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Thomas Nides, U.S. deputy secretary of state for management and resources, joined The Daily Circuit Tuesday to discuss his recent trip to Pakistan. Nides, a Minnesota native, is the former CEO of Morgan Stanley.
One of Nides' main concerns is continuing the relationship with Pakistan as the United States works on destabilizing terroristic threats against America.
"We have to have a relationship with Pakistan, and Pakistan has to have a relationship with the United States," he said. "It's critical for everything we're doing, not only is it critical for the reconciliation that we're trying to attempt to do with Afghanistan, with the Taliban, but it's an important regional power as well."
Balancing Pakistan's sovereignty with America's national security is important, Nides said. When questioned, Nides was reluctant to directly answer Kerri Miller's questions about the use of drones in Pakistan.
"We have a lot of tools which we always use in cooperation with the Pakistanis and with the security for the United States," he said.
ASKED AND ANSWERED
Miller: It sounds from what you're saying this morning that our concerns about national security take precedence over Pakistan's sovereignty, something that you say the United States is interested in.
Nides: I think there's a balance. I think we're very respectful of the Pakistani government. It's a democratically elected president, as you know they've had a long history of ups and downs in their elected officials, they've had obviously if President Zardari gets re-elected it will be the first president in the history to be re-elected. We respect the civilian government, we respect the military government as well, but our view of this is that we work cooperatively with the Pakistanis, understanding their sovereignty, and understanding our mutual desires here.
We have - the positive news here is that the Pakistanis have as much desire as we do to rid their country of terrorists. How we achieve those goals mutually is what we need to work out; how do we work together, we need to work out those details. But make no mistake, we have a goal which is to dismantle and disarm Al Qaeda, which we will achieve to do. We will work with the Pakistanis to achieve the ultimate of that goal.
Kerri Miller (host): My guest was known as a fixer before he went to Washington. On Wall Street he'd negotiated, resolved, reframed financial challenges for Morgan Stanley, and he did it with what his colleagues say was admirable discretion. But he's just returned from one of the most complicated and dangerous places in the world, and fixing Pakistan, or at least the US relationship with it, is one of our most urgent problems. And that's where we're going to begin today. Tom Nides is US Deputy Secretary of State, he's the former CEO of Morgan Stanley, and also has experience on Capitol Hill, and he is from Duluth, MN and he joins us in the studio. Welcome, it's good to have you here.
Thomas Nides (guest): Thank you for having me.
Miller: You went to Pakistan just as the Pakistani National Assembly was approving this new set of guidelines on their relationship with the United States, and while it appears that the supply lines into Afghanistan are going to re-open, we can talk about that in a minute, they did approve some things that might, I guess, concern you. An end to drone attacks in Pakistan, no future bases or American military personnel on the ground in Pakistan. Is that what was going on when you were there?
Nides: Well, first of all, thank you for having me, and I think the most important thing was we stand back and look at our relationship with Pakistan. We have to have a relationship with Pakistan, and Pakistan has to have a relationship with the United States. It's critical for everything we're doing, not only is it critical for the reconciliation that we're trying to attempt to do with Afghanistan, with the Taliban, but it's an important regional power as well. And so over this last two years we've had ups and downs in this relationship, and we need to understand that their sovereignty - the government of Pakistan has issues of sovereignty that we need to respect. We also need to be thinking about this in the larger context, which is what are the issues that we need on CT co-operation, on counter terrorism co-operation? The terrorism is killing their people as well, and they want to do something. When I was there I met with President Zardari, and Foreign Minister Khar, and the government clearly wants to reset this relationship, there is no question about that. And that includes everything from CT co-operation to hopefully reopening the supply lines into Afghanistan, to really working on the basic issues, because they know, as we know, the importance of this bi-lateral relationship is critical to both countries and we recognize that and we're going to continue to have many conversations in the weeks and days ahead.
Miller: I hear what you said about resetting the relationship, I did not hear what you said about some of the things that the assembly approved, which is this idea of no drone activity in Pakistan, and no American military on the ground in Pakistan. Did you talk about that with the leaders?
Nides: We made it very clear to the Pakistani government, that we expect their co-operation in rooting out the violent extremists, especially those of the haqqani network, which is in the parts of Pakistan which we understand exists and certainly has been fingered in some of the recent attacks in Afghanistan. We're going to work very aggressively, as we have on CT co-operation with the Pakistanis. It is the, as we like to say a red line for the United States, ridding the country and the world of the - basically of Al Qaeda. The president has been very clear about that, he's made it clear to the world that our ultimate goal is to dismantle and disrupt Al Qaeda, and I would say that we're on the - as it relates to successes, we've done an enormously large numbers of dismantling efforts, and will continue to do so; we'll work with the Pakistanis on co-operation on those issues.
Miller: Do I hear you not saying, but perhaps the subtext here is that the drone activity is going to continue in Pakistan, whether the Pakistanis want it or not?
Nides: I think the reality for all of us is that the Pakistanis themselves understand the importance ridding their country of terrorists. We understand it and they understand it.
Miller: But they may not agree on the methods.
Nides: Our hope is that this is a sovereign country, Pakistan is a sovereign country, we will work closely with the Pakistani government, the civilian government with President Zardari and Foreign Minister Khar, and working together with them to come up with a solution. This is a country who has faced enormous pain and suffering as it relates to terrorism. As you know, President Zardari's wife was murdered, killed by terrorists, her father was as well, this country knows this as well as anyone does, and they have every desire as we do to rid the country of the elements that are trying to destroy the liberties that they are trying to achieve.
Miller: So my question again is, is the drone activity that the United States is using over Pakistan going to continue whether the Pakistani Assembly or the leadership of Pakistan likes it or not?
Nides: I think again, as any sovereign country which Pakistan is, we'll continue to have long discussions with the Pakistanis, which are going to happen again as it happened when I was in Pakistan 10 days ago as the first civilian to be there in probably five months, it happened with our ambassador, Ambassador Cameron Munter who is on the ground every day; I had the opportunity three days ago to meet with the finance minister, Hafeez Sheikh, we had a nice dinner at which we talked a lot about the economic issues in Pakistan as well as the security issues. So we'll be working closely, directly and forcefully with the Pakistani government to do what they believe is in the right interests of their country as well as the right interests of the United States.
Miller: I notice that you have not yet in any of the answers used the word drone. I mean this is something that the United States acknowledges that it does, isn't it?
Nides: As a reality is, is that we continue to do the things that we need to do as relates to national security -
Miller: Mr Secretary, what -
Nides: - issues, and the fact of the matter is, as you well know, we have been quite successful. As the President has said, as members of Congress have said on our activities in making sure that we rid this country, and quite frankly if you ask the biggest threat for the United States is Al Qaeda, and it is the nation of extremism, and I think we've done a pretty good job, and I think most Democrats and Republicans would say this administration has done a very successful job in dismantling Al Qaeda and will continue those efforts.
Miller: So is there some reason the State Department doesn't acknowledge that the drone activity's going on, or is there some reason you're just reluctant to address it formally and forthrightly?
Nides: I think the reality for us as a country, we have obviously lots of tools, most importantly co-operation with countries, and between our intelligence communities and activities with our military or activities in Afghanistan, activities in the Fatah region in Pakistan, we have a lot of tools which we always use in co-operation with the Pakistanis and with the security for the United States.
Miller: Can you explain the logic that the United States uses to carry out activities in a country like Pakistan which I think you have just acknowledged is a sovereign country, a country of an assembly and presumably laws, and yet the United States feels free to carry out activities that the Pakistanis oppose? How do we discuss the logic of that?
Nides: There are people who wake up every day and want to kill innocent Americans, innocent Afghans, Afghanistan folks that live in Afghanistan, Pakistanis, those people wake up and want to ruin the freedoms that we're trying to achieve. And they are responsible for the tragedies in 9/11, they are responsible for the tragedies that hit our troops in Afghanistan, and we will not rest until we dismantle Al Qaeda and the elements that are about them. And if you ask when I am in Pakistan, you look in the eyes of the Pakistani leadership, they believe it to be the case that they - we - they need to do the same things, take the same routes as we do; you go to Afghanistan which I've just been to recently and you talk to President Karzai, everyone has the same desires, which is to rid these countries of the terrorist elements, and we'll continue to do so.
Miller: You said recently about Pakistan, we believe we can achieve a balanced approach in a relationship that respects Pakistan's sovereignty and interests, but also represents our concerns about our national security. It sounds from what you're saying this morning that our concerns about national security take precedence over Pakistan's sovereignty, something that you say the United States is interested in.
Nides: I think there's a balance. I think we're very respectful of the Pakistani government, it's a democratically elected president, as you know they've had a long history of ups and downs in their elected officials, they've had obviously if President Zardari gets re-elected it will be the first president in the history to be re-elected. We respect the civilian government, we respect the military government as well, but our view of this is that we work co-operatively with the Pakistanis, understanding their sovereignty, and understanding our mutual desires here. We have - the positive news here is that the Pakistanis have as much desire as we do to rid their country of terrorists. How we achieve those goals mutually is what we need to work out; how do we work together, we need to work out those details, but make no mistake, we have a goal which is to dismantle and disarm Al Qaeda, which we will achieve to do, we will work with the Pakistanis to achieve the ultimate of that goal.
Miller: I think you will acknowledge there are some questions though about the level of Pakistan's desire to rid themselves from, as you say these terrorist elements, and that goes back to the raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound; questions about who within the government knew that he was living where he was. Is there desire really at the level that you're telling us there is this morning, or is it a much more complicated situation?
Nides: I can only tell you the conversations that I've had, that the White House has had, and that our military has had. Listen, I think that at the highest level of this government, that being President Zardari, the foreign minister, General Kayani, who heads the military, I think there's a desire to provide the country and rid the country of those elements that are destroying their country from inside out. Obviously we - this is a relationship that has many ups and many downs, ok? If you look over the last couple of years we have a variety of incidences, including the Bin Laden incident, which certainly rockets sometimes this relationship. But as I started when you and I first - when you first asked the question - we have to have the bilateral relationship with Pakistan. So we have to work through these problems. It is not perfect, make no mistake, this is not nirvana. But there is a country that sits strategically important to us, the United States, as relates to Afghanistan, right next to India, and oh by the way, they have over 100 nuclear weapons. So they have a nuclear arsenal, they sit next to India, we're trying to get reconciliation with the Taliban and Afghanistan, they need to be at the table, we want to have a relationship with the government of Pakistan, it's a sovereign country and they understand what we need to accomplish in this relationship and we'll work together to accomplish that.
Miller: Where were you - were you in your job the night of the Bin Laden raid?
Nides: I was.
Miller: And where were you as it was going on?
Nides: I was - I think I was at my house, I wasn't at the White House.
Miller: And when did you get the news of what had - that it had been successful.
Nides: Moments after the raid.
Miller: Who called?
Nides: I can't - I -
Miller: Was it the Secretary of State?
Nides: No, I think we got a call from their operations center at the State Department.
Miller: And what did they say?
Nides: That we had a, that we believe we had a very successful evening.
Miller: Is that really how it was put, or...
Nides: Yeah, I mean I think it - you know, listen, we - there wasn't - at that point we didn't have a hundred percent confirmation, obviously it took some time to get confirmed to what had actually happened, and obviously we were being very clear about we didn't want leaks to the press till we know exactly what had occurred, so we were obviously notified in due course. But we were, we were very optimistic, and listen, you know it was a quite - it was quite a mission, I mean the individuals who participated in this from the President of the United States to the guys on the ground, it was a mission that every American could have been proud of. And it was unquestionably something that was unbelievably risky. Not only risky most importantly for the men who hit the ground, and did the raid, but it certainly was risky for this administration. It wasn't , under no circumstances was this an easy mission to accomplish, the President had made a desire after consultations with his military and with the intelligence community that we had the target, there wasn't a hundred percent certainty we could accomplish it, and the president basically took the risk and we've ridded the world of some, as they like to say an evil-doer.
Miller: Has the Secretary of State, have you two - has she talked to you, described for you what it was like in the room that night, because she's recently made some comments about that.
Nides: Yes, I mean listen, she - I had to be proud to be an American, I mean she sat there and watched these brave men do what they were doing. I mean it's - you can't explain it, the level of anxiety, anticipation, excitement, and she, you know, listen, she's been around this game for a long time as you know, I don't think she'd ever say that anything that was more thrilling for a successful action as this was, and listen, this has had a huge impact on the power structure of Al Qaeda, there's no question about that.
Miller: And to the phones here, to Mike in St Paul, hi Mike.
Mike (caller): Hi, first of all I'd like to tell you that I'm a member of Veterans for Peace, Chapter 27 here in the Twin Cities, and I'd also like to let your listeners know that there is a Pakistani lawyer that is representing victims of drone strikes that wished to enter the United States to participate in a conference on drones, and he was denied entry into the United States very arbitrarily, for no reason other than he would have exposed the United States' use of drones. This conversation is very Orwellian, I congratulate you Kerri for asking these direct questions but you're not getting any answers, so I would like to repeat the questions. Does the United States acknowledge the use of drones and the subsequent casualties in Pakistan?
Miller: Mr Nides?
Nides: As I told you, or as I said to Kerri earlier on in the conversation, the United States has had for many years an enormous amount of tools at their disposal to basically rid the world, certainly in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, but principally Pakistan, of the elements of Al Qaeda. I don't think there's many Americans who would suggest that getting rid of Bin Laden, and getting rid of much of the leadership of Al Qaeda, is a particularly bad thing to do. I think we will continue to do and as has been reported in major monthly publications, the use of technology has been an enormously effective tool which we've had very few casualties. So again, I am, as a person who is a diplomat, and has worked aggressively with the Pakistani government, and works with the Afghanistan government, and just finished coming back from Iraq, the toll that these wars have taken on the citizens of these countries and quite frankly on our own troops, we need to continue to use all the tools that we have at our disposal in a way that is in my view supported by law, supported by the desires of the President as well as the House and Senate leadership, as well as the Congress in an attempt to try to rid this country of what we believe is unbelievably difficult situation, and most importantly try to get rid of Al Qaeda.
Miller: Mr Secretary, I want to ask you about something that Admiral Mike Mullen told a congressional committee before he retired as Chair of the Joint Chiefs, he said that insurgents who attacked the American embassy in Afghanistan were, quote, a veritable arm of Pakistan's spy agency, and the ISI consistently undermines US efforts in Afghanistan. And I wonder if that's an assessment that you agree with.
Nides: I have an enormous respect for Mike Mullen, I spent a lot of time with him, he is not only admired both within the uniformed services but as the civilian branches as well. He spent an enormous amount of time working with the Pakistan government as relates the issues of the haqqani network, working with the ISI and their elements. We have been very clear to the Pakistani government that we expect them to do what they need to do to rid that country of the haqqani network. The Secretary of State has been clear both in Pakistan, both publicly and privately, that we will not tolerate it, under any circumstances, of either harboring a haqqani network members, supporting them in any way. We have been continued to be given assurances by the government, the civilian government as well as the military that they are working hand in hand with us to accomplish that goal. As I went back to at the beginning of the con - this is not a perfect relationship. We must keep the pressure on every single day. So we have no choice. We keep the pressure on the Pakistani civilian government, the military government, both to work collectively with them to do what we need to do, to not only rid that country of their terrorist elements which is destroying their country as well, make no mistake, just look at the eyes of those kids. I sat in Lahore with kids who are 17, 18 years old, who had just done a Fulbright program with us, an exchange program, they don't want this stuff going on in their country, this is a country that 20 years ago people would go there and travel and it was a destination spot, beautiful country, places like Islamabad or Lahore or Karachi, beautiful countries, I mean beautiful cities in a beautiful country. They need to address their own terrorist activity as we are helping them to talk about what they need to do, so I, make no mistake, we have a zero tolerance level as it relates to the haqqani network and certainly I've got an enormous amount of respect for what Mike Mullen has said.
Miller: So, do you think Admiral Mullen was wrong when he said that the ISI is working with some of these terrorist operations in an effort to undermine what the United States is doing in Afghanistan? Was he wrong or right about that?
Nides: I think Mike Mullen had an enormous amount of experience dealing with the Pakistanis. I respect Mike Mullen, Mike Mullen had every right to say what he had to say, I think there is no question in our view, that we have to continue putting enormous pressure on the Pakistanis to get what they need to do, which is to basically force them to address the issues around the haqqani network.
Miller: So -
Nides: There is no - to answer your question, there is no, there is clearly a view, amongst some people, that the haqqani network has had the opportunities to roam freely around elements of Pakistan. We continually put pressure on the Pakistani government, continue to put pressure on the ISI to focus on the haqqani network, and we will not stop till they address as we believe they need to address all those issues.
Miller: So Mr Secretary, is that the kind of thing that somebody who is on their way out of government's service can be candid about, but somebody who is still serving in the kind of position that you are, cannot say?
Nides: I can't argue with Mike Mullen -
Miller: But you haven't, you -
Nides: No but I -
Miller: But you haven't answered my question, which is was his assessment correct, and I think there must be a reason why you won't answer the question correctly.
Nides: Everyone has - Mike Mullen has spent 40 years in uniform, ok? He had hundreds of meetings with the Pakistanis -
Miller: Ok, he has a lot experience and knowledge -
Nides: My view of this is, is that this - his comments came after a recent attack in Afghanistan where some, in which soldiers were killed. His view of this was that that particular incident was created and done by the haqqani network. There's no question that the haqqani network has safe havens, or havens at least, in parts of Pakistan. There's no question that Mike Mullen believes, that he believed then, and believes now, that the Pakistanis need to do more to address the haqqani network.
Miller: And do you think that's true?
Nides: Without question we believe that the Pakistani government needs to do - we have been on the record of saying -
Miller: But do you think it's true that the ISI has been co-operating with terrorist organizations to undermine what the United States is doing in Afghanistan?
Nides: We have been told continually by both the civilian and the military parts of Pakistan that they are not in fact doing that. We have put an enormous amount of pressure on this government -
Miller: And do you believe them when they say that?
Nides: We don't - it's not an issue of believing the Pakistanis, we - actions talk louder than words. Regardless of what they tell us, we believe the haqqani network needs to be taken down, we believe it needs to be dismantled, and they the Pakistanis need to do what they need to do to do so. So regardless of what they say, positively or negatively, our view of this is very clear: They are a terrorist organization, they're harming not only Pakistanis, but they're harming our soldiers in Afghanistan and innocent Afghans. Our view of this is we need to do what we need to do, and we need to be aggressive with the Pakistanis, at the same time recognize their sovereignty and recognize we need to work co-operatively with them to try to accomplish that goal.
Miller: On facebook here from Joe in Minneapolis, he says India just tested a ballistic missile in a growing competition with China, how will Pakistan fit into that relationship, how will the US?
Nides: Well again, as I said to me, said earlier, we have a lot of goals with Pakistan. One we need to have a relationship with Pakistan, we need to have a - it's - we have to recognize the importance of it. I also made it clear that they have nuclear weapons, they have to stay secure, that is a fundamental issue for us for the sake of our country, of India, of Pakistan, the region, our economy, so a stable, stable Pakistan is in all of our national security interests. So we continue to discuss this with the Pakistanis, they understand the importance of it, but make no mistake, people keep asking questions, what are we doing, why do we even talk to the Pakistanis, again -
Miller: Who asks that?
Nides: You know, people, you get -
Miller: Members of Congress or who?
Nides: You know, you read editorials, you read individual - citizens will say, why do you even communicate with these people, why don't you just isolate the Pakistanis; the reality is that it's not in our national security interests to do so, it's not in their national security interests to do so, for all of the reasons we talked about but principally the importance of making sure that they - we have a very strong, long-term workable relationship with this government.
Miller: To the phones, to Vivian in Minneapolis, hi Vivian, thank you for waiting.
Vivian: Thank you for taking my call. My interest is in the opium production, it's the main cash crop of Pakistan, and also of Afghanistan, and there's a lot of profit involved in the trade, the haqqani network is involved, and of course the terrorists of that whole region are involved with opium. ISI gets into it at different parts as well. So I'm wondering what the latest news is on that front and I'll hang up and listen to your answer.
Nides: When I was in Pakistan we had many conversations with them about the issues around drugs and opium a variety of other illicit issues. They're very aware of it, they're not only aware of it but they're deeply concerned about it, it's tearing up - like all of these issues, both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, this is not just a Pakistan issue quite frankly, it's not just there it's all over the world. They are working aggressively to try to solve this problem through working with the United States, but working with their own allies and making sure that they are forcefully enforcing the laws and regulations, but more importantly attempting to try to find out, try to help the economy. This is a country that has very severe economic situation as well, we haven't really talked about that but this is a country who obviously their economy has not been growing, they are a net importer of natural resources, so like any of these countries, and Afghanistan as well, where there's no jobs, people will do all sorts of things to raise money. So we have work with the government of Pakistan to not only help, not only to resolve this issue around the illegal drug trade, but we have to also provide them economic assistance and attempt to try to grow real agriculture. We do programs in agriculture education, energy projects, and we attempt to try to move this country forward.
Miller: To Tom in Mankado. Hi Tom, thank you for waiting.
Tom (caller): Hi Kerri. My question is principally about President Zardari. Most people think that he's a pretty weak reed, that in fact as your guest previously stated the military and particularly the ISI really control the country and in fact they see everything through the prism of India Pakistan, so Afghanistan is their defensive gap where they would have to retreat if they were attacked and overwhelmed, so they don't even control their own northwest province, so the fact that President Zardari says one thing and the ISI does something else, that seems to me that we shouldn't place much trust in what he says. Secondly, even Leon Panetta, when he was CIA director, said before Congress that there are only 50 to 100 Al Qaeda left in Afghanistan, we're still spending 100 billion dollars a year to chase around 50 to 100 Al Qaeda, is that what we're doing, or did we move the goalposts and now we're involved in an Afghan civil war with the Taliban. Two questions, thank you.
Nides: Well let me, let me just talk about President Zardari. Again, this is, you sound like you know what you're talking about as relates to the history of Pakistan, obviously the military's had a very strong hand over the years, this is a civilian elected government, President Zardari was democratically elected, he will obviously potentially be re-elected, unclear that will all work with the voters in Pakistan. If you had have told me that 20 years ago, that you would have potentially the re-election of a democratically elected president in Pakistan, most people, most observers might not have agreed to that. Again, it's a relatively new democracy, what it means by that, meaning that they haven't had 200 years of going to the voting polls and having a civilian government. I spent an enormous time with not only the foreign minister, the prime minister, Gilani, I was asked to go to Lahore to meet with President Zadari. President Zadari is a great ally to the United States, and he wants to have a relationship with this country, he understands that they can't be isolated, so we'll work with them and you're question about reconciliation I think is the question at hand. We're going to be working very closely with the Pakistanis and with the Afghans as we begin to withdraw our troops out of Afghanistan, as you know the President's laid out a very clear message that by 2014 our - the mission in Afghanistan will be moving more to an assist mission, working with the Afghans. The Pakistanis will be of enormous help to us as we begin trying to get reconciliation with the Taliban in Afghanistan, that's very important because at the end of the day we need reconciliation if we are going to further this relationship and get this country on the track it needs to be so Pakistan will play a major role in that.
Miller: Can I ask you about this situation with Hafiz Mohammed Said, this is the person that the United States has accused of orchestrating the attacks in Mumbai. The United States put a 10 million dollar bounty on him, and one day later he's holding a press conference in Pakistan saying I'll be in Lahore tomorrow if the United States wants to come get me. Do we want him, or are we just trying to send a message to the Pakistanis with the bounty? Because if we want him, why can't we go to Lahore and arrest him?
Nides: We want him, and we hope we will get him, he - we believe that he is responsible for the Mumbai killings in India, we don't do these decisions lightly, this is not some sort of game the United States decides to put up a bounty on someone to bring them in , we're dead serious, this program has worked aggressively around the region and we will do what we need to do to bring him in.
Miller: But he held a press conference in Lahore with many journalists, televised. I mean, if journalists knew where to go, why didn't the CIA or our military teams know where to get him, if we really want to arrest him?
Nides: My view of this is, is that he will be brought into custody and he will be tried as he should be.
Nides: I hope will be as soon as we have the ability to do so, I don't - unfortunately it's more, like all these issues more complicated than meets the eye, but the reality of this is we didn't do this lightly, we did this -
Miller: The bounty, you mean?
Nides: Absolutely. And our view of this is, this will work and we will bring him out of the country in hopes of putting him on trial where he should be.
Miller: How does the United States decide who it's going to put a bounty on? That's a lot of money, especially in that part of the world.
Nides: Yeah, I think again there's a process in which we take place, we understand who we believe is a part of a criminal element, there's clear evidence that people are connected to particular terrorist acts, and we basically make a decision collectively about where the individual is, where he's hiding, whether he's in public or not in public, and try to encourage the populace to take charge collectively in trying to get rid of these people.
Miller: You had experience on Capitol Hill, before you came to this job, right?
Nides: I did.
Miller: But how much foreign policy experience did you have?
Nides: Well, you know, it's funny - I came to Washington because I got, I was a, I got Walter Mondale to speak to my high school graduation class at Duluth East High School, interestingly enough a friend of mine [Bud O'Near] and I decided to have Mondale come as speaker. And he agreed to do it. I came to Washington as an intern for Mondale, as a 20 year old, and my fellow intern was your own fabulous Amy Klobuchar, she and I interned together for Mondale. And I started a career on Capitol Hill. And I spent a lot of time not only working for a guy named Tony Quillin when Tom Foley was speaker of the House then went to USTR. Spent a lot of time at USTR working on trade issues. When I came - went into the private sector for the last 15 years, I spent a lot of time internationally -
Miller: That was in the financial sector.
Nides: Yeah, it wasn't in, I wasn't involved - put it this way, I hadn't been spending any time in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq where I have now spent more of my time than I thought I would ever spend in my lifetime. So I didn't, I obviously did not have direct foreign policy experience per se, but I have gotten over the last two years more foreign policy experience in two years than most people would have in a lifetime.
Miller: I mean, it is well known you raised a lot of money for Hillary Clinton in her presidential bid. Is that part of the reason your name moved to the top of the list for this job?
Nides: I don't know, I hope - listen, I love Hillary Clinton, she's a spectacular Secretary of State, I raised money like everyone else did. I don't - my assumption is Hillary Clinton could have picked a lot of people to be the deputy Secretary of State, I hope she picked me because I had a lot of experience, not necessarily in foreign policy but one of the roles of this job is also to be the COO of the State Department so I do a lot of the management piece at the State Department as well and I think I had some strong management experience. I hope I did. So I think, listen, I hope she didn't make the wrong decision, but part of it obviously was the experience I had from the public sector working on the Hill as you pointed out and had been in the private sector for the last 15 years.
Miller: Do you think coming into the job you knew what you didn't know?
Nides: You know that's a good question. This is a really complicated world and people keep asking me, what is - give me your sense of - what have you learned? And I think what I've learned is one, there's an unbelievable amount of dedicated men and women who care deeply about this country, and what drives me crazy when people talk about government in a negative disparaging way, I -
Miller: You're surprised about that?
Nides: Well I was surprised by the nature of the, the quality of people that I deal with a daily and day out basis. I hadn't been in government 15 years. Or actually almost 20 years. The Foreign Service officers at the Department of State, the civil service often locally engaged people are the most committed people I've ever seen. They're working in some of the most dangerous places in the world. You know I go to Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan, places in Sudan and in Somalia, the USA ID workers, these people are committed,dedicated people who work every day to try to what's right for our country. And so what I - people talk to me about oh, what can you teach the - people at the State Department from your corporate experience. I can teach them nothing. The fact of the matter is they can teach us a little bit about what it's like to give back, what it's like to participate, what it's like to be involved, get in the game, so I've been honored by the ability to spend a period of time working at the department and certainly working with really intelligent committed men and women.
Miller: We didn't cover a lot of things that I was hoping we could cover, so can we continue the conversation some day?
Nides: Sure, love to.
Miller: You come to Minnesota fairly often, don't you?
Nides: I come as much as I get invited.
Miller: The door is always open to the studio, ok, I'd love to have you back. And I'll leave you with this. Dave in Duluth says Tom was in my boy scout patrol along with Willy McCool, commander of the space shuttle Columbia. Tell Tom I'm proud of him. That's Dave.
Nides: That's big, thanks Dave.
Miller: Thank you Mr Secretary, good to have you here.
"The size of the guest-worker program is designed to adjust automatically in response to changing U.S. labor needs, growing in good years when the economy needs more foreign workers and shrinking when more Americans are out of work."
After we taped the Friday Roundtable, I asked the panelists what we should pick up at the farmer’s market this weekend. Stephanie Meyer recommends morels. Amy Thielen says to buy dandelion greens if you can find them. Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl’s a fan of rhubarb: Here’s what you can do with rhubarb. I like to cook…