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The Hero Summit

Hero Summit

What Makes a Hero?

Is heroism defined on the battlefield, the home front—or in everyday life? Christopher Dickey reports from the Hero Summit on three different leaders’ definitions of a hero.

The question is deceptively simple: What makes a hero?

A four-star U.S. Marine general, a New York Times columnist, a Chinese immigrant author and a Nigerian novelist found different and remarkably subtle ways to define those qualities. But in every case their answers had more to do with a code to live by than with momentary glory on the battlefield.

Gen. John Allen, former commander of international forces in Afghanistan, quoted Lord Moran, a surgeon who served on the Western Front in World War I, where hundreds of thousands of men charged out of the trenches and to their deaths day after day, week after week, month after month. Their bravery lay not only in their desire to fight for their comrades and fear of shaming themselves. There was something more fundamental and long lasting. Allen quoted Lord Moran from memory: “If you know a man of character in peace, you will know a man of courage in war.” Heroism is about those people who are “willing to sacrifice everything, everything for the principles they hold most dear,” said Allen.

Anchee Min grew up amid the horrors of the Cultural Revolution in China then built a new life for herself in America as a writer—and as a mother. She arrived with no money and no English, working five jobs at once, making and then breaking a bad marriage, and trying to raise her daughter alone.

“The home front is the real battle,” said the author of The Cooked Seed. Courage, in her life, included standing up to her very American daughter, enlisting her when she was young in the work of survival—buying her tools and a book about plumbing on her birthday—and driving her to learn good grades. “I think she feels that getting A’s is easier than dealing with me,” said Min.

Anchee Min powerfully describes the battle on the home front.

David Brooks, the columnist for The New York Times who has written so often about moral standards and imperatives, talked about “the heroism of everyday life,” and especially the need to confront oneself, to battle against your own sin and weakness. He cited the example of Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose mother, a woman of extraordinary determination and education, quoted Proverbs 16:32 to young Ike one day when he had lost his temper. He who conquers his own spirit, she told him, is better than he who conquers a city. Eisenhower later wrote that no conversation in his life was ever so important as that talk with his mother—even after he commanded the Allied forces that defeated the Nazis and after he served as president of the United States at the height of the Cold War.

David Brooks enumerates the three ways to develop character.

Taking Charge

Leaders Must Break the Rules

While Congress fights over Obamacare, Colorado may be suffering an e-coli outbreak. Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper talks to the Lt. General who brought calm to New Orleans post-Katrina on how to lead during a crisis.

The key to crisis leadership is “break the rules, the rules were written for peacetime,” says Lt. General Russel L. Honoré, who brought calm to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005. He remembered pilots telling him he had to create a manifest before they could evacuate people from the flooded areas. “We got guns, you don’t. Fly the damn planes,” Honoré told them.

“Rules will stop a recovery in its tracks,” he said, relating another story of people stranded at the airport and the authorities telling him they didn’t have the resources to process everybody. “Osama bin Laden was not in New Orleans,” he barked into the phone. “You’re looking for terrorists in all the wrong places.”

Lt. General Russel L. Honoré: "Be prepared to break the rules; the rules were written for peacetime."

Honoré’s take-charge attitude and his military bearing restored people’s confidence in the government’s ability to handle the after-effects of Katrina after a very shaky start by the Bush administration. Speaking at The Daily Beast’s Hero Summit Thursday afternoon, Honoré said government today is far more prepared to deal with Katrina-like events, but the American people have not absorbed the lessons they should. He asked how many in the audience have five days’ worth of food and water at home. A sprinkling of hands went up, maybe 15 to 20 percent of the audience—“and some of them lie,” he exclaimed.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was asked how the government shutdown is affecting his state’s recovery from Biblical floods that are only seen perhaps once in 250 years. It’s different from Katrina, he said, noting that FEMA almost immediately had 100 people on the ground, “and they’re still working.” But the folks in Washington processing the extended paperwork are furloughed, and he can’t get the EPA to do testing on suspected e-coli on grass and parklands because they’re shut down. “It’s just a matter of time before kids get sick,” he said. All the agencies are “doing everything they can every single day but the shutdown slowed things down and put at risk people going through the most difficult time in their lives.”

The third member of the panel, William McNulty, is the co-founder and vice president of Team Rubicon, which takes veterans and puts them into non-profit disaster relief. They bring valuable skills to the effort, and in return, they get “purpose, identity, and community,” McNulty said. The slogan of Team Rubicon is “Bridge the Gap,” the gap between those who have served their country in uniform and an “American public that has been largely indifferent to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. The three panelists, each looking at leadership from a different perspective, agreed that decisiveness is key, as is assuring those who carry out your orders not to be afraid of making a mistake, that you will back them.   

What Makes a Hero

Wole Votes for Malala

Wole Soyinka, winner of the 1986 Nobel for literature and the 'conscience of Africa,' says he would award this year's Peace Prize to activisits like Malala Yousafzai.

With his white beard and his white hair that rises like a mushroom cloud above his brain, Wole Soyinka is an imposing presence even before he speaks. And the 78-year-old Nigerian activist and novelist, who won the Nobel for literature in 1986, speaks with the authority of a man who’s lived history, and made it.

When asked whom he’d like to see get the Nobel Peace Prize tomorrow, he clearly hadn’t given the question much thought. But then he did. “The Malala heroines,” he said. “Not an individual, but all those, whether in Pakistan or Afghanistan or Nigeria or so many other places: these young women who are fighting so hard” for their education and their freedom.

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Scott Henrichsen/The Daily Beast

Elsewhere in an extraordinary interview with The Daily Beast’s editor-in-chief Tina Brown on stage at the annual Hero Summit in Washington D.C., on Thursday, Soyinka put Africa’s troubles into context.

“One has to confront history honestly,” said Soyinka. The terrorist group Boko Haram, whose members recently slaughtered scores of Christian students at a school in northern Nigeria, is part of “a worldwide movement,” he said. It is affiliated with Al Qaeda and preaches a narrow, perverted form of Islam. Its partisans have gunned down academics, murdered students in their beds, tortured them “in all kinds of ways.” They “act outside the pale,” said Soyinka, and “should not be considered as humans.”

Soyinka said that after “years of appeasement,” the Nigerian government “woke up very late to the menace.” It is now trying harder to educate young people who might be lured into the Boko Haram’s ranks, even as it hopes to hunt down the leaders.

Soyinka has spent years fighting the corrupt and ruthless regimes in his own country and elsewhere on the continent. He has been called, as Brown noted, “the conscience of Africa.” And precisely in that role, Soyinka drew a direct line between the African tyrants of today and the Africans—yes, Africans—who enslaved other Africans, then sold them into the horrors of the Middle Passage that took them to the Americas in 18th and 19th centuries.

“The descendants of those collaborators [with the slave trade] are still with us,” said Soyinka. To be sure, “the guilt of the West is beyond anything that has been recorded in films and tomes and painting,” he said. “But we have to understand part of the problem today has to do with the mentality of dominance” among some Africans themselves.

Whose Problem is Syria?

Is the Syria crisis a humanitarian disaster, a matter of national security or both? Eli Lake reports on the debate and the passionate argument for intervention from a former CIA agent.

At the end of August when President Obama appeared close to authorizing limited air strikes in Syria, members of Congress and the commentary class compared the moment to the run up to the war in Iraq. But a long time veteran of the CIA and FBI says the real parallel is Rwanda, when America and the world did nothing as the country’s Hutu majority slaughtered at least half a million people in the course of three months.

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Scott Henrichsen/The Daily Beast

Speaking at The Daily Beast’s Hero Summit, Philip Mudd, the intelligence veteran, said the Syria crisis was a humanitarian disaster that America’s strategic class has chosen to talk about in the language of national security. “We are morally crippled by war,” he said. “105,000 people are dead, what will tell our children?”

Mudd, who served as the deputy for both the CIA’s counter-terrorism center and the FBI’s national security division in the last decade, made the moral case for air strikes in Syria. It’s not only most national security experts and political leaders that are wary of American involvement in the Syria’s civil war, Mudd’s position is also at variance with many of his old colleagues at the CIA. Last month, CBS 60 Minutes ran an interview with recently departed deputy director, Michael Morell who said the agency had an interest in pressuring Syria’s regime, but it did not want for the regime to collapse. He argued that Syria’s security services should be left intact so they can confront al Qaeda and other jihadists who are fighting along side other less extremist militias against the regime.

When asked about Morell’s remarks, Mudd said, “I don’t get it.” He warned that the choice of what to do about Syria should not be reduced to “doing nothing” and an Iraq style invasion. Instead, Mudd made the case that Assad needed to be punished for murdering so many of his citizens. “Periodically we should look in the mirror and ask a question: is a moral imperative a national security imperative?,” Mudd told the audience. He made it clear that the two don’t always align but argued that in this case the United States should have responded with air strikes targeting critical elements of the regime, like his personal security forces. “I think we should have loaded missiles and locked onto Assad,” he said.

Robin Wright, a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and a former Middle East correspondent for the LA Times and Washington Post, shared the floor with Mudd and acted as his foil on this point. “Once we cross a threshold we bear responsibility for how it turns out,” she said. Wright expressed modest hope that elections scheduled for next year in Syria could provide a formula for ushering President Bashar al-Assad out of power. But she invoked the maxim of President George W. Bush’s secretary of state, Colin Powell, known as the Pottery Barn rules. “If you break it you own it.”

Mudd disagreed. “It’s not pottery barn,” he said. “We did not break it and we are not responsible to fix it.”

Making a Dent

The Fight for Black Men

Joseph T. Jones was in and out of jail for 17 years until he turned his life around. Now he's trying to help others do the same.

At the moment, there are more African Americans in prison than there were slaves. Black children are more likely than their white counterparts to face punishment in school—regardless of offense—and job opportunities for young black adults are few and far between. Indeed, as a whole, the African American community is still reeling from the Great Recession, with double-digit unemployment and a full reversal of the wealth gains of the previous generation.

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Scott Henrichsen/The Daily Beast

How does one address this? And more broadly, how does one tackle the problems of urban poverty and disadvantage? Speaking at the Hero Summit, with Josh DuBois of The Daily Beast moderating, Joseph T. Jones—President & CEO of the Center for Urban Families—told his story of disadvantage and deprivation, and gave his take on what’s necessary to rescue low-income black families from the despair of poverty.

Jones, in many ways, is emblematic of what can happen to individuals when their communities are robbed of investment and opportunity. Child to a single mother, he grew up in inner-city Baltimore. As a teenager, he joined a rough group of kids, and despite “never having had alcohol, smoked marijuana or had sex,” he used heroin, beginning a long period of addiction and incarceration.

Joseph T. Jones remembers his first time entering jail.

For seventeen years, he spent time in and out of jail, until in 1986 when—after being charged with several drug-related offenses—he decided to turn his life around. He got access to a rehabilitation program, and persuaded the judge to let him complete rehab instead of going to jail. “I wasn’t afraid of jail,” he explained, “I just didn’t want to go anymore.”

Jones earned his associates degree at Baltimore City Community College, found a series of nonprofit jobs, and eventually started working to help others that were in his situation, and fathers in particular. He now advocates for a wide variety of policies, from drug treatment for addicts as part of their incarceration, to efforts to get young men—and women—“off of the streets” and into programs that can connect them to the labor force and encourage certain kinds of behavior (He emphasizes the dress code, in particular). He believes that in the United States, there are “pathways for children to grow up fatherless,” but by providing opportunities in guidance to those fathers—and potential fathers—he can make a dent in the problem.

Joseph T. Jones says that he had to "learn personally how to smile again."

Veterans

The Latest Greatest Generation

A diverse group confronts stereotypes about veterans by telling their own stories. Army vet Jacob Siegel on what unites a Congresswoman, businessman, med student, and martial artist.

Want to know what a group of military veterans looks like? Start with two women: one a member of Congress, one a medical student, both former enlisted soldiers with combat tours overseas. Then add a martial artist and ordained minister who is also an amputee diagnosed with PTSD and a teacher for at-risk youth, and round it out with a successful businessman at a major corporation. Together, they formed a picture of America’s incredibly diverse community of veterans.  

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the Congresswoman from Hawaii, joined former Army medic Kate Norley, disabled combat veteran Anthony Smith, and Carl M. Tegen, an executive at AT&T and a Gulf War veteran to participate in “Shattering Stereotypes: The New Veterans” a panel held today in Washington D.C. at The Daily Beast’s Hero Summit.

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Scott Henrichsen/The Daily Beast

Anthony “A-Train” Smith, an Iraq war veteran, was seriously wounded overseas and lost parts of his arm, leg, hip, and spinal cord, and the sight in his right eye. On stage, though, he never dwelled on his own recovery or the challenges he faced dealing with PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Instead he spoke about combating the stigma attached to PTSD.

Norley, who’s now attending medical school, revealed to the room that friends from her old military unit had treated Smith for both his physical and mental wounds. It was a coincidence they only stumbled upon this morning, and one that was clearly emotional for Norley. “I’m a little shaken up by that right now,” she said of the surprising discovery, “because I’m very proud of them, but I’m also proud to see the results.” The results referred to Smith, a picture of strength and conviction, sitting just to her left where he commanded the room from his chair.

Before deploying to Iraq, Smith had held a job on the police force in his Arkansas town. But he found when he came home that his old bosses, worked up by their misconceptions of PTSD, no longer trusted him to serve as a cop. “They saw so many different movies about PTSD they just automatically assumed that I was going to crack up,” Smith said before adding, “I want to break that stereotype and let them know that all of us want to come back and want to serve in our community.”

Smith has found time—when he’s not teaching martial arts to kids and working as a minister—to continue competing in and winning Tae Kwon Doe competitions. He recently won the Arkansas state championship in Tae Kwon Doe and has no plans to slow down. “I plan on going to beat somebody up this weekend,” he joked.

The same qualities that veterans bring to service in their communities have also proven to be valuable in the workplace. Though unemployment among younger veterans has remained a stubborn problem, At&T’s Tegen described vets as possessing “ leaderships skills, loyalty, the ability to get the job done”—the same skills, in other words, that smart companies look for in prospective employees.

Hostage

Warlord Swimming Lessons

After 81 days in captivity, you really get to know someone. Photographer Jonathan Alpeyrie recalls teaching a Syrian warlord how to swim.

It’s not all soldiers and veterans at The Hero Summit. You’ve probably never heard of Jonathan Alpeyrie, and you may not think of photographers as heroes. But you might think just a little differently after you hear the story of his recent captivity in Syria for 81 days.

Speaking to The Daily Beast’s Christopher Dickey, Alpeyrie revealed new details of his capture and captivity, which serve to remind that some journalists, too, risk life and limb. Alpeyrie was at home in Paris with about 10 days to kill until his next scheduled assignment, he said, when he decided to make his third trip to Syria to cover the civil war.

He spent time with some rebel groups, he said, and about a week into his sojourn, he was about 20 miles outside of Damascus with his fixer and one other when they drove into a checkpoint. “It was a trap,” he said. He was dragged out of the car and blindfolded. Someone held a pistol to his head and pretended to shoot. It’s how they break your will, he said, adding: “You feel like you’re dreaming, like it’s not really happening. It’s very strange.”

His kidnappers, he said, were a local militia group run by a warlord. For the first five weeks, he was blindfolded and handcuffed. Then, without explanation, he was moved to a different safe house, and the blindfold and handcuffs were taken off.

Relations with his kidnappers thawed a bit, and then ultimately softened to the surreal point that Alpeyrie, now 34, was instructed to teach the warlord how to swim. He’d revealed in conversation that he’d been a competitive swimmer when he was younger. There was an empty swimming pool in the house next door. His captors filled it up with freezing water and stripped him down to his underwear. Then up ambles his captors’ leader, wearing Hawaiian swim trunks. “Basically, I was holding him like a baby for an hour,” Alpeyrie remembered. “But by the end he could swim.”

Photographer Jonathan Alpeyrie recounts the bizarre story of teaching a Syrian warlord to swim.

Ultimately, he said it was a friend of the Assad regime who paid for his release—competing, interestingly, with another more radical group, which had in essence offered to buy him so that they could hold him and get the ransom money. They were outbid, and Alpeyrie was driven first to Damascus, and then in the trunk of another car to Beirut.

Heroes Summit 2013

Bob Woodward: Obama Can’t Schmooze

Isaacson, Woodward, and former Sen. Olympia Snowe diverged on the finer points of Obama’s congressional diplomacy, but they all agreed that the mess in Washington is worse than ever.

As conference panels go, this one could reasonably have taken up the wholeday: What’s Wrong With Washington?

Ah, where to begin…

As it happens, moderator Walter Isaacson, Aspen Institute chief and long-time watcher at the Washington Zoo, opened by lobbing former Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe , now of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a big ‘ol softball: “Are things today worse than they have ever been?”

Snowe’s unshocking  response: “Absolutely.”

And from there the panel was off, with Snowe, Isaacson, the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, and former Democratic Sen. George Mitchell lamenting the shutdown insanity and, more generally, the sorry and dysfunctional state of politics today.

Bob Woodward said, "All change in government unfortunately only comes from crisis."

Panelists had no trouble coming up with a laundry list of factors contributing to the problem: redistricting/gerrymandering, the influence of outside interest groups, the lack of comity between the parties, an unwillingness to tackle big problems, the primary process, the breakdown of the legislative process, and, of course, President Obama’s inability to schmooze.

As a big proponent of this last point, Bob Woodward  pointed to a 2011 sit-down between Obama and John Boehener, held on the lovely patio outside the Oval Office. POTUS primly ordered iced tea and chewed his Nicorette gum while the chain-smoking Speaker drank wine. “That sends a subtle message,” insisted Woodward.

Gridlock

Arnold Fisher Is Mad As Hell

He’s not going to wait for the shutdown to end. The New York real estate mogul's family foundation is paying the death benefits to the families of fallen soldiers.

Arnold Fisher is outraged.

The New York real estate mogul and philanthropist's family foundation, The Fisher House Foundation is paying the death benefits to the families of soldiers who have died on duty since the government shutdown began on midnight on October 1.

In an interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz as part of The Daily Beast’s Hero Summit, Fisher talked about his decision to step up for military families, asking elected officials, “Where are you? Shame on you?”

Condemning the government shutdown, Arnold Fisher said, "This is not my America!"

Fisher said shortly after the government shutdown, he received a phone call from a member of Congress asking him to attend a fundraiser. Fisher responded with indignation: “You closed this government down and you ask me for money to get you re-elected?” Instead of attending, Fisher is going to Camp Lejeune and opening a center funded by his family to help Marines coming back to the United States with traumatic brain injuries.

While Fisher was trying to deal with the damage of the government shutdown, he was continually befuddled about why elected officials were neglecting those who served. “They took care of you” said Fisher. Elected official just “don’t seem to feel the pain that the families do.” He cited that when a Fisher House opened in Bethesda, just a few minutes from downtown Washington D.C., not one senator or congressman showed up for the opening.

Fisher ended by issuing a call to the audience and the American people to share their outrage. He said that “if you’re anything like me, call your congressman or senator and say not going to give you any money until you start voting the proper way—until you start helping this country, not helping your party. He emphasized that we need to “let our voices be heard by the legislators and let the president know.”

Arnold Fisher exhorted the audience to vote what's best for America, not what's best for your party.

Law & Order

If Terrorists Attacked Macy’s

N.Y.C. Police Chief Ray Kelly says Kenyan officials didn’t handle last month’s terror attack correctly—and revealed what he’s doing to protect American targets.

Last month’s siege of an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi is very much on the mind of New York’s outgoing police commissioner, Ray Kelly.

On Friday, New York’s top law-enforcement official will host a special training session for senior managers—known as a tabletop exercise—to prepare for what would happen if a small team of active shooters seized a large shopping area in New York City as terrorists from al Qaeda’s Somalia affiliate did last month at the Westgate mall outside Nairobi.

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Scott Henrichsen/The Daily Beast

Speaking at The Daily Beast’s Hero Summit on Thursday, Kelly said New York had a plan if terrorists attacked Macy’s or another big department store in Manhattan. “We practice what we call active shooter response,” he said. “This has been since the aftermath of Columbine, really,” he said, referring to the 1999 shooting at a Colorado high school by a group of disaffected loners who called themselves the “trench-coat mafia.” “We deploy about 100 police cars every day to malls,” Kelly said.

Kelly—who appeared on stage with Robert Griffin, vice president of Industry Solutions IBM; Jane Harman, director, president, and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Center; Gen. Michael V. Hayden, principal of The Chertoff Group; and moderator Catherine Herridge of Fox News—was also very critical of the Kenyan response to the Westgate siege. The Kenyan authorities, in Kelly’s view, did a poor job of managing public perceptions. He said there was a lot of misinformation in those first hours and days of the hostage crisis that brought the world’s attention to al Qaeda’s Somalia affiliate, al-Shabaab.

“They did not handle witnesses well who were trying to get out,” Kelly said. “They were not able to interrogate them to get information.” He pointed out, for example, that the team of shooters was much smaller than initially reported, noting there may have been as few as four of them and they were armed with AK-47s and Chinese hand grenades and not the more advanced weaponry that was first reported.

Ray Kelly details where Kenyan authorities went wrong in dealing with Al-Shabaab's mall takeover.

Kelly also said that some of the Kenyan troops in the hostage rescue operation looted the stores during the operation and that it was excessive for the rescue team to use rocket-propelled grenades, a decision Kelly said was responsible for the collapse of one of the shopping mall’s floors.

Hero

They Saw Black Hawk Down

Twenty years later, the man who inspired Ridley Scott’s iconic film gives a riveting account of what it was like to be in Mogadishu.

Ever wondered what it’s like to be in battle? Of course you have. Well, it’s like this: "I remember sitting there on this moving Humvee sitting on top of somebody else, lying on my back, unable to sit up because of the weight of my body armor like a turtle and literally you know bullets flying over and thinking my gosh this is really gonna hurt, I hope it doesn't hurt that badly."

That was First Sergeant Matt P. Eversmann, US Army (ret.), talking about what it was like for those harrowing two days in Mogadishu, Somalia 20 years ago this month during the raid that we’ve all come to know as Black Hawk Down.

First Sergeant Matt P. Eversmann recounts what it's like to be in battle.

It was the heaviest US military engagement since Vietnam at the time, and it was clear from the moment it happened that it would be immortalized. Not because it was a great victory. It wasn’t: The United States lost 19 men and two state-of-the-art Black Hawk helicopters to an extremely irregular and ragtag force under the Somali warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid. But it was the heroism of the Rangers and other soldiers who risked it all to rescue fallen comrades that vaulted the raid up to the level of the folkloric. There was Mark Bowden’s book, and then Ridley Scott’s film based on it, and in their genres, both became almost instantly canonical.

The film is told largely from the point of view of Eversmann, who appeared on the “Black Hawk Down: 20 Years Later” panel at The Daily Beast’s Hero Summit, held this morning in Washington at the Mellon Auditorium. The panel was moderated by The Daily Beast’s Daniel Klaidman and also featured former Army Brigadier General Craig Nixon, who participated in the rescue mission, and Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced the Scott film.

When the first aircraft went down, Nixon said, they had a contingency plan, and they started putting it into place. “But when the second aircraft went down,” he recalled, “we did not have a plan.” They put together a “quick reaction force” to go in and try to rescue the survivors, but calling it a carefully assembled force was a bit of a stretch. “It was cooks,” Nixon said. “It was anybody who could carry a rifle.”

Army Brigadier General Craig Nixon describes the quick reaction force assembled to rescue the survivors.

Bruckheimer shed some interesting light on the filming of the movie, which was shot in Morocco. At the time, he recalled, the United States was between ambassadors, and the charge d’affaires wasn’t entirely cooperative. The film crew had trouble getting Black Hawk Helicopters into the country, and given that the film was about Black Hawk helicopters, that was kind of a problem. It was Jesse Helms of all people who called the King of Morocco to arrange the entry of the helicopters into the country.

Hero Summit

McCain: Obama Got It Wrong

At The Daily Beast’s Hero Summit, Sen. John McCain tweaked Obama’s foreign policy, blaming U.S. policies for putting Egypt on the path to ‘insurgency and terrorism.’

Egypt is now returning to its dark days of military dictatorship and will face a new insurgency and terrorism—and President Obama’s policies have contributed to the downward path there, Sen. John McCain said Thursday.

“We’re going to suspend some aid but not other aid. What is the message to [Egyptian] General [Abdul Fattah] al-Sisi?” McCain asked during an interview with editor-in-chief Tina Brown at The Daily Beast’s Hero Summit, reacting to Wednesday’s news that the Obama administration decided after a lengthy review to stop some military deliveries to the Egyptian military as a response to its brutal crackdown on protestors and the Muslim Brotherhood. “We should abide by our rule of law. But we didn’t do that.”

John McCain

John McCain speaks during an interview with Tina Brown at the 2013 Hero Summit in Washington D.C. on October 10, 2013. (Scott Henrichsen/The Daily Beast)

Throughout Egypt, posters of al-Sisi wearing dark glasses abound, which is reminiscent of Gamal Abdel Nassar, Egypt’s longtime dictator who died in 1970, McCain said.

“I’m afraid we may be seeing a return to that kind of government,” McCain said. “I promise you will see, if they keep going the way they are today, an insurgency in Egypt and terrorism, because they are not able in Egypt today to keep people down.”

The Obama administration has neglected America’s responsibilities throughout the Arab Spring, McCain said, including in Libya, where the situation has deteriorated so badly only two years after the NATO-led intervention that the prime minister was briefly abducted Thursday by armed militants.

“Leading from behind, we left the whole situation alone and it has deteriorated dramatically. This administration did not go in and help them [after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi],” said McCain, who added that he has a cordial relationship with the president. “What we did was hands off, leading from behind, and now we see this situation in this crisis ... And this situation is going to be chaotic for some time.”

For example, McCain said, he pressed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to send a U.S. military hospital ship to Libya following the war to help treat the tens of thousands of wounded, but Panetta refused.

HEROES

The #Herograms of the 2013 Hero Summit

Who's your hero? We asked attendees of the 2013 Hero Summit to tell us their heroes. These are their "herograms." Submit yours with the #herogram hashtag on Instagram.

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.

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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.'

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Where Kenyan Authorities Went Wrong

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