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Eric and Eliot Look at the Bright Side

February 15, 2024
Notes
Transcript
Counter to type Eric welcomes Eliot back from his travels with a discussion of the positive things going on in the world. They discuss the strong response of the European allies to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including the German Zeitenwende and the increase in German defense spending, they discuss the Franco-American relationship and the fact that France has emerged over the past twenty years as a much stronger and capable ally, the discuss the Ukrainian naval performance in the Black Sea and the return of grain exports to almost pre-war levels, they talk about Tucker Carlson beclowning himself in his interview with Putin and that latter’s unconcealed contempt for his interviewer, they talk about the PRC’s muted reaction to President Lai’s election in Taiwan and the seeming slight and perhaps transitory improvement in US-China relations, as well as the good work of the Biden Administration in strengthening the links among U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific. They discuss the indictment of Jair Bolsonaro and the success of Ecuador’s President in fighting drug cartels and gangs. Eric also apologizes to Foreign Affairs editor Daniel Kurtz-Phelan for misattributing an article to his journal that actually appeared on the Council of Foreign Relations website.

https://www.ft.com/content/51cf54ed-55df-4369-bdef-6f98be17d26c

sonofadiplomat.substack.com

https://www.sgdsn.gouv.fr/files/files/20240212_NP_SGDSN_VIGINUM_PORTAL-KOMBAT-NETWORK_ENG_VF.pdf

Shield of the Republic is a Bulwark podcast co-sponsored by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.

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
    0:00:06

    Welcome to shield of the Republic of Podcast sponsored by the Bulwark and the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia and dedicated to the proposition articulated by Walter Lipman during World War two that a strong and balanced foreign policy is the necessary shield of our Democratic Republic. Eric Edelman, counsellor at the Center Chiefican budgetary assessments, a Bulwark contributor, and a non resident fellow at the Miller Center, and I am rejoined by my partner In all things strategicory, Elliot Cohen, the Robert E Ozgood professor of strategy at the Johns Hopkins School Advanced International Studies. The Charlie Sykes chair of strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Elliott, great to have you back.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:50

    Well, it’s good to be back. You know, Eric, I usually look forward with great anticipation to our sessions together with the the fascinating, guests, the insights into our difficult world. But I have to say, I I face today’s subject with unusual trepidation. This is gonna be hard.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:14

    Well, today is going to be the positivity show. I mean, usually shielded the republic is a dark corner of the podcast universe. Shoeing over all the terrible things that are happening in the world. Some of our shows have had titles like the world is going to hell. And and those have been the sunnier and more optimistic shows.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:37

    So today, we’re gonna focus on the things that are positive that have happened in the world. Before we get there though, I do, I do wanna clear up one thing, you know, occasionally. I don’t know about you Elliot, but I make mistakes. That’s why I have erasers on my pencils and alert listener Daniel Kurz Fallon, who is the editor of Foreign Affairs, has pointed out to me that, when, you and I were talking not long ago about an article by Tom Graham that, had talked about Ukrainian corruption and had to get a response from five former ambassadors, Ukraine attributed it to foreign affairs. That was incorrect.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:22

    Silly me. It was actually the Council on Foreign Relations website. And even though Foreign Affairs is the flagship publication of the Council Foreign Relations, Dan has pointed out that he does not actually have control. Editorial control over the CFR website. So apologies to to Dan.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:42

    I would point out, by the way, that Dan has written quite excellent book on the Marshall mission to China and the origins of US China policy. So maybe we can use this you know, opportunity to support him to come on a future episode of of, shield the Republic to talk about China. That would be fun. But onward to positivity. So I will, you know, throw it to you.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:04

    What is the, you know, first positive thing you can say about the world as it sits today.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:10

    Oh, so one thing I was gonna have just say right now is it’s very nice to work with the gentleman, and, that was graciously done. Dentistry, you know, if you think about it, I mean, you know, when people romanticize, the nineteenth century, the eighteenth century, and law lord knows the middle ages. I don’t think they think about dentistry. And, you know, dentistry has gotten a hell of a lot better, even than it was when I was a kid. I mean, when I was a kid, if you had a filling, You know, the drill was really slow and, you know, made a terrible noise.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:47

    Now, you know, they dull the pain. They moved quickly. So I’m that’s a good thing. I’ll be alone. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:52

    It was like the the dentistry was like the opening scene in the movie marathon man with sir Lawrence Olivia and dustin off. Is
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:58

    it safe?
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:59

    Yes. Right. The drill just digging in with no, you know, no vacation yet.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:05

    If you if you ever see any of the old drills, they, they were driven with a foot pedal. So, like, we don’t wanna think about that. Let so let’s talk about happier things. So they’re actually, I I’m in all seriousness. I’m glad we’re doing this because there’s there is a lot of good news out there.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:24

    In a variety of ways. One thing I’ll I’ll just mention to start off with is I if you would ask me two and a half years ago, three years ago, what the European reaction would be to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I would have given you a pretty dismal forecast. You know, some outrage, protests, sanctions, which would then kinda melt away, and nothing much. And I think when we step back and look at it, the impact on Europe has the the rather the European reaction with exceptions, but by and large is pretty formidable.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:00

    And the Germans have in a slow and halting way, but nonetheless in a serious way, committed to, rearmament. They are putting some resource behind that. More importantly, they’re they’ve been aiding the Ukrainians in a large scale. You have Finland and Sweden joining, NATO. You have a kind of staunchedness in the part of the Poles and the Baltic states Czech Republic, which is impressive.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:26

    The Brits in a way have taken a leadership role again. And even some of the political leaders that people would have had concerns about, like, prime minister Maloney in Italy, they’ve really been quite good. And so I think that’s there’s, there’s something to reflect there, which has to do with some of the underlying strengths of, of democracy by no means perfect, but it but it is good news, and I think we should recognize it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:54

    You know, I agree. Even, you know, some problematic political figures in Europe. You mentioned, prime minister Maloney in in Italy who has been a, I think a pleasant surprise to a lot of people who are worried about the rise of populist nationalism in Europe when she came to power as as you say has been very staunch as a defender of NATO and Ukraine. Even, Slovakiaak prime minister Robert Fito, who made some very negative noises when he was first elected went to Ukraine, made very positive, positive statements. It the Germans just to pick up on your point.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:29

    There’s a terrific Financial Times article today about and the, additional resources you were talking about and the kind of investments the Germans are making in defense, more leopard tanks, more patriot batteries, more, more PA, aircraft, all sorts of of things that contribute to the common defense. I don’t wanna go to the negative side. You know, there will we’ll have to see what happens when those extra budgetary resources that they’ve put into place expire in a couple of years, but off to a good start.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:02

    Let’s not go there. Let’s not go there.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:04

    I’m not going here. It’s off to a good start. Off to a good start. And, you know, our own Congress, the Senate, past seventy to twenty nine, the ninety, ninety six billion dollar aid bill for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan jump starting our own defense industrial base. So, you know, positive movement there as well.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:24

    Yeah. I I think I think that those are all serious positives. Let me throw out another big positive, and then, maybe you could run with it. I think until a couple of years ago, there was an awful lot of concern about the, I don’t like the phrase, but I’ll use it anyway. The soft power of the Chinese example, you know, the author authoritarian state, the dictatorship, really, that was able to just year on year, give ten percent growth.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:57

    And, and I I think it was having a real effect. And, of course, you know, all that was pernicious because it it came with, authoritarianism and with surveillance technology and repression and and all that. And while I don’t, you know, wish ill on, anybody well, on on the vast majority of the people who live in China. The fact that the Chinese economy is in difficult trades because of things which are actually quite attributable to the Chinese style of governance. That has take that has tarnished that model considerably, whereas, conversely, the American economy with some exceptions including the inflation rate is actually doing pretty well.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:45

    And I think the, you know, it’s really important that people not get the idea, which they did get in the thirties that the, you know, the liberal democracies limited government, rule of law, all that can’t deliver economic growth. And, you know, it’s good that, the idea of competing model, I think, has been, has been dealt a a pretty hard knock.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:13

    Alright. I agree with that. And, you know, even, Larry Cudlow, former economic adviser to president Trump and persistent presence on Fox Business Channel, has said that, you know, the American economy is doing very well. The US economy is leading the world in recovering essentially from the ravages of of the COVID, on on the international economy. So That is all to the good.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:40

    I would say while we’re on the subject of China, the other thing that is good is that The election result in Taiwan, I think, came out pretty well in the sense president Li was elected. You got a a slightly different result in the legislative elections, but that seems to have calmed PRC fears about the imminence of of Taiwanese independence, and you haven’t had the very harsh kind of reaction. That you might have expected into a lie, victory based on the rhetoric before the fact. And in fact, Jake Sullivan has had his meeting with with Wang Yi and and, you know, US China relations seem to be a little bit more, you know, in a a slightly better place. I I wouldn’t wanna overplay that, but, given everything else that’s going on in the world, it’s probably not a bad thing to have a little bit of stability in that in that relationship for the moment.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:42

    Yeah. No. I mean, I I I will say that I’m, There are always some things that people like to hyperventilate about, and, the election was one of them. You know, my strong impression to include from having met him. Was a prison.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:57

    I was he he wasn’t gonna go saying really stupid things that were gonna provoke the Chinese. I mean, they They know where they are physically. They know, what the Chinese military buildup is like. They know what some of the hesitations of the United States are like. So I I thought, I was not entirely surprised by that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:17

    I’ll just match it with a kind of a parallel thing. It seemed to me as the replacement of General’s illusiony, by General Seriski, and bringing a new team in, in Ukraine. And, you know, there was a, again, a lot of hyperventilation about you know, how what a terrible thing it is replacing General’s illusion. It’s not, you know, the fuss died down within the week. And for good reason, because, sir, you know, his delusion is a formidable figure.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:47

    Sersky is a very formidable figure in a somewhat different way with different background. And a new leadership team. And I, you know, there may be a lesson, I I suppose I’ll take a lesson for myself even because I I may not hyperventilate about those things, but I may hyperventilate about other things. And I I think it was Colin Paulo or, I’m sure it’s many people. Who’ve said, you know, things are never as good as you think, and they’re never as bad as you think.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:14

    Now that’s most of the time. Sometimes they are as bad as you think, but we’re gonna stay with the positive.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:20

    Yeah. Well, I mean, the other positive development in Ukraine is the Ukrainiansians appear to have, taken out another Russian landing ship from the Bulwark Sea fleet. I I don’t know that we’ve completely verified that, but that appears to be the case. And it it’s another example of one of the sort of unsung successes of the so called failed counter offensive, which has been the on the naval front. We talked about this with Phil breed love, you know, the successful forcing of the Bulwark Sea fleet out of most of, western and southern crimea and, you know, up towards, Novo Racis in in Russia.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:02

    Yeah. I, you know, actually, I think it’s it’s quite a big deal. So I was digging into this a bit. First, this is a pretty big ship. It’s like, I think three hundred ninety six feet long.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:12

    It’s one of nine landing ships in the Black Sea fleet, of which the Ukrainians have now sunk five. So they’ve sunk most of the landing ships. And the reason why they’re important is not because the the Russians, after the initial phase, we’re really thinking hard about, amphibious landings is because they’re using them to run ammunition. To, Russian forces in Southern Ukraine. You know, they’re they’re worried about the vulnerability of the bridge, they are building a, railroad that’s closer in to the coast, but that is vulnerable to interruption.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:47

    If if and when we give them the right weapons, which is a another matter. Although there have been reports that the Ukrainians have received and even used the ground launched small diameter bomb, which again would be a weapon with extended range. That that would be a that would be a very good thing. So it’s it is a remarkable success, and it’s a tribute among other things to Ukrainian technological prowess, you know, there’s so much emphasis on you know, what the Russians can build and what they have and drones from Ukraine and what have you. I have drones from, Iran rather.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:28

    That I think people have tended to underestimate just how much the Ukrainians have been able to do, and it has kept their grain exports flowing not at pre war levels, but in a very substantial way. So that Very
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:40

    very close to pre pre war levels.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:42

    Yep. Yeah. So that’s that’s That is a a good thing as well, I think.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:48

    Well, and while we’re on the the subject, our intrepid producer, Robert, who who’s sub stack I might add is, you know, focused mostly on the negative events around the world. Particularly
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:05

    is not far far from the Oak. That’s all I can say.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:07

    Yeah. That that he he tends to focus on those things that, you know, the rest of the world is ignoring while we’re all, you know, focused on Ukraine and and and Gaza. But he suggested to us, you know, that the Tucker Carlson interview was really a very positive thing in the sense that it flopped It it was a flop on television in Russia. And it it revealed something, I think. I I have to confess.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:33

    I’ve not watched the entire two hours. I could not forced myself to do it. I have heard from people like our colleague and Applebaum who forced herself to watch the entire two hours of this horrible event. But, in the in the clips that I have watched, one of the things that’s very striking to me as someone who has met with president Putin a couple of times been in the room with him, observed him. And and have been a kind of close observer of his behavior politically over a number of years.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:10

    He could barely conceal his contempt for Tucker Carlson. I mean, it was it was really the the the KGB case officer in in Putin on display, he had clearly read the assessment file, the the FSB has on Tucker Carlson and said, oh, you applied for the CIA, but you weren’t taken because It’s a serious organization for serious people implying, of course, that Tucker Carlson is not a serious person. But but moreover, I think he sees Carlson as a useful idiot and as, in essence, a traitor. And although Putin is perfectly willing to make use of such people, in his heart of hearts, he feels contempt for them as he feels contempt for Russian traders who he tries to kill, and it and people he considers to be traitors, I should say, as opposed to real traitors. But people like Alexei Navalny, the Skripals, people who he feels are have betrayed the motherland.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:13

    He wants to actually kill And so he couldn’t conceal it. It just came pouring out.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:21

    But but that’s, you know, them itself is an interesting thing, isn’t it? Because I mean, if you were a really talented KGB case officer, and this was part of the greater perception management, this information campaign, you would have tried to build Tucker Carlson up. And the fact that he can’t control his contempt or that he was willing to show it, you know, maybe it’s just age, you know, is you and I know all too well. The filters begin to
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:53

    Yeah. Your governor goes away.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:56

    I mean, Yeah. You and I probably aren’t quite as kindly and forbearing with idiots as we once were. But, you know, that in itself is interesting. It it was it was you know, I thought it was generally a kind of a missed opportunity for him, and it it did it’s interesting how how much the reference is to this word. This is Tucker Carlson being a useful idiot.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:21

    That of course, the historical comparison you make is with someone like Walter Durante. Famous New York Times correspondent, in the nineteen thirties, who was basically peddling the stalinist line. And although there are people like that, I mean, Carlson was quite prominent. I think we It it it’s it’s no small matter that he’s no longer at Fox News. I mean, he was really a Oh, yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:52

    Extremely popular figure. I’m sure there are plenty of people watching him now, but but he he was already a diminished figure, and I think he diminished himself more, and that’s a good thing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:04

    Yeah. No. It’s it’s it is, an an excellent thing. Another positive thing. It kind of again in the same vein, the French published a report in the last couple of days, exposing a large Russian disinformation network which, was a very interesting report.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:27

    I think it’s very positive that they have, have done that. And I think it shows that, you know, European vigilance is going up and that democracy to go back to one of your earlier points is is not just sort of, you know, feckless enterprise that is gonna be easy pickings for authoritarians.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:50

    Could could we actually let me leverage that a bit, and, put you on the spot, and let’s talk about the French. Because, one of the, one of the fond memories I have of our service together in government was the way you really took the lead and, was quite a masterful way in rebuilding our ties with the French, after, after the Iraq war. But and maybe you could just reflect a little bit about the French as allies, because I think a lot of Americans, and and non Americans as well, sometimes misjudge this kind of this curious relationship we have with the French, which is always fraught and, not ambiguous, but, profoundly ambivalent. In some ways. Do you wanna say a few words about that?
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:46

    Well, I think, you know, the French are always very prickly. And, you know, you and I both saw that and, and, even as we were together, I think, trying to restitch a relationship that had been seriously frayed by the, by the Iraq war. I mean, you know, we were helped by the fact that, there was a political change in France. There was an election in two thousand seven. Sarco Z came came into power.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:16

    Segalen Hoyal, who was his opponent, a socialist opponent at the time who and who has now totally beclowned herself by sort of being a she’s now been sort of marginalized in French politics as a kind of a apologist for Putin and clueless about what’s going on in Ukraine and so but she actually said, you know, He was an American neocon with a French passport, and that was totally unfair, I think. But there’s no question that, he brought a much more, pro American sort of sensibility to power. He brought France back into the integrated military command of of NATO. At the two thousand eight summit. And, although the French still had not joined the nuclear planning group, and I don’t believe ever it will, you know, their their role in NATO has become much different than it was before when it used to be the outlier the country around whom everybody in NATO had to work to get things done.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:23

    They now are much, you know, better, contributor and to the common defense. And, you know, frankly, in military sense, have really superseded, the Brits. I mean, I don’t wanna go negative here. I don’t wanna this is the positive this is the positivity.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:42

    And even better than the Brits is what you meant to say.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:45

    Yeah. They’ve they’ve they’ve really, you know, I have more military capability to bring to bear when when we need them. And I think if you talk to our colleagues in uniform, they would say the French had been really pretty good allies. They they really held up their own in Afghanistan when they went out Ron DeSantis, it’s it’s very different, than you know, thirty, forty years ago.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:09

    Yeah. I mean, Americans have always had these caricatures of the French. I think one thing that people have often underestimated is the strength of the military and also the intelligence ties, which have been there for a very, very long time. I also say, you know, would say that the French are in some respects quite serious. About defense, not not in all respects.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:29

    I mean, they have a a defense industrial base, set of challenges as well.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:36

    As does everybody in Europe.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:38

    Yeah. They they are serious about nuclear weapons. And I think, you know, that’s something that could be, particularly important if, well,
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:49

    let’s not go negative.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:50

    Well, let’s well, we won’t go negative, but, you know, could be a great thing. We could have, all our European allies armed in the teeth with nuclear weapons. Actually, that’s okay. It’s a little bit hard to make that one entirely positive. I, you know, the other thing is, I I’ve always been fascinated by the history of Frank of American relations there was a book that came out, a number of years ago, called Nendomie, Mountain Kent, the the American enemy, I’m blocking on the name of the author.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:22

    But it’s French. Philip Rosier.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:26

    Yes. I think it’s Philly Proger.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:27

    Yep. No. Philly Broger. And it’s it’s hysterical because, you know, it goes all the way back to the eighteenth century. There’s one hysterical episode in it where Thomas Jefferson, is, you know, our representative in, in Paris, and he he hosts, who’s the French naturalist, Buffon.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:51

    And so there’s this group of French scientists and they’re a bunch of Americans And, Machine Bufon is kind of laying down the law about how the North American climate in is such that, you know, just stunts everything there. So the animals are smaller. And and, Jefferson finally says, okay, let’s test this. Why don’t we all stand up? And, of course, Jefferson was a very tall man, but, you know, all the Americans were taller.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:20

    The refused to accept this So I believe what Jefferson did is he had a a stuffed moose shipped over to show them we’ve got some pretty big animals roaming around the woods. But but the point that I think the more serious point is there has long been, a streak in France that worries about the United States as kind of the model of a where civilization is going in ways they don’t like. Now one of the ways that that manifests itself now is the French will write a lot about the Wookiees’ Wokisme. And now the fact of the matter is I tend to sympathize with them more than I sympathize with a lot of the a lot of people in the United States, but it it is a sort of an underlying aspect to the relationship. And of course, there are always I think somewhat irritated by what remains of the special relationship with with Britain.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:23

    They feel that that’s And then, plus, again, legacies of World War two and so on. But at at the bottom, as you and I both, you know, by personal experience, there’s a lot of wonderful French diplomats, military people, intelligence officers, and and we’re basically on the same side in some quite fundamental ways even when there are differences. And may maybe that can lead to an another thing to be positive about is, so far, at any rate, the basic alliance structure of the United States remains intact. Not everywhere. I mean, they’re, you know, not to be negative, but, I I I am happier about the in the Pacific than I am about Latin America.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:05

    How’s that is way of being positive. But, you know, though, that fundamental asset, I think, remains intact. And I think it’s gonna be hard for any competitor to really match it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:17

    I completely agree with that. I mean, one of the great things about the French just to kind of tie that part of the conversation off a bit. You know, when I was George Schultz special assistant. I remember on one trip to Paris that we had where he was meeting with his French counterpart who I believe was Claude Shea at that point. He came out of the meeting and we were I think we were on the airplane and we were heading back.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:44

    And he said, you know, you can say what you want about the French. You know, there’s sometimes a pain to deal with. He said, but they have a a global view of things.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:57

    Yes.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:58

    And in that sense, they’re sometimes less sort of insular, less, blinkered than, you know, when I have my conversations with the Germans or or even the Brits. And and I I think that’s I think that’s true, you know, and we tend to forget that when we talk about the Indo Pacific of trying to get our European colleagues involved in the Indo Pacific and dealing with China, French have their own very strong tradition of Synology. In fact, the late Andy Marshall, I think would frequently point to some of the French sinologists as providing some of the best analysis China that he saw.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:43

    It it very good Russian is too. Think of, Helen, don’t cows.
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:48

    Yeah. So she kind of towards the end of her life. Yeah, became a became a hopeless apologist for for Putin, but she was a great historian of of Russia and the Soviet union and put her finger on, a lot of its weaknesses that, you know, we exploited that helped, you know, blow the place up and end the cold war. So you’re, you’re certainly right about her in that, that regard. But they’re just, you know, you know, in Indo Pacific, they are in endo Pacific power.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:19

    They have, possessions still in the Pacific, and folks there who elect representatives to the French parliament. You know, France with Camare, and and those people, you know, are that’s sensitive to what the Chinese are doing in the in the Pacific as any of our other, you know, Indo Pacific, allies. So a lot there. I I quite agree to let’s talk a little bit about, the Indo Pacific and our alliances there. One of the things I think the Biden administration has done uncommonly well, is work the alliances in the Indo Pacific.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:59

    And, you know, get, you know, us better aligned with our Australian and Japanese and, Korean allies, bringing the Indians in as part of the the quad, which has been a very useful thing, of course, August. And hopefully if the the if the, eight bill passes the house, there’ll be money there to to boost the submarine industrial base to make good on the August undertakings on submarines, but people tend to neglect pillar two of August. And all the activity that’s going on there in in the defense realm, which is also very, and a lot of goodness in in that as well.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:46

    Yeah. I think that’s true. I don’t know if I I did a an after action review in my, Australia trip. So I I will put it this way. There are things that I could be even happier about with regard to Australia if they were doing some different things, than they’re doing now.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:03

    But but I think your larger point is there. I also think it’s important not to, you know, not not to disregard, you know, South Korean and and Japanese agency in particular. Because, you know, it is very strict that Japanese are rearming in a serious way. I think more importantly, they are redeploying their forces, you know, they used to have most of their forces oriented towards the north in, Hokkaido. Oriented towards, Sarah Longwell.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:34

    They are looking more to the south. They are beginning to invest in the kinds weapon systems that you would need, not just to, you know, defend in a passive way, but to actually throw punches if necessary. They, you know, we one area where I think we have been helping is to ease the Korean Japanese relationship which was historically always fraud. You know, the old days, you talked to the South Koreans, but what did they need a navy for? It wasn’t the Chinese was for the, for the Japanese.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:07

    The South Koreans, I think that’s a very interesting story. I mean, they’ve really cautiously but they’ve nonetheless stepped up because they are a terrific arms manufacturer, and they are willing to do the kinds of things that are really important for us in Ukraine where, you know, they sell us one five five millimeter brands so we can then give ours to the Ukrainians, this kind of ring game that the Germans, I think invented. You know, they are they are making a major contribution to the rearmment of parts of Europe, particularly Poland. I think we’ve mentioned in an earlier podcast, they, totaled a thousand, k two tanks, which are good tanks. And, you know, that’s that’s all ver that’s very significant.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:58

    And I I suspect that those will not be the last Korean tanks and the self propelled artillery pieces and all the rest. That are gonna find their way to Europe. And that that’s good. And, it’s you know, it represents in some ways, the beginning of a knitting together of our European and Asian Alliance systems, which we hadn’t really done and, well, there was some of that in the early cold war, you know, that, the Brits, of course, would show up to fight in Korea, for example. But you know, but, basically, they’ve been two parallel Alliance systems rather than one united one.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:36

    And even with the Indians who are, you know, I think more prickly bunch and who will never consider themselves allies, still, you know, the if you look at the kind of the day to day mechanics of the relationship, the Indians are developing substantial naval power they’re investing in it. They exercise with us. They wanna do things with us. They wanna buy some American military hardware. So with with all the the challenges that India, presents as a partner, there’s progress there too, I would say.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:09

    I agree. And, you know, all too often, you know, when you and I were in government, for instance, and for, I would say most of the decade following. Our relations with the Republic of Korea and Japan were always sort of slightly out of phase when we had a very good government in Japan that wanted to, you know, step up and increase spending on defense and do all the right things. We tended to have one that was not so you know, positively oriented in Korea and vice versa. And so getting everybody sort of lined up is is it’s really a change and it’s it’s it’s, you know, very significant.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:49

    I agree with you.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:50

    Yeah. Well, what about that part of the world which, seems not to produce a whole lot of good news, the Middle East. And, so I’ll put on the table. I think one good thing and, you know, in a picture that is in some other respects, quite dark, which is it is very striking to me that it’s not just that the Arab States have not broken, with the Israelis as a result of domestic pressure over the Gaza war. But they actually seem to be willing to play a constructive role in it now.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:26

    It will remain to be seen whether, for example, you can have the UAE in Saudi Arabia. Egypt Jordan really be you know, contribute to the creation of a a Gaza strip that is not run by Hamas and is not even clear that that’s doable. But it’s still it’s pretty remarkable, and it bears I think it bears reflection and thinking about.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:48

    Well, I agree. I think the most significant thing in that realm that you’ve just mentioned is the fact that the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, clearly still wants to move ahead with normalization between the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Israel, and he wants that in part because he wants the security tie with the United States, and a, you know, a an actual treaty of alliances goes to the issue of knitting our alliances Ron DeSantis strengthening our alliances, which have been one of our competitive strategic advantages vis à vis our adversaries, since nineteen forty eight. And that is extremely, you know, striking to me now. There can be a lot of challenges making that happen. We’re in a we’re in an election year.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:44

    And that’s, you know, every day you go further into the election cycle, the harder everything becomes. I have very distinct memories of commiss rating with you, every night. On the Tanberg, when we were in office back in two thousand and eight, you know, I I think that the normal refrain was please just shoot me now because everything became so so hard. You know, in the election year. And I’m sure they’re going through that now.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:13

    But but still, the fact that that MBS is hot to try is a is a is a good thing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:19

    Yeah. So, that’s probably about as much good news as we get out of the middle so maybe we should
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:25

    But but while we’re on the subject of the election year, Tom Swazzy won New York three yesterday.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:31

    Well, I was gonna say, let’s let’s talk about the United States. Now, it it probably would be pushing it to say, isn’t it a great thing that we’re gonna likely to have two presidential candidates who have a hundred and a century and a half of life experience between the two of them, more than that. But but I think that might be strange credulity a little bit.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:50

    Yeah. I agree. So we don’t wanna go there.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:52

    Yeah. You know, I think the So what’s some of the good news I’ll I’ll throw out? I think one piece of good news is, you know, to the extent that the Republicans have been crazy. They have tended to get punished for it, in the past election cycles. Now we’ll see whether or not that happens here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:17

    I I having said that, I I’m not actually one who believes that the party’s gonna revert to what it was. I I don’t think that’s likely. I I have to say I do, you know, this is a perennial aspiration, and, you know, the experts always say you’re dead wrong to even think about it. But but I have to say, I I do wonder whether there’s potential sometime in the next decade or so for a new party emerging because there’s just so much dissatisfaction with the two parties we’ve got. And, you know, you look at the trend lines that’s it’s really quite striking.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:49

    And there’s it seems to me there’s an opening for another party. But the main thing that that would give me some positive feelings about American politics is, all the stuff that we don’t read in the national papers And that’s, you know, the base of the story of state and local governance. We’re actually, you know, you have both Republican and Democrat mayors and governors running states that are doing kind of okay. I mean, they’re they’re outbursts of lunacy. You know, like the attorney general of, the Wood Texas independent independent Republic of Texas.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:28

    But but by and large, you know, the day to day story is the story of people solving problems, I think, particularly at the municipal level. And, you know, that’s that’s gonna be the next generation of leaders. And I I mean, maybe I’m wrong, but I I think know, starting in twenty twenty eight, you’re gonna you’re gonna be looking at a different generation than the ones we’ve been wrestling with last two rounds.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:55

    Yeah. God, I hope so. Speaking as a septuagenarian, who thinks, you know, those of us who are of a certain age, why they just get the hell off the stage and let younger people, you know, take responsibility for all these things. Look, I think Swazi’s victory, you know, there’s a couple of things. It’s one of the things, you know, that that reflects some of the things you were saying.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:18

    I think it also shows that you know, moderate cent center, you know, center left centrist Democrats can win elections even in circumstances that might not be ideal. I mean, obviously, you know, his district is North Shore of Long Island and and parts of Queens, but everything you see suggests that immigration was the top issue. And the flood of immigrants into New York City, you know, most of them shipped up there by either governor Abbott or, governor Ron DeSantis, but have been straining social services, you know, in the city. There has been some crime that’s resulted from that, in, in some instances, some high profile, highly publicized instances of of crime by, some of the illegal immigrants who who’ve been, you know, shipped up there. And yet, Swazi was able to neutralize that issue to, you know, the snow helped You know, I don’t wanna over interpret all this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:25

    Snow definitely helped kept the Republican turnout down. But, you know, on the whole, it is a I I think a template that a lot of other Democrats ought to look to, you know, as they, you know, gear up for for the fall, and it’s not just Swazzy in New York, because also there were some, state, legislative elections in Pennsylvania, couple of other states where the Democrats have been able to, you know, replicate pretty much the same thing. So, I that’s, I think, all to the good.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:57

    Yeah. You know, you I guess I wonder, with the Democrats too, whether, you know, there is this kind of They have their left wing, which, you and I don’t care for. I I but I wonder whether that wing and what it represents is also losing some steam.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:18

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:19

    And I think I think you see it in, for example, the pushback, which on the whole, I think is pretty constructive. Again, some of the DEA bureaucracies, that have been created, and, you know, companies sort of backing off some of that and people stepping back and thinking about, you know, is this really the way we wanna go? I I also think, you know, along those lines, one of the the things that I find very heartening is, you know, you they’re always they’re countervailing forces begin to arise, and countervailing institutions begin to arise. So, you know, one of Your organization’s I’m very fond of is fire, the foundation for individual rights of expression, which used to be focused on education, but now they they effectively do what the old, American Civil liberties union used to do, which is they actually generally just defend free speech. And, you know, they’ve been they’ve been on a tear, and they’ve been winning, court cases against universities who’ve been some of the worst offenders.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:24

    And I I think there is sort of a general sense that, a lot of this stuff went too far, and there’s a need to kind of pull things back. So some sort of sober middle, or is that too positive even for you?
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:39

    No. I think I I I do think that there’s, you know, a general requellate for look, I think Americans recognize that diversity is actually one of our strengths. But I think, you know, most Americans also don’t wanna have it, you know, imposed on everybody is is, you know, in some kind of self licking ice cream cone bureaucracy that, that, you know, just exists to perpetuate itself by finding you know, constantly instances of, unfairness and inequality. God knows there’s enough unfairness in the world that we don’t have to create bureaucracies to go and and, you know, kind of invented, which is what I think we were doing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:19

    That and there may even be a little bit of movement on the notion that, diversity includes viewpoint diversity.
  • Speaker 1
    0:44:26

    Yes,
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:27

    sir. That’s maybe a that maybe that’s a desirable thing. You know, I, you know, you began the show by talking about our complaints about, you know, venerable institutions that produce magazines and such like. Well, when I look at the New York Times now, I think it’s better than it was say five, ten years ago. I mean, I think there’s a bit more diversity of opinion, or at least they’re aware that that’s that’s an issue, that’s an issue for them.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:02

    I mean, I could be much happier about the Washington Post, but I would end up going negative, and I don’t wanna do that. Although, I I will tell you that I have discovered this is a tremendous source of joy. That, you know, it’s very easy to subscribe online to the daily telegraph. And, you know, I when I read my news first thing in the morning, that’s that’s the one that I end up with because I find myself with a smile on my face. You know, mentally giving the journalists their fist bumps.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:37

    Now that may change if they get sold to the the UAE, but but at the moment, they’re pretty good.
  • Speaker 1
    0:45:45

    I I I won’t disagree with that. I think, are there other areas of the world where we can find, you know, something positive to to say I, you know, I’m I’m trying to think of those areas where Robert has, you know, focused our attention in his substack. I mean, I suppose, the indictment of president Bolsonaro in Brazil for trying to overthrow the government when he lost his election following in the footsteps of Trump. I mean, I I think that’s a good thing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:46:22

    He, while president of Argentina, I mean, he may be a little bit unusual. But I think if there’s anybody who can pull that country forward and kind of break the parentist model, this he’s probably the guy. He’s, I mean, he’s not he is most definitely not stupid. He is, let us say, colorful. But he may turn out to be another political leader who is underestimated, I think, because, you know, he he does seem somewhat buffoonish.
  • Speaker 2
    0:46:53

    I will concede that. But he’s actually quite smart, and he knows what he wants to do, and he does wanna break an economic model that’s taken a country that should by every right be quite well off and really impoverished it over the years.
  • Speaker 1
    0:47:09

    Yes. And and Robert just pointed out to me in the in the chat that in Ecuador, president ofowa has actually done a lot to, you know, repress gangs and drug trafficking without the kind of mass violation of civil rights and and some liberties that we’ve seen for say in in El Salvador where you’ve got a kind of populist, you know, kind of nationalist doing it. And without the damage to democracy that, is visible there.
  • Speaker 2
    0:47:41

    You know, I do think that, I mean, there’s a larger point here, and and that does have to do with with the essential resilience of liberal democracy. Which is particularly in recent years, I think people have tended to underestimate. And while don’t think you should be pollyannaish about it. The fact is there are there are success stories out there, which are quite which are quite impressive. I mean, Ukraine is this incredible success story in in a way of a country that, you know, is it’s fighting for its life, but it’s also fighting for a way of a way of government for a civic conception of citizenship and that’s a, you know, that’s a very good thing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:48:29

    Yeah. I think, and you kind of mentioned this a a bit earlier, Elliot, which is that you know, in our darker moments on this show, when we have talked about the analogies between our current geopolitical circumstance, and some of what Europe faced in the thirties, like, what, twenties and thirties in the interwar period, and you’ve always referred to Zara Steiner’s book, or two books or two massive two volume diplomatic history of that period. One of the volumes correct me if I’m wrong is with the, when the lights went out in Europe or something like that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:09

    There’s the, The first one is the light that failed, and the second is the triumph of the dark.
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:15

    Oh, okay. So there you go. So one of the, one of the you know, light motifs in that period was, as you were saying earlier, you know, liberal democracy is failing you know, autocracy is the wave of the future. It’s capable of getting things done. And that’s very much a narrative that both kind of Putin and G have tried to sell.
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:43

    Putin very explicitly did it, you know, in a op ed he wrote in the New York Times a couple of years ago. Our our failing model and, you know, who are we to impose our model when it was so crappy and doing so much damage. And that’s a lot of what you see in propaganda coming out of both Russia and China. And so, keeping in mind, is success stories of liberal democracy and its ability, its resilience, and its ability to come back, from even, you know, some pretty dire circumstances is very important to keep in front of people.
  • Speaker 2
    0:50:19

    Well, I think, you know, we’ve managed by my counting fifty minutes of positivity. It was hard, but it was worth it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:50:29

    That’s amazing. I hadn’t realized we’d hit the fifty minute mark yet. Positivity.
  • Speaker 2
    0:50:36

    I, you know, I mean, I’m not sure I wanted to try to do this again.
  • Speaker 1
    0:50:40

    Yeah, and I think we should wrap up before my mind, you know, just naturally goes to the dark side.
  • Speaker 2
    0:50:47

    It’s it’s been a struggle all the way through. But it in all seriousness, it it is a good thing to do periodically even for, you know, kind of crusty old codgers like us.
  • Speaker 1
    0:50:58

    Well, I hope our listeners will, you know, rejoin us next week when we will return to our normal dark and gloomy cells. And, I look forward. We’ve got a couple of really terrific guests coming up.
  • Speaker 2
    0:51:14

    Yeah. We really do.
  • Speaker 1
    0:51:16

    And I’m, looking forward to joining you with them and, continuing to hopefully find some positive things as well as the many negatives that we see, from time to time in this
  • Speaker 2
    0:51:28

    show. Absolutely. See you in a bit.