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PLENARY 2: The Superpower’s Enduring Priorities: Trade, Justice and the American Way


Rosa Brooks, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, Georgetown University Law Center;

Admiral Harry Harris, Commander, United States Pacific Command;

Dr. Josef Joffe, Publisher-Editor, Die Zeit


Dr. Gideon Rose, Editor, Foreign Affairs


Dr. Gideon Rose: Welcome, everybody. And good morning. My name is Gideon Rose. I’m the Editor of Foreign Affairs and I have the distinct privilege and pleasure of having a great panel this morning with a spectacular group of experts to discuss some very important issues. We have Rosa Brooks who’s a Professor at Georgetown, a former DOD official, a commentator on public affairs. We have Admiral Harris, the Commander of Pacific Command, one of the key pillars of stability in the world today, a distinguished American public servant and officer. We have Joe Joffe, the Publisher and Editor of Die Zeit and longtime commentator on all sorts of things.

Dr. Josef Joffe: Put very nicely. (Laughter.)

Dr. Gideon Rose: So our topic today is, how should I put this? “The Superpower’s Enduring Priorities: Trade, Justice and the American Way.” Well, that’s OB. So what should we talk about? Semi-seriously, as Micha Auslin’s essay, the background essay for the panel pointed out, a couple of weeks ago, we thought we knew modern history and contemporary international affairs, and we were a little uncertain about the future because that history and contemporary situation that we thought we knew seemed to be eroding around the edges, had some termites in the system and some challenges, and the question for a panel like this would be how to keep it going, how to modify things around the edges, what – to what extent the global postwar order that was put in place after World War II to tie together the world and prevent the beggar-thy-neighbour policies and buck-passing and security conferences of the ‘30s, whether that order was working as well as it might be, what comes next, how to tweak it, how to take the nations who come together at forums like Halifax, devote to the perpetuation of mutually beneficial cooperation among liberal democratic allies and global stability, how to make that work better and keep it going and protect it in the future.

That was then. It’s not clear now what happens next. There’s a lot of good reason, a lot of functional logic, a lot of inertia to assume that a lot of that will continue, but I think it would be professional dereliction of duty for people in our positions not to confront directly the somewhat, you might say, radical uncertainty that has been introduced into that prospect by recent events. And hopefully, our panellists will get into this and we will have a good discussion with you guys as well, trying to lim the contours of the possibly new world that we’re heading into.

But before we get into the extent to which things might have changed, let me start with Admiral Harris who plays as important a role in the maintenance of contemporary international order and global stability and prosperity as perhaps anybody in this room. And so, Admiral Harris, can you talk to us a little bit about global order and how PACCOM is involved in maintaining that and what you think the keys are of this kind of situation?

Admiral Harry Harris: Sure. Thank you very much. And thanks, everybody, for being here, and let me acknowledge Peter Van Praagh and the Halifax Security Forum for inviting me back this year. I think the Halifax is truly unique. It’s the one security forum that’s exclusively for democracies around the world to discuss the most pressing security issues.

So I’m going to start off by pushing back ever so slightly to Gideon’s premise. I don’t know how much the world has changed, and from my perspective, the threats that we faced last month are the same threats and challenges and concerns that we’re going to face in the months and year ahead. So just to get that on the table.

I do want to thank Gideon for his willingness to moderate this panel, and I’m honoured to share this stage with Rosa Brooks and Joe Joffe.

I think it’s particularly relevant that we find ourselves in Halifax to discuss the future of security among the democracies in the world. Roosevelt and Churchill started this tradition in 1941 when they met in Newfoundland not too far from here and signed the Atlantic Charter. You know, I used to think the Atlantic Charter was something that came out of the end of World War II. In fact, it was signed in 1941, and it laid the foundation for the rules-based international order, or like I like to call it, the Global Operating System for the world in which we live.

Now full disclosure:  that’s a metaphor, this Global Operating System thing, this is a metaphor that I’m stealing from my friends Secretary of State Danny Russel and former Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Sandy Winnefeld. Anatole once – Anatole France once said that there’s no such thing as an original thought. If you find a good one, steal it. And I did.

So a Global Operating System can and should be updated over time, but its fundamental principles and its foundation, in my opinion, must be preserved. The Atlantic Charter has some foundational principles, including shared freedom of navigation in the shared domains, no territorial gains. It has self-determination of peoples and lower barriers to trade.

Breton Woods, the United Nations, NATO and the U.S. security commitments around the world all represent those foundational agreements and institutions that have provided for the peace and prosperity that the world has experienced since World War II.

In 1947, Harry Truman said that more than 50 percent of the world, more than 50 percent of the world lived at or below the poverty level. Today, according to the World Economic Forum, that number is less than 10 percent, and more than a billion of these people were lifted up in the last 20 years. The success of this Global Operating System, in my opinion, has supported the rise of the economic miracle in the Indo Asia-Pacific region, the area of which I’m responsible for U.S. military operations.

The Global Operating System did this by sticking to the principles in the Atlantic Charter and establishing and codifying the rules for the use of the shared domains, especially in the air and sea. This success is represented by the World Bank’s estimate in 2015 that 40 percent of the world’s GDP now comes from this part of the world, 55 percent if you consider the U.S. as a power in the Indo Asia-Pacific.

Most of this can be accounted for by the economic rise of China, and in my opinion, no country in fact has benefited more from this Global Operating System than China. In 38 years, China went from being a poor nation to the second largest economy in the world by GDP and the largest, if you consider purchasing power parity.

I think it’s undeniable that the Global Operation System has served the world well, but now this system is coming under pressure. So how do we maintain and upgrade this system and at the same time effectively deter nations or violent extremists from unilaterally changing it in ways that go against its foundational principles?

The one thing that I would like for you to take away from this panel today is that military power and strategic effectiveness are distinct and separate concepts. While the military is definitely influential, the military cannot do it all alone. For deterrence to work, all the elements of national power must be applied.

Now I’m sure that many of you can talk in much more detail than I can about deterrence theory, but I’m from Tennessee, so when I think of deterrence, I use a simple formula.

Capability X Resolve X Signalling = Deterrence. So let me say that again. Capability (what you have) X Resolve (your willingness to use it) X Signalling (your ability to tell others that you’re willing to use what you have), that’s deterrence. It’s an equation, so if any part of that is zero, you get no deterrence.

If you have no capability, but all the resolve and signalling, you get no deterrence. If you have capability and resolve, but you don’t signal correctly, you get no deterrence.

So capability comes in the form of combat power, but it must include a political and economic dimension as well.

So what – so you know, I’ve been asked, you know, to develop a call to action, and my call to action is this. It’s my belief that we must strengthen the Global Operating System by sharing access to all the shared domains for all the nations and at the same time provide a deterrent to any entity who would unilaterally change it or change it in such a way that the fundamental principles are violated.

The shared domains that I’m referring to, of course, are maritime, air, space and cyber.

First, we must maintain the capability by providing credible combat power that provides the tools to win under any circumstances.

Second, I’m calling for a network of like-minded nations to reinforce the Global Operating System through which I refer to as Partnerships with a Purpose. These partnerships would demonstrate the resolve to reinforce the norms and standards that have lifted these billions of people out of poverty and deter entities from unilaterally changing the rules. The kinds of partnerships I’m referring to include things like a Northeast Asia Trilateral to defend Northeast Asia, multilateral partnerships to work on terrorism in South and Southeast Asia. And also we’re looking at a regional democracy partnership around the Rim of the Pacific.

Finally, and like all like-minded nations here in Halifax, we must signal our willingness to stand together to support this Global Operating System by continuing to take actions across all the various elements of national power, including exercising our rights on the high seas, air, and space, to operate there wherever international law allows.

TPP is no longer on the table, and I get that, but I think it’s important that we provide an economic framework that maintains high standards in the areas that matter in my space, in the security space—cyber security, intellectual property, privacy, and data sharing.

And finally, if we want to continue global prosperity and security, it’s important that like-minded nations work together and do their part to ensure access to the shared domains.

So thank you very much for your attention. I hope I answered your question, and I look forward to more questions from all of you. Thank you very much.

Dr. Gideon Rose: Thank you, Admiral Harris. Let me just clarify something. I don’t know how much the world has changed—none of us do—but it has potentially changed somewhat, and we’re all going to be watching and acting in the next weeks and months and years to determine exactly that question.

Let me – let me – before turning to – let me illustrate this. In late 2008, early 2009, the depths of the financial crisis, I talked to a friend on Wall Street, and I said, “Why is everybody freaking out so much?” And he said, “You know, there may be a sort of 20 percent change of another Great Depression, global depression.” I said, “Wow, that’s pretty bad, a 20 percent chance.” I said, “But you know, a 20 percent chance, that means, correct my math, but you know, there’s still an 80 percent chance that we’re not going to have a depression and so, you know, couldn’t you see the good side, the upside in this, right?” And he said, “Gideon, you don’t understand. A year ago, if you had asked any of us what the chance of a global depression were, we would have said zero. The fact that we’re now thinking on the street that there’s a 20 percent change of a global depression is insane. It’s unprecedented, and it scares the crap out of us.”

And I think that’s kind of the attitude that many of us, frankly, in the national security and American foreign policy establishment have now which is it’s not that we think that the liberal order is over or not that the liberal – the United States is going to walk away from its hegemonic responsibilities, but the idea that we’re even discussing any sort of possibility of that is so mind-bogglingly counterintuitive and shocking to us that it shakes the very foundations of how we have come to think about world order.

So with that, let me turn to Rosa and then Joe. How much has things – have things changed? If what Admiral Harris said, with some modifications, could potentially be considered the view from November 7th, what is the view from November 9th? What – how different – how much of that Operating System that were actually in place is not just going to be updated in a routine normal update, but how much of malware will be introduced by nefarious actors to potentially erode the very system that has benefited us all?

Rosa Brooks: I don’t think anything has changed yet. I think we have a lot of uncertainty, more uncertainty about certain things, but I actually think it’s worth focussing on the things that have not changed first.

Partly, I think that your comments in some ways are a little ahistorical, right? This is not the first moment in American history that we have had a political candidate and indeed a president-elect whose views are not in line with the sort of mainstream, elite views about foreign policy. That’s happened many times before.

This is not the first time in American history that we’ve had frightening talk about discrimination or registration based on religion or based on ethnicity. Our nation, unfortunately, has a pretty long and fairly sordid history of doing precisely that, particularly in the name of security threats. Obviously the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is a particularly egregious example. And talk about registries for Muslim Americans, for instance, certainly is not – it’s got a family resemblance to plenty of things we’ve done in the past. So that’s not new either.

I also think it’s worth saying to ourselves what did we know on November 9th that we didn’t know on November 7th? We knew on November 7th that all that was in the air. We knew on November 7th that there was some percentage of the American population—I truly believe it is not a particularly large percentage—who thought that things like a Muslim registration and a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and getting rid of global trade treaties were a really awesome idea. We already knew that. We didn’t learn that on November 9th. The only thing that we knew on November 9th that we didn’t know on November 7th was that the pollsters were really wrong, and not just a little bit wrong. That’s what we learned. That was the new thing.

That doesn’t mean that nothing will change. I think you’re absolutely right. I think we introduced a much greater element of uncertainty. This is the first time in my political life that I look around and I think, “I have no idea what the new U.S. administration will do.” I think none of us have any idea, quite frankly. I’m not entirely sure the president-elect knows for sure what he’s going to do at this point. I think he didn’t expect to win, and he’s suddenly going, “Ooh, now what?”

So I think anything is possible. I think that obviously as we continue to see the early appointments made and floated, that will tell us something. I think it is quite possible that all of the incredibly important – I think that the U.S.’ enduring interests remain the same, and Admiral Harris has articulated them. That has not changed. Whether we have a leader in the White House who pursues those enduring interests or not, that we don’t know yet. We don’t know yet.

I do think – and here’s the – here is the call to action that I would make in this community of like-minded nation. You know many years ago, when I was in high school, I was part of this silly Students Against Drunk Driving Campaign, you know, and the motto for that was Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. So your motto should probably be, I don’t know, something, a variant of Friends Don’t Let Friends Get Driven Wholly by Trump.

Your job as our allies, your job as our friends is to hold our feet to the fire. Your job as our friends is to make sure that if the United States starts deviating from its commitments to the rule of law, if it starts deviating from its commitments to international treaties to which is it a party or to which it has said it will become a party, if it starts deviating from its own internal commitments to human rights and to civil rights, your job as our allies is not to sit there and act polite because you’re supposed to shake hands nicely with the guy in the White House. Your job is to say that’s not acceptable. It’s no more acceptable if the United States does it than it is if Russia does it or if Turkey does it or if any other country does it. And your job is to put your money and your cooperation where your mouths are too.

I think one of the things that we’ve seen during the George W. Bush administration and during the Obama administration, and I’ve seen it over and over again as I’ve talk to representatives of some our European allies, for instance, and they say, “Oh, yes, we really don’t like this business with water boarding. We really don’t like this business with drone strikes,” and so on. And I say, “Well, are you telling the President that?” And they say, “Well, (mumbles)” very quietly.

We, the United States, and this will be true under President Donald Trump as it was true under President Barack Obama, President George W. Bush and every other American President, we – we do need friends, and we know it. We need military cooperation. We need intelligence cooperation. We need economic cooperation. And when our allies are upset enough at us that they not only tell us that firmly and explicitly, but they say, “If you want our intelligence cooperation, if you want our military cooperation, no, you cannot torture people, and no you cannot do this,” you know, whatever the red line of the moment is, whatever the issue is. We do pay attention. Every administration pays attention because they have to.

So that’s going to be your job is to help us in the next four years live up to our enduring commitments, make sure that we are not the unilateral power that acts as a spoiler to that global operating environment and help us stay on the straight and narrow.

Dr. Gideon Rose: I just want to take a second to let that sink in. Take a moment of silence here to let that sink in. Okay. Joe.

Dr. Josef Joffe: The allies will save the world, right?

Dr. Gideon Rose: You know, as our new Nobel laureate in literature has said, “Something is happening here, we don’t know what it is.”

Dr. Josef Joffe: Okay.

Dr. Gideon Rose: Enlighten us.

Dr. Josef Joffe: Okay. I think I’ll take a vantage point of, say, November 11th, but before we get to November 11, which is the beginning of Karneval and Fasching in Europe, if Donald Trump makes true on everything he said, then he will lay axe to the global international order the United States has built and nourished, defended and maintained.

Now we go to – we go to November 11, and let me quote the current President of the United States, namely Barack Obama which who I thought made some very good points after talking to Donald Trump. He said, “This office has a way of waking you up.” And he also said, “Those predispositions that Mr. Trump has tend to bump up against reality. He’ll soon find that reality asserts itself.”

That, by the way, has been true for every American President I think of who starts out with one take far to the left or far to the right and then recentres because he keeps bumping up against the reality. And this goes back to the founding fathers who were isolationists and America-firsters, but then played diplomatic hard ball with the rest of them, with the best of them to save the American Revolution and to gain – to gain a French ally.

And this runs like the golden thread of continuity through – all the way through Obama who starts out with a reset and who starts – wants to remake unilaterally the world in an idealistic image and then, you know, bumps up that a reset doesn’t work and he has to put troops back into Iraq. And he’s not putting back troops into Europe, which he has denoted.

So that, to me, if I – I find some solace in history, if I look at – look at that pattern. Then I – now final part where I get to the 11th of November, I think. This is, you know, looking at some utterances by Trump. Mr. Obama reports that he’s talked to him about NATO, and he says, no, we will retain our core strategic relationships, especially with our NATO allies. That’s not bad for a guy who kept hammering home NATO is obsolete and if you don’t pay up, we will pull out.

I think he’ll run up against more – more realities. And I guess I’ll stop there, but let’s take punitive tariffs against China. We’ve had punitive tariffs against China. In 2009, they were on tires, and lo and behold, imports from China dropped by 30 percent, but the production of American tires didn’t go up by 30 percent. What did go up were imports from Indonesia, from Thailand, from Mexico and you name it. So I assume that he will have economic advisers who will tell him, look, Mr. President, I think it’s – you know, I understand, I know where you’re coming from, but when you do that, then other things will happen. And we haven’t even talked about Chinese retaliation. So trade war, everybody loses.

I’m going to stop at this point simply to – with the expression of my fondest hope that Donald Trump will run against – up against the same reality that everybody from Jefferson to Obama has. Amen.

Dr. Gideon Rose: As the old saying goes, from your lips to God’s ears.

Dr. Josef Joffe: That’s exactly what I wanted to hear.

Dr. Gideon Rose: And so I think, actually, you know, listening to all of you talk, it clarifies for me what exactly our challenge is right now, and that in effect is, particularly for this audience, to try to scope out or reduce the actual degree of uncertainty that we have right now.

So let me actually just get a couple of little things out of the way which – Admiral, I like your formulation about capacity and resolve and signalling equal deterrence. Well, I think we all know that sort of capacity and resources are there. We have the dominant military on the globe, an extraordinarily capable, professional, effective military. We have the next several major most important powers militarily locked together in an alliance, interlocking.

So I don’t think there’s any – no sane person, as far as I understand it, living in the real world doubts the capacity of – either economic or military or geopolitical for the order to be maintained, but the question now is exactly those other two things that you described, resolve and signalling. So the – and the signalling that has come during the campaign was not very helpful, shall we say. So the real question, in effect, is what will the resolve be post-January to maintain all these things?

But let me just get a couple of the uncertainty things out of the way, which of course should never even have been raised, but need to be put to bed. There were comments made during the campaign about potential policy changes in certain areas. Admiral, can you assure us that despite the extraordinary civilian authority and loyalty to the system, that U.S. soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, that the U.S. armed forces do not follow illegal orders and will not engage in torture and war crimes?

Admiral Harry Harris: Yeah, and so you’re putting me in a – in a difficult position, and let me assure you that there is one Commander in Chief, and I’ve talked about this before, that you might have a lame duck political apparatus, but we do not have in America a lame duck Commander in Chief, the National Command Authority. Today, there is one Commander in Chief, and that’s President Obama. On the 20th of January, there is one Commander in Chief, and that will be President Trump. And I’m going to just leave it at that.

Dr. Gideon Rose: Okay. Can any of the three panellists – do any of you have any doubt that the United States would live up to its treaty obligations to an Article 5 security guarantee to protect all members of NATO from aggressive attack?

Dr. Josef Joffe: You know, one – there’s one important point about Article 5. It does not entail an automatic commitment to defend anybody, only to – it defines a commitment to come together and deliberate as to what we can do singly or collectively.

What has made the American guarantee around the world turn into a credible commitment was the forward stationing of American troops at the edges of the global order that the United States built, which is to be, you know, the Elbe River, you know, running through Germany, and around the periphery in Asia. The moment that periphery became doubtful, as foreshadowed by then Secretary of State Dean Acheson, we had a war on our hand with North Korea attacking South Korea.

So as long as these troops remain in a forward position, the American commitment will hold, no matter who is the president because these lines in place for the other guy in a very difficult psychological and strategic situation where he has to escalate and he has to carry the burden of escalation all the way maybe to strategic war.

So my thing is keep an eye on the troops. Keep an eye on the line, on the line which – and then when they are being vacated, then we’ll be in trouble.

Dr. Gideon Rose: Rosa?

Dr. Josef Joffe: The Admiral is part of that line.

Rosa Brooks: Well, let me – let me go back to your earlier question because – and I think that these are related. I think obviously, yes, so Article 5 of NATO has just enough wiggle room that a president of the United States could decide to do quite a lot of things and say we are living up to our treaty obligations while leaving the entire rest of the NATO community extremely unhappy. But that – I think many laws leave a little wiggle room, and that’s what worries me. I don’t have the slightest doubt in my mind that if someone orders Admiral Harris to commit a war crime, that you’re going to say, “No, sir, I cannot do that,” you know, that all of our military officers are obligated to abide by the law and the Constitution of the United States and obviously take that oath extraordinarily seriously.

The trouble is that a president or anyone who wants to change the norms and behaviour does not say, “I order you to commit a war crime.” Instead you find some lawyers in the Justice Department or you find a few lawyers at CIA and you have a little group that you take outside of the normal process and you say, “Water boarding’s not really torture, is it?” And you say, “Well, the definition of torture, there’s a little bit of wiggle room there, isn’t it?” And you get some lawyers to write you a nice memo that says in fact water boarding really isn’t torture because it doesn’t cause death or pain at the level of organ failure.

And then you have a bunch of other lawyers, in the case of the United States, in the years immediately after 9/11, many of them were uniformed military lawyers saying, “Whoa, no, that is not how we interpret the law,” but because we have civilian control of the military, when you have the president and the vice-president and the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel saying no, our legal analysis is different, their legal analysis wins in our system.

And then the order to the uniformed military personnel becomes quite different. Then it becomes presumptively a lawful order, and you’re in a really difficult spot, and that is what I worry about across the board much more. I do not – I think that we have a robust and professionalized federal executive branch. I think that our military is extraordinarily professional, has deeply integrated the Law of Armed Conflict, international humanitarian law norms into its own operations, but I think that when you do have a president who is willing to bypass normal processes and you’ve got – and I say this with regret, since I am a law professor, and I spend my life producing new baby lawyers and training them up, but when you get enough lawyers in a room, you can – you can find somebody who will write the memo any way you want it.

And I think there’s a – there’s a – to me, the lesson of this going forward is on the one hand the good news is that absolutely, getting in the White House is a reality check, and you have lots of highly professional people there who are not just going to roll right over, who are going to tell you the truth and say, “Look, that is a bad idea,” or “Look, under current law, that is illegal.” That’s the good news, and that will put the brakes on a lot of crazy stuff.

The bad news, however, is it’s fragile. It’s extremely fragile. That’s why I would say to my Republican friends, including those who signed letter pledging not to go into a Trump administration, we need you there. We need you there. We need you to be the professionals that you are. But I would say to you at the very same time, you and our allies and members of Congress who have been extraordinarily important in this role, senators and representatives, you need to know your red lines right now. You know, you can’t wait until one day you wake up and suddenly all the memos have changed and the laws have changed and you’re going, “Oh, well, I guess I just have to go along.”

You know, you have to – we have to be – we have collectively, whether your role is to be a, you know, mid level field grade officer in the U.S. military or your role is as a civil servant or your role is as the leader of one of our allied nations or as a senator, we need to be thinking now about those enduring priorities and about those enduring values and we need to be saying to ourselves what can I do today and tomorrow to make sure that we adhere to those values and to make sure that we pursue those interests and don’t go off the rails because otherwise, you wake up one day and it’s too late.

Dr. Gideon Rose: Let me just – once again, I find it extraordinary to say this, let me just again say how appalling and heartbreaking it is that we have to have a discussion about the possibility, because of the president-elect’s statements during the campaign, about whether the United States policy really will be not to engage in war crimes, whether our policy really will be to maintain the basic alliance commitments of the United States that underpin global order for the last seven decades.

I do not expect any of these policies to change. I do not expect any of the worst case scenarios to emerge. Let me stress that. But to anybody from the potential new administration that might be listening or hearing one of these discussions, the very fact that we cannot say for certainty that that will not happen, the very fact that, as Joe Joffe said, we have to assume that what was said will not in fact be followed, is a deeply, deeply disturbing —

Dr. Josef Joffe: But Gideon, war crimes have been part of any administration I can think of.

Dr. Gideon Rose: As an aberrant – as an aberrant behaviour, not national policy. And there’s all the difference in the world between somebody doing something —

Dr. Josef Joffe: Rosa told us —

Dr. Gideon Rose: What?

Dr. Josef Joffe: Rosa just told us how it’s being done. You don’t need to declare a national policy to commit war crimes here and there, right?

Dr. Gideon Rose: So this is actually – and actually – so let just say one thing because it’s an important line. I’ve been thinking about this, especially as we talk about it with Foreign Affairs and my internal staff about how we cover everything that happens here. I think there’s a very important distinction that needs to be made, and that distinction needs to be made for all sides in these very contentious times, and that’s the distinction between policies and the legitimate policy discussion and the choices that countries and governments make and that people advocate and the basic rules, norms and procedures of liberal democracy and the American Republic. And there’s a huge difference between the normal give-and-take of policy discussion, the normal discussion of, gee, what should we do with trade, what should we do with this particular question of intervention, what should we do with this particular policy of immigration or so forth and policies that fundamentally call into question basic principles, rules of the operating system.

And – and again, I truly, truly hope that none of the fundamental rules, the constitutional structures, as it were, of the unwritten constitution or the written constitution of international order will be called into question, that what we’re talking about is just policies, but I think, again, at this point we have to sort of hope at that. And the very fact that we can’t say for certain is – is scary.

Admiral Harry Harris: And I think we can say for certain.

Dr. Gideon Rose: Okay, good.

Admiral Harry Harris: Now hope is not a COA, hope is not a course of action. I’m firmly convinced, I believe that America’s commitments to the Global Operating System, our commitment to our allies in Europe and in the Indo Asia-Pacific will remain as strong tomorrow as they were yesterday.

Dr. Gideon Rose: That’s what I wanted you to say.

Rosa Brooks: From your lips to God’s ears.

Dr. Gideon Rose: With that, we have a lot of great people here. Let’s bring in a lot of people. Okay, yes, over here. Hold on one second. We wait for a microphone. Identify yourself, please, and ask a short question.

Question: François Heisbourg – not sure this is – yeah, it’s working. François Heisbourg, Chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. You invited us to reflect on uncertainty, how do we reduce uncertainty when we look at the new administration? One way of doing that is to assume that an American president will normally try to do what he said he would try to do. And although Joe was right in indicating that reality occasionally intervenes to change the course of what is actually done, I think we have to take it as a given that President Trump, like Obama, like his other predecessors, will actually try to do what he’s going to do. And attempting to reassure us, the outside world that this is not the case, I think would be imprudent. I’m not suggesting that you did that, Joe, by the way.

Dr. Josef Joffe: I just quoted Obama.

Question: Yeah, sure. No, no, that’s what I said. I didn’t say you said it. Other point. Rosa, you said that nothing had actually changed yet. I wish it were so. The problem is that the president-elect, when he was still campaigning, essentially told the Asians and the European allies of the United States that alliance relations were purely transactional, entirely instrumental. That is not the same thing as saying that they are somewhat instrumental and somewhat transactional because they obviously are, and the burden-sharing debates of the past are an indication of that.

And once you do that—and it has been done, it has been said—the allies can only assume that after 65 years of alliance politics by the United States, that a page may be turned. And if the page may be turned, then you start hedging. And indeed, the candidate indicated some of the potential hedges, like South Korea and Japan going nuclear. Great hedge, n’est-ce pas? Or other hedges, accommodating with the local hegemons—the Baltics accommodating with Russia, for example.

This is already done. The uncertainty has now been created, and once you do that, it is doubtful whether this totally unique and unusual alliance system, which has been an enormous source of American strength over the last 65 years, can actually be sustained as this basic given of the – what did you call it, Admiral? The Global Operating System. Global Operating System inherited from the end of the 1940s is now being directly challenged.

And our job, Rosa, because you told us what our job was. No, our job is to defend our own interests, and if we are told that the alliances are becoming transactional, we are not going to interpret our job the way you said it should be. Our job is not to support the opposition of the – against this crazy American administration. Our job is to defend our national interests. And herein are opening up another uncertainty. And I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to be the best of allies—yes, we should. And yes, we should try to get through to Trump. And yes, we should try to moderate his behaviour, but we are in a different world. We are already in a different world, Rosa.

Rosa Brooks: Well, let me – let me clarify. You’re right, that uncertainty is there and that uncertainty is dangerous and that uncertainty is already having a chilling effect and sending ripples throughout the international system. I think that uncertainty was there on the 7th, too. It might have been resolved on the 9th; it wasn’t. It’s still there.

I don’t think your job is to keep President Trump on the straight and narrow for the sake of Americans. I think your collective jobs, our collective jobs are to keep America on the straight and narrow for all of our sake. If that Global Operating System was of value to Germany, to France, to Japan, to all of the many countries represented here today on November 7th, I don’t think its value has gone away. I think there’s a danger that it will be undermined from within the United States, and that makes it all the more imperative for everyone else to try to say, “Hey, President-elect Trump, let us try to explain to you why this is important, and let us try to keep you to it because it’s beneficial for all of us.”

Dr. Gideon Rose: What she said, and François, let me just say that I think that to – if the French or European or international commitment to the order is so fragile that it depends solely on the expressed policy views of a particular U.S. politician, not even in office, such that a questioning of certain commitments can lead to an immediate unravelling of the entire order as everybody jumps off to beggar-thy-neighbour policies or self-help mechanisms protecting their own national interests, then I think that order was a hell of a lot robust than any of us thought. And I just —

Question: He’s not a particular American politician. This is the Commander in Chief of the United States of America, the world’s largest and strongest power. And come on, if that guy goes off the rails and we have to draw the consequences, this is not about – this is not about our fragility. This is about the intrinsic fragility of the sort of alliance, the unique alliance system which was built up, the unprecedented alliance system which was built up at the end of the 1940s. There are no historical precedents for this. This is a relatively fragile animal. And when the Commander in Chief goes off the rails, then we have a problem.

Dr. Josef Joffe: Let’s not overdo this, François. François, now let’s talk – talk European allies. I mean the alliance has always been struggling and fighting and pressuring over the terms of alliance. Your own former President Charles de Gaulle mounted an enormous pressure on the American Commander in Chief and alliance to have things his own way. That is part – this is the essence of any alliance that we try to remind Mr. Big and negotiate and powwow with him over what – over the terms of the alliance. That is part of normalcy. It’s no reason to get – to think that there’s a loony out there unless there is a loony in the White House, and then all bets are off.

But in the favourite book—I’ll close with that—of my generation was Catch-22 and there are enough people in the room who may have read it too. And there was this guy called Major de Coverley who got really angry at the bad food they served in the mess hall, and he called – brought – called the sergeant and said, “Take this man out and have him shot.” And he says, “But sir, you can’t just have a guy being taken out and shot.” “Why not?” “Well, it’s against the rules.” “Okay. Let him live.”

So that is what life is like and that should dampen our incipient hysteria about this guy—unless he is loony. I don’t know. I don’t think he’s loony. Loonies don’t win elections.

Dr. Gideon Rose: Over here.

Question: Thank you very much.

(Inaudible comment off microphone.)

Dr. Josef Joffe: France.

Question: I’m Steve Clemons – Steve Clemons with The Atlantic. I think if John McCain or John Barrasso or Deb Fischer were President of the United States, we wouldn’t be having this conversation in quite the same way. Donald Trump was elected with two key elements of that. One was that many Americans looked at him as a wrecking ball that was going to come in and change everything because they felt that those relationships in Washington had undermined their interests.

And one of the other key parts of the Trump message was that the balance sheet of American engagement in the world was no longer paying off, that people had gone off to fight four or five times in Iraq and seen their job shipped off to China, and that quid pro quo between America playing that role of being the global cop, a guarantor of security, was no longer connected in the minds of many to their economic benefits and welfare.

And I think that one of the things that we’re perhaps not discussing very directly here is we’re sort of pretending that perhaps John McCain and John Barrasso will make Trump less a wrecking ball, so the constraint notion—and that’s what Joe was talking about—but if he is, he’s basically saying to NATO nations, saying to Japan make it worth our while, up what you’re doing or pay us.

And so I’m wondering whether the conversation to some degree has to get to a different realist point that if the international order is not going to be completely suspended and take a different turn, then the question is how does a person who wants a kind of mercantilist economic policy, which is clearly part of the trade discussion he’s had or to take the corollary in international security relationships, look at the kind of either returns to the U.S. or a sense of this, I mean it’s kind of, you know – I used to joke about running the Pentagon for a profit, which George W. Bush – or George H. W. Bush did in the first Gulf War—we got a $13 billion cheque from Japan for that war, and we made about half a – you know, half a billion dollar profit off the enterprise.

But you know, not joking for a moment, the question is do the fundamental relationships within these alliances need to change in order to keep and maintain something that all of you have said is very important? My read of Donald Trump is he’s not joking, he is a wrecking ball, and he’s going to go back to the American public with a set of deliverables, and he said here’s what I did for you in four years. And we seem to be saying that’s not going to happen, and I don’t quite get it.

Dr. Gideon Rose: Let’s get a couple more comments and questions in. Over – yes, over here.

Question: Slawomir Debski. I’m Director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs. I would like to follow the point François made that we should stick to our national interests first. And to offer you a clarity to this discussion about the uncertainty of the world, I would like to – to say the following.

If some green mans under Donald Trump clock appears on the Polish territory, we would start immediately to shoot them down without asking whether Donald Trump is willing or not, without waiting for anybody, whether they are going to follow their commitments or not.

But here we come to the question of NATO. We believe, still, and we will believe still that our commitment to the defending peace would be solid – rock solid, even under – for the next administration. And NATO, and I now quote Lord Ismay, “NATO is for peace by collective security.” And I believe under Donald Trump NATO still will be for peace by collective security. Thank you.

Dr. Gideon Rose: Thank you. Over here.

Question: Thank you very much. My name is Yamaguchi from Japan. My question goes to the Admiral Harris in particular. And I really – on behalf of Japanese friends, I’d like to thank to you for your effort in the past, particularly in terms of pursuing rule of law, freedom of navigation in the South China Sea in particular. And in the meantime, thank you for your efforts to engage China, visiting China. Such an approach towards China is very important for the Asian – Asian friends of the United States.

And do you – are you – are you – do you have any worry about the future continuous effort of the United States, for instance, for in freedom of navigation, rules of law and commitment to this region or you are relatively relaxed you’re going to – that U.S. determination will not be changed.

Dr. Gideon Rose: Let’s go back to the panel. Admiral Harris.

Admiral Harry Harris: So I’m – thank you, General Yamaguchi. I’m – I’m rarely relaxed about – (laughter). As I said at the beginning, I believe that the threats and challenges that America faces remain unchanged, irrespective of who our Commander in Chief will be. So the most imminent threat that we face is – that I face when I get up in the morning in Hawaii is the threat from North Korea. And I think that is an imminent threat that we have to deal with. I believe that Russia and China are existential threats to the United States, but the imminent nature of those threats are not the same as the threat we face from – from North Korea.

So that’s what I think about. And I think about violent extremism, the terrorism in Asia. You know, it was Secretary Carter who said there are five challenges – four challenges and one condition that faces the United States – that are facing the United States, rather, and will frame our strategies and budgeting for the years ahead and that’s: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and terrorism. Four of those are in the Indo Asia-Pacific, and that’s what I think about every day, and I don’t see that changing, certainly not in the space of an American election cycle.

Dr. Gideon Rose: Joe, Rosa, on this or any of the comments we’ve heard.

Dr. Josef Joffe: I think the Admiral answered that particular question admirably. I mean would you like me to engage —

Dr. Gideon Rose: On any of the other comments.

Dr. Josef Joffe: — do a little naval strategy here?

Dr. Gideon Rose: No, no, not on that particular —

Rosa Brooks: I’ll jump in on Steve Clemons’ question. So Steve, I’m not saying that’s not going to happen. I’m scared. I think most of us in this room are at least a little bit scared, and we should be a little bit scared. The – some of the things that were said on the campaign trail were terrifying. What I am saying is I think – I think that there are two sort of equal and opposite dangers that we can fall into right now. One is a false confidence that nothing bad is really going to happen, that somehow candidate Trump, once he’s President Trump, is going to undergo a complete personality transformation and ideology transformation and all the professionals around him are going to persuade him that the status quo and sort of chugging right along the way we have is the right thing to do, and we can all relax. I think that’s a terrible, dangerous idea because I think it is entirely possible that candidate Trump will be President Trump in exactly the same way and that we will see both – both some pretty scary policies implemented and that we will see a dangerous and destabilizing level of unpredictability. So bad idea to assume that the system will somehow magically self-correct and everything will stay the same.

But equally bad idea, I think, to assume that it’s all over, we’ve lost every fight already, might as well, as the case may be, resign or ask our nice Canadian friends here to let us stay and bring our children and I’m sure you can help us out. You know, I think that’s a bad idea too. We’re not done. We don’t know what’s going to happen. He’s not in office yet. We haven’t given any time to seeing whether there will be a moderating influence on his policies.

So I think that that tricky middle path is to say we have some collective control. We don’t have total control; you know, we don’t know what goes on in his mind. He’s the Commander in Chief. He’s about to be the Commander in Chief and the President of the United States, but we have a lot of control collectively. Members of Congress have control. People who work in the U.S. federal government have some control over this. Our allies have some control. We have some say. And if we sit back and give up, the bad things will almost certainly happen.

That’s why I said earlier know your red lines now, and I mean that both – both as individuals for those who are staying in or considering going into the administration, know your red lines now, so that you don’t find that you’re complicit with some pretty nasty stuff and you didn’t realize until it was too late and you spend the rest of your life wishing you had done something sooner. And have a plan now to try to keep those red lines from being crossed, but that also goes for our allies. That also goes for all of us.

You know, there’s a damage control strategy here. There’s a, “What actions are most likely to keep the United States on the steady path of supporting this Global Operating System?” And we all have to think about what our role in doing that is. And we also all have to think about, “And what if it doesn’t work? What do we do then?” And yeah, what we do then may be things that I as an American will say, “That’s not in our interest as Americans, maybe it’s things that are in the Europeans’ interest or in Japan’s interest that we will not like.” On the other hand, maybe – you know, four years is not such a long time. Yes, you can do a lot of damage and hurt a lot of people in four years, but it’s only four years. And we hope that the United States will still be here at the end of it and so will the rest of you and that we will have a chance to fix whatever damage may have been done.

So I think it’s – if that helps, it’s something in between. It’s a sort of trust, but verify. You know, hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Dr. Gideon Rose: So we have a lot of people who want to get in, and I want to get them in, so let’s start over here first.

Question: Thank you. Pauline Neville-Jones, UK. I think what François Heisbourg said does have to be taken seriously. The problem, I think, with transactional language from Washington is that it legitimates it elsewhere, and that is, you know, potentially a very serious erosion of what actually in the end, you know, keeps the alliance together, which is confidence and trust. I do believe in the commitments that you’ve undertaken and that you will honour them. And I think that is the – it’s corrosive.

So I think we now face a situation in which American leadership, you know, at least for a foreseeable period is going to be on test, not accepted necessarily. It’s going to be constantly under assessment from the allies, and it remains to be seen how well people respond and behave. I mean I do believe that the alliance is sufficiently mature that actually people will hang on in there. I don’t think there’s going to be a great falling off straightaway, but I think one should recognize that there is now an internal tension inside our relationships which hasn’t been there previously. There’s often been disappointment. I won’t conceal I think many allies are rather disappointed in many of the things that have failed to happen under the Obama administration, but there hasn’t been an erosion of their – that key thing, do we actually – in the end, will we, you know, hang together with you? And I think that’s the thing that’s – it’s very important to try and restore. So I hope a very rapid course correction.

One other thing I’d just like to say, the whole question of what’s changed, I do think the way the American people voted is a change element and cannot be ignored. And I think Steve Clemons is right in this in that when – we’re required to believe in a sense in this dialogue that what the president-elect said is not what he’s going to do. Now normally, what the president says is what’s he going to do. So you’re being asked to believe that actually it’s not going to be as he said it’s going to be. That’s quite difficult.

So again, I come back to the unknown quantum, and there is now an element, a relationship between the domestic vote, the analysis that the American people have been given by the president-elect of why things are not going right in the States. I disagree with a lot of that, but there’s a grain of truth in what he has said. And you can’t ignore, therefore, how he is going to try and work out curing the ills that he sees in the American domestic scene and the relationship with the partners, allies, competitors and the outside world. So – and it does seem to me to be a new dynamic in there and one that we should not ignore because it’s a legitimate one.

Dr. Gideon Rose: Yes, over here.

Question: David Kramer, McCain Institute in Washington. Deal-making is one of the things that has defined Trump throughout his career in business, and one of the issues that worries countries that border Russia is the possibility that President-elect Trump, when he becomes president, will cut a deal with Moscow, recognizing a sphere of influence in exchange for Russian cooperation, say, in Syria. How would you address the real concerns that Ukrainians, Georgians, others who border Russia have in this room in light of what he has said? Thank you.

Dr. Gideon Rose: I was going to collect a lot more – but that’s an interesting – collect before going back to the panel, but that’s an actually interesting question, a specific direct question. Anybody want to comment on that?

Rosa Brooks: I can’t allay those concerns.

Dr. Josef Joffe: Well, do you really think this administration is going to give away a big chunk of what the United States fought for, paid zillions for to prevent? Does that really make sense? And then you might say yes. If you get some – if we give him – you know, we do a Czechoslovakia, we give him the Baltics plus if they help us in the Middle East and in Syria. Now Trump himself has said he’s going to come up with this kind of syllogism which says we don’t – we are fighting ISIS, Damascus is fighting ISIS, Russia is fighting ISIS, and there we go, we have a commonality of interests. But I don’t know how long it will take him to figure out that Assad and Russia are not fighting ISIS. They’re fighting the rebels, our guys, right?

So again, unless I – we have to assume that Trump is loony and I do not see how he won’t wake up two days after his inaugurate, realize that his premises are totally wacky. And that’s why I think where reality bites, and that’s what Mr. Obama has said. This office has a way of making you wake up.

It is totally inconceivable to me that an American president, after 70 years of Cold War plus will give the Russians what they’ve always craved because that will end – if we do that, he might as well give up the whole store which is called Europe. And how any American president—again, unless he is loony—will do that is beyond my imagination, but maybe there are people in this room who think that this president is going to give away the store and make America small again.

Dr. Gideon Rose: I actually disagree a little bit with Joe, David, because I think that —

Dr. Josef Joffe: (Crosstalk) disagree with me.

Dr. Gideon Rose: But no, you ask an interesting point because there’s a big difference between, I think – look, hell, right now, I would be more comfortable saying that I – everything Joe just said is true about Article 5 and NATO, but when you’re talking about beyond full-scale treaty commitments, when you’re talking not about Europe, perhaps, but the Caucasus, when you’re talking not about NATO, but countries on – you know, in the FSU or the periphery, I think a great power condominium is – I’m not going to say it’s the least bad scenario you can expect now, but it’s rapidly approaching that.

Dr. Josef Joffe: But it will give away Lithuania?

Dr. Gideon Rose: No. No, nothing in the Baltic – I can’t – if there’s anybody here from the Baltics, I cannot imagine that we will not, you know – that we will not live up to our commitments to our NATO allies.

(Inaudible comment off microphone.)

Dr. Gideon Rose: Let’s keep getting more comments. Yes, in the back there and then you.

Question: Dov Zakheim, Washington. Let me start off by saying I was one of the guys that signed the – I was one of the first 50 that signed the letter about Trump. I think there is this sense that the guy’s a maniac and therefore we have to control him. And I think you really have it wrong.

We had a president who had a background as a terrific cabinet secretary, had a background as an excellent businessman, he was one of the worst presidents we ever had. His name was Herbert Hoover. We had a president who was a failed businessman, who was a party hack who just liked to drink and play cards. His name was Harry Truman. So yes, you can change. That’s number one.

Number two is one thing we do know about this guy – and oh, by the way, all this talk that I’m hearing, I’m old enough, because I was in the Reagan administration, he was going to start World War III, guys. We’re still here. So you know, that also is kind of a parallel.

One other thing, the one thing we know about Mr. Trump is he hates to be embarrassed. So if his good buddy Mr. Putin tries to do something against NATO, which will embarrass Trump, I feel sorry for Mr. Putin. And oh, by the way, don’t use the term red lines. It didn’t work well this last few years. (Laughter.)

Dr. Gideon Rose: Yes, in front here. Right here.

Question: Thanks very much.

Dr. Gideon Rose: Stand up, please, and state your name.

Question: Sorry. Kerry Buck, Canada’s Ambassador to NATO. I agree entirely. I don’t think there’ll be a direct attack on NATO territory. I don’t think Lithuania’s at risk. I don’t think Article 5’s at risk. That’s not the real question. I think there are two other questions.

One is sub-Article 5, when there’s skirmishes, destabilization, etc., and that really requires – in order for NATO to fulfill its job of preventing war—it’s done a really great job—it requires deterrence. We’ve got the capabilities, but it’s the strength and coherence of messaging, political signalling about resolve. And when there’s wobbliness on that front, what’s the impact? We’ve been talking here about the impact on allies. The alliance will stick together; it’s solid. But what’s been the impact on those outside the alliance who might seek to take advantage of the uncertainty? And I’m not just talking Russia, Russia, Assad, etc. And how do you put that – those ills back into Pandora’s box if there’s a course correction from the president when he takes power?

I think it’s feasible that some of those internal levers, Rosa, that you talked about, about, you know, opposition, academia, civil society saying no, you can’t do that, that may well work on the president, but will it work on Assad and Putin?

Dr. Gideon Rose: Yes, over here.

Question: Thank you. I’m Manoj Joshi from the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. My question is kind of a systemic question. As to the – because the founding fathers who wrote the American Constitution distrusted democracy in a certain way, and so they gave the separation of powers. And I know that the Congressional delegation has just gone, so but the question was to what extent will this separation of powers, particularly the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court be able to slow down the more radical impulses of Mr. Trump because that’s why they’re there, meaning that’s why the Congress and the Supreme Court is there? That’s one question.

And the second one is I think it’s linked to the question you asked, what is in Asia (ph)  about a possible G-2, something which China has been seriously seeking, some kind of a condominium with the United States, particularly with regard to East Asia?

Dr. Gideon Rose: Okay, we’re going to keep – I think we’re going to keep getting – let’s get – keep getting a whole bunch of people in. There was a comment – yes, a question over here.

Question: Thank you. Lincoln Bloomfield. I’m the Chairman of the Stimson Centre in Washington, a nonpartisan think tank. Unlike my friends in the last five Republic administrations in which we served, I didn’t speak on behalf of either candidate or against any candidate, so – so now I will. The focus is very much on the next president, as it should be, but – and Rosa, I think I applaud what she has said about setting red lines and maintaining a level of ethics and morality in law, but I want to go back to Steve’s comment, with which I associate myself.

This was an election where it was very close, but a whole lot of Americans and a whole lot of geography threw a wrecking ball at Washington and said we’re worried about it. Now it may have been more about economics. It may have been more about domestic issues, but my concern, as we sort of are still at the early part of the Halifax Forum, is that there’s a – this is a time when we could actually be very creative about how to do better than we’ve done in the past, not just how to prevent the worst cases that we’re all speculating about.

And my concern is this. If you look at, for example, the fact that an International Tribunal has just ruled against China’s entire territorial claim in the Nine-Dash Line and they’re still building islands and military installations, if you look at the fact that we’ve just negotiated arms control with Iran, but we’ve said nothing about all of the executions going on inside that country or the tens of thousands of soldiers they have in Syria propping up a dictator who has been potentially moved against by his own people and has the dirtiest hands in the world. The Arab League has said he should go to The Hague for war crimes. We haven’t said anything about that. And then you have the first territorial land grab in Europe since World War II by Russia, and these are all not things that Donald Trump did, but this is things that have just happened.

So if we’re going to talk about the Atlantic Charter – and by the way, there is a new set of principles brought forward by the distinguished former – now former head of association of the U.S. Army, the former Chief of the Army General Gordon Sullivan brought a group together. Rosa and I both signed the principles. I’m happy to share them with the group. It’s an update of the Atlantic Charter.

I think what we need in – what I’m seeing – what I’m hearing from the Washington policy elite is a sense of being humiliated by what happened, but I don’t see much intellectual humility. So I think that might be the order of the day. How can we do better than we’ve already been doing under both Bush and Obama? There’s a lot to improve on before we just obsess about Mr. Trump.

Dr. Gideon Rose: Okay. Peter, do you want to – no. Peter, did you want to? Okay. So let me – we’re going to wrap this up now because we have a very, very long conference ahead of us. Let me just say three things at the end here. One, Halifax and institutions and gatherings like it have never been more important. You do not need, or rather it’s just a nice supplemental boost, these kinds of things, when things are going well, but when fundamental questions are raised, when there are potential crises, when there’s radical uncertainty, it’s precisely this kind of collaborative open discussion among partners and allies that is absolutely crucial and indispensable to the maintenance of the order. So this is no longer an optional conference in November. This is the forum in which the future of the western alliance and the global liberal order is being worked out.

Dr. Josef Joffe: Wow.

Rosa Brooks: Can I – can I —

Dr. Gideon Rose: Yes.

Rosa Brooks: — just add one thing, picking up on Linc’s point. I mean all the other questions, they’re great questions. I don’t know what will happen—we’ll find out—but I think Linc’s point’s a really important one. We probably should not assume that what we had was the best we could have. Actually, we all know it wasn’t. And to the extent that the demographic groups that voted for Trump, you know, they had some legitimate grievances along with some stuff that was not legitimate, and this – we should use this as a moment to say how do we – how do we start exercising our imaginations for not just the next four years, for what do we do in the event that the U.S. goes off the rail in the next four years, but even if – even if Hillary Clinton had been elected, you know, the world is complicated, the world is changing. There will come a time, whether it’s in 10 years or a thousand years, when the United States is not playing anything close to the role it plays now. Europe will change, Europe is changing. All the world – what is it that we want to be shaping that is more effective?

I think – I think in one of our last year’s sessions, we talked about the ways which the post-World War II international order has already been badly destabilized and is not up to all of the collective challenges that we now face. It’s not structured in the way that if we were starting from scratch right now we would probably want to structure. So this is also an opportunity. You know, it’s an opportunity—while the U.S. may be sitting it out or even playing a destructive role—for all of us, nonetheless to say how do we want to not just safeguard what we had, but reshape it for the future?

Dr. Gideon Rose: Albert Hirschman, a great social scientist, wrote a wonderful book talking about how people deal with challenges and crises in situations they find themselves in organizations, and he discussed the options of the dissidents, of the people who have problems as being, “Exit, voice or loyalty.” To address, you know, the last comment, the concerns of François and Pauline and many of you here, I think that exit would be a disaster. I think that mere loyalty or complacency would be almost as bad and that the challenge for all of us now is to find ways of constructively expressing our voices to reaffirm and keep on track and improve and update, as the Admiral said, the basic principles, policies, rules and procedures of the order and find a way to get through the crisis and move forward in an even better way.

With that, let me just give Admiral Harris and Joe any kind of last words. And then we’ll just wrap it up and move on.

Admiral Harry Harris: So let me just make an observation to sort of allay some of your concerns. I noted that the president-elect’s first things that he did were to call President Park in Korea. He with Prime Minister Abe this week in New York. He has reached out to reassure our NATO allies. And to Undersecretary Neville-Jones’ point about the allies testing America, I hope that’s not an implication that somehow the allies would vote to remove American from the island, because I think that would be a much more dangerous place. The world would be a much more dangerous place if we were not voted – if we were to be voted off the island, if you will.

Dr. Gideon Rose: You want to hear the last word or you want to – quick.

Dr. Josef Joffe: Well, I want – exactly. I want 60 seconds, not with this group, but 60 seconds with the president, and I would say, “Mr. President, what you have in mind, what you’ve told us you would do will lead to the self-isolation and self-demotion of the United States. Now please, Mr. President, you don’t want to make America small again.”

Dr. Gideon Rose: Admiral Harris, we don’t have Jeff Probst, we do have Peter Van Praagh to guide us through our future Survivor discussions at the council. Thank all of you. I thank all of you. I really hope that when we look back on this in later years, on this period, we will – and I just want to say what Dov’s – acknowledge what Dov Zakheim said, which is that there have been times when we worried about these kinds of questions in the past. They have tended to be overblown. We have tended to later on to come back and say, “Whoo,” when we either got past that one or maybe it wasn’t as risky or destabilizing as possible. I truly hope, and I in fact do believe that later on we will look at this period of uncertainty and think, “Huh, gee, we really didn’t – we dodged a bullet or weren’t necessarily—”

Dr. Josef Joffe: Or Trump is a great president.

Dr. Gideon Rose: Well, I’m not sure about that. (Laughter.) But until that happens, I make no apologies whatsoever for raising and surfacing all this uncertainty because it’s precisely this kind of uncertainty and precisely this kind of push-back and discussion which will lead to the constraints that keep the order running.

And on that note, thank you all, we’ll go to the next one. (Applause.)


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