William J. Burns: American diplomacy in a disordered world

March 18, 2019 1:16:24
Kaltura Video

William J. Burns is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the oldest international affairs think tank in the United States. Amb. Burns discusses his new book "The Back Channel," and takes audience questions. March, 2019.


Thank you for coming.

I'm John Short Sherry I'm an associate
professor of public policy and

director of the wiser diplomacy center and
International Policy Center here at

the ford school I'm delighted to welcome
you this afternoon to our annual

Vandenberg lecture which this year
features Ambassador William Burns

statesman president of the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace and

author of the just released book that many
of you have in your hands the back channel

in conversation with my colleague Michael
Barr the Joan and Sanford while Dean here

at the ford school I'll say more about
Ambassador Burns in just a moment but

let me 1st tell you a bit about why this
distinguished lecture series is named for

the great Arthur Vandenberg who served
in the state of Michigan in the U.S.

Senate from 1928 to 1951 born and
raised in Grand Rapids Senator Vandenberg

led the Republican Party pro position
of staunch isolationism prior to US

involvement in the 2nd World War 2 a broad
embrace of internationalism as chairman

of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
he worked to forge bipartisan support for

our country's most significant and
enduring international policies

including the creation of
the Truman Doctrine the Marshall Plan NATO

and the creation of the United Nations the
Vandenberg fund was a stablished here by

the generosity of the Myer
family foundation

the Vandenberg fund enables the Ford
school to host an annual high profile

public event on a wide variety of topics
related international relations U.S.

foreign policy diplomacy trade and
more this lecture series is a vital

intellectual tribute to Senator Arthur
Vandenberg we are honored that Hank Meyer

is here with us this afternoon and
I hope you'll join me in thanking Hank and

the mayor family for their generous
support for this lecture series.

I'd also like to acknowledge 3 additional
special guest with us this afternoon in

the audience all with careers that
overlapped with our distinguished speakers

service 1st we are honored
to be joined by U. of M.

Regent Ron wiser who Sirmed served as U.S.
ambassador to Slovakia and

whose philanthropy and leadership have
strengthened the university in so

many ways very much including right here
at the ford school welcome region wiser I

am the Ford

school zone professor of international
practice ambassador Melvin LIBICKI helped

make today's event
possible Thanks Mel I And

finally we have a special guest on
campus Michigan alumna Jill Doherty

a former C.N.N.
correspondent Miss Dorothy was the C.N.N.

Moscow bureau chief Well Bill Burns
served as ambassador to Russia and so

we're glad that they can reunite here
at the ford school this afternoon.

You'll also see flyers outside for an
address that Jill is giving tomorrow here

on the U.N. campus and now to the star of
our show you will find Ambassador Burns

is distinguished biography in the program
as you'll see he's a luminary of

American diplomacy one of the most
impactful diplomats of his era I'll just

mention a few highlights he served as
deputy assistant secretary of state deputy

secretary of state from 2011 to

Political Affairs from 20082011
ambassador to Russia from 2005

to 8 Assistant Secretary of State for
Near Eastern Affairs from 2001 to

Jordan executive secretary and

a whole host of other important roles
basically a time timeline of his

career is a map that illuminates many
of the most important issues in U.S.

foreign policy in recent decades from
the Arab Israeli dispute to U.S.

Russia relations to the Iran nuclear deal
now head of the Carnegie Endowment for

International Peace and Besser Burns
embodies the values behind the Vandenberg

lecture as well as those we
hope to impart to Ford and

U M students at our new wiser diplomacy

center now just a word on
format we'll have some

time toward the end after Dean Barr and
Ambassador Burns have a conversation

to take some questions from the audience
to Ford school students Tonya Molo and

Ashton Smith and I will sift
through your question cards and

pose them to the panel for those watching
online please feel free to tweet your

questions using the hash tag policy talks
again welcome to Ambassador Burns and

now let me hand things over to
Dean Barr and Ambassador Burns.

Thank you very much John thank
you investor Byrne's for

being here thanks to all of you for coming
in to very much let me add my thanks to

johns to our special guests for being here
it's really a wonderful to have you and

I'm really excited to be here
to tell you about this book

the back channel by
Ambassador Burns which is really

just a lovely book beautifully
written is a hard thing to write.

An honest story about a complicated
set of topics and really is will say.

Talk about a little bit down the road and
to be nuanced about one's own

own decisions and
to have reflection about one's own choices

to super challenging thing to do what I
thought we might do investors start by

helping us understand what diplomacy
is it's kind of one of those words that

for many people is allusive so maybe you
could start by saying what you think.

Most people think diplomacy is that but
they're wrong about and then maybe what it

really is yeah well thanks Michael
it's really nice to be with all of you

today a pleasure to be an Ann Arbor I mean
maybe I'll start by saying you know it but

it's most basic definition diplomacy is
what we use as Americans in this case

to promote our interests and values abroad
to try to persuade other governments

to act in ways which are consistent
with ours or to try to deter them for

acting in ways that are going to run
across what we see to be our interests and

values you know I think it's actually
more important than ever today

simply because we're no longer the only
big kid on the geo political block today

with the rise of China the resurgence of
Russia and do with the emergence of all

sorts of global challenges from climate
change the one truly existential

threat that we face today to
the revolution in technology and

the ways in which that's going to change
not just the way governments interact but

the way societies function that
I think is going to underscore

the significance of diplomacy now just as
you suggested diplomacy I think maybe one

of the oldest of human professions but
it's also one of the most misunderstood

it really does oftentimes operate in
back to animals kind of out of sight and

out of mind and so you know what I try
to do in this book is bring it to life

I think for a wider readership outside
people you know like me card carrying

members of the Washington establishment
and to do that through narrative because I

was very lucky to play
a modest role in you

know much of post Cold War American
foreign policy from the highs of

the end of the Cold War when I worked for
President George H.W. Bush and

Secretary of State James Baker through
the lows of the Iraq war in 2003.

To this secret talks with the Iranians
on the nuclear issue in 2013

the turbulence of the Arab Spring
the reemergence a great power rivalry.

But around the wary you know I tried to
address some of the misunderstandings and

misperceptions about diplomacy to me
one of them is the one of the most

straightforward diplomacy is
a very small profession and

the United States is only about $8000.00
American diplomats in Washington and

around the world former secretary of
defense Bob Gates used to point out that

there are more members of American
military bands than there are diplomats.

From advanced military music but

you know there's an imbalance there
the most recent budget put forward by

the Trump White House a week ago
proposes 40000000000 dollars for

the State Department as well as all of
our foreign assistance overseas and

$750000000000.00 for defense so

that's one I think misunderstanding
a 2nd really has to do with our role.

In other words the notion that diplomacy
is just about talking nicely to people who

are indulging foreign leadership something
that I think the president self sometimes

is guilty of but the truth is that
diplomacy is hard work and it's about

persistence I mean I learned that very
early on in my career working for

Secretary of State Baker you know
it looks in hindsight as if many

of the achievements of that era at the end
of the Cold War were kind of for a day and

didn't look that way at the time you
know for Germany to be reunified remain

a member of NATO within a year after
the fall of the Berlin Wall was

not a small achievement and that had
a lot to do not just with the moment

of you know unrivaled American
influence but also the people in.

And in Baker and Brant Scowcroft
the national security adviser and

their skill and judgment in that period
to broker was also a very persistent

diplomat which is an underappreciated
quality outside his He's 88.

Outside the office his office in Houston
there's a wall that's covered with

cartoons most of which poked
fun at his effort after does or

storm after Saddam Hussein
was expelled from Kuwait.

To organize the Madrid Middle East peace
conference began something that seems neat

in retrospect and in that the time he
made 9 trips to the Middle East and

these cartoons basically portray him
as Don Quixote throughout this area

at the windmill of you know of Middle East
peace and he you know I remember

a number of the episodes in that period
one which I'll never forget a meeting

that he had with half of the last then
the bloody dictator of Syria the father of

the current bloody dictator of Syria
which went on for 9 consecutive hours

now I said had a kind of a surgically
improved bladder because him with.

Drink cup after cup of Arabic to you which
is the custom and not budge an inch so

Bowker was absolutely determined he was
going to demonstrate his stamina and

didn't budge our
ambassador at the time and

Damascus cracked about 4
hours into the meeting.

Rushed out with an Advent to
the region excuse that he

had to make a phone call
the leverage of business.

And bunker was also you know it was this
was about hope no it was diplomacy because

it demonstrates that it wasn't
just talking nicely he I remember

virtually the number of Texas expressions
that he would use with Arab leaders he was

meeting one of them was don't let me leave
a dead cat on your doorstep which was

a challenge for the Arabic language
interpreter in the state is that bro you.

Don't want to be the person I blame for
this conference not happening and

even if the difficulties in interpretation
were real people eventually understood

what he meant and nobody wanted to
cross Jim Baker at the time too and

then the last thing I'd So
that is I think a misperception

has to do with risk you know the truth is
in the last several decades more American

ambassadors have been killed overseas
than military generals and when I.

In the Middle East bureau
in the State Department for

Colin Powell 20 percent of our
embassies and consulates in

the bureau couldn't be accompanied by
families because of the nature of the risk

probably the hardest single moment I had
as a diplomat when I was deputy secretary

of state was coming back on a plane
from Libya with the remains of

Chris Stevens and our other 3 colleagues
who were killed there so a lot of times

people have those image that diplomacy
is about you know cocktail parties and

wearing a pinstriped suit very I'm living
up to the to the caricature now but you

know a lot of people a lot of diplomats
as we speak today are doing hard work and

hard places around the world so I think
there are a lot of misperceptions and

one of the things I try to do here is you
know been don't know what it's like to be

an American diplomat overseas today it's
great when one of the themes about this

role of the diplomat that comes through
again and again in the book is this.

Tension between the long game and
the short game and

you describe lots of situations in
the book where short term strategy doesn't

seem to be well on with The Long Game or
The Long Game is a really great idea but

there's no where to get no where to
get there from where you are right now

can you talk a little bit about
you know how you think about.

The persistence of the diplomat over this
area a long period of time often required

to see what an extra all observers
are my think of as success.

You know it's a really good question I
mean the former British prime minister

named Harold Macmillan was once
asked as half a century ago you know

what's the biggest factor in statesmanship
and he said allegedly events dear boy.

And I think quite a month from that is
a question I'm never going to get very

far in effective diplomacy or effective
foreign policy if you don't have a version

if you don't have a strategy if you don't
have a through of the case about what's

animating the international landscape what
your own strengths are connecting and

to means you need to have that vision and
the best presidents and

the best secretaries of state you
know I've seen and worked for

had that but inevitably however compelling
your long game is it's the short

game as you suggested that's going to
present challenges that oftentimes

shape the legacy of presidents and
secretaries of state you know you think of

the piece of events in the Bush 41
administration you know well beyond our

imagination to anticipate them one
day the Berlin wall was falling and

then Saddam Hussein was invading Kuwait
and you know there was a through

the case certainly in the administration
but there was also you know

a kind of sophistication in the way in
which they handled personalities and fast

moving events I mean one of the things
that was most striking about George H.W.

Bush and Baker and Scowcroft is you
didn't see them spiking the football

top of the Berlin Wall you know
the notion that's common in Washington

now about restoring swagger
to the State Department and

American diplomacy which is not a concept
I ever associated with being a diplomat

was that it ran counter to their
instincts which were much more

how do you exercise in herd knows
where but oftentimes in a quiet way

the American influence in American
power and in the last part of your.

Really good question and you know problems
that you have to manage as opposed

to solving and you know that is far
more often than not the challenge for

American diplomats it's very rare that you
get those triumphal breakthrough moments

the reunification of Germany the collapse
of the Soviet Union more often than

not what you're trying to do is reduce the
wrists involved in a particular crisis or

a particular challenge we're trying
to improve on the margins problem so

that your successors are in a better
position to actually solve it I mean that

was in many ways the thinking behind
the Iranian nuclear agreement in

the last administration it's not because
any certainly not President Obama had any

illusions the turning a nuclear
agreement with Iran with this particular

theocratic regime was going to
transform Iran's behavior or

transform the U.S. Iranian
relationship overnight it was a way to

remove one layer of risk in a region
which had more than its share of this and

that was the risk of a unconstrained
Iranian nuclear program so

that's the sort of more common
future of good diplomacy

is trying to manage problems
as effectively as you

can that's great one of the I mentioned
at the outset one of the things the book.

Does really well is describe

how hard it is to make tough choices
along the way and you had a lot of.

Instances recorded in the book that I
think captured where you were unsure of

the choices you made or
later thought that they were wrong or

where she would frame things differently
I wonder whether you might share with

folks here an example or to.

Of the difficult choices and
where you think.

Either in retrospect do you think
about the problem differently or

you wished you had done something
differently here I mean we

don't have enough time to go
through the litany of mistakes.

But I mean you know as a former governor
person I completely empathize with that no

problem of too many failures and

the talk about a number of
those were my own exactly but

I mean I think the challenge oftentimes is
and reading something like this is your

temptation is to write what you wish you
had what you wish you had recommended So

one thing that I tried to do was I got
about 120 documents you know throughout

the course of my career including a number
from the Obama administration declassified

so that my effort at least was to ground
this and what I really thought and

said And inevitably when you read back
through that it's pretty humbling I mean

you know as I try to discuss in the book
the most difficult period in some ways

you know in my own career was when
I ran the Middle East bureau for

Colin Powell from 2000 Wonder 2005 and

a lot of that was consumed by the run
up to the Iraq war in 2003 and

now I've never seen in that 1st George W.

Bush administration more infighting
in Washington over that set of issues

than in any of the other administrations
I worked a lot of that in the 2nd

Bush 43 term.

Was rectified in a funny way I think there
was actually more continuity from the 2nd

term to the 1st A bomb a term like there
was between the 2 Bush 43 terms but

you know 911 was a huge shock to all
of us to the American system and

I think you know from the president on
down there was a sense that we needed to

act decisively to prevent any such
attack from ever happening again and

I think the debate was over you

know how best to take advantage of the
great outpouring of support and simple.

The There came from around the world
after the terrible attacks on $911.00 and

the drumbeat began to build pretty
early on after the Taliban government

was of overthrown in
Afghanistan to take on

Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq and nobody
needed to convince me or people of my

generation of middle east pressure this in
the State Department that Saddam Hussein

deserved every bit of condemnation
that he could get I just thought and

most of my colleagues believed that it was
possible to contain that challenge and

it didn't warrant you know use of force
and part of the concern was less over

the military challenge of overthrowing
Saddam and it was about the day after.

Because given all
the sectarian differences and

grievances and anger that that
you know rigidly autocratic and

repressive regime was sitting
on when she took the lid off.

You know you could imagine some of the 2nd
and 3rd order consequences of what would

happen now we you know I my greatest
professional regret as I say in

the book is not acting more effectively
to underscore those concerns

you know we tried to colleagues of mine
and I wonderful American diplomats named

Ryan Crocker who later went on to a number
of ambassadorships and David Pierce had

the most depressing brainstorming session
of our career trying to figure out for

Powells benefit although we didn't
really need to be convinced of this or

other things that could go wrong the day
after the day after Saddam Hussein was

overthrown and we in terms of the memo
the perfect storm now we've got about half

of the things right and half wrong we
certainly had no monopoly on wisdom

it was murky on a hurried list of
horribles in a coherent memo all

it had birch really no effect on
the course of decision making.

But it was there were for it to puncture
what we thought was the unsustainably

rosy assumptions of others especially
in the in the Pentagon and

in the vice president's
office at the time and

as I said we had no impact
discernible impact on policy.

You know to this day I wonder you know
it's one of those cases where you know you

faced a choice about whether you want to
quit and I still think unsatisfying my

answer at the time there's a discipline to
the foreign service just like there is for

the U.S. military you know
you can't conduct the U.S.

military if every you know battalion
commander is saying when he gets an order

of well you know I don't actually gets
a good idea to go left we should go right.

But but it becomes very difficult
sometimes when you're faced with choices

like that and but it was a minimum what
the discipline as a professional diplomat

requires is that that you be honest about
concerns that you have within the system

you don't get to run out to the New York
Times you know unless you want to quit and

that's what we tried to do however
imperfectly at the time and you know

removing that just makes clear the
imperfections in our ability to see that.

The let me let me.

Take us a little bit out of the.

Operational side and bring up a level for

a moment to think about the framework
you're operating in and.

At the beginning of your book you talk
about Headley bull who is your mentor at

Oxford and had passed away by the time
I got to Oxford a decade later but

was a very big force there and
I know it's a decade later a big force in

John's training at Oxford as well and

burnt talks about in his
book the Arkle society about

the way in which the state system is
sort of constantly in tension with

either a revolutionary order or
on the one hand or or

a state of war on the other Those
things may be need in the middle.

And Bernard talks about the way in which
our cultural shared cultural norms and

values about the importance of
institutions keep that system operating

helm How much did you think about those
things in the in the course of your

you know daily work how much today inform
what you thought you were trying to do and

maybe maybe did to make it even harder and
do those norms still exist.

Well good questions are Hedley Bo
was a wonderful Australian academic

who had a very kind of bemused view of you
know I was then a 21 year old American

who you know didn't know
a lot about the world but

I was earlier struck just as you were
suggesting by his sense of the importance

of history that you had to have a sense
of history if you wanted to understand

how the world was working today and it had
to inform the choices that you've made and

it was very much a kind of realist
view informed by history of

the way in which nations and governments
in Iraq did that they were bound to

compete with one another there was a bound
to be a certain amount of chaos or anarchy

in the international system but
that there were a kind of herd knows cold

blooded interest in certain rules
to regulate competition and

I think you know that continues to shape
my view of how the international system

ought to work you need to have you know
leaders in that system who can help

make progress toward not just establishing
those rules but also reinforcing and

adapting them and reshaping and
what I've always been a little

bit leery of the term indispensable nation
in referring to the United States and so

I think there's you know sometimes
an implication that problems can get no

problem can get solved with us which I
don't believe is the case I do think

that there's a sense in which the United
States today has no better hand to play

than any of its rivals if we play it
wisely and does and the disciplined

American leadership in the world has
a role I think on the current disordered

international landscape to you know
address your letter the last part of your

question I think that sense
of a common set of rules and

the value of it for
everybody no matter how intense or

competition is really beginning to fray
in particular as other states both are.

Allies and our rivals.

See a much more erratic and uncertain
American approach to the world see you

know it administration or at least a White
House that seems to act as if it feels

that the order that we created over 70
years is holding us hostage there we're

kind of Gerber you know held down by the
Lilliputians and you know we can better

advance our interests in the world through
a sort of muscular unilateralism so

that tends to erode I think that sense of
common purpose and the international stage

and then domestically equally importantly
I think we're in a really difficult

stage that was not invented by President
Trump I believe he's accelerated it and

made it worse but there's a there's a big
disconnect in my view as I was trying to

suggest before between lots
of American citizens and you

know administrations of both parties in
Washington you know as you and I have both

experienced I don't think most Americans
need to be persuaded of the importance

of disciplined American leadership in
the world you know people understand that

are out there if you want to succeed in

a very competitive global economy you've
got to be able to operate effectively

overseas people understand
that you know climate and

climate change is going to affect our
environment and our livelihood and

that depends on us working with others
people understand that the revolution and

technology is changing so much of that
landscape there don't there do need to be

some basic rules of the road for
how you deal with so I think most people

understand the importance of discipline
leadership they're just skeptical of our

capacity for discipline and that's you
know that's where you know whether

it's the cement astray sion or
its successor is going to have to pay more

attention to you if you're going to
build any support in this country for

the sorts of rules and those sorts of
engagement on the international landscape

which really does matter
more than ever I think.

We've been talking at a pretty
high level I want to now.

Talk maybe more in the weeds of
Washington for a little bit.

Being successful that you're required
obviously lots of outward facing

diplomacy interacting with other countries
and other cultures and leaders but

it also requires being really good at
understanding how Washington works and

the bureaucratic infighting and had to
play the game inside the building and had

to deal with other agencies so I wonder
if you could talk a little bit about

what you learned from that experience
about had to be effective in those.

In the sort of inside game here I mean
you know bureaucratic politics in

Washington is you know very well as
a contact sport you know it's it can be

very difficult you know advance
a point of view advance your

institution's point of view you know
the State Department as an institution

has not always been renowned for
its bureaucratic ability in Washington

individual diplomats can be very
innovative and very entrepreneurial but

as an institution the State Department is
rarely accused of being too agile or too.

And so you know so
part of that is just kind of how we act

I think in in bureaucratic politics
in Washington you know I've seen

different administrations with different
strengths and weaknesses it was

the intersection of transformational
events on the international landscape and

a group of people that I think
were particularly experienced and

worked particularly well
together in the George H.W.

Bush administration which is how I started
the book that made for an effective

policy process Brant Scowcroft was
the National Security Advisor and to most

day I think he's the sort of gold standard
of modern national security process.

Sees a process that you know we're
wrapped around the axle that was

culpable of helping the president
make decisions but it was OUR so

disciplined in the sense that had tried
to look around the corner at 2nd and

were times when the process broke down

I mean I think that was true in the run
up to the Iraq war as I described

before where 2 RAF and differences pretty
profound differences in view were papered

over rather than addressed I think you
know there were other instances as you

know from service in the Clinton
administration in the ninety's where

there was a demonstration terms of the
interagency process to try to integrate

in the post Cold War era international
economic issues and economic security

issues more intimately into the policy
process which was over a do I think.

In the Obama administration for

all the criticism that President Obama
got Sometimes I think unfairly for

an overly deliberate inner
agency process you know having

seen the alternatives I'd prefer
overly deliberate to more impulsive

sometimes but to be fair there were
times when you know you do the 97th

interagency meeting of deputies of people
like me the number twos in agencies and

I spent far more time in those meetings in
the room that has no windows in the way

that's not a situation that is there
with my own family and those years and

there were times when you'd have the 97th
meeting on a really difficult subject like

Syria and the natural temptation was to
has the intelligence community for yet

another assessment of what Bashar us or
the Russians or the Iranians might do

just as a way of kicking the can down
the road my concern in the current era

in this administration is that I don't
really see any process you know it's

policy gets driven from tweet tweet and
I say that because you know when.

All been fortunate in a way now almost 2
and a half years into an administration

where there hasn't been a prolonged
international crisis in the ministration

I've been a part of or have watched over
the years you almost inevitably end up

with you like it or not with one of those
kind of crises those are the moments when

you need a process that's disciplined
where you need people who are accustomed

to that we need people in senior positions
and you look at the number of vacancies in

my old institution the State Department or
the Pentagon or other places right now and

it does give you cause to
worry about how you deal with

a prolonged international crisis and
that's where process does matter who

you talk in the book in various
spots about some of the weaknesses

of the structure of the State Department
and it's higher key it's lethargy or

there are strategies and I should say I
mean you know having spent only one year

at the State Department then moved over
to Treasury I saw big difference between

the the process issues it stayed 1st
as treasurer there are things that.

You think the State Department could do to
make it a more effective player in the in

the in the arena sure here I mean you know
we've tended again this is just on a self

criticism to get in our own way sometimes
bureaucratically you know we've

added layer it's kind of like repainting
your bedroom 17 times you know kind of

layer on layer of bureaucracy
sometimes which tends to reduce

people's sense of initiative you know
if you're the Morocco desk officer and

you get asked to offer a judgment on
some issue if you're going to have

your language you're correcting

your thinking your sense of ownership of
that is going to be diminished remember

one time when I was Deputy Secretary
of State I got a memo

it was like one of my last months on the
job there was about a half a page long and

a very mundane issue a touch
that half a page was a page and

a half of what are called clearances so
every imaginable office and many

that were unimaginable to me had offered
their views on this and the result was

a kind of how margin I's you know view and
homogenous language which didn't do us you

know any fervor is when we were trying to
again in the context Borat of bureaucratic

politics of Washington advancer point of
view I've seen other times when you know

particular secretaries of state or senior
people there were quite effective too but

I think there are lots of things we could
do was talk about diplomats as gardeners

you know as people who try to
constantly look at the jungle that's

growing on the international landscape and
prune and you know cut

back a curtain we sometimes don't
do such a good job guarding our

own patch of turf and
that we could do better and.

I want to switch gears now and

pick maybe just a handful of particular
problem areas to focus in on and then.

We'll see see how many we can get
through there 2 men too many.

Bugs in the world today but
we'll start with Russia because

that's been such an important part
of your career among others and also

huge set of issues facing
the United States' relationship today.

Maybe you could start with a level
setting for the audience of

where you think the relationship is now
and what issues you're worried about and

then to the extent that you can help us
chart a path that's maybe 10 years out.

That might look different from today
I'd love to hear your thoughts

all the easy question yeah.

Well I guess I'd say I mean I think we
have to be realistic about where the U.S.

Russia relationship is today and about at
least in the near term over the next few

years in dealing with Vladimir Putin's
Russia what's possible in words

I mean I think we're going to be operating
in terms of American policy toward Russia

within a relatively narrow band from
the sharply competitive to the nastily

adversarial post Russian
interference in the 2016 U.S.

elections and I think that's just the
reality I think you know Putin is going to

continue to be an incredibly difficult
personality to deal with I'll

never forget the 1st meeting I had with
Putin when I was the newly arrived U.S.

ambassador this is in
the summer of 2005 and

you in your 1st meeting you
present your credentials so

it's your letter from the American
president to to him and

to the president of Russia and this
takes place this meeting takes place in

the Kremlin which as Jill does very well
is you know a place that's Burton a scale

to intimidate there's a hers as well as
New Ambassadors So you go through these

you Charles these very long corridors
you go to the end of one hall

facing 2 story bronze doors and
you're kept waiting there for

a minute just to let this all sink in and
then the door opens a crack and outcomes

President Putin who's not disposed to
his bare chested persona you know he's

only about 56 and he wears lifts in his
shoes so he's not that big a thinker but

he carries himself with incredible
self-assurance and so I'm there the you

know the new American ambassador with my
letter before I could handle the letter

before I could get a word
President Putin signers forward and

says You Americans need to listen more
you can't have everything your own way

anymore we can have affective
relations but not just on your terms.

That was a thing to judge the D.M. or.

Not settle big chip on his shoulder
a sense of a combustible combination of

grievance and ambition and
insecurity and defiantly trying was.

Not the one thing I would serve those
having served the 1st time I served in

Russia was at our embassy in Moscow I
was the chief political officer

in the early 1990 S.
this was Boris Yeltsin's Russia and

I played some of the following because I
think I've also released that in order to

understand the smouldering aggressiveness
that's for the mayor Putin's Russia you

had to understand that kind of curious
mix of hope and humiliation and

the disorder of Boris Yeltsin's Russia I
remember traveling again as the chief

political officer in the winter of

the middle of the 1st Chechen war between
Russians and Chechen separatists and I'd

never seen anything quite like it I mean
here was Grozny the capital of Chechnya.

Which had been leveled in large part by
Russian bombardment about 40 square blocks

in the center of Grozny because
the Russians you know in the best Russian

military tradition of anything
worth doing is worth overdoing

had as one Russian general put it
at the time made the rubble bounce

now the very sad reality is that many
if not most of the civilians killed and

grows in that bombardment were ethnic
elderly ethnic Russians who couldn't leave

because they couldn't get out of you know
there was no escape for them too and.

The Russian military you know
the former Red Army that you serve

on the road in to grows
day the 40 miles or so

from English area the neighboring Russian
Republic looked more like a street gang

I mean the nuclear armed street and
then the Red Army which.

In the Cold War was supposed to be able to
get to the English Channel in $48.00 hours

and so Clipper like Putin and especially
people in the Russian security services

in that time were acutely aware
of how 4 Russia had fallen and

they took advantage in a sense of that
sense of humiliation and grievance.

You know when when Putin
you know some years later

somewhat you know people surprise
became president of Russia.

So looking ahead you know there's a I
guess they're very short here and

way of putting it at least in my view
would be I think it's a mistake for

the United States who are allies to
to give in to Putin's aggressiveness

I mean I think his interference in our
elections in 2016 which succeeded beyond

his wildest imagination I think he was as
surprised as President Trump on election

night I think he said he would so
dysfunction in the American system and

take advantage of our polarization but he
didn't I don't believe he thought it was

going to have contributed to the impact
that it had but you know whether it's

there whether it's in Ukraine or you know
other parts of the former Soviet Union you

know I think we need to be quite firm but
I will give in to Putin as we look at this

pretty pessimistic near term picture we're
not in my view give up over the longer

term on the Russia that lies beyond Putin
I don't mean to suggest that this is all

just about Putin there are lots of people
in the Russian political elite who harbor

much of the same sense of grievance and
insecurity and ambition he just purchased

and particularly pug nation form but I do
think there's a there's a middle class in

Russia that is becoming restive to
the social contract with Putin through

most of his now almost 2 decades as
the leader of Russia has been to Russian

citizens you stay out of politics that's
my business what I will ensure and rich.

Turner rising standards of living and
rising growth rate isn't been able to do

that in recent years because he missed
a moment when he was surfing on a $130.00

a barrel when I was a bastard or

innovate and any thought was a deliberate
choice because that in his view would have

come at the expense of political control
which is what matters most to him and

to the people around him but
I do think that that middle class there is

a a deeper urge for
better connections to Europe and

to the west I think people sense that
you know that's where you know one of

the biggest key is to their economic
future lies and I also think the Russians

are going to chafe at being China's junior
partner just as they chafed at being

the junior partner of the United States
right after the Cold War 2 So there is

space for old full American diplomacy
issue look ahead and that's something

that we also need to recognize as well so
so for going and so on and Russia.

Not not a small problem no let me take
another easy one let's go to Iran.

You started your career at the same
time as the Iranian revolution.

One of the combinations the end of your
career was the Iran nuclear agreement and

I wonder if you could talk a little bit
about how you thought about the Iran

nuclear agreement what do you think
it was helping to achieve and

then given that the new administration
is pulling out what does that mean for

the future of U.S. around in relations
another nice easy problem took

I took the written examination for the
foreign service which in those years was

given once a year at the Earth US Embassy
and Grosvenor Square in London

the same week that the Iranian government
seized our embassy hostages and

turf now I should a person would have seen
that it wondered about their choice of

profession and taking the exam for
the foreign service but

actually it is going to deepen
my interest in the world and

Iran kind of hung over my career in a way
like it did for my generation of American

diplomats there were the turbo bombings
in Beirut in the early 1980 S. by Iranian

supported groups at our embassy and then
at the Marine barracks a little bit later.

You know the Iran Iraq war
throughout the course of the 1980s.

And so you know better time I got to more
senior positions the number 3 position

under secretary of state.

In kindy races last year as secretary
of state you know I had long believed

that we needed to try to test
the possibility of direct diplomacy

with the Iranian regime not because they
had any illusions about the regime I

understood the way in which their actions
then and still do today threaten our

interests the interests of our many of our
friends and partners in the Middle East.

But I just said bye bye you know not
engaging them directly we were actually

letting them hide behind the argument
nuclear issue and other issues

that the problem was the Americans because
they wouldn't engage directly with us and

I've always sort of diplomacy that it's
both a test the kind of direct engagement

of whether or not an adversary is
prepared to engage seriously but

it's also an investment in
demonstrating to others

that you've gone the extra mile and that
the only alternative is to try to step up

economic and political pressure to try
to produce a serious negotiation and

so that was the logic behind you know
what I discussed with Secretary Rice at

the time and there is one memo that's
now on the Carnegie website that I

wrote to her in May of 2008 and then
another that I wrote to Hillary Clinton

in January 2009 it's virtually identical
Zometa churns the professional

diplomats try to be consistent at
least in the views that they offer but

it was basically making exactly that
argument about engaging with one when

we didn't do it directly with the Iranians
we joined our international partners in

the nuclear talks you know they
proved incapable in the early

period of a serious negotiation and
we use that to increase economic and

political pressure you know the U.N.
Security Council sanctions and

other forms of sanctions which by the
beginning of President Obama's 2nd term

early $2013.00 have reduced
Iranian oil exports by 50 percent

reduced the value of their currency by 50
percent so their minds were focused so

it was no coincidence that you
know early in 2013 President Obama

decided to make another run and
direct diplomacy.

And so we began the secret talks in Oman.

Which is the out of the way enough place
where you actually in this day and

age can still go out to sea for
secret talks.

Did about 9 or 10 rounds over the course
of 2013 to this day it surprises

me that we kept quiet it's not an easy
thing to do it was not an easy choice for

the president to do it quietly but I am
also convinced that we would not have made

much progress if we had done this given
the baggage on both sides if we had done

this kind of blazing light
of of publicity early on and

we've made faster progress than I
expected and so by the end of those

secret talks when we made the transition
back to our international partners

you know we had laid the foundation for an
interim deal with the Iranians which froze

their nuclear program and again the
Iranians did not have nuclear weapons and

still don't to this day 1st their program
rolled it back in some important respects

him paralyzed quote intrusive monitoring
and verification measures for

beyond any other set of measures like
that at Arms Control at the time

when I return for very modest sanctions
relief so we preserve the bulk of our

sanctions leverage for the comprehensive
talks that you know finally resulted

through the you know enormous hard work
of Secretary of State John Kerry and

the president and

others in a comprehensive agreement
summer 2015 was a perfect agreement

No I mean perfect is really on the menu
in diplomacy it was the best of my view

the best of the available alternatives to
prevent Iran from developing a nuclear

weapon did it solve the wider Iranian
problem of threatening actions

across the Middle East efforts to whether
it's in Syria to support the regime or

you know to subvert other regimes in
the Arab world no but I would rather

argue that when a better position to
push back against having limited or

eliminated one area of risk namely an
unconstrained Iranian nuclear program so

I think it was an historic mistake for
a president trying to decide to.

Bill out of that agreement I think
it's based on the assumption that

you can somehow bring to bear unilateral
American pressure strong enough that

it's going to cause the still critical
Iranian regime to either capitulate or

to implode I just think that's a notion
that's not tethered to history

we can do a lot of damage to the Iranian
economy but it's it is pretty good

its practice of political repression at
home it's pretty good muddling through and

I suspect that it will be able to
battle through in this sense but

we're also doing over the medium
term some serious collateral damage

to our ocean ship with some of our closest
European allies in a sense doing good emir

Putin's work for him because they're
trying to hang with the agreement and

I think are deeply frustrated
by our decision to pull out and

we're also I think undercutting the
utility of sanctions over the long haul

because it's not just the Russians and
Chinese the German foreign minister a few

months ago said publicly the lesson here
is that all of us need to reduce our

vulnerability to the American
financial system and so

you know I'm not trying to suggest we've
always used sanctions wisely in the past

but it's been an incredibly effective tool
when it's been applied in a smart fashion

and what we're going to end up doing this
year or next year the year after by 5 or

run no longer have that tool at least in
its effect of a form as we've used to do.

So I'm not a big fan of.

That decision to pull out of the nuclear
group and we are the one last area and

then I'm going to turn it
over to the students and

stick in the neighborhood Syria.

Where do you think that you got
right in wrong in Syria and

is there a path out of there now
that we are where we are and

we've got a lot of things
wrong I mean I think.

You know sir in recent years some 2011
the beginning of the Arab Spring in

the civil war in Syria.

You know or Parsi was afflicted
by an imbalance of ends and

means you know we still up
pretty maximalist stance

you know when the president of state
says a particular leader must go.

The expectation is that we're going to
deliver that now that may be a wildly

impractical expectation but that is
nonetheless kind of what you're stuck with

in the United States and
I think ironically we you know why we had

we overreached in terms of ends in
some ways we under reached in terms

of means if you look at what Putin did
in September of 2015 in Syria which was

a relatively modest military intervention
to boost to buck up the US a regime

whose through a dozen combat
aircraft no more than $2500.00 or so

boots on the ground Russian military.

It was effective because he telescoped
it wasn't done incrementally and

grudgingly moved in the decisive
fashion as deeply as I object

to Russian policy in Syria and by still
dragging it out as long as we did I don't

think we had the impact that we might have
had if very early on you know we had been

a little bit more assertive in our support
of what was that a moderate opposition

would that have made a difference in
the outcome in Syria I can't sit here and

with a straight face say that it would
have because the reality was that

I said was only going to get carried out
of there on a board and the Russians and

Iranians were always going to
double down you know in defense of

almost no matter what we did it might
have given us a little bit more

you know diplomatic leverage in that early
stage when the Russians were worried that

Assad was losing altitude I don't know so
we're left with a situation today

where there's been a true
humanitarian catastrophe in Syria

with hundreds of thousands of Syrians
killed you know it's the reverse of

the old Las Vegas rule that what happens
in Vegas stays in Vegas what happens in

Syria doesn't stay in Syria
the dissuade her and human suffering

in Syria has spilled over beyond its
borders up against the European Union.

Which contributed at least the migration
crisis to some of the political

dysfunction that you see today
certainly remains a very crowded and

combustible landscape the danger
not only that Israelis are bangin 2

Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces are
Turks against Kurds in northeastern Syria

and so you know as a practical matter I
think we have to be realistic about our

ambitions one is to try to limit
the dangers of that sort of escalation and

that's a challenge for diplomacy you know
I mean there's an argument for keeping

the you know the several 100 U.S. military
forces that we have now in eastern Syria

as an investment in the short term and
kind of diplomacy I understand.

But I think we're kidding ourselves
if we think that $400.00 U.S.

special operators as capable as they
are are going to get the attention of

the Russians and the Iranians who are
variants of this stuff so there's utility

if you look at over the next year and
harnessing that to your diplomacy but

I don't I don't think that's
sustainable over the longer term.

So so for.

Me It's a bleak craft were the
unserviceable particularly because I mean

just look at the human suffering I
mean I and I had a group sympathy for

President Obama's concerns on that issue
because he had to hang the cloud of

Iraq 2003 was hanging over all this and
the concern about

slowing down a slippery slope into a large
scale military intervention I just

start at the time at least that you
know when when we set a red line over

Syria's use of chemical weapons and
then predictably tested that red line and

killed $1100.00 Syrian civilians
with the use of poison gas

there was one place where we didn't
run the risk of a surprise so where we

could have responded with a punitive
military strike to make the larger.

Point that you can't get away with
stuff like this you know in a civilized

international landscape or
at least you have to pay a price for

it as well we don't have solved the wider
Syrian civil war no but I just think

in that one instance that was probably you
know the best of the available options.

A lot to chew on let me turn things over
to our wonderful students to our mascot

Ian's questions and please proceed

My name is Ashton Smith
undergraduate student here

concentrating in technology policy and
I'm Tanya Miller on a graduate student

here concentrating in international
policy Nice to meet you both.

So we have.

Many questions here they
were going to start with.

A few that are kind of different from the
topics are not really country specific but

kind of how diplomacy operates in
a sense so the 1st question is

do you think that technology is hurting
diplomacy and U.S. Foreign Service Service

in particular or do you think the State
Department work abroad window and

diplomacy will be less like living abroad
and more about using technology I think

it's changed technology it's changing
diplomacy not just American diplomacy but

others around the world just like it's
transforming so many other professions

you know when I came into the Foreign
Service the beginning of the 1980 S.

we still used to rate things called Air
grams which were these long you know like

got someone called a diplomatic courier

to pick up put in his diplomatic pouch and
fly to Washington to give it to somebody

now you know so this was in the pre
i Phone you know pre e-mail age

as well the transformation in
the Information Technology has

been enormous I however have enough
of a traditionalist to think

that at that actually makes smart
diplomatic reporting from embassies

overseas just like smart journalism
more rather than less important

because you've got this
avalanche of information and

you need somebody to distill it and
say here's what you really need to pay

attention to here's where this may
lead Here's what history tells us and

our experience tells us about
world this is drifting to so

you know I think it doesn't erode
the significance of diplomacy but

it certainly changes
the way you conducted and

the other big changes when I came
into the foreign service 35 years ago

you know dependency was about
government to government relations

increasingly that's
a large part of that but

it's also about relations between
societies and how you engage people in

other societies outside foreign ministries
in the halls of government and then.

You don't have to be you
know just as versatile and

just as capable of getting outside
government buildings or embassy.

And you know in dealing with people across
other societies if you want to understand

you know what animates what makes them
tick and that's tough to do in an age

where the physical risks are if anything
increasing but you're never going to go

anyplace and deploy in American
diplomacy overseas if you take a 0

risk approach you just you just can't if
you want to understand another society.

Continue along the same path much of that
much of diplomatic work you describe

is about persistence dominance don't mess
with me attitudes how does gender play

a role in perceived abilities or success
of diplomacy what differences exist for

the genders in the in the career.

Another really good question I mean
as I mentioned earlier I think

the State Department as an institution
the American Foreign Service has made

painfully slow progress over
the course of the last 3 decades or

so and
looking more like the society we represent

I came into the Foreign Service 9 out of

One out of 4 were female.

By the time I left the gender balance
was close to 5050 across all ranks but

it was much worse than that at senior
ranks and in terms of ethnic diversity we

were beginning to make some progress but
still as I said way too slow one of

my concerns about the last couple of years
is those trend lines have been reversed.

And so
you'd not only see a lot of vacancies but

you also see the progress
made over those years.

I think really being hollowed out and
it in the you know the truth is that it

always takes a lot longer to fix
something that it does to break it and so

the damage that we're doing to
ourselves is going to last for

a while the want to Lety embodying
the society that you represent

overseas is simple enough we
always get a lot farther overseas

through the power of our example than we
do through the power of our preaching and

it's hard to get an audience for
political openness if

we don't walk the walk if we
don't look like we're embodying

those principles of diversity however
imperfect our own society is and

that's one of the appeals that are best
for the United States overseas that's why

there are still long lines of people who
want to get visas to this country or

come here but we're right now in
the Foreign Service and more broadly and

I think that that there is real
damage over the long term.

So the next question is more specific to
our current administration it appears that

Secretary of State POMPEI O has altered
policy decisions made by President drum

in multiple areas so our military
support goes to Syria Afghanistan

have previous secretary of states in
previous administrations also alter policy

in some way or decorations made by the
president yet don't know how many policies

have been altered I mean I think you know
especially in the current lineup of senior

officials people are pretty attuned to
you know President Trump's decisions and

what he wants to do you know
I think in most effective

administrations that I've seen there was a
fair amount of discipline I mean you think

back again to the error that I was
describing before of President George H.W.

Bush and Secretary of State James Baker I
mean you know they were through most of

their adult lives best
friends personally and

so you know there are occasionally
disagreed on issues there were occasional

The disconnects between Certainly there
were disagreements amongst President Bush

$41.00 senior advisers but there was
a fair amount of discipline there and.

You know it was it was a group of
people that you know once the decision

was made were quite effective in
following through on it as well.

You know for the criticism that
the Obama administration sometimes

gets in foreign policy you know it was
a pretty collegial group of people and

pretty disciplined group I don't remember
any big disconnects in that sense

part of the reason I think you see
disconnects now is it's not only

the erratic nature of some of
the decisions that get made at the top but

it's also the fact as I said before
is there's not really any process and

so you know you get a tweet
which will set one direction.

But because people aren't you know
on the takeoff of a decision being

sometimes the landing is
really messy as well.

Yeah you say that with
the decision of the president.

Apparently right after
a telephone conversation.

Of Turkey.

With drawing U.S. troops from Syria and

clearly he talked to a Defense James
Madison at the time which was one

of the reasons that matters
subsequently resigned so

I you know I've seen a lot of dysfunction
in Washington probably contributed to it.

But never seen anything quite like this.

So you've already touched a little bit
about Russia but there are a couple

questions here so combine them what is
the one most important thing the U.S.

can do to recentre relations
with Russia and how would you

characterize the differences between
Russian and American visions of utopia.

Whether 1st when it's a little more
straightforward you know I think.

As profound as the differences are between
the United States and Russia today and

as I suggested don't think there's
any near term prospect of some great

transformation and those he was important
to employ to try to develop guardrails and

the relationship even in the worst of
the Cold War with the Soviets as Mel knows

very well you know we managed to engage
the Soviets the Russians then pretty

serious arms control discussions we
are still today the world's 2 nuclear

superpowers we are running the risk
today that what's left of the old arms

control architecture The grew out of
the late Cold War period is falling apart.

The agreement the I.N.F. agreement on
intermediate nuclear range forces which is

now 20 years old is about to
fall apart in large part because

of Russian violations but the bigger
danger is that the new START agreement

which was concluded in the Obama
administration and which reduces and

regulates the strategic nuclear
weapons between our 2 countries.

Is set to expire at the beginning
at $2021.00 now unless we

get our act in gear in
an effort to try to extend

you know that agreement will essentially
be left with no architecture

in managing our relationship that
not only increases the risk.

Given the fact that we're
the world's 2 nuclear superpowers

it's a pretty lousy example for
the rest of the world as we try to push

against the proliferation of
nuclear weapons as well so

that's the one thing one of the things I
think in the near term I hope will focus

on in this administration because you
know for a new administer if a new

administration comes in who knows
what'll happen in the elections in 2020.

That would be a pretty.

Shaky and heritance you know to have that
arms control architecture to have collapse

versions of utopia.

You know I think in my experience.

You know most Russians and most Americans
our histories are much different but

you know the sense of individual Russians
especially of the younger generation is

not all that dissimilar from what
Americans of the same generation want

you know you want life to be better for
your kids than it was for

you you want to sense of opportunity
course Russians are proud of their history

you know you think Americans
have a streak of exceptionalism

Russians have a quite pronounced
streak of their own exceptionalism.

And you have the individual
Russian leaders and India logs

who have their own view of utopia just
as you do in this country as well but

I don't I don't think there are any
you know unbridgeable gap so

in terms of the basic views
that individual citizens have.

As future diplomats or
people with international or

clearance and international politics
are sitting in this room or

watching the stream What advice
do you have for them as they

navigate international diplomacy by
giving our current political climate and

what our tools are characteristics that
are vital to achieve successful diplomacy

Well I hope that anybody in this room
students or otherwise you know who

are considering a career in public
service whether it's foreign service or

something else will pursue it I am
an optimist over the medium term about

what's possible for our society we've
talked a lot about what's broken but I

don't think it's impossible to address you
know a lot of those challenges over time.

You know when I was taken the finds
I guess read before I took

the Foreign Service exam I think I
might have mentioned this before but

my dad who was a career Army
officer he spent 35 years

in the Army had written me a letter and
said you know as I

was sort of contemplating what to do
with myself after graduate school and

said nothing can make you proud or
them to serve your country with honor and

it didn't really register with
me at the time to be honest but

I spent the next 3 and a half decades
discovering the wisdom of that advice and

I'm entirely confident that there
are people in this room who will discover

the wisdom of that as well this is going
to be a really complicated moment for

us as Americans in our own society but
for us on the international landscape too

because as I said it's a much more
competitive crowded contested environment

out there among states and
beyond States Climate Change

the revolution in technology it's going
to be tricky terrain to navigate but

you need people such as those who
are serving in the Foreign Service

today who are hardworking committed
patriotic you know who do their

level best to advance American interests
on that complicated landscape as well.

So one of the things that I think is most
unfortunate about the debate that you see

today is the kind of distain for public
service the belittling of public service

of its professional practitioners I am the
last person to suggest that just because

you're a professional practitioner means
you have monopoly on wisdom we have lots

of things wrong too but it's a noble
profession and a lot of ways and

I think you know the sooner we realize and
invest in it the better off we're going

to be as a country and that very
complicated international landscape.

So Target back to my country specific
question how do you see your

relations with Saudi Arabia
propping pullets another company

little relationship to my ruin all
your digestions for dinner I'm sorry.

No no no.

The same would be matters to the United
States I mean it's a big country it's

sitting on a lot of energy resources it's
in a part of the world that well and some

ways matter less to the United States than
it did 2030 years ago at the beginning of

my career but still matters so I don't
mean to suggest we can neglect their

relationship healthy relationships in
my experience have to be 2 way streets.

Which means that you know it seems to
me our message to the Saudi leadership

embodied in the crown prince Mama
been some on our to believe that yeah

in the face of extra No threats whether
it's the Iranians or others you know we'll

help have your back that were before
we're supportive of serious efforts to

reform and social and
economic modernization of Saudi Arabia but

we're going to be honest about instances
of overreach whether it's internal or

external externally in Yemen you know
a humanitarian catastrophe today

tens of thousands of Yemeni
civilians being killed and

also I would argue a strategic catastrophe
too because it's not like the Iranians

who's sort of main
adversary of the Saudis and

their coalition in Yemen invented
the Hooty rebellion there and

I'm going to betting it they didn't invent
it and it's costing them very little and

costing the Saudis billions of dollars a
year and that's a conflict the needs to be

stopped and we have to be
direct about that as the U.S.

Congress is trying to be right now and
over return turn away as well

you know the the crew
were episodes of domestic

repression arrest attention of young
women who have just been protesting

peacefully and especially the horrible
murder of Jamal Khashoggi you

know a journalist who you know interviewed
me anonyma were the years the least

radical critic of his own
regime that high new and Yuri.

Murdered in a horrible fashion in
a Saudi diplomatic facility in Turkey

and we ought to be very direct about
that that's not a threat to the health

director in that instance is
not a threat to health the U.S.

Saudi relationship it's an investment
in a healthy U.S. Saudi relationship

because that kind of overreach is
going to create over time a more and

more brittle society are we going to
affect the way in which the crown prince

operates and who's in the leadership and
Saudi Arabia that's not our business and

what we can do is use this moment
to push very hard on Yemen and

the release of you know of dissidents who
have been you know protesting peacefully

in Saudi Arabia and I don't see any
reason why I think it's wrong for

us simply to indulge their leadership over
these things it's not only wrong morally

to make any sense practically
in my view either.

So the last question are so you've talked
about that's what policy areas are a right

climate policy technology and
policy towards multiple countries and

what policy arena do you see American
diplomacy most critically looking

most critically most critical or
most critically looking in the future.

We have talked about climate where I think
we're you know we're missing a lot of

opportunities right now to help mobilize
countries around the world I think was

a big mistake for us to pull out of the
Paris climate agreement I've talked about

I think the absence thus far of a serious
American effort to work with other

countries to establish some basic rules of
the road you know on some of the biggest

challenges that the revolution in
technology poses I think we're tending to

treat with neglect him and other ways
benignly collect some parts of the world

that matter enormously look at Africa
today you know Africa's population

is going to double by the middle of
this century to 2000000000 people not

know enormous possibilities I think and

you saw it in some individual African
countries which you know have has made

considerable progress in recent years but
it's also a continent with huge

challenges unresolved regional conflicts
in many societies poor governance

corruption you know food
water health insecurities and

you know the United States a member in the
George W. Bush administration the pope for

a program that was launched to fight
a HIV AIDS I think one of the best things

United States has done since the Marshall
Plan at the end of the Circa World War we

were working with engaged leaderships in
a number of African societies have helped

make a real difference you know brought
the world not just Africa to the edge of

an AIDS free generation we're in the
process if you look at the budget that you

know was proposed by the White House last
Monday cutting significantly a lot of the.

As assistant programs
at precisely the moment

when we might you know finally
cement historic progress and

it just reflects I think
a burger dismissiveness of

the significance of that part of the world
and I just think that's a mistake so

that's you know one area
mentioned well this is been just

a delightful conversation and I've learned
a ton and loved reading the book and

those of you now have the book should
enjoy it it's just a gorgeous read.

We're going to have a reception outside
we'll have a book signing opportunity with

Ambassador Burns and
I want to thank again Hank Meyer for

his work in sponsoring in making
possible this Vandenberg lecture.

And Brian wiser for

his work setting up the wiser diplomacy
center here my colleagues Mel and John and

Susan for their participation in this
event our special guest Jill Dougherty So

please join me in all of us
together thanking embassador.