seebadnews.com YANG: Hi, my name's Yang. So Trump's China-bashing rhetoric often happens in his Twitter or his rallies. This doesn't make lots of Chinese worried. But one thing that makes the Chinese worried is [the] Taiwan issue. So from the vantage point of the CIA, is it possible that Trump will use Taiwan as leverage to push China to deal with North Korea? So how risky is it?
BRENNAN: One of the things I like about the CIA is that we don't evaluate and assess what a president will do [LAUGHTER] with the United States. Clearly, the Chinese are very concerned about Taiwan and the recent phone call that President-Elect Trump had with the Taiwanese president. So they are watching that very carefully. Again, I anticipate that once the new administration comes in, they will make sure that they understand what the implications and consequences are of certain actions, as well as certain statements or things that the people say. It's amazing the power of the word of the president of the United States. When the president of the United States says something, it can have ramifications, reverberations world-wide, on the political front, on the economic front, on the military front. And so I am anticipating that the next administration will understand just how important it is that when they take an action or make a statement, that they need to think through what the second and third-order consequences are of it. That's what I think is one of the real attributes of President Obama, that he is someone who looks at issues and then will immediately try to understand, "Okay, if I make this chess move, what does it mean as far as the second and third steps and moves that either the United States can make, or what our adversaries or partners or allies will do?"
seebadnews.com YANG: So it's very risky. [Laugh]
Professor Robert Pape (Moderator): So can I also ask you a question, to make an assessment for us about the future. So President-Elect Trump has at least, during the campaign, talked about withdrawing some important support from our allies—South Korea, Japan—and actually said things to encourage them to go their own way, maybe even to the point of nuclear weapons. What would those policies mean for North Korea?
BRENNAN: It would mean a lot. I think we have to be very mindful that our relationship and our partnership with South Korea and Japan is crucial, that if they feel as though they can no longer count on the United States in order to protect them from some type of North Korean military adventurism or attack, they're going to pursue their own course that may not be ones that we want them to go forward. Last thing we need is for there to be a nuclear race in Northeast Asia. That's not going to be conducive to regional stability, global stability. And when we think about China, you know, we have North Korean issue, we have cyber-issues with China, we have South China Sea, we have trade issues, we have so many things. So the approach to China needs to take into account that it's multi-dimensional, but the North Korean dimension of it, I think, is one that is gonna be critically important for us to be able to focus on. And Tokyo and Seoul and others are going to be watching the United States and Washington very carefully, and the new administration, to detect changes that would lead them to then adopt different policies or take their own actions. And this is what President Trump and his next security team really need to have as full-on appreciation of, again, it's that multi-dimensional chessboard. You move the piece on one board, it really affects your positioning on another. So, and China is critically important in so many of these areas that I think this is what the next administration needs to recognize.