...AND THE REST OF SECURITY TEAM
DECEMBER 5, 1996
In addition to nominating a new Secretary of State, President Clinton announced three other nominations for his national security team. For Secretary of Defense - retiring Sen. William Cohen (R-ME); for Director of Central Intelligence - current National Security Advisor, Tony Lake; and as new National Security Advisor - Sandy Berger, who is currently Deputy National Security Advisor. Jim Lehrer discusses the choices with members of the press, the government and special interests groups.
JIM LEHRER: Now, to discuss the other players and the full team we have Sen. John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who has served with Defense Secretary-Designate William Cohen on the Senate Armed Services Committee; William Maynes, who was an assistant secretary of state in the Carter administration, now editor of Foreign Policy Magazine; and Jim Hoagland, a foreign affairs columnist and associate editor of the Washington Post. First, just quickly, Sen. McCain, what is your Republican view of Madeleine Albright?
A RealAudio version of of this segment is available.
NewsHour Links December 5, 1996:
A RealAudio version and a transcript of the biographical segment about Madeleine Albright is available.
A RealAudio version and a transcript of the President's press conference nominating his national security team is available.
Previous NewsHour Links to William Cohen
January 16, 1996:
William Cohen discusses his surprise decision not to run again for the U.S. Senate.
November 28, 1995:
William Cohen and a panel of Senators discuss sending troops to Bosnia.
Previous NewsHour Links to Madeleine Albright
July 23, 1996:
The unraveling situation in central Africa is the focus of this Madeleine Albright interview.
February 26, 1996:
Madeleine Albright talks about the Clinton administration's response to the downing of two U.S. civilian aircraft by the Cuban Airforce.
January 30, 1996:
An interview with Madeleine Albright about her trip to Africa.
December 11, 1995:
Madeleine Albright talks about the effort to rebuild Bosnia.
Madeleine Albright's bio.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of Foreign Affairs and Security Issues.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN, (R) Arizona: I think she's a good choice. I think that she'll do a good job. Obviously, I don't feel as strongly as your other two guests did. I had disagreements with Amb. Albright, but I think she's an advocate for this President and has done a good job at the United Nations. I didn't agree with her version of assertive multilateralism. I didn't agree when she thought that we, in her words, really wacked Saddam Hussein when we had 44 Cruise Missiles fired, a quarter of which didn't miss the target, and I've had specific disagreements, but she's earned the respect of the President of the United States and those of us in Congress, and I'm looking forward to working with her.
JIM LEHRER: How does she handle disagreement from your perspective, Senator?
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Well, I think she's a very forceful advocate of the things and principles that she believes in, and I think she will be a very articulate spokesperson, and I think she will get along well on the Hill. She has not always agreement from us, but she does have our respect.
JIM LEHRER: Jim Hoagland, Madeleine Albright as Secretary of State, what kind will she be?
JIM HOAGLAND, Washington Post: Well, I think she's going to have a little bit of a problem imposing herself on a State Department bureaucracy that will start with some skepticism, skepticism about her vision, skepticism about her commitments to the kind of traditional foreign policy objectives that the State Department will want to pursue, but she is such a forceful individual that I think she will overcome that, and we will see her quite frequently, as your other guests have pointed out, explaining American foreign policy to the American public is simple, perhaps in sometimes simplistic terms.
JIM LEHRER: And you'll point that out in your column when she does that?
JIM HOAGLAND: I will try, Jim.
JIM LEHRER: Bill Maynes, what's your--
CHARLES WILLIAM MAYNES, Foreign Policy Magazine: I think she brings to this job some qualities that are needed for a secretary of state right now. She has a public voice. She doesn't know how to work with the Congress, and finally, I think because of a U.N. job, she brings a balance of experience across the whole agenda of foreign policy that most of the people who have been secretary of state had not had. They've come from one particular sector, and they've tended to neglect some of the other areas of foreign policy.
Take someone like Kissinger, as well prepared as he was, but human rights issues sort of caught him unaware, and I think Madeleine has been dealing--Madeleine Albright has been dealing with everything from security issues to economic issues, to human rights issues. So I think she comes with a balance that others haven't had.
JIM LEHRER: All right. Sen. McCain, now add the other three in there--Sen. Cohen, Anthony Lake, and Sandy Berger--what kind of national security team has the President come up for the second term?
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I think he's come up with a good team. I, obviously, am very close to Bill Cohen, and have the greatest respect for him. I believe that he'll bring a degree of intellect to the debate on where we go with national defense and where we're going to have to downsize and how we're going to have to restructure the military. That will be very important, especially when we get into these battles between the services.
Tony Lake has been the recipient of all this intelligence information for all these years, so I think it'd be--he'd be very capable of determining what kind of information needs to be sent. I think he's been very loyal to the President I've gotten among with him very well, and he's very well liked in the Congress. Sandy Berger, obviously, is close to the President. Sandy treats those of us who disagree with him from time to time with great respect, and I've had a number of debates and discussions with him where we have respectfully disagreed from time to time, but I think--that you've got a good team assembled here, and I think that the President, if he will lead, and if he will focus on national security issue can do well with this team, but the major question is: Will the President focus his attentions to the degree where this team can function efficiently? And I don't know the answer to that.
JIM LEHRER: Do you agree that that's the question, Jim Hoagland?
JIM HOAGLAND: I do. I think Sen. McCain has put it very well. President Clinton remains something of a mystery even after the appointments today as exactly what he wants in his second term as foreign policy accomplishments. I think he can take justifiable pride in having appointed the first woman secretary of state, but the same time, it is not clear exactly why he has appointed her at this time, and why he is sending Tony Lake to the Central Intelligence Agency, when it's not clear what Lake wants to do with the agency and how the agency will respond to having to work for someone who quit in protest at the Nixon administration over Vietnam and who is something of an outsider. Sen. Cohen, I think, is probably the sleeper of this, a man who will be the big surprise. He is one of the most intelligence people in the Washington policy arena and will--
JIM LEHRER: Writes poetry and novels, for goodness sake.
JIM HOAGLAND: Which stands him in good stead with you.
JIM LEHRER: Right. And others.
JIM HOAGLAND: That's right. But I think he--because of his own qualities and because really the Pentagon is the only outfit that has the resources today to have significant impact abroad, you'll see him as a dominant voice on foreign policy in this administration.
JIM LEHRER: And when you say sleeper, what do you mean?
JIM HOAGLAND: Well, not many people know him nationally.
JIM LEHRER: I see.
JIM HOAGLAND: And I think he's soft spoken, a very nice person, but a person with real discipline.
JIM LEHRER: Bill Maynes, the whole team, what do you think?
CHARLES WILLIAM MAYNES: I think it's a good team. I think that Cohen is an excellent choice for defense. He's one of the bridge builders in Washington, but we haven't had very many of those in recent years. We need more of them. And he's going to need that quality because the Pentagon is facing some very tough funding decisions in the future. Sandy Berger has now had eight years working in jobs in the government that cover the whole array of policies. He's close to the President. He's considered fair. You have to have the respect of the President. You have to have a reputation for fairness in order to succeed in that job, so I think--I think that's a good appointment. I think Tony has the toughest job in Washington.
JIM LEHRER: Tony Lake.
CHARLES WILLIAM MAYNES: Tony Lake, because I think the CIA is having lots of difficulties. I do think that what is needed in the agency is more attention to the non-covert side and the whole array of information that's coming into the agency, much of it from open sources, and a better sense of how to analyze that and integrate it and use it in policy, and Tony coming--
JIM LEHRER: Spying, in other words.
CHARLES WILLIAM MAYNES: Yeah. I mean, it's--we're in a different world now, and we need to have a better system really for integrating all of this information and making it available to policy makers. I think Tony's experience on the NSC and his, his early experience as a scholar should stand him in good stead in that, but I don't underestimate the difficulty that I think he's going to have.
JIM LEHRER: Do you share Jim Hoagland's concern or question just about what he's going to try to do over there, what his marching orders are, or what his mission is as he sees it?
CHARLES WILLIAM MAYNES: Well, I think obviously he has to restore morale, which is at rock bottom. He also has to deal with some of the many problems that have emerged, and I think he has--
JIM LEHRER: As John Deutch had just begun to--
CHARLES WILLIAM MAYNES: That's right--finish the Deutch agenda, and he also has to reorganize the agency for dealing with the really different world. They started on that task, but it hasn't been completed.
JIM LEHRER: Back to Bill Cohen, Sen. McCain, no offense, but one of the things that has been suggested since Sen. Cohen was--has been suggested as a possible secretary of defense--yes, he's been in the Congress of the United States, but that doesn't necessarily give him experience for running a huge complicated organization like the Department of Defense. Would you speak to that, please, sir.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Well, first of all, one thing I know that Bill will do, and that is rely on people like John White and others to manage the day-to-day operations of the Pentagon, because I think the President chose him for the policy aspects and the really tough decisions that are going to have to be made. You know, we--
JIM LEHRER: Not for the management.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: No.
JIM LEHRER: Not for management skills.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: No. We have got to adjust our military establishment to the Cold War reality, post-Cold War realities. We have not done that. There's going to be enormous in-fighting amongst the services over an ever-shrinking pie and over roles and missions. Bill Cohen played a key role in the formulation of the Goldwater-Nichols Act, and he has the ability, the background, and the knowledge. And by the way, he knows the Defense establishment throughout the world.
He's traveled extensively, he knows them, and he has good relations with all of our major allies, but he's going to have to be the toughest kind of referee when we decide to really build a military establishment that's going to stop buying weapons systems that were tailored for the Cold War, and adjust our roles and missions to meet the threats, which are very difficult and very challenging for the post-Cold War era, and Bill, I think, is uniquely capable to address that, and the day-to-day management of the Pentagon, if I were him, I'd find the best manager I know--and by the way, John White does a good job there.
JIM LEHRER: So, in other words, you think that what the Defense Department needs now is a thinker, not a doer, as such, is that right?
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Absolutely. You've got a shrinking pie. You've got a myriad of challenges, and you have not adjusted the military to the post-Cold War era. We could fight the Cold War again with much more ease and capability than we can meet the challenges that confront us and the security of the world in the 21st century.
JIM LEHRER: Jim Hoagland.
JIM HOAGLAND: I think, again, Sen. McCain puts it very well. It's--for me, it's refreshing to hear a highly decorated veteran talk about the need to adjust the military establishment to the post-Cold War world. The Pentagon consumes a disproportionate amount of the resources available to foreign policy and national security spending. And that has to be adjusted. And I think the fact that Sen. Cohen is a good advocate on Capitol Hill will stand the President in very good stead.
JIM LEHRER: You know Sen. Cohen. Do you think he--you've already said--everybody's said he's an intellectual; he's a smart guy. Is he tough enough to do that, as well?
JIM HOAGLAND: I think down deep he is. I mean, as I mentioned before, he is one of the nicest people who you' ll ever meet, but there is real steel there as well.
JIM LEHRER: Anything on Bill Cohen you want to add to that?
CHARLES WILLIAM MAYNES: No. It's just that I think these funding issues are very difficult because now we have got more or less a bipartisan consensus on a defense strategy and a defense budget that won't work, because the cost of new weapons is so much higher than the weapons they're replacing that they're sort of eating it out from within, and we either have to have more money for defense, or we have to adjust to a new strategy, and that's--those are very difficult decisions to take.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Can I just make one additional comment?
JIM LEHRER: Yes, sir.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: There is no way that the services, themselves, are going to be able to make the decisions to adjust their roles and missions to the post-Cold War era. You're going to have to have someone like Bill Cohen who somewhat along the lines of Dick Cheney, only a lot tougher, a lot tougher job, is going to have to crack the whip and make these decisions and force these changes on the military establishments.
JIM LEHRER: Yeah. Wendy Sherman and Kirk O'Donnell are still with us. Wendy Sherman, what do you think--the President--going into this, there was a lot of talk from the White House that the President was keen on having a team of people, this national security team, that--who could get along together, who thought alike and who--not necessarily identically, but I mean, as I just said, could get along together--how do--where does Madeleine Albright fit in with Bill Cohen in terms of the new world order that--that everybody needs to deal with now?
WENDY SHERMAN: I think the President appears to have achieved his goal of creating such a team. Sen. Cohen, in my experience up on Capitol Hill, is very much, as one of your other guest said, a bridge builder, someone who works to bring together the traditional right and left, to think very hard about where we need to go. He had led a bipartisan group to Asia to understand the global economics of our changing world and what that means to create jobs in this country.
He has talked with Amb. Albright all through the last four years, and I think will work very, very well with Amb. Albright, with Sandy Berger, with Tony Lake, all of whom have worked together, and I think that this foursome is a very strong national security team in an effort to work together to meet some of the challenges that your guests have been talking about.
JIM LEHRER: Kirk O'Donnell, there have been very few administrations in recent memory where the secretary of state and the national security adviser and the secretary of defense were in sync and got along. What are the potentials here?
KIRK O'DONNELL: Well, I think that Madeleine's role here as sort of the leader of the team under the President and Vice President will promote team work. I don't know whether it's because she started out as a congressional staffer or what the reason is, but throughout her years, she's had a reputation of being a team player. And if you look at the people who are involved here in terms of their actions in this administration during the first term or their actions in the Congress, they have respect for the people who they work with, and, in turn, those people respect them. And as a result, I think the President will get what he wants.
JIM LEHRER: Sen. McCain, a rank political question. Do you think there will be any problems getting these folks confirmed?
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I do not. I do not.
JIM LEHRER: Sen. Cohen, of course, it's bipartisan. He's a Republican and yet, he comes from the moderate wing of the Republican Party, which is in its descendancy within the party. Is that going to be a problem?
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Not at all, and I don't, frankly, see a problem with any of these individuals, and there may come a nominee that the Republicans decide to, you know, to challenge, but I would predict that they will all get--Madeleine Albright's nomination, many Republicans will seize as an opportunity to review the foreign policy, national security policy of this administration, but at the end of the day, I think she'll be overwhelmingly confirmed.
JIM LEHRER: All right. Wendy Sherman, gentlemen, thank you all very much.