Not yet 40 years old, Republican congressman Mike Gallagher has been elected four times to the House of Representatives from Wisconsin’s eighth district, which includes Green Bay and, more importantly, Lambeau Field, home of the Packers. He’s currently serving as the chair of the US House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. He joins in a wide-ranging conversation to discuss the Chinese threat to Taiwan, TikTok’s dangers to American youth, who actually is the fastest man in Congress, his advice for Pope Francis, and how to be a Packers fan in troubled times.

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

Peter Robinson: If you had at your command all the resources of the Congress to investigate the Chinese Communist Party, what would you learn? We're about to find out. Congressman Michael Gallagher of Wisconsin on "Uncommon Knowledge" now. Not yet 40, Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher has earned an undergraduate degree from Princeton, a master's degree from the National Intelligence University, two master's degrees from Georgetown, is that right? You hold three masters?

Mike Gallagher: Yeah, one doesn't count. One, you sort of get in route to a PhD, so it's sort of fake, but technically, yeah.

Peter Robinson: All right, but you, and a doctorate from Georgetown, served seven years in the United States Marine Corps and has been elected four times to the House of Representatives from Wisconsin's eighth district, which includes Appleton and Green Bay. I should note that the last time he ran for reelection, the Democrats did not even put up an opponent. I should also note that Congressman Gallagher does pretty well on his feet. For the last six years, he has competed in the three-mile Capital Challenge and won fastest House rep all six times. In this, his fourth term in Congress, Congressman Gallagher is chairing the House Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. Mike Gallagher, welcome.

Mike Gallagher: It is an honor to be here.

Peter Robinson: All right. Just save that.

Mike Gallagher: Well, you covered for Tom Cotton by qualifying at his fastest House rep, but I beat him, so it's just the fastest member of Congress this far. He's very sensitive about this.

Peter Robinson: We'll give him an opportunity to respond at the end of the show. This is you writing in the Wall Street Journal, quote, "America's greatest threat is the Chinese Communist Party," closed quote. Could I ask a question to try to establish what's at stake if the Chinese Communist Party gets everything it wants? If President Xi Jinping attains every last one of his goals, how does life change in Green Bay or Appleton? What difference does it make to us?

Mike Gallagher: Well, first of all, I think any honest assessment of Xi Jinping's goals has to conclude, and even members of the Biden Administration, like Rush Doshi who's the lead on the National Security Council for China, in his book, "The Long Game" basically gets to this point that their goal is to, he would say, displace America from its position of primacy in the world. I would say a bit more provocatively to destroy American global leadership. So how does this affect someone who lives in Green Bay? Well, in at least two ways. Two ways I think this competition is existential. When I use that term, I get a lot of blowback, and people claim I'm hyping the threat. One is that if we come to blows with China over Taiwan, if they try to take Taiwan by force, and I think the odds of that are increasing, this could quickly spiral into a conflict that's so severe, it has the potential to make the current wars in Ukraine and in the Middle East, and even previous World Wars look tame in comparison. It could even escalate to the level of a nuclear exchange, which would be devastating. But the second and more insidious threat posed by the CCP is, how do I describe this? Take every instance of a major American company or corporation, like Disney or the NBA, silencing or self-censoring for fear of angering Chinese Communist Party officials, for fear of losing market access. If China were to attain its goal of displacing us from the region and ultimately becoming the dominant global power, you can multiply that by 20 in terms of the economic coercion that they would wield. And it would amount to a fundamental loss of what it means to be, not only American, but a member of the free world. Gone would be concepts like free expression, freedom of religion. Maybe I guess I'll add a third, which is that, particularly in the Industrial Midwest over the last two decades, a lot of people have lost their jobs. Entire industries have been destroyed because of the Chinese Communist Party's predatory economic practices. Its failure to abide by the promises it made when it acceded to the WTO. So for a military reason, for an economic reason, and for what I would call an ideological reason, the CCP is our greatest threat.

Peter Robinson: All right, can I, so you're chairing the, what is the full title? House Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. Can you give a sentence, what is the main takeaway? What have you learned? They're worse than you thought? What have you learned?

Mike Gallagher: Well, that it is, related to your previous question, it's not a distant over there problem, right? It's not something that solely concerns the Taiwanese or the Japanese or Asian countries. It is a right here at home problem. And as someone who entered this conversation primarily from the perspective of a former military officer who worked on the House Armed Services Committee and spent a lot of time thinking about the future of the Navy and the Marine Corps, and how do we deter PLA invasion of Taiwan, I've learned so much about what they're doing here domestically in order to undermine American sovereignty and really to pit Americans against Americans. That's sort of the title of a book by Wang Huning who's one of the most powerful members of the politburo and I think accurately describes the CCP's strategy. For example, the first event we did on the committee, and it was myself and a Democratic member of the committee, Ritchie Torres was-

Peter Robinson: You've worked very hard to make this committee bipartisan.

Mike Gallagher: To the best, and that really was the vision that Former Speaker McCarthy and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries had for the committee. We're not gonna grin everything, but to the extent possible, if Congress can speak with one voice when it comes to how we successfully compete with our greatest national security threat, that is a good thing. But we did a rally with a bunch of human rights activists in front of an illegal Chinese Communist Party police station in the heart of Manhattan. And three years ago, I was completely unaware of that phenomenon. I'd now learned-

Peter Robinson: Wait, what was in Manhattan?

Mike Gallagher: An illegal CCP police station registered to an innocuous-sounding nonprofit group, but-

Peter Robinson: They had their police in Manhattan?

Mike Gallagher: It was being used to surveil, harass, and in some cases, physically assault people on American soil, Chinese Americans, members of the Chinese diaspora, et cetera. The FBI's since made a series of arrests in connection with this case. We've learned about similar things happening on American campuses where, you know, Chinese student groups linked to the Chinese Student Scholars Association are being used to intimidate Chinese students who are criticizing the regime, Taiwanese students. So this extent of what's called united front work, which is what Xi refers to as a magic weapon of influence and coercion, was something that I didn't fully appreciate until I took on this job. And I continue to believe there's more we need to do to shine a light on it.

Peter Robinson: Okay, military stuff. Mike Gallagher, in the Wall Street Journal, this is an interview you gave about a year ago, "The United States is facing," quote, "a window of maximum danger," explain that.

Mike Gallagher: Well, there are various people, most famously, probably former INDO PACOM Commander Admiral Davidson who said that Xi Jinping may make a move on Taiwan within the next five years. This then became known as the Davidson Window after a hearing we held with him in the Armed Services Committee. There's other analysts at the Naval War College, like Andrew Erickson, who have pointed out, in light of Xi Jinping's massive demographic and economic challenges, which become most acute in the 2030s, it's increasingly likely that he will try to achieve his lifelong ambition, which is to take Taiwan by force if necessary, to use Xi's phrase, in this decade. I think the window becomes most acute starting with the election in Taiwan that's gonna happen in January of 2024. Particularly if the DPP, the Democratic Progressive Party wins, as seems likely, Xi will conclude that he cannot achieve this ambition via political warfare, so he will resort to actual kinetic warfare in order to absorb Taiwan.

Peter Robinson: Okay, hold on. You're saying things that are... I thought I was prepared for this, but you're saying things that are shocking me. First of all, Chinese police in Manhattan. Now you're saying that the window could open in Jan, not years from now, not months from now. As you and I sit here, that's weeks from now that the Taiwanese election will take place. All right, can you take me through, because this gets a little bit, it's not that confusing, but it gets confusing. South China Sea, what have they already done there? And then because Americans are gonna be hearing more and more and more about this, there's a thing called the First Island Chain and then there's the thing called the Second Island Chain. And to follow the military situation in the Pacific, you actually have to know what they are, correct?

Mike Gallagher: Yes.

Peter Robinson: Okay. So gimme the South China Sea.

Mike Gallagher: Well, it's actually very interesting. I think when, you know-

Peter Robinson: You have all these degrees, teach me, teach me.

Mike Gallagher: Well, I know, yeah. It's, as Eisenhower said of academics, "There are men who take more words than necessary to tell you more than they know." And I'm about to prove that case. Historians continued to debate like when the first Cold War began, right? Was it when Orwell first used the phrase? Was it the Soviets detonating a nuclear weapon in 1949? Was it the invasion of Korea in 1950? They will also debate for decades to come when this new Cold War with Communist China began. But I think you at least have to date it prior to Xi Jinping when China started to make all these claims for territory in the South China Sea. They unsuccessfully petitioned for recognition of various expansive claims in multilateral flora. And when that failed, they just started building islands. They just started literally-

Peter Robinson: And why, why did they want them?

Mike Gallagher: Because, well, they, A, historically believe that they belong to China and, B, in order to project power throughout the rest of the region. Right now we're seeing Chinese maritime militia and Navy vessels harass Philippine ships in the Second Thomas Shoal-

Peter Robinson: So if you have an effect in-place aircraft carriers, which is what these little islands amount to-

Mike Gallagher: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: Isn't it? I guess you can land planes on them, then you're putting pressure on Vietnam, the Philippines.

Mike Gallagher: Yeah, and I think again, even like center or left analysts would say, their interim goal is to push the US Navy out of the Indo-Pacific. And so these claims and the island building campaign and the really unprecedented militarization of the South China Sea is all in pursuit of that goal and they've sort of...

Peter Robinson: Shoving us out.

Mike Gallagher: Yeah, and they've tailor-built a military designed to shove us out over the last 20 years. So we can say our military is more capable overall, but they're fighting a home game and they've gone to school and how they can best frustrate our goals in the Pacific. For example, in some ways, even more important than the fact that they've built the world's largest Navy. And they have, right? They have more ships than us. Our ships on balance, on average, are more capable, but quantity has a quality all of its own. They've really invested in something that I like to call the anti-Navy, which is the PLA Rocket Force. So for relatively low cost, they can stockpile missiles that are designed to sink our ships and make it very difficult for us to bring a carrier anywhere close to Taiwan.

Peter Robinson: Okay, so you tell me if this makes sense. I did a show ages and ages and ages ago with Bill Perry who was then a former secretary of defense. And he explained that during the Clinton Administration, he, Bill Perry, secretary of defense, had decided to send a carrier through the Strait of Taiwan to show our support for Taiwan. That's item one, item two, I spoke not long ago to a retired admiral who didn't know I was gonna quote him, so I won't name him. And I said, if things get rough with Taiwan, how close can our carriers get now that they've built all of these ship killing weapons, is essentially what they are, isn't it?

Mike Gallagher: Yes.

Peter Robinson: And the admiral said, "Oh, well that's very simple. Our aircraft carriers must stay 1,000 miles away from Taiwan. They've pushed us out already. Is that true, not true?

Mike Gallagher: Well, I still think we have an opportunity. We have advantages in certain areas, right? So our largest advantage, I would say, is in the realm of undersea warfare, our submarines, right? That's the ultimate stand-in force. The commandant of the Marine Corps has a very innovative vision for, the previous commandant and the current commandant, for another stand-in force, which would be small teams of Marines in the Southern Japanese Island, part of the First Island Chain, as well as Northern Philippine Islands using autonomous joint like tactical vehicles and naval strike missiles to be able to sink their ships. So there are things we can do and perhaps the most important is to arm Taiwan itself so that it becomes a porcupine and thus becomes very hard to conquer territorially. Can I just say one thing about it?

Peter Robinson: Yeah, of course you can.

Mike Gallagher: Your historical example, right, so we've had three Taiwan Strait crises. You've alluded to one of them. This was the biggest show of force since the end of the Vietnam War. In the previous two-

Peter Robinson: By us.

Mike Gallagher: By us, right? And that's when China was, I mean, this was post-Gulf War. China had not yet, they'd started to embark on this military buildup, but nothing like we've seen today. We were leagues ahead of them in terms of military capability. And even in the 50s, when we had the first two Taiwan Strait crises, what did Eisenhower have to do in order to deter the CCP? He went to Congress to get advanced authorization for the use of military force. Some would say he actually threatened to use nuclear weapons. He put Matador cruise missiles on Taiwan itself. These were dramatic moves and that's what was necessary. That's the level of presidential intestinal fortitude and display of hard power that was necessary to diffuse crisis one, two, and three. It would require just as much, if not more presidential courage and display of hard power to diffuse the fourth Taiwan Strait crisis when it comes.

Peter Robinson: Okay, so another couple of questions. You're in teaching mode. I'm in student mode. All right, I think I understand what the Chinese are attempting to do. This First Island Chain is closest to China. It includes Japan and Taiwan itself. Second Island Chain farther, got it. Why do we care about the Pacific anyway? Suppose they do push us back to the Second Island Chain. Who cares, who's watching this program in Appleton, Wisconsin? What difference does that make? Who said we get to run the Pacific when China's, why shouldn't they have at least regional hegemony?

Mike Gallagher: Almost everything in your house, whether you live in Appleton, Green Bay, or God forbid, you live in Washington DC or even worse, California, if it has an on and off switch, it probably has a chip that is made in the Indo-Pacific and in Taiwan specifically. So if we abandon our treaty commitments to countries like Japan and the Philippines and the Taiwan Relations Act, whereby we commit to help Taiwan defend itself and allow China to take over Taiwan, they will be able to hold the rest of the world economically hostage. And that economic coercion that we hate, again, it will multiply by 20 fold. When it comes to our military commitments, it would render our ability to fulfill treaty commitments, the ones I mentioned, almost impossible, right? And that would, we would take a massive hit in terms of the credibility of our commitments everywhere else. Put differently, Las Vegas rules would not apply. What happens in the First Island Chain or the Second Island Chain would not stay there, because ultimately I do believe that Xi Jinping is not just content to perfect his model of techno-totalitarian control within China's borders or inside the Xinjiang autonomous region. Increasingly it appears to me that he's trying to export that model of governance around the world in order to prove that it works better. Can I say one more thing?

Peter Robinson: Of course you may.

Mike Gallagher: You know, I know we've had this bruising debate about the extent of our international commitments, you know, so-called forever wars and things like that.

Peter Robinson: Right, right.

Mike Gallagher: To me, there's something fundamentally different, let's say, between a war to democratize a country that has little to no experience with democracy. And you can say that Afghanistan and Iraq were part of that and there was mission creep involved. There's something different between that and helping an existing flourishing democracy, that at least according to Taiwan, by some metric, is actually freer than our own society, defend itself against a totalitarian government that is trying to extinguish its ability to exist as a democratic society.

Peter Robinson: Okay, very moving. Very moving, lemme tell you about two little countries in hostile neighborhoods. Taiwan is one, Israel's another.

Mike Gallagher: Yes.

Peter Robinson: Israel spends 5% of GDP on defense. Taiwan spends a little under 3%, as I recall. Why should we, by the way, we spend 3.6% of GDP. Why should we spend more GDP on their defense, so to speak, than they do themselves, how come?

Mike Gallagher: Well, it's in our interest for the three reasons I laid out before. But I will say this about the Taiwans. By the way, there's just debate among actual, like Asia specialists, which I'm not one, I just play one on TV, about whether to call them the Taiwanese or the Taiwans. That could be the subject of a separate podcast. Taiwanese just sounds easier to me.

Peter Robinson: We'll do an hour on that one-

Mike Gallagher: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. You will lose all your listenership. They have made significant reforms, increased overall spending, trying to invest in asymmetric weapon systems, and increasing, notably, the length of conscription and mandatory service requirements-

Peter Robinson: So they're working at it?

Mike Gallagher: In Taiwan, exactly, They're headed in the right direction, but I think they will go as far as we are willing to lead. And, oh, by the way, for years, we've been hammering them to invest more in asymmetric defense and things like Harpoon missiles as opposed to, you know, fourth or fifth gen fighters that are likely to get blown up on day one of the invasion. Well, if we can't actually provide the asymmetric weapons that they purchase and then get delayed for decades, then I'm not sure how much our criticism has an effect. We have Harpoon missiles that aren't gonna, that were purchased in 2015, approved by Congress, and are still not going to be delivered until 2027, 2029, because our foreign military sales process is totally broken here. So if we fixed that or if we took the Harpoons that we're about to spend money de-milling and putting into deep storage and gave them to Taiwan, then I think you would see more effort to reform on Taiwan itself.

Peter Robinson: Okay, at the end of the Reagan period, the number of battle force ships in the United States Navy was just under 600. Today it's 294. My source on this is you, 294.

Mike Gallagher: Might be 291. May gotten worse.

Peter Robinson: 291?

Mike Gallagher: It's hard to keep track.

Peter Robinson: Since you wrote less piece in the Wall Street Journal?

Mike Gallagher: Yeah, yeah. That's right, yeah.

Peter Robinson: Okay. It's shrinking that fast. And the Biden Administration, the most recent budget calls for it to shrink even further. Now there are arguments that each one of these vessels is much more capable than a vessel was 40 years ago. There are arguments about this. But as you said a moment ago, quantity has a quality all its own. Two years from now, the Chinese are expected to have 400 battle force ships in their Navy. That's item one. Item two, Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, only your Marines met their recruiting goals last year.

Mike Gallagher: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: The other three missed. And the Army missed its recruiting goal for the 10th time in 10 years. We have a superpower projecting its power, doing the things that you, Chinese police in Manhattan, and we have permitted the United States Army to fall 10% below full strength?

Mike Gallagher: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: What is going on?

Mike Gallagher: You've hit on the two biggest issues facing DOD right now, which is shipbuilding and a recruiting crisis. On the first, if you look back at the story of the 600-ship Navy, I think you guys got to 595.

Peter Robinson: Didn't quite get to 600.

Mike Gallagher: I've heard tales about this decade called the 80s and I-

Peter Robinson: You have, yes, yes.

Mike Gallagher: But really what allowed that effort to be successful, against extreme bureaucratic resistance, by the way, was Reagan himself prioritizing it, selling it to the American people, and empowering John Lehman as secretary of the Navy to implement a shipbuilding program that was informed first and foremost by a strategy for projecting sea power. And in this administration and in the Trump Administration, we haven't had that, right? We've had a promise to get to a 355-ship Navy, but we've had internal fighting between the services. We've had, I think, mostly the defense enterprise are run by former Army officers, a lot of whom I like and respect, but it's fair to say that unless the president himself makes it a priority and forces the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Navy to wake up every single day to push the five-sided building and the shipbuilding industrial base to deliver on time and on budget, it's simply not gonna happen, right? Because the workforce is so advanced that you can't just turn the spigot on and off. And we've had an inconsistent demand signal. We have multiple shipbuilding plans that don't interact with each other. And oh, by the way, Biden's shipbuilding plan, as China builds the largest Navy in the world, as its ships start to get more capable than ours, by the way, it, by some measures, has the three biggest Navies in the world, if you count their coast guard and their maritime militia. Under the Biden plan, the US Navy is gonna bottom out at about 280 ships at 2027. 2027 is the date that Xi Jinping has set for the People's Liberation Army to be ready to take Taiwan. So this is the worst possible time to have your priority force and your priority theater, the United States Navy, to be at its weakest point. We could be weakest when they're strongest.

Peter Robinson: We'll continue with China in a moment, but listen to this. Raphael Cohen, director of strategy and doctrine program at RAND, quote, "For years, American defense strategy argued that the United States should have sufficient military capability and capacity to fight and win two simultaneous wars in different theaters. Over the last decade though, as America's military shrank and its adversaries grew increasingly capable, the Pentagon has backed off such aspirations." So we have forces that are designed to operate in two theaters at best, Ukraine in the North Atlantic, Taiwan and the Pacific, and now the Middle East and the Mede, that makes three.

Mike Gallagher: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: How dangerous is this moment?

Mike Gallagher: I think we're at our most dangerous moment since, I mean, you could go back to 1962, you can go back to 1950. It's increasingly looking like the interwar period though, where we sort of fall victim to a variety of utopian delusions. We disarm, we're politically divided and all of a sudden we stumble into war on someone else's terms. That's what concerns me. Maybe the better case is that it's the late 1970s and, you know, we have an economic crisis. We have an energy crisis-

Peter Robinson: Sleepwalking. You have the greatest nation in the world sleepwalking.

Mike Gallagher: Indeed, we go through this cycle though in America, right? By the way, Rafi Cohen is brilliant. I went to grad school with him. It was infuriating to have, he actually understood things and I was just like struggling to get by. We go through these periods, right? It's why defense spending looks like a sine curve, right? Because we like to win a cold or hot war and then the sentiment in America is to bring the boys home, because we are what Colin Dueck has called reluctant crusaders, right? We like to think of ourselves as crusading for a noble global cause, the defender of the free world, but we're reluctant to pay the cost and ultimately then we have to pay more money, ironically and tragically, when we have to re-arm when we find ourselves in a kinetic confrontation. So the challenge in the present day, and it really kinda gets, in my mind, to the paradox of deterrence is if we want to prevent a war with China, if we want to prevent World War III, we have to convince Xi Jinping that we're actually willing to go to war and we have to put the Pentagon on a war footing to maximize the production of ships and long-range precision fires, which we have yet to do.

Peter Robinson: Okay, so you're in your one, two, three, two, four, six, you're in your seventh year in the House of Representatives. You've been in this town for seven years. You've been in this institution for seven years. What's your feeling about the temper of Washington and the temper of Congress? Are people, now with this attack on Israel, is everybody started walking around and say, fellas, maybe we ought to pull ourselves together? Or do you still feel, I mean, the Republican majority in the house just took three weeks to elect a new speaker, what... It just feels as though you're talking about extremely serious things and there's a lack of a connection between what you're talking about and the way this town feels. Honestly, there's a lack of connection between what you're talking about and the way the press reports the situation.

Mike Gallagher: I know.

Peter Robinson: The amount of good military or strategic reporting is very thin in this country, at least at the present. Oh, sorry, I gave a speech. What I wanted to do is get to a question. Have things changed over your seven years in town?

Mike Gallagher: I think there is a growing awareness of the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party in particular, but more generally, by what I call sort of the anti-American access, right? A recognition that increasingly this looks like a proper access, a raid against our interest and our allied interest. China is of course the dominant partner in this arrangement. Putin is his junior partner. He is, to quote my good friend Tom Tugendhat, Putin's tethered goat in Europe. And Iran increasingly looks like a partner in this. I think there's a growing awareness of the threat, but honestly, we have yet to translate that awareness and it's bipartisan into action, into the things that would actually make a difference. And honestly, when it comes to things like revitalizing our munitions industrial base and building a ton of missiles that can sink Chinese ships, doing to them what they've done to us, like flipping the script and building our own anti-Navy, that's not a massive investment of money. All you need is certainty over the course of the five-year defense plan. And it's my hypothesis that for the sum of about 10 to $15 billion a year for the next five years, we could massively turbocharge our munitions industrial base and pre-position those weapons in the Indo-Pacific, 'cause if they're not pre-positioned, and this is a lesson of Ukraine, we're not gonna have the luxury of sort of like surging them forward, because the very things that make Taiwan hard to conquer, i.e., it's an island, make it very difficult to resupply, unlike Ukraine. So we're struggling and the Republican Party, admittedly, is divided on national security. That division has always existed, right? It goes back to, you know, Taft versus Eisenhower, right?

Peter Robinson: Taft and Eisenhower.

Mike Gallagher: You know, Eisenhower settled the debate for a while, but it reemerges, right? We haven't nominated a true isolationist, I think, since Alf Landon in '36. So we tend, on balance, to be conservative internationalists, but there's a real divide in the Republican Party right now and it's gonna take a president, I think, to resolve that divide.

Peter Robinson: Back to matters here at home. You wrote not long ago, here we're talking about global strategy and here's what you're writing about. "TikTok," I'm quoting you. "TikTok, which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, is close to becoming the dominant media company in the US. This is untenable," close quote, TikTok? You're taking your time with TikTok?

Mike Gallagher: I know.

Peter Robinson: Persuade me that it matters.

Mike Gallagher: I'm supposed to, I was like the, I was the youngest member of Congress, I think, when I got elected. So I'm supposed to be the cool young guy who like, you know, is friendly-

Peter Robinson: Who understands this stuff-

Mike Gallagher: Use social media, but I'm not, I'm like the least cool. I'm the old man yelling, "Get off my lawn," most of the time. Fundamental problem with TikTok, put aside just the problem with social media use in general, and I think people like Jonathan Haidt have convincingly demonstrated that it's strongly correlated with rising rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide. And it's having an incredibly negative effect on the next generation. But that's true of all social media apps. The problem with TikTok in particular is that it is owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance. And ByteDance, like all Chinese companies, but particularly their champions, is effectively controlled by the CCP. You have CCP members embedded in their corporate governance structure. You've had ByteDance officials having to apologize for failing to follow appropriate political direction and so given that TikTok is quickly becoming the go-to news source for the next generation, we have to ask ourselves if it is a wise decision to allow a CCP controlled company to be the dominant news platform in America. I don't know what the right Cold War analogy would be, but it would be as if, at the height of the Cold War, we allowed KGB and Pravda to buy, you know, The New York Times, CBS, ABC. And that probably understates the stupidity of it, because of how insidious tweaking the algorithm could be. It's not an easy-to-solve.

Peter Robinson: So I was about to say that, how do you ban that without running into problems with the First Amendment?

Mike Gallagher: I see at least three paths forward, right? I mean, I think there's, you can address foreign ownership of a company without stepping on First Amendment issues, right? So you can either ban it, and I think there's a legal way to ban it. You would, you know, your 14-year-old might be upset with you, but, I mean, such is the price of national security. You could force a sale to an American company, and done right, all the American investors who own a ton of ByteDance would not necessarily lose money if the Chinese Communist Party were to allow a sale. And as long as that new company had control of the algorithm, that would satisfy my concern. So they're essentially to be a fork in the road between Chinese TikTok, Douyin, which by the way, they restrict the amount of time their own kids have access to it in China and the content is restricted to educational content, which proves the point that they understand this is digital fentanyl, but it is highly addictive and ultimately starts in China. Or the third thing would be just to insist on reciprocity and say, okay, we will consider allowing TikTok to continue to operate in the United States if you allow our social media companies to operate in China. Because of course your average Chinese citizen doesn't have access to Twitter or X, Facebook, YouTube. And what makes it even more absurd is that their officials, their wolf warrior diplomats, their propagandists are all over those same platforms in America spreading anti-American propaganda and disinformation, like the fact that the pandemic came from an American lab and not the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Peter Robinson: Okay, a moment ago you mentioned American investors in, what is it called? Byte-

Mike Gallagher: ByteDance.

Peter Robinson: In ByteDance, which leads me to another of your proposals for dealing with matters here at home. I'm quoting you again. Wall Street is funneling US capital into Chinese companies on at least six different US government blacklists." American capital into Chinese companies that our own government has identified as trouble.

Mike Gallagher: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: What do you wanna do? You're taking on Wall Street now? TikTok, I can almost see, but now you're gonna go charge up and take the SL up to Manhattan and start shouting at those offices. How do you wanna handle this problem?

Mike Gallagher: Promise me if I pass away and the explanation is that I fell from a balcony or-

Peter Robinson: Yes, exactly.

Mike Gallagher: That you will not accept the official explanation. But, listen, I should be clear, I'm not alleging that any of these asset managers or venture capital funds that are investing in China have done anything illegal. In fact I think what this illustrates is the problem.

Peter Robinson: They're just looking for the highest returns.

Mike Gallagher: Exactly, right, it's the same reason Dillinger robbed banks, right? 'Cause that's where the money is. Although, increasingly, it looks like China's a bad investment. We can come back to that. The problem is, we have these various lists that you referenced. These lists don't talk to each other. And so it's hard for us to enforce the lists and.

Peter Robinson: Is your state department, who puts this stuff together?

Mike Gallagher: There are treasury lists, there are State Department lists, there's, incidentally-

Peter Robinson: So this is the usual bureaucracy?

Mike Gallagher: In 1999, I wasn't in Congress at the time, but we passed a law saying the executive branch had to come up with a list of communist Chinese military companies. They ignored the requirement. And then it wasn't until Schumer, Cotton, myself, and a Democrat in the House sent a letter to the previous administration that they actually published a list 20 years too late. So there's confusion about the list and I think people are now starting to understand that we are, in some meaningful sense, funding our own destruction, right? Where American dollars, including retirement dollars from American Military Service members, are going to Chinese military companies that are building things designed to kill Americans in a future conflict. This situation is totally absurd. Or technology companies that are being used to facilitate a genocide of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. So again, it's not an easy problem to solve, because we're trying to unwind over 20 years of just relentless integration of China into the global economy. And I'm not saying, and I'm fine with a sector-specific approach that isn't a complete cutoff, but at least when it comes to Chinese military companies and technology companies, we need to cut off the flow of US capital, so we don't allow them to, we don't help them achieve their goals, which involve the destruction of American global leadership.

Peter Robinson: Ukraine, there are fights about Ukraine. Fights about what we should be doing in Ukraine. Our involvement has escalated, that seems to be the way the Biden Administration wants to do it. First we will send them, then we won't send them this. Now we're up to tanks, Abrams tanks, and now he's talking about cluster bombs. So it's just been creeping up, creeping up. We have this strange feature that on the ground, we were all told there was going to be a Ukrainian summer offensive. It got essentially nowhere.

Mike Gallagher: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: All right, and you have foreign policy analysts such as Elbridge Colby arguing that this is a terrible sink of American resources and of limited American mindshare. In this town, people who should be concerned with China are instead concerned with Ukraine. And we are now, as I understand it, this is the amount that's attributable to Ukraine. We are now $19 billion behind in delivering to Taiwan weapons and equipment that they have already paid for. The other argument is we let Ukraine go and Xi Jinping says, "Oh, that's how you stand up for the little guys."

Mike Gallagher: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: So do you subscribe to the argument that the defense of Taiwan runs through Ukraine?

Mike Gallagher: I do, again, first lemme say, well, I guess, lemme try and unpack that a little bit.

Peter Robinson: Sure.

Mike Gallagher: I'm not unbiased when it comes to Bridge Colby, 'cause I, I consider him a friend and I think his book, "Strategy of Denial," is one of the best books written in recent years. And though we disagree about this issue, he's right that China remains our foremost national security threat and that we have to prioritize the Indo-Pacific Theater. And we have to find a way to deal with all these crises. More to the point, he wrote an article in Time recently that I actually thought was a thoughtful attempt to strike a middle ground between these two positions. So sometimes I think he's unfairly characterized as never Ukraine, Taiwan only, which is actually not his position. If you accept the fact that the most important thing we can do to help Taiwan is to turn it into a porcupine and increase our hard power in the Indo-Pacific, I still do think that the outcome of the war in Ukraine has an effect on deterrence in the Indo-Pacific or certainly Xi Jinping is, at a minimum, paying attention to whether or not we allow Vladimir Putin to succeed in Ukraine. And as I alluded to before, I think that Russia and China have been waging a Cold War against us for quite some time and we are just now waking up to that fact. And if you disagree with all of that, if you talk to any of our closest allies in the Indo-Pacific or partners like Taiwan, they certainly believe that the outcome in Ukraine matters for peace-

Peter Robinson: They do.

Mike Gallagher: And stability in the Indo-Pacific. The Japanese believe that. Yeah, the Japanese are a perfect example. Japan is embarking on a historic defense buildup right now, not just because of the threat from China, but what they're seeing in terms of Ukraine. I think we don't have the luxury of making this an either/or choice. I actually think this represents an opportunity to fix some of the problems we talked about before. The fragility of our munitions industrial base. If we were to make a generational investment in things that are relevant for both Ukraine and Taiwan, we wouldn't have to make this agonizing decision of, okay, we only have one Harpoon. Does it go to Taiwan or Ukraine? I'm simplifying for dramatic effect.

Peter Robinson: Congressman will tell you a much cheaper, much quicker solution to the whole problem. It's the CHIPS Act. For $50 billion, we subsidize Intel and maybe two or three others to start producing all those super sophisticated chips right here in this country. And Vivek Ramaswamy, when asked, I say Vivek Ramaswamy as though he's an oracle, but he's certainly compelling to a lot of, particularly young Republicans-

Mike Gallagher: He's very talented.

Peter Robinson: Or young kids. Vivek Ramaswamy when, I don't have the quotation here, but he would only commit to the defense of Taiwan for five years because that's about how long it'll take for us to build facilities to build these super sophisticated ships. And once we do that, then we don't need Taiwan. Now he didn't put it quite that way, but he would only commit to defending Taiwan for five years. So as long as Congressman Mike Gallagher says, "Listen, folks, we really need to decouple our economy at least in large measure, at least from the Chinese military, well, actually Joe Biden is a step ahead of you. He's spent $50 billion to build our own super sophisticated chip industry. And Congressman Gallagher responds how?

Mike Gallagher: Well, first I should note, I've told Vivek that I disagree with this position because, one, it reduces our interest in Taiwan to just the fact that Taiwan is a chip superpower, which of course we have broader interest in Taiwan. And two, you're basically saying to XI, on a date certain, just be patient for five years and then you can take Taiwan and they would still have the ability to hold the rest of the world's economic hostage, even if we meaningfully sort of weaned ourself off our dependence on Taiwan for chip production. Which gets to the flaws, I think, in the CHIPS Act. $52 billion is a lot of money, but it's a drop in the bucket in terms of what TSMC spends.

Peter Robinson: TSMC is the semiconductor company in Taiwan?

Mike Gallagher: In Taiwan, yes. There are a lot of restrictions that the Biden Administration has placed on receiving a CHIPS Act grant, which I think are gonna increase the price and negate our ability to have a chip fab renaissance here domestically. So to put a finer point on it, if we had an extra $50 billion, we should've spent it on a SHIPS Act, not a CHIPS Act in order to actually build a Navy that can deter a PLA invasion of Taiwan in the first place, thus rendering the possibility of them disrupting the chip global supply chain moot in the first place and that would've been a wiser investment of our resources.

Peter Robinson: Let's take it, you actually know this stuff, well, either that, or you persuade me that you know it, which is just as good for my purposes.

Mike Gallagher: I have good friends that are actual, like smart China people and I just like constantly am pestering them, frankly-

Peter Robinson: But what are the numbers to build the defense that we need? What are the numbers? The current federal budget is up to 1.7 trillion. Is that the number?

Mike Gallagher: Yeah, that's about right-

Peter Robinson: Something like that. Yeah. So what do we need, what do you need? If I could give you an extra 100 billion a year.

Mike Gallagher: Yes.

Peter Robinson: And let you spend it the way you wanna spend it for the next decade.

Mike Gallagher: That's a great question.

Peter Robinson: Could you do everything you wanted to do?

Mike Gallagher: Yes.

Peter Robinson: What's the number? Because it's not that expensive in, by the absurd terms of the size of the federal budget, for a great nation, it's not that expensive to build the military we need, isn't that right? Or am I dreaming?

Mike Gallagher: I've made the claim that for 10 to $15 billion. And smart folks and I, like Mark Montgomery, have made this claim too. You could fix the long-range precision fire munitions industrial base issue, which is sort of your most bang for your buck. The Navy would require more money over time, but more than anything else, the Navy or the companies that build ships for the Navy just need a consistent demand signal. That is, we're gonna get to X ships, you know, in my home state in Fincantieri, you're gonna be producing two frigates a year. We'll have a second yard that gets us to four frigates a year. We're gonna get to 2.5 Virginia class subs every year. Like you can map out the plan, have that certainty, and make that generational investment in American shipbuilding. And then you can start to get creative with things. In fact, the reason we've struggled, honestly, with the defense budget right now is 'cause the Defense Department reflects the challenge we have in the rest of society, which is that what's crowding out money for hard power is money for entitlements, it's retirements.

Peter Robinson: Lemme quote you-

Mike Gallagher: And personnel costs.

Peter Robinson: You're really good on, this is a good quotation, "The military crisis is a microcosm of the broader societal crisis. We're increasingly becoming a healthcare and retirement organization that happens to have guns."

Mike Gallagher: I said that?

Peter Robinson: Right, explain that. Explain that, well, somebody on your staff maybe

Mike Gallagher: Yeah, no, I write my own stuff.

Peter Robinson: Of course you do.

Mike Gallagher: Come on. Come on.

Peter Robinson: So explain that.

Mike Gallagher: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: Explain that.

Mike Gallagher: So I used to have the numbers at hand, but if you compare... If you compare, there's a recent book that came out by Arnold Punaro, "The Ever-Shrinking Fighting Force," which is great on this subject. If you basically compare, in inflation adjusted terms, Reagan's defense buildup, right? The heady days of the 600-ship Navy, for which I give you all the credit.

Peter Robinson: Thank you very much.

Mike Gallagher: 595 or whatever. I kinda round up.

Peter Robinson: Close enough, close enough

Mike Gallagher: To the Obama military cut, right? The days of sequester, defense sequester and things like that, we were still spending more money on, during the Obama cut, than we were in the Reagan years, but that money was going to personnel costs, right? It's healthcare, it's retirement costs. Your average cost of everything has gone up, right? So if you don't fix that fundamental issue, it's gonna be increasingly hard to spend a defense dollar wisely. Defense dollars are increasingly not spent on procuring actual weapons. They're going to fixed costs largely for personnel that's crowding out all our other investments. There's some other areas where I think you could be pretty aggressive in terms of reform, right? The tooth to tail ratio, which is like the level, roughly, the amount of sort of bureaucrats we have in the Pentagon versus people that are actually at the tip of the spear, has grown worse. The acquisition workforce is about 175,000 people strong. That's almost the size of the United States Marine Corps. The largest military service branch is not the Army. It's DOD civilians at over 800,000 people. That ratio has gotten work and good luck trying to fire these people. You'll get sued. It's almost impossible for even the secretary of defense to fire people, so that's a harder thing to fix. Oh, and the Pentagon owns one of the largest property books in the world. For the life of me, I don't understand why we can't force the United States Navy to sell all the golf courses and hotels that it owns and recycle those assets.

Peter Robinson: Now those are fighting words.

Mike Gallagher: Let's plow that money, which may only be like $2 billion, but $2 billion can buy you a lot of missiles and maybe a destroyer and two frigates.

Peter Robinson: Okay, so one other question, although this is just occurring to me, so I'm forming it as I speak, which means this will be a very sloppy question. It seems to me, I live in Silicon Valley. You're quite right to make fun of California because of the people who run the place and the tech-

Mike Gallagher: You cleaned it up in preparation for Xi's-

Peter Robinson: San Francisco got cleaned up because a big-time communist was coming. Not for the people who live there. but here's what California does have, really smart kids.

Mike Gallagher: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: The tech industry. And the tech industry is, in interesting regards, becoming a defense tech industry. So Palantir, Anduril, Epirus, there's a new company called Mach, M-A-C-H, on and on and on it goes. Does it make sense, shrink the Pentagon, just have those acquisitions, 175,000 acquisition officers spend money on these really bright kids. We can, the... Excuse me, I'll back it up. Here's the way it seems to me, and you will know more. This is one place where you actually will know more than I do. China's bigger than we are. It'll always be bigger. China's almost as rich as we are. Taken as a whole, their economy is, depending on how you measure it, some people think it has actually become bigger than ours.

Mike Gallagher: A person-in-power priority.

Peter Robinson: Because it's a totalitarian state, it'll always be able to outspend us on defense if it wants to. Our only sustainable advantage over a country much bigger and as rich is our ability to innovate.

Mike Gallagher: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: And so just somehow it seems to me as though some big part of the solution to this problem lies in that five-sided building figuring out how to tap into the talent that's bursting out everywhere in the country, not just in California. Am I saying something sensible?

Mike Gallagher: Yes.

Peter Robinson: I mean, how you translate it into policy terms.

Mike Gallagher: No, I agree with what I think is the premise of your question. I have two unoriginal solutions for it. One is ultimately-

Peter Robinson: For an immodest guy, you're terribly modest.

Mike Gallagher: Yeah, there was a great... Churchill describing Clement Atley as a modest man with plenty of modest-

Peter Robinson: And with reason. Yes, yes, exactly.

Mike Gallagher: Which is, as opposed to sort of doling out what's called SBIRs grants, Small Business Innovation Research grants. These are relatively small bets on these innovative companies that don't ultimately allow them to become programs of record and then transition into becoming the next generation of new defense prime companies, The Pentagon needs to make a smaller number of bigger bets on promising companies, which leads to the second thing, and I think where Congress needs to come in, we need to allow the Pentagon to fail, right? We need to allow the Pentagon to make original mistakes. And this gets to a cultural problem that's harder to solve in the acquisition workforce. If you're like a GS-15 or a lieutenant colonel or colonel working in the acquisition world, you don't get promoted by taking a risk on an innovative company. You get promoted by making sure you just reinforce the status quo. So some way where we can encourage the Pentagon, using the authorities we've already given them to make those bigger bets and be okay if some of those bets don't work out, to me is the path forward. I would zoom out and say something at a sort of national level that we need to do. And this will get me in trouble, I think. One of our advantages has to be the way in which we attract talent, not only in the defense industrial base, but like, globally, talent to the United States. To me the obvious path forward, and this would be a massive win with vis-a-vis China, would be to, okay, fix the unmitigated disaster that is the Southern border, but then modernize our immigration system so we make it easier for people that have critical skill sets in critical technology to come here. Maybe I'll put this in like a more cartoonish terms. In my uni, like an alternative universe that will never exist. The next Republican president would like to appoint a secretary of Homeland Security who's hardcore on the Southern border. Appoint Jocko Willink, former Navy Seal and say, "You have 100 days to get 100% operational control of the Southern border. Come back with your shield or on it, Jocko." But the deputy is gonna be a guy from your world in Silicon Valley, like Paul Graham. And Paul Graham's mission is gonna be to go all around the world on a recruiting mission. And if you are particularly in an allied country, like Australia, the United Kingdom, or a critical partner country, like India, and you have a skillset we need to modernize our military, but also just to revitalize our innovative, scientific establishment, like we want you here. And we're gonna have appropriate controls and vetting, But that has to be a-

Peter Robinson: But you know where a lot of those people are gonna be? They're gonna be in China.

Mike Gallagher: Well, again, you can insist on basic reciprocity, right? Okay, so if only 5,000 of our students are allowed to study in China, then at a minimum, that should be the cap for Chinese students here. The problem we have with Chinese students here is that the connections between, you know, civilian researcher with benign intent, PLA-affiliated researcher, member of the United Front Work Department, is incredibly opaque. We had a ban on PLA-affiliated researchers in the Trump Administration. It's hard for these universities to, we can't ask 'em to be the FBI. The FBI has limited resources to do this. So we have to do a balance of appropriate vetting if we're gonna allow Chinese students here, because we've just seen rampant theft of our intellectual property, particularly dual-use technology.

Peter Robinson: Thank you very much. You've just solved the global strategic problem, the military problem, and now immigration. Let's talk a little bit about you. You're 39, you and your wife have two little girls. You have given your 30s to politics. You're gonna keep with it? What do you want your 40s to look like?

Mike Gallagher: I think my wife wants my 40s to look like me back home in Wisconsin. I should say that this was not part of like a conscious design. To the extent I was shaping my career prior to this, I wanted to be like a national security professional or have a private sector career that would then allow me to do stints of service in the national security world. You know, if there was an opportunity to work.

Peter Robinson: Can I make an obvious point?

Mike Gallagher: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: Forgive me, because it's a very crude point.

Mike Gallagher: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: Princeton, Georgetown, Marine Corps. Why aren't you working up at Goldman Sachs? You could be making real money, Mike.

Mike Gallagher: I know, it never occurred to me in my 20s that that was a thing that one should do and all my friends did it, but-

Peter Robinson: So explain that, Princeton to the Marine Corps. What was the thought process there?

Mike Gallagher: A few things, one, I had started studying the Middle East and Arabic as an undergraduate, and I really fell in love with the language and the region. And the more I went down that sort of intellectual rabbit hole, I started to think, okay, how could I apply these skills? What does one do having learned Arabic? And the military, I don't come from a military family, but the military stood out as a way to scratch that intellectual itch while also serving my country, while also, quite frankly, challenging myself to see if I had what it took. I had always sort of taken on academic challenges. I wasn't the greatest athlete in the world growing up, but I wanted something that would combine the academic challenge with the physical challenge with the leadership challenge, right? And the Marine Corps seemed like the hardest crucible I could throw myself into.

Peter Robinson: And did it give you what you wanted?

Mike Gallagher: Absolutely, it was, besides marrying my wife, the best decision I've ever made in my life and was phenomenal. And honestly, on the private sector side, I think it opened up opportunities I couldn't have conceived of. You mentioned the fact that I wasted my GI Bill in order to get these useless graduate degrees, but that would not have been possible were it not for my service and the GI Bill. And that's a, I mean, that was a huge opportunity. So I kind-

Peter Robinson: So you're a young guy. You've already established yourself as one of the bright lights here or the former speaker wouldn't have given you this committee to chair. So that's a big deal by the standards of the House of Representatives.

Mike Gallagher: Wait, that's the key phrase. The standards of the House of Representatives. I'm being graded on a curve.

Peter Robinson: So how do you think about the next decade?

Mike Gallagher: I would like to do, I've never thought of Congress as a career, right? I'm a proponent of term limits. I don't conceive of myself of staying in politics for another decade. I would ultimately like to have that balance between a private sector career and stints of service. I mean, my passion is national security. That's always gonna be the case. I suspect if I am able to live, you know, until I'm 80, I'm still gonna be tinkering on, you know, foreign policy op-eds for the Wall Street Journal that nobody besides you will read. So that's always gonna be a big foundation of my life. I will say now being married and having kids, being away from my family is very difficult. And this is a very difficult life. And so people, I know it's easy to criticize members of Congress, but-

Peter Robinson: Your wife and the girls are back in Wisconsin?

Mike Gallagher: Back in Wisconsin, yeah.

Peter Robinson: Oh, okay. That's rough. That's rough, three and one, you don't wanna miss much of that.

Mike Gallagher: Yes.

Peter Robinson: When the girls are that little.

Mike Gallagher: Indeed.

Peter Robinson: Heroes, John Paul II, I think is one of your heroes.

Mike Gallagher: Yes.

Peter Robinson: Pope John Paul II.

Mike Gallagher: Yes.

Peter Robinson: Explain that. When you taped a video, a sitting member of the United States Congress representing Green Bay and Appleton tapes a video and puts it up on YouTube with a few words of advice to the current pontiff.

Mike Gallagher: Francis may fear that he lacks the power to confront the tyrants in Beijing, but John Paul II knew better. He saved Jewish people from Nazis, ministered to the assassin who shot him, and stood up to godless communist tyranny. He repeated those three earthshaking words throughout his homilies, "Be not afraid." As a Catholic, I pray that Pope Francis may head John Paul II's advice in dealing with the Chinese Communist Party. Holy Father, I implore you, be not afraid.

Mike Gallagher: Mass has been awkward since I published that out and I did that video.

Peter Robinson: I don't know what-

Mike Gallagher: Now I'm afraid.

Peter Robinson: I don't know what that does for your time in purgatory, Congressman, but so how does it come into your head to tape a message to the pope?

Mike Gallagher: I've been troubled by the Catholic church's approach to China and Pope Francis in particular. And of course John Paul II's message in Poland was, "Be not afraid." And I think he did play a role, as Peggy Noonan's book on John Paul II, as the more lengthy biography of John Paul II teases out, in the fall of the Soviet Union. 'Cause ultimately if you look at sort of the contest between communism and the free world, it is, in some ways, a spiritual contest. Communism, to kind of paraphrase Whittaker Chambers' book, "Witness," is really a vision of a world without God, right? It is the idea articulated by the serpent in the Garden of Eden that ye shall be as gods. And it's why Xi Jinping can't tolerate the existence of religion unless it's heavily Sinicized in China. Pope Francis has accepted this deal whereby the Chinese Communist Party gets to nominate, but effectively appoint Catholic bishops in China, which is not only a problem for the Catholic church, but it's then allowed Xi Jinping to apply pressure to other faiths in China. Of course famously the CCP wants to appoint the successor to the Dalai Lama and there's a cultural genocide underway in Tibet as there's an actual genocide in Xinjiang. And I think, oh, interestingly enough, the CCP is rewriting the Bible. The famous story in the gospel of John when Jesus defends the adulterous woman, when the Pharisees are trying to trap him and he has the greatest comeback line of all time, which is, "He who's without sin can cast the first stone," and everybody runs away. In the Chinese-approved, the CCP-approved translation of that story, when it comes time for Jesus to pick up the stone, He says to the woman, "I too am a sinner, but if the men were only executed by those without- if the law were only executed by men without blemish, the law would be dead." And then he stones the woman. So for a Christian, this is obviously, that's heretical

Peter Robinson: That's just not a nuance, that's a total-

Mike Gallagher: A story of grace and forgiveness becomes a story about a dissident challenging the power of the state, which is obviously unacceptable for Xi Jinping. And I think Pope Francis has a massive opportunity to help us with this spiritual battle. And I can't help but think the church would flourish if he bravely stood against the Chinese Communist Party. But instead he instructed Catholics in China to be good citizens, which I read as, you know, don't rock the boat. Don't challenge the party. And we have a Catholic bishop who's still in prison. We have a practicing Catholic, Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong who's in prison. And as far as I can tell, the Pope has been entirely silent on those cases, which I think is a missed opportunity.

Peter Robinson: There's one question here that I hope you're really prepared for.

Mike Gallagher: Uh-oh, this has been very hard.

Peter Robinson: Three in six, does that sound like much of a season record to you? Can Jordan Love fix that or do the Packers need to go recruit a new QB?

- [Commentator] Has a first down and tripped.

Mike Gallagher: Okay, I think this is actually like a very Catholic response to your question. I've consoled myself with the following analysis. I grew up in the, I mean, like my formative years, Favre was our quarterback. I got to meet Brett Favre in the locker room because my family had a pizza restaurant and we delivered to the Packer locker room and I got Brett Favre food.

Peter Robinson: That is cool.

Mike Gallagher: It was as if this is, now I'm challenging the church. It was as if God himself had come down and asked me to get him pizza. And then we had Rodgers, which is two First Ballot Hall of Famers. We won a Super Bowl with both. My view is that you're not allowed to complain if you've had two First Ballot Hall of Famers and a Super Bowl in your lifetime for at least 15 years after the Super Bowl. So I have a few more years where I'm not allowed to complain. And more to the point I've convinced myself that my daughters, it's healthy for them to grow up in an era when the Packers are terrible because it will build character. And if they can demonstrate that they stick with the team even when they have bad records, then they will be true Packers fans. And they're both Packer owners, so they have a vested interest.

Peter Robinson: Oh, you have shares?

Mike Gallagher: In the team? We do, yes.

Peter Robinson: Oh, wow, now, okay, last question. Diplomat George Kennan at the beginning of the Cold War.

Mike Gallagher: Milwaukee native.

Peter Robinson: Milwaukee native, spent many years at Princeton. Two connections, quote, "The decision," the decision between the United States and the Soviet Union, "the decision will really fall in large measure in this country itself. The issue of Soviet American relations is in essence an overall, a test of the overall worth of the United States. To avoid destruction, the United States need only measure up to its own best traditions and prove itself worthy of preservation as a great nation," close quote. We did, we won that Cold War. Does this country possess the moral resources to win this new one?

Mike Gallagher: Yes, I mean, I'm still long America. And there's no question, if you were just betting right now, you'd still bet on the United States. I mean, we just, our system of self-government is superior to a totalitarian regime where a group of nine people, and increasing one person, control everything. We are far more innovative than the Chinese. We have major problems we need to fix, but we have demonstrated a remarkable capacity for self-renewal. And to sort of paraphrase Kennan, the important thing is as we compete, to ensure that we don't become like the state we are competing with, to try and out-China China in an effort to beat China. I would also just point to even on our worst day, even when it is most dysfunctional here in Congress, when we're deposing speakers of the House or we have riots here in the Capitol, people are still looking to the United States of America for leadership. When protests, thousands, if not millions of people on the streets of Hong Kong protesting the CCP's absorption of Hong Kong emerged, a lot of those people were holding American flags in their hand, because they're looking to us for leadership. Put differently, we are the good guys. We're the good guys. And part of our problem is we no longer believe that. So with the right leadership, with the spirit of service where politicians, in particular, are willing to put the interest of the country ahead of their narrow parochial political careers, I think our best days are still ahead of us.

Peter Robinson: Congressman Michael Gallagher, the man from Green Bay, thank you.

Mike Gallagher: Thank you, sir.

Peter Robinson: I'm Peter Robinson for "Uncommon Knowledge," the Hoover Institution and Fox Nation, thank you.

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