Paul Miller’s lecture at the Christianity & National Security Conference, 2022.

Paul Miller discusses American leadership, Christian realism, and the just war tradition. The following is a transcript of the lecture.

When, uh, scheduling this conference, Mark asked if I would be available to speak shortly after lunch. I said, because my presentation is the most energetic and will keep everyone awake? He said no, you have the most common presentation and won’t interrupt their naps. I’ll do my best. I want to start by saying thank you. Thank you to Mark, thank you to IRD, thank you to Providence for hosting this, and thank you to you for being here. Thank you for your time. I don’t take for granted that. Uh, you know, I know you could be using your time in other ways, so I hope to make it worth your time with a couple of remarks this afternoon. 

Six years ago, Providence published a Christian declaration on foreign policy. Christian declaration on foreign policy, asking and answering how should Christians think about the world? And I was asked if I might review this and perhaps offer an update or a suggestion on how it might apply to the world today. Turns out to be a great time to be doing that. It’s highly relevant. We live in a world where, for the first time in 80 years, a superpower has invaded a neighbor in the most blatantly territorial, uh, war of territorial conquest in almost a century. Uh, Russia has put its forces on nuclear alert. United States and NATO are now debating just how close we can get to responding without triggering World War III.  

So it’s a good time to be asking how should Christians be thinking about world affairs? You might actually ask about Ukraine. Why should we care? Why should we actually care what’s happening 9,000 miles away on the other side of the world? As a Christian, is it more important that we stand up for the principle of territorial sovereignty, national sovereignty, or is it more important that we prioritize our nation, our security, our lives, by staying out of it? As a Christian, do we care more about helping Ukrainians defend themselves or helping America defend itself by minimizing the risk of nuclear escalation? That’s a legitimate question, and it’s a hard question. I don’t want to take it for granted. I’ve got my own opinions, but let me share with you the way I have tried to walk through these things as I think about, uh, my duty as a Christian, as an American, as a one-time policy maker, now a scholar interested in international affairs. As I do. 

So I observe that many students, many young people, if they’re interested in international affairs, tend to be drawn to single issue humanitarian causes. Right? So if you’re a Christian and you’re interested in the world, chances are you’ve got a thing, and maybe it’s human trafficking. Maybe it’s Afghan women. Maybe it’s human rights generally, or uh, or the war in Ukraine or some other single issue like that. I don’t want to dissuade you from that. I recognize the value of those individual campaigns, but I think as a Christian, we also want to be able to step back and ask and answer some bigger questions about the nature of political order, about what it’s for, and about how we should seek to use power if it is indeed entrusted to us.  

I would look at passages in the Bible like Genesis 2:15, where God creates Adam and Eve, puts him in the garden, and he says tend and keep the garden. Tend and keep the garden. Theologians call this the cultural mandate. It’s a commission for all of our creative labors in the world. It’s a description of what our commission is, what our responsibility is in the world. We should tend and keep the garden of this world, and that’s a good description. I think a shorthand of what we might aspire to if we’re involved in international affairs. We ought to tend and keep the garden of world order. That’s a bit broader than an individual cause, an individual humanitarian campaign.  

We can also look at passages like Romans 13, where Paul very clearly says the ruler does not bear the sword in vain. Pause on that metaphor for a moment. The sword. He’s not being metaphorical about this. It’s… it’s literal Roman soldiers wander around with swords to do what? To maintain order, peace, and justice. And Paul is holding Ceasar to account for how he uses the sword, but he’s also saying this is God’s plan, that rulers have swords and use them. What for? For peace, justice, and order. That’s the goal of political power. As college students, you’ve been trained to be skeptical of power, to critique it, to speak truth to power and to… to know the long record of abuses of people who have misused power, and that is all appropriate and right, and you shouldn’t forget those lessons. 

But it’s only half the truth. The other half of the truth is that God is powerful. He is a powerful agent for creation and judgement. We, in the image of God, we are sometimes given the privilege of bearing power, and when that is the case we must seek to use and steward that power rightly. And in the political context, that means using it for peace, justice, and order, even when it means bearing the sword to do so.

I’ve just given you the 30-second version of Christian realism that Christian realists take on international affairs. You’ve probably heard about that from previous speakers today and yesterday. It just means that we want to be idealistic about our ends investing in world order, the garden world order, but realistic about our means. Using the sword when necessary. That’s Christian realism in a nutshell, and I would encourage that as the background to your thinking about international affairs, uh, in, with, and through any of your individual causes or campaigns that you’re passionate about. A Christian realist appraisal of world order. 

Now I’ve used this phrase a couple of times. World order. What does that mean? As a scholar, somebody with a PhD in international relations, it’s my job to take common sense things and make them complicated. So here’s the political science way of talking about the common sense stuff I just covered. World order is a social system that is made up of the patterned interrelationships among the principal actors of international politics, states, inter-governmental organizations, and even multinational corporations and now Elon Musk. That’s world order. It’s the patterned interrelationships among all of them.  

Now, world order has a culture to it, and this is, I think, intuitive right? You call come from different colleges and you know that your colleges have a culture to them. In fact, you have lots and lots of subcultures within your colleges, right? You’ve got the people who are more athletically inclined, you’ve got the popular group, you’ve got the… the academic… the academics, if you’re in my group you love to debate Star Wars. Uh, we all have our different cultures and affinity groups, uh, people that gather together and create clicks or affinity groups based on shared interests, norms, identity, values, and culture. I’m not describing something that’s just or unjust. It just is. That’s how humans act. We organize ourselves into groups and that gives rise to different cultures, and the same is true in the world. The world obtains a specific culture. On your college campuses, the most influential group puts a stamp on the culture of your university as a whole, and if that group is also known to be kind and generous and full of integrity, that will spread to the university as a whole. But if your most influential group are bullies and cheaters, that will also spread to your campus as a whole. 

And so, world order has its own culture and its culture takes shape from the values, the norms, and the behavior of its most powerful members. We might have had a fascist world order in 1945, we might have had a communist world order in 1989. We might today have an authoritarian world order. You see, Christian realism recognizes that ideology is part of this reality that states that express hostile beliefs in ideologies like fascism, communism, authoritarianism are likely to act on them and shape the world in accordance with their unjust values. 

So today we see this propagated by Russia, China, I had to say as well North Korea, Iran. They do not want a free world order. They want what I would characterize as an imperial world order. An imperial world order where nations are not equal, where the bigger, stronger nations get to run the world and tell smaller nations what to do. There aren’t rules that apply to everyone in this kind of world order. There’s one set of rules that apply to the small and the weak. Uh, you may know that quote from the Thucydides… “the strong do what they will, the weak suffer as they must.” Right? That the world order that Russia and China envisioned because they think they’re strong and they want to be able to do whatever they want. It would be as if bullies were in charge of your campus. 

Christian realism recognizes that fighting the bully is not simply because they’re bullies. It’s also an act of love for our neighbors. It’s an act of love for everyone else on the playground, so to speak. We love our neighbors politically when we stand up for equality and freedom for everyone. Jesus tells us love your… your enemies, and he says love your enemies and when your enemies invade your neighbors you kind of got to make a choice about how to go about practicing your love. And Christian realism says it’s an act of love, actually, to both of them to help stop the bully. Augustine argued that we love our enemies by stopping them from the sin they’re trying to do in the same way that a parent disciplines their children to get them to stop sinning.  

So, too, it’s an act of love, yes, even love for the Russians who are invading unjustly. It’s an act of love to them to help stop them with their invasion. If we do that, it yields a different kind of world order, a free world order. The complicated way of saying it is the liberal international rules-based order. That’s a bunch of messes too long. I prefer the Cold War way of saying it: The free world… the free world order is a world order characterized by freedom, equality, democracy, human rights, independent sovereign nations, free enterprise, and cooperative security. When those values are practiced and preached by the most powerful members of the world, it gives rise to a culture of world order that also reflects and entrenches those values and those principles.  

Cooperative security is especially important. In a world of 195 independent states, most countries cannot defend themselves. They just frankly cannot defend themselves from a superpower like Russia or China, and so, cooperative security is the three musketeers doctrine of international affairs. All for one, one for all. We all gang together, we all hang together, we all hang apart. This kind of world order, I suggest, is intrinsically just. It is a good thing. Uh, we didn’t have to make this argument 10, 15 years ago. Now we actually have to explain this is a good thing, and it’s worth keeping and defending. It’s intrinsically, just because it is a tool of security, prosperity, and influence for all free nations that choose to participate in it, the principle of fairness undergirds the free world order, making it attractive for states not bent on domination. 

The free world order is… it’s the golden rule as applied to international politics. We do unto other nations as we want other nations to do unto us. We treat them as free, independent, sovereign nations. We respect their right to govern themselves. They extend that to us. Look. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a violation of the golden rule as well as being a violation of many other things. But if you just take the intuitive plausibility of the golden rule which, by the way, almost every culture and religion has a version of it, you understand that this is what informs democracy at home. It informs a free world order abroad. There’s a reason why the past 80 years have been among the… the greatest eras of human history, the most peaceful, the most prosperous, and essentially the high point of freedom in human history, because we’ve had a growing culture of world order based on these principles of freedom and equality. Not perfect, lots to change, lots to revise, but recognize the incredible inheritance that we’ve been given, that we take for granted. 

You know, they say the… the fish doesn’t know anything about water. It’s spent it’s whole life swimming in the ocean. We, too, take for granted the free world order because we’ve grown up in it. We have no idea what it’s like to not have it. I promise you you’ll miss it when we don’t have her anymore. Christian realism recognizes that a free world order is of course not the kingdom of God. It will always have flaws, but this is so far that we know the best of available alternatives, and so it seeks to invest in upkeep and defend and maintain this precious inheritance rather than throw it out for the illusion of an alternative that nobody’s yet described.  

How do we maintain upkeep and defend such a culture of world order? We do so with power. I mentioned earlier that we are… we reflect the image of God. We ourselves are agents of power. We have power to fashion and reshape creation and we have power to tend and keep the garden of world order in one direction or another. It’s important to recognize and be comfortable at some level with the reality of power. This is the realism part of Christian realism. We fought World War II for the principles of the Atlantic Charter. So it’s a good charter. There’s good principles there, but the Atlantic Charter did not win the war. The Atlantic Charter is not self-executing. The Atlantic Charter is just words on paper. We won the war because we killed millions of fascist soldiers and we overthrew fascists governments and we tried and we hung fascist leaders. You might be uncomfortable with the blatantly violent imagery there, but you need to recognize the exercise of power it took to win World War II.  

We won because we built better, bigger guns. Not because we preached a better sermon. Now we did have a better sermon, thank God, but that’s not what won the war. And so if you want to do the work of upkeeping a culture of world order that reflects freedom and equality and all the good stuff, you also have to recognize what kind of power might be necessary. In a world, in a fallen world, where other countries have big guns, you need to think very carefully about the kind of power that might be required to upkeep our way of life and our world order in the face of that opposition. 

And that brings us to America’s unique role in this, the United States’ role in upkeeping a system of world order, characterized by the values of… of the free world. Liberal order, free world order depends on American power. That was certainly true in 1945 when we put out 50% of global GDP, had a monopoly on nuclear weapons, and had a 16 million-man army. It is in fact still true today, although our relative power has declined compared to our allies and our competitors. It’s true because of path dependency, it’s true because of inherited patterns, it’s true because we’re still the largest military, the largest or second largest economy and on and on and on. It’s simply still true. You may ask, why should the United States do this? I started with a question about Ukraine on the other side of the world. Why should we… why should we risk getting involved? I suggest to you that it is strategically wise for the United States government to spend its power investing in a cultural world order, because world order for the free world order is the outer perimeter of our security. It is an engine of our prosperity. It is a tool of our influence.  

If you want to put America first, invest in the free world. It is the most effective way we can arrange our foreign policy for… for our maximum benefit. It’s… it’s… uh, I heard some of the discussion in previous talks. Some of you all were a little skeptical of using our foreign policy for… for our maximum benefit. It’s… it’s, uh, I heard some of the discussion in previous talks. Some of you all were a little skeptical of using our foreign policy as a tool for moral good. So I just want to be really selfish about it right now. You want to protect American investment in the free world. It’s the best, most effective, cost-effectives strategy for putting America first, but also, it’s ethically just. It is the right thing to do. Uh, we’re… the free world order is also a blessing to everyone who participates in it and benefits from it. It’s a good strategy for America. It’s ethically just and blesses the whole world in doing so.  

World order is a blessing to everyone, and without American power, the garden of world order would go untended. We would see the weeds, the thistles, and the briars go up unchecked. Um, I would even suggest that we have a responsibility to use our power this way. A student of mine wrote in a term paper, said this is the Spider Man doctrine of international affairs: “With great power…” But Jesus said it before Uncle Ben, right? Luke 12:48. “To everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required.” And I think that when we see the amount of power that the United States has, uh, the question for you if you are seeking to work in the field of international affairs, the question isn’t should we have the power or shouldn’t. That’s… that’s not our choice, right? We have it. It is here. And Biblically speaking, when we see agents with power, we don’t see them walking away from it. We see them assuming a responsibility to steward it, to steward it well and wisely and carefully for peace, justice, and order.  

That’s the question we, I’m speaking here, we Americans or we of allied nations, we in the general free world… that’s the responsibility we have. It is strategically wise, it is ethically just, it is our moral responsibility to use our power this way. The absence of American leadership looks like Afghanistan last year. That’s not to defend everything we did in Afghanistan for 20 years. I spent 10 years on that war myself, and I’m writing a book on it. I know every mistake we made. I promise you we never missed an opportunity to make a mistake, but the last mistake we made was leaving because that meant we couldn’t stay and fix the mistakes we had made over 20 years. And we saw the humanitarian catastrophe. We saw now a totalitarian nightmare to send on the Afghans. We saw hundreds of thousands seeking to flee the country. We saw an international humiliation for the United States, and our allies.  

We saw, I think, authoritarian rivals take from that image the presence of American leadership looks a little like Ukraine this year. Lots of analysts were wondering how and why Ukraine was able to withstand the Russian army. It’s because we actually spent the last eight years when Russia first invaded Crimea in 2014, we spent eight years funding and training the Ukrainian military to be ready for this moment. That’s not been in the headlines, but it’s a truth. You need to know, we the United States and our allies in Europe spent eight years investing in the Ukrainian military so they had the better weapons, leadership tactics, techniques, procedures, intelligence, logistics, everything to be ready for this moment. And I do want to give credit, of course, to the Ukrainians themselves for staying there, not fleeing, and standing up to the Russians. So it’s an example of American leadership empowering others at it’s best.  

That’s what American and allied leadership can do, and that’s what it does look like. Contrast Ukraine today to Afghanistan yesterday, and it tells you all you need to know about how America can and should use its power to invest in a culture of… of the free world among the nations of the earth. That of course does not mean that American power is intrinsically just or morally exceptional. Our power can be misused, can be used for selfish ends, it can be used for bad ends. I trust that your colleges have taught you that. Being a professor myself, I know very well the colleges focus very much on making sure you are aware of the past record of abuses of power the United States and abroad. And they teach you to be skeptical of that, and I’m glad for that.  

But I also want you to see what power can do when it is used well and wisely, and I wish I had this memorized but when King David was on his deathbed, in Second Samuel, he says he… he gives a very short, almost a short song in which he says when a… when a… when a king rules in righteousness, it dawns on men like… like dew in morning time, or something like that. Somebody look it up, um, but it’s a beautiful image of what power wielded wisely, well, and righteously looks like. That’s the challenge. That’s the challenge for the United States. It is a challenge for scholars and thinkers thinking about how best to use power, and it’s the challenge to you as students in the next generation. 

I presume many of you are interested in international affairs. That’s why we’re here. It’s a challenge to you to discern well how best we can use our power, how best we can tend and keep the garden of world order, how best we can work for justice, peace, and order in the world, and I leave that challenge with you and I look forward to seeing what you do with it, because Heaven knows what we’ve done so far. Thank you very much. 

Q&A 

Question: Yeah, Cielo Colero from Colorado Christian.  

Response: Say your name again? 

Question: Cielo. It’s Cielo, yes, it’s Spanish, so don’t expect much from it. Um, so especially as young Christian students, you of course encourage us to, uh, to be challenged and challenge others and hold dearly into Christian realism, but sadly we know that our abuse and out religion in general… we have been constantly attacked and pushed back. So how do you suggest… what is an encouragement for us to keep moving forward and to hold this dear as well and remain strong as times just keep getting harder and harder for Christians that are coming into politics? So how do you suggest we can navigate this, especially as we are entering into the world? 

Answer: Well here, here again, what I describe as our Christian goal: peace, justice, and order. There’s nothing particularly, uh, sectarian about that. And that those are values that we share in common, essentially, with everybody… Nobody’s going to disagree with peace, justice, and order. We’re going to argue about what that looks like in implementation, but if somebody’s pushing back on you and saying what are you trying to do? Shoving your values on me? Just say look, I’m for justice. I’m for equal justice for all. I’m not trying to get perks for my tribe here. I just want to work for justice for everyone and I’m doing it because I’m a Christian but you could do it for other reasons from another motive, source. 

I think we Christians have access to clearer knowledge about what justice looks like, but we should absolutely work hand in hand with everyone we can to accomplish that end. This is not a call for theocracy, You know, when I sit here any say Christian realism, don’t hear me say that we should outsource this to the Church. No. That’s not the right answer at all. Um, we individual Christians working together, we work in life, should always seek to do that. Cultivation should always seek to work for greater in political realm peace, justice, and order. Or if you’re working in the arts, work for truth, beauty, and goodness. It’s our calling to always do this. Cultivation wherever we are. That doesn’t make us theocrats. 

Question: Uh, thank you so much for speaking to us, uh, Kyle Sajoyan and Liberty University. When it comes to defending the free world of the rules-based international order, could the difficulty of kind of communicating that message be due to the lack of any, uh, concrete symbols or images of that today? I mean, we’ve had Churchill, FDR, Kennedy during World War II, in the Cold War, and we have Zelenskyy in the 21st Century, right now. But in terms of there being a figure or symbol to look up to, could that be one of the main challenges of trying to advocate for rules-based international order, considering the, uh, whether or not they’re correct but emotionally understandable counter arguments against that? You know we don’t want to send our sons or our daughters to fight in Taiwan or fight in Eastern Europe to kind of maintain that system.  

Answer: So, I mean, I think the answer is yes, but I, um, I want to make sure the blame is shared widely because I think when our leaders blow an uncertain trumpet, they’re… they’re reflecting what they hear from the electorate, right? We’ve now had a… I’d say three presidents in a row who are not fully committed internationalists. Uh, you know, Trump was an anti—he was a nationalist. Um, and I think Obama and Biden were a little more, um, hesitant with the power part, right? And they’re… they’re reflecting what the American people have told them in election after election, right? Post-Iraq, uh, the American people are tired of being the global leader. We really are. And uh, so when… when our presidents are not Reaganesque, sure it’s partly their problem but it’s also because it’s the button we want to click. It’s the channel we want to turn to and if they start speaking in regular terms, look there where the Reaganesque candidates in the 2016 election… There were, and we didn’t elect them. Uh, so it is our chance if we believe in the stuff, we gotta kind of, you know, vote with our votes. No. Thank you, sir. 

Question: Hi. Esther Peters from Asbury Theological Seminary. What are some specific ways we can invest in the free world?  

Answer: Thank you Esther, and um, let me just apologize. I was supposed to be at Asbury, uh, two weeks ago for a talk and uh, it as a rain or delay at Reagan airport and so we’re rescheduling for January/February so I apologize. Yeah. Um, what are the specific ways we can invest in the free world? Um, ch—chapters five through eight of my book… There’s a lot I can say here. Uh, you know. I’m a big fan of alliances. You know, NATO I think is the most important international institution in the world. Not the UN. I think NATO is. NATO is the most important, uh, I think it deserves the Nobel Peace Prize in our alliance system, in East Asia, as well as at home within the United States. You know, looking at our budget, you need to understand that from the Cold War to today, over 30 almost 35 years, now the budget of all international affairs programs – the military intelligence community, the State Department, uh, you know, all of our development efforts, the… the graph goes almost straight down, right? We cut an enormous amount, about a third out of every budget and sometimes more than a third in diplomacy. 

If you want to know why we lost Iraq and Afghanistan, that’s at least part of the answer, right? We just took a meat axe to our budgets. Our military budget used to be something like nine percent of U.S. GDP and today it’s trending to get below three percent within a year or two. Just, you know, just so you understand the perspective here, when you ask how can we invest in every way possible, but it’s going to cost, right? The kinds of stuff we did in the Cold War, we’re simply not capable of doing today because our budget is nowhere near close to what it was. 

If you like this vision, you know, it’s gonna… it’s gonna cost and it will take more of everything. Yes, a greater military budget, a radically greater budget for diplomacy. I teach future diplomats. I’m sending them all to the State Department and I feel a little bit guilty about it because I feel like I’m sending them to an institution that is simply not able to do its job. I would want to reform the State Department from the inside out as well as tripling its budget but it’s just a shell of what it ought to be and I could go on and on and on. But you’re asking how can we invest in every way? Yeah, sorry. I wish I had more cheerful news.  

Question: Uh, Josh Hasty, Regent University. Uh, so earlier today, uh, Nigel Biggar expounded a defense of, uh, I’m going to overstate his case, but uh, a defensive empire and the good that can be done, uh, accepting and even embracing perhaps, uh, some degree of hierarchy in the international system. Uh, could you either respond to or reconcile that with sort of the egalitarian system that you’re…? 

Answer: So yea, far be it from me to disagree with anything that Nigel has said. Is he still here? I don’t know if he’s still here. Yeah. Um, so I’ve read the First Things article and I’ve read a lot of his other work. Um, I think we’re saying about 90 percent of the same thing. Okay. I’d prefer not to use a language of empire for obvious reason. I hope it’s obvious why not. But let me belabor one particular point. Literal imperialism… literal imperialism, uh, was oppressive and racist and it expropriated resources. Empire moved in and stole resources and they intended to stay forever. Okay. We don’t actually do any of that stuff. Yes I am making an argument for American leadership of hegemony or whatever you want to call it. Uh, I am saying that our power is an indispensable pillar of this system, right? That is a true statement. But I’m not calling for racism, expropriation, resources, staying, military occupying other countries forever and ever. I’m not calling for any of that stuff and that’s why I prefer not to use the language of empire.  

I think what Nigel is saying is lets use our power to uphold a broader system that does benefit us, but also benefits others. In that sense, we’re saying the same thing. You want to follow up with that? Clear? 

Response: Well, so in one part I guess I was thinking in particular… he, he uh, spoke of the British empire’s role in about… in the abolition of slavery, right? Uh, and that uh, expend the… the expense… expenditure of British sailors lives and treasure, uh, policing in effect, policing the activity of sovereign states. Saying you will not do this on races, right? 

Answer: Yeah, and yeah. And that’s very similar to the role the United States plays today against terrorists, right? The British Navy waged a unilateral 50-year war against slavers. Good for them, and the United States does pretty much the same thing against terrorists all around the world. I’m sometimes a little bit, you know, it’s a little unchecked power. So I… we want to be skeptical with her, but I’m glad we’re doing it, and by the way, we actually organized a multinational counter-piracy coalition off the Somali coast and we have for about 20 years. It’s a good thing. It’s not unilateral American, but we are the organizer. We’re the overhead manager. We do the after-counter piracy. We did the same thing for counter-narcotics all across SouthCom: South and Central America.  

Um, I would like to see us do the same thing against human trafficking. To my knowledge, we’re not. I don’t think we’re doing that, but I would like to see us take a very strong stance. We have so much power, I think that we could and should take the same kind of action against all of the barbarians out there, and I use that term avidly. I mean armed non-state groups. Okay, that’s a complicated way of saying the barbarians, right? The… the evil people who are doing really wicked things outside the bounds of international law. Vittorio Suarez, they call them people who committed crimes against nature, crimes against nature, right? They violate the natural law. Let’s use our power to go and get those people. That would be a great thing to do for the world. 

Question: Faculty at American University. My question is: there are a group of realistic Kenneth Wars who tend to view unipolarity of one superpower as too unstable, and perhaps the world is more balanced when there’s bipolar or multiple, several powers maintaining coexistence. So in your understanding of realism, would you favor such a balanced coexistence of different powers or are you more favorable of the free world expanding into broader corners, or is it more defensive, defending the free world as it is, as it exists as of now? 

Answer: Yeah, yeah thank you for the question. As I… As I take the question, I think you’re asking which strategic logic operates. Is it the logic of polarity and power balancing, or is it the logic of, uh, of the free world order? And the answer is, yes I suppose that’s right and that is precisely… I think the Christian realist answer, we have to recognize the realities of power in the world, and there… there is power balancing that goes on and there are malign powerful actors like Russia and China and North Korea and Iran. And at the same time one of the most effective ways to fight them is by building the free world order.  

The mistake we made for decades was trying to build the free world order without attention to the power realities and we allowed them to latch on as parasites, and they grew rich and they, uh, took advantage of the liberal world order we were building while cheating and undermining it from within. That’s got to stop and… and that there’s a whole other talk to be given here about ways to change, reform, revise, and strengthen the free world order and it involves, I think economically decoupling from China. It involves sustaining the sanctions against Russia for a long time and on and on.  

But building the free world order with values and ideals and propagating it… All that is an essential tool in power balancing against China and Russia. Yeah. Use our ideals as a tool for power balancing, and I think that’s a… that’s a real disconnect because the people who care about democracy tend to be idealists, and they don’t like this talk about power. And the people who talk about power, they don’t like to talk about idealism. We’ve got to do both. That’s the central message here. Yeah. 

Question: Yeah. Some… John Tierney, Institute of World Politics in DC. Did you say that we spent nearly eight years in arming Ukraine against possible invasion after Crimea? I think you did. [Yeah.] The United States… my question is this. Did we spend an equal amount of time and investment persuading Putin about the consequences of invasion? 

Answer: Probably not enough, no, and uh, to explain why goes into some details about the Obama Administration and their priorities and the Trump Administration and their priorities. If you’re… if your critique here is we didn’t prioritize diplomacy enough, that’s absolutely true and not just about Russia. Right? I think that’s true of quite a lot of our foreign policy, right? When I said we need to do more of everything, we guess we need a bigger defense budget. We need a much larger investment in our diplomacy, um so yeah, I would grant that criticism. Time for maybe one final question. 

Question: Uh, hi. h, Josiah Reedy, I’m with, uh, IRD. Um, so you have a book called The Real Legend of American Greatness. Just wanted to give you a chance to talk about that briefly because I think it pertains to a lot of these issues, particularly insofar as we’ve spent a lot of time, uh, talking about sort of America’s greatness, American power. And so it kind of leads to this question, especially in this room, why wouldn’t… is there a good reason that we wouldn’t want that to be as Christian as possible then? 

Answer: And now I’ll give my book talk, thank you. Just, I appreciate it. Uh, the book Josiah referenced is actually a book more domestically focused. Uh, and it’s about Christian nationalism and why I think it’s a bad thing. And you might… you might wonder like, how can I talk so much about America’s role in the world and the goodness of our power and then critique Christian nationalism.  

Christian nationalism says we’re primarily defined as a Christian country, as a Christian nation. We should use the government to uphold that vision of American identity. And I disagree. As a Christian, I disagree. I think it’s more important to define ourselves by our ideals, the Constitution, the Declaration. So if we’re… we have to do it the same way at home and abroad. We’re a nation and ex—an exception nation that, uh, stands for and represents the ideals of liberal equality for all. We do that on the world stage and we do it at home, which means we’re… we’re open to cultural pluralism at home. We don’t define ourselves exclusively as a Christian nation, and that’s how I see these things fitting together very much. I look forward to uh, talking to you.