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The Complicated and Dangerous Russia, China, Iran Alliance

August 16, 2023 @ 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

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As geopolitical changes take place across the globe, in great part due to ambiguous and weakened U.S. foreign policy, dangerous alliances are forming that are beginning to upend not just regional balances of power, but America’s superpower status and U.S. national security more generally. Not only are the virulently anti-American Russia, China, and Iran each individually taking advantage of U.S. appeasement, isolationist tendencies, and foreign policy disasters such as the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan and failure to properly prepare for the invasions of Ukraine and coup in Niger, but these totalitarian states are forming political, economic, and military alliances that will pose dangerous challenges to the U.S. if it does not alter course quickly. To put it in pop culture terms, as historian, academic, and Wall Street Journal columnist Walter Russell Mead recently wrote, “Too many Americans still think we are living in Barbie’s world, not Oppenheimer’s.” Join us for a discussion of these complicated foreign policy challenges and dangerous geopolitical alliances with the always brilliant Victoria Coates, Vice President of the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Speaker: Victoria Coates is Vice President of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation. Coates is an academic and policy maker with senior experience across the U.S. government in the Congress, White House, and Department of Energy. She previously served as a Senior Fellow in international relations and national security in Heritage’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, where she focused on the Middle East and North Africa, U.S. energy security and strategy, and countering the threat from the People’s Republic of China.

Coates served as the Director of Research in (former) Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s personal office, joined (then) Governor of Texas Rick Perry’s primary campaign for President in 2011 as a Senior Advisor, and continued as a consultant to Governor Perry on foreign policy until 2013, when she accepted the position of Senior Advisor for National Security in Senator Ted Cruz’s office.

Coates joined (then) President Elect Donald J. Trump’s transition team for the National Security Council staff in 2016, and following the Inauguration, she was appointed to the NSC as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Strategic Communications. Coates subsequently served as Senior Director for International Negotiations and for Middle Eastern Affairs, before being named Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Middle Eastern and North African Affairs in 2019.

After moving to the Middle Eastern Affairs Directorate in 2018, Coates developed the concept of the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), designed to unite Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, and Egypt in security, economic and energy cooperation under U.S. leadership to expand U.S. regional influence and increase burden sharing. She maximized the historic U.S. investment in Israel, collaborating with Congress and the State Department to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and opposing attempts by malign actors to marginalize the Jewish state while working to integrate Israel into the Middle East, which culminated in the Abraham Accords with UAE and Bahrain.

Coates also took the NSC lead on the imposition of unprecedented U.S. economic sanctions on Iran in 2018, working across the U.S. government and with regional partners to ensure the effectiveness of the sanctions, and partnering with Saudi Arabia to ensure increased U.S. and Saudi oil production would replace supply impacted by the sanctions, which successfully mitigated projected spikes in energy markets.

In early 2020, Coates transferred to the Department of Energy to advise Secretary Brouillette on national security issues and act as his personal representative in the Middle East and North Africa. In the course of this work, she promoted the United States as an energy superpower, broadly advocated for U.S. industry as the partner of choice for up and downstream projects Africa during extended travel in Saudi Arabia and UAE, coordinated with Congress and DoE in the aftermath of the energy market crisis in April 2020 to promote stability and recovery, and supported U.S. observer status in the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum.

In addition, Coates prioritized protection of U.S. energy industry security and intellectual property across the Middle East, working with regional partners to establish mechanisms curtailing investment of untrusted vendors, primarily Chinese state-owned entities, that would impact future collaboration with the U.S. Coates also engaged regional partners on critical infrastructure security, encouraging cooperation between Dragos and Saudi Arabia on cyber-security platforms supported by the Department of Energy, and overseeing collaboration between the Idaho National Lab and UAE on cyber-security for the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant.

At the conclusion of the Trump administration, Coates became the Director of Middle Eastern Programs at the Center for Security Policy, then a Distinguished Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council. In the course of this work, Coates has published on a broad range of national security topics in outlets such as Bloomberg, The Daily Mail, The Federalist, FoxNews.com, The Hill, The Jerusalem Post, National Review, The New York Post, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, and The Wall Street Journal. She also appears regularly on the BBC, Fox News, the Fox Business Network, and Newsmax.

Coates is the author and presenter of dozens of publications and conference papers worldwide on the intersections of art and history, including David’s Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art (Encounter Books, 2016) and the forthcoming Seeing the Light: A History of Christianity in Twelve Works of Art (under contract with Encounter Books), which are part of a projected trilogy on the key tenets of Western Civilization: democracy, the Judeo-Christian moral code, and the primacy of the individual.

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August 16, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
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