Transcript of Remarks by Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Gen. Michael V. Hayden
Landon Lecture Series, Kansas
April 30, 2008
Good afternoon. Thank you, President Wefald, for that very kind introduction, and more importantly for the invitation to be here today. I'm really humbled by the opportunity to be among you this afternoon.
Now it’s sometimes said that my field—intelligence—is defined, is bounded by information that is incomplete, contradictory, or incomplete and contradictory. Here’s a small example: I am the first director of the Central Intelligence Agency to give the Landon Lecture. But I am not the only one.
Is it confusing enough already?
You know the speakers who came here as Bob Gates, Jim Schlesinger, and George Herbert Walker Bush. They each ran the Central Intelligence Agency, and each went on to do a few other things as well.
So I mention my predecessors not only in hopes of being invited to give a second Landon Lecture as a former director someday—but to underscore that the people who have occupied the suite I now occupy at Langley have come from all walks of American life. They are people you know; they are people you’re comfortable and familiar with, and some may even be your friends.
The image held by many Americans—that CIA and the Intelligence Community at large is full of people who speak strange languages, work in exotic places, gather secret information from mysterious sources—well, that’s actually true, okay? But it is also a caricature.
What I would like to do today is to give you a—maybe a more clear sense of what CIA is all about: both the scope of its mission—what do we do for you—and the unique place it occupies in our nation’s security establishment and especially inside the nation’s intelligence community.
Now, frankly, I’m going to be bragging a little bit because, even before I took this current assignment—when I was, as mentioned, the director of the National Security Agency, then deputy director of National Intelligence—I thought—and I had to think because it was a reality—of CIA as “America’s Intelligence Agency.” And if you don’t remember anything from what I say here today, you can take that phrase home with you: “This is America’s Intelligence Agency.”
The reason it is, is summed up in our mission. The men and women that I’m privileged to lead wake up each day with one purpose—one overriding purpose and only one purpose and responsibility, and that’s to protect me and you.
Now, the headlines tell you where we’re spending an awful lot of our time right now: The threat from al Qaeda and its affiliates, the war in Iraq, the potential for nuclear proliferation in Iran, and, more broadly, the risk of WMD—weapons of mass destruction—proliferation across the globe. Just last week, Syria’s construction of a covert nuclear reactor with assistance from North Korea was revealed publicly, and that’s only the latest reminder of the constant vigilance that’s required in a world that unfortunately still remains troubled.
CIA places very powerful resources against these and a whole host of other issues, so that immediate horizon—what the military members who are here today would recognize as the close battle, okay—the most urgent issues—they’re somewhat like a swarm of bees, and it’s not only because you can get stung. Just think of swarms. When you look at it, there is an awful lot of random-seeming behavior, but in amongst all of that random-seeming behavior, to the trained eye there is an awful lot of purposeful behavior as well. And our purpose in that close battle, in that swarm, is to identify that purposeful behavior that might do us harm. Keeping our eyes on that swarm—understanding things like—pick one—militant activity in Waziristan, Jaish al-Mahdi’s tactics in Baghdad, Iran’s latest pledge to detail its nuclear activity—that’s a critically important part of CIA’s job. But it is only one part.
The Agency has a global mission as well. It is expected to understand the present, but also to look ahead, not only into that near future—what, again, the military members in the audience would recognize as a close battle—but to look further beyond—what the GIs here will call the deep battle. And for that deep battle, we’ve got to identify and comprehend underlying global trends, and that’s just as important—just as vital to American security and to our charge of strengthening and safeguarding the United States.
President Eisenhower, who was a gifted strategic thinker, undoubtedly guided by the values and sensibility he learned out here in this neighborhood—he noted the breadth of CIA’s mission when he spoke. He was speaking at the laying of the cornerstone ceremony for our headquarters building about five decades ago. And befitting a former commander of Allied Forces, the first thing he talked about was the value of intelligence in combat; the value of intelligence for a war fighter.
But then he went on. He said, “In peacetime, the necessary facts”—the necessary ones, the ones you need to know—“are of a different nature. They deal with conditions, resources, requirements, and attitudes prevailing in the world. They and their correct interpretation are essential to the development of policy to further our long-term national security and best interests. No task could be more important,” he said.
So Eisenhower understood then, and I think we understand now—more than any other part of our government, CIA is expected to detect and understand the underlying forces at work in the world—the underlying realities that shape the future. They shape the future for good or ill, and they affect our national security interests for the future.
So today—and I know we’re going to leave some time for questions and answers, so if some of those hot-button issues excite you—WMD, nuclear reactors in an Eastern Syrian desert, I’m happy to take questions.
But today what I’d like to do is spend a little time with you not on the close fight, but on the deep fight, and to look at three global trends that point to a 21st century that will undoubtedly be quite different from the century just ended—trends—and I sat down with our analysts—trends that our analysts in our Directorate of Intelligence follow and study every day, and their expertise, their input was invaluable for me in putting my thoughts together for today.
So you had the 20th century, largely defined by a bipolar struggle, the Cold War. Those of you who are students, it’s in your books, it was in all the newspapers when I was young, okay?
That century—the 20th century, was ultimately one of American economic, political, and frankly, military domination. In this century—this new century, the world is going to be a far more complex place, and the capacity of others—whether they are nation-states or non-state actors—to influence world events, their capacity will grow.
Let me be clear now. I don’t subscribe to an idea that geopolitics is a zero-sum game. I’m not suggesting a decline of America or a decline of American influence. To the contrary, I think our country will remain an international leader—a force for peace, for freedom, for prosperity throughout the world. It will be an engine of economic growth globally, an engine of innovation globally, and it will remain a military powerhouse.
My point is this: our nation will continue to be all those things within a changed global context, and it’s a context we’re going to have to understand and we’re going to have to take into account if we as a nation are going to live in this new century peacefully, freely, and prosperously.
So with that in mind, let me turn to those three trends, and trend number one. In thinking about the future, one of the most important things that our analysts brought to—CIA analysts—brought to my attention was world demographics. Now I'm probably pointing at the obvious here, but let me point to some of the things that our analysts brought to my attention.
Today, there are 6.7 billion people sharing the planet. By mid-century—by mid-century, the best estimates point to a world population of more than 9 billion. That’s a 40 to 45 percent increase—striking enough—but most of that growth is almost certain to occur in countries least able to sustain it, and that will create a situation that will likely fuel instability and extremism—not just in those areas, but beyond them as well.
There are many poor, fragile states where governance is actually difficult today, where populations will grow rapidly: Afghanistan, Liberia, Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That group—the population is expected to triple by mid-century. The number of people in Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Yemen is likely to more than double. Furthermore—just beyond the raw numbers—all those countries will therefore have, as a result of this, a large concentration of young people. If their basic freedoms and basic needs—food, housing, education, employment—are not met, they could be easily attracted to violence, civil unrest, and extremism.
And through the fact of global migration, this impact of rapid population growth in Africa or Southeast Asia and elsewhere is not going to be confined to those places. It will be felt in the developed world as well. Millions of young people from fast-growing, poorly developed countries will emigrate—legally and illegally—in search of economic opportunity, security, or political freedom.
Now, receiving countries—and America has a wondrous record in this regard—receiving countries, of course, will have much to gain from an influx of young workers, particularly because, in most developed states, populations are aging rapidly. This social integration of immigrants will pose a significant challenge to many host nations—again, that boosts the potential for unrest and extremism.
Consider Europe. The fastest-growing minority there is comprised of people who have emigrated from predominantly Muslim countries and their descendants. Not it’s hard to get exact figures—estimates vary—but most say there are about five million people of Muslim heritage in France, three million in Germany, and almost two million in the United Kingdom. Today, the total for the European Union is roughly 16 million, or about –about three percent of the population. But with a birth rate at least twice the average of ethnic Europeans, the Muslim population will continue to grow as the non-Muslim population of these states actually shrinks in the next several decades.
Now even before 9/11, European governments recognized that this growing immigrant community posed challenges to their societies. Since then, they have put in place a variety of measures that aim to improve assimilation of immigrants, counter extremism, but I think it’s fair to say success has been mixed, at best.
Another example of demographics: Russia, which faces a different kind of demographic stress. In the next four decades, we expect Russia—the population of Russia—to shrink by 32 million people. That means Russia will lose about a quarter of its population. To sustain its economy, Russia increasingly will have to look elsewhere for workers. Now some of them—some of them will be immigrant Russians coming from the former Soviet states, what the Russians call the near abroad. But there aren’t enough of them to make up that population loss. Others will be Chinese and non-Russians from the Caucasus, Central Asia and elsewhere, potentially aggravating Russia’s already uneasy racial and religious tensions.
So those are just two examples of the likely impact of changing world demographics. They demonstrate, though, the importance of underlying population trends and the factors that influence them—things that probably don’t come to the top of your list when you think of things that should interest my agency—things like fertility rates, life expectancy, the prevalence of HIV, and ease of migration. Clearly, there will be many implications for our national security to come out of this, and these trends will contribute to the complexity of the security threats facing America over the next several decades. So that’s trend one.
The second 21st century trend I want to address is the rise of Asia. There was a recent op-ed. Henry Kissinger called this—and I’m quoting the Secretary now—“a shift in the center of gravity of international affairs from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Indian Oceans.” We have a Strategic Intent in CIA. It’s mostly about how we do business. It’s meant—it’s a strategic document, but it’s not an analytic document, it’s not supposed to talk about the substance of intelligence. It talks about how we want to grow and improve as an institution. But even within our Strategic Intent, which is largely a management document, as I said, we identify the rise of China and India and the emergence of new economic centers as transformative forces on the geopolitical landscape that we as an agency have to accommodate in our strategic planning.
Over the next decades, continued economic growth, trade, and investment will bring the countries of Asia together and give them more confidence in international affairs. Competition for influence will characterize the relations between China, India, Japan, and other emerging powers. But China, a communist-led, nuclear state that aspires to and will likely achieve great power status during this century, will be the focus of American attention in that region of the world. And as such, China deserves a few words of special mention today.
Now, as is often the case when you’re talking about something important, an issue that has real consequence for national security, there are differing views about where China is headed and what its motivations are. So let me give you Mike Hayden’s views. China is a competitor, certainly in the economic realm and increasingly on the geopolitical stage. But China is not an inevitable enemy of the United States of America. There are policy choices available—good policy choices available to both Washington and Beijing that can keep us on the largely peaceful, constructive path that we’ve both been on now for about 40 years.
Now I say that with eyes wide open. I say that with full appreciation for the remarkable speed and scope of China’s recent military buildup. The Chinese have fully absorbed the lessons of both wars in the Persian Gulf. They’ve developed and integrated advanced weaponry into a modern military force. And while it’s certainly true that those new capabilities could—could—pose a risk to U.S. forces and interests in the region, that military modernization is as least as much about projecting strength as anything else. After two centuries of perceived Western hegemony, China seems to be determined to flex its muscles. It sees an advanced military force as an essential element of great power status, and it is the Intelligence Community’s view that any Chinese government, even a more democratic one, would have similar nationalist goals.
Now don’t misunderstand. The military buildup is troubling because it reinforces long-held concerns about Chinese intentions toward Taiwan. But even without that issue, we assess that a build-up would continue, although it might not look quite the way the current one looks.
Now, as important as military strength is to China today, economic development and political stability are just as central to its leadership’s thinking, as the Chinese ambassador himself made clear when he was here just, I think, about 11 weeks ago. From the American perspective, China’s growing engagement with the rest of the world is driven by two things: a need markets, resources, technology, and expertise—access; and a desire to assert its influence in the region and with developing countries in other parts of the world.
I should note that even as China aspires to this larger global role, it faces some really significant domestic challenges and some fundamental structural weaknesses: things like uneven income distribution, growing dependence on foreign oil and other imported resources, environmental degradation, an aging population, massive migrations from rural areas to cities. All of these factors will influence China’s trajectory, and we can’t ignore them. But to me, the key question for the future is not whether China will have the power for great power status, but whether or not China is ready to accept the responsibility that comes along with great power status.
Today, in my view, China’s behavior in the international realm is focused almost exclusively on narrowly defined Chinese objectives. We saw that, for example—and I think many of you are familiar with this—we saw that in China’s dealings with Sudan, where protection of their oil interests seemingly was the most paramount interest they had.
Let me give you another example. Two years ago, Beijing pledged to Pacific Island nations more than $370 million at a forum that was specifically designed to undermine Taiwan’s ties to the region—Taiwan’s ties to these Pacific Islands. Much of China’s aid to the developing world comes with few, if any, conditions attached, which frankly tends to undermine the West’s own interests, the West’s own efforts to promote good governance in the recipients in this kind of largesse.
So whether China begins to engage the world in ways that are less narrowly focused will greatly influence the U.S.-Chinese relationship in the next century. If Beijing begins to accept greater responsibility for the health of the international system—as a global power should—I think we’ll remain on a constructive, even if from time to time competitive, path. If not, then the rise of China begins to look a bit more adversarial. So that’s number two: East Asia and China.
Number three. Let me turn for number three to another strategic relationship, and that’s the one between Europe and the United States. Changes in that relationship I think define a third key trend that is going to shape international relations in the 21st century. Robert Kagan and others refer to—and I’m quoting them now—“a divergence of interests.” They even use the phrase “transatlantic divide.” And disagreements over the war in Iraq and the global fight against terrorism have raised questions in recent years about the nature and the future of this US-European Alliance.
Those disagreements that we’ve seen played out fairly publicly in the past six or seven years are only symptoms, I think, of an underlying shift—now bear with me for just a paragraph or two of history—an underlying shift brought about by the end of the Cold War. Nick Burns, a good friend and Undersecretary of State I think was out here. Nick has talked about this as well. It comes down to this: The U.S.-Europe relationship no longer needs to focus primarily on Europe.
Today, the continent is nearly—and these were our objectives throughout the whole of the Cold War—the continent is nearly whole, free, and at peace. As a result, our collective attention can shift elsewhere. We can, for the first time, devote most of our energy to meeting not localized European threats, but global threats that affect us all.
But that’s the challenge. The truth is, nearly two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, America and Europe still are grappling with how best to manage the security risks of the post-Cold War world. Absent this common unifying theme that we used to have and overrode all other considerations, differences are cropping up over a host of issues.
My profession, intelligence, is no exception. At CIA, we work more closely with our counterparts on the Continent on a wider range of issues than ever before. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Our cooperation with European allies has thwarted terrorist plots and saved lives—European lives and American lives. But it’s also true that more collaboration on more issues brings with it greater opportunity for disagreement. The issues we are now facing are not easy, and some of them—outwardly focused as they are—not in the Atlantic, not in Europe—have simply—these issues, these new issues—have simply not been part of the traditional U.S.-European agenda.
So many of the disagreements that we have are centered on the perception of the threat and then the tactics we would want to use to thwart this perceived danger. So, for example, while we share the view in general that terrorism is a danger, there are serious disagreements between us and Europe on how best to confront it.
Now some of this stems from the fact that our intelligence and legal and law enforcement systems are not the same. Now I know we share the same liberal, democratic traditions. But we’ve evolved in different directions in each of these states, and so we have different intelligence, legal and law enforcement structures. And that shows its face in the cooperation of my agency with the European partners. But frankly, in my view, that’s not the most important factor.
Rather, it’s this: It's the fundamental view of the world today, and I’m going to give you the American version. The United States believes that it is a nation at war—a war that is global in scope, and requires as a precondition for winning that we take the fight to our enemy wherever he may be. Those sentences are not widely shared by our European allies.
In much of Europe, terrorism is seen differently: primarily as an internal, or a law enforcement problem, and solutions are more narrowly focused on securing one homeland or another. When there is a direct threat to lives or interests, European governments work with each other and they work with us to disrupt that threat. But they tend not to view terrorism as we do—as an overwhelming international challenge. Or if they do, we often differ on what would be effective and appropriate—and you’ve got to keep those two words together—what would be effective and appropriate to counter it.
Differing views over the nature of threats and the right tactics to address them are likely to impact American-European relations for much of this century, and the effects will be felt on many levels—from intelligence and law enforcement to military cooperation and foreign policy. Now, look, I am confident that we will continue to work together on many tough global challenges, as we are today, for example, in Afghanistan, or as we’re doing today in working together to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons. But it is not yet clear to me when or if the United States and Europe will come to share the same views of 21st century threats as we did for threats in the last half of the 20th century. Managing the disagreements and tensions that arise because of the absence of a unified vision will complicate what has traditionally been America’s easiest relationship.
Now, as is true of the other two trends I’ve spoken about, this change in the U.S.-European relationship will contribute to the complexity of world affairs in the 21st century. These trend lines—and there are a bunch of others out there as well that we don’t have time to mention today—indicate that a greater number of actors will have influence on the world stage in this century. And that presents one overriding challenge to those of us responsible for our nation’s security: We—now, this “we” up here, all right—we must do a better job of understanding cultures, histories, religions, and traditions that are not our own.
To meet this challenge, CIA and other intelligence agencies are working really hard to recruit and retain officers with a rich diversity of education, language, ethnicity, religion, experience overseas, and so on. I should note too that academia, business, and other parts of our society also have a very important role to play in enhancing our understanding of the world. After 39 years of public service for me, it is clearer to me than ever before that our national security institutions—CIA, FBI, Department of Defense—are only as strong and are only as capable as the society they represent. My agency, the entire Intelligence Community, depends on America for talent, on America for innovation, for values, and for dedication that we have to meet our challenges. So to defeat the scourge of al Qaeda and its violent ideology, for example, we need a lot more Americans fluent, not just in Arabic, but in Pashto, Urdu, Farsi, and a whole host of other languages that weren’t in the curriculum when I was going through university. We need more experts in Islamic studies and in Middle East politics, culture, and society, and in South Asia, too.
That’s a tall order, and it’s going to take time. And, frankly, I think the truth is we have not as a nation yet achieved a mobilization of resources, including academic resources, that matches what we accomplished in the post-World War II period. If America is to successfully confront the threats and take advantage of the opportunities that this century will present, we have to undertake that kind of mobilization.
Just think for a minute. The start of the Cold War is generally dated to Paul Nitze in a document called NSC-68 in which he came down and essentially laid out that we are in a strategic competition with the Soviet Union. Take that date in the late ‘40s, ‘48, ‘49, okay. Now, compare it to September 11th, 2001. Run the timeline forward on parallel tracks. It will give you just about seven years from 9/11 and give you seven years from Paul Nitze in NSC-68. Now, count up the number of Russian-language courses and Soviet-study courses in American academia by about 1956, and compare it to where we are with Arabic, Islamic, South Asian, Pashto, Urdu, Dari, Farsi, and all of those other languages, and I think a fair judge would say we’re a little late out of the starting blocks in terms of mobilizing our society.
We have to broaden our understanding. And let me tell you why—just beyond, you know, you got to speak the language if you’re going to read the message you just intercepted. It’s more—actually, more important than that because we have to guard against viewing the world exclusively through an American prism. We must not rely exclusively on an American or even Western lens in assessing foreign challenges and helping policymakers decide how to respond to challenges. Large parts of the world, and including some of those ones that I’ve mentioned already this afternoon, okay, do not share all of our ideals and values. Now, look; we cherish and live our own values, but we must know and appreciate those of others. Their perceptions and behaviors are driven by motivations and experiences that are sometimes very different from our own, and we have to understand that.
Take, for example, the issue of ethnic nationalism. Here’s an easy one, and it doesn’t take much explaining. America has successfully assimilated new arrivals for hundreds of years. Our status—you know, the melting-pot thing—is a source of national pride and strength. Unless we are careful, though—now I’m talking about our analysts and academic thinkers—unless we’re careful though, that pride and experience in what we have done might create a blind spot for us.
We could easily misunderstand or discount the potency of ethnic nationalism in other parts of the world—a mistake that could have serious implications for American security and policy. This was driven home to me several years ago now. I was in Pristina, in Kosovo. And the NATO headquarters there is a place called Film City because it was a film studio during part of the war. And I’m there in Film City. I’m going to take a briefing from the intelligence scene that is there.
And I come in and I sit down on the couch. They start to give me the briefing. And, by and large, if you’ve gone through some of these—and I see a lot of folks in the audience who have because they’re smiling—you begin with a general orientation—you know, so wide, so high, so tall, so fat. So how big the country, how—what’s the population of the country, what is the ethnic breakdown of the population of the country, and so on. General orientation briefing.
So I’m there counting -- you know, in autopilot listening because he’s droning on with numbers with which I’m fairly familiar because I used to live in the Balkans. And about three minutes into the presentation, he said, now, to give you one other sense of perspective, let me give you a sense of how far you are now away from Washington, because I know you’ve flown in just overnight, okay. So I’ll give you a sense of time. He said, when it’s noon in Washington, it’s still 1389 in Kosovo: 1389 is the Battle of Kosovo Polje, the Field of Blackbirds. Czar Lazarus accepting defeat for his earthly kingdom at the hand of Suleiman the Magnificent so he can win a greater reward in heaven, okay.
Well, unless you understand that, or at least part of that, you don’t quite dig down to the nature of the conflict and you’re sitting there whining in Film City—why can’t these people just get along? Okay, wrong lens.
Now, look America will continue to apply its own values and ideals in the policies that govern our global engagement, but these new forces at work in the world can’t be overlooked or ignored if we want to positively influence the future’s course. Failure to see and understand the potential impact of underlying trends like the three I just spoke of would be more than what my analysts call mirror imaging; it would be a failure of imagination, and that’s one of the surest paths to an intelligence breakdown.
Now, as you know, important global trends are studied and discussed in fora of all types, from conference rooms in Washington, to shareholder meetings in New York, to classrooms right here in Manhattan, Kansas. Indeed, we as an agency draw from a rich cross-section of expertise in studying these trends and all other issues of national security significance. But the Agency, by its nature and its charter takes a bite out of these issues in a way that no one else does. The role we play in understanding the world and defending the Republic is as unique as it is critical.
The most obvious distinction, although we will all study these broad trends and try to learn from them—the most obvious distinction is that unlike you, we commit espionage in order to understand these trends better. The officers of our National Clandestine Service recruit spies and steal secrets to gain information no one else can. And while espionage is probably not all that important to identify the three broad trends that I’ve pointed out here this afternoon, espionage is vitally important to understanding how other states or groups are going to react to those trends.
The second thing we do, in addition to espionage, is to synthesize information of all types. We combine different streams of intelligence—human intelligence, technical intelligence, open-source information. We have, at the Agency, the largest analytic cadre and the deepest and broadest expertise in the Intelligence Community. And moreover, we’re the only member of the American intelligence community that doesn’t have a policy interest in the issues that we analyze. Let me explain that—we’re the only group of analysts in the American Intelligence Community that do not belong to one or another cabinet department. We are autonomous in that sense.
CIA also has an ability to move beyond one or two intelligence disciplines. By both history and law, CIA plays a vital leadership role in bringing to bear the full capabilities of American intelligence. Our team effort, for example, on that no-longer covert nuclear reactor in Syria is a good case in point. We combined analytic tradecraft, skillful human collection, skillful technical collection, and close collaboration with other intelligence agencies—both other American and other foreign intelligence agencies—we were able to determine not only what this building in the remote eastern desert was, but who was involved in its planning and its construction.
So the CIA is the natural choice to play a kind of leadership role in our Community. If you look—and those of you who study the American Intelligence Community—you’ve got a lot of boxes on the chart. And you’ve got imagery agencies and counterterrorism centers, and open-source centers, and so on. If you study it long enough, you’ll see each one of those boxes—in fact, all of them but one, have a bloodline back to Langley, Virginia. They have a bloodline back to the Central Intelligence Agency.
CIA has more connective tissue to the rest of the American Intelligence Community than anyone else. Now, I'll also suggest to you that we’re an agency constantly in motion. As the world changes, the Agency changes. Intelligence, by definition, is a profession of constant learning and adaptation. You are never done; at best, you are only ahead at the moment, and if you stop, very soon you will no longer be ahead. So that is why we’re putting more of our analysts overseas than ever before, and we are rewarding officers more handsomely for language expertise. Any of you study foreign language here? Listen up—we just increased our language bonuses. We have an auditorium back at home; we call it the bubble. And I was talking to our workforce, and said we’re pumping up the language bonus. And invariably when we get to Q&A, the hand comes up—how much for me? And said, I don’t know how much for you; all I know is how much it is for me. And how much it was for me—the plus-up okay, not the base—the plus-up was $11.5 million a year more in language bonuses for CIA folks. All right, that’s the commercial; that’s the recruiting advertisement embedded in the speech.
All of our effort, our experience, history, law, adds up to a distinctive place for CIA in America’s national Intelligence Community. We play an indispensable role in integrating the varied and very powerful capabilities that you pay for.
In short, studying the world is not an academic exercise for us. It’s our duty to give policymakers the fullest possible picture of the threats and opportunities facing our nation. We have an obligation to be relevant—to inform, to educate and guide them as they forge our nation’s approach to a complex world. The way I see it—this is the metaphor I use—CIA is America’s skirmish line. We are moving ahead, we are in front of a main body of troops. We are providing reconnaissance, and we are among the first to engage. That’s our job.
Of course, we cannot promise perfection. Even when we’re at the top of our game, it’s very rare that we can give a policymaker anything close to certitude. I was in a much smaller group meeting—I was actually with a group of investment bankers, and about 10 of us at a lunch table.
And they said to me, “General, on a scale of zero to 10, how good do you think CIA analysis is right now?” And I said, “On a scale of zero to 10, eight, nine and 10, are not on our scale, and the reason is, if you’re at eight, nine, and 10, no one is asking us the questions. We only get the other ones, the ones that are more ambiguous, the ones that are further down on the chart. The issues we cover are among the toughest facing the nation. The work we do is inherently ambiguous. And the information we seek is deliberately hidden.
Now, I don’t point that out by way of excuse, but rather, explanation. We won’t always get it right, but we do pledge to be continuously learning and improving. You should expect nothing less.
Both my Agency and our Community have made huge strides over the past six years. We think we have strengthened our tradecraft, our expertise, our capabilities. We're also sharing and combining those things within the community as never before. These improvements, and the enduring commitment to do even better, give me optimism as we contemplate the challenges of the 21st century—and those are the challenges that the young folks in the audience today will inherit for your lifetime. It is well within our capacity as a nation to meet those challenges, and ultimately, to forge an effective leadership role for America even in a complex new century. It is a century I think that we have the talent that allows us to keep America both strong and secure in.
Thank you very much for your attention, and I’d be very happy to take your questions.
KSU President Jon Wefald: Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think you can see why he is the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Now, we have microphones on my left and on your right. And I’m so glad that so many people could come to this lecture today because you just heard a powerful, clear, analytical lecture on not just America and the world we live in, but so many ins and outs of this complex world that we’re living in in 2008. You know, I don’t think there’s another director of the CIA in the last 50 years that’s just given a better presentation of the world we live in today than the director of the CIA. Let’s give him another hand. No kidding.
President Wefald: So we'll start with you over here on the left. Please.
Q: All right, sir. My name is [name removed] and I’m a senior in political science here. And I had a couple of questions, you—well, one question. You briefly touched on China and Taiwan and I just wanted to ask what you thought was the implications of the continued sales of weapons to Taiwan and if that leads to instability in the region and what you think our future with Taiwan and the relation should be?
Gen. Hayden: As your question implies and I think you know, this is a hideously complex problem. Now, we’re all in agreement there’s one China. We all accept that most of the time. And the recent elections in Taiwan made that a little wobbly, but it ended up in the right place.
We’ve also made it clear that we want healthy, positive relations with Beijing. But, throughout the history of this relationship, beginning with the opening of the doors there, we’ve also made it clear that we have a continuing relationship with the government on Taiwan and a continuing interest in the defense of Taiwan. And our government very carefully attempts to balance all of those views.
I don’t want to get too far into a policy lane, but there’s a sweet spot there in which the American relationship with both Taipei and Beijing creates the optimum chances for success over the long term by reducing the chances for unplanned and random violence that could erupt. So, again, the overall policy is to keep it stable and let natural forces over time take their course towards a peaceful resolution. Keeping it stable involves relationships and arrangements with both parties.
Q: Thank you, sir.
President Wefald: Okay. Over here on the right.
Q: Yes, sir. My name is [name removed]. I’m a graduate student here earning a master’s degree in history. And I was hoping you could address and give us a greater sense of appreciation for what I think must be a very complicated relationship. You mentioned in the speech that the CIA , it is itself a Cabinet-level position and has therefore no vested interest in policy outcomes and yet you are a commissioned four-star officer. So could you help us understand how at one table you would be co-equal to a man who at another table would be your boss? So here you are a four-star officer subservient to the Secretary of Defense in one venue and, yet, in other, you would be co-equal to him. And so it would seem like that would be a conflict of interest.
Gen. Hayden: I am, by law, outside the military chain of command, okay, so I am not under the Secretary of Defense. Now, having spent 39 years in uniform, there are things that you remember, but I think I would box them all—I’m ruining this completely in terms of being polite.
When I go into a National Security Council meeting and the Secretary of State is here and the Secretary of Defense is here, I would say, good morning, Secretary Gates, or, good morning, Mr. Chairman, whether it’s General Myers or Admiral Mullen. But I would turn to the Secretary of State and say, hey, Condi! It has nothing to do with being in uniform. It has everything to do with that Lieutenant Colonel Hayden was working on the joint staff with Intern Rice in 1986.
President Wefald: Okay. Over here.
Q: Hello, General. I’m Mark Hatesohl.
President Wefald: This is the mayor of Manhattan here, Mark Hatesohl.
Q: And as the current mayor, we have a sister-city relationship with a small town in the Czech Republic, just outside of Prague. And I was curious as to what kind of relationship the CIA has with those former Eastern-bloc Soviet countries of Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia? Are they generally pretty cooperative and open to helping us and such or not?
Gen. Hayden: It’s hard for me to get into detail. Let me just give you a macro answer: among the best partners we have in the world.
President Wefald: Okay, let’s--
Q: How's it going? My name is [name removed]. I'm a sophomore in microbiology, biochemistry, premed, and I just had a quick question for you. I thought the three trends you talked about were extremely valid and will each have, you know, shape large parts of our future.
But I think you might have missed one.
How do you think the competition for resources such as oil, which many experts believe will reach peak world production in the next few years with a constantly increasing demand and water which many poorer nations will lose access due to global warming and melting glaciers?
How do you think that will shape the future?
Gen. Hayden: Yeah, I agree. And if I had four, that’s a real strong candidate for number four. But I wouldn’t have prioritized it. These were three I felt were useful to share because, well, because of the nature of the venue. And on your two, I’d bet on water being the more critical and more early than other resources.
President Wefald: Okay, over here.
Q: Good afternoon, sir. My name is [name removed] and I’m the Arabic instructor at the Kansas State University and Fort Riley. Before my question, I would like to thank you for encouraging the young men and women to take languages because it’s the peaceful weapon.
My question, sir—as we know now or, you know, we could say—obviously, the neighboring countries, they don’t or they are not trying to accept the new Iraq. So our success in Iraq, it doesn’t go hand-by-hand with the interests of their neighboring countries—and I’m meaning the majority of the neighboring countries without Turkey. So, obviously, our (inaudible) pressure is not working. So what’s next? What’s next with the neighboring countries? And thank you.
Gen. Hayden: Again, I think you’re referring to the neighboring Sunni countries, right, primarily?
Q: With Iran.
Gen. Hayden: And Iran, okay. Good. Yet again, without getting too far into a policy lane, just a couple of generalized comments I think I can make—let me talk—first of all, with regard to Iran, members of our government have made some pretty specific statements with regard to what Iran is doing in Iraq.
I will share with you my view that it is the policy of the Iranian government, approved to the highest levels of that government, to facilitate the killing of Americans in Iraq, okay? So just make sure there’s clarity on that. I’ll talk about the Sunni neighborhood, the Sunni states. There appears to be a perception that a Sh’ia-dominated government—and demographics suggest that any democratically elected government in Iraq would have a large Shi’a component, just given the demographics there—that a Shi’a government in Iraq is necessarily an extension of Iranian Shi’ism.
We don’t believe that is true and I would point directly to the performance of Prime Minister Maliki in Basra about a month ago, where he moved Iraqi army forces, he moved them on his own, moved them to Basra and took on thugs and militia—all of them Shi’a—in Basra in order to extend the writ, extend the control of the central government in Baghdad. I think it is that kind of performance over time that will convince the neighborhood of the bona fides, of the credentials, of the government in Baghdad. We viewed it as a very, very positive step. And you know, I don’t like to be critical here, but the press coverage kind of indicated that it was a failure; it was (inaudible); and they didn’t do what they wanted to do. Have you heard about Basra lately? No, you have not. Why, because the Iraqi government is in control of Basra and is in control of Umm Qasr, which is the port.
Q: Sir, I am an Iraqi and I am Shi’a and I oppose the Iranian influence and all the other countries’ influence. Thank you.
Gen. Hayden: Okay, thank you.
Q: Hello, Director Hayden. I'm [name removed], a sophomore, aerospace engineering. And I was wondering if you believe the United States is subjected to homegrown terrorism? And if you do believe this, is there anything we can learn from our longtime friends, ever since the revolution and across the pond, the United Kingdom?
Gen. Hayden: That’s a great question, [name removed]. And, you know, I don’t want to be portrayed as whistling past the graveyard here. But the character of our society has made that threat lower, has made it less of a threat than it would otherwise be. And that’s what I was trying to refer to earlier in terms of our immigrant experience.
I’ll get this wrong, and so, you know, don’t send me a bunch of e-mails saying you screwed it up. But there is a statistic out there. And I think it’s Islamic Americans, okay, that the average wage of Islamic Americans is actually above the national average, okay? That’s an incredibly telling statistic and it plays directly to what you just described in terms of potential homegrown threats.
Now, there are a lot of other homegrown threats. I’ve just honed in on the one that seems to dominate the news. That statistic is not mirrored in other countries, okay? To be overly irreverent about it, the people who immigrated to Great Britain from Pakistan are different than the people who came here. We got an awful lot of heart surgeons.
And that reality—I was flying with my Pakistani counterpart in a small aircraft—twin-engine, so we could see the countryside. And I turned to him and I said, General, what do you think when you look out here and you see this country? He thought for a moment and he said I feel very comfortable. He says, when I visit the United States, when I take a vacation, when I drive around, people assume I’m an American. That’s a big deal.
Q: Hi there, sir. I am a—my name is [name removed]. I’m a student in leadership studies. And as a leader among leaders, I am curious what strategies you find most effective in dealing with both your peers, the heads of other agencies and foreign governments, and dealing with your enormous number of followers.
Gen. Hayden: In dealing in both cases, the key is humility. When you’re sitting across the table from a counterpart in another service, you know in your heart of hearts you have more lawyers than he has people in his organization. Don’t act like you know that. And I'm serious. They know who you are. So you need to go out of your way to have them understand that you’re probably more interested in their point of view than he is in yours.
And if you can’t create that dialogue, then you’re just digging yourself a hole.
And you know what? You need to bring him to your house for dinner and you need to introduce him to the family and you need to invite his family with him the next time he comes, and you need to take a cruise on the Potomac so that when you’ve got to absolutely, positively talk to him, you can get him out of a family wedding and he’ll take the phone call, which I have done.
So that’s one. The other one—with the workforce—it’s amazing. I’m looking at the folks here in uniform. CIA culture is the most military culture of any civilian organization with which I have been associated. We don’t do the hierarchy thing at all, all right, so we don’t have that. Service, duty, patriotism, sacrifice, it’s all there. And so, the things that the uniformed folks here learned at the platoon level, they work just fine as head of a national agency, including going down to the cafeteria for lunch.
Q: Thank you very much.
President Wefald: Okay, time for two more questions. One here and then we'll go over there. Go ahead.
Q: General, thank you very much for coming today. My name is [name removed]. And I am a senior in political science here. And my question is, I was hoping you could just kind of elaborate on the feasibility of a terrorist group detonating a nuclear weapon or gassing the subways in a major city here in the United States.
Gen. Hayden: Clearly, they have the intent. We have said publicly about continuous plotting against our homeland. We have pointed out—if you go to our website and see all of our speeches where we kind of drilled down on what we fear is happening along the Afghan-Pakistan border: safe haven, training of operatives who—the phrase I used in a national opportunity a month or so ago—wouldn’t cause you any concern or draw your attention if they were in the passport line at Dulles with you. I mean, they look Western and they fit in. So that’s one, the continued intent to attack, training to attack, using Western operatives.
And the third stream, which we continue to see and I just can’t go into great detail, is this consistent interest in weapons of mass destruction of one type or another. You use the word nuclear detonation, right? Yeah. That would be, of course, the absolute nightmare scenario. Another scenario, not a whole lot better, a bit more likely, is nuclear dispersal—okay—where it’s not the actual detonation; it’s not heat blast and fragmentation coming from the nuclear blast—or from the fission. But the dispersal of radioactive material—and that is more technically within reach of those who would do us harm.
I’ve got nothing on the horizon. If I did, I couldn’t tell you anyway. But we still—I’m sorry, just another 30 seconds—I realize, okay, that when I get in the morning and I get a book about four times this thickness and I get in the car and I read it. It takes me an hour to get done with it. It’s the President’s Daily Brief plus all of our operations cables. It’s really hard to be an optimist after you’re done reading that.
Bob Gates who was here before talks about CIA analysts. When a CIA analyst stops to smell the flowers, he wants to know where the hearse is, okay? So I recognize I have a rather somber view of the world by profession. But I have to tell you, when I’m at work, it feels like September 12th. And when I get in the car and drive down the GW Parkway home, it feels a lot like September 10th in terms of the nation’s appreciation that the threat continues.
President Wefald: Okay, one more.
Q: Hello, sir. My name is [name removed]. And I have a question. It might seem a little bit odd but I still would like you to answer it if possible. After 9/11, have you considered to work with the Russian Federation government, especially intelligence services on perhaps getting their help on how to deal with Taliban, due to the Russian's experience prior, a couple decades ago. And also, would you consider doing so, since Russia—it’s better to have Russia as a friend versus as an enemy, especially the NATO conflicts that is taking place because of the NATO’s desire to use Eastern Bloc as their border between Russia and the Western world. So I would like to know if you would consider to do so because it seems to me that that will definitely make Russia quite happy.
Gen. Hayden: I understand the question. And you notice the response to the partner and liaison question before was a macro answer rather than anything specific, and I’m afraid that’s the limits to the art form in a public location like this. Say to me that we have—there are some nations of the world with which we have very close and intimate relations but not all. In many cases—in some states—that relationship is more formal and appropriate rather than rich and enduring. And so let me just leave it at that and not try to characterize it in any more detail.
We do, however—let me just say, we’re not closed to that. And there are dialogues that do take place, and that the Russian services do host conferences to which we are invited and to which we do send analysts and we do share views in fora like that.
Q: In more academic type of setting, correct?
Gen. Hayden: Kind of a cross; maybe a brick short of analytical exchange, but maybe a brick more than just an academic exchange.
Q: Thank you for your time.
President Wefald: Thank you very much.
Gen. Hayden: Thank you.
President Wefald: Well, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming to this Landon lecture today. If you want to work for the CIA someday, you have to keep in mind they had 138,000 applications last year. But you’ll notice in his lecture halfway through, he said they’re looking for people that are going to have a background in history, geography, religion, culture, the whole ball of wax. Well, you couldn't be better advised to get a master's in strategic studies from Kansas State, because we do all of that and more.
General, that was a brilliant presentation from you. We thank you so much. This is a very rare opportunity for people here in the heartland to hear directly from the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Thank you for a brilliant presentation. And thank you for coming. Thank you.