October 6th, 2012
11:44 AM ET

Hayden: I have hope about the deep fight

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.


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soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Sharon Norris

    The drone strikes are very effective, and do much less daamage than conventional bombers and kill many fewer people. However, we are using them in places and purposes for which we would never use bombers – we are using them to save our soldiers and/or spies from going after individual targets, thus we are killing innocents. The worry is that we are thereby increasing the number of future enemies & laying the groundwork for future, worse, 911's. I think this is distinctly possible, and that the drone strikes must be limited to absolutely essential targets which cannot be reached otherwise.

    October 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      I agree! Yesterday on the BBC I watched Imran Khan's protest march from Islamabad to the tribal areas in Pakistan against drone attacks. The locals were vitriolly against these drone attacks. Some had witnessed family members being blown to pieces and vowed to revenge.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:38 am | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        What die Hayden mean in his CIA-parlance : "production rate of Jihadists" and "deep fight"?

        October 7, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • Chagrined

      America is (was)Home of the Brave and Land of the Free, killing innocent people to get a few bad guys is inimical to our bravery, our values and our credibility!
      This practice is unAmerican, unacceptable and vulgar! I weep for my country and t he innocent people we are murdering!

      October 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Reply
      • USMC Forever

        Thank you, Chagrined. I feel exactly the same way. Those drones and the clowns who operate them are truly a national disgrace and a prime example of pure cowardice!

        October 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Quigley

      Wrong Sharon, those ungodly drone strikes need to end once and for all. As an American, I feel both anger and shame that this country is engaged in this obscene butchery! Have you no feelings for the people on the receiving end? And I'm not talking about "militants", either!!!!!!!

      October 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  2. JAL

    Just as the Arab world has a memory, US top officials have a memeory. Heck, we all have a memory. Is there a way to blank out the bad memories? Yes, it is called progress. Luckily, that is the foundation of the Arab Spring.

    October 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Reply
    • JAL

      The phrase "bad memories" does not designate a lack of remembering vs recalling negative situations.

      October 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Reply
    • thumbs up

      JAL: What is your basis for thinking that switching leaders targeted during the arab spring equates to progress? I think Hayden is correct in his assessment that it is not a sure thing but a possibility that the reasons eg oppressive leaders being replaced could lead to changes in those societies and ultimately fewer jihadists emerging from them. But it remains to be seen if said leadership changes harken in changes that lead to stable peaceful and productive societies. I have far more hope for such taking root in Iraq than Libya, Egypt, or Syria fwiw

      October 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Reply
      • thumbs up


        I think Hayden is correct in his assessment that it is not a sure thing but a possibility that the roots/reasons for terrorists emerging from those areas eg oppressive leaders being replaced are in fact being changed. Hard to say if picked the right people to replace with, though.

        October 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
      • JAL

        Your input would certainly make it into any risk matrix. However, dictatorships are far worse than democracies with respect to regional economic stability. Also, for any democracy to take root, it will need grassroots sustainability, via jobs growth. I dont know about you, but my life is better and I am happier, when I can work to pay my bills. Shoot, I may even let a few zingers slide and instead keep whistling dixie on the way to the laptop store.

        October 7, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
      • JAL

        I prefer Libya due to its closeness to Africa. The major issue here are the millions of people that die every year in Africa due starvation and lack of clean water. The Muslim system for providing aid to Africa is second to none, they just need stable, grassroots economic growth and for us to stand back and let the system work. BTW, when I say millions of people in Africa die every year, realize that the majority of these people are below the age of 10. Whether it be daily prayers (pointing to Mecca), creating new business infrastructure or simply giving an article of clothing to a person in need. Every Arab has been trained to make a significant impact in Africa.

        October 7, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
      • JAL

        Luckliy, we have people like Fareed. People that offer a chance at something good for all of humanity and its future. Now buckle up bc we are in for a bumpy ride..

        October 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
      • JAL

        Also, it is very important not to micro-manage the relationship between Israel and Iran. They will reveal that they are new best friends, before it is all said and done. We need to focus on job growth in the Arab region, specifically, by adamantly requesting the US state dept to switch gears and quickly evolve to help facilitate the creation of new commercial business operations in the democratic Arab regions.

        October 7, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
      • JAL

        Correction: Libya close to sub-saharan Africa.

        October 7, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
      • JAL

        The Arab Spring needs a labor pump.

        October 8, 2012 at 3:37 am |
  3. deep blue

    This is an interesting idea, that the war on terror is winnable, but not through weapons of war.
    I find the theory that oppression by force empowers individuals willing to use force to retaliate, that totalitarianism causes radicalization, very appealing. However, historically, I'm not sure that this is true. Totalitarian regimes tend to have large income disparities and unstable economic growth. Does anyone know of any historical studies that tried to isolate the military oppression variable from economic and demographic factors?

    October 6, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Reply
    • deep blue

      political science seems very difficult to study. Too many factors and no manipulable independent variables. And if anyone found a way to manipulate an independent variable, it would be unethical anyway. 1929 could have just been someone just trying to find the impulse response of the system.

      October 6, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  4. Nabil EL Saari

    Dear Mar. Zakaria,
    Being from Libya and from the city of Benghazi, I would like to correct a statemenst made Mr. Hayden made during his interview with you on the GPS Sunday October 7, 2012. He mentioned that the city of Benghazi supplied more of Jihadist to Iraq than any other city in Libya. This is factually inaccurate. The city that supplied the Jihadists to Iraq is the city of Derna, 300 KM east of Benghazi. The city of Benghazi is the cradle of revolution against the Gaddafi regime. It is a city that is very strongly pro American. Just a reminder, it is the only city in the Arab and Muslim world that demonstrated against the Jihadists and actually ran them off the city after the murder of Ambassador Stevens an event hardly mentioned in American media. And I am very upset of tarnishing Benghazi's reputation due to a crime committed by some that do not represent Benghazi or its people. This reason this is important because it goes directly into the typical lack of understanding of the facts typically come from the Republican party and Republican party advisors like Mr. Hayden. This is the lack of understanding and lack of command of the facts on the ground that led to the bad decesion to invade of Iraq.
    Best Regards,
    Nabil EL Shaari

    October 7, 2012 at 11:13 am | Reply
  5. thumbs up

    without question, the us and its fellow nato members can kill targeted people at an unparalleled ability and efficiency. addressing and blunting by providing positive meaningful alternatives to islamic radicalism and terrorism is much more difficult and not going to be easy to undo. the only reason these areas are of importance is because of the petroleum in many of these regions. the queston which has to be asked to the leaders and the populace of said areas is what will you do once the oil is no more? no one will be providing you money few will care about the lives you will lead. so how does one wrest away the control from those with money or those who control by religion? how do you convert societies to also or perhaps placing paramount importance to the ideas of mathematics, science, technology, etcetera? at the present time there are not enough of those voices present in those regions nor are possible seeds willing to travel there to take root and usher this change (for they now lead a much more stable life in other countries). it is a very difficult task. but i think the leaders and people of these regions should recognize that their importance and the world's focus will be upon them only for a couple or few centuries more. and then they will be an afterthought, unless they push for and implement the needed changes for themselves that they will need to not slip further back in progress.

    October 7, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  6. Chagrined

    The question should be, " why do the Jihadist want to kill us?" Extorted American tax dollars for Israel's egregious abuse of the Palestinians. "Shock and Awe" in Iraq, a country that had no WMDs! Drones killing innocent people in their country, etc. Who are the bad guys? Was 'shock and Awe' an attack on Iraq, a country that was not a threat to America, any less a terrorist attack than the attack on the WTC on 9/11. Is George Bush any less evil than those who attacked our country ob 9-11?
    Slithering neocons, including Hayden, have placed our security in peril, diminished our credibility and values and trashed our country. They have no shame! At long last, they have no decency!

    October 7, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Reply
  7. The New Frontier


    October 7, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Reply
    • Chesapeake

      drone these pups. zero tolerance

      October 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  8. Alex

    I know the CIA was never known for its member's high IQ, but this dude is a drag even by their low standards.

    October 8, 2012 at 9:37 am | Reply
  9. Plagiarism!

    Remember... Fareed committed the greatest sin of a journalist... plagiarism. He copied other people's work.

    October 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  10. martin

    what is cnn's definition of plagerim and is it more guidelines than actual cadinal sins as we have been taught. maybe it is relative to the actual news content presented on the network.

    October 8, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  11. Quigley

    All this talk about the "change in dynamics" here only proves that these so-called "new" leaders can be both bought and paid for! If on has a few billion dollars jingling in their pockets, they can pay people to do or say anything they want and is quite true in this case!

    October 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  12. deniz boro

    Minf the wording.

    October 8, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Reply
  13. JAL

    I am confused. The US arming the Syrian rebels is on the table (via Romney). I guess, the US feels that a parallel security effort must be created along side business infrastructure creation commitment in the Arab world, at least for the time being. Is this a deal breaker? The rebels seem to have arms, but maybe they are talking some heavier gear...?

    October 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply
  14. aprile pipkin

    kings*~ladies & gentlemen.*~wonderful world*~may might i say that fareed. cnn. amazing. i am new to thee world area. my dream was to marry. be blessed with a beautiful. bostonian. perfect family who were owners of thee most elite restaurant savvy*~internatinale!? my name is aprile pipkin. i am 42 years of age. i am a virgin. single. am an aspiring filmmaker yet my family*~my happiness. my heaven. my heart. i probably am amiably attention defeceit, which tends to be a form of genius if one properly diagnosed, treated. thee point is i drive my majestic. iconic. valorly. gothic parents and all. each everyone*~yuletide yonkers with my blessed~perfectionalism!? yet allow i say this*~i've thee cure for diabetes. stemming from such a diagnosis my heartwrenching intense research revolving around my fabulousfather*~ thee immeasurably beautiful. powerful. and perfect*~lordest lord god almighty*~and also mars in thee flesh*~i promise you*~and with that in mind*~my mother*~who is indeedest thee beautiful. powerful. magnificent. majestic moon~goddess reminds me*~sweetness follow your heart*~so then i pray. study. research. work. write. keep thee craziest hours*~yet with thanks to fathergodchrist*~i am quite certain that i indeed am blessed with in addition to diabetes, a cure for cancer. malaria. meningitis. multiple sclerosis. mental illness. severe conditions of thee heart*~perhaps maybe all illness. because of thee perfect love in my life starting with family and now thee divine*~exemplar.excellence. now my middlename*~i write to fareed because i find fareed not merely mentally king. fareed is beautiful. powerful. presidential. professional. compassionate. keen. kind. and perhaps most vital*~righteousness. relent. makes fareed result~orientation unprecedented!? and prayerfully unfailingly. because there is no telling thee lives that may. might are saved, if i am working with thee experts. genius requisite. in ways i pray. i ask. i business propose...no response, no serious response from thee white house. thee world health organization. thee top three medical centers of thee united states of america. nor thee republicans and democrats. fore my cure/theory if accurate is certain to reform healthcare internationally and ought to have secured thee presidency for whomever first contacted me with a pure. marvelous. heart...no vision and greed~absolutely reasons why thee wonderful world suffers so*~

    crescent pharmaceutical indvstries*~you with heart. you with vision. you with compassion. you with power. you with ambition. you with wealth. and you result~oriented invited to responde*~you only!?

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    October 11, 2012 at 11:10 am | Reply
  15. aprile pipkin

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    fathergodchrist*~olde kings*~my guardian angels*~reveal such intelligence always. i almost never sleep!? i so very look forward to am amzing response to my plea for unprecedented support yeilding unprecedented success. starting with saving innumerable lives and creating. generating perhaps maybe even infinite $trillions*~thee power of prayer*~thee power of righteous ambition*~i am always seeking winn-winn ways;) good day & good luck*~~~~~~

    October 11, 2012 at 11:52 am | Reply
  16. aprile pipkin

    i so very am looking forward to an amazing friendship*~s and a response*~s for my aforementioned plea heavenly.
    indeed embraced*~for forever and always*~

    October 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Reply

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