The Doorstep: La Chine et la Russie gagnent-elles ? avec Colin Dueck

17 février 2022

À l'approche des élections américaines de mi-mandat de 2022, Colin Dueck, de l'université George Mason, revient s'entretenir avec Nick Gvosdev et Tatiana Serafin, co-animateurs de "Doorstep", sur les opportunités et les défis auxquels l'administration Biden/Harris est confrontée sur la scène internationale. Quelles leçons les États-Unis ont-ils tirées de l'échec de leur retrait d'Afghanistan ? M. Biden peut-il surmonter les divisions en matière de politique étrangère qui transcendent les clivages politiques ? Pourra-t-il le faire à temps pour contrecarrer le partenariat stratégique "sans limites" entre la Russie et la Chine ?

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: Hello, everyone, and welcome to this edition of The Doorstep podcast. I am your co-host, Nikolas Gvosdev, senior fellow at Carnegie Council, phoning in from an undisclosed location.

TATIANA SERAFIN: I hope it's a safe location, Nick.

This is Tatiana Serafin, also a co-host, welcoming today back to The Doorstep Colin Dueck, professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and nonresident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. So excited to have Colin back to review where we are with Biden-Harris and their foreign policy and how it is resonating at the doorstep. Colin is always a special guest.

Before we get to him though, Nick, I want to remind everyone we have a book talk coming up on March 15 at 6:00pm. Go to for more information. The book talk will be with Erich Schwartzel about Hollywood and how Hollywood is controlled by China, of all places. Colin in a minute is going to talk to us about the China factor and the danger from China and how we need to up our game. I very much look forward to that and very much look forward to having you back in the studio, Nick.

Thank you so much for coming back to The Doorstep, Colin. It has been almost a year since you were on. From what we talked about last year to today I think it is going to be so interesting. Last year the topic was assessing Trump's legacy and Biden's foreign policy, and this year the names are the same. Trump is launching Truth Social maybe on Monday. There is a lot of talk about what Biden is doing out in the world because there is so much happening in the world.

Last year, I think at the 60-day mark, we graded how foreign policy was reverting to domestic policy, and we are back now. We have a year's worth of a lot happening in the world, and certainly this week there is a lot of tension. We can start in many, many different places. I do want to talk about Canada and what is going on in Canada with you because you are a native Canadian back in the day.

But let's start though with something bigger because minute by minute the situation changes with the standoff with Moscow over Ukraine. I don't know. I want to hear from you. What do you think about how the Biden team has approached the situation? From your point of view, is the message that they are trying to send to Main Street America working?

I saw a provocative headline a couple of minutes ago on the BBC: "U.S. Kremlin backers seek to undermine Joe Biden." "U.S. Kremlin backers," and I thought, Really? Can you explain to us what is going on in some of the voices who think that Biden shouldn't be going into Ukraine?

COLIN DUECK: Sure, and thanks for having me back. I am delighted to be here.

On the Ukraine crisis, I think the Biden administration is getting some things right—not everything—but I think there has to be a firm response to Putin's threats. Then the question is what exactly to do about it. At times there has been a little bit of mixed messaging: Is a minor incursion okay? What's the definition of a "minor incursion?" That was a little bit of an unforced error.

Of course, a lot of this is just beyond Biden's control. That is one of the things that we're seeing. It's beyond any American's control. Whether the Germans, for example, are willing to step up and take part in a coordinated muscular response is not at all obvious, and that is a trend with Germany going back many years.

I think what you're seeing that is interesting is that in foreign policy now more and more some of these divisions cut across party lines. Whereas 20 years ago it was left vs. right, I think now you are seeing some people in both parties, particularly in Congress, who want a really robust U.S. response to Russia, but you are also seeing a vocal constituency on both left and right that is saying, "Hey, let's cool it," if anything worried about the possibility that this could escalate into a conflict. You see some progressives offering those kinds of warnings. And then of course, on the right you have had some voices—there was a piece in The New York Times a few days ago, I don't know if you saw that, some national conservatives speaking out and saying that really the United States has to be less hawkish on Russia.

If you recall, one of the distinctive things about Trump's message from the start was his argument that the United States should have better relations with Russia. He said this back in 2015 and 2016. It was no secret. He ran on that. But at the same time the Republican Party has a lot of Russia hawks.

So there never has been a resolution of that. I think Republicans are divided, especially as you get further out of elite circles. You have a certain percentage of people who want to see a hard line on Russia and you have a certain percentage that doesn't.

I think the public opinion polls, by the way, show that conservatives and Republicans still tend to on average be cool on Putin's Russia, but there is this interesting trend of at least a minority of conservatives that really aren't, and probably the same thing on the left.

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: That's a fascinating thing you're bringing up, Colin, because forcing these cleavages they are coming from different perspectives. You have, as you noted, among conservatives and Republicans a cleavage between people who might still adhere to a policy position that would have been advocated by the late Senator McCain: very suspicious of Russia, push back on Russia, extend the zone of the Euro-Atlantic community; and then a Tucker Carlson or even a Senator Hawley questioning to what extent does this continuing to push against Russia make sense for U.S. interests. In some cases, it's a sense that culturally or politically we might have some common ground. We have seen concern from people like Elbridge Colby that this is a distraction from the real challenge, which is China, and, as you noted, on the left as well there is a progressive group within Democratic circles that revives the old anti-interventionist group also saying, "Hey, this is a distraction from other issues."

One of the things I think, from the doorstep perspective, is watching the concern about U.S. action. Everyone is in favor of strong U.S. action against Russia over Ukraine until there are domestic economic costs. We have seen Boeing saying, "Wait a minute, we get our titanium from Russia," and oil refiners saying, "Look, Russia is the second major foreign source of oil for our refineries, so let's think through this."

Do you think this is something you have identified? In your work you have tried to look at different trends and groupings within foreign policy. Do you think we are moving into—starting with Ukraine as the example—a situation where there isn't going to be a "Republican" or "Democratic" position, but we are going to see kind of a centrist Republican-Democratic position, and then—I don't know how you would frame it—a progressive Democratic position which may find more in common with a "Come Home, America" Republican position. As a scholar of American foreign policy, where do you see this going?

COLIN DUECK: I think that's exactly what's happening. You have factions within each party that in some ways have more in common with some factions on the other side of the aisle, even though they don't necessarily like each other very much. Those who would call themselves "noninterventionist" or "advocates of restraint" or "anti-war" are clearly trying to build a left-right coalition on this.

You mentioned the economic angle. I think it's very interesting, especially with inflation climbing in the United States, that clearly the White House is sensitive to the idea that sanctions could backfire if you have to impose these strict sanctions, and then you are dealing with higher oil and gas prices, and then that drives up inflation. That is going to be a problem heading into the midterms. If anything, I think in a lot of European countries that is even more of a powerful constraint. We are set up to impose stronger sanctions depending on what the Russians do, but actually it sounds as though we have ruled out a lot in terms of how stringent these sanctions might be.

TATIANA SERAFIN: Speaking to the doorstep, my electric bill skyrocketed, and in the little footnote—because I read all the footnotes—it said it was because global energy prices were up, resources are scarce, and if a consumer read it they would understand that all of this is interlinked. But, for the most part, I don't know that Main Street really understands how it's going to impact them.

The article I mentioned from the BBC cited, I think, a Pew study that said that most Americans didn't even know what was going on with Russia, Ukraine, and the whole situation. If you read some newspapers, you would think that is the only thing that is happening in the world. But, on a doorstep level, I don't know that the impact of the situation in Russia and Ukraine is quite hitting to the degree that the Biden administration is saying, that this is such an important issue for us and we have to take it on.

What do you think is the disconnect? What is happening there?

COLIN DUECK: I think you're right, there is a disconnect, and that is nothing new.

By the way, I think part of what is going on is the White House is trying to make it crystal clear that they're not going to be surprised this time the way they were surprised last summer in Afghanistan. In other words, if something shocking happens, if Russian tanks actually roll over the border into Ukraine, they haven't been caught by surprise. I think that is probably a very vivid and unpleasant memory from last summer.

Your point is exactly right, which is that for the most part foreign policy is never really the top concern of the general public, with rare exceptions—maybe moments after 9/11 or something like that, or after Pearl Harbor. Russia and Ukraine is not a top priority. Inflation actually is much more of a priority.

For example, last summer Biden's approval rating started to go down over the course of the summer, and those of us who do foreign policy looked at the numbers and thought, Well, there must be a correlation to what happened in Afghanistan. And there is a correlation, but whether there is a causation is a separate question.

I think people who looked at the polls actually said the single most important thing was probably the domestic economy, inflation, then it just so happened that it was rising at about the same time as this fiasco in Afghanistan.

Biden has been hit by a lot of domestic frustrations, and that is the most important thing. It's the sense that the shutdown never ends, the pandemic never ends, and inflation has gone up. It's like we're living in this era of bad feeling. You think, compared to 100 years ago. Was it James Monroe was the "Era of Good Feelings?" People just don't seem terribly happy. Something like 70 percent say the country is on the wrong track.

Whatever it was that got Biden elected in November 2020, he is now in a position where his numbers are not great, there is a lot of dissatisfaction, and most of it is domestic economic, and then Afghanistan just feeds into that as a sense of "We just can't seem to get anything right." But I don't think it's mainly about foreign policy.

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: Colin, something you said with us last year, which I think resonates, is that foreign policy is not the main driver, it's domestic. But you also said something to us last year, which was that the Biden Administration has many people on the team below the president who really believe in foreign policy as a "series of declaratory statements," that you just declare something and you're done. We have said, "Russia, don't invade Ukraine," and #dontinvadeukraine, and somehow that's done, whereas we're dealing with players in the international system that are looking at hard power, whether it's military power or hard economic power.

As a teacher and observer of U.S. foreign policy and trends, are you concerned that we could be heading for a kind of "perfect storm" where these unmet domestic expectations, inflation, hit foreign policy crises and then we enter into a narrative that America is on the decline and things can't get better?

Walk us through—put on your professorial hat—the trends that you are looking at with the foreign policy team that has a track record in the past, during the Obama years, of being very declarative but not always matching that declaration with concrete action, whether it's now with Ukraine, as we saw the robust sanctions bill in the Senate is now going to be replaced by a nonbinding advisory, very strong sanctions may get watered down, we now know all the things that are off the table, and so on. Where do think this may be headed?

COLIN DUECK: I have a friend who has decades of experience as an American diplomat, and he described the Biden team—and I think he was more than willing to give it a chance—as the "best Senate staff ever when it comes to foreign policy," and I don't think he meant it as a compliment. I think what he meant was you have a team that at the heart of it is people who know Biden going back many years, there is a comfort level personally, they get along, they are very sensitive to his needs—and, by the way, that is going to include his domestic political needs—and that's not unusual.

That is often what you get at the core of any White House team, but Biden is somebody who over the years is a politician. He is a career politician. He has been there for half a century. For all the talk about his foreign policy expertise, I think he is mainly interested in holding together a Democratic Party coalition on domestic issues, getting as many legislative wins as he can, and avoiding political disaster. That is his priority as a coalitional leader, so foreign policy is not going to be top of the list.

So you have an approach where it's almost like you're sending RSVPs to various foreign dictators saying, "I regret to inform you that we cannot participate in this crisis at the moment," and they don't care. They are going to take advantage of whatever gaps they can find. They don't care whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. They don't care if your name is Obama, Bush, Trump, or Biden. They will look for weaknesses and take advantage. I think that is certainly true of Putin, it's true of China, it's true of North Korea and Iran.

The nightmare scenario that you mentioned to me—and again, this isn't unique to Biden, this has been building for a while—is that you face multiple crises at once: Let's say for the sake of argument one in Taiwan, one in Ukraine, and then if you like you could throw in something either on the Korean peninsula or in the Middle East, and various authoritarian regimes realize that they can feed off these crises to take advantage of an American alliance system and an American political system that is distracted, divided, and unsure of itself, and this could get ugly.

There are people who run war game simulations at the Pentagon, and it doesn't end well for the United States. I don't think this is too farfetched. You can imagine a scenario where we actually enter into armed conflict with several of these powers at once, and it doesn't go well. If that happens, it is going to make what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan look like peanuts, frankly. You could have events and casualties that dwarf either of those two conflicts.

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: Before I turn to you on that, Tatiana, it reminds us of the scenario that Admiral Stavridis and Elliot Ackerman outlined for us last year in their book 2034: A Novel of the Next World War, which did not end well for the United States.

Colin, your assessment here tracks with what Dov Zakheim is worrying about, what he calls the "triple challenge" and this challenge of simultaneity.

Over to you, Tatiana, for the next set of questions.

TATIANA SERAFIN: Let's stay on this challenge because, Colin, you mentioned last year this idea that there was a lot of rhetoric and no action. I am going to just ask because I saw Reuters reporting that Biden was asking for $770-plus billion for a Defense budget for next year, for Fiscal Year 2023. I believe it was last week his administration put out a commitment to bolster the Indo-Pacific region and alliances to try to counter the China threat, including sometime in the next few months creating an Indo-Pacific economic framework.

Is that all talk? To me that sounds like they are noticing that it takes money to be present on the world stage and to say that America is going to lead, and it seems to me that America has been—to your point about Germany—the only one leading on Ukraine, unless I am reading the situation wrong. It seems that they are speaking it but they are also trying to act on it. I'm looking for the optimistic thread here.

COLIN DUECK: That's fine. Look, there is some action, and I do want to give them some credit when they do take action.

I actually would have expected defense spending to be lower compared to what we talked about a year ago. I think probably Congress pushed back, actually bipartisan, and said, "We want to keep Defense at a certain level." It hasn't gone down as much as you think given how much domestic spending has gone up. There are tradeoffs obviously—that means we would have more debt—but defense hasn't been pushed down to the extent that it might have been.

On the Pacific, yes, there is a number of good things. One absolutely, I think, is in the Quad, the Australian sub deal, there is a list of things. I think trying to get allies to work together and coordinate against China and downplaying some of these trade disputes is positive. I wrote about that during the Trump years too, that that's what we needed to do, so I'm happy to see some of that.

I think in Ukraine, of course it is true that the United States has been more assertive, and I think what Biden is finding out is that the Germans can be difficult, whether you're left, right, or center from an American point of view. They just have a different way of looking at things. Nick can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe the Germans see Russia as much of a threat actually as some other Western countries do. Clearly they depend heavily on their energy supply from Russia, but there is also a kind of philosophical difference, which is that the Germans see themselves in the middle of Europe, they sort of see themselves equidistant in a way, they feel like they have a better understanding of Russia.

There is certainly a sense of historic guilt or legacy going back to the 1940s of: "The last thing we want is any sort of conflict with Russia. We don't want German weapons in Ukraine"—for all kinds of obvious reasons—"We don't like the optics." That's a kind of moral, historical, and political legacy that is very powerful and is distinctly German. Again, that's an example of where it doesn't really matter who the American president is. I think that's what we're dealing with.

There are some European allies that have stepped up. I would say the British, the Poles, and the Baltic States are being more robust in their response along with the United States. Of course, the French always have a distinctive desire to lead and to assert French independence and French leadership in a very interesting way, so I think Macron is worth keeping an eye on as well.

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: Colin, you raised a really good point, which is something you have been warning about in your writings—and Lawrence Friedman also—that this expectation that everything was just Trump, that once Trump was gone everything would change and it would be sweetness and light.

You, Friedman, and others said that, first of all, Trump represented a trend in American politics which is beyond just Donald Trump, but also, as you have just noted now, some of these issues are endemic to some of our core European partners, and the fact that Germany has switched from a center-right to a center-left government hasn't changed them. So I think over-emphasizing the idea that all the trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific problems could be laid solely at Donald Trump's door and that there weren't other issues at play really is something—

I don't know, Tatiana, if you want to switch to Canada at this point.

TATIANA SERAFIN: I am going to say Trump is part of that story too. He has been tweeting support for the "Freedom Convoy," so let's have a nice thread. You say that he is gone and it's sweetness and light. No. He's still there, and he is commenting on everything from the convoy to Russia. I think it wasn't just the convoy in Canada, but all the copycat convoys—I can't believe I actually said that—in New Zealand and in France.

I think, to your point, Colin, earlier in this conversation this unhappy feeling is kind of everywhere and it is sprouting up in these protests. But I do think they are being driven by something else, by other players, by people with other agendas. Partly it might be to destabilize Biden ahead of the midterms or any sort of internationalist feeling. What is your sense of these protests?

COLIN DUECK: As you know, I grew up in Canada. I grew up in Saskatchewan actually, which is not exactly Justin Trudeau country, so in a weird way that gives me an ability to—I think a lot of the people I grew up with are closer to the truckers than to Trudeau.

Look, Canada is a law-abiding country. You are going to have a majority of people at the end of the day who say, "You can't just break the law, and you certainly can't do it violently." But I do think what you're seeing in Canada is what you're seeing in a lot of Western countries, which is just sort of a pandemic fatigue, a shutdown fatigue, a feeling that the federal government has overreached, overregulated, and can't stop bossing people around. The fact that it is centered on an Eastern set of cities and authorities that tend to be liberal, it feels like a very polarized situation right now, maybe not to the same extent as the United States, but it actually resonates with in some ways the feelings that I grew up with.

There is, I think, a feeling that somebody like Trudeau—after all, his father, Pierre Trudeau, was a long-time liberal prime minister in the 1970s and early 1980s—has overreached and is cracking down a little too hard. I suspect his reasons for declaring this emergency state is that he is thinking maybe about his own father in 1970 trying to do something similar against Quebec militants, and actually in the end that worked for Pierre Trudeau. So the son, Justin, may have that in his mind as a positive memory, although I think it may turn out to be a false comparison.

The other thing that he may be thinking of is January 6 from last year and if this is something similar. If that's what he is thinking, then he is going to react very aggressively to remind everybody that this is Canada. Canadian founding principles are peace, order, and good government, not life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, so the notion of order is very strong.

You will notice with this Freedom Convoy, for all the frustrations in Ottawa with the convoy, I am not aware that it has been mass urban violence. I am not aware that that has actually happened. It has basically been peaceful. I think that most people in the country, according to the polls, are saying that although they don't support the lawbreaking, they actually have some sympathy with the notion that the shutdown has overreached.

It's a very delicate situation and has to be carefully handled. I don't think Trudeau is doing that. I think he's overreacting, to tell you the truth, and I think there's a bit of an echo chamber effect going on where he is probably talking to people on just one side of this who are reinforcing his own instincts. I can tell you in the prairies this is not going to play very well, and in a lot of parts of rural Ontario and British Columbia as well.

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: It's a fascinating thing, both what you have just said—and also, as Tatiana pointed out, the copycat convoys—that there does seem to be a certain type of, I don't want to say imitation factor per se, but the French convoy was flying Canadian flags. There is this sense of in this era of bad feeling that people are looking to developments in other countries.

Tatiana, I think this points to what you said about the globalization of news and the globalization of memes and of protest. So that element, the fact that Trudeau may be looking at this through a lens of what happened in the United States on January 6 and looking at U.S. parallels to it, is also fascinating for what this says about how people get news and how they process information.

Finally, because I can't resist giving a plug to yet another Doorstep guest that we had on after you last year, Colin, David Yermack, one of the features too of the Canadian government's efforts to try to bring this under control is to go after cryptocurrency and to go after ways of how groups that are organizing the protests might finance this. Of course, David Yermack was talking last year with us about the potential game-changing nature of cryptocurrencies that are de-linked from governments.

One thing about the protests as well—again looking forward and tying all of this to some of the comments you said previously—is: In this "era of bad feelings,"—and also implicitly, I think, in your question, Tatiana—at what point are these types of movements but also the way in which governments and elites are handling them really leading to an erosion of the social trust that democracies need in order to be able to be stable and in order to function in times of crisis? It really does look like as what we would have thought of as public health measures get politicized, we are seeing now that as mask mandates come down in the United States people want to keep the mandates because they see that as part of their political identity.

Again, asking you to put on your long-term historian hat, what does this mean for the health of the liberal democratic model in the United States, in Canada, in France, and in other parts of Europe and Asia? What are you thinking as you look at all of this moving forward?

COLIN DUECK: Well, right. There is a kind of transnational element to it. Trudeau is a great example of somebody who clearly sees himself as part of a transnational liberal set of values, norms, or even political forces.

The danger is when liberal internationalists across borders start to think that the only challenges they are facing are basically neofascists. Then you get an overreaction, and you are going to just alienate people because you are not admitting that there can be such thing as an honest disagreement.

I'm not denying that there is such a thing as the "far right" and there are connections between the far right. There are groups, for example, in Europe—Golden Dawn of Greece—that are creepy. There is a creepy bunch of characters.

But much of what we are seeing, I think, is actually just something that is just more populist in a looser sense, which is it's an anti-establishment feeling. It's a feeling that the current order just isn't functioning terribly well, that it's not especially competent, it is not especially competent on basic day-to-day governance, whether it's economics, crime, inflation, national security, immigration, you name it. That doesn't have to be far right or far left, but it could pop up in different ways.

Bernie Sanders tapped into that, and I think he actually had a huge impact on altering the Democratic Party over a period of years. So it can pop up on the left, it can pop up on the right, it can pop up in the middle, and it can pop up in different countries in different ways. I don't think that Canadian populism is exactly the same as American populism and I don't think that American populism is exactly the same as the forms that it takes in Europe, but there are these similarities.

I would say if existing authorities that call themselves "centrist," that are center-right or center-left, cannot competently manage real-world problems, then these populist movements are just going to continue to pop up over and over again. And why wouldn't they? Whose fault is it? What would you expect?

It is up to those in charge to provide competent governance to make sure that the system doesn't enter into a period of true breakdown. If what instead happens is that the people in charge really respond with just verbal denunciations of anybody who disagrees with them and say, "Well, this is far right, it's far left, it's extreme, it's beyond the pale," in some of these cases you are dealing with large-scale resentments that actually have some legitimacy.

I think you saw this, for example, several years ago with Merkel. I think she mismanaged the migration crisis of 2015, and then, skillful politician that she was, she got the message and she adapted and moved on that because she was seeing in public opinion polls in Germany that a solid majority of Germans after a few months had said, "Basically we would like a coffee break now when it comes to mass migration into Germany." So they quietly managed it.

If authorities in power do not manage these concerns, somebody else will, the voters will bring in somebody else to manage them. That's the lesson.

TATIANA SERAFIN: I think the danger is not only that the voters will bring in somebody else but that you will have, because we do live in a world of disinformation and tech disruption, international players feeding the disinformation loop. Certainly Russia and China are at the top of my list. I am watching what is coming out of them in terms of tech disruptions and disinformation disruptions in elections, not only here but everywhere.

I have to ask one of my questions: Are you concerned about this new China-Russia strategic no-limits partnership? We are talking here about our liberal norms, and they are claiming that there is something different, that they have a new interpretation of the international order. Do you think people are buying this?

COLIN DUECK: I am very concerned about it. I think if China and Russia—it's not a formal alliance, and Nick knows this better than anybody, but it's a partnership that is pretty intimidating.

Relations have only gotten better over the years. They agree on quite a bit. They have a sort of coordination on military matters and on just fundamentally resenting the notion of an American-led order, and they are trying to do several things. They are trying to stave off interference in their own affairs, but they are also trying to provide a little bit of cover for one another as they each push out into their own sphere of influence.

If you look at it on a map, it doesn't take anyone other than a child to see that that is a pretty powerful combination, Russia and China together, two great powers that are authoritarian, China in particular with an economy that is now roughly comparable to America's, and both nuclear-armed. There is a lot of confidence on both sides of that that they are winning actually and that they may very well continue to win in the future. I think we need to take it dead seriously.

What exactly the United States should do in response is an interesting question. There is more than one interesting recommendation out there. Do we need to take it seriously? I think absolutely.

TATIANA SERAFIN: To go back to what we talked about last year, we asked you to grade Biden's foreign policy. Last year you gave him a C on migration and a "to be determined." Now you have a year's worth of data. What grade would you give the Biden-Harris team?

COLIN DUECK: On foreign policy? I would say that a lot of what has happened over the last year. I think the Afghan withdrawal, whether or not people feel like it had to happen at a macro level, was pretty disastrous in terms of how it was managed. I think even sympathetic supporters felt that that was the case.

I think there is a pattern here, even apart from Afghanistan, which Nick mentioned, and I do find it worrying, which is—I am just going to be very blunt about this—I am not sure that foreign aggressors are afraid of Joe Biden. I'm not sure they are afraid of him, and I think they need to be. I think it's just that simple. I think they need to be afraid—and I'm using that word deliberately—that there needs to be a fear in authoritarian capitals like Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and Pyongyang that if you mess with the United States and its allies, you will pay a price for it.

I am not questioning the good intentions. I know there are a lot of people on the Biden team who are very sincere and are working hard, but I am not sure that these dictators overseas are in the condition they need to be right now, and, if they are not, deterrence could break down. We will have to see how it plays out.

I can't really give the Biden team a terrific grade right now. I don't think it has been a great year. I am hopeful that this works. I don't want to see this fail. I would rather that we actually pull it together, but frankly I'm concerned.

TATIANA SERAFIN: On that note, we will be looking forward to the midterm elections to see how much of this plays out and how much changes, and we hope to have you back next year for more discussion and assessment. Thank you.

COLIN DUECK: Thank you so much.

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