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KT McFarland: Putin Aims to ‘Rebuild Greater Mother Russia’; Ronald Reagan’s Playbook to Counter Russian Aggression | CPAC 2022

“[Putin’s] goal is to break the back of NATO and to separate Europe from the United States, and in his mind, rebuild greater Mother Russia.”

At the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), we sat down with former Trump deputy national security adviser KT McFarland, author of “Revolution: Trump, Washington, and ‘We the People.’”

We discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, threats from communist China, and how the United States should counter Putin’s ambitions.

“Bankrupt him with energy prices. Number two, make sure he doesn’t have access to the international banking system. And then number three, don’t let American technology head to Moscow,” McFarland says.


Mr. Jekielek: KT McFarland, such a pleasure to have you back on American Thought Leaders.

Ms. McFarland: I am honored to be part of this conversation, and I must tell you for me, your Thought Leader series is must-watch TV, must-read transcripts. You really are doing a great job and you do it in such a thoughtful, thorough way that I don’t know how anybody walks away from watching half an hour with you with anything other than the right conclusion.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, that’s, I love that. You’re hired. No, but in all seriousness, I feel like we’re kind of in a fog of information around this war in Ukraine. Russia has invaded Ukraine; we know that. We’re getting bits and pieces of information. There’s been a whole bunch of policies affected. We’re being told this policy is supposed to have certain kinds of effects. Other people are saying this is preposterous. This is not going to do anything. What are you seeing happening right now?

Ms. McFarland: Well, I would say a couple of things. In the immediate sense, nobody expected the Ukrainian people or army or president to be as courageous as they’ve been. I think I, and a lot of other people assumed that the Russians had a coup set up, and everything would be kind of in, out, done24, 48 hours. That’s not happened. And God bless the Ukrainian people. It’s been much more difficult than Vladimir Putin had anticipated.

I think the inevitable outcome is that Russia controls Ukraine. Vladimir Putin is in a position to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Sadly, I think the die was cast a year ago of the fate of Ukraine. That’s for a couple of reasons. One, when America was energy independent, a couple of things happened. One, we could export energy. We had enough; we could export to Europe.

And number two, the price of oil was kept very low, $40 a barrel a year ago. What that meant was two things. One, the Russians didn’t have a lot of extra money in the coffers. War is not cheap; war is expensive. So Vladimir Putin could not have afforded a war a year ago, but since we, the United States under the Biden administration shut down, in effect, American oil and natural gas industry; stopped exporting it.

That meant that the price predictably doubled, and now, and often, it’s probably going to start tripling. So all of a sudden Russia has twice as much money in the bank as he thought; even three times as much as they did a year ago. So it’s given them that cushion to wage war against Ukraine. But the second thing it’s given them is the power, and the blackmail power, and leverage over Europe.

Once the United States, again, we started shutting down our American energy industry. But at the same time gave the green light to the Russian energy industry. That gave Russia a chokehold over the European economy, and particularly over the German economy. So it meant Russia had money, and it had leverage.

It could neutralize any criticism or any action the Europeans were going to take; were they to choose to support Ukraine. They just couldn’t. No German chancellor is going to say to the German people, well, by the way, the price of oil is going to double and you’re not going to have any electricity in your home. It just couldn’t happen. So it put Putin in a position where he could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted to with Ukraine.

Mr. Jekielek: You would think if Europe and the US were very serious, they would use absolutely every tool at their disposal. What are the tools that are available? The most important tools?

Ms. McFarland: Well, one would be kicking Russia out of the international banking system. Germany is so far and France as well, and Italy to a certain extent have been reluctant to really allow that to happen. The really important tool the United States could use right now that we could control is energyoil, and natural gas. If we turn that oil and natural gas on, what happens? Well, the price of oil and natural gas goes down.

Russia’s broke again; can’t afford a lot more wars. The other thing that happens is that I think if President Biden would go to the American people and say, look, the national security situation of the United States is such that I’m going to reverse my decision, and I am going to allow oil and natural gas to be produced in the United States and number two, export it.

Then you could go to the Germans and the Europeans and say, you’ve been reluctant to buy American liquified natural gas in the past. You preferred Russian energy supplies. But look what it’s costing you, not just in money, but the leverage the Russians have over your economy. Would you really want Russia to control your economies? No, you don’t.

So I think if we went to the Europeans and said to them, we got your back. We will give you energy security. You can buy cheap, clean, no strings attached, American liquified natural gas. We will help you buy American liquified natural gas. It would put; I think the Europeans are now ready, after the last couple of weeks; ready to reconsider where they want to get their energy from.

Then I think, finally, President Biden could go to the Russians and say, we’re going to produce energy. We’re going to drive that price of oil and natural gas in half. You’re going to be broke. You’re not going to have leverage over Europe. We’re going to go to our Saudi friends. We’re going to encourage them to pump more gas, more oil. And then you’re not going to be in a position to make a whole lot of trouble for anybody. That’s what the United States could do.

It’s not a direct thing. So many times in national security issues, people think, oh, it’s war or peace. Well, there are a lot of other think-outside-the-box: economic, diplomatic, other pressures that can be brought to bear. And this is the time that requires us to think outside the box.

Mr. Jekielek: From the people that I’ve talked to, and certainly this was the case with me personally; I’m not an expert. Almost nobody expected Putin to invade Ukraine. It was unexpected. I don’t know. 

Ms. McFarland: No, I honestly thought; I knew he would do something. I thought he would do; at a minimum, would take the two eastern provinces and occupy them, and pretend with a false flag operation, and then he would do to them what he did with Crimea. He would annex them. The next step, I thought he is probably going to organize a coup in Kyiv. So get rid of Zelenskyy, get a pro-Russian puppet in there. I did not think he would go to the whole full extent, which he has done.

Why did I think that? Because I thought he might run it. That he, Putin, who is a ruthless dictator and murderous thug, he’s also pretty shrewd. So I thought he would look at that and think, gee, maybe it would be risky, it would be messy if you invade; there are to be civilian casualties.

I think that’s exactly what’s happened. He’s invaded and it’s not been what he thought it would be. He thought he would be in and out; that he would control Ukraine within a couple of days, and that is not the case.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, so this is the question then. A lot of us really didn’t expect it.

Ms. McFarland: Correct.

Mr. Jekielek: Right? So why did he choose to actually make the move as opposed to what; a very common mantra that I heard, including on a show, on Kash’s Corner, a show I co-host, is that he’ll come to the one-inch line, try to get as many benefits for himself as he can, but he’s not really going to go to battle. Why did he decide to actually do it? What were the factors?

Ms. McFarland: Well, I can’t get inside his brain.

Mr. Jekielek: No, but you have some ideas.

Ms. McFarland: Well, I’ve studied Vladimir Putin for decades. And if you go back and look at his life and where his ambitions had been. He’s been quite consistent about what his ambitions are. He was in the KGB during the Cold War. Soviet Union collapses in the late 1980s, early 1990s, he retires from the KGB, goes to grad school, and with an eye to a political future, he wrote a dissertation about how to make Russia great again.

And the dissertation, he talks about taking Russian energy resources out of the hands of the oligarchs who were controlling them in the 1990s. Bringing them back under the control of the Russian national government, investing in the infrastructure of those energy industries, laying pipelines. Then Russia controlling the energy could use that. The revenues they would get from exported energy to rebuild the Russian social welfare system, the Russian military, just rebuild Russia.

Then as well, having the political leverage they would have, that they would accrue. It’s really funny. Iin the 1980s, 1990s, Ronald Reagan warned the Europeans. He said, don’t you guys get those pipelines built. If you do, you are going to be dependent upon Russia. And of course, that’s really what’s happened. Putin understood that.

So he’s followed that plan for 30 years in his political career with his goal. He’s quite clear, his goal is to destroy NATO. His goal is to break the back of NATO, and to separate Europe from the United States, and in his mind, rebuild greater Mother Russia. Even President Biden said it this week. He feels Vladimir Putin wants to recreate the Soviet Union, and I think Biden is right.

Mr. Jekielek: It’s fascinating that he’s kind of your; everything you described in his thesis is kind of like what he has done. That’s quite amazing. You hear about, for example, with the Chinese regime, you read “Unrestricted Warfare” for example, and you’re thinking, hey look, they gave us the playbook ahead of time. But I think in America people think, people don’t do that. They don’t tell you everything they’re going to do. They’re not going to tell you all the methods they used and how they used them.

Ms. McFarland: But here’s the thing, you know Jan. Don’t believe what a democratically elected leader tells you. Often he’ll say whatever he needs to do to win the next election. Always believe a dictator because he can do whatever he wants, and he has no problem telling you in advance what his nefarious goals are. That’s the same case with whether it’s Putin, whether it was Adolf Hitler or whether it’s with the Chinese.

Mr. Jekielek: So tell me about the role of NATO here. Why is Putin so bent on breaking NATO?

Ms. McFarland: A couple of reasons. One, because he looks at NATO really as an instrument of the United States. He has said in the past, the greatest tragedy of the 20th century was the collapse of the Soviet Union when overnight a great empire was destroyed. So part of it is payback time, that he wants to destroy the unit that destroyed his Mother Russia and the Soviet Union.

But I think also he understands that Russia doesn’t have allies or friends. Right? It has subject nations, whether it was during the Soviet era. None of those countries were equal to Russia. They all took their orders from Moscow. Again, China doesn’t have allies. China has vassals.

What does the United States have that nobody else has? Allies, friends, like-minded countries. We don’t all agree on everything and we fall out all the time. But at the end of the day, our alliances are the strongest part of our national security, our economic security, our political security, our diplomatic security. So I think that Putin understands that, and if he can pick us off one at a time, divide NATO, then he can get what he wants of a greater Russia, emasculate the European nations.

And I think the Chinese have the exact same goal; that they want to pick us off one at a time. They do not want; they are threatened by our alliances because our alliances are the greatest strength that we have,and so the way they get at all of these different countries is one at a time.

Mr. Jekielek: Interesting. Okay. So with respect to NATO, I understand that Poland, Estonia, and a few other countries are invoking Article 4 of NATO. What is that and what does it mean?

Ms. McFarland: Article 4 says that any NATO member that feels his security is about to be threatened, can call upon the other NATO members to talk about it. It doesn’t say that to call in the Marines. It just says that it can call a meeting, so to speak. And I think that’s what some of those countries, especially the countries on the Russian border are now going to do. NATO is already meeting about this.

I think that if Russia has a success with Ukraine, that it looks like they get Ukraine without a whole lot of problems, then I think they eye the Baltic nations; those threeEstonia, Latvia Lithuania. They’re small, they’re easily taken by Russia. If you look at a map there’s Russia, and then there’s something called the Suwalki Corridor, which is like a road. It’s about a two-hour drive and on the end of that two-hour drive is Kaliningrad, which is on the Baltic Sea.

So Russia might decide, okay, Ukraine, done deal. Not a NATO member. Nobody really took me seriously about that. Maybe what I’ll do is really try to break the back of NATO, and then drive Russian tanks across that Suwalki Corridor. Then all of a sudden within a day or so could control Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and then tell NATO, okay, what are you going to do now? 

Then would NATO, I don’t know. Would NATO rise and go to war with Russia? I don’t know. Would Germany be willing to jeopardize its energy relationship with Russia over the Baltic nations? I don’t know.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, I guess, so do you feel at this point; this war is expensive. 

Ms. McFarland: It’s expensive.

Mr. Jekielek: I heard with high energy prices, it’s possible those might be lowered. Given that this is taking longer, at least by.

Ms. McFarland: Definitely.

Mr. Jekielek: A number of analysts have told me that, including yourself, than he expected. Are any other countries actually under threat from Russia at this point, or is he running out of resources?

Ms. McFarland: Well, he’s preoccupied with Ukraine, but what happens when he is finished with Ukraine? Well, you tell me. If the price of oil is high, he’s just replenishing the coffers. That’s why I think it is essential that the United States gets back into energy production, energy independence, and drive the price of oil down. One of the reasons in the United States, we have such high levels of inflation right now is because of the high price of oil.

It’s the same thing that happened in the 1970s when there was an oil embargo where the Middle East countries stopped selling oil to the United States as a punishment for the United States’ relationship with Israel. A result of that, inflation went sky-high. I think that’s what the Russians are doing today as a result of our energy. Well, the fact that we gave up energy independence, that’s why we have inflation.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, what’s really interesting about this to me too, is that you could; this is one of those things you could just turn on fairly quickly.

Ms. McFarland: Yes. You could do it pretty quickly.

Mr. Jekielek: Yes. But with inflation, maybe you can kind of explain to me the relationship because; certainly a wild amount of money has been printed over the last couple of years. Truly astounding amounts of money have been printed, and there’s been this stimulus, and everything. So I was always imagining inflation has to do with that. You’re saying it also has to do with the lack of production.

Ms. McFarland: Also through the price of energy.

Mr. Jekielek: Explain how that works.

Ms. McFarland: All right, so oil and natural gas prices go up. That means gasoline prices go up. If you are someone who needs to buy gasoline to put in your tank to go to work, you’re paying a lot more for it than you were before. There are also shortages of it. There’s a world energy shortage. There certainly is in Europe. They’re having an energy crisis in the sense they can’t get oil and natural gas. I can’t get gasoline.

Remember just a couple of months ago, we were talking about rationing gasoline in the United States, and we’ve certainly seen the price double, triple in some cases. So that leads to inflation. You have to pay more for energy. That means you have to pay more if you’re going to transport your product from where you make it in Memphis to where you’re going to sell it in Houston. So the price of that gets driven up.

Mr. Jekielek: Because that energy is in everything. Exactly. Absolutely.

Ms. McFarland: Everything. Yes, energy is in everything. Not only that, and oil is in fact a petroleum product. There are a number of pharmaceutical industries, and cosmetic industries, et cetera that use oil and petroleum as raw material. Including even North Face jackets. 

Remember when North Face said, we are going to be pure. We are not going to advertise those nasty oil companies. Until someone pointed out, oops, most of your North Face jackets are made for petroleum products. So high price of energy, high price of gasolineit just filters into everything. That’s part of it.

The other part is the supply chain shortages, I think in many ways, forced on us by China. What China’s exporting to the United States, mysteriously, was slow to arrive. So there were shortages; that also brings the price of inflation up.

Then finally, as you point out, the Biden administration is spending money like drunken sailors, and they’re putting an awful lot of money into the hands of people who have been locked up for two years. And so there’s been pent-up demand. All those three things have led to inflation, but the one thing we would have control over pretty quickly is the price of energy.

Mr. Jekielek: Okay. So let’s talk about this piece of the equation now. Was this preventable? Of course, hindsight is 20/20 always, right? However, what policies do you see as having contributed to emboldening Putin, if any, or was it just a forgone conclusion?

Ms. McFarland: Well, let’s look at the timeline. No, no, absolutely preventable. This did not happen when Donald Trump was president, right? The price of oil was low. 

Mr. Jekielek: Yes. So that single decision probably is the most important.

Ms. McFarland: That was the single biggest strategic mistake the Biden administration did, was to shut down American energy. So that would be number one. Putin wouldn’t have had the extra money to do it. But the other thing is, if you look at the timeline. So Biden gets into office, he shuts down fracking oil and natural gas, shuts down the exports.

Number two, the Russians start hacking into American corporations, Colonial Pipelines, et cetera. There was no punishment for that. In fact, when President Biden met in the early summer with Vladimir Putin, met in Europe, he said a couple of things. One, go ahead with your pipeline, your Nord Stream 2 pipeline. By the same time, we’re shutting down the American Keystone pipeline. That was number one.

And number two, he scolded Putin. He didn’t actually even scold him. He didn’t hold him accountable for anything with the hacking that had already occurred. He just gave them a list of, what was it?16, 17, vital American industries and said, don’t you dare hack any of those. So there was no punishment of what Putin had done prior to that, and certainly vague threats of what the United States would do.

And I think frankly, that when Joe Biden keeps saying, well, I know Vladimir Putin. I’ve worked with him for years. He’s known me for years. I think that’s true and I think that when Putin met with Biden, the man he saw was older, in a certain cognitive decline. 

And I think Putin thought at that point, okay, maybe this is my moment. I’m getting rich. I’ve got leverage over Europe. I see a president who I think is weak to start with and is weak again. And this is the same president who was vice president when Putin took Crimea, and so now Biden is president, maybe it’s time.

But then I think the shambolic withdrawal from Afghanistan really showed Putin that this was his moment. Because it was about that time that Putin came out with his very large, long manifesto saying Ukraine is not an independent nation, Ukraine is part of Russia. And that’s when Putin started moving his troops on the border. All of those things, each one led to another, and it was a domino effect. It was a cascading series of events which have emboldened Putin.

Mr. Jekielek: It’s really interesting to think that the initial domino probably though, was the energy cost going up, but well; and obviously because it changed their equation so dramatically. Right?

Ms. McFarland: In a year. I look back, I was a member of the Reagan administration when we won the Cold War and one of the ways; well, the way we won the Cold War, was President Reagan also understood the energy calculation. We couldn’t afford to be energy independent  then. We didn’t have the energy resources or technology. But what President Reagan did was he convinced the Saudis, and other Gulf Arabs nations to pump more oil.

So the price of oil went from $40 a barrel to $18 a barrel in nine months. Again, Russia was broke. Then the second thing Reagan did was he denied access of the Soviet Union to the banking system, so they couldn’t borrow any money. And the third thing that he did was deny the technology that America was developing, deny the technology; it’s called technology transfer. Technology, high tech to go to Russia.

So in the 1980s, the Russians; they didn’t even have Xerox machines. They were still doing those old carbon copy things where you had. Anyway, so as a result of that, Russia was pushed into bankruptcy. Russia didn’t have access to any loans even to borrow money for the wheat harvest that had failed. And then when the United States had Russia in that position, then we had the missile defense program, the Star Wars program, which I was very involved with at the Pentagon.

And at that point, the Russians threw up their hands and said, well, we can’t compete with the United States, and in a race for a Star War system. And that was the end of the Soviet Union. That playbook is still valid. And the way to deal with Putin now to stop the next power grab he’s going to do, bankrupt him with energy prices. Number two, make sure he doesn’t have access to the international banking system. And then number three, don’t let American technology head to Moscow.

Mr. Jekielek: So you’re saying that this could be over in the matter of days. I think that.

Ms. McFarland: In Ukraine. Yes.

Mr. Jekielek: That’s what I’m hearing as well. It might even be over before we actually put out this show.

Ms. McFarland: Yes, I think so.

Mr. Jekielek: So I guess there’s this other question, let’s say I don’t know where things will end up. It’s actually a bit of a question right now. Russia might have a much greater or a lesser level of control over Ukraine; though it looks like it is probably going to keep some of it.

Ms. McFarland: Yes.

Mr. Jekielek: What happens afterwards? First of all, is this the end of what they call Pax Americana? I’ve heard that said.

Ms. McFarland: Well, the Chinese think it’s the end of Pax Americana. And they certainly, if you went to most countries in the world right now, sadly I think the impression a number of them is America is in decline. Maybe the guys in Washington don’t think so, but I think a number of countries think we’re in decline. But a number of countries have thought we were in decline before.

In the 1970s, America was thought to be in decline. If you back and, even our leading Nobel laureate economist said, oh, the Soviet system is so much superior to the American system. Oh, the Soviet military is so much stronger than the American military. And America’s pretty good at turning things around.

The book that I wrote called “Revolution”. One of the things that my story was that I was in the Trump administration. I left, I went out of the country. I did some real thinking, and I realized that America goes through these periods of regeneration, and it happens with amazing regularity every 40 years. 

And it’s because our founding fathers understood that we were a very dynamic society, that we would have immigrants. Right? Brilliant immigrants, like you Jan. That we would constantly be a nation reinventing itself, whether it was technologically or geographically or demographically or ethnically.

And we would always, because the nature of government is always to be a status quo, and to kind of hang onto the power it has. But the American people would be changing. So that about every 40 years, we’re kind of disconnected. The government isn’t getting its job done. It isn’t representing the needs of the people. So we have political revolutions, and we did it in the original American Revolution in 1776. We did it again in the 1830s with the Jacksonian Revolution.

We did it again during the Civil War. We did it again during the Industrial Revolution. We did it again after the Great Depression. We did it again with Reagan. And I think Trump initiated this round today. So I think that, if the countries of the world may think America’s in decline, they’ve written us off a lot of times before. 

And I really do think that what we’re seeing in the nation today, which is a massive grassroots movement around the United States. I think that the corner has turned. That a year ago, it was all destroy American culture, America’s terrible. We should all feel guilty about everything, we’re terrible.

But I think that that national mood is changing. And that’s why you’re seeing President Biden suffering the opinion polls that he has. It’s because America, grassroots America always, always comes back and rearranges the government of the United Statesput in new people, new ideas. And frankly, that’s our greatness. 

We reinvent ourselves. Nobody else reinvents ourselves. Right? Every other country rise, shine, decline. We rise, shine, we decline a little bit, and then we come right back better than ever.

Mr. Jekielek: I love that message. Now, why is it that the Chinese think that it’s the end of Pax Americana? Why did you say that?

Ms. McFarland: Well, the Chinese had been peddling to the world the idea that America’s finished. And that the inevitable wave of the future is not free markets. It is not democracy. It is authoritarian governments. Democracies are ill-equipped to deal with the modern technological era, and so follow the Chinese model. 

And the Chinese, they have been pretty successful at pedaling that, and if you looked at Washington right now, we’re all arguing with everybody about everything. You would have to say, gee, I wonder if democracy is really functioning democracy in the 21st century?

But to me, the Chinese are wrong. And it’s why? It’s because a suppressive system that China has is never going to allow the free flow of ideas. The great thing about America is we are inventive. We are creative. We are constantly sort of looking for the next thing. 

The Chinese can’t do that. That’s why the Chinese, if you look at, for example, the micro part, the chips, the microchips. We’re inventing them here in America. And then they’re manufacturing in someplace else. All the great developments happen in America first. This is why the Chinese have to steal our technology, right? They can’t do it themselves

Mr. Jekielek: Well, and certainly a lot of the people who are the creative thinkers are actually,  we know. I’m thinking about Harvard nanotechnology, top people in the world that [are] working for China and many, many, many others, right? To develop their technologies. 

I guess this is kind of the threat or the fear that a lot of people have is that the American, somehow they’ve managed to hijack the American ingenuity as well. That comes from the free market.

Ms. McFarland: Not for long. I think the one thing, whether you love Donald Trump, you hate Donald Trump, the one thing he really did was wake up the American people to the threat of China. 

Now for 20 years, we’ve been sleepwalking. We’ve been preoccupied by the forever wars in the Middle East, and we’ve lost track of the real strategic threat to the United States, which I do believe is China. And whether a Republican or Democrat, the only thing Republicans and Democrats agree on right now is that China does present the major strategic threat to the United States.

Mr. Jekielek: A lot has been said about China watching how the US dealt with Afghanistan, is dealing with Ukraine. Of course China has ambitions on Taiwan and it’s clear at some point, unclear when it wants to definitely.

Ms. McFarland: Yes, and unclear how.

Mr. Jekielek: And unclear how. Yes, that’s true. What would you expect China is thinking or planning at this moment? I mean I’m talking about the Chinese regime, of course here.

Ms. McFarland: You know, I think they’re overreaching. Here’s how. So China has this plan where it’s going to have the dominant; they’re trying to create a Euroasian trade route, right? Whether One Belt, One Road, whether it’s the maritime trade route for the South China Sea, they want to dominate the technologies of the future. 

So China, in this ambition, it has gone around to countries around the worldpoorer countriesand it’s said to some of them, let’s make a deal. We’re going to build you a port. We’ll use Chinese technology. We’re going to lend you all the money to have it, and you’re going to be rich because of this port. It’s going to be great for you.

Mr. Jekielek: Oh, and by the way, the ports have to be able to handle Chinese naval vessels.

Ms. McFarland: Eventually.

Mr. Jekielek: By the way.

Ms. McFarland: Well, they never say that. So what they do is they have a little bit of 10 percent for the big guy. The corrupt leader gets it, and the Chinese get, if you have read the fine print, it says, we’re going to seize the asset if you can’t pay. And so the Chinese give them loan-shark rates. The country can’t pay and then the Chinese say, Oh, by the way, that port should now be able to be used by the Chinese Navy.

They’re doing that all around the world. The strong-arm policies of the Chinese are starting, the people are starting to wake up. And the country I would give as the great example is Australia. Mighty Australia! Ten years ago, five years ago, people said, well, Australia, Chinese own that one. They’ve been bought and sold. The Chinese are all over the Australian universities, et cetera.

And then in the middle of the pandemic, the Australians joined 100 other nations to make an innocuous request that the World Health Organization look into the origins of COVID, mostly so we can study it, figure out how to not have it happen again.

The Chinese went ballistic and they said to Australia, don’t you dare criticize us. And they gave Australia 13, 14 point plan of what they expected the Australians to do or else. And in the plan was the Chinese said, Australia government cannot criticize China. Australia, your free and independent newspapers, they can’t criticize China. Australian academic institutions, you have to let us have whatever we want to have on those academic institutions.

So Australia, which everyone assumed was going to back down because Australia’s major export partner is China. Australia said, no, hell no. And as a result, the Chinese tried to crush them economicallynot import Australian barley, not import Australian beef or Australia wine. But the Australians are standing up to it. 

Other countries are watching this. And I think that the Chinese overreach, they call it “wolf warrior diplomacy.” I think other countries are now saying, hmm, maybe we want to rethink Chinese domination.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, except at this point, arguably, right? Russia has invaded Ukraine. Isn’t the Chinese regime thinking, hey, maybe we can keep overreaching now. I don’t know, this is what I’m hearing analysts say.

Ms. McFarland: But here’s the thing about autocracies or dictatorships, whatever you want to call them. They always overreach. They always overreach, and they always get slapped back. So it’s the same thing, right? Putin is overreaching with Ukraine, and he is showing the Germans, and the other Europeans—Gee, maybe we don’t want to be dependent upon Russia for our energy. Maybe we’ll now reconsider and think of American energy.

The same thing is happening in Asia, where Australia and other countries are saying—Hmm, maybe this looked really terrific, this initial relationship with China. But maybe we need to reconsider it. 

And that’s the opportunity for American diplomacy, and American economic power is to, again, as I said a bit ago, allies, we have allies. They may not have appreciated us recently, but they may be taking a second look at the importance of America as a strong economic and security ally.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, KT McFarland, it’s such a pleasure to have you on again.

Ms. McFarland: It’s always a pleasure for you. I always come away with interviews from you, Jan, being exhausted mentally, but having had a terrific workout. So, thank you.

Mr. Jekielek: Fantastic. Well, looking forward to the next one.

Ms. McFarland: Me too. Thank you.

Mr. Jekielek: We live in an age of censorship and disinformation where some of the most prominent voices, most important voices aren’t actually being heard because they’re being suppressed. I invite some of these people onto the show onto American Thought Leaders. So to stay up to date on the most recent episodes and our exclusive content, you can actually sign up for our new newsletter at Just hit the check box for American Thought Leaders.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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