As It Happens

Will Trump try to re-shape the world? Former CIA chief and Trump adviser explains how

James Woolsey was the director of the CIA under Clinton and is now a national security adviser for president-elect Donald Trump. He says Obama’s foreign policy mixed up “who our friends and our adversaries are” and that the new administration should be more confrontational with Iran.
James Woolsey was the director of the CIA under President Clinton. He's now national security adviser for president-elect Donald Trump. (Reuters)

Donald Trump's national security adviser James Woolsey hopes the new president will undo the damage, he thinks Obama did to U.S. foreign policy.

Woolsey was the director of the CIA under Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1995.  He also co-authored the book, Shariah: The Threat To America.

Here's part of Carol Off's interview with James Woolsey.

Carol Off: What might you recommend to Mr. Trump to take on as a priority?

James Woolsey: Well, I think one of the first priorities is to get straight who our friends and our adversaries are. And I think President Obama got that mixed up.

I think it's important, for example, to let the world know that Israel is our friend and Iran is not a country that we have a nice, sound nuclear agreement with.

It's a country which we have signed, in my opinion, the worst international accord the United States has ever signed and Iran will be a nuclear power within a relatively few years and we're going to have to figure out how to deal with that.

President Barack Obama conducts a press conference in the White House in response to the Iran Nuclear Deal, on July 14, 2015. The landmark deal limits Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions. The agreement comes after almost two years of diplomacy. (Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

CO: Mr. Trump has said he wants to increase defence spending. What could that achieve in the world?

JW: Well, I think the best summary of successful national security policy is from president Theodore Roosevelt: "Speak softly and carry a big stick." I think we've let the stick whither. 

CO: So if you're shaking that foreign policy stick, in which directions and which countries might you think Mr. Trump should shake it?

JW: Iran needs to be kept from being the world's leading terrorist state. We need to move them back several places in that ranking by undermining their terrorist affiliations and actions and financing and all the rest and some of that can be done overtly and some of it needs to be done covertly. I think Iran is one of the greatest dangers to world peace.

Russia, in its current mode, shouldering everybody aside and trying to continue to add more and more territory to its control is a serious problem as well. North Korea is sort of an outlier. At some point, one needs to deal with them because they are a nuclear power.  

CO: Do you think that it's going to be a new relationship with Russia?

 Russia has got to stop conquering its neighbours like Ukraine. - James Woolsey

JW: If President Putin and our new president can get together on some key issues that will reduce tensions and the likelihood of accidental firings on ships and aircraft, and keep people from flying within five feet of our ships in open ocean as we need to and Russia has been violating that. We need to get everybody to calm down and maybe that can be institutionalized in some way and some type of agreement would be possible. But Russia has got to stop conquering its neighbours like Ukraine.

CO: A ban on Muslims?

JW: I don't think it's constitutional to ban a religion. You can ban people coming in from a particular region or a particular country for a period of time or until you set up a thorough vetting system or something. But I think banning someone because of his religious beliefs is not a very American way to do things.

 I don't think it's constitutional to ban a religion.- James Woolsey

CO: Would you accept a position if he offered as the national security adviser?

JW: This is an extremely important set of jobs. And I'm not going to get in here and campaign for one. But anybody who is offered something along the lines of one of the two or four top jobs in the government dealing with foreign policy and national security, would have to be honoured.

For more on this story, listen to our full interview with James Woolsey.


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