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Dr. John Lenczowski discusses the current strategic environment with the National Press Club

On March 16, Dr. John Lenczowski, founder and president of The Institute of World Politics, appeared on the podcast “Update-1” at the National Press Club. He and host Lincoln Smith discussed the current strategic environment, including the necessity of an education like IWP’s, the threat of socialism, and Russian and Chinese threats.

Problems in American national security

Dr. Lenczowski began by discussing the deficiencies of the current American security system. He stated that many people in the security sector, from the intelligence community to the State Department, are unprepared for the jobs that they are doing. For example, many intelligence officers have never formally studied intelligence. There is also a lack of studying the arts of deception that can be used against us. This ranges from counterintelligence to covert political action to election interference, among other operations. These “arts of statecraft” need to be emphasized when educating our students for this work, argued Dr. Lenczowski.

Socialism and history

Host Lincoln Smith then asked Dr. Lenczowski about the “true believers,” especially in relation to socialism. Dr. Lenczowski emphasized the threat of socialism as a lack of understanding. Most people do not understand what socialism actually means, so they run with ideas that are not really achieving the goals that they strive for. He also said that most people ignore the history of socialism and its terrible record. It simply does not work in practice, as is shown by Venezuela, periods of British history, and Germany.

The threat from Russia

Mr. Smith then asked about strategic threats to the United States. Dr. Lenczowski said that the three biggest threats to the U.S. are Russia, China, and radical Islamism. Russia is a manageable threat, he argued. He said that Putin and Russia have a “seething resentment about the loss of their superpower status.” They want to regain that standing and are doing so by rebuilding their military and especially their nuclear arsenal. They are also becoming more aggressive in Eastern Europe, as we have seen in recent years in Ukraine. Russia can be countered by maintaining the NATO alliance, Dr. Lenczowski said, especially by strengthening NATO presence in Eastern Europe.

The China threat

Dr. Lenczowski then discussed the immense threat than China poses to the United States. The threat they pose is multifaceted. They have been building up their military and will soon have a larger navy than the United States. The Chinese have a military presence at most naval chokepoints in the world, and they are using the Belt and Road Initiative to expand their military presence across the world. China also has a global economic strategy that poses a direct threat to the United States, said Dr. Lenczowski. China has always made lopsided trade agreements, and the Trump administration is the first to tell the truth about this situation, he stated. China also steals the intellectual property that gives U.S. companies an edge in the global economy. These practices threaten the standing of the U.S. economy on the world stage and give China an unfair advantage over the rest of the field.

China also actively carries out operations against the United States. Dr. Lenczowski specifically pointed out a few, such as their influence of American media and education. He pointed out that Chinese entities have given The Washington Post and The New York Times money, and they publish Chinese Communist Party propaganda, such as The Washington Post’s “China Watch.” In education, China has established many “Confucius Institutes” at American universities, which are funded by the Chinese government to push Chinese culture and ultimately Chinese propaganda.

Mr. Smith concluded the discussion by asking Dr. Lenczowski about press freedom in China. Dr. Lenczowski responded by saying that China is a totalitarian regime, so there really is no press freedom. He pointed out that the open internet is able to reach a small but significant portion of the Chinese population, which is a bright spot in an otherwise bleak picture. The Chinese government operates the “Great Firewall,” which censors websites and can shut off the internet entirely to portions of the country. Complete control of information and media is necessary, Dr. Lenczowski said, because the Chinese regime is illegitimate. It does not rule with the consent of the governed, so it has a fear of its own people. He stated that “the regime maintains its control of people by maintaining an ideological conformity and a complete monopoly of information and communications.” Dr. Lenczowski finished by saying that political change in China will come from people being able to communicate with each other to rise up against the government.

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