Former diplomat, defense official Eric Edelman on battlefield lessons for Ukraine, Taiwan — “Intelligence Matters”

In this episode of “Intelligence Matters,” host Michael Morell speaks with Eric Edelman, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey and Finland and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and likely lessons being drawn about the West’s response and the nature of the battle by the People’s Republic of China. Edelman and Morell discuss a range of possible future scenarios for the war in Ukraine, exploring its military, economic and diplomatic dimensions for both Kyiv and Moscow. Edelman also offers insights into how the conflict may inform China’s approach to coercive or forceful reunification with Taiwan.


  • Avoiding escalation with Russia: “I think that the administration has been a little too concerned about the risk of escalation. And the risk of escalation works both ways, right, because we’re a nuclear power, too, right? So are our French and British allies. I don’t think that Putin and the Russians want to have a nuclear exchange. It would be devastating for everybody as all five of the nuclear weapon states reasserted just before the Russians invaded Ukraine. And nuclear war can and should never be waged and can never be won.”
  • Risks of protracted conflict: “[M]y reading of U.S. public opinion is that as long as people think there’s a prospect for success for the Ukrainians, they’ll be willing to support Ukraine. I think if it begins to devolve into something that looks like another frozen conflict, endless war, I worry that some of that support will dissipate. And then, of course, as we’ve been saying, if it goes long in time, actually favors Russia on the economic front, that could have very bad consequences as well.”
  • Lessons China is learning regarding Taiwan: “[A]s we begin to focus on these Indo-Pacific challenges and particularly the challenge of China and Taiwan, we have to worry that Xi Jinping begins to become concerned that time might be running against the PRC, which has its own set of internal challenges – you know, demographic and environmental and otherwise, and that they decide that they need to go early rather than later.”

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