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Hello from the Lincoln Project and welcome back. I'm Ron Steslow. Over the last month, we've seen an unprecedented amount of activity at the Pentagon in the waning days of the Trump administration from the ousting of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to installing Trump loyalists in senior roles at the Pentagon to the removal of former secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright from their long held advisory roles. We've seen many changes within the Defense Department since Election Day, and I wanted to understand the impact that these changes would have on national security and U.S. foreign relations in the short term and also how they'd shape foreign policy in the early days of the upcoming Biden administration.


So joining me today is Malcolm Nance, who is a counterterrorism expert and a retired senior chief petty officer in the US Navy. In the Navy, he was a terrorism intelligence collector, codebreaker and interrogator with field and combat experience in the Middle East, Southwest Asia and Africa. He's also a four times New York Times best selling author, most recently of the book The Plot to Betray America How Team Trump Embraced Our Enemies, Compromise Our Security and How We Can Fix It.


And by the way, the forward of that book is by none other than President Bartlet.


How did you get Martin Sheen? How did you get President Bartlet to do the forward to your book? That's pretty. That's pretty cool, man. I'm a big fan.


It was an achievement. And in fact, you know, I'm sort of like a consultant to some of the stars in Hollywood. I became friends with Martin Sheen and his wonderful wife, Janet, and his great son, Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen, who's actually wonderful and just, you know, learned I learned to love these people.


And so when the time came, I thought, man, I already got Rob Reiner to write one putting forward, you know, who can I pull out here that would write a book about about Trump in the era. You know, the other books were about Russia and, you know, and how they hacked the election in this book was about Team Trump and how they worked with everybody. And I said, who can I find? I thought I could ask Martin Sheen.


And I said, but I'm not going to ask him directly because he is.


President Bartlet, is everything about this president on television ever in my family.


And in fact, you know, he he we I asked his wife, Janet, I said, hey, is it possible Martin might want to write my forward? And she says, can you just give me some data points on what he should write about? And he did. And then he expanded it. And I and at the end, we you'll see there's a quote from the West Wing, which we actually had to get permission from Aaron Sorkin.


So he goes, oh, right. He gets permission.


And it's this beautiful moving paean to, you know, the Trump administration being bad and how you have to be the heroes that you have to you know, you're the heroes you've been waiting for. And it's written in his voice. And you can hear President Jebediah Bartlet, right, is coming out and telling you you have to take care of this.


You have to save this country. Loved every moment of it.


That is incredible that I'm like, that's we just have a whole conversation about that because, I mean, we could go on anyway. That's that's super cool. I'm very jealous by it.


Just for that. Buy the book.


Just by for that. It's great to visit with you. Thank you for being here. Is there anything in your background that I missed, any points that are salient to the discussion that we're going to have?


Well, you know, coming from the intelligence community, there's lots that you missed. And that's just perfect, right. You know, because I had a very diverse career.


And more importantly is that in national security, I'm one of the few, if not the only person in national security media who comes from the enlisted ranks. You know, I'm I'm a field guy. I'm a field collector. And in fact, when we put this whole rig together here, it took me seconds.


I was like, oh, this is so small. You know, when I had it, it was room size. So, you know, I have the ability to speak to matters as someone who actually has to go get that information. So when when I'm not the officers who are requesting it or the officers who sign for my work.


Right. I read I joke with Naveed Jamali all the time, you know, about the difference between the wards room and the Chiefs mess. And he'll be like, oh yeah. Well, you know, you've got to have the ward room for direction. I'm like, OK, let me point some things out to you. Every man in SEAL Team six is a chief. He's a Navy chief. There's an officer somewhere up there. But, you know, there's a.


The reason they want all these career long technical experts shooting people in the face, right, they don't want somebody like I want you to sign off on the you know, on the salt in the officers mess.


No, no. And the funny thing is, I gave a great speech once with Admiral James Stavridis, who was supreme allied commander of NATO. Yes. He said Southern Command, I mean, has all these pedigree. And I'm sitting on the stage with him and he goes, I love hearing from the Chiefs. Right. Which is like the sergeant major, you know, first sergeants, gunnery sergeant in the Marines.


And I said, well, because we give you all everything you need to know. You know, believe me, when I talk about, you know, Croatian anti submarine operations, I know what I'm talking about. You are just reading my reports. Right.


So that's that's my real depth of experience is the fact that I do come from the field.


Very hands on. That's terrific background for our listeners. So just to lay some groundwork and a baseline for our listeners, I think the domestic policy side of the transition usually gets a lot of attention while the defense and the foreign policy side of a transition doesn't as much. So over your career, what types of staffing changes and policy changes have you seen happen during a typical transition? And how anomalous is this one, in your view?


Well, first off, I would be very far downstream from that, but you could actually tell when there were strategic policy changes. I'll give you some good examples. When George Herbert Walker Bush was president of the United States, I was involved in a combat action in the Middle East. We got into direct naval combat with the Iranians in nineteen eighty eight. It was a savaging. I mean, I don't use the word savage lightly. Right. Everything that could happen to the Iranians that day happened to the Iranians.


And at the moment that all the strategic objectives were met, it was turned off like a light switch. I mean, and I could see how that played up through the chain of command, while you watch the messaging, you watch the orders flow. When the Clinton administration took charge, there was this giant gap in activity. And I think that's what we should be seeing. We should be seeing people who will take over operations, will give thought to what they're doing.


They will look at the geopolitical map around the world. They'll determine why do we have aircraft carriers here? Why do we have aircraft carriers there? And they'll get a really solid transition. No one will allow. You know, I joke all the time on television. I say I usually usually say this this phrase. I say I am now speaking to all the watch officers in the world that are watching this program. And, you know, because I've actually been in that chair where I'm sleeping nodding off.


What is a watch officer? A watch officer are the thousands of people around the world who are sitting in a chair for eight hours and their job is to watch their little sector of the world and to be prepared to report up chain of command. So what you know, so an intelligence watch officer or somebody who might be at the National Counterterrorism Center or the National Security National Security Operations Center at NSA, it's a slow, thankless job.


And it is like ok, you know, a fruit ship pulled into Tripoli Harbor, you know, the day that something happens, it's a bad day.


Yeah, it's well well, certainly it gets their attention. Right. And so when I when I usually speak to them, it's something that I want to you know, it's sort of a crafting message. I'm actually boxing them within a layer of propaganda. And it's usually stand up for the honor of your community. Right, of the Intelligence Community.


So the reason I mention that is, is that these are the people who are sitting through this transition. Right. And wondering what's going to change in three weeks. And, you know, and they may look down at the you know, or up at their giant command screen in their operations center, but in between, you know, trying to stay awake and runs to the cafeterias and all the important things that watch officers do. But they are you know, it's sort of like, you know, Game of Thrones.


They are the watch right now, the watches on the wall. Right. And they've got to constantly stand up there and stare at blank snow. But the point is, is that things change in relation to the transition from a president of the United States.


And we are constantly doing we sort of raise our elevation. You know, we elevate our level of of collections against some of our more strategic adversaries like the Chinese. OK, this would be the time that I were if I were in Asia Pacific, I would be putting all of my emphasis on Chinese logistics, for example, looking at how ammunition in southwest or southeastern China are any weapons lockers breaking out are any personnel you know personnel leaves being cancelled, are amphibious ships moving from northern China to southern China.


In other words, I'd be waiting for an invasion of Taiwan or a massive move in the South China Sea, where they just completely militarized the archipelago that are down there archipelago.


So to see whether they think this is the time to get froggie and jump. Right. And it's it's not the director of NSA that's going to notice this. Right. Or the director of CIA or DNI. It's going to be some guy, some, you know, second class petty officer and Marine staff sergeant or an Army gunnery, you know, Marine Gunnery Sergeant or an Army first sergeant or a junior officer whose head will snap up when he goes, wait, why are those amphibious ships moving?


Right. That's not right. And that's not right is what the transition is all about. Right. You should be getting nothing happening in the transition.


But if you have a world of chaos where you know they aren't thinking about what's going on or you initiate a combat action or prepare to initiate a combat action, well, you know, our adversaries are watching us also. And if they see us taking the eye off the ball, maybe it's the time to invade Taiwan, right? Maybe north, what the Chinese call it, a rogue province in the South China Sea. Right. To bring it back under the fold.


Or, you know, maybe it's time for the Russians to carry out some activity in in northeastern Syria that will not benefit us or cut a deal. You know, I mean, the Azeri Armenian War for, for example, is a good example of where we should have had our eyes on the ball. The United States supports Armenia. It's a Christian country. They got rocked. The entire the entire conflict over Nagorno Karabakh, that enclave that juts up out of Armenia into ours, or Bhajan, which Azerbaijan claims it's over.


Mm hmm. It's over. They went to war and they took it right and did it with the help of the Turks, a NATO ally who use drones and equipment and sent mercenaries and all sorts of things over there. I would argue that they knew the United States wouldn't do a damn thing, not a thing, because Donald Trump was too focused on his own re-election and then started lying about the re-election and then started making it like he wouldn't leave power.


It's like the Americans got better things to do. But there's some guy who's sitting in Incirlik, Turkey, or NATO headquarters in Brussels or, you know, Sixth Fleet headquarters somewhere in Italy. And their head shoots up and they go, I've got one hundred and fifty Turkish drones being prepped in in Azerbaijan. You know what's going on? Yeah. And, you know, and then tanks start moving. And, you know, the big thing is when the ammunition comes out of the lockers, right out of the weapons depots.


Right. That's not an exercise. I predict that the invasion of Kuwait by that very measure.


Really. Yeah. Wow. When they start moving thousands of metric tons of ammunition on trains, it's not an exercise.


Right. So this is why a smooth and easy transition is important, because if you have your eye off the ball, your your opponents, your whether they're near your partners or their terrorist or or some preparation or oligarchs and drug dealers, you know, more narco subs to America, you know, the Coast Guard, you know, the Border Patrol is too busy patrolling the streets of Oregon. Yeah. You know, this line in Texas is is is weakened because one hundred and fifty CBP agents got sent to Milwaukee.


Right. Or Minneapolis. Our adversaries are always watching.


And as we know, chaos and confusion and disarray are the weapons that Trump uses in every domain of of his administrative, his life, his personal life, if this is just how he operates.


And yeah.


And it's not like people didn't see this, right. Sure. We all knew this.


Yeah. And it's just a question of and here's the biggest problem we had with the media coming from the media world is that they kept waiting for some inflection point, some point where he would flip and become presidential, the Van Jones, you know, theory of now he will become presidential.


Well, I've seen far too many Third World dictators, potentates and warlords that are like Donald Trump. It's just that they go straight to cutting off heads. Donald Trump was is trapped and he just wanted power for the use of his own edification and benefit and for people to worship him like the God that some people actually do.


Right. Thank God for the many layers of institutional resistance built into our system. Otherwise, who knows where we would be.


So let's talk about the staffing changes at DOD. We've covered them briefly on the podcast before on our weekly round ups, but there were a flurry of changes about a week after the election. Defense Secretary Mark Esper left after he was fired by Trump, along with four other top officials who were overseeing policy and intelligence. They were all either fired or resigned and these officials were replaced by conspiracy theorists. I think it's fair to call them. And Trump loyalists like Anthony Tata, Kash Patel, Ezra Cohen-Watnick.


Right. Can you help our listeners understand, first of all, how unusual is it for these people, these types of people to be installed? And then what will these changes mean for defense policy extending into the early Biden administration?


Well, there's some good news and there's some bad news right in this discussion.


First, let me go to the good news. OK, I don't think that will have much impact at all. In fact, I've said this on air several times. I suspect that other than firing Esper, you know, firing Esper was about his decision in June and July to not use the 82nd Airborne Rapid Battalion as armed bayonetted soldiers in the streets of Washington, D.C.. There were some moves that happened there that most people don't know about unless you read very deeply into the reporting.


A good example is I think it was the Tennessee and I want to say Alabama National Guard.


There were two National Guard units that were brought up for civil disobedience from from other states. Oh, they brought their ammunition. They brought a full combat load of ammunition to the cities. And it was Esper who was like, you could just lock that ammo up right now, that is not happening, and there was reports I mean, I remember the tanks in the streets of D.C. I walked right past them, I'm sure. Yeah, but the, you know, National Guard falls under, you know, can can be brought on for these executive actions.


And we've seen the National Guard out before. They supplement and augment police forces. Washington, D.C. National Guard was out there for riot control purposes, all well and good. It was the intentions that appeared behind how they were deployed, bringing the eighty second airborne, you know, rapid response unit. Yeah, that unit is designed to do like a combat jump into the leading edge of foreign enemies invasion, to stop them. And there's you know, there's this panache about it because they're always prepped.


Whatever battalion is ready is always ready with like, you know, twenty four hours, 12 hours, six hours notice to go to wherever. Right. And they were supposed to be brought up for riot control purposes and national security purposes. Then there was a military police company that was supposed to come from 10th Mountain Division, which is way up in northwestern New York State. They were supposed to come down and they did. These units were all deployed down there.


Esper didn't particularly like bringing the active duty military units out, and neither did General Milley. And so when they got caught with these units actually in route and then Trump having that call with the governors where he said, I got General Milley here, you're going to be hearing a lot about this guy. He's going to clean this up in no time.


You know, Milley was sitting there thinking, excuse me, did North Korea, invade South Korea? Is there something here you didn't brief me in on?


Because this is not my job and it would turn out forty eight hours later. Yeah, he would go in a message to the troops saying, we don't do this. We don't participate in in essentially turning weapons on American citizens. That that image of the armed guards with M1 rifles around the Pentagon in nineteen sixty eight with fixed bayonets. Right. And it was met by girls putting daisies in the barrels. Right. Right, right, right. Anyone who has ever served in the military, like we're never doing that again.


Yeah, that's that. That and Kent State, these are two things that are not happening.


But then they came up with some clever ones that really made Esper angry using the National Guard medevac helicopter to come down there on to Lafayette Square and try to use prop wash to get people out of the square.


Is that what it was?


That's exactly what it's for, propeller wash, to blow you out in conjunction with gas. You can direct gas and water if you use water cannons. And worse, I mean, the moment I saw it, I was like, yikes. They're using a protected symbol on the side of the helicopter, the Red Cross. And of course, the next day, the ICRC lodged a complaint against the United States for using protected symbols in offensive actions. So we looked terrible. And Esper had just reached his limit, you know, I mean, he went along to get along, but he wasn't going to use the armed forces as a tool against American citizens.


You know, he served he was a helicopter pilot, if I'm not mistaken. He worked in army aviation between him and Milley they just shut all that down. And then there was this little back and forth where Esper ordered the eighty second back to Fort Bragg and Trump superseded that order and then Esper ordered it again.


So, you know, Trump wasn't particularly happy with somebody, you know, taking his toy soldiers away. So Esper was doomed from that moment. Right, right. You don't you know, whatever the mafia don wants, he wasn't a yes man. He was living you know, he's pulling a Mattis. And, you know, Donald Trump has a way to handle that. You're fired. But he knew he couldn't do it before the election. And Trump himself said that, right?


Oh, well, you know, some guys will be going, you know, wait till after the election. That's right. You know, but this is an election where Donald Trump thought that, you know, he'd be master of the universe, untouchable. He could go after his political and personal enemies with impunity. So, yes, we expected to see Esper go. The others, on the other hand. Now, first off, I know Donald Trump likes these people that he thinks come from central casting.


So by reaching into the National Counterterrorism Center, pulling out an ex special forces colonel who I'm sorry, isn't qualified to run the Pentagon. All right. You know, I hear people, you know, I got a big fan base and they're all like you need should be director of the CIA or director of national intelligence. And I go not qualified. But I am more qualified than John Ratcliffe.


By law, you have to have served in the U.S. intelligence community in that job I did 20 years, you know, actually. Thirty five if you include my intelligence contracting work and this guy, nothing, zero. So, you know, bringing that colonel to be the director of the Pentagon, was is really more a caretaker move because No. One. And of course, he did precisely what we all knew, people who were in the field. We knew what he was going to do.


He's like, what Special Forces belongs to me now?


I'm going to make them equal to a combat command. Right. That would be like putting me in charge of, you know, of DNI, I mean, like, first off, I want to talk to everybody on the fourth floor of NSA. You know who you are. We're having a party because one of you is now in charge of everything. You need a billion dollars? I'm gonna give you got it right now. Your collection will vastly improve. But you know, and of course, guys at the CIA will be grumbling, so.


Right. Right. You never do that, right? I mean, it's like it's like putting the fat kid in Charlie's chocolate factory. You know, he's going to fall in the river of chocolate. You're going to drown drinking that stuff. That's what putting this this colonel in charge there did. And here's what's going to happen. Nothing. No one is going to obey his orders for the next 30 days. You know, the Pentagon is a phenomenally massive infrastructure.


I'm going to give you an idea of how I'm going to tell you a little war story.


Yeah, when I was at the Pentagon, I wasn't at the Pentagon in the morning of 9/11. I was on Capitol Hill at the Costa Coffee watching, you know, airplane flying to a building. And I when I left, I went right down Constitution Avenue. I was waiting next to the Lincoln Memorial and I saw an airplane come from over the Navy annex, the Sheraton, the Old Navy annex building where the Marine Corps exchange is now. And it's just gl and I said, oh, they rerouted the planes and it glided right into the building and blew up.


So I go over there, I'm working the crash site. We're helping victims come out. I see a colonel in civilian clothes and I go, Colonel, I need you to go over there and bring me some people over here to help. I swear to God, this is not a joke. He comes back with twenty colonels. They were all like in a little group over there, like a little Col's club. Yeah. And I'm like one there's that many colonels just on this corner.


I mean, one building is massive and it has you know, I'm sure that was just the guys in his pod. Right. There's probably a thousand colonels in that building.


So the point is they all have the ability to slow down anything you want to do. And so if you say I want the special operations command brought in his combat command under directly under the secretary of defense, it's something that he probably at one of the Special Forces Association parties, had heard from some guys. We should be a combat command directly under the secretary of defense and not work for those, you know, Department of the Army or the Department of the Navy.


And so in doing that, he's set a precedent that will probably be overturned should General Austin become the secretary of defense in almost three to one. It's just never going to happen. And, you know, some things we may have to finesse with like space force. But the big things, you know, things that have happened in the last 30 days aren't going to change things. Sending Anthony Tata over to be general counsel. Right. The guy is is literally a conspiracy theorist, is a birther.


He's a racist. Yeah. And here's what's happening. Nothing. Sending Kash Patel, you know, over there to, you know, to to to manage policy side, if I'm not mistaken, and then to send Ezra Cohen-Watnick, this guy is essentially an intern. OK, I had more time in intelligence, just going to Defense Language Institute, OK, than this guy had in all his career. He was like a sycophant under Michael Flynn, who is now the leader of Qanon, by the way.


And this guy was the guy who was leaking information to Devin Nunes. And that whole schmear of inventing that, that they were the unmasking of people and they were spying. Here's why they were sent there, so that they could have chyrons on Fox News that says, you know, Ezra Cohen-Watnick s undersecretary of Defense for intelligence. Yeah. No one in that. I don't even think he's got a clearance yet. You know, I'm sure the SSO, the Special Security Office, is like, well, excuse me, you know, we've got a here we haven't seen your package come over from DIA or the White House yet.


And he'll go, the president cleared me and they're like yeah, but the paperwork. So I really think most of these appointments are for the chyron.


Yeah. I don't think they were there to make it so that US troops could take over or use drones. You know, I'm constantly answering it. Use drones against U.S. citizens. Yeah.


So part of the motivation for removing Esper, it seems to be Trump's plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan know on the surface anyway. That's what it seems to look like. Can you talk about first of all, do you think that's accurate? And then can you talk about what that withdrawal of troops could mean in the region and how it could impact Biden's presidency?


You know, I've written three books on Trump. I've interviewed a lot of people that know Trump. I just had lunch with Anthony Scaramucci recently. And and so I've gotten a lot of insight into them. There is no way moving Esper was about Afghanistan. He doesn't care about Afghanistan. He doesn't care. He he probably can point to it. He is furious.


Furious about Lafayette Square.


It is all about you didn't use the military as a hammer to kill these, you know, attack and hammer these liberals. Then you all lean back on this "I have to defend the Constitution" stuff.


Yeah, right. It's all about his personality.


Interesting thing. Anthony, Scaramucci told me, he says, you know, the funny thing about Donald is the last thing he's told is the last thing he believes. And unless, of course, you find yourself up on the radar where he wants to fire you. Right. And it's the last thing you did right, the last thing Esper did was was not probably kill Americans in Lafayette Square using US service members. I think he really, truly wanted a fixed bayonet moment around the Pentagon.


And Milley was, you know, by the way, General Milley was not in camouflage uniform because he came out to do battle. He was at a briefing at the FBI and he was ordered to get over there right now.


And he showed up and he was like, what what's what's going on here?


And then they're like, you're walking with the president. And he's like, I'm in BDUs, I'm in battle dress uniform. And they were like, you know, he's supposed to be in his class As right.


And he did say something after that incident when he was like, that was inappropriate. He said he felt exploited, you know, on the inside. But he said that was completely, you know, not the way it should have been. And then, of course, that's when he gave his address to the armed forces, so feel better about that. Afghanistan is another animal. Yeah, you know, I think, you know, when I wrote my this last book, Plot to Betray America, which is about the internal motivations of Team Trump and how they you know, they were just like, well, let's just destroy US foreign policy.


One of the things that I took a lot of flak on it, you know, and Tucker Carlson did an A block segment on me, means you're doing something right?


Yeah, I was on with Brian Williams.


You know, he's just like, how dare this guy talk about Donald Trump like he's crazy because he's crazy, but his niece does the same thing.


So I think, you know, I'm in very good company, but I had written I had done more in-depth reporting on this, the study of Donald Trump's intelligence papers that were done by the Czech intelligence agency, the STB. And it appeared that they had started collection on him in nineteen seventy seven because his first wife, Ivana Trump, was a Czech citizen. And at that time that was the Soviet Union's Warsaw Pact. They were behind the Iron Curtain.


Anyone who was from the West who was noteworthy or interesting, they collected on. The reporting party was Ivana's father.


He was tasked to report everything. They had, what we call cast iron coverage on his phone. So any time she called or, you know, or they talked to Donald Czech intelligence was listening to the phone conversations. And all of this was was gotten by a Czech television channel and Luke Harding over at The Guardian. And it was extensively reported on. And I just amplified that and put it into context. And when that book came out, oh, my God, they went nuts over there at Fox News and on the right.


And I know because I wake up in the morning like 4:00 a.m. and then suddenly it's like, "I want to kill you liberals". And it's just like, oh, what did I say again?


So I look back and they're like, that's crazy. Donald Trump wasn't a turned agent. I never said that. I said they started collecting on him full time. They tried to manipulate him to go. I mean, they worked well at getting them to go to the Soviet Union. Um, and so the the reason that I bring this up is that while I looked at that, you could see the raw mindset of Donald Trump as he spoke to his wife as it was collected by the Czech intelligence agency.


And the interesting component is the Czech television station has all of his written records from Czech intelligence.


All right. They all like, you know, nineteen seventy nine. Ivana Trump called and said, you know, or at one point he had talked about running against George Herbert Walker Bush, as I want to say, the American Freedom Party or something like that.


And the KGB knew about this way before anybody in the US government knew about it and or unless we were collecting against Czech intelligence there.


But the point is, is that they had a window into this guy for a long time, for a very long time.


And that window now informs everything that this man does, which is why you should listen to raw intelligence collected by foreign agencies and Nancy Trump.


That's fascinating and not something that's really entered the conversation about his psychology at all. The data points, the history, the longitude of all of that data gives you way more like accuracy in the projection of his behavior.


Yes. And this is why I constantly tell people and in media, you know, that I'm not a journalist, OK?


I'm a spy an ex-spy.


And my job is to see data points you won't see. You might collect all that stuff. I need to make an arc. And this goes to your point about Afghanistan. Why the big thing on Afghanistan? Right. Why the big thing about North Korea? Why the big thing? Why is he doing all these grand sweeping strategic changes?


Because in the mid eighties, he saw himself as wanting to be an interocular between the Soviet Union and the United States. And he took out a full page ad in The New York Times asking George Herbert Walker Bush to make him the negotiator because he's Donald who does the deals.


The negotiator for the strategic arms reduction talks START, right. Now this is interesting because now Donald is trying to destroy every treaty we've ever entered into with the Soviet Union that transitioned over to Russia. But he saw himself as an arbiter of a major change in American foreign policy on par with Nixon going to China or the Vietnam negotiations with Kissinger, and now it would be Donald Trump negotiates the reduction of nuclear weapons. And he was so caught up in this that a fake Mikhail Gorbachev came to Wash-, came to New York City.


This guy was a comedian, came and convinced Trump that he was Gorbachev.


There's a video of it on YouTube and Trump comes running down there- Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev. And he talks trying to talk about negotiating START. And it was a comedian dressed as Gorbachev. So that's how desperate he was. So why the North Korea?


You're right, because he wants this Nixon moment. Why withdraw from Afghanistan, give the Russians Syria, which I think is Two-Faced. I think he owes the Russians something. And they said hey, Syria is one of those things. You don't need to be there, Donald. Remember, last thing he hears from whoever he admires. Right. And so he pulls out of Syria and gives it over to the Russians until somebody says, hey, you're giving away the oil to the Russians.


Then he says, oh, we want to keep the oil field. Afghanistan is in this box. It is in that entire arc of information we had learned from the Soviet and Czech intelligence agencies about how he wanted to be this huge central figure.


It has nothing to international substance. It has nothing to do with the substance, has everything to do with his public image of being a big guy on the world stage.


Yes. Yes. And that's why he's like, I want to give away Afghanistan. And the problem is, it's the rest of that sentence, OK, to the Taliban and ISIS, right? Right. OK, give it to who. You know, from the field perspective, I understand what's going to happen. OK, I've read, you know, the history of of the British involvement in Afghanistan. I have a first edition from I want to say it was like 1860 of a book called Kabul, K-a-b-o-o-l.


And it is about the massacre of every British soldier in the city of Kabul in the first Afghan war, except for one doctor that they let survive to take the message to India. Right. And I mean, everybody was killed in that massacre. Donald Trump doesn't understand these things. History, context, precedents, thoughtfulness. These are not components of his world. He wants that. He wants the cover of TIME magazine that that, you know, of Nixon going to China.


And he thought he got it with North Korea and he thought he got it by going to Helsinki and throwing US intelligence under the bus. He saw himself as an equal to these towering figures amongst the world. The problem is they're dictators and that's where he sees himself. He wants to be in that club of strongmen and he doesn't understand he's really being compared to Hitler. Oh, my God.


They're saying that it's Afghanistan. OK, no one's leaving Afghanistan, by the way, nobody. They're all going back.


We are not going to watch the entire Afghan army be slaughtered. And the funny thing is the Taliban know this game. OK, what what is Rudyard Kipling famous poem that ends with the epitaph drear "A fool lies here, Who tried to hustle the East". OK, that's Donald Trump's epitaph. You think you're getting over on the Taliban? There's one phrase that I learned when I was in when I worked in the Middle East. It's they own this camel souk.


Hmm. Right. You think they're going to buy camels from these guys? They own this camel souk. All right. They they've been hustling each other for centuries. So they're going to beat you at this game. And the only game they're not going to beat you at is overwhelming firepower. But we have been doing capacity building in Afghanistan and that's where our strength lies and providing them with aerial and strike support and special operations.


The problem is the Taliban has their own existential threat as well, and that's ISIS and ISIS that, you know, early on when ISIS came there, the Taliban was like dropping hints to us that, you know, hey, there's an ISIS camp thirty six kilometers east of Asadabad. It would be bad if somebody blew that up and of course, we'd be on it in an hour, killing, you know, wiping out ISIS.


Can you give our listeners give us the the like one to two minute summary of of what you just said there with the tension, the difference between Taliban and ISIS? Because I guarantee you most Americans do not. And they put them in the same category. Bad, hate America, terrorists want to kill, right, that's that's where most of America is. Can you give...


You have to understand that the Taliban are essentially the children of the fathers who fought the Soviet Afghan war and they were you know, they were essentially more religiously orthodox of of the fighters right now of Afghanistan was flooded with these, you know, foreign fighters who would later become this group called al-Qaida Jihad.


Right. Headquarters of the holy war, who is led by the Saudi government's representative in Afghanistan, a guy by the name of Osama bin Laden, the son of the richest man in Saudi Arabia. At that time. Those guys went there and then went off and shunted themselves off to South Sudan. The Afghans and their children created this movement of religious fervor and took on the warlords that were dividing Afghanistan up like a bunch of ravenous wolves. So Game of Thrones analogy, right.


The warlords are wolves. The Taliban quietly grew out in the east in Pakistan and became dire wolves.


Right. These animals that are three times the size of wolves and will snap a wolves neck. That right. And they came through with this in the title, Taliban actually means student, the students. And they were religiously motivated students, very orthodox. And they just swept through the country on the basis of religious fervor and said to the locals, we're going to convert this country into an Islamic state of Afghanistan. Peaceful. They did it, wiped out the opium trade, brought essentially peace to the country, but they enacted hard, strict Sharia law.


They also allowed Osama bin Laden and his band of men to come from Sudan to Afghanistan and establish their military training went into the Taliban. So they became joined with al-Qaida and everything al Qaeda did, including bombing the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.


So that's that's the Taliban and al-Qaida. That's the Taliban. ISIS.


ISIS is al-Qaida's fifth generation.


They're like if if if if Renaldo is Osama bin Laden. Right.


These the ISIS are the kids that are still on the soccer pitches in Brazil and Angola. And they are every one of them was like, we're inviting you to come over here and you can be a hero and a prince in your own right. If you have this religious fervor and you can have all the women you want, you can kill anybody that you want. And you will be a better Muslim because you will, you will behave and act like a Muslim who existed in 632, not a Muslim that exist in twenty twenty.


And that brought every fanatic in the world to the Islamic State no matter where it was, Sudan, Somalia, North Africa. ISIS also established ISIS, Khorasan, which is ISIS K, what we call it, which established itself in eastern Afghanistan, western Pakistan, northeastern Pakistan, Afghanistan, northwestern Pakistan.


And were a far more virulent group who thought al-Qaida old guys, we're just going to take over now. And they are the hardcore jihadists who think the Taliban are a bunch of wusses. Wow. And that's why sometimes we have a synergy with the Taliban. The problem is there's a better chance that ISIS will take over the Taliban than the Taliban will take over ISIS.


I see. So back to the staff changes. Kash Patel, who is one of the Trump loyalists who was installed the DOD last month, is now heading the defense transition efforts. And he was involved in an effort to spread conspiracy theories about Biden and attempts to coerce Ukraine into investigating Biden, according to CNN. And CNN also reported that Patel blocked meetings between Pentagon officials and the Biden administration team. And I was very recently right. So first, can you talk about the impact that having someone with Patel's background running the transition could have, but then also how these delays will impact national security?


Because we're already behind in this in this transition.


Let's put it this way.


Let me put Kash Patel's position right now. And his apparent assigned job. He is the doorman right on a Fifth Avenue hotel. He's a doorman on a Fifth Avenue apartment building. His sole job right now is to really block a transition. We know I mean, this guy came from Congress. He's a dirty trickster. He has been put into the Pentagon apparently to do this very role, which is to screw with the Biden team and try to infect the Pentagon with all of his craziness.


Again, this is another plan that's not going to work. The only thing that's going to work is him ignoring the transition and, you know, by law, he can actually run the clock out. He can go right up to the to the day of the inauguration at 12:00, one minute past noon, of course, everyone will say, hey, why are you in the building? Your clearance has been suspended, you're unauthorized personnel, everybody put black covers over your desks.


Kash Patel's leaving the room. Right. So which is a day that I would pay money to sit there with the little red light flashing for uncleared in the room.


Is that what happens? Yes. There is a red light that flashes?


Yeah. That tells you that, like contractors are in there. Who aren't cleared. You put black cloths over your table, you start slamming the safe doors shut. Right. Kash Patel departing and he wouldn't even get an announcement.


Right. His badge won't work any more. He can't go to the cafeteria. It's got to go down to the metro entrance to get food. So, you know, but he he apparently has been put there is a bugaboo. But I really think that this is to reward him with that chyron. What now? More importantly, what will this do to the national security of the United States? This is why I really think it's important to get General Austin and his senior staff spooled up as quickly as possible and to have the other picks for the Pentagon done as well.


I would announce right now, I mean, as soon as General Austin can be chosen, I would just make it clear that you're going to get some true professionals in the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, undersecretary of defense for special operations, undersecretary of defense for policy and plans. And then you just make it clear, hey, whatever.


When you make that announcement, no one's going to listen to whoever is sitting at that desk.


They're going to go, hey, I'm going to take two weeks leave and and we're going to come back, you know, around the 7th of January. And then we're going to do cleanup and maintenance. The problem is, if there is a crisis that emerges here, you're going to have to deal with these guys. Right.


You know,


So we're kind of on thin ice for the next 40 something days.


Extremely thin ice, because these are the kind of guys who will go on FOX News and will be talking to the president as undersecretary of defense for intelligence and the secretary of defense and say, well, you know, I think we need to do land and amphibious force in Taiwan. And, you know, and I think we need to bring all the special operations and land seals all over the China Beach, China coast.


It just things that aren't thought out. I look, you know, although I am not a policy guy, I executed policy.


But when you're in the driver's seat where you're wearing headphones like this for 18 to 20 hours a day. Right. You're nodding off in between crispy creams. You have a lot of time to understand where your bit of collection will fit right into that policy discussion. I have literally seen discussions in the White House change or from the National Command Authority, as we call it, change because I had collected a piece of information. Wow. And I mean, you know, what we call hot copy.


And I remember one which was really significant, significant, like the director of NSA and came down to check himself. And and they were just like, oh, this is going to change some things.


Right. And it's like somebody or as we like to say, someone's getting their ass beat. Right. And, you know, you're like, OK, I may this is big. Now, how does it fit within the the parameters of how this White House has been behaving? Are they thoughtful? Are they heavy? Are they will they drop a hammer down on top of them? And I remember a good example is the Libyan air raid. And I I'm writing my memoirs right now.


It still has to be cleared by three agencies. But I remember that the coming in and watching the information that we had, which Ronald Reagan put out, declassified and put out in front of the United Nations and thinking the geopolitical balance in the Middle East is about to change and is about to make... Libya is a pain in the butt they're now about to become global pariah number one. And Ronald Reagan was shooting was not shooting with blanks.


This guy was firing off and you could just see things were going to change dramatically. The policy's all changed. The military structure in the Mediterranean changed. Right. Aircraft carriers started appearing out of nowhere. You know, so it it's very important that you have the right people there. There's a reason that there's a thousand colonels in the building. Right. That's a thousand levels of flag level thoughtfulness going on to pass that on to the generals and passing it up to the joint staff, passing it up to the chairman and then giving the secretary of defense an informed position.


Good example where that really sucks and where people shoot from the hip is the Navy SEAL raid, which took place the day after the inauguration, I believe, within a day or so. The inauguration, a mission that the Obama Pentagon was like, don't do this mission, it's too high risk. You can't translating one seal or two seals dead, four or five or six Yemeni guards is not cost, you know, it's not mission effective. They executed the raid without a thought.


Without a thought, killed a Navy chief SEAL that took 20 years to get him up to that level of excellence and yeah, we killed a few guards and, you know, we didn't get our our hostage out, if I'm not mistaken. And then the attack on the Syrian air airbases. Look, I was one of the big guys. I was one of the biggest people to push that Barack Obama's red line needed to be so bright red that he used chemicals.


And when he used chemicals, I said the punishment needs to fit to fit what this is.


The strategic use of chemicals.


Yes. The first yes. When he used chemicals and that the red line needs to be this. The punishment needs to be the entirety of the Syrian air force needs to disappear. Right. I want to now I want to change the strategic balance. I want Syria to know their skies will never again be safe. The Israelis will have total air dominance of Syrian airspace.


That's what you get for using chemical weapons against your own population by pulling their punch. Right.


They signal that they have they cross any red line they don't give two flips. The Trump people did the exact same thing by one, wasting of boatloads of cruise missiles to attack a base that they had warned the Russians we were going to attack. No one got killed. Old aircraft were put out onto the runway. The runway was in operation within 12 hours and ginormous stocks of chemical weapons were sitting next to their revetments out there untouched. Right.


That you cannot play games. Those two actions took place in the first 30 to 60 days of the Trump administration.


And they show to the world this guy will not because he's not thinking he's.


No, no actual thought was given to that during the transition at all. It was, hey, we're going to get big desk. We're all going to get great jobs. We're going to be talking on Fox News. And look, these people, I suspect they still don't know where the cafeteria or the Krispy Kreme is.


So back in July, the Trump administration said it was going to reduce the number of troops in Germany from thirty six thousand down to eleven thousand nine hundred. And now the National Defense Authorization Act, which has passed with a veto proof majority in both the House and the Senate, has a provision that would effectively block the reduction of troops in Germany. So before before we talk about what what dangers would removing them pose is close to administration, can you first talk about how critical these troops are to our national defense?


And what what are we doing with so many people in Germany in the first place?


So many people?


Yeah, I love that quaint phrase. OK, you obviously weren't in Germany during the Cold War, OK? Elvis served in Germany. OK, that's how we used to have hundreds of thousands of troops in Germany. Until then, late until the early 1990s. Give you a give you some context. Well, first off, let me give you a history, because I know a lot of youngins are watching. OK kids, way back when at the end of World War two, these people we had to work with who were actually bad, the Soviet communists, they didn't live up to the agreements of pulling out of Europe.


They took over half of Europe, slapped up an iron wall, which uh slapped up a wall that we call the Iron Curtain, and made their own confrontation force against NATO called the Warsaw Pact.


And that stood until nineteen eighty eight. When the cracks started to fall, the Soviet Union collapsed, Germany withdrew, East Germany left and reunified with West Germany to become modern day Germany. And all of these countries got their independence back and the Soviet Union collapsed and became the modern day Russian Federation. OK, that's what happened. And if you need a primer on it, there's a cartoon you can watch called The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.


It will teach you all you need to know about the Cold War, because Bullwinkle and Rocky are hapless heroes are essentially NATO in the West and Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale working for Mr. Big are the East.


I love Rocky and Bullwinkle.


You have to break it down Bullwinkle style for people to understand that, because I've met lots of people in this world who literally would ask me, what's the Soviet Union? And it's like, oh my God. OK, so that being said, in nineteen forty five after we occupied former Nazi Germany and the Russians took half of it to create its own sort of communist patron state known as the German Democratic Republic, we went into a face to face confrontation with the Soviet Union that lasted from nineteen forty five until nineteen eighty. Two armies


NATO made up of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of troops, including hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, were stationed in Germany, like everywhere. You know, you spit a U.S. service member and they were there in order to protect Western Europe from an invasion of the communists. And again, Elvis served there to give you an idea. I mean, baby Elvis there. Yeah.


So when the Soviet Union collapsed in East Germany and West Germany became Germany and reunited, there was no need to have those troops there. Therefore, we did a massive defense reduction in Europe, brought ourselves down to a skeleton framework gave to the German nation, which now had double the number of people, right, all of the resources that we had there. Good example. I served in Augsburg, Germany for a while and I actually had to go on temporary duty there for this intelligence collection mission with the Army.


And they put me up in temporary housing, which was like a 5000 unit apartment unit, military housing. Now, that was occupied by me. I mean, they were they were the next month going to turn it over to the German government and it was brand new housing. We actually had to fulfill the contract to build all that military housing to turn over to the Germans. That's how fast we left that country. And I had to get my own sheets.


So when we talk about Germany, yeah, we're talking about we had great depth with them since the end of World War II. Germany now is how can I put it? They are the Americans we should be OK. They hate war. They don't like military adventurism. They try to stand up for values of human rights and all these things. And Donald Trump, with a white hot passion, hates Angela Merkel because she and she is from the east.


She's East German. She was born in the communist nation.


I mean, we've joked on this podcast before about how she is now the leader of the free world and not and not the president.


Not a joke.


And interestingly enough, first language for her first foreign language was Russian, you know, and she but then again, she's got her doctorate in quantum physics or something like, I'm not joking. She does. And she is a very bright person. But she understood what the reunification was about, why we needed the United States, the critical necessity of NATO and the alliances. Donald Trump believes in none of them because because that apparently the Russians were the last people to talk to him and convinced him that NATO was a threat to their, you know, their oligarch money.


And if he didn't get rid of it, you know, he wouldn't ever be invited to those yachts that have yacht elevators and hot, naked dancing chicks in 'em.


So as simplistic as that sounds, yeah, Germany is a critical hub for all of our operations in Eastern Europe. Did I say Eastern Europe? The Eastern Hemisphere. Right. Our intelligence collection assets are there. We have special operations forces in Stuttgart that that deploy all the way down to a subset through sub-Saharan Africa. Landstuhl Military Hospital is our principal evacuation point for the entire Eastern Hemisphere. So if you're shot or you get IED'd in Afghanistan, they they they box you up, they package you, they stabilize you.


And you were flown to Landstuhl Army Hospital, which is a massive building that has been there since Elvis was in Germany and is in an ginormous infrastructure which was handling thousands of combat, wounded out of theater with the finest medicine until they could stabilize you and fly you out to Texas or fly you to Walter Reed. That place is critical to the United States. Next is Ramstein Air Base, Ramstein, which is just right there. Those two bases are co-joined, by the way, largest base prior to Rhein-Main, which used to be Frankfurt International, which is Frankfurt International Airport.


These hubs are very, very large logistics hubs for U.S. forces in Europe and logistics hubs flying into the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, Southwest Asia and all points east. So when we have to work with the Poles, everything goes into Germany or it's shipped to Germany, then it can be trucked over by Europeans and or tanks can go over by rail to Poland. If you want to provide logistics to Ukraine, you don't fly it. You take the stocks that are in Germany, you transfer it over.


I mean, you can't do everything from England.


Right? So this isn't so much about Germany as it is about our ability to operate in that entire hemisphere of the world.


Yes, but we you know, it's just like it's like these insane talks that I have from time to time with, you know, obviously I understand the geopolitical balance. Right. I know what happens in the world. And when you talk about removing our forces from Germany and shifting them east to Poland, you're talking about now you have to use the entire infrastructure that we have that's in Germany and recreate something that's been there since nineteen forty five. Wow.




It's insane. It is insane. I mean, it's like saying the FedEx hub right now is in Nashville or wherever, Louisville, Kentucky, and we're just going to destroy it and we're going to rebuild it in Miami. Right.


Because because it's warmer and you can get better margaritas there and you don't do it for those reasons. He's doing it because he hates Angela Merkel. Permit's personally and he doesn't like that the Germans are better Americans than he has created in this country.


That is a good explanation.


But it's mind bogglingly stupid.


Yeah. Yeah, but it is so it is so unbelievably consistent with his character and everything that we know about him. So, like, it's just one additional data point on the. That plot. It is OK, in late November, the Trump administration officially withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty and we've talked about this a little bit, which was a post-Cold War agreement allowing nations to conduct flyovers of allies in an attempt to collect intelligence on neighboring enemies.


The US withdrawal was criticized as a gift to Putin. Can you talk about how important this treaty in particular was for intelligence gathering? And I'm also wondering, you know, all of this is in the context of a transition and the incoming Biden administration. So I'm wondering how difficult is going to be for the Biden administration to recreate that intelligence gathering and what changes are going to be easily fixable and what's going to take more time?


You know, I've heard it said that Trump breaks treaties so that he can re-sign the treaties and call them Trump treaties, you know, and the Open Skies one is a little baffling.


And this starts to delve into the areas that I wrote about in my three books about a debt that Donald Trump has to Vladimir Putin.


Where would he have ever heard about this? is my first thought. OK, virtually no American knows about the Open Skies treaty. Here's what here's what the Open Skies treaty was. When we were having detente with the Soviet Union, one of the things that we decided that we needed, you got to remember, we have very good satellite capability. But one of the components of having very good satellite capability is not letting on and knowing how good this is.


Right. So one of the areas that that that came up that you always get better coverage and get more precise collection capability from imagery from from a camera when you're, you know, ten thousand feet above it as opposed to four hundred miles.




And if you think about it, it's really a Cold War relic to use these aircraft that has very, very, very high resolution cameras. They have very high sensitivity sensors. And as part of the treaty, the Open Skies Treaty is really about intelligence stability. It is not really about collecting data. It's not about collecting data. It's about confirming that the things you know are being maintained precisely as they are. So if I you know, and as part of this, for your enemy to know what's going on and this benefited Russia early on, but it benefited Russia only in the sense that we were doing this for strategic weapons.


This is what this was really about.


So if you have, let's say, 500 Minuteman 3 ballistic missile silos arrayed out from Kansas all the way to the top of North Dakota. Right. Of course, the Russians have the ability to look at that. Right.


But if you have a treaty in which you can constantly confirm that, and make sure that two hundred of those silos weren't secretly dismantled and moved elsewhere onto rail cars while the satellite coverage was going, and you can determine that by the amount of activity around that silo, by how much grass grows around the output of the air shafts. I mean, there's things you got to think about here. I've been to abandoned silos and you can go, this place isn't breathing, right?


This place isn't alive. Even when you're doing deception, there's some things that, you know, there will be thermal signatures you just can't mimic.


So it's better to do that in this agreement with your enemy or your near peer adversary to say we will constantly check on these systems as part of the nuclear balance so that it does not go out of shape. And that way you will know we ain't lying. Yeah, we will know you're not lying. Right. And when we come over there and you know, you say we have seven hundred and thirty two launch silos and they're all, you know, nominally operational.


And you go through and you do a count and your intelligence is counted, seven hundred and thirty nine and three of them have been concealed. And you go, OK, well that's nice. We believe you. And now your your I think it was...


This is the verify in the trust, but verify maxim.


Right, your OR 135 reconnaissance aircraft goes over there, now it's collecting within the treaty. It's not collecting things outside of the treaty. It's not doing industrial espionage. So it goes through and it goes really? Yeah. You do have two hundred and thirty seven, but I've got three more silos over here you have concealed. And here's, you know, here's a picture of its rivets and here's where here's where the your your watch your your guard dogs have buried a track in it in thermal, real Jason Bourne stuff.


You can get that if you're at 30,000 feet with cameras the size of a room, right, looking down on there and the Russians like we can't cheat with that, that that program was designed to maintain...


To keep people from cheating.


Yes. The nuclear balance between the two nations by giving them an opportunity to fly over the United States to collect intelligence. Look, this isn't a freaking Lancaster bomber reconnaissance mission in World War II over Kiel, right.


OK, there are not three hundred fighters coming up and you gotta get that film. You know, one of my favorite films, by the way, touching on pop reference is is Ice Station Zebra, right. Where in the olden days where they would.


Oh, my God, you've gotta watch that film...


I'm adding it to the list.


the first geo political film which was viable where I thought everything that's happening in this film could possibly have happened, you know, including the Russians and the Americans in an armed standoff at an ice station run by spies and you're like what get microfilm that had been dropped from a satellite because that's how they used to drop the satellite and drop the film from a satellite, from a satellite.


The problem is, is that the satellite went astray and went over both Russia and the United States. And whoever got it would win. Yeah, it doesn't do that anymore. But they used to do that. So these aircraft would mimic this and you wouldn't have these standoffs and you could find when somebody was cheating. Yeah. Now, Donald Trump for some bizarre, strange reason this treaty popped up in his desk and he was just like, no, let's get rid of it.


Which will benefit Russia now, granted, our ability to collect via satellite is second to none. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the smallest of all the supersecret ABC agencies,


No one really thinks about that one.


No, those guys there used to be called the NRO, right?


National Reconnaissance Office. They are good at what they do.


They're good. Good.


So this so this treaty is like, you know, it may be an analogy is a you know, in the heist movies where there's a camera in the hallway that's constantly swiveling and now, you know, it's possible to to to get through the hallway without the camera catching you. Right. Without this treaty...


I would think that it's it's a better way to put it is I would say it's like a camera that's looking at Hannibal Lecter in his cage and somebody puts it on a loop.


And I see it's the Russians that don't have it on a loop. And we will be like Hannibal Lecter is in this case. He's still in there.


He's we just cut the feed to our side, you know, and the next thing you know, somebody's, you know, making livers with fava beans.


The purpose of this treaty was strategic trust. Donald Trump seemed to want to give. This will give Russia the ability without a treaty, to cheat, and then we will have to expose, you know, our intelligence capabilities the way he did when he put that picture of the Iranian nuclear the Iranian ballistic missile launch site up, which is the moment I saw it was like that's the top secret picture that that no one should be showing this, but should be saying, well, he's doing this for Russia now.


He's cutting them a break. And I have no idea.


And also, the funny thing is they didn't want to authorize in our seven hundred and ninety billion dollar defense budget four RC, ORC-130 reconnaissance aircraft, yeah, it's OR-135 reconnaissance aircraft to be replaced and refurbished- Really?


How much does that cost?


It doesn't matter what they cost.


I mean I mean, in compared to the Pentagon budget to the 30, 40 bucks. Yeah. I mean, right, right, right. These aircraft, you know what? If you had proposed doing a 737 max version, you know, Boeing Boeing would have had new aircraft plans right up there. Right. These aircraft are antiquated, the ones that they had in there. And they needed to be replaced just to maintain the treaty. So I do not understand why Donald Trump did that.


And I'm certain someday, as somebody somebody said after the election, it's all going to come out in the next few years.


We've talked about a lot of the damage that Trump has been able to do to our Defense Department and the intelligence community in the last four years and in the lame duck period. Are there any other examples you you feel like we should you should mention in terms of how how he's impacted the position of the US on the world stage and any that we didn't talk about. Do you think a particularly noteworthy?


To a certain extent, I've actually gotten into trouble for this.


I was at a Washington Post forum with with a very prominent neoconservative. And in the middle of my spiel, I said, look, there's there's one thing that really is going to have to happen after the era of Donald Trump. And I said Russia needs to be punished. I mean, punished with a P.


And he was just like, well, I thought I was the neoconservative on the panel. I was like, you were until they attacked the United States.


And one of the components of that is people have characterized it that I want a I want a new Cold War. No, I don't want a new Cold War. But I do think that we're going to have to go to a new grey war with Russian intelligence. And, you know, I joked that we were essentially the way the Chinese and the Russians are acting these days around the world,


We are closer to nineteen sixty, sixty one and sixty two in the way that they're behaving like China is buying Africa, for example, just buying entire governments, turning countries into essentially farms. Right. For the Chinese food market.


We should do a whole episode on what they're doing in Africa.


You should.


It's a completely different thing.


Here's here's here's a good micro example.


Yeah. Some Africans I've been over there to many of these countries, they don't want our clothes donations anymore. They can get new clothes from cheaper from China. Yep. And they maintain their dignity, their quality of life rises. Yeah. And the Chinese fly in their workers. They don't ever see them. They'll work diamond mines and things that Africans, you know, would have had a job on and they'll extract, you know, if it cost ten cents to extract in this place.


And it wasn't worth it because you had to spend the dollar. China will go spend a dollar to get that ten cents of of of graphite or near Earth minerals or. Or gold or uranium. The Russians, on the other hand, are now trying to play in that game. Interestingly enough, they're leading off by sending their mercenary group, their version of Blackwater PMC Wagner around sub-Saharan Africa to...


Yeah, and


I know that.


I believe this ABC News did a really good investigative if they have this really good investigative journalist and she went to the center of D.R Congo. If you haven't been around the Democratic Republic of Congo, don't. You think of a really bad African Blackwater as. Because once you leave the capital and you head on to the rivers, it's by the way, this is where the Heart of Darkness was written about, right? The original book, going up a river into the heart of Africa.


You just get you know, the Russians are there teaching mercenarying for warlords. They are also doing diamond extraction. And so they say it's like they had read a book about the old South African mercenary company executive outcomes. Right. In Liberia and how they were running diamond mines.


And somebody said this is a good idea, you know, and, you know, when we're not being slaughtered in Syria, PMC Wagner is everywhere now. They were in Libya fighting on the side of Khalifa Haftar against the UN recognized government, they're doing operations in Syria, they're do they they supposedly were doing collection operations for the FSB as informal civilians. And, you know, the funny thing about it is, Erik Prince, who when I lived in Abu Dhabi, Erik Prince was living there creating a mercenary army for the sheikh's palaces made up out of Colombian soldiers, and now runs the largest private security training company in the world in China.


Right. But will sell his services to anybody. But Russia has decided there's a market for this. And this is how we get into South Sudan and this is how we get into Libya and this is how we get into those places where there is no real rule of law. And it's the, it is, not the Wild West, it's Congo 1961, where people where you would have French enclaves and British enclaves and American enclaves. And then there the warlords would come in and kill all the French citizens.


And the CIA was secretly bombing people with contractors.


It's wilder than the Wild Wild West.


Yeah, for the Russians, the problem is we're not in there at all. We're not there at all. It's like we completely withdrew from Africa, excepting counterterrorism. You know why? Because there's black people there. The China sees dollar signs. The Russia the Russians see postwar oligarchical influence for when those warlords make some money. Right. What are we seeing? We're sending Customs and Border Patrol to Portland, Oregon.


Unbelievable. I was going to ask you how. Well, I mean, I should ask you how this is affect affected by the Biden administration and what they're going to need to do to change course. But I think we've got a whole bunch of things that they're going to need to do to change course.


One quick thing before we close is here's what...


I have one more question for you before we close...


OK, well go ahead and ask. Maybe it's what I was going to, what I was going to say...


Well I wanted to know about Space Force.


Here's what I think about Space Force. Right. The Steve Carell version of Space Force. Yeah.


Is actually better than real Space Force.


I think that when Lloyd Austin comes in, the first thing needs to say is, OK. We're eliminating Space Force, OK? Yeah, no space cadet, well, we're going to do that because this is a joke, right? It is a joke. I just want I just wanted to make sure it isn't actually should be a joke. It is a joke. It's an Air Force strategic domain. Because first off, Donald Trump doesn't know this.


We have treaties against the weaponization of space and he's talking about weaponizing space and doing space space patrols and and all these things. It's like, dude, we signed paper that you don't want this to happen, right? You don't want them to put to say, oh, while you're doing that, Donald, you know, go ahead, have Space come in, we're going to be putting you know hunter killer Space space space based antisatellite weapons systems up there, which was a huge threat.




And in the closing days of the Cold War, HKS. Right, right.


Hunter killer satellites, HKSs and and we were creating antisatellite boost weapons. Another thing is that if you haven't we have so many pop cultural references in this and it's actually great.


What's the name of that movie where the space shuttle gets hit by debris?


The space station gets interstellar over no gravity. Gravity. Yeah, yeah, that's real. And when you experiment in space and explode things in space, even if you hit it with a kinetic launch system, millions of pieces of that debris now has to be tracked. And I know that people are saying, you know, they want to do like a space vacuum cleaner to go around and do space debris.


That stuff is moving at the speed of the earth. Right.


It's like thirty thousand miles an hour...


Yeah and thirty thousand miles an hour and it will go through you and completely destroy, utterly destroy a space station. So, one, why are we doing this? Two, the only thing space is really needed for is to be a domain of surveillance.


But, you know, if you want to make a countersurveillance, got plenty of money, land based anti-missile anti space system, you know, lasers and our lasers are very, very good.


Now to the point where deployment...


Oh my god, now I want to talk to you about lasers man...




Oh, there's so much...


Here's my my last story.


You've got to come back so we can talk about lasers


Only in the sense that, you know, I'm on the board of the International Spy Museum, the board of advisors, and that's what they see.


And for anybody who comes to visit DC, you need to go to the International Spy Museum.


You must go to the Spy Museum, they are doing Covid precautions. They've hired back most of their staff. You can see the three exhibits that I'm in and including the waterboarding experience. Oh, my gosh. I don't think that my water board kit is there.


But at one point they wanted to have this big party at the old Spy Museum. And I was just like, well, what are we what do you want to call it? She goes, Well, I don't know. She goes, we're going to call it this, the Spy Museum, you know, young singles party.


And I said, no, I said, I'm not going to be involved unless it's called sharks with frickin lasers on there heads.


Yes, exactly.


They called it sharks with frickin lasers, and here's the kicker. Here's the kicker. They had a bucking Bronco rideable shark...


Oh My God


where they put lasers on its head that you could ride in the spy museum, see where fun behind cipher lock doors because we have nothing.


We joke like this all the time because this is all you have to do during the day in between horrible, terrible things. So what's your last question?


That was the question I wanted to know about Space Force I really did. I've been dying to ask somebody about how big a joke it is, and yeah,


Steve Carell's, the TV show is way better and I really don't think...


I've only watched the first couple of episodes.


It just started. And it is hilarious.


I really don't think as a as a battle command that as a national command it'll stay. It's it's a domain that should be put under the Air Force. There was space command, but all those resources coming from the five services, you know, I mean, it's like taking it's like taking one of those fruit tart cherry cake cheesecakes and throwing it into a blender. And it's like that's not going to work. So I have one warning for you. Yeah.


So now we've had this wonderful discussion about national security and as it exists and here's something that I'm sure Lincoln Project fans will will all appreciate. I'm writing a I swore I would never write another Trump Russia book or another book on Trump. I swore I wouldn't. And I've just inked a contract because I'm writing a book on what's about to come that's going to affect all of our lives. And that is what I call the Trump insurgency that is about to start in the United States, all of our our biggest threats are now to become Internet insider threats.


Yeah, and Donald Trump is essentially, you know, what did they say? Mao Tse tung and the Department of Defense defines the first phase of insurgency as a political uprising to destabilize legitimate governments by claiming there's an alternate an alternative to your government and starting low grade military and terrorist actions in order to prove that the country can't be kept safe. Yeah, I suspect that's where we're going right now.


I, I it's an extremely sobering thought and a conversation I'd love to have with you, because it dovetails with the conversation I had with Anne Applebaum about...


Oh, she she knows too


she's she's just she's just


she'll tell you about Eastern Europe.


Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I mean, our our our chat was about what it looks like when authoritarianism takes hold in a democracy and the signs of that all around us. And you're talking about what that happens at a at a slightly more mature stage.


And we're there. If you just look at the tweets Donald Trump put out a couple of days ago or keep quoting that we're reaching our breaking point, this rhetoric. People are actually waiting for his orders now. And I monitor right wing extremism like I monitored the Taliban. Right. I, I can you know, they generally don't lie when they talk to each other, which is why signals intelligence is always better than human intelligence. So I think we're getting to a point here where we may have to confront our own insider threat with a Donald Trump acting as as president in exile, who has been overthrown in a coup and is calling on the nation to fight back.


It's dangerous.


Well, Malcolm, as you're thinking through that book, I'd love to have you back to to talk about that conversation. But it's been it's been so good to visit with you.


Thank you for educating our listeners and fleshing out a lot of these changes for us. It's been a pleasure. Thank you for being here.


Well, any time I can break it down Barny style for you, please invite me back. I'm good at that. Absolutely.


Thanks to everyone at home for listening, we want to hear from you about what questions you have and what topics you'd like us to cover on the podcast. As always, you can reach us at podcast at Lincoln Project U.S. And please know that even if we don't respond, we read every email we get and we love hearing from you.


You can find more information about our movement at Lincoln Project US if you enjoy the show. It would help us if you could rate and review us wherever you get your podcasts. This really does help new voters find the show and join our movement to defeat Trump ism for the Lincoln Project. I'm Ron Artest. I'll see you in the next episode.