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‘Don’t bet against us’: Retired American Admiral James Stavridis talks Russia’s Ukraine invasion and why democracies will ultimately prevail

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Podcast & Video

This Hub Dialogue is a conversation between Janice Gross Stein, Founding Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the University of Toronto, and retired Admiral James Stavridis. It took place in Toronto on February 24, 2022, at the Gardiner Museum in front of a live audience, with Admiral Stavridis participating via video conference.

Admiral Stavridis (ret.) is the former head of U.S. Southern Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe. He is co-author of the recent New York Times bestselling book, 2034: A Novel of the Next World War, exploring how China and the U.S. could go to war over Taiwan. This discussion touches on questions surrounding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China, and his new novel.

You can watch the full discussion below or on YouTube.

This conversation has been revised and edited for length and clarity.

JANICE GROSS STEIN: Thank you. Thank you, and welcome to you, Admiral. It is really a special treat for all of us to have you with us tonight. I think everybody in this room would say this was an awful, awful day. Just a tragic day. So, let’s start off, Admiral, help us understand what Putin’s strategy is. Let’s get above the battlefield for a moment and walk us through what his strategy is? What’s his endgame here?

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: Well, first of all, let me confirm you can hear me in the audience. Can everyone hear you? 

JANICE GROSS STEIN: Yeah

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: Okay? Perfect. So, thank you for having me. It’s an honour to be with this audience and with the Munk Dialogues. Also, whenever I’m with a Canadian audience, I like to simply begin by saying that many of your brave and professional troops served under my command in Afghanistan. And they were honourable, and I was honoured to be their commander. We could have a debate about how it turned out and why we went in and a lot of other things. But as Canadians, you should, and I know you are very proud of your military. Whenever I saw that Maple Leaf patch, I knew I was in the presence of a true hero. So, thank you. 

Let’s start with Putin because I think to understand what’s going on, you have to kind of go from the inside out. And what I mean by that is you need to begin with Vladimir Putin, the man the biography, you need to understand his background. He is an angry, bitter dead-ender, who was a lieutenant colonel in the KGB during the Cold War, stationed in East Germany. The East Germans finally got their neck out from under the boot of the Russians that annoyed him. 

He watched the collapse of the Soviet Union. That enraged him, and he has carried that bitterness, that anger that truly deeply, madly felt hatred, in particular for my nation for the United States of America, but also for NATO for all of us. Because he felt that was the, I’m quoting here, the greatest tragedy of the 20th century. Really, a century in which we saw 80 million people killed in the First and Second World War, a holocaust, too many atrocities to describe, but the worst thing that happened was the end of this evil empire. I don’t think so, but that’s his mindset. And he has spent his life climbing his way to the top of the greasy pole of Russia, and to find himself in a position where he can, in his view, reconstitute what can be done of that shattered Soviet Union. 

So, the movement on Ukraine is about that strategy. But in many ways, it’s about Vladimir Putin solving his own demons. You’ve seen this again and again. As we all know, this isn’t the first time or the second time we’ve seen this playbook. Arguably, it’s the fifth time if you kind of count Moldova, in Kazakhstan most recently, but certainly 2008 in Georgia, 2014, first bite of the apple in Ukraine, and now, of course, the third time in Ukraine. So, you start with Vladimir Putin, his insecurities, his needs.

Number two, regional: he’s trying to again reconstitute what he can of the former Soviet Union. Thank God, in my view, the nations of Eastern Europe, the Warsaw Pact, sought to join NATO, and thank God, we let them into NATO. But a few were left out of the fold, including Ukraine. But he’s also putting these pressures on Ukraine, on Moldova, on Georgia, on Armenia, on Kazakhstan, and the rest of Central Asia. 

So, there is a regional audience and strategy at work. Third and finally, Janice, he seeks to impress and to strut on the global stage, and he is really playing in many ways to President Xi. He wants to create this idea in the mind of President Xi that Russia is the consummate partner for China. I think it’s a flawed strategy, and at the end of the day, Vladimir Putin ought to be very careful what he asks for in terms of a partnership with China. Because China looks north at Russia and sees Siberia, this vast empty space full of gold, diamonds, water, rare earths, arable lands, oil and gas above all. China looks at that like my dog looks at a rib-eye steak. It looks really good. Putin is on his way to being the junior partner in that arrangement. Those are the main motivations at work here.

JANICE GROSS STEIN: This is a very, very grim picture that you are painting of great power politics back with a vengeance and great power rivalry. And we’re coming to China because you wrote this thriller that I want to talk to you about. But before we go there, how far does Putin go now? What’s the plan for Ukraine in this particular invasion that started yesterday?

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: A good way to approach anything when you’re dealing with an opponent is to stop and listen to what they’re actually telling you. We put up with two to three months of dead lies, “I’m not going to invade Ukraine; I have no territorial ambitions; this is all Western hysteria; NATO is whipping up these fears.” The lying lasted for two to three months; kind of got through the Olympics—by the way, congratulations to your women’s hockey team back through the Olympics, you knew I had to say that—through the Olympics in obeisance to President Xi. 

Then the lies stopped, and we saw the true Vladimir Putin over the last 72 hours. He gave two borderline deranged speeches, laid out a huge pattern of lies about the relationship between Ukraine and Russia, and then invaded. He has told us his objective: he is going to demilitarize Ukraine. That means, kill many Ukrainian military, destroy their command and control, destroy all their aircraft, destroy all their tanks, destroy their ships, such as they are. He’s going to defang Ukraine completely. Number two, he’s going to affect a regime change—

JANICE GROSS STEIN: How is that going to happen? How does that unfold? 

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: He’s going to find and kill and capture and put on a show trial President Zelensky and he is going to then put in a puppet government—think repeat of Yanukovych, who got run out of town on a rail in the Maidan, in the Orange Revolution. There’ll be a new Yanukovych. It might even be Yanukovych who will be the puppet, Putin will be the puppet master, and he will then seek to completely dominate Ukraine. I think it’s a losing strategy, but clearly, his objective is 100 percent control of Ukraine, probably through a puppet government.

JANICE GROSS STEIN: You know, for everybody in the room, President Yanukovych was pro-Russian president that was expelled in 2014, which begins this latest version. 

Admiral, we have two students in the room from the Munk School who are from Ukraine. One from, they’re here with us tonight, one is from Odesa, one is from Kyiv, and one of their families has already left for Poland. Talk to us about Ukraine’s strategy. I saw empty highways this morning with no IEDs on them. 

What’s Ukraine’s strategy? Is it to let the Russian army roll forward, pull back to the forests, and launch a campaign of resistance from the forests in the cities? 

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: Step one will be to fight with what they have, and we the West have put a moderate amount of weapons. I wish we had started earlier and brought more capability to the Russian to the Ukrainian armed forces to attack the Russians. But they will fight with what they have. Then President Zelensky, I thought in a superb speech, in contrast to the speech of Vladimir Putin, President Zelensky said, “When you come for us, you will see our faces. We will fight you; you will not see our backs.” I think the Ukrainians will fight. They’re tough. They’re Slavic people. They have their own nationality, language. They have their own culture and history. Ukrainian soldiers fought under my command in Afghanistan, and they are brave and true-hearted. They will fight. 

However, the Russians have a great deal more technology, more combat power. I think, unfortunately, there is a strong chance—because overall, Ukraine will not have air superiority, and Russia will, and that is a key factor on a modern battlefield—I think the chances are the Ukrainian military will not succeed in fully resisting or turning back the Russians. 

Therefore, your point, Janice, what’s next? I think the Zelensky government initially will go to Lviv in the far west of Ukraine, establish its seat of government there, hope that the distance between the Russian advance in Lviv is in some ways sufficient for them to reconstitute their own armed forces and block Russia. The further Russia goes into Ukraine, the further west they’re forced to go, the longer their supply lines come, the more vulnerable those are to insurgencies, the more they will be challenged. The longer those Russian troops are dragged away from their home bases, the harder it is to sustain that campaign. 

So, I think the Zelensky government, if it has not already done so, will be moving to live in in the far west. Then if the Russians seek to come all the way to that border, I think they will then simply step across the border, the Zelensky government into Poland. There are U.S. troops there; there are Polish troops there. Believe me, Vladimir Putin will not cross a NATO border in anger. It would be a massive military mistake. He’s about to make a massive economic mistake. Crossing a NATO border in anger would bring the full military force of this alliance against him.

So, I think the Zelensky government will be well-positioned, go to Lviv, and if they have to simply come across the border government in exile, the Poles will welcome that, the rest of the alliance will support it. And then like Charles de Gaulle, in the Second World War, you create kind of a free Ukraine Government. The West will fund the Ambassadors, fund the embassies, fund the seat at the United Nations, it will do everything to continue to support it. And I think at that point, that’s when Vladimir Putin’s problems really begin.

JANICE GROSS STEIN: Admiral, let me ask you about two other dimensions of this war before we talk about NATO. One, of course—

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: Wait, is wine permitted at a Munk Dialogue event? 

JANICE GROSS STEIN: Yes. Totally is. It always improves the conversation. Let’s talk first about the war at sea. The Ukrainian Navy, the Russian Navy—this is something that you know intimately. How will that play out? What happens to the Russian capacity to export by sea? 

And then just briefly cyber. How worried should all NATO members be, including Canada, that there will be retaliatory cyber attacks for the sanctions that we joined with other NATO members in announcing today?

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: Now, these are very smart questions. So, much of the analysis is focused on the land war, and that’s appropriate and understandable. There’s a lot of, you would say in my trade, flashbang going on ashore, but it’s the electrons and it’s the sea that I’m watching, particularly on the sea. This is where Russia dominates completely. The Ukrainian Navy, much of which was already taken in 2014, has never seriously been reconstituted. NATO has the Turkish Navy, the Romanian Navy, the Bulgarian Navy, and the U.S. Navy often deploys to the Black Sea, as do the French Navy and the British Navy, among others. So, there’s a significant NATO presence in and around, but immediately around Ukraine, in that ten-to-fifty-kilometer range off the coast, those are Russian waters at this point. Frankly, this is a big part of Vladimir Putin’s motivation, because the Black Sea itself is full of hydrocarbons, and is crucial in terms of Russian access to the eastern Mediterranean. So, watch for that Black Sea fleet of Russia to continue to dominate those waters to the south, to blockade this portion. 

Now, again, Ukraine can still continue to get logistics and supplies from the West, through its western borders, but from the sea? Not going to happen. And to your student there in Odesa, you’re going to see a lot of Russian worship activity in those waters. So, that’s a zone that Russia will be quite dominant in, and they will use it effectively to blockade Ukraine from the sea. And if the Russian offensive is slowed or stopped in central Ukraine, look for Russia to use an amphibious assault to put troops ashore behind the lines of the Ukrainians. So, unfortunately, that zone, I would have to cede to Russia, and they have a lot of options to use it. 

Cyber—here I’ve been surprised. The assault as I mentioned was kind of a textbook. Take out the air control, create the refugee streams, knock down the command and control, send the shock troops in. But what’s missing thus far has been a cyberattack, particularly on the electric grid. This is something Putin has the capability to really switch off. He has not done that. I think he doesn’t want to show that to the West, show that technical capability. We would learn a lot on our side of the cyber divide watching. Then secondly, it’s a human rights violation, a pretty clear one, that I think he is less likely to conduct unless he absolutely has to. So, cyber—for the moment the frame is frozen, and you’ll see some minor DDoS attacks, but Putin is holding those cyber cards back at the moment. 

Now, Janice, here’s what’s important. Once those sanctions go into effect, Putin will be consolidating control over Ukraine at this point. Perhaps we’ll see, but let’s assume for the moment that he is, then the massive sanctions hit. He’s out of the SWIFT system; he’s out of the banking sector; he’s, he’s out of hydrocarbons. There are secondary sanctions imposed across the board by the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia. He feels the walls closing in economically. That’s the point when I think he will be very tempted to use cyber to conduct horizontal escalation. 

Where will those attacks go? I think, Canada probably less so simply because you’re not, if you will, the face of the Alliance. I think they will come to the United States, probably to the United Kingdom. Those would be the two sort of obvious targets. Britain because of its role within the continental NATO structure, the United States for all the reasons we normally end up as the target; sometimes our fault, sometimes the fault of our opponents. So, look for him to come at particularly the UK and the U.S. This is probably two to four weeks from now. 

How will he do it? I think it is less likely that he will go after the financial sectors of the UK, U.S. because they’re very well defended. I think more likely, he will go after consumer food chain, gasoline sales, maybe refineries. What he will want to do is make the Biden administration look weak, antagonize voters, and try and create divisions here in the United States. So, he’ll go after the popular consumer food chain, things that impact Americans in very real and, and present ways. Again, I think it’s unlikely he’ll go directly at Canada, but as is so often the case, your nation tends to get scooped up due to behaviour to your south—

JANICE GROSS STEIN: I know what you’re talking about here. I think we all do. 

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: It’s worth being concerned about.

JANICE GROSS STEIN: Yeah, and I think it would be fair to say this, Admiral, we have great hockey; we don’t have great cyber defences in this country. We need to up our game. So, I’m not quite as sanguine as you are. 

And just by the way, Russia was not taken out of the SWIFT system today, which was a very, very strategic move by the Biden administration not to do that, even though major Russian banks were cutting off. I think that was really super smart on the part of the administration. 

There were many questions tonight at dinner, Admiral Stavridis, about Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. There is a sense that Putin is unleashed. How worried are you about any kind of attack against the newer, smaller NATO members who joined in these last 20 years?

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: I’m not worried. I do not think Vladimir Putin would cross a NATO border in anger, and I’ll tell you why. Number one, we outspend him ten, maybe fifteen to one. The defence budget of NATO is north of 900 billion; his defence budget is about 60 billion. We have three or 4 million men and women under arms, almost all of them volunteers; he has perhaps a million, half of whom are conscripts. We have 50,000 combat aircraft; he has perhaps 20,000, probably less. We have 800 serious ocean-going warships; he has maybe 100. I could go on and on. You get the idea. We overmatch him significantly, and thus, I think it highly unlikely he would decide to go after Estonia, Latvia, both of whom have Russian-speaking minorities. The thesis here is that he will attempt that in a sense that breaks them apart and pulls them away. I just don’t see that happening, particularly, as we’ve now had not one, but two, and now three times watching this playbook. I think we’re now sufficiently sensitized that if he does make this play against Estonia, a small nation of a million people, highly cyber capable, we will see that one coming. And I think, frankly, because he’s done what he’s done in Ukraine, I think it’s much less likely he would attempt to take a bite out of the apple in Europe. 

Having said all that, I think there are possibilities for him to use cyber, to use unmarked troops, to use campaigns of disinformation, much as he’s done in the United States, in other European NATO allies, in order to just create division, sow discord. I think all of this is counterproductive for Vladimir Putin. If I were advising Putin, which I assure you—

JANICE GROSS STEIN: You don’t want to do that—

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: Right. 

JANICE GROSS STEIN: You don’t want to be in that room with him. We saw those pictures.

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: Exactly. But if I were, not only would I say, “You’re really putting yourself at risk with China.” The other thing I would be saying to Vladimir Putin is, “Your future, the best future for Russia, is to the West, it is to connect with Europe, and you’re blowing all that up for no reason.” He is a very clever tactician, but he’s a bad strategist, and he’s going to leave Russia in a far worse position than that in which he took power.

JANICE GROSS STEIN: I think this was a huge strategic mistake on his part, I agree with you. Before we turn to your book, tell us what you think of the performance of the Biden administration. What grade do you give it in a way that it has dealt with NATO members and G7 countries? Right or wrong decision to take force off the table from day one? And what do you think of the sanctions regime?

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: I think that the Biden administration has done a commendable job dealing with this scenario. I think they did a less commendable job in Afghanistan, and that’s yet another long conversation, we don’t have time to unpackage tonight. But as a fair grader, I would have to say, when the administration came out of the blocks, the Afghan series of decisions included some mistakes, both tactical and strategic. I think on this, on Ukraine, I think they’ve done very well. 

Perhaps they could have got somewhat more aid to Ukraine more quickly, but even there, they have pushed hundreds of millions of dollars, Stinger anti-air, Javelin, anti-armour, tons of cyber, tons of ammunition, small arms, heavy machine guns. We’ve put a lot in there along with many of the NATO allies, by the way. And so, I think from a military position, they’ve done the best they could with the hand of cards they had. 

I think it is not feasible to commit U.S. troops or NATO troops to a combat action in a nation that is not part of NATO, and that’s simply a reality. I think they recognize that early and did everything they possibly could. I particularly commend two things. 

One is the way they declassified intelligence and shined a light. You know, if there’s a burglar approaching your house, the two best things you can do are turn on the lights in the house, so everyone in the house can see what’s going on, who’s awake, what’s happening in the house, how do we help each other? And even better turn on the lights outside the house. Burglars don’t like bright lights and we took away a lot of the element of surprise. We took away a lot of the credibility such as it was of the Putin administration. We created a sense of being ahead of Putin on that. So, I think that was tactically different than anyone else has dealt with Putin and a smart play. 

And the other thing I think they’ve done very well are these sanctions, which they have coordinated amongst all the Allies really amongst all the democracies, and I think are going to have a real, accountable influence on Vladimir Putin over time. Doesn’t mean he’s going to suddenly wake up on a Wednesday morning, eight months from now, and pull out of Ukraine. Unrealistic, but he will feel the pain, and that needs to happen for the accountability of the international system. Overall, I’d give the President and his administration high marks on the Ukraine situation. By the way, truth in advertising, I have been participating in advising, so I’m not a disinterested observer when I say that. That’s a disclosure.

JANICE GROSS STEIN: I actually asked you what we call a setup question there. I think they’ve done a great job, the administration. And in fact, this is the first time that the United States has crafted an information strategy for an information war. So, what you saw was something very, very novel, and I think very effective. 

A year from now, if there is in fact, a pro-Russian government in Ukraine, will Russian forces be back in Russia?

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: The vast majority will be, but just as in Belarus, to the north, which is a pretty good comparative, if you will, there will be times when Russian troops will be necessary to prop up what will undoubtedly be a rotten and corrupt regime. I’ll tell you something else that I hope. If we’re in that scenario a year from now, we won’t have thirty nations in NATO, I hope we have thirty-two because I think Finland and Sweden are watching this closely. And frankly, it would take years or decades for Ukraine to get into NATO, even if Russia wasn’t pushing against them. Same with Georgia, same with Armenia. It’s a hard slog to get into NATO. 

I always say to my friends in Helsinki and Stockholm, “Tell us on a Wednesday you want to be a NATO, we’ll have you in on Friday.” They are that good, and both those nations deployed their soldiers, sailors, airmen, all fought under my command in Afghanistan, Libya, the Balkans. Piracy, cyber, they’re highly capable and they have been neutral, you know, as part of their culture and DNA. I respect that. But I think now as they watch what has just happened in Ukraine, I suspect a year from now, every possibility those two nations will join NATO. They would be welcome, in the view of this former Supreme Allied Commander. 

JANICE GROSS STEIN: Well Admiral, speaking of who is watching, you and Elliot Ackerman wrote a gripping thriller, the book that Rudyard talked about. I wouldn’t recommend it for bedtime reading because it is the story of an accidental war that comes as a result of a miscalculation between China and the United States. If you do read it before you go to bed, you bring your bottle of scotch with you, alright? Otherwise, you’re gonna have a very restless night. China. 

Two questions. Again, coming from people at dinner, how likely is China—China’s clearly watching this. What is China learning from the fact that Vladimir Putin walked into his next-door neighbour, overran them in a brutal use of force? What implications does this have for Taiwan?

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: Well, first, some analysts have posited this idea that because of what has just happened in Ukraine, we’re going to see China make an immediate move on Taiwan. I don’t think so. A couple of reasons mitigate against that. First of all, this year President Xi wants a quiet year going into the 20th Party Congress at the end of this year, where he will be anointed to his third five-year term as the leader of China. This effectively will move him into the Pantheon with Mao and Dang, and I think he’s not looking for a lot of controversy between now and then. 

Secondly, China has had a very patient strategy with Taiwan. The Chinese generally are patient, and I think that they are not going to have a precipitated move simply because the Russians do something. I think it almost would move in the opposite direction as the Chinese look at Russia— there’s nothing that Chinese hate more than emotion-driven, kind of step out of the box moves. You know, in China—

JANICE GROSS STEIN: Messiness—

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: It’s all measured. I don’t see them, you know, following the lead of Vladimir Putin, let’s put it that way. Then third, the Chinese are not yet confident that they can overmatch the United States, and they’re not yet certain about whether or not the United States would fight on behalf of Taiwan. We have pursued a strategy—as many in this audience will know—we, the United States have followed a strategy of strategic ambiguity in terms of Taiwan, meaning we neither say we will defend it nor do we say we won’t defend it. In China if you’re a military planner you have to assume we will defend it because that’s how military planning works. You plan against the worst-case scenario. 

So, for those three reasons, I don’t see an immediate move against Taiwan. Now, how does all this appear to the Chinese? They recognize the difference between a NATO member and a non-NATO member. What they can’t figure out is how do we think about Taiwan. That’s why I think this policy of strategic ambiguity, which some have criticized, I think is probably the right path forward. When I boil it all down, I don’t think what has just happened in Ukraine is going to have an energizing effect on an attack on Taiwan. I think that’s five to ten years out. May or may not come; a lot of different events could change that calculus going forward.

JANICE GROSS STEIN: Final question and I know we have to let you go and thank you so much for being so generous with your time. This is the biggest war that Europe has seen since 1945, and I don’t think any European expected to see that in their lifetime. China is a capable, technologically excellent society that is learning at pace and learning at scale. That nice rules-based international liberal order, so beloved of Canadians, especially their leaders, that’s probably gone. 

What are the next thirty years—or let me take you to 2034. How does the United States manage two rivals, Russia and China, at the same time?

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: Let me reframe the question very slightly, Janice, and say, is democracy declining in the face of authoritarianism? I think the answer to that is, I’m going to bet on democracy here. I’ll give you several reasons for that. One is that despite its incredible messiness and difficulties in protest—as you just went through an Ottawa with your truckers, as we go through every five minutes in the United States with some crazy extremist group—you know, democracy’s a mess, but I’m with Winston Churchill, a common forbearer to both of our nations if you will. Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others,” and I think what he meant by that is for all its messiness, inefficiency, and difficulties, for all of that, it reflects human nature. People want a voice; they want to participate. Not every single person wants to be the leader, but all of us want a voice, and I think democracy reflects that in very fundamental ways. 

Number two, the long throw of history, so far, is on the side of democracy. Exhibit A would be, you know, go back a hundred and twenty years ago, how many democracies were there in the world? There are about fourteen, maybe fifteen. Today, depending on how you kind of score it, there are somewhere between eighty and a hundred. Democracy, as we unspooled the last hundred and fifty years, is moving pretty quick, actually, and sometimes when I say that people would say, “Oh, yeah, Admiral, but look at China. Look at look at Russia.” Well, okay, look at them. They’ve been authoritarian nations for millennia, both of them. There’s nothing new there. What’s new? It’s the march of democracy decolonization. And, yeah, you know, we’ll have some good days and bad days, and today’s a bad day for democracy, inarguably a terrible day for democracy. But we will have good days, and again, I wouldn’t bet against us. 

Third and final reason, look at the democracies in the world today. Your nation, my nation, the NATO nations, Japan, Australia, South Korea, India—watch India. Sure, India’s going through a moment or two of difficulty with its democracy, and India is a big fractious country. 800 million people, by the way, voted in the last election. I mean, think about that, for a minute, 800 million people voted in a nation of I don’t know, 1.2 billion. It’s a pretty vibrant democracy. 

At the end of the day, back to where you’re going to place your bets. Over here is let’s say the West: United States, Canada, NATO, Japan, Australia, Singapore, all of those techno-democracies. Over here, the authoritarian world: China, Russia. Where’s India? India’s here, kind of in the middle. I’m going to bet for a variety of reasons, India can end up over here with the West. If they do, and I think they will, that will be a determinative factor in this international system going forward as the century unfolds. 

That’s part of the thematic in the book in 2034, and I don’t think India’s actually going to have the capabilities we ascribe to them by 2034. It might be 2084 by the time they have that capability, that kind of throw away. But the reason they appear in this story in that fashion is because so often they’re this invisible country. We spend all our time talking about NATO, and the EU, and the United States, and the West, and China, and Russia. We never talk about India. Yet India’s this nation of 1.2 billion. By the middle of this decade, they’ll overtake China. They’re a democracy, a very vibrant one in my view, and they’ve got a lot of bad road ahead of them, but their demographics are powerful, and demographics can be destiny for nations, and they’re a democracy. 

So, that’s a long way of saying Janice, for all the risks and for the difficulty of this day, which I’ll remember a long time in terms of where democracies go, don’t bet against us.

JANICE GROSS STEIN: That is a great note of inspiration, frankly, Admiral Stavridis to end on. So, everyone, join me in thanking him. Thank you. 

ADMIRAL STAVRIDIS: My pleasure.

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