Blinken and Coons: War in Ukraine

April 14, 2022 1:50:27
Kaltura Video

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) discuss foreign policy priorities and global challenges. April, 2022.



0:00:25.1 Mary Sue Coleman: Good afternoon. I'm Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan. I'm delighted to welcome all of you to the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy's fourth annual lecture, Vandenberg Lecture. We're honored to welcome two of our nation's leaders in foreign and domestic policy Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and United States Senator Chris Coons. We are proud to host this lecture series named for the great Arthur Vandenberg, who served the State of Michigan in the United States Senate from 1928 to 1951.

0:01:08.4 MC: A native of Grand Rapids, Senator Vandenberg led the Republican Party from a position of staunch isolationism prior to American involvement in World War II, to a broad embrace of internationalism. As Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he worked to forge bipartisan support for our country's most significant and enduring international policies. This included the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, NATO, and the creation of the United Nations. The Vandenberg Fund was established at the Ford School from a generous gift from the Meyer Family Foundation. The fund enables the school to host notable leaders and experts in international relations, US foreign policy, diplomacy, trade and more.

0:02:07.0 MC: I know Hank Meijer is watching today. And on behalf of UofM, we are grateful to Hank and the Meyer family for their generous support of this ongoing series.

0:02:21.4 MC: Joining Senator Coons and Secretary Blinken in conversation will be Michael Barr, Dean of the Ford School. Dean Barr is also co-chair of democracy and debate, our university-wide collaboration and co-sponsor of today's program. Thank you all for joining us. I'll now turn to Dean Barr to introduce our first guest, United States Senator Chris Coons.

0:02:54.0 Michael Barr: Thanks so much, Mary Sue. It's just great to have you here back at the University of Michigan. We're thrilled to be joined today by two distinguished leaders in foreign and domestic policy. Senator Chris Coons, who's here with me now. And later today, Secretary of State Antony Blinken. A word on format, I'm gonna kick things off with a conversation with Senator Coons. There's gonna be a break from [0:03:16.5] ____. And then we'll return to continue the conversation with the Secretary of State and some of our amazing public policy students.

0:03:25.5 MB: If you'd like to ask questions and engage, you can do that in the YouTube chat box, or tweet your questions to #policytalks. I'd also like to thank our media partner at Detroit Public Television. And now, I have the honor of introducing our first Vandenberg Lecture speaker this afternoon, the United States Senator from Delaware, Chris Coons. A US Senator since 2010, Senator Coons sits on the foreign relations, appropriations, judiciary, small business and entrepreneurship, and ethics committees. He's currently the Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds US foreign assistance. In his position on the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Coons has advocated for key foreign policy and national security priorities, marshaling into law bills to modernize international development finance, and to address the root causes of global instability and extremism.

0:04:20.3 MB: He has spoken out in support of our global alliances and partnerships. I'll say on a personal level, Senator Coons and I have been friends for over 30 years, I have always been struck by his strong moral compass and his deep commitment to helping the less fortunate. Chris sweats all the details. He's a policy wonk's senator. A great fit for the Ford School of Public Policy. So please join me in welcoming Senator Chris Coons to share his insights in the foreign policy leadership. Chris, we're just delighted to have you here.

0:04:51.0 Chris Coons: Great to be on with you, Dean Barr. I wish I were there in person today. I look forward to an in-person visit. And thank you, of course, to President Coleman, and to Hank Meijer and the Meyer Family Foundation for supporting and sponsoring this Vandenberg Lecture series.

0:05:07.1 MB: Thank you, Senator. I'm gonna plow right in, 'cause we have a lot of territory we wanna cover today in this discussion. We're obviously witnessing a really extraordinary set of events with Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It's sometimes very hard to follow what line the United States and NATO is following in deciding to provide some forms of assistance and not other forms of assistance to Ukraine. Do you think we're getting the line right? 

0:05:41.2 CC: Well, that's something we're actively debating, and I'm actively wrestling with and reflecting on, Michael. One of the challenges as elected officials in the Senate and House make public pronouncements about whether we should or shouldn't send MIG-29s, for example, or S300s or different weapon systems, either from the American inventory that we captured at some point during the wars in Southwest Asia or from NATO allies, is that I keep urging my colleagues, "We should rely on the professionals in our intelligence community and in our military who are advising our President on which weapon systems and which level of engagement will prove to be too escalatory." But as someone who has sat through a number of classified briefings and a fair number of open briefings on the topic, the simple answer is, we don't really know.

0:06:35.6 CC: We are coming right up against a Cuban Missile Crisis moment in terms of a direct confrontation between NATO, the United States, the West and Russia. Vladimir Putin, I don't need to tell you or this audience, shocked most of Europe by launching the largest military invasion of a neighboring country since the Second World War. As the Polish ambassador recently told an assembled group of several dozen Senators incredulous in the first days after this war began, "This is a 1939 moment." And so as we watch night-after-night, as our news shares with us graphic details of horrific assaults that are killing tens of thousands of civilians and decimating ancient cities throughout Ukraine, we have to ask ourselves that very question, "How far are we willing to go? What is the line we're willing to push?" And to hear President Zelenskyy's plea, that "We need to make sure that freedom is armed better than tyranny."

0:07:41.2 MB: Thank you, Senator. When you're thinking about the situation in Ukraine, some people have trouble understanding why we might not really defend them when we have promised to defend all of NATO. So if there's an attack on Ukraine that's 10 miles from the Polish border, we're gonna be kinda careful. But if we see a bomb land in Poland, then are we all in? So what's the dividing line that we should be thinking about between countries that are in NATO and Ukraine? 

0:08:18.9 CC: So in the first week of the conflict, and frankly in the week leading up to the conflict, I had a number of exchanges with Republican colleagues. I won't name him, but a Midwestern Republican colleague who was in the military and is quite a hawk. And he was saying to me that he thought it was a big mistake for President Biden to clearly say that American troops would not be going into Ukraine, that we would provide military arms, we would provide intelligence, we would provide other financial support, but we would not send troops. We would not fight Americans in Ukraine. And he also said, "We will defend every inch of NATO territory." And this colleague of mine was saying, "The President made a mistake in preemptively declaring that line," that this side of the line, we will defend every inch, that side, we'll provide material but not troops. And I reminded him that that was a line that needed to be reinforced because of our previous President. I don't wanna spend too much time re-litigating the international record of President Trump, but he put at question whether or not we really would come to the defense of NATO, publicly and privately, in statements, speeches and actions, he significantly undermined the strength of our commitment to Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which says that we will all come to each other's defense.

0:09:48.7 CC: So I think the question that we have to ask ourselves and that Europeans are asking us, is first, will we actually meet that commitment? Will the United States across electoral cycles reliably come to the aid of Lithuania, or of a Balkan or a Baltic State if invaded by a neighboring country first? And President Biden has repeatedly and forcefully reassured that. Second, when we come to the aid of a country like Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine that has sought NATO membership, is trying to get into NATO, is trying to align with the West, but is not currently covered by that NATO Treaty? And then last, and this is a point President Zelenskyy of Ukraine has made repeatedly, pointedly, and at least in my case, effectively, that really troubles my conscience. In 1994, Ukraine had the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world. They willingly gave it up in exchange for a written commitment from the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity. So as President Zelenskyy forcefully said to those of us assembled at the Munich Security Conference, "Is your word worth anything?"

0:11:05.0 CC: Now, President Biden just announced I think yesterday, another $800 million in materials, including Howitzers and drones and armored personnel carriers. We are overwhelmingly the largest provider of arms and humanitarian support to Ukrainian refugees and to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Territorial Defense Forces. But we are still respecting that line. And to the point of your question, Michael, it is somewhat arbitrary. And the fact patterns are gonna force this question. There almost certainly will be an incident where Putin goes too far, either within Ukraine by using chemical weapons, or just over the border by claiming an accident in which a cruise missile strikes an arms depot where Americans are unloading stinger missiles from a C-17 about to go across the border. We are in a very dangerous moment where it is important, that on a bipartisan and measured way, we in Congress and the administration come to a common position about when we are willing to go the next step and to send not just arms but troops to the aid and defense of Ukraine. If the answer is never, then we are inviting another level of escalation and brutality by Putin. But so far, that is the answer of a majority in Congress and this administration.

0:12:32.5 MB: Thank you, Senator. You mentioned that you had a chance to hear directly from Zelenskyy about the events on the ground. And that mode of interaction is, in many sense, a new one, that president of another country directly connecting with the legislatures from around the world, with the public from around the world. Could you comment a little bit about what it's been like to hear the President talk that way, and whether you think it's an effective strategy for him to pursue? 

0:13:12.9 CC: President Zelenskyy has redefined himself and his nation in the eyes of the world, certainly in the eyes of the American Congress, with electrifying real-time personal direct appeals. I first met him a number of years ago. But on Christmas Eve of last year, two dozen of us, Republicans and Democrats, House and Senate, spent more than an hour on a call with him at a point where there was a Russian build-up, but far from certainty that there would be an invasion. In fact, the United States was saying, "We believe you're at genuine risk." And there was some frustration in Congress and the administration that President Zelenskyy and many other leaders in Ukraine seem more focused on settling scores internally and on other issues than they were on really preparing for this conflict.

0:14:04.2 CC: The next time I had a direct and exposure to him was at the Munich Security Conference where we were in the same room as he delivered a really powerful address. And then it was just a few days later that the war began. Since then, I've been on several calls with him. But the most memorable was, he addressed the entire assembled Congress of the United States. Several hundred of us gathered in a big chamber that's underground, that's near the capital, to hear a real-time address. And it was powerful, motivating, personal. The forcefulness behind his appeal, frankly, Michael, is rooted in his personal courage. He has a young, beautiful family. And it's now public what we all first learned in a classified setting that the United States, when the Russians were encircling Kyiv and we had credible intelligence that there were several assassination teams hunting for Zelenskyy and trying to kill him and his family, we offered to remove him, to exfiltration him, to give him a safe passage outside the country, and to launch a government in exile. And his memorable response was, "I don't need a ride, I need more ammunition."

0:15:11.3 CC: And that sort of personal courage, those daily broadcasts by him and his most senior advisors from the center of Kyiv as there were shelling and bombardments, and as there were special forces units from Russia in the city, I think that helped galvanize the world. But frankly, the willingness to fight by the Ukrainian people of all ages and backgrounds genuinely surprised the Russians, and is genuinely motivated the world. The United States has long counted itself the world's principal beacon of liberty, and promoter of democracy in open societies. Ukraine today is showing us what it looks like to actually fight for those principles at enormous cost, and to be unwilling to compromise, and to simply give up in the face of overwhelming odds.

0:16:01.1 MB: A very powerful message, I think, for all of us to contemplate. And it does raise this question that you were wrestling with in your answer before. What then is our obligation to the people of Ukraine? 

0:16:19.3 CC: So first, this is the worst refugee crisis a country has faced since the Second World War. Syria, Yemen, other countries in the Middle East and North Africa have also endured horrific internal civil wars and displacement, but 10% of the population of Ukraine has fled in just a few weeks. And overwhelmingly, the refugees of Ukraine are women and children. First, we have a profound moral obligation to come to their aid and to provide financial support, food and temporary shelter and other assistance to the 4.7 million Ukrainians who've already left their country, and the 7 million or more who are already displaced within Ukraine, first and second. I think we have an obligation to provide every possible weapon system to the Ukrainian defenders. The challenge there is, how far they would go up the technology scale, and what is militarily useful? 

0:17:23.6 CC: We've had genuine debates about whether the MIG-29s that... Or advanced Soviet era jet fighters that the Ukrainians are asking for would actually be militarily all that useful. It is clear that advanced missile defense systems like the S-300 are incredibly useful, and advanced armor and artillery, which we are now beginning to provide. Our NATO allies, the Czechs, the Slovaks and others, are beginning to provide Legacy Soviet Systems for air defense and armored vehicles.

0:17:57.7 CC: But to get back to the core issue, at some point we are going to have to confront the reality that Putin may be willing to escalate beyond our willing to take risks. And if we allow Ukraine to become the Syria of Eastern Europe, I think we will have failed both the Ukrainian people and this moment in history. There are complex reasons why we did not get engaged more actively and aggressively in Syria. I would have supported our doing so. But I recognize that the opposition in Syria was a far more complicated mix of players and partners, and that the region was far more divided. This is a different fact pattern where the Ukrainian people are almost completely united in their opposition to Russia. The entire West is allied and organized in a way they haven't been in decades. Heck, even the Swiss have imposed banking sanctions, and even the Swedes who sat out the Second World War have sent material aid.

0:19:00.8 CC: In fact, Vladimir Putin's violence and aggression, his barbarism towards the Ukrainian people may have finally expanded NATO by having Finland and Sweden seek admission, something they've considered for years but have never actually sought. So our obligation to the Ukrainian people is that their sacrifice be worth it. What is happening here is being watched by other autocrats around the world, from the DPRK in Iran to, obviously, the PRC in Xi Jinping's leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. I think the future of the 21st century is going to be written in the next few weeks or months in how fiercely we are willing to defend freedom in Ukraine.

0:19:42.8 MB: Thank you, Senator. You talked a bit about the process of getting aid and material to Ukraine. Not all of our audience understands the role that Congress plays in making that happen, the appropriations process, the supports the diplomatic and military engagement. Could you tell us more about the bill you introduced with your colleagues to support Ukraine, and what the broader role of Congress is in conducting foreign policy? 

0:20:14.1 CC: Well, thank you for that question. It's a question we are answering in real-time. As you may or may not know, I wrote my Senior Honors Thesis at Amherst about the role of Congress in foreign assistance policy. My professor or supervisor was Tony Lake, who later went on to be the National Security Advisor and the head of UNICEF. We are in a tragically broken period in terms of the Senate and policy setting. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on which I serve, and which President Biden chaired, and of course, Senator Vandenberg famously chaired, sets policy through authorizations and the approval and ratification of treaties.

0:20:53.7 CC: The Appropriations Subcommittee, which I now chair where Senator Graham is my ranking member, sets the priorities for $58 billion a year in spending, funding for the whole of the State Department and USAID and MCC, are bilateral and multilateral foreign assistance and our support for the United Nations and other groups like UNHCR that's providing refugee relief and support. I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to secure quickly strong bipartisan support for 13.6 billion in Ukrainian assistance, both humanitarian and military. And I urged that we provide robust relief. When the request first came over from the administration, it was less than 5 billion, and I was really pushing for 10 billion. And within a few weeks, it grew to 13.6 billion, and we are going to have to do another Ukrainian supplemental both to fund the war effort and to provide humanitarian assistance and reinforcements to the Eastern flank of NATO.

0:21:57.5 CC: Our president has deployed 14,000 troops. We now have more troops in Europe forward-deployed than at any point in the last 30 years. But we should not be doing this through emergency supplementals. We should not have last-minute deals being cut between the leadership of the two parties with very little consultation or transparency. Now I sound like an old institutionalist, but it is true that so-called "Regular order," where committees of the Senate have hearings, the administration presents budgets and we go through them. That is the way it should be done. Unfortunately, Secretary Blinken and Samantha Power, Administrator of USAID, are both going to be appearing in front of my sub-committee to review their budgetary submissions in the coming weeks. But I think we need to be building in more robust support for the ongoing humanitarian crises and for the security needs that we are now going to see. NATO has a new focus, a new purpose. It was initially formed to resist Soviet aggression. It is now being re-strengthened and reformed in some ways in direct opposition to Putin's aggression.

0:23:09.0 CC: I do think we're going to need to look at over the long term, providing more investment in security and in development diplomacy and the softer sides of national security, which work best when they work in combination.

0:23:25.0 MB: Senator, if you were to think back to the time when you were writing your senior thesis about the role of Congress in US foreign policy, what would you as your later self tell your earlier self about how it actually works? 

0:23:42.6 CC: That it's more messy and more human than I'd even imagine. Although that was one of the conclusions I reached in... The central point of my thesis was that if you read the transcripts of what Congress said they were doing by shifting to a foreign policy that was... Excuse me, foreign aid policy that was directed at meeting basic human needs. So it was laying the groundwork of what later became known as, for example, PEPFAR, where we are world's greatest provider of public health assistance. At the time, in the '80s and '90s, it was supporting food... The Green Revolution and relief of hunger.

0:24:21.0 CC: What was really going on behind the scenes was less that members of Congress grasped the development theory that was being proposed by their witnesses and their hearings, it was more that they hated Nixon and they wanted to take money away from the president and prevent a president, frankly, whether Nixon or LBJ from using $8 as a chit to reward or punish senators or countries that voted with us at the UN with regards to Vietnam or that were on board with his domestic agenda.

0:24:52.5 CC: We frankly, the Congress at the time took what was a very large foreign aid budget and removed the ability of the executive branch to just move it around at will. The legacy of that decision, of those decisions lives with us today, in that the USAID budget as Samantha Power will tell you, is pretty sharply constrained, he does not have the freedom to move a couple billion dollars from one place to another. And so what I would tell my younger self is "You're on to something," and I would also say "Work hard to restore the thoughtful deliberations of an earlier age," which are more rare today in a more partisan and a more media conscious senate.

0:25:36.2 MB: I'd love to explore that theme a little bit more with you, as you know, this is the Vandenberg lecture, I wanna explore themes that were important to Vandenberg. We were chatting earlier with Hank Meijer, and you know in Hank's about Vandenberg, he really has a wonderful description of the transformation of Vandenberg from a very staunch isolationist and a real partisan to somebody who worked very closely with FDR, with the administration on the whole post war order, NATO, Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, the engagement of the United States in the world. It's kind of hard to imagine that kind of dialogue today. How do you... Is there a chance and how would we pursue that chance to take this moment of pretty good bipartisan consensus on Russia's invasion of Ukraine and build out a more bipartisan consensus on foreign policy? 

0:26:42.4 CC: A great question. Look, my core concern is the sustainability of unity within the United States and unity in the West, whether it's NATO, NATO's European partners, or all of the Western nations, the free democratic and open societies that have come to Ukraine's aid, and our partners around the world. That are also joining us in imposing sanctions on Russia, so we shouldn't forget that the South Koreans, the Japanese, the Australian others, although not yet, the Indians. We have a challenge in that there is a united approach towards Ukraine by western democracies, but there is a significant sort of arms folded in wait and see response from a significant number of African countries, of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries who frankly view this more as hypocrisy, that in their view of the United States and other Western countries have not provided the same level of support of engagement, of concern for conflicts on the content of Africa, Middle East that we are for Ukraine.

0:27:50.6 CC: So first, there is significant unity in Congress and in the West with regards to how to respond right now to Ukraine and Russia. One of the reasons that Vladimir Putin really thought he would get away with this with very little consequences was that after his invasion of Georgia in 2008 and his invasion of Moldova, his invasion and occupation and annexation of Crimea in 2014, and then of the Donbas; the response from the west was tepid, was divided, was unequal, and a lot of that had to do with domestic political concerns and with economic concerns, especially on the part of Germany.

0:28:30.4 CC: I think one of the key issues in the West is Chancellor Scholz and the new government in Germany, and the dramatic shift in position they've taken. In Europe, this frankly has allowed us to move past for the moment, at least, some of the real divisions between the UK and the EU over Brexit and between Poland and the rest of NATO over some really misguided inappropriate decisions by the Polish government in terms of journalistic freedom, [0:28:58.4] ____ freedom. I was the in Warsaw meeting with the Polish government three days before the war began, and they are suddenly completely focused with us. That's NATO and Europe.

0:29:06.5 CC: Let's talk about here in the United States for a moment. We similarly are going to struggle with retaining focus and attention. Syria and the Syrian Civil War was no less brutal or tragic, and yet the American people after being riveted to those suffering in Syria for the first year of that war, gradually drifted off and became less and less motivated or concerned. I'm very troubled, Michael, frankly, by recent polling that suggests that the war in Ukraine and the defensive freedom in Ukraine doesn't make the top five in terms of identified what are the most pressing concerns in your life for a majority of Americans.

0:29:40.9 CC: They're more worried about inflation, about the economy, about the pandemic, about crime, about the border. So. Bluntly sustaining this focus, particularly as we move into a midterm where control of Congress is gonna be an issue, is gonna be a challenge. And hopefully you won't accuse me of being overly partisan. There is also a significant challenge here in terms of the political views, the global view of our former president, who has repeatedly and publicly said congratulatory and laudatory things about Vladimir Putin, and there is an upcoming election in France where the second place candidate, the one who might... She has probably a one in five or two and five chance of winning, has a comparable view, has a long close relationship with Putin and Putin's Russia.

0:30:29.3 CC: So, holding us together in the United States, holding us together in NATO, is going to take leadership, leadership that I believe President Biden has shown and is capable of sustaining. Leadership by the leaders and the strong voices in our caucuses in the House and Senate, and frankly, I think Senator McConnell is an internationalist, is someone who believes in NATO, is someone who believes in our defense of the west. But let's go back to Vandenberg where you started. It's going to take some vocal, risky steps by some republicans and democrats to challenge our parties and our administration to be more united and to be more forceful in our response to the ongoing developments in Ukraine.

0:31:15.7 CC: Congressman Meijer is one of a dozen House Republicans who made a very tough decision and is facing some political consequences as a result. Adam Kinzinger is someone I've traveled with and worked with and admire, and it is regrettable that his political career is certainly taking a sharp turn. Former Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona is someone who I traveled with regularly, legislated with, deeply admire. He is now our ambassador in Turkey. And for him, the breaking point with the former president was, in no small part, his view of our alliances, our values and our priorities in terms of the defense of freedom.

0:31:52.7 CC: So, I know there was a long answer. I think we could weld together a bipartisan consensus, but it's going to take a lot of work, and this is exactly one of the things to which I dedicate my time in the Senate, and where I am hopeful that members of the armed forces, intelligence appropriations and foreign relations committees will be actively engaged in the weeks ahead.

0:32:16.6 MB: Senator, I know you spend a lot of time working on these relationships across the aisle, you had a very close relationship with Senator McCain. You have a group of senators, you get a lot of stuff done with behind the scenes, but the public mostly doesn't see any of the bipartisanship, they just see the clash. Is there something we could do to build a better foundation for the bipartisan work you wanna do and change the nature of the public conversation so that we began as a country to be able to listen to each other again and to learn from each other and to talk with each other in a way that might allow us to hear each other? It's such a fundamental challenge.

0:33:05.1 CC: That is the basic challenge facing free and open societies in this digital period. First, confronting and combating disinformation, but second, dealing with polarization. And I'll put it back at you and say it is our universities and our schools where we most need help with this. I did not grow up, you did not grow up in a digital era. The idea of getting a majority of my news from Facebook still confounds me. My wife and I sit down and watch the national evening news every night. Something that my grandparents did. They watched Walter Cronkite, it was a big moment every night, you had to watch the national evening news. I am part of a very shrinking demographic.

0:33:48.7 CC: And I have three children who are college age who are at different universities with different campus cultures. I will say, for better or worse, Congress is a representative institution, and one of the senators with whom I worked most closely and with whom I've gotten the most done in foreign policy is... Wait for it, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. We serve on the judiciary committee together, and on the appropriation subcommittee, he's my ranking member for foreign assistance.

0:34:17.9 CC: Lindsey and I have passed and gotten signed into law several significant landmark foreign policy bills, we also go at each other, hammer and tong on judiciary in a way that makes me wanna strangle him with my bare hands over the Supreme Court confirmations. And I will just agree with you that, I think most of my constituents only know Senator Graham from some of the more contentious moments of recent confirmation hearings. But they would be dumbfounded at the frequency with which he and I are backstage at the judicial confirmations working out the mechanics and the details of our shared and passionate support for foreign assistance, and I will never stop being grateful to Lindsey Graham for saving foreign assistance when he was the chairman of the subcommittee. And President Trump, his close friend with whom he was closely aligned, was determined to cut it dramatically. He, year after year, Trump tried to cut our foreign assistance by more than a third, and Senator Graham stopped him.

0:35:20.1 CC: So, you're right, that isn't well enough known. It isn't well enough known that our president has signed into law recently bipartisan bills that actually do big things, like fixing our postal system. Folks think that's boring. But for week after week after week, I got more calls and letters from my local constituents saying "Hey, my medication didn't arrive on time, I run a small business, I didn't get my bills out. I sent a Christmas card or birthday card to my niece and she didn't get it for three months." Fixing the Post Office was a bipartisan undertaking. Fixing our roads and bridges, our tunnels and highways, our access to broadband was a bipartisan undertaking. We need to educate Americans about what we can get done with compromise and what we can't get done without it.

0:36:09.1 CC: And frankly our shattered media landscape that rewards outrage and does not in any way recognize or reward compromise and bipartisanship, needs to change. So there's an effort in Congress, the problem solvers caucus, for example. There's others, a group called With Honor that supports veterans of both parties, there are institutions in the Senate, the weekly prayer breakfast, regular bipartisan trips overseas. The gym, which believe it or not, the senators-only gym is one of the few private bipartisan spaces we have. There's more good bipartisan work going on than you might realize, but it is definitely swimming upstream against the currents of a culture that rewards spectacle and division.

0:36:57.6 CC: So, for anyone who's watching, think hard about how you conduct yourself as a student or as a teacher, think hard about how you conduct yourself in your community, in your neighborhood, and if you find yourself regularly saying "Well, So-and-so is just crazy. I can't work with him/her." Think about what you're saying. By describing your classmate, your colleague, your co-worker as crazy, you're saying that they're beyond reason that you can't have a discussion with them where you might disagree. And I worry that we are training a younger generation, not in the politics of listening, and of compromise and of deliberation, but in the politics of outrage and of cancelling, and that puts the whole undertaking, the whole enterprise of democracy itself at risk.

0:37:45.5 MB: Thank you, Senator. We spend a lot of time working on that issue in our community, and I think our students are really pretty terrific about it, but it is a skill that has to be relearned and taught, and getting that right, getting the conversations right is, I think, critical for the future of the country. I'm gonna start bringing in some of our questions from the audience. One question is about the link between what we're seeing in the war in Ukraine and the climate crisis. We've seen significant increases in gas prices and energy prices, in part 'cause of the war in Ukraine. Do you think there's a way in which seeing that people will begin to be more serious about a transition to a greener economy? 

0:38:42.6 CC: Gosh, I hope so, Michael. One of our core challenges here is that we are simultaneously facing three significant threats to the very survival of the west end of democracy, one of them is this global pandemic that we have so badly mismanaged in this country. It is tragic that a million Americans have died from the pandemic. The other, as we've been discussing, is Russia's aggression in Ukraine that has changed the rules of Europe; for the first time in seven decades, a massive military invasion of a peaceful neighbor, unprovoked. But this other issue, climate change, which is still grinding along right outside our Windows remains one that challenges us politically to find a path forward.

0:39:25.9 CC: As you know, I created, and I'm the co-chair of the bipartisan climate solutions caucus in the Senate. We have 14 members, seven republicans, seven democrats. And my co-chair is Mike Braun, a hard right conservative from Indiana. But the price of admission of being a member of this caucus is you have to agree that the climate is changing, the human activity is causing it, and that we must do something significant to tackle the climate crisis. When we started, I didn't think we get three or four members, let alone seven republicans to agree, and I led the only bipartisan delegation to the COP26 Conference, the Global Climate Conference in Glasgow earlier this year or late last year.

0:40:10.6 CC: But we are really struggling to find sustained bipartisan support for investing in climate resiliency, climate adaptation, and in changing the energy mix in the United States, and this moment where more Americans are concerned about paying a dollar a gallon of gas more than are concerned about the outcome of the war in Ukraine is a real test for our commitment to combating climate change. Bluntly, in the next two to three years, we are going to have to search the production of US natural gas and provide replacement supplies to Germany, to Italy, and to other front line states, we need to give them a path towards replacing Russian natural gas, or we will genuinely struggle to sustain opposition to Russia.

0:40:57.2 CC: I could go through country by country, the reasons and the dynamics, but the administration has been working tirelessly to try and get the Emirates, the Canadians, the Americans, major oil and gas producers to provide more supply. In the middle period three to five to seven years, we can and should provide much greater support for the climate ambition of the EU and NATO. The EU is far ahead of the United States in terms of adopting legally binding climate mechanisms, and then beyond that seven-year period, when I think we are out of the shadow of Russian aggression and Putin's ability to use oil and gas as his major foreign policy weapon against Eastern and Central Europe, then I think we can and should accelerate our climate work.

0:41:44.5 CC: I'll close with a brief observation. Recently, I've had constructive bipartisan conversations with Republican and Democratic senators about imposing a border carbon adjustment, something that the EU is moving towards already, that the UK under Boris Johnson, his government is more climate ambitious than any American administration has been so far. We have that degree of ambition in the Biden administration, it's just Congress that's not delivering the support in a bipartisan way. And the Canadians. And we have a real chance to come up with a climate club that pulls together the EU, UK, Canada and the United States, and hopefully, Mexico in a common, a climate, a tariff system that would impose significant tariffs and penalties on carbon intensive heavy industry, so, steel and aluminum, cement and fertilizer produced by countries like hypothetically China that are much more carbon intensive would have to pay extra in order to sell into our markets. We would be recognizing the already existing regulatory price on carbon in these markets, and provide an incentive for American cleaner manufacturer.

0:42:57.0 MB: Thank you, Senator. We're accruing a lot of questions. I'm gonna try and get to as many as I can.

0:43:02.4 CC: I'll try to be more brief.

0:43:03.5 MB: No, you're doing great. The next question is about some of your work in Africa, you've been involved in many issues there over a long time, this question is particularly about the US policy towards Ethiopia, given the conflict in the Tigray region. What the questioner is wondering is, what should the US policy be, and why does the president call one activity genocide in Ukraine, but not have a similar strong statement about what's happening in Ethiopia? 

0:43:40.7 CC: Well, I can't speak to the president's or the administration's position on a final determination, it is a legal determination whether or not the term genocide really applies to a conflict, I think, but I don't speak for our president, you will too. And have the Secretary of State on who he might press on this definitional question. But genocide, a term which was initially coined by a leader from western Ukraine actually is the intentional effort to erase an ethnicity, an identity. And there is an argument to be made that that is exactly what is happening in Ukraine, that Vladimir Putin, who has repeatedly publicly said, Ukraine is not a country, Ukrainian people are Russian people, and they need to be brought back into Russia.

0:44:32.2 CC: There have been some actions and some crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine that are elements of the charge of genocide, but I probably shouldn't get into second-guessing that. Let me speak to Tigray. There has been a brutal campaign in the province of Tigray by the ENDF, by the federal military forces of Ethiopia over the last year. And Prime Minister Abiy, who I went and visited just over a year ago as President Biden's personal emissary, has made a number of promises to me and to President Biden in that weekend that he has not kept. And it is my hope that there is still a window in which he might keep a commitment to transparency and accountability for Eritreans, for TPLF, for ENDF, for Amhara Militia for all who have committed gross violations of human rights in this conflict.

0:45:35.0 CC: The restoration of humanitarian access, which is just beginning, but only a fraction of the humanitarian access required is getting through, and the beginning of a genuine national dialogue of reconciliation. There's been some recent progress on these fronts, and I appreciate and I'm encouraged by that progress, but the suffering and the horrible abuses and oppression in...

0:45:57.0 CC: Tigray and in some of the adjacent provinces has to come to an end, and I have been a critical, sharply critical at times, of the Prime Minister, more because he has the power, the ability as the head of state, to expel the Eritreans, to reconcile with the Tigrayans and to try and bring this brutal campaign and this conflict to an end. I recognize, the TPLF started it, an important point for the Prime Minister, but I also think it is long, long overdue for this to be brought to a resolution through a cease fire and a reconciliation.

0:46:32.3 MB: Thank you, Senator. It is just a brutal conflict that I think is not gotten enough attention here in the United States. The next set of questions, there's a couple of questions relating to whether the US itself, contributed to the reduction in respect for international law that we're now charging Putin with committing. So the questioner is wondering whether the US posture towards Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel, or other countries has diminished respect for the rule of law? 

0:47:14.8 CC: Well, look, broadly, I'm gonna say that I think how federal courts in the United States have played a central role as a bulwark against an overreaching executive, the ways in which our federal judiciary continues to be independent and excellent, stands globally, as a demonstration of our commitment to the rule of law domestically. Internationally, there are some points of challenge and contest, obviously. We're now calling for the ICC to be active in investigating and prosecuting the war crimes that are being committed in Ukraine by Vladimir Putin's troops, yet we, at different times, have been more and less supportive of the ICC. We have been more and less supportive of or recognize the constraints of international law in our conduct as a nation. I think it is possible to simultaneously be a patriot who believes in the United States and our commitment to democracy and the rule of law and yet, recognize there are chapters in our history, in our conduct globally over the last decades, that gives some grounds to question or challenge our commitment.

0:48:24.0 CC: I do think that at the end of the day, we have on net, been a force for good and for an international system that is a rules-based order, and I think on balance, President Putin, Vladimir Putin in Russia, has consistently, broadly undermined the rule of law and the rules-based international order, grossly. So, are we blameless? Are we without blemish or spot? No. But I would take the United States any day as a global advocate for the rule of law, over Vladimir Putin and his constant meddling, overt and covert, his assassinations, his subjugations of elections, his violation of the most basic rules of conduct, around the world, I think, deserve universal condemnation.

0:49:19.8 MB: Senator, some people think that the United States over a long period of time, made a mistake and helped to provoke this war in Russia by expanding NATO. Others have argued, "No, it was actually... Our mistake was that we didn't expand NATO fast enough or far enough." How do you think about that question? 

0:49:43.0 CC: Well, that is a question we will be debating for a long time. First, I'm not gonna give Vladimir Putin any aid or comfort by saying, "Yes, this was our fault. We expanded NATO and we interfered in your sphere of influence." One of the things I most strongly disliked about our former president's view was that he casually accepted the idea of spheres of influence. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping routinely talk about sphere of influence, as if the South China Sea, or the [0:50:13.2] ____ as Putin speaks of it, are areas in which they should be allowed to, un-restrained, set the rules and meddle in the affairs of countries in their region. NATO expansion has actually happened several times in several waves, over a long period of time, and I think it's most useful or instructive to talk about the '99 and the '04 expansions, and to be mindful of where NATO was and where Russia was, in those periods. Yes, Vladimir Putin sees this as his... His single greatest grievance is that the Soviet Union collapsed and that NATO expanded, to include former Warsaw Pact nations.

0:50:58.4 CC: I just reject out of hand, at all, Vladimir Putin's frequently-repeated view that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century. Virtually, any citizen of any one of the Soviet Socialist Republics other than Russia, would tell you that being under the Soviet boot, whether in a Baltic state or in one of the stands or in Eastern Europe was not a positive experience. And, the countries that have run into the arms of NATO and the west, I think, are proof positive that an authoritarian system where state terror and a constant surveillance system and a single party rule and a wildly ineffective economic system, were really not that good for the people of the former Soviet Union.

0:51:42.8 CC: So, in '99, we expanded NATO to include Poland and Hungary and Czechoslovakia, which were critical bulwarks against any re-emergence of a Soviet State and countries that had made significant advances in terms of their legal and political and economic systems. It was 2004, where we admitted the three Baltic states and a number of Balkan states, as well as Romania and Bulgaria, that I think is really the most challenging, and happened in the backdrop of NATO being newly engaged in the post-911 mission in Afghanistan and Russia. Being in the period where those decisions were made, the turn of the last century, Russia was remarkably militarily and economically weak, and so, the idea that Putin...

0:52:36.1 CC: That the Russian economy would revive significantly and that Putin would dedicate huge amounts of resources to modernizing their military, I think, wasn't exactly on the horizon. We will struggle to defend the Baltic states, just speaking as a matter of military strategy and geography, and we would struggle to defend all of the Baltic states... Excuse me, the Balkan states in their current level of readiness and preparation. So, to your question: Should we have allowed Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia into NATO? I don't have a firm answer to that, right now. I think the hesitation was the level of disarray, of corruption, of inefficiency, of a relative lack of sophistication in their military and a relative lack of transparency and clarity to their procurement systems and their governance systems.

0:53:27.3 CC: The Ukrainians, on the other hand, in the last seven to eight weeks, have demonstrated astonishing resolve. There is a joke making its circles... Making its way to Ukrainian circles that, if the United States would like to apply for Ukrainian defense, they'd be willing to consider us, in all due speed, because they have shown more determination or resolve and more grit than many nations ever have, in the face of aggression. So at the end of the day, I think we need to be clear-eyed about what it would mean for us to admit Finland and Sweden, advanced countries with advanced militaries, with some of the most transparent societies and most developed societies in the world, and yet, very clear-eyed about the threat Russia poses and now, willing to strengthen the northern flank of NATO in a way that would make much more likely, the successful defense of the Baltic states.

0:54:20.0 CC: And, I think we need to re-double our efforts to ensure that NATO nations, like Hungary in particular, but also Poland and some of the Balkan states, do not continue an east-ward trend in the ways in which their national governments are restricting press freedom, constraining the independence of their judiciary and otherwise, doing things that violate some of the commitments that the EU makes in terms of EU values and commitments, and that are essential to being full NATO partners as well.

0:54:53.0 MB: Thank you, Senator. I think we have time for one, maybe one and a half questions. So the next question from the audience is about the way in which our sanctions policy affects people living in the less-developed world, and whether we, because of the effects of those sanctions, owe responsibilities to help those countries through this moment.

0:55:18.6 CC: I think we owe a responsibility to help those countries impacted, just as a matter of humanitarian concern. I will debate with anyone, whether it is our sanctions policy or it is the brutality and the violence of the Russian invasion that are causing secondary, tragic consequences in terms of a sharp spike in food prices, food riots now, in a number of countries and a likely dramatic increase in hunger and food insecurity for dozens of countries. Let's be clear. That's not caused by our sanctions policy, it's caused by Vladimir Putin's aggression. He sent 130000 troops to terrorize and destroy cities all over Ukraine, and to kill tens of thousands of innocent civilians, to use sexual assault as a weapon of war, to target civilians and to engage in widespread executions of innocent civilians, to suggest that our sanctions in response to that aggression are somehow response...

0:56:15.0 CC: Let's be clear, who started this and what they did. But I don't expect Putin to contribute one thin dime to feeding the newly hungry of countries from Egypt, to Pakistan, from Indonesia to Yemen, to Sudan. I do expect the United States to step up and do that. We are the world's single largest donor to food assistance, we are in the greatest moment of food insecurity globally, since the Second World War, and I will keep working tirelessly to ensure that our administration and our Congress meets what I think is our opportunity, both to deliver safe and effective American vaccines to a world not yet vaccinated, not yet recovered from this pandemic, and to deliver life-saving food assistance around the world.

0:57:00.7 MB: Senator, I think we have time for a final question, and I'll just take the liberty of asking it on behalf of our students. What advice would you give to young people thinking about entering public service? 

0:57:14.9 CC: Come on in. The water's fine. It can be a long journey, and you need to be open, be open-hearted to those from different backgrounds, different world views, who have different needs than you do, be open-hearted. Be forgiving to yourself, you can't save the world, and you won't save the world in your lifetime or by yourself. Go in with open arms. You need others alongside you. A lifetime of dedication to public service cannot be a solo journey. You will not have the rewards of lots of money, you will not have the rewards of lots of security and stability. A life of public service, I think, properly led, is necessarily one that is less secure and less prosperous, but it can be enormously rewarding. You can end up in places in service where you never doubt that what you're doing is needed and makes a difference. So we need you. Come on in. Be proud of who you are and what you bring to the table, but also be forgiving of yourself and others, and open-hearted, as you try to make your best and give your best to our world.

0:58:24.3 MB: Thank you so much, Senator Coons. It's been great talking with you today. Big thank you for being here and for your many, many years of public service at the local and state level and now, at the federal level, just a long and distinguished career. To our audience, thank you for joining us for this discussion today, and for your terrific questions that you sent along through YouTube and Twitter. We have a great opportunity to continue this conversation in 15 minutes. We're gonna be joined by Secretary of State, Blinken, and I hope everybody will join us for the rest of the Vandenberg lecture today. It will kick that off with an introduction by my colleague in Weiser Diplomacy Center, John Ciorciari. So, hope to see you then. And again, a huge thank you to Senator Coons.

0:59:14.7 CC: Thank you, Michael. It was wonderful, being on with you. I'm so grateful for your friendship and your leadership at the Ford School.

0:59:21.0 MB: Take care.

0:59:28.0 John Ciorciari: Welcome, everyone. And on behalf of the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, welcome back, to those of you who just watched the first half of our fourth Annual Vandenberg Lecture, and welcome, to those of you who are just tuning in. I'm John Ciorciari, an Associate Professor here at the Ford School, and Director of our Weiser Diplomacy Center, which is co-sponsoring today's events, along with the university's democracy and debate initiative and Detroit Public Television. In the past hour, my colleague, Dean Michael Barr, spoke with Senator Chris Coons, about the war in Ukraine and about forging a new foreign policy consensus in Washington. I now have the great pleasure of introducing a special guest, to continue the conversation with a focus on diplomacy; United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. I'll keep this very brief, so that we can get quickly to his insights.

1:00:17.8 JC: Anthony Blinken is the 71st Secretary of State, and has been a leader in shaping US foreign policy over three decades and over three presidential administrations. Among other senior roles, he served as Deputy Secretary of State, between 2015 and '17, as President Obama's Principal Deputy National Security Advisor before that, and also as a Senior Director at the National Security Council, as a senior official at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and elsewhere at the state department, including a start to his career, focused on European affairs, which will be a particular focus of today's conversation.

1:00:54.0 JC: I'm joined in this conversation, by Dean Barr and a classroom full of very excited Ford School students, including three of whom will join us here on the chairs, to ask some questions of their own. With that, please join me in welcoming Secretary Blinken to the Fourth Annual Vandenberg Lecture and to the Ford School.


1:01:21.5 Antony Blinken: Thank you. Thank you very, very much. And it's wonderful to be with you. It's great to see my friend, Michael. We go back a long ways, to the days of the Clinton administration, but really wonderful to see you there. I just wanna acknowledge a few people at the outset, particularly the President, Mary Sue Coleman. Grateful for her support for so much of what we do. There are few people who have been involved with you, either now, or very recently, who are been good friends or close colleagues. Carl Jocomo, former member of the New York Times Editorial board, who was at the Weiser Diplomacy Center, who's a terrific friend and colleague. I think, either with you today or tuning in today, is another friend and colleague, and someone for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation; that's Steve Biegun, who was the Deputy Secretary of State, here.

1:02:12.9 AB: We've been colleagues for a long time. You know that he is a Michigan grad, Michigan Dad, and I think, soon to be a Michigan professor again. So, it's great to be with Steve, even virtually. And one of the things that I also have a deep appreciation for, is the work that we're doing together, between the state department and the university. We have the Diplomacy Lab, which is I think, a great initiative that really puts together students with foreign policy practitioners, to try to solve concrete problems and bringing new ideas to us, new insights to us, and we're really thankful for that collaboration. We have the Diplomat in Residence, Shannon Farrell, who's there as well. Now, part of this is all part of a very devious plot, which is to try to encourage folks from Michigan to think about making a career in diplomacy, in foreign policy, maybe even here at the State Department. We wanna do everything that we possibly can, to open your eyes, open your minds to that possibility. And so, through some of these initiatives, through some of the people who've been involved in the university, I hope that that happens.

1:03:31.2 AB: I just wanna say a couple of things at the outside, and I'm really eager to get to questions and conversation with each of you. There's obviously been and remains, a huge focus on Russia's aggression against Ukraine, and I suspect we'll have a chance to talk about that. But, one of the challenges that we have, one of the obligations that we have, is to make sure that, even as we're focused relentlessly on something like this aggression, we're also doing the rest of our business and that we are carrying out the responsibilities that we have, to try to advance America's interests and values in the world, day in day out. I have a really hackneyed acronym that I've been using with my team here. What is ROW? R-O-W, Rest of World. We can't lose sight of that even as we're dealing with something as all consuming as Russia's aggression in Ukraine. And in fact, we are ROW-ing, and I just point to a couple of quick things to demonstrate that this department is weighing around the world, around the clock.

1:04:31.8 AB: Just in the last couple of weeks, [1:04:33.2] ____ American diplomacy, determined American diplomacy, sometimes quiet, but effective. We helped get a cease fire in Ethiopia, which after many, many, many months, where among many other things, humanitarian assistance was not getting through, particularly to the northern part of the country, in Tigray. That is now moving again. It's fragile, but it's a start. Yemen. A horrific war, one of the worst in the world for the last almost decade. American diplomacy helped get a truce. And again, fragile, but that could lead to a ceasefire. Already, we're starting to see and monitoring assistance flow. Again, my hope would be that, we create a foundation for negotiation that leads to the end, finally, to that conflict. We're a ways from that, but that is happening.

1:05:24.3 AB: Just a couple of weeks ago, more or less unnoticed, we got our 500 millionth dose of covid 19 vaccine around the world. We're on our way to donating 1.2 billion vaccine doses by the end of this year, doing it primarily through this thing called Covax, which make sure that it's done equitably, that those who need it and can't afford it are getting it, we do it with no political strings attached, unlike some other countries out there. That's happening too, and a lot of American diplomacy and effort goes into that. We got a couple of people who were being illegally detained in Afghanistan, out just a few days ago. An American citizen and a legal permanent resident, so British national. So, I say all of that, to illustrate the fact that even as the world is focused and we're focused on Ukraine, a lot is also going on every single day, to try and advance our interests around the world, and finally this.

1:06:30.0 AB: The bread and butter of this institution for many, many years has been dealing when necessary, with great power and competition, and of course, we had that throughout the Cold War, we have that now in different ways, with Russia, with China, which I suspect we'll talk about. And that remains at the heart of what we do, so do issues of peace and security, of trying to resolve conflicts, prevent conflicts. But, as important, we are focused and have to be, on the issues that are having a profound impact on the lives of our fellow citizens, every single day. And whether that is global health and COVID 19, whether that's climate and the existential crisis we face, whether it is emerging technologies that more than anything else, are shaping lives, we're making sure that this department is really acting in the 21st century, in ways that are addressing the needs of the American people.

1:07:28.1 AB: Just in the past couple of weeks, I cut the ribbon on a new bureau in the department, for cyber security and digital policy, so that our department is helping to advance our efforts around the world in making sure that as these policies are being shaped, we're not only at the table, we're leading the conversation, and we'll soon have a senior envoy to deal with emerging technology, to make sure that as the norms and standards and rules that are being set around the world, for how these technologies are used, we're in the lead on that effort.

1:08:01.8 AB: As we speak, my illustrious predecessor and now, the President's special envoy for climate, John Kerry, along with our Assistant Secretary, Monica Medina, is in Palau, for the Our Oceans conference, to advance efforts that we're making on climate and on the environment. And so, we're very focused on that. As I mentioned, we continue to get vaccine doses out there, but more than that, we're bringing countries together, mobilizing them to deal with the gaps that exist around the world in getting vaccines, getting shots into arms, as well as trying to build back better, a global health system that can deal more effectively with the next pandemic, because we'll be facing one. So, in all of these ways and more, including on economics, which is so foundational to everything we do, we're making sure that we have a department that is fit for purpose, to actually deal with the challenges that we're facing around the world, that are having an impact on the lives of Americans.

1:08:57.5 AB: And, the last thing I'll say is this, we are eager for... Some of you, I hope are listening, to come and be a part of this. One of the things that is so essential for our country, going forward, for our place in the world, is to make sure that new generations come in, come into the department, lead our efforts, put their minds, put their energies, put their passions to America and the world.

1:09:24.0 AB: And to doing what we can to advance the interests that we have and the values that we share. So I hope through the work that you're doing at Michigan, through some of the experiences you'll have, some of you at least, will be led in this direction... I can tell you you'll have a very welcoming place to do it, so... Come on down to Washington.

1:09:47.8 JC: Good, thank you very much, Secretary Blinken. And I'd like to turn to our first student questioner. Hannah Crows, is a second year Master of Public Policy student, and one of our Weiser diplomacy fellows. And so Hannah, please.

1:10:00.4 CC: Thank you so much for being here. I wanted to ask a question that related to Ukraine. Watching the Russian invasion of Ukraine unfold has brought to mind another act of Russian aggression with particular significance to me and my family, the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. At the age of 18, my father watched Soviet tanks roll into his City of Prague to crush the liberalizing reforms of the Prague Spring. This event eventually brought him to the US where he declared asylum, where he met my mother and where I was born. For my family and for many others in Central and Eastern Europe, these are the memories, fears and traumas that the current Russian invasion of Ukraine invokes. Now, as the fighting in Ukraine shifts to the Donbas region, what are the limits and possibilities for how the US approach could adapt? 

1:10:43.3 AB: Hannah thank you. Thanks for sharing that, first of all. And I've gotta tell you, that resonates with me powerfully just on a personal level. Like you, I had family that in one way or another, are relatively recent arrivals to the country and in ways similar to yours. My grandfather fled pogroms in what is now Ukraine at the turn of the last century. My stepmother fled Hungary and fled the communists in Hungary, before... A couple of decades before the Prague Spring and came to America. And I have a late step father who survived concentration camps during World War II and was liberated by the United States.

1:11:35.6 AB: So what you say resonates deeply with me. And in fact, it motivates a lot of what I do and think about it and try to act on... When it comes to what we're seeing now in this Russian aggression against Ukraine, there a lot of things going on, it's hard to get it down into a short conversation, but let me just highlight a few things. First, we of course, have what is literally being done to people in Ukraine every single day, which is the brutalization of the country in ways that are increasingly being revealed to the world.

1:12:11.1 AB: We saw the images that came out of Busha, just about a week ago. As the Russian tide was being pushed back from different parts of Ukraine, we have seen what's left in his wake, and it's horrifying.

1:12:24.7 AB: People executed with their hands tied behind their backs, bodies left in the streets, buildings reduced to rubble, atrocities committed as we know from those who experience them in the most terrible ways. And I'm afraid to say that as this moves forward the world is probably almost certainly going to see more of that. And Busha may have simply been a prelude to many horrors yet to be revealed.

1:12:55.9 AB: So that's very motivating in what we're doing in trying to stop this war... And I'll come to that very quickly in a second. But there's another aggression going on, and that's an aggression against some of the basic principles that undergird the international system that are necessary to try to keep peace and security around the world. Principles that evolved from two world wars, that were enshrined in the UN Charter in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights... All sorts of founding documents at the end of the second World War that were designed to try to make sure, to the best of our ability, that something like this wouldn't happen again.

1:13:39.7 AB: And some of those principles, like the idea that one country can't simply assert... That might makes right and change the borders of another by force. That one countries can't simply dictate to another, it's policies, it's choices, it's future. That one country can't exert a sphere of influence to try to subjugate a neighbor or neighbors to its will. That one country can't simply deny the very existence of another, its independence and sovereignty. All of those principles are also being aggressed by Russia in Ukraine.

1:14:14.0 AB: And that's why it's been so important for us to stand up... Not only in defense of Ukraine, but also in defense of those principles. Because if we allow them to be violated with impunity, it opens a Pandora's box, not just in Europe, but potentially in every place around the world where others are watching and taking note and taking lessons. So that gets to what we're doing about it. And here, there are a lot of things that have gone into going into our consideration, but principally, we are doing a lot to help Ukraine effectively defend itself. We're putting extraordinary and unprecedented pressure on Russia, and we're shoring up the NATO alliance, to make sure that countries in that alliance are properly defended against the threat of even more Russian aggression directed at them.

1:15:10.2 AB: When it comes to Ukraine, the extraordinary courage of Ukrainians is what's at the heart of what they've been able to do in ways that I think many people would not have expected. But while that's at the heart of it part of the reason that they've been able to be as effective as they are is because we have supported them and supplied them going back well before Russia committed this aggression. If you go back to last summer, President Biden, initiated the first of what are now more than half a dozen, what we call drawdowns of military equipment. So this goes back to the end of last summer, well, before the aggression.

1:15:49.1 AB: Another very significant one, over Christmas, again, before the aggression... So that when Russia did go in, the Ukrainians had in their hands some of the tools that they needed to push back. And part of the reason they've had success to date in pushing the Russians away from Kiev, and back toward the East is precisely because they had this... Just yesterday, the president did another draw down of almost a billion dollars, 800 million dollars, in the kinds of things that Ukraine, needs to effectively defend itself.

1:16:18.4 AB: We've been focused on making sure that to the best of our ability, we and others can get into Ukrainian hands as quickly as possible, the kinds of things that they can use effectively as quickly as possible. Now we're looking at doing other things that may require, for example, some training, because some of the things that Ukranians have asked for, they're not yet trained on. We're looking and working on all of that.

1:16:41.8 AB: Second has been these unprecedented pressure on Russia. Again, going back to last fall when we saw this aggression looming and mounting we warned... I warned that if Russia did it, there would be massive consequences including unprecedented sanctions. I'm not sure that people fully took that at face value. Well, I think that we've demonstrated that we were dead serious about it. And what we've seen, what we've done in coordination with countries around the world is unprecedented. And the pressure it's exerting against Russia is very, very real.

1:17:20.7 AB: We've seen an economy that is now pretty much wiping out all the gains in the last 15 years... Most forecasts suggest that Russia will contract by 15% or more over the next... Between now and the end of the year. We've seen something else that's been quite remarkable, and it was not the direct product of our sanctions, but I think was a product of the isolation that we've helped induce... And that is an exodus of virtually every leading company from Russia. And finally, the export controls that we've put in place again, in coordination with many other countries, over time are going to have a real bite because they're gonna deny Russia the technology that it needs to effectively modernize key industries including defense.

1:18:04.4 AB: It's gonna make it a lot harder for Russia to do these kinds of things in the future. And finally, as I said, we've been... In ways that we haven't seen before, shoring up our own NATO alliance. Having said all of that... You know the President has to make sure that he is looking out for the interests of the American people. One of those interests is making sure the best of our ability that we don't get into direct conflict with Russia. That we avoid doing things that could lead to a wider war. We wanna end this war, end the Russian aggression, not broaden it out in ways that would be good for no one.

1:18:38.7 AB: So we're resolutely committed to NATO and to our Article Five obligations to making sure that any aggression against any inch of NATO territory is defended against and protected. We will continue to do everything we can for Ukrainians to make sure they have the means in their hands to defend themselves and ultimately to strengthen their position at some eventual negotiated diplomatic resolution.

1:19:08.3 AB: The hard part is... Look, I know this much... A sovereign independent Ukraine is gonna be around a lot longer than Vladimir Putin. The hard part is that there will... The death and destruction that continues to take place is truly horrific. We're trying to do everything we can to help bring this war to an end as quickly as we possibly can, but we're also prepared for this to go on for some time.

1:19:44.7 JC: Thank you. And Secretary Blinken... Thank you, Hannah for your excellent question. Secretary Blinken, I wanna ask a follow-up on the diplomatic response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Chris Coons pointed out in the last hour that while the response has been strong from NATO and EU partners, the response globally has been much more varied... Dozens of countries have abstained from votes, condemning Russia at the UN General Assembly, as you know, and many have dragged their feet on implementing sanctions in alignment with the United States and its closest partners. What can the US government do to most effectively elicit stronger support from countries in regions like the Middle East, Africa or South Asia who allege either that participation in the sanctions would challenge norms of non-alignment or who accuse the United States of double standards in its response to Ukraine vis a vis other conflicts? 

1:20:36.8 AB: So John, first of all, I'm really, really glad that you had Chris Coons with you earlier today. He's not only a great partner, he's a terrific friend, and beyond that, he is one of the strongest, wisest voices that we have on foreign policy in this country. And he's a remarkable leader in the Senate. I think you heard from him as well, some of the partnerships that he has, including for example with Senator Graham, where on a bipartisan basis they're helping to advance our foreign policy. And it's something that I deeply appreciate. So I'm glad you heard from Chris.

1:21:11.3 AB: Look, there are a lot of things going on here, and it's a moving picture. It's not a still shot. And it's important to look at that movie picture. You know rightly, that in a number of these votes, for example, at the United Nations, that some countries have abstained on critical votes. Well, in some cases, an abstention is a significant step beyond a no vote... A rejection. So we've moved a number of countries in a number of places from no, to abstain. That in and of itself, in this international system that we deal with says something, and it says something to other countries too. Going back to the very first significant vote, 141 countries from every continent voted to have their voices heard against the Russian aggression, and in support of Ukraine, and that is really the foundation.

1:22:10.5 AB: And that spoke volumes in and of itself. We had a successful vote recently that suspended Russia from its participation in the UN Human Rights Council. Again, a lot of countries taking part in that. But having said that, we have to recognize some realities. A number of countries have had long-standing, decades-long relationships with Russia. Some of them have built up within that strong defense relationships where they've been dependent on Russia for defense equipment and technology. Moving away from that, it takes time. It's not like flipping a light switch. It's a transition. In some cases, when those relationships developed, we were not in a position to do the same thing ourselves, now we may be, and in some cases, now we are.

1:23:00.5 AB: And so part of this is about giving people a choice, not forcing a choice, giving them a choice, and then working on that over time. But it is in some cases turning around an aircraft carrier, it takes time. We have to be smart about it, patient about it. Some countries will come to the assistance of Ukraine when it comes to humanitarian assistance, but not security assistance. Some countries will vote one way or another way, but we're working to bring countries along on different aspects of this.

1:23:31.6 AB: The second point is this... And you're right about this as well... Different parts of the world, different countries are experiencing this in different ways. And they're experiencing it in the context sometimes of their histories. They're experiencing it in the context of recent history as well, including for example, places where we've intervened in the past and they raise very legitimate questions about what's happening now in Ukraine fits with that. And I'm happy to get into that, but I think what we've been clear about is this... There are times when... Even though we usually deal with shades of gray, there are times when there really is black and white. And in this case, we have a clear aggressor and we have a clear victim, and countries should take account of that.

1:24:25.1 AB: Second, we all in our better days try to adhere to the principles of the UN Charter. This is clearly an aggression against those very principles that countries should want to see upheld especially by a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia in this case. But third... And this is what we really have to be attentive to and focused on... This aggression is having consequences way beyond Europe in people's lives.

1:24:52.1 AB: Commodity prices have gone up dramatically, food scarcity, food prices in particular... I was in Morocco and Algeria recently, this is what's being felt there. Now, that's not as a result of our sanctions, it's as a result of Russia's aggression, quite literally. Ukrainian farmers, instead of dealing with their crops, have to choose between fighting or fleeing.

1:25:16.3 AB: Russians are blockading Ukrainian ports so that the wheat, which as you know, Ukraine is one of the world's leading suppliers... To the extent it can actually get to market, can't get out of the country, because ships are not allowed to leave from Black Sea ports. Farms are literally being intentionally bombarded by the Russians, so that they can't produce. So we're doing a number of things to be attentive to the fact that people around the world are suffering from this, including making sure that the leading organizations that work to provide food to countries and people who need it, like the World Food Program at the UN, the Food and Agricultural Organization, that they're better resourced, because the price of doing business has just gone up for them. We're trying to make sure that countries that have large stockpiles of food from China and India are releasing some of that to the world market.

1:26:04.1 AB: We're trying to make sure that our own producers of fertilizer, are incentivized to produce more, to get more out there, because if there's a shortage of fertilizer or it's priced out of the market for too many farmers, we know that yields next year are gonna go down... Supply will go down, prices will go up. So in all of these ways, we're working to actually engage the problem as it's having an actual impact on other countries, and that's coloring the position that they're taking on this. And of course, finally, our diplomatic are engaged every single day, trying to deal with the challenges this is posing for other countries and hopefully bringing them along to the position that we have. Thank you.

1:26:46.6 JC: Thank you very much, Secretary Blinken. I'm honored to you to our next student who's joining us up here today. The second year Master of Public Policy student of Mahin Zahith. So please Mahin, take it up from here.

1:27:01.9 Mahin Zahith: Good afternoon, Secretary Blinken.

1:27:04.6 AB: Good afternoon.

1:27:05.2 MZ: I'm interested in international relations and foreign policies. I'm so thrilled that you could join us today. So my question to you is about refugee resettlement. Over the last few years, Europe has said that it is facing a refugee crisis. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, however, European nations opened their borders to accept Ukrainian refugees. Here in the States, ever since the withdrawal from Afghanistan, in September of last year, around 70,000 Afghans were accepted that too, not as refugees but on humanitarian parole. President Biden recently announced that the US would accept up to 100,000 refugees from Ukraine. How is it easier to welcome refugees in this case, and has the comparative swiftness with which Ukrainian refugees were and will be absorbed informed how the US and its allies are now thinking about their own refugee policies? 

1:27:57.2 AB: Thank you. It's a great question, but first, let me say thank you for letting me know and letting us know your own interest in pursuing this career. That's really good to hear, and I hope you'll do it. So let's put this in context. For well more than a decade now, we have been... And when I say we, I mean the world... Has been living through a period of forced migration, unlike any we've seen since World War II. And if you go back to 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, we've been seeing migratory crises and... Within the refugee crises of course, in Syria, in Iraq, in half a dozen countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, in our own hemisphere, and fast-forwarding to today, of course, we now have Ukraine.

1:28:51.7 AB: To the point where there are something like 95 million people who have in one way or another, been forcefully displaced from their homes. And within that group, there are probably 30 million or so refugees. If you put them all into one country, it would be bigger than South Korea, bigger than Spain. That's the magnitude of the problem. And it's a global challenge. The world is focused now on Ukraine, it was focused a few years ago on Syria, and the question is, what can we effectively and rightly morally do about it.

1:29:26.3 AB: The United States for decades and decades has been the primary refuge for those seeking it from around the world, and we've taken in more refugees than any country historically. But in recent years, that's moved in another direction. By the time we came to office, the ceiling... Because a ceiling is established every year on the number of refugees that you take in. That ceiling had been cut to 15,000, and as a practical matter, far fewer than that were actually getting into the United States. When President Biden took office, one of the first things that we did was to focus on that.

1:30:08.3 AB: And we looked at what needed to be done to start to get us back to the place that we'd been historically, which is, again, it's the leading country when it comes to taking in refugees. And President Biden is on a path to re-elevate the ceiling of refugees that we take in to 125,000. The problem is, again, this is not like flipping a light switch, we have to do it in a way that allows us to effectively bring in that many people, because the system in the meantime had been broken. There's an entire resettlement infrastructure that had atrophied over the previous years, because of this move away from taking in refugees. And until that system can be effectively rebuild, it's very hard to actually bring in that many people.

1:31:00.2 AB: The resettlement institutions themselves internationally had also atrophied. I just met, I think, yesterday with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and we were talking about this at sunlight. So part of this for us has been rebuilding, and that started well before the Ukraine crisis, not at all motivated by that, it was literally something that we started on day one of this administration, and we're getting there. But as important as that is, besides the refugee program, which as I say, has a cap and it has regional allocations, there are many other pathways to coming to the United States... Legal pathways that we have been working on and trying to strengthen, and there are various.

1:31:46.0 AB: Things that we can use in our law to bring more people in including, for example, reuniting families that have been split apart, work visas and permits of one kind or another, humanitarian parole. There are a whole number of ways of doing this, but that also has to be done making sure that we have a system, a migration system that's based on the rule of law that deals also with the problem of illegal migration effectively, so that we have effective, strong, safe, humane borders. All of this has to come together and we're working to do just that in our own hemisphere.

1:32:29.6 AB: We also have extraordinary challenges when it comes to migration. There are more people on the move in our own hemisphere than ever before. And whether it is Mexico, whether it's Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, whether it's Nicaraguan, Venezuela, whether it's Haiti, whether it's Haitians who have migrated to Chile in Brazil and are now trying to make the move more, all of this is coming to play for a whole variety of reasons all at once. So there, we're working very hard to bring our entire hemisphere together so that we deal with... This is a shared responsibility. We're gonna have a summit of the Americas in a few weeks' time, where this will be front and center on the agenda, and one of the things that I hope results from it is a regional compact on shared responsibility for dealing with migration. Ultimately, there are different drivers of migration and refugees in different parts of the world in our own hemisphere, it tends to be, more than anything else, an economic driver. But one of my colleagues spoke very eloquently about this, another foreign minister from a Latin American country, we were meeting months ago and she said that we ought to...

1:33:42.8 AB: There ought to be established a right to remain, that the conditions in countries that are causing people to feel compelled to leave, that's what we need to address. In our own hemisphere, as I said, a lot of it is economic opportunity. So dealing with some of the root causes involves helping countries really create opportunity in ways that people can see that they have a future at home. In other parts of the world, whether it's Ukraine, whether it's the Middle East, whether it's Africa, it's often conflict, and a big part of our responsibility in our work at the State Department is to try to prevent these conflicts from erupting in the first place, or to bring them to an end as quickly as possible, if they have, and at the same time, doing a lot more to help countries of first refuge for someone who's a refugee, be able to support them and to deal with the challenges that opposes to those countries. I'll end with this. We saw in Syria six, seven, eight years ago, that Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, we're bringing people in from Syria, that in the case, for example, of Lebanon was somewhere between a quarter and a third of the entire population was a Syrian refugee. Try to imagine if that was the case in the United States, the kinds of conversations we'd be having.

1:35:02.5 AB: So one of the obligations I think we have is to make sure the countries that are countries of first refuge have the means to deal with that effectively, to make sure that not only can a refugee have a job, not only can their kids go to school, but the local population, the indigenous population, also is supported because it's a huge drain on country's resources. So we've gotta make sure that this somehow is a win-win. Europe's done a remarkable job with Ukrainians to date. They put in place a system that supports them, that allows them to move around Europe, that allows them to unite with family members who may already been in other parts of Europe, that gives them social support, economic support for two years. That's extraordinary, but that's not available everywhere, and a lot of this work is something that we're trying to drive around the world. So it's a monumental problem, it's a global problem, it's a global challenge. We have to be playing our part and that's what we're trying to do.

1:36:08.4 JC: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. And thank you, Mahin. I'm gonna call up the next of our Ford School students for a question. Hanna Schechter is an undergraduate senior at the Ford School, and let me turn things over to Hanna.

1:36:22.0 Hanna Schechter: Hi, thank you, Secretary Blinken, for being with us this afternoon. My name is Hanna and my focus in the Ford School has been in diplomacy, so I greatly appreciate you being here. This past spring break, I was able to travel to Washington DC to interview policy analysts and foreign ambassadors regarding the war in Ukraine. In these conversations, we explored diplomatic and economic tools being used, as well as the importance of having a unified international response in regard to the current sanctions regime. As the PRC tries to present itself as a neutral party, how feasible do you believe it is to convince Beijing not to undermine sanctions while at the same time, not jeopardizing, isolating the PRC further to support Russia? 

1:37:03.8 AB: Yeah. It's a great question and I think a really important one. You saw that just before Russia invaded Ukraine, Russia and China put out a joint statement that was about 5,000 words in length, and that had maybe as its the most defining line, the notion that they had a partnership without limits. Well, I think to some extent, those limits in fact are actually being tested right now because China is in a challenging position. It says repeatedly that its policies are based, among other things, on upholding the UN charter and the principles that underlie it. I might dispute that, but leaving that aside, well, those very principles, that very charter is being challenged right now by Russia's aggression. And so we look to China to stand up, to defend the principles that it purports to espouse and it has not exactly done that.

1:38:23.9 AB: I think it's in an increasingly in an uncomfortable position, precisely because there's a huge disconnect between what it reports to stand for and what it's actually doing with regard to Russia's aggression, and I think that's having a big impact on its reputation around the world, in many parts of the world, from Africa to the Middle East, to Asia itself, and that's something that it has to factor into its thinking and its decision-making. President Biden spent a couple of hours on a video conference with President Xi a few weeks ago, in which we made very clear that we were watching carefully to see whether China in any way supported Russia's war efforts, either by literally supporting it materially or undermining or helping Russia evade sanctions, something that we continue to watch very carefully, but these are decisions that China has to make. And at the same time, there was just recently a meeting between the European Union and China, where China is looking to develop, strengthen, deepen its relationships with Europe, with the European Union, with the countries in Europe.

1:39:38.3 AB: I think it heard and it got a lengthy earful from Europe about the concerns that Europe has about the aggression by Russia in Ukraine and what China is doing or not doing, to stand and speak against that aggression. So all of these things will play out over time, but I think it is something that China very much has to factor into its calculus. And again, I come back to this proposition that, again, no matter what you think of how we got there, whatever narratives Russia has tried to spin about what caused this, it really comes down to a very fundamental proposition which is we have an aggressor, we have a victim, and this is not about siding with the United States, it's about siding with right versus wrong, it's about siding with the basic principles of the international system or for chaos and conflict. And ultimately, China has to choose.

1:40:46.9 JC: Thank you very much, Secretary Blinken, and Thank you, Hanna, for the terrific question. I know we're slightly over the hour, Mr. Secretary, so I wanna be conscious of your time. Do you have a time for a question or two, or are you at the hour? 

1:41:01.0 AB: Sure, I think we got one more question. We can do that.

1:41:04.6 JC: Great. So this is a question that is about the moment we're in in international diplomacy, this is obviously the Vandenberg lecture series. Senator Vandenberg famously worked across partisan lines to really forge a new system after World War II that brought us NATO, that brought us the Marshall Plan, that really built the alliances that you are now working with today. Do you have a vision for what this world might look like and what would it take to actually get back to a place where we could have a strong system and international alliances in the future? 

1:41:49.6 AB: Michael, first of all, it's really hard to throw yourself in the same sentence with Vandenberg or Kennan or Marshall or any of the other architects of what was a truly extraordinary achievement. So I think I approach this with equal doses of humility, but also some confidence because I'm convinced that the United States at its best still has a greater capacity than any other country on Earth to mobilize others in common cause and hopefully for the greater good. And to some extent, we've seen that in action. We've seen that in action when it comes to Ukraine. Our engagement, President's leadership has done, I think, to date, a very effective job in mobilizing others, mobilizing others in support of Ukraine, mobilizing others to put this extraordinary pressure on Russia, mobilizing others to make sure that our own alliance is properly resourced and defended. And that doesn't just happen. It is the product of getting in there, rolling up your sleeves, engaging and doing that every single day.

1:43:07.5 AB: And so I think we've seen already the traditional existing alliances stand up in ways that I suspect people didn't really expect and maybe thought those days were gone. They're not. But that's necessary, but it's also not enough. One of the reasons that the President instructed us from day one to really focus on revitalizing, re-energizing, rebuilding is necessary, our alliances, our partnerships, our engagement in international institutions, it is because there is a sort of founding vision that he has and that we share. First, it's that American engagement, American leadership is necessary, because in its absence, one of two things, either someone else is filling the void and increasingly maybe that's China, and probably not in a way that's gonna advance our interests and values, or maybe just as bad, no one fills it, and then you tend to have a vacuum, and vacuums often get filled with chaos and conflict before they get filled by anything good.

1:44:21.5 AB: So there is a renewed premium on our engagement and our leadership, and we've tried to step up to that. But equally, the flip side of that coin is engagement to what end and by what means? And for us, there's equally a premium on making sure that we are working with others, not against them or cross-purposes, because not a single one of the challenges that we face can be effectively dealt with by the United States acting alone.

1:44:54.1 AB: Ukraine is a very good example. We are far more effective having brought other countries along in defense of Ukraine, putting pressure on Russia, defending our own alliance. But the same is true for the things that I mentioned earlier that are having a direct impact on the lives of virtually every American. When it comes to climate, the truly existential challenge that we face, we're 15% of global emissions, even if we do everything right at home, that doesn't account for the other 85%. So we have to engage the rest of the world, as John Kerry is literally doing right now, to try to bring other countries along and raising their own ambitions, helping to support countries that need help with adaptation and building resilience, and that's what we've been doing, starting with getting back into Paris, through COP, etcetera. COVID. We know, and it's become trite, but we forget this at our peril. No one's safe till everyone's safe. And as long as the virus is percolating somewhere, it could be mutating and we might end up with a variant that defeats the very strong tools that we've now put in place to deal with it. So we have a strong incentive and bringing other countries along to get the rest of the world vaccinated.

1:46:06.7 AB: That's exactly what we're doing. We've mobilized more than a dozen countries now to take ownership, to take leadership in filling the gaps that still exist on vaccination, dealing with the last mile, supply chains, getting shots into arms, supporting healthcare workers, etcetera, etcetera, particularly in Africa, where the gap is huge between vaccination rates there and in other parts of the world. Emerging technologies, the things that are really shaping the lives of our people, the smartphones that we all have in our pockets, the standards, the norms, the rules by which those technologies are used, that's probably gonna have a greater impact on the lives of everyone sitting in this room today than just about anything else. But we can't do that alone. We can't dictate that. We have to bring other countries along and that goes with diplomacy. In these windowless conference rooms around the world where these norms and standards and rules are getting decided and getting shaped, we've gotta be at the table, and now we are. Just a couple of weeks ago, I actually literally cut a ribbon, I've never got a chance to do that before with a giant pair of scissors.


1:47:18.6 AB: In the State Department, we have a bureau that we just stood up in record time, thanks to terrific support from Congress on a bipartisan basis to help lead on cyber security and digital policy, so that the United States, in all of these places around the world where this is getting decided, is there at the table, and hopefully even at the head of the table. And we're back in doing that. And so to the extent that there's a vision, it really is about a reassertion of American leadership and engagement, a conviction that we have to do this with partners, with allies within international institutions, as well as where necessary on our own. And finally, the last point I'd make is this, we have to be investing in ourselves. That also gives us tremendous strength when we're dealing abroad. President Biden's been committed to that. We used to dedicate about 2% of our GDP to investments in research and development from the government. That got down to about 0.7% of GDP. We're trying to change that because those investments which were catalysts for invention and for the private sector led to everything from the Internet to GPS, to so many other things in-between, and we're at a competitive disadvantage if we're not making those investments.

1:48:44.9 AB: Same for infrastructure, same for education, we used to be leaders in all of those areas comparative to other countries. We've fallen back to, from one or one or two, to 10, 11, 12, 20. Guess who has risen up in our place? China. So we're trying to make those investments now. That's going to stand us in very good stead. Last thing is this, I hope in touching on some of these areas, that there are many among you who will say, "Oh, now I see a way that something I'm really interested in is actually relevant to our foreign policy. I can see a way, I'm interested in climate, I'm interested in technology, I'm interested in global health. I'm interested in Economics." But you know what, if you are, that's exactly why we need you and want you here at the State Department, because you'll have an opportunity to help lead our country in those areas, and as a result, lead our efforts around the world to make sure that we're trying to make the world just a little bit better, a little bit safer, a little bit more prosperous, a little bit more healthy. That's ultimately what this is all about. That's what benefits our own people, and this is a great part, a place to be a part of that. So I hope that's something that you take away and think about, and we'll see a few of you here in Washington.

1:50:12.7 JC: Thank you so much, Mr. Secretary. Please everyone, join me in thanking Secretary Blinken.


1:50:23.7 AB: Thanks very much.