Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter On The State Of The World

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On the brink of who knows what with North Korea and Iran, we talk with Obama-era Defense Secretary Ash Carter about the U.S. military and the world.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter calls on a reporter during a joint news conference Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Defense Secretary Ash Carter calls on a reporter during a joint news conference Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

In the week when Republican senator Bob Corker warns of a president putting us on the path to World War III, we wonder what Secretary of Defense James Mattis is thinking.  He’s a little busy.  But Ash Carter might have a decent idea.  Carter served as Defense Secretary before Mattis, from 2015 to 2017.  He saw all these challenges first hand:  North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, ISIS.  What’s he thinking now?  We’ll ask.  This hour, On Point:  We talk with former US Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter. --Tom Ashbrook


Ash Carter, former Secretary of Defense during the Obama Administration (2015-2017). Professor of technology and global affairs. Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. Innovation Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Former Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer in the Department of Defense.

From Tom's Reading List

The Belfer Center: A Lasting Defeat: The Campaign to Destroy ISIS — "As of this writing in late summer of 2017, Mosul has been free of the last remnants of ISIS for several weeks, and the majority of Raqqa is in coalition hands. Air strikes have weakened ISIS in its few redoubts not already under assault, in Western Iraq and Eastern Syria. Russia and Turkey remain irritants who nonetheless cannot deflect the campaign. And despite a presidential promise of a “secret plan,” the coalition campaign under the Trump administration is largely on the same track we laid out for it over Christmas of 2015."

WIRED: The Former Secretary of Defense Outlines The Future of Warfare — "I think if there is going to be something ever that rivals nuclear weapons in terms of the pure fearsomeness of their destructiveness it’s more likely to come from biotechnology than any other technology. Looking back decades from now, I do think the biological revelation could rival the atomic revolution for the fearsomeness of the potential. I think that’s one reason we need to invest in it. And although biotechnology has not been a traditional area for Defense, the new bridges that they build shold not only be to the IT tech community but also to the biotech communities in the Valley."

Vox: The New Era Of Great Power Competition — "Carter described a world where not just American power but also global peace and stability will be increasingly challenged by other powers. He returned over and over to the same answer to this problem: the power of deterrence, backed up by overwhelming American superiority and, ultimately, by nuclear weapons. But deterrence works on decades-old understandings of warfare that are, today, rapidly changing. As countries develop new tools and techniques of war, Carter warned that deterrence, the foundation on which American power and global stability are built, needs to change as well."

This program aired on October 11, 2017.


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