Forum on the Role of the National Security Advisor
|Speakers:||Samuel R. Berger, Wolf Blitzer, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Frank Carlucci, Edward Djerejian, Andrew J. Goodpaster, Lee Hamilton, Robert C. McFarlane and Walt W. Rostow.|
|Location:||Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC|
|Date:||April 12, 2001|
|Topic:||Forum on the Role of the National Security Advisor|
|Length:||92 and 57 minutes|
The Forum on the Role of the National Security Advisor was a joint program
between the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and the Woodrow
Wilson International Center for Scholars. Conducted on April 12, 2001 in
Washington, D.C., the forum examined the role of the National Security
Advisor in the policy formulation, planning, conduct and coordination of the
nation's foreign and national security policies.
The forum addressed such topics as "How Should the National Security Council Be Organized?" and "What Are the Major Foreign Policy and National Security Priorities Facing the United States?"
Participating former national security advisors included Samuel R. Berger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Frank Carlucci, Andrew J. Goodpaster, Robert C. McFarlane and Walt W. Rostow. Wolf Blitzer, CNN anchor, moderated the panel. Edward Djerejian, director of the Baker Institute at Rice, presented opening remarks. Lee Hamilton, former U.S. Congressman and director of the Wilson Center, presented closing remarks.
|Links:||Forum transcript (HTML); Forum transcript (PDF); Rice News article, April 12, 2001; Baker Institute for Public Policy; Woodrow Wilson Center; WWICS news article; Forum on the Role of the White House Chief of Staff|
A FORUM ON THE ROLE OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR Cosponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the James A. Baker III Institute For Public Policy of Rice University APRIL 12, 2001 SPEAKERS: WOLF BLITZER, CNN, MODERATOR EDWARD P. DJEREJIAN, DIRECTOR, JAMES A. BAKER III INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY, RICE UNIVERSITY SAMUEL R. BERGER, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR UNDER PRESIDENT CLINTON ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR UNDER PRESIDENT CARTER FRANK C. CARLUCCI, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR UNDER PRESIDENT REAGAN ANDREW J. GOODPASTER, FORMER STAFF SECRETARY AND ASSISTANT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY ACTIVITIES UNDER PRESIDENT EISENHOWER ROBERT C. MCFARLANE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR UNDER PRESIDENT REAGAN WALT W. ROSTOW, FORMER DEPUTY SPECIAL ASSISTANT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS TO PRESIDENT KENNEDY AND SPECIAL ASSISTANT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS TO PRESIDENT JOHNSON LEE H. HAMILTON, DIRECTOR, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR SCHOLARS DJEREJIAN: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Thank you very much for coming to this forum on the role of the national security advisor. I'm Ed Djerejian, the director of the Baker Institute of Rice University. And this is really a distinct pleasure for me. This is our second major collaboration with the Woodrow Wilson Center. We put on a forum for the White House chiefs of staff to analyze the whole subject of the transition from campaigning to governance and the role of the White House chief of staff. And so this is a very natural follow-on through our collaboration with the Woodrow Wilson Center on the role of the national security advisor. And as you can see, we have a very distinguished panel of former national security advisors. And it's especially a pleasure for me to work with Lee Hamilton. When I was in government service, I was subjected to Lee's questioning through the House International Relations Committee. And it's wonderful to be able to work with him in this context and not have to answer his very disturbing questions. (LAUGHTER) The next collaboration we're going to have with the Woodrow Wilson Center -- this time it will be at the Baker Institute at Rice University in the fall -- is a forum of secretaries of treasury and the role of the secretary of treasury and their assessment of major economic and fiscal issues. And that will be tentatively on or about October 5, 2001. What we're going to do today is go into our panel format and with our very distinguished moderator, who I'll introduce in a second, our rapporteur for this session is Ivo Daalder of the Brookings Institution. He's a senior fellow at Brookings and perhaps the top expert on the National Security Council. And so we're delighted that he has taken this on. We will have questions in the second period. We'll go on from this hour until 3:30, where we'll take a short 15-minute break. And then in the second session, we'll take questions from the audience during that period. In the first period, our moderator will be working with the panel. BERGER: Well, first of all, I want to thank you, Wolf, for congratulating me on my distinguished career, since I left my job two months ago. (LAUGHTER) I think if I had to say it in a phrase, I would say, to paraphrase the phrase from the Clinton campaign, "It's the president, stupid." I think the national security advisor's principal role, focus, is in assuring that the president is well-served in his decision-making, that his decisions are executed by the government in some kind of coherent way. It is one of the only jobs I know of that is both a line job and a staff job. You're both a principal, you're both an advisor, but you're also, in a sense, the foreign policy chief of staff. You have to make sure the speech is ready. But I suspect for most of us, the unique focus is to, in a way that the other Cabinet secretaries can't, look at how the president would be best served in his decision-making, what he needs to know in addition to what he wants to know and how to keep the process moving in a direction that he wants it to move. BLITZER: Dr. Brzezinski? BRZEZINSKI: I would agree with what Sandy said, but I would add to it the following: The role of the national security advisor to the president is not defined by the national security advisor to the president; it is defined by the president. That is to say, if you have a president who comes to office intent on making foreign policy himself, in the literal and even kind of on a daily basis, you have a different role than if the president comes to office, let's say, more interested in domestic affairs and more inclined to delegate authority to his principal advisors, in which case the role is also different. In the first instance, the national security advisor is the inevitable bureaucratic beneficiary of deep presidential involvement. In the second case, the secretary of state, who has a constitutional responsibility, tends to be more important. And I would say that historically, since President Truman, we have had these two kinds of systems. I call one the presidential, the other one the secretarial. Some have worked well. Some have worked badly. But neither system is superior to the other. Some of each have worked well, and some of each have worked badly. BLITZER: Frank Carlucci? CARLUCCI: Well, I would agree with my two colleagues here. Essentially, they're to serve the president, and president's styles vary from president to president. As Zbig said, some want to focus the foreign policy decision-making process in the White House, and others prefer to delegate it, and the national security advisor has to play it by ear. I think it's important to note that the national security advisor job, while it does have line aspects, Sandy, is essentially a staff job. A lot of Americans get the National Security Council confused with the national security advisor. The national security advisor serves the National Security Council, and he has to serve many masters as he or she does that. BLITZER: General Goodpaster? GOODPASTER: In Eisenhower's time, you have to think of this in two parts. He set up a well-structured National Security Council with a planning board at the assistant secretary level which really carried out the preparation that he wanted of carefully thought through plans, long-range plans and policies. In addition, he had, in my service, not a national security advisor, but a national security assistant. And this was to differentiate, as he wished to do, between policies and long-range plans on the one hand and action decisions on the other. He quoted to us often Von Multke's dictum that, at the time of decision, plans are nothing, but plans are everything. The preparatory work that went into that preparation pays off, because people understand the issues thoroughly but can adapt to the particular circumstances on which decisions are needed. I would add, just to the euphemisms that you've heard, what we came to call "empirical rule number one" during Eisenhower's presidency, very simple: The president is right. (LAUGHTER) BLITZER: Bud McFarlane? MCFARLANE: The reference to serving the president is foremost, I think, in determining the role of the advisor. The president is a steward of our national interest, and he or she will face different circumstances and, therefore, different limits to what he or she can accomplish. So when President Reagan came to office, the body politic of our country was willing once more, with enough distance from Vietnam, to play a more activist role. BLITZER: Can you give us one specific example when you said to President Clinton, "You're wrong." (LAUGHTER) BERGER: Don't you know about executive privilege, Wolf? (LAUGHTER) No, I don't think I said, "You're wrong," I think I said, "I disagree," many times. Some of my former colleagues are in this audience and have been there when I've done that. But I think, you know, your advice obviously is an important input. But I think, to go back to the original question, I think if your colleagues do not believe that you are fairly representing their point of view when they're not there -- often they will be there -- in the decision-making process, you've failed. BLITZER: Dr. Brzezinski, you were well-known and still are, of course, as a strategic thinker. As a national security advisor, you had to balance all the other positions, but you obviously came to the table with strongly held views. How did you do that? How did you accurately, fairly, represent the views of various Cabinet members on key international issues while at the same time aggressively putting forward your view? BRZEZINSKI: Well, I hope not aggressively, I hope persuasively. I think that one would have to be awfully stupid to misrepresent the views of your colleagues to the president, because you know that if the issue is important, there will be a discussion. The president will go back and discuss it, in your presence or even the absence of your presence, with his principal advisers, be they secretary of state or secretary of defense. And it would very quickly be evident that you distorted their views if you did. So you have to be absolutely precise and use as persuasive as you can the arguments that they have mustered in favor of their position. But it is true, as it has already been said, that the president usually wants also his national security advisor's opinion. And then you state your own, and you give the reasons for it. And if you do both, then you may have disagreement with your colleagues, but the president then has the options clearly stated. And over time, your colleagues, even if they disagree with you, learn as to how reliable is your transmission of their views. And I repeat, if the issue is important, it's likely to be discussed. And at some point, the president may pull out the paper and read from it. So you would have to be awfully dumb to distort your colleagues' point of view. But I think the presidents do want advice. And there is a relationship, a synergistic relationship, between the president and the national security advisor. You wouldn't be in that job, fundamentally, if you didn't get along with the president and if you didn't see him a few times a day. So you do have a relationship. And while I do agree that the president's always right in public -- whenever there's a group, he's right, because the national security advisor is helping him -- in private, you have the obligation to tell him that he's wrong. And I did that repeatedly, and the president wanted me to. There was only one time that he finally sent me a little note saying, "Zbig, don't you know when to stop?" when I went back several times, trying to argue that this was not right. (LAUGHTER) BLITZER: Even after that note? BRZEZINSKI: I think I waited a day. (LAUGHTER) BLITZER: You want to tell us what that issue was? BRZEZINSKI: Well, yes, it involved the question of the shah and Iran and the question of what kind of an obligation did we have to admit him to the United States, given the previous relationship that we had. BLITZER: And your position was? BRZEZINSKI: That we had an obligation. To quote from him, he said, speaking of a president, he said, "He will always need the vital studies, advice and counsel that only a capable and well-developed staff organization can give him." Now, many times, things came up that had not been anticipated. And you were likely to receive the ire of Dwight D. Eisenhower if he thought they should have been anticipated. But he wanted these things thought through. He wanted them analyzed. And then, he wanted to deal directly with what he called his principal lieutenants, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the director of Central Intelligence, bring them around a table. And if a recommendation had not been worked out and agreed upon, he wanted to hear what each one said. There was not as much, I think, of conveying the thinking of his lieutenants. On occasion, he would tell us, "Now wait a minute, boys. That's not a staff matter, that's a policy matter. I want the secretary of state in here." And that's what happened. So we had there the practice, the conviction on his part, that these things needed to be anticipated. They needed to be thought through. They needed to be worked through in the planning board of the National Security Council. And then he wanted to meet eyeball-to-eyeball with his principal associates. They would not always agree. He required that every policy study have a financial annex. Well, the financial annex meant he wanted to hear from George Humphrey. And what George Humphrey had to say was often not what other senior members of the administration had to say. But he would hear that out and resolve it and then make his own decision. He made the point, also, "Organization cannot make a genius out of a dunce, neither can it make decisions for its head." But that was the modus operandi that he had: careful preparation and then direct discussion with his principal subordinates. BLITZER: Bud McFarlane, did you see yourself when you were President Reagan's national security advisor more as the honest broker or as a policy adviser? MCFARLANE: You can't escape being both. I think your role as a staff person and to present fairly the views of the Cabinet officers is helped by having the opportunity that Andy just described for frequent discussion with the Cabinet officers and the president. I don't know, I've never tabulated it, but I imagine we had more National Security Council meetings in which the secretary of state and defense and their colleagues could present their own point of view than, say, at Dr. Kissinger's NSC, when NSC meetings were very rarely held at all. At the end of the day, it's what the president prefers, as to where the center, the locus, of decision-making and discourse ought to be. I think that the time in which you may find yourself as a counselor or an adviser being more important is when you're trying to take the country in a fundamentally new direction, where you may have concerns or the president may have concerns about a very novel idea being undermined if it is bureaucratized to the point of pre-emptive destruction. Here, I suppose, I would cite -- Henry's not here to defend himself -- but the very timely reopening to China, an idea whose time really had come might well have been undermined and criticized. After all, this is a time where China was supplying weapons that were killing Americans in Vietnam. It was a time when, from a human rights point of view, China was going through a cultural revolution, killing literally hundreds of thousands of its own people, in short, a lot of reasons to criticize China from the right or the left had that been put out for popular discussion. And so the national security advisor and the president conceived an idea which I think most would say today has served the national interest well, but it was not heavily bureaucratized. Similarly, moving away from offensive deterrents and toward strategic defense, Star Wars, here was an idea that President Reagan believed would have been pre-emptively destroyed, or strangled in the crib, as Cap used to say, had it been bureaucratized and open to the criticism of a very well-informed Congress and body politic. BLITZER: Professor Rostow, how visible should the national security advisor be to the American public? ROSTOW: I think it's important that he be the president's own property, as it were. But I think it does this group, who's assembled and knows a great deal about these things, a disservice not to dramatize and make clear that a national security advisor can differ markedly on a major issue with the president and still function and still have his confidence. On the question of Vietnam, I happen to have taken a view different from the general view, which is that we ought to cut the Ho Chi Minh trail thoroughly on the ground and break their supply system. The president knew I held this view, and I stated it in the presence of the Cabinet and Joint Chiefs on a day in the spring of 1967. The fact that I took this position, and the fact that it was turned down by President Johnson and Secretary Rusk, didn't for one moment keep me from doing my job or keep the president from knowing that I would continue to hold my view and see him through to the end as his man, if he wanted it. BLITZER: For example, the senior official at the NSC on the Middle East, let's say. There would be senior officials on the Middle East at the State Department who are doing almost exactly the same thing that your adviser on the Middle East was doing at the NSC. BERGER: No, I don't think so. I mean, every issue is different. Let's take the Middle East. The Middle East, obviously the senior working-level diplomat was Dennis Ross, just as in Russia it was Strobe Talbott at the State Department. Dennis was our principal negotiator below the secretary, but someone had to do the briefing memo for the president when King Hussein was coming, when he was going into a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu or Prime Minister Rabin or Prime Minister Barak. So I think there was a complementarity and a team that worked very well together. The Middle East actually is a very good example -- Ed Djerejian is quite familiar with it -- where there has been a very good blending of tasks between the State Department and the NSC and often the Defense Department. So it depends very much on the area and the personalities. That is, there will be a particular area where clearly the dominant working-level personality is at the State Department or at the Defense Department and will naturally -- the decision-making will cluster around that person. But generally, I don't see what the NSC does as duplicative; I see it as trying to have a coherent decision-making process. BLITZER: Dr. Brzezinski, was it your experience that there would be rivalries, jealousies, between officials at the NSC and the State Department who were fundamentally working in the same areas? BRZEZINSKI: Never. (LAUGHTER) BERGER: I was at the State Department at a lower level when Dr. Brzezinski was at the National Security Council. BRZEZINSKI: Let me say this. First of all, you know, everyone thinks that... BLITZER: Very subtle question. BRZEZINSKI: ... when they were in charge the system was just great. I mean, let's take that as a given, OK? It's also a fact that the NSC system has changed over the years. It started with a very small cluster of people. It grew over time, a great deal. Where I might perhaps differ from Sandy is in defining where NSC coordination should take place. It may be simply a question of terminology, but it may be a little more substantive than that. Sandy said that the NSC provides coordination at the working level. I would put it differently, and I think it has implications for the size of the staff and what it does. I would say, coordination has to take place at the presidential level. That is to say, when the decisions are of a presidential-level type decisions, then NSC coordination is necessary. I don't think it should be at the working level, because at the working level, there are a great many decisions which are really not of presidential type. And if you try to make decisions more or less at the desk-officer level, you will end up with a staff on the NSC which, in my view, is too large. It becomes a mini-foreign ministry, and it shouldn't be. Now, I don't know what the happy medium is. I would suspect it's probably somewhere around, I don't know, 50, 60 or so, given the role the United States plays in the world today. But I would say, in general, the staff should coordinate only those decisions which really have what might be called a presidential-level character to them. BERGER: I don't entirely agree with that. BLITZER: How big was your staff when you were there? BERGER: Well, in terms of policy people, it was similar, 60, 70 policy people. There were a lot of administrative people and people who run the Situation Room and do other tasks. We're talking here about people who are policy-makers. Take an example. During the run-up to a period involving Bosnia, our engagement in Bosnia, there were day-to-day decisions that needed to be made, that were not at the presidential level, but were critically important, that are generally made at the assistant secretary level or above, sometimes at the deputy level. And the Deputies Committee has become an extremely important part of the engine of decision-making. ROSTOW: Before responding to your question, I should introduce from outside this room some testimony which arrived to me as e-mail. This is my wife's diagram out of a book she's using to teach American foreign policy. And what you're listening to is one of the eternal fights of this group. This group very largely takes from the sociological point of view. This, from George Marshall's move to the State Department to Henry Kissinger's moving back from the White House, all of these moves, up to the present day, when Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld and the vice president have moved, are among a group who have wrestled with this problem over the years. And Al Smith wanted this group to be reminded of it, that's why I got this e-mail this morning. But the point about it is that this is a problem which can be solved, as Frank says, between the secretary of defense and the secretary of state. And my own view and my own experience with Secretary Rusk over the years has been that, with the right characters in place and a mutual deference and mutual trust, it can be solved. But it is not always solved. I mean, the relations between State and Defense are one thing when Mr. Truman's friend from Missouri was in Department of Defense; quite different when his successor was -- what was his name again? -- moved over to Defense, who was close to Acheson. And a lot does depend upon the relations between these two parties. The truth is... GOODPASTER: You're thinking of Louis Johnson and Dean Acheson? ROSTOW: Yes, Acheson. Then there was, in secretary of defense, there was another man involved who was Acheson's contemporary at Yale. GOODPASTER: Art Clifford? ROSTOW: Well, it doesn't matter. The question of personality does matter. As for the issue involved, my own preference has been to have the State take the role of coordinator as far as possible and leave the National Security Council to concentrate on the issues which the president ought to concern himself with. The truth about General Eisenhower was that he found the endless meetings of the NSC a great burden to him when he couldn't get out of them exactly what he hoped to get out of them. And as he himself once said to his national security advisor, that he was getting at these meetings what you could get from the New York Times if you read it carefully. (LAUGHTER) It's very easy to overload the president. He should be able to find the time, like any executive of a big organization, to concentrate on a major issue and not be diverted. And a lot of those issues should be settled beneath him. And the Eisenhower administration had a very successful committee of undersecretaries. It really saved the president a great deal of work, and it was congenial. We had trouble convincing the successors of the Eisenhower administration that at the undersecretary level, this committee worked well. And the committees that worked well also were headed by strong assistant secretaries, the so-called "aries" worked well. And we did something at that time which I am very proud of and I had a hand in, which was to reduce the size of the NSC. As you all know from your own experience, the good Lord only produces a certain number of first-rate people. (LAUGHTER) And it's much better to have a small, first-rate staff than to load it up with a big bureaucracy. I don't know when that took place. It took place after the Kennedy-Johnson period. But it's wonderfully clarifying if a man has a responsibility for a certain field and the only person working for him is a secretary. And everyone who works for somebody else takes some of his time, takes some of his energy. And we could have an interdepartment meeting at the NSC level, staff level, very easily by calling three or four people into the room who knew all about the cables which came from Europe and the UN and from Africa and so on, whatever the issue might be. So I would opt for a small staff. And I would opt for a concentration of effort in the White House on the major issues. And I would opt for putting a great deal of responsibility on the undersecretaries and the assistant secretaries to take the issues off the neck of the president. BRZEZINSKI: Well, to put it in its more defensible light, it can be driven -- the decision as to who goes -- by what is the perception of the foreign government about the authenticity, the president's commitment to a given decision. That is, especially for authoritarian governments, the Soviet Union, for China. Because they don't put much credence in their own bureaucracy, they assume that they shouldn't attach much to that of the United States. And so, they attach more legitimacy to something that comes from the White House directly. But George Schultz had a very, I think, sensible understanding of that. And specifically because he wanted it always to be clear that he was speaking for the president, he would usually take me on a trip. And I was in a subordinate role, and I saw it that way. But I saw that I was there as kind of a prop to make it very clear to the Soviet Union and to China that the secretary of state was speaking clearly for the president here. ROSTOW: The president, from time to time, will choose a special representative to go and engage in a more intimate and a form of dialogue which is recognized as quite authentic in terms of the interests of our country. Normally, in my observation, these have been people that have been even nominated to the president, suggested to the president, but it's people in whom the president has special confidence. And that's known at the receiving end and can be very useful. BERGER: I think there is one other dimension here. And that is that, you know, the secretary of state, when she or he travels, cuts a broader public swath than perhaps the national security advisor. They travel with the press corps from the State Department. They are there in an official capacity. There are certain protocol and ceremonial circumstances that surround it. And there are times when you want to engage at the highest levels less obtrusively. And the national security advisor can get on a plane with one or two people and fly into Beijing and meet with leadership and fly out, maybe drawing some attention from the local media, but not a lot from the national media here. And that sometimes is useful for trying to make progress on a particularly delicate issue. BLITZER: Did you want to say something, Bud McFarlane? MCFARLANE: Well, if you'll indulge a moment of humor that's related to this. In December of '84, President Reagan was promoting a concept, the Star Wars concept, as kind of the centerpiece of a larger policy for engaging the Soviet Union. And Prime Minister Thatcher was being critical, and persuasively critical. And it was undermining the president's case here in the Congress and elsewhere. And she came to Camp David in December of '84. And in the privacy of that setting said, "Now look here, Ron, this is expensive. It's technologically risky. It is presenting the appearance that you are trying to achieve a first strike capability. It's going to de-couple you from Europe." A very, very penetrating analysis which had some merit to it. And the president was chagrined. We papered over it in the press conference. But afterward he said, "Bud, would you go to London please and try to talk to the prime minister and at least ask her to be a little bit more subdued." And so I went to London the following month. And about two paragraphs into the talking points, I could see I was getting nowhere. And before going, Cap Weinberger, to his credit, had said, "Bud, you know there is going to be a need to subcontract a lot of this work, and the UK ought to get some of that." And well, I could see I was getting nowhere. And the prime minister paused for a moment. And I said, "Prime Minister, the president believes that up to $300 million, on occasions, ought to be subcontracted to British firms." Long pause. (LAUGHTER) And a couple of weeks later -- I've forgotten the circumstance -- but the president and she met again. And she took me aside and she said, "You know, there may be something to this after all." BLITZER: Professor Rostow, years ago I wrote a book on U.S.-Israeli relations. And I remember the chapter on the Six Day War in 1967. You were intimately involved. Dean Rusk was the secretary of State. And President Johnson had to make some major decisions, obviously, during that war. And I remember a lot of the Israelis I interviewed during my research saying that they would often find it a lot better from their standpoint to go to the NSC, meaning you and your aides, who they felt had a direct pipeline to President Johnson, than to work through the State Department and Dean Rusk where they found that there was a lot of resistance to what they wanted. Do you remember those days? I'm sure you probably do. ROSTOW: I don't remember them in those terms. (LAUGHTER) BLITZER: Is it wise, General Goodpaster, for the national security advisor from time to time to be, in effect, the principal foreign policy spokesperson for the president? GOODPASTER: Well, times have changed so drastically since Eisenhower's time that I don't know that his example would have much relevance today. And he himself recognized there will be differences, personal differences, in the characters of the successive presidents. But his conviction was that the secretary of state should have a major role as the spokesperson for foreign policy. He stayed in very close touch with Eisenhower directly on this. But that system worked out very well. And whereas Jim Hagerty, who was Eisenhower's press secretary, played a very major role, he really stayed out of foreign policy and security policy to a large extent. So when you heard these issues discussed, they would be discussed in an authoritative way by the secretary of state, or by Eisenhower himself, who felt that he had an obligation on the major issues to take a public stance. I don't think that can be done today. But to the extent, as much as possible can be pushed out of the White House, I think that the Executive Branch performance will benefit from that. BLITZER: Frank Carlucci, do you want to... CARLUCCI: Yes. In my judgment, the national security advisor should not be out front, but should be part of a coordinated public relations strategy. I thought the administration last Sunday worked it very well, where you had Colin Powell on there as the principal spokesman. You had Dick Cheney commenting, and you had Condi Rice on, I think, your show. BLITZER: That's right. CARLUCCI: And they all were saying the same thing, and that's reassuring. BLITZER: But invisible was Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense. CARLUCCI: Well, that's appropriate. It's part of the strategy. BLITZER: What was the strategy? CARLUCCI: The strategy was to make sure this was handled in diplomatic channels, not military channels. And that message came through loud and clear. I thought it was very well handled. BERGER: I agree with Frank on that. I think that it is important for the secretary of state to be the definitive and principal spokesperson below the president. But one of the things, if you look at the trajectory of time represented on this panel, the media playing field has gotten much larger. And you need a lot of players on the field very often. There was no CNN when most of these gentlemen served as national security advisor. And the world was, of course, much worse for it, Wolf. (LAUGHTER) But now, in both the pace of media scrutiny, the pace of the news cycle is now almost continuous, and the breadth of the media tends to pull the national security advisor out more as part of a team of people who goes out, but always with the secretary of state at the lead. BLITZER: That's a point, Dr. Brzezinski, that's well made, because there is such an appetite out there now in television. There's all the cable channels and five Sunday morning shows that the White House somehow has to service. You can't just expect the secretary of state to appear on five shows if there's a major foreign policy issue that week. BRZEZINSKI: Well, that's already been said, and I completely agree with that. I would merely add the following: Precisely because of these pressures, these competitive pressures, the skills, the communicative skills of a secretary of state have become very different. Let's say in the '50s, the secretary of state primarily made speeches, formal speeches. Or he would write a ghost-written article for the foreign affairs magazine, and it would be kind of authoritative. Now, you not only are pulled in many different directions, but you have to be quick on the uptake. You have to be, to some extent, photogenic. You have to be able to communicate in -- what are they called, those... There were also very useful meetings which involved a great many people before the meetings of the UN, which were occasions for a lot of bilateral. There were also occasions in which the ambassador came home to say country X was having a visit to Washington. And the prime minister was interested in getting A, B and C accomplished from his point of view. "Good," said the president. "Now let me tell you what I'm interested in. Now go away and produce a paper on that." There were a set of meetings which were worthy of bringing together the whole Cabinet and bringing together a president's instruction for the next operational decisions. BRZEZINSKI: Can I comment on this for a second? BLITZER: Go ahead, because you're satisfied with the way the structure was done? BRZEZINSKI: Well, I want to make a distinction, which I don't think was made here which needs to be made. One should not confuse Cabinet status with Senate confirmation. They're not the same thing. BLITZER: Right. BRZEZINSKI: Now in my case, I didn't have Senate confirmation, but I had Cabinet status. But it was totally irrelevant. You know, I had to attend the Cabinet meetings. And I think the only difference between me with Cabinet status as a national security advisor and my colleagues who weren't is that I sat at the table instead of sitting against the wall. But most Cabinet meetings are routine, nonsignificant events, especially when it comes to foreign policy. (LAUGHTER) Now confirmation is a different issue. Now the national security could be confirmed. And there have been ideas to that effect, just as the head of the Bureau of the Budget is confirmed. I personally preferred that it not be so, because if you get confirmed you also have to testify a lot, you have to go down to the Hill a lot. The schedule demands on you are so enormous already that that would be an additional burden and would greatly complicate the issue we talked about earlier, namely, who speaks for foreign policy in the government besides the president? And it should be the secretary of state. And if you are confirmed, that would become fuzzed and confused. BLITZER: You were a member of the Cabinet. But, Sandy Berger, you were not a member of the Cabinet. BERGER: Well, I sat at the table. I don't know if I was a member of the Cabinet or not. BRZEZINSKI: You were a semi-member. BERGER: No one ever told me whether I was or not. (LAUGHTER) I just, I guess, took the chair there. But I think the point that Zbig just made is a key point here. With confirmation comes an almost legal obligation of accountability to the Congress. The secretary of state, secretary of defense spend enormous amounts of time on the Hill. The secretary of state, secretary of defense may have to testify six or eight times on the budget of their agency. And each of those testimonies, of course, is an occasion to answer the question of every member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee or the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which may or may not be related to the budget. I actually think that this has become too burdensome on the secretary of state, secretary of defense. But perhaps a third of their time is engaged in this. And so the one benefit of not having confirmation is that you can say no to a congressional committee. In fact, most presidents have taken the view that under executive privilege that the their national security advisor, just like their chief of staff, can't be compelled to go up on the Hill. GOODPASTER: I'd like to reinforce that. Going back, particularly to the Eisenhower time when he really established in modern years the idea of executive privilege and the idea of confidential advice that the president is entitled to receive that need not be reported in any other place. Now, so long as it's advice, that works, and there is no confirmation. There is a risk any -- moving over into the area of operations, then under the Constitution there is an obligation to report, and a necessity, I think, would come from that for a confirmation. When you come to the Congress, it's a little different. There is such a thing as accountability in our government, and the national security advisor is either the top advisor to the president or among the top two or three advisor to the president on foreign policy. Why should not a national security advisor, who holds this position, not be directly accountable to the American people through the Congress? Now, one answer you suggested a moment ago was that it would impede your advice to the president. That was not true in the case of Bob Rubin, who was the secretary of the treasury, and was repeatedly called before the Congress. So let's take another crack at this question. Why should you not be accountable to the American people through the Congress? CARLUCCI: Well, would you make the chief of staff accountable in the same way, or virtually every White House staff member? HAMILTON: Frank, I think the national security advisor occupies a very special place. He is, if not the principal advisor, he's among the two or three principal advisors to the president on foreign policy. You're perfectly willing to go before all of the TV networks anytime they give you a ring, if you want to go. Why should you discriminate against the Congress? (LAUGHTER) BERGER: Lee, I think any national security... HAMILTON: I told you it was going to be argumentative. BERGER: ... I think any national security advisor... (CROSSTALK) (LAUGHTER) BERGER: ... any national security advisor who got a call from the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee or the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to come on up and talk in their office would be out of their mind not to go up. In fact, during my period, I regularly met with the House and Senate majority and minority leaders and many others, as Bud was saying, is important informally. But there's not only a chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. There's a chairman of Foreign Operations. There's a chairman of the House Defense Committee. And it's hard, of course, once you've submitted to the proposition that you can be summoned up to the Hill, it's hard to say, well, the Foreign Relations Committee is more important than the Defense Committee, or the appropriators are more important than the authorizers. And I think you really have changed the nature of the job. I think the national security advisor is accountable. I can't imagine not responding to a request to come up. My frustration was often that I couldn't get enough people in the House of Representatives to come down to the White House to talk about foreign policy. I think best left informally. HAMILTON: Let me make two comments. One is the point several of you have made, and you just made, Sandy, is right, that secretaries spend an awful lot of time on Capitol Hill. And to me, that says Capitol Hill has to reorganize the way they make inquiries of secretaries. But it is not the same thing for a national security advisor to come into the private office and meet behind closed doors with members of Congress. That's not the same thing as going into a public body and answering questions, in my judgment. They're two different things. And every one of you -- every one of you -- responded to congressional questions and went up to the Hill, and Bud McFarlane was particularly sensitive to the Congress because, as I recall, your father was a congressman. But I draw a distinction there. I know how you feel about it. I guess it's a kind of a different perspective, one from the executive branch, one from the congressional branch. CARLUCCI: Can I come at it from a slightly different perspective, that the person who is accountable is the president. GOODPASTER: That's my point. Yes. CARLUCCI: And these are staff people to the president. And we had a case where the president was almost brought down because of the actions of National Security Council staff -- Ronald Reagan. So there is an accountability system, and the president should be free to pick whomever he wants to give him advice. And in fact, if you, as I said earlier, make the national security advisor subject to confirmation, the president's going to pick somebody else to operate his foreign policy. I think it was a big mistake that Kennedy, in reducing the staff even more than was the case already, when he came to office, abolished the planning board that Eisenhower had on the NSC. The only place in the government where there can be long-range planning of a coherent strategic type is, in some fashion, the White House, presumably related to the NSC. It doesn't even have to be the NSC itself, but it could be something related to it. For example, the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board could be used for long-range anticipation, and for drawing strategic conclusions from it, and then from reporting to the NSC, to the NSC advisor, and letting him know that certain long-range issues have more immediate policy implications. The point here, of course, is one of balance. You can't turn this exercise into some sort of an academic think-house. It has to be related to policy. But having such a body, and then some mechanisms on transmission to the NSC, I think would fill a need that truly exists today. We just don't have coherent strategic planning in the national security area, broadly understood, in the U.S. government. HAMILTON: Sandy, do you want to comment on how you... BERGER: Yes. First of all, I agree with what Zbig has said, and I think his proposal is very appropriate. BRZEZINSKI: It's actually not my idea. I don't want to claim credit for it, but it's something I back. BERGER: His now cited proposal... BRZEZINSKI: Yes. BERGER: ... but I want to go back to the organizational issue. The role of the NSC, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of the global economy, obviously needs to change. And there needs to be, I believe, a kind of protean quality to the NSC, which enables it to configure itself differently depending on the issue. I've said before, there are issues of terrorism in which you need to have the Justice Department and the FBI on the table. There are issues of -- among the most important issues we dealt with was the Asian financial crisis, and the Mexican financial crisis, where Treasury obviously plays an indispensable role. So I think, first of all, while there are some core agencies on the NSC, there has to be kind of a situational definition of participation. The NSC and EC, I think, was a useful device. And understand that the NSC principally deals with coordinating domestic economic policy, for which there had been no similar mechanism. But where economic policy and foreign policy intersect -- on trade, on international economics -- I think it's a useful device, and we shared a staff between the NEC and the NSC. And it was uneven, but generally, I think, was positive. HAMILTON: We'll take one last comment, then we'll go to questions from our audience. Andy? GOODPASTER: I think you've identified a real challenge. And as Frank says, trying to put the economic together with the classical strategic and security is a stretch. And it becomes very hard to operate. But some new thinking about a National Policy Council that would look to the kinds of issues that Walt has talked about here. I go back, again, to the early Eisenhower days -- and this goes to Lee Hamilton's point about "what is the policy." After Stalin died, there were all kinds of suggestions, "Let's do this, let's do that." Eisenhower, after thinking this over, set up a group called the "Solarium Group." And that group defined three main lines of policy that would have an endurance for quite a number of years. One was, at the time, containment. One was, drawing a line with a threat of massive retaliation. And one was rollback, which had figured in Eisenhower's first election. And he charged a small group of eight or nine individuals with making the best possible case for each of those -- three small groups. They worked through a hot summer here in Washington, I might say, and finally gave the results, taking an hour apiece, on each of these. And at the end of it, Eisenhower himself jumped up and said he wanted to summarize and comment on what they had heard. He talked for 45 minutes without a note. George Kennan -- he called him back to head the containment -- said, "In doing so, he showed us intellectual ascendancy over every man in the room." And I said, "George, that includes you." And he said, "That's all right, because Eisenhower understood the military and the strategic aspects of all of it." Out of that came a policy paper which was crafted by the national security apparatus, the Planning Board in particular. And that became a center line for policy. leadership has to do to achieve this and, I think, to internationalize the issue, to bring into it not merely Japan and Western Europe and the western hemisphere, but also China, which is now below 2.1, and they have taken to their own people the question, not the answer yet: What will we do when we have 350 million people on the safety net, when we don't have a safety net now -- 350 million people? They have posed this question, and they have no answer yet. So this is a universal problem, and it ought to end up with the two questions, which I tried to answer for the two bosses I had in the '60s, one from John Kennedy, who when an idea was put to him, would fuss with his tie and so on and say, "What do you want me to do about it today?" And for once, LBJ was more cryptic. He would put his chin on his fist and push his eyes toward yours and say, "Therefore?" I think we must face up to the "therefore" problem, including its political component, a part of which is to spread the understanding that we've wasted this period of falling fertility. The gap is now closing. We're about to face a fall in population. And we better damn well take this seriously. HAMILTON: All right. Thank you. Now what I'd like to do to get as many questions as possible is to request the panel just to have one person responding. If one of the other panelists would like to add something, by all means do. But let's see if we can get as many questions as possible. We have a question there. QUESTION: In the national security system, whose job is it, or should it be, to raise domestic political factors? CARLUCCI: The chief of staff. I don't think it's the national security advisor's job. In fact, I had on my watch -- and Bud did too -- the Iran Contra affair and the Latin American Contras. And there was a question of mobilizing public opinion to support the president's policies, and there was some suggestion that that should be done by the National Security Council staff. I went to Howard Baker and said, "Howard, that's not my business. That should be yours." And he took it over. BRZEZINSKI: I would just add to the chief of staff, maybe occasionally the vice president. HAMILTON: OK. Next question here. QUESTION: You gentlemen have talked a great deal about coordinating documents and positions that come up from the departments. And my question, perhaps, is related to Dr. Brzezinski and General Goodpaster. To what extent did you each -- you all -- as national security advisor send things down to the departments that you thought should be studied, issues that might have come up, but were not current at the present time, things that perhaps the president had mentioned, the president had alluded to or perhaps things that you thought should be looked at that the departments were not looking at? BRZEZINSKI: Well, I can only speak for myself. There was frequently tasking, not only of the departments, but also the agency. We haven't talked about the agency at all, and that's a very important element involved here. The relationship of the agency to the national security advisor and the president is an important part of this problem. I would say, very frequently the White House would task, either because of the president's stimulation of the national security advisor or simply because the national security advisor felt the president needed this. Very frequently tasking memos would go down. CARLUCCI: I was in the agency when he was national security advisor. He rained on us all the time. (LAUGHTER) GOODPASTER: I would just add that it was President Eisenhower's practice to receive a briefing every morning using the material that had been submitted from the CIA, from the State Department -- the exchange of messages -- and from the Defense Department as well. That was a prime source of seeing that there was something that needed to be looked at, and that was the occasion for calling together these ad hoc meetings -- that was my duty -- to bring in the responsible people to meet with him in the Oval Office. So the term Bob Bowie reminded me of, he could look his principal subordinates in the eye and hear from them their views and digest it with the background of the policy work that had been done previously. But that is a very, very important element in Hamiltonian terms, if I could make the reference, to providing energy in the executive branch of the government. HAMILTON: Bud McFarlane and then General Goodpaster. MCFARLANE: It's a very good point. And I think this really only happens about every four years, where there is tasking. And right now, I'm sure Condi Rice with President Bush is tasking the departments to focus on these very issues, that the memos are going out saying the president is concerned about the threat to American interests of terrorism or of X and Y and Z. And he's tasking the Cabinet agencies to study them, to come back and give him options, together with costs and risks and trade-offs, for how to engage on these several issues. And six months from now, those several volumes of national policy will be on the shelf, but hopefully also in the field, trying to advance the national interest. GOODPASTER: I'll just add, if I may, that again going back to Eisenhower's structure, he had something called the Operations Coordination Board, which operated about one level down. And their role was coordinating operations, particularly in the execution phase of the policies that had been considered and approved and directed. It was criticized from time to time as being a paper mill, generally by people whose feet it held to the fire to get action on the decisions that had been taken. But that kind of a coordinating operation at that level that pertains to the execution of decisions that had been taken, that also is one of the services to the president, who ultimately bears that responsibility himself. HAMILTON: OK. Question here, then we'll have another question. QUESTION: I have a question that relates to the session before. We heard that sometimes loyalty to the president, to the boss, is stronger than loyalty to the issue. How does this reflect to the hiring, to the choosing of the advisors to the president, because that may be an important link? Thank you, and let me thank the Center and the panel for excellent insight into what's called the role of advisor in modern American politics. There are a bunch of books on that, and it's a pleasure to see you all here. Thank you. BERGER: I don't believe there's a conflict between your commitment to your own views and your principles and your commitment to the president. I think the distinction is one that many of my colleagues have made between before the decision and after the decision. I think before the decision, you owe the president your best judgment of what the right course is and to design a process that brings other people's judgments to bear. Once he's made a decision, you execute it or you quit. CARLUCCI: That's right. Yes, there may come a point where you want to resign. I know when I was hired by Ronald Reagan, I laid out areas where I thought I had differences with his existing policy, so he would know what to expect of me. But you have to act in accordance with your conscience. HAMILTON: OK. Question here. QUESTION: As you are aware, the structure in which you operated in your tenure was established in 1947 by the National Security Act of 1947. In 2007, that act and this structure will have been in force about 60 years. Is it not time to reassess the National Security Act and see if the framework that it established is applicable to these first decades of the 21st century, in which we have various threats? BRZEZINSKI: Well, a number of people and institutions have studied the national security making process and have made recommendations for changes. And some changes have taken place anyway, by osmosis. The style, the staffs have changed. Some component elements have been changed -- abolished, for example, like the Planning Board. But by and large, these have been incremental changes, which perhaps have improved the system, occasionally perhaps worsened it. But so far, no one has come up with a convincing case for a radically different structure, even though some proposals have been a made. So there is continuing discussion on the subject, but as of now, no compelling case has won the attraction, the support, either of the president or the Congress. CARLUCCI: The genius of the legislation is that it creates a structure that's totally flexible. The president can do with it what he wants, so why change it? QUESTION: Dr. Brzezinski mentioned the PFIAB board, the Foreign Intelligence Board, and I'm curious as to the role that plays. Is it a resource going on by the National Security Advisor by the president, and how serious is the board? CARLUCCI: Well, the president can pick whatever staff he wants. Yes, the law creates a council and that's why it's totally flexible. The president can create the staff. BERGER: I think it's inevitable that there's going to be a small foreign policy staff in the White House, whether it's statutorily directed or not, if, for no other reason, to prepare the president for the daily tasks that he has to face. HAMILTON: OK, another question here. QUESTION: I was just kind of wondering, anything you should regret, you would have done differently in the past? So, I mean, you might do differently while you advise the presidents? (LAUGHTER) ROSTOW: What's the question? HAMILTON: Is there anything that you would regret, looking back, in the advice that you gave the presidents. (UNKNOWN): The answer is yes. (LAUGHTER) QUESTION: Are you very sorry? (LAUGHTER) HAMILTON: General Goodpaster? GOODPASTER: Well, let me say... HAMILTON: Maybe we should get six "sorrys." (LAUGHTER) GOODPASTER: ... looking back, I think there were sins of omission. Well, I'll speak for myself. There were times when I wish I'd been more alert to the possible implications of conceivable events that did, indeed, occur. For example, sitting there, the last day that the U2 flight could be flown, being May 1, a day of particular significance in Russia. If we had not wanted to run too close to the summit that was planned for mid-May of 1960, but somebody might have thought that May Day was really not the day to fly over Russia. HAMILTON: OK. Go ahead. QUESTION: My question is, what is life after service as national security advisor? And what do you think national security advisors after service should focus their attention on? BRZEZINSKI: Well, it's a quick transition. I went to Andrews Air Force Base to see the retiring president off. I had my motorcade with me. I had my Secret Service guys with me. The president left and I kind of looked around and there were no cars. (LAUGHTER) Finally, the Secret Service guy came up and said, "Can I give you a lift," which I gladly accepted. I think after service of this kind -- but it's important during that service always to remember that this is a very brief transitional phase in your life. And I kept saying that to myself almost every week, you know, "Don't let yourself feel that this is real." After that, I think the most you can do is try to apply the experience you have gained in some meaningful fashion to the continuing very pluralistic dialogue in this country, about national strategy and the role of the United States in the world. I think that's what we can all do and I think, in different ways, we are, in effect, all doing. HAMILTON: I think we'll have the final question back here. QUESTION: I wanted to ask about this standoff with China that recently ended, and what it might say about the workings and decision-making and structure of the foreign policy of the current administration, and how that might differ from some of the administrations in which you all served? CARLUCCI: Well, I think they've handled it well. One can argue, as some people in the press have, that they should have been tougher right at the outset, but as Condi Rice said it on Wolf Blitzer's program on Sunday, at that point in time, they didn't know where the American service people were -- under what conditions they were being held -- so they felt it necessary to be very firm. They have achieved what they set out to achieve. The service people have been released. We have not apologized, nor should we. I think we ought to move on now and try to restore our full relationship with the People's Republic of China. HAMILTON: OK. Thank you very much. I think one of the more memorable sentences we've had this afternoon from the panel came from Professor Rostow who said, "The good Lord produces only a small number of first-rate people." You would all agree that these six fit into that group of first-rate people. We owe them our thanks, not just for this afternoon's session, but for their service to the country, to their presidents over a period of time. They really are remarkable people. We're delighted to have had them here. Ed Djerejian, it's been a great pleasure to work with you and the James Baker Institute. The Wilson Center has been pleased to join with the Baker Institute to put on this program this afternoon. The text of the comments of these national security advisors will be widely distributed, as will the tapes that have been made here. So we've had a marvelous afternoon. Our thanks -- our deep thanks -- to the panel for a tremendously informative and stimulating session. Thank you all for attending. (APPLAUSE) END
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