Transcript: Walter Russell Mead: The Return of Geopolitics | Jun 17, 2014

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his forties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a dark gray suit, white shirt, and striped purple tie. Behind him, a wall screen reads “The Agenda, with Steve Paikin.”

Steve says ALMOST 25 YEARS AGO,
PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH GAVE
A SPEECH IN WHICH HE ARTICULATED
HIS VISION OF A 'NEW WORLD
ORDER'.
HE DESCRIBED IT AS A NEW REALITY
IN WHICH “THE RULE OF LAW
SUPPLANTS THE RULE OF THE
JUNGLE.”
IT WOULD'VE BEEN A WORLD BEYOND
GEOPOLITICS, WHICH NORMALLY
FEATURED A CHESS-LIKE
CALCULATION OF SELF-INTEREST
AIMED AT WEAKENING IF NOT
DEFEATING ONE'S OPPONENTS.
OUR GUEST TONIGHT HAS RECENTLY
PUBLISHED AN ESSAY ENTITLED.”THE
RETURN OF GEOPOLITICS.”
AND HERE HE IS NOW: WALTER
RUSSELL MEAD, PROFESSOR OF
FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND THE
HUMANITIES AT BARD COLLEGE.
IN NEW YORK STATE.

Walter is in his late fifties, with messy curly white hair and a short full beard. He wears rounded glasses, a light gray suit, blue shirt, and pink striped tie.

Steve continues WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE YOU HERE
ON TVO.

Walter says IT'S
GREAT TO BE BACK.

Steve says YOU SAY BACK.
YOU'RE FREQUENTLY A GUEST ON
THIS PROGRAM BUT ALMOST ALWAYS
BY SATELLITE.
IT'S GOOD TO HAVE YOU IN THE
FLESH.

Walter says IT'S
GOOD TO BE IN TORONTO.

Steve says LET ME TALK ABOUT
THE RETURN OF GEOPOLITICAL WHICH
I HOPE ISN'T TOO MUCH OF A SMART
ALEC QUESTION.
WHAT HAPPENED TO GEOPOLITICAL
BEFORE IT RETURNED?

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Walter Russell Mead. Bard College."

Walter says I
THINK IT WAS ALWAYS THERE,
REALLY, BUT IN THE WEST IN
PARTICULAR, WE SPENT A LOT OF
TIME NOT THINKING ABOUT IT.

The caption changes to "Return of Geopolitics. Wishful thinking."

Walter continues WE ASSUMED THAT, YOU KNOW, WITH
THE END OF THE COLD WAR, IT
WASN'T JUST THAT HISTORY WAS
OVER BUT INTERNATIONAL
COMPETITION OF THAT OLD
DOG-EAT-DOG, THE JUNGLE KIND,
WAS OVER.
EVERYBODY WAS GOING TO LIVE
WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES THAT THEY
WERE ASSIGNED IN 1990.
WHEN SOMEBODY DIDN'T, LIKE
SADDAM INVADING KUWAIT, THE
WHOLE WORLD WOULD UNITE AND PUSH
HIM BACK IN.
BUT WE WERE NO LONGER GOING TO
FACE THE SAME GREAT POWERS
TRYING TO REDRAW THE MAP OF THE
WORLD.

Steve says SO THE NEW WORLD
ORDER LASTED HALF AN HOUR?

Walter chuckles and says WELL,
YOU KNOW, IT -- IT'S STILL IN
SOME WAYS REMARKABLE HOW LITTLE
BOUNDARIES HAVE CHANGED SINCE
1990, AND I THINK WHAT WE'VE
GOT -- IN THE ARTICLE I TALK
ABOUT THE AXIS OF WEEVILS.
YOU'VE GOT SOME COUNTRIES THAT
DON'T LIKE THE WAY THE WORLD
WORKS NOW, DON'T ACCEPT THE
CURRENT STATE OF GEOPOLITICAL,
BUT THEY DON'T FEEL MILITARILY
ABLE TO SORT OF CONFRONT THE
WESTERN ALLIANCE HEAD ON.
RATHER, THEY'RE LOOKING FOR SORT
OF LITTLE WAYS TO CHIP AWAY AT
THIS POST COLD WAR ORDER.

Steve says LET ME PUT A QUOTE
TO YOU FROM SECRETARY OF STATE
JOHN KERRY FROM YOUR COUNTRY IN
RESPONSE TO RUSSIA'S ACTIONS IN
CRIMEA BACK IN MARCH.
HE SAID YOU DON'T IN THE 21ST
CENTURY BEHAVE IN A 19TH CENTURY
FASHION BY INVADING ANOTHER
COUNTRY ON COMPLETELY TRUMPED UP
PRETEXT.
IS HE RIGHT ABOUT THAT?

Walter says WELL,
AS A MATTER OF FACT, CLEARLY NO,
BECAUSE IT'S HAPPENED IN
UKRAINE.
BUT CERTAINLY HE EXPRESSES VERY
WELL, I THINK, THE SENSE OF
SHOCK AND DISBELIEF A LOT OF
PEOPLE FELT WHEN RUSSIA DID
SOMETHING THIS BLATANT.

Steve says BECAUSE IT'S JUST
NOT SUPPOSED TO BE DONE THESE
DAYS THAT WAY, IS IT?

Walter says IT
REALLY ISN'T, AND IT IS TOO BAD
THAT IT'S HAPPENING.
NOBODY -- I CERTAINLY DON'T WANT
TO BE BACK IN A WORLD OF
GEOPOLITICAL, IN A WORLD OF
INVASIONS AND WAR, BUT THERE WE
ARE.

Steve says BUT IS HE BASICALLY
SAYING THE GEOPOLITICAL
COMPETITION THAT WE REMEMBER
FROM BACK THEN REALLY OUGHT NOT
TO BE THE 21ST CENTURY WAY OF
DOING BUSINESS?

Walter says YOU
KNOW, WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE
KIND OF WEAPONS THAT ARE IN THE
HANDS OF COUNTRIES THESE DAYS
AND JUST HOW DEVASTATING ALL-OUT
WAR COULD BE IN THE 21ST
CENTURY, IT'S CERTAINLY A
REASONABLE GOAL TO TRY TO KEEP
GREAT POWER, WAR, OFF THE TABLE.

Steve says OKAY.
HERE'S ME QUOTING YOU BACK TO
YOU.
YOU WROTE...

A quote appears on screen, under the title “The power of power.” The quote reads “Westerners should never had expected old-fashioned geopolitics to go away. They did so only because they fundamentally misread what the collapse of the Soviet Union meant: the ideological triumph of liberal capitalist democracy over communism, not the obsolescence of hard power.
Quote by W.R. Mead, Foreign Affairs, May 2014.

Steve says SO IN YOUR VIEW WAS IT A MISTAKE
TO SEE THE END OF THE COLD WAR
AS A HARBINGER OF A BETTER, MORE
PEACEFUL APPEAL TO THE BETTER
ANGELS WITHIN US KIND OF A TIME?

Walter says I
THINK -- YOU KNOW, THE FACT IS
THE SOVIET UNION WAS A MONSTROUS
CREATION.
IT WAS A DYSFUNCTIONAL SOCIETY.
IT ONLY TOOK POWER BECAUSE OF
RUTHLESS TERROR AND SUPPRESSION.
SO IT'S A GOOD THING THAT IT
WENT AWAY.
BUT WE SHOULD NEVER HAVE
EXPECTED THAT EVERYONE WOULD
REJOICE, THAT RUSSIAN
NATIONALISTS, FOR EXAMPLE, EVEN
IF THEY MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT THAT
THE SOVIET -- THE SOVIET SYSTEM
HAD TO GO, RUSSIAN NATIONALISTS
SAW THEIR BOUNDARIES MOVE
500 MILES CLOSER TO MOSCOW.
WHY WOULD THEY LIKE THAT?
WHY SHOULD WE EXPECT THEM TO
LIKE THAT?
SO HUMAN NATURE DIDN'T CHANGE
WHEN COMMUNISM ENDED AND I THINK
THAT WAS A MISTAKE ON OUR PART.

Steve says I GUESS THERE WERE A
LOT OF COUNTRIES AS WELL THAT
DID WELL IN A BIPOLAR WORLD
WHERE YOU COULD PLAY OFF ONE
AGAINST THE OTHER AND ENRICH
YOURSELF IN THE PROCESS; FAIR TO
SAY?

Walter says THAT
WAS A LOT OF FUN FOR A LOT OF
PEOPLE.
IT WAS A GREAT GAME.
AGAIN, IT'S NOT JUST THE SOVIET
UNION.
CHINA CONTINUES TO FEEL THAT ITS
BOUNDARIES, THE BOUNDARIES THAT
ARE INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED,
ARE TOO SMALL.
IT HAS ITS NINE DASH LINE IN THE
SOUTH CHINA SEA.
I THINK MANY PEOPLE IN CHINA
LOOK AT SOME OF THE LAND THAT
THE CZARIST RUSSIA TOOK FROM
CHINA IN THE 19TH CENTURY.
I DON'T THINK CHINA IS
WILLING -- YOU KNOW, CHINA MAY
BE PRAGMATICALLY WILLING TO LIVE
WITHIN A CERTAIN SYSTEM OF
BOUNDARIES AND INTERNATIONAL
NORMS, BUT I DON'T THINK THEY
THINK THERE'S SOMETHING SACRED
OR HOLY ABOUT THE BOUNDARIES
THAT EXISTED AT THE END OF THE
COLD WAR.

The caption changes to "Global reconfiguration."

Steve says OKAY.
SINCE YOU'VE MENTIONED CHINA,
LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THREE
COUNTRIES WHICH ARE -- NOT SURE
WHAT THE RIGHT WORD TO USE HERE
IS -- AT THE VERY LEAST
IRRITANTS, AT THE MOST REAL DEEP
CONCERNS FOR THE WESTERN WORLD
GOING FORWARD.
RUSSIA, CHINA, AND IRAN --
YOU'VE DESCRIBED THEM AS
REVISIONIST POWERS.
WHAT ARE THEY TRYING TO REVISE?

Walter says WELL,
EACH OF THOSE POWERS HAS SORT OF
TWO FEARS IN COMMON -- OR,
RATHER, A FEAR AND A HOPE.
THE FEAR IS THAT THEY SEE REAL
HOSTILITY FROM THE WEST TOWARD
THEIR FORM OF GOVERNMENT.
I DON'T THINK EITHER THE
AYATOLLAH, PRESIDENT PUTIN, OR
PRETTY XI HAS NO DOUBT WHAT
WOULD HAPPEN IF A SPONTANEOUS
DEMOCRATIC REACTION DID TAKE
PLACE IN THEIR COUNTRY.
THE WEST WOULD CHEER.
IF WE THOUGHT IT WOULD HELP, WE
WOULD SEND IN SUPPORT AND
ASSISTANCE.
IF THESE GOVERNMENTS TRIED TO
CLOSE DOWN THE INTERNET AND
ISOLATE THEIR DISSIDENTS AND WE
HAD WAYS OF KEEPING THEIR
DISSIDENTS IN TOUCH WITH EACH
OTHER, WE WOULD DO WHAT WE COULD
DO.

Steve says MM-HMM.

Walter says SO
THEY HAVE -- THEY'RE NOT WRONG
TO SEE THAT THE GLOBAL STATUS
QUO IS A THREAT TO THEIR STATUS
QUO.
SO THAT'S A COMMON FEAR.
THE COMMON HOPE IS IN EVERY
CASE, THEY DON'T THINK THE 1990
SETTLEMENT OF THE POST COLD WAR
REALITY GAVE THEM EVERYTHING
THEY WANTED.
THE IRANIANS BELIEVE THAT BY
HISTORY, CULTURE, POWER, DEPTH
OF CIVILIZATION, MANY OTHER
REASONS, THEY REALLY OUGHT TO BE
THE PARAMOUNT POWER OF THE
MIDDLE EAST.
THEY PARTICULARLY THINK THAT IF
YOU LOOK AT THE POWER OF SHIA
ISLAM, THE OIL-RICH EASTERN
PROVINCE OF SAUDI ARABIA,
BAHRAIN, KUWAIT, PARTS OF
KUWAIT, IRAQ AND IRAN, THAT THE
LEADING SHIA POWER SHOULD BE BY
RIGHTS THE WORLD'S LEADING PETRO
POWER, AND THEY SEE THAT THEY
ARE A WORLD POWER THAT'S BEING
DENIED THEIR RIGHTFUL PLACE IN
THE SUN.
AND FROM THEIR POINT OF VIEW,
IT'S A HATEFUL COALITION OF
SUNNIES, LIKE THE SAUDI
WAHABIST, THEIR RELIGIOUS
ENEMIES, THE SAUDIS, AND THE
UNITED STATES THAT THEY HAVE A
LONG LIST OF GRUDGES.
THEY SEE THEIR THREE WORST
ENEMIES COMBINED IN WHAT LOOKS
TO THEM LIKE A PLOT TO KEEP IRAN
FROM THE STATURE AND THE
PRESTIGE AND POWER THAT IRAN
SHOULD, IN THEIR MIND, HAVE.
SO THEY'RE NOT GOING TO -- THEY
SEE ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO
WILLINGLY COLLABORATE IN THE
MAINTENANCE OF A WORLD ORDER,
WHICH FROM OUR POINT OF VIEW IS
ACTUALLY NOT A BAD THING.
FOR THE RUSSIANS, AGAIN, YOU
HAVE THE TERRITORIAL SETTLEMENT
OF THE COLD WAR.
A LOT OF RUSSIAN-SPEAKING PEOPLE
NO LONGER LIVE ON RUSSIAN SOIL.
YOU HAD THE RUSSIAN SPEAKERS OF
UKRAINE, PRESIDENT PUTIN HAS
ANNEXED CRIMEA -- AT LEAST
THAT'S WHAT HE CALLS IT.
IN LATVIA AND ESTONIA YOU HAVE
RUSSIAN SPEAKERS, BUT ALSO
RUSSIA'S UNDERSTANDING OF ITS
GEOPOLITICAL SITUATION IS THAT
TO SEE NATO IN THE FORMER BALTIC
STATES, TO SEE UKRAINE
ATTEMPTING TO TAKE A GENUINELY
INDEPENDENT COURSE AND EVEN JOIN
THE EUROPEAN UNION AND NOT
RUSSIA -- THIS IS AN AFFRONT TO
EVERYTHING THAT FOR MANY
PATRIOTIC RUSSIANS, THAT THE
WORLD SHOULD BE ABOUT.

Steve says THEY FEEL
SURROUNDED.

Walter says RIGHT.
THEY FEEL SURROUNDED, THEY FEEL
ENDANGERED AND ALSO FOR
PRESIDENT PUTIN THERE IS A SENSE
OF TIME PRESSURE.
RUSSIA IS NOT GETTING STRONGER
IN THE LONG RUN.
IF YOU LOOK AT THE CONSOLIDATION
OF THE EUROPEAN UNION ON ONE
SIDE AND YOU LOOK AT CHINA'S
RISE ON THE OTHER SIDE AND THEN
YOU LOOK AT THE SORT OF ISLAMIC
RESURGENCE TO RUSSIA'S SOUTH,
THE WORLD IS NOT GETTING MORE
PROPITIOUS FOR RUSSIA, AND I
THINK PUTIN SEES AN OPPORTUNITY
NOW AT A TIME WHERE MAYBE THE
WEST IS DISTRACTED, THE U.S. IS
SORT OF TIRED OF BEING INVOLVED
IN ALL OF THIS TROUBLE AROUND
THE WORLD -- I THINK IN RUSSIA,
A RUSSIAN PATRIOT MIGHT SAY, IF
NOT NOW, WHEN?
WE HAVE A BETTER CHANCE TO
RESHAPE THE WORLD NOW THAN WE
WILL IN 5, 10, OR 20 YEARS.
NOW IS THE TIME FOR US TO MOVE.

Steve says LET'S DO THE THIRD
ONE OF THAT TRIAD.
WHAT ABOUT CHINA?
WHAT DO THEY WANT?

Walter sighs and says CHINA
WANTS -- WELL, IT WANTS THE
TERRITORIES THAT IT THINKS
RIGHTLY BELONG TO IT, THAT WOULD
INCLUDE TAIWAN, THAT WOULD
INCLUDE A VERY LARGE CHUNK OF
THE SOUTH CHINA SEA.
BUT ALSO CHINA IS VERY CONCERNED
ABOUT WHAT IT SEES AS JAPAN
REMILITARIZING AND LINKING
ITSELF EVER MORE DEEPLY WITH THE
UNITED STATES.
IN THE WEST, WE LOOKED AT THE
CHANGE IN BURMA WHERE THE
MILITARY REGIME BEGAN TO OPEN
UP -- I MEAN, THERE ARE SOME
PROBLEMS NOW IN BURMA WITH THE
ROWINGAS AND SO ON.
THERE'S BEEN A POLITICAL OPEN
OPENING.
BURMA, WHICH USED TO BE A
CHINESE ALLY, IS NOW SITTING
AROUND MAKING GOOD FRIENDS WITH
JAPAN, THE UNITED STATES, INDIA,
AND OTHER COUNTRIES.
THAT'S RIGHT ON CHINA'S BORDER.
THEY WONDER WHETHER WE MIGHT NOT
HAVE SIMILAR PLANS FOR NORTH
KOREA.
INDEED, IT'S LIKELY THAT IN
NORTH KOREA THEY'VE BEEN LOOKING
AT WHAT HAPPENS IN BURMA WHERE
THEY'RE A DICTATORIAL SOCIALIST
REGIME, SHOWS ITSELF WILLING TO
SHIFT ALLEGIANCE, OPEN UP SOME
ON HUMAN RIGHTS, AND SUDDENLY
THAT MONEY IS FLOODING IN FROM
THE WEST.
THAT'S A LITTLE BIT OF A THREAT
TO CHINA TOO.

Steve says SPEAKING OF MONEY
FLOODING IN, I'D LIKE TO GET
YOUR TAKE ON WHAT MANY HAVE
WEIGHED IN ON, THIS 30-YEAR,
400 MILLION dollar GAS DEAL --
400 BILLION dollar GAS DEAL BETWEEN
CHINA AND RUSSIA.
HOW DO YOU READ THAT?

Walter says I READ
THAT IN A COUPLE OF WAYS.
ONE IS, I THINK RUSSIA MET
CHINA'S PRICE RATHER THAN CHINA
MEETING RUSSIA'S PRICE, SO THAT
THIS IS -- YOU KNOW, IT'S, I
THINK, A BUSINESS PROPOSITION
FOR BOTH SIDES, BUT ALSO BOTH
SIDES DEFINITELY WANTED TO MAKE
A SHOW OF SUPPORT.
THEY'VE BEEN KICKING THIS DEAL
AROUND FOR YEARS, AND THERE'S A
CERTAIN COMMON SENSICAL THING.
RUSSIA HAS A TON OF GAS IN
CENTRAL ASIA AND NO PLACE TO PUT
IT, AND CHINA NEEDS A LOT OF
GAS.
SOONER OR LATER, IT WOULD MAKE
SENSE FOR THESE TWO TO REACH
SOME KIND OF AGREEMENT.

Steve says BUT IS THAT MORE
THAN A BUSINESS DEAL?

Walter says DOING
IT NOW -- WELL, DOING IT NOW IS
A WAY OF BOTH COUNTRIES
DEMONSTRATING A KIND OF
INDEPENDENCE OF THE WEST AND
BEING WILLING TO BASICALLY SAY
TO THE UNITED STATES, “YOU KNOW,
YOU'RE UNHAPPY ABOUT UKRAINE.
WE'RE NOT UNHAPPY ABOUT
UKRAINE.”

Steve says BUT DO YOU SEE THIS
AS MORE THAN A BUSINESS DEAL?
IS IT THE BEGINNING OF A
STRATEGIC ALLIANCE OF SORTS?

Walter says I
THINK CHINA AND RUSSIA HAVE BEEN
IN A SENSE TRYING TO BUILD A
STRATEGIC ALLIANCE AGAINST THE
UNITED STATES SINCE 1949, AND IT
DIDN'T WORK EVEN WHEN THEY WERE
BOTH COMMUNIST.
I THINK THERE ARE A LOT OF
OBSTACLES.
THEY HAVE A LOT OF INTERESTS AND
CONFLICT AND SO ON.
HOWEVER, THEY DO SHARE A COMMON
INTEREST IN UNDERMINING AND
CHIPPING AWAY AT AMERICAN POWER,
SO THAT AS LONG AS THE BIG
SUBJECT ON THE TABLE IS AMERICAN
OPPOSITION TO THEIR MUTUAL
DESIGNS, THEY WILL FROM TIME TO
TIME FIND WAYS TO WORK TOGETHER.

Steve says YOU WILL REMEMBER
MORE THAN A DECADE AGO YOUR
FRIEND ROBERT CAGAN DESCRIBED
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AMERICA
AND THE EUROPEAN WORLD AS
AMERICANS ARE FROM MARS AND THE
EUROPEANS ARE FROM VENUS, IN
THAT THEY COULDN'T ABIDE THE
NOTION OF MILITARY INTERVENTION.
IS IT STILL THAT WAY?

Walter says WELL,
IT'S -- ARGUABLY A LOT OF
AMERICANS HAVE BEEN EMIGRATING
TO VENUS AND OUR DEFENCE BUDGET,
WHILE MAYBE NOT COMPLETELY
VENUSIAN IS A LOT LESS
MARS-LOOKING THAN IT USED TO BE.
I THINK, AGAIN, THE THING TO
LOOK AT HERE IS MAYBE THAT WE IN
THE WEST, WHEN WE'VE BEEN NOT
PAYING ATTENTION TO GEOPOLITICS
AND TO RUSSIA'S EUROPEAN
INTERESTS, I THINK WE MISSED A
FEW POSSIBILITIES HERE.
FOR EXAMPLE, IT TAKES UNANIMOUS
CONSENT OF THE NATO ALLIANCE TO
MAKE A NUMBER OF IMPORTANT
DECISIONS.
RUSSIA WOULD REALLY NEED TO HAVE
ONLY ONE FRIEND IN NATO TO HAVE
AN EFFECTIVE VETO POWER ON A LOT
OF THINGS THAT WE DO.
IN THE SAME WAY, IF YOU LOOK
INSIDE THE EUROPEAN UNION, ITS
POLITICS ARE VERY COMPLICATED,
BUT THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF
INTERESTING WAYS THAT A
RELATIVELY SMALL NUMBER OF
COUNTRIES CAN CREATE BLOCKING
MINORITIES ON A NUMBER OF
EUROPEAN INITIATIVES.
I THINK THE RUSSIANS ARE LOOKING
TO COUNTRIES LIKE HUNGARY, IN A
DIFFERENT WAY SLOVAKIA, QUITE
POSSIBLY, IF THE RUSSIANS
SUCCEED IN BUILDING THEIR
INFLUENCE IN SOUTHWESTERN
UKRAINE, WE COULD SEE BULGARIA
AND ROMANIA FALLING MORE DEEPLY
INTO KIND OF COMMERCIAL
RELATIONS.
GREECE AND CYPRUS ALREADY --
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF
INTERESTING CONNECTIONS BETWEEN
THEM.
YOU CAN SEE A PLACE COMING WHERE
RUSSIA WOULD ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO
WIELD SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE
INSIDE THE E.U. AND INSIDE NATO,
AND THIS WOULD CAUSE A NUMBER OF
PROBLEMS FOR US IN THE WEST THAT
I THINK WE HAVE NOT REALLY
THOUGHT ABOUT.

Steve says WOULD YOU BE DEEPLY
CONCERNED ABOUT THAT?

Walter says I WOULD.
WELL, HERE -- I MEAN, YOU KNOW,
SOME THINGS MAYBE ARE NOT SO
IMPORTANT.
BUT HERE'S A WAY IN WHICH RUSSIA
COULD CREATE A REAL CRISIS FOR
NATO AND FOR THE UNITED STATES:
SUPPOSE, IN SOME OF THE
NEIGHBOURHOODS OR AREAS OF
ESTONIA OR LATVIA WHERE THERE
ARE A LOT OF RUSSIAN-SPEAKING
PEOPLE, MANY OF WHOM WATCH
RUSSIAN TELEVISION AND SOME OF
WHOM ARE PRESUMABLY NOT THAT
HAPPY WITH THEIR NATIONAL
GOVERNMENTS, SUPPOSE A BUNCH OF
20-SOMETHING YOUNG
RUSSIAN-SPEAKING MEN START
APPEARING, NOT THEY SAY RUSSIAN
MILITARY AND YET THEY BOTH
APPEAR TO BE VERY WELL-TRAINED
AND UNUSUALLY WELL-ARMED.

Steve says WHERE HAVE I SEEN
THIS MOVIE BEFORE?

Walter says EXACTLY.
SUDDENLY YOU MIGHT SEE WITHOUT A
SHOT BEING FIRED OR AN ARMY
OFFICIALLY CROSSING A FRONTIER,
YOU MIGHT SEE PARTS OF THE
TERRITORIES OF NATO COUNTRIES NO
LONGER UNDER THE EFFECTIVE
CONTROL OF THEIR NATIONAL
GOVERNMENT.
NOW, HERE'S AN INTERESTING
QUESTION: WOULD NATO THEN BE
WILLING TO START A SHOOTING WAR
TO RESTORE ESTONIAN OR LATVIAN
CONTROL OVER THEIR OWN
TERRITORY?

Steve says THAT'S A SCARY THOUGHT.

Walter says WELL,
I THINK THAT'S -- THAT'S THE --
WE HAVE NOT ON OUR SIDE, I
THINK, SPENT ENOUGH TIME GAINING
OUT THE POSSIBILITIES.
I'M NOT PREDICTING THAT PUTIN IS
ABOUT TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS,
BUT I CERTAINLY HOPE THAT THE
AUTHORITIES IN THE WEST ARE
DOING THE THINGS NECESSARY TO
PUT THAT BEYOND REACH.
MY POINT IS THAT WE IN THE WEST
HAVE TENDED TO SAY, ACH, THERE'S
REALLY NOTHING RUSSIA CAN DO,
WHO CARES WHAT THEY THINK, WE
KNOW THEY'RE STEWING AND THEY'RE
UNHAPPY.
SO WHAT?
RIGHT?
ON THE RUSSIAN SIDE I THINK
THEY'VE SPENT A LOT OF TIME,
OKAY, MAYBE WE DON'T HAVE THE
BEST HAND AND THE BEST CARDS IN
THE WORLD, BUT HOW DO WE PLAY
OUR HAND AS EFFECTIVELY AS
POSSIBLE?
THEY MAY UNDERSTAND THEIR
OPTIONS BETTER THAN WE DO AND IN
A WAY THAT WE DON'T.
SO I THINK WE NEED TO RAISE OUR
GAME.
I'M NOT SAYING, YOU KNOW, GO ON
DEFCON 5 AND STRATEGIC
BOMBERS -- THAT'S NOT WHAT THIS
IS ABOUT.
RUSSIA IS NOT A GREAT POWER PEER
COMPETITOR OF THE UNITED STATES,
IT IS A MUCH WEAKER COUNTRY THAN
THE SOVIET UNION WAS, BUT IT HAS
MORE CAPACITIES THAN MANY OF US
IN THE WEST HAVE BEEN WILLING TO
THINK ABOUT, AND IT'S TIME TO --
IT'S TIME TO JUST TAKE A LONG,
HARD LOOK AND THEN TAKE A FEW
PRUDENT, THOUGHTFUL, REASONABLE
STEPS JUST TO MAKE SURE THAT
THINGS DON'T GET OUT OF HAND.

Steve says LET'S DO ONE MORE ON
GERMANY.
ANGELA MERKEL, THE CHANCELLOR
THERE, AND BUSINESS LEADERS HAVE
BEEN HEARING FROM THE AVERAGE
GERMAN, DON'T BE TOO TOUGH ON
PUTIN?
ARE THEY RE-EVALUATING THEIR
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WEST AND
WITH RUSSIA?

Walter says I
THINK ANGELA MERKEL, HAVING
GROWN UP IN EAST GERMANY, IS NOT
A SENTIMENTALIST WHERE RUSSIA IS
CONCERNED.
AND SHE REMAINS BY FAR AND AWAY
THE MOST POWERFUL POLITICIAN,
MOST POPULAR POLITICIAN, IN
GERMANY.
INDEED ONE MIGHT ARGUE THE MOST
POWERFUL PERSON --

Steve says IN EUROPE.

Walter says -- IN
EUROPE, YES.
I DON'T THINK IT'S THAT.
BUT I DO THINK THAT THE GERMANS,
AND I DON'T THINK THIS IS WRONG
OF THEM OR STUPID, DON'T WANT A
GRATUITOUS FIGHT IN THEIR OWN
BACK YARD.
HOWEVER, YOU KNOW, GERMANY CARES
WHAT THE BALTIC REPUBLICS AND
WHAT POLAND THINK ABOUT THINGS.
GERMANY CARES THAT FOREIGN
INVESTORS FEEL SAFE AND SECURE
WHEN THEY GO INTO THOSE
COUNTRIES AND MAKE
INVESTMENTS -- MANY OF THOSE
INVESTORS ARE GERMANS.
MANY GERMAN COMPANIES, THEIR
SUPPLY CHAINS ARE INVOLVED, NOT
JUST WITH RUSSIA BUT WITH POLAND
AND THE BALTIC STATES.
SO WHAT THE GERMANS ARE
INTERESTED, I THINK, IS
FUNDAMENTALLY WHAT AMERICANS AND
CANADIANS ARE ALSO INTERESTED IN
IN THAT PART OF THE WORLD, WHICH
IS SECURITY AND STABILITY.
SO THE GERMANS ARE WORRIED THAT
IF WE ROCK THE BOAT TOO HARD OR
TOO DRAMATICALLY, WE MIGHT CAUSE
THE VERY THING WE'RE TRYING TO
AVOID, AN ALL-OUT CONFRONTATION.
I DON'T THINK THAT'S A STUPID
IDEA.
I THINK YOU CAN TAKE IT TOO FAR.
I THINK YOU CAN, IN A SENSE --
PUT IT THIS WAY: WE SHOULDN'T
ALL BE RUSHING TO EMULATE
GERHARD SCHROEDER AND WORKING
WITH PUTIN AT THE GAS COMPANY,
[chuckles]
BUT I THINK THE GERMANS ARE IN A
TYPICALLY SLOW, CAUTIOUS GERMAN
WAY ARE WORKING THEIR WAY TOWARD
A REASONABLE POSITION.

Steve says I'M GOING TO BEG THE
CONTROL ROOM FOR TWO MORE
MINUTES BECAUSE I WANT TO ASK
ONE MORE QUESTION HERE.
AGAIN WE TALKED ABOUT ROBERT
CAGAN EARLIER, HE HAS A PIECE IN
THE NEW REPUBLIC, THAT'S CALLED
“SUPER POWERS DON'T GET TO
RETIRE.”
I'M WONDERING WHETHER YOU THINK
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
STILL HAS THE CONFIDENCE AND THE
DESIRE TO BE THE LEADERS OF THE
FREE WORLD, AS WE HAVE REGARDED
YOU FOR THE LAST, YOU KNOW,
ALMOST A CENTURY?

The caption changes to "How sturdy the global order?"

Walter says TO BE
ABSOLUTELY CANDID, AMERICANS ARE
LAZY.
WE DON'T WANT TO DO ANYTHING
MORE THAN WE HAVE TO DO.
IF YOU THINK ABOUT
SEPTEMBER 11TH -- SEPTEMBER THE
10TH, 2001.
NO ONE IN THE UNITED STATES WAS
THINKING, OH, LET'S GO OCCUPY
AFGHANISTAN.
WHAT FUN THAT WOULD BE.
I THINK WHAT HAPPENS IS EVERY
NOW AND THEN, WHAT AMERICANS DO,
WE GET TIRED, WE GET FRUSTRATED,
THERE'S PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT NO
MATTER -- WE GIVE THEM FOREIGN
AID AND THEY WON'T DO RIGHT, WE
CAN BOMB THEM AND THEY WON'T DO
RIGHT.
WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO?
IT'S VERY FRUSTRATING.
SO WE SAY, ACH, TO HECK WITH IT
ALL.
WHAT HAPPENS IS IF WE TAKE OUR
EYE OFF THE BALL, SOMEBODY WILL
COME ALONG AT SOME POINT AND
WHACK US ON THE HEAD WITH A TWO
BY FOUR AND THEN WE GET, WHAT IS
THIS?
IF YOU LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF
THE 20TH CENTURY, THAT'S VERY
MUCH WHAT HAPPENED.
THE UNITED STATES WASN'T ACTIVE
TRYING TO STOP HITLER UNTIL
JAPAN BOMBED PEARL HARBOUR AND
SUDDENLY WE GO ALL OVER THE
PLACE.
AFTER WORLD WAR II, WE JUST
WANTED TO GO HOME.
WE DIDN'T WANT TO HAVE TROOPS IN
EUROPE.
IT WAS ONLY WHEN STALIN WAS
RELENTLESSLY SOLIDIFYING
COMMUNIST DOMINION AND YOU HAD
THE POSSIBILITY THAT FRANCE AND
ITALY MIGHT GO COMMUNIST, THE
CHINESE COMMUNISTS WERE MAKING
GAINS -- THEN AMERICANS WOKE UP
AT THAT POINT AND GOT ORGANIZED.
SO IN SOME WAYS, PRESIDENT PUTIN
MAY BE GIVING US A BIT OF A
WAKE-UP CALL NOW AND THERE'S
CERTAINLY MORE TALK IN THE
UNITED STATES THIS SUMMER ABOUT,
YOU KNOW, MAYBE WE NEED TO GET A
LITTLE BIT MORE ACTIVE, MAYBE WE
NEED TO BE PROACTIVE IN THE
WORLD RATHER THAN REACTIVE, THAT
I THINK ALREADY WE'RE SEEING A
BIT OF A CHANGE.

The caption changes to "Theagenda.tvo.org"

Steve says GOTCHA.
IT'S ALWAYS GREAT TO HAVE YOU
HERE ON TVO.
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD FROM BARD
COLLEGE IN NEW YORK STATE.
THANKS SO MUCH.

Walter says GOOD TO BE HERE.

Watch: Walter Russell Mead: The Return of Geopolitics