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Gen. Michael V. Hayden, Director of the C.I.A.
Landon Lecture
April 30, 2008

 

Good afternoon. Thank you, President Wefald, for that kind introduction, and especially for the invitation to be here. I'm humbled by the opportunity.

It's sometimes said that my field -- intelligence -- is defined by information that is incomplete, contradictory, or both. Here's a small example: I am the first Director of the Central Intelligence Agency to give the Landon Lecture. But I am not the only one.

Confused already?

You know the speakers who came here as Bob Gates, Jim Schlesinger, and George H.W. Bush.

They each ran the CIA -- and they each went on to do a few other things, too.

I mention my predecessors not only in hopes of being invited to give a second Landon Lecture as a former director, but to underscore the point that intelligence officers come from all walks of life. They are people you know, people you're comfortable and familiar with; some may even be your friends.

The image held by many Americans -- that CIA and the Intelligence Community at large is full of people who speak strange languages, work in exotic places, and gather secret information from mysterious sources -- that image does have truth to it, to be sure. But it is also a caricature. What I would like to do today is give you a clearer sense of what CIA is all about -- both the scope of its mission and the unique place it occupies in our nation's Intelligence Community.

Frankly, I'm going to brag a bit, because even before I took my current assignment -- even when I was Director of the National Security Agency, and then Deputy Director of National Intelligence -- I thought of CIA as "America's Intelligence Agency." The reason is summed up in our mission. The men and women I am privileged to lead wake up each day with one overriding purpose and responsibility: To protect the American people. The headlines tell you where we devote a good deal of our time and attention: The threat from al-Qa'ida and its affiliates, the war in Iraq, the potential for nuclear weapons in Iran, and, more broadly, the risk of WMD proliferation across the globe. Syria's construction of a covert nuclear reactor with assistance from North Korea is only the latest reminder of the constant vigilance required in this area.

CIA places powerful resources against these and many other pressing issues. The immediate horizon -- the most urgent issues -- are somewhat like a swarm of bees, and not only because you can get stung. In swarms, there are lots of random -- seeming behaviors combined with plenty of purposeful behavior, much of which is not apparent to the untrained eye. Keeping our eyes on that swarm -- understanding things like militant activity in Waziristan, Jaish al-Mahdi's tactics in Baghdad, or Iran's latest pledge to detail its nuclear activity -- is a critically important part of CIA's job. But it is only one part.

The Agency has a global mission. It is expected to understand the present and to look ahead, not only into the near future, but further beyond. Identifying and comprehending underlying global trends is just as vital to our nation's security and to our charge of strengthening and safeguarding the United States.

President Eisenhower -- a gifted strategic thinker guided by the values and sensibility he learned here in Kansas -- noted the breadth of CIA's mission when he spoke at the cornerstone laying ceremony for our headquarters five decades ago. Befitting a former commander of Allied Forces, he first noted the value of intelligence to war fighters.

But then he went on: "In peacetime," he said, "the necessary facts are of a different nature. They deal with conditions, resources, requirements, and attitudes prevailing in the world. They and their correct interpretation are essential to the development of policy to further our long -- term national security and best interests. ... No task could be more important."

Eisenhower understood then, as we still do, that more than any other part of our government, CIA is expected to detect and understand the underlying forces at work in the world -- those that currently shape our national security environment, for good or ill, and those that could affect our interests and security in the future.

Today, I want to focus on three global trends that point to a 21st century that will be quite different from the one just ended -- trends that analysts in our Directorate of Intelligence follow and study every day. Their expertise was invaluable as I prepared for this lecture.

The 20th century, largely defined by the bipolar struggle of the Cold War, ultimately was one of American economic, political, and military domination. In this new century, the world will be far more complex, and the capacity of others -- both nation-states and non-state actors -- to influence world events will grow.

Let me be clear. I don't subscribe to the idea that geopolitics is a zero -- sum game. And I am not suggesting a decline in American influence. To the contrary, the United States will remain an international leader -- a force for peace, freedom, and prosperity throughout the world, an engine of economic growth and innovation, and a military powerhouse whose capabilities are unmatched.

My point is, our nation will be all those things within a changed global context -- a context we must understand and take into account if we are to live peacefully, freely, and prosperously in this new century.

With that in mind, let's turn to trend number one. In thinking about the future, one of the most important things to pay attention to is world demographics. Today, there are about 6.7 billion people sharing our planet. By mid-century, the best estimates point to a world population of more than 9 billion. Most of that growth will occur in countries least able to sustain it, a situation that will likely fuel instability and extremism, both in those areas and beyond.

Many poor, already fragile states -- where governance is difficult today -- will grow rapidly. In Afghanistan, Liberia, Niger, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the population is expected to triple by mid -- century. The number of people in Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Yemen will more than double. Furthermore, all of those countries will have large concentrations of young people. If their basic freedoms and basic needs -- food, housing, education, employment, and so on -- are not met, they could be easily attracted to violence, civil unrest, or extremism.

Through global migration, the impact of rapid population growth in Africa, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere will be felt in the developed world as well. Millions of young people from fast -- growing, poorly developed countries will emigrate -- legally and illegally -- in search of economic opportunity, security, or political freedom.

Receiving countries, of course, have much to gain from an influx of young workers, particularly because populations are aging rapidly in much of the developed world. But social integration of immigrants will pose a significant challenge to many host nations -- again boosting the potential for unrest and extremism.

Consider Europe. The fastest -- growing minority there is comprised of people who have emigrated from predominantly Muslim countries and their descendants. Estimates vary, but most say there are about five million people of Muslim heritage in France, three million in Germany, and almost two million in the United Kingdom. Today, the total for the EU is roughly 16 million, or just over three percent of the population. But with a birth rate at least twice the average of ethnic Europeans, the Muslim population will continue to grow as the non-Muslim population shrinks in the next few decades.

Even before 9/11, European governments recognized that this growing immigrant community posed challenges to their societies. Since then, they have put in place a variety of measures that aim to improve assimilation of immigrants and counter Islamic extremism, but success has been mixed, at best.

Russia faces a different kind of demographic stress. In the next four decades, the country is expected to shrink by 32 million people, losing almost a quarter of its population. To sustain its economy, Russia increasingly will have to look elsewhere for workers. Some immigrants will be Russians from the former Soviet states. But others will be Chinese and non -- Russians from the Caucasus, Central Asia and elsewhere, potentially aggravating Russia's already uneasy racial and religious tensions.

Those are just two examples of the likely impact of changing world demographics. They demonstrate, though, the importance of underlying population trends and the factors that influence them -- things like fertility rates, life expectancy, the prevalence of HIV, and ease of migration. Clearly, there will be many implications for our national security, and these trends will contribute to the complexity of the security threats facing America over the next several decades.

The second 21st century trend I want to address is the rise of Asia. In a recent oped, Henry Kissinger called this "a shift in the center of gravity of international affairs from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Indian Oceans." CIA's own Strategic Intent, which guides our long -- term planning, identifies the rise of China and India and the emergence of new economic centers as trans formative forces on the geopolitical landscape.

Over the next decades, continued economic growth, trade, and investment will bring the countries of Asia closer together and give them confidence in international affairs. Competition for regional influence will characterize the relationships between China, India, Japan, and emerging powers in the region. But China, a communist -- led, nuclear state that aspires to -- and will likely achieve -- great power status during this century, will be the focus of U.S. attention. As such, it deserves special mention today.
As is often the case with issues of real consequence for our national security, there are differing views about where China is headed and what its motivations are. Let me give you Mike Hayden's view: China is a competitor -- certainly in the economic realm, and, increasingly, on the geopolitical stage. But China is not an inevitable enemy. There are good policy choices available to both Washington and Beijing that can keep us on the largely peaceful, constructive path we've been on for almost 40 years now.

I say that with full appreciation for the remarkable speed and scope of China's recent military buildup. The Chinese have fully absorbed the lessons of both Gulf wars, developing and integrating advanced weaponry into a modern military force. While it's true that these new capabilities could pose a risk to U.S. forces and interests in the region, the military modernization is as much about projecting strength as anything else. After two centuries of perceived Western hegemony, China is determined to flex its muscle. It sees an advanced military force as an essential element of great power status. And it is the Intelligence Community's view that any Chinese regime, even a democratic one, would have similar nationalist goals.

Don't misunderstand. The military buildup is troubling, because it reinforces long -- held concerns about Chinese intentions toward Taiwan. But even without that issue, we assess that a build -- up would continue -- albeit one that might look somewhat different.

As important as military strength is to China today, economic development and political stability are just as central to its leaders' thinking -- as Ambassador Zhou himself made clear when he was here just 11 weeks ago. From the U.S. perspective, China's growing engagement with the rest of the world is driven primarily by two things: a need for access to markets, resources, technology, and expertise, and a desire to assert its influence in the region and with developing countries in other parts of the world.

I should note that even as it aspires to a larger global role, China faces significant domestic challenges and structural weaknesses: things like uneven income distribution, growing dependence on foreign oil and other imported resources, environmental degradation, an aging population, and massive migration from rural areas to cities. All of these factors will influence China's trajectory, and we can't ignore them. But to me, the key question for the future is whether China is ready to accept the responsibility that comes along with "great power status."

Today, China's behavior in the international realm is focused almost exclusively on narrowly defined Chinese objectives. We saw that in the country's dealings with Sudan, where protection of their oil interests has been paramount. Let me give you another example. Two years ago, Beijing pledged to Pacific Island nations more than $370 million at a forum specifically designed to undermine Taiwan's ties to the region. Much of China's aid to the developing world comes with few, if any, conditions attached, which undermines the West's own efforts to promote good governance.

Whether China begins to engage the world in ways that are less narrowly focused will greatly influence the U.S. -- China relationship in the new century. If Beijing begins to accept greater responsibility for the health of the international system -- as all global powers should -- we will remain on a constructive, even if competitive, path. If not, the rise of China begins to look more adversarial.

Let me turn now to another key strategic relationship, the one between Europe and the United States. Changes there define a third key trend that will shape international relations in the 21st century. Robert Kagan and others refer to "a divergence of interests," even a "transatlantic divide." And disagreements over the war in Iraq and the global fight against terrorism have raised questions in recent years about the future of the Alliance.

Those disagreements are only symptoms of an underlying shift brought about by the end of the Cold War -- a change former Undersecretary of State Nick Burns also has spoken about. It comes down to this: The U.S. -- Europe relationship no longer needs to focus primarily on Europe. Today, the continent is nearly whole, free, and at peace. As a result, our collective attention can shift elsewhere. We can, for the first time, devote most of our energy to meeting global threats that affect us all.

But therein lies the challenge. The truth is, nearly two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, America and Europe still are grappling with how best to manage the security risks of the post  -- Cold War world. Absent a common unifying threat that overrides all others, differences are cropping up over a host of issues.

Intelligence is no exception. At CIA, we work more closely with our counterparts on the Continent on a wider range of issues than ever before. We would have it no other way. Our cooperation with European allies has thwarted terrorist plots and saved lives -- European and American. But it's also true that more collaboration on more issues brings with it greater opportunity for disagreement. The issues we are facing are not easy, and some of them -- outwardly focused as they are -- have simply not been part of the traditional U.S. -- Europe agenda.

Many of the disagreements we have are centered on threat perceptions and the tactics used to thwart perceived danger. So, for example, while we share the view that terrorism is an urgent danger, we disagree on how best to confront it.

Some of this stems from the fact that our intelligence, legal, and law enforcement systems are not the same, despite the fact that we share the same liberal, democratic traditions. But, in my view, that's not the most important factor.

Rather, it's this: The United States believes it is a nation at war -- a war that is global in scope, and requires, as a precondition for winning, that we take the fight to the enemy, wherever he may be. In much of Europe, terrorism is seen differently: primarily as an internal, law enforcement problem, and solutions are focused more narrowly on securing the homeland. When there is a direct threat to their people or interests, European governments work with each other and their allies, including the United States, to disrupt it. But they tend not to view terrorism as we do -- as an overwhelming international challenge. Or if they do, we often differ on what would be effective and appropriate to counter it.

Differing views over the nature of threats and the right tactics to address them are likely to impact U.S. -- Europe relations for much of this century, and the effects will be felt on many levels -- from intelligence and law enforcement to military cooperation and foreign policy. I am confident that we will continue to work together on many tough global challenges, as we are today in bringing stability to Afghanistan and in efforts to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons, for example. But it is not yet clear when or if the United States and Europe will come to share the same views of 21st century threats -- as we did for the last half of the 20th century -- and then forge a common approach to security. Managing the disagreements and tensions that arise in the absence of a unified vision will complicate what has traditionally been America's easiest relationship.

As is true of the other two trends I've spoken about, this change in the U.S. Europe relationship will contribute to the complexity of world affairs in the 21st century. These trend lines -- and others I have not mentioned -- indicate that a greater number of actors will have influence on the world stage in this century. And that presents one overriding challenge to those of us responsible for our nation's security: We must do a better job of understanding cultures, histories, religions, and traditions that are not our own.

To meet this challenge, CIA and all other intelligence agencies are working very hard to recruit and retain officers with a rich diversity of education, language skill, ethnicity, religion, overseas experience, and so on. I should note that academia, business, and other parts of our society also have an important role to play in enhancing our understanding of the world. After 39 years of public service, it is clearer to me than ever that our national security institutions are only as strong and capable as the society they represent. My agency, and the entire Intelligence Community, depends on America for the talent, innovation, values, and dedication necessary to meet each era's challenges. To defeat the scourge of al-Qa'ida's violent ideology, for example, we need a lot more Americans fluent not just in Arabic, but in Pashto, Urdu, Farsi, and a host of other hard languages. We need more experts in Islamic studies and in Middle Eastern politics, culture, and society. Add South Asia, too.

That's a tall order, and it's going to take time. The truth is we have not yet achieved a mobilization of resources -- including academic resources -- that matches what we accomplished in the post-World War II period. If America is to successfully confront the threats and take advantage of the opportunities that this century will present, we must undertake that kind of mobilization.

We must broaden our understanding, and guard against viewing the world exclusively through an American prism. We must not rely exclusively on an American or even more broadly, Western -- lens in assessing foreign challenges and helping policymakers decide how to respond. Large parts of the world -- including those that will hold more sway in the future -- do not share all of our ideas. While we cherish and live our own values, we must know and appreciate those of others. Their perceptions and behaviors are driven by motivations and experiences that are very different from our own.

Take the issue of ethnic nationalism, for instance. America has successfully assimilated new arrivals for hundreds of years. Our status as the world's melting pot is a source of national pride and strength. Unless we are careful, though, that pride and experience might create a blind spot for us. We might misunderstand or discount the potency of ethnic nationalism in other parts of the world -- a mistake that could have serious implications for U.S. security and policy.

Of course, America will continue to apply its own values and ideals in the policies that guide its global engagement, but new forces at play in the world cannot be overlooked or ignored if we want to positively influence the future's course. Failure to see and understand the potential impact of underlying trends like the three I just spoke of would be more than what my analysts call a mirror -- imaging problem. It would be a failure of imagination -- one of the surest paths to an intelligence breakdown.

As you know, important global trends are studied and discussed in forums of all types -- from conference rooms in Washington, to shareholder meetings in New York, to classrooms right here in Manhattan, Kansas. Indeed, CIA draws from a rich cross -- section of expertise in studying these trends and all other issues of national security significance. But the Agency, by its nature and its charter, approaches these issues as no one else does. The role we play in defending our Republic is as unique as it is critical.

The most obvious distinction is that we commit espionage. The officers of our National Clandestine Service recruit spies and steal secrets to gain information that no one else can. While espionage may not be crucial to identifying key trends themselves, it is absolutely vital to understanding how other states or groups will react to them.

Secondly, CIA synthesizes information of all types, combining different streams of intelligence -- from both human and technical sources -- with open -- source information. We have the largest all -- source analytic cadre and the deepest and broadest expertise in the Intelligence Community. Moreover, we are the only member of the Community that does not have a policy interest in the issues we analyze.

Our ability to move beyond one or two intelligence disciplines also is unique in the Community. By both history and law, the Agency plays a vital leadership role in bringing to bear the full capabilities of the IC. Our team effort on the covert nuclear reactor in Syria is a good case in point. By combining rigorous analytic tradecraft, skillful human and technical collection, and close collaboration with other intelligence agencies -- both US and foreign -- we were able to determine not only what this building in the remote desert was, but also who was involved in its planning and construction.

CIA is the natural choice to play that kind of leadership role for a couple reasons. First, a significant part of the Community has a blood line to the Agency, including the DNI Open Source Center, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the agencies responsible for imagery and space -- based technical collection. We have more "connective tissue" to the rest of the IC than anyone else. Furthermore, CIA has special statutory authorities, including management of all human intelligence collection and coordination of foreign intelligence relationships.

CIA is constantly in motion. As the world changes, the Agency changes. Intelligence, by definition, is a profession of constant learning and adaptation. That's why, for example, we're putting more of our analysts overseas than ever before and rewarding officers more handsomely for language expertise. We're designing creative new ways to close intelligence gaps and reach the hardest targets -- using both human and technical means. We're extending the reach of our Open Source Center and improving exploitation of the ever -- expanding world of publicly available information. Those and many other initiatives we've undertaken will strengthen our capabilities today and help ensure that we can meet our mission well into the future.

All that effort and experience, plus history and law, add up to a distinctive place for CIA in our nation's intelligence apparatus. We play an indispensable role in integrating the varied, powerful capabilities of the IC, and we feel tremendous responsibility to go beyond simply identifying key trends and the challenges they present.

In short, studying the world is not an academic exercise for us. It is our duty to give policymakers the fullest possible picture of the threats and opportunities facing our nation. We have an obligation to be relevant -- to inform, educate, and guide them as they forge our nation's approach to this complex world. As I see it, CIA is America's skirmish line, moving ahead of the main body of troops, providing reconnaissance, and being among the first to engage. That's our job -- no one else's.

Of course, we cannot promise perfection. Even when we're at the top of our game, it's very rare that we can give policymakers anything close to certitude. Someone once asked me, "On a scale of one to 10, how good is the Intelligence Community today?" My answer was, "The first thing you need to understand is, eight, nine and 10, aren't even on our scale." The issues we cover are among the toughest facing our nation. The work we do is inherently ambiguous. And the information we seek, often deliberately hidden.

I don't point this out by way of excuse, but rather, explanation. CIA won't always get it right, but we do pledge continual learning and improvement. The American people should expect nothing less.

Both my Agency and the Community at large have made huge strides over the past six years. Not only have we strengthened our tradecraft, expertise, and capabilities, but we are also sharing and combining those things across agency lines as never before. The improvements -- and the enduring commitment to do even better -- give me tremendous optimism as we contemplate the challenges of the 21st century, the ones that KSU's students will inherit as future leaders of the United States. It is well within our capacity as a nation to meet those challenges, and ultimately, to forge an effective leadership role for America in this complex new century -- one that keeps America both strong and secure.

Thank you very much.