Policy Expert: Russia Is Leading Terror Campaign

Kori Schake is pictured this week at Chautauqua Institution as part of the Lecture Series Week One theme: “What Should be America’s Role in the World?” Photo by Dylan Townsend/The Chautauquan Daily

CHAUTAUQUA — A foreign and defense policy expert said might will not make right in the war in Ukraine.

Referencing former President George H.W. Bush, Kori Schake said that rules matter, and the most important rule of the international order the U.S. and its allies created after World War II was that one state can’t violate the sovereignty of another state.

“And what we are seeing now is Russia attempting to overturn that rule,” Schake said.

Schake spoke Thursday at the Amphitheater as part of Chautauqua Institution’s Lecture Series Week One theme: “What Should be America’s Role in the World?”

“The President of Russia (Vladimir Putin) believes that Ukraine has no right to sovereignty, that Ukrainians have no right to decide for themselves, what their culture is, what language they speak, and where their borders lie,” she said.

Since 1945, she noted, the fundamental rule of the liberal international order (relations) is that borders only get to changed by mutual consent.

“Think of the dissolution of Czechoslovakia,” she added. “Think of the many other examples of negotiated boundary changes.”

Russia is conducting the current war as a terror campaign, she said. Russia is not hitting military targets, but rather indiscriminately terrorizing civilians on purpose, Schake noted.

“They’re doing it by choice. And what they are trying to do is break the will of a free people to defend themselves,” she said.

President Joe Biden’s argument, she added, on state sovereignty where people have rights and they loan them in limited ways by consent to governments, is something in which he has been correct.

What authoritarian societies live in fear of is the protean creativity of free societies.

“And President Biden and his fellow free society leaders have demonstrated that, exquisitely right, the innovation of rapidly declassifying intelligence and sharing it publicly to get out ahead of Russia’s attempt to tell lies to their public and to ours,” she said. “That’s an interesting innovation, a way to adapt to the fact that we are swimming in a sea of information.”

Schake leads foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, where her research areas include national security, civil-military relations, and NATO. Before joining AEI, Schake was the deputy director-general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. She has had a distinguished career in government, working at the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Security Council at the White House. She has also taught at King’s College, Stanford, West Point, Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, National Defense University, and the University of Maryland, and served as senior policy adviser to the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008. Schake is the author of five books, including America vs. the West: Can the Liberal World Order Be Preserved?; Safe Passage: The Transition from British to American Hegemony; State of Disrepair: Fixing the Culture and Practices of the State Department; and Managing American Hegemony: Essays on Power in a Time of Dominance. She is also the coeditor, along with former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, of Warriors & Citizens: American Views of Our Military. Schake holds a Ph.D and MA in government and politics from the University of Maryland, as well as an MPM from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. She received her bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University.

She hopes that what Russia and China will learn from Biden’s last six months in office, is that the U.S. is willing to lead the free world, and willing to make sacrifices on behalf of the people fighting for their freedom.

“The absolute best way to protect and advance democracy in the world is to protect and advance democracy in the United States,” she said.


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