WASHINGTON, D.C. – In yesterday’s House Armed Services Committee Hearing, Rep. Gallagher pressed Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Sasha Baker, on the concept of integrated deterrence after she claimed that the approach is working in Ukraine.
In part, Rep. Gallagher said, “What you’re effectively saying, is your entire theory of deterrence requires a country get invaded and pillaged in order to galvanize the West into action.”
Watch the exchange here, or read the full exchange below.
Rep. Gallagher: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ms. Baker, your testimony references the emerging concept of integrated deterrence multiple times. You said the Department will continue to lean forward in strengthening multilateral security cooperation in order to strengthen integrated deterrence and to address threats, particularly those emanating from Iran. Later on, you say integrated deterrence means creating advantages for ourselves, our partners, and our allies, while creating dilemmas for our competitors. I’d like to talk a little bit about the dilemmas you envision under integrated deterrence. I know this is a CENTCOM hearing, but I wanted to ask quickly about Russia. Your portfolio is obviously very vast. Would it be a fair characterization of the administration’s policy, [to say] that sanctions are designed to deny the Russian government resources they would otherwise have available in order to punish their behavior?
Sasha Baker: Congressman, I would say that the sanctions that the U.S. led, and that are not only U.S. owned, but multinational at this point, are designed to impose consequences on Russia for its illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Rep. Gallagher: So that’s a yes, to punish their behavior. And by punishing Russian behavior, we are creating dilemmas, as you put it, or at least costs for the Russians, cost impositions.
Sasha Baker: Yes, Congressman.
Rep. Gallagher: So under the same logic, if another actor, say China, provided the Russian government with funding to help them evade sanctions, that would create an advantage for Russia, in the sense that it would mitigate some of the costs we impose via sanctions, right?
Sasha Baker: Congressman, yes, and we’re having a conversation with China about our concerns in that regard.
Rep. Gallagher: I think this is a very important point, not only as we evaluate whether China increases its support to Russia. But to be clear, if our adversaries have access to more resources, that creates an advantage for them. And if our adversaries have more resources and are more capable, that creates dilemmas for ourselves and for our allies. I bring this all up because I think it’s a self evident point that’s getting lost in the shuffle–that policies that give our enemies more resources, give them an advantage. And by the administration’s own admission, undermine its vision, such as it exists, of integrated deterrence.
And I bring this up because we may be days away, according to some reports, from signing a deal with Iran. Which will, in any scenario, provide a massive windfall to the tune of billions of dollars to the world’s primary state sponsor of terrorism. And everything else aside, indications are that this deal will provide unprecedented sanctions relief, well outside the scope of its nuclear program, to the Iranian government, including from terrorism related sanctions. I don’t think you have to be an opponent of the original JCPOA to understand that this makes no sense.
Just take the administration’s own words at face value. Their strategy calls for creating advantages for our allies and dilemmas for our adversaries. But this deal, by providing massive resources to our primary adversary in the Middle East, will create dilemmas for us and provide advantages to our foremost enemy. And just a quick question on that point, to your knowledge, is the Central Bank of Iran still financing terrorism?
Sasha Baker: Congressman, that’s a question I’d have to defer to Treasury and others.
Rep. Gallagher: Okay. I’ve asked this question…to the CIA director. It’s a matter of public record. It doesn’t take arcane or exquisite intelligence to know the answer. I believe that the National Defense Strategy (NDS) is now being delayed because of the crisis in Ukraine. Is that correct?
Sasha Baker: Congressman, I wouldn’t say it’s being delayed because of the crisis in Ukraine. it is in final coordination, and we hope to have it to you soon.
Rep. Gallagher: Okay. Are you rethinking any of the assumptions underlying the NDS as a result of Ukraine? Or do you see it as a validation of integrated deterrence?
Sasha Baker: Congressman, we believe that the strategy, in fact, took into consideration some of the behavior that we’ve now seen Russia exhibit, and that it’s resilient to what we’re seeing from the Russians at this time.
Rep. Gallagher: So do you believe integrated deterrence succeeded in the case of Russia, Ukraine?
Sasha Baker: I think what you’re seeing right now is integrated deterrence in action, bringing together the sanctions, the allies and partners.
Rep. Gallagher: What you’re effectively saying is your entire theory of deterrence requires a country get invaded and pillaged in order to galvanize the West into action, and I just don’t want to put our eggs in that basket. I’m out of time.
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