General David Petraeus, Former Director of the CIA and Chairman of the KKR Global Institute
Thank. You. Thank. You all very much for, the kind, introduction. Dean and thank, you all for a warm welcome it, is wonderful, to be we're with you it is a, privilege. To remind, you what a privilege each of you has by. Being in the chair that you're in whether you're a student faculty, staff or. Photographer. This. Is the you, heard that there, he is right there. He can vouch that we moved that was it 20 veterans through and 30. Veterans through less, than 30 seconds, per so I mean it, the all-stars, are everywhere here at Stanford, and it. Really is a privilege to be back here that although the first time at. The business school and George, thanks for, doing. This and to all of you for twisting. My arm until, I finally showed up, thank. You sir for joining, us and for your tremendous service, to our country. General. Petraeus, before, we begin we have many veterans, with us here in the audience if. I may I'd like to ask all the veterans present please to rise so that we may recognize you. I had. A chance, to meet with most, of them beforehand, and, obviously thanked him for all they've done, particularly. Since, 9/11. Almost all of them are members, of what we termed the new greatest generation, and, very. Much deserve the recognition, that, you all have kindly just provided, to them but it was wonderful to be back these are members of my tribe I. Was, the Sheikh of the tribe in various places along, the way and, great. To spend time with them again but great to be here you know I'm in a new tribe now, the. Business world tried the private equity world, it. Actually has been great I have learned that the highest calling in life after government, service actually, is private, equity. I'm. Not joking. It really is I actually believe in. The. Concept, where you provide not just capital, but. Expertise, assistance. Support, guidance. And all the rest of that to two. Firms mostly, private although we do do public equities, by the way I must confess that I took, the position with KKR, without. A complete understanding, of the difference between private, and public equities, I've sought. To learn a few things in the last five years but, you're there's a great business world out there for those of you who haven't been in it already, and. The, the. Inherent, strengths, of the u.s. system are quite, substantial despite, the occasional.
Shortcoming. Or noise, that we may experience as well okay. Sir, we will definitely. Get to that part of your, career to. Kick things off I'd like to start with some examples of, leadership and judgment, from your military career you. Described, the ideal leadership, style, as adaptive. And affirmative. Drawing. From your own experiences. Could, you elaborate, on what that style looks like in practice. Sure, I. Mean. Adaptive, is pretty straightforward it, essentially means that you are learning faster than the competition in the battlefield, we literally, had a saying it was in the counterinsurgency Field, Manual in fact that we drafted, when I was a 3-star, back in the States between the three four star tours in Iraq we. Said that the side that learns the fastest, typically, prevails and the same is true in any. Endeavor. Any walk of life, so. You're constantly, trying to figure out how can you learn faster, how. Can you, become. A learning individual, and how can you ensure that your organization, collectively, is learning and, it's not enough just to say it or to repeat it or to emphasize it, write about it you actually have to have formal, mechanisms. To. Sit, down and consider, what, is it that we should have learned I might, in fact write here just sort of talk about because, everything keeps coming, back to, what. I've described, as the tasks, of a strategic, leader there are four of these tasks, they are equally. Valid. In the business world the, military world intelligence. World any world. Essentially. The strategic. Leader for an organization, or sometimes, co-leaders. Is the, case at KKR and many other businesses. Is. That, the. Tasks, are to get the big ideas right in other words to get the right strategy. To. Communicate, those effectively. Throughout the breadth and depth of the organization. To oversee. Their implementation. And then. To. Determine how you have to refine the big ideas and do it all over again and again and again and. Facilitating. Adaptation. And being adapt the leader means. That that fourth step, is a formal, step this isn't something that you just sort of do while you're running or in the shower, moments. Of reflection or, something like that you. Have to actually sit, down and there's a structured, process, by which those, who are who. You're privileged, to lead and it could be one, hundred sixty five thousand, American men and women in uniform and the surge or two hundred and fifty thousand and Central Command, or, you, know it can be sixty, people in a start-up but. The strategic, leader has, to get those tasks, right regardless. I. Often. Said that the surge in Iraq that mattered most was not the surge of forces we added 25,000. 30,000, forces to an existing, nearly. Hundred and forty thousand, and drove, violence, down by eighty five percent. Eighteen months after it had been going up and up and up and up and up and. The reason for that was not the extra forces it wasn't that surge it was the surge of ideas, the big ideas, and every one of the big ideas was, a hundred, and eighty degrees different, from what we were doing before most, significantly, was. That we'd been withdrawing, from, living, with the population, getting out of the people's faces as it was termed because, we thought we were part of the problem instead of part of the solution, and because, the Prime Minister wanted us to hand off more rapidly to Iraqis, tasks. That they couldn't handle but, we were consolidating. On big bases and the, more we did, that you, ended up with a situation that was captured brilliantly, in a New York Times story, the, title of which was driving. Around Baghdad waiting, to get blown up this, is how a sergeant. First class described. What he was doing on a daily basis in Iraq because, they'd basically leave, their big base that. Go drive around the neighborhood a few times every, now and then they'd get blown up and then they'd go back to the big base generally, for. Dinner or for the night obviously. That does not provide, security, to the people which is the number one task, and the foundation, on which all else is built if you don't have security obviously you don't you, can't do anything else and keep, in mind that when the surge decision. Was made in December of 2006. There, were 53, dead, civilian. Bodies due to violence every 24, hours just in Baghdad, that's the capital city of the country obviously. There's nothing going on except for survival, so, again you've got to improve security and big. Idea number one was you have to live with the people to secure them and. Again. Number. One task is to secure and actually to serve the people next. Was by the way stop handing off the Iraqis, take it back over even if not formally, third. Was you have you can't kill or capture your way out of an industrial strains, insurgent so you have to reconcile, with.
As Many of the rank-and-file. As you possibly can that meant sitting down yep with people who had our blood on their hands something. That the battalion, brigade commanders, brought to my attention as, you might imagine but, and I would remind. Them that this is how these endeavors. End so Big, Ideas our crew. By the way they don't usually hit you on the head like Newton's, apple fully-formed, if you sit under the right tree you. Tend to get hit on the head by a seed. Of a big idea and then you have to sort of shape it like a clay object, play ideally. You. Do it transparently. Very, inclusively, because you want everybody feeling as if they're inside the tent because you know what happens if they're outside the tent and so. That. Process, and then it's iterative as, well you're constantly, refining the big ideas, but. What got me started on this is again the need for that fourth step which is a formal, process, in. Our case we had all these lessons learned teams on the battlefield, I used to remind them that they weren't learning. Lessons, they just, identified, lessons, but I wasn't going to change the signage, on all of their headquarters that would cost too much but. They just needed to understand, that a lesson has only learned once. It's actually incorporated, in the big ideas communicated. In the mission statement the the, civil-military campaign. Plan all the rest of this and. Then overseen, and again there's many many subtasks. For each one of these by the way I've actually spelled this out for. Those who want to get more on it there was at the Harvard Kennedy School the Belfer Center has. A website, that. We created on strategic, leadership just Google Petraeus on Street strategic. Leadership at the Belfer Center so. We've worked our way through that and so again the, adaptive, component is something that's not just a state of mind or a phrase, or an, ambition, it's, a formal. Process and by the way the great business leaders of America, when you talk to them typically, have something. Just. Like that and I'll give the example of Netflix, perhaps, Reed. Hastings is, one of the extraordinary. Leaders. Of America, he's Jeff, Bezos others, that are just incredible. At being, able to continually. Reinvent. The big ideas, or to develop additional big ideas, so. If you think about Netflix the original big idea was we're gonna put blockbuster, out of business by mailing, videos, to. Customers, and movies so. They that's the big idea they. Communicate, it not, too big a firm then they oversee, the implementation by, the way there's metrics, there's the battle, how, their leader spends his or her time and then, they get down to the bottom and after a couple years they say well you know what blockbuster, went out of business but, now everybody's, mailing CDs to their customers, so what do we do now, new, big idea we. Are going to download. Broadband. Speeds are fast enough now consumers. Customers can, download videos, so that's the new big idea communicator to oversee it get. Down here 2 years later this, has been fantastic. You know we're scaling and everything else but now everybody, else is offering, downloaded. Content, so what do we do now well we create, our own content, 100 million dollars on house of cards alone.
Communicate. It do, it get. Down here gosh, this is fantastic but, now everybody's doing that as well so, what do we do now well now let's get into blockbuster MIDI movies. You know the real big productions. And. They've done seriously, well there too they've won a bunch of awards at, the con film cluster well I think of the Academy, Awards or whatever I wasn't. That impressed by the first movie that came out which had Brad Pitt playing Stanley, McChrystal general McChrystal, is that. McChrystal. Has a much better sense of humor than Brad, Pitt ever did and he's not wooden and you know he sort of go around like a little automat, on besides, I was really hoping I've. Been hoping that Brad Pitt would hold out to play me but. There. Was a little cameo in there but the guy he's a bit tall. Come. On I mean you know if, that tall guy could play Henry Henry, Kravis in, barbarians. At the gates you know Brad, good editorial, license, it's it actually, I had, a tiny cameo, in that movie I've actually never watched it in all honesty, I watched the preview, or what-have-you but there's a so, the guy who was the gladiator, played. Me briefly, in that movies anyway. So this. It. Worked out a little bit for the part but you know anyway. So. That's the adaptive, piece, affirmative. Leadership, is is. A construct. That is based. On a, belief, that. Everybody. You're. Privileged to lead wants, to be all that he or she can be that, they really do want to be the, very best now. Look if you're honest. You. Know outside of Stanford and Harvard and a few other places that may or may not be completely, true it, still, is the way that you ought to act until, folks. Prove that you should act, that way and so what I mean by affirmative, leadership, is you know. Instead of saying hey George you better have that damn report on my desk by Monday. At noon or I'll have a piece of your backside. I say, George man, I heard people are talking, already about this report you're gonna get to me on noon and on, Monday and wow, I'm really excited about it already they say it's really going to be terrific, gonna set the world on fire I don't know if I'll be able to sleep on Sunday night I'm so excited about it do you want to double size you're single space you, know you. Know look I've just put a whole you know big rock in his rucksack he, knows he's really, got to produce now but I did, it affirmative, Lee, rather. Than negatively. And so, that's the concept I think that. We talk about they're. Fantastic. A lot of useful leadership, lessons there don't forget pre-emptive, praise so. This is where you walk into Prime Minister Maliki in the. Iraqi White House and you. Say Prime Minister, I no. Need to say anything I have heard that, you are pursuing, this particular, initiative, and that you're working out the construct, of it and how to implement. It and all that don't need to say anything Prime Minister because of course he hasn't no intention, to do this at all but. You just keep going and going and going until you realize he's finally sort of capitulating. Petraeus. Will never stop until I just say okay yes, I am pursuing that initiative and then, of course he does and it succeeds, and he said man I had this initiative, general wouldn't had a great initiative that I had again. Consider, that approach as well. I. Wanted. To return a little bit to your military career you've talked a bit about the surge and. You. Know I think. All of us could benefit a lot from understanding. How. You at, this point, you stake your career, on this on this strategy, how. Did you handle any doubts. Or concerns, you might have had about the strategy, well. First. Of all I mean at the end of the day it's all about results, and. You know I was born and raised. By a old. Crusty, Dutch c-captain, Dutch American and a librarian, mother, and. I, remember, when I'd come home from school or something like that and you know it wasn't always or it wasn't exactly what it should have been he just sort of looking and I'd start offering well you know I just had, so much going on in the sports and all those you, just sort of look at me until I stop and say results, boy and.
Results. At the end of the day, was. What enabled, us, to, continue, the. Surge we had six months basically to show that this was going to work I knew that during the confirmation hearing, I was really. Sort of forced, to agree to come back at six months then I came back at three months but behind, closed door is very different, dynamics. And when all the cameras are on it was sort of a scene like we, saw setting, up this morning on the news, for. Mark Zuckerberg I, mean just the whole well is full of cameras but by. That six-month, mark, eight. Of the final eleven week saw a precipitate. Drop in. Violence, in so, now you have something that is very. Very. Substantial. And then it kept on going and ultimately, as I mentioned it was down by eighty five percent over, 18 months so. At the end of the day it's really about results, now what did I do upfront well, I sought to convey to them this is what we're going to do these. Are the big ideas these, is this is how they're, different from what we have been doing, the. Interesting, thing is that I mean nobody, gave us any guidance for that I mean people think that we were sent over there to implement. A quote. Comprehensive. Civil military counterinsurgency. Campaign, not. At all and we just selected. Confirmed, and get over there and fix. But we'd had the this fortune, experience, of 15 months where I was back between the three and four star tours during which we did the counterinsurgency Field, Manual two, special editions of military review counter insurgency writing, contest, reshaped. Everything. About the so called road to deployment the very first seminar, all. Of the tasks, for leaders collective. Training. Individual. Soldiers. Organizational. Structures, equipment, everything, so. That they were also much, better prepared but we had then the intellectual, foundation. That. Gave us the confidence to reverse, what we were doing, in. Again, sort, of ironically, or paradoxically. A month. Before the surge decision, was made the president went out to Amman, Jordan he, couldn't even land in Iraq it was too dangerous and the, prime minister of Iraq went over there to meet with him and they actually agreed to accelerate, what, we had been doing throughout 2006. Which, was again to consolidate, on big bases handoff to the Iraqis release. Detainees, all the stuff that we reversed, completely. I actually, wasn't aware of that fully until. I got on the ground and was confronted, by the national security advisor of Iraq over that and at. The end of which in the very first week ambassador, Crocker wasn't even there and I said, doctor. And I knew him from the three-star tour I said. If it is the intention of the prime minister to take those actions in, other words to accelerate, what we have been doing and I might remind you that we've, assessed, that the strategy, is failing, so you're going to fail.
Faster, If, that's your objective. Please. Ensure, that the prime minister knows, that, he, should convey, that to President Bush tomorrow and the normally scheduled, videoconference, which I understand the commander and ambassador always attend but. He should know in advance that if he chooses to do that he is going to do it without me because. I will be on the next plane to Washington and I intend to take the policy with me that was a fairly big deal that was sort of what you might term it all in a moment and I didn't sleep real well that night until I took ambien, and. Then. And, then set the next day on the edge of my chair the whole way through and never heard anything from it again and so, we were able to go ahead and implement what. It was that that we intended, to do so. You. Try to explain what what it is you're going to do then obviously as you start implementing, it you start trying to lay out for them this is what it's achieving by the way the challenge, was and I told Congress, this in advance I said. It's going to get harder before it gets easier because we're going back into the neighborhoods we're going to have to fight to, get back into most of these in fact it was a drill, you literally had to come in at last light and have it completely, established with concrete. Walls all, around it by, the time the Sun came up because you'd have at least one sometimes two suicide. Car bombers coming, at you as, quickly as they could they could generate them and. So it was a very very challenging period and in fact violence, did go up casualties went, up but, then thankfully as I said they crested and then started but, already Iraqis. Civilian, casualties, were going down and other very key indices. And metrics were, going down so. Again. At the end of the day though as you, all know. Already and and, have had reaffirmed, here I'm sure in your courses, it's. About result it is about the bottom line it is about laying, that out and understanding. Why it has done what. It has done so. That was a time, when you very powerfully, delivered the results, you've. Also had to deal with personal, and professional setbacks.
In The public spotlight, could. You give us some advice about how to deal with those setbacks yeah in public yeah look I mean first of all it just you. Just have to understand. That. Life, is not full of high-five, moments. There. Are setbacks there, are, collective. Organizations. Screw, things up individuals. In those organizations we, had a good. Petunia Sarge at one time well-meaning, who, decided. To use pages of a Koran for target, practice at, a small range that we had at every Combat Outpost and. Local. Worker at rocky worker found, it you, know immediately reported. It and boom. And. So you know you end up going to the prime minister. Apologizing. Publicly the president United States called I mean these things happen, and then you, know you'll make mistakes of your own try not to obviously. But. But, that happened and obviously I, did, and experienced, that and I think that you, know what you do in a situation like that or any situation, where there has been a. Mistake or a setback or a shortcoming, is, you, know I determined. Specifically. What did happen. Why. Own, it publicly, acknowledged, it. Apologized. Word if that's required and most, importantly, determine, how, to mitigate, the risk of this recurring, in the future look. We spent that I mean, that entire, surge tour was spent, frankly, with. That process, going fairly, regularly. I. Remember. At the end of it to give you a sense of what that experience was like I, had, this fantastic, chief, warrant officer three. Or four, who. Was, my he. Was the head of the security detachment that we had I don't know if we had somewhere, between forty and sixty people something like that that. Most of those rotated. Because there again I was there for nineteen and a half months on that tour but. He was always he stayed and by the way he went with me to CENTCOM, and he went with me to Afghanistan tremendous. Guy, anyway. We're coming to the end of the surge and and, every. Now and then at night we. Lived in a huge old palace. Complex, and it was had a man-made lake in the center of it it's quite vast I mean we had a six mile running route inside, this. Compound, but, I'd go for a walk late. At night before turning in and just to sort of gather thoughts and think about things and we just walk along the water and then come back and he would always go with me we didn't need any buddy. Else but just to make sure and he, had communications. As well and. Normally. We didn't talk and, like that beyond. A few pleasantries and, this time we were about halfway through it and I attorney. He said sir can I ask a question I said sure Keith he, said what has it been like you. Know you what's. It been like to command, a surge you're, criticized. You were vilified you're, attacked by a full-page, ad in the New York personally, by. An. Activist, organization on, the day of your biggest testimony, I mean a sort of we've had tough casualties, we've had this we've had that but I got it's worked and now, everybody, even their fiercest, critics acknowledge, it you know what's it been like, and. I said chief, it, has been the most awesomely, awesome of experiences. On. A good day and we. Had less than this number of. Good days so. I mean it's a grinding, experience, and leadership is like that.
Again. Leadership, is not, always in, in an upswing cycle, you know we're we're we, were actually trying to remind ourselves at, KKR, that, were a hundred and four or 105, months into this particular recovery. It's it's approaching. The second longest in our history, I think. 120, is the longest, ever we. Have people in the firm who have never been in that firm when there has been a downturn, and. So, we're actually talking about wargaming. The, winter is coming scenarios. I, didn't know what that was and they had to explain to me that there's this series, called Game of Thrones or, something I, guess. Winter is always coming or something but. But. That's so, we're actually you. You, and again we know there's gonna be tough times during that and so what is it you do to prepare for that how do you how. Do you you, know prepare yourself, personally for, that kind of experience but, it is it's. A grinding, experience, and the more public it is the more you, know you've been run up the flagpole. The. More that is the case and then. Those those grinding, experiences. You. Clearly need to have a lot of internal, strength since. Since you stepped. Down from the CIA you've worked very hard to, build a new career and continue, serving the country in those. Difficult, years that followed, how. Did you summon the strength to carry on. Well. I think you know you, got to realize that life goes on or it should and. Then. You start, figuring out okay you. Know what are the options, what, is it that would be fulfilling. Rewarding. You. Know help pay for the grandkids education. And a few things like that. And. In. My case it, was the, idea of intellectual stimulation. I don't. Mind travel, I mean we just I was in 22, countries last year alone one of them I think six or seven times and. So. You know busting. Your butt is is okay, I mean I've got many, of my West Point classmates, are literally completely, retired, some. Of them are literally down in golf communities, in Florida riding, around in golf carts and try. To persuade, me to come down there and you know what an awesome thing that is and I think. That's where I might actually, pull, out the service pistol, and consider. It but. I. Mean. I you know you can you I actually outlined, a leadership, book it. Was titled, relentless. :. Leadership. Lessons learned - - some, of the hard way and. So. But. I was very very fortunate I mean people called immediately, and said hey when you're ready to resurface, caught up come on up I knew Henry Kravis before, that was one of the he was one of those but there are a number of others so. There were tremendous options. But then I deliberately, also. Chose. To do some that were in the academic, world I taught, for three and a half years every week actually at the Honors College of, the City University of New York did. It for $1 a year the first year when again that same or, one of the activist, organizations, objected, to the great salary they were gonna pay me, but. It was about again the intellectual, stimulation, the fun of interacting, with students, it was of course called the North American, decades which is what I contended. Follows. The, American. Century and precedes the Chinese, or Asian, century. And the, number of s is on the end would depend on how effective, Washington. Is at turning. Legislative. Regulatory. And, policy headwinds. Into tailwind, particularly, with a focus on there were four revolutions, that we're we. Explored, with, a policy, perspective the IT revolution, which is the basis for most of the others the energy revolution unique, to the US and our circumstances. In a tribute to the US because it's only happened here, the.
Manufacturing, Revolution and then the life sciences, revolution, it was just great, and then I have. A chair at USC, where I spend a week per semester including. Hosting, a startup event most. Of the times that I'm there sometimes, it's every other but. We bring in 45, or so venture capitalists, I'm actually personally. Invested. In 15 different startups, which I just enjoyed doing in part. Because I, really, enjoy young leaders with great big ideas, it's, very exciting and then you can help them. Then. You have the firms. In which were invested, I hosted the co-founder, of lyft for dinner last night here we have a big Menlo Park office. So, it's a great, stimulating. Life. I'm also on the speaker speaking, circuit you know the highest form of white-collar crime, in America I. Have. I want you to know I've waived my outrage. Of speaking fee for this great privilege. But. We are grateful, for that and then there's. You. Know the 4/4, think tanks that I'm actively engaged. With and then about a dozen veterans organizations. And so plus. We have a grand, new brand, new granddaughter, and. Our. Son's dog he's actually up at Harvard Business School doing, the JD, MD JD, MBA program, and, and. Daughter. And son-in-law I live nearby so it I've, been very very fortunate but you know you. You. I was gonna use this at the end but I might use it here. Luck. And I bidding, I don't. Know accused of or described, as being lucky at a number of different ventures. Over the years. Including. Command, and General Staff College, graduate. School, you. Know Iraq and all these others and. You. Know my response to that not necessarily, directly when people are saying that but is to offer that I think luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. And. I really sought, to prepare for these opportunities I'm, very. Very serious about that and. You. Know you don't want to sound presumptuous. At, all but. When. I will be, back when I was a second lieutenant you. Know I never really expected you're gonna get to this but by God you know I wanted to be prepared if the opportunity, came along and I'd, been pressed by this statement that Napoleon. Used to say that every corporal, has a field marshals baton in his rucksack in, other words you know be, ready you never know corporal, could be called you, know Petraeus, for field marshal and so. We were actually jumping with the british paratroopers. When. I was in my first assignment, and we. Had an afternoon off we jumped all morning and the guy said well you wouldn't my fellow. British, lieutenant host. Said you want to go to the pub and I said yeah but let's stop by the, this. Service. Store they have stores outside all the bases, in which they sell old, kit new kit and all the kinds of bells and whistles that you put on your uniform and I. Said you know I'd like to see if they have a field marshals baton used. Sort. Of looked at me strange, but anyway we went in there it was run by an old retired regimental, sergeant major, these guys are super crusty, and. He. Said well you, know what do you have and I said both sir major I wonder if you have any used field marshals batons oh, he. Said fresh out of those mate but you know we have this little swagger stick and I. Actually bought the swagger stick I tied, it to the frame of my rucksack which, I used all the way through I think two-star, division, command and with. Green, cord 550. Cord as the veterans here would note burned, on either end and tied off of the proper knot and, nobody. Else could really see it but, it was there for me and every, time I lifted, that rucksack, which had to be thousands, of times over the years I, took it on and took. It off and put it on it, was there reminding, me that you know you'd need to be ready you need to be prepared, your, individual. Study or experiences. Your professional. Development all, the rest of that stuff be, serious about that and you'd do it you know with a smile with a joke with a try. To be self-deprecating, or, whatever but at the end of the day in the back of your mind has to be that. This actually could happen and to be truthful I mean but for a few months here or there at different junctures, none, of it may have happened, but. You. Know that's what you do in my post government, stuff you know did I prepare for that gosh I don't know I mean I did do the academic stuff, I did not. At the I'm thinking, that was what I was gonna do mingle, with people who invited. Me to speak at their their. Dining room in New York but mostly just because I was trying to convey. To people what we were doing and these were influencers. And a great opportunity, by. The way a great, you know so people asked how did you get to know Henry Kravis and I said well his wife who's.
A Serious. Intellectual in her own right. Shot. Me an email out of the blue one time he's a three or four star and I was, gonna be in New York doing something the Council on Foreign Relations she, saw it and noticed that there was no dinner offered, and so. She said you know you got to eat why don't you eat at our place and we have a pretty good track record of people coming who were invited, in fact she said you can ask, us to invite people so. I said super thanks, so much Marie josée could, you invite Henry Kissinger Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Kelly I. Think. Was Richard. Holbrooke and then, a couple of noted intellectuals. And, they. Did and every single one of them showed up and I learned later, you. Know if you don't show up at Henry Kravis table, they do a leveraged, buyout of your firm the next morning. Speaking. Of preparation. We. Have a class at, Stanford called managing, difficult conversations. In. The spirit of this class let's. Imagine that you are President Petraeus, you're, sitting across a North Korean dictator Kim Jimin. It's. The first face-to-face meeting of, the leaders of the two countries. How. Would you make this conversation, successful, well. Again this is all about preparation it's all about. Detailed. Study. And under nuanced. Understanding of. What has transpired before. What. Do we think they have met when they have used the term nuclear disarmament. In the past hint, it's not what we think it means and. On and on and on all the dynamics, as, much as you can learn about an individual, who is the, most difficult, intelligence, target in the world because he's inside the Hermit Kingdom. Famously. Difficult place to operate. To say, that it is a quote denied, area. As the term is in the intelligence, world would be a bit of an understand, so. I think this is all about. Very. Very rigorous preparation, very. Rigorous. Talking, points with branches, and sequels you know if this then that and, and. So forth but. You know certainly also trying to establish a relationship, to see if that is possible is there really can you. Actually. Have, some kind of meaningful strategic. Relationship, I am a huge, believer, in. Efforts. To have a strategic, dialogue I, believe that you should we, should be having that with China it's difficult, if the key. Diplomats, are changing, at the rate and the key national, security team members, are changing, at the rate that they have been but this, is crucial I mean if, you think about what people like Henry Kissinger were able to do or others over the years that had the big breakthroughs, this came after a lot of back and forth you. Know you talk about. Luck. Being what happens when preparation. Meets opportunity Henry. Kissinger used to run a summer I think it was called the summer center of seminar of the senior seminar I went back I actually one point read everything that he wrote including. The books about him which described, how he prepared, for, these opportunities, that he had during. The eight years that he was national security adviser and then Secretary of State it was very very deliberate. He. Would, sought to meet every you. Know junior leader around the world attract him to Harvard have, interaction, with them get to know them ahead of time and then, of course once he was in office he'd just beat himself up, on planes and everywhere else personally. Engaging with them and again having, true strategic. Discussion, discussions, now we have to be very careful, to have limited. Aspirations. For the results of a first meeting, noting. That you know that that Kim jong-un had never even met the. President. Of China, the. Country with which North, Korea has, ninety percent of its trade back and forth until. Just a couple of weeks ago so. He's, also not the most schooled, of individuals, when it comes to this, but. Look. This there is hope out of this I think, this. Is not a forlorn, hope and by the way some of this is. The result of the so-called maximum. Pressure strategy, that has been pursued I'm not saying that I have used all of the rhetoric that, has been deployed at different times or that message discipline, has been a sterling.
Feature Of everything that's taking place here but. The fact is that a, willingness, to rattle, the saber has, gotten, Chinese attention, that, has forced them together, with UN Security Council resolutions, that are unprecedented, to. Actually really, tighten. Down on the umbilical cord that literally, keeps the lights on in Pyongyang, and. Again 90%. Of it running to and from China. So that has been a key, catalyst. For what is happening and folks. Who have been part, of that deserves, some of the credit for that without question and. And. Now we'll see if again, this very, rigorous, preparation can be undertaken in. Order to capitalize, on the opportunity, that that results, and. You've spoken a bit about how this, saber. Rattling is taking place very publicly, with a lot of media coverage it, seems that there is a real role for, the, the conflict. And its resolution in in the way that the media are managed drawing, from your own experience, could you talk a bit about how, you how. PR, and image management yeah have, shaped, your strategy, and its implementation sure. Let, me start. By just saying again we had big ideas for everything, during, the surge and but, not just in Iraq but in Afghanistan, as well many, some of them carried over to Afghanistan, but I also. Note that the. Very first time I did, an assessment of Afghanistan, which is when my way home from a three star tour in Iraq as. Secretary, Rumsfeld, to request when i briefed the secretary, on. Return home the, very first slide was titled Afghanistan. Does not equal Iraq and laid out all the different ways in which it's, tremendously. Different and hence. The reason when I was Central Command commander and, then the. Nominee. For, command, in Afghanistan, that I said that we are not going to be able to do in Afghanistan what we did in Iraq we can't flip this place there's no way that. Changing. The big ideas is going to have such a dramatic you know by the way to be fair general McChrystal's, already, been implementing, so I'm going to be building on. What it is that he has already been. Putting into place. But. The big idea, that I had about dealing, with the press, was quite simple it was to be first with the truth, it, was again, if you have a bad day we had a tremendous, General, Officer for example when I first got there who just. Found it difficult to go out to the podium look these were horrible, days that we're having I mean they blew. Up a part of the Parliament they dropped the old historic, bridge right in the centre of the Tigris River, blew. Up the mosque again, or a minaret of the mosque that had touched off the violence the previous year the summer a mosque, just. Day after day of this kind of stuff and what you have to do when that happens is you go out to the podium and you say we. Had a horrible, day today in, Baghdad, there were three markets, that were bombed by four suicide, bombers, and 250. Innocent, Iraqis were, killed and then, you have to talk about okay what are we learned from this what are we gonna do about it by the way what we ultimately had to do was a wall off these. Markets, were some of which were a mile long just, on a street and then went several streets in. And. They became no Drive zones and. So then we had to start searching the hand cards but again this is a level that you have to go to he. Found it difficult after, a while to. Go out and I remember we had a horrible, day in Baghdad, one time and went out and started talking about yes we got the soccer league is gonna get going again look there were areas. Of progress but if you have a horrible, day you don't lead with that and so we decided at that point that it was time to allow. That individual, to move on because you've got to be first with the truth just lay it out and. Get it out there beyond. That I actually had a briefing, that I developed, I think it was again when I was back from, the three star tour, and. It was titled dealing, with the press and, it started out it, said, you can't win if you don't play and I had a whole bunch of sort of happy examples, of me and the cover of this or this you know kind of nice stuff and and it all came because I was open to the press and had Rick Atkins riding, and back of my Humvee to the fight to Baghdad, and this that and the other thing.
Then. It said you can't lose if you don't play and, now there's some unhappy, ones like when I had the Washington Post, or with me where we decided. To reopen a border with Syria on our own in the first year first. Months in fact and. We go out there and cut the ribbon and there's hundreds. Of trucks lined up to come in all with goods for the marketplace and by the way we'd found money. So that workers of nainawa province Mosul, were gonna be paid by. The way what had happened is we found the money I found the guy and he said you know he could didn't have the authority to pay it but he said but you do I said you're right I do he said make it an order so I signed an order to I mean it's a great no, stamp so, we went out in the souk and bought a stamp anyway so they're gonna pay this workers, but. With my clever economics. Knowledge, from, grad school I realized that we were about to dump more money on a closed economy and the result of that would be, inflation. And. So had. To get more, goods into the marketplace went to the governor we had the first election, in Iraq we already had a governor a partner, said, what do we do he said have you considered reopening the border with Syria I said I didn't even know we closed it remember we, weren't supposed to go to Mosul we didn't have maps were we didn't have anything when we were ordered. Up there and so, we were still doing a lot of discovery, learning so anyway we decided to open it up we got the legal team with the UN Security Council resolutions. Governing trained in promulgating, instructions, a great brigade commander went out and then, the governor I'd go out and hide a Washington, Post reporter, and it was an extraordinary, day I mean it's just it was one of those very very, rare awesome, days in Iraq because. You've really made a difference in people's lives you know there's about a thousand, sheiks there all applauding. And thanking and we're wheeling with Apache helicopters. Around and I'm waving you. Know the shake of the biggest tribe in northern Iraq and, as. We're coming out this washer and riposte reporter says general what is this like I mean my god you've just reopened, a border you've, helped. The. Existence, of thousands. Of people of Western Nainoa province, and I said well you know it's it's, it's, pretty. Exceptional it's sort of like a cross between being, the Pope and the president, you. Know what the headline in the Washington Post was the next day now. I survived, that so you can't lose if you don't play and, so, a lot of people concluded. Therefore that you know the the. Best press policy is. Never. Never, pass up keeping your mouth shut. But, then I said but you've got to play and. Then held a whole bunch of examples you know it's not my army it's America's. Army and America's, mothers and fathers. Sons. And daughters or whatever have a right to, know what's going on and we have an obligation to, do it so we walked our way through that and I. Truly believe that it was hugely important, there have been people who have gone through missions, and never gave an on-the-record interview, never interacted, with the press never. Took them with them we always had people with us it, doesn't mean you're gonna get favorable, coverage it. Lists least it means that they have been exposed to it and. We brought people over we brought think tankers over who had criticized, us we brought think tankers overs who had who, had praised this some of this stuff was hugely, important, I, remember. It was an op-ed piece by Mike. O'Hanlon of Brookings and, his. Comrade. Also. I guess, at Brookings her AEI, that. In June. Or July of, the surge so, before we were saying it said, you know the surge just may be working, and by the way he took huge flack for, that except. That he proved was proved to be right so, again you've got to engage not just with the press but with again with so-called, intellectuals, influence, makers. Stanford. Business School you know whatever it is and. We used to do a lot of that when I was the Central Command commander back from the surge in Iraq we. Would take usually two days a month and we would do, it in outreach and we'd go to a city go to Atlanta, you do CNN. Editorial. Board you would do Georgia. State. You know what's the the. One. Of the great universities, that was there we'd do a couple of things with them we'd. Do the Atlanta Constitution and, then, we'd do something with some, other gathering. Maybe, the business executives, from northern National, Security or whatever it was and, we. We, really worked hard at that and you just beat yourself up doing that you. Have to have a very efficient, structure, I mean I'd combo guys with me all the time so you're staying in touch but. But I felt it was very important, and we did that most, of the major cities in.
America Thank. You sir we're, going to turn it over to the audience for a couple questions and then close so if we could get the first question from the audience, Thank. You general, Burgess thank you for being here as a former Marine Semper, Fidelis semper, hai for. The past three decades the, foreign, policy establishment has, taken it for granted that global, engagement is good for the United States the. 2016. Election however suggests, that the American people might not feel the same way as a, strategic. Leader how, would you what, big idea would you use to bring our foreign and military policy in, line with the values and interests of the American middle class and how, would you communicate it, and. They could be start again by being first with the truth you, probably have a decent. Approach, and by this I, mean that. Political. Leaders and policy makers I think, have tended, to focus. On the pluses. Of trade, deals of globalism, of, opening. Our. Economy. To others and then, welcoming, other countries, into it shine into the WTO, and and, so forth and so on but. Have. Sometimes, been. A little, bit less forthright, about the fact that there are losers as well as winners when you have a trade deal, and. I, think. You have to go into this and this is a challenge, because the losers, this is an existential, issue for them I mean in NAFTA, once. We didn't have to I think. Every, shoemaking. Company, in America, except for maybe one in New England literally. Went out of business the clothing, manufacturers. In North Carolina. And the eastern coast, went out of business again. There, were there, were significant. Shifts, and certain sectors, were completely. Decimated. And I, think what you have to do is say look here's, what is. Going to happen again. To the best, of your predictive, ability, then. Say. In view, of that we are going to have there's something called taa Trade, Adjustment Assistance, that, is, going to be longer. And more. Substantial than we have ever done it in the past we. Are going to help these sectors, that are affected, to, relocate, to, re-skill, to. Adapt, and to, learn and so forth and those that you can't, we will be, with them for life but. I think that's the kind of approach that you have to have rather. Than just this. Kind of simplistic, again. Assumption, as you noted, that globalism. Is good well actually it's not for everybody. Some, are literally losing their livelihoods. Because. Of that beyond. That I mean I think right now we have to acknowledge as, an example that. Many, of our hopes, and aspirations for. China's. Entry into the, global. Trading and, World. Trade. Organization, and the rest of this that. As they. Got, more in meshed in trade as they were more, prosperous, as they engage more, in the world that. Inevitably. They. Would become more open more transparent, more. You, know like us and. That actually, has not been the case and, and again. You. Can talk. About the. Messaging, and the message discipline, and some of the rhetoric and all the rest of that without question, but. I think this administration is. The first that is actually doing something to reflect. That. The, challenges. That some of this has created for certain, sectors, of the. United States I am a globalist, I do believe, that the the US should continue. To lead the rules-based international, war, I do, believe, that that rules-based international, word, has, served the world, reasonably. Well since. It was established in the wake of a 50-year period which saw two world wars in the Great Depression but. I also acknowledge, that it. Is not without costs. It, is not without downsides. As well as upsides, and that. If others are allowed to lead the rules-based organization. Or international, order they. May well change the rules in ways that will not necessarily be, advantageous to us now. Again, could you do this with a little less brinksmanship. Could you you, know etc etc sure, but. It does need to be to. Be acknowledged. And I think it was necessary. That. That, this sentiment. In the country which is substantial, enough obviously to have an impact on national and local elections.
Is. Actually. Observed. Acknowledged. And then that there are actions taken as a result of that again. I say that as somebody who does believe in, that rules-based international. Work by the way I tend. To believe that one of the biggest, challenges. Today a world that has revisionist. Powers Islamist. Extremists. Growing, cyber threats, domestic. Populism, which is really. Challenging. Democracies. In. Many places of the world. Dysfunction. In Washington and, various respects, all of that that, that, one of the biggest challenges, is actually, the strain and stress on the rules-based international, order, at, a time when America, not just the, administration. But Americans. Fairly. Substantial, numbers of them have some reservations. About or at least questions, about whether or not we. Should continue, to to, lead it again I believe we should I do believe, in the freedoms that we enjoy. Along. With the veterans here obviously have been felt privileged, to have to. Protect, those in a sense and by, serving in the military, believed, that they're you know the best for mankind, and all the rest of this but but, have, to note that again, all. Of our different aspirations, have not necessarily. Come. To pass and beyond, that I mean we just have to also acknowledge the biggest, single shift strategically. Right. Now in the overall context, is that we are back in an era of renewed, great power rivalries. Principally. Of course the strategic, competition, between the US and China which, we should also note that we're also our number one trading partner so, this is a very different competition, from that say between the west and the east during. Soviet days but. It's also the resurgence, of Russia it's the gradual, rise of India. Shift. Of other great, powers around. The world and those, dynamics, are important, and this, is what, we've got to try to explain, to folks. While. Being, upfront in recognizing. That again, they're people disadvantaged, by some of these deals and and and. By. One's. Economy. To the rest of the world and therefore you need to take care of those people better. Than we have and, that's, the whole reason that, you have people that are so outraged, at what has taken place so. We're almost out of times I wanted to close with one last question yep, you, have over, 40, veterans sitting. Before you today how. Can we as private citizens and as private businesses, better, serve veterans who, return from combat. Well. I think by, the way KKR. Has a, vets at work program I'm, privileged. To be the chairman of that others. Candidly, do the work, but you know we, do a lot of the it's, you know welcome to the real world. But. I do I mean I'm the I do chair. Of the meetings, the VTC is the the, hiring, fairs and all the rest of this and it has made, a huge difference our. Portfolio. Companies. All. Of course in the US these are have. Hired over, 53,000. Veterans, and spouses because, we count spouses, as well we think that's another important, component and another, element, to which we have. Some obligation, but, all, of that is based on on. A fact that it's not just the, right thing to do to hire veterans it's, actually the smart thing to do from a business perspective. Veterans. Obviously, bring a host of experiences. Expertise. They've. Been tested, often, in combat. They've. Shown. Up for work and, done, early morning physical training, in the rain and the cold all, of these other. Reasons. I think that that again they're very attractive to business but. What we then need to do is. We need to try to provide them career, opportunities. Not just jobs. And. Sadly, what happens for a fair number of our veterans especially those who are married might have a couple of kids and.
They Get out and they're worried. And they haven't done all the prep they should have because we keep them working up until the final weeks and then. They finally get the transition program, and all of a sudden the, uniforms, off and you, know they've also lost the sense of mission larger, than itself the. Privilege of doing it with others who feel the same way in a sense of identity the comes from wearing a uniform so you're, out there and they jump at the first job that comes along and then hate life while, guarding a parking lot for the next 20 years we. Need to provide them again career, opportunities. And the difference is that a career opportunity as a the, chance, for advancement and, it's one in which they can advance, if we provide them the, training the, education the. Mentoring. Affiliation. Groups focus. Groups and all the rest of that within. That firm, so. Give them that kind of opportunity and, I think that's the way to discharge. The. Responsibility. Really I I mean it's a sacred obligation I, think really to. Veterans who again. Keep in mind in the post 9/11 period, have, raised the right hand and taken an oath at a time of war knowing, that they were very likely to be asked to go off to war and sometimes to do it again and again and again as during the surge years of constant, deployments, these. Are great Americans, they. Are typically, the, 1%. You know we talk a lot about the 1%. Privilege. To mingle with some of those they're in the New York financial, community there's, this other 1% and that's the percentage of Americans, that are in uniform at any given time, and. Again. We do owe a, lot to them they they really are, as. Tom, Brokaw, said to me actually he was with us again I think it was the first year or Iraq, he, took, him around and showed him all the different, tasks, that our soldiers were performing, everything from tactical operations. To. Nation-building. And a host of others helping. With local governance, and restoration, and basic services, and repair, of facilities. And everything else and, at the end of that I remember he's, getting on a helicopter and, the blades turning, any shouts in my ear he says you know general those. World War 2 veterans that I wrote about they, may have been the greatest generation, but surely, these, individuals, are America's, new greatest, generation, I firmly. Believe that I, feel, very privileged, to have to serve with them on the battlefield and. I remember, remain, very very grateful to them for what they have done but. I want to end this the. Way that I started it. Is to, remind, you of the extraordinary. Privilege that, you have. We talked about luck being what happens in preparation, we meets opportunity. I can. Imagine fewer, better, ways, to prepare, than. Doing what it is that you all are doing right here and again how fortunate, is that you are in one, of these seats here today, there. Is that saying in. The. Scriptures, about you know of whom - of. Whom. To whom much is given much, is expected, and. Much is expected of, you because of what it is that you're able to do here and. I'm very confident. Because of my practice, of affirmative leadership, that, you'll you, will prove us all right thanks.