Transcript for Former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen joins 'This Week'
How will trump handle those challenges both domestic and agrod in the new year? Joining me now, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, general mall Mick mullen. Can you characterize the trump presidency? It's been incredibly disruptive. Certainly, unpredictable in many, many ways. What you talked about globally, Martha, certain ly from those who is have been our friends for many years, ask questions about our commitments to them, the region. The ladeship we have exhibited. The institutions we care about. Our enemies. Those that would do us ill seem to be able to take advantage of the uncertainty as well. You mentioned Russia and China. My expectations that will continue to be the case for them as well as Iran and North Korea. Let me tell you what the white house says. H.R. Master says he's been moved out of his comfort zone, as well as others in the white house. Yet his advisers, according to "The New York Times" argue he's blown the cobwebs off decades of foreign policy doctrine. And as he approaches his first anniversary he's learned the realities of the world in which the United States must operate. Do you see that happening at all? Well, certainly, I would say he's -- he's been incredibly disruptive with respect to the institutions. The commitments. The leadership. Where we have been for the last 70 years. I think a big question for us as the American people is whether we continue to support the institutions and all they represent in a world that is chaotic, as you pointed out in the opening. That becomes a fundamental question. Clearly, the president has chose on the try and disrupt and break those up as much as possible. Create a great uncertainty. And in my view, an incredibly dangerous climate exists out there. In that uncertainty. With how this all ends up in -- and one in particular that is -- top of the list is North Korea. We're actually closer in my view to a nuclear war with north Korea and in that region than we have ever been. I don't see how -- I don't see the opportunities to solve this diplomatically at this particular point. I want to drill down on north Korea. I want to go back to a month ago when you were on the show. You said you had concerns with so many zblens the white house and the administration. But that they were seen as providing stability, calmness and reasoned views for the future. Do you think president trump is stable? Yeah, I don't question the stability. I think it's the view. I think I have watched -- secretary Mattis and general Mcmaster and general Kelly on the national security issues over time I think get the president to appoint where he makes a decision that may be counter to his instincts. My concern is how long that actually lasts. And in particular, that the peninsula in North Korea and will he follow through on his rhetoric? Or will we actually be able to get to a situation where it could be solved peacefully? And I'm more inclined to see over time that the rhetoric seems to be where the president is. That will limit the constraining ability that both Jim Mattis and H.R. Mcmaster and John Kelly have. Let me talk about Iran. Protesters out on the street. President trump is tweeting this morning about the protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. The usa is watching very closely for human rights violations. Is that the right response from president trump? As far as you're concerned? Well, I think the focus, there, is incredibly important. Many of us have spoken for years about the oppression that occurs in the Middle East. By many, many governments. Certainly, we have great disagreements with Iran. They're struggling with the growth in their economy they were promised once the sapgss were lifted. Soy think that ach so I think that is the real struggle. What is not clear is how much of a backlash this will create from those who really run that government. The supreme leader as well as the irgc. Think we should be supportive of more freedoms in that country. That didn't work in 2009. Might it work this time? What would be different? I think that the 2009 time frame is very instructive. I think we chose to not be -- as -- supportive as we could have been then. And I hope we can be right now. So that Iran can continue to evolve. They have an incredibly young population. They look to a future that they cannot see. They've been promisechange. And a healthier economy. Protests represent the inability to deliver that so far. I think support of them and their seem absolutely the right thing to do. If the nuclear deal is scrapped, president trump faces another deadline this month. Or next month, rather. Well, I mean, I worry greatly about the fact that the Iranians will bring forth a nuclear weapon capability in that part of the country. They were very close when the deal was struck. They can redevelop it. I think, very rapidly. And, if that -- if we get nuclear weapons proe life rated in that region, not unlike the pacific region. If North Korea is able to sustain its capability. The proliferation of the weapons will engager the region and the globe. I want to turn to north Korea. I have been on some of the carriers over there. The show of force. That never seems to work with them. What is the point of the show of force? Well, I think -- I think it is important to continue to remind the north that we're there. That we will support our allies in the region. South Korea and Japan. And that show of force demonstrates a -- a backdrop if you will of commitment to the region. And it's a verytrong way to message the leadership in Pyongyang. How much he'll respond, I'm not sure. At this particular point. But I wouldn't want to give him any room by not presenting that, Martha. I think it's important to ensure that he knows we're out there and very committed to the stability in that region. And in fact committed to getting to a point where he -- where we denuclearize that peninsula. The key to that, and you mentioned it early -- the key is will China? Will China actually really force the resolution of the issue on that peninsula? What I was going to ask you about. President trump tweeting about China. Very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into north Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen. Does this tell you that China is not helping as much as they should? I think president trump has made China move more than they is in the past. Whether they'll continue to do that is the open question. I think real measure of how this all comes out is whether China will commit to a peaceful resolution here. If they don't, I worry great deal that it's much more likely there will be conflict than a peaceful resolution. Okay. On that, we have to say good-bye and happy new year. Thank you for joining us. Thanks, Martha.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.