WTH is going on in the world with Gen. Jack Keane? | WHAT THE HELL

Donald Trump: What’s going on? What’s really going on? We said, what the hell happened? You don’t have to know what the hell is on it They see what’s going on with, I don’t know what’s going on What is going wrong? We must find out what is going on Marc: Hi, I’m Marc Thiessen Danielle: And I’m Danielle Pletka Marc: Welcome to our new podcast “What the Hell Is Going On?” Danielle: We are still so new We have that new car smell Marc: That’s really gross, Dani Danielle: It does sound kind of gross actually So recently, President Trump decided to call off a military strike on Iran This is something we were all talking about last week Iran downed a very expensive, very valuable U.S. military drone The President was all set to retaliate He said, the expression he used was weird, right? “The guns are cocked.” Not exactly how we generally describe such military action But numerous news outlets said that he stood down from that decision at the last moment because he saw General Jack Keane on television Marc: Exactly So he was wrestling with the decision and all of a sudden, he was watching Fox News and there was General Keane who pointed out that he thought that Trump was right earlier in the day when he said that it was possible that the strike was a fluke rather than a deliberate provocation, and talked a little bit about the Reagan administration’s accidental shootdown of a Iranian jet in the 1980s when we were having the last tanker conflict like this And the President listened to him and decided not to do it, and quite frankly, I think it was the right decision to hold back on a kinetic strike Danielle: Right I agree with you that it was the right decision I don’t think that comparison’s very apt I mean, what happened in that instance when had we shot down an Iranian jetliner was that actually new military technology misidentified what the aircraft was on radar It was a mistake, but not the same kind of mistakes that happened in Iran But here’s the irony for me So one of the reasons that you and I are such big Jack Keane fans and have worked with him for so long is through Fred Kagan, who directs AEI’s Critical Threats Project Fred was on with us a couple of weeks ago, we talked all about Iran And one of the things that Fred said was absolutely no way, no how is there any possibility that the downing of this U.S. drone was anything other than a direct decision of the Iranian government? I can’t wait to hear what Jack says about that Marc: And that may have been a convenient suggestion that wasn’t necessarily taken seriously We may know, in fact, that there was a deliberate decision and we decided to let them off the hook on that for a kinetic response but we did respond in a cyberattack and Jack is gonna talk about that today Danielle: Well, I really hadn’t seen any reporting about that, have you? Marc: He’s got some really interesting stuff to tell us about that, that has not been in the news We’re gonna talk about Iran, we’re gonna talk about North Korea and the President’s decision to be the first sitting U.S. president to step across the DMZ into North Korea Danielle: So I think Jack has really locked the President in on North Korea, I want to hear more about what he says about this But basically, what he has said on the record publicly is that Donald Trump, no way, no how will sit down with Kim Jong-un for a third time for a summit without having some nuclear concessions in hand I think the odds of that are really, really low So now, here is the actual man himself We’re so pleased to have Jack Keane in the studio with us today He’s a retired four-star general, former vice chief of the army, serves as the chairman of the Institute for the Study of War, and he is a member of President Trump’s unofficial kitchen cabinet Marc: Or his Fox cabinet Danielle: I knew you were gonna say that but actually I think that’s a really accurate description This is gonna be an amazing conversation with Jack And one thing that I hope everybody is going to wait for We have got the general on the hook to tell one of his amazing personal stories about an experience with the New York Yankees, you guys are gonna love it I’ve never heard it told before Marc: Jack, welcome to the program Jack: I’m glad to be here Marc: All right, so President Trump called off that kinetic strike on the Iranians but he did launch a cyber strike on Iran that got a lot less attention You recently visited U.S. Cyber Command, can you tell us what you learned? Jack: Well, I can’t get into the details of any of that but it has been reported that the cyber strike was considerably more significant, people realize And I concluded in my own judgment that it’s a deterrence all of its own, much like you would think a kinetic strike would be And for our audience to understand, we formed Cyber Command, which is attached to the National Security Agency, but Cyber Command has responsibility to conduct offensive cyber operations So the director of the National Security Agency, in this case, four-star General Nakasone is also commander of Cyber Command And during the Obama administration, they had a lot of restriction on the use of offensive cyber As a matter of fact, in the interagency process, any person in that process could veto an offensive

strike, which, in my mind, is an absolute absurdity So this administration has changed the authorities They’ve made it easier to conduct offensive cyber operations It doesn’t mean that the Cyber Command is freelance in any sort of way, they’re not, so this is a significant improvement over where we were Marc: Would you say that the cyber strike was equally devastating to them as what the kinetic strike would have been? Jack: I think it certainly has the potential to do that The offensive cyber, we have the best capability in the world, and I’m convinced that it is a deterrence all of its own Danielle: So one of the things though, Jack, about deterrence is knowledge I mean a country is only deterred if they know what your capabilities are, which is one of the problems with cyber When you do something covertly, something that Jack Keane knows about but he can’t talk about, yes, it’s a deterrent potentially to the Iranians, but of course, it’s not really warning the rest of the world because they don’t really know And that the general wrap on our cyber capabilities is that we’re not that good It sounds to me like you disagree? Jack: We’re the best in the world in offensive cyber We’re not that good in defense, because we have critical infrastructure and most of it is doing the private sector and it’s not adequately defended., but no Marc: The only domain where the private sector has primary responsibility for defense, right? Jack: Yes I mean, you know, the financial and banking system, our utilities grid, transportation system, both air and rail, all of that is completely in the private sector Danielle: And it’s our soft underbelly Jack: …and it’s somewhat exposed Danielle: So if we’re so good, one of the real capabilities that would put us in the driver’s seat vis-a-vis Iran and its violations of the Iran deal, the JCPOA or its proper initials, they’re now announcing that they’re gonna break out, they’re gonna escalate their uranium enrichment levels in violation of the terms of the JCPOA, of which they, with the Europeans, are still a part So if we could have the capacity to hit them and derail their centrifuge cascade, that would be a cyber capability We did it once with the Israelis, with Stuxnet, years ago Do you think we can do it? Jack: Yes, no doubt in my mind about it And I think that the Iranians continued down this path, I mean, obviously they’re doing this incrementally to try to get economic relief from the Europeans and, you know, with the promise that they’ll go back and comply with the restrictions I think when they’re at the low end of this, we’re likely not gonna respond We’ll just continue to warn them that this is a serious threat and they’re conducting a very risky operation here But I do think if they escalate it into double digits, I would suspect, as opposed to something kinetic which I don’t think we need to do when we’ve got such an extraordinary capability, it’s likely that that option would be on the table for the President to make that decision and I think we would absolutely do it Marc: And so what does that mean? Talk a little bit about how our cyber capability improved since Stuxnet I mean, it’s been a decade since that program was launched and I would assume that we’re in a lot better position now if we wanted to damage them than we were back then Jack: And unfortunately, I can’t talk about it Marc: You heard it first hear on, “What the Hell Is Going On?” Danielle: Right Jack Keane not talking about our cyber capabilities Jack: The greatest concentration of mathematic Ph.D. is the National Security Agency And I can remember having a conversation with Keith Alexander I said, “So you guys stay up academically with the advancement in math?” And he said, “No.” He said, “Because we’re making all the advancement in math and they have to stay up with us ” Danielle: That’s great to know It helps us sleep at night So I want to ask you a question about the recent drone downing So it was reported, among a variety of reports, I should caveat, that after Iran downed that American military drone, that extremely valuable American military drone, President leapt into action He said, “We’ve got to strike the Iranians.” Then he saw you on TV, and that one of the things you suggested was that this may not have been from the top, this may not have been an order from the top to take the drone down It may have been a rogue operator And watching you, the President rethought, this is a story at least, the President rethought and decided against the strike Okay, true, not true? Jack: I don’t really know, but I mean, here’s what I know He was in the Oval Office, what I believe it was Trudeau from Canada and he was being expansive as he normally is And I remember him saying words to this effect that, you know, it’s possible, this was a mistake And I clued in on that and I did call somebody who would likely be in the know and they confided to me that the national leadership in Iran did not authorize the strike A tactical commander took it upon us his own to do it and that the national leadership Marc: So that’s actually true Jack: Yeah. …was upset about it So I think the President obviously had that information On television, I also mentioned that we had made a mistake ourselves in the late 1980s

when we were going back and forth with the Iranians who were stopping the shipping lanes then And Reagan had taken out a couple of oil platforms, he took out a naval staging basis, you know, for their fast boats But a ship by the name of the USS Vincennes, thinking they saw an Iranian fighter coming at them, actually an F14 Tomcat because we had sold those aircraft to the Iranians during the reign of the Shah, they were absolutely convinced it was in an F14 Tomcat and the officers gave them the authorization fire and it was a commercial airline with 290 people on board And that was a horrific mistake we made and we acknowledged the mistake immediately The Iranians never responded Danielle: They did take the money though We gave them reparations for that Jack: Yeah But I did say that on television, you know, that mistakes do happen with the best of intentions I take the President at face value and I don’t have any other knowledge He said to all of Americans, I made a decision based on what he thought was an unacceptable comparison, 150 dead and an American drone that was unarmed, I accept that If there was something else going on, he hasn’t shared that with us and I don’t have any other information about it Marc: So when we had Fred Kagan on a few weeks ago Danielle: Talking about Iran Marc: Talking about Iran And he said, in his view, there is no way, no how any chance that that drone was shot down without the knowledge of the Ayatollah Danielle: And they’ve shut down a drone before Marc: And they’ve done it before, right? Jack: Yes Marc: So you disagree with that assessment, that our intelligence says that Kagan is wrong Jack: Fred Kagan can never be wrong Danielle: You are as close to Fred as we are Marc: This is a family discussion, right? Danielle: That’s right I mean, at the end of the day, command and control inside this…sure, this could happen but the notion that some random guy could have taken Iran into war seems Marc: Frightening Danielle: Love it Jack: Fact though Marc: But that’s not the only reason why I think the President was right to hold back and not attack I mean one of the reasons is the Iranians are doing these kinds of things is because they want to get the sanctions lifted because the sanctions are crippling them And so they want to get us into a sort of a low-level skirmish to scare the Europeans into breaking with us on the sanction So I mean, can you walk us through a little bit about what the strategy is with Iran and why the President’s decision was right to hold back beyond the fact it wasn’t intentional? Jack: Well, the Iranians open their playbook of something they were doing in late 1980s and interfering in the shipping lane and creating the crisis And I think they fundamentally believe, by creating that kind of crisis, that the international community, in particularly the Europeans and maybe Japan and China also because they have significant interest in oil coming through the Middle East, would put pressure on the United States to back off on the sanctions But this backfired on the Iranians And the simple reason is it’s indisputable We have the intelligence that not only did they sabotage one tank or they sabotaged all six, and we have that intelligence So as a result of that, they got caught doing something They didn’t want to get caught, they thought they could get away with this thing And also I do believe that when the President demonstrated restraint, that put him on a moral high ground, at least to a certain degree, that gives him some leverage dealing with our allies, and that also was not in the Iranian playbook in my mind And I think that’s why they’ve turned to another chapter and they’ve gone to…walked away at least temporarily from military operations to create a crisis and pressure on the United States to uranium enrichment with the same purpose in mind They want economic relief and this time, they want to get it from the Europeans It’s encouraging that these feckless Europeans, who have frustrated all of us, I think at least at the moment, are pushing back on the Iranians And I hope they maintain that course The Iranians will continue the pressure, I believe here, with escalation, and they may go back to military operations as well I think the Iranians are the most determined foe that we are dealing with and we’ve dealt with them for the 39 years And to be frank about it, they’ve been the most successful Lebanon, strategic anchor in Syria now They run the war in Syria as you know Danielle: Iraq Jack: They toppled a friendly regime in Yemen They have more political influence in Iraq than we have At the end of the day, they’ll probably have their way with Iraq given the cards that we’re playing currently, and their sponsorship of terrorism, their influence in Latin America and South America The Iranians have been playing a winning hand And this is the first administration, I believe, that’s ever been on the strategic offensive in dealing with these guys Danielle: So what do you think…Marc asked you a good question This is where…we went at this with Fred too I still can’t figure out…I get what their tactics are, but I can’t figure out what their end game is I know the President wants to get to a new Iran deal but this isn’t necessarily, I mean, do you think they’re gonna come to the table? Tell us what you think about this Jack: I don’t think they’re even close to coming to the table

They will not come to the table until they’re out of options And listen, they’ve had their way with us I mean, it’s this decision-making paralysis we’ve had by the successful use of proxies as asymmetric warfare they’ve been dealing with us and the lack of response that we’ve had, I think they look through a prism and they don’t see the muscular Desert Storm or 2003 invasion by the United States, a muscular demonstration of military prowess I think they see leadership in the United States that doesn’t have the political and moral will to deal with the Iranians I think they look at us as weak And I think most of the evidence is on their side And as, you know, as their Supreme Leader just said two weeks ago, he said, you know, “We’ve already gotten rid of one president and we may get rid of another one if we have to.” And that was Jimmy Carter, of course, using the hostages and so weakened him politically It was more complicated than that, but that was certainly central to the problem he had And I think they also look at our President, despite all the rhetoric, as somebody they can deal with And I think they believe, at the end of the day, President Trump probably would not pull the trade Marc: Though he’s had the best of both worlds because if the cyber attack was as devastating as he had suggested it was, and it’s below the radar so nobody really is aware of it in the way you would be if there were oil rigs blown up or something like that, then he’s delivered a pretty devastating response to the Iranians without the costs of a kinetic response, right? Jack: The cyberattack was proportionate as would the kinetic attack would be All I’m suggesting is it has a deterrence all of its own within the proportionality of that attack I’m convinced that for the time being, the Supreme Leader has no interest in going to the table with us First of all, he personally, as we know through intelligence, when Rouhani brought him the JCPOA deal, he thought it was stupid and that the Iranians made a lousy deal And the reason for that is Marc: That’s one area of agreement we had Jack: …you have to wait 15 years And he said, “You’ll never gonna be able to trust the Americans, you know.” And guess what? The Americans broke the deal Danielle: He was right Jack: So why is he gonna come to the table until he’s completely out of options? And I think complicating the situation is you got the likes of John Kerry and European leaders telling him to wait out the Trump administration, that there’s going to be this possibility of having a democratic president who would likely want to go back into the deal The problem with that scenario is November 2020 is a long way off, and there’s no certainty…anybody looking at American politics and what took place two and a half, three years ago knows that it’s not predictable But I think it is kind of somewhat outrageous to think that we actually have a former secretary of state who’s completely meddling in U.S foreign policy that we’re in the middle of executing Danielle: That’s John Kerry? Jack: This is John Kerry And I mean, any superficial reading of the Logan Act would indicate that he’s in violation of the law, in terms of what he’s doing But I think the Iranians are a long way off from coming to the table because what’s the gain for them until they play out all of their options? Marc: But even if they don’t come back to the table, the maximum pressure campaign is worthwhile simply because it’s starving them of the resources to cause mischief in the region I mean, when they took all the cash from the Iran nuclear deal from under Obama and Trump came in, they were on the March across the region And now you hear the leader of Hezbollah clinking the cup in demand asking for public contributions because they’re getting cut off You have fighters in Syria who are saying the Iranians have told us there’s no more money You have the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that had its funding cut, the Iranian military has had its funding cut So even if we never get to a negotiating table with them, who cares? They’re not doing what they were doing before I mean, if we’re succeeding in starving Hezbollah and Hamas and the Houthis and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, that’s success Danielle: Yeah, but that’s not a sustainable strategy We’re talking to Jack, so I’m gonna yell at you afterwards about that But I mean, you see that too The problem with sanctions is that sanctions erode, that’s what we saw with Iraq That’s…it’s very hard to keep that up Jack: Yeah, enforcement is really the issue and we’ve seen that right now with North Korea, we’re having challenges with enforcement of those sanctions The Chinese have been in violation for some time now, ever since Singapore The Russians have never been in compliance with the UN Resolution But, all this said, I mean, time is on the side of the administration That’s why I think, regardless of what the President knew or did not know about the drone strike, he absolutely made the right call in not responding kinetically And as we’re going through this incremental increase in uranium enrichment, be patient about this, don’t overreact to this If you overreact to it, you’re playing right into their hands Let this work out a little bit

And those sanctions are crippling them And they’ve gone from two and a half million barrels of oil a day to a little north of 200,000 a day That is staggering in terms of its impact on their economy And, you know, food shortages, power outages, growing civil unrest, all manifestation of what has happened And they have never been under this kind of pressure in 39 years I don’t think they’ve been under this kind of pressure during the eight-year war with Iraq because this is threatening that regime Marc: And we, if they push it too far on the enrichment, we have a cyber capability that can address it if we had to So here’s an interesting question So Barack Obama comes in after the Bush administration and he’s a non-interventionist, right? But he knows he has to deal certain threats and so he glommed onto the drone war And he decided, “We’re not gonna capture these guys, we’re not gonna invade countries, but we’re gonna take them out with drone.” Donald Trump came into office, very similarly, a non-interventionist Is cyber the capability that he has grabbed onto as a way to deal with threats without having to go to war, without having to invade? Jack: I don’t know the answer to that We have to see it play out They just looked at, one, they understand the capability we have and it’s eye-watering, you know, how good it is And two, they obviously had to ask, why don’t we use this? I mean, why is this on the shelf? Marc: Is he the first president to really use this in a vigorous way? Jack: I don’t know I really don’t know And look at what the Chinese have done and North Koreans have done and Iranians have done with us and we never responded I mean, I always said to myself, “Why don’t we respond and impose costs on them?” You know, and we never did Danielle: The amazing thing to me during the Obama administration was that the North Koreans and the Chinese went in The Chinese went in to presidential personnel records They stole your records, my records, Marc’s records, most of the people we know has records, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of personnel records that they now keep and integrate with facial recognition and are using, right, as a file to keep on Americans to track us the same way, by the way, they track the Chinese people And the reaction of the Obama administration was eh When they attacked Sony Pictures, if you remember, Sony was making that film about North Korea that they didn’t like, that, the Obama administration retaliated against North Korea for So I don’t get the whole thing, but I want to follow up with you about North Korea So President walks across, is the first president of the United States to walk into North Korea He walks across the DMZ, he goes in, they agree to have a third summit I think you really locked the President in, in a way You said publicly, and I hope he was listening, you said, and I’m gonna paraphrase you, “I can imagine that President would go into a third summit with without having some nuclear concessions in hand beforehand.” I’m not so sure I want to hear from you Jack: Well, there’s no doubt that President Trump values personal diplomacy, probably more so than most presidents, you know, we’ve been observing for years And he has a tendency, I think he makes a mistake with it in this, because he puts such emphasis on the relationship, he does not hold that leader accountable for the policies of that government and the actions of that government And you can see it in how he deals with Putin, how he deals with President Xi, how he deals with North Korea The President knows that this is a repressive regime, the guy’s a thug, he’s a killer I’ve even used words to him about Putin being a thug and a killer He gets all of that But he believes that he’s got this relationship in a little cocoon and he wants to protect that relationship in the hope that he can make some progress in that relationship on matters of substance I understand that but I don’t agree with it because I do think there is a place for us to put pressure on that regime as the moral force that the United States carries in the world today is significant We are a moral authority and we should stand up for that And we have every right, just as Reagan did with Gorbachev, to call them out on those human rights violations and those other policies that are detrimental to world stability, etc At the same time, go in there and have negotiations with a guy you particularly have some regard for And I think Reagan and Gorbachev had some regard for each other, but Reagan was clear-eyed about what Gorbachev was representing and was not gonna get into that Marc: Well, also, Kim Jong-un is not our North Korean Gorbachev, he’s not a reformer who’s trying to open up the system Jack: No, I totally agree Marc: He’s a brutal dictator Jack: The President has got a little bit blindside there, and just as he has dealing with Russia

over the election, I mean the blindside has got to be, you have to two and a half, three years of this, it’s gotta be that he doesn’t want to deal with that because somehow that de-legitimizes his been president of the United States And the facts don’t support that but he doesn’t even want to talk about it Marc: But in all three of those cases, and also adding China because you mentioned Xi as well, every one of those cases, he has this almost courting relationship with the dictator, fawning in some ways, praising them, you know, developing their personal relationship But in every one of those cases, the actual policy is as hardline as you’ve ever had On Russia, that we’ve imposed sanctions, we pulled out of the INF Treaty, given Javelin missiles to the Ukrainians We’ve done so many things that they don’t like On North Korea, he hasn’t recognized them, he hasn’t given…lifted the sanc-…in fact, he’s tightened sanctions on Kim’s inner circle, he’s seized a ship With Xi, he imposed massive tariffs on them He seems to have a pattern of, you know, a iron fist with a velvet glove Jack: Yeah No, it’s how he looks at it And I just would do it differently, he’s the President of United States, I got it And when I told him about, you know, Putin being a thug and the killer, he said, “Look, I get it I understand that.” And he said, you know, about Xi, “I understand Xi wants to replace United States as the dominating country in the world, I got all of that.” But he values this personal relationship I mean with Kim Jong-un, I know a guy that’s seen all the letters and this is before the last birthday letter And the President mentioned a birthday letter to me and he said, you know, “Four times in the letter, he said, happy birthday to me.” And it’s a very affectionate letter It’s not a particularly long letter, but very affectionate Another guy who, I know, who’ve seen all the previous letters, I think there’s six of them, he said it’s surprising how warm and affectionate these letters are from Kim Jong-un And when you read through it, all of them, it has the tone of a father-son relationship And he said it’s really quite extraordinary I’m just telling you Okay So I’m just telling you what’s been reported to me Danielle: So do you think he’s gonna go into a third summit without anything in hand? Jack: I don’t think so I cannot imagine that The good news, I think, what he did with Kim Jong-un, walking into North Korea and shaking his hand, I don’t have any problem with it, why? Because the North Koreans weren’t talking to us Our envoy tried to make it work Pompeo tried to get it going personally himself, no progress being made there whatsoever And I think Trump just said, “Let me give this a try, I wanna get this off-center, I’m gonna make this work.” And he did, with the provision that working staff groups are gonna be formed and they’re gonna start putting together some kind of pathway forward If that doesn’t result, from the United States’ perspective, in some tangible progress in terms of inventory of weapons, some kind of timetable, inspections, etc., I don’t see how we continue down this road The administration has made two major shifts, since we started with North Korea One is, if you remember, he wanted to finish this during his first term They know that’s not gonna happen, and now he’s using phrases like, “I’ve got plenty of time, we’re gonna be patient about that.” So that’s changed and that’s being realistic The second thing is the thought that they would give up all of their weapons, nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and then we would give them sanction relief after they did all of that, the administration has come to the realization that that’s not realistic either Marc: So that I want to ask you about So first of all, the most dangerous job in the world has got to be the guy on the staff of the North Koreans in those talks Apparently, the guys aren’t doing so well after failing in Vietnam Jack: Everybody is wondering who are they gonna be negotiating with? Marc: But here’s the thing, so I wanted to ask you about the nexus between Iran and North Korea So President Trump withdrew from the Iranian nuclear accord for a series of specific reasons, one of which is that it didn’t actually denuclearize, it only froze uranium enrichment, didn’t cover missiles, it had front-loaded sanctions relief rather than lifting sanctions after the denuclearization took…all these reasons quoted on the record, this is why I’m pulling out of Iran deal Jack: And it didn’t have anytime, anywhere inspection Marc: Exactly So how can he cut a deal with North Korea that doesn’t meet the standards he set for an Iranian deal? How could he cut a deal with Kim Jong-un that does the very things that Barack Obama did in his Iran deal? Jack: It’ll be tough, but I still think trying is worth it, you know, given where we were Marc: But is he boxed in by that date? Jack: Even Kim Jong-un has gotta be looking at the United States and wondering the very same thing you’re talking about here I mean, after all, Gaddafi gave up his weapons and we deposed Gaddafi, that’s gotta be in his rearview mirror He saw the United States made a deal with the Iranians and the next administration comes in and breaks the deal And that’s one of the problems, I think, these authoritarian regimes, who have consistency in their leaders for all the obvious reasons, you know, because they’re bonafide dictators, dealing with the ups and downs of changing U.S. policy

But I think it’s worthy to work this thing You got to go into this with your eyes wide open I think the President’s got people around him that clearly understand what we’re dealing with here I talked to Pompeo from time to time and I think he completely understands what the issues are And I don’t think that anybody in government who is saying anything other in a private way that, “Look at it, we don’t know for sure where this is going, we’re gonna give it our best shot, but we don’t know if this guy is really serious or not.” I do think there’s a difference with Kim Jong-un and his grandfather and father You know, he spent some time in Switzerland, he understands the West a little bit, he understands things that his grandfather and father didn’t They put nuclear weapons in play to preserve the regime, but he is presiding over a completely dysfunctional economic base, a completely dysfunctional society I do think he wants two things I think he would like to increase the economic prosperity of his country and release some of the pressure, I think, that they all feel as a result of what they’re depriving that society of And the second thing is, and this is critical for him, is security He needs a guarantee of security, and that’s actually more important to him, I think, than the economic prosperity issue because he’s already got it with 40 nuclear weapon Marc: Well, Jack, you said the president has a lot of good people around him I’m sleeping at night better knowing that one of the people talking to him is you So thank you so much for being on this podcast with us Danielle: And promise me that…because I have a hundred questions on Syria and Iraq, the things that you and I talk about all the time, we don’t have time Will you promise to come back? Jack: Yes, I really enjoyed it Danielle: We had a really long chat with Jack Let us just agree 100% on one thing, Jack Keane is a great American Marc: I am so happy that the President of the United States is listening to him And what I found really, really interesting was the way the President seems to be using our cyber capabilities in a way no president has before, that he was…got a lot of heat from some on the right, Liz Cheney and some of our good friends for not responding to the Iranian attack on the drone But he did respond, he responded with a cyber attack, which Jack was being careful about what he said, but it’s reportedly probably more devastating than what the kinetic attack would have been So I think we have a president who is using U.S. cyber capability in a way that is very effective and he’s not getting a lot of credit for it Danielle: He’s speaking loudly and carrying a strong but silent stick Marc: A cyber stick Danielle: I’m gonna have to work on that one I mean, I wish…all I can say is I really hope you’re right There’s no question that presidents who get elected on a end-this-war campaign platform, and we can say that about both Barack Obama and Donald Trump Marc: And George W. Bush Danielle: And George, yes, good job, George Marc: And Bill Clinton Every president since the end of the Cold War Danielle: Yes, that’s absolutely true But let me make my outstanding point here So Barack Obama gets elected on that platform, he’s slapped in the face by reality, whether in Iraq or in Libya or in Syria or the Arab Spring or everything else, right, but doesn’t want military action So he figures out, “Oh, I can just knock everybody out with drones and the American people think it’s a bunch of guys on their video games and we’re just killing people over there, it won’t bother anybody.” And this becomes a big element of what is the Obama doctrine, you know, or at least what he would call the Obama doctrine Marc: Small [inaudible 00:33:28.694] Danielle: Yeah But what you’re saying is that you think that this is at least a building block in the Trump doctrine Marc: Or it may be the same thing Danielle: I hope you’re right Marc: It may be his way of exercising American military power in a new and an innovative capability that allows us to respond to aggression without getting pulled into another major war Danielle: So you’re right about that The one thing that I said to Jack though, and I think this is the flaw in the plan, is a deterrent actually has to be something people see A nuclear weapon is a deterrent because everybody knows what a nuclear weapon can do Cyber, if nobody knows and we hit the Iranians, you can say that they know it, but we’re really not deterring anybody Maybe a little bit, them Marc: I fundamentally disagree with that Danielle: Well, per ush Marc: At the World Forum a few years ago, we were It’s a major AEI conference where we bring in all sorts of interesting people from all over the world and we had a panel on North Korea And one of the speakers, I remember, suggested, “Well, if the North Koreans aren’t behaving,” this is before we got to the d├ętente, you know, negotiating a strategy, said, “Well, you know, if we want to show them we’re serious, we can just knock out some North Korean subs and the world won’t know about it, but the North Koreans will know about it.” Look, the Iranian regime knows that was a demonstration effect They know what we did and what we’re capable of doing now to them with a cyber attack, it was proportional, but they know that we can do more So I think it does deter and it deters without the blowback of public that are they more of a aggressive military kinetic attack because no one’s running around complaining about

it? Danielle: The only problem is, as Jack rightly said, is that the President has this weird compartmented idea about these creepy dictators that he loves I mean, that story that Jack told about the letters between Kim Jong-un and the President was downright gross It really was And let’s be fair and say the grossness was mostly on Kim Jong-un’s side Marc: We don’t know that for sure We haven’t seen the letters Danielle: Yuck Marc: One day, when we’re old in our rocking chairs, maybe they’ll release and de-classify the letters on that Danielle: You and I could actually write a whole series of really outstanding hilarious slobbery letters between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un But enough about that Marc: Gross letters Even a book Danielle: It would be amazing Okay We’re really digressing But the problem is, you know, at a certain point, those mixed messages are really problematic because the one thing I’ll say is the press meme on this is, “Right, well, Donald Trump loves the dictators and but his administration is hardline and they’re trying to hide it,” now I think that’s garbage just as you and Jack do But let’s face it, I think the bad guys probably agree with “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post” that the President is just a wonderful guy and his administration is just doing all this terrible stuff And that takes a lot away from his ability to negotiate Marc: You know, I just fundamentally disagree with that Danielle: Should be the title of our podcast, it should be Marc saying, “I just fundamentally disagree with that, Dani.” Marc: Or “Dani, you ignorant slut.” We finally got there Danielle: And for all of you who think I should be offended, please go look at your vintage “Saturday Night Live.” Marc: Exactly, Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin So I think that, you know, in interrogation strategy, there’s something called good cop, bad cop, right? And it’s planned And Trump is playing the good cop with the leaders, but he has to I’m gonna get worried about this when he starts making concessions on policy I’m not worried yet I don’t care about him going across in the DMZ and saying, “Kim Jong-un is a great guy.” I don’t care about him glad-handing Putin What I would care about is if he started lifting sanctions on Russia What I would care about is if he ended the Korean War without the North Koreans giving us something So far, there has been no concession on any of these things And as far as the cyber is concerned, it’s an interesting and very useful development but the problem with Barack Obama was that he just used it as a way to avoid war and avoid dealing with these things Danielle: Absolutely It wasn’t a strategy, it was a tactic Marc: It has to be part of a strategy Danielle: Totally Marc: And so it’s a great tool I love the fact that the President is using the cyber tool but it has to be part of a broader strategy that is directed at getting us to an end Danielle: Okay, folks, that’s the wrap of our formal grown-up, if you can call us grown-up, interview with Jack Keane But we really wanted to share with you, and Jack gave us the thumbs-up, a conversation that we had right at the beginning of our podcast when he walked in So, many years ago, Jack was sitting next to me on a plane, we were flying up to LaGuardia And I’m afraid to fly, lots of people know that And so he was distracting me by telling me stories And I remembered one of them and I asked him to tell it to us again I’ve never heard him tell it publicly And so he agreed to share This is when he got his fourth star in the Army and the Yankees, a team he’d idolized his entire life, just in case you weren’t able to tell from his accent, he has a slight New York accent Anyway, this team asked him if he wanted to come and throw out the first ball And so he starts telling the story and he’s laid out the conditions and one of them is that they will be an army parachute team that parachutes into Yankee stadium Anyway, catch him from here We lost the first couple seconds because it was right when he walked in, but you’ll get the rest of it and I think it’s really worth it Jack: Diehard Yankee fan, so [inaudible 00:39:15.291], we already know that I said, “But here’s the deal I’ll only do it if you do this for me The Golden Knights are gonna parachute into the stadium My guys, my Army Chorus is gonna sing the National Anthem We’re gonna do the color guard and I want 500 seats for soldiers We got a deal?” And she says, “We got a deal.” She said, “It’s sold out, but we’re gonna get the 500 seats somehow some way.” It was a Wednesday afternoon and as opposed to doing what they do at other stadiums, you know, where they put you out there ahead of time, the entire Yankee team was on the field, and then they brought me out So the only position that was missing was the pitcher And it had this big sign up there with me and it has all this stuff about their, you know, metals and stuff and the rest of it But I had a huge emotional moment because Bob Sheppard was the stadium announcer

And my dad took me to the stadium when I was eight years old and he was the stadium announcer then And he lived into his 90s And I used to do imitations of them Because in the 1950s, in that original stadium that they had, 1950s and ’60s, the PA systems weren’t that good so it would reverberate So I was standing on a chair in the house and I would say, “Ladies and gentlemen, direct your attention to the Yankee dugout Now approaching the mound…” And so I would do this in front of my family I couldn’t sing, but this is my only performance And of course, they gave me all sorts of encouragement, even though I probably looked like a jerk So I know Sheppard is gonna be the announcer, all right? So she says, “Sir, when Mr. Sheppard starts talking about you, just move towards the mound.” And they don’t let you stand in front of the mound, you stand on the mound, on the mount So he starts saying, talking about me, I’m getting emotional now And he says, “Please welcome back to the Yankee stadium, the guy who grew up here in a city housing project and spent all of his life doing this and this.” So by the time I get to the mound, I am crying And I’m on a big screen So I said to myself, “Oh, my God, I got to get my shit together here.” So before I left the Pentagon that morning, I had a meeting with my three stars and my public affairs guy is at two-star And he said to me, “Hey, boss He hung back He said, “You know, it’s a pretty exciting day for you, you know, given your preoccupation with the Yankees.” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “You know, you’re gonna be nervous.” And I said, “Yeah, I know I’m already nervous.” He said, “Listen, whatever you do, don’t dribble that ball in front of the catcher A big guy like you, four-star general, don’t dribble that ball.” So I took my hat off, I said, “I gotta get my emotions back.” I took my hat off, I threw it right on the mound I took the ball and threw it, and it went about three feet over to catcher’s head, all the way to the backstop Danielle: Oh, well, that’s better than dribbling it Jack: I had to push it myself, my arms up in the air, and there’s this collective moan in the stadium, all at the same time So Posada, who’s an all-star catcher, comes back to me with the ball and he said, “General, strong arm.” I said, “Jose, you’re the guy that made the error here, that’s my story You screwed to stay up.” So what happened is the Yankees that were in the dugout all came out of the dugout They come out and meet me on the field, because they know I felt bad And then the whole stadium started roaring Marc: Oh, that’s awesome Danielle: That is such an awesome story Jack: Great story Danielle: And with that, we’re gonna call it a day Thanks for listening, folks And our team here at AEI is Alexa Santry, Matt Winesett, Jen Moretta, and Macy Heath Marc: Let us know what topics you’d like us to cover You can get in touch with the show by emailing us at whatthehell@aei.org Danielle: Or you can reach us on Twitter I’m @dpletka Marc: I’m @marcthiessen, that’s Marc with a C Danielle: Please rate and review the podcast If you like the show, please subscribe, share it, comment on Apple Podcasts or wherever you’re listening to this Marc: Thanks for listening