tv George Beebe The Russia Trap CSPAN September 8, 2019 2:00pm-3:01pm EDT
the name of the book. thank you for being with us. >> thank you. >> tonight on booktv in prime time you will hear from victims rights attorney carrie goldberg on litigating cases of sexual harassment, for the defense secretary jim mattis will recount his military career, american university professor abram candy will argue that america must choose to be antiracist. joel solitude will discuss the business of farming. ...
>> my name is elizabeth artlip, member of the events staff here and i'd like to welcome you to the wharf. just a couple of quick notes. please take a moment to silence your cellphone, feel free to keep them on, take pictures, tag us on social media but sigh left-handily. we have c-span2 here tonight and you don't want to have your phone start ringing on national television. when we get to the q & a portion i'll pass around a wireless microphone so if you have a question, raise your hand and wait for me to get to you with a microphone and then speak into it so everyone hear can here you and anybody watching you on tv can hear it. if you have not purchased a copy of the book and would like to they're available at the register up front. you can by a copy or two or the or four. however many you decide you need. hopefully it's more than one. after the event, he'll be happy
to sign books and now for why we're all here, listen to george beebe talk but his book, i "the russia trap." former director of russia analysis at the cia and white house advice for vice president cheney, chew director for intelligence and national security draws on 25 years of experience to warn that the ands russia are on a collision course. describing a situation more dang rouse than the cold war, shows how factors including new strategic weapons, unsettled regional concoct and the advantage -- i heightening the competition between the countries where a small unpredictable event could set off a deadly conflict. welcome george beebe. >> thank you very much for that
introduction, and thank you all for coming tonight. i've given a lot of talks over the last few years since leaving government, but i think this is the first time that i've given a talk with a book, this is my first book i'm published and it's the first time i've given a talk where my wife has been in the audience so that's a special occasion. and it's great to see so many colleagues and friends here tonight. so, thank you. so issue want to start out by giving you a little bit of cia insider information. it has to do with john mclaughlin. john was a career cia analyst who rose up to the ranks at langley and became deputy director of central intelligence and then act director 0 central intelligence in the early 2001s,
2000's, and on the interesting things but john which is mention in the book, whenever you went up to his office for meetings, he kept on his desk a little black placard, that read divert to dominant dime. thought that was a funny little saying, a little tongue in cheek because it contrasts so strongly with him, who is a very establishment kind of guy. he wears conservative suits, horn rimmed glasses, suspenders and you think this is the last guy that would want to subvert the dominant paradigm, and why he had this on his desk was he enjoyed playing against type, implying he had this hidden subversive side beneath the establishment veneer. but i think there was actually a serious purpose behind this, too. and that's because paradigms are
really serious things. paradigms are the conceptual models we all use to make sense of things. we do this sometimes consciously, more often unconsciously, but we like to think that we believe things when we see them. what psychologist tell us is that actually we tend to see things when we believe them, and paradigms are those things that unconsciously help is decide what we believe, what we expect, they shape how we process facts and information and shape what we think we ought to do about those things. and one over the reasons why i think john thought these paradigms were so important and why i agree with him on this, is that paradigms are often times at the root of intelligence failures. remember 9/11 and the aftermath
of that terrorist attack. everybody in washington talked but how cia failed to connect the dots. well, those dots are facts, they're pieces of information, the lines that connect them, that's your paradigm. so, this is something that is a pattern that you see in intelligence failures throughout history. pearl harbor was a paradigm failure. we had excellent intelligence, were reading the japanese communications codes. we had broaching their encryption. but we weren't able to grasp that they were going to attack pearl harbor despite excellent intelligence. why not? paradigm failure. i want to read a little bit on this to talk to you but what we knew going into this. about a week before the attack on pearl harbor, the japanese
told us they were going attack. the japanese ambassador in washington delivered a diplomatic note, i'll read it to you. he said, the japanese people believe that economic measures are a much more effective weapon of war than military measures. that they are being placed under severe pressure by the out to yield to the american position, and that it is preferrable to fight rather than to yield to pressure. in other words, we're about to attack you. so, despite that we still couldn't grasp that this was coming. dean ache chessson then assistant secretary of state and then the secretary of state. he said everyone in the department and the government generally misread japanese intentions. this misreading was not about what the japanese military government proposed to do in asia, not of the hostility that our embargo would excite, but of
the incredibly high risk that they would assume to accomplish their ends, no one in washington realized that the regime regarded the conquest of asia not as an accomplishment of an ambition but as the survival of the regime. paradigm problem. so, with that as an introduction, what i want to do with you tonight is to take john mclaughlin's placard to heart and subvert the paradigm we have about russia here in the united states. so what is that paradigm? i short-handed this paradigm by calling is the world war ii problem. world war ii problem is when you have an ambitious aggressive state that pushes as far and as fast as it can and it keeps
going until it meets determined resistance. the classic example of this is nazi germany. adolph hitler. and the one thing that you don't do when you deal with an aggressive ambitious state like this is what? appease it. we have learn this lesson very, very well. munich is a dirty word in our american diplomatic lexicon. probably the worth thing you can accuse someone of as a statesman in the united states is being an appeaser. so, what we have got today is a situation where the dominant paradigm about russia is we have an aggressive, ambitious state that we can't appease. if you have any doubts about this, go on to google, type in "putin and hort loire and see
what you get. you get pictures of putin with hitler hairdos and mustaches superimposed, see up op-eds accusing robert of being a modern day nazi germany. see op-eds and editorials that are cautioning about going soft on russia. the thing we're most concerned about with russia right out in is we won't be tough enough; that we're going to go wobbly, as former british prime minister margaret thatcher used to say. why is that a problem? because the russians well interpret that softness, that lack of resolve, as an invitation to be even more aggressive. we don't stand up to a aggression in ukraine and georgia in the cyber sphere, we'll only invite even more aggression, the problem will compound and get worse.
so if you want peace with russia, prepare for war as the romans used to say. that's our dominant paradigm. now, not everybody in washington buys into this. there is another school of thought that says, no, no, no, putin is not hitler, russia is not nazi germany too. obscures the picture more than illumeins what is going on here. this school of thought you would call defense of russia, and there are few prominent proponents of this, steve cohen, professor emeritus at new york university, very prominent advocate of this school of thought. john at the university of chicago, another one. their argument is russia is actually reacting to nato's
eastward expansion that steady encroachment by what they perceive as a hostile u.s. led military appliance cleaning ever closer to russia's borders, moving from the war saw pact into the former soviet republics and the combination of this, which the russia perceive as a serious threat to their national security, and a long history of u.s. meddling, you might say in russia's own internal patrol tick is provoking a defensive reaction. and according to this school of thought, the real danger here is not that we'll appease russia. it's that we'll threaten an already very threatened state. what happens when you then someone who is already thenned? well, you might call this the cornered rat syndrome. what happened when a rat is
cornered? anyone that's every been nat situation knows it gets very ugly because that rat perceives he has a choice. fight or i die. the choice is fairly simple. so, according to the defensive russia school of thought, the worst thing you can do is exactly what the offensiverich paradigm says we ought not a to do. they say we have to accommodate. we have to recognize legitimate secure concerns russias have and find a way of accommodating those in ways that don't undermine our own interest. so these are really opposite schools of thought. the offensive paradigm and the defensive paradigm. they're diagnosis of the problem is die meet particularly opposed and their prescriptions are incompatable. so where die come down on is?
what is this book about? the thesis of the book is that each of these contending schools of thought, the dominant paradigm of offensive russia and that much less popular defensive russia school of thought, eve of them have aspects of their diagnosis which are accurate. they're telling part of or the story accurately but not all of it. so, what i argue in this book is that what we're facing here is not a world war ii problem. it's a world war i problem. so what caused world war i? it was not an aggressive ambitious state that was trying to seize territory and push as far and as fast as it could. it was not a defensive state that felt it was cornered. it was a systems problem. a whole bunch of factors combined, entangled alliances,
new technologies, the railroad that had profound impacts on how you mobilize for war and prepare to defend your interests. misperceptions. crumbling empires that were worried about threats from within. all of these things mixed together and there were feedback loops that 0 cured, and these feedback loops turned what were relatively minor developments in the particular case this was the assassination of the arch duke federal nantz and spun is in in reinforces effects into a european wide ward that none of the participants expect sed and none of them wanted. so, what i'm arguing in the
book is that we need to understand the threat from russia and at a real threat. this is a genuinely dangerous situation, not as an offensive russia that we need to deter, not as a defensive russia we need to accommodate, but as a complex systems problem that can get out of hand and do that in ways we don't expect and that are difficult to anticipate. in other words, small events right now could produce giant problems. why do i say that? well, let me describe to you all the complex factors that are interacting right now in this relationship. i'll break it down for analytic purposes. so one of the problems we have right now is a structural geopolitical problem. what happened in europe after the end of the cold war was
there was a lot of uncertainty about what the new european security arrangement was going to look like after the warsaw pact collapsed and the soviet union ended. nato was there with no peer rival, no competitor. a lot of the states in this new band of former warsaw pact states, were left untethered. new security problems arose that we had to deal with. instability in the balkins, old historical grievances, separatism, and the question became how do we handle these things and in part by default and part by design, nato became the primary institution addressing these problems and a lot of the states facing this new situation looked at nato and say, that looks attractive.
why? well, the folks in that club are all pretty rich, pretty secure, pretty prosperous, and we remember some of the old problems we had with the folks running things in moscow and that security blanket looks pretty appealing. what happened was that vacuum and that immediate post cold war feared was filled by nato, and as it did russia's insecurities became exacerbated and we gradually, in part by design and in part by the logic of events that nobody planned, wound up in a situation a where we have a new security arrange independent europe and one of europe's largest powers is not a part of it. russia is on the outside over the tent looking in, enincentivized to do what? well, at this point, nato membership is not possible for
russia. i'm not sure ever really was very realistic but certainly at this point off the table as a possibility. with a lot of incentive to actually undermine the nateer to alliance and -- the nato alone and the european union more broadly. that's unstable and unresolved. that's factor number one. factor number two, the united states and russia over the past 25 years, have gradually each come to the belief that the other side, not just as a competitor but actually wants to destroy it. now, in russia, they came to this conclusion a long time ago, probably 15 years ago. a lot of things led the russians to the belief that the united states was trying to encircle russia with hostile puppet regimes, expand the nato alliance to their porters and
ultimately foment regime change in moscow and break the country apart. we think that's crazy. we look at this and say, there go the russians again. they're paranoid. in fact when we talk about russia and its perceptions, you hear that word paranoia a lot. it's almost like russia and paranoia going to. right? what is happening in the united states, particularly over the past two years, we have come to the conclusion that the russians are trying to destroy us. not by surrounding us with hostile military bases or puppet regimes, not by attacking us with nuclear weapons. that would be suicidal. that we woo be crazy, but by using information warfare and cyber tools to subvert is from
within to divide and conquer us to cause us to lose faith in who who we are, to lose faith in democratic paroled ours and processes and the loge si of elections and what happens when you destroy a country from within? everything comes crumbling down. now, you didn't hear about this kind of threat three or four years ago. it's something that came upon us suddenly back in 2016 as a reaction to what happened with russia interference in the elections, and our own bewilderment, frankly, what was happening in our country domestically. but these two things regardless of how they came about, are fundamentally dangerous things. why is that? because when states believe that their existence is under threat, you're in a do or die kind of
situation, they tend to play for keeps. they undertake risks they wouldn't ordinarily untake. what did japan do? prior to pearl harbor when it thought its existence was in stake by this crippling embargo the out placed japan under? it thought it had a chance. undertake a high-risk war against a country with twice my population and nine times my industrial output, which i'll probably lose, or i certainly face destruction. so they're going to do the high risk thing bus they know how that turns out and that's not good. so, the problem with these perceptions of existential threat is they prime both sides to undertake some pretty high risks. third thing going on, new technology.
now, during the cold war, we had a technology problem, too. that was nuclear technology and took us a while to figure out how to deal with that. during the 1950s we realized there are these powerful new weapons that can do very scary things, but we hadn't figured out how to marry that to diplomacy and statecraft to contain their dangers and make sure things don't get out of hand and it wasn't until the cuban missile crisis when things got very hairy and realized, wow, there's some real dangers here this could turn some a true disaster, that we said to ourselves, okay, we're going to have to figure out how to manage this and contain this, put some rules in place, some guardrails on the mountain road if you will to make sure things don't spin out of control. well, we're at a similar point right now with cyber technology.
we have got a new set of tools and weapons that we realize can do some pretty scary things. the pentagon's defense policy board did a study of this. they concluded that the existential threat posed by cyber technology was just as significant as nuclear technology. think about that for a minute. that's a pretty strong statement by a pretty serious group of guys that don't tend to be hyperbolic about this stuff. why did they say that? for two reasons. one is, cyber technology has tilted the playing field, the decided advantage of the offense. it's very, very hard to defend against a sophisticated cyber
operator. if you talk to cyber security professionals they tell if there's a computer, a network, system, regardless of whether they're plugged interest the internet or not, they can be penetrated. you really can't stop it. now, defenders can complicate the tasks for the offense. they can make things more difficult. we're getting better at detecting intrusions than we used to be so attribution is something we're improving at, but stopping these intruthses before they attack, verse hard to. do that sense of vulnerability has an impact on both sides they know they're vulnerable. they know they can't stop the other side. what would they do? well, their enincentivized actually to play offense.
why? but a the best way to figure out what the other side is doing to you is to go into their system and to use that to gather information about their operations directed at you. so it's a classic intelligence counterintelligence problem. but there's a twist on this. because in cyber technology, understanding the intentions of the other side is really, really difficult. so, if i'm a systems administrator and detect there's somebody in my system that shouldn't be there, what i know is he's there but what i don't know is why. what is his purpose? because he can go into my system to collect data, to collect information, but while he's in there he can corrupt that information. he can destroy that information. and he can sabotage my system.
he genetic into my network and my computers and plug in malware code that causes everything to break down or to do things that it shouldn't do. when you do that in critical systems, water treatment plants, power generation systems, wall street trading systems, what happens when those break down? really bad things. imagine if you can't get any mid-out of your atm, imagine your cellphones don't work, imagine your electric power doesn't work, now imagine this going on for weeks and what do you think happens? very, very bad things. so, this is a real vulnerability, and there's not much we can do to prevent this so what do we do? we have to go into the other side's systems. we have to figure out what they're trying to do. have to figure out their capabilities and also think we have to take hostages.
because the best means of make sugar that they don't detonate the cyber bomb that is sitting in our nuclear power plants -- bit the way i don't know that it is. don't want to scare anyone. but the best way of ensuring that doesn't go off is to know that we've got malware in their system that we can detonate, too. so, it becomes a mutually assured kind of destruction just like the nuclear balance during the cold war bus that's a twist. it's spiraling hostage situation because these things go bad if they're left over time. the vulnerability that they were exploiting gets patched. the bottoms get discovered and diffused so you have to continually do this to make sure that you've got this situation in hand. so it's not a stable mutually
assured balance like we had during the cold war. it's an unstable spiral system and it's even worse than that because something else fundamental has changed since the cold war . during the cold war we had conventional weaponry over here, that was essentially its own world, separate from the world of nuclear weapons. the nuclear weapons had their own command and control systems, had dedicated satellites that managed all this, early warning systems that would detect incoming strategic missile systems fired over the pole up in the north. so, we knew what to look for, we knew where it was coming, we knew how to prepare to retaliate against all of this, and the world of conventional weaponry
was entirely separate. that's no longer the case today. these two worlds of nuclear and conventional weaponry are intermixed in ways that are actually unpress deafened and i think ways that mo -- unprecedented and a think ways that experts in washington, dc say most people don't understand. so the cruise missiles that the united states frequently uses in various regional crisis situations in the world, the iranian does something bad, we then to tomahawk them with cruise missiled from naval vessel, et cetera, it's. what control those systems? satellites. what's do those same satellites control in nuclear systems. so there's an intermeshing of
those things, which is new. another thing that happened. the satellite systems during their cold war in very, very high orbits, those orbits were so high they were untouchable. they were invulnerable. nobody could reef them with group-based antisatellite weaponry. accomplish there were certainly not space-based weapons. so we knew the satellites were secure. dewent have to worry about. the. that's not true out in. those satellites that are detecting these watches and controlling these weapons are vulnerable. they're they're not only season to antisatellite weapons, kinetic weapons, they're vulnerable to cyber penetration. and we probably can't defend them. what that means is in crisis
situations, our ability to detect threats and the confidence that we would have that when the president says, launch, that those weapon systems will actually launch, is gone like this compared to the cold war. that's a very unstable situation when it comes to crisis today. so, these factors are reinforcing one another to make for a very unstable situation. a couple other things playing here, too. because we think that the russians shouldn't be appeased, because with are dominant paradigm says to us that this is an aggressive, ambitious station, pill push as hard as it can until it meetzes resistance, we decided that mean wed shouldn't talk to them. right? don't engage. and engagement, diplomatically, areward for bad behavior.
how do we handle a crisis if all these things tom together, who do we talk to? well, right now, the dominant paradigm in washington says we shouldn't be talking to anyone. that also is a factor that makes this situation very risky, and then i'll of-underow one -- offer you one final one and that its trigger, syria, ukraine, iran, north korea in all of these cases what's going on? the united states and russia find themselves on opposite sides of those conflicts. to varying degrees, with each side engaged either directly or indirectly in proxy warfare. many case wed have americans and russians with boots on the ground, engaged either directly or indirectly in fighting.
so, the potential for one of these triggers actually setting something off and winding up with a world war 1 style chain of caution skating development is actually quite great. now, what i do in the book is lay out this problem. i call it's premortem. that's an examination of a file your that handed happen. you do a premortem because your fundamentally opposite mystic and you are shaking you head saying, nothing i've heard is optimistic, i am going through this because i believe this is a manageable problem. it's not manageable, however, unless we recognize what kind of problem we have got. if we think we have a world
war ii problem and we tackle it like that, you actually make the world war i problem worse. but if you recognize that we have a complex systems problem, you realize first and for most, i got be careful here, this could turn into something i don't expect and don't want, how die handle that? and once you have done that, now you're talking about how do i handle this? how do i put rules of the road in place, mechanisms to contain these dangers? that's possible. so i'm an optimistic person when comes to our ability to handle this. i'm pessimistic when it comes to how to change the paradigm because we're stuck in something that i think is inaccurate portrayal of the situation we're facing. that's about the book is about and what i hope it can make progress in doing, getting
people to do what john mclachlin's macard become plashard. s, let's look at this bare time, what other possible ways of understanding what is going on there are and then let think about how we deal with these dangers and pragmatic wayses. so, i'm hoping that the book will have some at least small impact and effect in that debate. so, thank you. [applause] >> any questions? . >> thank you very much nor talk inump incredibly interesting. >> thank you. >> how do you think russia's evolving relationship with china factors into this paradigm and the potential for the paradigm shift from their side? >> i talk about that in the book. one of the implications of
the -- our growing hostility in the u.s.-russian relationship is russia's been enincentivized to accelerate the warming trend in its relationship with china and i think that is a significant problem for the united states. i personally think that the growing of chinese power in the world is the most significant geopolitical challenge that the united states faces, and it will be our biggest problem for at least the next half century. it's very much not in our interests to encourage the growing of russia and chinese cooperation. it complicates that problem for us. so, i believe that not only do we need to manage the security threat that the hostility with russia poses for us right now but from a geostrategic point of view makes a lot of sense for us
to not to incentivize that kind of cooperation between moscow and beijing. >> george, where in the systems or the paradigms would something like venezuela or other sort of not near abroad kind of meddling fit in and if we try to step some rule of the road, what do we do when they're violated? >> right. well, yes, i think what the russians have been doing in venezuela, economically but more militarily, is the strongest counterargument to the defensive robert school of thought. the ones say the russias are just defending themselves, want us to butt out of their affairs. that's only part of the story. the russians also have offensive ambitions. they want to be a great power. in fact, it's sort of
complicated but for various historical and cultural reason i think the russians believe unless they are a great power they won't survive intact. sort of a strange mix of offensive and defensive motivations. but what do great powers do? they dominate their neighbors. and the russians think that all the great powers do that. we do it. china does it. russia things it should do it, too. and they also thing the great powers basically should get on n metaphorical board of directors. sitting around a table who decide what the rules and the russians think they should have a role in deciding the rules and they don't like that. they also believe that the great powers get to decide when you make exemptions to the rule -- exceptions to rule and look at
the united states and stay, well, hey, you make the rules, we didn't get input. that's not okay and you also get to decide when you don't have to play by the rules, when you can bomb iraq without going to u.n. security council asked for a resolution authorizing it. that's not okayment when we do it it's wrong but when you do its, it's okay? they're not at all in agreement with that so they want to a situation where they get to make the rules and they also get to decide when there are exemptions. venezuela, why are they doing that? well, i think they're doing nat part because they're saying to us, we're a great power. you get to intervene in our neck of the woods work get to do it to you, too, how do you like that: if you don't like? why won't desit down and talk about how we'll work this out. what are the rules of the road for this kind of activity? because if you're saying, we
can't do it in venezuela, then what is wrong with us saying you can't do this in ukraine? now, this is a conversation we don't want to have. so when you ask why are the russians doing things like meddling in u.s. politics, meddling in our sphere of influence as we regard this western hemisphere? part of the reason is kind of a can you hear me now message coming from them? we don't like you interfering in russian politics. well, how did you like it when we interfered with your politics and if you didn't, then why don't we sit down and talk about the rules that are going going ahere? so my personal belief is, what we have interpret as an existential threat, a desire to destroy american democracy that subverts within is an
instrumental tool meant to force us to have some conversations and to reach some agreements we don't want to reach or have. >> is there a friendly relationship between russia and iran, and also, considering how benjamin netanyahu seems to be cozy with putin, how does putin play with iran? >> very good question. and i'll use this as an opportunity to make a comment on .com meant paradigm belief that russia is drink by ideological motives. there's a strong belief the united states right now that russia hates democracy. you'll hear this a lot. putin is authoritarian. russia i as authoritarian state think hate our system, hate democracy, want to make the
world satisfy to awe comecracy so they're right to wipe out, ukraine, georgia, e, united states. but i think this is a misperception of what is actually driving them. i think the russians don't care but democracy one way or the each don't regard states we thinks are democratic like ukraine or georgia as actual democracies and they have very good relations with a number of states in the world that are democratic. india, world's largest democracy, japan, and israel. who has met more often with putin than any other leader? netanyahu. who is walking side-by-side with put at the last victory day parade in -- on red square? benjamin netanyahu. the very good relationship there. a lot of complexities in this relationship. israel and russia don't agree on a lot of things but there are
also areas where they have some things in common, some common interests. iran is a very rick issue within the -- a very difficult issue within the russian, israeli relationship. part of the reason netanyahu wants a good relationship witch putin is he realizes that putin is a critical player on the iran issue and wants to influence russian decision making in dealing with the threat. do the russians regard iran as friends? i think the answer that is, sort of. the russians certainly don't look at iran through the same prism we look through. they have concerned about irany behavior, absolutely. they don't regard them as irrational sort of theocratic, apocalyptic actors the way many americans tend so see them.
think they see them as a regime that does rational sort of predictable things to advance its own security interests in the region. the russianed don't want the iranians to do bad things with muslim populations in russia itself. they want to keep that relationship relatively stable. they don't want to see actual conflict between israel and iran because that complicates their able to have good relations with both israel and iran, which is what they want. i you look at russia's overall post tour in the middle east, right now today they are playing a role that the united states played 35 years ago. back in the 1980s, the gospel was, the united states was the only country that could talk to all sites in the arab-israeli dispute. able to play a role of honest
broker. today, not so much the united states is tilted rather significantly toward one side, and a lot of these regional disputes and russia the outside power that can talk to the kurds and the turks. the israelis and the iranians, the saudis and qatar and iran, and it's actually a position that they've achieved with quite a bit of diplomatic skill, i have to say -- don't want to see this go away so conflicts that really flair up and interfere with that issue don't they want to see that happen so they're trying to manage this as defendant deftly as they can.
>> thank you. beyond the systems problems and the systems complications, how much do you ascribe to the fact that the world is changing? the geopolitical balance of the world is change asking and you get a situation of a rising china, russia that would like to rise, the united states that is no longer as dominant as wait and that can be inherently destabilizing. >> that's another one of those factors that's playing into this systems problem. the geopolitical order is in a transition right now. at the end of the cold war it was clearly a unipolar world. there were no peer near-peer relationships, competitors that the united states had to contend with. our system of government, our economic system, was unrivaled. there was nobody that was aa
rival in those things. nobody even approached our military power. and we were quite confident. the real question that we had was, how can be spread our system throughout the world and create this liberal hegemonic system that would make everybody friendly and one big happy family. that's no longer the case obviously. our relative power is declined. clearly china has risen a lot farther and a lot faster than a lot of of people anticipated many years ago. the relationship between china and russia has had vaned in ways that people did not expect. even ten years ago . and we rev lost our confidence internally. part of that is a function of
these broader structural changes and the relative power imbalances, but part of it is a function of what has gone on inside the united states itself. it's taken us to some degree by surprise, and it's compounded, the changes in the international order. and i think it's frankly affected our perceptions of russia. to some degree, our loss of confidence domestically has been projected on to our images of what russia is doing, and all of these things are reinforcing each other, and it makes for something that is very difficult to handle. >> i'm wondering but your diagnosis. seems to me many of the same outcomes could also be explained
by the authoritarian, klepto thattic, acting to keep pour explanation, a free press abroad, reports on corruption in russia. right? helping to establish authoritarian regimes abroad that crack down on their free press, would have similar effects to a genuine distaste for either genuine distaste or democracy or the fear there's nato creeping on the borderes. how do you split that difference and make your diagnosis? >> well, i think my reacts to that is, yes. and this is one of the things that makes this a difficult
problem. very september doll when you deal with these paradigm issues, these models, do you have diagnostic evidence, dispositive evidence. it's only consistent with one explanation. most of the time the fact iowa have in front of you can be connected in different ways simultaneously. this model can be true and this model can be true because we don't have something that says, no, this rules this out. so i think you're right. part of the problem here is, you can explain these things in different ways. what i am advocating here is not that this is the. way you explain it. and these other things are not plausible. what i'm saying is, reasonable people can disagree on this. and the stakes are so high that we better think hard about this. we better consider alternative explanations because if we get this one wrong, it matters a
lot. now, one of the things i would say, however, regarding this dominant paradigm, one of the ways you no whether these things are working or not is do they predict things that don't happen or do they fail to preduct things that do happen. in other words, do actual life events show the explanatory power of the paradigm? and i would offer you one example of this that i think should cause people say, hmm and that's georgia in 2008. so the dominant paradigm says russia, expandsive power, ambitious, wants to push out as far as it can. it invaded georgia, 2008. how did that happen? the united states government knew that tensions between
russia and georgia were accelerating. we had seen this for several years. we knew where this was going. we were concerned there would be war sew dominant paradigm says what? you push back. you stand firm, you signal to that aggressor state that you are not going to go soft. so we armed the georgians, we untook a train and equip program. we sent u.s. military personnel into georgia. this undertook a significant program to bolster the georgia yap military. why? to send a signal to the russians they would be in for a fog of they wanted to attack, then we engaged withmoscow and at very, very senior levels, said to the russians don't go there. this is out-of-bounds.
and what else did we do? we in conjunction with nato allies, announced officially that georgia and ukraine would one day become part of nato. so these are all signals that according to that dominant paradigm should have caused the kremlin to say issue need to look elsewhere for my ambitions, but instead what happened? a very complicated situation, a complex system dynamics problem occurred. the georgians red all this and said, i wow, we're presenter. the president of the united states carolina about georgia. he visits me. talks to me on the phone, condoleezza rice, the national security advisedder, secretary of state, comes to georgia.
wow. we matter. and certainly they're not going to let us down if we get into a problem here. they got our backs. now, we told the georgians don't get into a war. condoleezza rice said to georgian president, adopt attack, don't fall for the russian trap, right? what did he snaer he heard, yeah,ishing know-dope attack the russians, that would be bad. but the words we used said one thing. the actions we took going there, beating with him, said something else and that something else said you really matter to the united states. so the what did he do? he decided that he could use this security umbrella to go recover some of the separatist states in georgia that had long
peeled away from the central georgiaon go. he attacked and russians were waiting. the counter-innovated, took over -- invaded, took othe territories and recognized their independence we wound up in a war we were trying to deter. why? i would argue that it's because we had the wrong paradigm. we thought deterrence model would work. in fact, it produced a cascade of events we didn't anticipate. does i prove the world world wai model we should think about? no. but man we need to step back and think maybe we need to think harder on this. >> this is our last question. >> thank you for noticing me. so, how much stock do you think russia takes in its inroads in the balkans, the relationship with serbia, and even kind of
expanding outward. >> well, i think the russians care a lot about the baskans. there's a lot of -- balkans. there's a lot of history there speaking of world world war i. there's lot of cultural affinity. the orthodox church is playing a much more important role in russian society. in russian politics, and even in the russian military. than it did back during the cold war period certainly. all that matters to how russians view the situation in the balkans and perceive their interests there. so the think they have a lot of stake. when it comes to transny stria that's a fascinating subject. it's breakway region of mall dove maldova and nestled in between ukraine, romania and is
essentially been a separate territory of part of what the call could frozen conflict since the early post cold war period. and one thing i learned in writing the book? i knew a loud about moldova but i realized how much of the history of russian perceptions about our policy goals and how much of the breakdown in all of the rules that were once imposed during the cold scar these arms control agreements and confidence and security building measures all disappearing. how much of that was tied into moldova, of all the places in the world you think that most americans couldn't find on a map, a lot of it was in some way connected there.
so, moldova is one of the issues -- an area where we would probably be able to find a compromise solution and yet it's proved so illusive. i think transistri is one i would like if i said there is a place where we might be able to have some traction, start put some rules of the road in place to manage that. a good candidate to look at. . >> one more round of applause for george beebe. [applause] >> once again, books are available at the register and he'll be right over here, happy to sign for coming out. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations] ...
>> thanks for being here tonight with us. i'm certain this will be a riveting conversation. it's easier to say that word than it is to spell it because i couldn't figure out how to spell it. but i am perry freeman. the president of the national civil rights museum. i welcome you here this evening for this book talk on miss alice marie johnson's book and i hope you've had an opportunity to get it. if not, i believe we are selling it and she will do a