Policy Corner: Russia & Cold War 2.0, A Conversation with General Wesley Clark

Policy Corner: Russia & Cold War 2.0, A Conversation with General Wesley Clark


Welcome. My job is to introduce General Wes Clark,
and that’s what I’ll do. And I’ll do it very shortly, because
nothing I say will be as important as what Mike and Wes are going to say,
when they get up on the stage. Wes Clark finished his West Point career,
his 4 years as class valedictorian,
number one student at West Point. They make a very hard effort at ranking
everybody from one all the way down to 1,000 that were in that first class with
him, when he was a plea at West Point. And by being valedictorian,
he gets to get his choice of assignment, which is a big deal. He didn’t choose a he chose something
in the heart of the fighting. He was a Rhode Scholar,
went to Oxford, graduated from Oxford. And then he had the career that the good
guys get, the ones that go to combat. He was wounded in Vietnam,
he had four bullets in him, that’s enough. Glad it wasn’t five, too bad it was four. He went on from there to
graduate from all of the service schools that generals
get to graduate from. At the National War College,
when he was a student, the Army officers,
we had about 40 of them, we’re jealous. And the Air Force, and Navy,
and the Coast Guard, and Marine officers were all
in awe of Wes Clark. He would see things before anybody else
did, while he was at National War College. He went on to be Commander in Chief of two
commands in the United States Military. He was the Commander in
Chief of South Com, which takes care of everything to the south of
the Rio Grande for the United States. And then he became
the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. I will tell you that there
were people in the army, that would rather have that job than
to be chief of staff of the army. As Chief of Staff,
you have command over the people, about as many as the first row here. But as the sack, you’ve got command
there of 28 different militarys. He was the Commander-in-Chief,
Supreme Allied Commander-in-Chief, when we had a war with some
bad guys in the Balkans. And in that war, we did not lose a single
American, not a single American to combat. Think about that, when you think about
Iraq, and you think about Afghanistan, and you think about Vietnam. The last thing I’m going to say is,
Wes has written four books, this is the latest one. Before I came tonight
to introduce him here, I stop up at the bookstore and
we negotiated a discount for George Mason’s students. And if you wanted the book,
they don’t have copies of it. They have copies of textbooks. But they will give you a 10% discount, and I intend when I get off of
the stage to hand the book out. So you can drop down the main
route on your program, and let the books on loan that you’d like
a copy and you get a 10% discount. And I would feel odd not saying something
that the other person beyond the stage, Mike Hayden I wrote a book called,
Playing to the Edge. I highly recommend that book,
like I highly recommend this book. This book deals with the strategy for
American growth. Don’t wait for the next war. Some of you know,
that General Hayden was Chief of Intelligence to two big offices and
intelligence for most of his career. But, for one shot of his career,
he worked in the White House and he drafted the presidents
national security strategy, when George HW Bush was
the President of the United States. So, Mike is like all good officers at
his rank, was deep in strategy as well. Ladies and Gentlemen, General Wes Clark.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>Thank you very much, Al.>>Thank you.
>>Well, thank you very much Al for that kind introduction. And it’s great to see everybody tonight. Mike and Janine,
thank you very much for hosting me. Laurie thank you, and
to all the faculty members, and some old friends who are here
it’s a real pleasure to be here. Now, I wanna talk for maybe 20 minutes,
and then Mike and I are going to have a dialogue, and then we’re gonna
ask you all to come in on this. And I want to start by saying that, I’ve been out 18 years
now from the military. It was the epitome of America’s power in the summer of 2000, when I was out
on the parade field at Fort Meyer. And, the armed forces were fantastic. We’d succeeded in Kosovo. There was no challenge. The economy was blossoming
with all of the Internet, and people were coming over here
to learn our business methodology. Goldman Sachs was on top of
the world as investment banking, people were learning
English all over the world. There were– it was the end of history. And it’s all changed. But I’ve had 18 years
in the private sector. I did divert for
five months to run for office. I hope you won’t hold that against me. I did have to declare
a political candidacy. So, I couldn’t run against a sitting
president in his own party, so I took the other party. I can therefore talk to
you about everything from top ranking military to
top ranking politics. I did win the Oklahoma Democratic primary. And I can talk to you about business. And one of the saddest days in my life, was to come back from
a business trip to Asia and watch on CNN, as little green
men were taking over Crimea. We knew who they were,
there was no secret about that. I thought it was all behind us. And so there it was, in living color and there were our commentators and
our news reporter challenging it. Who could this be? Well, there doesn’t seem to be any, well, they do look like they’re wearing Russian
uniforms, but there are no patches. Who might this be? Probably from Mars.>>[LAUGH]
>>So, it was resurrected, that Cold War challenge. So, that’s what I wanna
talk about tonight. Now, unless you’ve been asleep for
the last couple weeks, you know that Putin’s bragging
about his military force. He’s shown a cartoon that shows
missile strikes on Florida. He’s talking about nuclear torpedos,
hypersonic aircraft. I mean, what in the world? And, I thought this guy was supposed to be
a friend of our president or something. But, he’s not acting friendly. And in fact, if you go back and
track it down. The title, a New Cold War,
that’s what I wanna talk about. And so, I have three propositions. In the Army, we always said,
tell them what you want them to know. Tell it to them, and
then remind them what you told them. So here’s my three propositions. Number one, the old struggle never ended. Number two,
it’s not a replay of the Cold War. And number three, we are in a struggle for the world of structure in a conflict
that you might call ongoing, real time, current, hybrid warfare. Okay, proposition one, it never ended. I left the 1st Cavalry Division
in March of 1994 to become the Director of Strategic Plans and
Policy in the Joint Staff. When I got there,
General Shalikashvili, my boss, said, Wes,
you’re supposed to be the strategist. So tell me, what is this
strategy that we are following? There was no strategy. We were about to invade Haiti. We were worried about
North Korean nuclear issues. We had an active conflict
going over the Adriatic, and over Bosnia with two NATO
operations to deny flight and to deny sea access to enforce a UN
arms embargo on the conflict. And we had a drug war in
South America that was heating up. So it was a very, very busy time. And the second day I was there,
the conflict in Rwanda started. So what was the strategy? Well, I participated in the first
US-Russian staff talks. So I went to Moscow as
a principal US representative. We were in Russian MOD, I met
General Kolesnikov, the Chief of Defence. I held torch with his staff officers. And in the middle of the conversation,
one said to me. He said, when will your NATO
ships be in our port of Riga? Well, I said, excuse me, but I think
Latvia’s an independent country now. We don’t have any plans to be there, but the more you ask that question,
the sooner we’ll be there. So I met my counterpart,
Lieutenant General Barinka or Colonel General Barinka, is the way it
would be in the Russian chain of command. And when I went into his big office, he was Director of Operations for
the Russian General Staff. He had about a four-foot globe. And he said to me through an interpreter,
he said, I know everything that’s
happening on this globe. I can put my finger anywhere, and
tell you what’s happening, can you? So, [LAUGH]
I said, yeah, I’ve got pretty much
the same information. And so
we immediately had this relationship, that was a good relationship, but
a relationship fraught with insecurities. General Shalikashvili and Secretary
Defense Perry had said they did not want to expand NATO, because they were
sensitive to the pledge that had been made during the Bush administration,
not to rub it in to the Russians. So I got back from my trip. I went by Bosnia, saw Bosnia on the way. Came back, and I cleared a speech
over Labor Day weekend, and then one of my jobs is
to look at speeches. It was from Vice President Gore,
and he was gonna give it in Berlin. And in it, he called for
the enlargement of NATO. I crossed it out. It was a Friday morning. It came back, second draft,
Friday afternoon. The NATO piece was back in there. I crossed it out,
said joint staff non-concurs. I came in the office Saturday morning,
third draft. It was back in there again. I took it to General Shalikashvili,
I said, sir, I can’t seem to get this out. He said, don’t worry,
I’ll take care of this. So I came in on Tuesday
after Labor Day weekend, and I said whatever happened to that speech? He said, he gave it yesterday. And sure enough, a week later, Holbrooke
show back in the State Department. And he’d been transferred from being
the Ambassador to Germany and Al Gore’s escort, to now being this assistant
Secretary of State for European Affairs. And he called a meeting, so there were
three of us went over from the Pentagon, Ash Carter, future Secretary of Defense,
and another man, and I. And Holbrook said,
there was about 20 of us sitting around this little table
in the state department. He said, you know what he said? In 1945, Senator Barbara Mikulski’s
grandmother took her picture of Franklin Roosevelt, and
put it face down on her dresser, and never looked at it again for
the rest of her life. Now, he said, this is going to be fixed. He said, we’re going to enlarge NATO. We’re gonna bring in Hungary. We’re gonna bring in the Czech Republic,
and we’re bringing in Poland. He says, is there any discussion of this? Is there anybody who doesn’t
believe this is official US policy? Well, of course I raise my hand.>>[LAUGH]
>>Nobody told me it was official policy. So we have a big dispute, and
Holbrook calls me disloyal. I had to go back to the Pentagon and
tell my boss, sir, I’ve screwed up again. I’m in a fight with Holbrook. And Charlie says, well,
she said I have already heard. They love you at NATO for this.>>[LAUGH]
>>But it was the official US policy, and we did enlarge NATO. We did the Bosnia peace talks that
ended up in an agreement at Dayton. We brought the Russians into it. I went with the Deputy Secretary
of State to Moscow. And I was going to Moscow, my friend Colonel General Barinka
was there to talk to me again. He said,
we know what you Americans are up to. He said,
you’re coming into our part of Europe. And you say you’ll be gone in a year,
but you won’t be. Well, we said in the agreement,
for the date in peace talks, we’d be gone in a year. This was a National Security
advisor’s artful way of trying to slip it through Congress
without a big objection. So I tried to explain to Barinka,
I said no, no, no, it says he’s just please, please. You say you’ll be gone, but
please we are Russians. We understand you. So they had that sensitivity
about their part of Europe. I rode around when I became the NATO
Commander at 97 with the incoming Chief of Defense in Moscow, General Kavashni. He’d been a Division Commander
in Afghanistan. We talked about his Spetsnaz. We talked about the Hinds. We talked about chemicals. And as he said, they were winning until
the Hinds started to get shot down. Sitting between us was an interpreter,
Olga. Big, tall woman from Russia, who’s married to a US Airforce Sergeant
in my headquarters. So Kavashni and I had a great relation,
we talked and everything. I later went to see him in Moscow. And at this point, he was under control,
so he couldn’t talk to me anymore. Instead, he said to me this,
1998, He said, you Americans, you’re taking our
countries in Eastern Europe. This is where we’re selling weapons and
you want to sell them weapons. I said, no, no, we’re not trying to take. They wanna be with NATO. We’re not trying to sell weapons,
you can sell them weapons. If your weapons are better,
let them buy your weapons. He said, you want our countries and
you want our minerals. You will take our minerals and
make us poor. So this was the sophistication of General
Kovashni’s view of the world in 1998. So, the events in
the Balkans deteriorated. Larry, if you can put that map up, because a lot of people can’t
quite remember the geography here. So here’s Greece, Albania,
the heel of Italy, the Adriatic, and
there’s Romania and Hungary, and then this was all
Yugoslavia except for Albania. The Chinese took care of Albania. We fought the communists in Greece in
the late 40s, and then Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia,
and then up there in purple is Slovenia. That was all Yugoslavia, and
it was all coming apart, and there was a war going on. Well, we negotiated in 95
the end of that conflict. And then we knew there was a problem here,
because this was part of Serbia but it was occupied by Albanians, different
ethnic group, different religion. And so what happened was that
starting in the early 1990s, Serb Dictator Milosevic had put
pressure on these Albanians. And in Christmas time of 1992 and Mike, maybe you were still in
the White House at that point, President George H Bush issued
a so-called Christmas warning. He said, if you repress and use violence
against your Albanian citizens, we could take forceful
measures to prevent you. That meant a bombing response. So that was called the Christmas warning. And by 1998, there was violence in Kosovo. And as this violence escalated,
NATO was faced with a quandary. We had 30,000 troops,
Here enforcing the peace. This part of Bosnia was
declared the Republika Srpska, and was a separate principality or
entity within Bosnia. And right over here,
a few miles away, was fighting. And the fighting that it occurred
here was now occurring here. But as the President of Macedonia told me,
he said, he called me in in February of 1986. General Clerk, he said, these Albanians,
they’re not like the Bosnians. They will fight and there will be war. The Serbs murdered a family of 60
people in late February of 98, the Jashari family, and that set it off. And so the Albanians fought, the Serbs
used their paramilitary police and their army, about 2 million people
in that little principality. And NATO structured a series of
escalating steps going from a warning to flying aircraft, to bombing campaigns in
an effort to persuade the Serbs to stop. It was a form of compellence. We sent Richard Holbrooke
back over to negotiate. Ambassador Chris Hill was in Macedonia. Some of you may know Ambassador Hill,
and he did the negotiations as well. And, [COUGH] about 400,000 Kosovars
were forced out of their homes in the summer of 98, and
then we got it stopped. But the Russians came in in a military
mission in December of 98, and essentially, as far as we could tell, told
the Serbs hey, don’t worry about NATO. Number one, they’ll never hold together. Number two, if they use air power against
you, hey, we tried that in Afghanistan. Didn’t work for us, won’t work here. So do what you need to do,
clear out these Albanian terrorists. And so
that started in earnest in January of 99. Negotiations were tried,
and ultimately they failed. And the ethnic cleansing escalated, and
so NATO then went to its escalation. We did limited air strikes on Kosovo. We expanded the air strikes in Serbia. We bomb for 78 days. We talked about and began to prepare for
putting a ground operation in place, and after 78 days, with the help
of Finnish President Ahtisaari and Russian Deputy Prime
Minister Chernomyrdin, we got Milošević to surrender. He pulled his Serb forces,
military, paramilitary. Lock, stock and barrel out of Kosovo,
and a NATO mission was put in. And the result of that
was that it happened, but there was a Russian special op
at the end of it run by Putin, who was then the SVR, I think, Commander. And it failed and NATO succeeded. Ten years later,
Kosovo became an independent country, and it just celebrated its tenth
anniversary of independence. But the Russians didn’t forget this,
and Putin didn’t forget this. So from the Russian present perception
by the turn of the century, the United States had taken over
their position in Eastern Europe, and used force against their Serb allies, and
was threatening to create a new state. It had expanded NATO. And the same guys in uniform and in the intelligence service were there
who had been there in the Cold War. They were the losers,
and they didn’t like it. So, after 9/11, what’s happened? American exceptionalism. After the terrorist strikes, of course
we use the power of the US Treasury that interferes with Russian money. We put sanctions on. We invaded Afghanistan. And we knocked that Taliban
regime right out of town. And then we went into Iraq,
and then we went into Libya. We went into Libya by taking
a humanitarian UNSCR, UN Security Council Resolution and
using it. And we used the same kind of tactics
in Libya that we used in Kosovo, and we did it without even knowing
what was gonna happen at the end. We have the National Endowment for
Democracy. Many of you probably never heard of it. Ronald Reagan started it
as an opposite number for the communist international,
for common term. And what they did with it,
what we do when I was on the board of it, is we train poll watchers and lawyers. And we help freedom loving
people everywhere work for establishing human and political rights. In other words, from Moscow’s point of
view, it’s a subversive organization. And starting in 2004, 2005, Putin worked
vigorously, not only in Russia but in the stands, to eliminate
the National Endowment for Democracy. To clamp down and force these NGOs that
were encouraging civil disobedience and even an understanding of civil
rights out of his domain. And then there was Ukraine. You see,
Putin had created a Eurasia union concept, which would have put Russia back
in charge of all the Soviet space. Now it wouldn’t have been
a single government, but you didn’t need a single government. If you control the customs, the borders,
the Armed Forces interoperability, it’s all on your language,
all the military schooling, and the electricity grid, you own it,
to heck with the elections. And that was the Eurasia Union and
that’s the point at which Ukraine said no, so there led then to the little
green men and the action. The struggle never ended, proposition one. Proposition two,
not a replay of the Cold War. I wish it were so easy that they could
be isolated behind an Iron Curtain. But they’re entangled with the West
financially through energy, with leadership and with dual citizens. There was actually a guy who’s a dual
citizen Russian-US, who claims to have been in Putin’s office when Putin
said let’s interfere in the election. Yeah, what are you going to do
with people who are actually able to take Russian money legally
through their own businesses and come into an American election campaign? Well, that’s the current status,
that’s the leadership in interchange. But Europe is heavily dependent
on Russian natural gas. And as a member of the United Nations
told me several years ago, he said General Clark, everywhere
there’s a pumping station in Europe for gas there’s Russian money buying
politicians and friendship. Former German Chancellor Schroeder is the
Chairman of the Nord Stream Gas Pipeline that will make Europe even more
dependent on Russian energy. And I was in Ukraine
a couple of years ago, and a professor with old ties to the
intelligence community met me and he said, General Clark, do you know what the
diameter of the Nord Stream pipeline is? I said no, [LAUGH]. Why would I know? I said I guess it’s a big pipeline. I said why would I know the diameter? He says, it’s the diameter in which
you can push through a nuclear device. Boy, they think of everything don’t they? And financial, I mean in the Cold War,
Russian rubles weren’t convertible, and
Russian money was behind the Iron Curtain. Today, it’s everywhere. When the incursion happened in Ukraine, you only had to watch
the British press and the Wall Street Journal to see that this
was a shock to the financial community. They did not want to see this. Why? Because there are a lot of
people with Russian investments. And there were Western companies
that wanna do invest in Russia. So proposition two, for financial,
for energy reasons, for the interchange of personnel and
leadership. It’s not a replay of the Cold War. But then what would Putin’s objectives be? Well, his objective is to re-establish
the equivalent of the Soviet space so that Russia’s stronger and eventually
it can contest Eurasia with China. His objective is to break
the international systems. The laws, the structures, the incentives,
and return to traditional spheres of influence balance of power system
that lays Russia more secure and more powerful to handle China later. And how’s he gonna do this? What’s going on right now? The same kind of active measures
that were always in place. In addition to the collection of
intelligence, there’s disinformation, there’s fake news, there’s operations,
there’s financial, commercial, military. Here’s an example. A year and a half ago in Croatia, the largest meat company in
commercial enterprise went bankrupt. And people in Croatia were saying,
well, what’s gonna happen to this, there’s 60,000 employees in the Balkans. This is like Tyson’s plus Walmart. So, I called some of my American investor
friends, and I said, they’re bankrupt, it’s a hug organization, can you help? The American investment community’s
attitude was, well, gee, well, we’ve look at this and although it’s a big
company, and it, yeah, it’s over extended right now, but it’s going to lose to
German hypermarkets that are penetrating the Balkans, and therefore,
it’s not a wise investment for us. But the Russians saw it as
a wise investment for Russia. And all of my friends in
the Balkans are calling and saying, the Russian’s
are gonna buy this thing. They’re gonna keep it in business and then at the opportune time they’re
gonna pull the string on it, pow, and it will collapse, like they did with
the Commerce Commercial Bank in Bulgaria. In 2014, after the invasion of Ukraine, when the European Union told Bulgaria,
you won’t take the South Stream pipeline through Bulgaria,
Bulgaria was a little disappointed. They wanted the money that would come, but
they said, okay, okay, we won’t take it. The Russians were greatly disappointed. What they did is they took their
Russian investment to a Russian bank into the Bulgarian bank, they pulled
their money out of the Bulgarian bank. The Bulgarian bank collapsed, it had 70 % of the Bulgarian
government’s money on deposit. So the Bulgarian economy shutdown. It wasn’t a fatal blow,
it was like many blows, part of hybrid warfare,
part of reminding you we’re here. So the Russians with their active
measures, their financial, commercial, their military buildup,
their alliances with China, Iran, North Korea, all bad actors. This is the old Soviet system in attitude,
but with more lovers of power and a man
in charge who’s more of a risk taker. For us, we’ve got the challenge
compounded by the assent of China, and by fractious politics, here at home. Is there a way through it? Of course. But that’s what Mike and
I, I hope to talk about. We’ve got to have a strategy, and we can’t wait until the next
war to create the strategy. That’s why I wrote my book out. So thank you very much,
at that point I’d like to stop and will go into the dialogue,
questions and answers.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>Thank you, we are gonna leave some time for
questions for the group. We’ll have a little conversation
here first, but plenty of time, so start thinking of the questions
you might wanna ask. So sir, I followed your presentation and
I kinda see three stages here. You’ve got the Balkan thing, and then you’ve got how the Balkans
fit into the broader Slavic world, and Russian identity, and then
finally what are we gonna do about it? So I’d like to kinda walk you back
through, take this one step at a time, begin with the Balkan war and
then move forward. So Europe Supreme Allied Commander. This is difficult war to fight, you’re fundamentally there
to coerce to change policy. Did you have a lot of
limitations placed on you? You did not, you had. I won’t say unlimited combat power, but you had a lot of combat power
available but you couldn’t always use it. So I wanna ask you a couple
questions about some specifics. You’re an American but you are also
Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and I know enough about the war in Kosovo
to know that that dichotomy created great stress for you, that you felt you were
beholden to the North Atlantic Council but your home government thought
you were working for them. You want to talk a little bit about,
and to reinforce this, the home government is being run by
a president with whom the general had a personal relationship,
because they’re both Arkansans, okay? So, discuss. [LAUGH]
>>Yeah, well, so I’ve worked as a speech writer and assistant exec for
Al Haag when he was made our commander. So I’d seen the split between NATO and
the United States. Every SACEUR leads to prior, to me,
has had to deal with this problem. It’s a structure that Ike put in place. You can’t lead the alliance
unless you also lead and have the leverage of commanding
the US forces in the alliance. And it was just a question of what
the challenges were and who saw what. So in 1978, Al Haig forced through
the long-term defense program, a 3% per year increase in real
spending by NATO countries. He forced it through, he had some allies
in the Carter administration, but he had some enemies in the Carter administration,
too, but he worked it through NATO. Al Haig built a response
to the SS-20 missile, and he built it by forming an alliance
with the German Minister of Defense even though there were those in the United
States who were not so keen on this. And there was this famous sit-down
session where General Haig and President Carter met in Brussels. I wasn’t in the room,
I was outside the room afterwards. And Carter said to Haig, he said,
General, he said, I don’t trust you. And Haig said back to Carter,
Mr President, I don’t trust you.>>[LAUGH]
>>So, there have been tough times. No, you may not have heard that-
>>[LAUGH]>>But yes, it’s true. There have been tough times
in this getting this right. So what happened was that we had gone into Bosnia- With a plan that
brought peace to Bosnia. When everything began
to unravel in Kosovo, we had a different Secretary of Defense. We had a Secretary of Defense
who’d been a Republican Senator, whose primary purpose was to
rebuild the Defense Department from the early days of taking
the peace dividend and whose war plans had envisioned
two major theaters of war. One was Korea, one was Iraq, and maybe
Iran is a lesser included part of this. And so here I was pleading from NATO, not a war fighting commander, just another
general over there saying that there’s gonna be a war here and it’s like,
what the hell’s he talking about? I mean, A, he’s not supposed to have
a war, and B, we can’t afford it, we’ve got too many other issues on our plate,
so that was the American perspective. And the European perspective was, we just
had this horribly destructive conflict in Bosnia, it cost us billions of dollars,
we had two million refugees in Germany and everywhere else, people fleeing the
country, we’re about got it put together, and here’s Milosevic
starting it all over again. The UN was proved feckless. Is NATO going to be proved feckless? And so
you had these two divergent opinions. Madeleine Albright, the Secretary of State, was on
the fence on this, so what could we do? So I went to the White House,
with the permission of the Pentagon, and explained my, I gave a suggestion
of how it could be handled, which was basically a replay of
what we’d done in 95 with Bosnia. We had done bombing and
we’d done negotiations simultaneously, and that’s how we ended the conflict. So that’s what I proposed, and
I proposed the escalation. The vice chairman of the joint chiefs
called me, he was quite perturbed that I hadn’t consulted him,
I had only consulted Shelton. He called me back and
he said, Wes, he said, look, you know air power is not that good,
we can’t stop this thing from the air, so what’s gonna happen if we drop
a few bombs and they don’t stop? You’re gonna keep bombing? I said, yeah. He said, well, what’s gonna happen
if we bomb and they don’t stop? You’re gonna invade? I said, yeah,
that’s what we would have to do. He said, well, what would you do if you
invaded Kosovo and you’re still fighting? Look, I mean, I fought in Vietnam. My generation of army officers resolved, we would have the courage to stand up and
fight to win. So he said, you’re gonna go all the way? I said, yes,
we’re gonna go all the way to Belgrade. So this was battled back and forth and
the White House supported me. In NATO, you can’t do planning
unless it’s politically authorized. So all this was authorized at the
political level by the United States and by NATO. But inside the Pentagon
there was resistance. And so the Pentagon wanted to get
targets in Iraq and Korea and Iran, but
they didn’t wanna get targets in Serbia. Because it was like one of these things,
we’re not gonna do it, so we’re just not gonna do it. So the army chief of staff came
over to see me in December of 98. Actually, he didn’t come to see me. He came to see the army,
I had to go see him. And I said, chief, the way this is going,
we’re likely to be at war in Kosovo. He said, but Wes, we don’t wanna fight
in Kosovo, we wanna fight in Iraq. I said, well, Chief, I don’t think we
really wanna fight anywhere, do we? He said, well, I guess not. I said, but this is gonna be forced on us. I came back to Washington and
I reminded people in Washington that if it started it would
involve the Russians, so that’s the framework in
which I was operating.>>So-
>>Is that enough to sorta get into it?>>I get it, so you need to
coerce Milosevic at you in front?>>Right.>>Enough pain on him to make
him change course of faction. Going in a ground war is a big
step function, hard to do. I recall you’re trying to get America’s
army to commit helicopter gunships to the fight
>>Yep.>>And that was a struggle in and
of itself, right?>>Yeah.>>You had bombed for about ten weeks.>>Yep.>>He took a lot of pain..>>Yep.>>You wanna talk a little bit about,
what was the thought process as you’re trying to turn the dial-up-
>>Yeah.>>On what it is if you’re off the
>>So here’s the interesting thing, Mike. So I had a, the chain of command was that
we had US assets and we had NATO assets. The US assets included Tomahawk
missiles and Stealth Bombers, which could not be exposed to the NATO
chain of command cuz they weren’t allowed to know how it worked. So we had two different
sets of air tasking orders. They all came through a US air commander
who is an air force three-star underneath a navy four-star admiral. And so, the navy admiral and the air force three-star came
to me about three weeks before. And they said, boss, this is no good. We need to strike and turn out the lights
in Belgrade just like we did in Bagdad. We wanna big air power. We wanna go after them. First of all we did have the target set. But secondly,
we weren’t gonna get political permission. I’d all ready been told we couldn’t
do that, but I went to NATO anyway. I wanted to support my guys. So I went to see Javier Solano,
the NATO secretary general. I said, Javier, our analysis is
that we need to go in heavy and big at the outset and
deal a sizeable blow. Not repeat the mistakes of
Vietnam with creeping escalation. He said, Is this your view? I said yes it is. He said I leave it up to you, but you
must have the permission of the council. If you insist that this is the only way
to do it, you can go to the council, but I warn you, they will say no.>>[LAUGH]
>>So he left it up to me, so I was facing the position of saying
we’re gonna either do this thing the Air Force way of the way
we did it in the Gulf War. Which is to sweep in and
take out the whole systems overnight like Warner wanted to do, or
>>We’re gonna have to do it in a more politically savvy sense and
bring NATO along. The French were saying how do
you know you need to do this? Why would you do all this destruction? Maybe, maybe one night of bombing
in Milosevic we’ll realize he cant’ withstand the might of NATO
>>Maybe it will only take one night. Can you be sure it won’t take one night? No, I can’t be sure it
won’t take one night. Maybe it’ll just recognize
the inevitable and give up. So we had to start with the plans
that were authorized by NATO. 50 targets the first night, all in Kosovo. All in Kosovo, not in Serbia.>>So on the third night,
after the first night I called General Oidenich the Serb Chief of
Staff the morning after the strike. I said General Oidenich I said
now you’ve seen what we can do. I’d like to know if you’re prepared to
withdraw your forces and surrender. He said,
I will not talk to a war criminal. And so we didn’t get anywhere. I reported this through channels to state. And state department said, you’re not authorized to make calls
like that, don’t do it again.>>So we attacked the second night,
the third night, the fourth night. A stealth bomber at 1,900 feet
opened its bomb bay doors. And was detected on radar and
was hit and was shot down. We got the pilot out [COUGH] and So I went on the fifth night to see Solano and
the Chairman of the Military Committee. I said it’s not gonna work. We’re gonna have to escalate and
hit more sensitive targets. Solano said can you guarantee me that if
we hit such targets this will be over? I said, no I can’t. But I can guarantee you that if we don’t,
it won’t be. So we got the permission to escalate. Hugh Shelton called and said-
>>Chairman of the Joint Chiefs?>>He said,
would you like some Apache helicopters? I said I never thought I could have them. But yeah if you’re gonna offer them,
sure I’d love to have Apaches. He said send me a plan. So we came up with a battalion of Apaches. About 400 people. And some reinforcements for 1800 troupes. But the army Decide it couldn’t risk
the Apaches in actual combat [COUGH]. Because if they got shot down in combat
it might hurt their appropriations. So the Army then said well, 1,800 troops. But it doesn’t look to us
like you have enough You don’t have enough logistics people. So, the thing goes back and
forth another four days. He said, now you’re up to 2,400. But, you know, you don’t have enough
now with the additional logistics. You need more, impeach security.>>Force Protection.>>Yeah, so back around. And then he says now, with all those
people, where are they gonna live? You don’t have enough engineers. So it went back around again. You don’t have enough signal. Went back around again. So we finally got it up from
1800 people to 5500 people.>>Then they said,
this is too heavy to deploy so the Army resisted at
every step of the way. Finally we got the helicopters there. The Army was right to be nervous because these were inexperienced
helicopter pilots. And we had two Black Hawk
helicopter crashed on rehearsal. The Air Force stepped in then through
the office of the vice chairman, did its own study. That would prove conclusively that Apache
helicopters would all get shot down, as soon as they were committed. So they did not share that study with me,
but they did take it to the White House. And as a result, No matter how many times
I asked, there’s always another delay. So so much for being the joint commander.>>So all right,
you got to worry your increasing pressure. He’s resisting for lots of reason. The most of which, you know,
you and I’ve luck this round. We’ve been here, Pristina,
capital of Kosovo. There’s a little park just
outside of Film City, which ended up being
the NATO headquarters.>>Yeah.
>>It’s Kosovo Polye, it’s the field of blackbirds. It’s the great battle in the late 14th
century that created the Serb nation. So this is kinda like the Serbs losing
Conchord and Lexington, all right? It had been quintisentially Serb
with migrations over the years, economic conditions,
the population did change. And become largely Kosovar, but
Serbs still had the emotional attachment. So I get that. I need you to help me
understand the Russian emotional attachment to this fight.>>Why were they so committed?>>Yeah, well first, Mike,
[COUGH] I just have to say that in another violation of
good military principles. When we started the bombing, the objective was to force the Serbs
to come back to the negotiating table. To allow a peaceful Separation of
forces and a peaceful occupation. And it was only as the week went by and
it became total resistance by the Serbs. And they poured reinforcements in and began to assassinate people and throw the
bodies in mine shafts and stuff like this. That I went to Solana and said,
gotta change the objectives. I mean, you’ve got to tell
the Serbs they have to leave, you have to have a real objective for
this. And so Solano worked it and
that became the objective. So at that point, they were, ten days in,
they were at risk of losing Kosovo. And Madeline Albright came to see me
at breakfast on the 7th of April. And she said, well Wes, she said they call
it Madeline’s war in the White House. She said, but it’s not my war, she said,
it’s up to you and your bombing now. I said, well Madeline I said
bombing’s not gonna fix this. Bombing gives you leverage. It’s got to be negotiated out. So how I’m I gonna negotiate? The Russians won’t even talk to me. So, we had to put together
a negotiating channel, which we did with the fins, and so forth. And we were, by of course,
also writing the negotiating proposal. But the Russians had begun a resurgence
starting in the mid 1990s. When they saw NATO enlargement coming,
they begin to dig in their heels. It was already evident in the comment I
told you about, the home port of Riga. But that was before NATO made
the decision to enlarge. And so by 1997,
they were in on the ground in Bosnia with a battalion whose purpose was
essentially reconnaissance and figuring out what was
going on from the inside. Ygevny Primakov came
back from an old soviet diplomat who was a airapist,
came back and became, first he was the head of intelligence,
and then he became the prime minister. And when he was the prime minister,
he put all the old game play in place. The idea that we were adversaries, the idea that they had to
hold on to their space. It’s like a Romanian told me who had
been to the Military Academy said, they see the world as a chessboard. And each square, it’s like,
this is my country, this is your country. You’re taking my country I
will take your country, and that’s the way they approach geostrategy. So by 1998,
1999 that was in full flower in Moscow. And they were trying to hold on to
Serbia because that was their country.>>Orthodox language echo one another. Okay.>>All that.>>Yeah.>>But you now Tito as the President, as the leader of Yugoslavia,
he kept the Soviets out.>>Right.>>So it was-
>>But when it dissolves, the Serbs are looking for a sponsor,
and as Slavs, they looked to.>>Absolutely, right.>>Yeah.
>>Absolutely, right.>>Little drama at the end of the war, you mentioned it briefly
in your prepared remarks. The Russians racing to Pristina airfield,
you wanna talk a little bit. Number one, what happened tactically and why does that matter thinking
about the Russians going forward?>>Yeah, well, so
I came in on Thursday night, the 9th of June or 10th of June. The United Nations endorsed
the settlement and the Serbs have agreed to evacuate and
NATO forces would then occupy. The French Chief of Staff had
warn me a couple of days later, something’s going about the airfield. I said, what? He said-
>>The airfield at Pristina?>>At Pristina. He said, I can’t tell you. So I didn’t wanna make the mistake
Norm Schwarzkopf made, which was to do the negotiations yourself, [COUGH] you have to have a backstop, it’s
better to send a subordinate out to do it. So I sent the British three star, who was on the ground in
Macedonia to do the negotiations. And I said there’s a problem,
Batista, with the airfield. Do you have a plan to
deal with the airfield? He said, Zach, I have it covered,
we can seize the airfield. I said, well, I would like to
get a pre-brief of that plan before we execute it. But this was Wednesday morning. He was tied up day and night trying
to get the negotiations finished. We never actually got to the pre-brief and I couldn’t pull him out
of what he was doing. And then, I came in to the office
on Friday morning after having been congratulated for the war was over, said
it couldn’t be done, blah, blah, blah. And a guy calls me one of
my former captains who was in Bosnia as a liaison to
the Russian battalion. He says they’re crossing
the Triana River and headed into Serbia. And so I called the US forces commander
on the ground and said verify this. It took him two hours to verify. I called the Pentagon, I was instructed
by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chief, he said to just send a guy up in a Jeep
and have him look at the airfield. I said, well,
I don’t think that’s gonna do it. I called the NATO Secretary General,
I warned him. He says, Wes, you must take the airfield, you must seize that airfield,
you know that’s where they’re going. I said, do you have such a plan,
I said we do have a plan. But Madeleine Albright was in Macedonia,
she had everybody tied up. I couldn’t get a hold of the Commander,
I couldn’t get a rehearsal, I couldn’t figure out
what the plan was and by the time that Secretary Cohen came to
work, he and the Brits had talked it over. And said, look let’s just don’t do
anything, if it happens, it happens. It’s not worth messing everything up. What I found out later was
that Mike Jackson had agreed->>That’s the British Commander?>>The British Commander had agreed to
a secret protocol orally with the Serbs. That he would not do anything
regarding Pristina Airfield, but he didn’t tell me this. He probably didn’t think
that it was any big deal because he didn’t have any plan to do it,
but they did. And so then it became Jackson’s
word as a general, so he was resistant to this on Friday.>>Welcome to coalition warfare,
all right [LAUGH].>>So the CNN’s covering the Russian
battalion driving all day long, I’m sure you saw it Mike. You were back at NSA by that time right? And we’re going crazy,
finally everybody is so tired I just fell asleep,
and so Jackson said, look, if they go there, don’t worry. We’ll kick off at the crack of dawn,
it’s only like 20 miles, we’ll be there in an hour. [COUGH] So I said great, okay. I had a good night sleep. At 1 o’clock in the morning I get
this frantic call from Solano saying, they’re at the airfield,
they’re at the airfield. It’s terrible you must do something. So the next morning, the British Chief of
Defense calls me and he said, you were right, you’ve always been right about the
Russians, we should have listened to you.>>[LAUGH].
>>So I say to Mike Jackson, I said, Mike, how soon are you gonna be there? He said, soon Zach, soon. So it’s 10 o’clock, it’s noon, it’s 2
o’clock, it’s 3 o’clock, it’s 4 o’clock. Why aren’t you there? Well, there were land mines and
the Italians didn’t do this. And the Germans were slow and
blah, blah, blah. All these,
all of the typical excuses, right? So Mike finally gets out there about 5:30,
6 o’clock at night, 7 o’clock at night. The Russians are there. He tries to go onto
the airfield to claim it. And they charge at him with their
armored vehicles, so he backed off. So I reported this to Washington. I was told, put a helicopter or
two in on the landing strip, so they can’t reinforce. Because we were picking up, you would
know this but you don’t have to say it. But we were picking up indications
that their Soviet reinforcements were being marshalled for air loading and
transporting into the airfield. Maybe four brigades,
maybe six brigades of Soviet paratroops. So, that would have enabled
the Soviets to block NATO’s action. So, this is a bad thing.>>Preserving Kosovo as a Slavic
>>Exactly.>>On behalf of their
>>Right.>>Law-
>>Right.>>At a certain->>So, it’s pretty clear that in retrospect, the reason was
able to agree is because told them, don’t worry about it.>>We got you covered. So, Jackson went into the airfield,
and he was run off basically. So, I passed the instruction to land
the helicopters on the landing pad, and Admiral Ellis called
me about two hours later. He said-
>>Admiral.>>Admiral Ellis is the four
star over the three star.>>In Naples, right?>>Yep, and he says,
Jackson’s refused my order! He says he can’t do it and won’t do it. And anyway, he says,
there’s a thunderstorm and it’s unsafe to fly the helicopters. I’m like, okay, well I’m leaving at
4:00 o’clock in the morning to see and I’ll take care of it. So when I go down there,
I run into Jackson. And before we can discuss it rationally,
he brings it to a boil. I won’t do this for you! He’s all upset and
sort of very forcefully speaking. He had a reputation for, for
having, I don’t wanna go into that. I won’t say anything about this. So the point is that with Jackson,
we had a disagreement, so I called the British chief of defense
who said we should always listen to you. Who said, let’s talk to your boss. He talks to the boss,
the boss comes back to me and says, Wes, I agree with Mike,
you shouldn’t do anything. So I call Sheldon. Sheldon says, you’ve got a leadership
problem in your command.>>[LAUGH].
>>I said no you have a policy problem inside NATO. So I was left then what to do. And so basically we decided
just do nothing in but the information is still coming in and
the Russians are coming. So the peak of the crisis is, the Russian
attache goes into the Ukrainians and said, give us overflight rights,
the Hungarians have already done it. And this Russian attache
in Hungary goes in and said, give us overflight rights,
the Ukrainians have already done it. He also goes into the Romanians and
the Bulgarians. Each attache carried their own message and
their own degree of threat. The Bulgarian minister of defense
took it that he was threatened. So was the Romanian chief of defense. And so they all said no, except for
the Ukrainians, who fell for it. Well they said, since the Hungarians
have given you overflight, go ahead. So these three nations basically
told the Russians no overflight. Meanwhile, the air force commander
in Europe said, he says, boss, what are we gonna do if we do the overflight
anyway, you want us to shoot them down? I said, my god, so I called Washington. I said,
I’ve got to have instructions on this. What are we going to do? So I think Secretary Albright
was in an afternoon performance at the Kennedy Center. I forget where everybody else was. But we got this conference call together,
and in the middle of this conference call, I guess you must have called in and
said, they’ve stood down. They’re not coming. And so it went away. And so we blocked the Special Op. The Russian battalion was
contained at the airfield, it was dependent on British logistics. And eventually,
it minded it’s own business. Took it’s little section of
Coseval that it was assigned and after a couple of years,
they lost interest and they bolted out.>>So one more question,
before we get to the group.>>Sorry, it takes so long.>>No, no. So you’ve got this great Russian interest
in this as a microcosm as a broader Russian policy agenda.>>Yep.>>A Russian familiar to
practically everyone in this room is I think at your headquarters,
during all this. The Russian ambassador
to your headquarters.>>No, he was actually,
he was at NATO headquarters.>>NATO in Brussels and you’re in Mones? But Sergey Kislyak, familiar name?>>Yeah.>>Sergey Kislyak is
the Russian ambassador to NATO. What kind of hand is he playing? What have you learned about him?>>Well, I mean Sergey was there. They were feeding
the dissonance within NATO. I always have said afterwards
it’s only a half joke but to succeed in this, we did succeed, as Al said without losing anybody and
we accomplished our political objectives. And a million and a half Albanians who had been run out of
their homes 900,000 had fled the country. Once NATO came back in within 30
they were all home, safe and sound. So it was a successful
operation in that regard. But to succeed,
we had to go against three opponents, the Serbs, the Pentagon, and the Allies. So the kinds of things you’d have is like
the Spanish ambassador in the NATO meeting said to me, you know, when you drop
bombs something’s gonna go wrong. So one bomb hit the corner of a hospital,
I think a couple of people were wounded in Belgrade, but they, there was no,
we didn’t blow up a hospital. But we did hit a corner of a hospital and
the Spanish ambassador said, in front of everybody said, when will
your pilots stop making these mistakes? And there are always
gonna be mistakes I said. But you have to stand up and support the alliance as it’s
trying to handle the mission. And so we had to tend to the allies. When the war started the Commandant of
the Marine Corps requested permission to go to Congress and
explain to Congress his view as a member of the Joint Chiefs that
this war should never be fought. This is my good friend Chuck Cruelock. So the Navy was supportive,
the Air Force was highly interested, and the Marines were opposed and
then the army was resistant. And I was an army guy
commanding an aerial operation.>>Right.>>So Mike, I’ll tell you what one of
the worst days of the war was for me. There was a report that the Russian
Black Sea fleet was coming out and they were gonna get involved. We had five platforms launching
aircraft in the Adriatic. We had a US Navy aircraft carrier. We had an amphib from the Marines. We had Italian, we had French, and
I forget what the other one was, British maybe. And they were all out there with
their escorts and everything. And the Russians were threatening
to come out and break it up. And I called Solano to try to
get to Kisselyak and say no. Solano said, Wes, he said,
we cannot do anything about this. The council cannot do this. So I have a deputy Secretary of State who
was in my office that morning on a visit. And I’ve been about three
weeks with no sleep. And when you’re seized with a problem and
you’ve been three weeks with no sleep and it’s like life or death solution. I’m sure he couldn’t believe what
I was saying but I did tell him. I said Strobe you’ve gotta go to Moscow,
you tell them that fleet cannot come out. And if that fleet comes out and gets in the middle of our aircraft
carriers out there, we will sink it.>>This is Strobe.>>And Strobe, he didn’t say, Wes, Wes,
you can’t say something like that to me. He didn’t say that. He took the message. He went to law school and
that fleet did not sail.>>Good, all right.>>So we got time for questions.>>Do you think there will be
some bad feelings on the part of the Russains after all that?>>Okay, so this is your fault.>>Think there pride might have been hurt.>>Your the one who
created this curconstance.>>[LAUGH]
>>[LAUGH]>>All right, you have some questions? Sir.>>Hi, Paul Chaefer,
US News and World Report. Thanks General for doing this here. I wish to bring it up to the present
day and get both of your perspectives, if you don’t mind. You talked about Cold War 2.0. I’d be interested to get your perspective
on what you think Vladimir Puten’s vulnerabilities are?>>How the US could in light,
exploit them? How the US might, could exploit them? And what do you think about
those who advocate for the Panama Papers file leaks and that’s
the kind of thing that’s really gets?>>Well, I think that the United States
makes a mistake if it can thinks it can go after and gouge Russia. We’re not trying to, and
we shouldn’t be trying to-overthrow Putin. He thinks we shouldn’t be pushing any
color revolution, and I’m sure we’re not. We do need to respond
vigorously on the cyber front. And we need to target the individuals and
work the financial flows that are coming into
the United States and into Western Europe, in order to protect the election system
and to protect the democracies there. Beyond that, you have to be resolute. Putin understands strength. You can’t fall back. So we don’t want to be in Syria, but we are in Syria and
we can’t back out of Syria right now. What we need instead is a strategic
plan for Syria, which I haven’t seen. We have to provide assistance to Ukraine. Ukraine has its own set of problems. A lot of very patriotic people,
a lot of corruption. And of course,
total penetration by the Russians. We never did lustration of the
intelligence services in eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War. So at least as far as I know, Mike. So when I would go to places
like Hungary and Bulgaria, the people who were briefing them, these were basically people had all
been trained in Moscow by the KGB. And so, we need to really rework the whole
intelligence structure in Eastern Europe. And we need to be schooling
people in our way of thinking. We need to outreach with
economic means like, for example, when I went to the American community
to ask them to intervene in Croatia for the grocery chain and meat packing chain,
they wouldn’t do it because it didn’t meet the Excel spreadsheet
definition of a good investment. But it was a strategic
investment by the Russians. To block that, the Croatian government
had to pass a special series of laws. But as nationalism and Russian encroachments work their way in
Eastern Europe, it will be harder and harder to find governments who
are willing to take those measures. Viktor Orban is a question
mark in Hungary. The government in Poland is
slipping away into nationalism. And so, we have to work
the political side of this. We have to reinvigorate our message. What is democracy? What makes it special? What is the rule of law? How do you build an economy? So one of the things that’s really
happening to us is the shock of 2008 in the financial community, and
I’m an investment banker. But after 2008 what happened is,
people got really, really conservative. The government,
we don’t have a sovereign wealth fund. We don’t have any way in
the US government to go in and actually put businesses in Ukraine
to build power plants and things. If you go to the Wall Street they’ll say,
risk is too high. It’s not worth it. So who’s gonna take that risk? Who’s gonna put $50 million
in to get the plant started? We’d rather sell $150 million of
military supplies, I understand that. But military supplies
alone are not enough. You have to build the economies and jobs
and infrastructure in these countries, because that’s the principal
avenue of Russian advancement. They have money, and
when you need money your Russian friend will get you those resources if
it’s strategic in the Russian view.>>Very briefly, the general talked
about the expansion of NATO and how that was viewed to be
threatening by the Russians. Keep in mind, that as NATO is expanding
eastward, it is disarming, right? I mean, you understand that as
the territory of NATO expands, we’re pulling brigades out
of Europe as fast as we can. And the Europeans themselves are
smothering their own defense expenditures. So to the degree that NATO
expansion was a threat to Russia, it was the idea of NATO in democracy and
free markets, not NATO military power. And so I-
>>I had this great discussion with Igor Ivanov, who was the Russian
foreign minister in 1998, and we were trying to solve the, it’s finally sign the conventional
forces in Europe treaty. And he said, he was talking to Solana,
he says, NATO could put, in a crisis under this treaty,
you could put a division close to Russia. And I’m like, Igor, Russia, one division?>>[LAUGH]
>>One division and you’re scared? Great Russia is scared of one NATO
division in Slovakia, please. And finally Igor laughed.>>[LAUGH]
>>[LAUGH]>>Thank you for your presentation, and for your honesty. And I understand, all what you said
about what happened at that time, and this new Cold War mindset. I understand exactly what you’re saying,
but sometimes I compromise parts of the world, and I’m a little bit confused
about what’s happening today when they are saying that Russia is
getting involved in US elections. What is really the role of
Russia in the United States? Because it seems to me from what you say,
and I was totally, I mean, I follow that, I understand
the role of NATO in the session. And all what you said which is very,
very clear and was clear for me in the beginning. But what’s happening today
in the United States? When they say that Russia
is involved in elections. The administration does not seem to be,
I mean, fighting a new Cold War or is this
happening, I’m not very sure about that. I’m sorry for a naive question.>>You wanna ask about the elections. But before I can answer that,
I wanna make something clear that I’ve talked about the things that
happened that would worry Russia, the NATO enlargement and these activities. But let me explain something, these
were actually driven by local people. They weren’t driven by the United States, there was no US master
plan to enlarge NATO. It was the opposite. So after I got there and the decision had
been made on Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland, I went to Bulgaria. That was my first trip
behind the old Iron Curtain. And the foreign minister of
Bulgaria told me she said, General Clark we must be in NATO. I said why? She said, because today Russia is weak. But someday it will be strong and before that time in order to be safe,
we must be in NATO. And then I went to the Romanians, and
the Romanian Minister of Defense said, we want to be in NATO. I said, why does it have
anything to do with Russia?>>[LAUGH]
>>He said, of course and I said, are there any
incidents that you could give me that I could explain to people in
Washington what your concerns are. He says, of course, Mr. General. I said, well, what are these? He says, well,
in 1878 we allowed the Russians to come through our territory and
they took our province of Bessarabia. Now you see a few people laughed,
but in Eastern Europe there are long memories of this and these countries
wanted protection from Russia. They knew what it was, so it wasn’t that
we were forcing ourselves on Russia. It was, they were drawing us
in in a means for protection. And I think that’s a very
important distinction because democracy’s like a virus, it’s catchable. You bring young people from foreign
countries here, they see the United States and how it is and they, say why can’t
we live like this in our country? Why can’t I give my opinion? Why can’t people get together freely? Why does someone tell
us what we have to say? That’s why Xi Jinping says, Western Democratic values
are the greatest threat to China. This is why Putin didn’t like
the national government for democracy. But we weren’t interfering
in his elections. All we were doing was responding to people who wanted assistance
in finding their own way forward. They were drawn by the magnetism
of the democratic vision. They wanted what Americans take for
granted. And that’s an entirely different thing
from the Russian active measures. Russians have always tried to
interfere in American elections. When I worked for General Al Haig and he
was thinking about running for president, he always told me before the speech,
he says, don’t make me anti-soviet, don’t paint me in that corner
because he knew what it is. There were always active majors, but
in the past, they had to start somewhere in India with some rumor about
the CIA spreading typhus or something. And then they would get picked up
by an obscure British newspaper. And then they would some how hope they
would make it to the United States is so much easier today.>>My view, the Russian playing
a weak hand cuz the elements of power are not particularly strong in Russia, are trying to pull us down to their
level by corrupting our processes. And more importantly, corrupting our
confidence in our democratic processes.>>Hi, thank you, this is very
enlightening and I totally appreciate it. My main question is, what lessons are we
not remembering from past experiences? And I know that you presented
that this is not necessarily the same situation as it
was previously for that. So what differences do you see? And I believe you touched on that earlier
but can you expand upon at what lessons are we repeating to learn again,
or remember from past experiences?>>What it is we’re not remembering?>>Mm-hm.>>In other words,
what are the lessons learned. I’m glad you bring that
up because actually, we didn’t learn anything
from the first Cold War.>>[LAUGH]
>>We never learned why we won, did you know that?>>I did not.>>Yes, there never was a real
after action review done. Now, the question is why not? So it sort of unraveled slowly and
Gorbachev came over in 1987. He was in December in Washington,
you must have been in the White House, and he stopped his car. And he got out on the streets and
people are applauding Gorby. I’m a brigade commander at Fort Carson
with 3,000 troops and 2 tank battalions, and infantry battalions trained to
go to Europe and fight the Russians. I’m like, what the hell is going on here?>>[LAUGH]
>>We don’t understand. It sort of unravelled. In 1990, in the summer of 1990, the Bunda’s Fair sent a one-star around
to every American military unit, thanking us for being in Germany and
saying, it was over. I said, but what’s gonna happen? Are the Russians gonna leave? The Bunda’s Fair said, yes,
the Pentagon said, no. The Russians left, the Germans took
command of the East German Military. And they seized all the war plans and
locked them up. And to the best of my knowledge,
we’ve never seen them. And we can’t get access to them, just like you don’t have access to
the Stasi files of the East Germans. So the result is, we don’t really
know whether deterrence worked. We don’t really know what stopped
the Russians from launching their major attack on Europe when
they had built up their forces. They certainly practiced it. They certainly had weapons
that we didn’t have. So was it deterrence? Was it the fear of our
nuclear retaliation? Was it simply that the people that were
there were old and tired, and said, God, we went through this as
young people in World War II, please don’t start this again? What was it? And we don’t know. That’s the truth. And it’s a critical question
that needs to be asked now.>>Thank you.>>[INAUDIBLE] Air Force. I have a quick question about you
alluded to earlier about the speech Vladimir Putin gave the other day, and the
little cartoon graphics that he had and some of the technology
that they’re working on. My curiosity comes to the arms race that’s
currently going on between US, Russia, and other major players around the world. The idea of an arms race eventually
either the bombs get used, or something else happens and
kind of deters that. My curiosity is more so, where does
this lead, in both of your opinions?>>I’ll go first and be very brief. It means we’re gonna spend money we
shouldn’t have to spend, all right? I think we were talking
about this over dinner.>>The Iraq War?>>Yeah, we thought this was done,
this is over, this is finished, and now, we’re recycling the challenges
we had when we were younger officers. And frankly,
waste is probably not the right word, it is a consumption of resources and
of energy, and of brain power that we thought
we would not have to make.>>The Iraq War was a war
we shouldn’t have fought. But it was fought because the people
who were in the White House, when they came in, they were still
operating on the assumptions and the vision of the world of 1991 in
which we could have gone to Baghdad. Now, George H Bush was smarter
than to do that because there was no plan as to
what to do with Iraq. Look, I wanna make this clear. The reason Kosovo worked,
the fundamental reason is because it was planned from
the back end to the front end. We knew what the arrangements would
be on the ground when NATO went in. We knew what we were seeking to do
there in terms of arrangements. If you don’t plan the end state before
you start planning the entrance, you’ll never get to the end state. And in the case of Iraq,
there was no planning for the end state. I mean, there was a lot of talk about
it but there was never a plan, and my friend Jake Garner went in, and
then he was replaced by Bremer. And there’s a story in one of the books, that what happened is that there was
a meeting in the White House, and Dick Cheney came into the meeting and
said, is it legitimacy or control? He said, I’m for control, any objections? No one objected, and
so Bremer took control. And by taking control like that, he
helped fuel the resistance of the Iraqis. But it was a war that
didn’t have to be fought. It didn’t need to be fought. And this idea of the axis
of evil is no strategy. It’s a speechwriter’s gimmick,
a phrase, that’s all. Now, there is an axis of evil. Now, the Iranians and North Koreans are working together
because they see what’s coming. So we’ve created our own adversary,
and they were third rate adversaries. And meanwhile, as Mike is saying,
we’ve lost the investment of some that we should’ve put into advancing technology
to maintain the deterrent edge, that we should have but don’t have.>>The general will resonate with this. The defense strategy published by
Secretary Mattis about three weeks ago explicitly says, we are moving away from
an emphasis on counter terrorism and reinvesting in competition with
near peer nation state competitors. So we’ve got five folks lined up here and
very little time. So let’s take two questions at a time and we’ll try to answer them
quite efficiently, so.>>My question is about sort of
the relationship inside of NATO. How do you see there balance
the power within NATO, between our European allies and the United
States Changed the last couple of years?>>Okay, internal NATO dynamics
trans Atlantic centers of power.>>Thank you,
the national endowment for democracy. Thank you very much for mentioning them. Their budget is being cut, and
you outlined the important work they did. I used to work with two of
the corporations from 1987 until 25, so I’m very familiar with what
the net has done and can do. So would you address the unfortunate
cut in their budget, and just them not being kind
of part of a larger strategy? This ought for in Serbia, for
example, did some excellent work. And they were funded with some Ned
grantees as well as the State Department, thank you.>>So first, leadership and the alliance.>>So I think NATO’s always understood
that it’s American leadership and American technology. And in the months after the Kosovo
campaign, the Europeans got together. They met privately and said, we can
never allow the Americans again to tell us where we’re allowed to bomb but
they couldn’t follow through on it. Now, with in response to President Trump, it looks like it might be more serious,
we’ll have to see. I hope they will invest more but NATO is,
it’s America’s trans-atlantic linkage, it’s the way we hold
the Atlantic community together. I know it sounds military but
it’s really political. NATO is like a sausage making machine.>>[LAUGH]
>>You put together all of the different national views, trade with China,
trade on this issue, weapons’ technology, migration. You turn the crank and
out comes NATO policies. And these NATO policies except maybe
in the case of the United States are so powerful, that governments
can say to their electorates. Well, we don’t actually
agree with this but we had to go on because
we’re members of NATO. And that’s what has held
the Transatlantic community together. It gives the local politician a buffer. He gets to respond to his own interests. But at the same time,
the community’s held together. Absent American leadership will
lose the sausage making machine.>>National endowment, soft power.>>So power is really important. But the National Endowment has, and I haven’t seen all of its
proposals of recent years. It was getting about 35 million a year. It’s amazing what it did with it. It was 90,000 here and 30,000 there and
bringing teachers over and training people. It was a fine program. We don’t want to lose it but
we have to go beyond it. So we have to really deal with fake
news and we have to deal with networks. Who are the bots? Who’s controlling the bots? How do you know it is a bot? What should you do if
you think it’s a bot? Who’s authoritative source on the news? Was there really, a baby, was it baby, like cannibal factory under
some pizza parlor in DC? Was that really true?>>[LAUGH]
>>I mean surely there’s someone that can tell you whether that’s true or not. We have to re-educate the American people. Democracy works on challenge and response. We’ve been lucky enough
to be given a challenge. I think it’s a challenge we can handle but
if we believe in our country and our system and our democracy,
we have to handle it.>>Thank you, last two questions.>>A little bit more about
the weaponsation of investment capital for geopolitical purposes. Where do we stand on protecting ourselves
and our allies from that approach, and what more needs to be done?>>Okay, we got it. So you’re talking about VC money
being used to, in essence, harvest intellectual property?>>Precisely, and also affect geopolitical
end like commerce banking exactly.>>Right, okay.>>You spoke about a few
different domains you worked for in the Balkans in the early 90s. Do you believe the introduction
of the fourth domain cyber intelligence capabilities will have
a drastic changing the outcome of this new Cold War conflicts in Syria or Ukraine?>>Yep, so you do investment.>>Financial capital, so look,
we just need some serious thought on this. What we have is anti money
laundering provisions. We have a very powerful US treasury. That’s why China is telling Saudi Arabia,
that if you’re gonna sell us oil and we’ll take your oil we’re gonna pay for
it in renminbis. And we wanna get out of
that dollar denominations. So they wanna de-weight
the influence of the US treasury. US treasury is an incredibly
powerful instrument. And it’s an instrument like many
others that when you use it It builds its own opposition and resistance. And so
right now the major banking communities, yes they’re tied to the US treasury. But mobile money in Africa,
flies around these banking institutions. Crypto currencies,
move around the banking institutions. The renminbi is an aim of
the Chinese government apparently, to make that the international
convertible currency. Now they moved a little prematurely,
they had to pull back but that’s still, you can see the aim,
this is China at the center of the world. So America has had an really, an unplanned bounty caused
by the petrodollar and the influence of the dollar worldwide. We didn’t like the petrodollar,
but it turns out, it’s the essential medium of US power and
influence financially. And we’re gonna lose it,
we need to rethink it. You wanna answer the other one?>>Yeah, the additional domain of warfare,
the cyber domain is a leveler. It allows weaker powers to impact those
who are more traditionally strong. And so
the war in the Balkans was primitive. I mean, it was medieval in its origins. It was medieval in its conduct, all right? But we didn’t have the leveller
of the cyber domain. And so the raw, when NATO finally
decides to get its act together and applies combat power,
first in Bosnia, then in Kosovo. Bosnia’s a matter of several weeks Kosovo
is ten weeks, and things are righted. Today, that’s more difficult to
do because conflict is being conducted in this additional domain. And I would describe it not just as cyber,
which means they’re going after your network and stealing your emails,
but information. And so the general already pointed out,
the little green men and without patches and the balaclava and
who are those people? Well, it should have been obvious, but the Russian information bubble over
the Crimean operation was so strong. That reasonable people in
Western Europe looked upon this as a far more complex
situation than it really was. And it froze them into political
inaction for long enough for the Russians to establish
a new reality in Crimea. So I take your point but I wouldn’t confine it to cyber more
broadly the information space. And despite the deteriorate
the two centers for technology and image making on this planet
are about 100 miles apart in California And yet
we are disadvantaged in this fight. Simply because of our
political culture and how it is we would choose
to make use of these tools. With that I wanna thank you all for
coming and please a round of applause for
General Clark.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>Thank you very much. Mike, thank you very much.>>Thank you.>>[APPLAUSE]

24 thoughts on “Policy Corner: Russia & Cold War 2.0, A Conversation with General Wesley Clark

  1. I think Gen Clark is 100% right re the "foreign investment/development/allegiance & friendship" building strategies, ALSO the Western Economic building & strengthening ideas….& seems to me apart from some in Banking/MIC & some other "elite interests" this is in fact about the opposite of what is happening… …Here is an interesting alternate view re "Foreign Election meddling" at Newsbud (a very investing website worth joining);- https://www.newsbud.com/2017/01/03/nsa-hacked-the-election-not-the-russians/

  2. Yeah, the America's deadly "scenario`' repeats
    and the plan was in full swing until the moment when the real Russia began to reborn.

  3. He is slightly off on the Ukraine part at 24:40. Ukraine actually said yes, the democratically elected president of Ukraine had two offers to consider, the Russian and the West. He chose Russia and that's when the regime change kicked into gear, with Nuland her phonecall deciding who was going to be in the new Ukrainian government (while the President was still in office and the US was in public at least calling on all sides to be calm and negotiate) after they had got rid of President Yanukovych.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QxZ8t3V_bk

    It was at that point that the Russians went "hell no".

    The US has a bit of a track record of overthrowing democratically elected governments who don't toe the US line. It's not about democracy, it's about power. From Iran in 1953 with the CIA organising the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh to Ukraine in 2014.

    Putin was sensible to kick US NGOs out. Any country should do if they value their freedom and independence.

  4. It's like the world is a chess board and they're having such fun playing on it. Wesley Clark talks so nonchalantly about bombing the Serbs. He draws attention to the fact no Americans died. Does he not know many many civilians died? It's quite disgusting.

  5. Yeah, it was kind of interesting Yugoslavia – Milosevic – Russia. But i reality its not kinda true. Nobody found anything official proves that Milosevic killed those people. With no legit permission for military actions, as usual. So US just created a bunch of wars, killed millions people and called them self HERO!!! hmmm … kinda interesting fairy tale story.

  6. People are too worried about Russia while China is making territories on seas and on other countries (i.e. Sri Lanka, Greece) and economically invading countries that are vulnerable (i.e. African countries). China now is the greater threat than Russia. Russia is still stuck in the Soviet-mentality that the only way to be victorious in conquests is thru brute force. China has leverage to US debts which could make the US economy in trouble.

  7. After the disgusting NATO action against Libya based on lies again nobody gives the US the moral high ground…Putin only seems better than Obama because Obama was another warmongerer who put Bradley Manning into solitary confinement for showing theworld the US warcrimes in Iraq..Wesley Clarke was threatened back into line after he questioned the action in Iraq..he has family after all…he wont be doing anymore whistleblowing…

  8. Hayden Center is putting out some pretty good material, eh? This is one of the coolest talks I've ever seen.

  9. How could you not be honest when you knew the NATO expansion was to isolate Russia and expand business relationships with those nations that do amount to stealing their resources and hurting their people and laundering the money of their oligarchs with the insane oligarchs from Britain, and the West ? Look at the Panama papers if you do not believe me. The United states in collusion with Britain is destroying poor peoples rights all over the world by befriending their dishonest politicians and hiding the money they are stealing from their own people and keeping their resources cheap to profit the insane corporate CEO's on wall street stealing money from everyone in the world and polluting, our air water, and food and aiding the destruction of rain forests all over the world the same way the insane sugar industry in Florida, united with oil companies are destroying the everglades, destroying unions and destroying the ecological health of the ocean in the Gulf of Mexico and on all the surrounding beaches with the oil spills and the red tide destroying local businesses.

    What you see happening is the insanely anti human oligarchs destroying the lives of poorer human beings all over the world for war and profits, over all life. Using hammering generals only finding nails like general Wesley Clark instead of doing something to stop this insane march to world war III by the oligarchs, has merely sold us all out by giving his own opinion of where the nail is that we must send our next hammering brutal bombing drones. That we must turn loose our carpet bombs, and our cluster bombs and the CIA's retrained terrorist revolutionaries and genocidal forces producing death marches of real human beings, all over the world . Diplomacy not war, ends wars not generals who only want wars and must be leashed like any guard dogs by more intelligent human beings than they will ever be. Generals and CIA chiefs as presidents is a lesson of tragedy, a path to fascism not real leadership in a democracy. Evangelists in office in a democracy is the same thing as Hitler, and Britain claiming Germany to be a Christian nation, and Theresa May making the false claim that Britain, and Israel, are also a democracy who are all horribly insane human beings lying to the public while taking their nations on a path to a slavish life for their poor, and a well paved road to higher corporate profits over life itself, and world war III ..

  10. OK, TO ALL OF YOU INTELLECTUALLY IMPOVERISHED AND NOT ALL TOO WORLDLY MORONS I SEE INSULTING GEN. CLARK NEED TO SLAP THEIR PARENTS….YOU NEED TO REALLY STOP POSTING YOUR "WAR MONGER"/ETC COMMENTS FOR EASILY THE MOST EMPATHETIC, DIPLOMATICALLY INNOVATIVE GENERAL WE'VE EVER HAD!!!
    *….LMFAO, I mean wow…we're more than a divided nation of whiners, we're actually screwed NOT BY TRUMP or Democratic leaders (whichever you're with) but by YOU GUYS, and your astoundingly ACCOMPLISHED SKILL TO AMASS SUPER STUPIDITY LIKE AN ARMADA OF ASSHATS WHO WOULDN'T KNOW SH!T ABOUT THE TERRIBLE DAYS THIS MAN NOT ONLY SURVIVED BUT SAVED US FROM HAVING TO DEAL WITH!!…NO, I don't know EVERYTHING about him, and I'm not like his biggest fan about all his opinions, but THAT's why he's a great General. He's someone like Mattis that BOTH POLITICAL DIVIDES have respected for sooooo many years!! THIS MAN? His job description is WAR WITH RUSSIA (he's a Vietnam vet who fought thru the next half dozen decades, for God's sakes!! Yet I guess YOU BUNCH OF SUPER HIGHLY INTELLECTUAL GIANTS, being such cerebral and critically thinking adults w/all your obvious wisdom (or having ANY actual knowledge of what Wes Clark has

  11. Are even Nato-Generals so naive and brainwashed? Yes, there was violence in Kosovo: But in opposite to NATO-media it were the Serb minority that had been attacked on a daily base, well documented and published in the so-called Amselfeld-newsletter. What was the reason? The Kosovo-Albanian drug mafia with "natural conflicts" with the police was build up, trained, armed and organized as a "Liberation army", arguing the stop of the autonomy of Kosovo had to be made because of those murders carried out by the drug mafia gangs to spark the Kosovo war as KLA, Kosovo Liberation Army. In a meeting of European drug police officer, the KLA was not claimed as near to the Kosovo drug mafia, but identical to it. And this is valid still today. Their boss, Hashim Thaci, called "the snake" this time, because e even killed his own people to become boss, is today president of this 2 million inhabitant country. It is a drug state. Excellently useable for shipping US Opium from Afghanistan now in diplomatic luggage around the world. Great job. The opium bings much black money for any dirty job of CIA or whatever agency can destabilize countries in unconventional warfare.

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