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Transcript: James Mattis talks with Michael Morell on "Intelligence Matters"

Turkish leader meets with Putin to talk Syria

Highlights:

  • On withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria: "The Syria situation has always been one of the most complex that I'd dealt with. I'd never seen anything with so many different motivations, so many different disparate groups, many at odds with each other, from great powers to local terrorists … But I think we have to fall back to first principles as we look at it. And is the threat coming out of there a threat to the United States? And I agree with those who have assessed it to be a direct and an indirect threat to our country.
  • "And so we're going to have to remain engaged in this. It's not an endless war, but it's certainly been a long one. And there are times when you just want to throw up your hands in dismay and say, "Let's walk away." But the fact is we've not been hit in the mainland by foreign terrorists who have sworn to hit us since 9/11. And that's in no small part due to the campaign we've run. So I believe that we have to remain engaged in the region with our allies and partners and continue to stand up for our interests."
  • On the threat from ISIS: "[T]his is a direct threat to what we stand for, to our people, to the safety of the democracies. And we're going to have to band together with like-minded nations, because no nation on its own can deal with this."
  • On the effect of politics on national security: "I have fewer concerns about our adversaries destroying this country than our ability to… Right now, I think that we are so divided, we're so corrosive in how we address certain issues, that we've forgotten we need to be hard on the issues. We certainly should have spirited intellectual discussions about issues, from health care to national security. But we don't have to be hard on each other." … "Our adversaries have got to be cheering as far as weakening ourselves as a country."
  • On political criticism:  I believe that military officers, active or retired, need to carry on with the tradition handed down from George Washington's day to George Marshall's day where we defend this experiment in democracy, but those of us who especially are referred to as "general" for the rest of our lives, whether we like it or not, have to be very careful about entering into political assessments of elected leaders.
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TRANSCRIPT

INTELLIGENCE MATTERS - GEN. JAMES MATTIS

CORRESPONDENT: MICHAEL MORELL

PRODUCER: OLIVIA GAZIS, JAMIE BENSON

MICHAEL MORELL:

Mr. Secretary, welcome to "Intelligence Matters." It is great to have you on the show, and it is great to talk to you again.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

Yeah, good morning to you, Michael. It was a pleasure serving alongside you.

MICHAEL MORELL:

So, sir, you recently published a book on leadership. It's called Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead. It's a terrific book. It chronicles your career and the lessons about leadership that you learned along the way. And I want to ask you a number of questions about that. But before we do that, I want to ask you a couple of other things, get your reaction to a couple of things. The first is your reaction to what's happened in Northern

Syria in the last couple of weeks. How do you think about that?

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

Well, the Syria situation has always been one of the most complex that I'd dealt with. I'd never seen anything with so many different motivations, so many different disparate groups, many at odds with each other, from great powers to local terrorists.

So it is a very frustrating environment; it's a chaotic environment. But I think we have to fall back to first principles as we look at it. And is the threat coming out of there a threat to the United States? And I agree with those who have assessed it to be a direct and an indirect threat to our country.

And so we're going to have to remain engaged in this. It's not an endless war, but it's certainly been a long one. And there are times when you just want to throw up your hands in dismay and say, "Let's walk away." But the fact is we've not been hit in the  

mainland by foreign terrorists who have sworn to hit us since 9/11. And that's in no small part due to the campaign we've run. So I believe that we have to remain engaged in the region with our allies and partners and continue to stand up for our interests.

MICHAEL MORELL:

And so, when you say, "direct threat and indirect threat," what are you talking about?

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

Well, these are people that have sworn that they are going to attack, whether it be characterizing us as the great Satan, or simply America, or simply our values of democracy as being anti their view of the world. The idea that they're just going to go away, I think, is very naïve.

I've dealt with them, as you know, Michael, since 1979 in one form or another. And I would not in any way patronize this enemy. We've seen the attacks in Europe, in Brussels, in Paris. We've seen where they've gotten through. And this is a direct threat to

what we stand for, to our people, to the safety of the democracies. And we're going to have to band together with like-minded nations, because no nation on its own can deal with this.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Yeah. Sir, you made some jokes over the weekend at the Al Smith dinner about the president. And I take it to mean that you're not going to change your approach here to talking about partisan politics. Correct? 

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

I believe that military officers, active or retired, need to carry on with the tradition handed down from George Washington's day to George Marshall's day where we defend this experiment in democracy, but those of us who especially are referred to as "general" for the rest of our lives, whether we like it or not, have to be very careful about entering into political assessments of elected leaders. I don't believe that's the military's role in a democracy.

MICHAEL MORELL:

And do you think that those folks who do that somehow put the Department of Defense and the U.S. Military at some risk and raise questions about whether they're political or not? Because I have the same sense about intelligence officials who speak out, that people will say, "Geez, I wonder if the currently serving folks are as partisan."

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

Well, I think, and you look back through history, and you look at Praetorian guards and the role the military eventually comes to be so authoritative in certain times in history about who will be the political leaders, we should be remembering that the reason we have civilian control of the military is to avoid that.

And if active duty officers are looked at askance by the political leaders because they're concerned with how these officers will, once they get out of the military, or intelligence officers get out of the intelligence services, how they will characterize  

private discussions in the messy world of trying to put together policy to deal with the challenges we face, I don't think that's helpful to the governance of the country.

And I think the military needs to stay strictly apolitical. And, by the way, Michael, this is not just about me. My predecessor in office, Ash Carter, Secretary Carter, who was President Obama's last Secretary of Defense, would studiously avoid making political assessments, even to the point of telling congressmen and congresswomen that he would not answer a certain question because it was political.

So this is not just about me. This is not just about this administration. This is about a more than 200-year-old tradition that we do not make political assessments. We defend this country. We don't tell the American people how to vote or how they should consider political leaders who've been basically invested with the authority of the

Constitution.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Do you, though, sir, worry about the state of our politics, not talking about one party or the other? Do you worry about the state of our politics and the impact that it's having on national security?

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

I worry a great deal about it. I have fewer concerns about our adversaries destroying this country than our ability to. And let me put this in context. Right now, I think that we are so divided, we're so corrosive in how we address certain issues, that we've forgotten we need to be hard on the issues. 

We certainly should have spirited intellectual discussions about issues, from health care to national security. But we don't have to be hard on each other. And we've turned this into a very corrosive debate that does not allow compromise. Yet, our whole government was set up with three co-equal branches of government and a bicameral

legislature, to boot. Without compromise, you cannot govern the country.

So I understand, in an election, it's about dividing the country, "Vote for me, not for you. I'm smart; he's dumb. She's wrong; I'm right," however you want to characterize it. Sometimes it's not very civil. Okay, I got it. We're in a democracy. Gets pretty raucous, especially in election time.

But when elections are over, when we're done with the dividing, and we've voted, then we need to govern. And that takes unity. That takes compromise. And it's as if we're in a constant election cycle now -- vice an election, and then we roll up our sleeves when it's over, and we work together, and we govern the country for the betterment of future generations.

It's as if we've forgotten that, and now we characterize our adversaries as eternally wrong, eternally evil, and not to be compromised with. Our adversaries

have got to be cheering as far as weakening ourselves as a country.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Yeah. I'm wondering, sir, as a historian and as a lover of history that you are, if you've seen a period of time in the past, either in U.S. history or in the history of other countries, that's similar to what's happening here and in Europe and in other developed countries, and if that history is instructive for us today in any way as we try to work our way through this. I know that's a tough question.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

No, it's an excellent question, I think, Michael, because you just brought up that this is not unique to our democracy right now. I mean, we're all watching what's going on in the U.K. with Brexit, in France, in Germany. And we've got to look at whether or not history gives us analogous situations, not that it's a perfect roadmap, but it's the only thing we have to light the path ahead.

And, certainly, if you look at the United States going into the Civil War, you understand why Abraham Lincoln, in 1839, when he was only 29 years old, and I think, in his first recorded speech, said that he was less worried about falling from an external enemy than an internal.

He said that not all the armies of Europe and Asia and Africa combined with all the money in their world, even if they had Bonaparte for their leader, could cross the ocean, invade our country, cross the Blue Ridge Mountains and take a drink out of the Ohio River.

Basically, he said that the bigger threat was internal division and what happens when people stop listening to one another, when they no longer believe in the wisdom of having good discussions and listening to each other and coming up with good policy. Rather, they believe only that they are right and  

everyone else is wrong.

And so, as we look at this, and we watch what happened to our country in the Civil War, or we watch how other countries have fallen, one point comes through. And that is nations with allies thrive, and nations without allies die. Well, that's even true on a domestic plane.

If presidents don't have allies in the opposing party-- and all governments need some sort of a counter balance; it's good to have parties in this country-- but if you can't eventually work together, if you can't make allies and reach across the aisle, then a compromise-based government, like ours is that requires compromise, simply cannot stand.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Right.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

And this was a fear of the Founding Fathers. And it was a fear of young Abraham Lincoln. And he watched this unfold  

before his very eyes. And he was thrust into the position of having to save the Union. So this is not something that I would dismiss lightly based on what I've read in history.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Okay, Mr. Secretary, let's chat about the book, which, again, I think is terrific, and I hope people go out and buy it. Let me ask you, why did you write it? What is the audience that it's aimed at? And what do you hope folks will learn from it?

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

Well, a couple impulses got me to write it. One was one of my mentors of many years reminded me when I got out that I'd been very fortunate to be often in positions where I could see big developments as they were initiated and as we went through their cycle of planning and execution.

And he said, "You know, you learned a lot from your reading. Maybe you'd think about writing what you learned down so that others can learn from what you

experienced." And I wasn't really eager to do it. I didn't see myself as a writer. But, at one point, I think I got weak-kneed, and I said, "Okay, I'll do it." And, boy, did I learn how much work goes into writing a book and looking at a blank piece of paper and trying to figure out what can you put down that might help others.

And that's the audience that I had to think about. And, certainly, it was young military leaders, NCOs, non-commissioned officers, sergeants, and lieutenants, captains and majors, colonels and generals. I had been very fortunate-- it wasn't just merit-- I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and eventually worked my way through tactical or direct leadership, and then more or less executive and indirect leadership where you have layers between you and the others, and then, of course, strategic leadership at the top levels.

And I learned things at each level that were probably not unique to me; but by putting them in the circumstance I was in, I thought it would help others to learn. And the audience would be the military guys, but I've been somewhat surprised at the number of business people who are referring to the book now.

And I think it has to do with the takeaways from the book. I mean, some things are as simple as what we would call "Leadership 101." I don't think anything in the book is so unique to me that I discovered it. All I did was employ it as we must as leaders, each of us in our own way. And I think that the takeaways are, number one, make sure your people know you care about them. People want to be part of something bigger.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Yes, yes.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

But they can't feel like they're part of something bigger in that

organization if your concern is external. You've got to be really concerned about how they're doing, their hopes, their dreams, especially when it's something like the military, where they're going to put their lives on the line.

Another point, though, as I went up higher, I really grew to understand why the Marine Corps, except in joint operations, combined operations with other services or other countries, doesn't use "command and control." They use the words "command and feedback." The Marines teach you to set a very clear strategy, or very clear aim for what you're doing.

You clarify and confirm it with your troops. You make certain they understand why they're doing it, what you want them to do. And you set up good feedback loops and data display loops. You get out and about. You talk to everybody, make sure they're on the same page.

But once they feel their ownership of the mission, take your hands off the steering wheel, and let them guide. Let them use their initiative and aggressiveness to carry out what you've put a lot of thought into defining is the mission. And as you do this, you're setting a culture of unity, a culture of teamwork.

And, that way, you take advantage of everyone feeling a sense of ownership, but you're there to make certain they're ready, they're prepared for it, they're given all the support they need. And that allows for an awful lot of advantage accruing to your side. Because opportunities in the marketplace, opportunities on the football playing field, opportunities on the battlefield, they open and close very rapidly.

And if you don't have people who are well-trained in the basics and understand your intent, then they won't take

advantage of those opportunities, Michael. And I think that I get an awful lot of credit for things that subordinates use in their initiative and aggressiveness carried out. And that was simply because I told them what needed to be done and I made sure they understood it, I clarified and confirmed it with them, and then basically unleashed their initiative.

MICHAEL MORELL:

So this focus on people which certainly resonates with me, is it the same across all three categories of leadership that you talked about, direct, executive, and strategic? Is that focus in all three of those areas and you're just implementing it in different ways?

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

I think that's a very fair way to characterize it. On the direct leadership level, you're reminded that the president of the United States, with the consent of Congress, can declare you an officer in the military; but only your subordinates, your troops, can declare you a leader.

And what they're doing is they're determining whether or not you have their best interests at heart, whether or not you know what you're doing and are capable. And they're the ones who declare you a leader. And you're a leader because the whole system recognizes you can't do this on your own.

No general wins a battle on his own. So you've got to bring others along. And that same lesson practiced differently at the indirect level means you spend more time writing out what you want your troops to do. When you go from leading a platoon of 40 sailors and Marines and the infantry to leading 40,000 troops, you've got to write it down.

And then you've got to go around and make very clear and answer questions about what it is you want to do, so the youngest sailors and Marines know it and understand it. Because they will surprise you with just how much they can do to carry out your  

mission if they really feel ownership of it, if you've been out there and explained what is going on and why.

But when you get to strategic leadership, that's where you have to be able to work, for example, with political leaders, like you and I did, Michael, people who were elected to office based on the aspirations of our people. And, yet, in many cases, you and I had to bring the grim polarities, the grim realities, so to speak, into those discussions about, "I know you want to work on health care and education, but this is an enemy that means what they say. And we're going to have to stop them. And we're going to have to work with allies to do it."

And as you address those polarities of human aspirations and of grim realities of true adversaries, whether you're FDR or you're any other president in our history, you have a very tough time reconciling that. And so, as a military or intelligence officer, or even

diplomatic officer, rises in rank in the U.S., this is where you go into the very messy business of setting priorities and policies and strategies.

And it's fraught with tension. So many of the lessons you learn at the direct leadership level you have to adapt. But the fundamental lesson is that trust is the coin of the realm, whether with your 40-man platoon or when you're a commander, like I was, of U.S. Central Command, and walking into rooms where you have discuss joint efforts with kings or prime ministers or sultans or emirs or presidents.

And you apply the lessons you learned differently, but you always try to find the common ground. And I used George Washington's approach to leading a revolutionary army. And it was very methodical. He believed in showing respect to others. He would listen and learn from them.

He would listen with an intent of really learning what they needed. Then he would help them. And then he would lead. So listen, learn, help, lead. And that process, applied differently at the direct level, the executive level, and the strategic level, served me pretty well once I'd done my study of how he'd done his job as a leader of the army.

MICHAEL MORELL:

One of the things that struck me, and I did not know this about you, but you served as a Marine recruiter at a pretty tough time, right? It was just in the aftermath of Vietnam. And I wonder what your pitch was then to why someone should become a United States Marine, and if your pitch today would be the same or any different. Or how do you think about that? 

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

Yeah, following the Vietnam War and we got rid of the draft in the country, which had motivated many of us to sign up in the first place, we had to find a way to recruit a volunteer force. And the quality of

people we needed meant that we would be competing with the civilian marketplace, with those who wanted to go to college first rather than go into the military initially.

And, eventually, we had to go to Xerox Corporation, that taught us to do what's called a "needs assessment." And we would lay out all sorts of different colored tags, basically. And it had to do with, "Would you like 30 days paid vacation? Do you want health care?" In another case, we put down, "physical fitness, pride of belonging to the best," things like that.

But the idea was to get to know the people, and try to draw in people who would be very willing to embrace the Marine ethos of an elite fighting force. I don't think that's changed over many years. Now, how we convey it, we do more social media today. But the fundamental message is we're looking for young men and women patriots who are willing to look

beyond the hot political rhetoric and put their lives on the line to protect this experiment that you and I call America.

And that remains the same. Because the Marines are a very young force. They like most of their force to be in and out in four years. And what we want are young people who will return to civilian society as better citizens. And so, when you look at the reason why they come in and what we want to return to the American society, is a citizen steeped in an understanding of how precious this freedom we have is, how precious and worth defending freedom really is, then I don't think the message has changed much over the centuries.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Just a couple more questions on leadership, sir. You've mentioned Abraham Lincoln. You've mentioned George Washington. Is there a leader in history that you particularly admire, given all the history that you've read?

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

Well, there's quite a few, yeah. And, I mean, obviously, in history, Scipio Africanus is a great leader. I very much enjoy studying Mandela and the way he brought South Africa out of apartheid and then helped heal the country. Our own Americans, you've mentioned several of them there.

But let me mention three others. My first platoon sergeant was a corporal named Wayne Johnson. That's the senior enlisted man, supposed to be a staff sergeant, but in the post-Vietnam era, a lot of our NCOs had gotten out. And Corporal Wayne Johnson, of course, was immediately nicknamed John Wayne by his fellow sailors and Marines. But here was a young man, immigrant from the British West Indies. And he was the one who taught me how to be a lieutenant, basically, and how to be tough, but be tough for your troops, not on your troops. 

He was replaced by Corporal Manuel Rivera, also an immigrant, from

Mexico. And Corporal Rivera was a very, very authoritative leader, NCO. There was no nonsense to him. And, yet, late at night, if we'd had trouble with a Marine during the day, I could see him off standing with him, talking with him, and coaching him. And I saw the influence he had and how he exercised leadership. 

And my third leader I admired greatly, my third platoon sergeant came from Quebec, Remy LeBrun. And he was a sort of coaching leader who was constantly alongside the troops, teaching them to shoot better, teaching them to run faster, teaching them to get over obstacles faster, talking to them about their home life.

He was like a father figure; and, yet, he was just harder than petrified woodpecker lips. (LAUGHTER) They all knew the toughest guy in the platoon was their coach. And so I learned a great deal from these young guys when I was a 21-year-old second lieutenant as these corporals and sergeants

basically taught me my job as an officer.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Mr. Secretary, maybe we can finish up in the last ten minutes or so here by talking about some national security threats and challenges facing our nation. And maybe I'll just throw out some issues and get you to react to them in terms of the threat or challenge that they pose to us. And maybe I'll start with maybe the toughest long-term challenge, which is China. How do you think about that?

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

Well, China is coming back into its own. But it's good to remember that, in the 250-year history of our country, we have only had adversarial relations with China between about 1947 and 1972. Now, it's becoming adversarial right now, as China has adopted some worrying practices.

They're shredding trust in the South China Sea by militarizing islands that have never been militarized in our

recent history, "recent" being several hundred years. They are using massive debt that they're piling on other countries, debt that those countries are not able to accommodate. And we've seen them taking part of Sri Lanka's port as collateral, for example, in exchange.

But when we see this ideological fight going on, when we see what's happening in Hong Kong, and the way they're trying to impose their authoritarian state model over people who do not want that model, when we watch their state-run capitalism basically not playing by the rules that came out after World War II about how we would have fair trade, when we see the coercion and intimidation they're applying there, in the South China Sea, and ignoring the international rules-based order, for example, the tribunal decision on who owns one of the island areas there, in the South China Sea-- and it ruled in favor of the Philippines-- when we see the pernicious theft of all the valuable

intellectual property that's going on that's orchestrated even by the government, we're going to have to figure out how China and the United States are going to manage their differences.

We have two nuclear-armed super powers, and we cannot have a lack of understanding between us. So I think we need to have more philosophical discussions with China, not just talking about South China Sea or North Korea or Hong Kong, the specific issues. We need to move it up to a strategic discussion about how are we going to get along in this world.

And I don't see that happening right now. But we're going to have to do so as we look for areas where we can collaborate and cooperate. But there are some things that we're simply not going to accept in terms of violating the international order and the rules of the road.

MICHAEL MORELL:

What about Russia, the other big strategic nuclear power here?

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

Yeah, we're going to have to deal with Putin and Putin's Russia. We made an attempt. You'll remember when we had Russian Marines and U.S. Marines training together in North Carolina for possible joint operations back in the 1990s.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Yes.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

And those days are sadly over. Putin has chosen, in many ways, to try and destabilize countries along his periphery. He's changed borders in Georgia and the Ukraine using military force. He's mucked around in our elections and European elections.

The reason the murderous Assad is still in power in Syria is because Russia has been their ally. He would have been out by the Syrian people's efforts years ago without Russia's help. So we're going to have to deal with this reality. And it's best deals with, like most issues throughout your and my time in

government service, Michael, with a coalition, with allies.

We cannot deal with this and deter Russia effectively and authoritatively without having allies with us. And that means NATO is critical to America's security and to preventing war, preventing war, deterring war when we're up against someone like Putin, who is playing his very weak hand very, very well. So we're going to have to deal with the Russia that is, not the Russia we wanted. We wanted a better relationship. All of NATO wanted a better relationship. And, well, Putin has voted no.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Right, he went in a different direction.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

Exactly.

MICHAEL MORELL:

What about North Korea, sir? How do you think about North Korea?

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

Well, North Korea is probably the most urgent issue that we deal with  

right now. And the diplomacy has been, I think, tried with some success by the current administration. We don't have missiles arching up over the Japanese home islands right now.

But, at the same time, there has been no real progress on lessening the nuclear threat from North Korea or the missile program. They are both still in existence, and nothing has turned them back. So this, again, is going to require like-minded nations to work together to find diplomatic or economic ways of dealing with Korea that makes it in their best interest to abandon those programs that are so worrisome for many nations.

MICHAEL MORELL:

And then there's the one that you and I spent so much time working on, Iran.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

Yeah. Well, Iran remains a very strong supporter of terrorism. They have not been hurt by America's counter-terror efforts, which have been focused on Al-Qaeda and  

Al-Qaeda-related associated movements. And I think that what we're seeing now with Iran is a country that is willing to forego what is in the best interests of their own people and basically work for what's in the best interests of the regime.

Because we do not have a problem with, I would say, the Iranian people. We have an issue with the Iranian regime. And that regime has been found to kill former prime ministers in Beirut to foment the ongoing conflict, and basically to keep the Houthis in Yemen well-supplied and on the crack of continued fighting, even as the U.N. tries to stop this with the Americans' help and a lot of other nations. We see what they're doing in Bahrain. We watch what they're doing in Syria. They even tried to kill the Saudi ambassador less than two miles from the White House a few years ago.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Yes, they did.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

And we caught them red-handed. We caught them red-handed, and all we did about it was put their low-level courier in jail, when, in fact, this was an operation approved at the highest levels in Tehran. And so, if that's a country that would act like that, trying to kill an ambassador in Washington, D.C., with a car bomb, in Georgetown, you can imagine what they're like to live near.

Whether you're Israel or our Arab partners, there's a lot of concern. And, again, like every one of the issues you've brought up, Michael, this has to be addressed by America working in concert with allies and partners. We cannot settle this on our own, nor should we try to settle this on our own. We have got to build alliances and partnerships, coalitions to deal with these challenges to national security.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Mr. Secretary, you've been amazing with sharing your time with us. Thank you. I just have one more question. Which

is, if you think about the capabilities that our country has to defend itself against these threats and challenges that are out there, you know, I think about military power, I think about strategic and tactical intelligence capabilities, I think about diplomacy, and I think about those alliances that you have mentioned a number of times, what's your assessment of the health of those capabilities that are so important to us protecting ourselves? 

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

Well, the capabilities, certainly, we don't have the same overriding advantage that we once had technologically. As China rises, Russia puts money into their nuclear arsenal and all, you can see in some areas, including some new areas that you mentioned, hypersonics and all, that we're going to have to once again put a lot of effort into maintaining our technological edge.

But, as I look this more broadly, I would just say that we have to remember that America has two fundamental sources  

of power in this world. And one of them is the power of inspiration. And the other is the power of intimidation. And, certainly, we need our spies, our sentinels out there watching what's going on so we don't get caught flat-footed.

In fact, right now, we need to strengthen our intelligence services for this kind of world that we're in today, especially being that we've shrunk our military in the last 25 years. But we also have to remember that, at times, good exchange programs with foreign students to come to America and learn here may strengthen us as much as any military effort.

In other words, the example of America, if we can show that we can govern, if we can go back to compromising in Washington and coming up with good policies on everything from health care to defense to climate change, if we can come back to a common ground of unity, of governing with a sense of friendship

toward one another in America, a sense of respect for one another, that example will draw allies to us.

Because people want the kind of world that we can deliver. And America's a uniquely capable country in this regard. And I think, the more time we spend on coming back together as a people-- sure, have good, strong arguments about the various policies and the issues-- but when we're done with that, we come back together, and we are friendly toward one another, we can show the world how to solve problems and do so in a way that builds a sense of unity and a sense of peace and prosperity. And that's where I think we need to really focus right now.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Well, that's a great way to end, Mr. Secretary. Thank you so much for spending time with us today.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS:

Oh, you're welcome, Michael. It's a pleasure to talk with you again.

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