America’s Enemies Old and New and the Trump Doctrine
August 14, 2018
About the speaker
Dr. Sebastian Gorka is former Deputy Assistant and Strategist to the President (2017) and author of the best-selling book, Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War. His new book is Why We Fight: Recovering America’s Will to Win.
Former Kokkalis Fellow at Harvard, he has taught at Georgetown, was Associate Dean at National Defense University and held the distinguished chair of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University.
Sebastian was born in the UK to parents who escaped Communism during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. He is an internationally recognized authority on issues of national security, irregular warfare, terrorism and democratization, having worked in government and the private and NGO sectors in Europe and the United States.
After September the 11th 2001, he spent four years on the faculty of the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall Center in Germany and has been involved in the training and education of 1,600+ counterterrorism, special forces and intelligence officers and still teaches at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (Fort Bragg), home of the Green Berets. He has briefed the CIA, DIA, ODNI, the US Navy SEALs, the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the President.
Robert R. Reilly:
Seb also, of course, has a deep, academic background. He has taught at National Defense University, he’s taught at Marine Corps University, he’s taught at [the] Institute of World Politics and a number of other distinguished institutions, including the Marshall Center in Germany for a number of years. I’m not going to embellish his other accomplishments or mention his 140 articles and monographs and book chapters. I’ll leave that aside because I want to get to maximum time for Seb to speak and for you to be able to ask questions and answers about which I ask you kindly wait until you’ve got one of the portable mics and you can’t speak in it like this. You have to speak in it like that so everyone else can hear you and also there will be a boom mic from C-SPAN following around to make sure your questions are immortalized in that medium. So please join me in welcoming Sebastian Gorka who’s going to talk about, “America’s Enemies: Old and New and the Trump Doctrine.”
Thank you, Bob. It is great to come home. To quote a good friend, John O’Sullivan, who was Margaret Thatcher’s speechwriter, “That was an introduction my mother would have believed and my father would have been proud of.” It truly is wonderful to be back here and thank you for this amazing turnout tonight and for the coverage that we have.
I have to also mention one more book not written by me but if you want to read the best book on why we are where we are today with regards to the Arab-Muslim world, then you have to read Robert Reilly’s The Closing of the Muslim Mind. It was mandatory reading for all my students at IWP and elsewhere. I have never seen anybody take deeply philosophical, exegetical issues and make them cogent and clear in the space of 250 pages. It is stunning and it really explains the threat we face from the global jihadi movement. If you are not familiar with The Closing of the Muslim Mind, it should be available here. Right, Bob?
There’s one copy left.
Go to Amazon and get your copies. So let me begin with a story, a story of two Americans. Let’s talk about the America between 2008 and 2016. And let us talk about the America between 2016 and today. I’m not interested in who you voted for. I am not here to give a political speech. I was a politically-commissioned officer of President Trump but I’m here to talk strategy. My first love is strategy. I specialize in counterterrorism, but the things grand-strategic, really, are my bag as they say. Let us talk about strategic culture.
Obama’s Apology Tour
What were the priorities for the last administration and what in fact happened – without the political spin – just the factual statements of what happened in American strategic life during the Obama years? Well, how did it begin? How did it begin? It began with what even the Left has termed ‘the apology tour’. The most powerful man in the world, the chief executive of the most powerful nation the world has ever seen, because that is what America is. It is not a superpower. It is as Francois Iceborg, the French author, has said: it is a hyperpower. Nobody can come close to the power we have. That nation’s chief executive traveled the world to say that the serious things we suffer from in many cases derive from us, that America is the cause. That whether it is global warming or the then climate change or whether it is disenfranchisement of individuals across the world, political regimes that are unjust, it was America that was responsible and now we’re going to respond to that injustice.
Leading From Behind
How? By actually building in to the United States strategic approach – this is actually in the United States National Security Strategy of the Obama Administration – concepts such as ‘leading from behind’, which is (for anybody who has taken Philosophy 101), an oxymoron. You cannot… you know could you imagine if your lieutenant said, “Come on boys, let’s go jump out of the trenches! I’ll be leading from back here.” Right? You cannot lead from behind or the other one which is official, was official administration policy, the concept of strategic patience. Which means what? It was code. You know everybody talks about dog whistles, yes? It was dog whistles for we do nothing because we’re guilty. Therefore what? We allow others to take that opportunity, to take that advantage, to fill the void created by a lack of American leadership which is justified because [of] the guilt that we have for all these problems. So what did that lead to? What did that advertising of America withdrawing from the international community lead to? It led to, for example, the first time in 70 years the breaking of one of the most important taboos in Western civilization.
Since 1945 we have said ‘you do not invade somebody else’s country to take that territory for yourself’. Sixty million people died in World War II. Sixty million. And we said you cannot do that. International law does not allow you to aggrandize your territory through the use of force. Well, Russia did it. Russia did it. After what? After we had signaled as a nation that we are going to cancel the missile defense system in Central Europe, that we are not going to provide the defense systems our allies, our brand new allies in NATO, wish us to deploy into that region. What else did we do? We had a withdrawal from Iraq, a strategic pause if you will, a leading from behind that led to a junior varsity team becoming the most powerful insurgency in modern history.
Now, this is a completely different lecture, but the fact is ISIS did that which no other jihadi group was capable of doing ever because from 1924 when the original Caliphate was dissolved by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as he created the secular Turkish republic, for the next 90 years what happened? Jihadist groups around the world starting with the Muslim Brotherhood created in Egypt just four years later said, “We must bring the Caliphate back. That is the only way for human beings to live… on the territory of a theocratic, Muslim empire.”
And for the next 90 years every single one of them failed. The Brotherhood failed even when they took over Egypt. The Al Qaeda failed. The Taliban failed. But along comes the junior varsity team and what happens? They did it. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from the Grand Mosque at Mosul declares the Caliphate not as a concept but as a reality spanning multiple countries of Mesopotamia with six million people living on its territory, making a fortune every day through kidnapping, slavery, arms trafficking, counterfeiting. So the Caliphate was created during the Obama years. We are not going to get into tinfoil hat territory. We are not- not by the Obama administration, but because of the lack of American leadership.
The Iran Deal
And we can go on. The Iran deal. I have to illustrate the JCPOA Iran Deal with one analogy or comparison. About two years ago, two and a half years ago, a transport, a Metro police officer in DC who was a jihadi sympathizer wanted to send money to ISIS. He wanted to fund ISIS. This police officer met somebody who he thought could be the conduit for his sending $500 to Abu Bakr’s insurgency. Little did he know this was an FBI asset. This police officer, once he made the commitment to send money to a terrorist group, was arrested, charged, and prosecuted, and sent to a maximum security prison where he languishes today. Why? Because he committed what is technically called ‘Material Support to Terrorism’… for $500.
The Obama Administration at the time that Obama’s State Department listed Iran as the largest state sponsor of terrorism released $140 billion. Not $140 dollars, $140 billion dollars plus cash pallettes of ransom money. If anyone in this room had sent $500 and been caught, you go to a federal supermax prison. That is the story of the last eight years. That is the strategic culture that was enabled from the rise of ISIS to the facilitation of a militant Russia to North Korea perpetuating its programs to acquire ballistic and nuclear technology.
Defeating the Territorial Caliphate
But then it all changed at 12 O’clock on January 20th, 2017. It is not a political speech, okay? It is a strategy speech, honest. Well, we do not have eight years of a petri dish. We have eighteen months. Again, remove the politics and let us look at the milestones of the last eighteen months. One of the proudest things as a nation that we can point to is the fact that we unleashed our military on the scourge of ISIS and here, whether you like him or not, I doth my cap at Steve Bannon because it was Steve Bannon in the White House who said, “We need a bumper sticker for this war and the war is the destruction of the physical Caliphate.” That was Steve Bannon’s idea and it was massively important because it gave us a strategic objective that every UAV pilot, every green beret, every member of JSOC, everyone of our allies could understand.
And think about this one thing; again, an analogy or a comparison. The last Commander in Chief had assured us that ISIS is a quote unquote “generational threat.” Meaning my children, your grandchildren, generations of Americans would have to just get used to it because we just couldn’t defeat it. Donald J. Trump, by trusting our military and unleashing our military, compressed a generation into four months.
Why? Because the ISIS physical caliphate is gone. It has ceased to exist like a certain parrot in a certain Monty Python sketch, right? Pushing up the daisies, yeah? And that is quite remarkable given that this is a multi-country insurgency that was the most successful jihadist insurgency of the modern age. Within less than six months it was, at least in terms of the physical caliphate, history. That does not mean we have won. I am not here to say we have won, but in terms of sending a very clear message to the franchise or the brand of jihadism globally, that the message has been sent.
Secondly, just look at the military budget. I was looking at some figures today just to check on some meetings we had at the White House a year ago. This President has signed a new military funding order yesterday, but before he did that he signed an increment to increase the defense budget which has gone through. The increment by which we have increased the defense budget, just the increment, is larger than any other NATO defense budget. Okay? I won’t say who it was. We had a certain chancellor of a European state in the White House who was trying to convince us that her nation is very serious about defense, very serious about their commitment to NATO, and Steve said, “You do realize that we’ve just added more money to the defense budget than you spend on it in its entirety.” That’s a metric. That’s a metric. Seriousness in defense.
Not only that. What do we have with regards to NATO writ large? I cut my teeth on NATO issues twenty years. I was a NATO defense fellow. I worked on NATO issues in the Hungarian Defense Ministry. We have had inside the alliance a dirty little secret for about thirty years. It is called the freeloader complex, which is that basically nobody pays for their defense and we protect everybody.
Turkey was the largest NATO nation. It was a very serious contributor, biggest NATO army. Everybody else just was not serious. They actually said they are going to commit 2% of their GDP to defense expenditure and out of the twenty, almost thirty nations there are in NATO, six of them, six of them actually did it with us included. The President solved a thirty-year problem with one tea session of the East Wing with the Secretary General of NATO.
You have to understand – read Victor Davis Hanson’s analysis of how Donald Trump negotiates because it is very simple, but massively effective. You create eddies of disturbance in the force. People get worried and they do not know what you are going to do and just to placate you they say yes. And funnily enough you know don’t try it at home gentlemen on your wife but ladies we know it works, right?
The fact is a thirty-year old problem… because he questioned the validity of NATO. He never said anything about dissolving it. This is the Left’s fever dream. He questioned its relevance in the 21st century. And when Donald Trump does that, individuals realize this isn’t a diplomatic communique. This is serious. And what happens? The Secretary General from the podium of the White House [said], “2%, Mr. President? You got it.” Okay? On and on and on.
North Korea. North Korea has been a problem for the last thirty years in terms of the threat it face- or in terms of the threat it poses to our friends and our allies. Think about the fact that we now have a commitment- Forget about recent reports. You know Pompeo is on it. John Bolton’s on it. But we have a commitment from the Hermit Kingdom to denuclearize… to denuclearize. This is the same country that a year ago was launching ballistic rockets over the Sea of Japan.
This is a nation… Forget the reports about which base, which factory that’s disassembling or not. This is a nation that shipped the remains of 55 GIs back home on the 65th anniversary of the armistice. It didn’t- They didn’t have to do it on that day. That tells you something. When they decide to do this on the actual anniversary of the armistice that temporarily closed the Korean War, that tells you about the efficacy of his negotiating style.
China. The U.S. Navy is now making sure that China does not inhibit the free flow of international maritime traffic around the Asian waterways. China has now been subjected to the beginning of a 301 trade investigation for the theft and forced acquisition of U.S. intellectual property. This is a complete lecture by itself but we have since Kissinger facilitated the rise of a nation that wishes to displace us, not necessarily destroy us, this isn’t the Soviet Union… The One Belt, One Road strategy is about replacing America by the 100th anniversary of the Communist revolution in 2014. Just go home. Plug it into your search engine. One Belt, One Road. This President will not allow, not allow… We gave him a series of classified briefings after he came in. He very rapidly understood what China is doing. This President will not allow China to displace America; at least not on his watch.
Then we have the Russian sanctions, some of the stiffest international sanctions we have ever seen. Not only that, again just another comparison, the comparison’s so illustrative. After Russia invaded Crimea and took that territory for itself, the Obama Administration shipped 90 dark vision goggles and blankets to Kiev. Blankets. This administration has shipped Javelin anti-tank missiles. Okay? Blankets… anti-tank missiles. Okay? The idea, you know, the Russian collusion delusion is so absurd if you just look at that one measure. That one measure. Look at our response to the Skripal poisonings, the two poisonings in the UK. After that event in accord with our British allies this President exiled more than 60 Russian diplomats from this nation. Germany, the great powerhouse of Europe, did what? Expelled six or three? Four maybe. Sixty versus a number that you can count on one hand. That’s the President’s understanding of Russia.
Turkey: serious sanctions imposed. Syria: the launch of cruise missiles to make sure that regime does not use chemical weapons against women and children. And for the conspiracy theorists out there I cannot discuss it but I saw the intel. I can confirm to you that the President’s reasons were exactly what the President said they were. I’m not going into details but we had utter certitude as to who used those weapons and who we were attacking with those cruise missiles.
The canceling of the JCPOA: another incredibly proud moment for me. The President consulted me in the White House after the White House about the issue. This was bad not only for us, it was bad for Israel, bad for regional and global security writ large. It is now history.
Relations with the Arab world
And lastly, with regards to the Middle East, something that is not well understood or well-adequately appreciated: what the President did in Riyadh. It is very interesting to watch. I suggest you watch the video of the President’s Riyadh address to the heads of State of the Arab and Muslim world. This was tough love. This was- This was not a protocol speech. In that speech to the assembled leadership of the Ummah if you will, the Muslim world, the President of the United States said word for word, he said, “You must rid your places of worship of the extremists, you must rid the mosques, and you must rid your societies of terrorists.”
One Arab woman told me, three weeks after the speech, she said, “That is the speech we have been waiting for for seventeen years.” Okay? Now, why is the video interesting? Because you’d think this, you know, 6’3″ tough guy from Queens going into the middle of the Hejaz, reading them the riot act, would create all kinds of bad blood. Watch the video. It is fascinating. Watch the video of his speech. They pan around the audience as he is delivering this very tough speech and if you think about how I pitched it, there would be negativity, there would be crossed arms, there would be- the body language would be ejecting.
On the contrary, on the contrary, Sisi is beaming. King Abdullah is beaming. This is what they need. And what happens within ten days? The GCC, the Gulf Cooperation Council, says, “Look we are all guilty. We have all been mucking around doing things we should not have been doing, but guess what? One of us is worse than everybody else, and it is Qatar, and we are going to boycott Qatar and we are going to blockade Qatar.”
Now, that is geopolitics. That is leadership. From one speech, one speech, leads to one of the biggest sponsors of global jihadism being dealt with by its own Arab Muslim neighbors. That is statecraft in the classic sense of the word.
What is the Trump doctrine?
So, what is the Trump doctrine? What is the strategy? I’ve got some bad news for you here. There are no labels. There are no categories. Why? Because this is not a man that fits into the IR theory book. Okay? I had to study it all. I had to teach it. It’s all garbage, okay? You cannot split the world into neo-liberals [and] realists. The world just does not function like an IR textbook.
What the president has brought to the table is, number one, a love of nation melded with pragmatism. He is the arch pragmatist and within that he has some fixed points, some polar points that help him in his navigation. And the two most important fixed points are number one: the world is a safer place when there is American leadership. Just a very simple statement: when there is American leadership, it is good for everybody that loves good things, meaning first principles, the founding principles of the republic, representative government, human rights, the dignity of the individual. When American leadership is asserted, these things are strengthened.
Interventionism is not an end in and of itself
But… with another very important fixed point for navigation with a very clear understanding that interventionism for the sake of interventionism is wrong, that we are not here to go gallivanting around the galaxy, imposing our writ on other human beings. That’s not what 1776 is about. 1776 is about people fixing it for themselves, yes? If we can help them from a distance, okay, but Iraq and Afghanistan in the original sense of what the Bush Administration did is absolutely antithetical to this president and he will never ever change his mind on that.
This is a 72-year old man. The idea that he is going to go soft on the base or he is going to betray the base… not happening, ladies and gentlemen. These are his instincts. I met him for the first time in 2015 in his offices in Trump Tower. He said the same thing then as he says now, and it is very enlightening. Go back and watch his interviews from twenty or thirty years ago. The guy has not flip-flopped on any of these issues; trade, China, Iraq. He has had the same views, the same principles for decades and that is why he’s been such a success in the last eighteen months.
Diplomacy is not an end in and of itself
What else is key to his praxis? Diplomacy is not an end in and of itself. It’s very important. You know multilateralism is not valuable because it’s multilateralism. Likewise, there are no sacred cows. Just because this city or this alliance or this arrangement has been doing things a certain way for thirty or forty years, does not mean it is correct. The president is prepared to — you know — throw up the tables at any point if he thinks it does not make sense. His- I can’t go into details again, but with regards to Afghanistan, he cuts straight through the boilerplate of the DC swamp and just said, ‘but this isn’t true’. It is just, you know, what you are positing about a functioning Afghan government, is just not true.
And that takes a certain gumption, a certain spine in this city. And he rejects- It was in his speech I think two weeks ago maybe in Florida or no, Wilkes Barre in Pennsylvania, where he said I reject- These people aren’t the elite. They’re not the elite. You are the super elite. Yeah? And what does he mean by that? He understands that Americans are defined by a common sense attitude. It is results-oriented and he is applying common sense and results-oriented strategy to whatever problem it is, whether it is trade relations.
The Trade Wars
I was asked by a journalist before I started this speech here, “What about this trade war?” I said, “Donald Trump didn’t start a trade war.” “Well, what about treating allies the way he’s treating them?” Those kinds of allies, such as the EU, that has an almost quadruple tariff on U.S. vehicles going into the EU in comparison to how much we tax European vehicles coming in here. Those kinds of allies? Those kinds of allies to the north of us that impose an almost 300% tariff on American dairy products?
Who started the war? Friends do not treat each other like this. And so what he is saying is no sacred cows and I’m going to have a global reset button and not a plastic, cheesy one that’s mistranslated. I’m going to have a real reset button. It’s not about trade wars. It’s about equitable relations that make sense. That’s the encapsulation of his strategy.
At the end of the day it is America first. It is American interests first. But with a little caveat and this is from the Marines Corps. When I was in the White House, I used this Marines Corps motto. It is not official for the president or the White House but I think it is very apt. There is a certain division which, interestingly, has supplied three members of the administration, three marines, same division, which has a certain motto: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy. That is the Trump Doctrine.
Pragmatism and Counterterrorism
With regards to pragmatism- I will end on an example and then we will take your questions with regards to the pragmatism let’s look at my field of interest specifically, which is counterterrorism. Counterterrorism is a very good case study for how common sense has to be applied and we have to reassess the approach strategically. At the moment if you look at the raw data, just think of these numbers.
The intelligence community, all of it, spends about six billion dollars on counterterrorism. That is a third of its budget. What the Trump Doctrine says is: is that the right ratio? Is a third of the danger to our nation today emanating from terrorism? Maybe twenty years ago, maybe eighteen years ago, but not today. If you look at the budget for counterterrorism in general, it is a hundred billion dollars. Is that the level of the threat we face? 9/11 changed history, but it may be an outlier.
We now know from declassified documents discovered in Abbottabad [that] bin Laden never expected the towers to fall. He was surprised. Yeah? Just like Rosie O’Donnell was surprised that flames can melt steel. Yeah? Bin Laden did not expect three thousand people to be killed in 120 minutes, so that could be an outlier in terms of terrorist capacities against the United States.
Nevertheless, 9/11 illustrated flaws in the system. The cast iron separation between domestic intelligence and federal law enforcement led to certain things such as what? Hamzi and Midhar, two of the hijackers who were on a watchlist which was not transmitted to another agency, applying for a visa in the embassy in Ankara or Istanbul and receiving their visas. The system was broken and the system needed to be fixed. The separation between external and internal threats, it’s a very Westphalian understanding.
Is the world today- Can you categorize threats in a way that puts some of them in a box here that’s external and some of them in a box here that’s internal? Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, which is he? Okay, he’s a U.S. Major… but who gave him permission to kill his fellow servicemen? An American-Yemeni sitting in Yemen called Anwar al-Awlaki who he was emailing who he asked, “Is it- If I am to be deployed to the Middle East and I have to fight my fellow Muslim, can I instead kill my fellow servicemen before I leave?” And Anwar al-Awlaki gives his blessings. This is in the post-Fort Hood shooting report by Drudge, [the] former director of the FBI. Don’t read the Army report. Read the judge’s report which has the email traffic between Awlaki and Hasan.
So, where does that threat fit? It doesn’t fit neatly into our boxes. [It’s] also a failure of imagination to think about how enemies that are non-state that are globally dispersed will use certain Achilles heels, aspects of our system against us. And lastly, the thing that we built our work on for years, my wife and I, and which was part of the logic for the establishment of the Westminster Institute; knowing the enemy. We used to really know our enemy. When it was the Germans, when it was the Soviets, we would have people who’d been to the German Kriegsakademie. The person who wrote the V-plan, the Victory Plan for World War II was a German major called Videmayer who actually attended the German Kriegsakademie. It’s a lot easier to beat the Nazis if you’ve attended their war college. Yeah? Likewise, the Cold War, my book Defeating Jihad is predicated on the amazing case study of containment policy, which can be traced back to what? George Kennan’s Long Telegram. A man who had imbibed and studied Russian Soviet culture for twenty years before Washington said to him as he’s sitting in Moscow, “Why is Uncle Joe behaving the way he’s behaving?” And he sits down and writes a classified cable that explained why the Soviet Union must destroy America – must destroy America if it is to be true to its ideology, to its totalitarian soul. We forgot to do that. The 1990s kind of eradicated our concept of knowing the enemy. We didn’t know who the enemy was for a whole decade. A friend of mine from Garmisch said this was the era of strategic malaise and confusion. Absolutely correct. There was no clear understanding of who the enemy is and therefore who we should understand and as a result what happens? We were slapped in the face on September the Eleventh and we wake up to cultures we do not well understand. So we have to reapply a pragmatic approach.
Today, as one example, the most important aspects of counterterrorism, the threat analysis officially inside the administration with regards to terrorism in America or the threat to America now consists of four things: HVE, Homegrown Violent Extremists, people that are radicalized here, the leveraging of social media, how the enemy uses media to recruit, to indoctrinate, and to provide certain aspects of command and control, the question of returning fighters, Americans that have gone to fight jihad and come home, how do you deal with them, they haven’t committed a crime in America but they’ve killed people over in Mesopotamia, and now lastly, the remaining issue of domestic terrorism, those terrorists that are not jihadists but could still pose a threat to America. Now that’s the state of the art. Those four things are state of the art. Only one of them has to do with anything outside America. Only one. Now compare that to seventeen years ago. Seventeen years ago was all about guys from abroad coming here to kill Americans in the space of less than a generation. Even just the counterterrorism slice has changed considerably and that’s why it’s a good thing we have a new Commander in Chief who’s applying a pragmatic approach of reassessment.
And on the last point here, Katie does a lot of work with domestic law enforcement. I’ve trained thousands of state, local, federal law enforcement agents. If you ask a law enforcement officer today… just get out of the bubble. We live in the bubble. This is the bubble. Get out of the bubble. Go you know go west, young man. If you talk to law enforcement officers across the country, they’re not really worried about jihadis. You know jihadis are not the number one threat for them. They’re concerned about gangs. They’re concerned about the opioid crisis, the effects on their communities. Here are some numbers. The National Institute for Drug Addiction monitors these issues. 65,000 people die every year from drug overdoses. Within that just the opioids, the fentanyl, the Chinese, counterfeit opioids [kill] more than 20,000 people. That’s a trade war. That’s a trade war. Where China is smuggling something into America that kills almost seven times the amount of people killed on 9/11. This is why reappraisal is always justified when it comes to strategic assessments or active shooters. Yes? Local law enforcement wants to know about active shooters as well. What do you do? How do you secure local schools?
So, praxis. Well, one area that I’m just going to put out here because I wish to stick a flag in the ground. One area that we have not come to terms with adequately in the year and a half since the administration began or the last thirty years is what we used to call influence operations and what we are calling now interference. Yeah? This isn’t about a meeting with Donald Trump, Jr. in the Trump Tower. It’s about what China and Russia and Iran and North Korea and other states are doing every day as you sit here. In many cases facilitated by American actors, wittingly or unwittingly. Just the fact that Google alone is helping- has been convinced by certain actors in Beijing to assist that regime in the censorship and potential persecution of its own people. That form of influence upon our private sector is bad for all Americans, not just people in China. When you give that kind of power to a competitor that wishes to replace you, we have to go back to the idea of how do you deal with what we used to call active measures? We have to take seriously the subversive tools that nation-state actors are still using against us and now in very, very sophisticated ways. So I’ll close on this.
What do you need to know about the current Commander in Chief and where he is going? I’ll give you the cheat sheet. It’s very easy. First, read the National Security Strategy. It was written by a colleague of mine. I was in most of the meetings. It’s the first National Security Strategy worthy of that title since the end of the Cold War. It’s not boilerplate. It’s not pablum. It is a serious expression of what America holds dear, of what it will defend, and how it will defend it. That’s a very technical approach, strategic document.
The other cheat sheet – and if you haven’t done so, please, you know before you go to bed tonight, read it, watch it; the President’s Warsaw speech. The President’s Warsaw speech will go down, mark it now, as one of the most important presidential speeches of the modern age. Read it. Watch the video. And understand what it means when we have a president who uses ideas and talks about good confronting evil. We haven’t done that for many, many years. Think about the fact that he talks about ‘with our Polish comrades, bleeding and dying for freedom together’. It wasn’t easy for us but we insisted with the Warsaw government that the president not use some beautiful central location for that speech but he do it right next to the site of the Warsaw Uprising. It took us several weeks to make that happen and it was important that he did it right there next to the monument, the statue of those freedom fighters coming out of the sewers to reassert the sovereignty of their nation. Think about the fact that in that speech the President mentioned the event on June the 2nd 1979 which the then-Polish Administration refused to televise where a million human beings living in a captive nation stood at Victory Square to listen to the first ever Polish Pope and chanted, “We Want God, We Want God,” in 1979. There’s a reason it’s in that speech. Why? Because the Warsaw Speech is the reassertion of America’s proud Judeo-Christian values and a statement that we will stand by these values, we will represent these values, and we will stand shoulder to shoulder with any other nation or community that espouses those Judeo-Christian values with us be it Poland, be it Israel. That is not to the detriment of others. If you wish to be our partner and you share our interests be you the Jordanians, be you the Egyptians, be you anybody else, we will be your friend but we are fundamentally a Judeo-Christian nation.
Let me read to you just two sentences from that speech. The first one is a very somber question to his audience, “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have the desire and the courage to defend our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?” We haven’t used words like ‘our civilization’ even under the Bush Administration, especially under the last administration. And then he closes with this, “Our own fight for the West does not begin on the battlefield. It begins with our minds, our wills, and our souls. Today the ties that unite our civilization are no less vital and demand no less defense than that bare shred of land on which the hope of Poland once rested where he was standing. Our freedom, our civilization, and our survival depend depend on these bonds of history, culture, and memory.” Quite a different approach to the world. Thank you.