US Foreign Policy and Europe

RACHEL FLOR: Good evening I’m Rachel Flor, executive director of the John F. Kennedy library foundation On behalf of all of my library and foundation colleagues, I am delighted to welcome all of you who are watching tonight’s program online Thank you for joining us this evening I would also like to acknowledge the generous support of our underwriters of the Kennedy Library forums, league sponsors, Bank of America and the Lowell institute, and our media sponsors, the Boston Globe and WBUR We look forward to a robust question and answer period this evening You’ll see full instructions on screen for submitting your questions via email and our comments on our YouTube page during the program The relationship between the United States and Europe was always of special interest to President John F Kennedy from his youth to his service as president We are so grateful to have this timely opportunity to explore contemporary issues of significance for US foreign policy and Europe with our distinguished guests this evening I am now delighted to introduce tonight’s speakers Ambassador Nicholas Burns is the Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government As a career Foreign Service Officer, he served as Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs from 2005 to 2008 He also served as US Ambassador to NATO, Ambassador to Greece, and State Department Spokesman, and worked for five years on the National Security Council at the White House, among other assignments Dr. Robert M. Mauro is director of the Irish Institute and founding director of the Global Leadership Institute at Boston College Dr. Mauro, whose research focuses on ideology and conflict, spent the best part of a decade conducting research and lecturing in a number of different universities in Ireland and Northern Ireland He has established a number of organizations that support Boston College’s work in Europe and on transatlantic economic and policy issues Dr. Alexandra Vacroux is executive director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, and lecturer on government at Harvard University Her scholarly work addresses many Russian and Eurasian policy issues She is an active member of the bilateral working group on the future of US-Russian relations, and co-chairs the Davis Center’s long running comparative politics seminar She previously held a variety of scholarly and business positions in Washington and Moscow I’m also so pleased to introduce Andrew Gray, EU editor at Politico Europe Based in Brussels– so completely different time zone, and we are grateful that he’s staying up late for this program– he commissions, edits, and occasionally writes stories from around the continent, and is also the co-host of politico’s EU Confidential podcast He worked at Reuters as a correspondent and bureau chief for 15 years He was posted to Germany, Geneva, the Balkans, West Africa, London, and Washington, where he covered the Pentagon He was also embedded with a US Army Tank Battalion during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and covered the aftermath from Baghdad Please join me in welcoming our special guests ROBERT MAURO: Thank you very much, Rachel And thank you to everyone for joining us this evening from around the United States and around the world, perhaps including a few night owls here in Europe I want to jump straight into the discussion, make the most of the time that we have with a very distinguished panel And I wanted to ask each of you just to begin by identifying what you think is the most pressing US foreign policy issue that affects Europe at the moment, either overall, or in your particular field of expertise And if I could start with you, Nick Burns, if you were back in your old job at the State Department, walked into that building tomorrow, what would you be saying is top of the pile, and why? NICHOLAS BURNS: Well, Andrew, thank you very much And good evening, everybody And Andrew, you get the award for staying up latest It’s midnight, and we really appreciate your staying up for us I want to thank professor Mauro of Boston College, my alma mater He was a very distinguished scholar in Ireland And certainly, I’m pleased to be with my colleague, Professor Vacroux We both teach at Harvard Andrew, I’d answer your question this way I think the greatest problem right now between Europe and the United States is the great gulf and division, suddenly, that’s appeared in NATO and in the United States relationship with the European Union I’m going to be frank This has been produced by the most anti-European president

we’ve ever had, and that’s Donald Trump He has denigrated NATO consistently He’s never agreed that Article 5 of NATO is something that he would automatically put into force if one of our allies were attacked And I say that because I was ambassador to NATO on 9/11, when all the allies came to our assistance, and we invoked Article 5 This is the article that says an attack on one is an attack on all It’s the bedrock principle of the alliance that we’re all in it together And President Trump has never confirmed it You also know that he has been extraordinarily disrespectful, in my view, of Chancellor Angela Merkel, to a slightly lesser extent, Prime Minister May, the former prime minister of the United Kingdom, President Macron, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau It’s a curious thing when the President of the United States verbally attacks, on a consistent basis, our democratic allies, and yet never attacks President Putin, or President Xi Jinping, or Kim Jong Un That’s not the way to conduct American foreign policy And I say this, Andrew– and I’ll conclude on this– this relationship really matters to the United States The European Union is the largest trade partner of the United States The European Union countries are the largest investor in the American economy And NATO is the greatest collection– 29 countries– of American allies in the world– treaty allies And for Americans wondering what we get out of this alliance, we get comradeship, and we get solidarity When we went into Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002 to fight Osama bin Laden, who had attacked us on 9/11, the Europeans went with us, and the Canadians went with us, and they’ve suffered, at a minimum, 1,000 combat deaths since that time They were with us in our darkest day And for the president not to recognize that, I think, is a grave mistake on his part And I do think that’s the greatest problem we’ve got right now, Donald Trump ANDREW GRAY: Thanks, Nick We’ll explore some of those issues very soon, I think, and dive in a little bit more detail to what might happen to that relationship as a result of the upcoming presidential election But first, let me ask you, Alexandra, what looks top of the pile for you right now? ALEXANDRA VACROUX: So in this discussion, we’re defining Europe as including Russia and Eurasia, which is great for me And I would say that the biggest problem, the top of the pile problem, is the one that we’ve had for the past 20 years, which is what should be a relationship with a rather aggressive and uncooperative Russia? And if we look at what’s on today’s pile, we have the problem of the Navalny poisoning with Novichok, a chemical weapon basically banned, and how to respond to that in a way that’s appropriate and that is going to have an impact And that’s also related to another problem I’m sure we’ll discuss, which is Belarus and what Russia’s intentions are Belarus and how Europe and the United States could work together to promote or support Belarus and not provoke Putin into a Ukrainian scenario ANDREW GRAY: Right We’ll definitely get into those topics in more detail shortly Bob, let me just bring in you at this stage What’s kind of flashing red on your radar? ROBERT MAURO: I have so much to talk about And first, let me thank the library for having us and Andrew and Nick and Alexandra It’s great to be here with you all Again, there’s so many different things that we could discuss and talk about, so many different policy areas I think along the line of the Ambassador’s comments about the gulf, I think it’s important and can’t be underestimated, the need for communication across multiple points of contact at the same time I think this is where we’re really lacking right now Everything seems to be pushed into a bilateral relationship And in deals, if you’re making deals, and you’re trying to negotiate through something, maybe a bilateral relationship might be easier to manage, but there are issues that we must confront across multiple spaces with multiple partners So we need to be able to have those communications and those lines of contact, whether it’s the challenge of Brexit or the challenge presented by Russia or climate change or cybersecurity, we need to be able to talk to all of the partners together in a uniform and fluid manner And a lot of those processes that were in place, whether it was the European Union or NATO or any of the other informal contacts that existed have been disrupted in various ways And that’s, I think, a tremendous danger ANDREW GRAY: Right Well, thank you, all three of you, for those opening remarks Let’s dive into those issues in a bit more detail And already, we have a question from a member of our audience So I’ll throw it straight to you Nick Is there a chance, do you believe,

that President Trump will withdraw the US from NATO if he wins a second term? NICHOLAS BURNS: That’s a very good question And it’s just so sad that someone had to ask that question I believe if President Trump is reelected, he will seriously consider taking the United States out of NATO But don’t just trust me on that I should declare that I’m an advisor to Vice President Biden, have been for a year and a half So obviously, I am favoring Vice President Biden in this election, and I’m not in favor at all of President Trump Take it from John Bolton John Bolton was President Trump’s national security advisor We hosted John Bolton at the Aspen Security Forum three weeks ago He said that if President Trump is reelected, he, John Bolton, believes that President Trump will leave NATO And I would just make one comment on that, Andrew One of the great sources of American strength in the world is not just our great economy and our military and our great diplomats, it’s the fact that we have allies in the world And that’s the differential in power between the United States and Russia Russia doesn’t have a single country that would defend it in a crisis I don’t think even Belarus would And China doesn’t have allies, as well We have these 29 allies in NATO who are with us through thick and thin– the fight against ISIS, Afghanistan, the majority of them in Iraq with us, by the way, over the last 15 years And we have similar allies– Japan, South Korea, Australia– treaty allies in the Indo-Pacific The president wants to go it alone He wants the United States to be alone in the world and to be unilateral in its orientation No previous president has agreed with that And I think that’s the major difference between Vice President Biden and President Trump on this particular issue ANDREW GRAY: Let me just follow up on that, then If Vice President Biden wins the election, would it be business as usual for NATO? Would things go back to the way they were before, or would there still be pressure on the allies? Would there still be expectations of change, particularly in terms of defense spending? How much would it look like the NATO pre-Trump, and how much might it more be different again? NICHOLAS BURNS: Are you asking me, Andrew? ANDREW GRAY: Yes, please NICHOLAS BURNS: Thank you So I think there’d be a great difference Vice President Biden, when he spoke at the Munich Security Conference in 2019, just before he announced his candidacy, gave a major speech He said, we’re going to re-embrace NATO, and we’re going embrace the European Union as a strategic partner of the United States And that is the way that nearly all of our presidents, the secretary of states, both parties have thought about American interests So I do think there’s going to be a unification of sorts, or a reunion of this great alliance But we don’t agree on every issue with the Europeans You mentioned defense spending The Europeans clearly need to meet their targets of 2% spending– 2% of gross domestic product on defense by 2024 But the great majority of them are going to meet that target, and President Trump fails to tell the American people that I think China is going to be a difficult issue Democrats and Republicans in the United States largely agree that we need to be competitive with China on issues like 5G, to keep Huawei out of our networks And the Europeans are divided on this I think the trend lines in Europe– and Andrew, you’d know better than me; you’re living in Europe– but I perceive the trend lines leaning towards being more competitive by Europe with the Chinese But I think any administration would push on that issue And I think in terms of US-EU relations– I’ll finish on this point– certainly, the EU digital tax and EU regulation of US tech companies is going to be difficult to manage in a Biden or a Trump presidency ANDREW GRAY: Thanks very much Alexandra, you mentioned the Navalny case Obviously, the crisis in Belarus is another big issue right now Do you have a sense of what the European Union and the US could or should be doing in the Navalny case right now? What do you think their next step should be? And could they act together to exert greater pressure in this case? ALEXANDRA VACROUX: So today, an important step was taken in that the Germans have come out and definitively confirmed that it was a Novichok agent that poisoned Navalny That was a piece of information that we were waiting for Given that that’s the case, we now have a position where we need to think about what kind of punishment is going to be applied to Russia If we look at what happened last time they used Novichok– a slightly different situation, when a former spy living in Britain was poisoned by Russian agents– sanctions were imposed 100 diplomats were expelled from Europe and the United States And it was seen as a real violation of norms Did it change Russian behavior?

Not really What we seem to be finding is that it’s pretty much impossible to push or pull Putin into doing something different than what he’s planning on doing Nonetheless, to fail to respond is to basically give him a green light to continue doing this sort of thing So some kind of action must be taken, and ideally it’s a concerted action between Europe and the United States I should point out in responding to what Nick said, that nothing would make Putin happier than having the US pull out of NATO A weakened NATO, a weakened European Union, those are all things that make Russia look stronger by comparison, and very much in his interest So at this point, he’s probably hoping that he can ride out the backlash against Novichok, and that people will kind of forget about it with all of the election issues that are going on And if Trump is reelected, that nothing that badly will happen But that would be a mistake ANDREW GRAY: Do you think, Alexandra– a big topic here in Europe at the moment is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is nearing completion The US administration opposes it And many European Union countries oppose, it but up until now, Germany has held fast to that project Do you think if they were to change stance, is that something that would have any effect on Vladimir Putin? ALEXANDRA VACROUX: I think it would have an effect And I think it would have a very important effect on Merkel’s credibility, which really appears to be on the line now In fact, if you look at what she’s been saying, she’s taken a much tougher stance now than she has in the past And partially, that is probably an attempt to see if tough words are going to get her a little bit more flexibility in terms of dealing with Nord Stream, which Germany has wanted and needed But that would clearly send a signal that the Russians had gone too far I don’t know if the Germans are willing to do that ANDREW GRAY: And how do you anticipate attitudes to Russia or cooperation between the European Union and the US toward a common policy towards Russia, how much would that change depending on the outcome of the US presidential election? Obviously, we’re fortunate to be in the company of a distinguished advisor to Vice President Biden Do you see the outlines of a Russia policy from Vice President Biden that might change things? ALEXANDRA VACROUX: I would not expect a significant improvement in US-Russia relations, especially now, and especially given the news that came out about new Russian meddling techniques that have been identified But one thing that we would see under a Biden administration is, as Nick said, a return to an alliance-based policy, where we have a coordinated response to Russia, which is guaranteed to be more effective than the Europeans going at it alone or the US going it alone The problem is that when there is dissent, even if it’s, say, Hungary within Europe, it creates an opening that, then, the Russians can exploit to say that, in fact, there is no mandate against them, that what they’re doing is just normal great power politics, and everyone accepts that So the more concerted an effort, the more United front we have, which is something that the Biden campaign has articulated in arguing for a multilateral relationships, the better off we will be in terms of sending Russia the messages that we want to send ANDREW GRAY: While we’re on Russia, if we just talk a bit about Belarus, the European Union, seen from here in Brussels anyway, is clearly trying to strike a balance, expressing solidarity with the protest movement against Lukashenko, but wary of getting too involved, I think And then, the US, we hear comments kind of going in that direction, but again, I think a wariness about getting too involved Do you think that’s, broadly speaking, the right approach? ALEXANDRA VACROUX: I think it is I think there’s a real risk that by coming out too strongly in support of the anti-Lukashenko forces, that they are then tagged as foreign agents by Lukashenko And that, then, provides an excuse to crackdown more heavily, and for the Russian police reserve that Putin has formed to come in So, in a way, the fact that Hungary has blocked a United response from Europe to the Belarussian events has given Europe a little bit of breathing room to come out more carefully There’s no doubt that they support the Ukrainian opposition, but they don’t want to repeat the mistakes that were made with Ukraine, when efforts to have a huge embrace on economic and defense fronts ended up creating a backlash and a fear in Russia that provoked the collapse that we’ve seen in Ukraine, basically, since 2014 and then 2016 So I think it’s a measured response I think we all know where the Europeans stand, but there is definitely something to be said for being cautious in the rhetoric that’s being used ANDREW GRAY: Thank you very much Bob, let me come to you A question from our audience, which I’m just going to pose to you, because I think it’s in your area of expertise–

how will or should the US react to Brexit differences between a Biden or Trump approach, question mark? I mean, Brexit, as we know, to an extent, has formerly happened In this period of negotiating a future relationship, how do you see the US involvement in that process? ROBERT MAURO: Well, I think the Trump administration’s and the potential Biden administration’s response will be quite different The Vice president has kind of his deep personal connection to Ireland, that he’s been on many occasions There is, I think, also, in Congress, a real awareness of Ireland and Irish issues, as well as the Brexit issue So a Biden administration could work, I think, quite effectively with Congress to mitigate the impacts of Brexit It’s hard to overstate the coming challenge that Brexit is going to present, not only for Europe and the United States, but really specific for Ireland and the United Kingdom Obviously, they agreed the Northern Ireland protocols, which are meant to manage trade and this status in Northern Ireland in Brexit, but it’s really unsure how that’s actually going to be practiced I mean, they’ve set up these committees to work on the details, but they only started meeting in April, and they’re meeting virtually So there are, I think, some challenges there So it’s really very difficult to kind of see an easy exit from this I think some of the challenges– and whether it’s the Trump administration or a potential Biden administration, I think the civil service understands that there’s a great danger So if you speak with people, Foreign Service personnel from the State Department, they are aware of the challenge that this presents The United Kingdom is no longer going to be in the European Union They’re our biggest connection into the European Union They are a key ally in NATO Now, they’re not going to be collaborating with the European partners in that format So there are massive challenges there I think the two governments, as well, are very much are– by the two governments, I mean the British government and the Irish government are aware of the challenges that exist I think within the British government, we have to remember here in the United States, we sometimes find it difficult to explain American politics to the international audience, because the president really isn’t in charge You have separation of powers You have federalism, and it’s all these internal issues that have an impact on how we behave externally Same thing happens in every state, and British government right now is no different So within the Johnson government, there are challenges And they are, at times, undercutting the way the civil service is able to confront certain issues, because Dominic Cummings is leading a reform of the civil services And that’s what he wants to do, and that they’re going to do it So there are challenges internally there The Irish, I think, have been very clear about how they’re going to behave on this and what they’re doing They’ve reformulated many of their strategies when it comes to interacting, not only with the wider world, but specifically with the UK And they’re looking to open up additional consulates and different kinds of relationships So I think, ultimately, all those factors will play a part I would be hopeful with a Biden administration I think Biden, he’s aware of the good that the United States did when it came to the conflict in Northern Ireland, and the success It has been a success I mean, there are challenges And there are still problems, obviously But people are not being killed, especially at the rate that they once had been, although there’s been some recent violence And I think he has that sense of history and what American power can do for good So I would expect more engagement It’s not as though the Trump administration hasn’t been engaged, but they haven’t had the leadership capacity put into the region, certainly And the region is now more important because of the Brexit challenge For a while there, I think people had looked at the conflict in Northern Ireland and said the conflict is over, and there are bigger and more pressing issues And there are really pressing issues elsewhere

But I think a Biden administration would definitely be focused on what challenges exist in Brexit, and do what can be done within the confines of what’s possible ANDREW GRAY: Yeah Nick, Bob mentioned an interesting point there in terms of the US relationship with the UK, the UK obviously having, if you like, the advantage of being a very close ally of the US but also a member of the European Union How do you see that challenge of reshaping the relationship with the UK and the US? How will that develop? In the UK, people often call it the special relationship When I was based in Washington, I didn’t hear people talk about it quite the same way It’s obviously an important relationship, but for the UK, it’s seen as a really vital relationship How do you see that developing or changing as a result of Brexit? NICHOLAS BURNS: I think there are a lot of Americans in both political parties who would say that we’ve had a special relationship with the United Kingdom, and we should continue to have it When I was in government, in various administrations, I think the trust that we had in London and in Australia, Canada– those are probably the countries we would work with most closely The challenge here is that the United Kingdom has, now, to establish, as you know, trade relations with every country in the world So I think one of the immediate prospects for a Trump second term or a Biden first term is what kind of trade agreement should the US and UK have? Second, we very much want to keep the United Kingdom focused on NATO It is the strongest military power in NATO after the United States, by far It has much more expeditionary capability to project forces, much more than France, and certainly more than any of the continental allies Third, I agree very much with what Bob said Britain was a big bridge between the US and the EU Britain translated the Americans for the Europeans and translated the continental Europeans back to the Americans We’re going to miss that We’re going to miss Britain in the European Union as a stabilizing influence, maybe because of the empire, and now, the legacy of the empire, now, the commonwealth I always have thought that Britain is the most globally sophisticated of all the European Union countries And so, we’re going to have to find a replacement It should be Germany, the most powerful country in the EU It should be Chancellor Merkel I think the most respected leader in the world today of a major country is Angela Merkel But President Trump has this strange animus towards Chancellor Merkel He is anti-German He doesn’t understand the European Union He doesn’t understand Germany’s export economy, and it’s really hurt the relationship So I would think that’s what you’d want to create, a very close relationship, a special relationship of sorts, as you say, with Germany as we go forward ANDREW GRAY: Right A [SPEAKING GERMAN],, as they might call it Now, let me just follow up on that Do you think, then, as a result of an effort to cultivate that relationship, we could see a reversal, or a suspension, or an abandonment of the Trump administration’s plan to withdraw large numbers of US troops from Germany? NICHOLAS BURNS: Oh, I hope so It’s a major mistake, not just because those troops are very important in the center of Europe for our containment policy of Vladimir Putin– and that’s the right word We’re containing Russian power We have American and British and French, German, Canadian troops up in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, our four NATO allies that are in close proximity to the Russian Federation We need those troops there But more broadly, we’ve used Germany– Ramstein Air Force Base, for instance, as a jumping-off point for our forces in the Middle East and even in Afghanistan And so, that’s a key strategic platform And for the president to threaten to withdraw– well, to decide to withdraw 12,000 American troops– know why he did it? Out of pique against chancellor Merkel Because when he wanted to have a G7 meeting here in the United States during the campaign, she very wisely said, I’m not going to interfere in your campaign I’m not coming for a G7 photo op Macron agreed That’s apparently why the president made this consequential decision Vice President Biden has criticized it, and he said, of course, he would review that decision if he is elected ANDREW GRAY: Well, let’s move to another big topic It’s the one that overshadows everything at the moment Of course, it’s the coronavirus And talk a bit about how that is affecting US foreign policy and may affect it in the future But let me come to you, Alexandra, first and ask you what you make of President Putin’s announcement that Russia has developed a coronavirus vaccine, and it’s ready for use and being rolled out How should we interpret that? ALEXANDRA VACROUX: We should interpret that as a move in Russian understanding of great power

politics It is not a scientific breakthrough It is not an indication that the R&D situation and system in Russia is advanced compared to what we have in the US and Europe and in the WHO-sponsored entities that are working together on the COVAX project I would say that it is accurate Russia has developed a vaccine, which is something that they have been quite good at in the past But they have not gone through stage 3 testing, which is considered essential in order to make sure that the vaccine is effective and there are no side effects So their version of stage 3 testing is to basically roll it out and give it to people who want it, and probably their conscripted military troops, and then see what happens But it’s not going to be done, it appears, in a systematic way that checks different groups of the population that may be more at risk for side effects or problems and makes sure that the vaccine is safe for them also So I think it’s understandable why it’s been done, but it’s definitely not something we should be emulating ANDREW GRAY: Bob, let me turn to you You are head of the Global Leadership Institute at Boston College Do you see US leadership in terms of the world tackling the coronavirus pandemic? And do you think that might change under a Biden presidency? ROBERT MAURO: I hope it would change under a Biden presidency, because as, is I think, no leadership at the moment And I think most of our allies in Europe, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan agree that we haven’t shown a direction in this I think people have been confused by the press briefings of the president I mean, to a certain extent this sort of thing happens with every administration People don’t quite understand American politics and the communication and the words and some of the challenges that we face internally But I think, in this case, it’s really gone far beyond that And it’s borne out in the number of infections, the number of deaths, in the infection rate as it is It’s a real challenge I work with colleagues from all points of the globe, as I’m sure everyone does on this panel, and I’m constantly jealous of my European colleagues, who can sit in a room together And it might be in the evening They might be having a drink and a little bit of a laugh, as well I mean, wouldn’t that be great to be able to do here? We just haven’t taken the steps to get to a safe point here in the United States And so, I don’t think people are looking at it– now, I will say that below sort of the political level or beyond the political level, there is significant collaboration Scientists are connecting with one another Individual policymakers are connecting with one another The National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health are still key institutions and structures around the world, and they connect with their peer bodies around the world But I do think we have obviously taken a step back We have great science and great people here in the United States And they’re going to continue to do what they do And they might just ignore the political leadership issue, but it does, I think, present a challenge for us going forward For instance, wouldn’t it have been nice to have the early warning system that was set up under the Obama administration, when it came to the spread of a potential coronavirus? That would have actually been practical ANDREW GRAY: Nick, what do you make of the Trump administration’s response and interaction with other international actors in terms of the coronavirus? Obviously, President Trump has been highly critical of the World Health Organization, to the point of saying that the US will withdraw, also in terms of the economic response I don’t think we’ve seen the same kind of global coming together that we saw at the time of the last big financial crisis How do you read it? Do you have any sympathy at all for his criticism of the World Health Organization, for example? NICHOLAS BURNS: Well, on the World Health Organization, I think there’s an agreement around the world that the WHO should have been more forceful with the Chinese government back in January of this year about the extent of the crisis in Wuhan, the origin of the crisis It is an organization in need of reform But it is the only World Health Organization that we have It’s the central organizing body And so for the United States, the largest funder, to leave in the middle of a pandemic and to take its money with it and refuse to help, and now, refuse to cooperate even in the search for a vaccine, which the WHO show is coordinating,

it’s like withdrawing the fire department in the middle of fire, as the building is burning It’s that bad Now, the United States doesn’t depend on the World Health Organization as much as other countries, but nearly every other country does, particularly poorer countries And some of the highest infection rates– India, Brazil, South Africa– are in these poorer regions of the world They do depend And so we’ve really hurt those countries And we haven’t lived up to our responsibility, of course, to take care of ourselves first, but also to help take care of others That’s the American way of doing things And so, at the beginning, Andrew, of the crisis, when it really hit us hard here in Massachusetts in March and April, it made a lot of sense that all countries would turn inward first We had to turn inward to the Boston hospitals and our doctors and nurses and to our nursing homes and veterans homes But there’s also an international dimension, and that’s the one that Bob and I are talking about And we have to have global cooperation here, and we don’t have it right now I would have thought– my last point– if you had asked me on March 1st, what would United States want to do globally, this was a perfect opportunity to have reached out to Russia and to China, our adversaries, and to say on this one, on a pandemic facing 7.7 billion people around the world, we’re going to work together We’re going to work together through the WHO And on the economic crisis, we should have had weekly meetings of the G20, the 20 largest economies, or the G7, which the United States chairs And President Trump failed to use either of those institutions So he not only failed us at home– and he did fail us at home We have the worst record in the world of any large country He’s failed to exert the kind of American leadership that I think most of, as citizens, want to see our country exert in the world ANDREW GRAY: Alexandra, do you think Russia could be open to that kind of cooperation? ALEXANDRA VACROUX: Well, first of all, I’d like to just add one point to what Nick and Bob were saying, which is one of the problems that we’re facing is that the president is basically running foreign policy on his own Congress has been completely silent, even though traditionally, they have shared a role when it comes to foreign policy And one of the things that we should be watching for is not just the presidential election, but also, what’s going to happen in Congress So if the Democrats take the Senate– which, let’s say, there’s a 50-50 chance that they will, then Robert Menendez is going to become– the Democrat from New Jersey is going to become the chair of the foreign relations committee And I think we can expect that regardless of who’s president, Congress is going to start trying to claw back its role in foreign policy in the areas where it’s able to And I would hope that our relationship with the World Health Organization would be one of those areas where Congress could assert the importance of having a cooperative policy and of doing our share In terms of whether or not there’s a possibility to cooperate with Russia, there are certainly areas in which we have common areas of interest Fighting COVID is one The arctic is another The question of nuclear treaties is a third There are potential areas of cooperation that don’t rely on us having excellent relations In the same way that we had cooperation with the Soviet Union when we were existential enemies, we can surely find ways of working together with Russia now But it requires a very rational, calm, sort of intelligent approach to the other country And that’s not what we’ve seen under the Trump administration ANDREW GRAY: That’s a great point about the broader US elections Often, here in Europe, obviously, it’s reduced to the presidential election And certainly, something I learned from my time in Washington is, indeed, the rule of Congress, which is quite different from the role of most other parliaments, I would say, certainly in Europe Do you see any other particular areas where if the Democrats do gain control of the Senate, that they would try to reassert themselves in terms of foreign policy? ALEXANDRA VACROUX: Well, it’s hard to know what would happen, because it depends on the presidency So if it’s a Biden presidency, Biden is a former senator He was on the foreign relations committee, and we would expect that he would work very cooperatively with them And, I think, especially if you look at Kamala Harris as being more of a domestic policy person, that we could expect that Biden would work closely with Congress on foreign policy In terms of the Trump administration, I think we would be looking at a struggle And it’s difficult to know what Congress would be able to assert We did see that even under the current layout of Republican control of the Senate and Democratic control of the House, they were able to impose sanctions, which essentially tied his hands in many ways on rapprochement with Russia But I think a lot will depend on the presidency NICHOLAS BURNS: Andrew, if I could just make one comment, I very strongly agree with Alexandra I think she’s made some powerful points here

One of the things that gives me hope is that if you take President Trump out of the equation, just for a moment, most senior Republican leaders in the House and Senate are pretty much in agreement with most senior Democrats on big issues, like, yes, we should stay in NATO and build NATO up They very much agree on Russia Look at the Senate Intelligence Committee– Republican shared– which has been categorically critical of Russia for its intervention in our 2016 election That gives me a little bit of hope that if Vice President Biden is able to win the election, which I think the three of us, it sounds like, fervently hope he will– at least, I’ll speak for myself in saying that– I think there could be cooperation between Republicans and Democrats on the issues that we’re talking about Ireland– huge support for the Republic of Ireland in the United States Congress, Russia and NATO, and we should build on that in a bipartisan basis ANDREW GRAY: If we sort of follow on from that point– and obviously, that’s one path that the United States may take– if it does come to another Trump term, would we just expect more of the same in terms of the transatlantic relationship? And I guess the question would be, could the transatlantic relationship actually survive four more years of the Trump administration? Nick, you’ve indicated you think President Trump may even withdraw the United States from NATO But even if he didn’t do that, just that friction, which we see particularly with the big Western European countries– you mentioned Germany in particular– if it was four more years, is there any sign that it would be any different? And if it isn’t, can the relationship actually survive? Nick, I’ll come to you first, and then Bob, I think NICHOLAS BURNS: I think there’s every reason to believe it would be even worse It would be Trump unshackled ALEXANDRA VACROUX: Mm-hmm NICHOLAS BURNS: He wouldn’t have to worry about future elections He’d be the king of American politics And I use that word specifically He’s an authoritarian figure He wants power He doesn’t want the Congress to have it He does not respect, in my judgment, our Constitution, and look, he’s a unilateralist I think he sincerely believes the United States is stronger on its own He’s badly mistaken, in my view, in that judgment We need Europe If we think about climate change, defending democracies around the world, containing Russian power, doing something about the aggressiveness of the Chinese, we’re going to need the Europeans to help us, with the Japanese, Australians, and Indians on our side Europe’s a consequential player in global politics, and we just can’t ignore them ANDREW GRAY: Bob, what do you think? ROBERT MAURO: Well, it would certainly be a perilous, I think, relationship that would develop between the United States and Europe under a second Trump administration It’s hard to know There isn’t the platform right now And the policies really aren’t articulated, and there’s really no plan to articulate the policies One thing that is kind of interesting, I think, is that if you think back to the early days of the COVID pandemic, states kind of band together This was mainly around purchasing PPE So here in the Northeast, the mid-Atlantic, we got together, the West Coast, the Upper Great Lakes states I think the regional political economies in the United States and the states that are represented within those regional political economies might go their own way and create sort of a substate-level foreign policy Certainly here in Boston, we can’t do without Europe Obviously, Canada and Mexico are huge trading partners because of our trade agreements, and China, because they ship a lot of stuff to the US But the UK, Ireland, Netherlands, these are three of our top trading partners here in Boston– biotechnology, education, legal and financial services, fintech We need to have European interaction I think any governor of Massachusetts, who doesn’t encourage Massachusetts to trade and work with Europeans is creating a disaster situation for the state, and they know that Before the pandemic hit, international flights at Logan were through the roof And direct point to point flights were increasing So, yeah, there were more flights to London, but they were adding flights to places that had never had flights before They’re interested now, even during the pandemic, in having a direct flight from Boston to Manchester or Edinburgh And so, I think there’s a knowledge here that, yeah, we’re going to need this relationship one way or the other, whatever the presidency decides

ANDREW GRAY: Very interesting And I’m always glad to hear of more direct flights to Edinburgh We’re talking about the outcome of the election But of course, before we get to the outcome, we have to get through the election itself And Alexandra, I wanted to turn back to you on a point you raised earlier, and that’s the question of Russian election interference in the presidential election and other elections, which will take place in November You said it looks like it’s a bit different this time Could you just expand a bit on what we might expect, or what may already be happening in terms of Russian election interference in the US? ALEXANDRA VACROUX: So what we know about the last election, in 2016, is that the Russians had used Facebook accounts or Twitter accounts, Instagram accounts in order to provoke the extremes on both sides So, for example, secessionists in Texas and what was then the much smaller Black Lives Matter movement, and to try and provoke the fringe They also provided some support for the Jill Stein campaign, in an effort to peel off some of the voters from the Democrats And they were pretty successful in getting average Americans to believe that what they were seeing was actually a domestic group, or a domestic effort And the Mueller report, some of the details about the election interference, they are really quite shocking in terms of what they were able to get people to do, without ever knowing that the Russians were involved This year, what we’ve seen is that it’s the same group that’s behind the meddling effort It’s this internet research agency based in St. Petersburg and funded by one of Putin’s friends, known as his chef, Prigozhin And what they tried to do was set up a fake news organization, called Peace Data, which then hired American journalists to write articles that were then boosted through a network of fake Facebook accounts and Twitter accounts And this network was identified And Facebook and the FBI were working together in order to pull down the different pages But it shows clear evidence of interference And if you think about what it is that’s blocked improvement in our relationship since 2016, you know it’s not really Crimea It’s not really Ukraine It’s meddling in the 2000 election that nobody can get past And the fact that they’re doing it again means that it’s basically made any kind of reset or re-engagement with Russia out of the question, regardless of whether Trump or Biden wins ANDREW GRAY: Right How concerned, Bob, do you think we should be about the conduct of the election? And, as I say, we’re talking about two potential outcomes, but I guess there’s a kind of messy or third outcome, where the result of the election is disputed, and perhaps disputed for a prolonged period I imagine that, in itself, would have implications for foreign policy ROBERT MAURO: Yeah That would be embarrassing, I think, bad for foreign policy, bad for American domestic democracy And it would be a follow-on from some rocky elections that we’ve had recently, the Bush-Gore and the hanging chads We all hoped, I think, as Americans, that we had left that behind us But to have confusion around the outcome– and we’ve already seen the tweets from the president and some comments He’s already raised doubt about some of the mechanisms that we plan to use to have a safer election, such as vote by mail Here in Massachusetts, we just had our primaries, and I voted by mail My election was counted Postal service has been working fine So I hope that we can continue to have less controversy about this But I think it would be a serious challenge It’s difficult for people to understand this concept of election interference, when it isn’t about someone actually going in and changing a vote or burning ballots or something like this It’s a really sophisticated– hiring journalists to write stories and then planting them online for people to consume, and they can’t distinguish between one source and another and understand what is valid When you add on top of that, that what the president often does is invert the world around him, so it’s the president who is suffering from fake news, not the other way around, it’s kind of this prison that is difficult to tell which way is up I think it would be a serious challenge In terms of our allies, I think they would be confused

Who would you speak to in the interim? What if there was a serious crisis during our electoral crisis? What would you do? Who do you speak to? Where does the United States stand on something? You want absolute clarity around this I think there’s enough confusion already for people to be worried Whether or not it’s borne out or not, I don’t know I’m not such a masochist to think that it will, but I’m not such an optimist to think that it won’t, I guess ANDREW GRAY: Well, Nick, how much– ALEXANDRA VACROUX: If I were– ANDREW GRAY: Alexandra, go ahead ALEXANDRA VACROUX: Sorry I was just saying that if I were Russia, I would be thinking, what would I want to accomplish in the month after election, when the US is completely beset by confusion and there’s no clear president? That will be the optimal time to do something that you hope will just get lost in the shuffle ANDREW GRAY: Nick, how much do you worry about the scenario? NICHOLAS BURNS: I’m worried about it very much If you think about the role of the president in our Constitution in history, it’s to defend the country That’s really the basic first-order responsibility And as Alexandra has cataloged, the Russians invaded our country just through cyberspace, and they did affect our election in 2016 And now, the FBI and the Senate and House are saying they’re doing it again, right now And for the president not to acknowledge it, to do something about it, to unite Democrats and Republicans– because Democrats would work with him if he wanted to help defend the country– I think, is unforgivable It’s a reason to vote against him, among the many reasons, in my view, to vote against him I would just also say, Andrew, it’s very sad we’re having this conversation Throughout most of my career in the State Department, we would send delegations of Americans, sometimes led by Jimmy Carter or John Kerry, Madeleine Albright to observe other countries’ elections, because they trusted us, as Americans, disciples of free and fair elections, to be fair and objective in helping them run free and fair elections And now, we can’t even have a free and fair election of our own, because the president is out, as Bob said, castigating mail-in voting He has no evidence on his side in the allegations that he’s making Defunding the post office– and we see in our neighborhoods, the post boxes disappearing, and sophisticated machines to sort mail being taken apart and put in the trash heap This looks like a president who believes that he cannot win a fair election, and he’s using unfair, and I would say anti-democratic tactics I don’t think he’s going to win I think Vice President Biden will win Let’s hope it’s by a significant enough margin that the president cannot say the following day that he’s going to contest it ANDREW GRAY: OK I want to turn to one other big, overarching topic, which we’ve already touched upon And we’ve already taken a few questions from our audience, but then, I’ll spend the last half hour really focusing on those questions That issue is relations with China Nick, you talked about it a bit already Sometimes, we hear the thesis that we’re heading for a kind of G2 world, with two real significant poles– the United States on the one hand, and China on the other Alexandra, I wonder if you subscribe to that theory And if it’s the case, does Russia subscribe to that theory and think that it really has to be on the side of China, or is there some way in which Russia could, perhaps, be detached and at least partly maintain a reasonable relationship with the West? ALEXANDRA VACROUX: So Russia does subscribe to that theory Russia subscribes to the theory that China is the future, and the US and Europe are declining powers And it would prefer to hitch its wagon, as it were, to the rising power than to the declining powers That being said, it’s a very delicate matter for Russia, because they do not have a formal alliance with China They fear China in equal measure as they respect it, in part because of long, rather underpopulated border they have with the country But they’re a very convenient relationship for China to have Russia is willing to poke the US and Europe in ways that China does not want to, and yet, the results serve both of the countries If we had a more balanced relationship, both with China and with Europe, it would be possible that Russia would see that it’s not so advantageous to completely pivot to China, and would probably try to pull away a little bit But right now, there’s not much of an incentive for Russia to engage with the West, because of sanctions, because of the smaller markets, and because China is being much more welcoming and is not interfering in Russia’s affairs ANDREW GRAY: Bob, where do you see relations with China heading? ROBERT MAURO: I think whatever administration that we have next, there’s going to be significant competition

I think some of the most significant competition will take place in the space of cyberspace and digital communications I think the recent ruling about the Huawei material or infrastructure in 5G is only the beginning And it’s an important issue US diplomats and many other US representatives abroad were keen to bring European groups and others onto the US side on this position And it was an important one Now, there is a little bit of a technical debate around the 5G issue And exactly whether or not there is a security issue or not is, I think– there is some doubt, maybe, but maybe not But this is, I think, where we’re going to see some of the most significant debate and tension with China, for sure In general, in trade, I think, we’re going to see it, as well The Europeans, the trade commissioner’s role is open right now We’re not really sure who we’re going to get yet But when Phil Hogan was there, it was very clear that while Europe wouldn’t be kind of reshoring its supply chains, it would be reinforcing them And it does necessitate a look at what role China plays in the supply chain, and where it could be duplicated, maybe, elsewhere, or where items might be moved, or how this might be the case So we might see, I think, in general, in the United States and Europe, an examination of our relationship with India and how it could play an important role, for example, in certain spaces ANDREW GRAY: That’s a really interesting point, and certainly the notion that you mentioned of a certain kind of reinforcing of supply chains, a reassessment of the economic dependence on China, is very much part of the conversation here in Brussels with Emmanuel Macron was another real advocate of what he talks about as European sovereignty, the slogan that he has of a Europe that protects He doesn’t call it protectionism and would insist that it isn’t, but it’s certainly a different approach from one that the European Union has kind of broadly taken in recent years And Nick, where do you see potential common ground? We talked a bit about it already with 5G, between the US and Europe on China NICHOLAS BURNS: Well, I think the European Union, the United States, and Japan have an identical problem with China And that’s China abusing its position in the World Trade Organization, not adhering to the rules of the road on trade, particularly in Chinese theft, and using the Chinese intelligence services and state enterprises to steal American, European, Japanese intellectual property, which is at the heart of the digital and tech dominance by our countries President Trump has tried to fight the Chinese on trade, if you will, alone If the United States, the EU, And Japan came together, that’s more than 60% of global GDP We would have significant leverage in trying to force the Chinese to adhere to the rule of law It would be a smarter strategy I hear it from many of my friends in Europe It’s exactly what they want to do with the United States And I hear it from the Japanese And so that’s a powerful example of how the United States, in trying to defend itself, or get its way in the world, is very often stronger if we’re working with partners and allies And Andrew, I’d just say on China, the China challenge is the most important challenge facing the United States, along with climate change And the problem we have is that we’re competing with China for military power in the Indo-Pacific, on the economic and trade issues that I mentioned We’re competing in the digital realm, as artificial intelligence is militarized, as quantum computing is militarized, or biotechnology There’s a race for military dominance, technological dominance between the US and its allies and China We don’t want to be number two in that race So I think, in many ways, President Trump and Vice President Biden and Republicans and Democrats in general agree, we have to compete Where we differ– and here’s where Vice President Biden comes in– is to say, but we do need to cooperate with China on climate change We’re the two largest carbon emitters We do need to cooperate to get us all out of the global recession We should be cooperating on the pandemic And so, it’s an uneasy balance between competition with China and cooperation We’re out of balance right now The Trump administration has essentially branded China an enemy China is not an enemy In diplomatic words, as I think the four of us know,

those are fighting words An enemy is someone you’re going to fight– Japan and the Second World War, Nazi Germany China is not an enemy, so we need to be careful here, because China is very powerful So are we We don’t want to have an unintended conflict in that part of the world ANDREW GRAY: Right Well, let’s jump straight into questions now, and just to say to our audience, still time for you to submit your questions I have a nice list here in front of me, but still time to add to those And actually, just stay with climate change, which you mentioned a couple of times there, Nick And the question from one member of our audience, if Vice President Biden wins the election, can the US rejoin the Paris Accords without significant new costs? And I guess the follow up to that is, would President Biden rejoin the Paris Accords? Nick? NICHOLAS BURNS: Well, Vice President Biden has said many times in the campaign trail, the United States will rejoin the Paris climate change agreement if he’s elected president It was his administration– he and President Obama and Secretary John Kerry, from our state, who made it possible for us to join And we are the only country in the world that is not party to that agreement And we’re the second-largest carbon emitter You can imagine what that does to public opinion, say in Europe, how Europeans view the United States They view us as selfish So obviously, he’s dedicated to trying to make sure the United States transforms its economy He’s been talking about, just in the last couple of weeks– you heard him at the Democratic National Convention, to say, if we address climate frankly and directly, this can actually be good for our economy We can convert the economy, over the long term, to renewable technologies We can use the power of innovation and science to develop battery technologies That’s exactly where the Obama administration was heading It’s where a Biden administration would head President Trump is taking us back about 50 years in denying the science and making us, really, an outcast in the world on this issue ANDREW GRAY: Right Let me switch to another question here, which goes back to Russia, to Ukraine How likely is it that Ukraine or other eastern European countries will be approved to join NATO, in light of the current Russian situation in the region? Alexandra, any thoughts on that? ALEXANDRA VACROUX: I think it’s very unlikely that Ukraine and Georgia, which is the other country that’s been on the list of hopeful applicants– it’s very unlikely that they’re going to be taken into NATO in the short term or the medium term Now, that doesn’t mean that there’s not a lot that we could do to bolster them, both in terms of military preparedness– we do a lot of training, for example, with the Georgian military– and certainly in terms of economic support But I think for Ukraine, at least, the more fundamental question is how to get its economy back on its feet And Russia is Ukraine’s biggest trading partner And unless they have an economic relationship with Russia, their economy is not going to develop, and it’s not going to grow So the real question is how to engage with Ukraine, but also do it in a way that allows it to engage with Russia economically, so that Europe, which is not interested in supporting it with full economic support, that Europe can have a relationship that’s not one that’s based on kind of utter desperation ANDREW GRAY: Nick, as a former ambassador to NATO, any thoughts on that? NICHOLAS BURNS: I strongly agree with Alexandra She’s exactly right about this I think we said very carefully to the Georgians– and they’ve been a great partner of ours, by the way, in Iraq and Afghanistan– as well as the Ukrainians, let’s be partners But I think there is no prospect at all in the short term, the next decade or so, that either of them would come into NATO at this point We want countries that come into NATO to come free of territorial conflicts And unfortunately for both of them, the Russian war against Georgia 2008, and South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and of course, the annexation of Crimea in 2014, you’d be importing these crises with Russia into the alliance That is not going to be agreed upon And we operate by consensus, meaning every single ally, all 30, have to agree It just won’t happen ANDREW GRAY: OK Here’s another one on Russia, but switching to a different part of the world Alexandra and all, could you please speak about Russia’s relations with Iran and the shifting balances of power in the Middle East– certainly an issue of great interest here in Europe, as well, the way that Russia became involved in the conflict in Syria There are these, also, broader discussions about the Eastern Mediterranean here And we can perhaps get into some of the other aspects there But specifically on Russia’s role on relations with Iran,

what do you what do you make of things there and the way that Russia is, in particular, of course, with regard to the recent dispute in the Security Council, siding in favor of lifting the arms embargo on Iran? ALEXANDRA VACROUX: Well, Russia has long been an ally of Iran It’s very involved in building its civilian nuclear program, for example And one of the main accomplishments of the JCPOA, the multilateral agreement with Iran, was that Russia was involved in it And the Trump administration’s pulling out of that agreement was really important, not just in terms of our ability to control how the nuclear program was developing in Iran, but also one of the very important channels that we had for working constructively with Russia And one of the hopes is that if there is a Biden presidency, that they return to the JCPOA, and that there is an area where we can work constructively with Russia If we don’t, then Russia will continue working at cross purposes with us, in terms of what we are trying to accomplish in Iran Just to talk a little bit about the Middle East question in general, Russia was rather upset to learn that it was being considered as a regional power, rather than a great power And the conflict with Ukraine was perceived as evidence of that Oh sure, in their neighborhood they can project their power, but they’re not going to be able to do it further abroad And getting involved in Syria was an opportunity to show, oh, we have to project power further out in order to be a great power? Well, watch this It also had the benefit of allowing them to show off some of the military technologies that they like to sell in the arms markets So that was a really successful way for Russia– at fairly low cost– to prove that it could still be a player And as the Trump administration pulled out of Syria, it left Russia as the only power in the region that was communicating with all of the players, with the Kurds, with the Turks, with Assad, with the Europeans Everybody was talking to Russia, and nobody was talking to the United States And it was our fault ANDREW GRAY: Nick, on Iran, where do you think the United States would end up under a Biden administration? Would they revive US participation in the JCPOA? NICHOLAS BURNS: It’s really hard to say I don’t want to predict what President Biden would do Here’s the problem The Chinese have now given the Iranians a significant financial lifeline to evade the sanctions of the United States, number one Number two, I’m a former Iran negotiator for the Bush administration And I learned in that job, when I was negotiating sanctions against Iran with the Russians and others, that the Iranians cannot be trusted on the nuclear issue I supported the JCPOA But I don’t know if it’s going to be possible to go back to that agreement of 2015, because China has become an enabler of Iran And I’m not sure the Russians are going to want to do, in the future, what they did with the Obama administration and Bush administration in the past, and that’s put the pressure on the Iranians President Trump thinks we can go it alone, that our sanctions will bring Iran to its knees They won’t What I found in my job, as I was trying to sanction Iran, when the European Union came in with financial sanctions and the EU oil embargo, and when Russia and China lined up with us, Europe and America and the Security Council, that got the attention of the Iranians That was leverage I don’t think we have that right now And the additional problem is, Iran is a menace in the Middle East, in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza And we have an obligation to work with Israel and the UAE and other countries to contain that aspect of Iranian power I think it’s going to be an extraordinarily difficult issue for President Trump or for a president Biden ANDREW GRAY: And do you think there’s something the Europeans should be doing on that front? Are they making a mistake by trying to kind of keep this agreement alive? NICHOLAS BURNS: I don’t think so I think the mistake that we made– I agree with Alexandra We shouldn’t have left It would be one thing if we had left, and President Trump had a plan He had no plan And so Iran is now better off, and they’re reconstituting their uranium enrichment and plutonium processing programs We’re worse off I don’t blame the Europeans for trying to keep hope alive and keep some negotiation alive And then, for the United States to sanction the Europeans and threaten secondary sanctions because they had the temerity of staying in the agreement that we signed for them– think about how bizarre this situation is if you’re sitting in Brussels or London or Berlin or Paris So obviously, Vice President Biden is going to be with the Europeans I just think this is one of those issues I wouldn’t want to try to commit what he’ll do And we don’t even know where we’re going to be in this situation by January, February, March of 2020

ANDREW GRAY: Yeah That is my sense, also, that it’s a tricky one, also, because things have moved on since that agreement was reached, and even since the US pulled out of it Nick, let me stick with you for another question from our audience What should USA’s position be towards Turkey, a NATO ally that escalates tension in the eastern Mediterranean? And they mentioned the recent and NAVTEX mission there, supposedly facilitating a Russian Naval drill That’s certainly a big topic here in Europe at the moment Obviously, it’s one that Greece raises within the European Union To go back to our earlier discussion about Belarus, we had the interesting situation where the European Union was not able to issue a joint statement on Belarus, because Greece felt that Germany was being too soft on Turkey, to simplify things And so, the statement was issued by the foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, rather than by the EU 27 as a whole So Nick, what do you think the US position should be there? Because it is obviously a tricky one, with both Greece and Turkey as NATO allies NICHOLAS BURNS: President Erdogan of Turkey is a major headache for President Trump, and the same will be true of a Biden administration Turkey, throughout the Cold War, was an extraordinarily important member of NATO It held down the southern flank of NATO, just below the Soviet Union and the Black Sea– second largest military in the alliance But look what’s happening now Turkey’s a major problem and a divisive actor in Libya Turkey has attacked our closest friends in Syria, the Syrian Kurds, and is responsible for human rights violations against them Turkey has illegally contested Greek and Cypriot natural gas reserves in Greek and Cypriot waters in the eastern Mediterranean Turkey purchased a Russian S-400 air defense system And then, of course, NATO can’t allow that system to be hooked up to the NATO air defense system It’s like letting a cancerous agent loose in the bloodstream– the Russians in the NATO bloodstream So I actually think, Andrew, at this point, there’s no way to kick Turkey out of NATO, because we operate by consensus, meaning if there was a motion– let’s kick Turkey out of NATO, Turkey would block it And it wouldn’t pass What we can do is isolate Turkey We can put them to the side and say, well, if you can’t work with us constructively, and if you’re actually working against our member states and threatening a war against Greece, just to the east of Crete, in Greek waters, we’re going to have to not have military exercises with you, not give you NATO funds, is what we should do, for your military, and not allow you to host NATO meetings and exercises And I think the same is true, to broaden the question, of Hungary, which is an anti-democratic government right now, as well as Poland The three of them are beginning to be pariahs in this democratic alliance It’s really hard to do, Andrew, because the Europeans will not be united on this, as you’ve said But for the United States, I think we have to let each of them know there has to be some penalty for becoming Putin’s best friend, in the case of Hungary and Turkey And in case of Poland, huge disappointment, as they undermine the independence of journalists, as well as the judiciary in Poland ANDREW GRAY: Yeah Would you expect a change in attitude? Because that’s something that’s obviously very worrying, particularly for the EU institutions, EU leaders here in Brussels They see the direction that Poland and Hungary are taking And then, they see those leaders welcomed with open arms in the White House by President Trump President Trump is basically saying he’s rewarding Poland by giving them US troops Would you expect a change? Would you expect a kind of clear signal under a Biden administration, to say, this is not doing anybody any favors; change tack? NICHOLAS BURNS: Well, again, I don’t know what a President Biden would actually do on this particular issue, so I don’t want to commit him But I would say this, Andrew It is a confounding thing that the American president literally embraces Erdogan and Orban and Putin and Xi and Kim, as I said at the beginning of this conversation, and has become a leading critic of our four or five strongest democratic allies in the world– South Koreans, the Germans, the French, the Canadians It is an Alice-in-Wonderland world No other president has done it, because it’s insane It’s against American interests And it’s against our values ANDREW GRAY: OK Bob, let me throw a question from our audience to you How responsive do you think that you will be regarding global issues if Joe Biden becomes president?

So I guess in that question, as Nick has indicated, in a lot of ways, certainly, the Europeans would expect a hand of friendship to go from a Biden administration How do you think the EU would respond? Do you think there’d be any issues in which it would not be instantly kind of clasped to the chest know with great joy? ROBERT MAURO: Probably not And look, I was living in Europe when Obama was elected president There were literally celebrations in the street The Bush years were difficult years in Europe, especially the Iraq war And as an American abroad, it was touching and moving The kind of hope that people had for what President Obama might do, it was emotional I think people would respond to a Biden presidency very, very positively I think it would be new kinds of engagement, and they would see a potential new partner here I think, however, Europe is headed down a certain direction, as well, on its own, that the European Union has taken steps over the past number of years to engage abroad And it’s strengthened its external services, essentially its foreign service And I think each of the member states are seeing a need to talk about their European identity, as well So it’s the Irish and the French and the Germans and the US, just they aren’t only exclusively talking about their own national interests They’re talking about their European interests, as well, and the value of Europe Part of that has less to do with Trump and Biden than it has to do with Brexit and the value that the European project has and the need to kind of defend that So I would expect that, while there would be increased opportunities for partnership and excitement and engagement, I also think that the Europeans are going to take more of a leadership role, as well And I think it’s healthier relationship, as well, for the United States For the United States always to be directing things, it doesn’t work internally It creates this unusual conversation that we have and this perception that Americans have about how the rest of the world interacts with us So I think we’ll see that, and I think it will be a good thing ANDREW GRAY: Let me just circle back for a moment to the idea of some of the divisions within Europe We’ve talked about some of the countries that are under various kind of censure and disciplinary proceedings, even within the European Union itself, and some of those countries having close relationships with Russia Alexandra, how do you see Russia trying to influence relations between European countries? As Nick has mentioned, Viktor Orban is seen as someone who maintains close ties to Vladimir Putin But we’re also seeing, on the other hand, what’s happened with Alexei Navalny and what’s happening in Belarus In some cases, it seems to push a more kind of strident anti-Russian message within Europe So how do you see Russia trying to kind of play off powers within the European Union? Because as you’ve said, Russia seems to regard a strong European Union as a problem and wants to weaken it as much as possible ALEXANDRA VACROUX: Well I think that Russia is very good at looking for vulnerabilities both within countries, and also within alliances, and then figuring out how to exploit them So there are strong indications, for example, even evidence that they were quite involved in Brexit, in being pro-Brexit as a way of weakening the European Union and getting the United Kingdom further away from Europe He sees someone like Orban, or like the new Polish government, as people that he can work with, people who will not be so compliant with the Western point of view and the Western perspective, and potentially veto things that the Europeans are trying to do, which is something that they really like to see Now, I think it’s unrealistic to think that Europe speaks as a single voice, ever It’s just not possible when you have so many countries But you really have a situation where the Russian government is willing to provide personal and political support for those individuals or political parties or groups that are willing to undermine the established political systems in those different countries And it’s pretty cheap For the effect that they get, it’s

not very expensive to support some of these parties ANDREW GRAY: Nick, it seems recently, we’ve seen that the Trump administration perhaps tried to revive the idea which we heard a bit during the Bush administration from Donald Rumsfeld, the old Europe/new Europe division We saw Mike Pompeo, recently, in a number of countries, including the Czech Republic and Slovenia, and in Poland– notably did not go to major Western European allies on that trip– did stop off in Vienna Do you think that’s a strategy of the current administration, to try and, if you like, build a kind of alternative front within the European Union among those countries? NICHOLAS BURNS: Well, it’s not going to work For the United States to be successful, let’s say on climate change, or defending democratic regimes under attack by authoritarian around the world, or trying to get out of the recession, you need the European Union And that means you need Germany and France and Italy and Spain, the larger economies of Western Europe, in addition to Poland and the Czech Republic and others in the eastern part of Europe And I never thought it was a good idea to brand this old and new Europe The fact is we depend so much on each other Part of being successful diplomatically– and this will make perfect sense, I think, to everybody watching and listening– is show a little respect Show a little humility Don’t act, as Bob says, like the Americans, we have to direct everything A sophisticated strategy would be to treat them as equals George Shultz, Reagan’s Secretary of State– still going strong at age 99, by the way– always said, Americans need to tend the diplomatic garden, show up at the meetings, pay the dues, don’t quit, show respect– the things that our mothers and fathers taught us in kindergarten, that we– Bob and I– learned at Boston college, what the Jesuits taught us And I just think if we go back to those elementary principles, we’ll be a lot more effective And I know I’m speaking a lot about Vice President Biden, but I think one of his strongest suits is he’s genuinely a humble person What you see on TV is who he is in private It’s who he is with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron He listens, he’s data driven, he doesn’t think he knows all the answers, and he tries to build bridges That’s not how I’d describe Donald Trump’s performance over the last 3 and 1/2 years ANDREW GRAY: I suspect even he wouldn’t describe it in those terms It’s interesting that you mentioned George Shultz and the gardening analogy During my time as a Pentagon correspondent, I traveled a lot with Secretary Gates And we would do these trips, and sometimes, we would say, why are we going to this or that country, do these crazy trips? Well, I’m sure you’re a veteran of many, where you do kind of eight countries in three days or whatever And he would give exactly the answer He said, this is about gardening, just kind of tending the relationships I’m going to throw one last question, which is addressed specifically to you, Nick I think we can just guess, generally, the answer, but still, interested to hear your thoughts And then, I will ask you if you just want to make any final closing remarks, and we’ll bring things to a close So the question here reads, Mr. Burns, what do you make of like Pompeo his tenure as Secretary of State? What is your response to some describing the Department of State under Trump as diminishing or less relevant? NICHOLAS BURNS: Well, I had a lot of hope when Secretary Pompeo came in, that he might be an effective secretary He’s very smart He had good experience coming from the Central Intelligence Agency He’s obviously a patriot He went to West Point He served in the military So you respect all that about him I do think that it’s difficult to do this in government I don’t see indications that he and others are speaking truth to power to President Trump President Trump has taken so many initiatives that have weakened us I can’t believe that Secretary Pompeo actually agrees with much of what President Trump is trying to do And you’ve seen that in the book that John Bolton wrote about his term as national security advisor And the impact that secretary Pompeo has had on the State Department has been just devastating Morale is about as low now as it’s been at any time, and I started 40 years ago this summer as an intern– 24-year-old intern in the State Department We have an exodus of senior officers, mid-level officers, junior officers There’s insufficient funding And the key crucible was this– when the Congress asked for Foreign Service officers to appear at the House of Representatives and to testify in the impeachment trial, they had to respond Their job as Foreign Service officers– nonpartisan–

is to obey subpoenas and to obey invitations from the Congress And what does Secretary Pompeo do? He made life very difficult for them He didn’t stand up for them And when President Trump called the State Department the deep state, with secretary Pompeo standing beside him, and there was no defense, he’s failed the men and women of the Foreign Service I’m a retiree, a veteran of the Foreign Service, so people like me feel this very deeply These are nonpartisan people They take an oath to the Constitution They get zero support The two President Bushes, president Reagan, President Clinton, President Obama didn’t treat our career diplomats, or career military, or the Justice Department, or the CIA like this President Trump’s at war with the permanent employees of the US government, the people who don’t make a lot of money, and they serve in difficult places, but they love the country And I know that Vice President Biden has huge respect for the women and men of all these great cabinet agencies And to me, that’s just another way that President Trump and Secretary Pompeo has failed ANDREW GRAY: Thanks for that answer So, as I say, we just have a very few minutes left, but I just wanted to give each of you a chance to sum up, if you wanted to, your overall thoughts on this discussion, or just raise, at least briefly, any issue that you think is relevant, that we haven’t had time to cover Bob, do you want to kick us off? ROBERT MAURO: Yeah It’s hard to know how to feel about the future We’re at the cusp of an election here in the US We don’t know how this election will turn out And so it’s difficult to know what our government’s policies are going to be going forward, and clearly our allies are aware of this I will say I am incredibly excited by the work that is happening between people, between organizations and institutions inside the United States and outside the United States There’s tremendous work being done right now with NASA and the European Space Agency on the exploration of Mars, for instance This is a tremendous collaboration, and it’s a big endeavor, that we can only really achieve together So I’m hopeful that professionals, both within the government, the civil service, and those in institutions understand the need for understanding, for really getting your head around where other people are coming from, why they’re coming from that position, and where they’re headed, and then, finding ways to collaborate So I’m excited about the future at that level At the political level, I’m not sure what to feel ANDREW GRAY: Alexandra? ALEXANDRA VACROUX: I would say that as far as Russia is concerned, until the past couple of weeks, there was a debate that was raging among Russia hands, which is should we be revisiting our Russia policy, be a little bit more flexibility, give flexibility in sanctions, give the Russians the possibility of improving relationships, and is that our responsibility or the Russians’ responsibility? But all of that was really dependent on not having meddling in this current election cycle And the fact that that is happening means that there is no opportunity here for resetting the relationship, and the main question is going to be, how do we establish a relationship with a country we don’t trust? It’s possible That’s part of what diplomacy is about You don’t have to like the people that you’re negotiating with But there are many areas where we do have common interests and where we should be working together– on climate, on COVID, on terrorism And it’s in our interest to find a way to engage with a country that we don’t trust And I hope that the next administration is full of the clever people that can do just that ANDREW GRAY: Nick, some final thoughts from you on US-European relations? NICHOLAS BURNS: Well, I just want to say thank you to the Kennedy Library for this invitation, and to Andrew, to you for hosting us I have such great respect for President Kennedy and Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, that it’s always an honor to be here I also want to say I’ve learned a lot listening to Bob and Alexandra– really smart people, with a lot of valuable insights, I hope, for this And I hope people feel the same way I do I’m sure they do I would just say two final things We’re going to be stronger working with Europe than against it And if we return to an embrace of these countries with which we have so much in common, particularly our democratic values, we’ll be stronger in the world And we’ll be safer in the world And I know we’ve talked about, by definition, problems tonight We may be leaving this audience thoroughly depressed I think there’s reason to hope And I’m glad that Bob started us off that way He said he felt hopeful, and I do, too The pandemic will end Our researchers and scientists will bring it to an end The recession, at some point, will end, too And our economy will come back at some point I just hope that in our racial crisis– we haven’t talked about it tonight– that we in white America will understand our duties

to achieve a society of racial equality and racial justice And we saw lots of white Americans take to the streets peacefully this summer in historic numbers And there is this self-correcting gene in America, that we saw with Lincoln, we saw with Martin Luther King, we saw with Franklin Roosevelt And may we see it again I think there’s hope And we’re a great country We’ll return to that, but we do need good leadership I think the entire conversation, for me, has focused on leadership, what Bob studies at Boston College So I want to thank all of you for the opportunity ANDREW GRAY: Thank you, Nick And let me just echo those thanks Thank all three of you– Nick, Alexandra, and Bob– for your time, for your insights Thank, also, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, in particular Alice Murphy for her help in organizing this event Thank all of you watching for taking part, for sending in questions, and to wish you, then, a very good evening where you are, or in the United States Or as it’s nearly 1:30 in the morning here in Brussels, it’s [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] from us here in Europe, and look forward to talking to you again Thank you very much ROBERT MAURO: Good night NICHOLAS BURNS: Thank you