Category Archives: The Institute of World Politics

Remarks by John Lenczowski at IWP Commencement

The following remarks were made by IWP President John Lenczowski at The Institute of World Politics Commencement Ceremony on May 16, 2015.  More videos of the ceremony can be found here.

Good afternoon everyone. Let me first thank all those who have made this school possible:

Trustees, benefactors, faculty, staff, friends and helpers, the spouses and families of those who work for this cause, and ultimately, our students.

Today, as we celebrate our graduates, I want to talk about the challenges they face as most of them go on to serve the cause of peace, freedom, and national security.

America’s foreign policy today is in a crisis. The crisis is different than the challenges we faced in our recent wars which provided some measure of focus and energy. Today, it is a crisis of leadership concerning America’s values, principles, and purposes, which has resulted in the absence of coherent foreign policy goals and strategy.

One cannot have a strategy without goals. And one cannot set achievable goals unless they are consistent with our country’s values, principles, and purposes.

American foreign policy today is a welter of confusion. In some cases, it is marked by appeasement or an isolationist desire to withdraw from the world. In other cases, it is characterized by willful blindness toward unpleasant strategic realities or a reluctance to engage with the world in an energetic way. Much of this is born of the fatigue of flawed, utopian military and nation-building interventions of the past decade.

Our current leadership can neither deter Russia’s war of subversion against Ukraine nor help others resist it. As Russia seeks to demonstrate that NATO’s security guarantees are hollow and that the bonds of civilization that tie the West together are fraying, our leadership is unable to inspire confidence and unity among our allies.

Although our leaders talk about “soft power,” they fail to use it. They are unable to compete against ISIS for the hearts and minds of young Muslims. Although we are in a war of ideas, they have deployed no warriors of ideas, nor do they seek to recruit any.

They are afraid to identify the enemy ideology for what it is. They are incapable of favorably comparing a civilization grounded in human rights and freedom of conscience to an ideology of false martyrdom and self-destruction. Our governing elite has so thoroughly cut itself off from the Judeo-Christian roots of Western civilization that it is incapable of comprehending a challenge framed in explicitly religious terms.

hen it comes to Iran, our government is pursuing an arms control agreement with a hostile regime that has callously disregarded its other international obligations. This is wishful thinking.

Our current leadership does not acknowledge the rising threat from China. It says nothing to the American people about China’s enormous military preparations. Just one example: is anyone here other than our students aware of the Underground Great Wall — three thousand miles of navigable tunnels which are concealing China’s growing nuclear arsenal?

China has over 50,000 spies in our country as well as a massive propaganda and covert political influence apparatus here. Its cyber espionage is perpetrating the greatest theft of intellectual property in history. Where is the sense of alarm about all this from our national leadership?

What lies at the root of today’s leadership crisis is an alienation from the fundamental principles of our country and civilization and a widespread view that our country may even be is a malevolent force in the world. This alienation derives from the regnant philosophies of multiculturalism and moral and cultural relativism that undermine the necessary dedication to the values, principles, and purposes of America.

Too many Western intellectuals compare America with heaven when it should be compared with the other actual governmental systems out there. A truly honest comparison requires realism about the world and the human condition.

Too many members of our intelligentsia and governing elite also fail to appreciate what IWP students learn — namely, America’s capacity to acknowledge our failings and to work to prevent them from recurring. In contrast to other civilizations, America is the greatest experiment in social, political, and economic self-improvement in history.

It is a civilization that is rare, precious, and worth defending. IWP graduates understand something about America’s exceptional character and heritage.

The genius of the American system is the realism about human nature that underlies our Constitutional order. It is precisely the recognition of the fallibility of human nature combined with respect for the dignity of the human person that enables our system to endure and prosper.

That recognition of the flawed nature of man impelled our Founding Fathers to set up a rule of law, knowing that we will always be tempted to follow our baser instincts. To prevent power from concentrating in the hands of a single evil-doer, they set up a diffusion of power, a separation of powers, and checks and balances.

Understanding the foundations, purposes, and traditions of the American political order is the prerequisite for establishing foreign policy goals. That understanding should inform us that there are alternatives to utopian military intervention and nation building projects, other than isolationism or appeasement.

If one has coherent values, principles, purposes, and goals, then what must be done to keep the peace is to use all the instruments of statecraft to handle every contingency that this world can throw our way. This is what we teach at IWP.

Our students learn these various arts, including military strategy, intelligence, counterintelligence, the art of diplomacy, the many arts of public diplomacy, political action, political warfare, and economic strategy.

When our leaders are aware of all the instruments in this orchestra, they have a greater range of options than only diplomacy or war. But a number of these instruments, such as counterintelligence and the many aspects of public diplomacy and strategic influence, have long been neglected by our foreign policy establishment and the academic world.

Of course, as any IWP student will tell you, this is not because the United States can’t use these instruments of statecraft — it has, numerous times, from the War of Independence to the Cold War.

Our counterintelligence community once used various methods to counter hostile foreign agents, disinformation, and covert influence operations — but then it mostly lost its institutional memory of how to do this. IWP grads are restoring that memory.

We used the many instruments of public diplomacy during the Cold War. We fought the war against hostile propaganda with the U.S. Information Agency, the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.

We waged the war of ideas with American libraries abroad, the Congress of Cultural Freedom, subsidizing foreign journals of opinion, and supporting free trade unions, whether in Italy after World War II or the Solidarity Union in Poland.

We were unashamed of American ideas. The ideas we promoted catalyzed the revolutionary changes that liberated hundreds of millions of people. We won that war of ideas!

From history such as this, IWP students have learned arts of statecraft that directly apply to current and future threats. They then fan out throughout our government and are raising the standards of professionalism in so many of these fields.

While these instruments of power must be used in our country’s defense, they also have the potential of being abused. So they must be exercised by people of character, virtue, and patriotism. That is why we at IWP care so deeply about what kind of people our students turn out to be.

True statesmanship is not only a matter of knowledge and skill, it is a matter of good character.

  • It means doing the right thing when no one is looking.
  • It involves cultivation of conscience.
  • It requires cultivation of the will and self-control.
  • It requires the development of good habits — because habits become destiny.

Character — especially when it applies to leadership in statecraft — begins with consciousness of certain necessary virtues.

First, there is the essential virtue of personal and intellectual honesty. This means commitment to the truth.

Here courage is essential — having the courage of one’s convictions — the courage to see the truth when all about you are willfully blind, and the courage to tell truth to power.

We teach our students that there are two kinds of people — mission oriented people and those who are interested in power, position, glory, and the satisfaction of one’s ego.

We want our students to be mission-oriented. And when they are tempted to intrigue to gain personal power and glory, we want them to resist the temptation.

So IWP teaches that humility is another essential virtue. And so is acute sensitivity to the dangers of hubris.

Humility keeps people on track to achieving a mission, because the mission is the cause higher than oneself.

Hubris derails you from putting the mission first.

Finally, there is prudence, the essential virtue of statesmanship. Prudence is the ability to exercise wisdom, reason, caution, and discretion in the conduct of policy. It is the application of universal moral principles to particular situations — which presupposes knowledge of those principles in the first place.

With prudence, one can discern good ends, achieve good ends, and ultimately be good.

With the education that you graduates have received both intellectually and, we hope, in developing your character, we expect great professional achievements from you, and especially the exercise of those virtues that make for statesmanship. With leaders like you, we really can reform the way America conducts foreign policy.

I am grateful for having had the chance to be your professor and to see how seriously you have taken your studies and your vocations. Congratulations for persevering and God bless you in your service to your family, your neighbor, your customer, and your country.

John Lenczowski
The Institute of World Politics Commencement
May 16, 2015

U.S. Foreign Policy Options: Security Challenges in Central and Eastern Europe

John Lenczowski discussed “U.S. Foreign Policy Options” at the Fifth Annual Kosciuszko Chair Spring Symposium, which was on the topic of “Between Russia and NATO: Security Challenges in Central and Eastern Europe.”

This symposium took place on April 25, and was sponsored by The Institute of World Politics.

George Lenczowski: Diplomat, scholar, and defender of Western civilization

George Lenczowski 2Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of my father, Dr. George Lenczowski.

This is a significant milestone for me, because of everything that my father did to inspire in me a passion for international affairs and the defense of America and Western civilization. The intellectual and moral/philosophical influences he had upon me lie at the heart of so much of what I have tried to do in building The Institute of World Politics.

My father was born of Polish parents in St. Petersburg, Russia. His father had been studying at the St. Petersburg Institute of Technology, which was one of the foremost academic institutions at the time, even for Poles, who had lost their independence a century beforehand to the partitions by the three surrounding empires: Russia, Prussia, and Austria-Hungary. Most of Poland had been gobbled up by the Russians, and it made some sense for a Pole seeking advanced education in science and engineering to study in the empire’s capital city.

Two and a half years later, after my grandfather had secured his first job in Russia, the Bolsheviks overthrew the weak democratic order under the Provisional Government. As people with higher education and who were working for private enterprise, members of my father’s family were considered “class enemies” by the Bolsheviks.  So, to save their lives, they took the few possessions that they could carry, and escaped to Poland, which then won its independence at the end of World War I.

My father earned a law degree in Poland and a doctorate of laws in France. He joined the Polish diplomatic corps, and was stationed in Tel Aviv in pre-war Palestine. He fought the Nazis as a member of the Polish Army in North Africa. During the war, his parents were arrested by the Nazis in Warsaw and were murdered in Nazi concentration camps. My father was reassigned to the Polish diplomatic mission in Tehran in time for the conference of the Big Three – Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin.

He met and married my mother there, who had just escaped from two and a half years imprisonment, also as a “class enemy” in the Soviet Union. When the Yalta Agreement was signed, where Roosevelt and Churchill consigned Central and Eastern Europe to communist domination, my parents came to America.

Having lost his parents to national socialism, and having lost all his family possessions twice to international socialism, my father was particularly sensitive to to the fragility of civilization. Indeed, he could see very clearly how politics can take radically ugly turns in places where one might not normally expect it.

He eventually became one of the founders of Middle East studies in America, and taught political science and international relations at the University of California at Berkeley. He wrote some of the pioneering works on oil and great power conflict in the Middle East, all the while concerned about the security of the United States and the Free World.  He and my mother never forgot the cause of human rights within the Soviet empire.

My father’s commitment to the cause of freedom and to protecting the dignity of the human person lay at the heart of his newfound patriotism for America, and his concern for the defense of Western civilization.

His spirit lives on in our efforts at IWP, and may his immortal soul rest in peace.

Remarks at IWP Commencement 2014

Commencement 2014
John Lenczowski

Good afternoon everyone.  Let me first thank everyone who has made this school possible:

Trustees, benefactors, faculty and guest lecturers, staff and interns, friends and helpers, the spouses and families of those who work in our vineyards for this cause, and ultimately, our students.

As most of you know, IWP has a four part mission:  The first is to develop leaders who have a sound understanding of the realities of this world.  That means understanding history, the nature of foreign cultures and the global strategic environment.

That, in turn, means understanding all the curve balls, and knuckle balls that can be thrown at us.  It means seeing without flinching the array of dangers that one can expect in this world: terrorism, mass murder, atrocities, genocide, deception, propaganda, treaty violations, and every form of tyranny.  At bottom, it means understanding the realities of human nature.

Too many in our business fail in being sufficiently realistic about these things.  Some are filled with wishful thinking or willful blindness.  Many harbor utopian ideas about human nature.  Some believe that man is perfectible on this earth through social, political, and economic engineering.

Some believe that foreign countries can be shaped at our will as if there is no such thing as culture; as if the habits, traditions, and mentality developed over decades and even centuries do not exist.

Others believe that human nature is so fundamentally good that all that is necessary to achieve peace is a better set of international laws, better treaties, or more dialogue and mutual understanding.  Once we have these things, they believe, we can realize a natural harmony of interests that is assumed to exist in this world and we can all link arms and sing Kum-Ba-Ya together.

Some political systems are based on such utopian ideas.  Communist systems, for one, are based on the notion that human nature can be shaped and perfected by the right kind of external stimuli and that it is possible to create the New Man.

The American system, in contrast, is based on a recognition that human nature is flawed; that men will always be susceptible to succumbing to the temptation to do the wrong thing.

This is why we have a rule of law, federalism, a separation of powers, checks and balances, a Constitutional law that is higher than statutory laws that can prove to be unjust, and ultimately respect for a law even higher than the Constitution – that moral law that is higher than any law written by man, because, ultimately, rights cannot be inalienable and unconditional if they are endowed by majorities which can become tyrannical.  Slavery can be made formally legal by judicial interpretations of our constitution, but that doesn’t make it just.

The second part of our mission is to develop leaders who have skill in the use of the various arts of statecraft – the instruments of national power.  These are the means of handling the challenges which this dangerous world sends our way.  They include military power, intelligence, counterintelligence, diplomacy, public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, information policy, political action, and economic statecraft.

As you can see from the imagery in our program, we at IWP conceive of these as akin to instruments in an orchestra.  One must be able to play one’s instrument well, but also have a capability of strategically integrating with the rest of the orchestra.  We also need conductors who are aware of all the instruments in that orchestra – and all too often our conductors – such as Presidents and cabinet officers don’t know about them all.

The third part of IWP’s mission is to teach why we must study these things.  What is goal of all this work?  It is nothing less than the defense of our country and civilization.  For those of our students who are not Americans, the task is the defense of what we call decent civilization wherever it can be found.

What is the civilization with which we are principally concerned?  It is the American branch of Western civilization.  It is a concept of human community that is based on several principles: the dignity of the human person regardless of background or condition; inalienable individual rights; a society that is based on efforts to achieve the common good – a good that can be determined by reason; a rule of law that is also based on reason rather than the arbitrary rule of men; the principle of self-government, which, if successfully realized, results in the limitations on state power and in human freedom; and finally government by the consent of the governed.

When we have implemented these principles, we may arguably have come closer to building a more free, just, and prosperous civilization than any other on earth.  It is a civilization that has resulted in unprecedented freedom of enterprise, of speech, of charity, of scientific advancement, of cultural creativity and expression, and of social, political, and economic self-improvement.

The principles underlying this civilization, however, are too often misunderstood.  Look at the concept of the common good.  To realize a common good, there must be such a thing as the good.  It must be a concept of good that is the result of the product of sound moral reasoning and reasoning based on truths about human nature and the way successful societies function.  It cannot be the result of feelings, which too often govern our current affairs.

As the ancients taught us, democracy will ultimately decay and we will lose it if we permit our public affairs to be dictated by feelings and passions as opposed to sound political and moral reasoning.

It is clear, then, that the task of building, sustaining, and defending a society leads us ineluctably into the realm of moral philosophy.  This is the fourth element of our mission: to impart knowledge and appreciation of the Western, Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian moral tradition and to impress upon our students the importance of character building and moral leadership in the exercise of the most sensitive functions of government.

IWP students must grapple with one main question using their right reason: is there or is there not a transcendent, objective, universal moral order in the world?  Is there what the philosophers call a Natural Law that applies to all people at all times and places – a law discernable by human reason?

Many today argue that there is no such law – and that therefore there is no true standard of good, and that all standards of good and evil are matters of personal preference that cannot be discovered by reason.  If that is so, if there is no such thing as a permanent and objective good, it means that there can be no true common good – and that any attempts to establish a common good that is determined solely by personal preferences can only result in force, compulsion, the doctrine of might makes right.

Under such circumstances, establishing what is right and wrong becomes a matter of power struggle rather than recognition of and living by the Natural Law.  And power struggle usually means the triumph of passions over reason.

If we descend to rule by passions, we plow directly into the very perils of democracy that were so compellingly identified by Plato and Aristotle – perils such as the triumph of selfishness and special interests over the common good.

We have known about these weaknesses and perils of democratic governance for millennia.  Our Founders counseled that if we wish to be a free and self-governing people, we cannot be dominated by our passions.  John Adams said that our Constitution was suitable only for a virtuous people who are capable of controlling those passions and is utterly unsuitable for any other kind of people.

Recent events have demonstrated that the most sensitive positions in government must be occupied by people of character, virtue, and patriotism.  These are positions that address problems of war and peace, of life and death.  That is why a huge part of IWP’s ethos concerns what kind of people out students turn out to be.

Character begins with consciousness of the virtues that make up good character.

  • It is exhibited in doing the right thing when no one is looking.
  • It involves cultivation of conscience.
  • It requires cultivation of the will.
  • It requires the development of good habits – because habits become destiny.

A huge part of the kind of character that is necessary for leadership in statecraft concerns personal and intellectual honesty and integrity.

It includes commitment to the truth and effort to discern the truth.

Here courage is essential:

Having the courage of one’s convictions,

The courage to see the truth when all about you are willfully blind, and the courage to tell truth to power.

Here humility is essential.  And so is acute sensitivity to the dangers of hubris.

We here teach our students that there are two kinds of people – those who want to do something and those who want to be somebody: On the one hand, mission oriented people, and on the other hand people who are interested in power, position, glory, and the satisfaction of one’s ego.

We at IWP want our students to be mission-oriented people.  And when they are tempted to embark on self-serving maneuvers for personal power and glory, we want them to resist the temptation.

Humility keeps people on track to achieving a mission.  And the mission is the cause higher than oneself.

Hubris engulfs people who simply want to be something.  It is the spiritual disease of the ego.  It is deadly.  It derails a leader from pursuing a mission and puts him or her on a slippery slope to Machiavellian intrigues and all the dishonesty and baseness involved in them.

Finally, let me mention prudence.  At one level, prudence is the ability to exercise wisdom, reason, caution, and discretion in the conduct of policy.  But in a larger sense, Prudence is the application of universal principles to particular situations.

What prudence requires first is knowledge of universal moral principles.  It is that virtue that enables a person to discern good ends, achieve good ends, and ultimately to be good oneself.

With the education that you graduates have received both intellectually and, we hope, in cultivating your consciences, we expect great things from you, but particularly the exercise of those virtues that make for statesmanship.

It has been a privilege to be your professor and to see how seriously you have taken your studies and your vocations.

Congratulations for persevering and Godspeed in your service to your country.

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Introduction of economic warfare event with Patrick Byrne

On December 17, 2013, John Lenczowski introduced an event on “Naked Shorts, Bust-Outs, and the Once and Future Cataclysm: Economic Warfare as an Instrument of Transnational Organized Crime” with Patrick M. Byrne, Ph.D., Chairman and CEO of Overstock.com.

Introduction of DIA Director LTG Michael T. Flynn at The Institute of World Politics

On December 5, 2013, John Lenczowski introduced LTG Michael T. Flynn, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, at the 18th Annual Pearl Harbor Day Lecture at The Institute of World Politics.  A C-SPAN video can be found here, and a video from IWP is below.