A new “cold war” presents a familiar challenge for America: how to curb a rival great power’s ambitions. Matt Pottinger, a Hoover Institution visiting fellow and editor of the forthcoming book The Boiling Moat: Urgent Steps to Defend Taiwan, joins Hoover senior fellows Niall Ferguson, John Cochrane, and H.R. McMaster to discuss how best to discourage China from moving on its island neighbor. After that: the fellows debate the wisdom of the UK’s fast-tracked national election; plus what, if anything, has surprised them during this year’s round of episodes (spoiler alert: plenty of chickens—bad policies, poorly run universities—came home to roost).

To view the full transcript of this episode, read below:

Intro: Dwight Eisenhower: [00:00:00] You are about to embark upon the great crusade toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.

Good luck, and let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God. upon this great and noble undertaking.

Bill Whalen: It's Wednesday, May 29th, 2024. And welcome back to Goodfellows, a Hoover Institution broadcast examining social, economic, political, and geopolitical concerns. I'm Bill Whalen. I'm a Hoover Distinguished Policy Fellow.

I'll be your moderator today. Joined by our full complement of Goodfellows, the historian, Niall Ferguson, the economist, John Cochrane, Former Presidential National Security Advisor, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster. They all are Hoover Institution Senior Fellows. And joining us today, returning to Goodfellows is Matt Pottinger.[00:01:00]

Matt is a Hoover Institution, visit Distinguished visiting fellow and a former senior staffer at the White House's National Security Council, where he survives somehow under the brutal yoke of one H.R. McMaster prior to his White House service. Mr. Pottinger is a reporter based in China working for Reuters in the Wall Street Journal.

He also fought in Iraq and Afghanistan as a U.S. Marine during three combat deployments between 2007 and 2010. Matt Pottinger joins us to discuss a Hoover Institution press book he's edited on the topic of China and deterrence. It's titled The Boiling Moat, Urgent Steps to Defend Taiwan. Its release date is July 1st, but you can pre order it now at Hoover.org. Matt, welcome back to GoodFellows.

Matt Pottinger: Bill, thanks for having me. It's great to see you all.

Bill Whalen: So I got to ask you, Matt, the McMaster book is coming out on the white house here, and I got to ask you, are you going to do the Washington thing and get it and go to the back and look for your name and see what he said about you?

Matt Pottinger: I lived it. I don't even have to do the Washington read. I, I was there. but I'm really looking forward to his book coming out.

Bill Whalen: H. R., did you go easy on him?

H.R. McMaster: Oh, hey, Matt, [00:02:00] I'll tell you, Matt deserves credit and I give him credit for affecting the most significant, being the driving force behind the most significant shift in U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. And that's, The shift from, cooperation and engagement with the Chinese Communist Party to, to competition and, and, there's nobody better than Matt to write about, how to deter a war from occurring over, over Taiwan and Matt, the, congratulations on the Boiling Moat, tremendous book, at exactly the right time.

Bill Whalen: Matt, let's talk about deterrence. I'm an old man who grew up in Cold War One, not Cold War Two, as Niall Ferguson has coined it. So I'm used to talk about nuclear triads and four deployed troops in Germany and Korea. but this is a different Cold War. China is both a military and an economic presence, unlike the Soviet Union.

And whereas the Soviet Union was breathing down the neck of Western Europe, you have China breathing down the neck of Taiwan. So what is different when we talk about deterrence at Cold War Two?

Matt Pottinger: I think what's more important are the [00:03:00] similarities because of course, they're very important differences, between Cold War one and two.

There are important differences between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. But if you look at the similarities, you start to, appreciate the kind of strategy that we need to employ in order to win Cold War II and to prevent it from becoming World War III. Niall's talked a lot and for a very long time about the fact that we're in Cold War II.

He's absolutely right about that. Henry Kissinger, as you've often noted, Niall, a few years ago said, I fear that we're in the foothills of Cold War. Two, I actually think we're now moving just over the really over the past year in particular into the foothills of a great power war that Beijing and its axis of chaos is leading us into because they're pushing against an open door.

They're finding that we are unwilling as democracies to effectively deter or credibly [00:04:00] deter, and so they're just pushing forward and forward and they're finding mush instead of steel. They're and until they find steel, they're not going to withdraw and I fear that we're moving into a much more dangerous scenario Why do I say the last year?

it is was really about a year ago. It was in march of 2023 That xi jinping made this very important visit. It was really a watershed visit to the kremlin this is really at the one year anniversary more or less of the full blown invasion by putin of ukraine and xi jinping at this point says You know, doubles down on their, their no limits pact.

Xi Jinping says, you and I are the ones driving the changes that are occurring in the world, the changes that only occur once in a century. And now we know that Chinese material support for the war in Europe skyrocketed beginning in that month. CSIS did a, did an [00:05:00] important study of this a couple of months ago.

The think tank in Washington, D. C., but also Tony Blinken essentially in effect admitted that this is what took place when he visited, just a few weeks ago, Beijing to say China is now overwhelmingly the number one supporter of the war in Beijing has materially Affected the outcome of the war.

Tony Blinken said that the Russia would not have been able to sustain the war the way that it has without chinese support in particular So and it was really I think in march of last year that this became a full blown proxy war By china a chinese proxy war against the west, and now they're repeating that playbook in the middle east hosting terrorist organizations like hamas Being they're the number one material supporter of iran The number one propaganda and diplomatic supporter for them And now they're looking for the next crisis that they're either going to fan the flames of or light [00:06:00] And that could be south china sea where things are heating up It could be taiwan, which is the big one that is the subject of my new book or it could be venezuela and guyana.

It could be the new fronts that open up in europe So, deterrence is, really more the same bill, I would say, than it is different. It means that we've got to show that we have hard power, above all, that could effectively win in a fight. And our leaders have to stop saying what they would never do.

This is like the, cardinal sin of leadership. You don't say what you would never do. it's like giving a green light, to your adversaries, to aggressors to start aggressing. And that's what, we're feeling the heat of. Right now, I'm waiting for President Biden to learn the lesson of the mistakes of his failed deterrence in, Afghanistan, in, in Europe, in the Middle East.

but no [00:07:00] signs yet that, he's there.

Niall Ferguson: This is all music to my ears. and you know that I agree with all you've said. The question is what can be done, in the relatively short timeframe that I think we're talking about, to deter. China and its allies. if Bill Burns is right that Xi Jinping is preparing for war in 2027, that is very, soon.

And I worry that we don't have time, in fact, to create credible deterrence, especially with respect to Taiwan. So give us a sense of what remedies you recommend in the book.

Matt Pottinger: Yeah, I would add one that I didn't even put into the book first, which is that I think we need to bring back something like the draft.

I think that we need to have a mandatory service that includes mandatory military service. I think that we really need to [00:08:00] be in declaring something like a state of emergency when it comes to our defense industrial base. Our military budget is shrinking, as you well know, Niall. and, this is incomprehensible.

We are, really repeating, the mistakes that, we should have learned because the, these lessons were written in blood. In world war II, but we're repeating the mistakes of the 1930s Kidding ourselves that are you know, the pacific and the atlantic ocean will keep us safe And and we're letting our military atrophy our military is we have fewer active duty personnel today than we've had at any point since the eve of world war II three years of shrinking real Terms, inflation adjusted military budgets.

these are things that wouldn't even require an emergency to reverse. but I think it's going to take one, just to start rattling. [00:09:00] our society, our leaders and our allies to confront this challenge so that we can deter it and not, invite a whole series of new wars that are that will involve the United States directly, I'm afraid

John Cochrane: I have sort of two doubts.

I want to raise with you. One is, The will question, the Biden doctrine seems to be if you have nuclear weapons, you're untouchable, you can take off what you want. We're now fighting to lose slowly rather than fighting to win in Ukraine. we know we wouldn't do a no fly zone. We won't let the Ukrainians shoot missiles into Russia.

From which they're shooting missiles. We won't, we won't even, the hooties can fire weapons will intercept them, but we won't go after the launchers. with that in mind, what is the chance that if China blockades Taiwan or runs a coup, you've seen this beautiful, they have this training ground where they're the presidential palaces already for training that the U.

S. [00:10:00] would go in and start a shooting war with a nuclear powered country. the will, to call that bluff seems completely missing. The other question I have for you is you mentioned some of the economic end, and this is where I'm really Frustrated, by, our, effort to do to fight the Chinese by being like the Chinese to have industrial policy subsidies.

our answer to China is 2 trillion of electric vehicle subsidies and, and huge tariffs. We have a huge ability to throw our economy into the toilet. Mandatory service, I'll disagree with you on. We have a labor shortage. The last thing we need is Americans learning how to sweep around military bases and how to waste time in a, in a Vietnam era army.

and, that's, let us not do to the chips what the Jones Act did to the merchant marine and the, and it's we have to be the free market economy that that, leverages our strength, not the Cold War managed Soviet economy. So that, those are [00:11:00] two big, directions we seem to be going that really worry me.

The lack of will, the doctrine that you, can't even touch a nuclear power. There's no way we're going to start a, a shoot and war with China. We respond. I don't know how you defend We know that sanctions don't work. And then our current effort to turn national security, economic competition into one crony capitalist nightmare.

Matt Pottinger: look, with respect to a Biden doctrine, I don't know what it is to be honest, because on the one hand, Biden said, we're not going to fight Russia. That would be World War III. But at the same time, he has now said four times on the record that he would commit U. S. forces to defend Taiwan, not to start a war there, but if China attacked.

so either that's a bluff, and, or, actually the Biden doctrine is not as you described. And, I, hope that's the case because, Beijing, does not want to get into a nuclear war with the [00:12:00] United States. It doesn't even really want to get into a war. Is whether it can just take what it wants, without having to fight a war because it doesn't believe that we've got the guts.

Yeah. Like, Putin took what he wanted. Exactly. That's right. So, I, read president Biden's four statements on the record as an effort, a belated effort to try to course correct from the, the, Valentine invitation he sent Putin to go right on into, to, Ukraine. but only he knows whether that's really, where his heart is or whether he's bluffing.

I tend to think that, having been in proximity to a U. S. President and having read a lot of history, presidents often don't know how they're going to react in a serious crisis until they see The full horizon come into view. And I actually think the United States will fight, in the event [00:13:00] that China begins, a conflict in Taiwan.

Because the alternative, is, the Suez moment that Niall and others have described so, so well and, chillingly. Look, I'm generally with you on industrial policy. I don't think that our, our CHIPS Act, even though I actually, came out in favor of that, I don't think that's what's going to be the most important step here.

It is more to do with undermining the sources of China's aggression and the sources of its aggression are its economic might and its confidence that it can apply its economic, technological and military might without it. Without, receiving very much pushback from the free world. but I disagree with you, John, on this idea about, bringing back mandatory service, if you'll know the statistics better than I do.

When we talk about, [00:14:00] low unemployment. It doesn't include a lot of people who've stopped looking for work for more than six months You've got an enormous number of young people who aren't even looking for work. They're on their sofas in their mom's houses you know on social media. They're not doing anything.

I mean And to the extent that they're doing, much at all On social media, some of it is rather divisive or, playing into some of these, these, really grim ideologies that, are sowing self doubt and sowing disunity in our system. I think we would benefit from having a lot of people, frankly, sweeping, halls and taking over a lot of the work, hard work.

In the military that currently is done expensively by contractors. I wouldn't mind seeing conscripts doing that work It would be a lot cheaper. it would build that sense of of the national purpose and unity and give people a [00:15:00] shot at actually working for a change

John Cochrane: We'll fight on another day.

they can't pass the physical. They can't pass the drug test. They don't have a high school diploma. The army is not set up to be a social service agency. The army is set up to be an army. HR, I'll do it.

H.R. McMaster: Hey, I, agree that there should be some kind of form of national service, maybe as an incentive rather than a mandate.

I, think about the the norway system for example where it's a it's dishonorable if you don't get selected for their draft, and it's a discriminator But I don't know if there could be something like that, but we certainly need a call to service. We certainly need And end to, this sort of promotion of whether, the curriculum of self loathing that teaches our young people that our country is not worth defending.

I think that's Matt, part of what you're getting to as well. and, I think we have to stop trying to politicize the military. the military is not woke. The military is not extremist, damn it. And both, both political extremes have to leave the military alone [00:16:00] and get it back focused on what the military is for.

And there's been, I think a great sense of confusion about that. Among senior people in the biden administration, so anyway, I could go on about that matt But hey, maybe what we could talk about matt is some of the concrete recommendations in the book, right? Because there's a hell of a lot you can agree on right?

there's the backlogged weapon sales to taiwan for example Particular weapons that could be, effective. You mentioned, hard power in the defense budget. hey, we're Americans, damn it. We can spend 4 percent of GDP on defense if we wanted to, and do that.

Another great deal of economic trade off and it's, of course, it's a hell of a lot cheaper to prevent a war than not to fight one, So, Matt, could you go over some of the, in the back of the

Matt Pottinger: book? And by the way, I like your idea of incentives rather than mandates is one possible way forward.

It may also be that you, for combat arms, it is still an all volunteer force. That's very different from the Vietnam model, [00:17:00] John. but, look. the book is called The Boiling Moat because even though China is very close to Taiwan, geography can be China's, or rather Taiwan's friend in this situation.

What would Ukraine have given to have a hundred miles of ocean between it and, and Putin's Russia? So rather than thinking just about this idea of a porcupine, something that would be hard to swallow, in the event that China. were able to land in Taiwan. The real framing that we lay out here is that China should never be able to set foot on Taiwan.

That moat could become a boiling moat, a Tangchi, which is the Chinese Han dynasty phrase that we derive the title from. it was a, diplomat who said, look, when you're dealing with these little city states on the borderlands that have metal ramparts and boiling moats, it's better not to fight them head on try to find another way [00:18:00] to take that kind of territory.

And, amphibious assaults are an extremely difficult form of warfare to pull off successfully. Blockades are not as easy as people assume either. And if, the advantage that we, and when I say we, I'm, we're really talking about Japan, The United States, Taiwan, and Australia as the primary actors, on the good, guy's side, the good fellow's side.

what we need to do is look at how Japan, should stop, Pretending that they might be able to sit this one out when I talk to japanese officials and former military officers and some current military officers they say of course we're gonna have to fight. I mean it's going to become obvious what i'm what we urge in the book and i've got chapters submitted by grant newsham a former marine colonel as well as yoji koda who is the former commander of the japanese fleet [00:19:00] admiral koda What they're talking about is being more, more open about what the consequences would be now so that you derive, that, that, deterrent value, but also preparing Japanese society.

Koda san, the admiral Koda makes clear. That japan is gonna have to make available all of its civilian infrastructure hundreds, more than 100 airstrips hospitals for the tens of thousands of casualties that potentially, would come from a conflict and really to start building stitching together that sense of a, a civilian, set of obligations in wartime.

Same thing with taiwan. We've chapters about what taiwan needs to do things It shouldn't be doing equipment. It should be divesting of new equipment. It should be buying but more than anything Adopting something more like an israeli model for their reserve force I brought a bunch of [00:20:00] israeli generals to taiwan last summer And a former israeli national security advisor the taiwanese were very interested they wanted to talk about david sling and Iron dome and all this equipment And, what the Israelis wanted to talk to him about was how come your, reserve system so screwed up, what, why is it that you've got millions of reservists who never train instead of a smaller set of reservists who train obsessively and realistically.

And so we, we have very good exchanges about that. and, chapter four of the book goes into some depth about, the new military culture Taiwan needs to adapt rapidly. on the U. S. Side. it's a recognition that we need to be, building munitions much faster, moving away from this sort of cost.

Plus old, model for building weapons and munitions towards something that actually leverages are [00:21:00] innovative sector in the private sector to do things like what Elon Musk did when we moved away from a cost plus NASA model and said, Hey, look, here's how much money we've got available. Can you build a better rocket faster?

And he comes back and completely revolutionizes, the space industry. That's what we need to be doing, urgently in, the manufacture of munitions. So those are a few of the recommendations, that we lay out.

Bill Whalen: Matt, we have just a couple of minutes left here. Let me ask you this parting question. I want the whole, panel to comment on this.

we saw Chinese military exercises last week. Very, clever, sophisticated, graphics of how they would, strangle Taiwan. we saw the inauguration of a new Taiwanese president. and oh, by the way, we have an American election coming up here five months from now. So you look at these various things, Matt and gentlemen, what.

Are you looking at what is the next shoe to drop in the relationship between China and the U. S. in this Cold War struggle?

Matt Pottinger: I'll say worst case scenario is that [00:22:00] we have a contested election in the United States because history, the old wag the dog shibboleth is actually not true. This idea that countries go to war in order to distract their domestic politics.

Population from some kind of domestic turmoil. There's not a lot of evidence in that in the historical record There is a quite a bit of evidence of countries going to war because their adversary or one of their adversaries is tied up with domestic turmoil at home. So that's the worst case scenario I think that if we have a i'm praying for a a decisive election whichever way it goes, so that we have continuity of government, above all

John Cochrane: Yeah, I'm just gonna our election is very likely to be a complete, trying to find the polite word for chaos and the after the election and the tearing each other apart and when once [00:23:00] one side is going to say whoever is elected is illegitimate as president and when that president has to take decisive authority to respond to a Cuban Missile Crisis blockade of Taiwan.

Good luck to us.

H.R. McMaster: Hey, I'd just like to highlight that I think that we're set up for cascading crises And I think when we tend to look at each of these questions really matt certainly doesn't do this in the boiling moat But I think that you know there is a direct connection between what the course of the war in ukraine and what the hell happens at the south china sea or vis a vis taiwan and I think china is certain to be emboldened if it's there's a perception that our will is waning in terms of support for ukraine You and of course, you know as matt has mentioned, china is all in and sustaining putin's war making machine and has turned this into kind of a proxy war for china against the west and of course you have the connections with the with iran as well and the crisis across the middle east So I think we're in for a really dangerous year a [00:24:00] couple of years here and and a contested election could make it even more dangerous.

Niall Ferguson: I worry a lot that in Xi Jinping's mind there is a question and the question is When is the right moment to catch the united states? in a weakened state before it has begun to address the questions that Matt Pottinger has asked. And it's going to look very tempting if we have a close election and a period of turmoil after it has happened four years ago.

I worry that they look at the war games that we look at and write about and they say to themselves, Maybe this is the best moment because if, a stronger administration comes in and starts to rearm, if people actually, take Matt Pottinger's advice, maybe the window of opportunity starts to close.

And so instead of being 2027, the option becomes act [00:25:00] in, in 2024, 2025. And although I don't like these 1930s analogies because they're overused, it was very important what Matt said earlier about. United States replaying British history in the 1930s, hoping that it won't be necessary to rearm, then having to rearm rather belatedly and finding itself in a position of much more severe vulnerability than anybody thought.

So I worry a lot about this, and maybe the time frame is even shorter one than the one we began by discussing.

Matt Pottinger: Bill, if I could, mention one thing, which, is, I shared that all these worries, but I do want to make clear that one of the, one of the things that comes through in this book, and I have just a wonderful, it was blessed to have terrific coauthors in this, is that we're actually optimistic that this war can be deterred if we undertake what we think are actually quite reasonable, Not horrendously expensive, very much workable, [00:26:00] sets of, of recommendations that we lay out in the book.

The aggressor has a disadvantage in terms of this, geography that China has to deal with. We can actually sink their Navy, which we believe is the center of gravity. and if, they don't have a Navy that's able to make it across, things become a whole lot harder, for China, impossible, I

John Cochrane: would say.

Can I close with a peace offering on the, service? How about this? In order to get federal funding, elite colleges have to admit veterans, and that will be a nice incentive to go take some time in the military.

H.R. McMaster: or how about prioritizing, applications, of those who have already earned a four year ROTC scholarship?

Appreciate it. you give up, if somebody has led the social justice club in high school, apparently they get it, they get admitted to our best universities.

John Cochrane: Yeah, because there is this cultural thing that, the elite of America has no [00:27:00] contact with people who've served in the military.

I'll give you that one.

Bill Whalen: All right, gentlemen, the book's title once again is the boiling moat urgent steps to defend taiwan It's officially released on july 1st, but you can pre order it now by going to the hoover institution's website, which is hoover. org Matt come back again to goodfellas. Thanks for having me.

All right, gentlemen our b block We're going to look at the year in review and for people scratching their heads at home wondering What do you mean the year in review? Goodfellas operates like a university. We start around Labor Day. We conclude around Memorial Day. So this is our year in review.

What a year it's been. We started in early September. About a month after that, Hamas attacked Israel. The Russian Ukraine war slogged along. We saw the spectacle of university presidents testifying on Capitol Hill, which led to a rather alarming unemployment rate among Ivy League university presidents.

What else happened? Donald Trump and Joe Biden breeze of their respective primaries headed to a general election that nobody seems to want. Niall Ferguson, a kind of an uncertain future of Arsenal. H. R. McMaster, the Philadelphia Phillies, the best [00:28:00] record in major league baseball, I might add. So a lot's happened in the past nine months.

Question to the group, what has surprised you? Niall, you want to go first?

Niall Ferguson: I don't know if anything in the last 12 months has truly surprised me, because I have been lamenting the state of the universities for about 10 years, the only surprising thing was that, so many people in the rest of the country haven't noticed.

I've been warning about our failure to deter our adversaries, since 2021. And the failure to deter Iran, didn't come as a great surprise. I didn't think Arsenal would win the Premier League, I knew Man City would, and so that wasn't a surprise. I could use a surprise at this point.

it's been, it's been a kind of confirmation of my somewhat pessimistic worldview the past 12 months. Anybody else surprised?

Bill Whalen: What about you, John? And I forgot to add that pesky little thing called inflation. [00:29:00]

John Cochrane: actually my, my, in economic news, my bigger news is my current, I'll, be hopeful.

the, I see the beginning of the implosion of the, progressive left on several dimensions. So on economics. A small example, but I think one that's salient to everyone is falling apart of our electric vehicle business. Everyone was in for it about a year ago, and then it slowly discovered.

Oh, these things don't save a drop worth of carbon. And now it even the administration isn't claiming it. It's turned into industrial policy to build hummers. In the United States, as opposed to actually saving, the 100 percent tariff on imported electric vehicles shows you this is not about the climate anymore.

The same, climate justice for Hamas kind of wraps up this, idea that, it's all one thing, Greta Thunberg wearing her keffiyeh on apparently we need an Islamic theocracy in the Middle East in order [00:30:00] to save the climate. That kind of shows you the emptiness of the whole thing.

And, people. are realizing, even the election is now, mentioning, Hey, we don't want to shove that. It's a small issue, but I think, one where you see the change, change in attitude. I'm, a little shocked. The law fair is the, clown show going on in New York, right now, I, think is, turning our legal system into.

The third world countries as far as how we fight our elections is, I think, shocking. And I think Americans are going to get tired of that. But certainly that pursued itself to the extent of being just ridiculous to being comedy, I think, is telling. And of course, as Niall pointed out, in the fall, a lot of people found out that decolonization and indigenous rights means let's kill all the Jews.

figuring out what has gone on, [00:31:00] college, we knew, but the rest of the world has found out about it. And, I think, so this, is a moment of, kind of collapse. Of a whole bunch of ideas on the left, perhaps the beginning. It's going to be hard fought, but, that, that's surprising.

and, I, I see hope in that collapse. We'll see how it goes, but those are three, little news stories that all kind of call us together, for me.

Bill Whalen: I

H.R. McMaster: was just surprised by, the lack of support, in, recent weeks for, Israel. And of course, everybody wants Israel to do more to reduce harm to innocent civilians, in, Gaza.

But this idea that we withhold certain weapons that are critical to Israel's defense and then, to, advise Israel or to, to. To urge israel not to conduct an operation in rafah to complete the defeat of hamas. how can they not do a do an offensive [00:32:00] operation of rafah? I think what you saw with these recent civilian casualties is there's no such thing as a precision raid into a dense urban area that's controlled by a terrorist organization And if you do a major offensive operation, heck, it's a heck of a lot safer for the innocent civilians.

And of course, it's quite necessary. And we still have eight Americans, held hostage there among the, we hope, the 120 or so who remain alive. But we keep finding more and more dead hostages and hearing more and more stories about how they were tortured and killed. So I, just, I was surprised to the degree that we have been weak.

In our support of israel in what is a necessary mission to complete the destruction of a terrorist organization That is determined to destroy israel and kill all the jews. So I think That's been my greatest disappointment. I could add energy policy to that to tie in with what john said You know how self defeating we've been I mean declaring a moratorium [00:33:00] On permitting for lng export facilities really when this is a tremendous opportunity for us to drive the price down to bridge away from coal For example and actually reduce carbon emissions to hurt some of our adversaries who use that energy at for coercive purposes.

the self defeating nature of, the, administration's energy policy is just astounding to me.

John Cochrane: Let me add HR and telling Ukraine not to, bomb Russian, oil stuff. Cause we don't want the price of gas to go up.

H.R. McMaster: and then supplicating to the Iranians and the Venezuelans, and then.

And then they just saw the big deal that gutter just made with with china as a result for lgs it's just nonsensical nonsense

Bill Whalen: So to the year in review i'd like to add a preview and that is that the uk is having an election on july the fourth We're not having our next goodfellas until mid july.

So this will have transpired by the next time we get together niall I want to turn to you on this i'm, first of all curious to how many times you plan to vote in 2024 given your [00:34:00] citizenship status, but Is this a good thing or not? Did sunak onto the right idea here and for every american who is tired?

I'm tired of a presidential election that goes on. Do the Brits have it right? It's better to do something like this in six weeks.

Niall Ferguson: there is something attractive about a very short election campaign of the sort that there is going to be, as opposed to the permanent election campaign that characterizes American politics.

You asked me if anything had surprised me in the last 12 months, and of course that did surprise me. I was actually sitting in Downing Street, just hours before the announcement. And I, at that point, couldn't really see why on earth Rishi Sunak would want to go early when he could have waited until after.

the U. S. election. He could have waited until, November. but looking more closely, I can see why he decided to go for it, because a new party, Reform Party, which is the kind of not Brexitee enough, we want to be more Brexitee party, had started to make real inroads into the conservative, vote.

And I think he [00:35:00] was fearing that Reform might gather momentum and, inflict an even larger defeat. on the Conservatives. It's almost certain that they will lose. The question is really by what margin? Is Labour going to win a landslide, or is it just going to win a modest majority? At the moment, the polling points towards a landslide comparable with Tony Blair's in 1997, but I think Rishi Sunak realized that there would be, there could be an even worse result if he waited any longer.

but yeah, it's quite nice to think that it'll all be over in July the 4th, or The 9th of July, the 4th. The agony of the American presidential election will drag on. All the way until November. I

John Cochrane: disagree with that. I like long American elections. Because if you look at it, we actually find out a lot about the candidates along the way.

if American elections, were six weeks, then it would just be on whatever, spin they had to start with. you watch these long primaries, there's, a trial where you learn something. The [00:36:00] UK seems to be going in the opposite direction. I think there's a tension of two things in all elections.

Throw the bums out. Whoever happens to be in office has shown themselves to be incompetent, so we'll go with the other ones. Versus the world, around the world, there is a shift rightward. Of course, the mainstream media calls it evil populism, fascism, or whatever, but we might call it common sense. Europe is, waking up to some of its, energy, industrial, and military policies and shifting towards common sense.

Javier Millet is here at Hoover today, so there's, that movement in Latin America. UK seems to be in the temporary throes of throw the bums out, although Labour is calling themselves much more centrist, at least before the election. I'm also curious to what extent Sunak had to do this because the Tories would have dumped him if he, kept going.

Niall Ferguson: it's hard to spot global election cycles. Remember, you've got a kind of labor government in Australia. it's only, [00:37:00] a cycle ago that the U S, voted in the Democrats. So I'm, skeptical that there is a great tide in global democracy. That's all going one way. I think the, threat, from within existed.

But I, it's hard for me to believe that there really was the conviction to have another conservative prime minister. we're now on five, since the last election. And I think a sixth would have reached the point of complete absurdity. but, I take your point, John, that a lot of scrutiny, can be done during America's.

endless election cycles. The problem is that I don't really need a whole lot more information on Joe Biden and Donald Trump. I already have too much. In fact, I already had too much four years ago when we had the exact same question. I'm at a loss to know what you found out in the last three and a half years that you didn't know [00:38:00] already about these two elderly.

elderly candidates. And the problem about the permanent election cycle in the U. S. is that in politics, you devote such a large amount of time to fundraising for campaigning, that it's not clear that you have any time for the nation's business. And let's face it, the nation has a very serious business to attend to, not least the massive fiscal problem that you, John, have written about.

and if they're all out there fundraising to campaign endlessly, it's not the you can see why our public finances never get, sorted.

John Cochrane: It's the long primaries that actually, where, you actually do find out about people.

Bill Whalen: And with that, we're going to turn to the lightning round.

Three questions for you today, gentlemen. The first comes from Scotty in Canada, who writes, and I quote, this show has helped open my eyes to some of the problems in universities. I still hope to be an assistant professor at a North American business school after I finish my PhD. Do you have any advice for current PhD students slash assistant professors [00:39:00] so that we do not perpetuate the current problems in universities as we advance in our academic careers?

Thank you.

H.R. McMaster: Hey, I couldn't say focus on the mission, right? Your mission is to educate. And I think about my best professors have always been those who I couldn't really tell where they were leading our particular issues because we read a broad range of perspectives and. and discuss them in an open manner.

hey, I just think if you focus on the mission of education, which maybe some of our universities are rediscovering, maybe even Harvard is, it seems like, Niall, I think that's the best advice I could give

Niall Ferguson: you. And my advice to any, young PhD, and I've been asked this question many times recently, is diversify.

Because you can't, rely on the career paths of the past to be open to you. and I think that can take many forms, but I'm struck by how many, historians these days, are making a living from writing books and doing podcasts, educating a wider [00:40:00] public, rather than from teaching classes. my advice to our listeners is diversify.

The tenure track path may not be be open to you, certainly, if the, the current hiring patterns are to continue. John?

John Cochrane: Especially business schools where I used to teach. My advice is take yourself and your work seriously. There's a lot of careerism, a lot of, write a paper to impress the referees, as opposed to write something that you really think is true and valuable.

It might be valuable to a career other than academia. It's going to be hard though. the, careerism has expanded and you will be faced with a moral dilemma where the job you want requires you to fill out a DEI statement. And it is still true that in many universities, that, your, knowledge and pledge of allegiance to DEI is going to count a lot for getting a job.

it's a tough business. Take yourself seriously, take your work seriously and consider the other options as Niall says.

Bill Whalen: Our second question comes from Tim in Hong Kong, who [00:41:00] writes, Having recently moved to Hong Kong, I get the sense that I missed something truly special. Has Hong Kong lost? Did China quote unquote win?

What does the fate of Hong Kong mean for Taiwan? When was the last time the international man of history was in Hong Kong?

Niall Ferguson: I was in Hong Kong just a couple of months ago. yeah, China won. That's clear. And the possibilities for democracy, the things that motivated the students that I used to teach when I, was a visiting professor there.

Gone. the CCP calls the shots now. The striking thing though is that I think the Hong Kong business community has come to realize that it's going to just have to, live with this new regime and much the way that they lived with their British colonial rulers in previous generations. So Hong Kong economically doesn't seem to be quite as depressed as I had expected.

they're no longer going to be replaced by Shanghai. Because the CCP needs an offshore market where it can interact with the world. [00:42:00] And that's what Hong Kong is going to be. So I think the CCP won, but the spirit of Hong Kong, which is always be trading. That lives on. H. R.?

H.R. McMaster: The only thing I think that's not been suppressed is the Rugby Sevens Championship is still a big part of it in Hong Kong.

I just missed

Niall Ferguson: it. I was there the night it ended, very annoyingly, so I missed New Zealand's, predictable victory. John, they had to drag Rugby into it, didn't they?

Bill Whalen: We're in the show again. Go ahead. Thoughts on Hong Kong, John?

John Cochrane: yeah, I think, I'm less informed than the other guys, but yeah, apparently you can still do business there.

China wants, interestingly, to still be a big exporter. that may be in trouble if they start a war. but if you can buckle down, ignore the politics and want to do business, apparently it's still going to be a, as Niall said, the, China's attempt to have an offshore thing. you're [00:43:00] placing your bets with China.

Bill Whalen: Okay, our final question comes from Rich in the UK who writes, It's the 80th anniversary of D Day. I'm taking my 12 year old son to see where his great grandfather landed at Sword Beach. What do the Goodfellows think? Is D Day now just a historical event, or are there lessons we can still learn and apply to today's geopolitical events, thanks to the greatest generation in the Allied invasion of 1944?

H. R.?

H.R. McMaster: Yeah, there's certainly lessons. Lessons associated with leadership and courage and risk taking. and, and, the, and obviously the, the most, I think a prescient thing or important thing about wars that wars is not the. The best way of settling differences, as G. K.

Chesterton has asserted, was the only way to ensure they're not settled for you. and, we, I think we ought to be eternally grateful for the sacrifices of those who fought, to liberate the continent from, from, Nazi, occupation and domination in 1944 to 1945. John?

John Cochrane: Oh, that's a great note.

I, I visited, the D Day beaches when I was [00:44:00] 12, and boy, oh boy, that, still stuck with me, exactly seeing the physical place and thinking about, what happened there. And, of course, we visited the cemetery as well, which is awfully big. Sorry, what, geopolitical lessons. I remember that Eisenhower had two notes in his pocket.

One of what to say if it went well and wanted to want to say if it went badly, where he can say the dog ate my homework and greed and shrinkflation. He said, this was our fault and we'll try again. And there was no, here's what we won't do. Our soldiers are only going to be in there for six weeks.

We were opening negotiations. No, We're here to win. that's a geopolitical lesson that, I think should be remembered.

Niall Ferguson: Niall, final words. This is what you should do as a father if you have a 12 year old son [00:45:00] or daughter, I have a 12 year old son, and it's the perfect age to start communicating history by going to places.

That's a very magical time. I just took, my 12 year old Thomas, not to the D Day beaches, but to my native city of Glasgow, where we did some history. Further back in time, going back to the, the origins of the great sectarian conflicts that characterize Glaswegian and Northern Irish life. So yeah, if you have a 12 year old or know somebody who is a 12 year old, get them off the screens and out to the battlefields.

it's a fantastically fulfilling thing and, yeah, I think you, you never forget that. I remember going to D Day beaches with my father. I'll never, ever forget that experience. And you can do the same with the First World War battlefields too, and the Civil War battlefields. Let's end on an American, note, I'll always remember, [00:46:00] my first visit to Civil War battlefields, and one of my favorite recollections is, going, with the great Charles Murray.

To, to visit one of the battlefields, very near where he lives in, Maryland and Tsum, and I learned a huge amount on that trip. So even if you're not 12, but, I guess I must have been 52 back then. It's well worth going on a trip like that.

H.R. McMaster: Hey, just a quick recommendation for, our viewer to read Ambrose's D-Day, or.

Just read the first chapter of Rick Atkinson's The Guns That Last Light. Fantastic, lead in to, the, campaign across, Europe, beginning of 44.

John Cochrane: or Tom Hank's wonderful movie.

H.R. McMaster: Oh yeah, absolutely. Spielberg did a fantastic job with that.

Niall Ferguson: Although the open sequence is harrowing for a 12 year old, I would, say, wait a little on that.

Bill Whalen: Yeah, [00:47:00] maybe the 1962 movie, The Longest Day, which was just shot on location and has very good details if you can get past John Blake. All right, gentlemen, let's leave it there. Great conversation. we'll reconvene, later this summer. So we'll see you soon. Thanks for watching, everybody. If you have questions for the Goodfellows, don't forget to send them in.

You go to hoover. org forward slash askgoodfellows and we will probably do a lightning or do a mailbag show later this, year. on behalf of my colleagues, Niall Ferguson, H. R. McMaster, John Cochrane, all of us here at the Hoover Institution, thanks for watching and we will see you soon. Take care.

Archive: If you enjoyed this show and are interested in watching more content featuring H.R. McMaster, watch Battlegrounds, also available at hoover. [00:48:00] org.

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