Chairman Mac Thornberry: National Security and Politics in Turbulent Times
September 6, 2018
JOHN J. HAMRE: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome. We’re delighted to have you here for the second award of the Nunn Prize.
Let me just explain the background for this. When Senator Nunn, who had been the chairman of the CSIS Board for 18 years, I think, maybe 19 years, and when he decided to retire the board wanted to honor him by creating an annual commemoration lecture. And the first award winner was Ash Carter, when he was secretary of defense, and the second award winner is Chairman Thornberry. I remember having this conversation. I said nobody is doing more important work in forging and sustaining a bipartisan focus in the Congress today than Chairman Mac Thornberry, and he’s doing it by also leading with big, tough, important issues that we’re trying to resolve.
And, Chairman, we are grateful for your leadership. I think it’s quite emblematic of the career that Senator Nunn had when he was chairman of the Armed Services Committee. And so I think it’s very fitting this afternoon.
We’ll first begin with Senator Nunn. I’d like him just to offer a few words in observation, and then I’ll ask Chairman Thornberry to come up to receive the award and offer his remarks. Senator Sam Nunn, please. (Applause.)
SAM NUNN: Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
Thank you very much, John Hamre, for your kind words and for your outstanding leadership of CSIS, an outstanding organization. It’s just terrific for me to be with the CSIS family always. I spent so many – so many happy times and informative times in this – in this building and in the old building. We even learned things back in the basement, John – (laughter) – when we were in the old building. So I thank the entire CSIS family for the wonderful honor of making this award in my name.
In our current era of brutal and often counterproductive partisanship, I’m pleased that this prize and lecture spotlights courageous leaders who demonstrate civility and wisdom in addressing global challenges and who put our nation’s interest first. And our honoree tonight fits that description.
The thrill of having this award in my name also comes from the immense credibility and accomplishments of CSIS, the organization giving the award, and the entire outstanding team here at CSIS, as well as the board. You provide a consistent, nonpartisan approach to addressing our nation’s challenges. In our current political atmosphere, CSIS stands out as almost unique because our scholars are committed to letting the facts have a significant bearing on the conclusions. That sounds trite, but it is, I’m afraid, true in town today.
I’m delighted that Representative Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is the recipient of the Sam Nunn National Security Leadership Prize. And, Sally, I know you’re a full and valued partner to Mac, so I consider this award at least half yours, maybe 60 percent – (laughter) – because my wife, Colleen, I know would concur with that based on the sacrifices that are made for the spouses of people who are serving.
Some of you – I see Bennett Johnston here. I know he’s in that category. Arnold, not quite. Bill Montell (sp), though. But some of you are old enough to recall that I was once chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, but I suspect that most of you are not aware of my special debt to the House Armed Services Committee. Chairman Thornberry, my first job out of law school, at age 23, was as an attorney for the House Armed Services Committee. I will boldly assert that I am the only senator in the history of this nation either smart enough or dumb enough – take your choice – to have read all the defense procurement regulations issued by the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, as well as DOD. That was my first assignment for my boss, John J. Courtney, and I can assure you it was more than anyone wanted to know, and probably still is. I know you’ve done a lot of work, Mr. Chairman, on acquisition reform and all the business practices. Arnold Punaro has kept me fully informed since he’s been so involved in that. So you know the complexity of the procurement, but the importance of the acquisition process.
As a staffer on the House committee in the fall of 1962, I also took my first trip outside the United States – literally, first time I’d been outside the United States – an Air Force trip to NATO Europe. The Cuban missile crisis broke out in the middle of our three-week trip. At the peak of the crisis, when it looked like nuclear war was going to occur any minute, I was attending a dinner at the Wiesbaden Air Force Base in Germany, sitting by the Air Force general in charge of our so-called QRA aircraft fighters – quick-reaction aircraft – which would have dropped the first nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union. The general explained to me that once he received his order, his planes would have only a couple of minutes to take off because they were likely to be the Soviets’ first target. The pilots were sitting and sleeping by their aircraft. They knew that once they dropped their nuclear payloads they’d have to bail out because at that range they could not make it back to the base. So it was one bomb per plane on a one-and-a-half-way mission.
I decided at 23 years of age that if I ever had an opportunity to try to reduce nuclear risk, I would do so. For me, this continued to – continues to be a work in progress for our nation and, indeed, the world.
One more small tidbit. I almost forgot it, Colleen, but I didn’t. While we were on the last stop of our trip in Paris on the day after President Khrushchev backed down and agreed to remove to the Soviet missiles from Cuba, I met Colleen O’Brien, a young woman who captured my attention in a way that no other woman has. Maybe it was the euphoria, since was had just been avoided, but I think it was a bit more than that. She’s been my first wife since 1965. So, Mac, it would be a great understatement to say that your House Armed Services Committee shaped both my professional career and my personal life far beyond just being stubborn and obstinate year after year in the annual conference on the authorization bill. (Laughter.)
Last week we all mourned the loss of a national hero, Senator John McCain, a man who deeply believed that all of us should have a cause bigger than ourselves. And John McCain lived that creed.
Mac Thornberry meets the John McCain test with flying colors. From streamlining the acquisition – defense acquisition process, to ensuring the U.S. men and women in uniform continue to enjoy every technological advantage possible, to improving accountability for the American taxpayer, Mac Thornberry has provided strategic thinking and been at the forefront of finding solutions to emerging threats, both at home and around the world. From his strong working relationship with his Democratic ranking member, Adam Smith, to his close coordination with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman McCain, Mac has demonstrated a – demonstrated a keen understanding of what it takes to actually get significant legislation passed and to safeguard our nation’s men and women in uniform.
And I see Senator Warner and Senator Lugar here today, my old buddies, great friends and partners. And I was just informed that the authorization bill has already passed and they’re about to pass the appropriation bill. So they’re on time, and a lot of that is due to Mac’s leadership.
From homeland – from homeland security; to cybersecurity; to strengthening intelligence; to supporting, Dick, the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program; to championing the safety and security of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials, Mac has led the way. Our honoree is a voracious reader and a lifelong learner who understands the dynamic and changing requirements for keeping America strong in a world of cyber and a world of artificial intelligence. Beyond military power, Mac is a leading advocate for strengthening the full range of tools that must be available and sharpened to defend America’s interests, including global development, foreign assistance, and public diplomacy.
All of us at CSIS are enthusiastic about the selection of Chairman Mac Thornberry as the – as the 2018 recipient of the National Security Leadership Prize. Mac, we salute you, and we salute your service to our nation. Thank you. (Applause.)
(The 2018 Sam Nunn National Security Leadership Prize is awarded.)
MR. HAMRE: And I just forgot to say how grateful we are that Deputy Secretary Pat Shanahan has joined us today. Thank you, Pat.
Would you all, with your applause, congratulate and welcome Mac Thornberry, who is the recipient this year, also the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. (Applause.)
REPRESENTATIVE MAC THORNBERRY (R-TX): Well, thank you, John. And, Senator Nunn, thank you very much. I certainly appreciate the kind and generous words, and I also appreciate the presence of so many people whom I admire.
Throughout my time in Congress I have learned and benefitted from Dr. Hamre and the work here at CSIS as they pursue nonpartisan answers to the national security challenges we face. I certainly respect the work that goes on here immensely.
And it’s a particular honor to be with Senator Nunn. For some strange reason I’ve always been interested in politics, government, and especially national security. So, growing up, I would follow the defense giants of the Senate – people like Scoop Jackson, John Tower, Barry Goldwater, John Warner, and of course Sam Nunn. The first time I ever had the chance to speak in – on the floor of the House to a full house was when, as a freshman, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, Ron Dellums, yielded me time to speak against a Republican amendment which was trying to cut funding for the Nunn-Lugar Program. I got some attention that day. (Laughter.) But I certainly appreciate and honor Senator Nunn’s continuing contributions to our country. And it’s certainly good to see Senator Lugar, the other half of that team, as well.
I appreciate this award and – award and especially the values it espouses. I trust everybody here knows that I don’t always live up to those ideals, but even the recognition that I aspire to is a compliment to me. And so I’m grateful.
I love to work on the national security challenges facing our country. At the same time I have to operate in the world of politics, where conditions are not always ideal for getting things done. One view of this intersection between politics and national security is it’s either kind of a glass-half-full/half-empty sort of situation. If you think the glass if half-empty, then our political dysfunction prevents us from doing what we really need to do to defend the country. On the other hand, if you see it as half-full, then the point that we can work together more on national security than on other issues provides a worthy example that can help elevate the rest of our politics.
Both, obviously, have elements of truth in them, but I tend to be more on the glass-half-full side of things. And that’s one reason that I was so pleased we were able to pass this year’s defense authorization bill by a vote of 359 to 54 in the House, 87 to 10 in the Senate, and, as was already mentioned, have it signed into law before the fiscal year – as a matter of fact, the earliest in 41 years. (Applause.)
Now, the rest of the story is the House has already passed appropriation bills to match, and now even the Senate has done that. I like the story that Doris Kearns Goodwin tells where one night Frances Cleveland, the wife of the president, was awakened by a noise in the house. “Wake up,” she nudged her husband. “There are robbers in the house!” President Cleveland tried to set her mind at ease. “There are no robbers in the house,” he assured her, “but there are lots in the Senate.” (Laughter.) Well, even those robbers in the Senate are getting things done, and there’s a very good chance that the military will be fully funded on time for the first time in a long time this year. (Applause.)
This intersection of politics and national security is the topic I want to expand on for just a few minutes. I have a lot of thoughts and even more questions about the kinds of things we need to do to defend the country in a time of great change and many threats. But if someone asks me what do you worry about the most, that classic what keeps you up at night sort of question, my answer is always what we do to ourselves. We can handle Russia, China, and North Korea. We can find our way through cyber and artificial intelligence and synthetic biology and so forth. My concerns are mainly about us – about the decisions we do make or don’t make, the ability to make decisions, which of course is our politics.
Now, I have to confess up front that I am increasingly subscribing to Orwell’s comments from 1939 that we have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. (Laughter.) So you may not hear a lot of new here, but maybe we have taken the obvious – or at least the obviously important – for granted for too long and that’s part of our current difficulties.
My first obvious point is that we live in challenging times when the nature of warfare is changing. A man for whom I got to work once upon a time, George Shultz, wrote a couple of months ago that the world is experiencing change of unprecedented velocity and scope, and I think we all feel that. But even amidst all the turmoil around us and within us, we have to be prepared to defend ourselves, our allies, and our interests across a wide array of actors, domains, and tactics. Our country has to be defended at a time when the importance of having a credible nuclear deterrent has never been greater. It’s got to be defended at a time when new technologies threaten to upend the sorts of platforms and approaches we’ve relied upon for the past 70 years. And it’s got to be defended at a time where our adversaries can now launch certain kinds of attacks that go directly into virtually every American home. The line between war and non-war, between military and civilian issues, between combat and competition, is less clear now than it’s ever been.
I’ve seen firsthand some of the investments China is making in Africa, across the Middle East, and of course to East Asia to secure strategic locations and resources. So how should we compete with a country that’s willing to spend billions without scruples for access and influence?
We’ve been consumed by Russian involvement in our own elections, and now we read that other countries are looking at doing a similar thing. Propaganda and deception have always been a part of warfare, but now there are tools available with a reach that is unprecedented.
So what’s the government, especially the military, role in preventing or stopping a federal – a foreign government from placing provocative Facebook ads? What’s the military role to defend cyberspace – to defend in cyberspace infrastructure that is owned by private companies? These are the kinds of questions we have to answer to defend the nation, but the answers are only going to come through engagement between government and the public.
One of Churchill’s insights from the late ’40s is even truer today. He said this vast expansion of tools provided by science “was unhappily not accompanied by any noticeable advance in the stature of man, either in his mental faculties or his moral character. His brain got no bigger, but it buzzed the more.” (Laughter.) Well, our buzzing brains have to contend with another development, especially when it relates to the military. And that is rather than have most innovation occur in or because of government, most innovation these days is occurring in the private sector. And that also means that there has to be a greater openness and engagement between the public and their representatives in Congress.
Which is what leads me to the second obvious point I’d like to make, and that is the importance of Congress’ role in preparing the defense of the nation grows with these changes in warfare. Of course, too many people just tend to assume that it’s the executive’s job to decide what we need to defend the country, and then send us the bill, and we salute and write the check. But that’s not what Article I, Section 8 says. It says it’s Congress’ duty to raise and support, provide and maintain, make rules for the government and regulation of the military forces of the United States.
Now, I can regale you with lots of congressional decisions that prove to be wise in hindsight. One that on – in a book I was recently reading says that the American fleet that broke the back of the imperial Japanese navy in 1943 was largely designed and approved for construction before Pearl Harbor through the efforts of one naval visionary, which was Congressman Carl Vinson, chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee. Of course, I can also give you lots of examples where Congress is part of the problem, such as the budget dysfunction that we’ve had over the last few years that has done enormous damage to the ability of the military to protect the country. But the point is, for better or worse, our system of divided power and separate but equal branches, Congress has an integral role in national security. There are some decisions, and especially some reforms, that only Congress can make.
We’ve enacted a fair amount of reform in recent years, everything from pay and benefits to acquisition process and organizational structure. But as we think ahead about how we’re going to defend the country in the future, for example, in defending the country against attacks launched in cyberspace or thinking about military applications for artificial intelligence, robotics, or synthetic biology, then that – those decisions and the consequences of those decisions cannot be limited to military channels. It makes Congress’ role, not just in oversight but in sorting through these values, even more important.
Putin or Xi can say do this or do that. They salute, and they do it. For us, it is not quite so simple. Dr. Hamre probably tires of me citing a CSIS study from March 2004 entitled, Beyond Goldwater-Nichols. It said that Congress is the place where the nation’s plans and – where ideas become the nation’s plans and commitments. That – through that messy debate process, that’s where a Clinton policy for this or a Bush policy for that is transformed into the nation’s policy. Congress is the indispensable link to the American people, the connective tissue between our national leaders and policies, it said. So my point here is that having that connective tissue healthy and functioning – especially on national security issues of such reach and complexity, especially in a time of such turmoil – is more important now than it’s ever been before.
My third obvious point is that every effort should be made to keep national security as nonpartisan as possible. I’m not naïve. I first came to Washington just at the height of the debate on whether we should deploy Pershing II and GLCMs to Europe, and just about the same time President Reagan suggested we ought to develop a defense against ballistic missiles. There have always been differences and intense debates on national security, sometimes even within the parties – such as the Eisenhower and Taft wings, or the McGovern/Jackson wings of the Democratic Party. But for nearly 75 years, the dominant view in both parties has been to support the liberal international order that was created and has been defended by the U.S. and our allies. That order is now under threat, partly from revisionist states that are seeking to undermine one of its crucial foundations – which is the trust that people have in their government. And that order is partly under threat because of our own neglect.
I’m distressed at what’s happening in both parties. We have always had fringe elements in our politics, but other than the civil war the things that brought us together have been stronger than the things that tore us apart. The centrifugal forces now are quite strong. And make no mistake, there are those outside our borders who are ready, willing, and more able than they have ever been before to fuel and engage – to fuel and exploit those centrifugal forces to our detriment. I’m afraid that we have no real conception of the consequences that flow from an unraveling of that order that we and our allies have built. One writer in The Washington Post argued that the U.S.-led network of international institutions has produced the longest period without a war between great powers since the days of the Roman Empire, which alone has been worth every penny spent and every hour haggling.
I think what’s undeniable, at least, is that this order has enabled more people to be free from oppression, and more people to be lifted out of poverty than ever before in world history. But how many people, even how many leaders, recognize this monumental achievement. And how can we let jockeying for short-term political advantage distract us from our bipartisan obligation not just to maintain but to reinvigorate and strengthen the order that has meant so much to us and the world? Certainly no people have benefited more over the last 75 years from this order than have the American people. It’s made possible our freedom and security, but also our economic prosperity and our way of life. Even Americans, however – maybe especially Americans – need to be reminded that, as Paul Miller points out, the liberal international order does not exist because it – just because it’s a better idea. It exists because the democratic powers built bigger and better guns and were willing to back up that order with military power.
The basic truth is that we have relearned in trying to help rebuild some societies in the Middle East and South Asia is that without security other progress is not possible. The same is true for us. To me, it’s not a coincidence that as our defense budget was being cut by more than 20 percent, from 2010 to 2017, the world grew more dangerous. And although we’ve begun to turn the budget around, we still have a lot more work to do to make sure we have a military that’s ready for the challenges ahead. So other than continuing the rebuild our military, what else do we need to do? Well, again, I don’t have magic answers. I fall back on the obvious. There must be a renewed emphasis on reminding and educating each other about where we’ve been, what we’ve done, why it’s important, and the price that’s been paid. Part of our forgetfulness and neglect is related, of course, to what’s taught in our educational system. And there need to be corrections there.
But in the meantime, we can all do more. I can do more when I’m home talking to the Lions Club, explaining how this system we created benefits the daily lives of those Texans. Congress can do more. Our committee’s going to have a hearing later this month on the connection between military strength and economic prosperity. All of y’all thinkers, writers, influencers can do more – more studies, more reminding, more persuasion. Remember, just when you think everything that could be said has been said over and over the public is just starting to tune in. And we have to make sure we’re not just talking to ourselves. I know a lot of Lions Clubs out there that would be delighted to have an expert speaker from Washington, D.C. to go talk about what we’ve accomplished.
In addition, we all need to work, I think, at gaining and maintaining perspective. Kissinger was writing at least as far back as 1999 about how the computer has given us an unlimited ability to acquire – to acquire, store, and retrieve information, but at the same time it has shrunk our perspective. Because knowledge is so accessible and communication so instantaneous, there’s a lack of training in its significance, or even knowing what’s significant. Modern decision making, he said, is overwhelmed not only by contemporary facts but by the immediate echo, which overwhelms perspective. Who among us does not grapple with trying to make sense of the blizzard of information that is hurled at us every minute, buzzing not only our brains but our pockets and our purses as well?
Maintaining as much consensus as possible in – on national security issues requires that we be able to differentiate between what’s truly important and what’s not. If it’s important, we have to be able to stand up and explain the reason it matters and be willing to work and fight to defend it. If something’s not so important, we may have to do something that’s increasingly foreign to our culture, which is to bite our tongues and restrain our fingers. (Laughter.) In today’s media environment, where every thought can be published, it’s obviously tempting to voice an opinion about every tweet or interview. There has got to be one faction or another that will cheer it. But when every utterance is a criticism, it dilutes the effectiveness of all criticism. It all runs together. The public tunes out. And we divide into our opposing camps. Having perspective on what’s important means that we have to be able to – or, have the discipline to husband our criticism for those things that really matter. We don’t have to fuss about everything. And maybe – just maybe – without so much attention, some of the nonsense will just fade away.
OK, so what if after all our best efforts people still don’t want to agree that they have divided into reflex tribalism. I know of no answer other than leadership, especially leadership by example. Now, I admit, I am still operating under the influence of Ron Chernow’s magnificent biography of U.S. Grant. Not only have I underappreciated Grant’s remarkable achievements on the battlefield and beyond, but I really did not understand the bad things he prevented from happening when he stayed on as commanding general under President Andrew Johnson. One person, willing to stay engaged in difficult circumstances, despite the frustrations, made a profound difference directly and also by providing an inspirational example and bureaucratic cover to others who were doing the same. Each of us has a space to fill and a role to fill. Each of us is an essential cog in maintaining a bipartisan consensus on the big national security issues that matter and on strengthening America’s unique role as a force for good in the world.
Let me just end with this. All the talk about political trends, technology and so forth can never distract us from the central truth that the linchpin of American national security if our people, and that we can never take that fact or them for granted. The first recipient of this award, Secretary Ash Carter, would make a point of telling all the young servicemen he encountered that there is no more noble calling than to help protect your fellow countrymen and defend his freedom. He’s obviously right about that. And it’s essential that we provide those who answer the call with the best equipment, the best training, and the best support for them and their family that our country can provide. It’s also vital that lives of dedicated service to that noble cause be held up and honored. I know that everyone here mourns the loss and venerates the life of service of John McCain. It has certainly been one of the greatest honors of my time in Congress to work alongside that American hero over the last four years on behalf of the men and women who serve and on behalf of American national security.
But I think all of us – in whatever role, whatever station – can adopt the attitude that he expressed in his last book when he wrote: What a privilege it is to serve this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, magnificent country. With all our flaws, all our mistakes, with all the frailties of human nature as much on display as our virtues, with all the rancor and anger of our politics, we are blessed. Indeed, we are. And the responsibility that goes along with that blessing is also on all our shoulders. And it is to make sure that we pass along an even stronger, even more blessed nation to those who come after us. Thank you all again. (Applause.)
MR. HAMRE: I’m a little taken aback because I think to ask questions at this stage would be a diminishment. That was as fine a speech as I’ve heard in so many years. And I want to say thank you to you, Chairman, for giving us all a vision and giving the call of responsibility that we have to step up. This is part of our duty. And I thought that was by far the richest part of your presentation. Let me just ask a few questions because we have a limited amount of time. And I’m very intrigued by your comment about how talk to the American people and how we educate them. What is your thought about civics education in America? You know, we – I remember growing up, probably everybody in this room, had to take civics. But that was a thousand years ago. We don’t see to do that anymore. Do you have a thought about civics education?
REP. THORNBERRY: Well, we’re woefully inadequate, no question. But in addition to that, I think we’re woefully inadequate in helping students at every stage understand – as I tried to describe – where we’ve been and what we’ve done and why it’s mattered. I mean, it’s one thing to kind of have a dry presentation – this is how a bill goes through Congress, or other sorts of things. But to tell the story of America, with its flaws – you know, we don’t need to sugarcoat it. But on the other hand, it needs to not just be about flaws. And I’m afraid we’ve been through generations where that was the primary focus of our history education. And I worry that we have lost sense of what a not only unique place, but what a unique accomplishment we and our allies have realized since the end of World War II. And it can slip away.
MR. HAMRE: Yeah. It’s amazing. What – the reason that Congress is so vital, as you said in your speech, is that you can take the idea of an elected or an appointed official – Secretary of the Navy Richard here will come up with a plan. But to make it a national commitment, it takes the Congress to do that. But for you to have that credibility, you have to go out every two years and earn it in an election. What are American citizens in your district saying to you these days?
REP. THORNBERRY: (Laughs, laughter.) Context. Charlie Cook ranks all 435 House districts from most Republican to least Republican. I’m number one as most Republican. So just that’s the context in which I operate. And so they may have a different view from people elsewhere. But I think what is in common is a sense – I don’t want to say we’ve lost our way – but maybe we have lost some touch with at least the sense of purpose that most people remember as they were growing up. And I think part of it goes back to this lack of discussion of history – where we’ve been, what we’ve done, why it’s important, what we believe in. And to the extent that President Trump or anybody else harkens back to some at least of that feeling, it resonates.
MR. HAMRE: Yeah. There was a – many years ago, when members of either the House or the Senate were present to vote on creating NATO. We’ve inherited it. We don’t think about it because it’s just part of our fabric. How do we take these foundation ideas – you know, the way we partner with others to create a world that’s good for everybody – how do we revitalize that for members of Congress? You do, because you lived this history. But so many members of Congress are – they’ve just come recently. They don’t have that. What can we do there? And what can all of us to do help you?
REP. THORNBERRY: Well, that’s what I try – I think I need to do more in setting up our committee events to maybe not bash people over the head with a history lesson but put things in context. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to have this hearing on, OK, what – in kind of looking at history and the present day, what’s the connection between a strong national security and economic prosperity, because if you look at charts and graphs they go just like this. They go together. I don’t know what the number is now, but I bet we’re approaching 75 percent of the Congress was not in office on 9/11. I mean, there’s been that much turnover. And so it absolutely is a challenge to remind people of the threats that were not so far in our past. I mean, I’ve – look, many of us remember that day vividly. And yet, for a lot of folks who are coming into Congress, they don’t remember it the same way.
So I guess that’s where I come back to part of – a lot of the responsibilities on my shoulders as a committee chairman to bring these issues out and make it real in a way that will penetrate these folks that are grappling with this buzzing going on in their pocket all the time about what are you going to do about this, or what’s your response to this? Or, you know.
MR. HAMRE: Yeah. Chairman, you know, it was back in 1945, ’46, ’47 when we were coming to the realization that we were in a very long competition. And it was the United States and the West that had governments that drew their legitimacy from how well the served the people versus governments that claimed legitimacy by an outside mandate that wasn’t grounded in service or anything. It was – they asserted it. It was a world of command authoritarian vision of the future versus a democratic vision of the future. We’re back to this. We didn’t know whether the Cold War was going to end. We started a cause, knowing we had to fight and defend it every day in perpetuity. We’re there again. And how do we talk to people? You pointed out today we’re up against revisionist global powers that now are trying to undermine our view of the world. What do we tell them?
REP. THORNBERRY: And they are attacking especially this critical bond between government and its people. That’s a lot of what’s going on, is to sow that dissention within us. And if you look at what the Russians did in the last campaign, they would take out ads on both sides of a controversial issue just to sow the dissention. So, number one is to be alert to the tactic and what they’re doing. And I have talked about this in a fair number of Lions Clubs. And being conscious and critical of some of the emails and other things that come across your computer, think critically about what you’re dealing with. And so highlighting the tactic is the first step.
But as I say, when it comes to, OK, what’s government’s role in defending the country against these tactics, that’s a much more complicated idea. I don’t have the magic answer. But what I do believe is there’s got to be the sort of discussion so that not only Silicon Valley, but the public can be more comfortable with this interchange.
MR. HAMRE: I’ve – we’ve kept you past the hour we said that we would demand of you. I just again want to say thank you for articulating a vision – I think everybody – I saw the heads nodding in the room. Articulating the vision we all want for this country. You put words to it. I want everybody to know we will be publishing this speech. We’ll send it out to everybody. I would ask you all to share it. Do not sit on it. Share this idea that there is a world that we are responsible for creating. We’ve put men like Chairman Thornberry in a position of responsibility, but he’s acting for us. If we want this world, we have to push for it.
Would you all please say thank you to Chairman Thornberry with your applause? (Applause.) Please come up and say hello.