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My Guest

Charles Sam Faddis (@RealSamFaddis) is a retired CIA operative, where he spent decades serving abroad in the Middle East, South Asia and Europe, culminating in his heading CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center’s Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMD) unit, which was charged with pursuing terrorist WMD programs worldwide. It was Faddis who was responsible for leading the first CIA team into Iraq, in advance of the 2003 invasion.

Faddis left the CIA when he had the chance to continue advancing up its senior ranks because he saw a bureaucracy that like much of our administrative state had grown sclerotic, heavily politicized, politically correct and thus subversive of its main objectives.

He wrote about his experience in a simply breathtaking 2009 book titled Beyond Repair: The Decline and Fall of the CIA, in which Faddis lays out the maladies of the CIA and how he would go about reforming it – recasting it in the mold of the more dynamic, risk-oriented, and arguably effective Office of Strategic Services (OSS), CIA’s predecessor.

That book has only become more relevant in a time now when vital areas from law enforcement to the intelligence community and the national security apparatus more broadly are daily being exposed at their highest levels as nakedly political.

Faddis has been one of the few longtime CIA officials to condemn those such as former CIA Director John Brennan for their words and actions, citing a massive disconnect between rank-and-file analysts and operatives in the field, versus intelligence leaders in Washington D.C.

He also frequently shares his insightful, political correctness-free, national security interest-oriented assessments of various hotspots around the world.

In light of the outcry over the revocation of Director Brennan’s security clearance and Faddis’ contrarian position, his deep knowledge of and solutions to the rot in our national security apparatus – which has real-world consequences for our safety – and his keen, clear-eyed vision as to the threats facing us, I had Faddis on the Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast to touch on all of these areas, and many more.

What We Discussed

  • Why Faddis supports revoking John Brennan’s security clearance — and the bureaucratization and politicization of the leadership of the intelligence community versus the rank-and-file analysts and operatives in the field
  • Whether politics dominates over merit in the ranks of intelligence and the national security apparatus more broadly
  • What members of the national security establishment really mean when they talk about “protecting the institutions
  • Why President Trump has been deemed a threat to the power of the political leaders within the national security establishment in a qualitatively different way than any of his predecessors — and that’s a positive thing
  • What Faddis would do to reform intelligence
  • The poor state of America’s counterintelligence capabilities
  • The lessons of Iraq regarding U.S. intervention and the national interest
  • Whether America has the capability to use intelligence to engage in ideological warfare and bring down Iran’s Khomeinist regime
  • How China’s liquidation of our spy network reflects the problems plaguing America’s intelligence apparatus
  • The long-term dire ramifications of China’s OPM hack
  • The implications of China’s attempt to infiltrate Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office
  • The threat to the U.S. homeland of a collapsing Venezuela and Mexico, combined with drug cartels, organized crime groups and Hezbollah in our hemisphere
  • Faddis’ optimistic assessment of the Trump administration’s North Korea policy
  • Why China poses the greatest long-term threat to America of all, and our willful blindness towards it

Thanks for Listening!

Check out other episodes at

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Full Transcript

The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Ben Weingarten: Sam, when President Trump revoked the security clearance of former CIA director, John Brennan, it caused a meltdown in the political establishment and increasingly, the politicized national security establishment. You wrote an article which is in accord with much of your prior writing, challenging the prevailing outrage over the president’s decision, including challenging the judgment of some of your colleagues who supported Mr. Brennan in his outrage. Why do you differ with leaders in the very institutions you served?

Charles Sam Faddis: I think that Mr. Brennan is completely out of line and has long since ceased to be anything remotely resembling an intelligence professional. So I wholeheartedly support revoking his clearance. He can say whatever he wants as an American citizen. But the clearances are another matter.

I think this support for Brennan highlights a real divide here, or maybe just highlights in general what’s going on in Washington D.C. You know, you have a number of senior — I was gonna call them intelligence professionals, but that’s not really the case — the senior bureaucrats, senior professional bureaucrat residents of Washington D.C., who were purporting to speak for the intelligence community, when in fact, you know what these guys have done for decades is ride desks in Washington D.C. and really stay close to the flag pole and climb the ladder. None of these individuals are professionals who spent their lives collecting intelligence, or, for that matter, really analyzing intelligence.

So you know, to use the term “The Swamp,” if that’s an appropriate term, these guys are the definition of that. They are the problem, and it bothers me when they purport to speak as if somehow they are talking for the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have actually gone in harm’s way because they do not.

Ben Weingarten: Did you find in your time, and do you find increasingly, that it is politics rather than merit that dictates how far one rises in the ranks of the CIA and more broadly in national security?

Charles Sam Faddis: Without question. That is absolutely true. It is something that a lot of people still don’t really realize, they don’t understand. You know when you’re in the field collecting — whether you’re working with intelligence professionals, special operations professionals – I always felt like everybody was speaking the exact same language. There was a focus on mission accomplishment, on protecting the nation, on getting the job done. And then you came back to Washington D.C. and you realized all of a sudden that we were all still speaking English, but we weren’t speaking the same language at all because now it had become “bureaucratic considerations,” you were surrounded by “yes men,” you were surrounded by folks who were focused on “what’s gonna get me my next promotion,” rather than saying, you know, speaking truth to power and doing the people’s business.

When I made a decision to leave the agency, which I made myself — in other words, I didn’t have to leave, and I wasn’t forced out, I passed up a promotion and onward assignment when I left — it was largely because of those concerns. It was because I recognized that to continue to rise upward in that bureaucracy, I was gonna have to transform into one of those things. And I refused to so.

Ben Weingarten: When you hear leaders in national security and in particular in the intelligence community talk about the need to “protect the institutions,” what does that mean to you?

Charles Sam Faddis: It means they are resisting change, and they’re protecting the status quo. And ultimately, what they’re doing is protecting themselves. These are…folks who, you know, ultimately, this is about career promotion, self-interest, as opposed to what it’s supposed to be about.

What it’s supposed to be exclusively about is serving the people’s interest, mission accomplishment, allowing Americans to sleep safely in their beds at night. Not to sound melodramatic, but that is the nature of the job. That’s the only reason all these agencies are supposed to exist.

And you know, as I wrote in Beyond Repair, you get to the point where it is clear that these agencies have failed us, as they did on 9/11, and what ought to follow from that, therefore is a really hard edge, hard nose examination: “How did you fail? And we need to right now make concrete changes to ensure that never happens again.”

And instead, the bureaucracies closed ranks. Their number one concern is protecting themselves, not in serving the people.

Ben Weingarten: So given that’s the case, would you suggest then that the virulently hostile, the aggressive attack against President Trump reflects the fact that he is viewed by the establishment as a threat to the status quo, a threat to their power in a qualitatively different way from those who have come before him?

Charles Sam Faddis: Without question. Donald Trump represents a transformation. Revolution is probably an accurate term to use. I don’t know when the last time is we have seen such a thing. I think there’s a reason why he has the statue of Andrew Jackson behind his desk because you know, it’s, it’s that kind of populist, fundamental change in outlook and in what he represents.

People say, “Donald Trump is the most transformative figure” — they’re using a Republican analogy – “since Ronald Reagan.” I think that diminishes his significance. And I say this, regardless of whether you like the man hate, the man are somewhere in the middle. I mean, I think that that misses the point. Reagan, as many great things is the guy did, still was playing within certain boundaries that had been established for a long time, probably since FDR.

This guy Trump, the president, is a fundamentally different thing. He’s about restoring power to the people, and you have this completely unelected fourth branch of government that is terrified of that. Well, I say terrify, the heads of, the people at the top are terrified. I don’t think that goes for the rank-and-file necessarily at all, but at the top, they’re terrified.

Ben Weingarten: If you were appointed in effect — I hate to use the term, but since it’s become popular in our political parlance — if you were appointed “czar” of intelligence in America, and maybe it would be Director of National Intelligence…you’re given that power, what would you do to reform and improve the apparatus?

Charles Sam Faddis: So I would say that the core of what needs to be restored is accountability, and that probably in a broader sense applies all across the government. So, this is not about, we need to go draw some new lines in a wire diagram or waste time shuffling desks. This is about just a loud, clear message to everybody in all these organizations that you will be held accountable for accomplishing your mission. Your job is not self-preservation. Your job is not self-advancement. Your job is to [indecipherable] groups that are hostile to the United States. Your job is to tell us what’s going on inside the senior ranks in Communist China, etcetera, across the globe…No excuses. No other discussion. You tried something, it didn’t work, try something else. If you can’t get with the program, you need to retire, you need to get out of here, you need to be fired. We’re going to work, we’re rolling up our sleeves. Your job is not promoting yourselves and preserving the status quo. It is to get the job done you were hired to do for the American people, and hold people’s feet to the fire. And I think maybe that sounds simplistic, but I think ultimately that is what it is all about — is requiring people to do their jobs, and if they’re not doing their jobs, you know to use a Trump expression, “You’re fired.” You’re gone. Get outta here. You work for the people. You’re not getting it done. We’ll find somebody who will.

Ben Weingarten: Throughout the entire “Trump-Russia collusion” saga — I would characterize it as hysteria — one of the rationales for various organs within the government keeping documents classified, kind of slow-walking their release, etcetera, is the invocation of national security. And we face a challenge which is that there is civilian oversight of areas, via our Congress…that are highly sensitive, and do contain secret information that we cannot have publicly disclosed. That said, how can we ever trust the intelligence community again, given what has transpired with the invocation of national security, when alternately we find that there is no national security rationale for barring the public from seeing such information.

Charles Sam Faddis: The answer is that you have to re-instill an ethic in these people, an understanding in these people — by which I mean the senior bureaucracy — that they are accountable. They do answer to the popularly elected representatives. And…anything contrary to that won’t be tolerated.

So what that means is, probably a whole lot of people need to lose their jobs. There needs to be a sea change. If I take over a military unit and it’s sloppy and inefficient, and has lost its mission and is just sort of drifting around doing whatever it wants to do, my answer — I’m going to this, you know, coming from a military background — the answer is not some magic bullet. The answer is well I’m going to re-instill discipline, re-instill accountability, people will be held accountable. You can’t go off on this personal crusade, decide to play politics as a senior member of the FBI and then continue to collect a paycheck and be tolerated thereafter. You’re out. And honestly, my experience is in these large organizations that you would be surprised how little effort it would actually take to transform that culture. In other words, you wouldn’t have to fire a hundred-seventy five senior guys because after you had fired a handful, everybody would get the message. Everybody would understand. You would not have people falling on their swords saying, “Oh my G-d, I’m going to go to the barricades resisting this change.” Everybody would understand, hey, these five, senior guys who’ve been institutions in the organization are no longer employed. Get with the program. There’s a new sheriff in town. And it will resonate like that.

And I would say to you also, I mean just as an aside, at a place like the Central Intelligence Agency with which I have the most direct experience, if you fired some senior people tomorrow, and actually made clear to people that the days of being “Yes men” and climbing the ladder through these office politics were gone and you were gonna have to earn your keep, the rank-and-file would actually probably stand up in the hallways and cheer. All the people that are there for the right reasons would say, “Oh my G-d. I’ve been praying for this my entire time in this organization. Thank G-d it’s finally happening.” Because when I wrote Beyond Repair — which is largely about the CIA and this dysfunction — in large measure, all I was doing was writing down what everybody in the Directorate of Operations says all day every day, what they complain about, how “Yes men” and bureaucrats have taken control of the organization.

Ben Weingarten: I found it interesting that during the entire Trump-Russia counterintelligence investigation that we’ve actually seen some of the most brazen abuses with respect to the FISA Court and otherwise, in this realm of counterintelligence. What is your assessment of our counterintelligence capability more broadly these days, and by our I mean America’s counterintelligence capability?

Charles Sam Faddis: Mediocre. I think across the board really, a lot of our — when it comes to human intelligence collection, and counterintelligence is largely that — that our collection is mediocre, our capabilities are mediocre, which is not really a reflection on the quality of our personnel, it’s a reflection of all the factors that we’ve been talking about.

You know, when your emphasis becomes bureaucracy, politics, ladder-climbing — I could use less polite terms – the work you need to be doing goes by the wayside.

I should say as an aside in regard to the Russian thing, the entire assertion of Russian collusion, the collusion between Donald Trump and Russian intelligence, is ludicrous. And I think everybody knows it’s ludicrous. It’s nothing but a smear campaign. It’s just a constant refrain in the hopes that somehow or other, it’ll just kind of leave a bad smell. Nobody really thinks there’s any evidence that supports anything like that.

Ben Weingarten: Now I’d like to jump into some specifics around the world, and we’ll start in the Middle East. You led a team into Iraq, a CIA team prior to our [2003] invasion. What in your view is the broad lesson or lessons today from our experience in Iraq?

Charles Sam Faddis: So I was in Iraq, I mean, my team was in Iraq, probably nine or ten months before the invasion began. So we were really the only guys on the ground…I think what you see in Iraq is unfortunately what you’ve seen in a number of other places. I believe that there are absolutely times and places when the United States needs to intervene abroad. I think that intervention needs to be driven by largely…certainly primarily our own national interests. So I believe we should do that carefully, pragmatically, judiciously and then with eyes wide open, …with a clear understanding before we go in of exactly why we’re going, what our objectives are and therefore a clear plan on how we’re going to achieve those. And then we bring to bear all of our resources to achieve those objectives. We win. We go home.

In Iraq, we began actually throughout my time on the ground almost exclusively, my understanding of our mission was, we were toppling a despot Saddam Hussein, who was a threat to U.S. national security. Whatever the status of his weapons of mass destruction program, he had demonstrated he could no longer remain in power. So, assuming that that was an accurate assessment, we accomplish that based on a lot of work on the ground before the invasion began. And then with the invasion, you know, within a matter of weeks, we were done.

And then, for reasons that frankly remain mysterious to me to this day, with effectively no forethought whatsoever as far as I could tell, we went from “Our objective is to topple Saddam,” to “We are to transform all of Iraqi society, remake its structure, its form of government, disband the entire army and fire everybody who ever worked for the government before.” So we took a very fragile pressure cooker of a country, and basically took the lid off.

Gigantic — I mean, mission creep doesn’t begin to describe it because we all of a sudden took on an entirely different mission, with no forethought, and no preparation to achieve it and something no rational person would have ever signed onto. If you read a book on Iraq, and had spent five minutes in country, you would have known all of that was a really bad idea.

So to me, the lessons lie in that. If you’re going to — we’re going to go intervene, we are invading — why exactly? And precisely what are we there to achieve? What our objectives, clear cut, and we prep for that, we focus on that, we use all of the resources at our disposal, we accomplish it with that laser focus on national interest, we come home. We don’t just go in there and say, “Hey, wouldn’t it be a neat idea now to remake the entire Iraqi political structure since we’re here,” which we did. And we set loose forces that didn’t need to be set loose. I mean, we affectively, you know, we had won the war and then we just turned on chaos.

I unfortunately think we have done similar things in multiple other places. We went to Afghanistan to destroy a terrorist safe haven, accomplish that in the course of a few months and then apparently decided, “Why don’t we try to transform Afghanistan into Switzerland in Central Asia since we’re here,” which has nothing to do with U.S. national security.

Ben Weingarten: One of the consequences of the Iraq invasion, de-Baathification and everything that followed was that Iraq became clearly a proxy of Iran, and other forces well, but Iran, in particular. In prior generations, we engaged in a War of Ideas, for example, against Communism and the Soviet Union. Do we have the capability today — to the degree to which we assess that it’s in our national interest to replace Iran’s Khomeinist regime — to use our intelligence and other elements of national power to help foment an uprising against that Khomeinist regime and topple it?

Charles Sam Faddis: Well, we certainly could develop that capability. You put your finger on something very important that most people obviously don’t think about because they’re busy with paying the mortgage and putting food on the table. To counter Soviet propaganda with the truth about what Socialism and Communism are, and so forth. We’ve allowed that capability to diminish to a very large extent. We do not battle Radical Islam with anything like the same capability, and we should rebuild that. Back to Iran more specifically, yes, we could absolutely overthrow the government in Tehran. Is that gonna happen because somebody says you’ve got six weeks to do it, go talk to some guys? No. It will take money, concerted effort, time, focus, but that can absolutely be done.

And there are a lot of people out there who, frankly, are waiting for us to do that — people who’ve been waiting for decades now for us to get serious about real change in Tehran.

Ben Weingarten: It’s been reported now, moving to Asia, that our spy network within China has essentially been liquidated, and I mean that literally, due to a cataclysmic issue with both…a double agent, and then also vulnerabilities within our communications systems. Is what has been described publicly with respect to our Chinese network being destroyed actually as cataclysmic as has been portrayed?

Charles Sam Faddis: So I’m going to focus my comments just for the sake of precision on what has been reported publicly. Yeah, it’s cataclysmic. And it’s an indication of a lack of professionalism. It’s an indication of, kind of things we’ve been talking about, of an organization that is increasingly run by bureaucrats and ladder-climbers, rather than people who, you know, made their bones running ops abroad.

The issue here is not only the compromise of a system of covert communications, clandestine communications with assets. It is apparently that the same system was utilized for a large number of assets. So I would think as a matter of common sense that even people who’ve never been spies, never run intelligence operations, could get their heads around the concept that it’s a really bad idea to use precisely the same system for covert communication with sensitive assets — like across the board, dozens of them — because what that would suggest is that if one guy gets compromised, and wrapped up, that you have now provided a template to the opposition for exactly what they are looking for.

“We caught you,” and, let’s go real Old School, “you have this type of radio that you’ve been using to talk to the Americans, well then we know what we’re looking for now. We know what frequencies were looking on. We know what type of gear we’re looking on. At some point, we can kick in the door to your apartment, and just look for certain items that we know the Americans gave you.”

This is not new. This is not revolutionary. This is real Old School spy stuff. And when you see this kind of breakdown, it ought to really trouble you because this means, okay, you know, this is, like I said, this is what happens when you got guys running the organization who are more focused on getting their next promotion, and currying favor with the boss, than they are with getting the job done.

Ben Weingarten: On the other side of the intelligence coin is China’s hack of our Office of Personnel Management files, the files with the most sensitive information on over twenty-one million applicants for federal government jobs, and folks who were in federal government positions as well. What are the long-term ramifications of that hack?

Charles Sam Faddis: Well, catastrophic. I mean because you’re not only potentially talking about information that can be used to take you to other information that can be used for blackmail, but you’re talking about information that can be used to assume the identities of people, to access all sorts of other databases and accounts. It just has a ripple effect across a huge spectrum.

But also, we should add that, even in situations that I’m not in a position to talk about on the air, the Chinese are eating our lunch across the defense industry, across private companies, across the entire United States government. We aren’t anywhere close to keeping up with them. And you know, we trot out these sort of lumbering bureaucracies, again, and these guys are just running rings around us. And this is a massive problem.

Ben Weingarten: I’ve written about the greater context of the alleged effort by the Chinese government to embed a spy within the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein, who I believe at the time this individual was serving her, was the Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. And I’ve brought up also, within that context, the fact that there has been no reporting, or very little reporting on Feinstein’s forty-year long-plus ties to China, her very dovish positions towards China and expanding trade with China massively, while at the same time, her family directly benefited from the growth of the Chinese economy.

What do you make of China’s efforts to infiltrate the office of one of the highest ranking senators, with access to the most sensitive information, like Senator Feinstein?

Charles Sam Faddis: Well, incredibly troubling and part and parcel of what they’re doing across the board on a massive scale. And the response to this from the senator’s office, you know where they acknowledged that this guy was dismissed, and he was around, but claim he didn’t have technical direct access to classified information, is just mind boggling. Right. I mean, imagine that you have the functional equivalent in the Chinese government of somebody with her access, and we have an American source on our payroll sitting inside her office. We would consider that to be a coup of epic proportions. The access that individual would have, the conversations they would overhear, the documents they would see, the insights they would provide into mindset, meetings that were being held, I mean it’s just breathtaking to think about the access. So you know, saying something to the effect that technically he didn’t have classified access is just silliness.

By the way, the guy is still around — is still floating around in California and still actually apparently doing the bidding of the Chinese government. His big focus now is on what appears to me to be trying to, you know, work propaganda against the Japanese, stir up problems between the Japanese-Americans in that alliance, which seems to me to be pretty clearly the kind of thing that the Chinese would direct him to do.

Ben Weingarten: Yeah. And you’re referring of course there to the “comfort women” issue, which the Chinese government has supported propaganda, essentially anti-Japanese propaganda, with respect to the issue of “comfort women” for many years now. And that’s, of course, all public, open source information.

Turning to our own hemisphere, it would seem that there’s a dangerous threat of both collapsing nations including Venezuela for one, and to a lesser extent, Mexico, combined with the confluence of drug cartels, organized crime and Jihadist groups such as Hezbollah, working hand-in-hand that pose a direct threat to our homeland that I don’t think is really being talked about in the popular media. What is your assessment of the goings-on in our own hemisphere?

Charles Sam Faddis: Well, I certainly concur, absolutely, with your comment there at the end there…this danger is significant and it’s not really being talked about, I think largely for you know, for the sake of shorthand, I’ll call it politically correct reasons. In other words, we’re supposed to be sympathetic to people flowing uncontrolled across our Southern Border, and therefore discussing the broader issue of the danger to national security is somehow to be avoided…This is a huge problem. The nexus between the Iranians, Hezbollah and Venezuela is well known, well-documented, has been going on for a long time. This is not science fiction. This is not cheap dime novel stuff. This is an alliance between a very dangerous Islamic regime, Iran, Hezbollah, which for these purposes represents their worldwide terrorist capability and a hostile regime right here in the Western hemisphere. That’s a massive problem.

Mexico — I don’t think people are focused on the scope of what is happening in Mexico. This is not just a matter of, there are drug gangs, and people selling drugs and some of those drugs end up coming across our border. This is violence and chaos on a scale that I think is tending in the direction of suggesting we may be looking at a failed state on our Southern Border.

You know, you have freight trains that are routinely derailed in Mexico now and their entire contents are looted. You have large sections of the country where government authority has effectively vanished, and either the narcos are in complete control, or what has replaced them are village self-defense forces because the people have to arm themselves. Every, it seems to me every other week, we discover we have a tunnel under the Southern Border. And it’s not a rat hole. It’s a several hundred meter-long tunnel with railroad tracks inside, through which tons of material are being moved into our country. You got all this going on across the Southern Border, and at the same time we’re being told we shouldn’t worry about it. We don’t really need defenses.

When I was still working in the Central Intelligence Agency and focused on terrorist weapons of mass destruction, particularly toward the end of my career, I used to say regularly in meetings with senior officials: “You know, you’re terrified of nuclear weapon, biological weapons moving into this country. You have a completely uncontrolled Southern Border across which moves tons and tons of product, and actually the other way, actually greater in volume cash. And you can’t stop that, but you think you can stop a nuclear weapon, or a small biological weapon from getting in this country? I find the prospect ludicrous. How do you think you can control that if you can’t stop the rest of this?”

And in a surprising number of cases, people would look at me and say — senior U.S. officials – and say: “Well, we’re confident that the narcos will not cooperate with terrorists because it would be bad for business.”

And I would pause and think, and then say, “So if I understand what you just said to me, logically, you’re placing U.S. national security in the hands of drug traffickers. That’s your method of controlling this threat, is counting on the good graces of people who regularly behead folks, or hang bodies from overpasses, that that those are the guys you sleep well at night knowing they’re gonna keep nukes out of the United States.”

And then, you know, there wouldn’t be any commentary because basically they don’t want to confront the issues. It’s a massive problem. I mean, we have a failing state right on our Southern Border.

Ben Weingarten: And of course, to your point, the public reporting out there — and this was reflected, for example, in Project Cassandra — is that it’s very clear that Hezbollah works with the narcos, drug cartels, on the ground, to facilitate drug transactions that ultimately are used to finance their jihadist activities, both in the Middle East and abroad. So more than troubling.

I do want to ask also about North Korea. And it strikes me that the intelligence assessments of North Korea frequently prove to be behind the curve, that their nuclear capabilities, for example, are almost always more advanced than our supposed experts tell us, and maybe understandably so given how close a country North Korea is. All that said, at the end of the day, regardless of the negotiations, and rhetoric and gestures that may occur, in your view will Kim Jong-Un settle for anything less than reunification of the Korean peninsula, and North Korean nukes arming that peninsula?

Charles Sam Faddis: I don’t know if he will. Is it possible that he will? Yes. Do I think we have a reasonable chance of making him do that? Yes. What I also think is that he will get off of this train, derail this process, take it in the most favorable direction he can at every opportunity. In other words, he will attempt to do so. I guess what I’m saying is, if we maintain pressure, understand with whom we are dealing and force this process forward without blinking, without being diverted, then I think we can get this to a favorable resolution. I think we can ultimately reach a successful conclusion, and deal with problems we have not dealt with for decades.

But you know, you can’t trust the guy as far as you can throw him. He will — the moment you blink, the moment, you let up pressure, the moment you give him an opportunity — he will take this in all kinds of directions. So…I think so far, so good is what I see in terms of the Trump administration dealing with him. But we have a really long way to go.

And to me, I mean, you, first of all, you have to be really serious about sanctions — really hurt this guy. And the other key is the Chinese. I mean that — not that they can just snap their fingers and he does what they want, but they have to understand that they pay a price, that this game they’ve been playing where they have this dog that they kind of let off the leash periodically for their own purposes, this is over — that they will pay a real price that matters to them. And there are a million pressure points for the Chinese. They think this status quo is great. Well let them know the status quo can change anywhere else. Go talk to the Taiwanese about selling them a bunch of weapons systems that we haven’t sold them in thirty years, and see how fast Beijing all of a sudden thinks they would like to see a resolution to the Korean problem.

Ben Weingarten: What is the most overlooked or underrated threat facing America today?

Charles Sam Faddis: I think the greatest long-term threat — and I don’t know that this is overlooked — I think the greatest long-term threat is the Chinese. I think that we climbed in bed with the Chinese economically, x number of decades ago. And as a consequence, not only have the Chinese benefited, but a lot of Americans, particularly folks at the top of the heap, have made a lot of money, and gotten very, very wealthy off of this evolution from moving factories out of Detroit, and putting them on the East Coast of China. They have gotten filthy rich off of this system of globalization that has hollowed out America.

I think there are a lot of people therefore who don’t want to really face the reality of what a threat China is. They keep wanting to think that somehow or another, this threat is overblown, that we’re being hysterical, we shouldn’t really worry about these guys. That’s why — I don’t know that that constitutes overlooked, but it leads to us not appreciating the scope of the threat.

You see this at the very early stages of the so-called “trade war,” how much pushback there is across the press that, “Oh my G-d, we’re going to go down this road, and it’s going to be detrimental to the United States.”

In China, every day what I read, looking at the press, is how many companies are already leaving China, and moving out because they recognize the long-term prospects are bad, and they gotta go manufacture elsewhere — either come to United States or they gotta go someplace else.

The Chinese judicial — their head judicial court — has been warning for the last few weeks about a flood, anticipated flood of bankruptcies in China, where they recognize, they see themselves that we’re headed for economic crisis — that we can’t match the Americans in this “trade war,” and a lot of people are gonna lose their shirts.

And yet, everyday, you see this drumbeat in the American press that, “Oh my G-d, we, we can’t do this. We can’t push back on the Chinese or we’ll pay the price.” So I mean, the Chinese much more than the Russians, I see long-term if we don’t manage this threat to us.

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Backed Vibes (clean) Kevin MacLeod (
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