On November 4, John Lenczowski spoke at the “Summit on Realism & Restraint: A New Way Forward for American Foreign Policy,” which was produced by the The American Conservative in partnership with The Charles Koch Institute and the Department of Political Science at The George Washington University.
Dr. Lenczowski spoke on a panel entitled “Conservative Realism and Restraint: What’s the Right Foreign Policy?” The panel was moderated by Benjamin Schwarz, national editor of The American Conservative. Other panelists included William Ruger, vice president at The Charles Koch Institute; Daniel Larison, senior editor of The American Conservative; and Kori Schake, research fellow at The Hoover Institution.
His remarks can be found below, beginning around 15:48.
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.
The Institute of World Politics Commencement
May 16, 2015
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.
Today 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.
In a recent article for Homeland Security Today, John Lenczowski described what he considers to be the fundamental strategic problem in our nation’s efforts to counter the threat of radical Islamists — the failure to engage effectively in the war of ideas.
This ideological battlespace, he noted, “isn’t simply between Western ideas and radical Islamic ideas, it is a war between radical Islamists and those Muslims who reject the notion that killing innocents is morally acceptable as a way of promoting their faith in the world.” Without engaging in this war of ideas, our nation is left with few options to counter the threat posed by Islamic extremists.
The article, which outlines the problems the U.S. faces in its anti-extremism efforts, is entitled “Obama Schedules ‘Violent Extremism’ Summit, But Still Unable To Acknowledge Islamist Jihad.” It was authored by Amanda Vicinanzo, alumna of The Institute of World Politics and Senior Editor at HS Today, and Anthony Kimery, HS Today Editor-in-Chief.
What will be the likely result of President Obama’s breakthrough in U.S. relations with communist Cuba?
The President seems to assume that everyone agrees that the old policy was designed to bring about regime change — ideally democratic, or at least milder form of authoritarianism that granted greater respect to human rights — and that this policy was not going to succeed. The president’s assumption is not exactly true. Refusing to grant diplomatic recognition and continuing commercial business as usual has been much more a position of moral opposition to an illegitimate regime as it has been any kind of plan of action for regime change.
The President seems to convey that the goal of his new policy will bring about such change. But simultaneously, he says as the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl has pointed out, that his policy is designed towards achieving stability and avoiding chaos in Cuba.
Meanwhile, in playing a pivotal role in the U.S.-Cuban breakthrough, Pope Francis appears to believe that greater democracy, respect for human rights, and freedom of religion can result if there are more peaceful relations between the two countries. When he was about to become Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he wrote a book arguing that such results can and should come from greater dialogue between the United States and Cuba.
I can see only one path by which such an outcome might take place. This path involves what amounts to the psychological disarmament of the Cuban dictatorship. Under this scenario, the Castros, their Party apparatchiks, and their cronies, will begin to let their guard down because they will become convinced that the United States is no longer heaven-bent on regime change. Their government-controlled businesses will become ever-more dependent upon trade and tourism with the United States to the point that they allegedly will have a vested interest in keeping U.S. attitudes favorably disposed towards Cuba. This vested interest, in turn, will be counted on to restrain the internal security authorities from those excessive human rights violations that would arouse and alienate the U.S., thereby putting their commercial relationships with America at risk.
Indeed, a variant of this scenario took place in the Soviet Union, but it varied sufficiently from the Cuban scenario insofar as America had put such economic pressure on the Soviet military economy that Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev’s principal policy was not to embark on genuine political-economic reforms, but to seek a Western economic bailout. This bailout depended on eliminating the idea in the West that the USSR was the “enemy.” Therefore, Gorbachev could ill afford to appear like one by throwing too many more people into the Gulag or killing more people than he did.
The problem here is that Castro has never sought a Western economic bailout unless it is solely on his own terms. Those terms amount to preserving the communist system and his regime’s monopoly on power at virtually all costs.
Instead, the US-China relations model points to the much more likely future, which is that American businesses will become so dependent upon Cuba trade that they will not wish to rock the boat politically.
Because U.S. companies have become so dependent on trade with China, Beijing feels utterly no restraint against throwing whomever they wish into the Laogai, not to mention continuing their massive espionage, military buildup, and regional attempted land grabs.
The kind of peace that exists between the U.S. and China, which is very much the result of a dialogue of the kind that Pope Francis has recommended, is, in fact, illusory. There is one very good reason for this: there can be no peace without justice. There can be no peace without respect for human rights.
As Andrei Sakharov, the Soviet inventor of the hydrogen bomb turned human rights activist, taught us: The Soviet regime would never have genuine peace with the West until it had peace with its own people.
One fervently hopes, under the circumstances, that the optimistic scenario for Cuba envisioned by Pope Francis will come to pass, but I have my serious doubts.
This piece by John Lenczowski was originally published by The Washington Times on December 18, 2014.
The hacking attack of Sony Corp. and the compromising of its intellectual property should send a wake-up call to American business. If Sony can be hacked, so too can our companies that make defense technologies. This attack reveals that the very innovations that give us our competitive edge in the world, both commercially and strategically, are gravely at risk.
In November, the Pentagon announced the Defense Innovation Initiative, which is designed to promote fresh thinking about how we can maintain our military superiority through technological innovation, despite tighter budgets and the corrosive effects of two long wars. Unfortunately, this strategy will fail unless both government and business place higher priorities on technology security policy and counterintelligence.
Two of our adversaries are stealing our technology at levels that exceed those of the Cold War. China in particular is using commerce as a cover for massive espionage, the fruits of which are deployed with amazing efficiency in the greatest military buildup on the face of the earth — a buildup consistently underestimated by our government.
Simultaneously, Russian industrial espionage continues at enormous levels and fuels Moscow’s military buildup.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a free trade agreement amongst 12 prospective signatory countries that promises to be high on the agenda of the new Congress. There are many benefits auguring to the United States from this agreement, so long as the U.S. government remains vigilant in preventing predatory mercantilist trade policies by selected countries designed to undermine specific U.S. industries. There are some, however, who advocate that China should become an eventual member of this agreement. I disagree.
As a matter of fact, I believe that so long as China’s ruling Communist Party continues to maintain a monopoly lock-hold on political power within the country, American commercial relations with China should be limited.
China has used international trade, and especially its commercial relationships with the United States, as a vehicle to achieve a multitude of strategic purposes that are inimical to U.S. national security and international peace, particularly in the East Asia neighborhood.
China uses its commercial relations with us to sustain a massive military buildup, the details of which have consistently been underestimated by the U.S. intelligence community. Mostly under the cover of commercial relations — but also including the visits of students and scientists — China has some 50,000 spies in the U.S. In any recent year, they have made 5,000 visits annually to all of our most sensitive national laboratories, where a “visit” consists of a stay ranging between two weeks to two years. Shocking amounts of our most advanced scientific and technological developments are being stolen in these various ways.
This is not even to speak of the avalanche of cyber espionage, which, in itself, constitutes the greatest theft of intellectual property in world history. This technology has gone into the construction of new road-mobile ICBMs, new stealth aircraft, new hypersonic missiles, anti-ship missiles designed to sink American aircraft carriers, anti-satellite weapons, neutron bombs, and various laser and directed energy weapons.
For those who are unaware of Beijing’s seriousness of purpose, the Chinese Communist Party has constructed the Underground Great Wall, a network of an estimated 3,000 miles of underground tunnels, through which trucks can drag road-mobile ICBMs and which conceal China’s burgeoning nuclear arsenal. Whereas the U.S. government believes that China has some 300 nuclear weapons, Russian intelligence believes it is more like 1,500. Don’t believe the statistics you hear about China’s military expenditures. All of these figures are unambiguously deceptive in the same spirit as the deceptions of the old Soviet Union.
Unfortunately, China’s commercial relations with so many American enterprises have politically neutralized large portions of America’s business elite. The result is that it is ever harder for influential circles in our country to come to grips with China’s inimical strategic purposes and its burgeoning strategic capabilities.
It is time for members of the new Congress and those who aspire to the Presidency of our country to start telling the American people the truth about these intentions and capabilities.
Let us make no mistake about the Chinese Communist Party’s ambitions: it wants to restore the ancient tributary state system and to make America one of those states paying tribute to the Communist “Middle Kingdom.”
President Obama has embarked upon a war against the Islamic State. This war should have been unnecessary. But the President failed to reach a status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government and failed to prevent the Maliki government’s marginalization of the Sunnis within Iraqi society and the exacerbation of Sunni-Shia sectarian tensions. The result has been a power vacuum that was filled by the Islamic State’s arrival as the putative “rescuer” of Iraq’s Sunnis.
The President is conducting air strikes, not only in Iraq, but also in Syria, and he is sending increasing numbers of American troops to serve in various training and advisory capacities.
The problem is that he is doing all these things on a very weak to non-existent legal basis. He is arguing that he can legally conduct these actions against the Islamic State on the basis of the 2001 Congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against “those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.” But the Islamic State was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
In addition, the War Powers Resolution gives a President 60 days to gain Congressional consent and requires that he end hostilities within 30 days if these are being conducted without such consent. This 90 day period has expired.
Some people argue that Congress has implicitly given its consent by permitting some monies to be spent for these purposes. However, a dangerous precedent is being set. War is too important an enterprise to be conducted in disregard of both the Constitution and an explicit act of Congress.
If we are to be involved in a war against the Islamic State, our elected representatives should make an explicit decision to this effect, and hold themselves accountable to the people. Any such decision should be based on a forthright evaluation of the vital security interests that are at stake, and how success in this enterprise is to be defined. Congressional abdication from serious discussion of these issues risks giving this President and future Presidents excessive discretion in a matter on which the Constitution requires Congressional action.
On April 21, John Lenczowski participated in a panel on “Propaganda, Disinformation, and Dirty Tricks: The Resurgence of Russian Political Warfare” at The Heritage Foundation. He gave some background on Soviet propaganda and how some of the themes and methods of this propaganda relate to current events in Russia and Ukraine.
Other speakers on the panel were Paul Goble, Former Special Advisor to the International Broadcasting Board and Guest Lecturer at The Institute of World Politics, and Dr. Ariel Cohen, Senior Research Fellow for Russia and Eurasia Studies at The Heritage Foundation.