The Future of Ukraine: A Debate
(Stephen Bryen and Herman Pirchner, November 27, 2023)
About the speakers
Stephen Bryen is a leading expert in security strategy and technology. He has held senior positions in the Department of Defense, on Capitol Hill and as the President of a large multinational defense and technology company.
Dr. Bryen has 50 years of experience in government and industry. He has served as a senior staff director of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as the Executive Director of a grassroots political organization, as the head of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, as the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Trade Security Policy, as the founder and first director of the Defense Technology Security Administration, as the President of Finmeccanica North.
In 1982, Herman Pirchner, Jr. became the founding President of the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC), a non-profit public policy organization headquartered in Washington, DC.
Under his leadership, AFPC has hosted Washington events for hundreds of foreign officials ranging from the Prime Minister of Malta to the Prime Minister of Russia; conducted hundreds of briefings for Members of Congress and their staffs and, organized dozens of fact-finding missions abroad for current and former senior American officials. Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, Former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld, Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, former Director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey, as well as the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dick Myers are among those who have participated in this program.
Robert R. Reilly:
Hello and welcome to the Westminster Institute. I am Robert Reilly, its director. Today we are especially pleased to have two guests to discuss the future of Ukraine. Our first guest is Herman Pirchner, who is the founding president of the American Foreign Policy Council, a nonprofit public policy organization here in Washington D.C. It began in 1982 with Herman as its president, a position he continues to hold to this day.
Now, AFPC, for short, American Foreign Policy Council, has hosted Washington events for hundreds of foreign officials, conducted hundreds of briefings for members of Congress and former senior American officials. For more than a decade AFPC has co-sponsored conferences focusing on Ukraine’s political and economic evolution. Senior government officials of both Ukraine and the United States regularly participate in this conference series.
Among his many publications, Herman Pirchner published a very prescient monograph in 2004 titled Reviving Greater Russia: The Future of Russia’s Borders with Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Ukraine. He also is the author of Post Putin: Succession, Stability and Russia’s Future, which is also available in Ukrainian and Russian.
Our second guest is Dr. Steven Bryen, who is an expert in security strategy and technology. He has held senior positions in the Department of Defense, on Capitol Hill, and as the president of a large multinational defense and technology company. Currently, Dr Bryen is a senior fellow at the American Center for Democracy within the Center for Security Policy.
He has served as a senior staff director of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as the executive director of a grassroots political organization, as the head of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, as the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Trade Security Policy, and as the founder and first director of the Defense Technology Security Administration. He is the author of many, many articles and a number of books, including Technology Security and National Power: Winners and Losers and of three volumes of essays in technology, security, and strategy. Dr. Bryen was twice awarded the Defense Department’s highest civilian honor, the distinguished service medal.
Gentlemen, welcome to the program. Good to be with you, Bob. Welcome again. Why don’t we start out with each of you presenting an overview of your perspective on what the future of Ukraine might hold? Herman, why don’t you begin?
Okay, thanks, Bob, and first I want to thank you for hosting. I think there is insufficient debate on Ukraine in Washington, and any time you put together two people with slightly or maybe not slightly different points of view, I think public policy is served. I also want to add one thing to my brief introduction. I have been over 70 times to Russia and spent considerable time, especially in the ‘90s, trying to improve Russian-American relations during that period when it seemed far more possible than it does today.
Today, when I think people are aware on the moral grounds of what is going on in Russia, the war crimes are in the tens of thousands, some of which are not debated almost by anybody credible. There been many international organizations coming in. We see the nuclear blackmail that is being used by Russia. We see the deportation of 200,000 Ukrainian children and teenagers to Russia where they would be raised in the image of Putin’s Russia and other morally reprehensible things. But of course, the U.S. cannot deal with every moral problem in the world, so begs a question of what is U.S. interest in this, and if we permit Russia through the strategic use of nuclear blackmail, through the use of barbarity and war crimes to cow our population, if we permit them to gain territory, it is just a matter of time before other countries and Russia again begins to do the same thing.
I was just a few weeks ago in Vietnam, and some months ago in South Korea, and there what do you hear? You hear they want Russia to be defeated because if Russia is seen to gain territory through nuclear blackmail, how long is it before the hawks in North Korea or Beijing think it worked for Russia, it can work here, the U.S. and the West cannot stay the course if they are confronted with these threats.