Next week, President Donald J. Trump will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to General Jack Keane. This prestigious award is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, which may be awarded by the President to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Fox News Radio’s Guy Benson sat down with General Jack Keane for his first public statement
Guy Benson: A brand new hour on the Guy Benson Show. I’m Guy Benson live in Washington, D.C., the Web site here, Guy Benson show dot com. Check it out. Our exclusive interview with the U.S. surgeon general will be posted shortly at Guy Benson Show dot com. You can also just subscribe to the full podcast, which is free. That’s also available on i-Tunes. Just a quick update. The Dow is skyrocketing. It is up well over 1000 points now, over 11 hundred points today. It’s been a bumpy roller coaster ride for the markets over the last two weeks with coronavirus and political questions and on the politics piece. We will, of course, return to Super Tuesday with more in-depth analysis and commentary on that. But before we delve back into the world of politics, I want to step into foreign policy and national security. We talked yesterday with Stephen Hayes about this alleged peace deal between the United States and the Taliban in Afghanistan and all of the potential pitfalls there. It is fraught with risk. But President Trump campaigned on ending the war in Afghanistan. His administration is trying to do so, but it’s not going necessarily all that smoothly so far. Joining me now to discuss that issue and more is General Jack Keane, retired four star general chairman of the Institute for the Study of War and Fox News senior strategic analyst. General, it’s great to have you back.
Gen. Keane: Yes. Delighted to be here always.
Guy Benson: General, before we get to Afghanistan and the Taliban issue? Just I have to ask you a personal question. If you’ll just indulge me. I believe this is the first interview that you’ve given since an announcement was made public by the White House. I saw on Twitter The New York Times reporting that the White House announcing earlier today that President Trump will award you with the Presidential Medal of Freedom next week, calling you, quote, a well-respected foreign policy and national security expert. The White House statement adding General Keane has devoted his life to keeping America safe and strong. I’m going now directly to the office of the press secretary and their press release, quote, Next week, President Donald J. Trump will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to General Jack Keane. This prestigious award is the nation’s highest civilian honor, which may be awarded by the president to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. General, just your reaction to this incredible honor that will be bestowed upon you by the president in a matter of days?
Gen. Keane: Well, when the president called to tell me about this a number of months ago, I was to be frank about it. Shocked and overwhelmed by it. No one expects that honor like this. And I frankly, I told him I don’t think I deserve it. To Be honest with it. And he said, you know, someone told me you were going to say that. But like any award that you received, they are very humbling experiences you just immediately think of. You know, all the people that really helped you on the way to do whatever you were trying to do with your life. And so I’m no different than anybody else out there. We’ll have a lot of love in my life. A lot of purpose and meaning associated with trying to protect this country as a soldier and then trying to also advocate for the security of the country. As a retired general officer and, you know, foreign policy and national security analysts. It’s overwhelming, to be honest with you.
Guy Benson: And it has to be really fulfilling and gratifying. I mean, if you take a moment and step back to take stock or take inventory of your life and to see the White House put out a press release that says that you’re a well respected foreign policy and national security expert who has devoted your life to keeping America safe and strong, that has to that has to move you. I mean, you have served this country. You devoted your life to the service of this country and to have this level of recognition in this extremely high profile way. That’s gotta stir something and really feel like some decisions that you made very early on in your life were exactly the right ones for you and for the country.
Gen. Keane: You know, I had 16 years a Catholic education brought up in a working class family. Father was a World War 2, Marine. I lived on a low income city housing project in my formative years in New York City. But, you know, the values of that education and my working class parents. I attended a Jesuit school by the name of Fordham And the under the current in the school was not that your focus should be on public service, but you should have a sense of giving things back, you know, and finding ways to do that. And I had an aptitude for the military that I found that as a result of ROTC and when I was leaving college, I was married and I thought there was a possibility I could make a career out of it. I volunteered for Vietnam after the war. I went and came, was confronted with the seriousness of human life and what it means to all of us. And I became a a training zealot as a result of the enormously respectful of human life, given the fact that I was involved in an enterprise that was taking human lives. And as a result of that, it be it was a major turning point in my life. It changed me completely, changed my values, but it changed me in terms of my dedication, my sense of purpose, my determination. And I was just very determined to make certain that the organizations that I was had responsibility for were truly prepared for combat. So I demanded very high standards of the people in the organization training them very hard and spent a lifetime of service associated with heroes, you know, and it propelled me forward and just kept my head down and tried to do the best, the best I could. When I left government service, the next major launch point for me before I left government service was 9/11. So it was another war and I left government service. My wife was ill and I left largely because of that. But for the remaining years, for the next 16 years, I was driven by having been in the Pentagon on 9/11 and lost 85 teammates. So I saw up close what this war was about. It became personal for me and I never let go of that emotion that I felt about that loss of life. Then it drove me to stay involved in national security in a way that I never actually imagined I would do. As a retired officer, by all accounts, 16 years later and I’m still engaged.
Guy Benson: Yeah, and very influential in your current perch in the media. And it’s just interesting that you would say that you kept your head down. You kept your head down all the way to the rank of a Four-Star General. And I just want to say before we move on to the issues of the day and you are an expert, which is why we have you on here at this show, we are huge fans of yours. We respect you immensely, given what you just said and just reminded us of your biography and your background. We just want to thank you always for your service to this country and just issue our most heartfelt congratulations for this honor. Again, if you just joined us, the Presidential Medal of Freedom will be bestowed next week upon our guest. General Jack Keane by the president of the United States. And he might not think it’s deserved, but we certainly do. So congratulations and thank you, General Keane.