Rebeccah Heinrich’s lecture at Christianity & National Security 2023.

Rebeccah Heinrichs discusses nuclear deterrence, the law of armed conflict, and nuclear deterrence. The following is a transcript of the lecture.

Hello, everyone. I’m excited to introduce our next speaker Rebecca Heinrichs, who is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, an expert in nuclear deterrence, and a contributing editor at Providence Magazine. So please welcome Rebecca Heinrichs. 

Good morning. I’m thrilled to be here with you all. I just got off a plane last night… late last night coming back from Omaha, Nebraska, where I spent some time with the U.S. Strategic Command, and so I put together some notes on the flight back. So bear with me here as I get through some of the things that I think would be of interest to this group and are directly related to some of the troubles that we see all around us, which are many and diverse. 

First of all, I would say too, Mark asked me if I could say something encouraging, and I would… and so I was thinking, what can I say that would be an encouraging start? And really, it’s kind of… you look all around, and… Lots of division in the country, rising anti-Semitism, not just more of it, but openly, brazenly anti-Semitic, and coming right on the heels of almost unspeakable crimes committed… Gruesome crimes committed by the terrorist group… uh Iran group… uh, backed group, Hamas against Jewish people for being Jewish. And it can be very, very discouraging, to which I would say yes, but it can get worse. That’s meant to be an encouragement to you for the following reasons. 

We are the actors, here. It’s all of us. It is all of us. And we all have a very, very important role to play in addressing the problems we see, right? Immediately before us in the public discussion, in bearing witness to our faith in a world that is very hostile and always has been, and, and the also helping to affect public policy in a way that I think aligns with the principles of justice that… that we hope that it will… So I’m going to… I’m going to… Something that’s actually truly more seriously should be very, very engouraging to you all… 

I just finished… I was one of the Republican-appointed commissioners on the bipartisan U.S. Strategic Command, mandated by Congress. Six Republicans, six Democrats nominated to serve on this commission by the leadership. And they gave us a mandate. They said “we want you to spend a year plus with one another looking at all the threats facing the United States. Um, address specifically the U.S’s strategic past, here, so it’s our nuclear weapons, but it’s not just our nuclear weapons. It’s everything that goes with how we actually conduct strategic deterrence.  

I can explain what that means in detail, but the point of it is we haven’t had one of these commissions since 2009. So since 209 we’ve been… our discussions have been sort of based on a lot of it… from the views expressed in the bipartisan commission in 2009. So consider that. I mean truly consider that six Republicans, six Democrats. On the topic of nuclear weapons, which is a very… very… of all of the defense issues in Washington, in particular, it’s one that really can bring out passions. People have very, very strong views about how the Untied States should have our posture, how we should employ them, talk about them, our declaratory policy, especially. 

We’ve seen that especially with Russia’s nuclear saber ring around Ukraine, and so, you take all of these people and you put them on the room and say we want you to come up with a consensus document… Divided country, very hard topic, threats are numerous… People don’t even understand really what the United States’s role in the world is anymore, or at least have a hard time agreeing on it.  

And they said “we want you to come up with a consensus document to inform the President, to inform the Department of Defense, and to inform the Congress,” and guess what? We did it. We did it, and so I would encourage you to go look at that and just the… when you read it, continue to reflect and appreciate that this can be done. That this can be done and that we were able to… and we… General Hyten, retired General John Hyten was one of the commissioners and one of the things he said during our roll out was… and also, know that we argued. We argued, we debated, we wrestled over specific words. How we’re going to talk about these things, the degree of urgency relative to other things…  

And so that should be an enormous encouragement to all of us, and so I would… I would really encourage you to look at that. And one of the things that is in the report is right in the executive summary. It says this remarkable thing. It says the commission recommends the United States maintain a nuclear strategy consistent with the law of armed conflict based on six fundamental tenants of deterrence, and then it lists.

What those are… well why did we do that? Why was that so important that we have included that? And that, by the way… that… that is significant. It is remarkable. Um… It’s very good, and I’m thrilled that it’s there and all of the commissioners since the roll out have been very defensive of this particular finding and recommendation being included in it. 

So the law of armed conflict is… It ties to what… We talk about it a lot right now with relation to Israel’s proportionality versus Gaza. Well the law of armed conflict pulls us back to the principles of proportionality and discrimination come from. What it comes from, the just war doctrine… this is what it comes from. It comes from the just war doctrine, and so it’s important then if we’re going to talk about these matters of proportionality, that we understand that the purpose of the just war doctrine is. And that’ll help us, I think, feel through what can feel dark and not really understanding it’s purpose.  

So I’m going to go back to the founding of the country right now for a little bit. 1863, so this is a Civil War time, still considered part of the founding. Sort of the “new birth” of American freedom aligning our country more better with the Declaration of Independence as we rid our country of slavery and preserve the Union. But in 1863, General Orders number 100 was drafted by Francis Liber and signed by President Abraham Lincoln.  

Article 15 section 1 of the Liber code says men who take up arms against another in public war do not cease on this account to be moral beings responsible to one another and to God. Our country has grappled with this reality that all Christians understand. Sometimes we forget or we don’t allow ourselves to kind of really meditate on that reality, but we do not cease to become moral beings in war. You do not cease to have Christian responsibility in your various vocations. 

If you are a journalist, you are a Christian journalist. If you’re a veterinarian, you’re a Christian veterinarian. If you’re a police officer, you’re a Christian police officer… Do you see what I’m getting at? You can’t compartmentalize it. You don’t set apart your faith over here in the public sphere, and that is true in matters of defense, foreign policy, statecraft, and in warfare. And so, I think it speaks well of our country that we have grappled with this and sought to align ourselves with those things that are true.  

The other thing that’s really remarkable is in as it applies to nuclear deterrence is… we also believe that doing it this way actually bolsters the credibility of our deterrence. It doesn’t undermine it. They’re not compatible. And that’s a thing I think is really important, okay? 

But back to what this means, though, and how we think about the just war tradition and as it applies to Israel and Gaza right now… So there’s a lot of argument, and I though Mike did a great job of explaining that… what proportionality is. Okay.  

So just to reiterate, proportionality is not tit-for-tat “you killed this many people, therefore we get to take this many people” sort of. That is not proportionality. And I’ve even seen people in defense of Israel say actually, if you wanted proportionality, it would be committing the same crimes that Hamas committed against innocent Israelis that would be proportional, so you should be thankful that the Israelis are not doing that. That is not proportionality easier as understood in the just war doctrine. Proportionality is actually very hard and requires a lot of wisdom. Okay, and it’s not the same thing as discrimination, but the two are related.  

So the just war doctrine law of armed conflict prohibits, even if your cause is just so, once you meet that… your cause is just. Clearly Israel’s cause is just, but discrimination, the principle of discrimination prohibits the just actor to target civilians. As such, you never… You cannot target civilians. As such you must target combatants as such… what do I mean?  

By that I mean that they cannot specifically intentionally seek out a civilian target and hit it for the purpose of creating suffering. It seems like an obvious point. It’s actually not what many of our adversaries do. Our adversaries actually very intentionally seek to maximize civilian casualties. It’s actually what Hamas is doing right now. They’re not really using human shields. They’re forcing human sacrifice, is essentially what they’re doing. You know they’re… looking to maximalize civilian deaths in order to create a political outcome that they want, that they think suits their interests… um… it’s evil… but so you can see the difference there. But proportionality does… Yes, you have to weigh the good. You weigh the military effect that you… that you seek to achieve against the unintended but known… Probably negative effects that are going to happen. 

So you might know them, so you have to… you have to seek to avoid them. You want to minimize civilian casualties but even as we conduct this military operation, we think that it will probably have this other kind of negative effect, but the good that you seek both in terms of the military objective and in what you’re trying to defend… it’s both of those things. Will it… Does it… proportionate? Then that’s a really important nuance that a lot of people fail to grasp. 

So what is it? What are the Israelis actually trying to defend? And this gets back to the whole purpose of the just war doctrine and back to the original Liber quote that I gave. The purpose of the just war doctrine is to equip beings who seek to do good but understand in this broken world, on this side of Eternity that it’s hard and full of grief and imperfection, and limited knowledge, and a lot of things that we wish were not there. But until… until we get to eternity, that simply isn’t going to be the case. You need to keep that in mind because as people seek to apply the just war doctrine, a lot of their standards… They’re trying to fit standards against something that doesn’t exist in this sort of… in this very broken world, this is especially true whenever you look at, for instance, the Catholic Bishop’s letter on American nuclear weapons during the Cold War. 

Really towards the end of the Cold War, they’re trying to fit sort of a circular peg in a square hole… It doesn’t… you’re trying to take a tool, a framework, the just war doctrine, that’s designed for the realist perspective. It’s designed for realists to act morally to the best that we can in this broken and imperfect world. Does that make any sense? Because if you try to use the just war doctrine and match it up against an idealist vision, it simply won’t work. 

You’re always going to fall short. So that enormous amount of wisdom is required to make these judgements about proportionality. Proportionality is probably one of the harder things for the just defender, the just warrior, to consider as you carry out your operations. And so for Israel in this case, going back to the purpose of the just war doctrine, and Mike laid it out really, really well and powerfully, about the difference… How a Christian understands the difference between the duties of the private citizen and the duties of a just government… 

So the just war doctrine comes from Biblical principles and mandates that are laid out there for us. It’s not only for Christians, but it really has been embraced by the West. And I use the West very broadly, um… those who comply with the laws of armed conflict and international law… but it is… it is something that really is rooted in scripture.  

And it’s for… And this is why the other piece is just really important to keep fixed in your mind. That the just government, the just rulers’ mandate, Divine mandate, is to protect the innocent and defend him against those who would do them harm. And that’s what the sword is for. For justice. 

And so if Israel… when you’re looking at the situation with Israel and Gaza, you don’t want to disregard the laws of armed conflict. You would say yes, they should uphold them, but then consider their primary responsibility and duty is to protect Israelis from the harm that um… from continued harm from the rockets that are still flying in from Gaza. That is a duty. And for Israel to not destroy Hamas would be to neglect and to set aside and to fail to carry out their Divine duty. 

So you have to understand that piece first, even as you look to and try to pray for and hope and urge that the Israelis try to the best of their ability to comply with the laws of armed conlfict in this very, very difficult situation in which Hamas is intentionally trying to make that impossible, or at least in the eyes of the world impossible for Israel to do so. But, if Israel does not… So, you have a duty to your own people even as you have a duty against the civilians in your enemy’s country, okay?  

I’m going to leave lots of time for conversation, but I think that that piece is really important to understand as you sort of… you know, look to measure Israel and to see how well Israel is conducting it’s affairs.  

So the last… the last big point that I want to make that I think it’s important for the private citizen to keep in mind as we engage in all these conversations… How many of you are on X, Twitter? Okay, there’s a lot of you who are not so wise. I’m impressed. Okay. I have another. How many of you use TikTok every day? Okay at least some of you at least know not to raise your hand even if you do. Okay, just… I want to put a caution and an encouragement, okay?  

Your conscience is the most important thing you have. It’s the most important thing. You have… we are being inundated right now with images, information, urgings… It’s information warfare, okay? To sear your conscience, to harm your conscience, to confuse you, to make moral judgements extremely difficult. And there can be a temptation for a couple of different things. I mean, you’ve seen these images coming out of Gaza, and many people are saying don’t turn away right? Don’t turn away. Look to see what Hamas has done. I would push back a little bit and say don’t let your eyes linger too long, okay? Your conscience is your most important thing. 

This country right now is under enormous pressure, and we have both challenges coming from abroad externally, and enormous challenges domestically, internally. And so I would urge you to protect your conscience so… Seek to inform it. Seek to know what you think about things. Understand that you’re looking at people created in the image of God. Don’t become inured to the destruction that evil has caused. Then also determine in your own mind when this comes up in conversation that you have something to say. 

It’s so important… these waves of anti-Semitism that are coming across the United States right now… they can only go so far if there are more of us and our Jewish fellow citizens are… Many of them whom I’ve talked to are frightened. It’s unsettling. And I even think, for me, there’s this temptation to think like I know that there… that the depravity of the human heart can lead human beings to do things that are sort of beyond your imagination sometimes. But it still seems like something that’s over there, something that’s far away either in history or in another land. But whenever you actually see your fellow citizens praising it, truly praising it and embracing it, and taking up the cause of a group like Hamas, it can be very unsettling. 

So I would just say protect your conscience. Inform your conscience. Be ready to speak. Have sound mind and keep a soft heard. Those are going to be extremely important as we move through this very, very difficult time. And I am encouraged.  

I started off by saying I’m encouraged by the strategic posture commission that we were able to come with consensus on incredibly important issues. We spent a lot of time talking about the stakes. What’s at stake. So also look at that, because I think we do a pretty good job of trying to lay that out so all Americans can understand that, as divided as we are here at home, this is what’s at stake with a rising China, really a risen China, um collaborating with Iran, collaborating with Russia, um exploiting and using North Korea also to their advantages to supplant the Untied States and the U.S.-led order.  

And so, we try to lay that out in a way, I think, that makes sense. And we explain what it is that the United States is doing and leading in this world, and so… It’s also really important, and the last thing I’ll say… I’m encouraged that we have a new Speaker of the House. Very encouraged. This is the rise of the Baptists, Mark.  

It’s good to be a Baptist. It’s always good to be a Baptist. But it’s really good to be a Baptist today. I’m very excited about that. And so, um, there is lots to be encouraged about. Nothing is set to the extent that we know. We are the actors here, who can do lots of good and things. I joked and said things can get worse, but that’s the truth. And things can get so much better. Things are so dynamic. 

A lot of what we’re living through now, this country has lived through before. We’ve fought through all these conversations during the Cold War. We’ve faced a lot of the same arguments. If you look back at the isolationism versus engagement… Really divisive arguments before, during the world wars. They’re the same ones. I mean… I mean, like down to the words. I thought about coming up here and just reading one of the speeches but swapping some of the modern day current events to see if you could tell that the speech was given in the ‘40s, you know, late ‘30s, as opposed to today.  

They are the same speeches, same conversations, and so as you look out throughout history, and know your history, and you say I agreed with that person and look how history has judged… which one was right, we have the choice today to decide which role each of us are going to play in this chapter of American history playing out right now.  

So I encourage you to think about that seriously and take your own role very seriously. Protect, guard, and inform that conscience, and keep it active. So with that, I would love to turn it over to some questions.  


Question: Hello. Thank you so much. My name is Devon Bernam, from Liberty University. And I just want to say thank you. Um, your speech is very encouraging. My family is Israeli, my mom especially is greiving over what’s happening in Israel. And my question is… with a lot of what’s going on in Israel and with Hamas, how can we navigate the propaganda, and like, the anti-Israeli rhetoric that’s going on, especially with the hospital bombing and Israel turning off water and electricity to the Gaza Strip? 

Answer: So it’s a really, really great question. Sometimes, I’ll have to step away from the news cycle to gather my thoughts and to think clearly, because it is so difficult, right? It is so difficult. Do you know, the IDF is probably one of the most lawyered militaries in the world. I mean. N every… you know… There, Israel is constantly under assault. IDF soldiers… Every time we’ve had the United States, we’ll go and we send some lawyers to see how they’re conducting their operations, there’s basically like a lawyer over every shoulder, of every IDF soldier, whether they’re picking targets. So this is a country that has taken this moral responsibility under enormous scrutiny. It doesn’t have the world on its side. The entire UN has an enormous anti-Israel bias against it. And so it is… it had to sift through the propaganda for its existence. 

And I think that one of the things… It is a very simple and unsatisfying answer, I think, but some of… Sometimes it’s just speaking clearly about what we know about Israel and that understanding that they do deserve the benefit of the doubt while understanding that they’re not going to be perfect and so it’s not… It’s not holding up Israel to this sort of, you know, reflexively defensive at all costs, “they could never do anything wrong.” I don’t think that’s the right approach, but I think sometimes just speaking clearly… 

Did anybody see that international law lawyer on the BBC who just totally corrected the anchor on the laws of war and what Israel was doing? Incredibly powerful. All she did was state what is true. The international law does not require you to provide electricity and water to your enemy during war. And as much as Israel has sought to try to evacuate civilians because it’s the only way to do it in a place that’s been highly so militarized that they… they simply can’t avoid civilian casualties though they would like to. And the only way is to evacuate.  

So I think… I think just stating things that are true, but if you are, you understand that you’re debating and arguing with somebody who already does not believe that Israel is acting in good faith, it’s impossible. It can be impossible, and then to just respectfully agree to disagree. And I would just leave that one alone but I think for those whose minds are open, just speaking clearly what we know to be true is a very very poewrful thing to cut through the propaganda, right?  

Question: Hi. Thank you so much. My name is Kanani Kronite. I’m from Colorado Christian University and I just wanted to ask you… with Gen Z being… a majority of Gen Z recieving their news through social media I was just curious. What ways do you recommend that we share our voice? Because sometimes it feels like on social media, the impact that we can have is so limited and so with regards to the anti-Semitism, how do you recommend that we go about speaking up against these types of things? 

Answer: Yeah it’s a great question. So, there’s other ways, so a lot of times it takes a lot of wisdom… Sometimes even responding on social media is not a very good use of time. I mean, I have even changed my strategy about how I use it. I used to engage more. Now I very rarely argue on it. I might say “well I’ve written this on it, and this provides answers to some of your questions, or I published this or…” but for the most part, I don’t in large part because, no kidding, many of what’s… many of the accounts on social media are actually troll accounts from foreign adversaries. That’s a tough thing to say now because I think people are so distrustful of that stated fact because we lived through the Russia collusion accusations against the Trump Administration and so there’s some people who when they hear that sort of disre… don’t believe that.  

But it is true. I can actually tell by some of the responses to what I say that they’re just Russian troll farms. So anyway, I would say that the other thing I would say is do not discount still your human interaction with people. I don’t mean to say to encourage you to get into debates, but I mean, you all are going to go back to places where it might surprise you how quickly a room or a conversation can become hostile to Christians and Jews and… other Muslims. I mean, you know, so I think that thinking through before it happens is a very fruitful thing to do, so that you’re ready to either say something, to speak truth gently, to defend those who are in the minority and could use some help in a defender.  

And be ready to give voice to that. I think the value of social media in that way… I think it’s decreased in my mind. I think it’s so toxic and hostile right now, that it’s very difficult to kind of cut through. I really encourage college students to get off of Twitter. It is manipulating you and again, going back to that taking your conscience very very seriously and your… You don’t want… If you know that it is an account operated about by a foreign power that seeks to truly harm you, the American way of life, and harm the United States, why would you give it that power over your information? You know it… no matter what it is, even if it seems… something seems very innocuous… cats chasing lights on the floor, whatever, you know. Don’t let them do it.  

Don’t let them take your mind off of things that are better and more full. So I would just encourage you in that regard.  

Question: Yeah. Hello. I’m Eliza Alton from Utah University, and I firstly just want to thank you for your outspokenness against anti-Semitism. I think we need more of that in America today. I as well have a Jewish background, and in these conversations I’m finding that we don’t start out on the same page. We have lots of different opinions. Some people discredit Israeli occupation altogether. Some people say that, you know, they clearly have a right to the land due to the fact that they’re a country and Palestine statehood… and I find that these conversations go south very quickly because we don’t start on the same page. And so my question to you is how do we effectively and efficiently make that defense for Israel? 

Answer: So that… this is a harder one. What I would do first, not that it’s really sort of like a litmus… but it kind of is. If you are talking with somebody and you can just say just first, before we get started, do you condemn Hamas? Do you condemn what just happened? If they say well it’s complicated, say I don’t think we’re going to have a fruitful conversation. Done. It has nothing to do with Palestine or Israel so I would begin there if they say well it’s complicated, because some kind of… “you know they’re… they are the ones that are in the minority and they’re powerless and they were forced to do it was…”  

No. No. No. We will not make that moral compromise. We will not. So I think that that is this heart and that this is what makes it very difficult in American context is really… A lot of arguments that you’re seeing now overlay with the hermeneutical framework of intersection of inter-sectionalism. So what I mean by that is, you see, some American folks are coming from higher education on the far left who really see the world through who’s the powerful and who’s the powerless, and so in any contest of looking who’s the powerful and who’s the powerless, and so then they can make all kinds of defenses against the person that they believe is disadvantaged from a power perspective. 

When you do that, you find yourself making defenses for all kinds of vandalism in the United States and violence and you make… you find yourself making arguments in defense of the worst, most gruesome, inhumane atrocities committed against people for the purposes of maximizing suffering. And so, if you’re talking with somebody who begins there, I would advise you to end the conversation because that person does not recognize the fundamental things that we need in a liberal… in the good sense society, we believe that we can sift through hard ideas through conversation.  

If you believe that a private citizen can resort to violence for any reason, then you can’t… You’ve already lost the tools for a flourishing democratic society. And so, that person is outside of our ability as American citizens to have these conversations. You cannot. 

Question: Thank you. Lou Andrews. I do a lot of public policy writing. It occurs to me that when you talk about defense of the country, that you’re not just talking about military capability, but you’re talking about developing an outlook in the population, a sharpening of the mind, an improved way of looking at the world, which you do for example when you talk about a just war, clarifying for people what that means. But it seems to me that today there is so much political division that it’s hard to have that kind of conversation without being accused of advancing Republicans, advancing Democrats, whatever. So how do we begin this process of preparing the American mind for what’s coming, which I think is a difficult time, without further polarizing the country? People like Roosevelt and Reagan could do it, but I don’t see anyone helping us along that line today. 

Answer: Wonderful, wonderful question. And again, not to point back to this bipartisan commission that I was just on, but I do think that it is just a glimmer of hope in this… this environment that you’re talking about that we were able to do that. So I would just say to remind people… I note that part of the argument for what’s going on in the United States right now with the rise of populism, and you can agree…  

You can see the same things that many thought leaders in… within this populist wave… some of the things that they’re saying I can agree with. I agree with that assessment, I agree with that thing becomes very difficult and that I say no, and I cannot go that far, and I would urge you not to do that is to begin believing that Democrats or Republicans are the biggest existential threat facing the American way of life.  

Once you go there, once you’ve made that conclusion and then you start saying “so I don’t even want to hear about the threats from China, Rebecca. I don’t even want to hear about why we need to defend Ukraine because of what Russia might do. I don’t… the threats from Russia, you know, the threat… doesn’t it pale in comparison to the problems that we have domestically?” 

I mean we’ve had these conversations before as a country, so this is not new. There is nothing new under the sun. So we know…. So I think we need to make sure that we are not contributing to that, so I try… I have not always done this well and I’ve sought out to do this more intentionally as I have noted. Just, the degree of passions in this country I think have gotten worse, more inflamed, that to the extent that I have a platform, that I am not inflaming passions, divisive ones. Passions to do good, yes. Passions to understand that the United States is still good and still worth defending and protecting and that the US-led order is what keeps us safe and allows us to prosper and our allies and it’s so much better than the alternative, yes. Energize in that way. 

But throwing gas on the flames of this sort of populism… and then on… it’s really… It’s not even just on the right. It’s… You kind of don’t even know sometimes which candidates people are supporting anymore. It could be… you know, one of six, and because of what populism sort of does to people and how they think about ideas… but so I would not… To use each of our roles, not to inflame passions even more to create divisiveness. 

And then also remind people that all of the conversations that we’re having right now that are real, I mean wrestling over, I mean… Right now, you’re watching this. I think this is so remarkable. The debate over whether or not the Department of Defense can ignore the Hyde Act, simply ignore it, and then when a senator says no I’m not going to go along with that, you have to abide by the Congressional intent, and you have everybody against the person who’s defending Congressional intent… Sort of all of the media, and we’ve kind of moved past… this is a very interesting conversation about who gets say on this highly controversial issue in this country. 

It’s supposed to be determined through deliberation, through consensus, findings among a diverse people. I just say that because you know, we have to look for opportunities not to throw gas on the fire, but then also remind people that all of these very hard things we’re dealing with domestically that we need to give ourselves time to sort it out. And so we have to… that’s where you get your eyes up and understand that this country is still a good country. At our best. Still worth defending, regardless of where you are in the political spectrum, and reminding one another of that point. 

And so you cannot… there is no drawbridge to throw up in 2023 where we can ignore the rest of the world and just focus exclusively on our domestic problems. That there are still things of which Americans agree on that makes us American, and those things are worth defending and we have a responsibility and a duty as the world’s still preeminent superpower through terms of relative power… It’s not looking good. We’re not trending in the right direction with our adversaries. But that’s what I would say. 

I personally… just on a personal note, I mean, I went to this commission really skeptical that we were going to come to consensus. I mean, we really kind of are on the whole spectrum in terms of the people who served on this commission, and I was truly… I feel chastened maybe even a little bit, um and humbled watching my fellow commissioners with me grapple with these very, very hard things and seeing how much all of us deeply love this country and are trying to do good for her. 

And so I think giving one another the benefit of the doubt in that regard is essential even if it doesn’t feel like it’s deserved. And so I would encourage all of you to do that as well.  

Do I have time for another thing? I’ll talk one last question. Am I allowed to do that? I don’t know if I am… I okay. Sorry. Go ahead. 

Question: Hi. Thank you. I’m William Roberts with In Defense of Christians. I wanted to ask you on a similar vein, but rather discuss… rather than looking at domestic discussion, how would you suggest U.S. diplomacy to engage with our NATO ally Turkey, who openly is very supportive of Hamas? How do you reconcile that? 

Answer: Oh you’re going to ask me about Turkey. Um. It’s really, really, really hard. So one thing I’m going on to… I’m not going to dodge it, but I’m going to answer it sort of a little bit differently. Um… When you think about American Grand strategy, you do have to begin because I’ll have people say you know, I do believe that the United States… I believe that Christian realism is not… that that’s not what to do… I want to say that they go together.  

I believe that Christian thought in a realist worldview go together and they’re not incompatible. So you say how can you have a moral foreign policy, but one that’s realistic and… and part… part of dealing with that is understanding that you have to have a grand strategy to seek out, to maximize America’s goals in the world. And that means there are going to be really challenging partners and allies that are not going to align with the United States ideologically. I mean democracy… look how hard it is for us. It is so hard, and I think it’s so fragile. I mean, we have a partnership… You look at the entire Arab world… Some of our partners… I mean, it’s a tough neighborhood.  

And so one of the things I’d say… you know, I’ve been publicly harder on Turkey in the past than I have been recently, and part of the reason I’ve been persuaded that that’s not necessarily the way to go is because of the… the Romanians, the Baltic countries, the eastern central Europeans in that region understand how bad it will be if we lose Turkey into the Russian orbit. Really bad. So you have to do a lot of weighing in grand strategy. What it is we’re trying to do… understanding to have clear eyes about what is possible, never looking for permanent peace, but making things better than where they were before we came into the position to make these decisions and trying to at least make it so that’s… it’s not worse…  

I mean that’s essentially what we’re trying to do in foreign policy. So with allies like Turkey, it’s a combination of understanding what we really need out of Turkey, and then where we can use carrots and sticks to influence things and sometimes it’s privately, and sometimes it’s publicly. What is foolish is to make statements sort of publicly just because it feels good at the time, but Turkey is really, really challenging all the Arab nations right now. 

Let me give you something of just… the complexity of this. Understanding this, the Israel-Palestine challenge and how much that has the ability… it is a powder keg essentially in the Middle East. It can ignite all kinds of problems throughout the Middle East, and so you hear one thing from the Saudi government about supporting Palestine, but what else is going on from the Saudis? They also really want improved relationships with Israel. The Saudis just intercepted rockets headed toward Israel from the Houthis. Things are hard and complex right now, and so I would just say it’s not a very simple, straightforward answer.  

Turkey will continue to be a very, very serious issue… I mean, Turkey will continue to be a very, very hard challenge for the United States diplomatically, but understanding that if we can keep Turkey… if we can move Turkey closer to Western ideas of the threats and our objectives, that is still something I think worth endeavoring to do. 

So with that, thank you all so much for your attention.