Rear Admiral John Dudley Hutson, Phil Klay, Ian Fishback (MA '12), and moderator Hardy Vieux (MPP/JD '97) discuss the intersection of human rights and U.S. national security. March, 2017.
>> Susan M. Collins: Good afternoon everybody and welcome, I'm Susan Collins, the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean here at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. And I'm really, really pleased to see all of you here with us this afternoon. Before we begin I would like to thank human rights first, the International Policy Center here at the Ford School, and the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation for really making this event possible. I'd also like to acknowledge two special guests who are here with us today, we have Don and Judy Rumelhart welcome, it's great to have you here. So actually named for Judy's parents the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation was the organization that endowed the, Towsley policymaker in residence program that has just really been transformative for the Ford School. It's enabled us to bring more than two dozen high profile policy leaders here to the University of Michigan. They join our faculty for brief stints. They teach students, they engage with members of the community and they really help to enliven the school in a lot of special ways and you'll see some of that here this afternoon. They bring all of the complexities, as well as opportunities from the real world into our classrooms and into our conversations and we're really grateful for having them here. The Ford School this year is especially honored to have Hardy Vieux as our Towsley Policymaker in Residence this semester. Since graduating in 1997 from what was then simply known as the School of Public Policy not yet named for President Ford and with a dual degree from Michigan Law Hardy has forged a really impressive and very high impact career in human rights law and policy. He's currently the legal director for Human Rights First, which is as I think this audience knows an influential nonpartisan organization. Now after earning his dual degrees from Michigan Hardy enlisted in the Navy's jag core and eventually went on to work for a private law practice. In 2010, the DC Bar recognized him as its pro bono lawyer of the year for his litigation stemming from the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, his juvenile detention impact litigation and his asylum representation work. And we commend him as well from all of the ongoing engagements he has. Hardy will introduce our distinguished panelists more fully in just a moment, but for now please simply join me in welcoming our special guests. Rear Admiral John Hutson, author and former Marine Phil Klay, and former army officer Ian Fishback who is now a philosophy PhD student right here in Michigan. A very warm welcome we're delighted to have all of you here with us today.
[ Applause ]
I'll also welcome Scott Cooper who's one of Hardy colleagues at Human Rights First and who helped us to develop this event. You're also and we're delighted to have you with us as well. So today's event is also cosponsored by one of our student organizations which is known as the Ford Plus SPPG Group. Each year our graduate students collaborate with colleagues from the University of Toronto School of Public Policy and Governance and they plan a major conference and case competition on issues that are of joint interest in the United States and Canada. This year's conference will kick off this Friday, just two days from now, right here in this room with a public event on some very timely and overlapping themes, human rights, specifically refugee policy and national security. You'll find details on the back of your program and I hope that many of you will join me back here on Friday afternoon for that event, which I know will be very interesting as well. And meanwhile, I understand that we have students from the University of Toronto who are watching us online. We are delighted to have you virtually with us. We will be on the lookout for your questions later in the program and we look forward to welcoming you to Ann Arbor next week. So speaking of questions, as you came into the auditorium you should have received a card and I'd like to remind you to if you have a question write it onto one of those cards and Ford School volunteers will be walking the aisles a little bit later today. Two of Hardy's students, Kawthar Mohammed [phonetic] and Jacqueline Mullen will sort through question cards with me and Scott and will be reading your questions during the Q&A session. If you're watching online, please submit your questions via Twitter using the hashtag policy talks. And so with no further ado, I'm delighted to turn the floor over to Hardy.
>> Hardy Vieux: Thank you Dean Collins. Welcome everyone, it is an honor for me as a Ford School alumnus to serve as a Towsley Policymaker in Residence this semester. I have the pleasure of teaching and learning from 17 Ford School masters and undergraduate students. They're working me hard let me tell you, but I also walk out of class every Friday quite intellectually energized. That opportunity and today's talk would not have come to pass without Dean Collins' leadership and vision. In my short time teaching here it has become readily apparent to me that she helped set the conditions for greatness at this school. Thank you Dean Collins. I also want to thank the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation for their generous support of the Ford School throughout the years. Their support redounds to the benefit of all of our students who in my admittedly biased opinion will one day to part Ann Arbor prepared to leverage their intellectual gifts in the name of analyzing, understanding and shaping policy. Finally, I have to give a shout out to my organization, my employer, Human Rights First, for the latitude to moonlight in Ann Arbor, for allowing me to make perhaps just one more ask in the name of the Ford School, and for enabling me to conspire with the likes of Scott Cooper, a former Marine Corps aviator who serves as Human
Rights First Director of National Security. Scott also leads our Veterans for American Ideals project which is a nonpartisan nationwide grassroots group of veterans who share the belief that America is strongest when its policies and actions match its ideals. Veterans for American Ideals seeks to elevate and amplify the voices of our veterans in the human rights sphere. So it should be no surprise to anyone that I turn to Scott immediately to help me map out the contours of today's panel, he's much smarter than I am. His work in our mission at Human Rights First endeavors to engage people of different ideological and political stripes in meaningful dialogue about protecting and advancing human rights. So that's why we're here today. Our hope is to help start and promote a conversation about where national security and human rights are not ships passing one another in the night, rather they complement and inform thoughtful, nuanced conversation about what it means to be secure and protective of the rights inherent to all human beings regardless of nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion or language maybe. To help us navigate these ostensibly parallel paths to an intersection we have with us today Admiral John Hutson, who served honorably in the United States Navy for almost 30 years culminating his service as the Navy's Judge Advocate General where he led a global law firm of lawyers and legal men charged with carrying out military justice, advising sailors and commanders and helping craft policy. Admiral Hutson also later served for 11 years as the Dean of the University of New Hampshire Law School. While in the Navy Admiral Hutson was my boss and I'm eternally grateful that throughout the planning of this panel he never recalled that I was so late to my first meeting with him at the Pentagon that it inspired him to tell me that it wasn't an inauspicious start to my legal career.
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: Look at how well you turned out.
>> Hardy Vieux: I recovered. We also have Phil Klay, a former Marine and now an accomplished author. Phil served as a Marine Corps public affairs officer in Iraq for 13 months, which later was the basis of his first book, May Deployment. That collection of short stories garnered him the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction. If you have come to read any of Phil's many works, such as his recent piece in New York Times one adjective invariably leaps to mind compelling. And finally, we have Ian Fishback, a former 15 year army officer who served four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ian, a proud Wolverine, is currently earning his PhD here, having earned his master degree here in philosophy. His research focuses on the relationship between the morality and law with respect to two principles, proportionality and necessity. When I mentioned to my students that Ian would be one of our panelists I quickly learned that one of them wanted to be his graduate student instructor. The student simply described his intellect as intimidating, needless to say she opted for something else. Having spent time with Ian today I get it. So we have a lawyer, the writer and the scholar, all of whom wore the uniform. So let's start with the lawyer. Admiral Hutson in my student days here at Michigan before joining the Navy Jag Corps I would have been tempted to pose a McCarthyesque ask questions to those in the military along the lines of are you now or have you ever been against human rights? Embedded in my then worldview was the assumption that human rights and national security are more like oil and water and less like [inaudible] and blue, they just don't mix.
So we assume that faith on the part of the other person at the other camp. Is there anything to this view and do you still see strands of it today Admiral?
Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: I suppose there are -- thank you Hardy and thank you for your support in this and to Dean Collins, having been a dean I know it isn't easy and to Scott and Human Rights First that have brought me along. I loved your analogy, good Navy analogy of two ships passing in the night and hoping that they're passing in parallel, human rights and national security and that they don't actually collide in the dark sea. I want to impress on you, take my few minutes -- oh also want to Erin Flores [phonetic], she's been great, she's just been so helpful getting us here and putting it all together. Thank you Erin. I want to impress on you if I may kind of from a 30,000 foot perspective what we're going to talk about here for the next hour or so is one very, very important and two, really, really fragile, the intersection of national security and human rights. If we mess this up that intersection, if we forget what we're all about we will lose the war on terror, we will lose the war on terror. And I'll describe why I say that in a minute. There is a thing called the and I'm going to mispronounce this Gerasimov doctrine. Gerasimov is a Russian general in Putin's army and I don't often quote Russian generals. But he said, but he said [inaudible] affirmatively, the boundary between war ad peace is blurred and that in the future covert actions are what will prevail. We are engaged in what I would call asymmetric or nonlinear. I'm going to talk about the war on terror, I always hiccup when I say the war on terror. The conflict, the fight something against terrorism, but I'll refer to as war on terror because it flows trippingly off the tongue. You know, in this war, in an asymmetric war the strategy is to pit your strength against the enemy's weakness. And that should work very well for us because our great strength as a nation isn't our military might, though mighty it is, it isn't the essential island nature of our landmass, although that gives us a great strategic advantage. It isn't our economy strong though it may be. Our great strength as a nation is who we are and who we have been for many, many years, since the beginning, in terms of how we treat each other and how we treat other people, human rights. So if that's our great strength the enemy is bereft of that, that's their great weakness. They have no sense of human rights or adherence to human rights or that human rights are important. They can't defeat us militarily, they don't have the lift, they don't have the manpower, they don't have the money, they cannot defeat us militarily. Victory for the enemy is to make us more like them. To make us more like them, in the fog of war, in the hell of war changing who we are to be more like them. And that's easy enough to do, you know, we hear of waterboarding or even worse, we'll kill their families, we'll take their oil, torture, indefinite detention without trial. Every time we do one of those things we become more like the enemy and we have to very, very assiduously avoid that, falling into that trap. So that's why it's important, that's the way we could lose the war that is going on right now. Why it's fragile is because over the years war fighting has evolved. We talked a little bit about this over the centuries, we talked a little bit about this at lunch today. We've gone from swords and spears to longbows to muskets to rifles to howitzers and nuclear weapons and drones, war gets increasingly impersonal in many respects. You know, the second theory of thermodynamics is entropy and I'm going to kind of make this out for any physics majors so don't hound me afterwards if I modified it a bit to try to make a point. The rule of entropy, the law of entropy basically says that any system through time will degrade to chaos and ultimately to ultimate chaos without some outside force ensuring order on the system. For us, for military, for war fighting, for us as a nation in our international relationships, those outside forces are the Lieber Code dating back to the Civil War, the Hague conventions after World War One, the Geneva Conventions after World War Two, the convention against torture, the Detainee Treatment Act. All of those things are the forces that ensure order on our system and to the extent we let those go, to the extent we ignore them, to the extent we kill their families and engage in waterboarding and worse, to the extent we forget human rights which is the one that brought us to the dance in the first place our system will degrade into chaos. Sun Tzu who was a Chinese general and philosopher about 2,500 years ago or something like that, about 500 BC said that the supreme art of war, Art of War was his famous book, it's on all the shelves you can get it. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting, we have to figure out a way to do that. So yes Hardy, I think that it is very problematic, it's important and it's fragile.
>> Hardy Vieux: And we'll come back to that theme Admiral, thank you. So in your piece in New York Times last month you wrote an article and in it you reference how sailors and Marines in Iraq providing medical care to another Marine who had been severely wounded by an enemy sniper and how that Marine dies on the table despite the best efforts of the sailors and Marines. And then without much time to catch their breath the unit was informed that the sniper, the army sniper was going to be brought in for medical care having been wounded severely and that sniper survives. And the fact that the members of the unit pump him full of American blood and then a Navy nurse sits in the helicopter with him and accompanies him to a hospital base. And there's a passage that I want to quote verbatim when you write, this was standard policy, part of tradition stretching back to the Revolutionary War when George Washington ordered every soldier in the Continental Army to sign a copy of rules intended to limit harm to civilians and ensure that their conduct respected what he called the rights of humanity so that their restraint justly secure to us the attachment of all good men. From our founding we have made these kinds of moral demands of our soldier, it starts with the oath they swear to support and defend the Constitution. An oath made not to a flag or to a piece of ground or to an ethically distinct people, but to a set of principles established in our founding documents. An oath that demands a commitment to democracy, to liberty and to the rule of law and to the self-evident equality of all men. The Marines I knew fought and some of them died for these principles. So what inspired you to write that and I suspect that's one of many stories that sort of help brings your point about what we're doing, the values we're trying to instill in our Marines and other servicemen and women.
>> Phil Klay: Absolutely and it's because, you know, the things, not just the things that made me proud to be a Marine that made me feel like we had honor, but also that I think were integral to some of the successes that we had during the time that I was in Iraq were related to the core values that we're supposed to be upholding in the first place. And certainly with kind of the current political climate I think a lot of that's been lost. You know, we're not or should not be just about securing our interests, getting the oil, getting the money, we're not a drug gang, we don't kill for profit. And you know the consequences there are not just moral and I think that's important. The story that I wanted to share with you all. So in November 2009 in Paktika Province, Afghanistan's this group of Navy SEALs they conducted a raid where they end up killing a Taliban sub governor, a couple of Taliban fighters and also accidentally a few civilians okay. The is the sort of thing that's happened many times before, but the specific circumstances here are worth going into. So they'd raided a compound filled with nothing but Taliban so far so good, a clean raid. And then they saw the [inaudible] down the road there was a truck and underneath the truck they could see in the night vision what looked like three people maybe sleeping. So they do a tactical callout and the three emerge and the SEALs demand that they raise their hands in the air. Two of the people raise their arms, one of people doesn't, things escalate, there's more shouting and one of the SEALs ends up shooting the Afghan who wouldn't raise his hand. The other two understandably freak out and they end up shooting them as well. It was only afterwards that the SEALs realized that the three had no weapons, no connections to the Taliban and the reason the one Afghan hadn't raised his hands was because he was a 15-year-old teenage boy with a muscular degenerative disease and he physically couldn't okay. Now normally we wouldn't hear this story in such detail the only reason I know it is because there was an infantry unit deployed to the same region, the first Battalion of the 501st and a buddy of mine Infantry Officer, Nate Bethay [phonetic], ended up having to deal with the aftermath. For a unit like Nate's these things weren't just regrettable tragedies, a little bit of collateral damage that's part of the cost of doing war, they were very dangerous. Now anecdotally soldiers and Marines can tell you about the increased hostility they'd encounter on a patrol after a unit had killed civilians. But we don't actually have to rely on anecdotes. The political scientist, Jacob Schapiro, and the former special forces Colonel Joe Felter recently looked at every area of operations in Afghanistan and analyzed violent incidents tracking them against civilian casualties and they found that hey no kidding violence goes up after you kill civilians. And when they looked at Iraq they found that you could track tips received by the coalition forces against civilian casualties and find that again unsurprisingly, when coalition forces causes civilian casualty they get fewer tips from the local population of the location of IEDs and enemy forces. When our enemy Al Qaeda and Iraq did the same thing we'd get more tips. Now back in 2009, Nate was furious, his men were doing daily patrols through the towns and countryside of Paktika Province meeting with village elders risking their lives trying to make friends and form alliances. And now these jerks, these SEALs who are supposed to be a force multiplier are jeopardizing that mission. Nate told me there I am trying to pitch a notion of Jeffersonian democracy to Afghans and having to say oh yeah, we're all about transparency and rule of law and that's why these shadow ninjas just killed your family and there's nothing anybody can do about it. That raid, as well as another raid where the SEALs killed a couple of elderly men eventually led the battalion commander Colonel Baker to demand greater restrictions on the SEALs operations in his area for the very simple reason that an overly aggressive posture was making his mission harder. Nate eventually confronted one of the SEALs over the civilian casualties and the SEAL, a heavily muscled dude, looked at him with contempt and said, I'd rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6. A real tough guy response, at least in that SEAL's mind it was. But in Nate's mind the situation was very different. That SEAL had created a dangerous situation for his unit and the cost wasn't going to be borne by that SEAL, he wasn't likely to be tried by 12. The cost was going to be borne by Nate's soldiers who are now more likely to get shot in the head by an enemy sniper, have their legs blown off by IEDs because of the way that SEAL's actions and alienated the local population. That SEAL's callousness and tough guy veneer notwithstanding it's not too hard to say that what happened is simple. A highly trained fighter surrounded by fellow warriors faced with a relatively simple situation that they had under control panicked and shot a disabled child for no good reason, thereby jeopardizing the lives of Nate's soldiers and the mission of his battalion. To Nate those weren't the actions of a tough guy they were the actions of a coward. The incident stays in my mind because I think it's indicative of a more general confusion about what constitutes military virtue that we have in our society today. In popular media we focus on heroes defined by kill counts and lethality. Reading books about America's deadliest soldier or watching movies about the most lethal sniper in US military history. These accounts offer a simple and clear narrative in which a tough good guy kills innumerable bad guys and saves the day, hopefully not getting too worried about the horrible cost along the way. Except a decade and a half into two wars we've had to relearn the old lesson from Vietnam that you can't kill your way out of this conflict. If all you needed to win wars was a callous attitude towards human life Bachar el-Assad would be ruling over a peaceful stable Syria right now. But in the military heroism is tied intimately to self-sacrifice. The quintessential military heroism story is not about indiscriminate slaughter, but about guys like Kyle Carpenter who in a battle [inaudible] threw himself on a grenade to protect a fellow Marine and suffered severe injuries to his face and right arm and lost his right eye. And the history of the past 15 years is filled with simple stories, stories of units like the one commended by my friend Mike Gallagher, which hunkered down in the midst of a three-way firefight in the middle of a neighborhood and refused to shoot back despite the bullets flying around because of the heavy presence of civilians around him. It wasn't just that they didn't want to kill a child by accident it was that they knew how dangerous killing a civilian would be in the long-term. Achieving the mission sometimes means knowing when not to kill and it's not hard to look back and see how military units that acted in core with our values as nations tended to be more successful, which is why I'm so glad to be here talking to all of you. As we become more and more insulated from war and any kind of serious discussion of military policy it becomes easy for us to avoid hard thinking about the consequences of our moral failures in war. And the reasons why the beginning of any military education includes an intense focus on the values that are meant to define our armed services. These days we have confused cruelty with toughness, callously gunning down a disabled child because you're terrified of the small chance he might be a threat to you is not toughness. Just as, for example calling for a complete and total shutdown of Muslim immigration to the United States in the midst of a massive refugee crisis because you're terrified of the infinitesimally small chance that a refugee might someday pose a threat is not toughness either, its cowardice and cowards do not win wars.
[ Applause ]
>> Hardy Vieux: Ian, thinking of one of the things that happened while you were in uniform an act of courage it was your writing, penning a letter to Senator McCain in 2005 in which you [inaudible] called out the lack of standards when it comes to torture and interrogating those we recapture in the battlefield. At one point in the letter you argue that -- you state that others argue that clear standards will limit the president's ability to wage the war on terror. Since clear standards only limit interrogation techniques it is reasonable for me to assume that supporters of this argument desire to use coercion to acquire information from detainees. This is morally inconsistent with the Constitution and justice in war. It is unacceptable. What led you to write that letter to the Senator doing so while in uniform?
>> Ian Fishback: Well originally my concern was that I thought we were lying to the American people, specifically to Congress because Abu Ghraib happened and then the Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld testified that those types of acts were aberrations. In actuality, what had happened at Abu Ghraib wasn't as much as an aberration as was claimed. But I then I went through a process of about a year-long investigation of what was going on and ended up looking more and more into torture and the [inaudible] about torture, against torture and came to the conclusion that it was not only morally repugnant, but it was also extremely ineffective which made the morality of it even that more circumspect. And when I say that it's inconsistent with our own values, it's inconsistent with liberal values. And I think [inaudible] with what John and Phil said to a certain degree about the way that effectiveness and morality come together in these types of situations. It's not only morally important, but it's not an effective strategy for the United States to institute those types of policies. And what do I mean by that? Well it might be an effective policy for an autocracy to institute a torture regime because an autocracy relies on terrorism of its own people to maintain order.
And so if you use a mechanism like torture it can actually enhance the stability of the regime. But if you're trying to instill a liberal regime, then you can't rely on those types of tactics to instill terror and you're actually going to simultaneously you'll fail to achieve order in that manner and you won't be able to achieve order in the manner in which [inaudible] institutions normally do which is they have a credible promise of respecting human rights. And so I look at it as kind of liberal regimes have the opportunity to issue a credible promise that there going to respect those values human rights, etcetera and build those types of institutions. They have a relative inability to instill terror, to give the credible threat that they're going to institute that type of terroristic regime, where autocracies tend to have the inverse situation where autocracies tend to be able to issue credible threats of terrorism and they have a hard time issuing credible promises that they'll respect human rights. So when we try to use those types of tactics they're ill-suited for our own situation, they're ill-suited for the overall campaign that we want to wage. We've already tried that method for a long time during the Cold War when we supported numerous autocracies in the Middle East that were essentially terroristic whether it was Saddam Hussein, The Shah of Iran, Saudi Arabia to some degree, Egypt to some degree. And what we found is that fomented so much anger and resentment that we ended up with international terrorist organizations oriented on attacking the United States. So it's not a feasible long-term solution for us to use these terroristic methods. In the long run we have to support human rights and the types of institutions that are going to undermine those types of seed beds for international terrorism. The problem is I think that when we look at what intuitively works at a gut and visceral level people have a hard time understanding that you can't merely beat someone into submission. I used to tell my cadets at West Point the very first day of class I'd tell the cadets I said, so how many of you think that you can get someone to do your will through the use of force and they'd all raise their hands. And I said okay, now think about it in this way, if I punch you in the nose what are you going to do. I punch you in the nose and tell you to do something what are you going to do and they respond well I'm going to punch you back and is said, well exactly. But for some reason we have this intuition that political violence works. I also worry that as soon as you institute a rule the rule carries a certain moral hazard because when you tell someone there's a rule whether it's true or not that person tends to assume that the rule is instituted for fair play. And that if you break the rule you gain some kind of advantage. It's just this intuition that works on a playground for kids, it works for adults too. You're like out there some teacher gives you a rule you're going to play dodgeball, but don't do that X. Well if I do X then I must have some kind of advantage. But a lot of the rules aren't designed that way instead they're more like spearing in football. I don't know how many of you are familiar with football spearing is when you lead with the crown of the head and you might break your own neck. And the rule again, spearing has nothing to do with some kind of advantage that you might gain it has to do with protecting yourself and keeping yourself from doing something stupid. And actually a lot of human rights rules are like that, they're not restrictions that undermine your military capability they're an acknowledgment of the psychological pressures that exist in war and tend to exert themselves on soldiers and civilians on the battlefield and lead them to do stupid things that cause a lot of harm. And human rights are designed to prevent you from doing unnecessary harm they're not designed to keep you from accomplishment your mission. So I worry that those basic intuitive impulses underlie what John was talking about, about how sometimes there seems to be this tension between mission effectiveness and human rights. But in actuality most of the time that tension is false, it's just a [inaudible].
>> Hardy Vieux: In your talk I hear strings of values and sort of what we're trying to instill in our soldiers, airmen and sailors and Marines. What are those values, I mean what is it that we're trying to instill in these [inaudible] men as they go forth in the operating theater and what does those values say about us?
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: I think those values say everything about us for better or worse. You know the extent to which we are successful or not in instilling those values makes all the difference. You know, the Navy core values are honor, courage and commitment which are three words. And unless the Navy is successful or to the extent that the Navy is successful in instilling concepts of honor, courage and commitment into all the sailors nothing happens. You know we have to be able to do that and we have to struggle with it. You know we've all seen, kind of an example off the subject in a way, but I'm reminded of we've all seen the scandal within the Marine Corps, which we're told extends beyond just the Marine Corps now. Somewhere some people failed in instilling in a number of Marines the values that we're all fighting for. And what the hell is the point of fighting if you don't know what you're fighting for or if you're willing to sacrifice what you're fighting for during the fight. You know, it takes away the whole point of what it is we're trying to do. I think the military is better than it was with regard to identifying those values and fighting for them, you know, within -- I don't mean fighting a war, but fighting for them within the military. But we've also got a long, long, long way to go. You know, Phil's example you know is an example of it. You know, you can't make too much of isolated incidents, but you know once you start having them pretty soon they're not isolated anymore they're just -- but it's not doctrine. You know a thing that scared me so much about torture was when John Yoo and Judge Bybee and Howard Halls and the Department of Justice said torture was only those things that instilled or caused [inaudible] body damage and death. Well that allowed for waterboarding and a whole host of unspeakable crimes, but that became doctrine, that became what it was we were doing and that was a very, very sad time for the United States. It wasn't isolated incidents, it wasn't just bad apples it was US doctrine coming out of the Department of Justice and the White House. That was a terrible time.
>> Phil Klay: You know I have a friend Billy [inaudible] who was in the second battle of Fallujah, a Marine and author and journalist, a great guy. And he described to me once watching, you know, a Marine had been injured and was out exposed and another Marine ran out to try and rescue him and was shot. And then he said and then another Marine went out to try and rescue him. And he thought to himself, why would somebody do that like you just saw another guy get shot right, there's no reason it's not going to happen to you. And I was thinking more generally about courage and what it even is right. Because courage they told me it's not an emotion he said, I never felt brave, I felt fear. But what's the opposite of fear and the answer is fairly simple right, it's love. People do that because they love each other, they love the fellow, you know, the Marine around them. And he talked to me about how training his troops when you want a really effective unit right, one where people trust each other and work really well with each other, it's a process of putting them through a lot so they actually in a weird way fall in love with each other right. And then you take them out and you put them into really trying circumstances. And why people are doing that in the first place and the motivations for it, I mean you can't get that kind of thing by beating somebody or, you know, telling them that I'm just going to brutalize you until you're a great, brave soldier right. When you sign up you swear an oath and, you know, you quoted for me it's to the Constitution, it's to a set of principles right. Ralph Ellison once called the United States an abstracted futuristic nation right. Chesterson said we're the only nation that has a creed, you know, we are as Ellison said we're bound by sacred words, words like you know equality, rights of man and so on. And that makes what we are universal, it makes us able to reach out across culture. It can make us a very compelling force in the world that's able to, you know, garner allies and actually garner the kind of respect and good feeling that you need to be an effective actor in the world.
And so inculcating that understanding of not just the way that somebody acts in a unit and you need to be bound by a set of you know emotions, but also have a moral relationship, not just to the members of your platoon, but to your nation and to the mission that you're serving and it can't just be based on pure self-interest or, you know, as I said, getting the oil or getting mine. Does anybody want to die for that? We're not going to be able to be an effective nation if we don't actually call the people's, you know, highest values. And we're not going to have the kind of war fighters that you need to make the kind of decisions that people are making in these very murky and complicated war zones if you only focus on the most brutal aspects of war.
>> Hardy Vieux: Ian, we have this respect and good feeling on the one hand that members of the American citizenry feel toward the military. You know, we may be against, you know, the media, we may be against Congress, we may be against political parties, but we sure are for the military to the tune possibly of adding $54 billion to the budget. On the other hand, you have those who say, you know, what does this war have -- what do they have to do with me that it's something over there, there's no draft, we hardly have any members of our Congress who have served in uniform. So you've got these two things that reside in the same space, but they're inherently at odds. What do you make of that?
>> Ian Fishback: Well the main thing I make of it is people are confused, they lack information, they lack confidence in the information they have, they lack confidence in their own judgment, they lack experience. And what happens in those types of conditions is that people look for markers of trust rather than the specifics of the issue. We see this in our own political discourse I think climate change is really good example. What we find is that people don't really look for the facts on climate change what they look to is they look to their political leaders or the people who seem to share the same values they do and then once they identify whatever group that is they just accept whatever that group says. I think the same phenomenon is going on with the military right now. There are certain values that are embodied by the military that a lot of people think are very admirable and most people don't have the experience or the knowledge to be able to make judgments about military affairs and so anything the military says goes. I mean that marker of trust is there, they trust military, etcetera and I think that's very dangerous for a whole host of reasons. We lack the ability to think critically about whether or not the military is telling us good information. Whatever the military institution tells us is probably going to be accepted by the vast majority not only of laypeople, but of the highest level politicians in our country. And so I think that the trust on the one hand and the distance on the other are actually intimately related to each other.
>> Hardy Vieux: So as we prosecuted these wars in Afghanistan and Iraq we've clearly made some mistakes. Have we learned from these mistakes?
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: I have, I don't know if anyone else has. You know, that's a really interesting question. I think that learning from mistakes doesn't necessarily mean you're not going to repeat the mistakes, you know, we all know that in our own lives. You know, there's some mistakes that I have learned time and time and time again and yet, you know, they still happen. You know, I would like to think that yeah, we're better now, we strive to be better now than we were before. But we still aren't all that good about it sometimes. Scott and Human Rights First have put together a group of retired admirals and generals that's gotten to be a pretty large group and, you know, a bunch of four stars and three stars and a few, you know, two button lawyers involved. And that would have never happened. And when I retired from the Navy in 2000, the idea that I was going to on the Board of Directors of a human rights organization or very closely involved with a bunch of other retired admirals and generals at a human rights organization would have -- it was the furthest thing from my mind. But then things started to kind of fall apart in my mind in how we were prosecuting the war and, you know, that we opened up Guantanamo which is you recall, was picked, was identified as the place to put our detainees because it was a lawless zone. It wasn't in the United States and it wasn't in Cuba and so that the president and others thought that we could put people there and there won't be any laws, there won't be any Constitution that covers them that's the whole reason it was there. And then we decided to engage in torture or enhanced interrogation. So, you know, in the life of a country that wasn't that long ago. You know, the Supreme Court came along and said in a famous decision that the law did apply in Guantanamo, so we got out of that one. You know, John McCain bless his heart came along and ensured that in the Detainee Treatment Act that we would not engage in torture anymore. Although even then it's even come up during the [inaudible] hearing, there's a question about the extent to which the commander-in-chief and in his role as commander-in-chief could override that if he thought that it was important or ignore it I guess for our national security. So yeah the answer to the question is yes and no, I think we learn the lessons, I think we repeat the mistakes. But I would like to think and maybe this is just my, you know, Michigan born and bred state of not university, born and bred optimism but I'd like to think we are striving and will ultimately get better at it.
>> Hardy Vieux: I remember famously reading an Army general who said something like we don't do body counts and then later on David Petraeus revised the US Army Field manual in 2006 to focus on the human cost of war in terms of the population and the many collateral effects that ensue when war is undertaken. Are we getting better at and this probably goes more to you Ian, are we getting better at truly understanding and thinking about the cost, the human cost of war as we make policy or are we still struggling with that?
>> Ian Fishback: I think we still struggle for a number reasons. I think there are pockets of knowledge in the military that really understand counterinsurgency, but the idea that it's permeated the institution I think is false. I divide the officer corps into probably three large groups and I include senior NCOs when I talk about the officer corps. There's one group that really gets it unfortunately I put them probably below 30%, maybe well below 30%. There's another group that probably comprises the majority and that group understands the terminology, but then they take that terminology and then they just slap it on the template they know which is conventional war. And then there's another group that is probably larger than you would expect adamantly opposes the idea that counterinsurgency and asymmetric warfare is part of what the Army is supposed to do or what the military is supposed to do. And the reason I'm skeptical, I'll just give a couple examples. For example, when I was in Baghdad at the height of the surge it was pretty clear that the commanding general of Baghdad didn't really understand counterinsurgency. I think he was in the second group where he was a [inaudible] officer who understood conventional war and he learned all the words and he would say the words, but then when you looked at what he was doing he didn't really understand. Like he actually wanted to take missions away from Iraqis and give then to Americans even though the Iraqis were really competent at what they were doing. It was like counterinsurgency in reverse. And then there's a friend of mine who was the intelligence officer for large region of Afghanistan and he said that he was tasked by a brigade commander to template the enemy and use World War One as an example. So had a template at counterinsurgency and this is 2011, he had a template for a brigade which is a high-level it's about a thousand soldiers in a brigade, more than that. The commander, a full-bird colonel wanted the intelligence officer to template Afghanistan as if it were World War One. I can't think of any two things that are more diametrically opposed than those two wars. But you get these examples that crop up and I think part of the problem is that institutional learning is very challenging when you don't have clear markers of success and failure.
And I think on a conventional battlefield the markers are clearer. In World War Two we replaced a lot of generals and high-ranking officers when they just didn't cut it on a battlefield. You lose a battle it's really obvious, you lost a battle on the plains of Europe, you lost a battle in North Africa then you didn't do a good job you're going to get replaced and so you could do that. I think in counterinsurgency the metrics are a lot harder to identify, they tend to take place over longer periods of time and it's hard to identify who's responsible for the change in the metric amongst your own friendly forces. And so what tends to happen is there are narratives that get told and there's a lot of fancy talk. I mean not to disparage business, but in business when you get to the fancy board meeting and everybody just slaps a veneer on what's actually going on and they can talk their way out of anything. I think the same thing happens in counterinsurgency like the description of responsibility tends to be more at the mercy of the rhetorical abilities of the different people in the room than it does the actual objective facts on the ground.
>> Hardy Vieux: You know, Phil the stories you've told make me wonder are men and women in operational theater do they understand human rights and right that we have all these combatant commanders and establishing human rights offices. We sort of show the principles widely and yet there's still the notion that the military our job is to blow things up and kill people. So what happens when the boots hit the ground when human rights how does that actually play out?
>> Phil Klay: I think leadership has a huge role in that. And, you know, it's like Ian said, it's really kind of varied widely not just, you know, battalion by battalion, but sometimes even company by company, platoon by platoon. And you know what kind of example senior leaders are setting for the young Marines. You know, I knew one battalion was going out to Afghanistan [inaudible] Lance Corporal how are you going to be successful in Afghanistan from that particular battalion and this is in 2009. He would have said through cultural effectiveness right. Can you imagine a Marine saying that? But that's what you got from any of them because that's what they're being told right. And, you know, they're 19-year-old kids who want to do well and their leadership is like really demanding, they're demanding everybody, you know, at the senior level is, you know, reading all these books and trying to learn as much about the region as possible. You know, I knew another colonel who during the combined arms exercise before they were going to Iraq, you know, a trainer was trying to take people through escalation of force procedures and the Colonel walked in and just cut the thing off he goes, in our battalion you know we shoot to kill. And it's like great, you know, I guess we'll have a lot more dead civilians at traffic stops unnecessarily that's really going to help the mission. So it depends, but I think that there are a lot of people at this stage, you know, who have spent an earlier part of their career doing counterinsurgency and saw the differences and so you're starting to get more people who were, you know, lieutenants and captains and majors in different stages of these conflicts and saw, you what, what worked and what didn't. I mean even, you know, talking, been doing a lot of interviews with folks in the special forces communities and there's sort of a long time in Afghanistan where one soldier said to me it's like we were going to the same valleys every year going up and we weren't telling the people we're going to bring you money for schools or roads because we didn't have any of that stuff, we were just doing, you know, movement to contact interdiction missions, we're just going out and we're going to get in the biggest gnarliest firefight, get in these lopsided firefights. And for a while I wondered like man like we just. you know, why is the Taliban throwing these people at us. And it took me a while before I realized oh because they can. What was the saying, we have the watches, but they have the time. And then, you know, in 2009 they tried to change strategy and it was this very painful process and you could talk probably much more effectively than I about to the extent to which that gets down to the individual member. But you know right now everything that we're doing is a supervise, train and assist mission really, well not everything we do, but we're increasingly relying on things where we depend absolutely on local partners. And yet we talk about war here as if it's something that we can do alone without any allies and without any concern for the way that our actions in one sphere, you know, like for example the refugee ban might affect our ability to work with allies in another.
>> Hardy Vieux: I know you've been a big proponent of [inaudible].
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: You know this stuff that we're talking about is really hard. You know Civil War, in World War One, World War Two in many respects were easier, they were more brutal, more people were killed. But there were clear lines, everybody's wearing uniforms, there was a chain of command on both sides. And everybody knew what victory would be not necessarily knew that we going to able to achieve up, but they at least knew what it was. You know, how many of you know what winning the war on terror is. You know, how do you know if you've won and when's it over? And I think that -- we sometimes ask the military to do too much. You know, as Phil and Ian have said that the military does what it does, kill people and break things really, really well. But the military is never the real solution, all the military can do is provide to you the time and space for the real solutions to take place and that's never the military. You know, that's not what they're trained to do, they can do some peacekeeping, but they're not very good at nation building. And it's organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International and Human Rights First and those kinds of groups that can actually create the change that's necessary for the war to end. But because, you know, less than 1% of us know anybody that's in the military now and as Ian or Phil were just saying or maybe it was Hardy, you know, there's nobody, very few people in Congress anymore. So we just, you know, let the Department of Defense, you know, let the joint chiefs, you know, they'll handle it. And they can handle what they can handle really well, but they're not so good at being able to handle what they can't handle and that's keeping the peace. You know, the Berlin wall didn't come down because of our military might the Berlin Wall came down because of our ideas and our ideals that was our strength, that's what caused the Soviet Union to collapse.
>> Hardy Vieux: Let's get some questions now from the audience and see what's on their minds. Jacqueline.
>> First, I'd just like to give a big thank you to you Hardy and to our panelists that was really engaging and insightful and let's give a round of applause.
[ Applause ]
So our first question from the audience, do your insights about human rights abuses during times of war and involving US forces travel to security in protest in the US in communities like South Dakota or Ferguson, Missouri?
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: I'm sorry, what was the verb in that?
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: Travel.
>> Phil Klay: I actually think there's been some really interesting work from veterans about this and about police brutality it's a wonderful article by Alex Horton who's in the Washington Post called I Used to Raid Insurgents in Iraq. The police raided me in my home in wherever he was living, so somewhere in DC. And I mean it's the same thing right, you don't for effective policing and police officers you need the cooperation of the community right. You can't brutalize your way to effective policing in a democracy it just doesn't happen. And so I think that, you know, there's certainly some groups that are, you know, every much about. And, you know, I have a friend who works for the New York Police Department in, you know, trying to reduce violence and working with community relations and for her it's, you know, it's very simple you know the more we're able to limit the things that rightfully enrage the community against us the safer it is for us, the safer it is for the community, the better it is for everybody. And it's just an integral part of policing yeah.
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: I'm worried that it goes the other way that what happens overseas and in the war on terror becomes kind of the norm and that's how we deal with people and we don't value human life quite as much as we once did.
>> Ian Fishback: There's clear empirical evidence that it's just not these wars, it's previous wars too, but when abuses tend to happen in combat zones and militaries that fight for democracies those soldiers when they get out they tend to join the law-enforcement forces back home. And so there's [inaudible] torture and democracy is a really good study of some of this, it shows us how the torture techniques for example, [inaudible] Algeria, US and Vietnam to some degree and then now our current problems migrate back to law enforcement. But I think there's a bigger problem too which I noticed first downrange and I think it started to come to light a little bit more now and that's the relationship between transparency and human rights and accountability in human rights. I thought one of the main problems we had downrange as a US military was there weren't a lot of transparency or accountability mechanisms in place to hold our own forces accountable or to have some kind of dialogue with local nationals from that country about what was going on in their own communities. And that breakdown in communication and transparency led to a lot of human rights abuses. And actually I think when I see a lot of what seems to be a lot of race relations slash racially motivated police violence or at least racially colored police violence recently that seems to be the same type of problem that's going on is there's a lack of accountability, a lack of transparency. And I've almost come to the conclusion that foremost amongst any human rights institutions is transparency because I just think if don't have transparency and you don't have accountability then all the other human rights that you claim to be aiming for just become that much harder to achieve, probably even impossible to achieve.
>> Hardy Vieux: Let's get another question.
>> Hello, my name is [inaudible], I'm a junior studying international studies with a focus in international security and development. And so one question asked President Obama has been praised and criticized for not prosecuting any early war on terror for war crimes and human rights abuses. Do you think it is plausible to prioritize human rights and national security, military policy without holding high-level transgressors accountable?
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: No, I supposed some of the criticism is justified, but and unless you hold the high-level people accountable. Now what accountable means is it may be, you know, debated you know do you court-martial them, do you send them to prison or are they far enough away from the actual bad event that it was only their lack of leadership. So I mean that becomes an issue. But they have to one way or another, you know, somewhere between a letter of admonition which is like just like getting more mail or losing their command or going to prison, you know, somewhere in that specter the leadership has to be held accountable. For one reason if you don't the people at the bottom of the chain of command don't have any respect for the people at the top of the chain of command because they're being held to a different standard.
>> Hardy Vieux: So you [inaudible] the policymakers at office of legal counsel.
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: Absolutely.
>> Hardy Vieux: Who sanction enhanced interrogation.
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: Yes or prosecute. You know, I have to think about that not in terms of the degree, but whether there's any, you know, if you're giving your best. We're back in law school now, if you're giving your best legal advice and you believe it to be accurate and true it just happens to be wrong, you know, do you go to jail for that or do you just lose your job. You know, I don't know. But back to the issues of where on the spectrum it falls. But the people in the Department of Justice who define torture as I said it was defined, you know, permanent bodily injury and death and limit it to that. And Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Chaney all the people that participated in that I think had to be held accountable by something more than a court of public opinion and historians.
>> Hardy Vieux: Jacqueline.
>> Thank you. Apologies for skipping the introduction earlier, my name is Jacqueline, I'm a first year MPP student and I'm really interested in immigration and refugee policy. So I'd like to ask this question from the audience how do the cuts to the State Department affect this intersection of security and human rights?
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: I think General [inaudible] said it best if you cut the State Department you're going to have to give me more bullets. And that's one of the thigs we were talking about before I think is that, you know, human rights isn't just the military, you know, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor, all of those things in one way or another are human rights and they affect the effectiveness of the military. You know, the United States has held itself out as a moral leader and a role model in the area of human rights. And we've done that I think quite effectively over the years. We can't hold ourselves out to Russia and, you know, to a whole host of human rights abusers as the moral authority if we're not the moral authority. And I think cutting, you know, cutting foreign aid and cutting diplomacy and all of that is just a terrible idea.
>> Phil Klay: It's not even something, I mean how many past chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretaries of Defense have said we need more money for the State Department.
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: Yeah right.
>> Phil Klay: In order to achieve the objectives that you are giving us there are things that we can't do with the core competencies in other institutions. You know, maybe give more money instead we're like going to, you know ,buy two more aircraft carriers.
>> Ian Fishback: And it's even more invidious when you think about what it's really intended to do, it's symbolic and it's supposed to send a message that we're going to get tough by putting more money in the military. And it's actually intended to set a message that we don't really care about what the State Department does. It's not like it wasn't an actual decision to say we don't really need that money or we do need that money that wasn't really what went on. What really went on is symbolically we just want to tell you that we just don't care.
>> Phil Klay: Right. And also I think one of the messages that it sends to sort of thoughtful people working on policy within the Pentagon is we don't really care about what you're doing either, it's about the symbolism. Because at no point in the past 15 years has anybody said you know what we would've won the war in Afghanistan by now if we had two more aircraft carriers. No one has ever said that sentence until now. I'm the first one, thank you.
>> Hardy Vieux: So soft power matters, winning hearts and minds matters, but the link between.
>> Phil Klay: Right.
>> Hardy Vieux: Public opinion and anti-US terrorism or anti-US policy is often weak, so where do you go with that?
>> Phil Klay: Look, we've had a lot of different types of policy over the past 15 years and we've actually got a good sense of some of the things that have shown a lot of promise, some of the things that have failed. At a certain point politically and it goes back to leadership I was talking about at the small unit level what people are doing to instill in their, you know, young Marines a sense of what we're doing and why we're doing and what are the values that all this is resting on. And that's something that when it comes to military policy as a country we stopped doing a while ago. You know, I was telling the students as a journalist who had [inaudible] in Afghanistan and, you know, he came back and had been back in the States for a couple months and he said to me, he said man, you know, you should see the day I caught myself talking about the war in Afghanistan as if it was over, I was just there right. He told me this in 2013.
>> Ian Fishback: One of the problems here is that as we mentioned earlier, we're hardwired psychologically to be prone to violence in a number of ways, especially when we perceive someone's in and out group or that someone's a threat.
And so public opinion is largely molded by that instinct. It's not as if you can't, that's not something that you have to deal with. There are ways to get around those types of instincts, there are ways to get beyond those instinct, but we all have those instincts and that's what's getting played on and what's being manipulated for public opinion purposes right now. Unfortunately, we're in an age where that's especially counterproductive given the nature of the fight we're in and the times that we're in and it's incumbent upon leadership to kind of illuminate how our own psychological propensities are counterproductive and how other methods that may be cut against our initial intuitions we'd be better served by following those types of policies. But I mean who would do that, the military. I mean we don't seem to have mastered what it is we're doing right now and even if it was the case that we had mastered it as an institution we have a really strong norm against countering our elected representatives in public. So I'm not sure that the value to be gained by taking those types of measures would outstrip the disvalue of undermining our own democratic institutions, even if we were in a position to do that.
>> So speaking to the role of the public do you think that the ending of the draft and the subsequent detachment of the Armed Forces from American society has decreased the salience of human rights law in military planning?
>> Phil Klay: In military planning, so it's not like Vietnam was like the golden era of human rights you know.
>> Hardy Vieux: You can quote him on that.
>> Phil Klay: And I think actually within the military like there's a lot of problems, but I think particularly as we deal with these really complicated types of problems I think it is increasingly an understanding that these things are linked. And not just actually in the American military. I was interviewing a retired colonel from the Colombian army right, about what was then the upcoming peace accord with the FARC, the communist guerrilla movement. And he's an interesting guy, he was actually trained at the School of the Americas by a bunch of Vietnam veterans. He told me this was [foreign language].
>> Hardy Vieux: Just a little.
>> Phil Klay: Yeah. And, you know, I asked him about you know what he was concerned with with the coming peace accord and he made a big deal about the money that we give them for [inaudible]. The helicopters, he said the helicopter is really, it's a jungle mountain country they really need helicopters, helicopters, a lot about the helicopters, got it. So it's like is there anything else that you think that the United States like aide that they're giving to you is important and he said and he thought for a while and he said oh the human rights classes right, they're trying to train their military lawyers. He said those are good they should keep going. And at first I thought like, you know, as an American he'd say the word human rights and my heart would melt and we'd then like push each other on a swing. But that wasn't it at all actually it was absolutely pragmatic. He said to me he said, if this accord goes through we'll be operating in regions where we've massacred civilians. And if we keep behaving that way over the long-term it's going to cause a lot of problems for us and so we can't do that. And so we need to have better, you know, mechanisms and accountability. It was a purely pragmatic approach and so I think that there is a lot of sort of in segments of various militaries, institutional knowledge about this thing and there's just kind of increasing evidence that we collect as time goes on about the importance of these things. But the political debate often happens as though we have learned nothing.
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: I think the distance of the military from the general population has lots through the loss of draft and all those kinds of things I think has lots of negative consequences. I wouldn't say that human rights is one of them. You know, I think in some respects the military understands human rights better than the civilian population because they care more about it. You know, they're the guys and gals on the frontlines. I can remember speaking to the New York City Bar Association and this guy says well they're chopping our heads off why shouldn't we chop their heads off. This is the New York City lawyer. And, you know, I quoted John McCain you know it's not about them it's about us. And I think the military understands that better than a lot of civilians do.
>> Phil Klay: It's no accident that, you know, Jim Matusitz was the one to tell the president no, we shouldn't torture right. He was one of many officers in Iraq when Abu Ghraib happened just thought my God.
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: It's a good point.
>> Phil Klay: What have we done and how many people are going to die because we decided we were scared and we wanted to torture people.
>> Ian Fishback: There's a void I think and that's you almost in the contemporary conflicts that we face you almost need somebody who's more than a human rights lawyer, you need somebody who understands the genealogy, the history of how human rights developed and the history of our own liberal institutions to understand, to just give you a basic framework about how you might go about trying to build these institutions in what are usually at best a semi-vacuum of political institutions and I think we lack that. There's little pockets of that type of knowledge in various government agencies, but earlier when you were talking about creating space through the military well the military creates a space and then we say, well somebody else needs to come in and fill that void. I don't think there's an institution that's designed to fill that void right now like build rule of law. Various ones try to contribute little pieces to it, but nobody's actually capable of saying hey here's some ways to build these institutions.
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: We don't have a department of filling the void.
>> Hardy Vieux: And somebody argued that the department of makes it seem like it's only its silo right that as opposed to [inaudible] throughout the [inaudible].
>> Ian Fishback: Yeah, but there's just a general lack of it's -- I'll give a real quick example. When I was in special forces training I remember the sergeant major gets up and he goes, when did we declare independence from Great Britain and when did we get the first iteration of the Constitution as we now know it. And I remember this was and this is a more sophisticated argument than we normally give about human rights. And I remember thinking well that's 10 years or 10 years plus or minus a couple of years. And this point was just going to take a long time. But in my own mind I was thinking, you know, I don't think we're at the Magna Carta yet and that gives us about 500 years to cover. But that type of thinking about like hey here's how our institutions evolved over time combined with the humility to realize that the people you're working with might not evolve in exactly the same manner and trying to pragmatically take that knowledge and use it in a way that suits them in their local customs, we just don't have that capability.
>> Hardy Vieux: Let's take another question.
>> So I'm sorry that we're out of time already, we just have time for one more question. I assure you we have a pile of really thoughtful and interesting questions here and I wish I could ask them all. This member of the audience was also interested in the seeming disconnect between American society and the military, at least its perception of the military, its capabilities and purpose, etcetera. Do the members of the panel see such a disconnect within the military itself, i.e. officers versus enlisted or where our military personnel are coming from within the United States?
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: I don't think so, I mean there's a clear, there's a chain of command and there's, you know, there's officers enlisted, but there's, you know, there's [inaudible] and admirals and, you know, there's master chief ppetty officers and seamen recruits. So yeah, there is a chain of command, but I think that there is more of a bond and a oneness, a feeling of comradery of shared mission and shared goals and shared experiences in the military than there is in the civilian community. And, you know, everybody in the military came from a civilian community, not everybody in the civilian community in fact as we've been talking about, very few people in the civilian community have any experience in the military. But, you know, my mother was a civilian you know everybody knows civilians. I are one.
>> Phil Klay: I think the military doesn't obscure the differences and divisions that exist, but they do put people together in the [inaudible] to a common purpose and, you know, you have to work together in a pragmatic way and that's good.
And I think that, you know, young because there's this sort of rank structure everybody kind of knows who they are, what their primary identity is, Marine and you know what you're supposed to be doing. I remember a reporter talking to me about having been embedded with a unit in Iraq and then came back to interview them stateside and met them at like at a bar around where the base was. And he said, it was kind of amazing when they walked in because all of a sudden it was like oh, black guy, like poor rural region white guy like, you know, all of these sort of markers of identity that we are constantly categorizing when we meet somebody based on not just people's skin color, but how they dress all of a sudden were so much more apparent to him in the civilian sector than in, you know, Iraq were you know it's more important if you are a corporal or, you know, it's not the things that disappear overseas, but there are other things that become more primary. The one thing that I would say that is a huge caveat to that is gender relationships. We already talked about the Marines United scandal and I think there's a huge problem with a lot of really just toxic attitudes towards women and attitudes about sexual harassment, sexual assault in military more generally. Personally I was big fan of [inaudible] bill, I'm a big fan of protect our defenders, which is a very good group that works on trying to reform the way that the military deals with such things so we have more accountability. But I think that, you know, women obviously have incredible, amazing times in the military, have great units and so on. But there's also some pretty toxic stuff that people encounter and the Marines United scandal none of the veterans I know were surprised by it, they were just deeply, deeply disgusted and saddened.
>> Ian Fishback: And I think there's an ideological selection effect that has gotten perhaps more prominent over the years. We tend to be more conservative, especially in the officer corps in our political leanings. And what's weird is when you have these types of panels you usually end up, I don't want to speak for everyone else here, but I think you have the minority that isn't part of the selection effect that happens here. So when you speak at the University of Michigan you don't see that. But if you're in the military and you see the conservative [inaudible], especially what I worry about is there are certain types of units like special forces were you get that selection effect even more. The elite infantry units you tend to get that type of selection. So in the army and those are the types of units that get tapped for high-level commands in the military. And so you can end up with this selection effect that works its way up to the highest levels of military. Now I know there's a selection effect at the bottom level I don't know if it actually works its way into the top levels or not, but I worry about it.
>> Hardy Vieux: That selection [inaudible] has allowed us to pick Ian, Phil and Admiral Hutson to join us today. So thank you for making time in your busy schedules. This has been an engaging conversation, you've given us a lot to think about. Admiral, we really appreciate the fact that you somehow suppressed your affiliation with.
>> Rear Admiral John D. Hutson: I really, really, really hope that Michigan beats Oregon but. Go Blue.
[ Applause ]
>> Hardy Vieux: Thank you everyone.
>> Susan M. Collins: And I would just first like to thank our audience, we really had tremendous questions and I'm sorry we didn't get to them all. However, please stay and continue the conversation there's a reception out in our great hall. And then to our fabulous panelists, this was really wonderful and it was also a pleasure to partner with Human Rights First, so thank you all for being here.
[ Applause ]
Hardy Vieux: Ford School students starting at 4 o'clock here and [inaudible] immigration and refugee policy, so we'd love to see all of you there as well.
>> Susan M. Collins: Absolutely, thank you.