Lt. Col. Oliver North (@OliverLNorth) is a political commentator, military historian, and retired United States Marine Corps lieutenant colonel. He is the author of many leather-bound books, and the host of Oliver North’s America and Oliver North’s Real American Heroes.
What We Discuss with Oliver North:
- An Oliver North’s-eye view of the Iran–Contra affair after 30+ years in the rearview mirror.
- Using SMEAC (Situation, Mission, Execution, Admin and Logistics, and Command and Signal) for making decisions in high-pressure situations.
- Why Oliver still recalls one day as a Marine machine-gunner during the Vietnam conflict as the worst in his life.
- What it’s like to survive an assassination attempt (and outlive its bumbling perpetrators).
- Why Oliver considers “servant leaders” to be the best leaders.
- And much more…
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Vietnam veteran. War hero. New York Times best-selling author of Under Fire: An American Story and The Rifleman. Scapegoat. Pundit. NRA president. Retired United States Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North has worn many hats over the course of his life (though you’ll never find him outside without one). Remembered as the public face of the Reagan era’s Iran–Contra scandal, in which weapons were sold to embargoed Iran to aid anti-communist rebel Contras in Nicaragua (against congressional approval) and traded for the release of American hostages, this is just one chapter of Oliver’s multi-volume story.
On this episode, Oliver joins us to discuss what the Iran–Contra affair looks like after 30+ years in the rearview mirror, who he sees as America’s number one adversary today (and why), what SMEAC stands for and how it helps make decisions in high-pressure situations, the worst day of his life, what it’s like to dodge an assassination attempt (and outlive its bungling ringmaster), why leaders who operate from a place of service are the most effective, and much more. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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Miss our conversation with producer, author, and Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey? Catch up with episode 455: Matthew McConaughey | Following Life’s Greenlights to Success here!
Thanks, Lt. Col. Oliver North!
If you enjoyed this session with Lt. Col. Oliver North, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Books By Oliver North | Amazon
- Oliver North’s Real American Heroes | RecoilTV
- Oliver North’s America | RecoilTV
- Oliver North | Website
- Oliver North | Twitter
- Oliver North | Facebook
- Oliver North | YouTube
- Under Fire: An American Story by Oliver North and William Novak | Amazon
- Oliver North: Memo to History (1987) [Iran-Contra Hearings Documentary] | Reelblack
- Oliver and Betsy North, Life Magazine, August 1987 | Old Life Magazines
- Youth for Tomorrow
- The Iran-Contra Affair | American Experience
- SMEAC: Five Paragraph Order | US Military Network
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC
- America’s #1 Adversary: And What We Must Do About It – Now! by John M. Poindexter, Robert C. McFarlane, and Richard B. Levine | Amazon
- Climate Change: How a Green New Deal Really Could Go Global | BBC News
- Politics, Accountability, and Misinformation: New Documentary Examines COVID-19 Response in China and US | CTV News
- Misguided Use of Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19: The Infusion of Politics Into Science | JAMA
- The End of Hydroxychloroquine as a Treatment for COVID-19 | UW Medicine
- China’s Repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang | Council on Foreign Relations
- Romans 10:9 (KJV) | Bible Gateway
- The Rifleman by Oliver North | Amazon
- Mystery Death of Abu Nidal, Once the World’s Most Wanted Terrorist | The Guardian
- ‘Fighting Joe’ Dunford Once Again Proves He’s Fit AF By Crushing the Boston Marathon | Task & Purpose
- The Military College of South Carolina | The Citadel
- Nancy Reagan Calls North a Liar | The Virginian-Pilot
- The Dr. Denton Blanket Sleeping Garment, the Footie Pajama, and the Onesie History | Cultureify
- Eight Times the US Has Betrayed the Kurds | The Intercept
- Syria’s War and the Descent Into Horror | CFR
- Oliver North On Russia | Hudson Union Society
- ‘Our President Wants Us Here’: The Mob That Stormed the Capitol | The New York Times
- How Black Lives Matter Protests May Affect Police Violence and Murders | Vox
- Veterans’ Lament: Is This the America Our Heroes Fought For? by Oliver North and David Goetsch | Amazon
- Professor Jackson at VMI | Virginia Military Institute
- The Confederate Battle Flag, Which Rioters Flew inside the US Capitol, Has Long Been a Symbol of White Insurrection | The Conversation
- Historians Clash with the 1619 Project | The Atlantic
- Boulder Shooting: How the King Soopers Killings Unfolded During 58 Minutes of Terror | Denver Post
- What to Know About the Death of Iranian General Suleimani | The New York Times
- Establishing Eligibility | Arlington National Cemetery
- North: No ‘Hanky-Panky’ with Fawn Hall | UPI
Lt. Col. Oliver North | Lessons from the Tragedies of War (Episode 504)
Jordan Harbinger: Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:03] Lt. Col. Oliver North: The lawyers from the hearings at the Senator House, I've forgotten which, said to me, "The day you got fired at the White House had to be the worst day of your life." I said, "No, sir. Worst days of my life were when Marines died in my arms.” And that happened a bunch of times. The 28th of July is a repeat of that in my head, every 28th of July because I lost more Marines that one night than I did an entire two tours in Westpac."
[00:00:29] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with people at the top of their game, astronauts and entrepreneurs, spies and psychologists, even the occasional legendary Hollywood director, national security advisor, or rocket scientist. And each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better critical thinker. If you're new to the show, or you're looking for a handy way to tell your friends about it, we now have episodes starter packs, and these are collections of your favorite episodes organized by popular topics to help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started or to help somebody else get started with us. And of course, I always appreciate it when you do that.
[00:01:17] Today, I never saw this one coming when I started podcasting. Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North served 22 years as a US Marine. His awards for servicing combat include the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for valor, and two Purple Hearts for wounds and action, which he calls enemy accuracy medals. He's also the former president of the NRA, a little controversial there. If you're Gen X like me, you remember him being on trial, on live TV in front of the Senate and the entire country back in the '80s. Before that craziness, he served as counter-terrorism coordinator on the national security council staff. So he helped plan the rescue of US students in Grenada, the liberation of American hostages, the capture of the Achille Lauro ship hijackers and the raids on Gaddafi's terror bases. After that, he made some friends, he was targeted for assassination by Abu Nidal's Islamic jihad. So spoiler alert, they missed him, that's why he's still here today.
[00:02:07] Today, we get into making decisions in high pressure situations. We've got some stories about covert missions. Obviously, we can pass up that opportunity. I also wanted to know what it's like being targeted for assassination without, you know, actually trying it myself. I also wondered where he thinks the country is headed. He's a guy with a fairly unique perspective on things. This episode is more political than usual. If you've been listening for a while and you know I never get into politics here on the show. If you're not into that, there's several hundred other episodes you can dive into. But for now, let's talk to the sometimes polarizing Oliver North.
[00:02:39] And by the way, if you're wondering how I managed to book these folks on the show, it's always about the network and I'm teaching you how to build your network for free. My systems helped me follow up with Oliver North for years to get him here on the show. I'm doing that with all the guests. I'm showing you the software, the skills, the systems all for free at jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:02:56] All right, here we go with Oliver North.
[00:03:00] The book that I read was Under Fire came out in, I think, 1991. Right?
[00:03:06] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Yeah, '91.
[00:03:07] Jordan Harbinger: And you were on trial for the Iran-Contra affair — and we'll talk about that in a second. And I remember watching this, I guess I was probably seven or eight when it was live on TV. And my parents were trying to explain to me what happened and, you know it's kind of a heavy lift for an eight-year-old to understand the Iran-Contra affair. I think there's a lot of 40-year-olds that don't understand.
[00:03:26] Lt. Col. Oliver North: I got eight-year-old grandkids who don't understand it.
[00:03:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:03:29] Lt. Col. Oliver North: And there's mom and dad at the hearings in December of 87, picture of mom and dad coming out of the courtroom. And it's now the grandparents, right? And so one of our grandkids, we spend college sophomore down to I think, 13 months—
[00:03:44] Jordan Harbinger: Oh wow.
[00:03:45] Lt. Col. Oliver North: —and the 18 grandkids. And so I look at one of them is in my office at home. I have an office up over my garage and he's looking up at this picture of my wife and me on the cover of Life Magazine in 1987. And he looks at it and he says, "Nan," which is what they call their grandmother because my wife called her grandmother, Nan. So this is the kind of generational things that happen in life. He says, "Nan was a beautiful woman." And I said to him, "Son, she will write you out of her will. She owns everything here. She will write you out of her will if you use past tense, describe your grandmother." College sophomore—
[00:04:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:04:25] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Smart enough kid.
[00:04:25]Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yeah. Smart enough kid. If you want to see this boat again, if you want the fishing boat, you better wise up. Exactly. Yeah.
[00:04:32] The trial captivated the whole country. And I know that you'd mentioned in the book and this sounded sort of, speaking of social media sounded very modern. You said you found out that you had been fired by Reagan when you saw it on TV. And I thought, "Ah, if only Twitter were around, you would have found out that way instead."
[00:04:49] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Now, that you mentioned that story. So Tom Landry, coach of the Dallas Cowboys, and Joe Gibbs are bitter enemies on the football field. But when Joe Gibbs was starting Youth for Tomorrow, modeled on what Tom Landry and Roger Staubach had done in Dallas to help youngsters who were in trouble. And to create a place where they could actually live with families. It's modeled right after the one in Dallas. The first fundraiser done for Joe Gibbs Youth for Tomorrow was done in Dallas, not in Washington. We've done a lot since. Youth for Tomorrow is a wonderful organization, absolute first rate.
[00:05:25] And the first guy that spoke on behalf of it was a surprise speaker, me. And Landry introduced to the surprise speaker at this fundraiser for Joe Gibbs was the following, "Our next speaker and I have a lot in common, three things in fact. One, you never seen either one of us outside without a hat." True. "We both know our Lord and savior." True. "And we both learned we were fired on national television."
[00:05:51] Jordan Harbinger: It seems like such a drastic move, but look, can we talk about Iran-Contra for a minute here? Because a lot of people are going, "I've heard of that," or, "I've never heard of that."
[00:05:58] Lt. Col. Oliver North: I'll do a quick chronology for it. So 1979 Iranian Revolution. The Shah dies. Ayatollah Khomeini becomes the Supreme Ruler of Iran. And Iran goes to war against Iraq in an eight-year long, brutal bloody campaign. And so in 1981, I joined the NSC staff. My bio says 1983 and that's because the first two years was something so sensitive. I still can't talk about it. There's that knowingly unclassified. And so from 1983 to 1986, I was us government's counter-terrorism coordinator. We had American hostages grabbed in Beirut at the behest of the Iranians. There was Hezbollah is a creation of the Islamic Revolutionary guard Corps, which the chief guy to Soleimani just happened to get out of the car at the wrong time a few months ago and got whacked. Those were the people who convinced the Hezbollah in Beirut to capture Americans. And so they held five of them at that point in time.
[00:06:58] And my mission was to get them back. And so we had at the same time, as you pointed out a Nicaraguan resistance, starting in 1980, growing all over the place, they were cut off by the Congress of the United States in 1984 with what was called the Boland Amendment. The Boland Amendment said, and I'm trying to remember exactly but it goes something like this, "No funds made available by this act, which was the national defense authorization act, may be used for the purposes or which would have the effect of conducting military or paramilitary action against the government of Nicaragua."
[00:07:33] Okay. So the CIA was taken out of the business. They turned to me and said, "Find a way to support them." And so we created a 501(c)(3), public charity, and we went to countries like Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, South Korea, Sultan of Brunei. And they donated millions of dollars. But when I started the operation in 1984, it was March of 1984. There were 10,000 Nicaraguan Freedom Fighters. By the time I was fired in 1986, there were 20,000, and we didn't have a hundred million dollars a year. We had a lot less, but because of the efficiencies in it — we didn't have a big Air Force, we used a smaller Air Force. We didn't have a big Navy. We had a small Navy. We were able to do things for them that brought them to the brink of disaster for the Sandinistas, even though they were getting help from the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Libya, Cuba, they were in deep trouble and there was an election and village memorial one. Why? Because the Nicaraguan resistance became so good.
[00:08:32] Now, granted there were all kinds of folks in the media that hated them. The Miami Herald is not a positive thing to say about Ollie North, whose named did not show up in all of this until after November of '86. And so what I look back at it, I say to myself, could we have done things different? Probably, but selling — and it wasn't because of my relationship with Israelis. Okay. The Israelis volunteered. They actually brought the idea to us. We'll sell our old tow missiles to the Iranians for a profit. All you need to do is replace our missiles. And so in three different trips, I went to the aircraft, we actually rented an airplane from another country, parked it in the hangar in Iceland, put that tail number and all the electronics in that airplane on a 707, it was Israeli, and they flew the missiles to Tehran and hostages got released.
[00:09:24] We did it three times, three hostages came out. The last one was David Jacobsen who just died just before Christmas, and one of the bravest men I've ever met. I brought him in to see the president after he came out. And as we were coming back from the mission, a plane went down in Nicaragua. And it was one survivor who thought he was working for the CIA. He wasn't. He was working for Project Democracy, which was headed by US Air Force Retired Major General Dick Secord, one of the smartest bravest guys. He came to me as a consequence of Bill Casey saying, "This is the guy you want to run the Air Force. They carried the deliveries." And he did. He also made sure that the TOWs got picked up in the United States and delivered to Israel to replace the Israeli TOWs, TWO missiles that's what we're talking about, the TWO missiles that the Israelis had sent to the Iranians. Incidentally, none of those missiles worked as they should. The ones that were delivered to Tehran.
[00:10:17] Jordan Harbinger: And why is that?
[00:10:19] Lt. Col. Oliver North: I was nailed on in one of my meetings with the Iranians and it is true of the older missiles, but none of those were fielded. If you fired that missile, which was wire guided, that missile was trailing gold wire behind it. And if it went into water, it would short circuit. Now, none of those got shipped, but it just so happens that the ones that they were using, the guts short-circuited were fired over water.
[00:10:42] Jordan Harbinger: So traded some arms that didn't really maybe work so well to the Iranians. And you got humans out and that was the idea. Right?
[00:10:49] Lt. Col. Oliver North: And money.
[00:10:50] Jordan Harbinger: And money.
[00:10:50] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Yeah.
[00:10:51] Jordan Harbinger: And the by-product is the money went to the anti-communist gorillas in Nicaragua. So now, I don't feel so bad about not understanding this when I was eight and nine years old now, because it actually isn't super simple. My parents probably only had a sort of rudimentary grasp on it. So no wonder their explanation didn't make as much sense.
[00:11:08] You mentioned that you went to Iran. I got a wonder, what was it like visiting one of our, our enemies, especially at that time, our staunchest enemies, on this sort of secret mission. I imagine you were nervous, right?
[00:11:23] Lt. Col. Oliver North: It was very secret. In fact, along on that trip was Bob McFarlane, former national security advisor, my boss at the NSC who left in 1984, but he stayed in touch. He went on it to verify that the President United States did want to meet, make a relationship with moderate Iranians, not with the crazies that are still running the place, but with others who, quite frankly, there's still a bunch of them there maybe even more of now than there were, who don't want the Ayatollah was running the places of radical theocracy. And so Reagan's effort was genuine if this works, good. And so Bob McFarlane went on that trip, which is now that's real cajones. I may mix my metaphors in different languages.
[00:12:05] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:12:05] Lt. Col. Oliver North: So was I worried?
[00:12:08] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Like, aren't you worried about joining the hostages that you were going to pick up, especially as a military officer, like you got stuff in your head they might want, right?
[00:12:16] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Well, sure. And that's why Casey gave me seven pills.
[00:12:20] Jordan Harbinger: Really?
[00:12:20] Lt. Col. Oliver North: And I carried them with me the whole time.
[00:12:22] Jordan Harbinger: What were they?
[00:12:23] Lt. Col. Oliver North: I don't want you to get the wrong impression. I'm not afraid of anything on this earth. I fear God. I know where I'm going and I know why I'm going there. And it has nothing to do with how many medals I have or how many wars I was in. And I'd been shot at and hit a few times before I got to the NSC. I had been hurt a bunch of times since, but Fox paid me a lot more to get shot at than the Marine Corps did. And so it's not foolhardy, it's just one, knowing what you're doing is helpful, having good situational awareness. Now, the mission was a failure from my perspective. In fact, there's pictures of Rafsanjani going through the Bible that Ronald Reagan personally inscribed, and it was embarrassment to the president when playing the Donald Nicaraguan rest of this all came out.
[00:13:06] Could it have succeeded? Yeah. I don't think any of us were involved in it. And there were hundreds of people in our government who were very weighting of it, who suddenly couldn't remember anything about it in the aftermath. But most people considered it to be worth the risk. Cap Weinberger disagreed with that, but he didn't stand up and shout it from the rooftops like you do nowadays. George Shultz was not in favor of it, although he had plenty of opportunity to sit down privately with the president and say, "Stop it."
[00:13:34] Jordan Harbinger: And was he the secretary of defense at that time?
[00:13:36] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Weinberg was SecDef. Shultz was secretary of state.
[00:13:39] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, right, yeah.
[00:13:40] Lt. Col. Oliver North: And Casey was the director of central intelligence, which at the time, well, all of those were very, very powerful positions. And the national security advisor, obviously, John Poindexter was succeeded by McFarlane. These are wise men. In fact, I'm still in very close touch with both Bob McFarlane and certainly, Poindexter.
[00:13:59] Jordan Harbinger: You said they gave you seven pills. Why do you need seven? These are poisonous pills that you are going to take, right? Why do you—?
[00:14:05] Lt. Col. Oliver North: That's what I was told. I did give them back as soon as we got home.
[00:14:10] Jordan Harbinger: It seems like they could fit it all into one. I don't know.
[00:14:12] Lt. Col. Oliver North: There were seven people who—
[00:14:14] Jordan Harbinger: That makes more sense. That would have been a bad situation. I would imagine you had one or two sort of nightmares where you're sitting there handing out those pills. Right? And you know, you wake up and you go, "Oh, all right, this could go sideways."
[00:14:24] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Not really.
[00:14:25] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:14:25] Lt. Col. Oliver North: It's not that I'm not thoughtful. What you do is you focus on the mission. I get asked a lot. How do you decide what you're going to do? And it's something I learned probably from my dad who was the first hero I ever met. I mean, my dad was a World War II hero from the European theater and a remarkable man and a very successful businessman. And eventually before he died, a teacher, talked business at Albany State New York. And I like to look at the situation the way the Marine Corps taught us: situation, mission, execution, admin and logistics, command and signal. That's five, SMEAC is what we call it. And so good situational awareness is a good thing to have, okay. What's your mission? Our mission is to get Americans back and to build a relationship with moderates, which didn't really exist at the time. If the execution of it was carrying out the plan that had been developed and worked on for several months before we went. And command and signal was, in fact, I think there's a picture in the book of the equipment that we carried was satellite communications equipment, which was so secret at the time, I had to make special promises to Mr. Casey, that I would not lose it on the trip.
[00:15:29] Jordan Harbinger: That would have been a kind of a disaster.
[00:15:31] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Yeah.
[00:15:31] Jordan Harbinger: That's pretty interesting. No, the tape doesn't have any photos. It has the photo. One of many photos of you looking kind of annoyed during your hearings, which we'll get to in a second. There's a lot of those photos and I don't blame you.
[00:15:42] In your first book, you did talk about your father's death. And you mentioned that he died peacefully in his own bed. And years later, you were glad that he didn't have to go through the stress of the investigation like your mother did. Can you paint a picture of what the investigation process was like? I mean, what was your life like at that point?
[00:16:00] Lt. Col. Oliver North: And there is a picture of my dad's, the last picture of the whole family together. My dad had emphysema very badly than a war hero. He smoked. It was a lot of people who did in that generation. And as the consequences of the emphysema, he ultimately died with early dementia and a pretty severe case of pneumonia, which is what took him out at the age of 67. So I'm 77. I've outlived all my male relatives and I intend to.
[00:16:28] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Yeah. Well, so far so good. Right?
[00:16:31] Lt. Col. Oliver North: And so far so good and I don't smoke and that's part of the solution. And I eat well and stay fit. When my dad was leaving us, he talked to all of us. Both privately and as well as in a group. Then the group setting is that last photograph had taken. You can see he's got the oxygen and he's kind of out of it. And so I was just very glad that he didn't have to go through that because he raised us. You know, military recruiting is always a big issue and our family, every one of us, the North boys, all served in the military. All of us in combat, in different branches of the service.
[00:17:05] And so I look at that experience and say, why did — he never said you have to serve? And in the military they call it a legacy volunteer. And so of course, since 1973, there's been no draft. Everybody still has to sign up for the selective service, but there's no draft, and it probably never will be again, because we're not going to have the time. And it takes to build a military once a war starts. The next war is going to be, boom, like that. It won't be a six-month buildup, like Desert Storm, like Desert Shield before Desert Storm. There's not going to be the kinds of things that like we did in Afghanistan. 9/11/01 happens, or the seventh of my birthday, by the way, the 7th of October, I'm with Mattis going into Southern Afghanistan.
[00:17:48] And so the next war is probably going to be fought by an adversary, probably Communist China or one of his proxies like Iran or the North Koreans who will use nuclear and chemical and probably even biological weapons, like maybe COVID-19. So the draft will probably never happen like it once did.
[00:18:08] Jordan Harbinger: Do you think COVID-19 is a bio weapon? I sort of picked up that little aside there. I hadn't heard that from you before in your interviews.
[00:18:16] Lt. Col. Oliver North: I've never said it, that it is, but it could be. The variations in that particular spore are rather dramatic. You know, I read just about everything I can. I like to look at those kinds of things from a lot of different perspectives. I read what the CDC said initially, that you couldn't transmit it from one human to another. Oops. Now you can.
[00:18:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:18:36] Lt. Col. Oliver North: And all of those kinds of things that have come out and at the very least that book right there. Can you see that book?
[00:18:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I do see that one. It looks like Xi Jinping, America's #1 Adversary. I'm not sure who else is on the cover.
[00:18:49] Lt. Col. Oliver North: It's Donald Trump.
[00:18:51] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. I couldn't tell from here.
[00:18:52] Lt. Col. Oliver North: But the book is about Communist China and they are our number one adversary. There is no doubt, economically, militarily. They have more ships in their Navy than we have in ours. And they're building more than we are. They have more submarines deployed at any one time than you do. They have more ballistic missiles than we do, and we're treating them like there's still a developing country and their economy is soon going to overtake ours. And an awful lot of that debt is owned by the Communist Chinese. Where they get all the money to do all this stuff from us? And so us giving them the green new deal to punish ourselves further is not a good idea.
[00:19:26] I look at the kinds of things that are happening, particularly with COVID-19. And I say to myself, well, if they're not building a bio weapon that will do that, why didn't they stand up and say right at the get-go when the very first cases showed up in October of 2019, and they knew instantly what to do about it. They stopped all internal travel inside China, allowed anybody to go back and forth. And where was the number one overseas Chinese production manufacturing operation? It was in Northern Italy. I mean, if you buy a Gucci bag or you buy a Lamborghini or a Maserati, it still says made in Italy, but it's made by hundreds of thousands of Communist Chinese laborers in that country. And they were allowed to go back and forth. So the first major outbreak of the disease in Europe is Italy, Northern Italy.
[00:20:13] And so I look at those kinds of things, Jordan, I say, why would they do it that way? Obviously, they've had far fewer cases than we have. They knew exactly what to do. They started administering all kinds of things like hydroxychloroquine, and the like to their people and never told us that it was working. And of course, every time the previous president would say something like that, the press would come down and hammer — you don't know what you're talking about. Why is that? I mean, why didn't the World Health Organization discover all this back in the early days of 2020. Instead, it's not until March that we start lock downs and things like that. And then we become draconian about it and it wrecks our economy.
[00:20:54] Jordan Harbinger: I don't even think the World Health Organization was allowed to go investigate this until recently. I could be mistaken here.
[00:21:01] Lt. Col. Oliver North: But they have members, Chinese members of the WHO working in the Wuhan Virology Labs. Right? What I'm saying is they didn't come out and start saying, and some of the doctors who did start saying, "Wait a second, we have a moral responsibility here." They've disappeared. And so then the Uyghurs aren't the only ones who were in jeopardy inside come to China. I'm not claiming that they invented it in the lab. I'm just saying what they didn't do to stop it or to tell the rest of the world how they could stop. It tells you something about them, at least as a deceptive force. And that's what that book is all about.
[00:21:36] Jordan Harbinger: Let's go back to Vietnam for a minute here. I know it's been a zillion years. There's an experience here that you talk about in the book about your friend Johnson passing away in your arms and when this kind of thing happens, how does that change you? It's got to be so impactful. You remembered it decades later. I'm sure you still remember it now.
[00:21:55] Lt. Col. Oliver North: And the worst days of my life, he was a Marine machine gunner, PFC, private first class, black, bright, tough, hard. We've been out in the field for over 50 days straight without going back to get a shower or hot shower. And night attackers are probed by North field army right up against what we call the Laotian salient. They'd picked our battalion up on the DMZ because we're used to operating in mountains and flew us down into the first Marine division area of operations and sent us out into the wilderness. And our job was to go out. They'd drop a bunch of heavy B-52 loads on top of the mountains, and we'd want clearly wreckage, defend the place a little bit and then move onto the next one to put a fire base in.
[00:22:38] And we were just about to move out of that place. The next day, it was pouring rain that night and the probe got picked up by the listening post and the machine gun opened fire. And then you can hear a lot of AK-47 fire. You could hear him get hit because he was right in front of me. He was probably 20 meters in front of me and I was dug into my radio operator, Jim Lehnert and I were dug into a little tiny fox hole for the two of us, dragged him back. Lehnert, calling, calling, calling on the radio for helicopter to come in.
[00:23:07] In our day, it was a golden hour. If you could get somebody back within an hour of being badly wounded, they would probably live. And the weather was so bad. The ceiling was literally below us and then we'd rise up and they tried, it flew around for over an hour, trying to get to land us. And then we ended up having to carry them to the next city and weather cleared with just a 24-hour difference would have changed everything.
[00:23:31] I look back, I tried and every one of those experiences to say, what could I have done differently to change the outcome? No one ever looked back and said, shoulda, woulda, coulda. It's not a game, anybody wins. But if you're going to learn something about what could I have done to change the outcome? There's probably several different things. I could have put people further out, a tiny little perimeter. We're probably down to 35 or 40 guys in what should have been a 46-man-rifle between reinforced by engineers. We should have had about 55 guys. We'd been out in a long time in the field. We'd had some wounded, we'd had some guys hurt, a guy's sick. Malaria was rampant.
[00:24:08] Jordan Harbinger: How does seeing real combat real? You mentioned the decisions you made, maybe you would have done things differently. Are there other things you could have tried differently? How does that change the decisions that you make in other areas such as trying to get hostages out of Iran or helping Contras fight off commies in Nicaragua? And I guess I just said commies. It's 1988 again, but how do those intense experiences where you see real consequences change the way that you make decisions later on in your career?
[00:24:35] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Well, I'm not trying to inflict my perspective on anything. I know where I'm going and I know why I'm going there. Right? And I know that Romans 10:9, Paul's letter to the church in Rome, "If you confess with your lips, that Jesus is Lord, and you believe in your heart, God raised him from the dead. You will be saved." That's a key verse. It's one of the last words I said to my dad. And I've said it to a bunch of other guys. So that confidence of knowing the outcome, I'm a chronic optimist. I am. I mean, it's all going to work out, even in the midst. The fact, we have 20 some odd federal agents at a time living with us, back when we lived in Great Falls, Virginia.
[00:25:12] Betsy and I got married 53 years ago and in November. The kids joke about it and say, "Mom, how did you make it this long with this guy? Look at him. All the things he's put us through." And her answer was, "He's been gone half the time."
[00:25:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:25:26] Lt. Col. Oliver North: And that's part of it. Number two, I made the comment in the back of my most recent book in the acknowledgement section, the most recent novel, which is The Rifleman. And then in the back, I acknowledged that Betsy's my mate, my muse, my most fervent critic, and the greatest inspiration I've ever had, and the most fun I've ever had. And the kids go, "God, dad, what do you guys think you came from?" You know, she's still the most fun I've ever had. And I look at the adventures I've had in my life. There's very few people that have had as much fun and as much of an adventure as I have in life. The only thing I've got to convince me as a husband and father is I believe the words, "Semper Fidelis" actually means something always faithful is a way of life. I signed like all my correspondence that way.
[00:26:09] And so when you say, when you look back and you say. Are there challenges? Yeah, I would rather, my family had not been put through that. I would rather the guys who targeted me for assassination hadn't come to our house when we weren't there and killed our dog.
[00:26:25] Jordan Harbinger: That happened. I did not know that that happened. So who targeted you for assassination? Right? It was like Islamic jihadis.
[00:26:31] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Islamic Jihad, which was an organization put together by a guy named Abu Nidal. Abu Nidal was a henchman for Muammar Qaddafi. In 1985, he blew up a discotheque in Berlin, killed a whole bunch of people, a lot of Americans. And President Reagan said, "I want retribution." And so we launched very short planning, a series of air raids from the Mediterranean to the ships at sea and F-111's out of Mildenhall, England. And that Mildenhall, we flew at one point, I actually flew to Paris to ask Mitterrand for permission to overfly France. And he turned us down. And so they had to form all the way around and come back in from the South against Libya, which meant that they had to refuel free times. And we lost one of the aircraft with two US Air Force officers aboard.
[00:27:21] Now, I look at something like that and say, I wish we could have done that differently. It would've taken a better relationship with Mitterrand or at least less of a bullhead as the man was. Was that a mistake? No. But as a consequence of that, Abu Nidal was then told to target the people who planned the raid. That was done at the direction of Muammar Qaddafi, but it was his Islamic Jihad that had the terrorist cell called the People's Committee for Libyan Students in McLean, Virginia, about 10 miles from where we lived in Great Falls. And they sent a message from Tripoli, Abu Nidal did to his terrorist cell and other people's committee for Libyan students and told them to take out target number 11. And I was target number 11. And so they reconnoitered the house and thankfully the FBI was on it.
[00:28:08] I was the director of counter-terrorism for the NSC, right? And we knew about this being a terrorist cell. We just didn't know that they'd sent the signal until it was decrypted days later. And they immediately pulled Betsy and the kids out of town, sent us down to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina arrested the six guys. And the US attorney named Henry Hudson brought them into court and laid out all the weapons, AK-47s, hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades, RPD machine gun in Great Falls, Virginia.
[00:28:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:28:37] Lt. Col. Oliver North: All taken out of a self-storage unit that belonged to those guys. The FBI arrested them, brought them in the middle of the night and they're going to do the hit on the family when we are gone. He was a liberal judge appointed by Johnson, "Mr. Hudson, I see all the weapons. What charges am I going to hold these people? You say no bail. They can post bail for this." "Yes, Your Honor. I know, but the attempted assassination of US government officer is a specific crime for which there is no bond." He said, "Who?" He said, "Well, it's a technical, Your Honor." I mean, that's the way that the verbiage goes. I've been around enough courtrooms nowadays. But these days since, that's the verbiage that's used for a technical, meaning wire tap or video tapping. In this case, it was both.
[00:29:17] Long and short of it, the judge said, and by the way, they already had their lawyers there from the Yugoslav Embassy. Remember, Libya did not have any diplomatic facilities in DC since Ronald Reagan got here.. And so Yugoslav embassy provided their legal representation. Very good lawyer from the prominent law firm said, "I'm not going to allow, Your Honor, it's wrong for you to allow a bench conference without me attending." And that's he said, "We can't do that." Because he didn't want him to know that we're still monitoring that place. And the judge says, "Well, what's the maximum bond I can hold on all these weapons." And Hudson says $500,000 a piece. "So, Mr. Hudson, who's going to come up with three-million dollars between now and dawn?"
[00:29:56] Jordan Harbinger: Qaddafi.
[00:29:56] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Yes. Then they booked.
[00:29:58] Jordan Harbinger: Really? Oh my God. That's—
[00:30:00] Lt. Col. Oliver North: So we ended up with federal agents living with us, a total of 37 and 20 of them at a time on some days on duty, terrific guys, back before NCIS, it was Naval Intelligence Service in those days. And there was the guys that provided bodyguards for the chief of Naval operations, all the form Naval chiefs, the secretary of the Navy. And they stayed with us until I was indicted. And then private security firms picked it up from there.
[00:30:28] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Oliver North. We'll be right back.
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[00:32:55] Jordan Harbinger: Now back to Oliver North on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:33:00] What happened to those guys who tried to come after you?
[00:33:03] Lt. Col. Oliver North: If the story is right — and again, all I have is the names of the original ones. So there are two guys with those names. I didn't see the pictures who were killed in a bank robbery in Canada. A third one was killed by a train. He was walking into the United States, in New York, there's a bridge to cross the St. Lawrence and he was hit by a train just before the bridge in the middle of the snow storm. Snow storm was blowing that way. He was walking that way. Train came from behind and killed him. The fourth and fifth ones were killed in a raid by the Israelis into Lebanon in the 1980s. The sixth one is still at large someplace which is why I live in an undisclosed location now.
[00:33:40] Jordan Harbinger: I was just going to say, I don't know how true that part is. Yeah, he's probably not really on the hunt anymore at this point. He's probably like 65 or something, but who knows?
[00:33:49] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Well, he might be older than that even because one of these guys was a professor at University of Maryland. These are evil people that they really are. There are cells like that. I mean, look, what just happened here in Colorado. The individual who shot up that grocery store is not Irish. And so you've got to wonder, I mean, I'm sure we'll find out over the course of the next several days because he was wounded, he's in the hospital. But if you look at that kind of track record for those kinds of folks who've been — I understand that the secretary of defense is now looking for extremists in the Armed Forces in the United States. Well, back at Fort Hood, what happened is a guy who had already become extreme and was a medical officer in the United States Army did the shooting. And you got to wonder why we're looking inside our military for guys who might have as a youngster, belong to some right-wing organization, just to throw them out in the military. When you got guys like that, walking around the streets of America who obviously had some motivation other than robbing a grocery store.
[00:34:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You've had some close calls. There's a mention in under fire where you're going through an enemy officer's pack after an ambush when you, I guess, had taken out this officer and you found letters from his family and I think maybe photos, but I can't remember. And you said he became real at that point. Did you ever think, "Wow, I'm glad he's not going through my pack"?
[00:35:08] Lt. Col. Oliver North: But there were a couple of really close ones, they might've been going through my pack. Thankfully, the guys around me saved me on one terrible adventure going on the 25th of May. Some days, maybe your life, you should never, never forget. My dear friend was the first platoon commander. I was second platoon commander and he was hit immediately in an ambush. And my platoon was ordered to move through. And about five hours later, we got to the top of that Hill and I'd run out of ammo. I'd run out of hand-grenades. My shotgun had taken a piece of fragment. In fact, other pieces of fragment went through that finger. And I couldn't cock it anymore. So I threw it down on the ground and took out my 45 and I had to take 45 ammunition for my radio operator because I'd run out of it a couple of times. A couple of pretty close calls like that.
[00:35:52] In fact, when the company commander finally got to the top of the Hill, about six hours into this gunfight, I'm sitting on a tree that was blown down by one of the many airstrikes I ran that afternoon and he's carrying my shotgun. And a military shotgun, you can fix a bayonet to it. And I have no recollection of ever saying it, but one of the Marines said, "When I heard you say fixed bayonets, I knew we were in trouble." And I have no recollection saying everybody around had their bayonets and my bayonet was on the end of the shotgun because model 12 Winchester, it takes 10 rounds and it fits a bayonet. And my bayonet was on it. So when the company commander, who was a very brave guy in his own right, gets to the top of the hill, he's carrying my shotgun. And we're doing what they call pursuit by fire, back into the DMZ and chase at the back. And he says, "What's the idea of dropping this government property?" I said, "Well, sir, if you notice it won't cock because it was a fragment that went through it and into my hand, and that's why it will cock." And he says, "Son, it's still a perfectly good club with bayonet." And he wrote me up for a Silver Star.
[00:36:55] But there were many occasions when we always tried to get identity for the ambushes. I've got a lot of medals, the ones that actually deserve, the Purple Heart, that's an enemy accuracy medal. Navy Commendation medal for running 72 successfully ambushes. At least that's what it says in the citation. That means we killed enemy soldiers and lost more of our own every time. And we've tried to go through in the middle of the night, most of them go through their equipment, their packs take their weapons and identity. So the red cross could be notified. In this case, it was an officer. He was a Lieutenant. I was a Lieutenant. He's got a picture of his lovely wife and kid in his pack. I've got that picture that I carried in my helmet. Every time I'd take off my arm. And I see Betsy and her baby.
[00:37:39] And so unless you're totally cold-hearted, you can see the connections there. Does that make me feel great about killing other people? No. But the option was they would kill us in a heartbeat.
[00:37:49] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:37:50] Lt. Col. Oliver North: That's one of the horrors of war. I don't think anybody out there had glory in it. One of my favorite Marines is a fellow by the name of Joe Dunford. And I was embedded with his unit for the whole attack from Kuwait, all the way North to Kuwait in March of 2003. And the fifth Marine regiment was the biggest Marine combat unit that we've had in the war short of a division, about 7,000 troops. And I would see him almost every day because I was living with a helicopter squadron, HMM 268, which no longer exists. It's all been replaced by V22s. And I was with then Colonel Dunford. My cameraman Griff Jenkins nicknamed him "Fighting Joe Dunford". And we went to almost every briefing with them in the squadron commander that we were living with.
[00:38:35] And Dunford said, at one point, the cameras weren't running and trust me, I can sit there in the morning briefing every once in a while, they'd say something like, what'd you think of yesterday after it was all over or whatever, a lot of really good gunfight footage. And I said, "How are you feeling?" Because this is like the 25th and 26th of March. And we've been at it nonstop for five or six days. I guess we started on the 18th and it's exhausting. And he looked up at me and he said, it is a good thing we do not do this often for it is so exhilarating to see so many people moving the same direction, accomplishing the mission. And it breaks my heart every time when one of them gets hurt. And that's Joe Dunford. And God, we rode Kazakhs helicopters, Griffin and I, more than I can count with footage that is equally dramatic. He's the kind of guy that you really want leading troops cause it's hard. The best leaders I ever knew were servant leaders.
[00:39:27] The battalion commander that led me in the Mediterranean, John Grinalds who went on to become retired as a major general, went on to become the President of the Citadel and a very devout guy and never hesitated to go out and say, "Here's what I believe. You don't have to believe it if you don't want, but here's why I believe it." And he did that with thousands of young people. Today, if you tried something like that, you will get court marshaled, just get relieved. Things have changed that much, but I love being with Marines every once in a while the Marine Corps or the institutions of our government less so, but I wouldn't trade you in a single second that I could spend with Marines.
[00:40:03] Jordan Harbinger: During the hearings, how old were you at that time?
[00:40:06] Lt. Col. Oliver North: So, let's see. I was born in 60 — I was married at 25, 1968. The hearings in the summer of '87. So I'm 35, 36 years old. Yeah.
[00:40:17] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, that's a young age to be going through national spotlight, Nancy Reagan and Ronald Reagan saying, "This guy's full of crap more or less." I'm paraphrasing Nancy Reagan didn't say full of crap, obviously.
[00:40:30] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Well, she may.
[00:40:31] Jordan Harbinger: She may have. Yeah, something along those lines.
[00:40:33] Lt. Col. Oliver North: But you know, one of the things I couldn't write about at the time — because the book is being written while our cases were on appeal. That first night of the hearings, we had an unlisted phone number. We were living with at the time probably 20 federal agents knew that our phones were being monitored. I mean, that's what I would've ordered if I didn't charge a special prosecutor and the congressional hearings. I remember there's already a special prosecutor appointed. And the first night of the hearings got home, probably, I don't know, nine o'clock, 10 o'clock at night. I've got to be back at the office, Brendan Sullivan's office at five in the morning. Betsy did not come with me the first night and she pitched a fit. And so she was there the second day. At that time, we had four kids. One off in college and the three at home. The youngest one in her Dr. Denton's. She was one of the ones that got taken out in her Dr. Denton's to go down to Camp Lejeune in the middle of the night.
[00:41:24] Jordan Harbinger: What are Dr. Denton's?
[00:41:25] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Little footies with the trap door at the back.
[00:41:28] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, that's what those are called. The little button-butt pajamas. I've never heard that. I didn't know. They had a special name.
[00:41:34] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Dr. Denton's, yeah. So it probably doesn't exist anymore. And so I get four phone calls to an unlisted phone number. One is Richard Nixon, who I gotten to know very well while I was at the White House. And he said, "Oliver, that was a magnificent show today. You just did everything exactly right. You set it all well. And it had the additional merit of being the truth." Only Richard Nixon can put it that way. The second call was from the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General P. X. Kelley, who had ordered me the day I got fired on the 26th of November to report to his office, and I went right into operations and plans, which requires a top secret clearance. The third phone call was from Billy Graham who I've gotten to know, and he prayed with me. And at the end of the conversation, I said, "Dr. Graham, how did you get my phone number?" "Well, I did what I always do. I called the White House switchboard."
[00:42:26] And the last call was from the president. And President Reagan said, "I know your kids have gone to bed," by now it's 11 o'clock or 12 o'clock. "I know your kids have all gone to bed, but I want them to know that I regard you to be an American hero." We talked for a few minutes. I told him how sorry I was, that this was hurting him. Then at the back end of it, he said it again, "Do you use it and several other people?" I've got a little note from him and he wrote to them, and I guess I'll tear it in four pieces when they, I don't know, give it to one of the kids.
[00:42:56] One of the greatest privileges of my life was to work for Ronald Reagan. I looked back at that experience. Some of it is very, very exciting. Some it, very dangerous. Some of it, very educational. I'm still close to a number of people to include my former boss, Admiral Poindexter special. I had some great friends I made in the Israelis, armed services and their intelligence service, and some of them are still alive. We've got to have some remarkable experiences, Betsy and I, up until COVID we're leading a group to Israel just about every other year and hope to be able to do it again. And meanwhile, one of those guys that I got to know some very, very well and incredibly brave, who'd gone all the way into Tehran with a passport that we gave him died of COVID. And we're getting to the point now where I try hard to stay in touch with people.
[00:43:43] I mentioned Dick Secord a while ago. He and I were on the phone earlier today. Not about moving arms and weapons and things like that, but just about old friends. And we've lost a bunch of them. I've got a flag here that I've got to get to the family of a Marine who I'd covered during the war. And hopefully, they'll be able to find some in the footage. He didn't die of suicide and he didn't die of COVID, but he died of the complications of being badly wounded 10 years ago.
[00:44:08] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:44:08] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Yeah.
[00:44:09] Jordan Harbinger: What advice would you give your younger self going through those hearings? You're a 35, if you're watching this unfold in real time, right now, given the benefit of hindsight, what would you have told yourself at that point? That has to be one of the most stressful situations of your entire life, right?
[00:44:23] Lt. Col. Oliver North: No.
[00:44:24] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:44:24] Lt. Col. Oliver North: I mean, a stressful situation is leading 50 Marines up the hill in the enemy gunfire.
[00:44:29] Jordan Harbinger: That makes more sense. Yeah.
[00:44:31] Lt. Col. Oliver North: At one point during the hearings, one of the lawyers for the hearings, of the Senator House, I've forgotten which, said to me, "The day you got fired at the White House had to be the worst day of your life." I said, "No, no, sir. Worst days of my life were when Marines died in my arms." And that happened a bunch of times. And the 28th of July is a repeat of that in my head, every 28th of July because I lost more Marines that one night than I did an entire two tours in Westpac. And one of them was a company commander, a whole bunch of staff sergeants, just awful, terrible, terrible night. I was hurting pretty bad and my corpsman saved my life, tried to save the captain's life and was badly wounded himself. Jack Fowler and I are still very close from those days.
[00:45:13] What you don't want to do is to drag you down. So I try not to let it — I love to go out, just taking a long walk in the woods, or going fishing in the Shenandoah or coming down here, sitting, looking at the Atlantic Ocean and just take a long walk on the beach and just, okay, that happened 50-plus years ago. And it was still a terrible time, but the Lord's blessed me in many other ways. So let's get on with life.
[00:45:37] Jordan Harbinger: You fought to support the Nicaraguan Contras, bring them weapons, bring them money. You didn't want to bring them empty promises in their fight against communism. This is back in 1987. It reminds me a little bit of the situation now with the Iraqi Kurds. And it seems like we left them a little bit in the lurch, right? I mean, we're pulling forces out, pulling our support. What do you think?
[00:45:56] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Not a little bit, a whole lot. We left the Iraqi Kurds, I actually came home from my last trip overseas in 2017. I got hurt. Somebody on the Internet said I was wounded. I wasn't. I was running. So I wouldn't get wounded. And it's the middle of the night and there's a barrage of mortars coming in on this position. It's right outside of Mosul, the final flights at Mosul was just about to begin. And I've been with the Peshmerga guys several times by then, and these are incredible guys. Many of the ones I got to know as officers and enlisted guys were in college in the United States when Kurdistan was invaded by ISIS. They probably said, "Thank you very much. I'll finish the semester. When I get back from the war." And they went to fight and it was the Kurds who joined us to drive out ISIS out of Syria. It was a terrible mistake to abandon them. It was a terrible mistake that we didn't stand up at the end of it. It's the largest ethnic group in the world, Jordan, without a Homeland. And the Uyghurs are close second.
[00:46:54] The Kurds have been promised by the Western powers ever since 1919 in the Treaty of Sèvres. They've been promised a homeland. Do they have one yet? No. And they should, because they're remarkably close to us. They have an enormous sense of religious tolerance. Some of the biggest Christian churches in all of that part of the world today and that going back 500 years, but going back in modern times, some of the biggest Christian Churches are in Erbil, the "capital" of Kurdistan. I had them hand me a map. I wish I'd known we were going to talk about this. I've got it here somewhere. "Draw me a map," I'm talking to the President of Kurdistan. "Draw me a map and show me what borders of Kurdistan are." Where does Kurdistan? It would have taken up a little bit of Iraq, a little bit of Turkey, a little bit of Syria and a little bit of a Iran, not much, and of course, a fair amount of oil. And I just think it's a terrible tragedy. That they are now beholden to the Baghdad government. The Baghdad regime is corrupt. They're sitting on great big pools of oil. And I suppose now that the price of oil is back over 60 bucks a barrel. They're going to make some money on it, but very little of it's going to get to the kind of people who deserve to have it. That's a major problem in that part of the world.
[00:48:04] Jordan Harbinger: Do you think we should have done more to end the Syrian Civil War?
[00:48:08] Lt. Col. Oliver North: I'm not sure we could have. I mean, if you look at the alignments. The half of it is al-Assad family, the family line goes all the way back to the Alawite, which is primarily Shīʿite, and you've got the Russians involvement. The Russians have got to keep their bases there. They have no fresh water or if the Russians don't keep their bases, air bases and their Naval bases in Syria, they won't have any ice reports anywhere in the world. Because eventually St. Petersburg freezes over and so does Archangel. And so the Russians are in there, the Turks are in there, the Western powers in there, the Israelis are in there. And everybody wants a different outcome. And of course, ISIS was pretty well running the place up until a few months ago.
[00:48:49] I'm not entirely sure there was much anybody could do short of American intervention. I think we've had enough of endless wars. I'm not trying to take a political party's perspective on it, but I think good, quick wars are the kind of thing until this thing came along. The longest war was Vietnam for my generation and our guys are the two or three 13-month tours over there and it wrecked their marriages. It wrecked their home lives. It wrecked them. My foundation does a lot with the young guys and gals who come out of this war. We have over 500 youngsters who have lost a parent in the line of duty from this long war. 500 kids on college scholarships, right this minute. I'm just hoping they all get to go back to school. And that's a free ride for those youngsters.
[00:49:31] And so what we do with Freedom Alliance is try to help the families. As you and I are speaking right now, there's a tractor being given to a wounded vet in Houston, Texas, and this war has been going on. We still got American troops in harm's way in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's time to bring them home.
[00:49:47] Jordan Harbinger: Back in the '80 and earlier, we had the Cold War. There was no dispute that the Soviet Union was the enemy. They were antagonists to the USA. Now, there seems to be a split, especially among conservatives about whether Russia is our adversary or not. And I'm wondering what you think.
[00:50:01] Lt. Col. Oliver North: I'm thinking — thank you for the opportunity to promote the book.
[00:50:04] Jordan Harbinger: There you go.
[00:50:05] Lt. Col. Oliver North: It is the number one adversary. Russia ought to be, if hubris and ego are such big factors in politics and power, if Putin was thinking things through and not just trying to make himself the richest guy in the world, instead of Bill Gates or whoever it is this week, he would become an ally of the United States. They're broke. Their economy is broken. The corruption is rampant, and he's essentially president for life now because he managed to change the constitution. The number one adversary — by the way, the Chinese are not going to have to go to war against the Russians. They're buying it in order to own property inside what is now Russia, you have to be a Russian or a marriage or a Russian. China has 51 million, more men than women. Where do you suppose they're going to get married? And the Siberian women do not look like Mrs. Trump, Siberian women are not all that attractive, but they own land with lithium and rarest metals and petroleum and coal underneath the ground. And so you've got Chinese men moving as fast as they can to buy up pieces of Siberia. The Russians are going to lose it. They ought to be doing a deal with us.
[00:51:13] Jordan Harbinger: On Firing Line, which is a PBS show in 2018, you said something along the lines of any country that doesn't have a democracy is our adversary. Is that still an accurate representation of your thoughts?
[00:51:24] Lt. Col. Oliver North: No. It's more likely to be an adversary.
[00:51:27] Jordan Harbinger: More likely. I may have even gotten this wrong. This is going off sort of notes from this. That's for sure.
[00:51:32] Lt. Col. Oliver North: No. I mean our long history is opposing tyranny and sometimes tyranny came here. I mean, the forces of the Kings George came here three times in the space of the lifetime of Daniel Morgan, who I'm writing my next book about, The Rifleman. And if you look at what tyranny did, we ended up losing almost a million Americans in world war one and world war II because of tyranny. If you look at the Korean War, it was because we had a treaty that was going to defend the South and the Russians with great prescient walked out of the security council session that could have vetoed the war.
[00:52:05]Vietnam was because of a treaty obligation against tyranny. If you look at what's been transpiring, our effort to bring, enforced other people to be democracies, just like us with no experience with it whatsoever has been a failure and it's cost the lives of thousands of Americans. How much longer do we want to do that? If we're going to do it anywhere we ought to do it — let's say I'm all in favor of the next war being in a place that's not a hell hole. It's like Bermuda.
[00:52:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, we'll do it in the Caribbean.
[00:52:29] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Why not? I'm only half jesting because if something really matters, it ought to be our own hemisphere. The Monroe Doctrine was all about that. And right now the Communist Chinese owned both ends of the Panama Canal. And pretty soon they're going to take over the south. The same things happening in the Suez Canal. Anybody worried about the Communist Chinese, they ought to be. This book is by three of my buddies. It's all about how to take the steps necessary, 70 of them, to save America. And that is a tyrannical regime.
[00:52:58] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Oliver North. We'll be right back.
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[00:57:02] Now, for the conclusion of our episode with Oliver North.
[00:57:07] You're a combat veteran and you've written many books and done a ton of research about the revolutionary war, the civil war, other American wars and non-American wars for that matter. When you see events on the news where people are breaking into the Capitol building and they have Confederate flags, which is a flag of an enemy of the United States, right? What do you, as a military historian, as a veteran, what do you think about that?
[00:57:29] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Well, they were americans. I mean, let me take you back a few months earlier. I was appalled all summer long. Good courthouses. You had buildings, your pharmacies, you had private businesses, you had homes torched all across this country and nobody didn't anything about it. And when then President Trump would say, "You can call in the national guard, Andres Serrano." That's a terrible thing to do. Well, like today, we have something in the neighborhood of 3000-plus national guard troops still in Washington, DC, around a great big fence. They won't finish the border fence, but by God, they've still got the fence in Washington, DC guarded by US military personnel, carrying firearms, real assault weapons.
[00:58:10]I look at that kind of thing, I was like, this is the kind of thing that makes American cynical about their government. This is the kind of thing, the hypocrisy, the corruption that makes people say, "My vote doesn't count," or, "Let's go out and phoning up a bunch of voting records just to make sure that we can stay in power." I'm not saying all that happens, but I'm saying that it affects the attitudes of the people of this country.
[00:58:33] We spoke of a few minutes ago, we spoke about the idea of legacy accessions into the military. There's guys that I interviewed for our last book, Veterans' Lament, there's guys who I interviewed for that book. We've now gone back, David Goetsch and I, and asked them, "Would you recommend your kids to go in the military?" Now, I'm still willing to do that. But a good number of them are not. A good number of them are now saying, "I wouldn't want my kid to have to serve in the military where their loyalty is being questioned about." Did you ever belong to the Boy Scouts? Have you ever been a Republican? I mean, it's not quite that bad yet, but that's where it's headed. We've got political questions on security.
[00:59:14] From when I came to United States, Marine Corps, December 29th, 1961 raised my right hand, took the old for the first time in front of a Marine recruiter, there was one question. It was a loyalty question. And so are you now, or have you ever been a member of the communist party? And the answer was, of course, no. Now, that section, that clearance form 86 or 84 is now 14 or 15 pages long. Are you a member of this extremist group or you remember that extremist group? Meanwhile, you've got a guy who's clearly been motivated by something other than the Holy Bible who just guns 10 people down in the grocery store in Colorado. What are we doing to ourselves?
[00:59:50] And then that Rodney King was, "Can't we all get along. We're never all going to get along." And so when I see somebody waving the Confederate flag, look, I got friends of mine who graduated from VMI. In fact, I just wrote to a Congressman in Florida and his first term, who is a VMI graduate and a war hero. And we all recognize that it's a different climate than it was when we were growing up. It ought not to be as different as this becomes.
[01:00:15] And so when people start talking about reparations, if you don't think that's going to be polarizing, I'd like to just point out to the reparations people up in Chicago, that just started a program, they call reparations that not one member of my family was in this country by 1900, much less 1860s. So my family, I don't know anything, and my kids aren't going to pay anything for reparations. The fact is they're trying to take money from people who didn't have slaves and give it to people who were never slaves. Now, that's a purely political decision being made by "leaders" here in our country. That's not the kind of leadership we need. You don't need it. Your kids don't need it. And my grandkids don't need it. It's not going to be helpful. Now whether the pendulum is going to swing back the other direction in two years, I don't know, but I hope so.
[01:01:00] Jordan Harbinger: I wonder what you think — I missed the VMI, the Virginia Military Institute. What does that have to do with the Confederate flag? That one went over my head.
[01:01:07] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Okay. Stonewall Jackson was a professor there and the Stonewall Brigade was cadets that fought right up the road. I mean, right up Route 11 from VMI. They fought against the Armed Forces of the United States. They were Confederate recruits coming right out of Stonewall Jackson's classrooms.
[01:01:24] Jordan Harbinger: Where do you stand as a veteran on the Confederate flag? It just seems so strange to me to see that, like it's an enemy flag right inside the Capitol building. And it's just, of course, it was held by somebody who probably didn't put all these associations together so directly. But as a veteran, I'd be like, what the heck is that guy doing here? You know, what's that flag doing in there?
[01:01:42] Lt. Col. Oliver North: That's going to cover my transfer case. By the way, it's not a casket. It's a transfer case. You'll know that the next time you watch a military funeral. That's what they call it. This is a good name for it, transfer. Think about that. Transfer case is for glory, okay. Glorious flag flying right there outside my window. All right. That's their flag. I had in my office for years, a North Vietnamese communist flag hanging on the wall because I captured it. No one ever criticized me for it. I have no idea where it is today, but I captured it in one of those ambushes in South Vietnam and the soldier was carrying it . I doubt any didn't think that there was this thing called South Vietnam because they were indoctrinated to believe it was all one country and they were just fighting these American invaders. So I brought that flag back home from me. And when I was teaching tactics down at Quantico, it hung over my desk right next to the American flag. This one is just a little bit higher.
[01:02:34] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, I understand that that was a trophy from a war. If you were in World War II and you killed a Nazi and you took a knife and it had a swastika on the hill, maybe you keep that in your office. This is a guy who bought it off of Amazon, right? He wasn't in the civil war.
[01:02:46] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Look, the United States Marine Corps is now banned it. They hang up in barracks anywhere. I'm not sure how many that's going to save in the next war that we're in, but that's the rule. So you live with a rule. I'm fond of reminding my kids. The kids are all upset with the IRS is going to raise taxes on grandad and dad. I don't make the rules. I just live with them. I abide by them. I try to. Otherwise, I'd be in jail right now instead of walking around my own country, because a lot of people wanted to put me in jail.
[01:03:13] Jordan Harbinger: There's still time.
[01:03:15] Lt. Col. Oliver North: It didn't break any laws. Therefore, we're good. I don't complain about it. I'm just saying like, Marine Corps court ordered no Confederate flags on any Marine Corps bases. I don't know what it's like in the other services. I'm sure probably the same. But the bottom line of it. It's the rule, so abide by it. Now what about the kid who at 17 got a tattoo on his arm has got a Confederate flag on it, should we show him out of the Marine Corps?
[01:03:37] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, I don't know about the—
[01:03:39] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Wait a minute. Don't dodge the question.
[01:03:42] Jordan Harbinger: No, honestly, I have no idea. I just wondered what veterans thought of the Confederate flag in the Capitol building. Honestly, if you drive a truck and you have that thing on there, whatever, you know, the Dukes of Hazzard car, when I was a little kid that had it on there. I don't wear it, but if somebody else wants to wear it, then fine. I'm not going to try and even just say that, I don't even want to make assumptions about all those people, because I would imagine it's pretty tough to say everybody who has that is racist. But if I were in the United States and I brought in a North Korea flag and I stormed the Capitol, people would probably go, "What the heck is that guy thinking? That's not the American flag." And if you say that, "Hey, I'm a Patriot." But then you bring a Confederate States of America flag into the Capitol building. I have to wonder which sides you're on. If the guy brought an American flag in like the woman who wore one, I get that. I understand why they chose that flag. But when you choose the enemy flag from the Civil War, I don't know, it raises a couple of questions. But yeah, the guy with the tattoo, I mean, hey, I don't make any policy. And I probably shouldn't and I never served. That's why I'm asking you.
[01:04:42] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Well, you got my answer. What I'm suggesting to you is that an awful lot of that is being overplayed at this point because it's to the benefit of a particular political perspective. And they made good use of it. It was happening well before what happened on January 6th. It's going to happen again. There's going to be people who are going to object to tearing down statues and things like that. I was stunned with the lack of history, they call it the 1619 movement. Well, in fact there were lots of African slaves in America well, before 1619. I don't know which history prop they use to call that and talk about that, but they're wrong.
[01:05:17]If you look at what transpires in terms of slavery in America, right from the get-go even people like Thomas Jefferson knew it was wrong. That's why he crafted the declaration the way he did. And he knew he was going to take grief for it in Virginia. Virginia had not the most slaves, but pretty near it. And if you look at what transpires in the process of getting rid of slavery, the number one state with casualties is Virginia on both sides. And so I can understand the perspective of a family who lost loved ones, even though none of my family was even in this country yet. Not on my Irish side or my Angle side.
[01:05:53] I can understand how, if you look at the history of those fights and we live right in the midst of it, I mean, Winchester, Virginia is not only the place where Daniel Morgan launched his long walk to Boston for George Washington in the American revolution. It's also a city that changed five times in the civil war. And so if you don't have a Memorial at some point, who are these people fighting because there's no memorials to the bad guys. And all around us within 25 miles, you've got battlefields that are enormous. Gettysburg is a little bit further, but not much. And if you look at our distortion of why people fought, granted the war began over the whole issue, they knew from the day that Lincoln was elected, they knew the outcome, right? Which is why Virginia is one of the last States to succeed. And you have people collecting up arms and trying to manufacture arms in the South, Alabama and Mississippi because they knew that it was going to transform your society completely.
[01:06:49] I'm not justifying slavery. Don't get me wrong. I'm just saying that what we're being taught today is not necessarily the whole truth. And when you see the Marine Corps, there are no Confederate flags on base. Got it. Carry out your orders. But I asked the question about that kid with the Confederate flag who may have gotten it at 15 or 16 years of age, should we have thrown him out of the service?
[01:07:09] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, it doesn't seem like that's a good idea, right?
[01:07:11] Lt. Col. Oliver North: It doesn't to me, but they are checking people from their tattoos now.
[01:07:15] Jordan Harbinger: The way I kind of look at that is, look, if it's not a freaking swastika or an SS symbol or something like that, it probably is just some dumb kid crap. Again, that's sort of above my pay grade. There's a reason I don't make military policy.
[01:07:27] I'm curious to know with the benefit of 30 years plus hindsight, and after a both Gulf Wars, 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, ISIS, do you think that if America had engaged in more Iran-Contra type deals, would we have headed off the terrorist threat that's defined the last two decades? Or do you feel more like American imperialism might have contributed more to it?
[01:07:49] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Radical jihadism and radical Islamists, it's not simply a theocratic perspective. It's a social, judicial, military, and societal structure. It's not just, he's a Roman Catholic and that's a Presbyterian and that's an Anglican, and that's a Baptist. It's not that at all. It's our way or the highway. And so I have no idea what motivated this gunman out there in Colorado. I have absolutely no doubt of the benefit that they're going to take from it politically in terms of banning certain types of firearms and all the rest of it. But the reality of it is there are people who hate us simply for being Americans. Okay. I've seen a bunch of them and I think there's a whole bunch more out there. There's one to take advantage of our weaknesses and we do have weaknesses.
[01:08:35] One of the things that happened in Anchorage was the Communist Chinese equivalent of the secretary of state pointing his finger at American representatives saying, "You've got black lives matter issues so don't tell us about human rights." It's never going to be a perfect world. It's not going to be kind of situation where weakness is going to prevail. It's not going to be the kind of situation where we're going to gain friends by being a kinder, gentler kind of people. Ronald Reagan's line was peace through strength. And he was absolutely right. He prevented a major war in the Soviet Union. That he had to take a step back and look at it and say, "We're not going to win this one.' We're up against adversaries in places like Iran and perhaps in other Muslim countries who don't care about the outcome for their people they are bound and determined to carry out their vision of a prophecy that calls for the eradication of Jews, Gentiles, infidels, and non-believers. And I've studied enough of it to realize some of those folks are never going to be our friends.
[01:09:38] One of the reasons I became such an advocate for getting the interpreters out, if we're going to bring our interpreters home with us. And unfortunately, we didn't do that. And so many of those interpreters have been killed or their families have been butchered, those kinds of things. I mean, I walked over the mass graves that ISIS had created in Northern Syria and then Western Kurdistan. It's absolutely horrendous. I saw nothing like that in the wars that I was in, in which I was a participant. And I look at that Jordan and say, "No one's going to stop doing those kinds of things because we're too weak." If you look back at Soleimani's demise. Soleimani was the head of the Islamic revolutionary guards called Quds Force, which was their terrorism arm. He built the Hezbollah movements in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, and in what is going to ultimately happen down in the coast of Yemen. I look at those kinds of things and say to myself, "Was there anything we could do to be nice to this guy or make him like us?" No, he was totally committed. And of course, the president took him sufferable grief from all kinds of people for killing him. And yet he was out killing Americans every time he had a chance.
[01:10:43] And so my experience in life has led me to believe that there are some things I can change and some things I can't. And what I can do for my 18 grandkids is I can be an example of a Christian husband, father, grandfather, brother, son ought to behave. That's what I try to do. At the end of my days, I wanted to put on the back, I've got a little spot picked out at Arlington because I got enough medals to get there. And that's the criteria that they made. I didn't make them. It's the rules. I don't want to know all the medals and all the battles on the back. I want from Paul's second letter to Timothy, "He showed us how to fight the good fight, how to finish the race, and how to keep the faith." If I can do that, I have accomplished my mission.
[01:11:25] Jordan Harbinger: Well, this was fun. Thank you so much. I hope it was a bit more enjoyable than your congressional testimony.
[01:11:32] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Unlike, unlike, Howell Heflin was — I don't know what was going through his head, but at one point he put up on a screen check that I had signed, made out — and I'm making up the name of it. Something like Lily's lingerie. And of course, our six year old daughter and Betsy, thank God, was there that day, because if this had happened on the first day, I would not have known the answer. He's, "I want to know Colonel," with big fat jowls, "You're looking at that check up there and named to Lily's Lingerie, where you buying undies for your girlfriend." And Betsy, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, "No, Senator because my wife just reminded me. That was for our little six-year-old daughter's leotards for her dancing lessons."
[01:12:14] Jordan Harbinger: This is the prosecutor thinking, "I've got him dead to rights in front of his wife." I assumed he just sat back down after that and didn't say anything.
[01:12:21] Lt. Col. Oliver North: He never came back into the hearings. What you saw was five days of daytime hearings. They went on until nine or 10, 11 o'clock at night when the top secret quarters of employees, over a total of nine days. That was a long, hot summer.
[01:12:35] Jordan Harbinger: Jeez.
[01:12:36] Lt. Col. Oliver North: I had no idea what was happening outside until we came out and saw crowds of young people, you know, cheering and things like that, which they will never do again. Congress will never ever call hearings like that again. And if that's the best outcome of what I went through, good. Because they should never do that. They tried it with Kavanaugh and they think they've learned their lesson, but they didn't
[01:12:57] Jordan Harbinger: Oliver North. Thank you so much for doing the show. I really appreciate it.
[01:13:00] Lt. Col. Oliver North: My pleasure, Jordan. Next time you're in this neck of the woods, my neck of the woods, goes from Georgia to Washington DC, come see me.
[01:13:08] Jordan Harbinger: I would like that. Thank you very much. Thank you for your service and for your time today.
[01:13:12] Lt. Col. Oliver North: Pray for our country, buddy. Thank you.
[01:13:15] Jordan Harbinger: I've got some thoughts on this episode, but before I get into that, here's a trailer from my interview with Academy Award winner, Matthew McConaughey.
[01:13:23] Did you just kind of like walk down and get a coffee one day? And everyone's like, "Oh, hey guy, I see her regularly." And then the next time it was like, "That's the guy from A Time to Kill."
[01:13:31] Lt. Col. Oliver North: It wasn't coffee. It was a tuna sandwich and it inverted. I mean, it went from 400 people in the promenade, 395 minding their own business, five of them looking at me to 395 staring at me, five weren't. The world became a mirror. Notice right there immediately. Oh, I don't meet strangers anymore. Who am I when I'm being and told I can kind of be whoever I want to be. And I was 23, 24. You know, you can engineer GreenLights for your future by the choices and responsibilities you take today, they can give you more freedom tomorrow, but you don't do the work. You don't get the freedom.
[01:14:04] Jordan Harbinger: For more, including how Matthew McConaughey makes life-altering career decisions, check out episode 455 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:14:14] All right. Well, there was a lot in here. I'm not so sure about that Siberian woman comment. Look, that was a joke, that flopped, it was definitely something. I'm tempted to link to a Siberian woman picture or website in the show notes. But I think we all know that you can't really sort of blanket judgment that — whatever. I'm just going to leave that right there.
[01:14:31] I enjoyed this one, but it was challenging. Oliver North has a lifetime of media experience and some of it was quite adversarial. So this conversation while very cordial, I think he's used to people maybe jumping down his throat. Not really sure. He got a little resistant there, a little defensive. Well, he acquainted or seemed to equate the BLM protests with the Capitol riots. You know, I wish I'd asked him if he thought that both sides were wrong or if he thought that both sides were right. We can't really have it both ways, can we? I got the old redirect there a few times, right? I was trying to ask and then it was like, let me doge it. Let me go over here.
[01:15:02] Also for the record, there's no evidence that COVID-19 is a bio weapon. That is a QAnon-esque type of theory. I'm not saying he got it from QAnon or anything, but they tend to echo that stuff. Hydroxychloroquine, not useful against COVID, that's also kind of a QAnon type thing. Again, I'm not saying he got it from QAnon. I'm just saying those are the same beliefs. I hope that it's just a coincidence and he's not wrapped up in that. But look on the whole, I'm glad I did this interview. There's some — a little disappointing about him dodging the Confederate flag question and then accusing me dodging some irrelevant question about military policy and tattoos. I don't know. Am I too sensitive about that? Did he think that would just go unnoticed? I don't know. Maybe a lot of interviewers just aren't paying attention.
[01:15:42] Super nice guy, overall. I'm really glad I got a chance to have this conversation with him. I guess I'm a bit surprised by some of this, perhaps I shouldn't be. Now, you all know why I stay off politics on the show. It's a freaking minefield, but I will say this he's been married 52-plus years. He's got 18 grandkids. Good for him. That is impressive. And I thank him for his service and his time here today as well.
[01:16:03] Links to Oliver North's website and some of his books will be in the show notes. Please use our website links if you buy any books from any guest here on the show that helps support this show. Worksheets for the episode are in the show notes. Transcripts in the show notes. There's a video of this interview going up on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or hit me on LinkedIn. I always love connecting with you there.
[01:16:27] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships, using systems and tiny habits over at our Six-Minute Networking course. That course is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Please dig the well before you get thirsty. That's how you do it. Most of the guests on the show, they do subscribe to the course. They contribute to the course. Come join us, you'll be in great company.
[01:16:47] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. I couldn't do this show without them. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's into the right or into the left or into the politics or not into the politics, but you think there's something there for them, please do share this episode with them. Hopefully, you find something great in every episode. Please do share the show with those you care about. You know, if you know a boomer, share this episode with them, they will know Oliver North. Trust me. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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