John Kelly, Ret. US Marine Corps General and Former White House Chief of Staff

Published on05 MAR 2019

Retired US Marine Corps general and former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly reflects on his tenure in the Trump administration, the future of the US-China relationship and his views on drug enforcement policy.

This conversation was filmed during the 2019 Goldman Sachs Global Macro Conference in New York City.

On the future of North Korea: “The US has had a significant peacekeeping role there and the South Koreans are a good military. They’ve got a very good economy. And we can all hope, over time, that the DMZ goes away and the two countries eventually become one. Obviously, the people of North Korea, in a very real sense, are prisoners and, for the most part, don’t know what they’re missing - this thing called freedom and democracy, and actually having food to eat on a regular basis. That would be a great thing for those people to have. And I think much like the East Germans, once they get wind of it, over time, we might see a change in North Korea.”

On US drug enforcement policy: “We’ve never had a no-kidding comprehensive drug demand reduction program in our country, a real one. We essentially got people to stop smoking.… But we went on a real anti-smoking [campaign]. We’ve never done that really with drugs, you know? … We had various kind of reduction-like programs, but never really hit it. When I was in the United States Southern Command, that’s all of Latin America that I focused on…we were losing 60,000 to 65,000 Americans a year from [cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine]. Now we’re losing I think this last year 74,000. It’ll be well into the eighties next year. There’s no end in sight. To legalize hard drugs, I don’t know how you do it. I just don’t know how you do it. I think - it’s a medical issue. It’s a law enforcement issue. But I just don’t know how you do it.”

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