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Kori Schake: Rejecting Authoritarianism

December 6, 2022
Notes
Transcript

The protesters in Iran have the wind in their sails, China is no longer likely to overtake the US as the world’s dominant economy, and Ukraine gets to determine when it’s time to negotiate. Kori Schake joins Charlie Sykes on today’s podcast.

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This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:00

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    Get twenty percent off your first set of sheets and free shipping when you use promo code bulwark at bolenbranch dot com. That’s bolen branch, b o l l a n d branch dot com promo code, Bulwark. Welcome to the Bullework Podcast on trolley Sykes. It is Tuesday, which means it is Election Day in Georgia. And as you know, on Election Day, we try to change the focus a little bit opposed to joining the chorus of rank pondetry, which is basically, what, about twelve hours of people speculating about things that they don’t know anything about.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:10

    I think the best way to think about it is and you’ll understand this if you watch any cable television today. It’s like watching people try to ride a bike as slowly as possible. You know, how much can we milk out of this without any information whatsoever? You know what? We’re gonna know a lot more about what happened in Georgia.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:26

    Tomorrow, we’ll have plenty of time to talk about all of the fallout from that. But today, I wanted to focus on some other topics that I will confess that I have felt guilty about neglecting. And we are very, very fortunate to be joined today by Corey Shockey, who’s a senior fellow and director of foreign and defense policies studies at the American Enterprise Institute, Cory. Thank you for joining me today.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:51

    Oh, it is such a pleasure Charlie. I’m such a fan of the Bulwark podcast. I’m so glad you give me the opportunity. Okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:58

    Then you don’t need any, like, trigger warnings about our language warning or anything because you kinda know how we’re going to do this. Obviously, I wanna give a an overview of the whole world No. Not really. We have to talk about what’s going on in China. We have to talk about what’s going on in Ukraine.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:14

    I wanna ask you the chronic question that I always have at the back of my mind, which is how do we know what we know? Who do we believe we’ll get to all that? But I wanna start with the protests in Iran. And this latest story out there that got hyped up over the weekend — Mhmm. — that Iran’s attorney general said the morality police who are the folks in charge of enforcing the Islamic Republic’s stringent dress code that they had been shut down.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:45

    So as the New York Times reports, it would be the first attempt at a concession by the government after nearly three months of protests that have erupted across the country although its likely impact remains unclear, is that true, first of all, what do we make of this report? It is not true. What it looks to me happened is that Western media inaccurately interpreted
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:09

    what the prosecutor general, Mohammed Javed Mon Azeri, said on December third. What was reported was that the morality police have stopped patrolling and that’s not true. They are still patrolling, they are still imposing on women’s security forces are a threat to all of the protesters and the morality police sign the people deciding who gets hassled, who gets arrested, who gets roughed up. What Montesary said was that he seemed surprised people were protesting because after all, the morality police have reduced their patrols in recent months. That is what he was saying was, there’s no basis for you people to be complaining we’ve already done what you’re asking us to do.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:59

    And of course, that is untrue on several counts. First, they have not reduced the patrols. Second, the patrols themselves are no longer all that these protests are about. The protests are about the legitimacy of the government, not just this specific policy. So
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:19

    was this a an effort at disinformation, misinformation, spin by a second tier government official in Iran or was it simply bad translation, bad reporting on the part of the western media?
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:34

    So I honestly don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know Montezary well enough in writing to understand whether he was deliberately trying to mislead people. But I do know that based on the work of the critical threats project, that the government later clarified that reduced morality patrols have been occurring. They’re not ending the program. So
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:02

    I heard a report right before we began this podcast on one of the networks agreeing that this report had been certainly overhyped and was misleading. But also suggesting that if you walk around in Iran today, if you go to the airport, you will see many women walking around uncovered, which suggests that something has changed so that there is perhaps not a conscious concession, but that there has been some change, some some incremental changes as a result of these protests. Is that your sense? I
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:33

    would be surprised because this Supreme Cultural Revolution Council has a big announcement that they’re making on December sixteenth And I see many Iran watchers are expecting that that announcement will be limited, relaxed station of the job policy. I’d be surprised if they rolled it out surreptitiously without making the announcement. Because they’re gonna try and break the back of the protests and doing it as subtly as that observation would suggest doesn’t really sound like the Iranian governments, how they typically do business in this regard?
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:16

    So the protests are continuing today with three days planned any regime strikes and demonstrations, and there are reports of entire commercial districts shut down all across the country So what is your sense? Is it waning or the protests ratcheting up? Have they become a greater threat to the regime than they were, say, two weeks ago? I do
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:36

    think they’ve become a greater threat for two reasons. First, continuing to perpetuate protests After three months, the protesters had the wind in their sails. They are not afraid of security forces anymore. The government is more fearful of the people. So the momentum of persevering this long is giving them strength.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:58

    And the second thing that makes me think they’re an increasing threat to the regime is they’re beginning to organize thirty neighborhood use groups announce formation of an umbrella organization. So, at the start, the protest prospered because they didn’t have a leader or leadership that could be arrested. And now they have such widespread support across the country that they’re beginning to get organized. And I think that will make them even more effective in pressuring the government. Okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:30

    So ostensibly, these protests are about the morality, please, and about, you know, headscarf mandate. It sounds as if the protests would become about something else now, something bigger. What is the impetus now for the protest? Or do you still think it’s just about the hiccups?
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:46

    I don’t think it’s any longer just about the hiccups. I think it’s, you know, the whole boiling cauldron of disinfection in an unfreeze society. It’s the lack of job prospects for young people. It’s the arbitrary nature of repression. It’s the unwillingness going into a second or third generation to perpetuate the revolutionary fervor that the supreme leader and others our demanding of the society.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:19

    It’s the desire for greater connection to the rest of the world. It’s dissatisfaction with Iranian money being spent supporting Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations instead of social programs in Iran itself. It’s all of that tangle of disaffection that authoritarian societies typically don’t know how to deal with, and the Iranian certainly don’t know how to deal with. So
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:50

    how has the Biden administration been handling this? And what should they be doing going forward? Howard Bauchner: So
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:56

    the Biden administration has been, as they say, in the movie, Bull Durham, mastering their cliches. They are saying they support the protesters. The Iranian government should allow people to have representation and to be able to control their government. But Iranian supporters people connected to the Iranian government and wanting to keep it in power are saying is, well, of course, people are free to protest here in this great society. But these have turned into riots.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:29

    This is now a public safety issue, and the government has responsibilities, which is, of course, nonsense. What the Biden administration has done well is to stay far enough away that the protest cannot be claimed to be an American undertaking. And I think that’s especially important in Iran. Won’t
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:53

    they claim that anyway?
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:55

    Yes. But the legitimacy of that argument actually matters. It matters internally in Iran and it matters externally for the kind of support the United States is gonna want for a future Iran going forward. And to keep our allies from blaming us for any negative consequences. Another interesting thing I think the Biden administration has done is acknowledge that there is no possibility of a resuscitation of the Iranian nuclear agreement.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:29

    While the Iranian government is cracking down against peaceful protests. The Iranian were eager to keep these two issues from being linked again, to look more legitimate to their own population. And as though, foreign countries were still dealing with their government. And the Biden administration has at several levels suggested that there’s no possibility of us dealing with the Iranian government while this is going on. So that aids and supports the protesters.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:59

    The third thing that I think both the government is trying to do, but also with incredible Civil society support, American businesses and tech companies are trying to make it safe for Iranians to communicate without the Iranian government being able to listen in and prevent their mobilization. And that’s a really important assistance to protest movements when they are organizing. To give them VPNs, to give them means of communicating around government surveillance and around government restrictions. Well,
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:40

    who’s doing what there? You mentioned VPNs, what other private technology initiatives are helping out in a way? That’s
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:48

    a great question that I ought to be smart enough to know the answer to, but I know the general point that American businesses and agencies are providing VPN access and shielding, but I don’t know more than that. So I was out ahead of my skis. I apologize. The big
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:08

    question I have when we talk about the protests in China and Iran is I’m always trying to calibrate how much of our commentary is wish casting and how much of it is realistic. So for example, when we hear reports about, you know, the threat to the regime in China, the threat to the regime in Iran. And I know those are two separate questions. We’ll get to China in a moment. Is there a mechanism?
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:32

    Any sort of realistic either mechanism or prospect that this, in fact, will result in regime change? Interam? Or is that just Americans spinning a there must be a unicorn somewhere in this in this middle, you know what?
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:49

    Yeah. It’s too soon to tell. I have been pessimistic that the protests would succeed in forcing the regime out of power. And I remain pretty pessimistic. While I wish it were true that they could overthrow the stevo government, The regime seems to be pretty secure in power and to have the full support of the security services.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:15

    And what would need to happen for the regime to fall is I
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:20

    think
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:20

    two things. One of which is possible which is losing religious legitimacy. That is that the clerics denounced the government. Which would be very difficult for the government to recover from. And we saw the power of that rejection during the two thousand nine elections and during crackdowns between men and now the clerics themselves are becoming uncomfortable being associated with the machine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:52

    Mhmm. And that’s a real problem first supreme leader, Khamenei, particularly as we move towards succession planning. He’s old, he’s ill. The regime doesn’t have a legitimacy at what’s dead. That I think is possible.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:06

    What I don’t think is possible is the security services turning on the government. They will continue to arrest torture in prison, peaceful Iranian protesters. And I think as long as that goes on, the regime stays in power. I think
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  • Speaker 2
    0:15:53

    Okay. So
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:55

    let’s switch to China where, again, there was a discussion of, you know, how nervous the regime should be. That regime seems much more stable, much less threatened. And the waves of protests in China seem to have subsided. What’s happening there now and why?
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:10

    I think what is happening is that the government is without making any announcements easing up on the zero COVID policy. Mhmm. They don’t wanna admit that they’re changing policy because president Xi is so closely associated with it. But the Chinese regime is smart enough to understand that they had a ticking time bomb on their hands. And the legitimacy of the regime was going as it has in Iran to be questioned more broadly if they did not fix the specific policy complaints that were driving people out into the streets.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:50

    So Xi Jinping is smarter than supremely accommodate because he’s addressing the original basis of the protests as a way to defang the broader concerns about the legitimacy of the government. So based
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:05

    on reports I’ve seen, police are out in force and there’s little, obviously, resistance. But many of the protesters seem to be avoiding the kinds of calls that really really riled up to communist party like calling for Xi to resign or or for the the party to be overthrown.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:21

    On the
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:22

    other hand, I’m puzzled by the aggressiveness with which the government pushed this zero COVID policy because this is a fundamental violation of the underlying social contract in China
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:34

    isn’t it?
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:34

    Where where the deal is basically, you let the communist be, you know, be in charge and suppress political freedom. In return for which we give you economic growth and the promise of prosperity, and then they turn around, they shut down the economy. So that really was predictable that it would shake that social contract. I
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:54

    think that’s exactly right, Charlie. But that social contract as the Chinese Communist Party leadership well understands is failing anyway. Mhmm. The Chinese economy is no longer growing at stampeding eight or ten percent a year. It’s growing at two to three percent a year.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:15

    So not only are they not going to overtake the United States is the dominant world economy ever, probably. They’re stalled in the middle income trap and they can’t produce the jobs and the increasing wages, not just because it’s zero COVID policy, but they have activated the antibodies against their continued further rise with wolf warrior diplomacy with their aggressiveness towards their neighbors, with the aggressive stealing of intellectual property, not opening their markets, to Western businesses, but requiring Western businesses to open their intellectual property. All of these things have added up. And I think about two or three years ago reached a tipping point that the Chinese officials have to be smart enough to understand So zero COVID may well be a good excuse for shielding visibility into the bigger problem. But the other thing is they thought their vaccines were going to work and they don’t.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:26

    And
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:27

    they tried to get Pfizer and other Western companies to hand over the intellectual property to MnRIA vaccines and Western companies refused. Chinese terms. And so partly, this is, you know, she’s saying, we’re better than the west, because look at we’re going to have zero COVID and then their vaccines don’t deliver and then they’ve got to take more draconian measures and they still can’t figure out, you know, millions of Chinese are gonna die with the opening up of these cities because Elderly people aren’t vaccinated. The vaccines don’t work even for those who are. They don’t want to admit the failure of Chinese technological prowess.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:11

    And buy Western vaccines or ask for donations of Western vaccines. So they have their foot caught in a wolf trap and they don’t appear to know how to get out of the dilemma you rightly post? Well, this
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:25

    is extraordinary. I wanna underline the point you made. If there’s a dramatic difference between the economy, the size of is that is growing at eight percent to nine percent a year and growing at two percent, particularly when you think of the hundreds of millions of people who are still stuck in poverty in China, members of the middle class whose prospects are dim. So I guess the question is, does this raise or lower the likelihood that they will engage in Inventurism? By which I mean Taiwan.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:57

    I guess the the question is, do they need a distraction? Do they need a foreign war? Do they need an enemy? Or Are they going to realize that if they engage in that sort of thing, they will shut themselves off from the world in the markets that will, in fact, really doom any prospect to get back to the eight percent nine percent growth?
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:14

    I think that is exactly the right question. We are having a fisty disagreement about this on the third floor of the American Enterprise Institute’s building — Oh. — with how brands and Michael Beckley coming down on the side that China understands it’s no longer a rising power and the window of opportunity is closing before others recognize that. Mhmm. And the gears begin to mesh for the United States and its allies to get serious about constraining China’s power and revitalizing our ability to fight and win wars across the Pacific.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:55

    And how and Michael conclude from that, that we have a real serious near term China threat. Mhmm. Economist Derek scissors and Orianna Skyler Mastro come down on the other side of the argument. They think that, yes, China is stalling. They don’t disagree with the basic premise, but they think China can install for twenty or thirty years before there’s really a spark that lights revolution.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:28

    And therefore, There’s no immediate precipitation for China to do this, and they probably still have doubts they could succeed. At subjugating Taiwan. And they probably doubt that even more watching the way the west has come together to support Ukraine’s independence. I come down on the hell and Michael’s side of the argument because I think Xi Jinping is the spark. He keeps saying unification with Taiwan is an urgent priority And I feel like the more his legitimacy ruling China comes into question economically, exactly as you suggest to try.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:09

    He’s gonna be looking for other ways to be the man that is greater than Dengsho Pan or MasaiTong. So
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:17

    my sense is that when rising powers cease to be rising powers, there’s a reluctance to acknowledge that. That human beings being human beings, people don’t wake up and say, hey, look at this balance sheet. Things are not going well. Maybe we don’t have this great and glorious destiny any longer. The reality is that this is when many of these folks become the most dangerous because they lash out or they try to reclaim that past score.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:42

    They find a way to jump start it in some sort of a a radical, impulsive way. And so I I guess the question is, How smart are these guys? How prudent are they? Because I think they’ve considered an assumption that we may disagree with them. But that they were rational actors — Yes.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:59

    — and very prudent rational actors. And I guess the question is, do you still think they are? I do
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:06

    think they are, but it’s a very good question and I’m not confident of my judgment, but here’s the logic that takes me to it. As I watch Chinese government behavior in the national security space, the threats they pose in the South China Sea, the intrusions on the territorial or disputed waters of other countries. The way they reacted to the international tribunals decision in favor of the Philippines on contested waters, what the Chinese government has done across the last ten or fifteen years is to move in small incremental changes and be tentative about them so they are reversible, quality wait and see what we do in response. Right? So they started building artificial islands in the South China Sea.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:03

    President Obama in the Rose Garden asked Xi Jinping we don’t want you to turn these into military bases. And Xi Jinping seemed to agree that they were not going to turn them into military bases. Well, now they’re all airfields. Military airfields, and we haven’t done anything about it. And so I think so far the Chinese government while being strategically aggressive has taken small policy changes, waited to see our reaction and when we under reacted to the change, they proceeded with it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:40

    And I haven’t seen anything that persuades me that they are now moving in a much more tactically aggressive direction. And I guess the last thing I would say about this is that My colleague, Dan Blumenthal and Fred Kagan, at AAI are doing a fantastic project that looks at the actual degree of difficulty of China subjugating time on militarily, economically, diplomatically, politically, they’re trying to discern a campaign plan that might be successful in order that we can take policy actions to further make it unlikely. And the two of them have convinced me and I think several others that many of us who worry about the independence Taiwan and the threat that China poses to it, we underestimate the military difficulty of actually getting across a hundred miles of choppy water and making an amphibious landing on the magnitude of the Normandy invasion. So the Chinese military talks test, but this is actually going to be really hard. And the worst outcome for Xi Jinping would be to attempt it and to fail?
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:58

    Well speaking of
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:00

    attempting and failing, this is a perfect segue. Because, of course, they’re also watching what happened with Vladimir Putin and Ukraine where I think the world thought, I certainly thought that that Russia would and it was would be tragic. Of course, but that they would have quickly swallowed up Ukraine because Russia had this massive military. It was very impressive. Ted Cruz used to post videos showing how manly they were in comparison to everybody else in Ukraine is is tiny.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:25

    We didn’t know much about its military forces. G has been closely aligned with Putin. First of all, before we get into what’s going on in Ukraine, what is the nature of that relationship? How are they getting on? How supportive is China of what Vladimir Putin is doing right now?
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:44

    How much confidence they have in in the Russian regime? Yeah, it’s a
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:47

    great question. I think the way to understand the lack of Chinese confidence is on what they are not doing. Mhmm. Russia has asked them for weapons they’re not giving. Chinese state owned banks are not attempting to circumvent sanctions and provide liquidity to Russia.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:06

    That’s huge. If I were Xi Jinping, I would be disappointed that I had hitched my wagon a friendship without limits to Vladimir Putin just before Vladimir Putin showed how bad a deal that is for China, because they get all the political condemnation and what they don’t get is an authoritarian partner that can help challenge the Western led order that Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin do agree needs to come to an end. So, China’s actually especially in their current economic strength, they cannot afford to run afoul of Western sanctions. They could and should be better than they are, the sanctions. And China may have a lot of confidence that we in the West wouldn’t damage our own economies to try and do that to China, an economy we’re we’re much more intertwined with.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:04

    But he’s gotta be wondering about it. And I think that the evidence that he is wondering about it is all of the things Russia’s asking for that China’s not willing to run the risk to give them. Well, how
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:16

    surprised do you think they were? How surprised should we have been by the show of unity that we had in the west after the invasion. Isn’t
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:25

    it beautiful? I think
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:26

    this was something that was not on most people’s dance card watching the revitalization of of NATO and watching the west come together — Mhmm. — so strongly.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:35

    It’s beautiful. And also, I think we should give a lot of credit to the Biden administration. Because after the debacle of our abandonment of Afghanistan — Right. — and the fact that we did not consult or have any concerns about the risks this was opening up for allies who were deployed alongside us in Afghanistan. The Biden administration really stepped up to lead the international effort, continues to lead the international effort in support of Ukraine, and European support would not have come together without American leadership.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:10

    What
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:11

    role did the debacle in Afghanistan play in Vladimir Putin’s decision to go ahead. I mean, he could reasonably look at that and see American, you know, reckless Americans in just array, a weakened decrepit western alliance, did that embolden him? Did that play any factor do you think in his decision to go to war? I
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:31

    honestly don’t know the answer to that, but it’s entirely logical that it would. Because it reinforces the narrative that China and Russia’s leadership have been telling themselves since two thousand four at least. Right? So the mistakes the United States made in Iraq and the costs that brought ourselves and others the two thousand and eight financial crisis, their narrative is the western terminal decline and Afghanistan plays rather strongly into that narrative. But what Ukraine has demonstrated And actually, if we had been paying close attention, even without American leadership after Russia’s invasion and Ukraine in twenty fourteen, that’s when European defense spending started going up.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:28

    That’s when the EU started to think about you know, how to find some kind of agreement between Russia and Ukraine that that brought an end to the violence. You know, which resulted in the Minsk agreements, which were profoundly unfair to Ukraine, but Europe was at least stepping forward and leading with the United States would not. And so there was some evidence in advance of this. And of course, the Biden administration was desperate to restore a sense of, you know, ability competence and leadership on the part of the president of the administration. Because what you can see in the polling about president Biden’s support is it drops precipitously after Afghanistan and it doesn’t really recover.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:16

    So
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:16

    how is it going in Ukraine? I mean, over the weekend, Admiral Haines, the director of NASH internal agents said that Russia’s war and Ukraine is running at a reduced tempo and should you speak at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California and suggested that Ukraine courses. We have greater prospects in coming months. You know, I follow this as closely as I can with I’m I’m afraid to say a certain dose of cynicism in skepticism about what we know and what we don’t know. There’s been tremendous success by Ukraine, but the unknown unknown.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:48

    Hopefully, you can shed some light on all of this. I see all the videos of Ukrainian shooting down, Russian airplanes, and helicopters, but we don’t see the other side of the picture. We do know. That there was this campaign of terror that’s been waged by Russia to shut down and darken Ukraine just in time for winter. I’m trying to imagine what the situation will be a few months from now.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:11

    Of course none of us can know for sure. So again, trying to play chess a little bit what happens after four or five months of this destruction of the infrastructure, this slagging war, European support, the economic price that they’re paying for this. Give me your overall sense of, you know, optimism, pessimism, concern about the war in Ukraine. I
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:36

    am quite optimistic that by next summer Ukraine will have won this war restored the integrity of their internationally recognized borders and force the Russian military out of Ukraine.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:53

    Mhmm. What does winning look like though? Does winning x actually means driving Russia out of all of the occupied territories. Yes. And then doesn’t that require Vladimir Putin or his regime to surrender and acknowledge to feet in some way?
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:09

    Not necessarily. I’ll give you two bad outcomes scenarios. One,
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:15

    the
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:15

    one that I lose sleepover is that as the Russian army is defeated and forced out of Ukrainian territory, Vladimir Putin uses a nuclear strike on the capital of Kiev — Mhmm. — in order to claim that regime change was purpose of the war, and they’ve now achieved it. And therefore, they don’t need an army on the ground in Ukraine. I worry a lot about that outcome. So I’m very pleased that there’s a diplomatic campaign by the Biden administration effectively bringing China and India and other countries on board to warn Russia against crossing the nuclear threshold.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:59

    There’s much more I think they should be doing, and I’d be happy to talk about that, but it’s a little bit of a tangent from the question that you asked. The second bad outcome scenario is Ukraine succeeding at pushing the Russian army out of Ukrainian territory but us continuing to restrict Ukraine’s ability to attack targets in Russia that are attacking Ukraine. And so Putin could be forced out of Ukraine but have the ability to, from Russian territory, continue this terror campaign — Mhmm. — in Ukraine without surrendering or admitting defeat. And I think we ought to be doing more to force Russia to lose and to acknowledge that they cannot achieve their political objectives and we will continue to impose costs on Russia until they surrender their political objectives in Ukraine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:59

    I disagree with the director of National Intelligence. It looks to me like the American Intelligence community and in fact the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Milli, who said last week that there’s no military solution to this problem. Which makes my hair stand on end coming from a senior military officer. There is a military solution and it’s somebody winning and somebody losing. That’s how wars end.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:26

    But I think both of them anticipate that the pace of operation slows down in the winter because they actually have this vision of, you know, armies Like in the American Civil War, going into incampment. And and does nobody remember the battle of the Bulge? Which is fought in December. You know, armies that are committed to a fight are gonna keep fighting. They’re gonna find sabotage.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:58

    They’re gonna find armored mobility. They’re gonna all of the things. And Ukraine continues to pick up ground. They continue to capitalize on what the Russian military is bad at. And bad leadership and bad discipline makes it harder for militaries to operate effectively in the winter.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:21

    That will hurt the Russians a lot more than the Ukrainians. So by keeping the pressure of offensive operations up during the winter, the Ukrainians have the ability to actually press their comparative advantage against the Russians, which is good leadership and good discipline. What’s
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:38

    your view of the pace of western arming of Ukraine? I mean, this was a big drumbeat that we got from a president Zelensky earlier in the year. You need to give us More missiles, you need to give us more air defense. You know, they were they wanted airplanes at a certain point. Clearly, the high Mars have made a big difference our chillery has made a big difference.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:58

    But a lot of questions about why we did not provide the Ukrainians with Patriot missile systems that might have saved in so many lives and prevented so much destruction. What are your thoughts about that? What was the reluctance to provide the Patriot missiles and should we do it now?
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:17

    We absolutely should do it now. I think the White House had one kind of reluctance, which is fear of a catastrophic Ukrainian victory and without knowing what to do with a bitter snarling failed Russia. They hadn’t figured that out and that made them cautious about giving Ukraine all the help Ukraine deserves from us. The Pentagon also had reluctance because patriots, high marks, those things aren’t in such abundance in our own or allied forces that they weren’t gonna have to denude every other thing they’re concerned about. I had the senior Australian defense official tell me that they had been told by the United States government that it will take seven years to replace the American made equipment that Australia has given to Ukraine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:12

    And that’s just flat out unacceptable. Yeah. The right answer
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:16

    isn’t,
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:16

    oh, let’s not give it to the people who are actually fighting a war. We want them to win. And reducing the risk and threat to us by winning it, let’s hedge our bets against other potential futures. The right answer is Let’s let multiyear defense contracts to these firms so they can open up new production lines with confidence that it’s going to be a good business decision. And let’s replace all of our originals so that all of us get to where we ought to be anyway.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:48

    So let’s talk about what’s
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:50

    happening right now today. Russia’s launching another barrage of missiles across Ukraine, knocked out power in several regions. And this occurs after kind of mysterious explosions at two military bases deep inside Russia and including one of the Ukraine said is a staging ground for aircraft attacking Ukraine. It is interesting, obviously, that that the Ukraine has shown a willingness to reach into mother Russia itself. And then you had this interesting publicity stunt where Vladimir Putin drives across the Crimean Bridge that had been severely damaged in a truck bombing back in October, the, you know, reconstruction has been ongoing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:28

    So what is the symbolism of that? I mean, Vladimir Putin trying to say, look, you know, I said I would return. We are not daunted. We are in this. I mean, that certainly
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:40

    I’m Douglas McArthur. Waiting a shorter Well, that
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:42

    was kind of that was the analogy that I was thinking of. Was was this his Douglas MacArthur moment, you know, driving across the bridge in a Mercedes
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:50

    Benz? You know, I am so deeply disappointed. This is the first intelligence failure of the Ukraine war. Why didn’t we know Putin was gonna be on that bridge? And why didn’t the gradients have the ability to attack it while he was?
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:08

    Because that would have solved a whole bunch of problems simultaneously or contributed to the solution of a whole bunch of problems simultaneously. I think you’re exactly right. You know, Putin hasn’t gone to the front. He hasn’t gone to see those Russian soldiers dying in such large numbers. For his recklessness.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:26

    And I think this was intended to be a substitute. He doesn’t want to go see actual soldiers because he doesn’t want to hear soldiers complain about that equipment, bad leadership, what the hell are we doing here anyway?
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:40

    You
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:40

    know, one of the things I learned working for Colin Powell when he was chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, he used to tell me if soldiers aren’t complaining to you, it doesn’t mean they don’t have complaints. It just means they don’t trust you. Mhmm. And given what Russian soldiers are enduring as they lose the war, he would hear it earful from some of them, and he doesn’t wanna hear it, which is part of why he’s loose in the war. So I think you’re exactly right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:07

    It was a big publicity stunt to say, we’re gonna sustain this. And it’s delicious that his message was undercut by a successful sabotage or attack of the Russian base at which the airplanes that have been launching these cruise missile strikes on Ukraine are stationed. Was
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:28

    certainly disappointed that if he was gonna cross the bridge back into Crimea, I figured he’d he’d wanna be bare chested on horseback. You know what I mean? That would be Now that would be a statement. So I saw that you retweeted Michael Weiss. Michael Weiss has been on this podcast who seemed to support the idea that a court of Putin could be less dangerous, not more.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:47

    And I think we’ve talked about this a little bit, but I guess that’s my concern is that is that what how does he react if in fact he is weakened? And there are people in the government who are suggesting that putin is listening to some of these warnings that if he used nukes in any way, that this would create a world of shit for him, And I also thought you retweeted the the French president had an interview with a French journalist and said that he would not tell Ukraine to give up cremia, at least for now, and he compared crimea to Alsace Lorraine. Isn’t that interesting? Well,
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:20

    okay. Tell me with the significance of
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:22

    the business. I actually thought that was interesting as a way of understanding how the French president is thinking about this, that he is comparing Crimea to Alsace Lorraine. Yes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:34

    What I took the comparison to mean was that alces Lorraine was French territory and France considered it so even when Germany captured it. And I took that to me in Crimea is Ukrainian territory. Even though it is in Russian possession at the moment. And all of us shouldn’t pressure Ukraine to give up a part of its country in order to appease aggression. And I think that’s a fabulous message for the president of France to send especially since he has been, you know, back and forth on what the end state of the war should be and seemingly pressing for negotiations disadvantageous to Ukraine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:22

    So I thought that was a very positive sign. And I also think it’s probably instructive that came after his trip to the US and his meetings with the president. I actually think president Biden’s in a really good place on this. And ought to be kicking the chairman of the joint choose a staff for undercutting American policy that Ukraine gets to determine when it’s time to negotiate and the return of all of you credit and territory is the purpose. Well, it’s it’s interesting.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:51

    I mean, you know,
  • Speaker 1
    0:44:52

    you and I are both old enough to remember when the US relationship with France was very fraught. During the Iraq War. And and now, I mean, looking at the body language and listening to the statements, the alliance with France, in regards to Vladimir Putin seems to be as strong as possible. In contrast to the lack of leadership from Germany, as Macron emerged as the leader of the Western Alliance, at least in Americanized, and what do you make of Germany’s sort of pearl clutching hand ring?
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:24

    So I think president Macron is doing what American presidents do when they lose control of Congress, which even though the French parliament is not as powerful as Congress or as independent, his party has lost control of his parliament. And therefore, he is trying to pivot into being a statesman and work on foreign policy — Mhmm. — where he in order to increase his domestic political capital, So very much in Macron’s interest to be cozy with the United States. And I guess the second reason is exactly as you pointed out, that Germany is flailing and Brexit has taken Britain off the chess table And so Macron sees an opportunity to be the great statesman leading Europe — Mhmm. — in time of war.
  • Speaker 2
    0:46:15

    The British are doing fabulous work in Ukraine and deserve a greater leadership role and greater support from the rest of us because Britain’s early actions, even if not in the magnitude of the United States, actually set the standard that all the rest of us had to rush to meet. So they used the smaller scale of their policy choices and their assistance to Ukraine to lead turn the rest of us, and that’s great British leadership. The Germans, you are right, you know, are slowly being dragged to a sensible position. And I see are pretty much there on Ukraine now, but the German chancellor just published an article in Ford Affairs explaining why China is so different than Ukraine, and so we shouldn’t make China an enemy — Mhmm. — etcetera, etcetera.
  • Speaker 2
    0:47:11

    That is replicating the mistakes Germany made towards Russia. Now they are replicating them towards China. And so we have work to do outside of Europe, but inside Europe,
  • Speaker 1
    0:47:24

    Germany is being
  • Speaker 2
    0:47:25

    shamed into doing better, and they begin to do so. The silver lining on German failure belt is the green party, ninety eight percent of green party members, these people are pacifist. Ninety eight percent of them support weapons to Ukraine, helping Ukraine win the war. And so the moral leadership the left in Germany is shaming the government into doing a lot more than it otherwise wanted to do.
  • Speaker 1
    0:48:02

    That’s extra as well as what’s going on on the the far right in Europe. And I don’t claim to understand all the dynamics of it. What I was gonna say, I was, you know, thinking before we were talking about, you know, apprised of the Western Alliance, the role that these smaller countries like Finland and Latvia and governments like Poland, how strong they have been, and they are right there on the front line, and they have been unshakable. But it is interesting. I mean, we’ve had a lot of discussion about Victor Orbon in Hungary being kind of a a bro of Vladimir Putin.
  • Speaker 1
    0:48:33

    But what do we make of the split in the far right sort of hyper nationalist government in Poland, which I think many Americans had been very critical of and yet has been a staunch ally. We have this sort of proto fascist prime minister now in Italy, but she has been stole word on Ukraine. So we have some weird alliances and alignments. Don’t we going on right now?
  • Speaker 2
    0:48:56

    Absolutely. I would add the Swedish government into that — Oh yeah. — in which there was a lot of concern about the nature of the Swedish government And again, they appear to be being within the normal bounds of democratic processes and fully supportive of the transatlantic policy and support of Ukraine. You’re right that Victor Orban and Hungary is you know, it’s probably not inconsequential that there’s a lot of EU money on the table that they can turn their spigots off to that will hurt Hungary’s economy enormously. And — Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:34

    — first of the founder, Diane, the president of a a European council, is playing hardball. She’s actually been fabulous on Ukraine. The EU in general has been incredibly good, both the commission and the council. In, you know, setting a price cap on Russian oil, on the support that they have given to Ukraine, the promises of future support of Ukrainian membership in the European Union. You know, at the end of the day, we may end up next summer with Ukraine having the most modern and resilient energy infrastructure of any country in the west and — That’s something.
  • Speaker 2
    0:50:17

    — help from all of the rest of us to reduce corruption and poor governance in how we all administer the reconstruction projects in Ukraine. And hopefully find a creative way looking at you, Secretary Yellen, to get our hands on this three hundred billion dollars of Russian money that’s in foreign banks in order to help restore what Russia has destroyed in Ukraine. Okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:50:45

    One last question. I promise, because you mentioned this price cap and the EU imposed the sixty dollars per barrel price cap on imports of Russian oil. Zelensky, over the weekend, lashed out at that saying that it was insufficient. He said it’s not a serious decision to set such a limit for Russian prices. Which is quite comfortable for the budget of the terrorist state.
  • Speaker 1
    0:51:04

    So your comments on that and whether you think that the sixty dollar price gap will actually have any positive effect. He doesn’t seem to think so. Well, it’s
  • Speaker 2
    0:51:16

    Zelensky’s job to keep flipping all the rest of us to do more because he is the person who has to deal with dead Ukrainians and freezing Ukrainians and starving Ukrainians. And so he’s not wrong. All of us should be doing more. But to get European countries who are themselves going to have energy shortages this winter to agree to damage themselves and their supplies in order to support Ukraine, that’s not nothing. And, you know, the political science literature is actually pretty good on this subject, which is that free societies are very slow to make international commitments because you have to win the domestic political argument in order to make them.
  • Speaker 2
    0:52:08

    But, free societies are much more enduring in the carrying out of those agreements. Because they have won the domestic political argument at home. And what I think the sixty dollar price cap shows is that Europe is willing to make sacrifices on their own part in order to help Ukraine, and they’re gonna hang in there and keep supporting Ukraine through the winter, and that really matters. I think we ought to end
  • Speaker 1
    0:52:37

    on in this note of optimism, which is rare, but blessedly welcome. In twenty twenty two, Curry Shockey is senior fellow and director of foreign policy and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Corey, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Oh, it
  • Speaker 2
    0:52:53

    was a great pleasure and a really smart conversation. Thank you. And
  • Speaker 1
    0:52:57

    thank you all for listening to today’s Bulwark podcast. I’m Charlie Sykes. We’ll be back tomorrow and we will do this all over again.
  • Speaker 2
    0:53:06

    You’re worried about the economy. Inflation is high. Your paycheck doesn’t cover as much as it used to, and we live under the threat of a looming recession. And sure, you’re doing okay, but you could be doing better.
  • Speaker 1
    0:53:22

    Be Ford anything podcast explains the economy and the market detailing how to make wise choices on the way you spend and invest. A Ford anything talks about
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    0:53:29

    how to avoid common pitfalls how to refine your mental models and how to think about how to think. Make smarter choices and build a better life. Afford anything wherever you listen.
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