Global Hotspots and Geopolitical Risks with Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Ian Brzezinski
November 16, 2022 | Webinar
A host of foreign policy challenges face the U.S. today including the war in Ukraine, tensions with China, Iran’s nuclear potential and the rise of authoritarian regimes. Meanwhile, overlapping global issues are contributing to further geopolitical tensions, including impacts from climate change, and global refugee crises. What do these global dynamics and tensions mean for your business? Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Ian Brzezinski joined the Wednesdays with Woodward series and discussed today’s geopolitical risks, global hot spots, pressing foreign policy issues and takeaways for the business community.
What did we learn? Here are the top takeaways from Global Hotspots and Geopolitical Risks with Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Ian Brzezinski.
Unrelenting, escalating geopolitical unrest means sleepless nights around the world. “We find ourselves in a world today that I describe as persistent, if not increasing volatility,” Brzezinski said. When hosting national security decision makers from both sides of the Atlantic, he often asks: “What keeps you up at night? What’s the contingency that you’re most worried about?” The answer, he said, is increasingly, “What doesn’t keep me up at night? It’s just perpetual crisis after crisis.”
Interlocking global challenges are driving volatility. Brzezinski described five challenges:
- Great power conflict with China and Russia.
- Renewed ideological collision between authoritarianism and democracy.
- Erosion of the international, post-World War II rules-based order.
- The accelerating pace of technological change.
- Accelerating pace of climate change.
“These are going to be the primary drivers of world affairs over the coming decade,” Brzezinski predicted, while acknowledging the tough road ahead: “It’s easy to identify the problem but finding the solution to these challenges can be very difficult.”
Freedom and democracy are at risk worldwide. According to Freedom House, only 20% of the world’s population lives in freedom today, down from 46% in 2005. “That’s significant. That’s really, really troubling,” said Brzezinski. “Compared to a world defined by democracies, a world of autocracies is a recipe for geopolitical instability and conflict, a more dangerous and a more volatile world.”
Geopolitically hot or not? Our audience weighed in. While the war in Ukraine and tensions with China ranked highest, the rise of authoritarianism and economic volatility followed closely behind. Brzezinski reacted with particular interest that “a good chunk recognizes the importance of democracy as a foundation stone for global stability. I didn’t think most people would focus on that, but it’s good to see.” Another big risk that’s not on most people’s radar? Melting polar icecaps in the Arctic. “A consequence of global warming is allowing human access to exploit that region. Critical minerals, oil and gas … with that comes competition and, often, tension,” Brzezinski warned.
Brzezinski weighed in on a few hotspots around the globe:
Ukraine: Eight months into the war, we’re at an inflection point. “The Ukrainians retaking Kherson highlighted the courage and tenacity of their fighters and the resilience of the Ukrainian people. This is a big psychological blow to Putin and a breath of fresh air for Ukrainian morale. It’s going to enable Ukraine to more effectively defend Odessa and other coastal cities,” he said. “If the West ramps up its assistance … I think Ukraine could push the Russians out of Ukraine, including Crimea, by spring or midsummer 2023.”
China: Acknowledging the relationship between China and the U.S. being “at its lowest point” since the normalization of relations in 1978, as well as challenges to restore stability that lie ahead, Brzezinski did see “notes of optimism” in recent G20 meetings. “It didn’t solve the problems. But Biden was able to squeeze out from Xi a commitment to begin a dialogue that could lead to establishing some guardrails that could help ensure this relationship doesn’t become a collision.”
Taiwan: “We should be increasingly concerned about Taiwan,” warned Brzezinski, noting that Chinese Communist Party President Xi has publicly committed to have China’s armed forces ready to seize the island by force by 2027. “The way in which we manage the Ukrainian crisis will significantly shape Xi’s perceptions on what he can do with Taiwan. They’re interrelated.”
North Korea: “We’ve got to be on our toes,” he advised when speaking about North Korea. “He [Kim Jong Un has nuclear weapons. He’s willing to be boisterous in the demonstration of his capabilities. But I don’t think that these recent missile firings indicate an immediate intent to attack South Korea, Japan or the U.S. The simple reason is North Korean leadership knows if they were to do something like that, they would put themselves at risk of very immediate destruction, because the balance of power is grossly against them.”
Iran: “What we’re seeing in and around Tehran is both horrifying and inspiring,” remarked Brzezinski. After months of protest following the murder of Mahsa Amini by Iran’s morality police, Brzezinski believes “it’s too early to project that the regime will crack. But what’s different compared to 1997 and the Green Revolution in 2009 … is the moderates are against the conservatives, and the conservatives themselves are beginning to show internal tensions. This is a brutal regime. They’ve survived before. We should be doing everything we can to support those who are rising up against this theocracy.”
Presented by the Travelers Institute, the Master's in Financial Technology (FinTech) Program at the University of Connecticut School of Business, the Risk and Uncertainty Management Center at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, MetroHartford Alliance, Connecticut Business & Industry Association and the Big I Minnesota.
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JOAN WOODWARD: Hello. Good afternoon, and thanks so much for joining us. I'm Joan Woodward, and I'm honored to lead the Travelers Institute, the public policy division and educational arm of Travelers. So welcome to Wednesdays with Woodward, where we convene leading experts for conversations about today's biggest challenges.
We're really so glad you're here. But before we get started, I'd like to share our disclaimer about today's program.
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So today, we are taking a look at geopolitical risk around the globe and the impact that they have on all of us in our personal lives and our business.
Photos of the speakers. Text, Speakers, Joan Woodward, Executive Vice President, Public Policy, President, Travelers Institute, Travelers. Ian Brzezinski, Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; Principal, Brzezinski Group.
Right now, there are a number of increasingly complex and interlocking global challenges-- the war in Ukraine, tensions with China, energy shortages, nuclear threats, among other concerns. To help break it down for us, I am thrilled to introduce my friend and former Capitol Hill colleague Ian Brzezinski.
Ian has worked in the national security space for decades. I know Ian from his days working in the Senate, where we both worked for Senator Bill Roth of Delaware, the other senator from Delaware for 30 years. One of his big focuses at the time was the extension of NATO membership into the democracies of Central and Eastern Europe, a cause he continues to support today. Ian also worked for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for many years.
After his time in the Senate, Ian was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe and NATO Policy, where he worked on the reconfiguration of NATO's Command Structure, the creation of NATO's Response Force, and the coordination of European military contributions to U.S.- and the NATO-led operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. Ian currently is a Fellow at the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on Strategy and Security.
For his public service, Ian has been distinguished with the awards from the Department of Defense and from six-- six European countries and allies. Ian also served in the Army Reserve and is a graduate of the Williams College and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Ian, welcome to Wednesdays with Woodward.
IAN BRZEZINSKI: Joan, thank you very much. That's a very generous introduction. It's great to see you, and it's great to bring back memories of the times with Bill Roth.
JOAN WOODWARD: Well, thank you so much for being here. And I know there are so many places to get to around the globe. So, but before we start with the different specific hot spots around the globe, let's start with the big picture. And there’s so many complex global issues right now and challenges. What do you think are some of the bigger drivers, the bigger themes of these conflicts and unrest around the world?
IAN BRZEZINSKI: Joan, when you look at the headlines today, it's war over Ukraine, Chinese threats against Taiwan, Iran's flirtation-- continued flirtation with nuclear weapons, massive missile volleys from North Korea, extremism in Africa, looming debt crisis, weakening global economy, devastating effects of global warming. We find ourselves in a world today that I describe as persistent, if not increasing volatility.
And when I host meetings at the Atlantic Council with national security decision-makers on both sides of the Atlantic, one of my favorite questions to ask them is, what keeps you up at night? What's that contingency that you're most worried about? What keeps you up at night?
And the answer is increasingly, what doesn't keep me up at night? Because there's so much going on, it's just perpetual crisis after crisis after crisis. So when I step back and think about, well, what's causing all this volatility, I think there are five primary dynamics or drivers of world affairs. And they're going to be the primary drivers of world affairs over the coming decade.
And in short, they are great power conflict, a return of great power conflict, this time involving China and Russia, a renewed clash between authoritarian nationalism and democratic liberalism, liberal democracy and national authoritarianism. Third is the erosion of the rules-based order. And complicating all that is the accelerating pace of technological change and climate change.
Now, looking at the first, following the end of the Cold War, we had a brief, optimistic, maybe even constructive period of engagement with Russia that wasn't too long-lived. It was a little bit longer lived with China. But today, we're facing a clearly revanchist China and an increasingly assertive China-- an increasingly revanchist Russia and increasingly assertive China. And just think of the agenda we have with these countries.
Over the last 15 years, we faced from Russia increasing assertiveness and provocations and aggression, invasion of Georgia in 2008, invasion-- first invasion of Ukraine in 2014, and a steadily escalating series of energy cutoffs, harassment of NATO aircraft, assassination in Ukraine, Germany, the UK, the latter involving Polonium or nerve agents, election interference, including in our own country, disinformation campaigns, even in 2017 an attack on U.S. forces by Russian forces in Syria. And then of course, as we saw in the news, reminded in the news today and yesterday, the continuing unjustified and brutal invasion of Ukraine.
And our relationship with China may not be as acute, but it's nonetheless disturbing, to say the least. Escalating threats against Taiwan, an attempt to militarize the South China Sea in a way to make it, in essence, a Chinese lake, the intimidation of Southeast Asian coastal states, the Belt and Road Initiative, which is an effort to buy key national and regional infrastructure around the world, internet attacks, cyber piracy, an attempt to compromise communication networks globally by proliferating Chinese 5G technologies laced with spyware. And then of course, China is a big, powerful economy. And it uses that weight for economic intimidation, to force countries ranging from Australia all the way to Lithuania and Europe to force them to bow to Beijing's will.
And of course, China brings to the table a significant effort to build up its military, including its arsenal of nuclear weapons. So it's no surprise that when you read the most recent national security strategy, the one that was issued by the Biden administration just a couple of weeks ago, the top concerns are Russia, and China, and great power competition. And it's been that case actually for the last two or three administrations.
Now, an important element of great power competition is an ideological collision between liberal democracy and national authoritarianism. And today, this is very much driven by Putin and Xi, who both made clear their disdain for democracy, rule of law and social tolerance. And the fact is when you look back over the last decade and a half, democracy around the world has really been back on its heels.
Freedom House, which is a great organization that monitors the level of freedom around the world, reported that in 2021, last year, some 60 countries suffered declines in freedom, while only 25 improved. In fact, there were more coups in 2021 than any of the previous years of the last decade. I can think of Myanmar, or Burma, Tunisia, Mali, Guinea, Chad. The list goes on. And this has been the trend of the last 16 years. Over the last 16 years, more countries have declined in their freedoms than those that have improved.
And it's having an impact. Another Freedom House fact that's just really troubling is that in 2005, Freedom House estimated 46% of the world's population lived in an environment defined by freedom. Today, that percentage has been reduced to 20%. That's significant. That is really, really troubling.
Compared to a world defined by democracies, a world of autocracies is really a recipe for geopolitical instability and conflict, in short, a more dangerous and more volatile world. So when you have great power conflict, the erosion of democracy, it's not surprising you're also experiencing an erosion of the international rules-based order, the third dynamic. And that order was established following World War II. And it features a network of institutional regimes, including multilateral institutions, like the U.N., dispute resolution mechanisms in courts, and arms control agreements, all of which has been the basis, the fabric for peace, and security, and unprecedented global growth over the last seven decades.
This order has underpinned the spread of freedom and democracy around the world. But today, it is being degraded. You see it in Russia's occupation of Ukrainian and Georgian territories, China's effort to seize the South China Sea, the collapse of arms control agreements such as the International Nuclear Forces-- Intermediate Nuclear Forces Agreement, Russia's abandonment of the Conventional Forces Treaty in Europe, agreements that limited the volume of weapons, but also provided transparency into military operations, all key to military stability.
The weakening of the rules-based international order portends a real swift return to geopolitics defined by spheres of influence, coercion, a world driven by force and violence. It's not a good picture. And complementing all of this, complicating all this is accelerating pace of technological change and climate change. Now, everyone knows that the pace of technological change and advancement is ever accelerating. And it is-- but it is profoundly affecting geopolitical landscapes around the world, including domestic politics, international relations, as well as economic and military balances of power.
Technology has always been a double-edged sword. I mean, think about just social media. It can be an awesome tool for democracy, one that enables populations to mobilize for freedom, to ensure accountability in government. But we've seen in China it can be a real effective tool for repression, disinformation and destabilization. Drones, drone technology, it's another classic example. And it's not just available to great powers. It's now available to middle powers, small powers, non-state actors, you and me.
Microdrones are a great way to monitor agricultural development on farms. It can be used to enhance security at public events at stadiums and such. But they can easily be transformed into lethal weapons. And we're seeing that in Ukraine, where drones, microdrones, are literally redefining what military commanders define as airspace control. Right now, in Ukraine, you don't know if you want to be in a tank or outside a tank because of drones. They're killing everything and redefining the way we fight battles. And it is profound.
Drones kind of highlight the diffusion of lethality. As I said, these kind of technologies were once the province of great powers. But today, these advanced technologies not only being developed by great powers, they're being developed by small powers and individuals. They're being adapted by them. And it's not just drones that's proliferating. It's missile technology, weapons of mass destruction. And all of this generates a far more lethal operating environment for our forces.
Well, the fifth and final one, because I don't want to go on too long, is climate change. It is also changing, and reshaping, and defining geopolitics in our day and age. Its evidence is everywhere, high temperatures, wildfires, more lethal hurricanes, drying up rivers, warming seas, unpredictable climate patterns here in the United States and around the world. And it has a real adverse effect on peace and stability.
I mean, just think of desertification. And there's a great fact out there. Nearly two-thirds of the world's fresh water comes from rivers and lakes that cross national boundaries. Two-thirds of the world's fresh water comes from things that cross borders or lakes that have two countries or more countries along the coastline. When they start drying up, that is a driver, that is a recipe, that's a catalyst for tension, if not conflict.
Think of the Arctic, another thing that's popping up on the news. The receding ice cap, a consequence of global warming, is allowing more human access to that region, access that will enable us to exploit the region's very rich resources, critical minerals, oil and gas, and that sort of thing. But with that comes competition and often tension. Africa, I just read a report last week that said that modeling is indicating that changing climate patterns in sub-Saharan Africa could increase conflict in that region by 50%.
So think about the massive casualties that will generate and displacement to millions. So in short, climate change is an undeniable threat multiplier, to use a phrase a friend of mine uses. It exacerbates current threats, and it generates new ones. So in short, great power competition, collision between liberal democracy and national authoritarianism, the degradation of the rules-based order, accelerating technological change, global warming, these are five overlapping dynamics that define world affairs, each exacerbating the other.
And they are challenges that America cannot afford to ignore. To do so would only jeopardize our values, our economy, would jeopardize our security. They have to be addressed head on and decisively, but also in collaboration with our allies and partners. So I've got to say, it's easy to identify the problem. But finding the solution to these challenges is going to be very difficult.
JOAN WOODWARD: Well, Ian, thank you for that framework. I think having a framework for understanding and thinking about each of the hot spots is really, really helpful as we kind of go around the globe to touch on-- just so my audience knows, we're going to hit lots of hot spots, like China, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, obviously Ukraine, and Russia. So let's get started.
Why don't we put up a polling question for our audience because I want to hear what's on your minds and understand how you're thinking about these different geopolitical conflicts. So what do you think is the most urgent geopolitical risk today for the world? What is the most urgent? And of course, all of these have ramifications. But we appreciate our audience just letting us know your thoughts. And then we want to get back to Ian quickly here.
So it looks like the war in Ukraine and tensions with China are the top two. And of course, the rise of authoritarianism is related to those first two categories there with Ukraine, Russia, and then of course, China. Nuclear threats, I think this is a good sign that our audience here is not thinking that is the most urgent threat.
But then economic volatility, I have to agree here with the audience because I think economic instability around the world really does drive geopolitical unrest, Ian. I would like to get your thoughts on these results here. And then I want to get right to Ukraine, Russia, and of course, what happened yesterday in Poland. So any thoughts on our audience ideas here?
IAN BRZEZINSKI: Well, it's interesting to see that much attention is directed to the war in Ukraine. And I think that's very valid because that has some escalatory risks that could be cataclysmic because we're dealing with a Russia that has nuclear weapons. The tensions with China, that makes a lot of sense. Russia, China kind of highlighted in this poll. That's consistent with the president's national security strategy and that of his predecessors.
I guess what I'm most surprised by is the rise of authoritarianism. It's interesting to see that a good chunk of our audience here seems to recognize the importance of freedom and the importance of democracy as foundation stone for global stability and global peace. So I didn't think many people would focus on that. But it's really good to see that the rise of authoritarianism is almost right up there with Ukraine and China.
JOAN WOODWARD: Yeah, I agree, Ian. I agree. OK, so let's get right into it because I know our audience is very interested to hear you spent a number of years actually living in Ukraine, Ian. And I want to kind of start with this region first because it is one of the most pressing. Now we're in month eight, I believe, of this conflict with really no end in sight. A very bitter winter coming along with lots of people without electricity, access to water, heat for the winter, et cetera.
So with these missiles landing in Poland yesterday and Russia's really ramped up bombardment, just extreme bombardment of Ukraine, give us what is the latest? And I have to let my audience know up front in our conversation that your brother currently is serving as the ambassador, the United States ambassador to Poland. And he went there, I believe, earlier this year. He was confirmed by the United States Senate, obviously nominated by President Biden to serve as that ambassador role in Poland.
And with missiles landing there, give us the latest on the ground. What are you hearing?
IAN BRZEZINSKI: Mark's a very busy individual. I mean, he went to Poland thinking that he was going to have actually a challenging relationship to manage between the Biden administration and Poland. And much to his shock, our shock, the world's shock, two weeks after his arrival, Russia invaded Ukraine. And Poland has now become the operational equivalent to West Germany during the Cold War. It is the frontline state in the West's effort to support Ukraine against this brutal and unjustified assault by Russia.
So I don't think he had much-- he's been getting much sleep. And I can assure you he didn't get much sleep last night once those-- because in the late afternoon of yesterday, apparently up to two bits of ordnance dropped into Polish territory, tragically killing two Polish farmers, two innocent Polish farmers. And the international community is now assessing exactly what happened. It looks like it was ordnance from Ukrainian air defense systems, which were trying to defend Ukrainian people, and Ukrainian territory, Ukrainian infrastructure from what was a barrage of close to 100 Russian missiles yesterday.
Literally, Putin's response to President Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's rollout at the G-20 of a peace proposal, a peace process proposal. So that's how Putin responded. Ukrainians tried to defend themselves. And it looks like, it looks like-- it has to be certified, it has to be confirmed-- that two, one or two of their air defense systems either hit something or malfunctioned and landed in Poland.
The bottom line here is that-- and this is a tragedy. And it is a direct consequence of Russia's aggression. And the international community right now is trying to figure out how it's going to respond to this extension of the war, escalation of the war beyond Ukraine's borders.
JOAN WOODWARD: Wow, it is amazing on the day after Zelenskyy put forward that kind of path to peace, this would happen. So very sad for the people in Poland there. I want to talk about Kherson because last week, the Ukrainians really did achieve a remarkable victory by taking that west bank of Kherson. How significant is this? Can you explain it for us who have not studied this region much? Is this a significant development? Or is it not really? Is it a turning point? How do you view it?
IAN BRZEZINSKI: I think Kherson does mark a potential inflection point in this conflict. We're eight months now into this war. The Ukrainians in taking Kherson have really highlighted the tenacity, the skill, the courage of their fighters, the resilience of the Ukrainian people, their ingenuity, their determination, their commitment to their territory, to their history.
And Kherson is important because it brings real psychological, and geographic, and military value to the Ukrainians, the retaking of it, it does. I mean, Kherson is a regional capital. It is the only major regional capital that Putin was able to seize over the last eight months. And just weeks ago, he very publicly annexed it. And he did it so, in a way, to demonstrate a perception of success in front of the Russian people. And now he just lost it. And he lost, and in doing so, he squandered the lives of hundreds of Russian soldiers, hundreds literally just in the days before Kherson collapsed.
Chairman Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley, estimated that Putin has sacrificed close to or over 100,000 Russian soldiers in this conflict. Ukrainians probably have suffered the same. So this is a big psychological blow against Putin. It's a breath of fresh air for Ukrainian morale. Operationally, it's going to enable Ukraine to more effectively defend Odessa and other coastal cities to the west in Ukraine. That's very important.
It will also enable Ukrainians to use Kherson and the area around it as kind of an artillery fire base, a rocket fire base to attack Russian supply lines that are critical to sustaining Russian operations in Crimea. That is very, very, very important. And it ultimately positions Ukraine to move against Russian forces along its southeastern coast. And all of this could be key to retaking Crimea eventually.
Now, I'm calling this an inflection point because while the Ukrainian offensive has winds in its sails, Russia still benefits from significant advantages of mass, larger GDP. We're talking $1.4 trillion against $115 billion. One hundred forty-five million people against roughly 45 million people before the war started in Ukraine. Russia had a $66 billion defense budget. Ukraine had a $5 billion defense budget just before this war started.
So Russia has some very significant advantages of mass. And we can't forget that as Ukrainians succeed in pushing the Russians back, Russians are losing territory. But their forces are becoming more concentrated. So it becomes a more difficult offensive operation for the Ukrainians. So what's going to be determinative in this inflection point is what the West does to help Ukraine sustain its momentum, if not increase its momentum.
And there are basically two choices ahead. One, the West can maintain current levels of assistance or maybe even back off. And I think the result would be, well, that would be a real recipe for transitioning this war into a prolonged standoff, like a World War I trench warfare, where the two sides are just grinding each other down not over only months, but maybe even years. If the West really ramps up its assistance to Ukraine, increases the flow of weapons, the flow of munitions, increases the capability of that equipment to the Ukrainians, backs it up with more economic support to the Ukrainians, and then really puts an economic hammer down on the Russian economy, I think we're in a position where the Ukrainians could all of a sudden push the Russians out of Ukraine, including Crimea, by the end of the spring or midsummer.
So this is a very, very important point. And it's really going to be-- it's in the West's court to determine what side of this inflection point we're going to fall.
JOAN WOODWARD: Wow, I mean, if you're saying the spring or summer, and even kicking them out of Crimea, that would be just an incredible, incredible opportunity for us to take advantage of. So that would be-- boy, Ian, that's very optimistic. I'm glad you said that. It was very good to hear you say that.
IAN BRZEZINSKI: I'm not optimistic. I'm really-- I have a huge amount of confidence in the Ukrainians--
JOAN WOODWARD: Yes.
IAN BRZEZINSKI: --their determination to prevail. I have to say, while I applaud what has been done by the West, particularly under Joe Biden's leadership, I still feel it falls a little bit short. This assistance has always arrived a dollar short and a day late. And it's an incrementalism in our escalation of assistance that I think has unfortunately prolonged this conflict.
JOAN WOODWARD: Oh, interesting. So let's talk about that. The war has not gone as anyone really did expect here. And what are some of the military and national security lessons for the U.S.? What have we learned from being, as you say, a dollar short and a day late in terms of supporting our-- obviously, they're not part of NATO, right? If they were part of NATO, we would have a completely different conversation. The war would have gone completely differently.
But the fact that they're not yet a part of NATO, what are some of the lessons that we did learn in terms of getting logistically-- maybe getting the weapons to friends around the world faster? Or what are your takeaways and lessons that the Defense Department really should kind of wake up to?
IAN BRZEZINSKI: Well, I'd say there are three. I mean, the first relates to the changing character of war. And we're going to have to look very carefully, we're going to have to examine the operations of this conflict very carefully. I talked about the roles of drones, how that is changing the way we operate.
It used to be you'd go into tanks; you'd go into armored personnel carriers to defend yourself against artillery and those kind of barrages. Well, drones have now proven deadly lethal against tanks and artillery. So you don't want to be in a tank in that kind of environment or an armored personnel. It's almost like a drone magnet, ordnance magnet. At the same time, you don't want to be outside those vehicles because drones can drop anti-personnel weapons.
This is really complicating the definition of airspace control, and airspace management, and defense against these threats. We're having a revolution that's going on. I have clients now that all they do is think about how do you leverage drones? How do you make them more survivable? How do you make them more lethal? And then other clients are talking about, well, how do we counter these drones? How do we neutralize them?
It is a rapidly accelerating game. And I don't like to use that word because it diminishes the significance there. We're talking about human life. The role of command and communications, the speed with which we're sharing data between sensors and commanders. The Ukrainians have proven incredibly effective at that. They're sharing a lot of data with their soldiers. Their soldiers are operating in a decentralized way, leveraging that data, acting on their own, seizing opportunities, exploiting opportunities.
And in contrast, you see the Russians aren't able to do that. Now, that's good news for our side of this battle. But we just can't assume that our adversaries in the future are going to be as incompetent as the Russians have been. So we will be-- as we leverage this command and control technology, this flow of information more and more effectively, we're going to have to prepare ourselves for adversaries who are doing the same.
There are two other kind of big issues, or lessons, from this conflict. I think they're worth noting. Is one, we shouldn't forget to look back at what we did and didn't do. And by that, I mean let's remind ourselves that this whole experience with Russia should remind us about the terrible price that comes with appeasement. Russia invaded Georgia, seized two areas of Georgia, Ossetia and Abkhazia, and have been holding them ever since. The West imposed sanctions on Russia for that attack, for that aggression, for that invasion, for that seizure of territory, and allowed them to dissipate.
And what a surprise, Russia did it again in 2014, seizing Crimea, and then Luhansk, and Donetsk, and Ukraine. We put on some sanctions. They kind of drifted away. Basically, the international community, the trans-Atlantic community accepted Russian control of Crimea and Donetsk. We didn't formally recognize it. But we really weren't doing anything really to pressure the Russians seriously or to impose real serious penalties on Russia. And what a surprise, we're back here again this year with the second invasion of Ukraine.
JOAN WOODWARD: All right--
IAN BRZEZINSKI: There’s little deterrence. Go ahead.
JOAN WOODWARD: No, we've got to go around the globe, remember? So I want to get to your experiences in Ukraine. So I know you've spent decades just studying Russia and Eastern Europe. But you are a volunteer in Ukraine, supporting development in their national security institutions in 1993 and '94. You visited the port where the Russia Black Sea Fleet is actually stationed in Crimea. Tell us what you observed that gives you insight into this situation, given your time you spent in Ukraine and so close to Russia's forces there in the Black Sea.
IAN BRZEZINSKI: Well, I'll tell you two quick snippets. In 1992, in April, I was working for the Pentagon. And I was participating in a NATO conference with representatives from the military of Russia, newly independent Russia, so to speak, two months after the collapse, three months after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And there we were in Oberammergau at this conference center in Bavaria in Germany. And the conference closed. And before I could leave, there was a big snowstorm. And I was blizzard in, so to speak, blizzard in with the Russian delegation who was led by the Deputy Chief of Defense, the number two military officer of Russia.
So we're having beers in the hall there. And I had the temerity to ask him, how do you feel about losing the Soviet Union? This is a nation, a country, a state to which you dedicated your entire professional life. And he was like, we will manage this. We will deal with this. But I'll never forget him looking me in the eye really directly. And he said, mark my word, Ukraine will come back to us.
It was very clear to me he didn't really care if it was a voluntary return or it was going to be returned by force. And I'll never forget that. And then two years later, in '93, I found myself as a volunteer in Ukraine. And I had the privilege of having the Ukrainians sneak me into Sevastopol, which is the Black Sea port where the Russians have the Black Sea Fleet. It's on the Crimean Peninsula. And at that time, it was a closed city. Foreigners weren't really allowed to go in there.
And I remember being brought in there. And I was walking along the docks of the Black Sea Fleet, literally seeing Russian submarines stern up because they kind of sunk, and their noses were stuck in the mud. And their sterns were literally out of the water. It was a mess over there. And I visited a very humble medium-sized Russian transport ship, rusted cargo ship, completely rusted. You didn't even feel safe walking on it, except for the fact that you noticed that the COMMU gear, the communications gear, and the radars were brand-new American equipment.
And so I ended up having drinks with the captain of this ship in his stateroom. And as he kind of loosened up, he opened up about what his mission was. His mission back in 1993 was to ferry Russian Spetsnaz units, that is Russian special forces, from Sevastopol across the Black Sea to drop them off on the coast of Abkhazia and bring back the unit that they were relieving. So already in 1993, two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian military, the Russian state was already working to undermine the independence and sovereignty of those states that had broken away from the yoke of Moscow's control.
That's the insight that I have. And it's profoundly shaped my concern about how we manage this revanchist dimension of Russia today.
JOAN WOODWARD: Wow, all right, before we move on to China, Ian, I have to ask you, you studied Putin for many, many, many years. And two questions, what do you think his endgame is here in Ukraine? And then the ultimate question, which I even hesitate saying the words, but do you think there is a risk that Putin might get desperate and use a nuclear weapon? And if they decide to use a nuclear weapon, what would that look like do you think? What would be Putin's strategy around that? But really what is his endgame here?
IAN BRZEZINSKI: His original objective was to seize Ukraine in entirety. So when you look at the initial days, the initial weeks of his effort to have a lightning strike against Kyiv, it was clear that he was confident that if he could seize the capital city, the rest of the country would fall back under its fold. So he wanted all of Ukraine. This is something Putin has been pursuing for a long time.
His current objectives are probably to keep on whatever-- to hold on to whatever territory he can because he is really back on his heels right now. And even if we're able to stabilize it, as long as Putin is in office, I’ve got-- one’s got to be concerned that he'll come back and try and bite at the apple again, so to speak, and make another effort. This is something that is a deep and longstanding objective of his effort to kind of reconstruct the greatness of the Soviet Union.
And it's scary because he doesn't just want to control the Ukrainian people. He actually wants to rewrite their history. He wants to redefine them. He even wants to rewrite their language. This is genocidal. This is something we haven't seen since World War II. So it is scary. And it is significant.
Regarding your question about nuclear weapons, nuclear threats in this conflict have been a prominent and important part of Putin's strategy. Before he launched this war, as he was gearing up to give the go sign to his commanders, he warned the West that if there was NATO intervention, if there was Western intervention into this invasion of his, this special operation as he calls it, the West would be risking nuclear Armageddon.
And to underscore that threat, the week before that invasion, the week before February 24th, he actually conducted a very prominent nuclear exercise. My fear is that we've actually rewarded that threat by declaring-- whether or not we wanted to do this-- but declaring no boots on the ground. And it's not surprising that he's repeated those threats because when you reward nuclear coercion, it's more likely it's going to be used again. The proclivity to exercise nuclear coercion increases.
And we'll have to see where this war goes and what kind of new precedents are being set in international affairs when it comes down to role of nuclear weapons in conflict. But we're really not right now on the right path. As to whether or not he'll really use weapons, it's always very dangerous to project one's own perspective on an adversary. But my opinion, it would be that Putin has little to gain.
First of all, a tactical nuclear weapon really doesn't have that much coverage and the Ukrainians-- in terms of what it destroys. And the Ukrainians operate in a very dispersed fashion. So even a small nuclear weapon would have limited military utility. Second, he'd be bombing the very territory that he supposedly holds so dear to his heart. So he'd be nuking the very thing quote-unquote is trying to bring back to Moscow.
He'd probably piss off a lot of Russians who have relatives in Ukraine. It would exacerbate his already difficult efforts to mobilize soldiers, to go out and recruit people. You saw his mobilization order. Three hundred thousand Russians fled the country. He's had to dragoon them. He's got to go dig into prisons to fill them up. If he's dropping a nuclear bomb on Ukraine, there are going to be even fewer Russians that want to go into that battle. He'll alienate China and India. And he'll probably harden the West's posture against him, precipitating what could be truly damaging, already long overdue, but truly damaging economic sanctions.
And based on the performance of his forces, he can't rule out the fact that the West may respond militarily, including with a devastating conventional strike against his forces in Ukraine. So he has a lot to lose going down that route. But this is a serious issue. And when you're dealing with a nuclear power, you can never really fully dismiss that danger.
JOAN WOODWARD: Right. Oh, Ian, thank you so much for taking us through the whole European challenges. I know this is a big challenge for the U.S. as well. And of course, with the midterm elections there's been some talk about maybe pulling back on aid to Ukraine. Quickly before we go to China, do you think the midterm election outcome now assures that the flow of weapons, and money, and economic assistance will continue as it has been in the Congress going to Ukraine? Or do you think we'll see a pullback?
IAN BRZEZINSKI: Yeah, I was going to ask you, Joan, because you know the Hill so well. My sense is no. I think this election has kind of-- it's going to bring maybe a little bit more friction and liveliness, so to speak, in an unconstructive way in Washington. But when it comes down to foreign policy, I think this is an election that's going to bring probably more continuity to our current direction and policy. And when I think about those votes on the Hill these last several weeks, maybe late summer, and you look at the-- on the Republican side, yes, there was a faction of maybe 50 Republicans in the House, 10 to 20 in the Senate that voted no on Ukraine assistance.
But when you scratch the surface a little bit, you realize that Ukraine assistance was actually embedded in a much larger bill. And I have to believe that a significant portion of those no votes were not so much driven by the Ukraine dimension, but by the way the Democrats kind of pile drived that bill through with little consultation. So it was a vote in part against a broader bill. Second, I would point out look at public opinion in the United States about support for Ukraine. It's overwhelmingly supportive, around 80%. It may be a little bit more some skepticism, maybe 70%, 65% for economic assistance, and definitely higher for military security assistance.
But it's pretty strong. It's been pretty enduring. And that I think will permeate this new class that comes to Capitol Hill. So continuity for now between now and the next election.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, thank you for that. Thank you. All right, we have to jump on our plane and land in Shanghai, in Beijing and talk about China. I know President Biden met with President Xi over there at the G-20 summit this past week. And they had an interesting meeting. Do you really think that the deterioration of our U.S.-China relationship is one of the biggest threats to the U.S. directly? I mean, do you think there is a chance that China would provoke us by launching some sort of invasion in Taiwan in the next year or so? Or what do you make of this?
IAN BRZEZINSKI: Well, let me put it this way. The relationship between China and the United States today is probably at its lowest point since normalization of relations in 1978 under the Carter administration. And it is a concern. It is a serious concern in part because the magnitude of the threat posed by China and what it's trying to do. Beijing presents compared to Russia a far more complicated, far more significant, full-spectrum challenge, economically, militarily, technologically, far bigger than even what the Soviet Union posed to us.
I mean, we're talking about a $14 trillion economy that over the last decade China has exercised in a predatory fashion, in a systemic predatory fashion around the globe, including even here in the United States. Its technology is first-rate. I mean, it is a leader in 5G, artificial intelligence. It's ahead of us in terms of hypersonic weapons. It may even be ahead of us in terms of quantum computing. And it has demonstrated repeatedly that it is willing to use that technological prowess against Western interests and security. And I can imagine in your neck of the woods as an insurance company how you're dealing with cyber espionage. I mean, billions of dollars a year are being stolen by Chinese hacking. They are a technological tiger. And it is a challenge. And then their military, they are no longer just a regional power. They're becoming more and more of a global power. Estimates that I read have the Chinese GDP-- excuse me, Chinese defense budget around $260, $280 billion. But when you think actually what they can buy in China, that's probably closer to three-quarters or two-thirds the size of our defense budget. That is huge.
And then, of course, it's got a growing arsenal. And they expect that the Chinese arsenal, which was roughly around 200, 300 nuclear weapons a few years ago, is going to be close to 1,000 or over 1,000 by 2030. This really complicates our security. And then the Chinese, Xi in particular, really relishes his role as an ideological challenge to the West. He thinks his national authoritarian model is the way to go.
And he communicated a determination to shake up the world at his last party congress just a few weeks ago. Not only did he consolidate his own authority, but he communicated to the world that he sees it as a world that's unfair to China. And he's going to change it. That brings it to Taiwan. We should be increasingly concerned about Taiwan because he made it clear, he instructed his own military to be prepared to invade that island and remove its democratic government by 2027. And our own Pacific commander is warning that could happen even within the next two years. I've got to say, to bring this back to Ukraine, I really believe the way in which we manage the Ukrainian crisis will significantly shape Xi's perceptions on what he can do with Taiwan. They're interrelated.
JOAN WOODWARD: Wow, that is fascinating. But actually, honestly very, very scary, Ian. I'm going to bring in the audience here because I think we have a fantastic question from Harry Clark. Harry Clark asked you, what was the U.S. effort to-- was the U.S. effort to bring China into the WTO, the World Trade Organization, and become a responsible stakeholder in the Community of Nations a mistake? Was the Nixon-Kissinger initiative to engage with China a strategic mistake? This happened long ago, but it really set us on the pathway for this modern-day relationship with China. But was that a mistake, Ian
IAN BRZEZINSKI: I think it's a question that, Joan, should go to you from your role in the Finance Committee. When I was working with you and Ginny on the Roth office, I think I was the one voice that was kind of concerned about bringing China into the WTO because I didn't think it had proven its bona fides as an economy, as a political actor that was truly committed to the values and objectives of that organization. But looking back, I don't think it was a mistake for Kissinger and Nixon to engage China. I think engagement is good, including with our adversaries.
My father was involved in the formal normalization of relations, the next phase that followed the Kissinger-- Nixon-Kissinger outreach, that was the normalization of relations in 1978
JOAN WOODWARD: Let me just pause you there because there’s so many members of your family that I want to make sure my audience fully appreciates the household you grew up in. So Ian's father, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, was national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter and struck a number of peace deals, especially in the Mideast with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, the Israeli-Egypt Accord. But again, Ian's dad clearly made an impression on Ian to follow in his footsteps with public service. Didn't mean to interrupt you. But go ahead. Go ahead, Ian, on that point. I just want to make sure people understand.
IAN BRZEZINSKI: So you fast-forward today and you go pre-Xi, there was an actual opening up of China with a shift to more of a market-driven economy. There was some liberalization. But unfortunately, under Xi and his predecessor there's been a recentralization and an injection of a nationalist fervor. We have national authoritarianism. And it's not surprising that has resulted in a Chinese posture that's increasingly aggressive not only towards its neighbor, its immediate neighbors, but against a broader international order that defines global affairs today.
He's up to change it. And it's going to be a challenge to put this relationship back into something that's a little bit more stable, a little less volatile. And I think the meeting that we had between Xi-- President Xi of China and President Biden is a note of optimism. I mean, it didn't solve the problems in the relationship. It certainly didn't bring normality back to the relationship. But Biden was able to squeeze out at least publicly from Xi a commitment to begin a dialogue that can maybe lead to the establishment of some guardrails, rules of the road that will help ensure that this relationship doesn't become a collision.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, thank you for the China insights. Let's stay in Asia and hop over to North Korea. We have obviously, a very, very upset leader in North Korea who likes to show his strength to the world. How concerned are you that North Korea might-- indeed he has weapons that could reach the United States, correct? And how concerned are you that those weapons might be pointed toward the United States versus to South Korea?
IAN BRZEZINSKI: Well, I think technically, he's on the cusp of getting weapons that can truly reach the United States. He's testing them. But I don't think his testing has reached the point where one can firmly conclude he's got that kind of reach. He clearly has nuclear weapons. And he's clearly willing to be boisterous in the demonstration of his capabilities. So we've had unprecedented volleys of missiles into the Pacific Ocean from North Korea.
When you're dealing with a leader like him who is brutal and is as unpredictable as he is, you've got to be on your toes. But I don't think that these missile firings really indicate an immediate intent to, for example, to attack South Korea, or to attack Japan or the United States. And the simple reason being is that North Koreans, North Korean leadership recognize if they were to do something like that, cross that rubicon, they would be risking their very immediate destruction of their authorities because the balance of powers is grossly against them.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, we're going to go over to Iran because I got a number of audience questions coming in about Iran and what's going on right now with the protesters. Should we do something more proactive there? Because the protesters, as you know, Ian, over many decades there's been a number of protests that have just been put down by that brutal dictatorship there. And if we all want to see regime change, should the U.S. government really be more actively engaged? Or are they actively engaged in this behind the scenes, and we just don't know about it? But what would that look like if the U.S. got more engaged with what Iran is trying to do here?
IAN BRZEZINSKI: Well, what we're seeing in Iran today is both horrifying and inspiring. I mean, of course, the crisis or the events that we're seeing, the protests, the months of protests that have been going on over there were triggered by the murder of 22-year-old Masha Amani who was dragged off the streets by the morality police for not wearing a hijab properly. Wasn't that she wasn't wearing one. She was wearing it improperly. And she died in custody.
So now we've seen this uprising, protests across the country. Many of them led by women. Many of them led by young people, interesting, across the country. So not just the deep urban centers, the heavy urban centers, but even in the rural areas. And the government is struggling to suppress this. And they're doing it brutally, 15,000 arrests, hundreds killed, 1,000 or over 1,000 already indicted.
This is a very significant-- the word “uprising” may be too strong-- but for the lack of it, an uprising against a government and its extremist interpretation of Islamic law. Now, what is different? Well, let me say it's too early to project now that this regime is going to crack, and we're going to see this theocratic autocracy be replaced. But what's different from before is compared to 1997 and then the Green Revolution of 2009, we're seeing actually moderates. In those revolutions, those periods of unrest, the moderates and the conservatives actually stuck together and pushed against those who are pushing for reform.
Today, not only are the moderates against the conservatives, the conservatives themselves are beginning to show internal tensions. They're fragmenting. I don't know where this is going to lead. I mean, this is a very brutal regime. They've survived before. But it's pretty clear this unrest is not likely to die down quickly. So that doesn't answer your question, where does it go. I think it's going to be protracted. And maybe we'll be lucky it actually leads to regime change. In terms of what we should be doing, we should be doing whatever we can to support those who are rising up against this theocracy.
We don't do that like we used to do during the Cold War. We really shut down a lot of our programs. We cut back a lot of our support to democratic movements and dissidents. That used to be a hallmark of American national security policy. Let's look at a classic institution that would be invaluable today that we shut down as a consequence to the Cold War. And that was the United States Information Agency. I don't know if you remember that.
JOAN WOODWARD: Yeah, sure.
IAN BRZEZINSKI: Yeah. USIA, when I was in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I was a lone voice on the staff saying we should not get rid of this. But Madeleine Albright, and Jesse Helms, and Joe Biden all agreed to shut it down, as its mission was no longer needed. This was an organization that had a $3 billion a year budget that year, 1998-'99 dollars. You could have a career in the USIA going up from entry level to Deputy Secretary, to Assistant Secretary, Undersecretary, Deputy Director, Director.
And the Director reported directly to the President of the United States to ensure that USIA was reflecting the President's voice, not the State Department's or CIA's, but the President's voice. And they had programs all around the world, student exchanges, science exchanges, support for conferences, the proselytizing of democracy and rule of law, radio and TV, and such. We shut it down. In doing so we basically kneecapped our ability to operate in a world where information operations has become such an important reality.
This is an organization we ought to be thinking about reanimating as a part of our strategy to more effectively support dissidents in Iran, for that matter, and for that matter, Russia, China and elsewhere where freedom is lagging.
JOAN WOODWARD: All right, Ian, we have to get to more audience questions. I like this one coming in from Andrew Harris. Andrew asked you, do you believe, or to what extent, the blundered withdrawal in Afghanistan aided in Putin and Xi's decision to be more aggressive in Iran-- in Ukraine and Taiwan? Good question, Andrew. So is our blunders in Afghanistan-- or do you view them as a huge blunder? Or are you on the side of it wasn't that bad and there was no easy way to get out of Afghanistan?
IAN BRZEZINSKI: I think it was a moral and strategic mistake to abandon the Afghans, whereby leaving that region we created a vacuum of anarchy over there. We're abandoning many of the people that supported us for decades. And at the risk of sounding cold hearted, it was actually-- it was not a cheap operation, but one that our country could handle very effectively. It was going down to very low levels of loss of life for us over there. No one wants to diminish that. But that's a reality. And in an age of great power competition, Afghanistan could have been an important piece of territory for us through which to compete with China and Russia, when it comes down to Central Asia.
So it was a moral loss and a strategic loss. And then the incompetence through which it was conducted kind of highlighted or reinforced an impression of America in decline and an America not willing to take on the great battles in the way it had in the past. And in that way, I think Afghanistan, while it didn't precipitate Putin's invasion of Ukraine or precipitate a more assertive posture by Xi, it certainly led them to conclude that the directions they were thinking about taking didn't have as high a cost as they probably should have been led to believe.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, thank you for that. Ian, another question coming in from the audience here. You probably give a lot of career advice to young people. So tell what would you tell someone who wanted to get involved in public service, and specifically national security or international affairs? Obviously just getting an education in those majors, in those fields. But then what? How do you get into these incredibly interesting government jobs, like you served so many years? And thank you for your service too in the military. What would you tell a young person?
IAN BRZEZINSKI: It's like the Nike commercial, just do it. Find an area that you're interested in and jump into that career path. I knew when I was in college that I was interested in national security. And so I knew that there were some things, boxes I needed to check to build up a foundation for a career, a foundation that enabled me to be an effective public servant, or hoped to be an effective public servant.
So I knew I wanted to get some military experience. So joining Reserves was the way I did that. I'm a strong advocate for young people to join the military, if you're interested in national security policy because military is the core element of power. A national security advisor and national security official has to be prepared to understand if he's going to manage it effectively, exercise it effectively. I think getting experience on Capitol Hill if you're interested in national security is really important.
People underestimate how important, how decisive Capitol Hill can be in the making and sustainment of effective national security policy. And it goes beyond just the power of the purse that Congress has. Capitol Hill in many ways gets almost as much information as the administration does, the U.S. government does, because everything is available on the internet. And in fact, offices can act with greater speed and expediency because they don't have to go through a bureaucratic process.
They're smaller, 40-man offices, 20-man offices. They can move with the speed of light. And that allows them to shape the debate and to shape decision-making. You don't really understand U.S. national security policy until you understand the role of the Hill in that. And you can only understand the Hill by being on the Hill. And then I think if you're interested in national security, it's always good to get some time abroad, see how others see America.
And it's important because there's a lot of awe out there of America. But with awe of our economic well-being, our military power, technological prowess sometimes comes a certain amount of resentment and envy, envy and resentment. And if you're not aware of that and how they perceive us, you're always a little bit handicapped in your ability to exercise our capabilities to the national good, if not the global good.
So, jump in there, sequence it to a certain degree. But I think national security today requires a certain breadth of experience. And that's why I mentioned the Hill, the military and a little time abroad.
JOAN WOODWARD: All right, Ian, last question for you coming from our audience here. Are you optimistic that the United States, if we needed to, was militarily capable of fighting a two-theater war? So assuming something happens in Asia and we get dragged into the Ukrainian conflict, is our military up to the job of a two-theater war like we saw in World War II?
IAN BRZEZINSKI: It's a hard question. And as China becomes more and more capable, our ability to handle two theaters is going to become increasingly stressed. And I can tell you one thing that becomes more and more important in a situation like that is your allies. It's going to be more important for us to have allies that have capability and then also the will to stand with us in the potential contingencies of the future.
And the more we're able to stand together with them with a robust posture, one that leverages our economic, and our military, and our ideological advantages, not only are we going to be better able to deter that two-front event from happening. If it were to happen, we'll be better able to succeed.
JOAN WOODWARD: OK, Ian, we've come to the end of our hour. It just flew by us. And I just so appreciate your insights, your comments, really, really just fascinating. And the only thing I'd ask you is please consider coming back on our program next year…
IAN BRZEZINSKI: Love to.
JOAN WOODWARD: …to talk about all of these challenges that we face in the U.S. So, thank you so much for your service and for all you're doing to keep us on the right path of democracy
IAN BRZEZINSKI: Thank you, Joan. Thank you for including me in your group.
Text, Wednesdays with Woodward (registered trademark) Webinar Series. Upcoming Webinars. November 30. Got your C.P.C.U.? (registered trademark) Explore new opportunities to grow your risk management career. December 7. The Business Imperative of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with Laura Liswood. December 14, The Construction Job Site of Today: Risks and Opportunities. Register. travelersinstitute.org.
JOAN WOODWARD: All right, ladies and gentlemen, I want to just give you a heads up on the next couple of webinars we have and some of the guests. November 30, we are going to talk with Peter Miller. He runs The Institute, the organization that does the CPCU. And we're going to talk to him about other opportunities for insurance-based education.
Then on December 7th, I'm going to have a special guest, the co-founder and Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders. So she runs the organization that makes up all of the women who run different countries, so New Zealand. Think of Angela Merkel in Germany who just stepped down. So she has intimate relationships with these women around the world with regard to powers and countries.
She's going to talk to us about the importance, the business imperative, the business imperative, especially in the insurance industry for diversity and inclusion. So don't miss that one. And then our last one for the year, December 14th, is going to be a look inside the construction job site of today, and the technology, and risk management opportunities, and challenges facing the insurance industry. So don't miss us on December 14th. Have a fantastic Thanksgiving. Stay safe on those roads out there. And we'll see you in a week or so.
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Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; Atlantic Council Senior Fellow; Principal, Brzezinski Group
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