Fareed Zakaria speaks with former CIA Director Michael Hayden about the implications of the Arab Spring and the recent attack in Benghazi. To watch the full interview, tune into GPS this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.
Politically, I want to ask you what you think the dynamic here is, because one thing that strikes me is that the difference this time around, with some periods in the past, is that you have an elected government in Libya that has legitimacy as a result. That has not only denounced this attack, but come out very strongly in support of the United States, seems very determined to track down these people. You have an elected Islamist government in Tunisia, denouncing the al-Qaeda attack. You have an elected president in Egypt, denouncing the attack – not as eloquently as we would have liked, but he did it – elected government in Turkey with an Islamist background, denouncing the attack.
In other words, for the first time, you have a lot of people with street credit in the Muslim world and in the Islamist world, saying this is, you know, this is bad, this kind of violence in the name of jihad is a terrible thing.
Does that change the dynamic, you think?
It really does. And this is a really important point, Fareed, and it’s both good news and bad news. Let me quickly cover the bad news, all right?
All these successor governments are weaker than their predecessors and, frankly, they are less agile and adept counterterrorism partners for the United States. That’s just a fact. This would not have happened in a Libya under Moammar Gadhafi.
And then, Fareed, we’ve been very successful in what an American military man would call the close battle, dealing with jihadists who are already convinced that they want to kill us. We have not been successful in what I would call the deep battle, and that’s the production rate of jihadists who want to kill us in a year or in five years. Despite all the near-term and probably medium-term turbulence that this Arab awakening has created, it has set in motion a dynamic that gives us the possibility – and, Fareed, this is not a sure thing – that gives us the possibility that we could begin to have some influence on the deep fight. You know, the production rate of these folks who, in a year’s or several years' time, will be convinced that they want to do us harm.
It’s very difficult; success is not guaranteed. But for the first time in 11 years, I actually have some hope about the deep fight where we were decidedly unsuccessful before this Arab awakening.