Henry Kissinger and Paul O’Neill reflect on their experiences in President Ford’s administration and the legacy of Gerald Ford. June, 2013.
>> I'm Susan Collins the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and I am just simply delighted to see all of you here with us this evening. It is wonderful to see so many familiar faces and to have had the opportunity to meet some new friends of the school as well. Well before I introduce our speakers this evening, it is a great pleasure to thank Mr. Glenn Goldberg who is the President of McGraw-Hill's Financial Commodities and Commercial Markets for so graciously arranging this truly lovely venue for our event this evening. I also wanted to thank the City Foundation for their continued support of our lecture series. Well, tonight it is a great honor to introduce two very distinguished statesmen who served together in the Ford administration, the honorable Dr. Henry Kissinger and the honorable Paul O'Neill. [applause] Well you'll see from their biographies in the program that both of our speakers have had a number of key positions in both private sector and of course in public service as well. Dr. Kissinger is of course an icon in the fields of International Relations and American Foreign Policy, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize Dr. Kissinger is Chairman of International Consulting Firm Kissinger Associates and he also served as the 56th Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to President Nixon and President Ford. Both a diplomat and a scholar, Dr. Kissinger's opinions continue to be sort after on matters of foreign policy and national security as you well know. Dr. Kissinger also recently celebrated his 90th birthday and it is a great pleasure to wish him many happy returns on this occasion as well. Mr. O'Neill served as the 72nd Secretary of the Treasury. He joined the White House Office of Management and Budget in 1967 and served as the Deputy Director of OMB during the Ford administration. He was Chairman and CEO of Alcoa until his retirement as well as Chairman of the RAND Corporation. Mr. O'Neill has been a very good friend to the Ford School as well and he was a leader among the generous donors who helped us build the wonderful Weill Hall. And just last month he delivered the charge to the Class of 2013 and we very much appreciated that. Our speakers have agreed to discuss their experiences serving in the Ford administration and also their opinions on current events and issues that are extremely topical but before they begin I'd like to explain just very briefly why the Ford School has decided to host the event this evening. Well as many of you know 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of President Ford's birth and tonight's event continues the Ford's School yearlong celebration of President Ford's remarkable life and career. The naming of the University of Michigan's School of Public Policy for President Ford in 1999 was really a key transformational event that linked us both to a great man whose decency and commitment to public service continues to inspire our students and broader members of our community today but that naming also created an energy and a momentum that has allowed us to continue hiring top tier faculty, to launch an undergraduate degree program and to build Weill Hall. Well now we're just a few months away from our next transformational effort and that is in 2014 the Ford School will recognize another centennial the 100th anniversary of our schools founding. This milestone arrives at the start of the university wide effort to secure funds that will significantly enhance the student experience on campus and will invest in the next century of citizens, public servants and leaders trained at the Ford School. While many members of the Ford School committee who have helped us set that path are in the room tonight and we're delighted to have them here with us we hope that our commemoration of these back to back centennials will inspire all of you to join the friends of the Ford School as active supporters in the coming months and the years of the campaign. Well your printed program and the slide show that played during the reception and I hope you had a chance to see a number of the pictures of our students and the activities and our facilities they really highlight that year long celebration. And of course all of these centennial events it has been a real pleasure to meet friends and colleagues of President Ford. I'd like to highlight that friends and colleagues description. President Ford's colleagues really continue to consider him a friend and whether it was across the aisle or across the nation President Ford really had a gift for bringing people together. Dr. Kissinger I think you articulated that sentiment in the naming of the Ford School in 2000 and at that point you said, and I quote, "That Washington is about power. It is very rare indeed it's unheard of that so many people who were associated with the Ford Administration were friends then and have remained friends throughout the remainder of their lives." And here tonight we have two lifelong friends of President Ford. We also have an audience full of people whose own friendships began at the Ford School and so Dr. Kissinger and Mr. O'Neill I think it's safe to say that very important legacy of many of President Ford's is still alive and well. And now for the main event here is our format. Dr. Kissinger and Mr. O'Neill will start their conversation on the legacy of President Ford and then they will move on to a discussion of some of today's top policy issues. They'll save the last 20 minutes of the time for questions and answers and discussion with the audience. And so with no further ado it is my great honor to turn the floor over to Paul O'Neill [applause]
>> Paul O'Neill: Thank you Dean Collins. It's really a pleasure to be here tonight. I should tell you Dr. Kissinger is wonderful in so many different ways. He's got a vocal chord problem so he's protecting his voice but he was good enough even with this new thing he's not old enough to have but he found his way here tonight so it's wonderful to see you Henry. I think it would be useful at the beginning maybe to pick up on a little conversation we were having before we came in. Henry you first and then I will follow you. Talk a little bit about President Ford the man that you worked with and how you saw him then and see him in retrospect.
>> Dr. Kissinger: I've known 10 presidents and one of the main characteristics of presidents is that they spend a great deal of their life in pursuit of the office and so whatever their differences they're very conscious of public opinion, they're very concerned increasingly as time has gone on which was not so true, I would say of Eisenhower but they're very concerned with such things as focus groups and Ford never expected to be president, never thought to be president. He was transported into by a catastrophe and the expectations were not high because he had had no executive experience. And he took over at a moment when the administration was in a shambles. Oppositions International, extremely difficult because so much depends on credibility and countries from all over the world looking at him to see what he might do next. The outstanding characteristics of President Ford was that what you saw is what you got. You did not have to worry. He did not maneuver. He did not care about focus groups. One of the actually big mistakes that we made in that sense, I told him it was in April '76 before most of you were born, there was an issue in Southern Africa and I said to him we have to put ourselves on the side of majority rule in Rhodesia and Libya. And I said, I was Secretary of State, I said, "I'm planning to go there." And whenever the date and I realized that this is two weeks before the Texas primary and "if you want me to I can put if off a few months." He said "No, we're not making the foreign policy dependent on my primary." And the primary was a disaster because in Texas they were not for majority rule in Rhodesia and Libya in those days. But he made strong decisions. He created a warm atmosphere. He had no obsessions about camera angles, all the things you read about now that, he was not a rehearsed presidency. It was a mid-west figure who did what he thought was best for his country and as I've said I've known ten Presidents. This is not to talk them down. They all were men of substance but Ford was in the human category by himself. And as it turned out [inaudible] for the job because he had been on the Armed Services Committee so he knew a lot about the security aspect of foreign policy and one of the that came from the foreign policy side interesting thing is as a mid-westerner from relatively small town he was exactly the sort of guy that European intellectual leaders might have looked down on as naive but as it turned out he became a close personal friend of people like Harold Smith [inaudible] through the rest of his life when he could do nothing for them but they went all the way out to Denver or to Aspen year after year through [inaudible] from Canada who was, if I may say so was somewhat snobbish, he became a good friend but when we get to the questions I will be glad to answer.
>> Paul O' Neill: So let me reminisce just a little bit as well about my connection with President Ford. I was long ago I was a graduate student in Public Policy at Indiana University that's another place you may have heard of and I came into government actually in 1961. It sounds maybe naive now but you know when Kennedy said if you want to make difference come here and help so I did. I didn't know that you weren't supposed to respond so I went. And fortunately I got recruited into what was the Bureau of the Budget in January of 1967 because President Johnson at the time called in the Director of the Bureau of the Budget and said to Charlie Schultz, "I really like what Bob McNamara is doing at the Defense Department with cost benefit analysis and program planning and budgeting and I want you to bring those ideas to the domestic activities of the government." And so Charlie set out to hire some people with background in economics and operations research and I was one of those people that got recruited to come and help install the McNamara ideas and the domestic part of government so in a parallel track President Ford served 25 years in the Congress and he was there 25 years and served 23 years on the Appropriation Committee and he was fascinated by the Appropriation's process because it gave him a way to relate how we were spending our money on different things and he became arguably the best educated programmatic expert about government that we've had for a President. Harry Truman had some similar claims because of his time in the Congress but a lot of the young people especially do not understand what a thoughtful knowledgeable person President Ford was about everything the government was doing and so when he was still Vice President I'll never forget. He called me in and he wanted me to explain the economics of cloverleafs on interstate highways systems and what kind of businesses would be attracted and what would happen to property values. That's how his mind worked. He was not an idle kind of observer of what was going on. He was into the details and he wanted to understand the facts of what programs worked, why they worked, which ones didn't work and so when he became President and asked me to be the Deputy Director of OMB, you know in that 29 month I must have spent 300 hours sitting at the corner of his desk talking with him, others present, whatever their specialties were, discussing how to allocate resources against all the competing needs in the federal government. I'll never forget one night about ten o'clock after we'd been at it for what seemed like forever there was a line, I'll never forget 15 million dollar increase for retired military pay and he said to me Paul why is this 15 million dollars here and I said, "You know Mr. President I don't remember." And he loved the fact I didn't know the answer to a question because I thought it was my God given duty to know the answer to every question he could ask before he could think to ask it. He never let me forget the 15 million dollar retired military budget increase that I didn't remember. We changed the assumption about actuarial things and that's what produced the 15 million but he was unbelievably interested in the details and the depth and you know I said I have an occasion when I was as at the Ford School he would be appalled to hear people talking about the deciding what percent of GDP we ought to spend on national defense because he knew how many people we needed in each of the uniformed services from an analysis of threats working with Dr. Kissinger and his own accumulation of knowledge over time. He knew how many aircraft we needed. He knew how much money we ought to spend on investments and new technology. A lot of the technology we have now for stealth bombers they came out of his administration's investments and research and development and he understood at the same time that money we spent on national security issues was money we could not spend on other important public policy needs so he weighed all those other things really carefully. I tell you what. It was the greatest experience to work with someone so clear-headed and devoted to the country and for doing the right thing and you know I never, ever in the time I spent with President Ford saw him diminish another human being by his word or by his action. He was an up-lifter of people, just a fabulous wonderful person and I take personal pride in the fact that the school is now the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy because I honestly think that it is the most meaningful lasting recognition of his life because young people hopefully will carry his values forward from the training they get from the Ford School at the University of Michigan. So Henry we should talk about current affairs and I said to you earlier I'm sure this audience is knowledgeable about everything that's going on but I personally would like to hear your thoughts on the situation in Syria. I was thinking about this coming over. Maybe it's a function of getting old but it used to be I think you could name the hot spots in the world where things were unraveling and there was civil unrest. You have to have an Excel spreadsheet now there are so many out there so Henry, talk to us about Syria.
>> Dr. Kissinger: That's a problem with Syria that's the problem of the United States and I put it that way because we have great difficulty understanding societies like the Syrian society and we have great problems as a country of understanding the relationship between diplomacy and power and democracy and therefore--I taught a course on policy making. I also would say you begin with analogy. You have to begin explaining where you are and then you have to follow it with objectives. Where are you and what are you trying to do? And then you have to of course to discuss the means but we have had great trouble about Syria in this sense. When we see Syria on a map we say okay it is a country it has this border. First of all Syria is not an historic state. It was created in its present shape in 1920 and it was given that shape in order to facilitate the control of the country by France which happened to be half the U.N. mandate. The neighboring country, Iraq was also given an odd shape that was to facilitate control by England and the shape of both of the countries was designed to make it hard for either of them to dominate the region so you start with that dealing with the United States. It has a founding father and a long history secondly. It's a country that is divided into many ethnic groups, a multiplicity of ethnic groups and that means that it is very, you can't an election doesn't give you the same results in the United States because every ethnic group votes for its own people so you're right back where you started. You don't get a national consensus. Moreover, these ethnic groups are very antagonistic to each other so you have Kurds, Druzes, Alawites, Sunnis, en to twelve Christians ethnic groups and they've been governed by the last 20 years by the Alawites minority which is about 30 percent but most of the army and much of the army is Alawite because Alawites were in the poor region and joining the army was a way of coming up in the world. So even they only had 30 percent of the population they had 80 percent of the army. You don't understand what's going on that's the [inaudible] in addition most of the other minorities supported the Alawites only because they were afraid of the Sunnis not because they liked the Alawites and the [inaudible] of course Alawite military family. For the current Assad who was there one can have this degree of sympathy. He started out in life as an ophthalmologist. The height of his ambition was to practice ophthalmology. He didn't want to govern in Syria. He was in Lebanon for four years with his wife practicing his profession when his brother who was supposed to succeed his father was killed in an automobile accident and he was brought back to Syria so he is described in Armenia as the bad guy and that's largely true but he's also incompetent and unsuited for that office on those grounds because he had to assume if you make ophthalmology your profession this is not--if you're driven by a huge hunger for power. [Laughter] so then the revolution breaks out and the American press it's described as a conflict between democracy and a dictator and a dictator is killing his own people and we've got to punish him. But that's not what's going on. It might have been started by a few Democrats but on the whole it's an ethnic and sectarian conflict and I'd like to add another thing. The Alawites are Shiites and so that's enmeshed in the historic Shiites Sunni conflict, so however it started and whatever happened in the first three weeks it is now a Civil War between sectarian groups and I have to say we have misunderstood it from the beginning. If you read our media, they say, we've got to get rid of Assad. And if we get rid of Assad then we form a coalition government, inconceivable, I mean I'm all in favor of getting rid of Assad but the dispute between us and the Russians on that issue was that the Russians say you start with getting rid of matter of fact that's not the issue but you break up the state administration and you'll wind up like in Iraq that there is nothing to hold it together and then you have on even worse Civil War. So this is how that [inaudible]. There are three possible outcomes an Assad victory, a Sunni victory or on outcome in which the various nationalities agree to coexist together but in more or less autonomous regions so that they can't oppress each other. That's the outcome I would prefer to see and that's the one but that's not the popular view. I don't see, if you put either of these sectarian groups in charge there will be a blood bath and so if one wants a humane outcome. I also think that that ought to go but I don't think that that's the key. The key is it's like Europe after the 30 Years War when the various Christians Groups were killing each other until they finally decided that they had to live together but in separate units but that is the fundamental issue and we're beginning to move towards that but it's going to be very tough on top of it is the fact that the Iranian problem, the Iranians have a terrorist force in Lebanon which is Shiite they have now intervened on the Alawite and the Shiite side and then you have an Kurdish unit in the north that wants to break off. It's a really tough issue and I think we're now beginning to head towards a conference but it's almost inconceivable to me that you can form a national coalition government where they can govern together and have [inaudible] run through the whole country. What will probably happen is that that the country will lose its unitary character that has other problems because it may risk that one of these units gets captured by terrorists and the terrorists are already very active on the Shiite side and various Al Quaeda groups so that's the description of the situation. What the United States can do now I think we're trying to head it in the direction that I described but we have to define an outcome. Nobody knows what we really want that can be achieved. And so until we do that and then line up some other countries with us it's going to be very amorphous.
>> Paul O'Neill: So Henry let me do another follow-up question with you. When you look around the world and you see North Korea and you see China which you've written a lot about. If you haven't read the China book it's worth the effort. So we have Iran. We have Iraq. We have Afghanistan. We have Syria. You know it's interesting. We have civil unrest in Brazil. We have civil unrest in Greece and the problems exist in different places for different reasons but my question to you is this, is there something that you would prescribe that we need to do as a nation to better live in this world of what seems like increasing instability? Are there different approaches we can take in our foreign policy and our economic policy that would promise more hope for the coming generation?
>> Dr. Kissinger: I'll answer that question in a minute. I want to pick out of the list of topics you mentioned one about which I'm beginning to be a little optimistic which is the least probable, namely North Korea. That is probably the worst regime that exists anywhere in the world, the most brutal, the most exploited. Every house has a radio which they can't shut off so that the government can talk to them 24 hours a day and they have impoverished their people and submitted them to starvation all to get nuclear weapons and I think now we and China are coming together on that nuclear issue with North Korea and if that happens then we may see an evolution that will make it very tough for that regime to continue as it is altered only by the fact that the fundamental question you asked is there is so much to turmoil in the world. What's the reason? This is the first period in history where every part of the world affects every other part and where they can watch it being affected. So therefore, events have a tendency of multiplying in a way that wasn't conceivable before. The Roman Empire which was a great empire and the Chinese Empire existed in almost total ignorance of each other. They knew there was something there but they had next to no contact and this went on until the beginning of the 19th century. Then the Europeans took over the world as the colonial system. But this is the first time now that you have different parts of the world with their own identity acting in a way that others with their identity have to react to. So that has a multiplier effect built into it. Secondly, the nature of the modern communication systems facilitates the coming together of groups that share nothing except their resentment. So that creates a quest for excitement and for not looking for solutions but looking for some event and for some fulfillment. So you now have non-state actors like the terrorist groups but also others that have tremendous impact in their society so that governments get preoccupied with dealing with these various groups then there's an issue that I personally believe but your generation will probably resent. I think that the way that the people who are educated by the Internet have a different mind than the others because they can get their information in bits and pieces they don't have to reflect about it in the traditional way. So when you look at the leaders that emerge all over the world they're hugely sensitive to public opinion even when they're dictators they take constant polls. Then you have societies, take China now, they've got to move 400 million people from the countryside into the cities. First, that's a huge technological infrastructure problem and secondly, if it teaches anything it is that peasants leave the countryside and move into apartment houses and into cities they change their values from the countryside values to city values. But how can any government know ahead of time which direction that takes? And now you see all of this evolution. You mentioned Brazil but also seems to be happening is when you look at the per capita income when these development projects start they are mostly about infrastructure that make it a huge problem but once you get per capita income above six thousand you have a lot of little enterprises which are uncontrollable by total planning. I was meeting with a group the other day about China and we always read about the SOEs. It's government supported sponsored enterprises. To my amazement it emerged that there are only 400 of those that are run by the federal government and 123 thousand that are run by local government, cities, provinces that produces automatically. Now in states that are less disciplined so you have a lot of turmoil around the world but on the positive side of course [inaudible] never had such a tremendous explosion of [inaudible].
>> Paul O'Neill: Henry, I think they want us to see if we can take a few questions from the audience. So I wonder if we could do that now. Do we have, yes.
>> Today President Obama was in Berlin and discussing the potential to shutting Guantanamo Bay and I'd like to know what your thoughts are and where you think we might be best served [inaudible] Presidents?
>> Dr. Kissinger: My basic instinct have not because when I see pictures of Guantanamo I'm not [inaudible] by it but on the other hand here we have usually in a war you take prisoners and you return them when the war ends. This is a war that doesn't end and we have found that maybe 70 percent of the prisoners that we have released have gone back to terrorist activities so you've got to put them somewhere and when the President was considering closing it right away they were exploring various state prisons or federal prisons. Nobody wanted them. No state wanted them and you'd have colossal other problems. If you help people of course if they're mistakes made then it's a tragedy but the criticism isn't mistakes but almost invariably these are people connected with terrorist activities. So I'd prefer another solution. If nobody can come up with another solution I'd rather keep it than abolish it and turn them all loose again.
>> This is getting back to China and before President Ford when you were in the Nixon administration and the opening to China occurred in a certain way under a President who was seen as anti-China, anti-Communist in certain ways what happened nothing like that would ever happen. Then [inaudible] how that came about [inaudible] with China and then the role of China in the modern world now in terms of the future of China in a global pure political scene?
>> Dr. Kissinger: Well Nixon was an anti-Communist ideologically but he was also a great patriot and he looked at the international situation from the point of view of what does the country need now. When he took over the country had been for four and a half years in the Vietnam War. It had already suffered 35 thousand casualties and he thought his job was on the one hand to bring the war to an end but on the other to give the American people a positive vision of the world other than just ending the war. And he concluded that here were China had 800 million people that were not part of the world anymore and then it was essential to bring them into the international system. So he made that decision very early and it but we didn't know how to do it at first because the Chinese were in the middle of the cultural revolution and they had called all their diplomats back. There was only one embassy in Europe and Warsaw where, we occasionally had contact with them so the first problem we had was how do you reach the top level Chinese? We thought at first we'd go to the most independently minded Communists we knew which were the Rumanians who had been hostile to Prussia. So we went to the Rumanian's and they did send messages but the Chinese didn't trust any Communists even though they were the terrorist but they didn't trust any Communists that was related to Moscow so I won't go through all the by ways we had to go. We finally went to the Pakistanis who we knew had relations with them and we sent a message via the Pakistanis that we wanted to talk and up to that point there had been no contact in Warsaw at which there had been 167 meetings distinguished by the fact that they had made no progress whatsoever because each side raised all kinds of technical problems. The thing for which the Nixon administration deserves special credit is that they said let's scrap all this. We wanted to scratch the basic relationship so we exchanged and the way we exchanged messages was like from a spy story. We are used to texting. In those days they wrote out their messages to us by hand and delivered them in Pakistan and Pakistan then sent their messenger envoy over with the message. We answered typed on unmarked, unsigned, unaddressed paper so if the Chinese saw it then we could deny it and so this went on for nearly three years until we came together and I was sent to Beijing as the envoy of the President and I was sitting there for 48 hours without any communication and I could have finished the Nixon presidency if I screwed up but there was one amusing aspect of this. Every visitor going to China was dying to see Mao. My problem was the opposite. I knew that Nixon wanted to be the first person to meet Mao and so I found myself the in Beijing and we now know from the record that Mao had given instructions that the minute I asked to see him I should be brought in but he didn't want to be in the position of asking me to see him. So he had given those instructions but I never asked. So I must be the first person who went to Beijing refusing to ask of Chou En-lai as my [inaudible] whom I dealt with until after the Nixon visit, after that I met Mao five times. So it was a very convoluted process but our basic conviction was you cannot have peace in the world if a large percentage of the human population is not exchanging ideas with the other and if you look at the records of our conversations the first four or five meetings that I conducted there some like college professors exchanging views about history because we had decided [inaudible] that the issues that I spent most of my time saying here is what we think about foreign policy and about the world and I made an effort to give him a very accurate account so that if something happened on a day-to-day basis they had the basis for comparison and as it turned out we were lucky that Chou En-lai also did the same thing and what it shows is throughout the basic principles of negotiations should be not to haggle about what causes a disagreement but to make sure that each side understands where the other one comes from because then they can , I don't know whether you'd agree with that in business, but what I've learned from that is I usually begin a negotiation by telling the opposite member what I want to achieve and why because then it certainly is the Chinese case turned out to be the right approach.
>> So Dr. Kissinger you haven't talked about the Iranian Nuclear program yet. I see that as one of the biggest issues we've got to deal with. What should we do and what do you think is going to happen?
>> Dr. Kissinger: It's a huge issue, first we have set out together with five other permanent members of the Security Council for 15 years that this is unacceptable and for 15 years we have said that no method is off of the table. Now if suddenly they emerge with nuclear weapons our position would be very, very, difficult. Secondly, if Iran in practice of nuclear proliferations [inaudible] because if it continues then I think of what was required in a two powered nuclear world in terms of warning systems, safety systems, protect, command and control to prevent a war and then you imagine 50 countries maneuvering simultaneously without the technology it's almost kind of [inaudible] that a nuclear war somewhere will start which could produce hundreds of thousands of casualties in hours. When you look at 9-11 it discombobulated us by nearly three thousand dead, no wounded, no damage to infrastructure, it was bad enough so secondly Iran is right now supporting many terrorist groups all over the world. If they now on top of it have nuclear weapons and feel protected and third they have already proclaimed that they want to exterminate Israel but I wonder urge those of you who want to understand how fear those kids think they really believe they have fulfilled, I'm not saying they want to die in a nuclear war but they have fewer restraints than most others so I think, if Iran moved to its nuclear weapons it's very probable that Israel will attack or very likely so we'll see what happens. I would say we're in the last year where you can still say and negotiation and conceivably defeat because with every year they're accumulating more and more visible material. With every year it becomes harder to see whether they're building nuclear war heads and most scientists believe that I don't know 6 months, 9 months if they keep accumulating visible material it will be almost impossible to trace it back. So we will see what happens now but if nothing happens the President will have to make some really tough decisions. But we cannot want to be in another war but we cannot want them to have nuclear weapons either.
>> Do you have any thoughts on the deadlock in Congress?
>> Dr. Kissinger: Oh, you know when I was in government I thought life was rough. But in those days you still had committee chairmen, don't did you think Paul? Two or three times a year you could go to them and say, look, look this is not a partisan issue, the country needs it. And I would say 60 to 70 percent of the time you could have a bipartisan outcome. That doesn't seem to be happening now and I don't know, theoretically you would like a more by partisan approach but the way the [inaudible] campaigns are now conducted people need so much money that they get financed more by pressure groups. In the House we get 432 seats maybe 50 of them are contested all the others are so completely in the hands of one party. I've seen statistics, I may be wrong but when Ford ran for the Presidency I think over 26 were considered contested now it's 6 to 8, all the others that puts tremendous emphasis on divisiveness in those states where you're trying to move the few. I don't know what it is answer is it's deeply concerning.
>> Paul O O'Neill: I'm going to have the final word Henry. I think the answer is we're one great leader away from regaining our balance. So what do I mean by that. You know our system, if you go back to the time we spent together in the government, a Richard Nixon a Republican created the Environmental Protection Agency, the OSHA for workers safety, reopened our country to China, proposed the first negative income tax for you young people. You probably don't know what that means but it was an unbelievably progressive idea in the late 1960s and early 1970s and Wilbur Mills who was then the chairman of the House, Ways and Means Committee hadn't decided he wanted to run for President we'd probably would have gotten rid of a whole a lot of things that still persist and have a clean straight forward simple way to provide economics assistance to low income people. So I think where we are is largely a function of leadership or not leadership.
There's, God knows there are things we need to do. So I'll end on that note. On a public policy note that was one of the reasons I got fired. It was clear to me and it has been for a long time that we need fundamental tax reform in our country so I'll tell you a few facts. Right now our tax system is such a mess in the way it's designed that it's significantly unenforceable and so by best estimates we're under collecting taxes that in theory are due and owing to the tune of 4 hundred billion dollars a year and it costs us some place between 3 and 4 billion dollars a year on total economic impact basis to our people to administer this tax system so do you think we're smart enough to engineer a tax system that collects the money we need in a clear straightforward, simple, fair way that collects the money we need to pay for agreed public purposes without a 700 billion dollar hole? I personally believe it's a really significant issue not just in economic efficiency but I think if you look at societies that unravel or have difficulty going forward and the significant reason is because the people are really not attached to their government. So if you look at some European countries that have fallen on hard times the national sport is tax avoidance or evasion and so that most fundamental level of connection where we're all somehow connected to the fabric of government we've got what I believe is proof positive that we deal with every way every day in our tax system that we're not an intelligent people because intelligent people wouldn't have this system. So Henry would you like to end with some humor. You have a wonderful sense of humor. Henry, I tell you what. If you don't know about Henry's humorous quotes you need to go on Google and read about power.
>> Dr. Kissinger: But this is like an event that occurred to me once where a lady came up to me one day and said, "I understand you're a fascinating man." She said, "Fascinate me." [Laughter] [Applause]
>> Susan Collins: Well, sir, I think it is fair to say that your candor and your insights have certainly fascinated all of us and so I would like to, before I again thank our very special guests this evening I'd like to think all of you for joining us here. We have been delighted to have you join us but it is a special pleasure to again thank Dr. Kissinger and Mr. O'Neill for their candid insights. We clearly face a huge number of policy challenges in so many arenas and I think this conversation has elucidated them in a number of very important ways. We very much appreciate you sharing generously your perspectives and your insights so please join me in again thanking our very special guests.