This talk, which comes on the heels of Atlas’s latest book, Restoring Quality Health Care, brings clarity to the increasingly complex topic of US health-care policy in the wake of the Affordable Care Act.
Yuri Yarim-Agaev offers a methodical approach to the topic, explaining key general characteristics common to authoritarian regimes, including intrinsic opposition to US interests. As a result, according to Yarim-Agaev, regime change is the only viable solution to security threats from rogue actors. He argues that Ronald Reagan’s strategy for fostering peaceful change from within was proven effective during the Cold War and is an equally viable strategy for dealing with contemporary authoritarian regimes.
Secretary George Shultz’s work alongside Ronald Reagan in crafting Cold War strategy and negotiating with Soviet leaders adds a valuable firsthand dimension to the discussion. Shultz outlines President Reagan’s diplomatic “playbook”: execute against your word, be realistic, lay a strong hand, and know your agenda, illustrated with personal stories from his experience in executive office. He also applies these lessons to current US relations with Iran and China, demonstrating a troubling deviation of today’s diplomacy from tested strategic principles.
Charles Wolf’s remarks center on fostering reform in China, offering a counterpoint to Yarim-Agaev’s focus on regime change and support for internal dissidents. According to Wolf, several avenues for further democratic evolution, political reform, and marketization exist within the People’s Republic of China’s existing institutional framework. He suggests that stimulating further interaction between professional organizations in the United States and their bureaucratic equivalents in the Chinese Communist Party is the most practical strategy for accelerating such reforms.
Kori Schake introduces economics to the discussion, describing effectively targeted sanctions as one of the most powerful diplomatic tools available to policy makers. She attributes the Reagan administration’s success in Cold War negotiations to pragmatism, including open lines of communication, recognizing opportunities for advancing the US agenda, building partnerships in the international community, and supporting ideological allies within rogue states. She also emphasizes the United States’ soft power as an intellectual influence on the world’s elites as a promising force for change.
According to Michael McFaul, some—but not all—of the lessons from Reagan’s Cold War diplomacy are applicable today, although, even under identical circumstances, the same strategy may not produce the same results. Applying this equivocal perspective to current issues in international relations, McFaul’s remarks give an informative overview of the challenging landscape faced by diplomats and strategists.