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Highlights 2012

Kasparov: ‘Putin Will Not Last Six Years’

Kasparov dispelled rumors he would run for office during a talk at Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s Hero Summit. But he also said Putin wouldn’t be around for long, however messy his exit might be.

Kasparov talks to Michelle Cottle backstage at The Hero Summit.

Vladimir Putin will not last the next six years of his presidential term.

That is the prediction of one of the Russian president’s sharpest opponents, Garry Kasparov, a former chess champion and national hero in his native Russia who in recent years has started a second career as a dissident political figure.

“I will bet my bottom dollar that Putin will not last six years,” Kasparov said on Thursday during Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s Hero Summit in Washington. But he cautioned something worse could replace the current Russian leader if the opposition does not present a credible alternative to the Russian people. “I’m not telling you it will be good,” he cautioned.

Earlier this year, Putin won Russian presidential elections despite earlier pledges not to seek the office. When President Obama came into office, the White House reached out to Dmitry Medvedev, the new Russian president, as Putin took a lower profile role as prime minister. This March, the two leaders switched places, securing another term for Putin’s party, United Russia.

Putin’s decision to run again for office reawakened a protest movement in Moscow and the emergence of a new generation of activists like the punk band Pussy Riot, which would perform impromptu concerts in public landmarks like Russia’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The new tactic made the group’s members a target of the police. They were arrested in March and their trial on charges of religious hatred and hooliganism began in July. Kasparov protested the trials and was beaten and arrested in August for protesting the pending guilty verdict.

Kasparov said the new protests sparked by the arrest and trial of Pussy Riot were important. “It’s the first time during Putin’s rule that we had hundreds of thousands of people in the streets.”

The protests will likely not be enough. “The utmost task for the opposition is how to offer a vision for the future,” Kasparov said. “The moment people realize we have a way out of this impasse, the Putin regime will crumble overnight.”

When his unit was ambushed in Vietnam, Alfred Rascon didn’t stop to think. He threw himself into the line of fire and got most of his friends out safe.

Rascon recounts his work in Vietnam.

Alfred Rascon is the recipient of the military’s highest achievement, the Medal of Honor, but when he spoke to the crowd at Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s Hero Summit on Thursday, he said his actions weren’t heroic at all, he was just looking out for his friends.

“There’s nothing heroic about this, it’s the fact that you have to go out and take care of those that were injured, just like they would for you,” he said.

Rascon, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Mexico, joined the army as a medic when he was 17. In 1966, he was working as a medic with his platoon in the Long Khanh Province of Vietnam when his unit came under attack. As soon as men became injured, Rascon—nicknamed “Doc” Rascon by his friends—jumped into medic mode, risking his life in the line of fire to revive his friends and at times throwing himself in front of hand grenades in order to shelter them.

“You’re afraid,” Rascon said of the attack. “Anyone who says you aren’t afraid, something is wrong with them.”

Rascon was shot from the hip through his shoulder and hit by hand grenades over four times, once directly to his face. “I thought I was going to die, I didn’t know how much face wounds bled,” he said.

President Clinton Awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam Veteran Alfred Rascon

President Clinton awards the Medal of Honor to Vietnam veteran Alfred Rascon during a special East Room ceremony at the White House on February 08, 2000. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo)

But Rascon didn’t stop attending to his friends until he was forcibly carried away for his own medical attention. “I was not trying to be a hero, I was trying to be a medic,” he said.

Live Update

Taking on Tyrants: An Interview with Garry Kasparov


Lai Seng Sin / AP Photo

United Civil Front Chairman Garry Kasparov is interviewed by Eli Lake, Newsweek & The Daily Beast's Senior National Security Correspondent. See live tweets from their discussion on defying Vladmir Putin's government, Pussy Riot and the dissidents fighting for "the other Russia."

Live Update

Kael Weston on Life After War

A "renegade diplomat" says it's time for Washington to consider the price of its wars.

Weston on his book and why the U.S. needs to take a look in the mirror.

Newsweek and The Daily Beast's Hero Summit opened Thursday with a rousing bugle call, followed by a sobering account from a former State Department official about life after war.

J. Kael Weston, who spent seven years with the State Department in Iraq and Afghanistan as a "renegade diplomat" working alongside U.S. Marines, said it's time for Washington to look itself in the mirror, much as a wounded soldier does after returning home from war with a new face.

"I do believe there are heroes out of these wars," he said. "I just don't see a lot of heroes in Washington—I could talk for hours about that. I'm not pointing fingers at anyone in the government. I think we owe it to our guys to look into the mirror."

Weston, speaking with Washington Post correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran, said he feels the nation's capital needs to become more reflective on its reasons for going to war, and to be sure that the reasons warrant the sacrifice. He recalled a group of mullahs asking him "on a windy hilltop" in Afghanistan, "Why did you invade Iraq?" He wants to hear policymakers ask themselves those questions, he said.

J. Kael Weston

J. Kael Weston spent seven years with the State Department in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We're tired and a war-weary and war-wary nation," he said. "I don't want to tell stories that bring us down, but there are some reality checks that go beyond the Hollywood happy ending."

Washington has become too disengaged, too obsessed with "fundraising and the next election" he said, adding: "We need big people in big jobs, not small people in big jobs."

Live Update

The Promise of ‘Smart Power’

What have we learned after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan? That guns and drones will never be enough to save a country. Ideas from the Hero Summit for rebuilding the world.

Harman calls for more humility in government.

How do you wage war in a foreign country, and leave it a peaceful place where the kids have a future and they don’t hate America?

That was among the questions posed at the Hero Summit on Thursday during a panel discussion on how the U.S. can embrace a more humanitarian approach to warfare.

Jane Harman, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center, said the key is reaching the “young kid in the boonies and convincing him to not put on a suicide vest.”

Philip Mudd, a former CIA analyst and now a global advisor at Oxford Analytica, said that “when we speak, we ought to act the same way we speak. If we support democracy, that’s not Hosni Mubarak.”

Jim Hake, founder of Spirt of America, said “word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing you can get.”

The three sounded the same call: that ground wars cannot be won by the military alone, but only through “smart power”—leveraging private enterprise when possible, helping with disaster relief, building infrastructure, and leaving behind a place that is better off than it was when you got there. “You cannot leave a society broken because it will rise up again and bite you.”

Harman lamented that we spent billions on advertising—most of it negative—during the presidential election, but we remain ignorant about what’s going on outside our borders. “There’s a rise in isolationism,” she said, citing the time she spent in Congress where she was amazed at how little her colleagues knew about the Muslim world. “I think five members of Congress knew the difference between Shia and Sunni while we were at war.”


Panel: War in the Rearview Mirror

As the wars wind down, a former State Department official who spent seven years in Iraq and Afghanistan talks about his return to a disengaged Washington and to a disconnected America.

Bono Meets His Hero: Nick Kristof

Who do rock stars look up to? Newspaper columnists, if you're U2's Bono. Nicholas Kristof, described by Bono as his 'hero,' reveals the causes that have brought him and the Irish rocker together.

Watch This!

Best Moments from the Hero Summit

From Adm. William McRaven to columnist Nicholas Kristof to Bono, WATCH VIDEO of the summit’s must-see moments.

Tina Brown: True Heroism Isn't Flashy

Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s editor in chief launched the summit by honoring the heroes in attendance. In the wake of a divisive presidential election and a widening gap between the military and civilians, Brown stressed that heroism is a paradox that requires both leadership and selflessness. “One thing that every hero said who we invited to join us at this summit," she noted: ‘Don’t call me a hero. I’m not a hero.’”


Did McRaven Ever Doubt the Bin Laden Raid? No.

Was there ever a moment when Adm. William H. McRaven thought the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound wouldn’t work? “No,” he told Charlie Rose in a conversation on "What Makes a Hero." McRaven commanded the raid on the bin Laden compound in May 2011—an operation that he called a “courageous decision” on the part of President Obama. For the admiral and his team, the raid was just another day on the job. “While it was a little bit more complex," McRaven said, "at the end of the day, for us, it is what we do. So the challenges of the mission, I think, have been blown a little out of proportion."


The master interviewer joins political columnist Michelle Cottle to answer questions about the Petraeus scandal, the killing of Bin Laden, and what he sees ahead for 'CBS This Morning.'

The crew of the flying ambulance known as DUSTOFF 73, recently profiled in Newsweek, discusses how fear, even for them, is never absent—it just needs to be managed.

Live Update

The Heroes of DUSTOFF 73

War is hell, but it’s a lot less deadly thanks to the DUSTOFF crews: two pilots, a technician and a medic—the only people on the front lines whose mission is simply to save lives. For them, heroism is the job description.

The DUSTOFF 73 crew recounts their courageous missions.

The crew of DUSTOFF 73 just left the stage. Their interview with Martha Raddatz, Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent for ABC News, ran through the high points of their mission in eastern Afghanistan last summer, one of the most decorated missions in the history of aviation. Sixty hours in combat. Fourteen lives saved. But as the coauthor of the Newsweek cover story that accompanied their piece, I have a few things to add before they leave our thoughts for the evening.

First, many people’s image of heroism is rooted in extraordinary acts—the one-time sacrifice, the unusual feat at just the right moment. But the military finds a way to routinize everything else, so why not heroism, too? The result is the Army’s elite air ambulance unit, a squadron of Blackhawk helicopters stripped down and converted into flying emergency rooms. They’re known as DUSTOFFs—one of the more apt military call signs—and for nearly every soldier wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan, they arrive like guardian angels, starting patients on a conveyor belt of care that has pushed the wounded survival rate unthinkably high, past 90 percent. War is still hell, but it’s a lot less deadly thanks to the DUSTOFF crews: two pilots, a technician, and a medic—the only people on the front lines whose mission is simply to save lives. For them, heroism is the job description.

But even here, there are some efforts that are extraordinary—and DUSTOFF 73 was exactly that. The crew came out Fort Drum, N.Y., and last summer in eastern Afghanistan it flew into the annals of history. But in talking to all four crew members exclusively for this issue, I was struck by how their heroism had become habit, something that almost seems learned. I expected adrenaline junkies or war cowboys, but instead found four regular people susceptible to the same fears and doubts as anyone else. The difference? They’re extraordinarily practiced at finding that emotional dial inside and turning it way, way down. They put their fear on mute when lives are on the line.


It’s an extraordinary skill for anyone, but especially significant for Sgt. Julia Bringloe, the medic on board DUSTOFF 73. Five years ago, she joined the Army, at age 35, hoping to leap out of a deadening career in Hawaii, and then suddenly she was among the only women on the front lines. Women remain officially banned from serving in infantry or commando positions, but earlier this year, in a historic shift, the Marines and Army moved to integrate women into other near-combat roles. Meanwhile, women like Julia have been taking fire routinely for years. She rescues the same men she’s forbidden to fight alongside, and she never seems to flinch. “It’s a job, not a gender,” she likes to say. The military would do well to realize that.

Live Update

McRaven: Petraeus an ‘American Hero'

The commander of U.S. Special Operations Command called Petraeus “an American hero,” reports Eli Lake.

Charlie Rose talks with Adm. McRaven.

The man who commanded and devised the raid that killed Osama bin Laden said David Petraeus—who resigned Friday as director of the CIA after acknowledging an extramarital affair—was “the finest general” he had ever served under.

Speaking at The Hero Summit, presented by Newsweek & The Daily Beast, Admiral William McRaven, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, called Petraeus an “American hero” who made thousands of decisions that saved lives as a commander of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He added: “I obviously don’t condone what he did because Holly Petraeus is also an American hero.”

McRaven’s remarks were one of the first public comments from an elite U.S. military leader on the biggest scandal to hit the CIA under the Obama administration. His comments suggest Petraeus will maintain influence within the military—where he spent his career before retiring as a four-star general to become director of the CIA.


Navy Adm. William McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, testifies during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on "The U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2013 and the Future Years Defense Program" on Tuesday, March 6, 2012. (Bill Clark / Getty Images)

Inside the military, adultery is a serious charge. It can lead to demotion and other penalties. Colleagues of Petraeus say his affair with Paula Broadwell, a former military intelligence officer and the former general’s biographer, began after he began his job at the agency.

In his interview with journalist Charlie Rose, McRaven also disclosed new details on the raid that killed bin Laden. He said the decision not to tell the Pakistani government about the raid was made because the assumption was: “how could they not know he was there.” Bin Laden was staying at a compound in Abbottabad, very close to Pakistan’s prestigious military academy.

McRaven however added that the intelligence assessment after the fact concluded that the Pakistani government did not know bin Laden’s whereabouts. “We have no intelligence to indicate the Pakistanis knew he was there.”

Live Update

The Hero Summit


Newsweek and The Daily Beast host the first annual Hero Summit. See live photos, tweets and more.

Editor-in-chief Tina Brown kicks off the inaugural summit.

Wednesday evening  at 7 p.m., watch live as Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown debuts The Hero Summit: An Exploration of Character and Courage, a two-day gathering presented by Newsweek & The Daily Beast.

The invitation-only event, Wednesday and Thursday in Washington D.C., will be streamed live and in full at The Daily Beast. Visit The Hero Summit 2012 page to see the full schedule and list of speakers—including Adm. William McRaven, Madeleine K. Albright, Garry Kasparov, Bono, and Aaron Sorkin—and for all of our reporting, social media buzz (@herosummit and #hero12) and exclusive interviews from the summit.

McCain: I'm Worried About the GOP

At The Daily Beast's Hero Summit, Sen. John McCain took a break from criticizing President Obama's policies in Egypt, Libya, and Syria to denounce the discord in his Republican Party. 'It's the first time I've ever seen Republican senators running ads, raising money that is used to attack other incumbent Republican senators,' said McCain.



Full video of every panel.

The Ad Hoc Black Hawk Down Rescuers

Twenty years after the infamous military operation in Somalia, former Army Brigadier General Craig Nixon told the audience at The Daily Beast's Hero Summit about the 'quick reaction force' that was assembled to rescue survivors from the two downed helicopters. 'It was cooks,' Nixon said. 'It was anybody who could carry a rifle.'

  1. Charlie Rose: Petraeus Always Connected With the Press Play

    Charlie Rose: Petraeus Always Connected With the Press

  2. Kasparov: What Obama Should Tell Putin Play

    Kasparov: What Obama Should Tell Putin

  3. Elite Military Rescue Unit: Fear Is Everpresent Play

    Elite Military Rescue Unit: Fear Is Everpresent

Latest Updates

The Hero Project

Watch This

Highlights of the 2012 Hero Summit

Best Moments from the Hero Summit

Best Moments from the Hero Summit

From Adm. William McRaven to columnist Nicholas Kristof to Bono, WATCH VIDEO of the summit’s must-see moments.

20130924-hero-summit-solutions-partners-image-mapCongressional Medal of Honor FoundationIntrepid Fallen Heroes FundIntrepid Fallen Heroes Fund

Where Kenyan Authorities Went Wrong

During The Daily Beast's Hero Summit, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly detailed the mistakes made by Kenyan officials who were dealing with al-Shabab's recent mall takeover in Nairobi. Among other errors, 'they did not handle witnesses well who were trying to get out,' said Kelly, and they misused rocket-propelled grenades.

  1. 'This Kid Saved My Life' Play

    'This Kid Saved My Life'

  2. Hero Project TV: Military Suicide Play

    Hero Project TV: Military Suicide

  3. What Makes a Hero? Play

    What Makes a Hero?