EXCLUSIVE— Ted Cruz Adviser Victoria Coates: Imposing Democracy Risks the Spread of Liberty

Victoria Coates/Facebook
Victoria Coates/Facebook

The following is an exclusive Breitbart News interview with Victoria Coates, Sen. Ted Cruz’s national security adviser.

Coates has previously served as a senior researcher for former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. She was also Gov. Rick Perry’s Foreign Affairs adviser during his 2012 run for the presidency and an adjunct fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Coates, who earned a PhD in art history from the University of Pennsylvania, has just released the highly-renowned title: David’s Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art, which is now among Amazon.com’s best-sellers in several categories.

Breitbart News: How does a PhD in art history become a senior foreign policy adviser for Donald Rumsfeld and multiple presidential candidates? Do you feel you offer a unique perspective given your background?

Victoria Coates: I missed being a double-major in political science by one class credit. I have always had a double-track. It was something I’ve always been involved in. My family is politically active, it’s long been part of my life.

Particularly after 9/11, being a conservative academic was a somewhat-lonely world. That moment for me coincided with the new media revolution. People were starting to blog, and you could have a very active writing career with a fair amount of reach after your day job.

I wrote for a while under a pseudonym, and speechwriters and new media members would sometimes put my articles in Donald Rumsfeld’s daily folder. He got in touch with the founder of the site and said he wants to meet “that military guy,” assuming that was the case. He later found that I was not a guy and not in the military, but nonetheless, I came on board as his director of research for his autobiography. After four years under Rumsfeld, I went to work for Gov. Rick Perry during his presidential campaign.

Breitbart News: With your new book, David’s Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art, have you created a new genre to help readers understand the progression of western civilization through art?

Victoria Coates: The premise of David’s Sling isn’t that only democracies have created great works of art… Anyone who walks through the Pantheon knows that empires have created wonderful works of art.

What struck me, and it started out with Michelangelo’s David, was that there has been these very specific cases where free systems of government—which shouldn’t produce anything—had actually self-consciously produced a string of some of the greatest works in the western tradition.

But most people don’t know the original political context. David’s Sling was a way to tell the story of democracy, and it also places these ten works of art in that context.

Breitbart News: Is there a parallel between the evolution of liberty and great works of art.

Victoria Coates: Definitely. The whole notion of “David’s Sling” is that the slingshot of the shepherd, as recorded in the Book of Samuel, is the metaphor for democracy. All 10 of the states discussed in the book should have been very weak. Athens is a rock, the United States is a wilderness. Great Britain is a small island. Venice shouldn’t exist. Most of Holland is below sea level. These places shouldn’t normally prosper. The effects of democracy inspire works of art, sometimes commissioned by the state, that celebrate their achievements. When we go through the artists, we find that these artists have more agency over their work. The role of the artist and the role of the state is a profound part of the story.

Breitbart News: What distinguishes Sen. Ted Cruz from the field on foreign policy? What thinkers, historians, and examples does Sen. Cruz borrow from in formulating his ideals?

Victoria Coates: A number of people in the field of foreign policy have doubled-down on demonstrably failed policies. Most of the GOP candidates may try and emulate Ronald Reagan. They all want to say that their vision is comparable to Ronald Reagan’s. It’s the easy thing to do.

Sen. Cruz is willing to do the hard intellectual work. He realizes it wasn’t easy being Reagan, and he had to make very difficult decisions.

He admires the legacy of [former U.S. ambassador to the UN] Jeane Kirkpatrick. He gave a speech at the Heritage Foundation on this about six weeks ago. He discussed how the institution of democracy cannot be an absolute directive of American foreign policy.

If you simply say, “We must impose democracy,” and that has to overshadow everything else, you risk undermining America’s national security interests, which has the ironic effect of undermining the aspirations of the greatest free nation on the planet. Thereby, by attempting to impose democracy, you may end up preventing the spread of liberty.

That is also one of the great lessons of my new book, David’s Sling. Liberty is hard to both achieve and preserve. Liberty is very difficult to impose. It can be encouraged, but it’s very, very hard to impose.

Breitbart News: Whether it be Neoconservatism or Wilsonian Idealism, these two main strands of American foreign policy thought have become deeply unpopular in the eyes of the American public. Sen. Cruz has made a concerted effort to distinguish himself as unique from these ideologies. How would you categorize his foreign policy doctrine?

Victoria Coates: Sen. Cruz really has defied categorization. He doesn’t fall into a pigeonhole, and this has been a challenge for the Washington establishment. Our current foreign policy is often defined by the institutions in Washington who have been peddling a certain way of thinking about things. That is how they get their grants, their funding. Its why they get on television.

I avoid doctrines. I think they’re dangerous. Though we certainly have principles by which we approach different situations.

When you question the accepted wisdom of Washington, and when you refuse to fall into one particular category, and when you suggest that maybe there is another way, that causes panic in D.C.

Breitbart News: The Obama administration has made it so unclear as to who are our enemies and who are our friends nowadays. What would a Cruz administration do to sort this out?

Victoria Coates: We are just as surprised as anyone that the administration went to such lengths as to spy on the Israelis to preserve the Iran nuclear deal. Then you have top officials praising the Iranians for their treatment of our sailors. Then you see pictures of our sailors, under arrest, on their knees with their hands behind their heads. Later, the Iranians showcased this on TV, using our men and women in uniform for their propaganda purposes.

Sen. Cruz has made extremely clear that his first priority is to get back to the business of celebrating, protecting, and promoting our allies.

Why we would get tangled up with a virulently anti-American regime like the one in Tehran is amazing to me. Sure, President Obama should be speaking to the Iranian people. He should have been speaking to them in 2009 during the Green Revolution. He should be encouraging an educated, cultured people who deserve a whole lot better than they’re getting under the Ayatollah. Instead, the administration wants to deal with these theocrats who have ruled over that country for over 35 years.

Our allies should know that a Cruz administration would prioritize, not punish them. Our enemies should know that open season on America and its allies will end.

Breitbart News: Sen. Cruz has been accused of being ineligible for the presidency because of his Canadian birth. Wouldn’t it just be easier to conquer Canada, finally, and end this madness?

Victoria Coates: That terrible threat to the north — There was a joke that went around in grade school that we have to be worried about the Canadians. After all, they must have gravity on their side.

On a more serious note, I would not so much be in favor of conquering Canada as I would be in revitalizing what should be one of our real bedrock-relationships. Though an older issue, the Obama administration’s decision to cancel the Keystone pipeline agreement not only damaged our economy, but also our relationship with our friends to the north.

On the citizenship question. I’m not a lawyer, but I’d like to point out that I was abroad at some point during both of my pregnancies. As an American, I’d like to think that both of my children, if I had given birth on either of those trips, would also be eligible to be president.


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