BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS

U.S. TROOP DRAWDOWN GERMANY - TRUMPS "STRATEGIC INCOHERENCE".

June 14, 2020 Dana Lewis Season 1 Episode 11
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
U.S. TROOP DRAWDOWN GERMANY - TRUMPS "STRATEGIC INCOHERENCE".
Chapters
00:01:35
Ambassador Nicholas Burns
00:13:30
Retried Lt. General Ben Hodges
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
U.S. TROOP DRAWDOWN GERMANY - TRUMPS "STRATEGIC INCOHERENCE".
Jun 14, 2020 Season 1 Episode 11
Dana Lewis

The White House has leaked the not so secret intention, to pull U.S. troops out of Germany. 

1/3 of American forces based in Germany will go home.  It has rattled NATO, angered Germany, and perplexed the Pentagon.  Why?  Because U.S. troops in Europe serve America's interests especially at a time of tensions with Russia. 

In this BACKSTORY Dana Lewis talks with highly respected Ambassador and life long diplomat Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. 

And, Ben Hodges became the three-star Commanding General, United States Army Europe. Former Lt. General Hodges is currently the Pershing Chair in strategic studies, at the Center for European Policy Analysis.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The White House has leaked the not so secret intention, to pull U.S. troops out of Germany. 

1/3 of American forces based in Germany will go home.  It has rattled NATO, angered Germany, and perplexed the Pentagon.  Why?  Because U.S. troops in Europe serve America's interests especially at a time of tensions with Russia. 

In this BACKSTORY Dana Lewis talks with highly respected Ambassador and life long diplomat Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. 

And, Ben Hodges became the three-star Commanding General, United States Army Europe. Former Lt. General Hodges is currently the Pershing Chair in strategic studies, at the Center for European Policy Analysis.

Speaker 1:

Chancellor Merkel all said, we don't want to bring Russia back into the [inaudible] . This open defiance and disagreement with the United States is really unprecedented.

Speaker 2:

Hi everyone. I'm Dana Lewis in London, and welcome to backstory. While you were rightly concerned about police violence in America and trying to cope with a pandemic, don't feel bad if you didn't notice this curve ball , president Trump, just

Speaker 3:

through NATO and specifically Germany, the white house is not so quietly leaking a decision to pull a third of America's 35,000 soldiers out of Germany, and it appears Trump is doing it because well, he's never gotten along well with German chancellor, Angela Merkel. And she just said she wouldn't attend a G seven meeting in June, especially since Trump want to do invite Russian president Putin. But Trump has never gotten along with Merkel, just listened to a small portion of his rent about Germany buying its energy supplies from Russia.

Speaker 4:

But Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they were getting from 60 to 70% of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline. And you tell me if that's appropriate because I think it's not. And I think it's a very bad thing for NATO

Speaker 3:

and Angela Merkel. Who's clearly frosty towards Trump, took a veiled swipe at him during a speech last year at Harvard

Speaker 5:

tear down walls of ignorance and narrow mindedness for nothing has to stay as it is,

Speaker 3:

but reducing America's force in Europe and NATO has serious consequences and it sends the wrong message to an aggressive Russia. And to explain all this, you can't hear more eloquent, wiser words from ambassador Nicholas Burns and our second guest , the former commander of U S military in Europe, former Lieutenant general, Ben Hodges. First Nicholas Burns. Our ambassador Nicholas Burns was in the foreign service for 27 years and he was the us ambassador to NATO. And he is currently professor of diplomacy and international politics at Harvard's John F. Kennedy school of government. Thank you for joining us, mr. Ambassador.

Speaker 1:

It's a pleasure to be with you. Thank you so much.

Speaker 3:

Ambassador president Trump apparently wants to pull about one third of American troops out of Germany. Good idea. Terrible idea.

Speaker 1:

Not in the interest of the United States. The American trips are in Germany, obviously to help protect Germany and other European countries, but mainly because it's in the interest of the United States in two respects, it's a way that the United States can , uh , within NATO contain Putin and contain Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. It's also been the jumping off point , uh , for the United States into North Africa. As we say, we help the French try to contain the terrorist threat in places like Mali and Nisha air . And it was a jumping off point for our major Wars that we fought in Iraq and Afghanistan of the extraordinary infrastructure that we have built up with Germany over the last several decades, Ramstein airbase, for instance, being the major air base the United States uses. So this is , um, this is penny wise, pound foolish. It's it's also a part of, in my view of the strategic incoherence of what president Trump is trying to do with Europe. He's been very weak on Europe.

Speaker 3:

Is this more about his personality than , than strategy? Because he was angry at Angela Merkel for not wanting to attend the G seven. I mean, is this personality or is this him going back to NATO contributions and all of that?

Speaker 1:

It's not strategic. It appears to be spite he has had it out for Angela Merkel from the beginning of his presidency. I think he's been more critical of her publicly and privately than just about any world leader. He never breathed a word of , uh , of , um, disrespect or disagreement with shisha and ping or Putin or Kim Jong on , but he's been a consistent critic occurs. And he was apparently furious that she decided not to attend , uh , his plan G seven meeting in Washington at a time when , uh , it's difficult for leaders to travel because of the Corona virus. We still have high infection rates here in the United States. And I think , um, for a president of the United States to pull 9,500 American troops out of Germany, because he's upset with a German chancellor is not strategic, it's foolish.

Speaker 3:

So will Congress allow them to do it?

Speaker 1:

It's going to be interesting to see. I mean, there is, I think a movement in Congress right now , uh , to assert itself , uh , perhaps to pass a resolution against this decision , uh, or to try to delay it. Congress does hold the purse strings. One of the other reasons why we've expanded the American true presence in Germany just over the last five years was after Putin's annexation of Crimea and his, his placement of Russian troops inside Ukraine in 2014 and 15, the Obama administration and the Trump administration have effectively rebuilt the U S armored presence in Europe that had been hollowed out to fight the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's part of a strategic effort to make deterrent stronger against Putin as he threatens the Baltic States and Poland. And as he, of course, is active illegally in both Georgia and Ukraine. So it's a very important strategic move. Congress in both parties had funded a fairly substantial buildup, multibillion dollar buildup of American armored presence. And now the president is going to counteract that he appears not to have had any major discussions inside the administration with the state and defense departments. And of course, the fact given Donald Trump's record, he didn't let the Germans now ahead of this announcement. This is,

Speaker 3:

he wants to bring Russia back into the G seven. He talked about doing that. Is that in America's interest right now?

Speaker 1:

No, I was part of the effort to bring Russia, to expand the [inaudible] to the, to include Russia back in the 1990s, when I was special assistant to president Clinton for Russia and Ukraine affairs. But that was the 1990s when president Yeltsin was in power, we were partners with Russia. Um , potent is an adversary of the entire NATO Alliance. He has a next Crimea, which is at flagrant violation of international law. That's why sanctions were placed by the EU Canada and the United States on Putin. And the idea you'd invite them back to the G seven is anathema to all the other G seven leaders you saw it's extraordinary a week last week when prime minister Trudeau prime minister, Boris Johnson, chancellor Merkel all said, we don't want to bring Russia back into the [inaudible] . This open defiance and disagreement with the United States is really unprecedented in my , uh , 40 years of participation and observation of these events,

Speaker 3:

dangerous times we live in, I mean, we are seeing a number of treaties that president Trump has walked away from open skies. Uh , and now start, as you know, is supposed to be renewed next year. And it looks like president Trump is saying, we're not going to renew start. And , uh , the Russians are encouraging America to do so. The, I spoke the other day to Rose the Mueller who was the main chief negotiator for the U S and she talked about how, yes, you could bring China in later on, but in the meantime, you need to extend that treaty and not let it expire. We are entering into a new arms race. Does it worry you, when you start adding up all of these treaties we're walking away from and where that leaves us in terms of the dangerous to a nuclear exchange possibly with Russia and others?

Speaker 1:

Well, I think it's the most dangerous time in terms of nuclear weapons, proliferation and instability. In the last half century, since president Kennedy and president Johnson began arms control with the Soviet union back in the depths of the cold war, I would not blame it, obviously all on president Trump. I think the Russians are largely to blame. They're the ones who violated the intermediate nuclear forces treaty that subsided as you know , uh , more than a year ago. And all of NATO was opposed to that. Uh, the Russians have introduced , um, SU um , supersonic missiles and other strategic

Speaker 6:

[inaudible] .

Speaker 1:

I played both strategic and intermediate range , um, Accords . And so I think the Russians are at the heart of this problem, but I, I agree that , uh, open skies for the United States to leave that that was very much in our interest start , uh, start renew , start renewal February one, 2021. It's a difficult issue because I think there's an argument to be made that you should, we should seriously consider extending it to provide for stability and strategic nuclear arms. But I do think the Trump administration has a point that China is absent from all of these arms agreements. China's now without any question, a greater military power than Russia , uh , all told. And I think the United States, and I hope Russia, as well as the NATO allies will pressure China to agree to limits on its nuclear program. And so the , the Trump , uh , strategy here is not , uh , irrational. They're trying to convince the Chinese leverage the Chinese , uh, that they have to make. Uh , they have to be part of the arms control regime itself.

Speaker 3:

Can I just talk to you very briefly, but what's happening in America? Uh , it is, it is troubling everywhere. And , um, how does this allow the U S to preach to others now about human rights and democracy? You mean largely I've spent my career, and I know you spent your career watching other nations and , and, and talking to other nations about the way government should work and democracy should work in America has been that great leader in that. And suddenly now , um, that the shine is off, isn't it. And it's compromising, it's troubling for the rest of the world. And where does it leave America in terms of its diplomacy?

Speaker 1:

Well, we live in a glass house. Race has been a curse on our history. We've never gotten it right. We've never done right by the African American community, going all the way back to 16, 19 Dana, when the first slave ship arrived in Virginia, and it's been the seminal event, an issue in our history, and I think millions of Americans, and you can see this and those demonstrating and speaking out, feel heartbroken over the murder of George Floyd , the systemic racism, the , the police mistreatment of young African American men. There's so many examples of it and the racism that exists in our society. And until we get a grip on this until we truly make progress, it's going to be difficult for the United States to be as to be totally credible on the issue of human rights. When we lecture the Chinese, as we should, frankly, on their deficiencies, in Hong Kong, on their attitudes, towards Taiwan, on their apparent treatment of the weaker population of shungite province, the Chinese come right back at us with this charge , we'll look at your own house. And so I think we're at a point in American history where our greatest weakness globally are the dysfunctions in Washington, the political dysfunctions, the racism in our country, the , the red blue divide we're at a time we need to heal America so that in part of America can be more effective and honest in our global policy.

Speaker 3:

Are you confident that you're in a healing process or are you just entering something more dangerous than that?

Speaker 1:

It's interesting. I, I'm confident that I've never seen the American public more engaged on race than it is right now. Uh, African Americans have always been engaged. They have to be engaged. They're the victims, white Americans taking to the streets and speaking out in a way that I never thought was possible. And I'm old enough to have been 12 in 1968 during the most terrible year in our modern history with the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy and the Vietnam war and , and the violence in our streets. And I think if there is a silver lining in this very dark cloud, it is that people are really standing up here , uh , and holding the government to account and the opposition to what president Trump tried to do, which was to bring the military into the streets to deny the first amendment rights. A peaceful protest is fundamental to the entire history of the country and the idea of America. It's inspiring to see for former chairs of the joint chiefs of staff, all speak out against what president Trump tried to do. People are standing up, we've just got to keep it going. And I'm going to be very, in a sense partisan by saying, we have to defeat Donald Trump on November 3rd. I'm a advisor to Joe Bob . I've been supporting him for 14 months. And he, I think leadership is the key here in the white house, in, in governor's mansion in city halls, in our communities. We need to take back the America that we love. And that is so important, I think, to the rest of the world, to that democratic human rights oriented America. And that's the one you're talking about Dana. And I think this is, this crisis is the most profound crisis we've faced the racial crisis

Speaker 7:

best of the burns. Thank you so much for your, your wise thoughts. And it's always an honor to talk to you and thank you very much,

Speaker 1:

Dana, thank you. Honored to be on your program. Thanks so much.

Speaker 8:

[inaudible]

Speaker 7:

all right . Joining me now, Ben Hodges, a Lieutenant general is a retired United States army officer who served as commanding general United States army Europe. And he is currently the purging chair in strategic studies at the center for European policy analysis. And he's talking to us from Frankfurt Germany. So that's important, I think because he understands exactly both sides of the pond on these issues with NATO and troops in Europe. And if I can start off, I mean, president Trump as you're well aware has reportedly ordered the U S military to remove 9,500 troops from Germany. Uh , the move could reduce the U S contingent to 25,000. Can I get your reaction on it ?

Speaker 9:

Well, Dan , first of all, thanks for the opportunity. Even people in the Pentagon and at NATO and other headquarters are referring all questions to the white house, which tells me that, you know , this is not tied to any sort of a strategic analysis, and this is a purely a political calculation. If it's true, then I think it's a colossal mistake , um , because of the damage it does to the cohesion of the Alliance, as well as a significant reduction to actual capability. That's here in Europe

Speaker 7:

when you're saying it's political, not, I mean, that plays into the idea that president Trump got angry with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and said, fine, you're not coming to the [inaudible] . We're going to take some troops out of Germany and penalize you. I mean, can you imagine an American president making a decision on something structure so strategic as military interests in Europe on the basis that he's just angry about a conference at [inaudible]

Speaker 9:

the timing of this leaves it open to question. I mean, the fact that you've asked that, and then I've seen that from others as well , um, is a reflection of the , uh, damage relationship between the United States and Germany. The fact that somebody , you know , uh , professional journalists and others would automatically connect chance to America saying she's not coming to the [inaudible] to a response by the American president like that. Uh , I believe that this is something that , um, the former ambassador , uh, Richard Grinnell has been encouraging for several months. Um, I don't know what caused the president to , um, if he said this, I don't know what caused it to happen right now, but certainly , um , the timing , um , is not helpful , uh, with regards to the , uh , uh, relationship now to her credit chancellor miracle. Um, of course, you know, has had pretty , uh, tough measures in place here in Germany, as far as closing down businesses, stopping , uh, gatherings. And so for her to then appear in Washington in a , in a closed group kind of setting , um , you could, you could see that's a difficult position for her. Like it would be for any other , uh , political leader that has imposed restrictive measures. So , um, I think it was, it was almost impossible for her to , to accept the , uh, the invitation.

Speaker 7:

You're saying that the ambassador Grinnell, the former ambassador was pushing this to draw down American troops in Germany. Why?

Speaker 9:

Uh, I think , uh, the ambassador , um , has , um , wow from day one, actually, even before he arrived to take office as our ambassador in Germany, he was already advocating for , um , Germany needing to do , um, Germany needs to do a lot more , um, as part of its role inside the Alliance. And for sure, every president has said that our European allies needed to do more, but there was a, a particular , uh, edge , um , to the ambassador's approach , um, that I actually always felt was counterproductive . And so , um, over the last few months he has advocated for this. Um, but it reflected in my view, a misunderstanding or a lack of appreciation for why we have troops in Germany, and they're not here to protect Germans. They're forward stationed, just like us air force. It's based in the UK. It's not there to protect the UK it's forward stationed for our interests . How , how and our interests, I mean, how does that serve our interests? So, well, number one, our interests are best protected by a strong cohesive Alliance, NATO , uh , not perfect, but still the most successful Alliance in the history of the world. And so , um, our contribution to NATO, whether it's air forces, land forces, Navy , uh , intelligence, missile defense , um, that's our contribution to the collective defense effort of NATO . So you've got 30 nations committed to each other that protects America's interests . Secondly, in a more practical way , um, having bases like Ramstein , for example, in Germany , uh, allows us to project power or to support operations and support presence in Africa in the middle East , uh, the hospital at lunched Hill . Another example of soldiers who were wounded in Afghanistan, Iraq were flowing back into Lonsdale , no telling how many young men and women's lives were saved by having a very large capable medical center here in Germany. Uh , the number of troops that are in Germany about 34,000 army and air force, I mean, that would not fill up half of a major football stadium in America. So we're talking about actually a very small number of people, but they give us infrastructure a footprint that allows us to project power, as well as demonstrate commitment to the rest of the allies.

Speaker 7:

When you were the commanding general of , of us , uh , army in Europe, obviously

Speaker 9:

part of what your ,

Speaker 7:

the , the drills you're running, the strategy, you're looking at constantly as a threat from Russia. Um, and I know that you were probably quite involved in dealing with Ukraine as well, and the Russian incursion into Ukraine and the seizure of Crimea. And how important are those troops , uh , in Germany, in our presence in Germany and our contribution to NATO in terms of holding the line, if you want to call it that Eastern Europe against a president poop .

Speaker 9:

So the deterrence is all about having capability and demonstrating the capability and demonstrating the wheel to use the capability. That's the whole theory of deterrence. Um, and so if you don't have actual capability there, then obviously you don't have determined . So if you don't demonstrate that you have that capability, you don't have effective deterrence. Uh, unlike in the cold war, when I was a Lieutenant a very long time ago, and we had almost 300,000 troops, you know, the expectation was that , uh ,

Speaker 7:

three, sorry, 300,000 troops. And now you're down to 34,000.

Speaker 9:

Yeah. So basically when I was a Lieutenant, you know, we had 300,000, the mission was to deter the Soviet union, protect American interests and assure America's allies. Uh, today we have about 30,000 troops and the mission is to deter Russia, protect America's interests, and , uh, assure America's allies. So that presence is an important part of that. But unlike during the cold war, when the Soviet union clearly had intentions to , um , conquer, to invade West Germany, we know that from the cold war, starting the plans and so on now , uh, Russia, the Kremlin does not have the capability to do that, but they also don't have the desire to do that. What they want to do is anything they can to undermine the cohesion of the Alliance. So they use cyber, they use disinformation and , uh, frequently they'll talk about the use of nuclear weapons. So to put in the mind of all political leaders, that if they launched a short, quick attack into say, Lithuania or Romania or Estonia, and then they stop and they say, do you really want to get into a nuclear war over Lithuania? And, and of course, if the Alliance doesn't respond to that and they have effectively wrecked NATO and undermined our life , and they also use , um, what their support for the Assad regime in Syria and Libya, which is only made possible because we have not competed effectively in the black sea, from their basis in Ukraine, that has put more than 3 million refugees on the road, out of Syria, into Turkey and the rest of Europe, which obviously undermines the European union, their support for general haftorah and Olympia . Um, potentially there's another million refugees coming across the Mediterranean into Europe. This is not accidental. This is weaponization of refugees by the Kremlin. So competing in the Ukraine, not in the Ukraine, competing in Ukraine is important because , uh , without Crimea , uh , without Russia's , uh , illegal annexation of Crimea and this bridge, they built across the Kurt Strait , which chokes , uh , Ukrainian ports on Sierra dissolve . Uh , this gives Russia the opportunity to dominate in the black sea and use it as their launching pad for all the malign activity they're conducting in the middle East.

Speaker 7:

So what do you, how do you analyze the wisdom then a president Trump flirting with the idea of normalizing relations with Russia and maybe even suggesting he could have gone to that [inaudible] meeting with Angela Merkel?

Speaker 9:

Well, even the , even the European allies that are, that tend to be more open to engagement , uh, with the Kremlin , uh, are, were astounded that the president would offer , uh , an invitation to president Putin to come to the [inaudible] . I mean, then they all said that this was completely unacceptable. And , uh , I, an invitation like that, just like , uh , I proposal to reduce by almost a third American troops in is a gift to the Kremlin that they've done nothing to merit, such a, a reduction or an invitation, if anything, that's continued to kill Ukrainian troops in the Donbass every week, they've continued their disinflation efforts, their cyber attacks and their illegal claims to territorial waters and exclusive economic zone around the Crimea. Um, why in the world would we offer them? Uh , I mean, that's the opposite of the integrate a negotiator.

Speaker 7:

It's interesting in terms of timing that Russia, because you mentioned the nuclear threat and, you know, as scenario where they might try to seize the Stony or a lot of via Lithuania, Russia has just come out and published its doctrine. Um, not accidentally, they've made it quite known that they might see a limited nuclear exchange or use of a nuclear device in relation to a conflict with NATO. Uh, Trump has said he won't renew the start nuclear treaty. He's abandoned the open skies he's walked away from the inf the intermediate range treaty , uh, th these treaties, I mean, a lot of critics will say steered us away from a nuclear war limited or otherwise. Cause a lot of people don't think he can have a limited exchange anyway, that they have steered us away from a nuclear conflict with Russia. And now we are in a new arms race with SuperDuper missiles and to quote president Trump and other things. Are you worried about the direction that we're heading in and very rapidly? So,

Speaker 9:

so , uh, I'm worried on a , on a couple of levels first , uh, when it comes to these treaties, all of them have flaws because they're all the result of a compromise and negotiation. So they, all of them will have some flaw, but , um , as you state , uh , the arms control protocols and efforts over the past decades have kept us, even though both sides had thousands of nuclear weapons, we've managed to reduce the , the risk as well as the numbers. I mean, something like 80% reduction in nuclear weapons, overall 90% reduction of nuclear weapons that were based in Europe. This is, this is not inconsequential. Uh , I would much rather that we stay inside treaties as well as international and multilateral organizations and fix them , uh , versus walking away from them. I , I would, I would prefer that the United States lead not leave now. Uh, our allies could behave much better. Um, Germany, France, UK, others , uh, for example, an inf they knew for years that Russia was in violation of inf of they've known for years, that Russia was in violation of open skies, treaty. Um, those countries instead of criticizing the United States for walking away from them , should have been putting big pressure on the Kremlin to live up to it. And the United States, if we were , uh , had been thinking more strategically should have been working with Germany in particular , uh, to put pressure on the Kremlin. I think Germany is the only country that can actually influence criminal behavior because of its economic power and its leadership inside the European union and the same, by the way, with the Chinese communist party. So a better approach in my view. And it's very difficult obviously, but to work closely with those allies that can bring to bear the right kind of economic leverage on the Kremlin and on the Chinese coming as party. Now, how do you , sorry, I was just gonna say it's , um, I'm not opposed to , uh, the administration's desire to get China , uh, involved in , uh, in the , uh, arms control process. And of course the Chinese coming as party right now has zero incentive and , and zero desire to be a part of it. So , um, there is, there is a strategic challenge for the United States that we can't keep our hands tied here while the Chinese develop unlimited capabilities. Uh, that, that is a concern. And for sure , um,

Speaker 7:

well, you don't necessarily have to make a choice. Do you, I mean, you could extend start with Russia and then pursue negotiations with China. And that was always if you can comment on it, but that was always, the idea was when you're having 30, 40,000 nuclear weapons on either side of , of the Soviet union and America, you can start talking to people who have nuclear weapons, that number a few hundred. So what you need to do is get the base down to 1500 as president Obama's negotiations data on start to , uh , and then work from there towards a thousand, and then bring in the other, other nuclear powers and try to get them then to sign on to these declarations as well. But you don't have to abandon one to pursue the others .

Speaker 9:

No , absolutely not. Uh, I've read with you. I'm just saying that , uh, that's the, the challenge is trying to figure out how do you , uh, put pressure on the Chinese while still maintaining or continuing a process. And , and without honestly, without Germany and other countries bringing pressure, I don't, I don't think we're going to be successful.

Speaker 7:

Ben , I've known you since you were a brigade commander for , for some 20 years now. I think we're getting close to 20 years anyway, and I know the military well, because I've been embedded a number of times and I would not normally ask you a political question cause I know you wouldn't answer it . None of you, when you look at what's going on in America right now, your colleagues never before have they stepped up and stepped out and spoken out against the use of military by the administration , uh, James Maddis to Colin Powell to dozens of commanders now have come out and said the Trump should not deploy the military in the United States. I'd like your comment on that. Why does it go against what

Speaker 9:

you believe? I assume it does. Yeah, of course. Um, you know, I , uh, I , I keep a copy of the constitution. Uh , I've had this for decades actually. Uh, cause we all would take an oath to the constitution all the time. Every time there's a reenlistment or promotion or it's something that is so ingrained in our fiber from the time you go through your officer training , um, throughout your entire career. So that's why , um , you see , uh , a real , uh, anxiety by officers, including retired officers about , um, what , what we see we, the respect for civilian authority is so ingrained the, the respect for , uh, our fellow citizens and not using force against fellow citizens is so anathema to everybody in the military. And particularly when we understand the difference between national guard and regular army, that there's a reason for that when we grow up in that. Um, so you can, you can see professional , uh, officers have all the services really wrestled with, with this idea. Um, just like we also hate seeing, you know , uh , monuments in Washington D C being defaced and violence. So there's a , uh, a , uh , it was a struggle. Um, I think that , uh, when , uh , when I think about in 1957, when president Eisenhower deployed soldiers from the three 27th infantry regiment of the a hundred first, now the reason I'm so familiar with this is because the three 27th entry of course is the core of first brigaded on her first. That's my, my regimen. And we have a Memorial and the brigade headquarters there to when our soldiers were sent to little rock Arkansas , um, to , uh , protect nine young black children trying to go into a high school that the governor of Arkansas , um, had used the Arkansas national guard to prevent from happening. And so president Eisenhower in order to protect these nine young kids, but also because the image of the United States was so terrible , um, as, as race riots were happening , um, the president felt it was appropriate to use the military at that time. And I would completely agree. Um, I've seen nothing in this situation that would warrant the use of the regular , uh, of regular military in a , in any kind of a federal role. I think there's so much more that could be done. And , um , you know, part of the , um , the negative reaction is also because of the language. I mean, when the secretary of defense talks about dominating, battlespace when we're talking about American cities is to everybody. And , and so , um, I'm certainly a , would agree with the , uh, um, criticisms of dramatic Admiral Mullen and others.

Speaker 7:

What would you have advised the president if you had been with him? And he had said clear Lafayette park, I want to go for a walk. And we were going to use tear gas and rubber bullets to do that

Speaker 9:

well. Um, first of all , uh, I am very sure that Mark Milley , the chairman of the joint chiefs , um, pushed very hard against the president on using the insurrection act and bringing in the regular army. I there's no doubt in my mind that he fought back against that very hard. Um, of course I was not in the room when the decision, when the president says, Hey, let's go walk over to the church. I believe Mark Milley . When he says , um, we thought we were going to visit the guardsmen that were out there, which makes perfect sense. I mean, that's what a commander duck course his chairman. He's not the commander, but that's what a leader does you go see for yourself, the conditions. And especially if the president is turning to you to give advice about using military, it would seem completely inappropriate to , um, go see for yourself what's going on out there. What the unfortunate part is this turned into this , uh , uh , photo op that was not , uh, impromptu by the president, but I think it was a total surprise to , uh , chairman Millie . Um, and you know, obviously he, he exited the scene immediately. I think in hindsight, they should have been more savvy to what might happen here. And , um , they probably was wrong. Yeah, there's thing that was wrong. Yeah. And nods in hindsight, I think he probably wishes that he, they had, they should have been more attuned to what this president would do. And I guess that this is the point that the president will use the military and he's talked about it so much. And the language coming out of the white house is just not appropriate. And so , um, I think , uh, every officer and you've seen it probably, you know, every one of the services has reminded everybody about our constitutional responsibilities, legal orders. And , um , uh , there's no doubt in my mind that Mark Milley , I've known him for a very long time that there have been some serious , uh, uh, heated debates and pushback by him , uh , on the civilian leadership. And , um, he will , uh, I have great confidence in him and his judgment.

Speaker 7:

I just pursue it with one last question and then let you and wrap this up. But philosophically, are you not on a short string to the white house and the president or , or philosophically, what is the command chain there in terms responsibility

Speaker 9:

to the U S military and commanders like yourself? Well, of course I am retired, so I'm never retired. Um, it's in your blood, you never retired, but indeed you are retired. So in the constitution, article one lays out the responsibilities of the Congress. Article two, lays out the responsibilities of the president. That's not an administrative act accident. Article one. So priority is to the legislative branch of government. Article two is where it says the president is commander and chief, but the military has a responsibility to the Congress also. And that's why our , um, Oh, this is to support, defend the constitution of the United States. Now, you know, when that excellent article by Anne Applebaum , where she talks about how do people , uh, how , how do really good people become complicit with behavior? And, you know, there's rationalization and now maybe I can still kind of control it and influence it, or, you know, there's different ways that people try to try to deal with that. Um, for me, there's no doubt in my mind, I , I would have no problem telling him mr. President, I'm obviously not your guy, cause there's no way I'm going to do that. Now. It's easier for me to say that here in the safety of my retirement, but I am very confident in three years ago, if I had been asked when I was commander of us army, Europe , um, to do something that I knew I'm going to , uh, undermine our constitutional authority and also the credibility of the army , um, as a protector of the people that the America , in fact, I've always bragged to my friends and how you can be sure the American people never worry that the guys with all the guns, the military are going to take matters into their own hands in the United States. And so that's , that's part of the culture in that. No doubt I would have lived up to that

Speaker 2:

and whatever the consequences would have been Ben hunches, a great pleasure to talk to you, sir. You're, you're the purging chair of strategic studies at the center of European policy analysis. Also fluent in Germany and you're based in Frankfurt . It's a , it's a great gift to be able to get your views on all this, and thanks very much for what you're doing and thanks for the opportunity. And that's another edition of backstory, please, wherever you listen to backstory, subscribe and share I'm Dana Lewis, talk to you soon .

Speaker 8:

[inaudible] [inaudible] .

Ambassador Nicholas Burns
Retried Lt. General Ben Hodges