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The Russia connectionRussia’s “malign activity” aims to “degrade our democratic values and weaken our alliances”: Dan Coats

Published 14 June 2018

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, on 8 June 2018, spoke at the Atlantic Council’s Tocqueville Conversation. He emphasized the magnitude of the threats posed by Russia’s broad, sustained, and sophisticated campaign to undermine Western democracies, discredit open societies and liberal norms, weaken the rule of law, and destroy the rule-based international order. Coats noted that it should not be a surprise that Vladimir Putin has launched this attack on Western values ad norms. “President Putin openly acknowledges that his experience in the KGB has established his approach to politics. Perhaps that is why he thrives in an environment of cynicism, lies, and misdirection.”

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, on 8 June 2018, spoke at the Atlantic Council’s Tocqueville Conversation. He emphasized the magnitude of the threats posed by Russia’s broad, sustained, and sophisticated campaign to undermine Western democracies, discredit open societies and liberal norms, weaken the rule of law, and destroy the rule-based international order. Coats noted that it should not be a surprise that Vladimir Putin has launched this attack on Western values ad norms. “President Putin openly acknowledges that his experience in the KGB has established his approach to politics. Perhaps that is why he thrives in an environment of cynicism, lies, and misdirection.”

Here are Coats’s comments in full:

Good evening, and sincere thanks to the Atlantic Council, Le Figaro, and the Tocqueville Foundation for organizing this important conversation about Democracy in the West.

I enjoyed catching up with Atlantic council board member and a long-time friend Ambassador Boyden Gray and the Atlantic Council’s Executive Vice President Damon Wilson just a few minutes ago.

Jeff Gedmin and I were also able to spend a few minutes together – both of us were previously posted in Berlin.

Last but certainly not least I would like to  acknowledge former U.S. Ambassador to France and my close friend Craig Stapleton, who is here tonight.  Craig, a member of the board of directors for the Tocqueville foundation is the reason I am here.

So if you don’t like or agree with my remarks today, you can blame Craig.

There is no better venue to address the issue of democracy in the West than here in Normandy.

Duty prevented me from attending the D-Day ceremony, where Allied forces landed on the nearby beaches to liberate the continent.  It was on this ground, in those uncertain days, where decisive action was required and blood was shed to protect our threatened democracies.

And a century before that, Normandy was home to the famed 19th century French philosopher of democracy in America.

The writings of Alexis De Tocqueville and the on-going work of the Tocqueville foundation has helped generations of Americans better understand the American political experiment.

As a stranger in a strange land, his insights on US society, culture, politics, and institutions still strike contemporary readers as prescient and powerful.