After an opening discussion about freedom in America, Dr. Lenczowski responded to a question about what has made Russia so viscerally hostile to our freedoms and the civilization that we have built upon them. Dr. Lenczowski noted that part of this has to do with Russian history: the Russians never went through what we went through in the West – feudalism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, etc. In feudalism, for instance, the nobles declared their rights against the kings. Russia never went through this process. Instead, their political life was heavily shaped by the Muscovites, who would learn about oriental despotism from the Mongol Khan. As a result, a very different political culture developed in Russia over the centuries, with no tradition of political or economic liberty. Instead, the czar owned everything and everyone.
In addition, Dr. Lenczowski noted, Russia suffered the catastrophe of communism. Today, many of the political elites in Russia are heirs of the tradition of the secret police culture and the internal security system. These elites are resentful of the loss of Soviet superpower status. Putin has a revanchist agenda to restore Russia as a superpower. He believes that this is best achieved by trying to stymie the influence of the West and the United States in their foreign policy initiatives.
Dr. Lenczowski said that he does not think that Russia currently presents an existential threat to the United States, but it can indeed produce mischief and damage around the periphery of the West that could produce a dangerous situation. In response, the U.S. needs to maintain a strong deterrent. We need to be seen as serious, and we need to maintain a permanent military presence on the Eastern flank of NATO.
The conversation then turned to China, which, Dr. Lenczowski argued, is the existential threat that we face today. The Chinese have been conducting a cold war against the U.S. for a long time, and people within the U.S. are reluctant to say anything about it, especially because the Chinese have neutralized large segments of the American business community. The Chinese have been stealing our intellectual property, our industrial secrets, and our military technologies. They have about 50,000 spies in the U.S., from visiting businessmen to graduate students at elite universities. The U.S. grants a disproportionate number of visas to Chinese journalists who are really propagandists. The newspapers and academic experts do not discuss Chinese human rights violations, military buildup, espionage, and political influence and subversion operations in the U.S.
The Chinese, Dr. Lenczowski noted, have an ambition to dominate the world. They have a global strategy for this goal. They are cornering natural resources all over the world. They have a demographic and infrastructural presence at just about every naval chokepoint in the world. They are trying to show their own people that they are so powerful that no one can stop them in their global ambitions.
In the final segment of the show, Frank Gaffney and Dr. Lenczowski discussed the war of ideas against radical Islamism. Dr. Lenczowski noted that while we have spent trillions of dollars in two major wars sparked by the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. has been paying insufficient attention to halting the recruitment of new jihadists. This is a question, he noted, of strategic communications and the war of ideas. There is a war going on within Islam itself. There are those who believe that they must slaughter all the infidels. There are others who argue that this cannot be done without a just war. Dr. Lenczowski noted that Sharia law poses another threat from Islamism.
Moving forward, Dr. Lenczowski argued, the U.S. must avoid being perceived by its adversaries as weak. We need a revival of our economy, but the material factors are in vain if we do not have internal moral political strength. We need a strength of conviction concerning the values and principles by which we run our civilization. In addition, as a free society and a self-governing people, we need citizens who are capable of governing themselves.