Kendall O'Donnell and I had the opportunity to speak to Jim Gilmore, former US Ambassador to the OSCE, Governor of Virginia, and Chairman of the Republican National Committee, among other roles.
We spoke on matters international, regional, and domestic, on topics stretching from President Biden's foreign policy, European security and the EU's role in it, and the future of the Republican Party. Ambassador Gilmore's insight on European affairs and the US's head of mission to the OSCE, Europe's intergovernmental security forum, especially on the fault lines within the EU and its different member states as well as the Biden Administration's preparedness to address these international security issues.
On the G7's 'Build Back Better World' (B3W) project, Ambassador Gilmore questioned how substantive the programme was, noting there was 'zero discussion of [B3W] in the United States'. Describing how 'war' in the 21st century had to be 'entire', Ambassador Gilmore highlighted the importance of economic incentives coupled with the correct messaging and communication, as well as cyber protection. Ambassador Gilmore questioned whether the G7's European members 'would even think about' putting up the money to fund such a project – particularly in relation to the EU, whom he described as 'self-centred'.
Biden's relationship with European allies was described as "a lot of public messaging, to be polite, and a lot of talk, to be not so polite". Noting his experiences at the OSCE, he emphasised the cooperative nature between the US and the rest of the European quad. His principal goal, he said, was to 'connect with the European allies more closely'. We thank Ambassador Gilmore for the reaffirmation of his belief in the US-UK Special Relationship.
Ambassador Gilmore praised the EU's diplomatic corps at the OSCE, but questioned their push in terms of social policy, criticising the EU for its focus on 'identity politics', describing it as 'very much part of the construct of the European Union'. On internal divisions within the EU, he recalled a story of a Hungarian diplomat justifying opposition to a French candidate for a post in the OSCE, despite common EU membership, where the diplomat said, "Why would we in Hungary, having escaped from Russian control, now turn around and give ourselves to EU control, when the EU is really a socialist organisation". Gilmore warned the EU, saying that the Eastern European member states do not 'come at it in the same direction' as Brussels leadership, warning the EU of the risk of dissolution in the long run.
On the question as to whether there were too many opinions within the EU to have a cohesive foreign policy – he criticised President Macron, describing him as 'petulant' and his attitudes to meeting with President Putin as being symptomatic of problems of having different foreign policies in the EU. Either the EU 'subsumes' their member states into one European Union – or they respect the different foreign policies of different sovereign states.
We were fortunate to also have Ambassador Gilmore speak on his term as Governor of Virginia and the challenges he saw changing with technology – as the first governor to create a statewide Technology Department, and the way the Republican Party should win the midterm elections in 2022, having presided over one set of midterms at RNC Chairman.