankly, hiding our heads in the sand. We do not war-game them, we don't think them through, we're not honest about the consequences, and it will clearly lead either to very serious shocks in the future or to very major revisions in how we think and plan.
With that, not only do we have the prospect of nations deciding to be tough, you do have the very serious danger of terrorists in the next 30 years, people who are -- feel that they can not only disrupt the WTO, but they could poison an entire city, or they could infect people because they're morally empowered with the right to achieve their way no matter what.
Finally, I think that we have to recognize the almost complete inability of the classic instruments of government -- the National Security Council, the State Department, the intelligence community, the Defense Department -- to cope with these changes. These systems are so burdened by three combinations, in my judgment.
The sheer scale of what they do every day -- if you're the chief -- the chairman of the joint chiefs or the secretary of defense or the secretary of state, you get up every morning, there are so many things on your desk that are -- you can't avoid that you never quite get around to thinking because you're too busy doing. And this is not a comment on the individual, it is an absolute profound nature of the system we've evolved.
Second, we have evolved an intricacy of bureaucracy designed to overmatch the intelligence we attract to run it. So that, no matter how smart and energetic you are, the sheer paperwork, the sheer committee meetings, the sheer cumbersomeness of the system virtually exhausts you.
And third, we have a political news media system basically designed to run around and play "gotcha," so that -- and it's almost without regard to partisanship. I mean, when the Democrats were in charge of the Congress they liked getting Jimmy Carter even though he was a Democrat. Republicans I'm sure, if we end up with a Republican Congress, Republican president, you'll have hearings where we're getting the executive branch.
It's partly the nature of the executive-legislative relationship, it's partly how the news media rewards things. Do something good, you won't make page one. Find something bad, you might make page one. And the result is you have people who are very risk averse and people who are basically timid in thinking about big ideas.
If you go back and look at the level of planning done by very small numbers of people in the '30s, the planning done in the late '40s by very small numbers of people, and you can scour this city today, you'll find 40 times as many people theoretically planning, but you're not going to find the kind of product that Nitze and Kennan produced or the kind of product that Eisenhower and Marshall produced.
Because there's no place left where really, really senior people can stop, do serious work, and get it done in an orderly way without having just been exhausted by the process.
Now let me talk briefly about the scale of change, because I think this is the heart of my message, and I think it's -- we're living through it, but we can't apply it to government. It's as though we live in two worlds -- the private world where we have the change; and the public world where we say, well, it doesn't apply there. I'm going to give you a couple of quick examples.
I've been a student this year at Georgia Tech. The head of the Microelectronics Department gave me the following numbers. The first computer built with a transistor was called TRADIC (ph). It was built in 1955; it had 800 transistors. The Pentium II chip -- how many of you have a laptop with a Pentium II? Raise you hands. The Pentium II chip, about a quarter of the room, has 7.5 million transistors -- 800 to 7.5 million current relatively inexpensive chip. At Georgia Tech, they think next year they'll build a chip that has a billion transistors. Within 15 years, they'll be at a trillion.
Now if you -- I'm a historian so I don't actually know what this means, but if you simply build a chart here and you go -- I do know as a historian you go 800, 7.5 million, a billion, a trillion -- this is big.
OK? Let me go to a couple more examples. How many of you have a cell phone? Just raise your hand. OK. One third of all the phones in the world are cell phones. In Finland, there are more cell phones than regular -- than land lines. And that will be true in every developing country within a decade.
How many of you use an ATM card? How many of you have used an ATM card outside the United States? OK. So just think again in terms of the speed of State Department reporting, you walk up at 2:00 in the morning in a strange city and you need $300 and you put a card in. It validates who you are and gives you cash. Now walk up to a U.S. embassy...
... and this is not an attack on anybody working for the government. This is a systems problem of how we think about the world we live in. How many of you have direct dialed between countries? And I'm old enough -- I remember when in France in 1958 we would go down to the post office to find out how many hours we had to wait for the Atlantic trunk line to have an opening to call the United States. The first time my daughter was an au pair in Paris and I could direct dial her, I thought the world is really changing. Now we take it for granted.
Last example: How many of you have been outside your home country watching world-wide news? OK.
Here's my point. You take the things I just listed -- now show me the change in defining the job of the ambassador? Show me the change in defining the job of a desk officer at the State Department? Over here you have very dramatic changes. The closest analogy I could come to -- I was in Silicon Valley last week at the Hoover Institution -- I said: I've come to the conclusion this year that there are two cultures emerging in America. One culture understands -- and to use 1860 as the analogy, one culture understands we're building the railroad and the telegraph. There's a terrific book called "The Victorian Internet," which is a study of the telegraph that really helps you understand the scale of change, because that was the real change in speed of communication.
The other culture says: Wait a second. We already have a stage coach and we already have the pony express. So -- and the other culture, unlike 1860, is powerful enough -- centered in this city, that it just doesn't change. So you walk in and you say: We could use an ATM card. And they go: No, we have stipulated they don't exist. You say: Wait a second, I just used one. Doesn't count. That's private sector.
If you think about it, I mean go use a whole variety of embedded systems we have in the government today that are obsolete systems; that no business would use. Go look at any 10 major multinational corporations and their information systems and their reporting models, and then go look at the State Department or the Defense Department. And say to yourself: You know, this is a really large systems problem. This is not a problem of who's secretary of state. It's a problem of re-thinking, in the age of world-wide television, where the president picks up the phone to call the prime minister, what does it mean to be an ambassador? What does it mean to have an embassy? What's the nature of representation?
And if we're not in an all-out crisis for survival, then we don't have to spend our resources purely on survival, which we did for over 50 years.
Now we're in a world where trade matters, finance matters, the environment matters, humanitarian issues matter, diplomacy matters, friendship among people matter, and by the way, we have national security interests. That's a lot more complicated equation for the local embassy to think about.
And I think it leads to the following major changes. I would argue -- remember, by the way, 800 to 7.5 million is where we are now. And by definition, that's slightly obsolete, because you own it. So whatever is current is the stuff you haven't quite bought for Christmas. And the stuff coming down the line next year is more than what we currently have. So when I talk about scale of change here, it is really a very profound underlying reality.
Here are my basic suggestions. First of all, that we have an obligation to engage the world, that it has to be a positive engagement, it has to be in favor of our values in the broadest sense. We believe in the rule of law. We believe in individual liberty. We believe in the right of people to live in safety. Most of these were stated by Roosevelt and Churchill in 1940. The four freedoms -- or '41. The four freedoms still work. Wilson's speeches still work.
I mean, I'm frankly a real politic Wilsonian. I think you can talk about realism, but to be an American, realism is idealistic. If you're not idealistic, how do you explain America? Why did we conquer Japan and promptly liberate it? Why did we conquer Germany and promptly liberate it? Because we really do believe that everyone's endowed by God. And to ask us to be realistic in a way which repudiates that belief is to ask us not to be Americans.
And so in that context, I would argue that there's a false argument. You can't have realism that eliminates our values and talk about an American foreign policy. But you can't have an American foreign policy that isn't realistic and think you're going to be effective in the world.
So what I want is an idealism that uses realism to achieve its goals, which is a much more, I think, complex synthesis than we usually choose.
Here are my specific suggestions. First, we have to rethink the entire State Department. And this is not an attack on Madeleine Albright or the State Department. It is an objective fact that -- and the president should, frankly, empanel 10 or 15 senior corporate executives who run multinationals to sit down and look at what are the principles by which they are able to keep track of worldwide information on a real-time basis, and how would you therefore redesign the culture, the structure and the information systems, and what would it mean in the future to be an ambassador, to be a desk officer?
Second, I think we have to dramatically rethink our intelligence capabilities. I was -- I think Lee would agree -- I was the strongest advocate of a strong intelligence when I was speaker. I asked Porter Goss to continue chairing the Intelligence Committee, because he had been a professional intelligence officer. I think it's desperately important for a free society to have good intelligence. But let me suggest four major changes.
First, we need more gathering and analysis of open sources. "The Financial Times" was more correct about Thailand and Indonesia than the CIA. Now there's an easy solution to that: The officer at Langley should buy a subscription.
But we should also -- this is not a minor thing. We should recognize that in the modern world one of the characteristics of the Information Age is enormous volumes of open source data which the opinion leader and the policymaker will never see unless somebody synthesizes it. And so the intelligence agencies have a whole new job, which is not secrecy gathering, but it's public gathering. What does it mean?
Second, I think that we need to recognize, in the opposite direction, that there's a need for deep human intelligence. You cannot penetrate the Bekaa Valley with satellites. You cannot understand terrorist groups or organized crime in Colombia without human intelligence. And someday down the road stopping a weapon of mass destruction from going off in a city is going to be a function of someone who gave 10 years of their life to penetrate a group. And we have to re-gain the capacity to have black operations that nobody knows about, nobody talks about and nobody prints. That's a very serious challenge, or we're going to have people getting killed out of pure ignorance.
Third, we have to recognize we have to care about the whole world. I had one member of the administration say to me -- and I'm not going to tell you who they were -- one member said to me with great pride, we are really working on the intelligence agency, because they're overcommitted to Afghanistan and we need to pull our resources back.
Three weeks later they announced bin Laden was in Afghanistan. And I almost called that particular person to say: Do you think this might lead you to re-think your point?
The fact is, you don't know today which country matters in three years. There's this famous recent question: Can you name the following leaders? And the correct answer for any rational person is no. If I had said to you three years ago: Do you think you'll care about Kosovo? The answer would have been no. And you can't tell me which country you're going to care about a year from now, because that's the nature of the modern world.
And therefore our intelligence agencies have to be able to say every morning: We are scanning the planet. We have an interest everywhere because there are Americans from everywhere. There are Americans in everywhere. And it's an unavoidable nature of a global system that we have a concern for it.
Finally, we need to have a lot more emphasis on producing useful analysis early enough. Raw data and hedging bureaucratically doesn't help a decisionmaker make decisions.
Let me go a step further to the -- suggest to you also that we are still going to be surprised. I don't care how good the intelligence systems are, Pearl Harbors will occur. If Israel could be surprised in 1973, with the level of concern the Israelis have, anybody can be surprised. And I think we're much better to base our systems on a surprise survival, rather than surprise avoidance. We've got to do everything we can to avoid surprise, but still build into our systems the notion that in the end we have to be able to survive if we are surprised.
And that process -- let me say the National Security Council, I think, has to be almost completely re-thought both for complexity and for reach, in the following ways. First of all, the White House clearly leads any information campaign, and if you're going to be involved in the world, you're going to be involved in information. Defining our moral right to be in Kosovo is a major part of whether or not we can stay there.
We have frankly been losing our ability to define Saddam Hussein because we haven't sustained an information campaign to remind people what he's doing. And the result is, over time, you watch our support erode around the world because we're not focused on it. The only office in America that can focus and carry an information campaign is the White House. And therefore we need an office that is constantly routinely planning and thinking through, with the White House as its base, with the president its lead spokesman, but then with all the other assets of our society being used, how do we communicate what we're doing around the world.
The National Security Council should go back to the Eisenhower model of systematically devoting part of its time to looking at the future and to planning ahead of the crisis. Eisenhower used to have a rule that once every two weeks he personally chaired a meeting on a single problem that was not urgent. And that their job was to think about what's worth thinking about two years out, five years out. And the president chaired it because the president ought to be thinking on a regular basis beyond the immediate urgency.
We also need to recognize that the national security apparatus in the future should include Treasury, the U.S. Trade Representative, Commerce and Agriculture, because if you're not coordinating our role in the World Trade Organization; if you're not coordinating our role in the world economy, then you don't understand the totality of power in a free society, nor do you understand all the different things that could happen. You could take an action over here on the military side or the diplomatic side that suddenly has an enormous impact over here, and frankly today we're not organized to coordinate them.
I think that it's important also to go back and try to rebuild, and this is very hard in the American society. It's particularly been hard in this administration, but I think it's routinely difficult for Americans to rebuild our commitment to planning and to setting up goals. Clausewitz wrote that anyone who would take the first step without thinking to the last step should not be allowed in the councils of war.
If you go back and you study the great leaders of the 20th century, and here I draw on Peter Drucker and Edward Deming's works, but if you look at Theodore Vale (ph) at AT&T, Sloan at General Motors, Marshall and Eisenhower in the Second World War, their capacity to think through what they were doing was vital to being effective.
You look at all the creation from '45 to '52 -- these were serious people doing serious thinking about the nature of the world they were trying to affect. The current ad hocracy is an invitation to disaster. We are, in some ways, living through a Stanley Baldwin era. Churchill, remember, began his "History of the Second World War" with a chapter entitled "The Years the Locust Had Eaten," and said no war was more avoidable.
We're going through a similar period. I would argue that, in fact, the urgent does drive out the important, the front page of "The Post" drives out serious thought, and that we are sort of floundering around. It's very hard to tell me today the difference between progress and activity. And I'm going to carry you through a couple of examples.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a clear set of priorities, and you can see them come up again and again and again from 1939 to 1945. I think that's a very different model than what we've been doing for the last few years. And I think that, as we begin to think about foreign policy, we need to really build a set of long-term goals that we actually stick to. And let me give you a set.
One, I think we have to start by renewing the sense of friendship and alliance with the people we're closest to. There I would include Japan, Western Europe and Latin America. We no longer have a Soviet Union forcing people to like us. You know, we used to be able to flounder around, be a bully, and people put up with us because the alternative was the Soviet empire. People now can just say: No, we're tired of you. I think that we have mishandled the Japanese relationship terribly, and we have consistently overvalued China in the short run and undervalued the friendship and the strength and the ability of Japan over the last 50 years.
I think that we have dramatically mismanaged the European relationship to such a degree that they're now beginning to build a separate military capability. It will be, I think, a pretty trivial capability, but it's a signal of the degree to which we're beginning to drift apart. And I think that in Latin America we have been very lucky that, for the last 70 years, we have fairly consistently had good relations while paying almost no attention.
The fact is, the most important neighbor we have is Mexico. We don't have a systematic long-range policy towards Mexico. And the fact is what we want is a prosperous, free Mexico with the rule of law, and it's an enormously high value to us to be friendly to the south. I fought very hard for fast track because I believe that if we end up with Latin America deciding to orient itself towards the European Common Market, we will have suffered a great long-term strategic loss, and we will be a substantially weaker country for having had that happen.
So first we ought to start by focusing back on the strengths we take for granted: Western Europe, Latin America and Japan. Second, I think there are a handful of danger spots that really matter because they're really dangerous. Almost none of these tend to be the things that politics have been focused on. This is not Kosovo, it's not Haiti, it's not Bosnia.
The first one I think is Taiwan and China. I believe the most dangerous place in the world today is the Taiwan Straits, because I think the Chinese government may seriously misunderstand us at some point, and we may seriously miscommunicate with them, and I believe this is a regime that, if it thought that its pride and its prestige were at stake, could get involved very rapidly in a very serious conflict on a scale we would not imagine going in. And if there's anyplace that resembled the Balkans in 1914 in my mind, it's the Straits of Taiwan, which need to be handled with great care.
Second, in my judgment, is the leakage of weapons of mass destruction from Russia. If nothing has leaked, I will be -- I'm surprised. And if something doesn't leak in the next decade, I will, as a historian, be amazed. Here you have a large country with a very large number of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, with a bankrupt system, a collapsing authority and the potential -- there's a report I think I saw recently that we think as much as 30 percent of their nuclear material may not be accountable. Some of that, sooner or later, is going to end up in the wrong place, and this is an issue of enormous immediate importance that deserves to be dealt with much more than we're doing.
Third, I think is Iran. Iran is a state committed to develop weapons of mass destruction with a substantial reach by ballistic missile. And as a historian, I start with a simple model. If you see somebody developing a big weapon, there's a pretty good chance they're doing it for a reason. I don't care what their diplomats tell you. And I think that when you look at the reach Iran will have, it's not just Tel Aviv. They're certainly going to have reach within a decade as far as London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow. And I think it's conceivable that a decade later, they will have weapons that reach the United States.
Fourth is Iraq, which I list as less dangerous than Iran, because in Iraq you have one particular person, the closest thing we've seen to Adolf Hitler in our generation in terms of a major power, and that Saddam Hussein clearly is a man absolutely dedicated to getting weapons of mass destruction, who has endured eight years of isolation, has endured tremendous loss of money, has endured bombing on a regular basis, and yet continues to persevere.
And again, as a historian, I take people seriously. If somebody says to you, I'd rather be isolated, bombed and impoverished than give up my program for weapons, I assume that he has in the back of his head a really serious use for the weapon.
And I believe that that is a very grave danger, but I believe the rest of the Iraqi system is less alien to us than is the Iranian system, which I think it a much harder system to deal with, whereas in the case of Saddam I think it's an individual.
Fifth I would list is one that almost never comes up in foreign policy debate, and that's Colombia. For us to allow a government which is seeking to solve the drug problem to have the pathetic level of resources we've given them, to have the almost total lack of support we've given them, for us to not make this a very, very major American commitment of intelligence assets, of training, of hardware, of other support, is, I think, simply a dereliction of our duty as Americans.
Here's a country which is the primary supplier of cocaine and heroin to the East Coast of the United States today, it is a country where the government has shown the courage to actually extradite people, and yet you look at the resources we've put into Kosovo and the resources we've put into Colombia and there is no comparison in our national interest. We have infinitely more interest right now in Colombia than we do in Kosovo and yet we put all the resources in exactly the wrong place.
Lastly, North Korea. North Korea is a problem largely because North Korea is a country about which we know almost nothing, whose leader is somebody who is totally outside our comprehension, and which could do virtually anything.
Let me just comment very briefly on a couple of these.
On China, I think it's very important for us to distinguish between the Chinese people and the Chinese state. We have every interest in reaching out to the Chinese people. Eisenhower described in the 1950s a people-to-people program. I cannot overstate this.
If the Chinese and American people decide they have a common destiny on the planet and they can work together, whether it's in business or it's in the environment -- we just had two pandas come to the Atlanta Zoo and are working on conservation programs together -- whether it's in education, whatever it's in, if the Chinese people conclude that the American people and they are not natural opponents, the future of the human race is dramatically more peaceful and I think all of us are much safer.
If the Chinese people conclude that they have a reason to fear the Americans, then I think 20 or 30 years from now we're in a much more dangerous world.
Now, I think you can draw a distinction. We don't agree with the Chinese government on its repression. We don't agree with the Chinese government on locking people up. We don't agree with the Chinese government on threatening Taiwan.
But I think we ought to have a very conscious bifurcated policy of reaching out -- whether it's through trade, whether it's through charities, whether it's through education, whether it's through environmental efforts, reaching out to the Chinese people, encouraging students to come here and visitors and students to go there, while at the same time being pretty blunt with their government that there are things we don't agree with.
And it's not either/or. You don't have to say: Well, I'm going to be mean to everybody or I'm going to have to be nice to everybody. You can say to the government of China: The following four things aren't acceptable in our values, and frankly they're pretty stupid, and in the long run aren't going to survive.
It's impossible for the Chinese government to have the Chinese people enter the 21st century where they (ph) attempt to repress them in a 20th-century style, and at some point the system will in fact, I believe, change. Well, we should reach over time to the Chinese people as a part of that.
On Russia, I just want to suggest a very grim belief, which I also have for sub-Saharan Africa, and that is that aid corrupts, that it misleads societies, and in the case of Russia purely it's led to contempt for us. We have given billions of dollars. You talk about money laundering in New York banks, well, guess whose money it is -- it's yours. It's your aid money coming back.
And so you end up with billionaire Russians who have manipulated the Russian government, manipulated the system to get money out of us while lying to us about what they're doing. And so they bomb Chechnya with an army paid indirectly by us through the IMF. And it's profoundly wrong.
Paul Johnson wrote about this brilliantly in his history of the 20th century called "Modern Times" when he described sub-Saharan Africa, and he said sending aid makes politicians more important.
If we had taken the number of dollars we have sent to Russia directly for ourselves, through our European allies and through the IMF and the World Bank, if that money had gone only as investment, if we had said to them, "Until you adopt the rule of law you're not getting any money; now, when you adopt the rule of law, by the way, you'll get the money that flows as investment," they would be healthier, more integrated into the world society, and people would be working rather than manipulating in order to get rich.
And I just want to suggest to you, nobody has looked seriously at how much -- what a great loss the '90s were in the Russia that could have been if we'd integrated them into a free enterprise world, versus the Russia that has emerged because the Washington politicians and the Moscow politicians kidded each other while we paid them off and they pretended to be nice.
And Chechnya ought to be a wake-up call. This is an independent country with its own history, its own traditions, and it's going to do things its own way, and our capacity to directly influence them with bribes called aid is much more limited than we think and sends exactly the wrong signal to Russian society.
Here at home, let me also suggest to you that, for the first time since the War of 1812 -- unless you count the Civil War, for the first time since the War of 1812, we're faced with real dangers of violence in the United States. I think we will inevitably have to go to some kind of homeland defense system. I think we'll have to deal with biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. I think we should have a global -- not just a national, but a global missile defense system, because we need to protect our allies as well as ourselves.
But I also think we ought to honest about the limits of that system. Drones can be effective, variety of other delivery systems can be effective, ship-borne systems can be effective, and terrorists can carry weapons of mass destruction. While I favor a global missile defense, and I think it is the first layer of defending against the horrors of the 21st century, I do not think it completes it.
Let me also say very briefly that I think we have to really be much more realistic about the Middle East. People talk about peace in the Middle East. We're not getting to peace in the Middle East at the present time; we're getting to non-war. There's a very big difference between peace and non-war. There are American troops still in the Sinai watching the Egyptians and the Israelis at the request of the Egyptians and the Israelis. The fact is that Egypt and Israel has a cold peace. I would call it a non-war. The closest you come to peace in the region is with Jordan, and I think it is -- my advice to the Israelis would be to do everything they can to create a free trade zone with the Palestinian Authority and the Jordanians, because if they don't find a way to weave together an economic future of mutual prosperity they will have no prospect of peace.
But what we've done is move back from a situation of war, to a situation of armed truce leaning towards war, to a situation of armed truce that's non-war. And there are three -- I think there are three grave dangers to the survival of Israel, and I think these dangers are, if anything, greater than they were 10 years ago.
The first is terrorism. The right kind of terrorist with weapons of mass destruction is in fact a holocaust. It doesn't do any good to go to Yad Veshem (ph) and say you sure know you'd opposed the Nazis. If you're really going to remember and you're really going to stop it from happening again you have to think about all the ways it could happen, because the future won't necessarily repeat the past.
Second, Iran and Iraq. The first meeting I had as speaker of the House was with Prime Minister Rabin, who said that the number one reason he was trying to conclude peace with Palestine and -- the Palestinians and Syria was because he didn't know how to deal with Iran, and he couldn't focus on that because he Iran is so big and so dangerous that in the long run Israel won't be able to contain it without active American involvement.
I think Iran and Iraq, with weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, is a nightmare, and deterrence won't necessarily work. We have to find ways of either preemption, or we need a whole new doctrine for the region, or we're in fact going to suffer some horrors in the next generation.
And finally, I think it's very important to recognize that if you have a non-truce but you're not actively growing peace -- I mean, a non-war but you're not actively growing peace, the 10 years of a passive non-war environment creates the environment for a new intifada.
A new intifada among the Palestinians covered live on television puts enormous pressure on the entire Arab world to then give an ultimatum to Israel. And if you look at the military balance of power, the size of the Egyptian army today, the level of equipment, a two- or three-front campaign is a much bigger problem for Israel than it was in '73.
And I think it's very important to recognize that, while we should all applaud diplomacy, security for Israel will probably be a matter of defense more than diplomacy over the next 20, 25 years, and that we're a long way out of the woods if you care about the survival of Israel.
Finally, I want to discuss three institutions very briefly, then I'll take questions. The United Nations -- I've always supported paying the dues, but I think we need to really re-think what the United Nations is. The United Nations is essentially a gathering of diplomats. It is not a proto-world government. The secretary-general is not a proto-president of the human race.
It is a place diplomats come from a wide range of countries, with a wide range of backgrounds involving a number of dictatorships. I mean, the idea that Libya equals Germany; that Syria equals Britain -- is just -- this is not a serious -- this is not a gathering that has any kind of political weight. It's a good place to be. It's a good place to have dialogue. It's a wonderful thing that people talk. But I think we should deflate a little bit the expectations, dramatically reduce the bureaucracy, and find ways for us to get things done that don't require us to pretend that the General Assembly is in any way reflective of the human race, as opposed to being reflective of sovereign states.
Second, the International Monetary Fund, I think, needs to be substantially held more accountable and its operations needs to be dramatically more transparent. Almost everybody seems to agree that in Thailand and Indonesia, it was actually destructive.
As a conservative who believes in lower taxes, more economic growth, and a stronger private sector, I think an agency which, on the one hand, is almost always in favor of higher taxation, and, on the other hand, has a staff in Washington which pays no taxes -- I think truly one of the greatest ironies of the 20th century. If you work for the IMF, you pay no taxes while writing a report urging countries to raise taxes. And I've always thought if you just required the IMF to pay the taxes it encourages others to levy, you would rapidly have a different attitude towards taxation.
But this is an important issue, because if you crush a country economically; if you destroy the middle class in favor of the financial institutions; you guarantee instability and danger. And I think the IMF has to be much more accountable, much more transparent, and the world should watch it carefully because it has an enormous amount of power. Finally, I really think we should consider either radically overhauling or abolishing the Agency for International Development. I tried to work with it in the early '90s in Russia. I think the model of bureaucrat-to-bureaucrat aid is profoundly wrong. And I'll simply give you a way to think about it and apply it to the last decade.
If we had taken the same number of dollars and created tax credits for humanitarian activities, for environmental activities, for educational activities and for investment, I think both sub-Saharan Africa and Russia would be healthier today than with the dollars which go from a political bureaucracy in our capital to a political bureaucracy in their capital, to be given out in a political context.
I think it sends exactly the wrong signal for the 21st century. The world is going to be a lot more like Silicon Valley and a lot less like the high-rise buildings around the Mall. I think we ought to re- think how -- I do want to get aid -- if you'll notice, I just suggested it. I actually want to get more aid in a more personal way with more people involved. So I'd like to see a very substantial tax credit to give people the incentive to go to the countries they care about and do things. I'm for us helping other people. I just think government-to-government help almost invariably sends the wrong signal about where people should be and what they should focus on.
I've given you a sweeping series of changes as they related to us. There's a whole section that Lee and I are working on with the Defense Department which I think has a comparable zone of change. Let me just say that I think our generation has, as Franklin Roosevelt said of the World War II generation, a rendezvous with destiny. I don't think we have any choice except to think these things through. I think to the degree that we don't have the moral courage or the intellectual leadership, the world will bite us and will get our attention the hard way.
To the degree that we're willing to be pro-active, have a lively debate about the nature of America's role, re-shape our institutions to meet the opportunities of the information age, I think we could launch another half-century of leadership. And I think frankly by 2050, there's no reason the entire planet couldn't be free and safe and prosperous. And that ought to be our goal -- to have every person on the planet genuinely having their creator-endowed right to pursue happiness and to life and liberty.
That ought to be our goal, and I think we should be prepared as a people to be as invested as necessary to get that job done.
Let me take questions.
MODERATOR: Terrific. Thank you very much, Speaker.
GINGRICH: Yes sir.
QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, will you speak to the matter of human rights, to the extent of which we should react to genocidal situations?
QUESTION: It seems to me that's a very relevant theme.
GINGRICH: I think that we should be much more aggressive about genocidal situations. I think we also should be careful about how we define them. But I think we had as great an obligation in Rwanda as we did in Kosovo. I think, frankly, we should be more aggressive about Chechnya and the way the Russian army's currently operating.
But I -- and I think, as I said earlier, I think our values are for the rule of law, for individual liberty and for every person to be recognized as endowed by their creator with rights. And so I think that we ought to take the position.
I don't think that contradicts with, on the other hand, also trying to work with governments like the Chinese -- with the Chinese people, even though the Chinese government, in my judgment, is currently being repressive in a way that'll be counterproductive.
She's going to give you a microphone, I think.
QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, I was struck by the fact that, as you ticked off a number of institutions, both national and international, that have not adequately met the needs of today, let alone tomorrow, you didn't really mention the Congress. I wonder if you could talk a bit...
QUESTION: ... about the role of Congress in foreign policy and particularly how it can play a more constructive role.
GINGRICH: I'm glad you asked that. I actually had one more page but I'd run out of time...
Because I was going to talk about the Congress for a minute. I think there are a couple of steps.
The Congress has to modernize its view. And I would say that there are a series of steps that have to be taken. One is, I think that we should say to every incoming member of Congress: You should plan to travel. And we should say to the country: You should insist that your member of Congress travel. And we should say to the press: Shame on you for using the word "junket." I mean, it is utterly stupid for the press to ridicule members of Congress who take their time off from being -- they're in Washington part of the time, they're back home trying to serve their district, get reelected part of the time, if they're prepared to go virtually anywhere in the world we ought to say: Thank you, for having taken the extra time and effort to go and learn about the world.
And to suggest that what we want to do is browbeat members of Congress so they're too timid to travel, so they could vote in total ignorance, strikes me as one of the most destructive things. And I'll guarantee you that every year there's at least one article that talks about all these junkets.
Well, you know, if you send them to places that aren't trouble now so they can learn about them so they never become trouble, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, if they have a broad view of talking to people who are outside the U.S. so they see the U.S. in context in the world, that's not a bad thing. And I just think this is a very important issue.
And I -- and I really do think -- I talked to the president one time about getting a letter from the president to every freshman asking them officially on behalf of the United States to go on trips, so they could go back home and say: I was requested. But I think that's the first thing I'd say.
The second thing I'd say is that we ought to have, at the National Defense University, a very sophisticated war gaming and negotiating center, and we ought to particularly take younger members and have them routinely go down there for half-days at a time, look at real problems and learn how hard they are. I mean, members of Congress...
... you know, it's -- when they get here it's their district's choice. How smart they are 20 years later ought to be in part the city's choice. And we have no systems for bringing up a sophisticated member of Congress over a 10- or 15-year period.
Third, I think the Congress ought to really be as disciplined as I said presidents should be. Every committee -- and Ralph knows this is a long, hard problem and he and I have been together on several very good things where I'm encouraged and then over the years we saw some other things that weren't as encouraging. But the fact is you really would like to have the committees spend about a third of their time on planning and oversight, and oversight of the future, not the current problem.
You'd also like them to have a more collaborative approach, where people work together, where they understand that we, in the executive branch, are the fabric of American policy and we have to work together.
I've been -- I was very fortunate, I always had people in the executive branch, no matter what administration, including the Clinton administration, who were very open to me, who took time with me, who made it easy for us to work together. But I think there's much too much of a "gotcha" attitude, there's much too much of a negative kind of oversight, and much too little thinking together.
Finally, I would just say, I think that the -- two other things. I want to say that the committees...
GINGRICH: ... times a senior executive-branch person should have to testify on the same material. Is it once per House and Senate, twice per House and Senate? But it ain't 26 times.
And then say to all the subcommittee and committee chairman: OK, collectively you're going to get him four times. Now you figure out how you're going to meet as an ad hoc group. But this idea that every committee forces the secretary to traipse up here -- it's just an extraordinary waste of time and manpower by the legislative branch.
And then lastly I would say, I would really appeal to the Congress on a bipartisan basis, and I'd appeal to all the presidential candidates -- right now, they should redesign what you have to do to be an executive-branch appointee. We are crippling this country by making it so expensive and so cumbersome and so difficult to serve our government that if you were to find in some cases how many people the Clinton administration had to go to to get an appointee because they just said: I'm not going to go through the pain. I'm not going to sell all my stock. I'm not going to hide everything I do. This is an enormous hidden crisis in the American system because we can't get many of the best people.
And one of the ground rules in the Defense Department is, if you know the topic, you can't come in unless you agree you won't go back and do anything that involves the topic you know. So you can't get the person who knows anything because they know it.
Now that is a recipe for ignorance, and this is not the Clinton administration's fault or the Bush administration's fault in the last term. This is -- for 20 years we have grown, in the post-Watergate environment, this bizarre tangle of requirements as though somehow if only there were enough clauses, we'd get honest people.
And the fact is we ought to have a simple clean honorable way of getting appointees. You ought to be able to do it fast. And you ought to be able to get them in the job, focused on the job, and if any of you who've seen the studies of how long it takes to get somebody and how short a time they last, this is a much deeper problem than we realize in running the American government. MODERATOR: OK, let's take about two more questions, and we'll -- the Speaker's already been very generous with his time.
GINGRICH: Yes, sir -- right here. This lady's going to give you a...
MODERATOR: Microphone to the middle there.
QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, you spoke about renewed alliance and friendship with the United States' allies in Latin America and (inaudible). If I could just indulge you for a second in a historical analogy, which I'm sure you can correct me on. Post-Bismarck Germany and the danger of one country which is immensely powerful and militarily strong, where the very fact that it is militarily strong and increasing its strength can lead surrounding countries to ally against it, for no particular reason, and thus precipitate war.
I was wondering, since Republicans traditionally believe in increased military spending to the point of, you know, prospective dominance 25 years down the line, across the globe -- isn't that going to ally the world against the United States? Couldn't it be the case that there's a danger that U.S. defense might not prevent, but in fact precipitate global conflict?
GINGRICH: Yes. The answer is yes. I think an America -- that's why I said earlier -- we have to recognize -- remember I started by saying we need to rebuild friendship and alliance in that order. An America which is a world bully, while also being the largest economy, the greatest center of productivity, and the militarily most powerful country, could create an alliance against it of virtually everybody else -- in a sense, the Latin wars against the city of Rome.
I think it's very dangerous for us to assume that you can simply tromp your way across the planet lecturing people and they won't eventually get tired of you. So I would, on the one hand, encourage us to spend a lot more time and energy listening to people. On the other hand, I do think it is helpful for us to remain the strongest country in the world. That's why I wrote an op-ed recently favoring doubling the science and research and development budget, because I think that we ought to consciously want to be the strongest country in the world during this transition. But I'd like to transition to a planet where everybody lives in freedom and you frankly don't worry about who the strongest power is because you don't need to use it.
I'll take this lady -- I guess will be the last one.
MODERATOR: OK. That'll wrap it up.
QUESTION: You spoke of the national missile defense, or even an international missile defense system being flawed, but that you support it. But you also talked about concerns that the Chinese government might develop mis-impressions of U.S. policy. Is that an arena in which you have those concerns?
GINGRICH: No, I'm more concerned about the Chinese people getting a mis-impression of our policy. I think it's very important for us to aggressively reach out to the Chinese people. In terms of the Chinese government, my fear is that the Chinese government will be confused about whether or not we'd fight over Taiwan. It would be very easy to create a 1950 Acheson scenario in which somebody here, by accident, leads them to be confused about whether or not we would defend Taiwan.
GINGRICH: No, I think missile defense tells them pretty clearly we're going to defend Taiwan because we'll be able to knock down your missiles.
I mean, I think an America which cannot protect Los Angeles, is an America which is asking for blackmail. And I think that someday down the road either Iran, North Korea or China will give us that opportunity.
And I just say as an historian -- and I'm very pro-Chinese in terms of the Chinese people. But I think the reality is, a country which remains vulnerable but says to a great power -- and China is a great power in the historic sense -- and says to another great power, "We are going to mettle of your backyard, while we remain vulnerable," is asking that country to redress the balance in a way that's greatly to our disadvantage.
So, if we're going to lead the planet for the next generation, and I think we have to, we had better have a global missile defense strong enough that Tokyo and Taipei and Tel Aviv and Paris feel relatively secure. And frankly, if we ever have to put 500,000 troops in the Gulf, I'd like something there over them that blocked any Iranian missile or Iraqi missile.
We have the technology to do that.
My point was not that you couldn't build a missile -- I think frankly if you go to a space-based system, we can almost certainly build a workable system. For any thing -- not for a Soviet first strike. But there is no Soviet first strike any more. So, when -- but for a thin strike by a country that has war -- 10 ICBMs, I think we could frankly build a pretty good system in depth.
What worries me is even when you do that, opponents are smart. They don't have to do the thing you can beat. They can try to figure out things that you haven't thought of. And so that's why you need a strong intelligence capability and a strong ability to constantly think about having active opponents.
Anyway, I appreciate very much your allowing me to share these ideas with you.
MODERATOR: I told you it would be thought provoking and stimulating. If you can't find something in this lecture to challenge you a little bit, you're pretty dead, I'll tell you that.
Thank you very, very much for coming.
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