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EP 482: Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says that America overuses (and often MIS-uses) the military to achieve its strategic goals while neglecting other (and often better) non-military options. He discusses how Congress and the last 5 Presidents have allowed many of those non-military instruments of power to wither and die in the three decades after the Cold War. He suggests that the United States needs to be "less monastic and more Madison Avenue" in how we talk about the good we do around the world and that Presidents need to make an effort to convince the the American people to take a broader, more longterm view of what is in the US national interest. He criticizes President Trump’s threat to use regular military forces to squelch Black Lives Matter protests and explains that a heavy-handed approach to peaceful protesters may be a gift to authoritarian regimes around the world. Plus Robert Gates says it may be time for the US to focus on more realistic goals with North Korea, he elaborates on the sometimes mischievous nature of the National Security Council, and he weighs in on whether he believes President Trump's claims that his former National Security Advisor John Bolton is a "traitor" and "liar."

Order Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World by Robert Gates on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold. Today's podcast was sponsored by Capella University. Learn more about Capella's flexible online doctoral degree program at

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