At its most recent meeting on April 26, The Westminster Institute hosted Ilan Berman, Senior Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, D.C.. As stated in the promotion of his talk at the Institute:
An expert on regional security in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Russian Federation, he has consulted for both the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Department of Defense, and provided assistance on foreign policy and national security issues to a range of governmental agencies and congressional offices. He has been called one of America’s “leading experts on the Middle East and Iran” by CNN.
He is the author of Tehran Rising: Iran’s Challenge to the United States (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), Winning the Long War: Retaking the Offensive Against Radical Islam (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), Implosion: The End of Russia and What It Means for America (Regnery Publishing, 2013), and most recently, Iran’s Deadly Ambition: The Islamic Republic’s Quest for Global Power (Encounter Books, 2015).
Mr. Berman discussed Russia’s involvement in the Middle East, pointing out the United States does not have an equivalent of NSC 68—George Kennan’s assessment of the Soviet Union’s intentions and strategy in the late 1940s—that helps define how America should understand and grapple with Russian foreign policy, specifically in the Middle East. Mr. Berman cites four drivers of Russian foreign policy:
- Russia seeks a post-modern empire that satisfies Russia’s longstanding view that its destiny is to be a great power built around a greater Slavic state. Both the left and the right in Russia believe in this destiny.
- As stated by Alexander Dugan, Russia, as a great power, is destined to be in conflict with the U.S., specifically the U.S. As America retreated from the Middle East during the Obama years, Russia has moved into the Middle East.
- Russia has serious economic problems and is looking abroad to help build its economy—”the rapacious acquisition of resources from abroad.”
- “Demography is destiny.” For a nation to maintain its population, it must achieve a 2.1 Demography is destiny. Russia’s current rate is 1.77. Japan’s rate is 1.39. Part of Russia’s problem is its pervasive culture of abortion and no safety net. It has Third World demographics with First World great power ambitions. Russia’s Muslim demographics are much better. By 2020, Muslims will constitute 20% of Russia.
For more assessment of Russia and its strategic involvement in the Middle East, watch Mr. Berman’s presentation at the Institute below:
The Westminster Institute offers terrific presentations by public policy professionals twice a month at its offices in McLean, VA. They’re a delight and a must-attend for those seeking greater understanding of the major issues facing America today and tomorrow.
The Mission Statement of the Institute reads:
Promoting individual dignity and freedom for people throughout the world by sponsoring high-quality independent research with a particular focus on the threats from extremism and radical ideologies.
Robert R. Reilly, the Director of the Westminster Institute, served in high level national security-related positions across the U.S. Government for 25 years. He has also authored a number of books, with many focused on the history of Islam and its troubled relationship with the West. His book entitled The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis is an acclaimed classic. You can read a summary of his biography here.
You can find a list of past and future presentations at The Westminster Institute here.