How Saudi Arabia is Fueling Russia’s War (with the State Department’s Derek Chollet)

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Saudi Arabia’s push for OPEC+ to cut oil production is fueling Russia’s coffers in its war in Ukraine. Andy talks to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s right hand man, Derek Chollet, about the geopolitical reasons behind that decision and the effect it will have abroad and at home. He explains the delicate diplomacy taking place between America and Saudi Arabia and why Europe’s split from Russian energy will ultimately benefit global democracy.

Keep up with Andy on Twitter @ASlavitt.

Follow Derek Chollet on Twitter @CounselorDOS.

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Andy Slavitt, Derek Chollet

Andy Slavitt  00:18

This is IN THE BUBBLE with Andy Slavitt. Welcome to Monday, Derrick Chollet is on the show today, it is very rare to get a senior official from the State Department to give you 40 minutes to talk about what’s going on in the world. And there’s a lot of important things happening really, right now, most kind of prominently, I think are some of the things that have happened in Saudi Arabia and what they call OPEC+, and what had been a disappointing decision, which has driven up energy prices, and really aided Putin in the war in Ukraine. So I want to get from Derek because he’s a senior counselor to Secretary Anthony Blinken. He’s been described as the man in Lincoln’s ear, I want to I want to get an update on what’s really happening in the war, what our diplomatic efforts are, both with Russia, our support of Ukraine, and with Europe, NATO, and how he sees some of the changes to some of the government’s and some of the political winds, as energy prices, increasingly hurt people impacting support of the war, and really drill into this question of President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia. What happened there, why it ultimately was unsuccessful, we’re going to get to some other critical things that I think will be on your mind if you’re focused on what’s happening in the globe, including what’s happening in Taiwan, and China. What is going on in Iran, as the morality police increasingly are at war, and many, many brave women are standing up to fight. And I think it’s a really insightful conversation when I stepped back from it, around how the US thinks about its role in the world, how it conducts diplomacy, what this administration is, in specific doing, to try to combat some of the threats out there. And honestly, I think it’s a conversation you’re going to be hard pressed to hear in the kind of depth, we’re going to hear it so. So let me bring you Derrick Chollet. And I think you’re going to hear an insider’s conversation about how the State Department is running our foreign policy.

Andy Slavitt  02:49

Derek Chollet, welcome to the bubble.

Derek Chollet  02:51

It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Andy Slavitt  02:53

A lot going on in the world. How you have time to talk to me, I have no idea.

Derek Chollet  02:57

Well, you know, I’m only for the for the esteemed podcast.

Andy Slavitt  03:04

Where should we begin? Should we begin in Ukraine? Why not?

Derek Chollet  03:07

Yeah, sure.

Andy Slavitt  03:08

So look, I think the developments that at least we’re seeing in the newspapers are some success by the Ukrainian army, in the eastern part of Ukraine in the southern part of Ukraine, and a response of escalated strikes from Russia. How are we the us thinking about these latest developments?

Derek Chollet  03:30

Well, I mean, obviously, they’re very concerning, but at the same time, they’re not surprising. I mean, it’s important to note that it’s been eight months since Russia began this unjust, unwise, and unacceptable invasion of Ukraine. And it’s sort of every month every week seems to bring another kind of twist in this in a negative way. From our perspective, I think what’s important to note is our strategy has not changed at all, in terms of our approach, it’s been three prongs to it. One is, of course, to punish and isolate Russia, and an unprecedented number of sanctions have been levied against Russia, by the United States and many, many of our partners around the world, which is doing real damage to the Russian economy. And I think that will just continue to compound the damage over time here in the coming weeks and months. Secondly, to other programs, strategies to support Ukraine, of course, and that has been most prominent through the provision of security assistance to Ukraine. And just last week, we announced another 750 some million dollars of security assistance, which brings the total just since February of this year, so over the last eight months north of $17 billion from the US to Ukraine in security assistance. And just to put that in context, Ukraine’s defense budget its entire defense budget in 2021 was around $6 billion. So we are at about triple on Ukraine’s defense budget in terms of what the US has provided, and what’s important to note is we’re not alone, there’s probably around 50 other countries that have provided some kind of assistance to Ukraine throughout that last eight months, so that assistance to Ukraine is the second prong. And the third prong is to shore up our NATO partners around Ukraine in particular. And we now have more US troops in Europe along the eastern flank and the southern flank of NATO, which are the countries that border Ukraine, more troops there since eight months ago. So more than in quite some time, and have been providing a lot of assistance to those partners as well. So those are the strands of the strategy. And we’re going to keep to that, as long as it takes to help Ukraine defend itself regain its sovereignty and be able to defend its independence.

Andy Slavitt  05:47

It seemed remarkable how quickly, NATO seemed to come together and be unified, and probably more remarkable, given kind of the prior administration. And I’m not aiming to cast aspersions. But their policy approach, or at least from the White House, was to disparage NATO, and question NATO’s relevance, and so on. I’m wondering, from a diplomatic perspective, sort of behind the scenes a little bit, how that came together and what those conversations were like and how hard it was.

Derek Chollet  06:18

Well, right. It’s no secret that the last few years has seen a lot of turbulence in the transatlantic relationship and a lot of questions about US commitment to NATO. And so one of the things that President Biden did, right out of the gate when he became president, and is, of course, something he campaigned on was to revitalize our alliances and partnerships around the world. But first and foremost, in NATO, which is a truly unique alliance. I mean, just for folks listening who aren’t, don’t follow a foreign policy every day. I mean, think about it, NATO is a is an alliance now 30 countries, so the US has 29 partners in NATO, we are all legally obliged, by our laws to defend one another. Now, that’s only been invoked once that mutual self-defense clause where everyone signs up to defend one another that’s only been invoked once in NATO’s history. And that was after 911, for NATO to come to the defense of the United States. So no other country, nor the power, like pure power in any way, a country like China has nothing even close to NATO. There’s no one who’s obliged to come to China’s defense, if it were getting into a conflict. So it’s truly a unique Alliance. And it’s something that we should always work to make stronger. And that’s what President Biden set out to do. Right when he took office more than a year or, you know, around a year before Russia, invaded Ukraine. And I think we reaped the benefits of that hard work to repair and revitalize the Alliance over the course of about a year prior to the invasion when the invasion occurred and NATO responded so robustly. The other thing we did in the lead up to the war, of course, was a release intelligence to our partners and to the world, in fact, in an unprecedented fashion, to try to build the case for what Russia was doing and talk about what we would do in response and the early release of intelligence, it really started almost about exactly a year ago, it was October of last year, we started to pick up indications about what Washington was planning. And we started shortly thereafter to share that with our closest allies and partners, and eventually the entire NATO Alliance, to first try to stop Russia from doing it. I mean, the intent early on was to expose enough of this planning. So we and our partners could go to Moscow and try to talk them out of it and try to prevent this war from happening in the first place. That didn’t work, unfortunately. But that that sharing of intelligence, gave us some time to work with our allies to build a robust response. If Russia took the actions that we feared it would take and which ended up doing on February 24. It also frankly, built up a lot of goodwill. And I have to say I was just in Europe again last week. And I heard once more from foreign ministers of European countries, their genuine appreciation for the degree to which we shared this very sensitive intelligence to them at an early stage, the transparency with which we acted, and they really benefited from that themselves. And frankly, as you know, a lot of countries didn’t believe it, not because they thought we were trying to pull one over on anyone, it would just seem so crazy that Putin would do all of this and so self-defeating in many ways. So the fact that it proved to be accurate, and Putin did what we feared he was doing, that lent us a lot more a lot of credibility and the national system and it’s helped our diplomacy as a result

Andy Slavitt  09:48

And the European countries, look if anything reinforces the purpose of NATO and the benefit of NATO. I think we’re looking at it. And the European countries have been quite strong and unified. Yet, Europe is bearing a different kind of burden from this war than we are in a couple respects. One is Yeah, every time there’s a nuclear scare at every jet, or one of the other facilities, it’s dangerously close to Europe. Yep. And second, of course, is energy. Yeah. and Europe, unlike the US, which is either near or at energy independence, depending on how you want to look at it, is very reliant, and has been very reliant on Russia in the in the pipeline. So how does State Department from a diplomatic perspective, kind of appreciate those challenges, and guide, the Alliance to stay together through what’s going to be a cold winter with high energy costs? And a lot of challenges? And, you know, this goes on for years as a conflict seems possible to do? Yeah. How do you foresee being able to do that?

Derek Chollet  10:56

Well, it’s been something we’ve been really focused on throughout the conflict, because of course, there was, there’s always been a chance that Russia could cut Europe off from energy. Now, of course, Russia needs Europe to be a purchaser of its energy. And because Russia needs the income, but we’ve been focused on how to build greater resilience in European energy markets, from the beginning of the conflict, but particularly starting over the summer, as we were thinking about the winter here. And so when President Biden was in Europe, over the summer, one of the things, new announcements he made, there was an establishment of a task force with the EU, between the US and the European Union to talk about ways that we can help them with their energy resilience, we’ve also been talking to other countries that that are energy providers, to try to redirect some of their resources. And Europe’s going to have a tough winter, no question about it. And, you know, you’re seeing breast reports about European leaders, you know, talking to their citizens about lowering the, you know, their temperature and their thermostats and, you know, conserving energy by keeping the lights off at night, all that sort of stuff, which is really important. But over time, what we’re going to be seeing is, is Russia and Europe split in terms of energy. And I think that’s extremely important and consequential geopolitically, because Russia has used energy as a weapon, in this instance, to try to manipulate European public’s and governments to no pun intended to take the foot off the gas in terms of the pressure that Russia is coming under.

Andy Slavitt  12:28

Does it concern you to the domestic political situation in some of the European nations? You know, we’re seeing signs and in you know, Italy, although the new government isn’t expressly pro Putin, right? We’re seeing right wing and, you know, she formerly was a Putin supporter. Yeah. Are we concerned that this goes on too long? Putin basically uses the pressure in Europe to, you start to see changes in governments. And that could hurt us.

Derek Chollet  12:56

You could I mean, it’s always a possibility. But I have to say thus far I’ve been impressed with Europe’s resilience, and even in the government changes we’ve seen and you mentioned, Italy, those campaigns were not waged on this war, and whether we were we should be doing less in terms of pressuring Russia or supporting Ukraine. And it’s just been striking, actually the public outpouring of support, and which has led to some monumental changes in policies in some European countries in terms of their approach to foreign policy and security issues. I mean, you look at Germany, for example, a country that 30 years ago, we had still not deployed troops outside of Germany, since the end of World War Two, for good reason. Now being a net exporter of security assistance, providing Ukraine sophisticated air defense, just most recently, and spending a lot more money on their defense budget as a result of this war. And it’s been a sea change. And that’s something we’re frankly, public opinion, was really leading this, this was, I mean, it was leaders that took the decision. But they were, I think, reflecting a view that was clear made by their publics and that’s a direct result of Putin’s choices.

Andy Slavitt  14:13

Okay, let’s take a quick break. We’re gonna come back and talk to Derek about how oil production cuts from OPEC are affecting the war in Ukraine, what kind of dialogue we have ongoing with Saudi Arabia. You mentioned one of the approaches that we’ve keyed on is trying to bring to bear the support of other countries not just in NATO, but around the world and makes me want to ask you about Saudi Arabia because of The recent trip that the President made there, and the recent announcement by OPEC, that they’re going to cut production. Clearly one of the things that we hope to do, not only to relieve gas prices at home, I think people might point to that first and say, Well, this is political. But I also look at it through a different lens, which is helping provide relief to Europe by lowering energy costs and give you more energy. That was unsuccessful, at least so far. Yeah. I’m just curious what you can tell us about those conversations with the Saudis. And how surprised are we that they turned out to do what they did?

Derek Chollet  15:40

Yeah. Well, first, let me take a step back in the 75 years or so of us Saudi relations. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, right. We had oil crisis in the 1970s. We came to Saudi Arabia’s defense in the early 1990s. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, and threatened Saudi Arabia. We obviously had the post 9/11 period, which was quite difficult in our relationship. And we’ve your President Biden, Secretary Blinken, my boss, Secretary State, live experience with the kingdom. We came into office, of course, it had been another turbulent period in the relationship, and particularly after the murder of Khashoggi, the journalist, The Washington Post journalist, the brutal murder in the Saudi consulate in, in Turkey, in Istanbul. And we made a decision early on that we wanted to recalibrate the relationship. So it didn’t mean completely discard the relationship. Saudi Arabia’s too important. We have too many shared strategic interests. But at the same time, we felt that the relationship needed to be recalibrated. We did some things early on, that made the Saudis unhappy. We cut off offensive weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, mainly because of our concerns about the war in Yemen. We also released some intelligence about what everything we knew about the Khashoggi murder and culpability behind that murder, which, which rested inside the kingdom and inside the palace of the Crown Prince. So but we wanted to work our way through that relationship. And of course, Saudi Arabia has been an important partner in trying to bring about peace in Yemen. And we’ve had a couple truces in that in that war, which is absolutely critical. And we’re working on extending the truce right now, as we speak. Our conversations with them, really leading up to the President’s visit to Jeddah over the summer. And then since I’ve been quite intense about the energy and about oil markets and the oil supply, we had intensive conversations in the weeks leading up to this decision by the so called OPEC+, to reduce the amount of oil that they were putting on the market, deeply disappointed in the decision that they made person was very clear about that the entire administration has been the president is intent on  reevaluating the relationship. I don’t want to say sitting here today how that’s going to end up because part of what he wants to do is consult with Republicans, Democrats, members of Congress, it’s been a bipartisan foundation of the relationship with Saudi Arabia over the last seven decades. We need to have a bipartisan way forward. So that’s a process that’s ongoing and in the near future, you know, he’ll be able to speak to that.

Derek Chollet  15:51

What do we think is driving the Saudis decision? I mean, they’re claiming it says nothing political, it’s all economic. I have a hard time with that less of an expert than you and people in your circle. But, you know, clearly they knew they were sending a tough message to the US, and not for nothing supporting this really heinous war that the Russians were waging against Ukraine. It’s a big victory for Putin a big blow they were trying to strike to us. How do you interpret it? Are they trying to send us a message? Is there a chance that to come back from that message? Where do you see that?

Derek Chollet  18:59

I, you know, I don’t, I can’t really speculate. I mean, I know that there are they were making arguments to us about the necessity of doing this for economic reasons. We respectfully disagree with some of that analysis and made our case that was not convincing to them. I think the reality is, whatever their motives and whatever they were trying to do this, this is perceived correctly as something that is only helping Vladimir Putin. It’s something that not just we, the United States are unhappy about. Many other countries around the world are unhappy about it as well. And they’re there. They’re making those views clear to the Saudis. So that’s the reality and we think it’s a it was a bad decision on the merits in terms of the economic realities and oil markets. It was a bad decision because of what it does to help Russia in this in fuel Russia’s coffers in this terrible conflict.

Andy Slavitt  19:51

How critical is breaking the long jab with OPEC and Saudi Arabia to our efforts, it’s something we’re still working on. or are there other options? And you made the comment, which I think implicitly, we all understand about how OPEC decision helps Putin in the war effort. But I wonder if you could spell it out just for listeners who want me be explicit about that link?

Derek Chollet  20:17

Sure. I mean, they’re all real simply, Putin, his main source of income is the sale of energy. Right. It’s some things John McCain used to say, you know, Russia is essentially a gas station with nuclear weapons. And energy prices, as we all know, and we’ve all been feeling at the pump have been high. Thankfully, for the last several months, they were on a downward trajectory, here in the United States and in many parts of the world. But by the decision of OPEC, plus to reduce the supply of oil that it was putting on the market meant that oil prices are gonna go up. And that means the higher oil prices go, the more profit Vladimir Putin gains to fuel is his war effort. And so that’s, that’s a problem for us. It’s a problem because we don’t want our oil prices to go up for ourselves and for our own economy. And our for our friends and partners feel the same way. We also don’t want Russia to gain any more from its sale of energy. Now, again, I think over time, we’re going back I was saying earlier, we are seeing some of Russia’s major clients, it’s those that buy Russian energy, the importers of Russian energy, wean themselves off Russia as a main supplier of energy, we the United States don’t get much of our energy at all from Russia. So it’s not been as big of a deal for us other than the overall price of energy, generally. But Russia is going to be finding fewer buyers of its energy, which means that its own economy is going to suffer more. I think that is going that’s a, as I said, a massive strategic shift that we’ll be seeing in the coming years, there’s going to be challenges for Europe as it makes this energy transition. But once they make it, it’s going to be have profound effects for Russia and for Europe.

Andy Slavitt  21:59

Yeah, I don’t know enough to know how long it takes to bring new supply on.

Derek Chollet  22:04

But they’ve made they’ve basically bye bye for Europe building up their stocks this year, and getting some new suppliers. I mean, they can ours assessment is they can manage the winter, it’s going to be a tough winter, but they can manage this winter, they may get helped by a warm weather. But for Russia to the it’s going to be take them a while to build alternatives to Europe, because they just don’t have the pipes. If you were to just go on Google and search, you know, pipelines coming out of Russia, you’re gonna see a pretty thick network of pipelines coming out of Russia, going from doing westward to Europe, almost nothing going the other direction. So the idea that China can come online quickly to be a big buyer purchaser of Russian energy, it’s not going to happen. They set up the pipes to get it there.

Andy Slavitt  22:48

Okay, let’s pause here. Let’s take one more quick break. And then we’re going to head over to talk about China, Taiwan, Iran, and some other critical things going on in the world. Let’s move to different parts of the world and talk about the Far East. Yeah. So Secretary Blinken, I think put us on notice that China was hastening its interest in recapturing Taiwan. Yeah, by unifying my time, whatever  […] and by diplomatic means or by force, if necessary. And President Biden has made a kind of it’s somewhat of a departure from prior statements made it clear that the policy would be to defend Taiwan, if that were to happen. I’m particularly interested, I’m going to be in Taiwan, where you are with Tom Dashiell and Tom Perez in a couple of weeks

Derek Chollet  24:00

Oh, great. Great, you will enjoy it. I’m looking forward to it’s great place. Great, great place to visit. And it’s just as I understand, it’s just really, truly opening up now with post COVID here. So that’s great you’re getting there.

Andy Slavitt  24:11

Yeah, I’m excited about that. But so what I’m particularly interested in this question, what is happening there? What’s behind the secretary statement?

Derek Chollet  24:18

Sure. Republican and Democratic administrations going back to since the early 1980s, have managed this very complex relationship with Taiwan and visa vie China. The bipartisan position of the United States for many years now has been that we believe that China and Taiwan must resolve their differences peacefully, full stop. We have a relationship with Taiwan that is very strong. It’s governed by something called the Taiwan Relations Act, which was passed in 1979. It’s an act actually Joe Biden voted for as a senator, which talks about our commitment to help Taiwan provide for its defense. but it’s the PRC that is the People’s Republic of China, that is actually trying to change the status quo by saying that people like the Speaker of the House, should not be able to visit Taiwan, that countries around the world should not have relationships with Taiwan, Taiwan is a vibrant democracy, you’re gonna see that in a couple of weeks when you visit there. It’s got a rich and very diverse civil society. It is a critical, critical, I’d say perhaps maybe the critical place where semiconductors are manufactured for the world. And so a crisis in Taiwan or a conflict, God forbid, between China and Taiwan would be devastating to the global economy, because of all of our reliance on Taiwan for semiconductors. Also, the Taiwan Straits, the water between China, mainland China, and Taiwan is a critical a waterway for global commerce. So this is not just something that the United States is worried about Taiwan because of our relationship with the Democratic Taiwan, but it’s also the world, our regional partners, but all of us have a stake in a peaceful resolution of any differences between China in Taiwan.

Andy Slavitt  26:13

So with the US defend Taiwan if attacked.

Derek Chollet  26:17

So our relationship is governed by something called the Taiwan Relations Act, which is about our willingness and ability to provide Taiwan defensive assistance. President spoken to this and I want to add anything what he said, but our policy that’s gone back, is when I say our policy, the United States policy, which is going back now, nearly 40 years has not changed at all.

Andy Slavitt  26:43

The in some circles, the strategy, if you will, that I’ve heard referenced for our approach to the situation has been what I’ve heard as the porcupine strategy. Do you want to explain what that is? And if it did, that’s an accurate depiction?

Derek Chollet  27:00

Yeah. I mean, it’s sort of that shorthand for saying, you know, it’s a defense. When we think of a porcupine, the way defends itself as if it comes under attack at hunkers down. And it’s got some pretty sharp quills, which can do some damage to the attacker. We’ve been providing Taiwan with defensive assistance going back 40 years and the Biden administration has made further decisions about the kind of assistance we’re providing Taiwan, we’re transparent about that. It’s something we do in cooperation, obviously, we have to do with the Congress, as well. And we believe it’s important for Taiwan to build its resilience. It’s interesting, you think of the Ukraine conflict. And one of the things that I think has surprised inspired the world has been Ukraine’s resilience and the willingness of the Ukrainian people to step up and defend their country. And Taiwan is a country, it’s a society that, again, it’s democratic, it is vibrant, it’s got a thriving economy, and the Taiwanese have every right to defend themselves. That said, our goal is to have any differences between China and Taiwan to be resolved peacefully. And that’s the spirit with which we conduct our relationship with Taiwan and how we talk to the Chinese about this.

Andy Slavitt  28:15

You know, it’s just interesting when I when I look around the globe and sort of summarize kind of where we’ve been since we moved out of the Cold War. There have been periods of time when we look like democracies were on the rise in the Middle East and others. Yeah. The period we’re going through now, it’s sort of hard to characterize as we’re going through it till we get past it. Certainly, you know, the rise in, you know, in Hungary, you know, Brazil,

Derek Chollet  28:44

Illiberal democracy is sometimes what they call it.

Andy Slavitt  28:49

A massive refugee crisis. Yeah. And a probably coming refugee crisis from climate Yeah. That we’re faced. And, you know, Taiwan and Ukraine, you could conceivably be in situations both where we’ve lost or are at risk of losing two major democracies, or at least are under attack, and further shifts in places like Italy and Sweden and potentially France. Like, I can’t ask you if this democracy is losing as a concept around the world, because I know, you’re gonna say no, or you hope not. But this this situation is, is it feeling like it’s trending against, in many respects, where we hope and I think, look, I mentioned refugees as a part of this, but it’s also a cause some of the immigration reaction, immigration and economic strife, inflation, energy, all those things tend to make people, well, historically, they’ve often tended to make people favorite kind of strong person, strongman approaches and things like that.

Derek Chollet  29:51

Yeah. Look, no question. Democracy is under tremendous pressure at home and abroad. I mean, we’re having Congress stations here in the United States about the health of our own democracy in ways that certainly you and I have not experienced in our lifetimes up to this point. But that said, you know, in the 1960s, there was a pretty, pretty vibrant discussion here about the future of our democracy. Certainly in the 1920s, there was in the 1860s, there was in the founding era, there was so I tried to put give a little bit historical perspective to myself and writing that there has been, you know, periods of this kind of questioning and pressure before and as we’re adapting to new technologies to the new media landscape to the changes in our economy and what that means for our fellow citizens. Yeah, there’s a lot of challenges to democracy, and that we’re not alone. I mean, I was just in London, 10 days ago, and the UK is has been having a quite dramatic few months in terms of their own democracy and their own governance. You mentioned Italy, almost any major democracy now. I mean, Israel’s on its what, six election in the last, you know, four years or something. So there’s a lot of pressure on democracy. That’s why we the Biden administration, President Biden have made the strengthening of democracy at home and abroad, one of the core goals of the administration. We think there’s a linkage between the two. I mean, I think one of the things President Biden did last year was create this summit for democracies. It wasn’t a summit of democracies; it was summit for democracy. And so it’s to bring countries together, to share perspectives, and try to find a common way forward when we’re trying to defend and strengthen and make healthier our democracies. And so, yeah, it’s a huge challenge. But, you know, what’s interesting is that, I think, from where we sit here, the State Department and Secretary Blinken has said this before, as well that, you know, given our own challenges that we’re facing, which are open for all to see in terms of some of the debates we’re having about our democracy and the way forward here, and of course, we’re coming up on a critical election, right, where we’re, we’re having conversations about the integrity of voting systems, and, you know, all that, that, rather than sort of make us less confident, and less willing to talk about these issues with our foreign counterparts, it’s actually get kind of given us a juice of confidence and willingness to talk about these issues, because we can talk about them from some experience, some heart experience, but also a degree of humility. And, and, and from the perspective of we, we all had faced some challenges. And so when we offer our advisory raise questions about what’s going on in other countries in terms of their human rights or rule of law or Democrat, for the state of their democracy that we’re doing from position of, we’re not perfect, we’ve got our own issues. But what we try to do is work through those issues openly, transparently. And we always try to make ourselves better. I mean, right, our founding documents talk about the goal of creating a more perfect union. And that’s a kind of never ending project that that we have been on now for a couple 100 years. Yeah. And so that that is a link to our foreign policy. And I think actually, that’s an odd way, and they sound to people’s ears enhanced our foreign policy.

Andy Slavitt  33:24

Yeah, no, it’s interesting. I think all the things we talked about on this conversation, make it hard because I It feels hard to talk to people about democracy, which feels more theoretical. When food and energy prices are rising at refugee crisis. Those are the important things of your on your job. I’m gonna let you get back to it because you’ve been so kind to give us time. I’m wondering though, maybe if I can ask you to close I just one other topic, which I think is of interest and we’re still seeing play out. And that’s what’s happening in Iran. And what’s happening with women. In the in Iran, and the amazing, amazing bravery that we’re seeing, and then the unfortunate crackdowns and how you interpret what that saying about the future of Iran.

Derek Chollet  34:10

Well, what we’re seeing is incredible, incredible resilience and courage of the Iranian people, and particularly Iranian women in getting out on the streets putting themselves their lives at risk, coming under the harsh and strong thumb of the Iranian security services and the so called morality police. We’re doing what we can to support the Iranian people in their effort to express their rights and their basic freedoms. We’ve lifted some sanctions against the so called morality police in Iran, and we’re looking to take steps to help and we are taking steps to help these Iranian dissidents, protesters be able to communicate with one another. I mean, the brutality we’re seeing there, it’s horrific to see. But the bravery and the resilience of the Iranian people is truly inspiring and it’s a reminder dirt all of us about what a rich society Iranian society is and, and the brutality of the regime that unfortunately, they live under.

Andy Slavitt  35:10

Derek Chollet, thank you so much for making time talking about what’s going on in the globe.

Derek Chollet  35:15

Thank you so much.

Andy Slavitt  35:30

Wednesday, Cody Keenan, from the Obama White House will be here. Looking forward to that. Friday, we’re going to talk about the ballot initiatives on abortion and reproductive rights that are on the ballot in many states. The impact that’s having Robert Draper next week is coming on the show to talk about what it felt like to be inside the Capitol on January 6th, and then more episodes ahead leading up to the election the following week. Thanks for listening in. And let’s have a great week.

CREDITS  36:09

Thanks for listening to IN THE BUBBLE. We’re a production of Lemonada Media. Kathryn Barnes, Jackie Harris and Kyle Shiely produced our show, and they’re great. Our mix is by Noah Smith and James Barber, and they’re great, too. Steve Nelson is the vice president of the weekly content, and he’s okay, too. And of course, the ultimate bosses, Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs, they executive produced the show, we love them dearly. Our theme was composed by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill, with additional music by Ivan Kuraev. You can find out more about our show on social media at @LemonadaMedia where you’ll also get the transcript of the show. And you can find me at @ASlavitt on Twitter. If you like what you heard today, why don’t you tell your friends to listen as well, and get them to write a review. Thanks so much, talk to you next time.

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