KAREN J. DEYOUNG: Good morning. I'm pleased to see so many people here. I don't know if it's the free breakfast, the incredibly interesting speaker we have or the fact that there's an election year coming. I think it's probably all three.
Welcome to today's Council on Foreign Relations meeting. Please turn off your cellphones, BlackBerries, other wireless devices. Shall we have a pause for a minute while everyone does that? Thank you.
I would like to remind the audience that this meeting is on the record and welcome our guest this morning, the Honorable Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Speaker Gingrich is well-known, I'm sure, to everybody here, and to list all of his accomplishments would take a lot of our time, so I'll just touch on a few.
Mr. Gingrich is founder of the Center for Health Transformation and of the Gingrich Group, a communications and consulting firm specializing in transformational change.
He served as a member of Congress, representing Georgia, for 20 years, and as speaker from 1995 to 1999, and is recognized as the architect of the Contract with America and the key strategist in the 1994 election that created the first Republican majority in the House in 40 years.
Mr. Gingrich had a distinguished career as a professor of history before he got to Congress, and he's continued with that career since leaving Congress. He serves on the secretary of Defense's Defense Policy Board and on the council Terrorism Task Force.
In terms of our subject today, he was appointed in 1999 to the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, better known as the Hart-Rudman commission, which was tasked with examining U.S. national security challenges for the coming quarter-century. Their report concluded that U.S. military, intelligence and foreign policy structures required massive transformation to meet those challenges.
Since the commission issued its report more than six years ago, he's spoken often and compellingly about changes needed in the State Department and in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy.
Mr. Gingrich, we're pleased and honored to have you with us today. Mr. Gingrich has asked to deliver brief remarks, and we're going to hold him to that, and then we'll start with questions.
NEWTON L. GINGRICH: And let me just say the reason I wanted to give you an outline here is that the core challenge in American politics and government is to develop an intellectual framework for the scale of what we're up against. And if I couldn't come here and try to do that, it struck me as utterly hopeless. I don't expect to be able to go on "Hannity and Colmes" and do it very well, but I can do this very, very quickly.
But I do want to suggest to you that the French election is extraordinarily important in terms of what's happening here. We hear that is a genuine effort to break out of what has been a social contract of enormous power, and it will be very interesting to see whether or not in fact the emerging French sense of desperation about where their culture and their economy's going leads them to take what will be a very high risk seen -- as measured, say, six or eight years ago, in electing Sarkozy.
I think we're in a very similar environment, in that -- but we don't recognize it because we don't talk about it. And we are so wealthy and have such huge underlying momentum that we can afford to be stupid for a very long time.
And I'll give you an -- examples. Here are the nine challenges that are all going to drive us.
One, we're going to have four to seven times as much new science in the next quarter-century, as a minimum, over the last quarter century. Most of it is going to come outside the United States. Nobody is taking this into account, and it almost inevitably means if we don't change profoundly, we will not be the leading country in the planet.
Two, China and India are going to be the first real competitors of our scale, economically, since the 1840s. We have consistently had the advantage of being the largest market and most productive nation in the world. That is very unlikely to be true 30 years from now. They will be our peers, if not necessarily larger than us, and nobody has begun to design a strategy for how hard -- you either have to work very hard in order to modernize your society to compete with China and India inside their cost parameters or you have to accept they in fact are inevitably going to replace you. And that's a very fundamental cultural decision for this country to decide.
Third, there is a speed and complexity in the 21st century that no system has matched. And so what you end up with is, you know, if you're a drug dealer or an international criminal or a terrorist, you are actually floating along the network at the speed of the network. If you're a large public bureaucracy, you are stumbling along further and further behind, because you really can't move inside the cycle of information. So it's as though we were trying to fly a Boeing 747 with the skills of a Greyhound bus driver. This is a very fundamental institutional problem.
Fourth, you're getting a flattening of information and hierarchies, which means that the entire role of the ambassador is different than it used to be. The role of the foreign minister is different than it used to be. I mean, what do you do in a real-time world where presidents see things live on television, pick up the phone and call their peer? How do does that operate?
Fifth, there is a centrality to winning the information struggle in a world that has a substantial number of democracies that has no reflection on how we organize our governmental leadership. And the fact is if you can't win the argument, you cannot sustain what you're doing. And we are today somewhere between inarticulate are not even showing up. And so it's a continuous problem, that we're always arguing behind the curve, we're always out of sync with the information realities.
So -- next, there are the realities of weapons of mass destruction and weapons of mass murder that should be horrifying, that should lead Homeland Security to do at least two exercises a year that are real. The fiasco or the collapse of Katrina should sober all of us. The fact that the North Koreans are steadily moving forward, the Iranians are steadily moving forward, the Pakistanis are building more nuclear weapons every month -- and Pakistan is fully as dangerous in the long run as North Korea or Iran, and if we lose Musharraf and you end up with a radical regime in Pakistan, they start the first morning with over a hundred nuclear weapons. And my personal planning assumption is that we have to recognize we're at risk of losing at least three cities in our lifetime. I mean, this is not like 9/11. If 9/11 had been a North Korean tactical nuke, you take out 10 square blocks. And nobody's taking this seriously yet, and we're not taking it seriously till after we lose a city, at which point somebody say, "Gosh, why didn't we have any imagination," and we get a new 9/11 commission. I mean, this is utterly mindless.
Next, there is an irreconcilable wing of Islam that we are continuing to underestimate. There were videos last week in Pakistan of a 12-year-old boy beheading a man who they decided was a traitor who had given information to Pakistanis. We haven't come to grips with that yet. What's it like to compete with an opponent who trains 10-year-olds, 12-year-olds to behead people? What's it like to compete with an opponent who had a couple in Great Britain who were going to bring their own 8-month-old baby on the airplane to hide the bomb as baby milk? I mean, there's a level of ferocity out there destroying us, totally unmatched by our own seriousness, and it has nothing to do with Israel.
I mean, 150,000 people were killed in Algeria in the '90s; 300 people were killed in Algeria two weeks ago; 200 people were killed in a train in India a month ago. There's a serious war between modernity and an irreconcilable wing of Islam which absolutely hates the modern world and would allow no women in this room. I mean, where are feminist groups saying, "Gee, this is a problem"? Where is the fact that it takes four males to convict somebody of rape under the Shari'a listed by the feminist groups as something they should work on? We're so busy hating George W. Bush, we're slowly and steadily demobilizing ourselves in a war which is going to go on for 50 or a hundred years, and it's going to be worldwide. And we're totally unprepared to think it through intellectually.
Two last points. We have kleptocratic dictatorships regaining legitimacy. If you look at the Zimbabwe case, it is inconceivable that the planet just sits around mute while this man destroys a country.
And finally, we live in two worlds. All of you live in two worlds. I'll just give you two quick examples. How many of you have used -- gone online with UPS or FedEx to track a package? Okay. Compare that with the federal government's inability to find between 11 (million) and 13 million illegal immigrants. How many of you have gotten money out of an ATM outside the U.S.? Okay. Compare that with the U.S. government's inability to have a worker identity card with biometrics that gives you real-time information. You have a defeated, collapsed world of 1965 bureaucracy that produces 21 percent graduates on time in the Detroit school system, and you have a world of Drucker-Deming-Duran modernity Six Sigma Toyota production system, lean manufacturing -- and then, by the way, I would argue that what Giuliani and Bloomberg have done in New York is much closer to that world than to the world of failed bureaucracy. I'd also argue a lot of big bureaucracies would resemble the failed world, which is why Toyota just passed General Motors.
Last section. There are five major changes: replace the interagency with an integrated system fully comparable to what Goldwater-Nichols did in -- to the services. The interagency is broken, it is hopeless, it does not work.
Two, establish metrics in the Giuliani-Bratton model as the key measure by which you fundamentally insist on changing large bureaucracies until they meet the metrics.
Three, we have -- we need a new model State Department inside this new model of an integrated system, because we need both a much more sophisticated model of listening and a more sophisticated model of representation.
Four, that means you have to have about a 50 percent bigger budget for the State Department. The State Department today is grossly undercapitalized in information technology and is too small to have the training programs and the secondment of personnel needed to grow a genuine professional institution. It is impossible for the current Foreign Service to get the level of education it needs. They recruit really smart people. They grossly underinvest in training them. It's a very significant problem.
Lastly, information technology's at the heart of all this. Moore's Law still lives. We are still doubling the amount of information available every 16 months per dollar. That's an increase of a hundred-fold per decade. It means in the life span of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, you increase the amount of computing power per dollar by a factor of 10 billion. If you don't start with a customer-centric, citizen-centric model embedded in an IT model and then redesign the institutions and the culture, you can't possibly get into the 21st century as a serious system.
Sweeping overview. Your turn. (Laughter.)
This is a subject, the transformation of the State Department, that you started speaking out, at least to my knowledge, about with Hart-Rudman, most specifically, focusing on this subject. In the spring and summer of 2003, you were very critical of the State Department at that time. You said that it was out of sync with the views of the president and the president's objectives, criticized its responsibility for falling U.S. stature in the world, and said that the State Department was engaged in a deliberate and systematic effort to undermine the president.
We've had two years of leadership at the State Department by someone who by all accounts is very close to the president and in fact is in sync with the president's policies, a person -- Secretary Rice -- who came into office calling for transformational diplomacy, transformation of the State Department. How do you think, in terms of the goals and objectives and problems that you've talked about, how do you think she's done?
GINGRICH: I have some conflict of interest because I serve on the Transformation Advisory Group at State, so I have to speak well of Secretary Rice for creating the group.
The reason I try to elevate the discussion to this large -- the scale of, if you will, eruption out of the current system is that Secretary Rice is making nibbling steps in the right direction. You know, Karen Hughes is doing nibbling things in the right direction. I think it's fair to say that Undersecretary Fore is very serious about transformation. They are presiding over an overworked, overextended Foreign Service that is largely very self-protective and is very much like the Pentagon.
All large bureaucracies start with the premise, as somebody once told me at the Pentagon, that the political appointees are summer help. (Laughter.) You know, they're here, they make noise, they're allowed to give speeches, you try not to let them do anything too destructive. And, you know, Jerry Pournelle developed the Iron Law of Bureaucracy, in which he said those who decide the primary interest is the survival of the bureaucracy will always drive out those who believe the primary interest is actually accomplishing the mission. And I think there's something to that.
So what you have is a large, self-serving bureaucracy that authentically in its own terms identifies the world the way it believes in, and then is horrified by these yahoos who show up, even if they're highly sophisticated Ph.D.s who used to be, you know, provost at Stanford, nonetheless they're by definition yahoos because they're not in the Foreign Service, or if they were in the Foreign Service, they've gone native and actually now side with the politicals. And you have this in every large bureaucracy I know of. I think she's trying to do the right things.
But this is an administration that is a very un-systems-oriented administration. It grossly underestimates how hard these problems are, both in terms of, say, the Middle East, to take the obvious example, and in terms of Washington bureaucracy. That's how you end up with the current attorney general, it's how you end up with, "Brownie, you're doing a great job." I mean, you know, you have to ask yourself, how could one have -- it's how you end up with the new secretary of Homeland Security explaining, in a serious way, that he hadn't realized there were 22,000 people in the Superdome because it hadn't been reported in the conference call, which meant that he had not in four days watched any television news, which leaves you sort of out of sync with the rhythm of information flow.
And so I think that this is not a serious administration about fundamental underlying institutional reform. And now, frankly, dealing with a Democratic Congress, they have, I think, virtually zero hope of getting anything serious done about fundamental reform.
DEYOUNG: I think that, you know, going down your list of recommendations, certainly some of them the administration and the State Department and Secretary Rice have at least given lip service and, as you said, nibbled around the edges of moving forward. They identify a vast need to upgrade themselves with IT. They obviously always want a bigger budget. There's been some increase in the workforce. There's been, again, at least rhetorical focus on increasing cultural training, linguistic training, all of that kind of stuff.
But in other areas, things seem to be going in the opposite direction. You've called to redefine the role of ambassadors, to make it a more ambassador-centric model, whether we're talking about political appointees or Foreign Service officers, and yet that seems to be an issue where things are going in the other direction, where ambassadors seem to be losing out to military commanders in the field, where Congress seems less disposed to be giving them more money, particularly for the kinds of things that you're talking about.
I wonder how you see these kinds of things moving forward. What needs to be done? What actions can the administration take now with a Congress and a public that are not well-disposed toward many of its policies? How can they move these things forward?
GINGRICH: First of all, as I said, I think that Secretary Powell had the right approach when he first came in, in deciding that he would work very, very hard to rebuild both the morale of the foreign service and the numbers. I think you have to give Secretary Powell considerable credit that in his first year-and-a-half or so, he was working -- in his mind at least, he had a very methodical process of both rebuilding the power of the department and finding a way to run it on his terms. They may or may not have been the terms that the vice president had, but they were terms that Powell was very comfortable with. And I think that he actually did substantial good in terms of getting the department back on a keel where it wasn't totally desperate.
There are two challenges inherent in what you just said, and I think that's -- you framed it in a pretty fair way. The first is -- this is going to sound almost naive, but let me try that on this highly sophisticated audience. Elections matter. It should have been obvious sometime on the morning of -- I think it was the 7th, if I remember correctly, but the day after the election of 2006 that there would probably be a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate.
And at that point, the president really had an obligation to accommodate the American people -- not to accommodate the Democrats, but to accommodate the American people. I mean the American people have sent a signal, a signal which I think was compounded by the president's stubbornness. I mean, when he decided to dismiss Rumsfeld the day after the election, I thought it was just a stunningly self-destructive act. I mean, it's almost comparable to keeping Gonzales now -- (laughter) -- because had he said two weeks before the election, "I understand the country wants real change. Don Rumsfeld is a great guy who's done a great job, and we're delighted to announce that we're going to have a new secretary in Bob Gates," my guess is they would have kept the Senate.
I mean, the country was desperately trying to send a signal. This is not a liberal country. This is the greatest danger that Reid and Pelosi face: This is not a liberal country. Any of you who doubt this, read, "The Right Nation," by two reporters from The Economist. This is a center-right country which on performance grounds is deeply upset with this administration.
So his first obligation was to say to the country -- he should say to the Congress today -- What bipartisan commission would you jointly accept with me?
I mean, Clinton and I did all sorts of commissions together, where we both sat down and say -- Hart-Rudman being a good example -- where we sat down together and worked out the details. We did Social Security. I mean, we, you know, went through -- we had the Medicare, which John Breaux and Bill Thomas co-chaired. I mean you sit down and you say, "You are the legitimate, authentic voice of the American people because they chose you." It's not the president's decision.
DEYOUNG: But it's not only appointing the commission, it's being willing to accept a compromise result.
GINGRICH: Right. Well, guess what, this is a great, complex democracy whose Founding Fathers decided to avoid dictatorship by inventing a machine so inefficient no dictator could force it to work. (Laughter.)
DEYOUNG: One of the things you -- you spoke about the underlying need to communicate --
DEYOUNG: -- we need to communicate, we need to communicate, the administration needs to communicate to the American public and to the world. And you've also spoken a lot about defining the problem, defining the scale of the problem, and that's what the administration needs to communicate.
At what point do you conclude or at least allow the possibility that it's not a question of -- because others don't agree with the solution, it doesn't necessarily mean that they don't agree what the problem is. How do you differentiate between what's a legitimate policy disagreement over a shared problem and what's a lack of understanding that you need to convince people of?
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, let me draw a distinction. "Communicate" and "broadcast" aren't the same. (Laughter.) Communicate actually means you listen to the other person. We just did two books that are relevant to this. One is called, "The Art of Transformation," which is an effort by Nancy Desmond and myself to outline what we've learned over the last 40-plus years about how you change large institutions.
My core model, which is what led to the Contract With America, is: listen, learn, help, and lead -- in that order. So when I say "communicate," I'm assuming you're spending more time listening than you are talking, because how do you know what they're hearing if you're not listening? This is not about how to broadcast. It's precisely your point, which is what are the nuances, what is it that we don't understand about each other's position?
Now, some of it is a legitimate disagreement. We are a unique civilization. We are not Europe. Washington is not Brussels, despite the best efforts of the left. We are not a country designed to drive out entrepreneurship in favor of oligarchies sharing whatever's available. We're a very different civilization. But in that context, we ought to be having conversations, not just broadcasts. So communications doesn't mean how well do I broadcast, communication means a genuine cybernetic information loop where I am hearing you, processing the information, responding, trying to respond in a way that you can hear me. One of my standard speech rules is: All communication occurs in the mind of the listener or the reader. So if you're not saying it in a way that they're hearing it, it's irrelevant what you said. So that's the first point. And I think it's a very important underlying component of what we have to do.
The second point is, ideally, in the long run this process of dialogue leads to higher-value solutions. I mean, the great genius of Eisenhower, who's, I think for the world we're now in one of the most useful people to study and to immerse yourself in, is that Eisenhower understood the day he landed in England that he better understand Winston Churchill or he was going to get nothing done. And Eisenhower, in a discipline model, had dinner with Churchill every week in '42 until he went to North Africa.
And out of that process created a friendship and understanding, and at times it drove both of them nuts. And you may remember, in 1944 Eisenhower threatens to resign over what they clear -- they're not having a problem communicating. Churchill does not want to bomb the French railroad, and Eisenhower will not land at Normandy unless he takes out the rail system. And he finally says, you know, you're the prime minister. If that's your position, fine. You and the president need to find a new commander. I won't do it.
Now that's a legitimate, honest conversation. But unless you can have that kind of dialogue, you're not able to lead the planet. The president of the United States is closer to being the mayor than to being the governor. Mayors have huge moral force, but very limited bureaucracies. I'm not talking about New York and Chicago. But as a general rule, mayors shape things more by leading the community than by running the bureaucracy. Presidents on a global basis are like mayors of a global community, and they have to really think differently about how you organize and arouse and bring the community together if you intend to be effective.
DEYOUNG: But let me go back to a speech you gave last September on this subject, and you said that President Bush's strategies were failing with the American people because, quote, "they did not define the scale of the emerging World War III between the West and the forces of militant Islam, and so they did not outline how difficult the challenge is and how big the effort will have to be." You said, "They did not define victory in the larger war against militant Islam as the goal or establish clear metrics of achievement and then replace leaders."
It seems to me the president's been pretty stark in his description of those things. What more can he do?
GINGRICH: One thing is simply institutional. I mean, if they published a weekly survey of terrorism around the world, it would be stunning. I mean, the number of people around the planet who get killed on a weekly basis in this war is amazing -- skirmishing in northern Nigeria, fighting in Somalia, plotting in Great Britain. I have a friend who visited the head of the counterterrorism Scotland Yard, and the head of counterterrorism in Scotland Yard said his estimate was that there were 100,000 potential recruits in Great Britain.
DEYOUNG: But if you put together those statistics, wouldn't you find that the number of people killed through defined terrorist acts would be far lower than the number of people killed in civil wars in sort of post-colonial struggle, and things that I think we could all agree didn't have anything to do with terrorism?
GINGRICH: You could, except I think there's a huge difference between people who say on the Internet every day that the morning they can come here and kill you, they will, and people who say they want to kill each other in their own country over their own territory. I'm not arguing -- I'm not trying to litigate Iraq as compared to other things. I am suggesting to you that I believe there's a worldwide movement that's fairly definable, that wants an alternative future in which Western democracy doesn't function. And I think, I mean, you can disagree with that, but that's a very important debate.
The debate we had between `47 and `49 was a debate over the nature of the Soviet Union and a debate over whether there really was a Cold War, and a debate over whether or not you really had to have organized, systematic response on a global basis. Now this country made a decision which lasted 44 years. But it is a real debate, and I think it's very important for us to have this out in the open. I mean, what -- how much of this can you tolerate in an age of weapons of mass destruction or mass murder? And how likely is it to metastasize and become more dangerous?
DEYOUNG: Is it useful, though, in the kind of debate that you talked about to couch the argument in terms of patriotism, in terms of undermining America's goals overseas; people who disagree with the solution that the administration is promoting?
GINGRICH: Well, I think there's a difference between -- you can be patriotic and wrong. I mean, there's a difference between patriotism and wisdom, and there's a difference between whether what you're doing undermines -- I mean, I do think when Senator Reid says, "Wow, this is wonderful; the war is going to gain us seats," there's something almost pathologically sick about that quote.
DEYOUNG: Well, when -- but when --
GINGRICH: So does that mean that if Petraeus won next Thursday, Reid would feel really bad?
DEYOUNG: But when Karl Rove says, "Let's concentrate on the war against terror as a way to regain our majority," is that the same thing?
GINGRICH: I think that's a mistake. I think this administration has paid consistently since 2002 for the way they ran the campaign in October of 2002. It engendered a level of bitterness among Democrats, compounding the results of the Florida recount, that I think from that point on made it almost impossible for them to reach out. And then that is compoundable the way they decided to win the presidency in `04, which was an anti-Kerry, personal destruction, direct assault that had no issue -- it really had no policy quotient. I mean, there was no political capital to spend after the `04 election. It was anti-Kerry victory. We proved that the anti-Kerry vote was marginally bigger than the anti-Bush vote. (Laughter.)
DEYOUNG: I'm going to invite all of you to join the conversation now. Just a couple of rules: Please wait for the microphone and speak directly into it. When you get the microphone, stand and state your name and affiliation. And please keep your questions, and particularly comments, short and concise to allow as many people as possible to speak.
I think the first person with their hand up was back there, yes, you. Right in the aisle there, sir. That's not who I was pointing at, but that's okay.
QUESTIONER: (Name inaudible) -- from the University of Maryland.
Mr. Speaker, more than 10 years ago -- (name inaudible) -- from the Naval Postgraduate School said that in a contest between bureaucracies and networks, bureaucracies are always going to lose. There were briefings floating around the intelligence community at the same time calling for something called an agile intelligence enterprise that looked a lot like a wiki. Since those times we've had 9/11; we've had Katrina. All of which suggest that we're still trying to make Industrial Age information systems work in the 21st century.
If 9/11 wouldn't provide a stimulus for change and our Iraq debacle, Katrina, what is it going to take to provide a stimulus for the sort of change you're talking about?
GINGRICH: Well, look, I think I that's the core question of the next 20 years. I spend 40 percent of my time on national security and 40 percent on health, where I helped found the Center for Health Transformation. And starting in December of '04, I stopped and immersed myself -- 53 hours of briefings in December of '04 on Iraq and on the global war on terror.
And at the end of it I was stunned by how parallel the problems are. I mean, if you take Medicare, which issues more pages of regulation than the IRS, and then you take, you know, with the war in Iraq, they're stunningly similar -- large, complex, obsolete bureaucracies slowing all information flow down to a pace at which nothing gets done, and then defending themselves as being, you know, at least it's hard to have a congressional hearing saying they did something wrong, because they didn't do anything. And so it's a great defense system. And there's a huge underlying bias against risk avoidance, because of the nature of the Congress, which is, you know, a stunningly obsolescent culture in terms of the nature of the modern world.
My personal belief is that you're going to -- it's going to require -- we've had eight great eruptions in American history -- the Revolutionary Generation, the Federalists, the Jeffersonians, the Jacksonians, the Lincoln Republicans, the Progressives, the New Deal and then the Reagan up through the Contract with America Conservatives. My guess is you're going to have to have a ninth eruption on that scale. And if you go back and look at how intense some of those were, this would be a real brawl.
But I think we're in the early stages of something comparable to the Progressive movement. We're about where La Follette was in 1896 when he was first running for governor. And I think over the -- and the Progressive movement is a -- there's no crisis. There's no Great Depression; there's no world war.
The Progressive movement is a deliberate, willful act of American leadership that says, you have to leave the agrarian models and go to an urban, professional, corporate model of leadership, starting with the city manager system in Galveston in 1901. And you get about 20 years of fundamental change, which created what we now think of as modern government. And I think we're literally at that point where these systems are just gone.
I mean, how can we have a Detroit school system that graduates 21 percent of its entering freshmen, knowing that if you're an African American male who drops out, you have a 73 percent unemployment rate, a 60 percent likelihood of going to jail? And the answer is, to prop up the union and the bureaucracy and send the cash. I mean, I'm just -- this is -- how can you have Katrina? How can there be no hearings on the utter, total failure of the American system to rethink and rebuild New Orleans in a coherent manner.
I went to Tulane. My youngest daughter was born in New Orleans. It is a disgrace how totally we have failed, and it's a bigger disgrace that we have not had anybody get up and say, we need hearings to tear apart the system and figure out, you know, why is it still failing? You have corruption in the city, corruption in the state and utter incompetence in the feds. And that's your current model of government. You're going to compete with China and India with that?
DEYOUNG: Yes, Luigi.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Luigi Einaudi, formerly with the State Department and the OAS, now at Georgetown and NDU.
Returning from the very high-minded presentation, I was looking --
DEYOUNG: Luigi, talk in the microphone.
QUESTIONER: I'm sorry. Is it not on?
DEYOUNG: It's on.
QUESTIONER: I see. I have to bring it up close. Sorry. I was struck by two things in your outline that weren't there. I was very impressed by the outline, and I think it covers many of the things that actually need doing in the State Department.
But though we've talked a lot about American politics this morning, in your addressing of the State Department, you don't talk about how to better integrate it with domestic constituencies, as opposed to better -- open embassies abroad, et cetera.
And my second missing point was international organizations. You have spent a bit of time worrying about the U.N., et cetera. I'd be curious as to your views on the nature of representation in international organizations and better use of them to advance U.S. interests.
GINGRICH: Well, those are both, I mean, very useful observations. Let me say that I've written a lot on this. I have a -- if you go to newt.org, I gave a speech last September at the American Enterprise Institute outlining where we were five years after 9/11. I did -- testified in front of Biden and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the surge and outlined 18 additional changes I thought we needed to surround the surge with if we were serious about winning.
I mean, I think you can -- I have lots of stuff on these things. But the two specifics -- one is, I've been advocating at least, and then we're working on a little bit at the State Department, is that we should rethink all of our efforts to develop very, very poor countries by engaging Americans who are first and second generation immigrants who are successful and literally building a cooperative system, where you would have people who come from that ethnic background -- Haiti being an example -- who are actively engaged in advice, actively engaged in investment, actively engaged because you can now do it electronically in teaching.
I mean, we don't have a language problem in the United States; we have a bureaucracy problem. We have more people who speak more foreign languages than any country on the planet. We just don't use them. And as you know, people said Hadid's son was a lance corporal in the Marines in Los Angeles at the time we were chasing Hadid. I used to tell Tenet, go down and stand at the national airport cab stand and interview cabbies, and you'll eliminate half your language needs in two weeks. (Laughter.) We ought to give fact phones to people who come from highly penetrated countries and just say, send them home to your relatives. Call us occasionally if they tell you something interesting. (Laughter.)
I mean, we need an open source, open system, and we need to recognize -- and this is what I preach to the military all the time. I'm the longest serving teacher in the senior military, and I've taught for over 20 years. Don't talk about instruments of national power and mean the domestic bureaucracy. This country is economically 82 percent outside the federal government. If you want to mobilize America, you have all sorts of assets to mobilize, coordinate a rally.
So I think that's a very good point and is an entire topic on its own, which I have done some work on with those folks.
And I apologize. The second thing you asked was on?
QUESTIONER: International organizations.
GINGRICH: Yeah. Look, we've said in the commission that George Mitchell and I chaired, which was -- I think did some reasonably useful benchmark work, I believe one of the top three assignments every American ambassador should have is working as an integrated team with the American ambassador to the U.N. to muscle votes, and to treat the U.N. General Assembly exactly as you would a convention in a political sense.
I mean, we can win every vote virtually in the U.N. if we work at it long enough and make it a serious enough project. But it goes back to your question about communication. I mean, you wouldn't go to the U.N. because you listen to your allies; you work together to create a joint position, and you collectively move on these things. And that takes a much longer time horizon. Building coalitions takes a longer time horizon than doing something unilaterally, and it's major problem. Because if you do build the coalitions, they do get a momentum on their own, and you get things done you wouldn't necessarily expect to.
It's a very big challenge for us, but all the European heads of state now meet regularly, and we're not there. Because it does mean inherently biologically they are creating a common front not necessarily against us, but against everybody, and they are creating an internal unity. And we have no pattern of doing that, so we tend to be much more episodic, where they tend to have a sense of continuity. It's a very significant challenge for us and very different from the post-World War II generation.
DEYOUNG: Yes, sir.
QUESTIONER: (Inaudible), State Department, Counterterrorism. I'm always interested in what Tom Friedman has to say about energy independence and kind of making that a priority on the order of the space program in the `60s and putting somebody on the moon, sort of mobilizing society, and also kind of making a priority of a green economy. And I was just interested in your thoughts on those priorities and issues.
GINGRICH: I'd look at -- it's a great topic.
I have to say in passing, by the way -- and this is not a topic that I've had an ability yet to pursue with Friedman, but I think it's worth pursuing -- if you go back and read his terrific book "From Beirut to Jerusalem," and you read his descriptions of the region, and you take out his optimism --
GINGRICH: -- you know, I mean, he needs to write a new book called "The Earth Is Flat and Can Be Stunningly Dangerous," because he has a tendency nowadays to write much more as though everything he learned in the Middle East disappeared.
Real violence breaks up civilizations. The election of the Mongols changed history radically, and the election of Nazi Germany changed history. The First World War shattered European civilization. We tend to forget -- and as I say about Friedman -- because the world could be flat, except for the disruptions, and we undervalue how dangerous the disruptions are.
Having said that, I gave a speech -- two speeches in recent weeks and a newsletter last Monday on green conservatism. I believe that one of the greatest weaknesses of the conservative movement was ceding the whole issue of energy and the environment to the left.
I'll give you a number that'll be fascinating to get Al Gore's reaction to. In 1979 we had Three Mile Island, and we had "The China Syndrome," which is a stunningly illiterate film, scientifically, just totally false. But the result was a cultural decision you couldn't talk about nuclear power. Therefore, you wouldn't do nuclear power. Meanwhile, the rest of the planet and the U.S. Navy kept doing nuclear power.
If we had followed the French strategy on electricity, we would this year put 2 billion, 200 million tons less of carbon in the atmosphere. That would of course be a politically incorrect solution because, after all, while we want energy independence, we want it by not driving humvees. We don't want it by actually doing something like building a nuclear industry.
But just take that number some -- and the next time one of your friends says to you, "Oh, my God, I'm worried about Kyoto and global warming," you would -- the United States today would be 15 percent better than the Kyoto standard, by that one single change.
I favor very dramatic tax credits. I favor a very significant prize series, because I want prizes to compete with process as a way of motivating innovation. Lindbergh flew to Paris for 25 grand, you know.
So I want to -- but I think we should have an energy strategy that meets national security, environment and economic standards, and should be a coherent strategy in the sense that building a two-ocean Navy was a coherent strategy. And that requires, again, speaking at a grand level, organizing coalitions to pass it, making sure that you sustain it for more than two press conferences.
It -- we have on occasion -- we're just -- we just -- a quick commercial. We have a novel coming out next month called "Pearl Harbor, December the 8th," which is the date in Tokyo, and half the novel's from the Japanese side. And if you go back and watch FDR maneuvering in the late '30s, where he knows he can't get ahead of the American people, and he's very aware of the limitations of power, this being THE most successful American politician in the 20th century, and you watch how careful he is, how he zigzags back and forth -- we have a scene where the Panay gets shot up by the Japanese and bombed, and the reaction in the Gallup poll was 83 percent of the country said, "Why is there an American ship in China?" It wasn't "Let's get the Japanese." It was "Are you nuts," I mean. And so Roosevelt's managing a country which is coming out of the Depression and coming out of real isolationism, and he's tiptoeing in the right direction.
We should have a consistent, coherent strategy, like the British had about the Royal Navy. We should say it is good for America to have an energy policy that meets all of our environmental concerns, all of our national security concerns, and does so in a way that makes us continue to be the most competitive producer of energy on the planet.
We could do that if we were serious about it. It's a very different model than you're going to get out of the current politics of this city.
DEYOUNG: Yes. Go ahead. Yes. Yes.
QUESTIONER: Thanks. David Apgar, Corporate Executive Board. Mr. Speaker, I'm wondering if it's possible to challenge the way you characterize the war on terror really on your own terms. And specifically I'm talking about characterizing it as comparable to the Cold War.
One question is, what kinds of events in the future could falsify your view that there is a coherent, anti-modern violent movement directed primarily at us, as opposed to a lot of regional political situations where people are exploiting available religions and where we might really need completely separate analyses to understand what's happening? So what kind of thing would falsify the view that this war on terrorism is comparable?
GINGRICH: Well, look --
QUESTIONER: And if I could just ask, might it also be just dangerous to oversimplify this, I mean, particularly when I look at the stunning number of issues you've put before us -- it's a really interesting list. But do with information theory, speed, complexity and how we need as a country to deal with a more complex role, I just wonder if we can afford prudentially oversimplification, if that's wrong.
GINGRICH: Well, let me -- don't give that up, I want to ask you something, because you used a very particular phrase I don't understand. You said something about terrorists that are fomented by "religions" -- plural. What's your second example? I mean, we know that there's a -- we know there's an irreconcilable wing of Islam. We know that on a worldwide basis, if a terrorist act occurs, the odds are reasonably high, other than the Tamil Tigers, that it will have been caused by somebody from Islam.
What's the second religion?
QUESTIONER: Well, I didn't mean to pluralize it. But --
GINGRICH: No, it's very important because there's a passionate desire in this country to avoid the clarification which might lead to profiling, which could lead one to say -- and this is a subset, let me be very clear: Most of Islam would like to be modern. Most Muslim women would like to be liberated. There's a genuine sense in the world at large of a better future.
But for a specific group largely funded by the Saudis, and gaining momentum worldwide --
QUESTIONER: So you'd revise what you said about a war on terrorism to say a war on Islamism?
GINGRICH: No, I was very clear. I would never have called it a war on terrorism. Terrorism is an activity. I would have said there is an irreconcilable wing of Islam, largely funded by the Saudis, spreading money and spreading talent across the planet, paying for mosques virtually everywhere, proselytizing virtually everywhere, with a very reactionary world view, stunningly anti-female. For example, in Ache now they use the Shari'a, which they historically didn't use. And you go back, you find why. Well, because the mosques are funded by the Saudis.
To go back to the other question, the Saudis are funded by our lack of an energy policy. So we're funding the war on both sides. (Laughter.) This is a fairly stupid strategy. (Laughter.)
Second, I didn't say they're attacking us. I said they're attacking modern Western democracy -- "Western" in the sense including Japan, South Korea, a variety of countries that aren't European. But the fact is -- and if you just go on their websites. Why does this guy in Illinois recruit himself on the Internet and try to buy hand grenades just before Christmas to go ahead with what he called a "jihad" in a local mall? Now, there were some civil libertarian lawyers deeply offended that the FBI had actually entrapped him by selling him the grenades and then arresting him. But he was quite clear about what he was doing; he was part of the team. He'd signed up personally. Where was his complaint? The modern world. You know, they just arrested -- I mean they're trying a guy from Virginia. I mean, this is a worldwide phenomena. Twenty-five people arrested in Canada.
DEYOUNG: But can't you say that people who perform crazy acts like that will find a reason to do it? If you look at what happened at Virginia Tech, here's a guy who went on the Internet, went and found the rationale for what he wanted to do. You can find it.
GINGRICH: Right. There are two groups here. Are there nuts? Yes. Okay, so let's say -- let's stipulate. In a world in which there was not an irreconcilable wing of Islam, would there on occasion be beserkers -- to use the Malay term -- who occasionally would crack and do something truly vicious and horrible? Yes. Okay. And in fact, if you read "Stand on Zanzibar" by John Brunner, he describes a world in which people actually go on the radio in the morning to find out what places to avoid because that's where the beserker was today. But those are random people cracking under the pressure of life, you know, "Life is hard. Let me kill somebody, I'll feel better."
Okay, that's a very tiny subset of truly weird people that you have to control as a psychiatric/policing operation.
Does anybody in here seriously want to make the case that there is not taught consistently in not just madrassas, in schools, as early as second grade, that jihad and martyrdom are good? Is there anybody here who wants to say that Ahmadinejad doesn't like poetry about the joy of martyrdom and the joy of being a nation of martyrs, and that "martyr" has a specific word in this case? Is there anybody who wants to suggest that they don't consciously develop body belts for people to walk in and blow themselves up, that there's not an entire technical industry? We're trying to invent the next-generation iPod; they're trying to invent the next-generation IED. (Laughter.) I mean, there's an entire culture of death competing with the rest of the planet.
Now, the level of will it takes to reject this information is a stunning comment on modern elites.
I mean, the data's -- does anybody here serious doubt that the data is overwhelming? You can go on the Internet and just be -- walk through it, by the Counterterrorism Center. They can take you from site to site to site. They can show you the flow of money. They can show you the mosques being built. They can show you the literature. And what's stunning to me is -- it's like sitting around in 1939 or '40 and saying, well, maybe Hitler doesn't mean it. Maybe the bombing was just a random accident. I don't know why you think this is a war because we're in the middle of the Battle of Britain; it's probably just, you know, random Germans who are upset. (Laughter.)
DEYOUNG: Yes, way back in the back there, ma'am.
QUESTIONER: Hi. I'm Laura Rozen. I'm -- I'm Laura Rozen. I'm a journalist. Can you describe the nature of the arrangement between you, the Office of the Vice President and AEI? I understood that you've told sources of mine that you've been working on a long-term study for the Vice President's Office on this sort of big thing on terrorism and the war on strategy and that you've --
GINGRICH: Your sources are just wrong.
QUESTIONER: Have you been doing any work for the vice president --
GINGRICH: I don't do any work for anybody in the administration. I do work with them. I offer advice to them. I take no compensation. I work for no one, and I have no assignments per se. I serve on the Defense Policy Board. I serve on the Transformation Advisory Group of the Joint Forces Command and I serve on the Transformation Advisory Group of the State Department. And I offer advice probably more often than they want to hear it and probably on topics they'd wish I would quit talking about. (Laughter.)
DEYOUNG: Yes, ma'am. Yes.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Alyssa Ayres, formerly of the University of Pennsylvania. I am very interested in a proposal that you laid out for us, and wonder if you can speak a little bit -- the challenge of diplomacy and the challenge of reforming the State Department is the topic that you've put before us today, but a lot of what we've gone on to discuss through the Q & A session has to do with security issues, and I wonder if you can also talk about what the sort of leading edge of national security would look like if the State Department were reformed in the way that you propose. Would it -- you spoke about changing the interagency process. Would you see envisioning a new kind of force structure abroad in the Department of Defense that would be working in a quasi-diplomatic fashion as well? I wonder if you can address this.
GINGRICH: The reason I became a convert to the fundamental transformation of the State Department is you want to move things away from defense that it's currently doing. I mean, this has become a country where the only institution that is consistently reliable overseas is the Defense Department. That's a huge disadvantage. You do not want uniformed military having to do all sorts of things that you want to, frankly, give to other agencies if you could count on them doing it.
So I think you -- first of all, you have to have a planning model that is deep, (new ?) and (near ?), in that order. We should have a strategic plan for Subsaharan Africa. We should have a joint State-Defense and other agencies -- Agriculture, Commerce, Treasury, Education, Health and Human Services -- a joint effort across all of Subsaharan Africa. Because it is clearly in the interest of the human race to dramatically improve the quality of life in all of Subsaharan Africa. Well, that's a 20- or 30-year strategic undertaking, and we ought to be entering it that way, designing it that way, engaging the Congress on those terms. So you build the momentum across administrations, so you build institutional systems. NATO transcended either party and any one administration. NATO became a common effort over a long period of time, which is actually one of the most successful alliances in human history. And it has had enormous achievements.
Well, we need to think like that. To think like that, you have to have a State Department moving at the tempo of the modern world. In peacetime, the State Department should be in the lead; in wartime, I think generals should actually be in the lead -- I do think there's a breakpoint -- but as a general rule, the ambassador should be literally the president's personal representative, not the State Department's chief bureaucrat. And that means a model that is an ambassador-centric model in peacetime, which means you got to upgrade training for the ambassadors, you have to integrate them with IT, you've got to make them capable of having resources. It's a very -- I mean, I don't have all the answers. I'm just trying to paint for you a general direction that a lot of smart people -- you know, there's like 47, 48, 49 -- I mean, no one person invented the successful strategy that ultimately led to victory in the Cold War, but people could point in a general direction and say, I sure hope a lot of us can figure out how to solve this. And I think I'm in that phase. I'm not suggesting I have the answers, but I think the direction's probably right.
DEYOUNG: I think we have time for one more question or two if they're very, very concise. Yes, sir.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Steve Charnovitz at George Washington University Law School. Mr. Speaker, you talked about the need for a 21st-century State Department. Could you reflect on what a 21st-century Congress would look like to achieve the sort of foreign policy you want? (Laughter.) Is it a problem when members of the Congress act as their own secretary of State or is that kind of competition a good thing? Is there too much micromanagement or do we need much more, better, stronger accountability structures?
GINGRICH: No, I think you have to fundamentally rethink the role of the member of Congress and then from that rethink the rest of the institution.
I mean, what you have today is an institution in which members are kept so busy with trivia and so surrounded by staff that -- and it really worries me that we are watching a process of shrinking our political leadership. And it's a combination of consultants and staff and the amount of time that they pay their things, and you're literally watching people -- you know, when you go back and -- and, again, this is not abnormal. If you -- you know, there was a long stretch between Jackson and Lincoln, when it's fairly hard to point with -- with the possible exception of Polk -- it's fairly to point to any president who actually was somebody you'd want to study -- you know, unless he was trying to get a dissertation or something. And so, you know, it's not like America's always had a series of giants.
But there is a real challenge when the time -- the amount of time you can spend focusing on something is so short and your learning curve is so short that you don't accumulate -- what you want is is you want senior leaders who actually have learned something over a 30- or 40-year period and are different than, you know, the 22nd term of a freshman. And the current system's not very good at creating that kind of capability. So I think -- and I've written a little bit about this -- I think at some point down the road we have to really reengage our members.
And I'll give you one specific example which I've advocated now starting with the Clinton administration. Every president should offer every member of Congress any letter they need to go on a congressional delegation so they're always traveling at the request of the president, so they can always go back home and say, "You know, the president asked me to go to India and Malaysia and Singapore, and it was my duty." It's not a junket.
And we have to browbeat the news media out of this whole -- I mean, the news media is as destructive as the Congress, frankly, because it trivializes down to this. We've become a news media where Rosie O'Donnell and Imus are bigger issues than North Korea. And a country who gets into that cycle has a big problem solving its problems. So I do think you've got to take seriously how you're going to get to a 21st century legislative branch. But I think it's very important to the legislative branch to recognize our Constitution actually has stability more solid than a parliamentary system in terms of preserving freedom.
Last point. It is perfectly appropriate for any member of Congress to go on a visit anywhere unless explicitly prohibited by the president, who can always block their passports. I mean, you can, in fact, stop people from going if you want to. But short of that, members should feel pretty cheerful about going anywhere they want to if they're going for the purpose of learning.
No member of Congress should negotiate unless specifically deputized by the president, acting on behalf of the State Department, in a controlled environment. I mean, this notion you're going to have -- this is why the Logan Act was passed originally in the 1790s. This notion you're going to have 535 Americans randomly chatting with kleptocratic dictators who are mildly crazed and have no understanding of America, and then expect the dictator to sort out which was the real policy, this is an invitation to the kind of destruction of democracy that Thucydities describes in terms of the disintegration of the city state's ability to manage any coherent policy. This is very dangerous stuff and we ought to be very firm. Learning, yes. Negotiating, no.
DEYOUNG: Unfortunately, we have actually gone over our time, and they're pretty strict about that here.
So thank you all very much, and especially thank you for a very informative and interesting session. (Applause.)
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