Democracy IRL

Homelands: A Conversation with Timothy Garton Ash

October 09, 2023 Timothy Garton Ash Season 3 Episode 1
Homelands: A Conversation with Timothy Garton Ash
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Democracy IRL
Homelands: A Conversation with Timothy Garton Ash
Oct 09, 2023 Season 3 Episode 1
Timothy Garton Ash

Historian and author Timothy Garton Ash joins Francis Fukuyama to talk about his new book, "Homelands:  A Personal History of Europe," covering a period from 1945 to the present. Bookended by World War II and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ash discusses the efforts made by Europeans to contain the demons of the early 20th century and measures the degree of success they have had.

Timothy Garton Ash is the author of eleven books of political writing or ‘history of the present’ which have charted the transformation of Europe over the last half-century. He is Professor of European Studies at the University of Oxford, Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He writes a column on international affairs in the Guardian, which is widely syndicated.

His latest book, Homelands: A Personal History of Europe, was published in English in Spring 2023 and has appeared or will soon be appearing in at least nineteen other languages. For full details, visit his website.

Democracy IRL is produced by the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL), part of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) at Stanford University.

To learn more, visit our
website or follow us on social media.

Show Notes Transcript

Historian and author Timothy Garton Ash joins Francis Fukuyama to talk about his new book, "Homelands:  A Personal History of Europe," covering a period from 1945 to the present. Bookended by World War II and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ash discusses the efforts made by Europeans to contain the demons of the early 20th century and measures the degree of success they have had.

Timothy Garton Ash is the author of eleven books of political writing or ‘history of the present’ which have charted the transformation of Europe over the last half-century. He is Professor of European Studies at the University of Oxford, Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He writes a column on international affairs in the Guardian, which is widely syndicated.

His latest book, Homelands: A Personal History of Europe, was published in English in Spring 2023 and has appeared or will soon be appearing in at least nineteen other languages. For full details, visit his website.

Democracy IRL is produced by the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL), part of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) at Stanford University.

To learn more, visit our
website or follow us on social media.

[00:10] Francis Fukuyama: You're listening to Democracy IRL from the center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. We bring together thought leaders and academics for conversations on the most pressing issues facing democracy and development today. I'm your host, Francis Fukuyama. So today I'm really happy to be talking to Timothy Garten Ash, who has written a new book just published in North America called Homelands. It's really a history of Europe interspersed with a personal history. So, Tim, welcome. It's great to see you again. You're a regular visitor to Stanford. Every summer you spend time at the Hoover Institution. So it's been great to see you these past few weeks. So this book is really a fascinating both history, political history and a personal account of Europe over the period really beginning in 1945, which was obviously a huge juncture up through the present, where we are now two years into a war. That Russia, the full scale invasion that Russia launched on February 24, 2022. And as you describe it, there have been some incredible ups and downs in that period, periods of complete depravity and then periods of great hope. And now we seem to be back in the depravity side. But I wanted to actually ask you, one of the things I found really fascinating is the way you begin the book with the story about your father. So it seems to me like you personally are one of the most perfectly positioned people to actually observe Europe in this entire period. And you begin the book with a story about your father. But maybe you could tell us a little bit about him and what his experience tells you about Europe at that particular juncture.

[02:32] Timothy Garten Ash: Well, thanks, Frank. I mean, listen, any account of today's Europe has to start in 1945 in hell the hell that Europe was at that time. And my problem in writing a personal history of Europe was that I was minus ten years old in 1945. So how was I going to get back to that? Fortunately, my father landed with the first wave on DDay, the DDay landings on the Normandy beaches. That's absolutely 1944.

[03:08] Francis Fukuyama: That he was actually there.

[03:10] Timothy Garten Ash: Literally the first wave, 730 in the morning. I have the absolute detail. And in the book I go back to the very place he landed, a little village called Version. And then he fought all the way through Belgium, Netherlands, northern Germany, and in 1945, his gun troop occupied a little village in North Germany called Zwesten, which means west, symbolically. And I thought to myself, this is how I get back to 1945, through his experience, because obviously he talked about it a certain amount. And then I thought, maybe there's somebody in this little village who remembers something. So I wrote to them and a few months later there were twelve old men and women sitting round a table in this little village in northern Germany, and they remembered everything. And a little more. He came at 430 in the afternoon, the Englishman, the Tommy. And they remembered and they remembered the liberation through the British, but they also remembered the slave laborers from Eastern Europe because there was a weapons factory just nearby, actually a chemical weapons factory. So there were a lot of slave laborers from all over Europe there. They remembered the refugees who'd escaped from what is now Poland, from Silesia. Actually, one or two of the people still were refugees, the people who'd escaped the bombing of had. And nearby was Berg and Balsi. So out of this one tiny village and by the way, I discovered this village because I had three photographs of my father and his friends playing cricket in June 1945 in this village, this one little vignette, I opened up the whole experience of Europe in 1945, all Europe. And of course, as you very well know, the first commandment of Europe ever since has been never again, never again to descent to that hell of war and genocide. So then it happens again in former Yugoslavia and Europe again says never again. And then on the 24 February 2022, it happens on again on a scale not seen since 1945. So in a way that I totally didn't anticipate when I started writing this book about five years ago, the story is bookended by the end of a large war in Europe in 1945 and the beginning of the largest war in Europe since 1945.

[06:08] Francis Fukuyama: One of the things that's remarkable about the 1945 account is just remind, I think, that when most Americans and Europeans think about Europe prior to the Russian invasion, it's a very peaceful and actually so peaceful that it's a boring place. The European Union is not something that excites a lot of great achievement. Yeah, great achievement. But you remind people of just what a horrible place Europe was at the beginning of this period. That Europe was the place that produced unprecedented levels of human suffering and savagery of a sort that is scarcely imaginable today.

[06:50] Timothy Garten Ash: Absolutely. So we always love to talk about European civilization. We're more reluctant to talk about European barbarism, but what we had was European barbarism, and it was barbarism done by Europeans to other Europeans. And in Europe's name, interestingly enough, I always like the title of Mark Mazoa's book about Europe in the 20th century Dark Continent. So he takes the title that 19th century Europeans applied to Africa and applies it to Europe itself. And then people talked about Year Zero in 1945, where you start from scratch. And one thing I say in the book is that in Europe, zero is a recurring number. Because actually for East Europeans, I've never forgotten walking up a street in East Berlin and the day after the Berlin war came down and meeting a young, very excited East German who told me he'd just seen a handwritten poster which said, only today is the war really over. And there's a deep sense in which that is true. Only in 1989 was the war over for everyone living behind the iron canton. But then, of course, we almost immediately plunge into the wars in former Yugoslavia and then you have another year zero and now year zero for Ukraine will be, who knows, 2024-2526.

[08:16] Francis Fukuyama: So I guess the question is, is there an underlying reality? I mean, is Europe somehow faded to be this place of barbarism such that that period between 1945 and 2022 was just a passing lucky period? Or is it the conflict that's the anomaly? Or is it simply impossible to say?

[08:44] Timothy Garten Ash: What an interesting question, Frank. I mean, in a way the most anomalous period is surely what I call the post wall period. So Tony Jutt famously wrote about the post war period. I say there's a post wall period which goes from the fall of the Berlin Wall on the 9 November 1989 to the 24 February 2022 in which Europeans, despite the wars informing Gustavia, succumbed to the illusion that we were well on our way to Emmanuel Kant's perpetual peace. And that, I think, does look anomalous. My argument is that the strongest case for European Union, for all the structures of international cooperation we have on the continent of Europe. I mean, also NATO, also the Council of Europe, also the OSCE. Often forgotten is not a Panglossian optimism but a constructive pessimism. It's an understanding that Europe is always ready to go back to its bad old ways at the drop of a hat. And therefore we need all these structures of envoyage of permanent conflict regulation and cooperation, not because we're with these wonderful idealized, enlightenment, rational human beings, but because otherwise we're going to fall back into our bad old ways.

[10:16] Francis Fukuyama: So I wonder whether that's really the mean you can make the argument that one of the really disappointing things about the last couple of years is this revelation that the Russians in many ways are really not different. I remember at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, my colleague at SEIS, Mike Mandelbaum, said, well, it turns out we were wrong, that the inhabitants of the Soviet Union were really much more European than we realized. And you could take that in a couple of different ways. Yeah, they're really as barbarous as, you know, for him. European, I think, signified the transition that the Germans had gone through because there really was something about Germany, the Prussian heritage, the militarism that was the driver of the two world wars. But there had been this kind of miraculous transformation in the German psyche that we wanted to use these structures to turn them into pacifists and we actually succeeded, or we meaning the allies that won the war. And it was a little bit hard to see Germany reverting to the pre war society that it was. Russia, on the other know, was a somewhat different place where what happened in the you know, in retrospect really does look like an anomaly that there are big continuities between their sense of national know, going all the way back to Tsaris times. That really hasn't changed. But in other parts of Europe, there did seem to be a transformation. You think that that's just, again, all contingent and everybody can there are really no breaks on behavior.

[12:11] Timothy Garten Ash: Well, I mean, the first thing to say is that let's get our anthropology right. And I think the accurate anthropology is that human beings can be lower than the apes or higher than the angels. I mean, the fundamental flaw of communism was that its anthropology was wrong. And so I think that's true whether we're Europeans, Russians, Chinese, Indians, Japanese or whatever. So I don't think it's peculiar to Europe. What I think is peculiar to Europe is that we have tried very hard, very systematically, very consciously, to learn from our own bad history and that we have a prescriptive notion of Europe, right? So that there's nothing comparable in Asia or Africa. There isn't a notion of, as it were, the prescriptive Asia, which is to be contrasted with the descriptive or historical Asia there's, the prescriptive Africa. But we have a very strong normative idea of the Europe to which we are aspiring, which, by the way, leads people into error because it leads them to say that this or that, that was not European. Adolf Hitler wasn't European. Of course they were European. Empirically descriptive, but not prescriptively. So I think there is a very strong investment in a changed and more mature political culture which is not unbreakable, because I'm absolutely persuaded, given sufficient stresses. I mean, look at the radical nationalist populism, xenophobic nationalist populism, which swept through Europe after the refugee crisis of 2015, which I write about in the book. Just 2 million people, a tiny proportion coming into the continent, max 2 million in a couple of years. And the way it fed the AfD in Germany or Marine Le Pen so that I think we are still capable of going back. But I think the constraints upon that in our shared political culture this is why Brexit rarely stands out across an incredible but painful experience for me as an English European. Because what you do find in the rest of Europe is for all our differences, for all, we don't necessarily get along with our neighbours or other European nations, in fact, maybe ate their guts. There is this fundamental commitment to trying to stick together and make a better Europe. And that seems to me is one of the unique features of Europe.

[15:01] Francis Fukuyama: Yeah. And I guess the question is whether that's institutional or.

[15:09] Timothy Garten Ash: I mean, institutions institute norms, institutions cultivate what Andrew Schoenfield called the habits of cooperation. And I think in the European case, and after all, the European Union, founded in 1957, is now older than many of the states in Europe. I mean, it's quite an old political community and I think those habits of cooperation have been reinforced and in a sense instantiated in the institutions. So we really do have a habit of making George Or rather than war and I would submit subject to correction by you that is I think it's unique on the political map of the world at the know.

[15:58] Francis Fukuyama: The one thing that makes me believe that the underlying bad anthropology is a kind of universal problem is really what's happened in the US. In the last few years, because for many years I believe that American democracy could make mistakes in the short run. But basically, American voters were very much committed to a certain constitutional moderate, liberal order. And I think what we've seen in the last few years is that that's really not necessarily true and that people are willing to cast that constitution aside under the right kinds of stresses. And that's been very disheartening to think that that's not so deeply embedded after all in the US.

[16:47] Timothy Garten Ash: And this is such an interesting point and that bad politics can corrupt a culture just as good politics can change the culture. Because after all, what you have in the stories of former authoritarian European countries germany itself, Italy, Spain, much of Eastern Europe is how good politics can actually transform the culture. But bad politics I would have also to say because of course the United States is a very important part of this book necessarily. I actually quote Bill Clinton when he received the Charlemagne Prize saying since Europe is as much an idea as a place, the United States too is in a sense part of Europe. And of course the influence of the US on the European project has simply been immense. So that I think for many Europeans this has been a really shocking experience. When I started coming regularly to Stanford 1999, for many of us American politics and society was still somehow a model, right? I mean, like over there in Hoover there's a poster from the Polish semi free election on the 4 June 1989. What does it show? Gary Cooper in High Noon with a solidarnosh badge and all it says is High Noon the 4 June. So we had this really positive image of American politics and society. I think you'd have to go a long way to find a European now who thought that either American politics or American society with the inequality, the poverty, the gun violence particularly is any kind of a model. American business maybe. American tech maybe aspects of American culture, maybe. American universities certainly, but not American politics and society.

[18:46] Francis Fukuyama: Yeah. Now maybe we can talk a little bit more, bring the discussion closer to the present about the unraveling because in the last part of the book you talk about this period of polycrisis where Europe is hit by a lot of these exogenous shocks. Sometimes they're endogenous. But we want to trace the sources of this unraveling of the kind of peaceful Europe that managed to get through the oil crisis and all of the different things that had happened prior to the second, especially the second decade of the 21st century. So maybe you could recount a little bit of why you think that formula that had seemed to be so stable began to unravel.

[19:33] Timothy Garten Ash: Yeah, so, I mean, just to give the, as it were, the periodization which I think is important to understand, when I started traveling to Europe as a very young man in the early 1970s, most Europeans were still living under dictatorships. We did the figures for the book 389,000,000 Europeans living under dictatorships, 289,000,000 in democracies Spain, Portugal, Greece, still dictatorships. And starting in the 1974. Essentially you have this ascending upward curve of the spread of freedom, the spread of democracy. Southern Europe east Central Europe southeastern Europe the Baltic States to Ukraine this is the third wave, third wave, fourth wave in that. But I mean, in the specific European story, it is actually a pretty much continuous upward curve. And of course, an unprecedented enlargement of the geopolitical West, EU and NATO. I mean, Estonia, a state that did not exist on the political map of Europe in 1989, now a prosperous liberal democracy in the EU and NATO. Extraordinary. And then in my book, both literally and metaphorically, the turning point is 2008. So remember, 2007 is the last big enlargement of the EU, and everything still seems to be going quite well. Euro seems to be going quite well. 2008, the combination of the global financial crisis and Putin, Caesar of ARCASIA and South Ossetia in Georgia. And from that time forward, you have this cascade of crises. Eurozone crisis, refugee crisis, ukraine, 2014, Brexit, Trump, populism in all parts of Europe. It just all the way down to the 24 February 2022. So that's the kind of basic pattern. And so the question is, what explains this, what I call the downward turn into the cascade of crises? And I think our old Greek friend hubris has a great deal to do with this. Of course. The hubris of the United States believing you could just march into Iraq and spread democracy. The hubris of Tony Blair's Cool Britannia, which is an example of what has been called apartistic liberalism, the liberalism of continuous, opening all fronts, opening your economy, opening your financial system, opening your borders, opening your culture, not recognizing that there's going to be a pushback to that. The hubris of the Eurozone, the hubris of the European Union itself, which at that time, as you remember, believed that it was a model of transnational or supranational governance that the rest of the world simply had to follow. The hubris of a globalized financialized capitalism, which I don't use the term neoliberalism. I think one has to be precise here. It's not so much the ideology, it's a reality of a globalized financialized capitalism which believed that global aggregate gains would not justify. But actually compensate for specific local losses. And of course, Populism showed us the reverse, the hubris of believing that security could be secured entirely by non military means, by collaboration. So energy dependence on Russia was good because economic interdependence would underpin. So there are all these multiple varieties of hubris. Now, what I think, and I'd love your comment on this, Frank they have in common is a misunderstanding of history. We took history with a small age, which is always a product of the interaction between deep structure and process, on the one hand, at contingency conjuncture choice, collective will and individual leadership on the other, and turned it into history with a capital h. The hegelian process of inevitable progress towards freedom. Which, of course, what you were writing about, it was history with the capital H. But I think that was somewhere quite deep, uniting many of these varieties of hubris. Interestingly, this is often ascribed, I'm sure, to your own considerable irritation back to the early 1990s liberal triumphalism, neoliberalism and quote unquote, the end of history. I don't think that's when we fell prey to these illusions. Actually, if you remember in the early 1990s, we were extremely unsure whether any of these transitions from communism to capitalism, from authoritarianism to democracy to a European Union to a European monetary union, we were extremely unsure about how those transitions would work. And it was actually in the early to mid 2000s when everything seemed to have gone so well. It's then that we fell prey, I think, to the illusions.

[24:46] Francis Fukuyama: Well, there was a specifically American component to this because between 1989 and the crisis in 2008, america was completely dominant in every domain. Military, all of the defense budgets of everyone else in the world were about the same as the American defense budget. Hollywood, culture, politics. It was a very unbalanced period and very unusual in human history that one single country be that dominant. And I think we've since then reverted to the mean. Another thing that occurs to me is that there is a problem with liberalism itself. I mean, this is something I've obviously written about, but liberal societies make an argument for themselves because they're actually a way of reconciling very different ways of life. So you can have diversity and you're not killing each other. But people actually want to have community. They want to have things in common that they share with their fellow citizens. And so it becomes seen as a kind of boring constraint that people want something higher. And the main argument in many ways for liberal society is the opposite. I mean, what's the alternative to liberalism? It's a nationalism that's aggressive. It's conflict, authoritarian government. And the very fact that you had between 89 and 2000 I don't know, let's say 16 a whole generation of people that grew up knowing nothing but peace and prosperity both in North America and in Europe made people forget about what the alternatives were and so they could start experimenting.

[26:34] Timothy Garten Ash: So two comments on that. One is, as you know, in the book, it's called a personal History, not just because it's my personal history, but also because it's about history as played out for individual lives. And I talk about what I call the memory engine, the way in which formative personal experiences in youth, carl Mannheim said, typically between the age of 17 and 25, which is actually not a bad rule of thumb, have shaped four generations of Europeans who have, between them, really taken forward the European project. So you have the 14 ers shaped by the personal experience of the First World War, charle de Gaulle, Winston Churchill, Conrad Adenau, Harold Macmillan, the 39 ers, the generation of my father, shaped by the experience of the Second World War. So I talk about, for example, Gordon Geremek, the great former Polish foreign minister and the Solidarity advisor who's a key figure in this book, grew up as a child in the Warsaw ghetto. Never again the 68 ers and the 89 ers, those who were shaped by 89. And now we have this issue, which you've just described, that for the first time ever, we have a generation of Europeans who have grown up almost entirely to the age of, say, 25 in a Europe that is relatively free, prosperous and at peace. So where's the memory engine going to come from? The other comment I want to make is apropoliberalism, which, as you know, I've also thought about along Pierre asner the wonderful French thinker on international relations, mutual friend. One of my favorite thinkers on the planet, Raymond Aron's favorite pupil, wrote a wonderful piece very early, I think, 1991, in which he said, as we celebrate the triumph of universality and liberty, we must not forget the yearnings that have given us both socialism and fascism. He said the yearning for solidarity, inequality on the one side and community and identity on the other. And for me, that is such a brilliant those two pairings. So you just mentioned community identity, which is clearly a yearning that the liberal, rational elite project of the European Union in particular didn't satisfy. But on the other hand, of course, we neglected solidarity and equality. And I think if you look at all the populisms that have been plaguing Europe and of course the United States, it's a mixture of deficits on the community and identity side, broadly speaking, cultural and the solidarity and equality side. So broadly speaking, yeah, that's in a.

[29:39] Francis Fukuyama: Way, it's a depressing thought because it means that we're kind of trapped in this pendulum oscillation between community that then leads to conflict and violence that then reminds people of the need for universal values and a liberal order that then gets forgotten in the next generation.

[29:58] Timothy Garten Ash: But I think it's sort of like the Karl Pulani double movement in a way, isn't it? But I think part of that is perhaps simply how history is going to unfold. And so I'm sure now, a student in Gertigan said to me the other day when I was talking about those different generations, she said, do you think there'll be a generation of 20 tours whose memory engine is fueled by the experience of the largest war in Europe? So that would be an example of the double movement. But on the other hand, I think there were specific mistakes that we and it's also a book of self criticism as a liberal European that we liberal Europeans made. And one of them was to spend all our time talking about the international community and about Europe and leaving the nation effectively to the right. I think it's really important that we embrace liberal patriotism. It's one of the things I like about Emmanuel Macron that his says. He says it's not Europe or the nation, it's Europe and the nation. So I think there are things we can do to strengthen the community element within a liberal frame.

[31:06] Francis Fukuyama: Yeah, it's hard, though, because liberal societies, because they're diverse, simply never have the kinds of shared experience. And it's a bigger problem in the United States than it is in Europe because the French and the Italians will always have their distinct cuisine and language and very strong historical sense. Americans really don't have that the common things that they share.

[31:31] Timothy Garten Ash: But you have the Constitution, the flag.

[31:33] Francis Fukuyama: Well, yeah, it's fasung's patrutismos right of aubremos. But that always struck me as necessarily rather thin. And what we're seeing right now is that we can't even agree on what the constitution means. I mean, the left and the right in the United States have completely different understandings of that order.

[31:58] Timothy Garten Ash: So if I may, Frank, I mean, I think it's really interesting because you and I over many years have talked about the problems of politics in Britain and the and I mean, obviously Brexit has been an utter disaster economically and in foreign policy terms, Britain. But our politics are in much better shape than those of the United States. And that's because, in a sense, the institutions of lived social experience have survived the test of Brexit. Right. When Boris Johnson tried to tell a story in the book, tried to prog suspend Parliament, he was immediately sat down by the Supreme Court, which was seen as above party, totally independent, and the ruling immediately complied with. Of course, we have a head of state who's completely above party altogether. The law courts have their independence socially anchored, and we have the BBC incredibly important encountering hyperpolarization, and we have the National Health Service. So I think there's a way in in what is, after all, a liberal national construct, the United Kingdom. You can embed these effective, these loyalties through lived institutions.

[33:19] Francis Fukuyama: No, it's an important distinction. I'm struck by the fact that back in 2016, many people were saying, oh, Brexit and Trump, they're the same phenomenon. But as I understand it, in Britain, for example, support for immigration has actually risen in the years.

[33:36] Timothy Garten Ash: Absolutely. That's an interesting point because of course, immigration is one of the great challenges US and Europe share. The Brexit slogan was so brilliant take back control because it captured the essential point, which is that people feel it's not under control. And now, even though the figures of immigration are much higher, people have this feeling that it's under control. But by the way, keeping sense of community with diversity. Britain Hindu Prime Minister, a Black Foreign Minister black Foreign Minister, a Muslim Mayor of London, a Muslim leader of the Scottish National Party.

[34:21] Francis Fukuyama: It's quite remarkable.

[34:22] Timothy Garten Ash: Absolutely works because we actually have a civic notion of nationhood, because we couldn't have a strictly ethnic or folkish version of nationhood because Britain is itself an amalgam of four nations. I mean, the English, the west, the Scots and the Irish, though it had to be a civic sense of so actually that's one respect in which I think Britain is still mean.

[34:50] Francis Fukuyama: There's a long line of thinking about America that said we do have this civic sense of nationhood, but it's been much more fragile than I would have expected.

[35:00] Timothy Garten Ash: And how do you explain the fragility?

[35:03] Francis Fukuyama: Well, it's very hard to say. I think know one of the issues that continues to be differentiate the United States is the race question. It's something that when Obama was elected, we thought we were in this post racial society, that really all of those demons had been finally laid to rest and little did we know that actually his election would trigger those demons back into life. And actually, I think during the Obama years people did not realize that there are significant number of Americans that just thought that this was wrong, that we should have know African American President. And I think a lot of the identity politics takes on a harsher character, both on the left and the right in the United States because it builds on this experience of the racial divide in the US. Now, Europeans have different versions of this, but I think it's simply not quite the same bitter legacy.

[36:08] Timothy Garten Ash: I think that's absolutely spot on. It's always a problem because the very word race has such a specific meaning in the United States the heritage of slavery and we talk about race in the United Kingdom, in Britain, but it's actually something very different the consequences of immigration. And actually I would say that Britain, and certainly London is a post multicultural city right. Because everything is so wonderfully and gloriously mixed up together that there is a shared identity which is actually in a sense, post racial and post multicultural.

[36:50] Francis Fukuyama: Right, well, let's maybe conclude by talking about the present moment. So this is the end of August of 2023. The war in Ukraine is now getting to be about two and three quarters years on. What is your sense of how this is likely to. End. I know it's very hard to make these kinds of predictions, but do you think the kind of solidarity that was expressed in NATO, the support for Ukraine, is that likely to continue? I'm not asking you for your assessment of what's going to happen on the battlefield, but that's obviously extremely important. But do you think we, meaning the liberal west, is going to come through this cris intact, or are you more deeply worried?

[37:44] Timothy Garten Ash: So I would say I've spent about half my time over the last two years on Ukraine, the other half on this book. I've been to Ukraine three times in the last nine months, the last time in July. And I actually keep on my phone the air raid alert app because it just keeps reminding me that there's this huge war going on. There it is. There's the map. You see the air raids spreading across Ukraine. The casualty figures are shocking. Four out of five Ukrainians now say they know someone in close family or friends who've been wounded or killed. New York Times had a piece the other day giving the American estimates which say that this country of 40 million in a year and a half has had more war dead than the United States in the nearly two decades of its involvement in Vietnam. So the scale of this and the level of suffering they struck in July, how people kept saying, our people are getting killed. So it really is huge. I think that after quite a shaky start. If you look, for example, at the German debate, which I was very much involved in, european support is now quite solid. Europe has essentially apart from, you know, there's a problem with public opinion in Slovakia and Bulgaria and Greece, but fundamentally Europe is solid and will remain and has made this remarkable commitment that Ukraine is now a candidate for membership of the EU. And negotiations will probably start next year. But of course, militarily, everything depends on the United States. And so by far my biggest concern about the west in relation to Ukraine is actually no longer about Europe, it's about the United States public opinion polling. Less than 50% of Americans are now saying they support substantial further military aid to Ukraine. You look at the sort of budget debates and above, the re election of Donald Trump would be a catastrophe for Ukraine. And I'm afraid that Vladimir catastrophe for the US. As well, and for all of us that is true. But since specifically for Ukraine, I mean, it would be an existential catastrophe because then it's very hard to see how they could retain roughly one fifth of their territory that is now occupied by Russia. And I think it's plausible to think that Vladimir Putin thinks he can hang in until the next US. Election and hope for that outcome. So that is actually my biggest.

[40:51] Francis Fukuyama: But.

[40:53] Timothy Garten Ash: And therefore I do worry that Ukraine won't be able to do what I think it should do, which is to regain its sovereign territory, a victory for Ukraine, a defeat for Putin's Russia. That said, this is a moment as transformative for Ukraine as 1940 was for Britain. It's an analogy that really struck me when I'm there in a moment of existential crisis, but also a way in which you redefine your nation to yourself and to the rest of the world. So that even if the war drags on and even if at the end of the day there's some loss of territory, there is a European liberal, democratic, western future for Ukraine there, which frankly wasn't there before the 24 February 2022. So it's one of those great heraclitus War is the father of all things. It's one of those great ironies that it brings this tragic cost, but it also opens this extraordinary historic opportunity.

[42:01] Francis Fukuyama: Well, our center, the center on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law has been supporting these programs in Ukraine really since 2014. And I guess the reason that I got particularly involved is that through these programs, I don't think this is a new thing, that there's this layer of really European Ukrainians that really have absorbed all the values that they desperately want to be part of Europe. They understand how bad Russia is and they don't want anything to do with it. And the degree of commitment that they've shown to those European values is really that puts to shame Americans and Europeans who've been able to support them with no cost to themselves. And it is really quite remarkable.

[42:50] Timothy Garten Ash: Absolutely. And again, talking about generations, you have the Zelensky generation, which is underscore the independence generation. Then you have the Euromaidan, the 2014, and now you have a third generation of the kind of people who students who were helping me in Kiev or Levy, who've been shaped by this war. So they are fantastic. And as you I used to joke when I was traveling to and fro through the Iron Curtain that Europe was divided into two halves those in the west who had it and those in the east who believed in it. And it's a bit of the same feeling. If you really want to have your faith in Europe restored, go to Ukraine.

[43:29] Francis Fukuyama: Yeah. Okay. Well, Timothy Garten Ash, thank you very much. I would say that with this book, you're a little bit like I don't know whether it's Forrest Gump or Zellig or one of these people, but you managed to show up at all of these historical moments. You're talking to Helmut Cole at the moment the Wall is coming down or I mean, all of these historical figures that have played such a role in the development of Europe over several decades.

[43:58] Timothy Garten Ash: Unlike Forrest Gump, not by accident.

[44:01] Francis Fukuyama: You went to find them, but you were still there. So that was quite something. So thanks for talking. Good luck with the publication. I guess it's been out in Britain for a while, but you're going to be talking about this further in the US. And good luck with that, and I guess we'll see you somewhere in Europe in the coming months and time to come. And let's hope that Ukraine prevails.

[44:31] Timothy Garten Ash: Yes, absolutely.