John Mearsheimer: Israel-Palestine, Russia-Ukraine, China, NATO, and WW3 | Lex Fridman Podcast #401

The following is a conversation with John mimer a professor at University of Chicago and one of the most influential And controversial thinkers in the world He teaches speaks and writes about the Nature of power and War on the global Stage in history and Today please allow me to say once again My hope for this little journey I'm On I will speak to everyone on all sides With compassion with empathy and with Backbone I will speak with Vladimir Putin and with vadimus zsky with Russians and with ukrainians with Israelis and with Palestinians with Everyone my goal is to do whatever small Part I can to decrease the amount of Suffering in the world by trying to Reveal our common Humanity I believe that in the end Truth And Love Wins I will get attacked for being naive For being a shill for being Weak I am none of those things but I do Make mistakes and I will get Better I love you All this is Alex Freedman podcast to Support it please check out our sponsors In the description and now dear friends Here's John Mammer can you explain your view on Power in international Politics as Outlined in your book The Tragedy of Great power politics and in your writing

Since then yeah I make two sets of Points there first of all I believe that Power is the currency of international Relations and by that I mean that states Are deeply interested in the balance of Power and they're interested in Maximizing how much power they control And the question is why States care so Much about power I in the International System there's no higher authority so if You get into trouble and you dial 911 There's nobody at the other end in a System like that you have no choice but To figure out for yourself how best to Protect yourself and the best way to Protect yourself is to be powerful to Have as much power as you can possibly Gain over all the other states in the System therefore States care about power Because it enhances or maximizes their Prospects for survival second point I Would make is that in the real story or In my story power is largely a function Of material factors uh the two ke key Building blocks of Power are population Size and wealth you want to have a lot Of people and you want to be really Wealthy of course of course this is why The United States is so powerful it has Lots of people and it has lots of wealth China was not considered a great power Until Recently uh because it didn't have a lot Of wealth certainly had population size

But it didn't have wealth and without Both a large population and much wealth You're usually not considered a great Power uh so I think power matters uh but Uh when we talk about power it's Important to understand that it's a Population size and wealth that are Underpinning it so there's a lot of Interesting things there first you said Nations in relation to each other are is Essentially in a state of anarchism yeah Well Anarchy basically means the Opposite of hierarchy sometimes people Think when you're talking about Anarchy You're talking about murder and mayham But that's not what Anarchy means in the Realist context Anarchy simply means That you don't have hierarchy there's no Higher authority that sits above States States are like pool balls on a table Right and in an anarchic world uh There's no higher authority that you can Turn to uh if you get into trouble and Of course the political philosopher who Laid this all out was Thomas Hobbs and Hobbs talked about life in the state of Nature and in the state of nature you Have Individuals and those individuals Compete with each other for power and The reason that they do is because in The state of nature by definition you Have no higher authority and hobbs' view Is that the way to get out of this

Terrible situation where individuals are Competing with each other and even Killing each other is to create a state It's what he calls the Leviathan and That of course is the title of his Famous book so the idea is to escape Anarchy you create a state and that Means you go from Anarchy to hierarchy The problem in international politics is That there is no world State there is no Hierarchy and if you have no hierarchy And you're in an anarchic system you Have no choice but to try to maximize Your relative power to make sure you are As we used to say when I was a kid on New York City playgrounds the biggest And baddest dude on the Block not Because you necessarily want to beat up On other kids or on other states but Because again that's the best way to Survive and as I like to point out to People the best example of what happens When you're weak in international Politics is what the Chinese call the Century of national humiliation uh from From the late 1840s to the late 1940s The Chinese were remarkably weak and the Great powers in the system prayed upon Them and uh that sends a very important Message to not only the Chinese but to Other states in the system don't be weak Be as powerful as you can and we'll talk About it but humiliation can lead to Resentment and resentment leads to uh

Something you've also studied which is Nazi Germany in the 1930s we'll talk about it um But staying to the psychology and Philosophy Picture what's the connection between The will to power in the individual as You mentioned and the will to power in a Nation the will to power in an Individual has a lot to do with Individual's psychology uh the story That I tell about the pursuit of power Is a structural argument it it's an Argument that says when you are in a Particular structure when you're in a System that has a specific Architecture which is Anarchy the states have no choice but to Compete for power uh so structure is Really driving the story here Will To Power has a lot more to do with an Individual uh in in the nichan story Where that concept comes from so it's Very important to understand that I'm Not arguing that states are inherently Aggressive right my point is that as Long as states are in Anarchy right they Have no choice but to behave in an Aggressive fashion but if you went to a Hierarchic system uh there's no reason For those states to worry about the Balance of power because if they get Into trouble there is a higher authority That they can turn to there is in effect

The Leviathan so what is the role of Military might in this uh will to power On the national level well military Might's what ultimately matters as I Said to you before the two building Blocks of Power are population size and Wealth you didn't mention military I did Not no that's right and it's good that You caught that because if you have a Large population and you're a wealthy Country what you do is you build a large Military and it's ultimately the size of Your military that matters uh because Militaries fight Wars and if states are Concerned about survival which I argue Is the principal goal of every state in The International System for what I Think are obvious reasons then they're Going to care about having a powerful Military that can protect them if Another state comes after them what's Not obvious that a large Nation with a Lot of people a lot of money should Necessarily build a gigantic Army and Seek to attain Superpower like dominant sole superpower Status to military might but you're Saying as you see the world today it has To be that way yeah I'm arguing it is Obvious if you're a state in the International System uh do you want to Be weak uh if you live next door to Nazi Germany or imperial Germany or aonic France or even the United States the

United States is a ruthless great power You surely recognize that and if you're Dealing with the United States of America and you're Vladimir Putin you Want to make sure you're as powerful as Possible so that the United States Doesn't put its gun sits on you and come After you same thing is true with China You want to be powerful in the International System States understand That and they go to Great Lengths to Become powerful just take the United States of America when it started in 1783 it was comprised of 13 measley Colonies strung out along the Atlantic Seaboard over time you know the uh Various leaders of the United States Went to Great Lengths to turn that Country into the dominant power in the Western Hemisphere and then once that Was achieved in 1900 we've gone to Great Lengths to make sure that there's no Peer uh competitor in the system uh we Just want to make sure that we're number One uh and my argument is that this is Not peculiar to the United States uh if I'm China for example Today I would want to dominate Asia the Way the United States dominates the Western Hemisphere they'd be fools not To if I were Imperial Germany I'd want To dominate all of Europe the way the United States dominates the Western Hemisphere why because if if you

Dominate all of Europe assum your Imperial Germany or Napoleonic France Then no other state in the area or in The region can threaten you because You're simply so powerful uh and again What I'm saying here is that the Structure of the International System Really matters it's the fact that you're In this anarchic system where survival Is your principal goal and where I can't Know your intentions right you're Another state I can't know that it's Some point you might not come after me You might and if you're really powerful And I'm not I'm in deep trouble yeah so Some of the ideas underlying what you've Said uh offensive realism which I would Love to talk to you about sort of the History of realism versus liberalism but Some of the ideas you already mentioned Uh Anarchy between States everybody's trying to develop a Military capabilities uncertainty such An interesting concept States cannot be Sure that other states will not use Military capabilities against them which Is it's of enormous importance story and So interesting because you also say that This makes realist more cautious and More Peaceful the Uncertainty because of all the Uncertainty involved here it's better to Approach International politics with

Caution is really interesting to think About Uh again survival most States interested In survival and the other interesting Thing is you assume all the states are Rational um which most of the time most Of the time you call this framework Offensive realism C can you just give a Overview of the history of the realism Versus liberalism debate as World Views Well I think for many cent CES now the Big Divide uh within the world of International relations Theory is between realism and liberalism These are Tim honored bodies of theory And before I tell you what I think the Differences are between those two bodies Of theory it is important to emphasize That there are differences among Realists and differences among liberals Um and uh so when you talk about me as An offensive realist you should Understand that there are also defensive Realists out there and there are uh a Panoply of liberal theories as well but Uh basically realists believe that power Matters that states compete for power And that war is an instrument of Statecraft and uh uh liberals on the Other hand have what I would say is a More idealistic view of the world uh This is not to say that they're naive or Foolish but they believe there are

Aspects of international Politics uh that lead to a less Competitive and more peaceful world than Most realists see uh and I'll lay out For you very quickly what are the three Major major liberal theories today that I think will give you a sense of the More optimistic perspective that is Inherent in the liberal Enterprise uh the first and most Important of the liberal theories is Democratic peace Theory and this is a Theory that says democracies do not Fight against other Democracies so the more the world is Populated with democracies the less Likely it is that we will have Wars uh and this basic argument is Inherent in Francis fukiyama is the end Of History he argues that democracy Triumph first over fascism in the 20th Century it then triumphed over communism And that means that in the future we're Have more and more liberal democracies On the planet and if you have more and More liberal democracies in those Democracies don't fight each other then You have a more peaceful world that was His argument it's a very liberal Argument a realist like me would say That it doesn't matter whether a state Is a democracy or not all states behave The same way because the structure of The system getting back to our earlier

Discussion about International Anarchy The structure of the system leaves those States no choice whether they're Democracies or autocracies and again the Liberal view this first liberal theory Is that democracies don't fight other Democracies and therefore the more Democracies you have the more peaceful The world can I just uh sort of try to Unpack that a little bit so on the Democratic peace Theory I guess would Say that in democracies leaders are Elected and the underlying assumption is Most people want peace and so they will Elect peacemakers so the more you Democracies you have the more likely you Have peace and then the realist Perspective what says that it doesn't Matter if the majority of people want Peace the Structure of international politics is Such that superpowers want to become More Super and powerful and they do that Through War you can't make that argument That you're making about democracies Because if you're saying that Democracies are inclined toward toward Peace and the the electorate picks Leaders who are inclined towards peace Then you have to show that democracies Are in general more peaceful than Non-democracies and you can't support That argument you can find lots of Evidence to support the argument that

Democracies don't fight other Democracies so the argument I believe That you have to make if you're going to Support Democratic peace Theory the main Argument you have to make Is that liberal Democracies have a healthy respect for Each other and they can assess each Others intentions if you're a liberal Democracy and I'm a liberal democracy we Know we have value systems that argue Against aggression and argue for Peaceful resolution of of Crisis and Therefore given these Norms we can trust Each other we can know each other's Intentions remember for realists like me Uncertainty about intentions really Helps Drive the train but if you're Talking about two Democracies right the argument there is That they know each other's intentions And for you sure maybe democracies Reduce uncertainty a little bit but not Enough to stop the train I think that's Right yeah that's that that's right so That's Democratic peace theory yes the Second theory is economic Interdependence Theory and that's the Argument that in a globalized world like The one that we live in and have lived In for a long time there's a great deal Of economic interdependence and if you And I are two Countries uh or if you and me are two

Countries and uh we're economically Interdependent and we're both getting Prosperous as a result of this economic Intercourse the last thing that we're Going to do is start a war either one of Us because who would kill the goose that Lays the golden eggs it's that kind of Argument so there you have an argument That economic interdependence leads to Peace and then the third liberal Argument has to do with Institutions uh sometimes referred to as Liberal institutionalism and this is the Argument that if you can get States into Institutions where they become rule Abiding Actors they will obey the rules that Dictate that war is not Acceptable uh so if you get them to Accept uh uh the UN rules on when you Can and cannot initiate a war uh then You'll have a more peaceful world so Those are the liberal theories and as You can tell they're very different from Realism as articulated by somebody like Me can you uh maybe argue against the Economic interdependence and in the Institutions that institutions follow Rules um a little bit so the the the Golden Goose with a golden egg you're Saying that nations are happy to kill The goose because again they want Power If they think it's necessary to kill the Golden Goose yeah because of security

Concerns they will do it the point is That economic Interdependence at its root has Prosperity as the core variable yeah in The realest story The Core variable is Survival and survival always trumps Prosperity so if you go back to the Period before World War I we're in Europe it's 1913 or early 19 14 what you see is that you have an Intense security competition between all Of the great powers on one side you have The Triple Alliance and on the other Side you have the triple onon you have These two alliances and you have an Intense security competition between Them okay at the same time you have a Great deal of economic interdependence It's amazing how much economic Intercourse is taking place in Europe Among all the actors right and people Are getting prosperous or countries are Getting prosperous as a result but Nevertheless in the famous July crisis Of 1914 this economic Prosperity is unable To prevent World War I because security Concerns or survival is more important Uh so there are you know going to be Lots of situations where prosperity and Survival come into conflict and in those Cases survival will win and uh maybe you Can speak to the different camps of

Realists you said offensive and Defensive can you draw a distinction Between those two yeah let me just back Up a bit on that one and you were Talking about Will To Power before uh The first big Divide between realists is structural Realists and human nature realists nice Mhm and Hans Morganth who was influenced by nature And Therefore had that will to power logic Embedded in his thinking about how the World works right he was a human nature Realist okay I'm a structural Realist and I believe it's not human Nature it's it's not individuals and Some Will To Power that drives Competition and War what dri drives Competition in war is the structure of The system it's Anarchy so you're not as Romantic as the human nature realists Yeah there's just a a world of Difference between the two sure it's Just important to understand that so Within that this from the structural That there's a subdivision also of Offensive and defensive yes inside the Structural realist world right and you Have a handful of realists who believe That the structure of the System Fosters competition for sure Security competition but it really rules Out great power War almost all the time

So it makes sense to care about the Balance of power but to focus on Maintaining how much power you have That's the defense of realism Maintaining how much power you have not Trying to gain more power because the Argument the defensive realists make is That if you try to gain more power the System will punish you the structure Will punish You I'm not a defensive realist I'm an Offensive realist and my argument is That states look for Opportunities to gain more power and Every time they see or almost every time They see an opportunity to gain more Power um and they think the likelihood Of success is high and the cost will not Be great they'll jump at that Opportunity just to linger on the human Nature Perspective how do you explain Hitler And Nazi Germany uh just one of the more Recent Aggressive expansions through military Might How do you explain that in the framework Of uh offensive Realism well I think that Nazi Germany Was driven in large part by structural Considerations and I think if you look At Imperial Germany which was largely Responsible for starting World War I and

Of course Nazi Germany is largely Responsible for starting World War II What that tells you is you didn't need Adolf Hitler to start World War I right And I believe that there is a good Chance you would have had World War II In the absence of Hitler right I believe That Germany was very powerful it was Deeply worried about the balance of Power in Europe and it had strong Incentives to behave Aggressively uh in in the late 1930s Early 1940s so I I believe that structure Mattered however I want to qualify that In the case of Adolf hler because I do Think he had what you would call a Will To Power I've never used that word to Describe him before but it's consistent With my point that I often make that There are two leaders or there have been Two leaders in modern history who are Congenital Aggressors uh and one was Napoleon and The other was Hitler now if you want to Call that a Will To Power you can do That I I'm more comfortable referring to Hitler As A congenital aggressor and Referring to Napoleon As A congenital Aggressor although there were important Differences between the two because Hitler was probably the most murderous Leader uh in recorded history and Napoleon was not in that category at all

Uh but but both of them uh were uh Driven by what you would call a Will To Power uh and that has to be uh Mar to The structural argument in Hitler's case And also in Napoleon's case is there Some degree on the human psychology side That Resentment because of how because of What happened after World War I led to Hitler wielding so much power and then Hitler starting World War II so this is The The Human Side perhaps the reason I Asked that question is also because you Mentioned the century of humiliation on The China side so to so to which degree The Humiliation lead to Hitler and lead to World War I well the question of what Led to Hitler is a very different Question than the question of what led To World War II once Hitler was in power I mean after January 30th 1933 he's in Power and then the question of what is Driving him comes racing to the four uh Is their resentment over the Versa Treaty and what happened to Germany yes Did that matter yes but my argument is That structure was the principal Factor Uh driving the train in Hitler's case But what I'm saying here is that there Were other factors at well as well Resentment being one of them will to Power or the fact that he was A Congenital aggressor in my lexicon uh

Certainly mattered as well so I I don't Want to dismiss um your point Uh about resentment so Hitler in Particular the way he wielded the way he Gained so much power might have Been the general resentment of the Populace of the German populace I think That uh as a result of um defeating World War I and all the trials and Tribulations associated with viar Germany and then the coming of uh the Great Depression all of those factors Death definitely account for his coming To power I think that one of the Reasons um that he was so successful at Winning over the German people once he Came to Power uh was because there was a great Deal of resentment uh in the German body Politic and he played on that resentment That surely helped him get elected too But I think uh having studied the case It was even more important once he took Over I also believe that one of the Principle reasons that he was so popular And he was wildly popular inside Nazi Germany is because he was the only Leader of an industrialized country who Pulled this country out of the Depression uh and that really Mattered uh and uh it made him uh very Effective it's also worth noting that he Was a remarkably charismatic individual Uh I find that hard to believe because

Every time I look at him or listen to His speeches uh he does not appear to be Charismatic to me but uh I've talked to A number of people who are experts on This subject who assure me that he was Very charismatic and I would note to you If you look at public opinion polls in Germany West Germany in the late 1940s This is the late 1940s after the Third Reich is destroyed in 19 45 he is still Remarkably popular in the polls Stalin Is still popular in many parts of Eastern Europe yeah yeah and Stalin's Popular in many quarters inside Russia uh and Stalin murdered more of His own people than he murdered people Outside of the Soviet Union and still to You the ties of History turn not on Individuals but on structural Considerations so so Hitler may be a uh Surface Layer characteristics of how Germany Started a war but not the really the Reason well history is a Multidimensional phenomena so I hear and We're talking about Interstate relations Here yes and realism is a theory about How States interact with each other and There are many other dimensions to International politic and if you're Talking about someone like Adolf Hitler Right uh why did he start World War II Uh is a very different question then why Did he uh start the Holocaust or why did

He push forward a holocaust I mean That's you know a different question and Realism doesn't answer that question so I want to be very clear that you know I'm not someone who argues that realism Answers every question about International politics but it does Answer what is you know one of the big If not the biggest questions that IR Scholars care about which is what causes Security competition and what causes Great power War does offensive realism Answer the question why Hitler attacked the Soviet Union Yes Because from a military strategy Perspective you know there's pros and Cons to that decision pros and cons to Every decision the question is did he Think that he could win a quick and Decisive Victory and uh he did I mean as Did his generals it's very interesting I I've spent a lot of time studying German Decision making uh in World War II if You look at the German decision um to Invade Poland on September 1st 1939 and You look at the uh German decision made France on May 10th 1940 and then the Soviet Union on June 22nd 194 41 what You see is there was actually quite a Bit of resistance to Hitler in 1938 at the time of Czechoslovakia Munich and there was also quite a bit of Resistance in September 1939 internally or you mean internally

Internally for sure yeah people had Doubts they didn't think the ver mock Was ready and given the fact that world War one had just ended about 20 years Before for the thought of starting Another European War uh was not Especially attractive to lots of German Policy makers including military Leaders and then came France 1940 in the Runup to May 10th 1940 uh there was huge Resistance uh in the uh German Army to Attacking France uh but that was Eventually eliminated because they came Up with a clever plan uh the manstein Plan if you look at the decision to Invade the Soviet Union on June 22nd 1941 which is the only case where they Fail they succeeded in France they Succeeded in Poland they succeeded uh at Munich in 1938 Soviet Union is where they fail There's hardly any resistance at all Right yeah well and to say that they Failed the Soviet Union I mean my Grandfather F I mean from from the Soviet Union you know there's a lot of Successes early on so there's poor Military I would say uh strategic Decisions along the way but it was uh it Caught Stalin off Guard maybe you can correct me but from My Perspective terrifyingly so they could Have been successful if certain

Different decisions were made from a Military Perspective yeah I I I've always had the Since they came terrifyingly close to Winning uh you could make the opposite Argument that they were doomed uh but uh I I'm not terribly comfortable making That argument I think the ver mocked by The summer of 1941 was a finally tuned instrument for War and the Red Army was in quite Terrible shape uh Stalin had purged the Officer Corp uh they had perform po Poorly in Finland uh and uh there were All sorts of reasons to think that they Were no match for the verock and if you Look at what happened in the initial Stages of the conflict that proved to be The case uh the Germans won a lot of Significant tactical victories early on And if they focused and went to Moscow As quickly as possible it's again Terrifyingly so could have been a Basically topple topple Stalin um and one thing that's that's Possible that's possible fortunately We're not going to run the experiment Again but one could argue that that had They concentrated as the generals wanted To do in going straight for Moscow that They would have won I mean what Hitler Wanted to do is he he wanted to go into The Ukraine I mean Hitler thought that The main axis uh there were three axes

The Northern axis went towards Leningrad The central axis of course went to Moscow and then the southern axis Army Group South uh headed towards Ukraine And deep into the caucuses and Hitler Believed that uh that that should have Been the main axis and in fact in 1942 the Soviets excuse me the Germans Go back on the offensive in 1942 this is Operation Blue and the main Axis in 42 is deep into the Ukraine and Into the caucuses and that fails but one Could argue that had they done that in 41 had they not gone to Moscow had they Gone you know had they concentrated on Going deep into Ukraine and into the Caucuses they could have knocked the Soviets out that way uh I'm I'm not sure That in the end I believe that I I think In the end the Soviets would have won no Matter what but I'm not 100% sure of That so sometimes um maybe you can Educate me but sometimes you know they Say just like with Napoleon winter Defeated Hitler in in Russia I think not Often enough people tell the story of The of the soldiers and the the Motivation and how hard they Fight so uh it turns out that ukrainians And Russians are not easy to conquer They're the kinds of people that Don't roll over and fight bravely there Seems to be a difference in certain People peoples in how they see War how

They approach War how proud they are to Fight for their country to die for their Country these kinds of things so I think Battle of stying gr tells at least to me A story of extremely Brave fighting on The Soviet side and that it's a Component of War too it's not just Structural it's not just mil strategy It's also the humans involved but maybe That's a romantic notion of war no I I Think there's a great deal of Truth in That but let's just unpack it a bit in The case of uh the Soviet Union in World War II the counterargument to that um is That in World War I the uh Russian army Disintegrated uh and uh if you look at What happened when Napoleon invaded in 18112 and you look at what happened in 1917 and then you look at what happened Between 41 and 45 the Napoleon case looks a lot like The Hitler case and it fits neatly with Your argument but World War I does not Fit neatly with your argument because The Russians lost and surrendered yeah And you had the infamous Treaty of BR Lovk where the Soviet Union then because It went from Russia to the Soviet Union In October 1917 the Soviet Union Surrendered large amounts of uh Soviet Territory because it had suffered a Humiliating defeat my argument for why The Russians let me take that back why The Soviets fought like wild dogs in

World War II is that they were up Against a genocidal Adversary you want to understand that The Germans murdered huge numbers of Soviet PS uh the overall total was 3.7 million And by December December of 1941 Remember the invasion is June 41 by December of 1941 uh the Germans have murdered two Million Soviet PS at that point in time They had murdered many more PWS than They had murdered Jews and this is not To deny for one second that they were on A murderous Rampage when it came to Jews But were also on a murderous Rampage When it came to Soviet citizens and Soviet soldiers right so those Soviet Soldiers quickly came to understand that They were fighting for their lives if They were taken prisoner they would die So they fought like wild dogs yeah you Know the story of the Holocaust of the 6 Million Jews is often told extensively If Hitler want one conquer the Soviet Union it's terrifying to think on a much Grander scam than the Holocaust what What would have happened to the Slavic People to the to the Soviet people Absolutely all you have to do is read The Hunger plan right and they also had Had a plan uh what is it called Grand Planned East I forget the exact name of It uh which made it clear that they they

Were going to murder many tens of Millions of people and by the way I Believe that they would have murdered All the poles and all the Roma I mean my View is that the Jews were number one on The genocidal Hit List the Roma or the Gypsies were number two and the Poes Were number three uh and of course I Just explained to you how many PS they Had killed so they would have ended up Murdering huge numbers of Soviet Citizens as well but people quickly Figured out that this was happen Happening M that's my point to you and That gave them needless to say very Powerful incentives to fight hard uh Against uh the Germans and to make sure That they did not win to fast forward in Time but not in Space let me ask you about uh the war in Ukraine why did Russia invade Ukraine on February 24th 2022 What are some of the explanations given And which do you find the most Convincing well clearly the conventional Wisdom is that Putin uh is principally Responsible Putin is an imperialist uh He's an expansionist that's the Conventional thinking yeah yeah and the Idea is that uh he he uh is bent on Creating a greater Russia uh and even More so he's interested in dominating in Eastern Europe if not all of Europe um and that Ukraine was the first

Stop on the train line uh and what he Wanted to do was to conquer all of Ukraine uh incorporate it into a greater Russia and then he would move on and Conquer other countries this is the Conventional wisdom my view is there is No evidence uh let me emphasize zero Evidence to support that argument which Part that he would the imperialist part The sense that he would he sought to Conquer all of Ukraine and move on and Conquer there's no evidence he was Interested in conquering all of Ukraine There was no interested there's no Evidence beforehand that he was Interested in coning conquering any of Ukraine and there's no way that an army That had 190,000 troops at the Most right could have conquered all of Ukraine just impossible as I like to Emphasize when the Germans went into Poland in 1939 uh and the Germans you want to Remember were only intent on Conquering The Western half of Poland because the Soviets uh who came in later that month Were going to conquer the eastern half Of Poland so the Western half of Poland Is much smaller than Ukraine and the Germans went in with 1 5 million troops Uh If U Vladimir Putin were bent on Conquering all of Ukraine he would have Needed at least two million troops I

Would argue he'd need three million Troops because not only he need to Conquer the country he then have to Occupy it uh but the idea that 190,000 Troops was sufficient for conquering uh All of Ukraine is not a serious argument Furthermore he was not interested in Conquering Ukraine and that's why in March 2022 this is immediately after the war Starts he is negotiating with zinsky to End the war there are serious Negotiations taking place in Istanbul Involving the Turks and na T Bennett who Was the Israeli Prime Minister at the Time was deeply involved in negotiating With both Putin and zeny to end the war Well if he was interested Putin in Conquering all of Ukraine why in God's Name would he be negotiating with zinski To end the war and of course what they Were negotiating about was NATO Expansion into Ukraine which was the Principal cause of the war uh people in The west don't want to hear that Argument because if it is true which it Is then the West is principally Responsible for this bloodbath that's Now taking place and of course the West Doesn't want to be principally resp Responsible it wants to blame Vladimir Putin so we've invented this story out Of whole cloth that he is an aggressor That he's the second coming of Adolf

Hitler and that what he did in Ukraine Was try to to conquer all of it and he Failed but uh with a little bit of luck He probably would have conquered all of It and he'd now be in the Baltic states And eventually end up uh dominating all Of Eastern Europe is I I think there's No evidence to support this so maybe There's a lot of things to ask there Maybe just to linger on NATO Expansion what is NATO Expansion what is the threat of NATO Expansion and why is it such a concern For Russia NATO was a mortal enemy of the Soviet Union during the Cold War it's a Military Alliance which has at its heart The United States of America which is The most powerful State on the planet it Is perfectly understandable that Russia Is not going to want that military Alliance on its doorstep here in the United States we have as you well know What's called the Monroe Doctrine and That basically says no great powers from Europe or Asia are allowed to come into Our neighborhood and form a military Alliance with anybody in this Neighborhood uh when I was young there Was this thing called the Cuban Missile Crisis the Soviets had the audacity to Put nuclear armed missiles in Cuba we Told them in no uncertain terms that

That was not acceptable and that those Missiles had to be removed this is our Backyard and we do not tolerate distant Great Powers coming into our Neighborhood well what's good for the Goose is good for the gander and if we Don't like great Powers coming into our Neighborhood it's hardly surprising that The r Russians did not want NATO on Their doorstep uh they made that Manifestly clear um when the Cold War Ended and they exacted a promise from us That we would not expand NATO and then When we started expanding NATO they made It clear after the first trunch in 1999 That they were profoundly unhappy with That they made it clear in 2004 after The second trunch that they were Profoundly unhappy with that Expansion and then in April 2008 when NATO announced that uh Ukraine and Georgia would become part of NATO they Made it unequivocally clear not just Putin that that was not going to happen They were drawing a Red Line in the Sand And it is no accident that in August 2008 remember the Bucharest Summit is April 2008 and August 2008 you had a war Between Georgia and Russia and that Involved at its core NATO expansion so Uh the Americans and their allies should Have understood by at least August 2008 That continuing to push to bring Ukraine Into NATO was going to lead to disaster

And I would note that there were all Sorts of people in the 1990s like George Kennan William Perry who was Bill Clinton's secretary defense the chairman Of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Paul Nitza And so forth and so on who argued that NATO expansion would end up producing a Disaster which it has I would note that Uh at the famous April 2008 Bucharest Summit where NATO said that Ukraine Would be brought into the alliance Angela Merkel and uh Nicholas sarosi the German and French leaders respectively Opposed that decision Angela Merkel Later said that the reason she opposed It was because she understood that Putin Would interpret it as a declaration of War just think about that Merkel is Telling you that she opposed NATO Expansion into Ukraine because she Understood correctly that Putin would See it as a declaration of war what did The United States and its friend in Friends in Europe do they continued to Push and push because we thought that we Could push NATO expansion down their Throat after 2008 the same way we did in 1999 and 2004 but we were wrong and it All blew up in our face in 2014 and when it blew up in our face in 2014 what did we do did we back off and Say well maybe the Russians have some Legitimate security interest no that's Not the way we operate we continue

Contined to double down and the end Result is that in 2022 you got a war and As I've argued for a long time now we The West are principally responsible for That not Vladimir Putin so the expansion Of NATO is primarily responsible yeah to Put it in more general terms what we Were trying to do was turn Ukraine into A western bulwark on Russia's border and It really was it NATO expansion alone NATO expansion was the most important Element of our strategy but the strategy Had two other dimensions one was EU Expansion and the third was the color Revolution we were trying to force Orange revolution in Ukraine and the Basic goal there was to turn Ukraine Into a pro Western liberal Democracy and that meant that you'd have Ukraine if it worked as a pro-western Liberal democracy that was in the EU and That was in NATO this was our goal and The Russians made it unequivocally clear Ukraine was not going to become a Western bullwark on their border and Most importantly they made it clear that Ukraine in NATO was Unacceptable can we talk about the mind Of Vladimir Putin you've mentioned that This idea that he has aspirations For uh imperialist Conquest that he dreams of Empire is not Grounded in reality he wrote an essay in 2021 about one

People do you think there is some degree To Which he still dreams of the former Soviet Union Reuniting no he's made it clear that Anybody with a a triple digit IQ Understands that it's nuts to think About recreating the Soviet Union he thinks it's a tragedy that the Soviet Union fell apart but as he made Clear in that essay the July 12th 2021 Essay and as he made clear in speeches Before immediately before he invaded Ukraine he Accepted uh the breakup of the Soviet Union and he accepted the status quo in In Europe safe for the fact he did not Accept the idea that Ukraine would Become part of NATO he's been in power For over two decades is there a degree That power can Affect a Leader's ability to see the World Clearly as they say Corrupt um do you think power has Corrupted Vladimir Putin to a degree It's very hard for me to answer that Question because I don't know him and I've not studied him carefully uh in Terms of his overall performance over The course of you know the 23 years that He's been in Power uh I've studied him as a Strategist and I've studied how he you

Know deals with the West uh and you know Deals with the International System more Generally uh since 20 4 and I think he is a first class Strategist this is not to say he doesn't Make Mistakes uh and he admits he's made some Mistakes uh U but uh I think that the West is dealing with a formidable Adversary here uh and I don't see any Evidence that he's either lost speed off His fast ball or that power has Corrupted Ed his thinking about Strategic Affairs so he has consistently Put as a primary concern Security as does the United States he's Put for Russia security making sure that NATO doesn't get close to its borders I Think that's clear yeah I I I think as I Emphasized early on in our conversation That leaders privilege security or Survival over everything else and by the Way he gave a number of talks uh and Press Conferences uh in addition to writing That famous article that you referred to On July 12th 2021 so we have you know a Pretty clear record of what he was Saying and I would argue what he was Thinking in the runup to the war in February 2022 and if you read uh what he said uh It's quite clear that he privileged Security or survival he was deeply

Concerned about the security of Russia And Russia is a quite vulnerable state In a lot of ways especially if you think Back to what it looked like in the 1990s You know better than I do uh it was in Terrible shape uh the Chinese talk about The century of national humiliation one Could argue that for the Russians that Was the decade of national Humiliation and uh and it took Putin I Think quite a bit of time to bring the Russians back from the dead I think he Eventually succeeded but uh it took a Considerable amount of time and I think He understood that he was not playing a Particularly strong hand he was playing Something of a weak hand and he had to Be very careful very cautious and I Think he was uh and I think that's very Different than the United States the United States was the unipole it was the Most powerful state in the history of The world most powerful State relative To all its possible competitors from you Know roughly 1989 certainly after December 1991 when the Soviet Union fell Apart up until I would argue about 2017 We were incredibly powerful and even After 2017 up to today the United States Remains the most powerful state in the System and because of our geographical Location uh we are in a uh Terrific uh situation to survive in any

Great power competition so uh you have a Situation involving the United States That's different than the situation Involving Russia they're they're just Much more vulnerable uh than we are and And therefore I think Putin tends to be More sensitive about security uh than Any American president in recent Times Europe on one side China on the other Side it's a complicated situation yeah And we talked before about 1812 when Napoleon invaded and Moscow got burned To the ground we talked about World War I where the Russians were actually Defeated uh and surrendered uh and then We talked about 1941 to 1945 where Although thankfully uh the Soviets Prevailed uh it was uh it was a close Call and I mean the casualties the Destruction that the Soviet Union uh had inflicted on it by the Germans is just almost almost hard to Believe Just uh so they are sensitive you can Understand full well or at least you Should be able to understand full well Why the idea of bringing Ukraine up to Their border really spooked them uh I Don't understand why more Americans Don't understand that it just it it Befuddles me I think it has to do with the fact that Americans are not very good in putting Themselves in the shoes of other

Countries uh and uh you really if if You're going to be a first class Strategist in international politics you Have to be able to do that you have to Put yourself in the shoes of the other Side and think about how they think so You don't make foolish mistakes and as a Starting point Americans tend to see Themselves as the good guys and a set of Others as the bad guys and you have to Be able to empathize that Russians think Of themselves as the good guys the Chinese think of themselves as the good Guys and just be able to empathize if They are the good guys it's like that uh Funny skit are we the baddies consider The United States could be the bad guys Like first of all like see the world if The United States is the bad guys and China is the good guys what does that World look like be able to just exist With that thought because that is what The Chinese leadership and many Chinese Citizens uh if not now maybe in the Future will believe and you have to kind Of do the calculation the simulation Forward from that and same with Russia Same with with other nations yeah I Agree with you 100% and just you know I Always think of Michael McFall at Stanford who was the American ambassador To uh Russia I think between 2012 and 2014 and uh he told me that he told Putin uh that Putin didn't have to worry

About NATO expansion because the United States was a benign Hegemon and uh I asked Mike what Putin's Response was to that and uh Mike said That Putin didn't believe it uh and uh But Mike believed it he should believe It and that we could move NATO Eastward To include Ukraine and in the end we get Away with it because we are a benign Hegemon but the fact is that's not what Putin saw Putin saw us as a mign Hedgemon and what Mike thinks or any American thinks doesn't matter what Matters is what Putin thinks but also The drums of War have been beating for Some reason NATO expansion has been Threatened for some reason so you've Talked about NATO expansion being Dead so like it doesn't make sense from A geop political perspective on the Europe side to expand NATO uh but Nevertheless that threat has been uh Echoed so um why has NATO expansion been Pushed from your perspective there are Two reasons one is first of all we Thought it was a wonderful thing uh to Bring more and more countri Ries into NATO we thought that it facilitated Peace and prosperity it was ultimately All for the good um and uh we also Thought that uh uh countries like Ukraine had a right to join NATO these Are sovereign countries that can decide For themselves and the Russians have no

Say in what Ukraine wants to do and then Finally and uh this is a point I Emphasized before we were very powerful And we thought we could shove it down Their throat so so it's a combination of Those factors that led us to pursue what I think was ultimately uh a foolish Policy we've talked about how Wars get Started how do you hope the war in Ukraine ends what are the ways to end This war what are the ways to achieve Peace there to uh and the The I would say Senseless death of young men as always Happens in War I I'm sad to say I don't have a good Answer to that um I I don't think There's any real Prospect of a Meaningful peace agreement I think it's Almost Impossible uh I I think the best you can Hope for uh at this point is it's some Some point the shooting stops you have a Ceasefire and then you have a frozen Conflict uh and that Frozen conflict uh Will not be highly stable uh and uh the U ukrainians in the west will do Everything they can to weaken Russia's Position uh and the Russians will go to Great Lengths to not only damage that Dysfunctional rum state that Ukraine Becomes but the Russians will go go to Great Lengths to seow dissension within The alliance and uh and that includes in

Terms of transatlantic relations so You'll have this Continuing security competition between Russia on one side and Ukraine and the West on the other even when you get a Frozen Peace uh and um or you get a frozen Conflict and uh and and and the Potential for escalation there will be Great uh so I think this is a disaster That's a very realist perspective let me Ask you sort of a the The Human Side of It do you think there's some power to Leader sitting down having a Conversation man to man leader to leader About this there's there there is just a Lot of death Happening it seems that from an economic Perspective from a historic perspec from A human perspective both nations are Losing is it possible for Vladimir Zalinski and and Vladimir Putin to sit Down and talk and To uh figure out a way where uh the Security concerns are addressed and both Nations can um minimize the amount of Suffering that's happening and and and Create a a path towards future Flourishing I think the answer is no Even with uh United States involved Three people in the room well I think You if the United States is involved the Answer is definitely no you have to get The Americans out uh and then I I think

If you have zinski and Putin talking you Know you have a sliver of a chance there The Americans Are a real problem look let's go back to What happens right after the war starts Okay as I said before this is we're Talking March early April of 2022 the War starts on February 24th 2022 and as I said to you uh the two Sides were negotiating in aan buul and They were also uh negotiating through Neftali Bennett and the Bennett track And the Turkish track were operating Together I mean they were not at Cross Purposes at All what Happened Bennett tells the story very Clearly that they had made significant Progress in reaching an agreement this Is zalinski on one side and Putin on the Other Bennett is talking in person to Both Putin and uh Zalinski and what happens to produce Failure the answer is the United States And Britain get involved and tell Zalinsky to walk they tell zalinsky to Walk if they had come in and encourage Zinski to try to figure out a way with Putin to shut this one down and worked With Bennett and worked with Erdogan we might have been able to shut The war down then but it was the United States well let me sort of uh push back On that you're you're you're correct but

So United States paints this like um Picture that everybody's align so I Maybe you can correct me but I believe In the power of individuals especially Individual leaders Again whether it's Biden or Trump or Whoever goes into a Room and says in a way that's convincing That no more NATO Expansion and actually just on a basic Human Level ask the question of why are we Doing all this senseless Killing and look at the interest of one Russia look at the interest of the other Ukraine Their interests are pretty simple and Say United States is going to stay out Of this we're not going to expand NATO And say all that in a way that's Convincing which is NATO expansion is Silly at this point china is the big Threat we're not going to do this kind Of uh conflict escalation with Russia The Cold War is Over let's let's uh Normalize relations well let me just Embellish your argument okay thank you I need it if we say there's a sliver of A chance that you can do this and I do Think there is a sliver of a chance let Me just embellish your point Thank you Need all the help I can get two things Have to be done here in my opinion one Is uh Ukraine has to become

Neutral and it has to completely sever All security ties with the West right It's not like uh you can say we're not Going to expand NATO to include Ukraine But we're going to continue to have some Loose security arrangement with Ukraine None of that has to be completely Severed Ukraine has to be on its own Okay and number two Ukraine has to Accept the fact that the Russians are Going to keep the four oblas that They've now annexed and Crimea Right the Russians are not going to give Them back and what you really want to do If you're zalinsky or who's ever running Ukraine in this scenario that we're Positing is you want to make sure the Russians don't take another four oblas To include arke and Odessa Right if I'm playing Putin's hand and This war goes on I'm thinking about Taking four more oblas I I want to take About 40 3% of Ukraine and an exit to Russia right and I certainly want Odessa Uh and I certainly want AR and I I want The two o Bloss in between as well right Literally or as uh leverage in Negotiation no Ukraine neutrality I want Them literally uh I want to conquer them Literally uh but my point to you is if We can begin to talk about cutting a Deal now you may be able to head that Kind of aggression off at the past in Other words you may be able to limit

Putin and Russia to annexing the four Oblas that they've now annexed plus Crimea that's the best I think you can Hope for but the point is you have to Get the ukrainians to accept that you Have to get the ukrainians to accept Becoming a truly neutral State and Conceding that the Russians keep a big Chunk of territory it's about 23% of Ukrainian territory that they've Annexed and I find it hard to imagine Any Ukrainian leader agree to that well There there there could be more Nuance Things like no military involvement Between the United States in Ukraine but Economic involvement sort of uh Financial support So normalizing Economic relationships with Ukraine with Russia I I think you could probably get Away with that I I think that the the Tricky question there that you would Have to answer is what about EU Expansion right and I think EU expansion Is probably a no no for the Russians Because most people don't recognize this But there is a military Dimension built Into EU expansion it's not purely an Economic uh Alliance uh or relationship Or institution whatever word you want to Use there's a military Dimension to that And in the runup to the War uh actually In the runup to the 2014 crisis when it First broke out uh the Russians made it Clear they saw EU expansion as a

Stalking horse for NATO expansion so EU Expansion is tricky but I I think your Point of close economic relations Between uh or healthy economic relations To use a better term between Ukraine and The West is possible I I I think the Russians have a vested interest in if if It's a neutral Ukraine they have a Vested interest in that Ukraine Flourishing but that then brings us back To the territorial issue all right well So do you believe it's possible for Individual human relations to counteract The structural forces that you talk About so meaning the Leaders being able to pick up the phone And make agreements that are good for Humanity as a whole and for their Individual nations in the long term I Think leadership matters here Uh I mean one of the real problems here Is that there's no trust and uh on the Russian side and that has to do with the Minsk agreements um the uh uh the Minsk Agreements uh which were designed to Shut down the Civil War uh in eastern Ukraine in the donbass Um really mattered to the Russians and There were four players involved in the Uh uh the mince process uh four main Players Russia and Ukraine of course and Then Germany and France and uh I believe the Russians Took the Minsk Accord seriously uh I

Believe Putin took them very seriously He wanted to shut down that Conflict um and uh Angela Merkel Francois Holland he was The French leader and penko who was the Ukrainian leader those were the three Key players besides Putin again Holan From France Merkel from Germany and Penko from Ukraine have all explicitly Said they were not seriously interested In reaching an agreement in all of the Discussions with Putin they were Bamboozling him they were trying to Trick him so that they would buy time to Build up Ukraine's military uh Putin is Profoundly upset about these admissions By these three leaders he believes he Was fooled into thinking that mince Could work he believes that he Negotiated in good faith and they did Not and he believes that the level of Trust now now between Russia uh and the West is virtually zero as a result of This experience over Minsk I only bring This up because it cuts against your Argument that leaders could pick up the Phone and talk to each other and trust Each other at least somewhat uh to work Out a meaningful deal if you're Putin at This point in time trusting the West is Not an idea that's going to be very Attractive at all in fact you're going To distrust anything they say yeah Distrust anything the West say but there

Is individual humans the way human Nature works is when you sit in the Cross from a person you can trust a Human being while still distrusting the West I mean I I I believe in the power Of that I I think with the right leaders You can sit down and talk like over Override the general structural distrust Of the West and say you know what I like This guy or gal whatever I do hope Zilinsky and Putin sit down together and Talk have multiple Talks just remember they were doing that In March and the Americans came in and The British came in yeah and they Scotched a potential Deal Well uh the other beautiful thing about Human nature there's forgiveness and There's Uh trying again when you're the leader Of a country in an anarchic System you have to be very careful not To let uh your trust in a foreign leader Take you too far because if that foreign Leader betrays you or betrays your trust And stabs you in the back you could die And again you want to remember that the Principal responsibility of any leader I Don't I don't care what country it is is To ensure the survival of their state And that means that you know trust is Only going to buy you so much and when You've already

Betrayed the trust of a leader uh you Really are not going to be able to rely On trust very much to help you moving Forward now you disagree with that I Hope you're right and if they can shut Down the Ukraine Russia War uh it would Be wonderful if if I'm proved dead wrong Uh that would be wonderful news uh My my prediction that this war is going To go on for a long time and Uh and end in an ugly way is a Prediction that I don't like at all uh So I hope I'm wrong you wrote that many In the west believe that the best hope For ending the Ukraine war is to remove Vladimir Putin from power but you argue That uh this isn't the Case can you explain well a lot of People thought When they were having all that trouble The Russians were having all that Trouble with progan and the Vagner group That Putin was vulnerable and was likely To be Overthrown and what would happen is uh a Peaceloving leader would replace Putin Uh I made two points at the time and I Would make those same two points now Number one he's not Likely to be overthrown he was not Likely then to be Overthrown uh and I think you know as Long as his health holds up I think he Will remain in power my second point is

If he doesn't remain in power and he's Replaced I would bet a lot of money that His replacement will be more hawkish and More Hardline than Putin is uh I Actually think one could argue that Putin was too trusting of the West Before the war Started uh and number two I think one Could argue that he has not waged the War against Ukraine as vigorously as one Might have expected uh he was slow to Mobilize the nation for war Uh and he has pursued a limited war in All sorts of ways uh the Israelis for Example have killed more civilians in Gaza in one month than the Russians have Killed over 18 months in Ukraine the Idea that Vladimir Putin is waging a Punishment campaign and killing on Purpose large numbers of civilians is Simply not true uh all this is to say That I would imagine that if Putin Leaves office and someone else comes in To replace him that someone else will be At least if not more Hardline than him In terms of waging the war and certainly Will not trust the West any more than he Has by way of advice let me ask you if I Were to have a conversation interview Vladimir Putin and zalinski Individually what should I ask them if You me and Vladimir Putin are having a Chat what are Good ideas to explore what are good

Questions to ask what are good things to Say on or off the mic once again that Could Potentially even slightly less than the Amount of suffering in the world caused By this war oh I think if you get an Interview with Vladimir Putin there just All sorts of questions you could ask him And my sense is that Putin is a straight Shooter uh he's also very knowledgeable About history and he has simple theories In his head about how the world works And I think he would level with you and All you would have to do is just you Know figure out what all the right Questions are and that would not be hard To do right uh you know you could ask Him why was he so foolish this is for a For example why was he so foolish is to Uh uh trust uh poreno Holland and Merkel Uh in the Minsk Accords uh you know why after his famous Talk at Munich in 2007 where he made it Clear that he was so unhappy with the West uh did he continue uh to you know In a very important way trust the West Why didn't Mobilize uh the Russian military before Late September 2022 uh you know once the negotiations That we were talking about before uh Involving Istanbul uh and uh navali Ben and once They broke down you know why didn't he

Immediately mobilize more of the Russian Population to fight the war just all Sorts of questions like that and then You could ask him questions about you Know where uh he sees this one headed uh What's the best strategy for Russia uh If the ukrainians will not agree to Neutrality right you know people like John mearm say you'll probably take uh Close to half of Ukraine is that true uh Does it make sense to take Odessa and John mimer also has questions About China your future relationships with China Yeah I mean one really important Question that I would ask him is if the United States had basically not driven You into the arms of the Chinese if There had been no war over Ukraine and The United States had and its European Allies had gone to considerable length To create some sort of security Architecture in Europe uh that resulted In you Vladimir Putin having good Relations with Ukraine what would your Relations with China be Uh and uh you know how would you think About that uh so there there are just Plenty of questions you could ask Him well hope Burns Eternal in my heart I think probably in Putin's heart and Zelinsky's heart I Hope cuz hope is uh the leap of trust

That we've talked about I think is Necessary for deescalation and for peace Well you realize I have from the Beginning argued for different policies That were all designed to prevent this War from ever happening yes I don't know If you know this but in 1993 I argued That Ukraine should keep its nuclear Weapons I was probably the only person In the west who made that argument and My argument in 1993 this is in foreign Affairs was that there may come the day When Russia thinks about invading Ukraine and should that day come it Would be very helpful for preventing War If Ukraine had nuclear weapons so Military might is essential for Maintaining a balance of power and peace Well if you're interested in deterring An adversary if I'm worried about you Coming after me the best way to deter You is to have military might and if You're Russia and I'm Ukraine I'm far Weaker than you yeah right and having a Nuclear deterrent would be very Effective at convincing you not to Attack me because if you attack me You're threatening my survival and That's the one circumstance where it is Likely that I would use nuclear weapons To defend myself and given the Consequences of nuclear use you would be Reluctant in the extreme to attack me so That's why I argued in 93 that if

Ukraine kept its nuclear weapons that Made War down the road much less likely And I believe I was correct and in fact Bill Clinton who played the key role in Forcing Ukraine to give up its nuclear Weapons now says he has said it publicly You can find it on YouTube that he made A mistake doing that furthermore I Argued in 2014 that it made eminently good sense Not to continue to push to bring Ukraine Into NATO because the end result is that Ukraine would be destroyed and Ukraine Is being destroyed so I was deep deeply Interested at time in making sure that That didn't happen for the good of the Ukrainians not to mention because Stability in Europe is a net positive For almost everybody involved but people Did not listen to me then either how do Nuclear weapons change the calculus of Offensive realism because of mutually Assured destruction I mean it's not just Military might it's just so Destructive that you basically can't use Nuclear Weapons unless you want complete Destruction there's no question that the Presence of nuclear weapons makes it Much less likely I'm choosing my words Carefully here much less likely that a Great power would aggress against Another great power it doesn't take that Possibility off the table but it makes

It much less likely because of the Reasons that you Articulated uh but with regard tole Nuclear Use it's an interesting question how you Think about nuclear use in a mad world I Mean your point that we're in a mad World Is that's mad Capital mad as well as mad Small letters but let's stick to the Capital letters we're in a world of Mutual assured destruction U there's no Question that in that World um um it's uh unlikely that Nuclear weapons would be used but the Way you use nuclear weapons in that World is you use them uh for Manipulation to risk purposes Demonstration Effect you you put both sides out on the Slippery slope now what exactly am I Saying here let me talk about NATO Doctrine during the Cold War we lived in A Mad World United States and Soviet Union or the wara pack and NATO both had An assured destruction capability so you Had mutual assured destruction If the Warsaw Pact were to invade Western Europe and here we're talking About West Germany uh and NATO was losing the war We said that we would use nuclear Weapons how would we use nuclear weapons Given that we were in a Mad World the

Argument was that we would use a handful Of nuclear weapons Against The warsa Pact not to not necessarily against Their military forces could be in a Remote area we would use a small number Of nuclear Weapons to signal to the Soviets that we Were deadly serious about putting an end To their Offensive uh and that we were throwing Both sides out on the slippery slope to Oblivion in other words we were Manipulating risk and the last clear Chance to avoid Armageddon rested with Them and then we would tell them that if You retaliated with a handful of nuclear Weapons and you didn't cease your Offensive against West Germany we would Launch a small another nuclear attack we Would uh explode a handful more of Nuclear weapons all for the purposes of Showing you our resolve right so this is The manipulation of risk strategy and a Lot of the language I just used in Describing it to you is language that Thomas Shelly invented right now fast Forward to the present if Russia were You losing in Ukraine that's the one Scenario I think where Russia would have Used nuclear weapons and the question is How would Russia have used nuclear Weapons again we're assuming that the Russians are losing to the ukrainians I Believe

They would have pursued a manipulation Of risk strategy they would have used 405 30 or4 who knows nuclear weapons Maybe just one in a rural area that Kills very few people yes exactly and Basically that would spook everybody the American just the mushroom cloud yeah The it it's because of the threat of Escalation right again you your point is We're in a mad world I accept that and If you have limited nuclear use right we Understand hardly anything about nuclear Escalation because thank goodness we've Never had a nuclear war so once you Throw both sides out on the slippery Slope even if you only use one nuclear Weapon in your scenario you don't know What the escalation Dynamics look like So everybody has a powerful incentive to Put an end to the conflict right away I Might add to you that there were people Who believe that we would not even Initiate a manipulation of risk strategy In Europe if we were losing to the warsa Pack during the Cold War both Henry Kissinger and Robert mamar said after Leaving office that they would not have Done it they would have not initiated Nuclear use even limited nuclear use That's what we're talking about here They would rather be dead than dead Right that was the argument too risky Too risky that's exactly right but if They had used one nuclear weapon in your

Story or three or four in my Story everybody would have said oh my God we've got to shut this one down Immediately I only tell you this story Or lay out this scenario be as an answer To your question of how you use nuclear Weapons in a mad world and this is the Answer I this is all very terrifying uh Perhaps in part it's terrifying to me Because I can see in the 21st Century China Russia Israel United States using a Nuclear weapon in this Way blowing it up somewhere in the Middle of nowhere that kills maybe Nobody but I'm terrified of seeing the Mushroom cloud and not Knowing what you know given social media Given how fast news Travels what the escalation looks like There just you know in in in a in a Matter of minutes how the news travels And how the leaders react it's Terrifying that this this little Demonstration of power um the Ripple Effects of it in a matter of minutes Seconds what that leads to because it's Like it's human emotions it's like you You see the landscape of human Emotions the leaders and the populace And and the way news are reported and Then the landscape of risk as you Mentioned shifting like the world's most Intense nonlinear dynamical

System and it it it's just terrifying Because the the the entirety of human Civilizations hangs in the balance there And it's like like This like hundreds of millions of people Could be dead let's just talk about this In the context of the Ukraine war Um if uh if the Russians were losing as I said before which is not the case Anymore but in 2022 it it did look like That um if the Russians are losing and They turn to nuclear weapons the Question is how do they use them and They would use them in Ukraine and because Ukraine has no Nuclear weapons of its own Ukraine Cannot retaliate it's not a mutual Assured destruction world it's a case Where one side has nuclear weapons and The other doesn't that means that the Russians are likely to think that they Can get away with using nuclear weapons In ways that would not be the case if They were attacking NATO and therefore It makes nuclear use more likely okay That's point one point two is let's Assume that the Russians use two or Three nuclear weapons in a remote area Sweating by the way just just as a Commentary the terrifying yeah the Question then is what does the West do Now mccrone has said and Biden has also I think implicitly made this clear we Would not retaliate with nuclear weapons

If the Russians were to attack with a Handful of nuclear weapons in Western Ukraine but then the question question Is what would we do MH and if you listen To David Petraeus what David Petraeus Says is that we should attack the Russian naval Assets in the Black Sea and attack Russian forces in Ukraine well once you do that you have a Great power of War you have NATO versus Russia which is another way of saying You have the United States versus Russia We're now a great power War they have Nuclear weapons we have nuclear weapons They've used nuclear weapons what is the Happy ending here and just to take it a Step further and go back to our earlier Discussion about moving NATO up to Russia's borders the point I made which You surely agree with is that the Russians are very fearful when they see NATO coming up to their border well Here's a case where not only is NATO Come up to their border but they're in a War with NATO right on their Border what do the escalation Dynamics Look like there you know what the answer Is who knows that's should scare the Living but Jesus out of you right and Some of it could be like you mentioned Unintended there could be unintended Consequences there could be a Russian Missile misses and hits Poland the these kinds of things that

Just escalate Misunderstandings miscommunications Even a I mean nuclear weapon could be Boy it could have been planned to go Location X and it went to a location y That ended up actually killing a very Large number of people I Mean uh Just that the the escalation that Happens there just happens in in a Matter of minutes and the only way to Stop that is communication between Leaders and that to me is a big argument For ongoing communication You know this's a story that during the Cuban Missile Crisis um Kennedy put out The word uh no Aircraft uh under any circumstances or To penetrate Soviet airspace yeah yeah And he then found out a few days later That uh some guy hadn't gotten the Message and had penetrated in an Aircraft deep into Soviet airspace yeah And uh this supports your basic point That you know uh bad things happen and Uh and again the overarching point here Is we've never done this before Thankfully therefore we don't have a lot Of experience as to how it plays itself Out it it's really a theoretical Enterprise because there's no empirical Basis for talking about Escalation uh you know in a nuclear Crisis and that of course is a wonderful

Thing well in general the uh the human Species as a whole is a is a oneoff is a Theoretical Enterprise the survival of The human species you know we've seen Empires rise and fall but we haven't Seen the human species rise and fall so Far it's been rising but uh it's not Obvious that it doesn't end in fact I Think about aliens a lot and the fact That we don't see aliens makes me Suspect it's not so easy to survive in This complicated world of s Switching Gears a little bit and going to a Different part of the World also engulfed in War let me ask you about the uh Situation in Israel uh why did Hamas Attack Israel on October 7th 2023 as you Understand the Situation what was the reason that Attack Happened well I think the main reason Was that you had this suffocating Occupation I think as long as the Occupation persists the Palestinians are Going to Resist uh as you well know this is not The first time there has been a Palestinian Uprising there was the first Inata there was the second inata now There's October 7th and their uprisings Besides those three uh so This is not terribly Surprising uh a lot of people

Hypothesize that uh this attack was due To the fact that uh the Israelis the Saudis and the Americans were working Together to Foster another Abraham Accord uh and that the Palestinians Would in effect be sold down the river Uh I think given the fact that this was In the planning stages for for probably About 2 years uh and the Abraham Accords With regard to Saudi Arabia are Relatively new phenomenon I don't think That's uh the main driving force here I Think the main driving force is that the Palestinians uh feel oppressed as they Should and that this was uh a resistance Move they were resisting the Israeli Occupation so that resistance The attack involved killing a large Number of Israeli Civilians there's many questions ask There but one is do you think Hamas Fully understood what the retaliation Will involve from Israel into Gaza they had to understand I Mean you had you know operation castled In 200 uh 8 2009 started I think right After Christmas 2008 and it ended right Before President Obama took office uh in January 2009 and Uh the Israelis periodically do what They call mowing the lawn where they go Into Gaza and they pound the Palestinians uh to remind them that

They're not supposed to rise up and Cause any problem uh So there's no question in my mind that The uh the Hamas forces understood full Well that the Israelis would retaliate And they would retaliate in force as They have done yeah even the metaphor of Mowing the lawn is disturbing to me in Many Ways um I actually Saw uh Norman filastine I think say that Well then if you use that metaphor then You could say that Hamas was also mowing The lawn that's such a Horrific image because the result on Either side is just the death of Civilians I mean let me ask you about The death of civilians so during the Attack 1400 Israelis were Killed over 240 were taken hostage and Then in response as we sit Today uh Israel's military response has Killed over 10,000 people people in Gaza And given the nature of the demographics It's it's a very heavily young Population over 40% of them are under The age of 18 of those killed that's uh Of course according to Ministry of Health of Palestinian Authority so what do you think is the Long-term effect on the prospect of Peace when so many civilians Die I mean I think it's disastrous U uh I

Mean the only way you're going to get Peace here uh is if you have a two-state Solution um where the Palestinians have A sovereign state of their own and there Is a sovereign Jewish State uh and these Two states live side by side American Presidents since Jimmy Carter have Understood this full well and this is Why we have pushed very hard for Two-state solution indeed many americ American Jews and many Israelis have Pushed for a two-state solution because They think that that is the only way You're going to get uh peace uh between The two sides uh but what's happened Here is that in recent years the Israelis have lost all interest in a Two-state solution uh and it's in large Part because the political center of Gravity in Israel has steadily moved to The right uh when I was a young boy bo Uh the political center of gravity in Israel was much further to the left than It is today and uh it is in uh it is in A position now the political center of Gravity where there's hardly any support For two-state solution and Netanyahu and The rest of the people in his government Were in favor or are in favor of a Greater Israel there's just no question About That well On top of that you now have had a war Where as you

Described huge numbers of civilians have Been killed and you already had bad Blood between the Palestinians and the Israelis before this Conflict uh and you can imagine how People on each side now feel about People on the other side so even if you Didn't have this opposition in inside Israel to a two-state Solution how could you possibly get the Israelis now to agree to a two-state Solution I think for the foreseeable Future the animosity inside Israel Towards the Palestinians is so great That it is impossible to move the Israelis in that direction and the Israelis here are the key players more So than the Palestinians because it's The Israelis who control greater Israel It's the Israelis who you have to Convince now I want to be clear here you Also ultimately have to get around the Fact that Hamas right is not committed To a two-state solution but I think that Problem could be dealt with it's Important to understand that Arafat and The PLO was once adamantly opposed to a Two-state solution but Arafat came Around to understand that that was Really the only hope for settling this And he became became a proponent of a Two-state solution and that's true of Makhmud abas who runs the PA in the West Bank it's not true of Hamas at this

Point in time they want a one-state Solution they want a Palestinian State And of course the Israelis want a One-state solution too which is a Jewish State that controls all of U all of Greater Israel so the question is can you get Some sort of agreement and I think to Get to your the Nu of your question Given what's just happened uh it's Almost impossible to imagine that Happening anytime soon the cynical Perspective here is that uh those in Power benefit from conflict while the People on both sides suffer is there Degree of Truth to that or for the People in power to maintain power Conflict needs to continue no I I don't Believe that I mean just to take the Netanyahu government or any Israeli Government that maintains Uh the occupation what you want is you Want a Palestinian population that Submits to Israeli domination of Greater Israel you don't want resistance you Don't want an inada you don't want what Happened on October 7th in fact I think One of the principal reasons that the Israelis are pounding Gaza and killing Huge numbers of civilians punishing the Civilian population and way that clearly Violate the laws of war is because they Want the Palestinians to understand that They are not allowed to rise up and

Resist the occupation that's their goal So I think the Israelis would prefer That the Palestinians roll over and Accept submission in terms of the people Who live in Gaza to include the elites And the people who live in the West Bank To include the elites they would much Prefer prer to move to some sort of Situation where uh the Palestinians have A state of their own I think in the case Of the pa uh under abas they would Accept a two-state solution I think what At this point in time Hamas wants is a One-state solution but they want peace All of them want peace um you know the Two different sets of leadership in Palestine and the Israelis so you think Hamas wants peace sure but on its own Terms that's the point what does peace Look like for Hamas at this point in Time I think peace basically means a Greater Israel controlled by Palestine Or Palestinians okay so essentially I mean It's the whole land is called Palestine And there's no Israel I think at this Point in time that's their principal Goal I do believe and there have been Hints over time Jimmy Carter has said This that Hamas can be convinced that a Two-state solution assuming that the Palestinians get a viable uh state of Their own that Hamas would buy into that Can we say that with a high degree of

Certainty no but I think I think the Israelis should have pursued that Possibility they should have worked with Abas they should have worked with Hamas To do everything they can to facilitate A two-state solution because I think Ultimately that's an Israel's interest Now the Israeli government and most Israelis at this point in time I believe Don't agree with that what do you think Of Israel starting the ground invasion Of Gaza recently on October 27th the Question Is uh should they Continue uh until they have finally Defeated Hamas uh there are all sorts of reports In the media including in the Israeli Media that they're not going to be Allowed by the the United States to Continue this Offensive uh for much more than a few Weeks um the Israelis have been saying It would it's going to take in in the Best of all possible worlds a number of Months if not a year to finish off Hamas Well it doesn't look like they're going To have enough time to do that I doubt Whether they can finish off Hamas even If they're given the time uh I think They're going to run into Fierce Resistance uh and when they run into Fierce resistance and large numbers of Israelis going to die start to die uh

They'll lose their appetite for this and They the Israelis surely know at this Point in time that even if they finish Off Hamas even if I'm wrong and they're Able to finish off Hamas another group Is going to rise up to uh resist the Occupation the idea that you can use What Z Yaba insky called The Iron Wall To beat the Palestinians into submission Is delusional it's just not going to Happen the Palestinians want a state of Their own they don't want to live under Occupation and uh there's no military Solution for Israel here there has to be A political solution and the only viable Political solution is a two-state Solution I mean you can't go to Democracy you can't go to a situation Where you give the Palestinians equal Rights inside a greater Israel in large Part because there are Now as many Palestinians as there are Israeli Jews and over time the balance The demographic balance shifts against The Israeli Jews and in favor of the Palestinians in which case you'll end up With a Palestinian state in Greater Israel so you know democracy for all Doesn't work uh the Israelis I believe Are quite interested in ethnic cleansing I think they saw this um uh this recent Set of events as an opportunity to Cleanse Gaza but that's not going to Happen uh the jordanians and the

Egyptians have made it clear that that's Not happening the United States has now Made it clear that that's not happening And and the Palestinians will not leave Uh they'll die in place Uh so uh ethnic cleansing doesn't work So you're really left with two Alternatives a two-state solution or a Greater Israel that is effectively an Apartheid state I mean that's what the Occupation has led to and all sorts of People have been predicting this for a Long long time and you've now reached The point you know here in the United States if you say that Israel's an Apartheid state that's going to get you Into all sorts of trouble but the fact Is that human Rights Watch Amnesty International and Bellum which is the Leading Israeli Human Rights group all Three of those institutions or Organizations have issued detailed Reports making the case that Israel is An apartheid state furthermore if you Read the Israeli media right all sorts Of Israelis including Israeli leaders Refer to Israel as an apartheid state It's it's not that unusual to hear that Term used in Israel this is disastrous For Israel in my opinion and Steve Walt And I said this by the way when we wrote The Israel Lobby that Israel is an Aparte state which is equivalent to Israel as an occupier uh is not good for

Israel uh and that brings us back to the Two-state solution but as you and I were Talking about a few minutes ago it's Hard to see how you get a two-state Solution and the end result of this Conversation is utter Despair because the path to a two-state Solution is blocked by the amount of um Hate that's created by civilian deaths Well that plus the fact that the Israeli Government uh is filled with people uh Who have no interest in a two-state Solution they're Ideologically deeply committed to a Greater Israel they want all the land Between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean and see to Be part of a Jewish state they're just Ideologically committed to that and uh And of course as we were talking about Before with regard to Hamas Hamas wants Everything between the river and the sea To be a Palestinian State and you know When you have two sides with those kinds Of views right um um you're in deep Trouble because there's little room for Compromise so what you have to do to get This to work is you have to convince the Israelis that it's in their interest to Have a two State solution and you have You've already taken care of the PA on This front the Palestinian Authority but You've got to convince Hamas that it's Uh its maximalist goals are are not

Going to work and it's in its interest Uh to follow in the footsteps of Arafat And accept a two-state solution but uh Even if you do that at this Point let's Say that you know there's a lot of Willingness uh intellectually on both Sides to do that the problem is that the Hatred that has been fueled by this Recent con uh this ongoing conflict is So great that it's just hard to imagine How you can make a two-state solution Work at this juncture uh that's why I've Sort of taken to saying and I hope I'm Wrong here that you know on the Two-state solution uh that that boat has Sailed it's just you know it's no longer Possible well again I believe in Leadership and there's other parties That play here Other Nations Jordan Saudi Arabia other other players in the M in the Middle East that could help That could help through a normalization Of relationships and these kinds of Things there's there's always hope like You said Slither of Hope Slither of hope I think human civilization progresses Forward by taking advantage of the all The slithers it can get uh let me ask You about you mentioned the Israel Lobby You wrote a book probably your most Controversial book on the topic not Probably clearly the most controversial Book I ever wrote so you've uh Criticized the Israel Lobby in the

United States for influencing US Policy um in the Middle East can you Explain what the Israel Lobby is their Influence and your Criticism over the past let's say a Couple Decades well the argument that Steve Wall and I made actually we wrote an Article first and uh which appeared in The London Review of Books uh and then We wrote the book Itself uh our argument is that the lobby Is a loose Coalition of uh individuals And Organizations uh that push American Policy in a pro-israel Direction uh and uh basically the law is Interested in getting Israel excuse me Getting the United States and here we're Talking mainly about the American Government to support Israel no matter What Israel does and our argument is That if you look at the relationship Between the United States and Israel It's unprecedented in modern history uh This is the closest relationship that You can find between any two countries In recorded history it's truly amazing The extent to which Israel and the United States are joined at the hip and We support Israel no matter what almost All the time uh and uh our argument is That that is largely due to the Influence of the lobby the lobby is uh

An extremely powerful interest group now It's very important to understand that The American political system is set up In ways that allow interest groups of All Sorts to wield great influence so in The United States you have an interest Group or a Lobby like the National Rifle Association that makes it well nigh Impossible to get gun control right uh And so with the Israel Lobby you have This group of individuals and organ Organizations that wield enormous Influence on US policy toward the Middle East and this Is not surprising given the nature of The American political system uh so our Argument is that the lobby is not doing Anything that's illegal or illicit or Immoral or unethical it's just a good Old-fashioned American interest group And it just happens to be extremely Powerful and our argument is that this Is not good for the United States Because no two countries have the same Interests all the time and when our Interests conflict with Israel's Interest we should be able to do what we Think is in our national interest in America's national interest but the Lobby tends to conflate America's National interests with Israel's National interests and wants the United States to support Israel no matter what We also argue and I cannot emphasize

This enough given what's going on in the World today that the Lobby's effects the lobby has not Been pushing policies that are in Israel's interest so our argument is That the lobby right the lobby pushes Policies that are not in America's Interest or not in Israel's interest now You're saying yourself what exactly does He mean by That what every president since Jimmy Carter has tried to do as I said before Is to foster a two-state solution to Push Israel which is the dominant Player in Greater Israel push Israel to Accept the two-state solution and we Have run into huge resistance from the Lobby whenever we tried to let's be Blunt about it course Israel right in a Perfect world where there was no Lobby And an American president was free to Put pressure on Israel to coers Israel I Believe we would have gone a long way Towards getting two-state solution and I Believe this would have been in Israel's Interest uh but we couldn't get a Two-state solution because it was almost Impossible to put meaningful pressure on Israel because of the lobby so this was Not an Israel's interest and it was not In America's interest and that was the Argument that we made and uh we of Course got huge pushback for making that Argument what's the underlying

Motivation of the lobby is it religious In nature is it um similar to the way Warhawks are sort of militaristic in Nature is it nationalistic in nature What what's uh if you were describe this Loose Coalition of people what what Would you say is their motivation well First of all I think you have to Distinguish between Jews and Christians You want to remember that there are a Huge number of Christian zionists who Are deeply committed to Israel no matter What right and then there are a large Number of Jews the Jews are obviously The most important of those two groups In the Israel lobby but you know one of The arguments that we made in the book Is that you should not call it the Jewish Lobby because it's not populated Just by Jews and Christians ey in this Are an important part of that lobby but Furthermore there are a good number of Jews who are opposed to the lobby uh and The policies that the lobby purveys and There are uh a number of Jews who are Prominent Anti-zionists right so and they're Obviously not in the lobby or or if you Take a group like Jewish voice for peace Right Jewish voice for peace is not in The lobby so It's wrong to call it a Jewish lobby but With regard to the American Jews who Were in that Lobby uh I I think that

Really this is all about nationalism It's not so much religion many of those Jews who are influential in the lobby Are not religious in any meaningful Sense of that term but they Self-identify as Jewish in in in the Sense that they feel they're part of a Jewish nation and that that in addition To being an American right they are part Of this tribe this nation called Jews And that they have a Responsibility um to push the United States in ways that support uh the Jewish state so I I think that's what Drives most if not almost all the Jews This is not to say there's not a Religious dimension for some of them but I think that the the main connection is Much more tribal in nature So I had a conversation with Benjamin Netanyahu and he said fundamentally if You're anti-zionist you're Anti-semitic so the the the Zionist Project is tied at the hip to the Jewish Project what do you have to say to that Look you can Define Anti-Semitism any way you want right and You can Define anti an semitism to Incorporate anti-zionism Uh and uh I think we have reached the Point where Anti-Semitism is identified today not Just with anti-zionism but with Criticism of Israel if you criticize

Israel people will say some people will Say you're an Anti-semite and if that's your Definition of Anti-semitism it's taken an important Term and stretched it to the point where It's Meaningless right so when Steve and I Wrote the book uh wrote the article and Then wrote the book all sorts of people Said that we were anti-semites this is a Ludicrous charge but what they meant was You're criticizing the lobby you're Criticizing Israel and therefore you're An Anti-semite okay if that's what an Anti-semite is somebody who criticizes Israel you know probably half the Jewish Community if not more in the United States is anti-Semitic and of course you Get into all these crazy games where People are calling Jews self-hating Jews And anti-semites because they're Critical of Israel but even people who Are anti-zionists I don't think they're Anti-semitic at all uh you can argue They're misguided that's fine but uh Many of these people are Jewish and Proud of the fact that they're Jewish They just don't believe that nationalism And Jewish nationalism is a force that Should be applauded and you want to Understand that in the American context There is a rich tradition of

Anti-zionism Right and these were not people who were Anti-semites if you go back to the 30s 40s 50s and the same thing was even true In Europe there were all sorts of European Jews who were opposed to Zionism were they anti-semites I don't Think so but we've gotten to the point Now where people are so interested in Stopping any criticism of Israel that They wield this weapon of uh calling People anti-semites uh so uh Loosely That uh the term has kind of lost Meaning so I I think n who is is Wrongheaded to equate uh anti-zionism With anti an semitism Alan dtz was one Of the people that called you Specifically Anti-semitic so Just looking at the space of Discourse how do You where's this Slither of Hope for Healthy discourse about us relationships With Israel Uh between you and alen dtz and others Like him well I think until there is a Settlement of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict there's no hope of putting an End to this nonsense right so these are Just uses of terms to kind Of cheat your way through the through The discourse it's shortcut no it's the Silence people right it's very very

Important to understand that one of the Lobb's principal goals is to make sure We don't have an open discourse a free Willing discourse about Israel because They understand people in the lobby Understand that if you have an open Discourse Israel will end up looking Very bad right you don't want to talk About the occupation you don't want to Talk about how Israel was created right All all these subjects are ones that uh Will cause problems for Israel see just To go to the present crisis okay when You have a Disaster and what happened on October 7th is a disaster one of the first Things that happens is that people begin To ask the question how did this happen Right what's the root cause of this Problem this is a disaster we have to Understand what caused it so that we can Work to uh to make sure it doesn't Happen again so we can work to shut it Down and then make sure it doesn't Happen again but once you start talking About the root causes right you end up Talking about how Israel was created Right and that means telling a story That is not pretty about how the Zionists conquered Palestine uh and number two it means Talking about the occupation right it's Not like uh Hamas attacked on October 7th because there were just a bunch of

Anti-semites who hated Jews and wanted To kill Jews this is not you know Nazi Germany right this is directly related To the occupation and to what was going On inside of Gaza and it's not in Israel's interest or the Lobby's Interest to have an open discourse about What the Israelis have been doing to the Palestinians since I would say roughly 1903 when the second Aliah came to Israel or came to what was then Palestine right we want to talk about That and we don't want to talk about From the Lobby's point of view the Influence that the lobby has right uh It's better from the Lobby's point of View if most Americans think that uh American support of Israel is just done For all the right moral and strategic Reasons not because of the lobby and When John mirer and Steve Walt come Along and say you have to understand That this special relationship is due in Large part to the Lobby's influence that Is not an argument that uh people in the Lobby want to hear so the point is you Have to go to Great Lengths for all These reasons you have to go to Great Lengths to silence people like me and Steve Walt and one of the ways to do That is to call us anti-semites I think The chapter or the section of the book Where we talk about this charge of Anti-Semitism is called the Great

Silencer that's what we call the charge Of anti-Semitism the great silencer who Wants to be called an anti-semite Especially in the wake of the Holocaust Do I want to be called an anti-semite oh My God no uh and uh so it's very Effective but you know it is important To talk about these issues in my humble Opinion and I think if we had talked About these issues uh way back When it would have gone a long way Towards uh you know maybe getting a Two-state solution Which I think was the best alternative Here it it's complicated and I I wonder If you can comment on the complexity of This because criticizing Israel and you Know criticizing the Lobby can Um for a lot of people be a dog whistle For sort of anti-Semitic conspiracy Theories that you know this idea that Jews run everything run the world or This kind of Cabal and you know It's it's also very true that people who Are legitimately Anti-semitic are also critics of Israel In the same kind of way and so it's such A complicated landscape in which to have Discussions because Um uh you know even people like David Duke uh who are you know racists don't Sound racist on the surface

Well I haven't listened to him enough But like you know there's dog whistles It's it's a complicated space in which To have Discussions because it um I mean I Wonder if you can sort of speak to That um because there's this silencing Effect of calling everybody anti-semitic But it's also true that there is Anti-Semitism in the world like there is A sizeable population of people that Hate Jews there's probably a size of Population of people who hate Muslims Too but you know I lot of hate out there A lot of hate out there uh but the Hatred of Jews has like a long history And so you have like you know Rolling Stones have a a set of great hits and There's just a set of great hits of the Wayte conspiracy theories that you can Make up about the Jews that are used as Part of the hatred uh so there's like Nice templates for that and I I just Wonder if you can comment on Operating as a historian as an analyst As a strategic thinker in this kind of Space yeah we obviously when we wrote The article which we did before the book Gave the subject a great deal of thought I mean uh what you say just now is music To our ears I'm talking for me and about Me and Steve uh I mean I think that you Know your point about dog whistles is Correct look we went to Great Lengths to

Make it clear that this is not a cabal It's not a conspiracy and in fact in a Very important way the lobby operates Out in the open right Uh they brag about their power right and This was true before we wrote the Article right and um and we said in the Article and the book and you heard me Say it here first of all it's not a Jewish Lobby Right um secondly it's not a cabal right It's an American interest group and and The American system is designed such That interest groups are perfectly legal And some of them are super effective Exact I mean you hit the nail right on The head that's exactly right And you know and there was nothing that We said that was anti iiic by any Reasonable definition of that term and You know huge numbers of Jews have known Me and Steve over the years and nobody Ever ever said that we were anti-semitic Before March 2006 when the article Appeared because we're not Anti-semitic but look you've got this Interest group right that has a Significant influence on American policy And un Israeli Policy And you want to talk about it it's just Important to talk about it it's Important for Jews right in the United States for Jews in Israel to talk about

This the idea that you want to silence Critics is not a smart way to go about Doing business in my Opinion if we were wrong if Steve and I Were so wrong and our arguments were so Foul They could have easily exposed those Arguments they could have gone uh into Combat with this in terms of the Marketplace of ideas and easily knocked Us down the problem was that our Arguments were quite powerful and Instead of engaging us and defeating our Arguments they wanted to silence us and This is not good right it's not good for Israel it's not good for the United States and I would argue in the end if Anything it's going to Foster Anti-Semitism I think you don't want to Run around telling people that they Can't talk about Israel without being Called an anti-semite it's just not it's Not healthy uh in terms of the issue That you're raising right but I still Agree with you that it is a tricky issue It's I I don't want to make light of That you know I know that there's this Piece of liter out there called the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and I Fully understand that if you're not Careful you can come close to writing Volume two of the protocol but I don't Believe that we wrote anything that was Even close to that and again I think

That a healthy debate on the issues that We were raising would have been not only In America's interest but it would have Been in Israel's Interest yeah I mean know underneath at All is just I wonder why there is so Much hate against groups why it's such a Sticky way of Thinking not just tribalism like proud Of your country and kind of hating Another country but really deeply hating Like hating in a way where it's part of Your identity kind of Hate well just to make a general point On this issue in our conversation here Today you often talk about individual Leaders and the word individual often Pops up in your vocabulary yes I believe That we are ultimately social animals Before we are individuals I believe We're born into tribes we're heavily Socialized and that we carve out space For our Individualism but we are part of tribes And or social groups or nations call Them what you want ethnic groups Religious groups but the fact is that These tribes often crash into each other And when they crash into each other they End up hating each other uh if you go to A place like Bosnia right the croats and The serbs oh my God and then throw in The Bosniacs which is the term for Bosnian

Muslims and you know Muslims cowat serbs Uh oh and uh the tribes you know hate Each other uh and uh in a funny way that Hatred almost never goes away uh and uh I guess there are some exceptions to That uh if you look at the Germans after World War II they've gone a long way Towards reducing I wouldn't want to say Completely eliminating but reducing a Lot of the hatred uh that existed Between Germans and their Neighbors uh but that's really kind of An anomalous Case uh I mean you go around East Asia Today and the hatred of Japan in a place Like China the hatred of Japan in a Place like Korea just not to be Underestimated and uh so but I think a Lot of it just has to do with the fact That you're dealing with social groups That have crashed into each other uh at One point or another and there are those Lingering effects and by the way this Gets back to our discussion a few Minutes ago about trying to get it to State solution between the Palestinians And the Israeli Jews now that you have Had uh this horrible War uh which is Ongoing it's Interesting to ask to go back to World War II now you said uh you studied Nazi Germany in in the 30s from a perspective Of Maybe offensive

Realism uh but just to look at the Holocaust it's sometimes popular in Public discourse today to compare Certain things to the Holocaust people Have compared the Hamas attack on Israel To the Holocaust saying things like it's the The Biggest attack on Jews since the Holocaust which kind Of Implies that there's a comparison U People have made that same comparison in The other Direction what do you make of this Comparison Is it comparable is it is the use of the Holocaust uh have any accuracy in Comparisons of modern-day International Politics is it possible that you could Have another Genocide yes and I would argue that what You had in Rwanda was a Genocide right the Holocaust is not the Only Genocide I believe the word genocide Is used too Loosely Today uh and as you know lots of people And I mean lots of people who are pro Palestinian accuse the Israelis of Engaging in genocide in Gaza I think What the Israelis are doing in Gaza uh Represents a massacre I I would use that Term given the number of civilians that

They've killed and the fact that they've Been indiscriminate in terms of how They've been bombing Gaza but I would Not use the word Genocide uh for me a genocide is where One side attempts to eliminate another Group from the planet uh I think that What happened with the Holocaust was Clearly a genocide and that the Germans Were bent uh on destroying all of European jewry and if they could have Gotten their hands on uh Jews outside of Europe they would have murdered them as Well that's a genocide and I think with The hutus and the tootsies you had a Similar Situation uh I think with the Turks and The Armenians during World War I that Was a genocide but I have a rather Narrow definition of what a genocide is And I don't think there are many cases That qualify as a genocide the Holocaust Certainly does okay Now what Hamas did doesn't even come Close to what happened to European jury Between let's say 1939 uh and 1945 although I date the Start of the Holocaust to 1941 if we were you know looking at it Closely but let's just say 1939 when They invade Poland 1939 to 1945 Whated pales in comparison it's hard to Believe anybody would make that argument

Right yeah yes a lot of Jews died uh but Uh uh Hardly Uh hardly any compared to the number That died uh you know at the hands of The Germans I mean it just no parallel At all uh and furthermore Hamas was in No position to kill all of the Jews in The Middle East just not not going to Happen yeah but there's also levels of Things you know using uh Germans using Uh human skin for lamps there's just Levels of evil in this world yes but you Don't see that with I mean that's not What Hamas is doing I mean I I want to Be very clear here I am not justifying The kill hamas's killing of civilians Okay not for one second but I'm just Saying and and and by the way just to go To the Israelis and what they're doing in Gaza Right as I said to you before I do Believe that is a massacre and I believe Believe that's to be condemned the Killing of Civilians uh this is not legitimate Collateral damage they're directly Punishing the population but I would not Call that a genocide right and I would Not compare that to the Holocaust for For one second I just want to be very Clear on that do you think uh if Israel Could they would avoid the death of any Civilians so you're saying there's some

Degree of punishment of colletive They're purposely killing civilians it's This is the Iron Wall they're trying to Beat the Palestinians in the Submission Right there's no way you kill this many Civilians Um if you're trying to precisely take Out Hamas Fighters and by the way the Israeli spokesman the IDF spokesman has Explicitly said that we are not pursuing Precision bombing and what we are doing Is trying to you know maximize the Amount of Destruction and damage uh that We can inflict on the Palestinians and uh I I I think this is A major mistake on the part of Israel First of all it ends up being a moral Stain on your reputation number one and Number two it doesn't work it doesn't Work the the Palestinians are not going To roll over and submit to uh isra Israeli domination of their Life um so you know the whole concept of The Iron Wall uh Yaba tinsky term was Misguided um and and and by the way the Iron if you look at what the Israelis Are doing they're trying to do two Things one is the iron wall and that's Where you punish the civilian population In Gaza and get them to submit the other Thing that they're trying to do is get Hamas they want to destroy Hamas and the Belief there is that if they destroy

Hamas they've solved the problem but as Many Israelis know including people on The hard right even if you destroy Hamas They are going to be replaced by another Group another resistance group uh and That resistance group will employ Terror Yeah I think you I think you've said That uh other terrorist organizations Have used the situation in Palestine as A as a kind of a recruit recruitment Mechanism for for a long time Osama bin lad made it clear that this Was one of his principal reasons for Attacking the United States right and The United States attacked back and uh got us into A 20-year war that Cost the lives of millions of people not Not American but uh human beings yeah And uh engaged in torture in Torture yeah no I think if you look at How we reacted to 9/11 and how the Israelis are reacting To what happened on October 7th uh There's uh quite a bit of similarity in That both sides the Israeli side and the American side uh are enraged right and They lash out and they go on a Rampage and the end result is not good Is there a capacity within Israel or With within United States after 9/11 to do something approximating turn The other Cheek

Of understanding the root of Terror is Hate and fighting that hate With uh not the naive but Compassion well I I don't think in Either case you're going to turn the Other cheek uh I think well some mil I What I mean by that is some limited Powerful military response but very Limited yeah coupled with a smart Political strategy political strategy Diplomacy yeah that's what they should Have done yeah right but is their Capacity for that or from your offensive Realism perspective it's just the odds Are really Low no from my offensive realist Perspective or my realist perspective That's what you should do right you okay My my view is states are rational actors They should be cunning right they should Think about uh the Strategic situation Are in and choose the appropriate Response and uh what happens and this is Why my theory is not always correct is That sometimes states are not rational And they Misbehave I would argue in the Israeli Case uh that it would have been good After October 7th or start starting on October 7th if the United States had uh Tried to hold the Israelis back and Countenance uh a more uh moderate Response a more uh to SP take some time Just to think about how to deal with

This problem instead of lashing out I I Think given what happened to the Israelis given how shocked they were Given the level of fear given the level Of AG they were going to lash out and I Don't believe that was in their interest I think it would have been made would Have made sense to to think about it and Uh to think about a smarter strategy Than they're now employing and I think You know the Americans blew it the Americans gave them a be hug and a green Light and said we'll give you all the Weaponry you need and go out and do it And uh I don't think that was the smart Thing to do look in the wake of October 7th the Israelis had no good strategy Right it's it's not like there's a magic Formula that they just didn't see and we Should have told them what the magic Formula was right that's not true they Were in a sense caught between IR Roa And a hard place in terms of what to do But they're smarter things and Dumber Things and I think the Israelis lashed out in ways that are Counterproductive I think you know going On a rampage and you know killing huge Numbers of civilians is not it's Obviously morally wrong but it's also Just not in their strategic interest Right I mean uh because it's it's not Going to buy them anything right and in Fact it's going to cost them right

Because people all over the planet are Turning against Israel uh I saw you know An Israeli think tank today uh that has Been tracking U protests around the World um gave some figures for what it Looked like uh between October 7th and October 13th in terms of the number of Uh protests around the world that were Pro-israel versus Pro Palestine and then It looked at the numbers from U October 13th up to the present and I think the Numbers were 69 9% were Pro Palestinian In the first six days after October 7th 69% and I think 31% take these numbers With a grain of salt 31% were pro-israel So I think it was 69 and 31 um and uh since then since October 13th if you look at the number of Protests around the world 95% have been Pro Palestinian and 5% have been Pro-israel Uh and what this tells you is that Public opinion around the world has Shifted against Israel and if you look At some of the demonstrations in places Like London and Washington DC it's truly Amazing the number of people who are Coming out in support of the Palestinians and uh all this again is Just to support my point that it was Just not smart for Israel to uh launch This bombing campaign right you can make It an argument for going after Hamas and Doing it in a surgical way or as

Surgical a way as possible uh but uh That's not what they did and again my Point to you is I think that this Punishment campaign is not going to work Strategically in other words they're not Going to beat the Palestinians into Submission they're not going to finish Off Hamas and at the same time by Pursuing this strategy they're doing Huge damage to their reputation around The world Well I just uh yeah in the wake of October 7th given the geopolitical Context I think there's a lot of Leverage to be the great ethical Superpower that demonstrate power Without killing any Civilians and use that leverage Diplomatic leverage to push forward Something like abrahamic Accords with More nations with with Saudi Arabia Push for peace Aggressively peace agreements this kind Of stuff economic relationships all this Kind of stuff and thereby pressure the Palestinian Authority you know towards Um perhaps a two State Solution but I think what you're missing Here just in the Israeli case is that The Israeli government is not interested In two-state solution and you want to Remember that Benjamin Netanyahu who Looks very hawkish when you look at him

In isolation doesn't look so hawkish When you look at him compared to the Rest of the people in his cabinet right He he he almost looks like a moderate He's got a lot of people who are way out To the right of him And these people and this of course Includes Netanyahu are not interested in The two-state solution so the question You have to ask yourself is you if You're if you're Benjamin Netanyahu and It's July 7th late in the excuse me October 7th late in the day what do you Do you're not thinking about a two-state Solution you're thinking about an Occupation that's not going to end and The question is how do you deal with the Palestinians given what's just happened Well there's people in the cabinet and Then there's history and history Remembers great leaders and so uh Benjamin nyaho can look in the streets Of Israel and the see the protests and Think of how history will remember him And I think a two-state solution is on The table for a great leader well it was There was he the person who was gonna Take advantage of it I don't think so But well he's student history well at This point what the will see does I mean It's very at this point it's very Difficult um like you said 95% now or Whatever the number is of protests I Think the the window in which

Israel has the ears of the world it can Do the the big ethical peace act action Towards peace is uh I think has closed Or maybe there's still a Slither but It's just The uh the slippery slope of of hate is Has taken off it's quite depressing to Watch I agree 100% unequivocally Depressing but you know of course as you Talk about the the role of you the US Involvement is of critical importance Here for the United States and the argument you make is that We should not be involved in Ukraine at least to the degree we are we Being the United States uh and we should Not be involved in Israel to the degree We are because it's stretching us too Thin when uh the Big geopolitical contender in the 21st Century with United States is China that is that a correct Summary yeah I I I think just on Ukraine We should not have pushed Ukraine to Join NATO sure uh and once the war Started we should have worked overtime To shut it down immediately March Yeah March right and and you remember by the Way not to go back to Ukraine in great Detail in the fall early fall of 2022 The war starts February 2022 there March 2022 which we've talked about which is The negotiations in the fall of 2022 I Think it was in

September uh the ukrainians had won two Major tactical victories one in hiran And the other in harke and at that point In time General Millie who was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Said now is the time to negotiate Because this is the high watermark for The ukrainians yeah Billy understood That they things were only going to get Worse and the White House shut Millie Down and said we're not negotiating so We have blown a number of opportunities Here to head this problem off at the Pass uh and uh but that's my view there And uh with regard to the Israelis my Only point about Israel is that it would Be better for Israel and better for the United States if we the United States Were in was in a position the United States was in a position to put pressure On Israel from time to time as Steve and I say in the book we should be able to Treat Israel like a normal country right The fact is that countries sometimes do Stupid things this includes the United States and Israel and if Israel is Pursuing a policy that we think is Unwise we should be in a position where We could put pressure on Israel yeah That's our argument right but Anyway we goofed both with regard to Ukraine and with regard to the Middle East and we're now up to our eyeballs in Alligators in both of those regions and

As you describe my view this is not good Because the area of the most strategic Importance for the United States Today Is East Asia and that's because China is There and China is the most serious Threat the United States faces do you Think there will be a war With China in the 21st century I don't Know uh my argument is there will be There is right now a serious security Competition and uh at the same time There is a real possibility of War Whether or not we avoid it is very hard To say uh I mean we did during the Cold War we had a serious security Competition from roughly 1947 to 1989 and uh and we thankfully avoided War probably came the closest in 1962 With the Cuban Missile Crisis but uh we avoided it and I think We can avoid it here is it for sure no You've said that China won't move on Taiwan militarily in part because it's Uh as you said amphibious operations are Difficult why will China not move on Taiwan is in your Sense uh in the near future well it's Because there's this body of water Called the Taiwan straigh which is a big Body of water and getting across water Uh is very difficult unless you can walk On water so geography still has a role To play in the 21st century oh yeah I

Think geography is very important big Bodies of water really matter yeah in an Ideal World you'd like to have the Pacific Ocean between you and any Potential adversary you know 6,000 miles Yes 6 ,000 miles of water hard to get Across yes I if you're a country and I'm A country and there's land between us I Can take my Panzer divisions and I can Go right across the land and get into Your country or attack your country and You of course can take your Panzer Divisions and come across that same Piece of land but if there's a big body Of water between us your Panzer Divisions can't go across the water and Then the question is how do you get them Across the water and that's very tricky And in a world we have lots of Submarines and you have lots of aircraft And you have missiles that are landbased That can hit those surface ships it is Very very hard to you know to attack Across a body of water and all you have To do is think about uh Normandy you Know the American invasion of Normandy June 6th 1944 coming in on Omaha Beach Right uh oh boy that was really Difficult but there is a growing Asymmetry of military power there that Even though it's difficult that is Correct so I I guess that is correct so I recently had a conversation with Elon Musk and and he

Says That uh you know China is quite serious About the one China policy and it seems Inevitable that Taiwan will have to be If you look at this Pragmatically in the 21st century it Seems inevitable that Taiwan will have To be a part of China and so we can get There either diplomatically or Militarily like Um what do you think about the Inevitability of that kind of idea when A nation says this is a top Priority for us Um what do you think about them meaning It and what do we do about that There's no question it's a top priority For them and there's no question they Mean it but it's also a top priority for Us not to let them take Taiwan why Exactly because it's an important Strategic asset uh many people will say It's because taiwan's a democracy but That doesn't matter that Much uh it's Because uh of two strategic reasons the First is that uh if we were to let Taiwan go it would have hugely negative Consequences for our alliance structure In East Asia to contain China we need Allies we have an alliance structure and Our allies Japanese South Koreans Filipinos Australians they're all counting on us

To be there for them and if we say we're Not going to defend Taiwan the Chinese Attack they're going to say I bet if the Chinese attack us the American Amer an Won't be there for us uh so the it would Have Uh a damaging effect on our allian Structure which we cannot afford because Because containing China is a wicked Problem it's a powerful State you were Getting to this before when you talked About China versus Taiwan so that's the First reason second reason is you want To bottle up the Chinese Navy and the Chinese Air Force inside the first Island chain you don't want to let them Get Out uh into the Pacific you don't want Them dominating the Waters of East Asia You want to bottle them up again inside The first island chain and you can only Do that if you control Taiwan you don't Control Taiwan they get out into the Philippine Sea into the Pacific and the Western Pacific and cause all sorts of Problems well you saying all that you've Also said the century of humiliation Japan and the United States are source Of that humiliation for China don't you think they see the other Side of that absolutely and in the Interest of avoiding a World War I guess the question is uh how do we Avoid a World War it

Doesn't um seem like the military Involve involvement in the conflict Between China and Taiwan is the Way well I I don't want there's no good Answers here I'm just saying there are No good which is the the less bad option Well what you want to do is you want to Make sure that you Deter uh China from invading Taiwan you Want to avoid a war you and I are in Complete agreement on that we don't want A war but we want to contain China we do Not want to let China dominate Asia that That's what the Americans are Principally concerned with here and it's What China's neighbors are principally Concerned with this includes the Japanese the South South Koreans Filipinos Australians and the Taiwanese We they don't want and we don't want China to dominate the region so we have To contain it but at the same time and This should be music to your ears we not Only want to contain it we want to make Sure we don't end up in a shooting match With the Chinese because this could be Disastrous so you have to have a very Smart policy you have to build powerful Military forces and you have to make Sure you don't do anything that's Provocative netive on Taiwan for example The last thing you want is for the Taiwanese government to declare its Independence because the Chinese have

Said if Taiwan does that we'll go to war And of course we don't want that so my View is you want to smartly build up Your military forces and you want to do Everything you can to contain China uh And at the same time not be Provocative so a big component of that Is making Sure your military the US military is Bigger than the Chinese Military not necessarily uh it's an Interesting Question uh a lot of people think that To make deterrence work right you have To be able to beat the Chinese and Therefore you need a much bigger Military uh and I don't think over time That's possible right I think it's Probably not even possible now to beat The Chinese in a war over Taiwan or in a War in the South China Sea I think what You want to do is make it clear to the Chinese either that there will be no Winner in other words you don't have to Win but you want to make sure they don't Win okay it's it's it's a lose Lose U proposition if they go to war Over Taiwan or what have you uh and if You can't do that right you think that They're so powerful that they're Ultimately going to win you want to Convince them that Victory would be a Pic victory in other words they would Pay a God awful price to win the war you

Follow what I'm saying so excuse me the Best strategy for deterence is you win China loses second best strategy is a Stalemate nobody wins third best Strategy is they win but they pay a god- Awful price and the fourth possibility Which you don't want is they win quickly And decisively right uh if that's the Case then you don't have much Deterrence what is a world with China is The sole dominant superpower look like I Mean a little bit underlying our Discussion is this kind of idea that us Is the good guys and China is the bad Guys first of all you know the you know Dividing the world into good good guys And bad guys seems to Somehow miss the Nuance of this Whole human civilization project we're Undertaking but what does the world look Like where China is the dominant sole Superpower in a unipolar World well I I don't tend to think of The world in terms of good guys and bad Guys as a good realist I I think that You know states are States they're all Black boxes you know I don't Discriminate between democracy and Autocracies but having said that I am an American right and as an American I'm Interested in the security of my country The survival of my country so I want the United States to be the most powerful State in the world which means I want

The do United States to dominate the Western Hemisphere I want us to be a Regional hedgemon and I want to make Sure that China does not dominate Asia The way we dominate the Western Hemisphere It's not because I think we're the good Guys and they're the bad guys uh if I Were Chinese and I were in Beijing and I Were XI jinping's National Security Advisor I'd tell him what we got to do Is make sure we dominate the world or Dominate our region and then do Everything we can to undermine America's Position in the Western Hemisphere right That that be my view uh so I guess you Could say I do view the world in terms Of good guys bad guys cuz I'm an American and more like us and Them Versus yeah it's us and them that's That's a nice way to put it yeah it's US Versus them not so much good guys versus Bad guys is it possible to have a stable Peaceful world with a good balance of Power with where it's China and us as Superpowers you it's a bipolar world no Longer unipolar yeah okay so you're Hypothesizing a world where they Dominate Asia yeah and we dominate the Western Hemisphere I I believe there Would be uh a great deal of security Competition intense security competition Between those two superpowers the Definition of intents matters here so it

Could be Small small military conflicts or it Could be extremely large unstable Military conflicts right well conflict Let's use the word War okay so I I Distinguish between security competition And War and what I'm telling you is You'll have an intense security comp Competition where there's no shooting or If there's shooting it's mainly proxies That are doing the fighting much like The Vietnam War right uh or you could Have a case where one of those Superpowers was involved in a war Against a proxy of the other superpower Korean War think the Korean War the United States fought the Chinese who Were allied with the Soviets at the time Mhm but uh a war between the United States and China just like a war between The United States and the Soviet Union During the Cold War that's what you Really want to avoid avoid so I think You'd have an intense security Competition right you'd have wars Involving proxies of each of those two Superpowers and you would probably have Some Wars where one of the superpowers Was involved in a proxy right with the Other super one of the super other Superpowers proxies so it seems likely Then if that's the case then it would be Taiwan is the proxy and us fighting China through the proxy of Taiwan what

Yeah well that would assume the United States but you want to remember you're Hypothesizing a situation where China Dominates Asia oh already has dominated Yes it's already dominated Taiwan uh I See we we well where do you find the Proxies austr the Middle East could be a Good case oh wow Persian Gulf right oh Boy and then our discussion of Israel Becomes even more dramatically yeah well Israel Israel gets involved I think I Think in this scenario if you're talking About a us China Competition right and you're talking About the Middle East I think it's the Gulf it's it's the Saudis the Iranians The Iraqis it's the oil don't you think It could be Israel versus Iran with Some very 1984 kind of dramatic Partnership of Iran Russia and China Versus is United States Europe and um Israel I think that's possible yeah I Think that's possible yeah now that I I Mean I hadn't thought about it uh until You said it but yeah I think that that That is possible is isn't that Terrifying yeah well that you know in Your scenario where China already Dominates Asia and we dominate the Western Hemisphere uh I think you start Talking about where the most likely Places uh that the United States and China go Head-to-head or or fight through proxies

Uh I think it is the goal for the Middle East and the scenario that you Posit I mean one one question I Have I don't know about you but for me Unlike with the Soviet Union and I know I was born there but Even outside of that the cultural Gap the the the loss in Translation the Communication gap between China and the United States seems to be much greater Than that of what was the former Soviet Union and the United States I see two cultures intermingling And communicating as one of the ways to Deescalate future Conflict it's an interesting question I Mean it it is sort of an abstract Theoretical level my argument is that Great Powers Act according to realist Dictates and they understand those Realist dictates and uh that can lead to Cooperation or it can lead to uh War uh It depends U I would say just in the Case of the Soviets a lot of people Describe the Cold War as an ideological Competition above all else it's was Communism Versus liberal democ y or communism Versus liberal capitalism whatever uh I Actually don't believe that I I believe The Soviets were uh realists to the core Uh I believe Stalin was a realist par Excellence uh and that ideology did not Matter much in Stalin's foreign policy

And I believe if you look at Soviet Foreign policy uh after World War II you Know throughout the Cold War they were Realists to the core uh and uh and I Think in those days the Americans were Realists right uh a lot of liberal Ideology floating around out there but The Americans were realists and I think One of the reasons you avoided a Shooting match between the United States And the Soviet Union from 47 to uh 89 uh was because both sides I think uh Understood basic balance of power Logic us China competition is somewhat Different first of all the Chinese are Realists to the core uh I I've spent a Lot of time in China I basically have Rock and roll I'm basically a rock and Roll star in China uh the Chinese you're Kind of a big deal in China I love it The Chinese are my kind of people They're realists right they speak my Language yeah it's the United States That is not very realist American Leaders uh have a very powerful liberal Bent and tend not to see see the world In realist terms I Believe by the way Just going back to our discussion of NATO expansion I think our inability to Understand that NATO expansion was Anathema to the Soviet to the Russians Was doing large part to the fact that we Just during the unipolar moment didn't Think of international politics from a

Realist perspective and didn't respect Anyone who thought about International Politics from a realist Perspective if those various American Administration starting with the Clinton Administration had put their realest hat On they would have understood that NATO Expansion into Ukraine was not a good Idea but we had this thoroughly liberal View of the world that dominated our Thinking and it's gone away somewhat Since we've moved into multipolarity but Not Completely and uh this makes me a little Nervous right to pick up on your point I Mean the United States is thinking about The world in ways that are somewhat Different than the Chinese Who real is Par exellence so that's fascinating so The Chinese are Pragmatic uh about thinking of the world In Um as a competition of military Powers All the ways in which he described the Realist perspective so that I mean That's a that's a that's a hopeful thing Right If uh we can achieve stability and a Balance of powers through that military Competition yeah I I actually think That's right I think if the United States just let me talk a little bit About the United States to get at the Issue you're raising if the United

States pursues a smart containment Strategy given what you just said and I Said about the Chinese I think we will Avoid war the problem with the Americans Is it's not just the Liberalism it's the possibility that we Will pursue a roll back policy in other Words during the Cold War uh we pursued Containment it was whenever anybody Talked about American Grand strategy Towards the Soviet Union was Containment Containment containment we now know from The historical record that the United States was not only pursuing containment It was pursuing rollback we were trying To roll back Soviet power to put it Bluntly we were trying to wreck the Soviet Union okay and I would not be Surprised moving forward with regard to China if the United States pursu is a Serious roll back policy and uh so You're saying throughout history United States was always doing that always Where's that from why why can't we Respect the power of other nations Because they may be a threat to us we Well I mean you you don't look you don't Respect the power of other nations you Fear the power of other nations well Fear and respect to Nextdoor neighbors Depending on the neighborhood you're Living in but I I just mean it's it Could be very very counterproductive to Try because if you can empathize with

Their if if you assume they're rational Actors you trying to roll back will Create um would lean into the Uncertainty of potential conflict so you Want to avoid the uncertainty of Potential conflict caution right well Yes and no look your point is you want To empathize you want to be able to put Yourself in the shoes of the other side Yes I agree 100% but with that right It's very important if you're a first Class strategist to be able to do that But at the same time there is this Competition for power taking place and What you want to do is maximize how much Power you have relative to the other Side and the other side wants to Maximize how much power it has relative To you so you have this competition for Power right uh that's taking place all The time and that's taking place at the Same time you want to have empathy or You want to be able to put yourself in The shoes of the other side so those two Things kind of go together right it just Feels less threatening to build up your Thing versus try to hurt the other Person's thing the other group's thing Right but if you build up your own power You are building up your capability to Hurt the other side right but like you I Guess you don't rattle the saber just Just work on manufacturing Sabers well I agree with I I think that

You know the United States you know uh Wants to make sure it has a big stick in East Asia for purposes of containing China and avoiding a war right again I Want to be clear I'm not advocating uh That we start World War I but the point Is you want to have a big stick and you Want to make sure that you don't Overstep your bounds in terms of using That big stick this is the danger with Rollback yeah right that you get too Aggressive and you precipitate a war Right and you also just have to be very Careful what you say and to go back to Your favorite argument you want to be Able to have empathy or put yourself in Uh the shoes of the other side because If you do something you want to think Smartly about what that other side how That other side is going to see your Action and how they're going to react MH Right and and mostly focus on the Carrots have a giant stick laying around But never mention it just focus on the Carrots well occasionally you have to Mention the stick right no everyone Knows the stick is there there is some Truth in that right I mean yeah uh but You know and words matter a lot it feels You know this uh current President Biden's meeting with Xi Jinping and I Think the words exchanged there are are Really important I have an oce that Leaders can stop Wars just as much as

They can start wars well leaders matter There's no no question about that no Question but just on on rhetoric you Want to remember that Putin has on more Than one occasion very subtly rattled The nuclear sword oh yeah and it has Been very effective yeah because Joe Biden has paid attention and Joe Biden Wants to make sure we don't end up in a Thermonuclear war and thank goodness uh He's thinking that way so all Putin has To do is mention the possibility of Nuclear War just to go back to Taiwan You know a switch areas of the world if You're interested in containing China And you're interested in Deterrence and let's go back to those Various scenarios where the Chinese win We win Chinese win but they do it at a Costly at Great cost one could Argue that that discussion that I laid Out before didn't take into account Nuclear weapons MH and all President Biden or any of his successors has to do Is just very subtly uh Rattle uh or or or or or employ the Nuclear threat you know Uh and just sort of remind the Chinese That you know you start a war over Taiwan it could easily escalate into a Nuclear war you want to understand we Both have nuclear weapons and if either One of us is put into a desperate Situation

We may turn to those nuclear weapons and Oh by the way XI jingping you want to Understand that we're out here in the Water and using nuclear weapons in the Water it's not that uh it's not the same As using War uh nuclear weapons on land So we may very well use them I'm not Saying we will but anyway a little saber Rattling yeah right let me just zoom out On human history what makes Empires Collapse and what makes them last when They do When you look at human history in your Sense thinking about the United States Perhaps as an Empire I don't view the United States as An Empire uh what's the What's the defin So to you Empire is a thing that seeks Expansion Constantly yeah I I think it's a country Uh that incorporates Different uh regions or areas around the World Uh into sort of a giant sphere of Influence without Incorporating those Territories actually into the state Itself so you had this thing called the British Empire and it controlled areas Like India uh uh North America uh and Kenya just to pick a Couple instances at different points Singapore would be another example

Australia would be another example so These were all entities that were part Of the British Empire right and the United States has taken a stabit Empire Uh after the Spanish American war for Example uh with regard to the Philippines and Cuba and Puerto Rico but We never got serious about it there's Never been an American Empire this is Not to say the United States is not an Incredibly powerful country that goes All around the world building military Bases and stationing troops Here There And Everywhere but we're not running an Empire the way the British Empire was Run or the French Empire uh so the question for me is why Did those Empires go away the why' the British Empire go away if you ever look At a map of the world in 1922 after World War I it's truly amazing how much Of that map is controlled by Britain Right they had a huge Empire and it's Disappeared probably by far the biggest In terms of area Empire in human history I think so I think that's right it Almost has to be yeah right right uh It's crazy crazy yeah it's and then no Longer no longer is the case yeah now I I'm going be clear the the Americans Have Wielded maybe even greater influence Than Britain did when it had its Empire But I don't believe we have an Empire

That bears any resemblance to the British Empire so the question is what happened To that British Empire what happened to The French Empire what happened to the Belgian Empire what happened to the Dutch Empire these were countries that Had colonies all over the planet the Dutch East Indies right Vietnam was you Know French Indochina where where did Those Empires go two factors finished Them Off number one nationalism nationalism Became a very powerful force in the 19th Century it began to rear its head in the Late 18th century and became a very Powerful force in the 19th and certainly In the 20th can explain nationalism here Nationalism is the idea that these Different nations that were part of the Empire like the Kenyans wanted their own State nation state this is my point About the Palestinians right this is Palestinian nationalism what is Zionism Zionism is Jewish nationalism Jewish Nationalism think of Theodore herzl's Famous book it's called the Jewish State Nation state think of the word nation State that embodies nationalism nation State Jewish State Palestinians want Their own State two-state solution right Can't beat the Palestinians into Submission right the Indians wanted Their own State The pakistanis Wanted

Their own State the Kenyans wanted their Own State Singapore wanted its own State Oh the Americans wanted their own State This is called the American Revolution y Right so that's the first reason Nationalism that these Empires Disappeared the second reason is that From a cost benefit analysis uh they no Longer made any sense uh and it was the Coming of the Industrial Revolution once The Industrial Revolution comes an Empire is basically an albatross around Your neck I would argue that the British Empire was an albatross around Britain's Neck in most of the 20th century some my Friends disagree with that and think There were all sorts of benefits uh from The British Empire but you want to Remember that in the 20th century the Three countries that really were Powerful were the United States Germany And the Soviet Union those were the big Three did any of them have an Empire No that's a good car in the industrial World yes you don't need you know uh an Empire right what you need is a powerful Manufacturing base well the the cost Benefit analysis is different before the Industrial Revolution there's been many Empires there's no question that Empires Uh came and went right I mean yes right And or you have to do is just look at The British and the French uh in the Seven Years War 1756 to

1763 the British win they get Canada Right and that's why you know Quebec Montreal all these big French speaking Areas are now part of uh Canada right uh So borders change and you know C Countries got established the United States being one and remember South America and Central America were once Completely dominated by the Spanish and In the case of Brazil the Portuguese but uh they all in the 19 Century got their Independence right and what I'm saying To you is in the 19th and in the 20th Century there were two forces that were Really driving the train one is Nationalism and then the other is the Industrial Revolution which changes the Cost benefit Analysis almost too crazy of a question But if you Look let me calculate let's say 500 Years from now and you you you John M sh Somehow travel through time and are at a Bookstore looking at the uh entire History of human civilization in a Single book what role does US play like What's the story of us over the next 100 200 300 Years is it a big role small Role well that's a long time if you you Ask me let's just say the next 100 years Yeah that's okay I think that's still Tough that's still tough

But actually you know I think we're in Excellent Shape and here's the reason going back To the beginning of our conversation you Asked me you know about power and I told You the two principal building blocks of Power are population size and wealth Okay and therefore you want to look Around the world and you want to look at What you think the demographics are of Country like Britain uh the United States uh Iran uh China Russia pick your country Moving forward right what the Demographics look like and how wealthy Of those are those countries likely to Be what you discover very quickly and is That almost every country around the World is Depopulating over Time right Russia's going to be much Smaller China's going going to be much Smaller uh 100 years from now than both Of those countries are it's best we can Tell United States American women are not having Lots of babies these days no question About that but we have immigration we're An immigrant culture you're a perfect Manifestation of that you're perfect You're now an American that's wonderful We need more people like you right so When I hear Donald Trump and others

Arguing that immigration is a terrible Thing this is Ridiculous immigration is what made us Great right it's when my relatives came Over in the middle of the 19th century From Germany and Ireland right that's Fascinating like you know because there You know there's been a huge Concern America and other developed Nations are not having enough children But you you just made me Realize in the long Arc of History the United States has gotten really damn Good at integrating immigrants and you And like helping them flourish the whole Diversity of uh the that makes up America there's a Machinery of Integrating other Cultures yeah yeah just very quickly on This that's F Sam Huntington's book who Are we yeah uh which in many ways I I Love that book but it has one Fundamental flaw and a number of people Told him beforehand that that flaw Existed and he didn't fix it but Sam Argues in the book that we have large Numbers of Hispanics in this country and We're doing a very poor job of Integrating them into the mainstream and They're not becoming Americans and Because many of them are concentrated in The southwest of the United States Unlike other ethnic groups that were Spread out all over God's Little Green

Acre right we're going to have uh this Cohesive group of Spanish-speaking Americans right who we going to want to Break away and the United States is no Longer going to be you know a reasonably Coherent nation State he's wrong the all the evidence is That Hispanics are integrating into the American Mainstream uh more quickly and more Effectively than the European econom uh The European immigrant groups that came Starting around 183 5 if you look at Immigration from Europe into the United States leaving aside the original wasps Who came over and founded the place the Immigrants start coming in large numbers In 1835 and we really don't shut the Door until 1924 right starting this is a crude Overview starting in 1835 and running up Till about 1885 it's mainly Germans and Irish That's why Germans are the largest Ethnic group to ever come to the United States and the Irish are right behind Them these are the European ethnic Groups we're talking about then starting In 1885 uh polls Jews and Italians start Coming right uh and the Germans and Irish keep coming and this is why Ellis Island is opened I think it's 1893 Ellis Island is open because Castle Garden in

New York which had handled all the Previous immigrants coming across the Pond Castle Garden couldn't handle them All so they opened up Ellis Island That's why somebody like me I can't find My distant relatives records in Ellis Island because they came through Castle Garden right whereas lots of Jews I know Lots of Italians I know they can find Their relatives records in Ellis Island Because they came through Ellis Island The point is you had all these Immigrants who came in roughly between 1835 and 1924 when we shut the gates That's the only time we've ever really Shut the gates in a meaningful way right And this is what made America great M Right all these people and they made Lots of babies right so in some sense Make America great again means getting In getting more immigrants in well we Open the gates again in 65 mhm closed Them in 24 open them in 65 I'm over Simplifying the story here because we Didn't completely shut them we almost Completely shut them in 24 opened in 65 And we've had huge numbers of immigrants Flowing in these immigrants who have Been flowing in since 65 are not Europeans they're not mainly Europeans They're mainly Hispanics and Asians if you look at those Hispanics And Asians they're integrating into the American mainstream at a much faster and

More effective clip than was the case With those immigrants who come came in In the 19th century and early 20th Century the Irish oh my God you know They were treated horribly there's a Book very famous book that's been Written called when the Irish became White just think about the title of that Book there was discrimination against All these groups right and the worst Discrimination of course was against Chinese Americans right uh but we've Gotten much better and what we should do Moving forward is redouble our efforts To integrate immigrants into the American mainstream you know Hispanics You know Asians of All Sorts because the Fact is that America is rapidly reaching The point where it's not going to be an Allwhite country right uh I have five Children and two of my children are was It Generation Z gen Z gen Z is the last majority White uh generation right subsequent Generations are not majority White Uh So for anybody who's bothered by this I'm not bothered by that but for anybody Who is bothered by this they better get Used to it because Americans aren't Making enough babies that we can Continue to grow uh population wise in a Robust way so we need immigration and We're an immigrant culture and this is a Great virtue it has been a great virtue

Over time there should be a source of Hope not wor That's my view that's my view and America when it works is a place that is Very attractive to immigrants and Immigrants can do very well here and and Then the real key moving forward is in Marriage right and you have a huge Amount of in marriage right somebody was Telling me not too long ago that the Highest inar marriage rates in the United States are among Asian women Asian-American women Asian women and Anglos right and uh I say Wonderful uh and uh great yeah no the More love uh is the fastest way to Integrate yeah well you don't what you Want to do is you want to eliminate Difference yes right you want to Eliminate difference right it's like you Know people who say I'm an anti-s semi Right I have two grandsons who Adolf Hitler would have thrown into a guest Chamber one of whose first name is John And middle name is Mir shimer right yeah This is what you want yeah right Steve Walt's wife and his two children would Have been thrown into a gas chamber by Adolf Hitler right this is what you want You want intermarriage now there are Good number of people in some of those Groups especially among Jews who don't Like Intermarriage right but they've lost

Because I haven't looked recently at the Data uh the data among um uh for in Marriage rates among uh basically Secular Jews but it used to be around 62% large numbers of Jews marry Guam and They've lost because of inner marriage In marriage helps fight tribalism Destructive kind of tribalism exactly Nice calling me an Anti-semite they haven't met my Grandsons my son-in-law nieces that I a Niece that I have nephews that I have Brother-in-laws that I have Jewish right Come on and this this gives a really Nice hopeful view of America is is the Integration of different different Cultures different kinds of peoples that Is a unique property of America yes but Just to go back to where we started it Was not smooth in the beginning all Things are rough in the beginning all Things are rough in the Beginning what advice would you give to A young person today about how to have a Career they can be proud of or a life They can be proud of well I think it's Very important to make sure that you do Something in life that really interests You my mother used to use this phrase Floats your boat you want to do Something that floats your boat or to Use another one of my mother's phrase Phrases you want to get up you want to Do something where you get up out of bed

In the morning with a bounce in your Step right so I I think that you know if Your mother and father want you to be a Lawyer and they're pushing you to be a Lawyer and you don't want to be a lawyer You want to be a policeman be a Policeman right don't do what other People want you to do because it's very Important to find a job and occupation That you really Love uh the second thing I would say and This has to do with your point about um Humility Uh uh you want to think about the Humility uis index my friend Steve Vanever who teaches at MIT he and I Invented this this concept we call it The uis humility index and you want to Have a healthy dose of humility but you Also want to have a healthy dose of Ubis you want to think you can change The world you want to think you can make Things better for yourself you want to Take chances you want to think sometimes That you know better than other people Do ubis is not a bad thing but at the Same time you have to have humility yeah You have to understand that a man or a Woman has his or her limits and you want To listen to other people you want to be A good listener right uh so always Remember the importance of the uis Humility index and the importance of Having healthy doses of both uus and

Humility speaking of humility you're Mortal like all humans are do you Ponder Your immortality are you afraid of it Are you afraid of death I'm not sure I'm Afraid of death uh I I don't want to die Because I enjoy life so much having too Much fun yeah I you know given how Horrible the world is today I hate to I Hate to say that I'm having too much fun But do I find what I do interesting and Gratifying I I I do uh I just love what I do uh and I love studying you know International politics and I love being Intellectually curious about all sorts Of subjects I love talking to you about This and that uh I mean this is really Wonderful and I often tell people you Know thank goodness I'm only 28 years Old because I do try to behave like I'm Only 28 years old but I am well aware of The fact that uh as my mother used to Say nothing is forever and that includes Me and when you're 75 going on 76 you Understand that you have a limited Number of years left uh and I find that Depressing um because I've been I've Been very lucky and uh and I feel like I've won the lottery and uh I'm very Thankful for that and I I'd like to you Know make it last for as long as Possible but uh I do understand that you Know nothing is Forever yeah the finiteness of things Yeah you never think that when you're

Young I mean you know you think uh You're going to live forever and you're Just not going to get old I never Thought this would happen that I would Become 75 years old well you you got you Got so much energy and boldness and Fearlessness and if and an excitement to You that I'm I'm really grateful to see That especially given how much I'm sure You've been attacked for Having uh bold ideas and presenting them And not losing Yeah not losing that youthful energy is Beautiful to see thank you not becoming Cynical John it's a huge honored to Speak with you that you give me so much Time and so much respect and so much Love I this was a really incredible Conversation thank you so much for Everything you do in the world for Looking out into the world and trying to Understand it and teach us and thank you So much for talking with a silly kid Like me it my pleasure thank you very Much I thoroughly enjoyed it Awesome thanks for listening to this Conversation with John mimer to support This podcast please check out our Sponsors in the description and now let Me leave you with some words from Plato Only The Dead have seen the end of War thank you for listening and hope to See you next Time

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