In this episode of “Intelligence Matters,” host Michael Morell speaks with Max Boot, a best-selling author, foreign policy analyst, and columnist for the Washington Post about the Biden administration’s foreign policy approach and its likely top challenges. Boot explains why he believes much of the administration’s success will depend on repairing domestic partisan divisions, and why winning the respect of the U.S.’s enemies may as important as maintaining the respect of its friends. Boot and Morell also discuss the strategic threat posed by China, Russia and others, as well as the near-term consequences of the administration’s decision to complete a military drawdown in Afghanistan. Highlights Current state and future of U.S. foreign policy: “I think that certainly our allies are very happy to see Joe Biden and to see the more moderate, mainstream and internationalist viewpoint that he represents. But I think they’re also very nervous about the future of America because they know it’s quite possible that Trump or Trump-like figure could come back to power once again and pursue an isolationist and protectionist course once again. That is very different from the kind of foreign policy that the United States has pursued for the last 70 years. And so, you know, I think it’s very hard to be sanguine about the future of the United States. I really think the future of our democracy is very much up for grabs in a way that it has not been in my lifetime.” Confronting strategic threat from China: “I think we need to transform our military forces, which are very conventional and, at the moment, are not a good countermeasure for China, which has made huge investments in long-range precision strike capability, space weapons, cyber weapons, submarines, all these asymmetric capabilities designed to neutralize our conventional combat forces. So we need to invest more in unmanned systems and artificial intelligence, in cyber and space, all of these cutting edge capacities.” Parallels between Afghanistan and Vietnam wars: “[Y]ou see a similar dynamic, I think, playing out today in Afghanistan, where, again, U.S. troops have never lost the battle to the Taliban. But it doesn’t matter because the Taliban insurgency kept going and President Biden ultimately decided that he didn’t want to keep supporting the government of Afghanistan with U.S. troops and so pulled the U.S. troops out. And now the most likely outcome is that the Taliban will probably prevail. So, you know, this is a, you know, another example of a superpower humbled and we should not deceive ourselves. We lost the war in Vietnam and we’re losing the war right now in Afghanistan.” Download, rate and subscribe here: iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher. Intelligence Matters: Max Boot transcript Producer: Olivia Gazis MICHAEL MORELL: Max, I really want to dig in on the general topic of the impact of our politics on foreign policy, but before we do that, I want to ask you about your most recent book, which was published in 2018: “The Road Not Taken, Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam.” New York Times bestseller, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in biography and received rave reviews. I read it. It’s terrific. My kids read it. They thought it was great. I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Lansdale early in my career, so I was wondering if you could briefly describe the story in the book for our listeners. MAX BOOT: First, let me just say I’m delighted that you and your kids enjoyed the book and I’m jealous that you got to meet at Lansdale, which I never did, even though I spent years writing about his life. But he’s been long dead. By the time I I started my work, he was a legendary figure in the world of covert operations. He was somebody who was a former ad man in San Francisco who joined the SS during World War II, and then after the war joined the Air Force, eventually became an Air Force general. But his greatest success was enjoyed as an operative for the nascent CIA. In the early 1950s, he worked for the CIA in the Philippines, really masterminding the defeat of the rebellion, this communist insurgency in the Philippines, which he did with no U.S. troops on the ground. He really did it by fostering a close relationship with Ramon Magsaysay, the defense minister and later president of the Philippines, and at Lansdale was a pioneer in what we would today call counterinsurgency – this notion that you defeat an insurgency not by killing insurgents, but by winning the trust of the population. And because of the success that he had in the Philippines in 1954, Allen Dulles, the CIA director, sent him to Saigon, where he helped to set up this new state of South Vietnam and became very close with Ngo Dinh Diem, the first prime minister and then president of the state of South Vietnam. And eventually Lansdale returned home, became a senior official in the Pentagon and ran Operation Mongoose, the Kennedy administration effort to overthrow Fidel Castro. But Lansdale’s heart was always in Vietnam, and he returned there in 1965 as a senior official at the US embassy and stayed through the Tet Offensive in 1968. But although Lansdale was very much in favor of helping to defend South Vietnam from communist aggression, he was also very much opposed to the way the Kennedy administration and then the Johnson administration went about it. He strongly opposed the Kennedy-backed coup, which overthrew and killed his friend, Ngo Dinh Diem. And then he also very strongly opposed Johnson’s decision to send half a million U.S. troops to South Vietnam. He really thought that defending South Vietnam had to be Vietnam’s own fight. And so he was opposed to all the firepower that the United States expended in the war effort. And he returned home in 1968, feeling very dejected and and very downbeat about the U.S. war effort. And so, in telling his story, might tell the story of America’s long involvement in Vietnam, beginning in 1954 and finally ending of the fall of South Vietnam in 1975. And along the way I also tell Lansdale’s extraordinary personal story. And I was lucky enough to get access to personal letters that he had written both to his first wife as well as his long-time mistress, who eventually became his second wife, a Filipino lady named Pat Kelly, who was incredibly important to his life, the great love of his life. And so I was able to shed light on this private relationship that Lansdale had, which had a great impact on his public duties and the way he he did things in the Philippines and in Vietnam. So it’s an extraordinary personal story, but it’s also a story that illuminates America’s involvement in Vietnam. MICHAEL MORELL: And, Max, why did you write the book? Is this something that you’ve always wanted to do and finally had the time to get to it? Or is this something that came to you later? MAX BOOT: It was an outgrowth of my previous book, which was called Invisible Armies, which was a history of guerrilla warfare and terrorism since the dawn of time. And I wrote a little bit about Ed Lansdale in that book, and my editor at Liveright suggested that for an encore, I should write a biography of Ed Lansdale. And initially I was skeptical because my reaction was, ‘Well, what else is there to say? Haven’t I already said it all?’ And it turned out very quickly that, no, there was a lot more to say. And I was just incredibly lucky to stumble onto these private letters that Lansdale had written to his long-time mistress, Pat Kelly. I managed to track down Pat Kelly’s, one of her granddaughters who was living in Northern Virginia. And I went over to her house and she said to me, ‘Hey, you know, Ed Lansdale wrote all these letters to to my grandmother. Would you be interested in seeing them?’ And, you know, wow. I mean, for a biographer, this was like striking gold. And, you know, she led me downstairs to her basement and then, lo and behold, on her ping pong table were neatly arrayed all of these letters, many of them still unopened. So I became the first person after Ed Lansdale and Pat Kelly to read these letters. And then I was also lucky enough to win the trust of Ed Lansdale’s kids who are living in Long Island and in Florida, and they shared with me the letters that Lansdale wrote to their mother. And so, you know, I was the first person after Landsdale himself to have read both sets of letters, often written simultaneously, both to his first wife and and to his mistress, which provided an unparalleled vantage point into his innermost thinking. And then, you know, on top of that, I was lucky enough to also get access to newly declassified CIA documents which take decades and decades to reach the public domain. And and so together, I was able to paint a picture of Ed Lansdale’s public and private life in a way that nobody else has been able to do. MICHAEL MORELL: So, Max, I want to talk about U.S. foreign policy today, something that you write a lot about. But before we get to that, let me let me start by asking you how you describe, you know, what’s your narrative about where we are today politically and how we got here? MAX BOOT: We’re not in a good place politically because obviously the country is deeply divided. I mean, I think this is the greatest partisan divide certainly of my lifetime in the last 50 years. And it’s really been exacerbated by the ‘Trumpification’ of the Republican Party. I mean, there has been — there is polarization both ways, with the Democrats becoming more liberal and Republicans becoming more conservative. But it’s asymmetric polarization because Republicans have gone much further to the right than Democrats have gone to the left. There are certainly left-wing Democrats. But Joe Biden is very much a mainstream centrist, a center-left Democrat, whereas, by contrast, the Republican Party, which is still unfortunately led by Donald Trump, has gone off into cloud cuckoo land. You see that with most Republicans now expressing approval of the assault on Congress on January 6, Republicans being opposed to doing anything to investigate what happened. You have a majority of Republicans who in one recent survey said they don’t trust science. You have about a third of Republicans who in another recent survey said that they think that coronavirus vaccines are spreading microchips that are being implanted in people by the government. I mean, there is just so much craziness on the right. And the Republican Party in many ways is turning against democracy itself. They tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election and now they’re still trying to do that in places like Arizona. And they’re laying the groundwork for potentially rejecting and overturning the outcome of the 2024 election if a Democrat wins the presidency again. So, you know, I think what’s happening is is greatly alarming. It’s really leading to a dysfunction of U.S. politics and that, in turn is hurting Americans standing around the world. I mean, I think that certainly our allies are very happy to see Joe Biden and to see the more moderate, mainstream and internationalist viewpoint that he represents. But I think they’re also very nervous about the future of America because they know it’s quite possible that Trump or Trump-like figure could come back to power once again and pursue an isolationist and protectionist course once again. That is very different from the kind of foreign policy that the United States has pursued for the last 70 years. And so, you know, I think it’s very hard to be sanguine about the future of the United States. I really think the future of our democracy is very much up for grabs in a way that it has not been in my lifetime. MICHAEL MORELL: So, Max, I want my listeners to understand that you’re not saying this as a liberal longtime Democrat, you’re saying this is somebody who is conservative and until recently was a member of the Republican Party. MAX BOOT: Well, that’s exactly right. I was a lifelong Republican until a day after the 2016 election, and I was somebody who was a foreign policy adviser to John McCain in 2008, to Mitt Romney in 2012 and to Marco Rubio in 2015, 2016. So it gives me no pleasure. And in fact, it’s agonizing to me to see the current state of the Republican Party, which I feel has very little resemblance to the Republican Party that I joined in the 1980s. Although, you know, looking at the history more critically as I do now, I can see that there were certainly antecedents and that there were certainly reasons why the Republican Party has wound up as crazy as it is today. The seeds of that craziness were planted decades ago. But I think what’s happened in the last four or five years is that the Republican Party used to have this crazy fringe. But the people who were in charge, folks like Mitt Romney and John McCain and George Bush and others were pretty sane and pretty sensible, even if they sometimes did things that a lot of Democrats or liberals would disagree with, they were nevertheless pro-democracy. They were pro science. They were pretty mainstream thinkers. And now, unfortunately, what’s happened under Trump is that the fringe has become the mainstream and all sorts of crazy beliefs, including the big lie that Donald Trump supposedly won the 2020 election that has become Republican orthodoxy, rejection of science, embrace of conspiracy theories that has become the Republican mainstream. And that’s why I could no longer stay in the Republican Party and why I believe the Republican Party today poses a real danger to American democracy. MICHAEL MORELL: So, Max, how would you describe American foreign policy? MAX BOOT: I think American foreign policy is a restoration project right now after the huge damage that Donald Trump did to our standing in the world, and you could see that damage, for example, in polls of how many people around the world have confidence in the United States to do the right thing. Those numbers plunged, you know, practically into negative numbers under the Trump administration because Trump essentially reversed 70 years of American foreign policy, which was based on promoting free trade, on supporting alliances, on supporting democracy. He wasn’t interested in doing any of that. Trump kissed up to dictators. He idolized Vladimir Putin. He said he was in love with Kim Jong Un. He constantly castigated our allies, called NATO a bunch of freeloaders. It was just horrible. He did massive damage to our standing in the world. Not only did he turn America into a pariah, but because he was so unsuccessful and presided over what was probably the worst outbreak of COVID-19 in the world last year, he made America into an object, not just the fear, but also of pity. He really crippled our our standing. And now Joe Biden is trying to undo that damage. And I think he has he’s off to a pretty good start. I think during his recent trip to Europe, you saw the way that Biden was embraced by our allies and by the public and in those countries in a way that they did not do with Trump. But I think now the challenge for Biden is not just to win the love of our allies, but to win the respect of our enemies – countries like China and Russia and others in Iran and North Korea; I think that’s still a work very much in progress. It’s much easier to win support and our allies than to win respect in our adversaries. And that is still something that Biden is still struggling to do as he tries to restore America’s standing in the world. MICHAEL MORELL: So, Max, on the question of of allies and how we’re doing with allies, you know, when I talk to to folks who I used to work with overseas, they are certainly happy that Joe Biden is reaching out to them in a more traditional sense. But they always ask me a question that I have a really hard time answering. And that question is, you know, ‘Michael, can you assure us that what happened in 2016 isn’t going to happen again in 2024 or 2028? Because, you know, we can’t make our national security policy in four year chunks, right. We have to make it for the long term. And if we can’t be confident that America is going to be there, then we have to hedge with your enemies, with China and Russia.’ How would you talk to them about that? MAX BOOT; Well, I think that’s a legitimate concern. I mean, if they have that concern, I have that concern, too. I mean, I don’t know what the future of the United States is going to be. And I’m more uncertain about our future than at any point in our lifetime, because I think some of the basic elements of consensus in our society are gone. You know, you used to be able to count on both parties supporting a fairly centrist internationalist foreign policy, supporting science, trying to, you know, buttress our democracy, trying to support democracy abroad, standing with our allies, promoting free trade, standing up to dictatorships. All of that is very much in doubt if the Republican Party as currently configured comes back into power, because this is still Donald Trump’s party. And I think, you know, you see what’s happening. There is almost no room for anti-Trump Republicans within the GOP. I mean, look at what happened to Liz Cheney, who lost her leadership post in the House Republican caucus because she dared to challenge the Big Lie. She dared to say that Donald Trump actually lost the election and that the January 6th assault on Congress was an outrage for which people should answer. That was enough to cost her her leadership post. And pretty much all of the Republican presidential hopefuls for the future are all very much in the pro-Trump mode. And in fact, Donald Trump himself is is the leading candidate to win the Republican nomination in 2024 if he decides to run again. So, yeah, I mean, you have to be concerned about the future of the United States. You know, as I said before, even the very longevity of our democracy, which has lasted more than two centuries, is now in doubt because it’s you know, it’s certainly conceivable that, you know, in 2024, let’s imagine that Joe Biden wins another fairly narrow victory over Donald Trump. It’s very conceivable that you could have a serious attempt by Republicans to throw out electoral votes in in the swing states by, again, making these crazy accusations of fraud just as they did in the last year. And this time, if there is a Republican majority in both houses, they could actually simply vote to throw out Biden’s electoral votes and seat Trump instead. And, you know, that could well be the end of American democracy. I mean, I don’t want to be overly apocalyptic here, but we have to understand that is a serious possibility. And so, you know, people around the world, people around the world just can’t have the same degree of trust in the United States that they once had. I can’t have the same degree of trust in the United States. We have to work to restore and safeguard our democracy. And I would feel a lot better if if Congress could pass the H.R. 1, the the bill to safeguard voting rights. But it looks like so far it’s dead in the water. And meanwhile, Republicans in the state legislatures are are voting to restrict voting rights so that they can win. And in 2024, I mean, this is an alarming picture. And, you know, I’d love to tell our friends overseas they have nothing to worry about. But honestly, I’m worried, too. MICHAEL MORELL: So we’ve talked about the allies on the one hand and the Biden team doing a pretty good job reaching out to them, even though they may have some concerns. And on the other side, you have our adversaries and the need for the United States to have the respect of those adversaries. You said that’s still a work in progress. What would you like to see the Biden team do? MAX BOOT: Well, that’s a good question, I mean, on this issue, as on so many others, it’s easier to diagnose the problem than to come up with a solution. But there’s no question that we need to get the attention of our adversaries who are testing us all the time. You see that, for example, in Iraq, where Iranian-backed militias continue rocket attacks on U.S. bases, you certainly see it with Chinese aggression and assertiveness in the South China Sea and around Taiwan. You see it with Russia, which recently massed more troops on the borders with Ukraine. And Putin is now talking about how Ukraine and Belarus and the other old Soviet republics should rightfully be part of of the Russian Federation. So they’re all testing us. And I think, you know, the challenge for Biden is to push back in a way that gets their attention, but that isn’t reckless and that doesn’t raise the risk of war. And I think it’s a very difficult balancing act to pull off. I think some of the things they’re doing are very good, especially, you know, trying to marshal U.S. allies to stand up to Chinese hacking and aggression. And I think that’s that’s a very positive step. Instead of taking an America First, go it alone approach, I think it’s it’s much more productive to to marshal the allies and to meet with the Quad, for example, Japan and and in Australia and India and to get other countries on board. But there are some other actions that Biden is taking that I think, you know, suggest that he will not be as strong in standing up to our adversaries as he needs to be. I think in particular, removing the final 2,500 U.S. troops from Afghanistan, I think sends a bad message and emboldens the Taliban and will likely result in the fall of a pro-Western regime in Kabul. But it also sends a message to others around the world that they can’t necessarily rely on American support. So, you know, I think the biggest thing President Biden should do right now, but he won’t do, is to rethink the complete pullout from Afghanistan. MICHAEL MORELL: And so we have a pull out from Afghanistan, we have a pullout from Iraq, we have — MAX BOOT: But we’re not really pulling out from Iraq. I mean, that’s what’s puzzling to me, is we’re basically redesignating U.S. forces in Iraq as advisers rather than combat forces. And they’re really advisers anyway. But they were also advisers in Afghanistan. So this is one of the things I don’t, you know, I’m generally supportive of President Biden and his foreign policy. But this is one of the things I really don’t understand. Why is it OK to keep a few thousand troops in Iraq but not in Afghanistan? What is the logic there? I’m not sure that I get it. MICHAEL MORELL: And then how do you think he handled his first interaction with with President Putin? MAX BOOT: I think overall he did pretty well, he certainly – in some ways, it was kind of a low bar because if we all remember the way that Trump dealt with with Putin in Helsinki in 2018, which was a catastrophe, because you have the president of the United States kowtowing to the Russian dictator and accepting the Russian dictator’s word over the word of the U.S. intelligence community. So that was, you know, an easily avoidable catastrophe. And simply by standing up for America, standing up for American values, not kissing up to Putin, Biden did much, much better than the Trump did. But I think now the real test is going to be, does he deliver on some of the threats that he made in Geneva, where he basically said that if Russia continues allowing hacking of the United States, if they allow these attacks from their soil, we will strike back, we will make them pay a price. Well, the hacking continues. So the question is, what kind of price are you going to make Russia pay? So, you know, I think, again, Biden did pretty well on his encounter with Putin. But, you know, it takes more than one meeting. It takes more than a few hours of conversation to change the dynamic in Russian-American relations. And I think there’s a lot more work that needs to be done. MICHAEL MORELL: And it takes more than just rhetoric. So I want to ask you about China. I want to ask you how you think about the challenge of China, how you think about the threat that China poses to us as a nation. How do you think about that? MAX BOOT: It’s a massive threat, but it’s also a very complicated threat, much more complicated than than the Soviet Union was during the years of the Cold War, because we did not have an economic relationship with the Soviet Union so we could afford to deal with the Soviets purely on the level of containment and deterrence. Whereas with China, they’re one of our largest trading partners. Our economies and our supply chains are very closely linked with those of of China. And so, you know, we can’t just cut them off. And in many ways, the tariffs that that Trump imposed on China were counterproductive. Those costs were really paid by American consumers. So we have a much more complicated balancing act with China, where I think we need to continue trading with them, because that is to the benefit of both countries and of the entire global economy. But at the same time, we need to speak up and protest about their terrible human rights violations against Uyghurs, against Hong Kong and and against the people of China more broadly. And we also need to contain and deter China because there is a very real threat of a war with China either over the South China Sea or over Taiwan, where the rhetoric from China has become more threatening. And you’ve recently had senior U.S. military officers that the INDOPACOM Command warning that the risk of war with China is growing and that China could try to take Taiwan back by force. So we need to push back very strongly against that in order to deter Chinese aggression. And a lot of the ways we do that are very complicated, having to do with, I think we need to transform our military forces, which are very conventional and, at the moment, are not a good countermeasure for China, which has made huge investments in long-range precision strike capability, space weapons, cyber weapons, submarines, all these asymmetric capabilities designed to neutralize our conventional combat forces. So we need to invest more in unmanned systems and artificial intelligence, in cyber and space, all of these cutting edge capacities. But beyond the military investment, we need to make an investment on the home front in science and technology, improving our education system. We need to be more welcoming to immigrants who are one of our secret weapons that we get so many tremendous talented and skilled foreign-born people here, including many from China itself, who are a tremendous asset to the United States. We need to make it easier to attract and and to keep those people here. But finally – and this gets back to something we were talking about earlier. We also need to heal our politics. We need to turn down the level of partisan divisiveness. We need to try to bring the country closer together, because if we are divided at home, we can’t be strong abroad. And of course, countries like Russia and China and others try to encourage discord on the American home front through the use of social media and various other means. And so I think one of the most important things that President Biden is doing, which is not directly related to standing up to China, but one of the most important things he’s doing is simply trying to lower the temperature on our politics. And he’s not engaging in partisan, cheap shots. He’s not using Twitter for name calling. He is trying to be more inclusive and to be a president of all Americans. And you’re seeing some payoff for that in terms of his approval ratings, which are consistently over 50 percent, which is a mark that Donald Trump never reached. But unfortunately, his efforts are being undermined by this partisan propaganda machine at Fox News and on Facebook and elsewhere, which insists on seeing Biden as some kind of, you know, Marxist, radical, socialist, anti-American, subversive, and so, you know, in order to be strong against China or other threats, we really have to do a better job of of getting our act together at home. MICHAEL MORELL: It struck me, in fact, when you were listing all the things we needed to do to better compete with China, that a number of those, particularly the ones at home, they’re simply not possible as long as our politics is divided. And so there’s this link, right, between successfully dealing with China and and fixing our own politics, as you talked about. It’s just striking, MAX BOOT: Yeah, that’s exactly right. It’s very hard to do, and I really do think that President Biden is making a real effort at bipartisanship and trying to heal the partisan divide by trying to turn down the temperature on our politics. But, of course, most of the Republican leadership has no interest in that. They are pursuing a different path where, you know, they’re going down Mar a Lago and paying court to Donald Trump and in promoting the Big Lie and spreading misinformation and and engaging in incendiary rhetoric, which they think will result in a in a Republican victory in the midterm election next year, which could very well turn out to be the case. So, you know, this is this is kind of like one hand clapping. You know, it’s hard to have bipartisanship if only one side is interested in it. MICHAEL MORELL: Max, I want to circle back to history again. IN a column in The Washington Post you wrote, and I’m going to quote here, “I’m a chastened hawk who now regrets my support for the invasion of Iraq.” And I’m wondering when and why did you realize that your original support for the war was misplaced? MAX BOOT: Well, it’s been something that became obvious over the course of a number of years where, you know, the Iraq war became much more costly than I think any anybody who supported it could have imagined. And it didn’t result in a clear-cut victory. And, of course, the central rationale for the war, which was the claim about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, that turned out to be false. So, you know, any way you cut it, looking back, you know, I wish I listened to to those voices what warned against this conflict, which included not just folks on the left, but also some folks on the right, like Brent Scowcroft and others. You know, but you can’t go back and replay history and we are where we are. And so I think today, even though I wish we’d never gone into Iraq in the first place, I’m still in favor of keeping a few thousand U.S. troops in an advisory capacity in Iraq, because I do think that they serve an important purpose in trying to prevent a resurgence of Islamic State and also in trying to limit the influence of Iran. And unfortunately, this has been one of the biggest byproducts of the American invasion and the toppling of Saddam Hussein, which is to increase Iranian influence in Iraq. And that’s the last thing that the United States should have wanted. But that, unfortunately, has happened. And I think that’s another reason why in hindsight, I think that the invasion was a mistake, even though it did overthrow the monstrous regime of Saddam Hussein. MICHAEL MORELL: And then just one one final question, Max, maybe to bring us completely full circle here. Do you see any parallels between Iraq and Vietnam or Afghanistan and Vietnam or am I pushing this way too far? MAX BOOT: Well, there are certainly some parallels, I would say, now between Afghanistan and Vietnam, because, you know, this is kind of the how insurgencies work, how guerrillas defeat much more powerful adversaries. They don’t do it by out-fighting the enemy. They do it by outlasting the enemy. And, you know, in the case of Vietnam, U.S. forces never lost a major battle to the army of North Vietnam or the Viet Cong. But ultimately, it didn’t matter because our inability to defeat the Communists led American public opinion to turn against the war and led to the American pullout in 1973, which two years later resulted in the North Vietnamese invasion and conquest of South Vietnam. And you see a similar dynamic, I think, playing out today in Afghanistan, where, again, U.S. troops have never lost the battle to the Taliban. But it doesn’t matter because the Taliban insurgency kept going and President Biden ultimately decided that he didn’t want to keep supporting the government of Afghanistan with U.S. troops and so pulled the U.S. troops out. And now the most likely outcome is that the Taliban will probably prevail. So, you know, this is a, you know, another example of a superpower humbled and we should not deceive ourselves. We lost the war in Vietnam and we’re losing the war right now in Afghanistan. MICHAEL MORELL: Max, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been terrific to have you and I really enjoyed the discussion. MAX BOOT. Thank you very much. Great discussion.