Hosts Melanie Marlowe, Bryan McGrath, and Christopher Preble debate their way through some of the toughest and most contentious topics related to war, international relations, and strategy. This podcast is brought to you by War on the Rocks.
Chris, Melanie, and Zack return to discuss Richard Haass's critique of “Washington's new flawed foreign policy consensus.” The Council on Foreign Relations president laments the bipartisan turn away from the mostly internationalist spirit that has informed U.S. foreign policy since the end of the World War II. Is he right? Does such a consensus exist? And does that explain why successive U.S. presidents seem so skeptical of internationalism? The three also try to discern what Haass favors as an alternative, but conclude that dissatisfaction with the current direction of U.S. foreign policy doesn't easily translate into specific and implantable policies. Grievances for Katherine Tai for an underwhelming speech on U.S. trade policy, for Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley for holding up ambassadorial appointments, and to those who harassed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema — in the restroom! — for being … jerks. Attagirl to Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa who braved abuse and intimidation for uncovering corruption and misrule in the Philippines and elsewhere. Chris gives a shout out to Reps. Jim McGovern and Peter Meijer for introducing legislation to rein in executive power, and Melanie praises the developers at GlaxoSmithKline for their life-saving new malaria vaccine. She also gives a special shout out to her nephew Zack and his Utah state champion golf team at Long Peak High School. Links: Richard Haass, “The Age of America First: Washington's Flawed New Foreign Policy Consensus,” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2021, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2021-09-29/biden-trump-age-america-first. Richard Haass, “What Mike Pompeo doesn't understand about China, Richard Nixon and U.S. foreign policy,” Washington Post, July 25, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/25/what-mike-pompeo-doesnt-understand-about-china-richard-nixon-us-foreign-policy/. New American Engagement Initiative Annual Student Competition, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/programs/scowcroft-center-for-strategy-and-security/new-american-engagement-initiative/naei-annual-student-competition/. New American Engagement Initiative Future Foreign Policy series with Rep. Joaquin Castro, Monday, Oct. 18 at 3:30 pm, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/future-foreign-policy-series-featuring-rep-joaquin-castro/. “America is shorthanded in foreign affairs. Thanks, Ted Cruz,” Washington Post, Oct. 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/10/america-is-shorthanded-foreign-affairs-thanks-ted-cruz/. Ankit Panda Twitter, https://twitter.com/nktpnd/status/1447366126447570946?s=12. Apoorva Mandavilli, "A 'Historic Event': First Malaria Vaccine Approved by WHO," New York Times, Oct. 6, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/06/health/malaria-vaccine-who.html. Connor O'Brien, “Lawmakers aim for blockbuster overhaul of war powers, arms sales,” POLITICO, Sept. 30, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/30/war-powers-act-bipartisan-overhaul-514794. Dina Smeltz, Ivo Daalder, Karl Friedhoff, Craig Kafura, and Emily Sullivan, "A Foreign Policy for the Middle Class--What Americans Think," Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Oct. 2021, https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/2021-10/ccs2021_fpmc_0.pdf. Peggy Noonan, "Progressives Hold the Capital Captive," Wall Street Journal, Oct. 7, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-progressives-aoc-squad-sinema-reconciliation-infrastructure-lbj-approval-polling-11633643510. Tyler Haslam, "High School Golf: Kihei Akina Leads Lone Peak Knights to 8th State Title in 9 Years," Deseret News, Oct. 5, 2021, https://www.deseret.com/2021/10/5/22708095/high-school-golf-kihei-akina-leads-lone-peak-knighs-to-8th-state-title-in-9-years-6a-uhsaa.
Zack and Melanie are joined by Adam Mount, senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, to discuss the AUKUS security agreement between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. What does the pact say about these countries' assessment of the influence and ambition of China in the Indo-Pacific? France, which had an agreement to provide Australia with conventionally-powered submarines, was dropped in favor of the United States and United Kingdom helping Australia to develop nuclear-propelled submarines. Can AUKUS members repair their relationships with France? The deal provides a framework for cooperation between the countries on sharing information related to cyber, AI, quantum computing, and other technology. How might this arrangement affect national security as well as societies in the coming decades? Finally, should we be concerned about proliferation? Zack wishes the administration would be more forthright about how it worked to secure the return of hostages from China, Adam is unhappy with the departure of an important voice on nuclear issues from the Pentagon, and Melanie is happy it's finally autumn! Links: Andrew S. Erickson, “Australia Badly Needs Nuclear Submarines,” Foreign Policy, Sept. 20, 2021, https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/09/20/australia-aukus-nuclear-submarines-china/. Ashley Townshend, “Far From Breaking with the Past, AUKUS Advances Australia's Commitment to Collective Defence,” The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Sept. 24, 2021, https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/far-from-breaking-with-the-past-aukus-advances-australias-commitment-to-collective-defence/. Caitlin Talmadge, "Don't Sink the Nuclear Submarine Deal," Foreign Affairs, Sept. 27, 2021, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2021-09-27/dont-sink-nuclear-submarine-deal. Daniel Baer, “Sub Snub Has Paris in a Tizzy over AUKUS,” Foreign Policy, Sept. 17, 2021, https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/09/17/aukus-france-submarines-australia/. Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy, https://www.gcnuclearpolicy.org/. James M. Acton, “Why the AUKUS Submarine Deal Is Bad for Nonproliferation—And What to Do About It,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Sept. 21, 2021, https://carnegieendowment.org/2021/09/21/why-aukus-submarine-deal-is-bad-for-nonproliferation-and-what-to-do-about-it-pub-85399. IPA Talent Exchange Program, Partnership for Public Service, https://ourpublicservice.org/ipa-talent-exchange/. Jen Psaki, "Press Briefing by Press Secretary," The White House, Sept. 27, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/press-briefings/2021/09/27/press-briefing-by-press-secretary-jen-psaki-september-27-2021/. Josh Zumbrun, “World Bank Cancels Flagship ‘Doing Business' Report After Investigation,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 16, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/world-bank-cancels-flagship-doing-business-report-after-investigation-11631811663. Lindsay Hughes, “Does Australia Need Nuclear-Powered Submarines and a Nuclear-Power Sector?”, Future Directions International, Feb. 25, 2021, https://www.futuredirections.org.au/publication/does-australia-need-nuclear-powered-submarines-and-a-nuclear-power-sector/.
Chris, Melanie, and Zack debate whether there is a "Biden doctrine" and if so, what exactly it is. They identify two separate threads in Biden's thinking and that of his team — one idealist vision for global democracy, and a second more pragmatic and restrained approach. These diverging views do not, at the moment, appear to have yet been resolved. Chris also questions George W. Bush on the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, Melanie weighs in on the Met Gala, and Zack supports expanding Selective Service registration. Brian O'Toole, “Biden's Empty Posts are a National Security Problem,” Atlantic Council, August 10, 2021, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/bidens-empty-posts-are-a-national-security-problem/. Danielle L. Lupton, "Biden Has a Narrow Window to Restore U.S. Credibility," Foreign Affairs, Feb. 8, 2021, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2021-02-08/biden-has-narrow-window-restore-us-credibility. Dominic Tierney, “In Search of the Biden Doctrine,” FPRI, November 9, 2021, https://www.fpri.org/article/2020/11/in-search-of-the-biden-doctrine/. Evan Montgomery, "Credibility Controversies: The Implications of Afghanistan for the Indo-Pacific," War on the Rocks, Sept. 7, 2021, https://warontherocks.com/2021/09/credibility-controversies-the-implications-of-afghanistan-for-the-indo-pacific/. Hal Brands, "The Emerging Biden Doctrine," Foreign Affairs, June 29, 2021, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2021-06-29/emerging-biden-doctrine. Helene Cooper, Lara Jakes, Michael D. Shear, and Michael Crowley, "In Afghan Withdrawal, a Biden Doctrine Surfaces," New York Times, Sept. 4, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/04/us/politics/biden-doctrine-afghanistan-foreign-policy.html. Jay Hancock, “Military expected to be used sparingly,” Baltimore Sun, December 17, 2000, https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-2000-12-17-0012170148-story.html. Jada Yuan, “The Met Gala is Full of Rich People. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wore a Dress with a Message: ‘Tax the Rich,'” Washington Post, Sept. 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2021/09/14/aoc-met-gala-tax-rich-dress/. Joe Biden, "Remarks by President Biden on the End of the War in Afghanistan," The White House, Aug. 31, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/08/31/remarks-by-president-biden-on-the-end-of-the-war-in-afghanistan/. Joe Biden, "Why America Must Lead Again," Foreign Affairs, March/April 2020, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2020-01-23/why-america-must-lead-again. Joshua Shifrinson and Stephen Wertheim, "Biden the Realist," Foreign Affairs, Sept. 9, 2021, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2021-09-09/biden-realist. Joshua D. Kertzer, "American Credibility After Afghanistan," Foreign Affairs, Sept. 2, 2021, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2021-09-02/american-credibility-after-afghanistan. New American Engagement Initiative, Annual Student Competition, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/programs/scowcroft-center-for-strategy-and-security/new-american-engagement-initiative/naei-annual-student-competition/. Peter Dombrowski and John Glaser, “A Distracted Grand Strategy,” Power Problems, Sept. 7, 2021, https://www.cato.org/multimedia/power-problems/distracted-grand-strategy. Scott Lincicome, “US Regulators Are Failing the (Rapid) Test,” CATO, Sept. 1, 2021, https://www.cato.org/commentary/us-regulators-are-failing-rapid-test. Task Force on U.S.-China Policy, "China's New Direction: Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Policy," Asia Society and U.C. San Diego, September 2021, https://china.ucsd.edu/_files/2021-china-new-direction-report.pdf. Thomas Wright, "Joe Biden Worries That China Might Win," The Atlantic, June 9, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2021/06/joe-biden-foreign-policy/619130/.
As we approach the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Chris, Melanie, and Zack discuss Daniel Byman's article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, “The Good Enough Doctrine: Learning to Live with Terrorism.” Byman surveys the various aspects of the “Global War on Terror” and concludes that, on balance, the United States and others have achieved a level of effort that is both strategically and politically feasible. But can we actually tolerate some level of risk from terrorism in the same way that we tolerate other dangers, from pandemics to severe weather events, or will political leaders always resort to maximalist promises to eliminate terrorism permanently? Was it inevitable that the Global War on Terror would amplify xenophobia and nativism, and what else can we learn from the efforts of the past 20 years? Grievances for critics of the "Blob,” special scorn for Sen. Chris Murphy, and "attapeople" to U.S. military personnel for their enormous sacrifices in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and to those civilians who are now helping to resettle Afghan refugees, as well as those displaced from other disasters. Daniel Byman's “The Good Enough Doctrine: Learning to Live with Terrorism,” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2021, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2021-08-24/good-enough-doctrine Richard Stevenson, “Bush Faults Kerry on Terrorism Remarks,” New York Times, Oct. 12, 2004, https://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/12/politics/campaign/bush-faults-kerry-on-terrorism-remarks.html Christopher Preble, “We Are Terrorized: Why US Counterterrorism Policy Is Failing, and Why It Can't Be Easily Fixed,” War on the Rocks, Jan. 8, 2016, https://warontherocks.com/2016/01/we-are-terrorized-why-u-s-counterterrorism-policy-is-failing-and-why-it-cant-be-easily-fixed/ Bill McCarthy, “Charlie Kirk baselessly claims Biden intentionally let Afghanistan fall to alter US population,” Politifact, Aug. 19, 2021, https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2021/aug/19/charlie-kirk/charlie-kirk-baselessly-claims-biden-intentionally/ Jordan Mendoza, “Want to donate or volunteer to assist those affected by Hurricane Ida? Here's how to help,” USA Today, Aug. 30, 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/08/30/hurricane-ida-help-storm-victims-louisiana-mississippi/5648004001/ “How to Help Afghan Refugees and the Relief Effort,” New York Times, Aug. 20, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/20/world/asia/how-to-help-afghanistan-refugees.html “Future Foreign Policy series: Congress and AUMF repeal,” New American Engagement Initiative, Atlantic Council, Sept. 16, 2021, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/future-foreign-policy-congress-and-aumf-repeal/ Tanisha M. Fazal, "The Case for Complacency," Foreign Affairs, September/October 2021, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/review-essay/2021-08-24/case-complacency. Joe Biden, "Remarks on the End of the War in Afghanistan," The White House, Aug. 31, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/08/31/remarks-by-president-biden-on-the-end-of-the-war-in-afghanistan/. Darren Lim, Zack Cooper, and Ashley Feng, “Trust and Diversify: A Geoeconomic Strategy for the Australia-US Alliance,” US Studies Centre, Sept. 2, 2021, https://www.ussc.edu.au/analysis/trust-and-diversify-a-geoeconomic-strategy-for-the-australia-us-alliance. Susanna Patton and Ashley Townshend, “Kamala Harris's Asia Trip Can't Fix Biden's Troubled Indo-Pacific Strategy,” Foreign Policy, Aug. 24, 2021, https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/08/24/kamala-harris-singapore-vietnam-southeast-asia-trip-biden-indo-pacific-strategy/. Elliot Ackerman, “What the War on Terror Cost America,” Foreign Affairs, Aug. 27, 2021, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2021-08-24/winning-ugly. Michael McKinley, “We All Lost Afghanistan,” Foreign Affairs, Aug. 16, 2021, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2021-08-16/we-all-lost-afghanistan-taliban. Jeffrey A. Singer, “Society Will Never Be Free of COVID-19--It's Time to Embrace Harm Reduction,” Cato, Aug. 26, 2021, https://www.cato.org/pandemics-policy/society-will-never-be-free-covid-19-its-time-embrace-harm-reduction.
Chris, Zack, and Melanie talk about the Biden administration's disastrous military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Whose fault is this debacle? What is the manner of our exit doing to America's credibility, with friends and adversaries alike, around the world? In a year, is anyone going to remember or care what has happened in the last several weeks? Have we learned any lessons from our two decades in Afghanistan, and will there be any accountability for bad decisions made along the way? Zack pushes back on comments made by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan about the withdrawal, Chris calls out the administration's unwillingness to accept more refugees, and Melanie is grateful for those taking the lead on helping to get refugees settled into new homes. Gideon Rachman, “Joe Biden's Credibility Has Been Shredded in Afghanistan,” Financial Times, August 13, 2021, https://www.ft.com/content/71629b28-f730-431a-b8da-a2d45387a0c2. Fred Kagan, “Biden Could Have Stopped the Taliban. He Chose Not To,” New York Times, August 12, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/opinion/biden-afghanistan-taliban.html. Joe Biden, “Statement by President Joe Biden on Afghanistan, White House, August 14, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/08/14/statement-by-president-joe-biden-on-afghanistan/. Greg Jaffe, “From Hubris to Humiliation: America's Warrior Class Contends with the Abject Failure of Its Afghanistan Project,” Washington Post, August 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/us-hubris-afghanistan-humiliation/2021/08/14/47fb025a-fc67-11eb-9c0e-97e29906a970_story.html. Susannah George, “Afghanistan's Military Collapse: Illicit Deals with the Taliban and Mass Desertions,” Washington Post, August 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/15/afghanistan-military-collapse-taliban/. David E. Sanger and Helene Cooper, “Taliban Sweep in Afghanistan Follows Years of US Miscalculations,” New York Times, August 14, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/14/us/politics/afghanistan-biden.html. “An incoherent strategy doomed the 20-year US mission in Afghanistan, watchdog says as US withdraws,” CNN Politics, https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/17/politics/afghanistan-sigar-report/. "Afghans have broken 'shackles of slavery', says Pak PM Imran Khan after Taliban seize power," Times of India, August 16, 2021, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/taliban-has-broken-shackles-of-slavery-pakistan-pm-imran-khan-says/articleshow/85368058.cms. "Last Days in Vietnam: Who Goes? And Who Gets Left Behind?," PBS.org, April 28, 2015, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/lastdays/.
Chris, Melanie, and Zack debate the Pentagon's new concept of "integrated deterrence" and try to divine its meaning and importance. They struggle to differentiate the concept from existing theories of deterrence and conclude that this phrase seems better suited to identifying a problem, rather than describing a solution. Chris encourages listeners to use the Defense Futures Simulator, Melanie applauds Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya for her courage, and Zack commends Lloyd Austin and his team for a successful first trip to Southeast Asia. Links: Oren Liebermann, "Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin lays out vision of future in first major speech," CNN, May 1, 2021, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/defense-secretary-lloyd-austin-lays-out-vision-of-future-in-first-major-speech/ar-BB1geVXr?ocid=se. Jim Garamone, "Official Talks DOD Policy Role in Chinese Pacing Threat, Integrated Deterrence," DOD News, June 2, 2021, https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Article/Article/2641068/official-talks-dod-policy-role-in-chinese-pacing-threat-integrated-deterrence/. Lloyd Austin, "Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Participates in Fullerton Lecture Series in Singapore," U.S. Department of Defense, July 27, 2021, https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Transcripts/Transcript/Article/2711025/secretary-of-defense-lloyd-j-austin-iii-participates-in-fullerton-lecture-serie/. Kurt Campbell, "The Changing China Debate," Chatham House, August 20, 2020, https://americas.chathamhouse.org/article/the-changing-china-debate/. Babie Latza Nadeau, "D.C. Mayor Muriel Boswer Snubs Her Mask Mandate Within First 24 Hours: Report," Daily Beast, August 1, 2021, https://www.thedailybeast.com/washington-dc-mayor-muriel-bowser-snubs-her-mask-mandate-within-first-24-hours-report-says. Emma Ashford and Erica Borghard, “A mom's guide to coercion and deterrence,” New Atlanticist, Atlantic Council, March 16, 2021, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/a-moms-guide-to-coercion-and-deterrence/ Erica Borghard, Reality Check #3, “The Uses and Abuses of Deterrence,” New American Engagement Policy Brief, Atlantic Council, March 1, 2021, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/content-series/reality-check/reality-check-3-the-uses-and-abuses-of-deterrence/ War on the Rocks Defense Futures Simulator, https://www.defensefutures.net/ Ellen Knickmeyer, Lolita C, Baldor, and Matthew Lee, "'Welcome Home': Evacuation Flight Brings 200 Afghans to US," Military.com, July 30, 2021, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/07/30/welcome-home-evacuation-flight-brings-200-afghans-us.html. Dustin Jones and Joe Hernandez, "Belarusian Sprinter Granted Polish Humanitarian Visa after Refusing Flight Home," NPR, August 3, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/tokyo-olympics-live-updates/2021/08/02/1023618626/a-sprinter-seeks-asylum-after-refusing-to-board-a-flight-back-to-belarus-from-to. Brad Roberts, "On the Need for a Blue Theory of Victory," War on the Rocks, September 17, 2021, https://warontherocks.com/2020/09/on-the-need-for-a-blue-theory-of-victory/.
Special guest Chris Dougherty joins Chris and Melanie to discuss his recent War on the Rocks article, “Gradually and then Suddenly: Explaining the Navy's Strategic Bankruptcy.” Dougherty notes that “a series of decisions (and indecisions) decades in the making have backed the Navy into a budget and force-planning corner,” and he describes the competing interests that drive different (and rarely complementary) force requirements. What decisions are most needed in order to get the Navy back on the right track? And what practical steps can be taken now and in the near future to close the gap between the many demands on the Navy, and the Navy's capacity to meet those demands? Chris Preble is mad at people who spread malicious misinformation, Melanie laments the decline of human civilization as reflected in the Associated Press' wrong-headed decision about the plural possessive, and Chris Dougherty gripes about people who gripe about the 2018 National Defense Strategy (but don't know what they're talking about). Shoutouts for the Cuban people, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Wally Funk, and Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps. Links Christopher Dougherty, “Gradually and then Suddenly: Explaining the Navy's Strategic Bankruptcy,” War on the Rocks, June 30, 2021 Andrew Restuccia and Sarah E. Needleman, “Biden's Facebook Attack Followed Months of Frustration Inside White House,” Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2021 Colleen Sinclair, “10 ways to spot online misinformation,” The Conversation, March 27, 2020 (Updated September 17, 2020)
Chris, Zack, and Melanie get together to talk about Samuel Charap's article, "Expanding the Scope for Statecraft in US-Russia Policy." Does the United States need to "gird itself for sustained competition" with Russia? What kind of leverage does the United States have in negotiating with Putin? How can the United States best work with allies who have very different interests and challenges when it comes to dealing with Russia? Chris gives a shout out to those who push this country to be better, Zack thanks the Republicans who bravely voted for a 1/6 committee, and Melanie praises some defenders of capitalism. Links Samuel Charap, “Expanding the Scope for Statecraft in US Russia Policy,” War on the Rocks, May 14, 2021 David M. Herszenhorn, "Summit Exposes Stark Clash of EU Views on Russia," Politico, June 25, 2021 Robbie Gramer and Jack Detsch, "Russia Policy Puts Biden Under Pressure Across Europe," Foreign Policy, June 25, 2021 Timothy Frye, "The Perilous Bargains that Keep Putin in Power," Foreign Affairs, April 2021 Xi Jinping, "Speech at a Ceremony Marking the Centenary of the Communist Party of China," CGTN, July 01, 2021 Kristin Wilson and Clare Foran, "Only Two House Republicans Vote for the January 6 Select Committee," CNN, June 30, 2021 A. Wess Mitchell, "Biden Is Falling Into the Same Trap With Europe as Obama," Foreign Policy, June 30, 2021 “Slow Burn: The Road to the Iraq War,” Slate Podcast “Rep. Adam Kinzinger on the Moral Failture of Republicans and the Big Lie,” New York Times, July 05, 2021
Chris, Melanie, and Zack dig into Marcus Willett's “Lessons of the SolarWinds Hack” in the latest issue of Survival. They explore the distinction between cyber espionage and cyber defense (Was it an attack? Or a hack? Does it matter?), consider the implications of the offense-defense balance (Is 100 percent defense feasible?), and review possible global norms that can be put in place to limit the harm caused by malicious cyber actors. Melanie and Chris both have grievances toward members of Congress who are reluctant to revisit old Authorizations for Use of Military Force , and Zack gripes about Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's absurd op-ed in the Washington Post. And this week's attafolks were all in the family: Zack welcomed a new niece named Marlowe; Melanie cheered her amazing older brother, David, a renowned physician and educator at the Mayo Clinic; and Chris gives a shout out to his daughter Katelyn —- and all members of the Class of 2021. Marcus Willette, “Lessons of the SolarWinds Hack,” IISS, March 31, 2021 Trey Herr, et al “Broken Trust: Lessons from Sunburst,” Cyber Statecraft Initiative, Atlantic Council Stephen Miles, Twitter, June 21, 2021 Dmitri Alperovitchand Ian Ward, "How Should the U.S. Respond to the SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange Hacks?," Lawfare, March 12, 2021 "Critical Infrastructure Sectors," S. Department of Homeland Security Imran Khan, "Pakistan is Ready to be a Partner for Peace in Afghanistan, but We Will Not Host US Bases," Washington Post, June 21, 2021
The Net Assessment team debates Patrick Porter and Michael Mazarr's recent study on "Countering China's Adventurism Over Taiwan: A Third Way" written for the Lowy Institute. Chris, Melanie, and Zack agree that the study is thought provoking and well argued, but disagree about whether it is ultimately convincing. Nonetheless, Porter and Mazarr have made a real contribution by helping to clarify the assumptions that underlie different approaches to the Taiwan. Chris gives a shout out to the Bridging the Gap effort, Melanie complains about John Cena and Bing, and Zack commends his former colleague Ari Tabatabai. Links Patrick Porter and Michael Mazarr, "Countering China's Adventurism Over Taiwan: A Third Way," Lowy Institute, May 20, 2021 Irene Braam and Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, "Transatlantic Trends 2021," German Marshall Fund of the United States and Bertelsmann Foundation, June 2021 Oriana Skylar Mastro, "The Taiwan Temptation," Foreign Affairs, July/August 2021 Charles L. Glaser, "Washington Is Avoiding the Tough Questions on Taiwan and China," Foreign Affairs, April 28, 2021 Ariane M. Tabatabai, No Conquest, No Defeat: Iran's National Security Strategy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020), Dustin Walker, "Congress Should Rewrite the Pentagon's Pacific Deterrence Budget Request," Defense News, June 2, 2021 Joe Biden, “My Trip to Europe Is about America Rallying the World's Democracies,” The Washington Post, June 5, 2021 Martin Pengelly, “Biden Trumpets Democracy in Post Op-ed – As Threats Spread at Home,” The Guardian, June 6, 2021 Bridging the Gap “Future Foreign Policy: Global Perceptions of the United States, Featuring Caroline Gray,” June 16, 2021, Noon EDT Tom Karako, “Sing, Missile Muse, of Gods and Heroes: America's Most Fearsome Weapons Need Better Names,” War on the Rocks, June 7, 2021 Jill Disis, “‘F9' Star John Cena Says He Loves China After Taiwan Remark Stokes Anger,” CNN, May 25, 2021 Elizabeth Braw, “Spying on Allies is Normal. Also Smart,” Politico EU, June 4, 2021. Syaru Shirley Lin, “It's Not Just China: Population, Power Generation, Political Polarization, and Parochialism are Also Long-Term Threats to Taiwan's Success and Survival,” PRC Leader, June 1, 2021 “China's Growing Military Confidence Puts Taiwan at Risk,” Economist, May 1, 2021 Blake Herzinger, “US Ditching Taiwan Commitments is a Dead-End Idea,” Foreign Policy, May 3, 2021 Paul Mozur, “Microsoft's Bing Briefly Blocked ‘Tank Man' on Anniversary of Tiananmen Anniversary,” New York Times, June 5, 2021
Using Charles Kupchan and Peter Trubowitz's Foreign Affairs article "Why an Internationalist Foreign Policy Needs a Stronger Domestic Foundation" as a basis for discussion, Chris, Zack, and Melanie sit down to talk about President Joe Biden's "foreign policy for the middle class." Who, exactly, is in the "middle class"? Are certain positions on foreign policy pro- or anti-middle class? Is there a connection between the domestic programs the administration is pushing and a better foreign policy? Is it possible to evaluate whether our foreign policy is working for the average American? Zack gives a shoutout to people who can disagree on important issues and still be friends, Melanie wishes the people who make the rules would follow them, and Chris praises two scholars for a new report on Taiwan. Links Daniel Drezner, "Real Talk about a Foreign Policy for the Middle Class," Washington Post, May 20, 2021 Charles A. Kupchan and Peter L. Trubowitz, "Why an Internationalist Foreign Policy Needs a Stronger Domestic Foundation," Foreign Affairs, May/June 2021 Salman Ahmed, Wendy Cutler, et al., "Making Foreign Policy Work Better for the Middle Class," Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, September 23, 2020 Jake Sullivan, "What Donald Trump and Dick Cheney Got Wrong about America," The Atlantic, December 13, 2018 Antony Blinken, "A Foreign Policy for the American People," U.S. Department of State, March 3, 2021 Kirk Siegler, "Why Support for Refugees in Higher Than You Might Think in Parts of 'Trump Country,' NPR, May 11, 2021 Brian Slodysko, "As Pandemic Spread Pain and Panic, Congressman Chased Profit," AP, May 21, 2021 Mackenzie Eaglen and Dov S. Zakheim, "The White House Should Show Their Cards Earlier: Reveal the Defense Budget Passback Guidance," War on the Rocks, May 21, 2021 Dan Baer, "Tracking Biden's Progress on a Foreign Policy for the Middle Class," Carnegie Endowment, April 6, 2021 Patrick Porter and Michael Mazarr, “Countering China’s Adventurism over Taiwan: A Third Way,” Lowy Institute, May 20, 2021 Craig Hooper, “Despite Promises, USS Ford Heads to Shock Trials With 4 Broken Elevators,” Forbes, May 13, 2021
Chris, Melanie, and Zack, discuss Frank Hoffman’s recent War on the Rocks essay, “U.S. Defense Strategy after the Pandemic,” which makes the case for adjusting U.S. strategic objectives in light of flat or declining Pentagon budgets over the next few years. While the Pentagon might intend “to implement the 2018 National Defense Strategy as if the pandemic and recession never happened,” Hoffman explains, we “should evaluate US national security strategy under much more austere defense spending scenarios.” And now we can. As it happens, War on the Rocks, in partnership with the American Enterprise Institute and Center for Strategic & International Security, has just rolled out a clever online budgeting tool that allows users to design their own defense strategies according to a wide range of criteria. Be sure to check it out. Grievances include gun violence and big bugs (cicadas), and for Joe Biden wanting to take away drug maker patents. Shout outs to Liz Cheney, the G-7’s proper stance on Taiwan, and the World Health Organization and think-tank transparency — and a special attaboy for Producer Tre, the hardest working dude in the podcast universe. Links Frank Hoffman, “US Defense Strategy after the Pandemic,” War on the Rocks, April 20, 2021 Caroline Multerer, “#100: Create an Office of Gun Violence Prevention in the Department of Homeland Security,” Atlantic Council, April 29, 2021 Eli Clifton and Ben Freeman, “Restoring Trust in the Think Tank Sector,” Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, May 10, 2021 Defense Futures Matthew Lesh, "'Stakeholder Capitalism' Caused the Oxford Vaccine Debacle," Wall Street Journal, May 5, 2021 Afshin Molavi, "Globalization in a Needle," Substack, April 30, 2021 Robert Work, "Storm Clouds Ahead: Musings about the 2022 Defense Budget," War on the Rocks, March 30, 2021 Charles Q. Brown, Jr. and Gen. David H. Berger, "Redefine Readiness or Lose," War on the Rocks, March 15, 2021 Nike Ching, "G-7 Countries Back Taiwan's Observer Status in World Health Assembly," VOA News, May 5, 2021
Chris, Melanie, and Zack debate the wisdom of President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan. They discuss the argument made by Meghan O'Sullivan and Richard Haass that the Biden administration should have kept a small force in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, but question whether that would have been sufficient to accomplish U.S. objectives. Chris also issues a warning to virtue signalers, Zack calls for more virtue signaling with India, and Melanie is aggrieved by the election of Iran to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. Meghan L. O'Sullivan and Richard Haass, "It's Wrong to Pull Troops Out of Afghanistan. But We Can Minimize the Damage." Washington Post, April 16, 2021 Richard Fontaine, "The Case Against Foreign Policy Solutionism," Foreign Affairs, February 8, 2021 Eliot A. Cohen, "Exit Strategy," The Atlantic, April 13, 2021 Afghanistan Study Group, "A Pathway for Peace in Afghanistan," United States Institute of Peace, February 3, 2021 Soner Cagaptay, "Biden Recognizing the Armenian Genocide Shows How Far Turkey and Erdogan Have Fallen," NBC News, April 24, 2021 Stephen Wertheim, “Biden Just Made a Historic Break with the Logic of Forever War,” Foreign Policy, April 16, 2021 Oren Liebermann, Ellie Kaufman and Devan Cole, “Nearly 40% of Marines Have Declined Covid-19 Vaccine,” CNN, April 10, 2021 Senior Fellow, New American Engagement Initiative, Atlantic Council Robert Manning, “Reality Check #5: Learning to Live with a Nuclear North Korea,” New American Engagement Initiative, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Atlantic Council, April 26, 2021 Joe Biden, "Remarks by President Biden on the Way Forward in Afghanistan," White House, April 14, 2021 Michael Crowley, "Biden Officials Place Hope in Taliban's Desire for Legitimacy and Money," New York Times, April 23, 2021 "UK Parliament Declares Genocide in China's Xinjiang; Beijing Condemns Move," Reuters, April 23, 2021 Michael Lipin, Ramin Haghjoo, "Iran's Election to UN Women's Body Draws Outrage from Rights Activists, US Silence," VOA News, April 24, 2021 John Bew, Citizen Clem, (London: Riverrun, 2016) Future Foreign Policy Series: Featuring Wendy Cutler on US Trade Policy, May 17, 2021, 12:00PM, Atlantic Council (via Zoom)
Chris, Zack, and Melanie discuss Hal Brands and Charles Edel’s article “A Grand Strategy of Democratic Solidarity.” Is it possible, and is it wise, to construct a grand strategy of democratic solidarity to counter China and Russia? How might the United States and other countries implement this strategy in practice? Should President Joe Biden host a “summit for democracies,” or would that cause more problems than it would solve? Melanie criticizes Biden’s infrastructure plan, Zack praises Congress for bipartisan work on the Strategic Competition Act of 2021, and Chris has some tender words for his daughter, Katelyn, as she finishes her time in high school just as she’s spent the last few years — enjoying every moment. Links Hal Brands and Charles Edel, “A Grand Strategy of Democratic Solidarity,” Washington Quarterly, March 23, 2021 Kori Schake, “The US Doesn’t Know How to Treat Its Allies,” The Atlantic, March 28, 2021 Brian Reidl, “Biden’s Infrastructure Proposal is a Giant Boondoggle,” The Dispatch, April 5, 2021 Michael Wood, Tweet, April 11, 2021 “Strategic Competition Act of 2021,” U.S. Senate Foreign Relation Committee, April 8, 2021 James Goldgeier and Bruce W. Jentleson, "A Democracy Summit Is Not What the Doctor Ordered," Foreign Affairs, December 14, 2020 Graham Brookie, Tweet, April 11, 2021 “Sharp Partisan Divides in Foreign Policy Priorities,” Pew Research Center, February 23, 2021 Christopher Preble, “Covert Wars, To What End?” War on the Rocks, August 7, 2019 Ted Galen Carpenter and Malou Innocent, Perilous Partners: The Benefits and Pitfalls of America’s Alliances with Authoritarian Regimes (Cato Institute, 2015)
Chris, Melanie, and Zack discuss the recent War on the Rocks article "Beyond Colossus or Collapse: Five Myths Driving American Debates about China." Authors Evan Medeiros and Jude Blanchette tee up key myths surrounding China’s economic growth and foreign policy, and the success or failure of the U.S. strategy of engagement with China. The hosts scrutinize which myths are most widely believed, and which should not be guiding American policy. But they also consider which beliefs are actually true, and which are most important to current and future U.S. policy. A second “attagirl” in a row for Melanie’s niece Sophie, and an “attapeople” to those recently admitted to grad school. Zack has a grievance with the Chinese Communist Party, Melanie gripes about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s selective outrage over insults on social media, and Chris explains that a ship stuck in the Suez Canal is mostly a problem because of all the bad memes it generates. Links Evan Medeiros and Jude Blanchette, “Beyond Colossus or Collapse: Five Myths Driving American Debates about China,” War on the Rocks, March 19, 2021 Joint Statement on the WHO-Convened Covid-19 Origins Study, U.S. State Department, March 30, 2021 Javier C. Hernandez, "WHO Inquiry on the Pandemic's Origin: What We Know," New York Times, March 30, 2o21 Elizabeth Warren, Tweet, March 25, 2021 Thomas Shugart, "Trends, Timelines, and Uncertainty: An Assessment of the State of Cross-Strait Deterrence," U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, February 18, 2021 Daniel Drezner, “Searching for Signs of Intelligent Symbolism in the Suez Canal,"The Washington Post Richard Betts, “The Delusion of Impartial Intervention," Foreign Affairs, November 1994 Nicholas Eberstadt, "China's Demographic Outlook to 2040 and Its Implications," American Enterprise Institute, January 2019 Scott Kennedy, Bonnie Glaser, Jude Blanchette, and Matthew Goodman, "We Stand with MERICS," Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 26, 2021
Melanie, Chris, and Zack debate the Joe Biden administration's Interim National Security Strategic Guidance. They commend the administration for issuing the document so early into its tenure, but have questions about the specifics. In particular, the document promises to execute a foreign policy for the middle class, but what this means in practice is less clear. Melanie expresses concern about the vaccine rollout in Europe, Zack congratulates the Quad for its vaccine initiative, and all agree about the need for forthright debate of foreign policy and security issues in the think tank community. Links "Interim National Security Strategic Guidance," The White House, March 2021 "Fact Sheet: The Quad Summit," The White House, March 12, 2021 Salman Ahmed et al., "Making US Foreign Policy Work Better for the Middle Class," Carnegie Endowment, September 23, 2020 Hal Brands and Zack Cooper, "US-Chinese Rivalry is a Battle Over Values," Foreign Affairs, March 16, 2021 Dan Lamothe, “Army Reviewing Investigation Into Michael Flynn's Dealings with Russia, Foreign Firm,” Washington Post, March 12, 2021 Thomas Escritt and Stephanie Nebehay, "Germany, Italy, France Suspend AstraZeneca Shots Amid Safety Fears, Disrupting EU Vaccinations," Reuters, March 15, 2021 Sheena Greitins, Tweet, March 14, 2021 Anthony Blinken, “Secretary of State Antony Blinken Speech on Foreign Policy,” Rev, March 3, 2021 Joe Biden, “Remarks on America's Place in the World,” The White House, February 4, 2021 "Biden must Learn the Right Lesson from Globalization," Washington Post, March 6, 2021
Chris, Zack, and Melanie sit down to discuss U.S. sanctions programs and how to make them more effective. In a recent War on the Rocks article focused on sanctions, Edward Fishman argues that the United States needs to take a hard look at our economic statecraft. Why have sanctions become the go-to answer to so many foreign policy problems? When should they be used, and when are they least effective? Does the United States have the institutional framework necessary for regular sanctions reviews and reform? Will Joe Biden’s team approach sanctions differently than previous administrations? Chris has thoughts on how members of Congress reacted to Biden’s strikes in Syria, Zack takes a principled position on one of Biden’s nominees, and Melanie welcomes her 13th niece to the world. Links Edward Fishman, “Make Russia Sanctions Great Again,” War on the Rocks, October 23, 2020 Constance Grady, “How Dolly Parton Became a Secular American Saint,” Vox, February 26, 2021 “US Sanctions 23 Actors with Ties to Venezuelan Oil,” VOA News, January 19, 2021 Peter E. Harrell, “Here’s How Trump Can Make Better Use of Corporate Sanctions,” Foreign Policy, February 5, 2019 Natasha Bertrand, “Biden Readies His First Major Penalties on Russia,” Politico, February 22, 2021 Elizabeth Rosenberg, Peter, Harrell, and Ashley Feng, "A New Arsenal for Competition," Center for a New American Security, April 24, 2020 Eric B. Lorber, "Securing American Interests: A New Era of Economic Power," Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, February 2017 Juan Zarate, Treasury's War (New York: PublicAffairs, 2013) Josh Rudolph, "Treasury's War on Corruption," Alliance for Securing Democracy, December 22, 2020 Hugh Hewitt, "The GOP should Forgive Neera Tanden," Washington Post, February 20, 2021 Gordon Lubold, Michael R. Gordon, and Andrew Jeong, "US, South Korea Near a Deal Over Cost of U.S. Forces on Peninsula," Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2021 Erica Borghard, “Reality Check #2: Economic Sanctions Should Not always Be the Go-To Foreign Policy Tool,” New American Engagement Initiative, Atlantic Council, February 22, 2021 Erica Borghard, “Reality Check #3: The Uses and Abuses of Deterrence,” New American Engagement Initiative, Atlantic Council, March 1, 2021
Chris, Melanie, and Zack wade into the long-running debate on whether Europe can defend itself (chiefly from Russia), and how hard it should try. In a recent article, Barry Posen from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concludes that Europe is capable of conducting major military operations against a potential Russian attack, and that these capabilities serve as an important deterrent. But others doubt that Europe will ever be able to stand on its own without substantial support from the United States. The ultimate unknown, however, might revolve around how much autonomy the United States is willing to grant to key NATO allies — and how much autonomy they will demand in exchange for greater burden sharing. Zack offers up an atta-doctor/atta-deputy secretary of defense to newly confirmed Kath Hicks, while Chris praises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for showing the way on how schools can reopen. Melanie has a grievance against those who just can’t get along with others, even when they perform random acts of kindness, and Zack throws shade on people who refuse to put their names on major publications. Links Barry R. Posen, “Europe Can Defend Itself,” IISS, December 3, 2020 Jeffrey Lightfoot and Olivier-Rémy Bel, “Sovereign Solidarity: France, the US, and Alliances in a Post-COVID World,” Future Europe Initiative, Atlantic Council, November 11, 2020 Adam Weinstein, “What the Afghanistan Study Group Final Report Missed,” Inkstick, February 11, 2021 Laura Meckler, “CDC Defends School Guidelines as Advocates Say They Make It too Hard to Reopen,” Washington Post, February 14, 2021 Evan Braden Montgomery, In the Hegemon's Shadow: Leading States and the Rise of Regional Powers (Cornell University Press, 2016) Joe Gould, "Senate confirms Hicks as DOD's No. 2," Defense News, February 8, 2021 Anonymous, "To Counter China's Rise, the U.S. Should Focus on Xi," Politico, January 28, 2021 Virginia Heffernan, “What Can You Do about the Trumpites Next Door?”, Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2021 Our World in Data, Coronavirus Vaccinations by Country “Americans and Germans Differ in Their Views of Each Other and the World,” Pew Research, March 9, 2020 Hans Van Der Burchard and America Hernandez, “US-German Tensions Over Russia-Backed Nord Stream 2 Pipeline,” Politico, January 21, 2021 “What Would Happen if America Left Europe to Fend for Itself?”, The Economist, March 14, 2019
Chris, Melanie, and Zack debate whether the United States should pursue primacy. They discuss the Donald Trump administration's "Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific," and compare some of its recommendations with Stephen Wertheim’s recent article on "Delusions of Dominance." They agree that the United States needs to have a national debate to match American resources and objectives, but disagree on how to adjust both elements. Chris both complements and questions the Joe Biden administration for actions during its first weeks in office. Melanie raises a multitude of concerns about Andrew Cuomo. And Zack supports Republicans facing political costs for votes of conscience. Links Stephen Wertheim, "Delusions of Dominance," Foreign Affairs, January 25, 2021 "House Republican Reckoning," The Wall Street Journal, February 2, 2021 Ilan Ben-Meir, "That Time Trump Spent Nearly $100,000 On an Ad Criticizing U.S. Foreign Policy in 1987," BuzzFeed News, July 10, 2015 Daniel J. Ikenson, “Inauguration Day Feels Like Groundhog Day for Buy American,” Cato Institute, January 20, 2021 Jonah Shepp, “America Is Complicit in Yemen Atrocities. Biden Says That Ends Now,” New York Magazine, January 22, 2021 John Glaser, Christopher A. Preble, A. Trevor Thrall, Fuel to the Fire: How Trump Made America's Broken Foreign Policy Even Worse (and How We Can Recover), (Cato Institute, 2019)
Chris, Zack, and Melanie sit down to discuss Thomas Spoehr’s article “The Six Blind Men and the Elephant: Differing Views on the U.S. Defense Budget.” How should we assess whether the defense budget is adequate (or excessive) for its purposes? Do we ask our military to fulfill too many purposes? Will the new Congress and administration be willing to make politically unpopular cuts, even if those changes might result in long-term savings and enhanced effectiveness? If being $27 trillion in debt isn’t slowing our spending on either defense or domestic priorities, will anything? The gang has a lightning round on the good, the bad, and the ugly in the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. Finally, Chris praises José Andrés for stepping up to feed the hungry, Melanie is frustrated with how Democrats handled former President Donald Trump’s impeachment, and Zack has warm wishes for those entering the Joe Biden administration. Links Thomas Spoehr, “The Six Blind Men and the Elephant: Differing Views on the US Defense Budget,” War on the Rocks, January 14, 2021 Kelsey Vlamis, "Pelosi Says Democrats Will Move to Impeach Trump This Week if Pence Doesn't Respond to Calls to Invoke the 25th Amendment," Business Insider, January 12, 2021 Connor O’Brien, “On Defense Spending, a Democratic Brawl is Brewing,” Politico, October 28, 2020 Janelle Griffith, “Texas School District Opens Free Grocery Store to Help Disadvantaged Students,” Today, January 4, 2021 Sydney Freedberg, “NDAA: Conference Cuts New Army Tech, Pluses Up Old,” Breaking Defense, December 4, 2020 “Defense Strategy: Revised Analytic Approach Needed to Support Force Structure Decision-Making,” GAO, March 14, 2019 "America's Strategic Choices: Defense Spending in a Post-COVID-19 World," Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and Ronald Reagan Institute, January 2021 "Getting to Less - Exploring the Press for Less in America's Defense Commitments," CSIS, February 6, 2020 Rebecca Speare-Cole, "3 or 4 Republicans Don't Think Joe Biden Won Election Legitimately: Poll," Newsweek, January 18, 2021 “The Militarized Budget 2020,” National Priorities Project, June 22, 2020 'First Platoon' Examines How War On Terror Birthed Military Biometrics ID System, NPR, January 14, 2021 “Feeding an Army in D.C.: Chef José Andrés Steps in to Help Feed Huge Influx of National Guard,” Los Angeles Times on MSN, January 17, 2021 Donate: World Central Kitchen Restaurant Employee Relief Fund
Chris, Melanie, and Zack begin the show with a sober look at the events of Jan. 6, when a pro-President Donald Trump mob ransacked the Capitol and drove legislators from both chambers. In the ensuing chaos, four people lost their lives. How did this happen? And what can possibly be done to set things right? All three hosts agree that it begins with holding the enablers accountable. But, tragically, our political system today punishes those who stand on principle and facts, and rewards demagogues peddling falsehoods. With that out of the way, the three discuss Amb. (ret.) Michael McFaul’s analysis of the Cold War’s lessons for policy toward China. In the end, McFaul urges U.S. policymakers to adopt a “complicated, nuanced path” toward China, combining “sustained confrontation and cooperation, containment and engagement, [and] isolation and integration.” But can the United States actually execute such a sophisticated strategy? Or do American domestic politics drive us toward extremes and overreach? Shout outs for the Washington Football Team and a Twitter sensation who makes old pictures even more beautiful. Zack and Chris bash Trump and his Republican enablers. Links Michael McFaul, “Cold War Lessons and Fallacies for US-China Relations Today,” The Washington Quarterly, December 11, 2020 “Pentagon Insists US Military Will Only Interfere in Foreign Elections,” Duffle Blog, January 4, 2021 Lisa Mascaro and Mary Clare Jalonick, “More GOP Lawmakers Enlist in Trump Effort to Undo Biden Win,” Associated Press, January 2, 2021 Michael McFaul, "Xi Jinping is Not Stalin," Foreign Affairs, August 10, 2020 Lauren Tarshis, I Survived the Battle of D-Day, (Scholastic, 2019) Marina Amaral, Tweet, January 04, 2020 “Could China Seize and Occupy Taiwan Militarily?” Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 26, 2020 Amy Gardner and Paulina Firozi, “Here’s the full transcript and audio of the call between Trump and Raffensperger,” The Washington Post, January 5, 2021 Yuval Levin, “Failures of Leadership in a Populist Age,” National Review, January 4, 2021 Odd Arne Westad, “The Sources of Chinese Conduct: Are Washington and Beijing Fighting a New Cold War?” Foreign Affairs, (September/October 2019) "Abraham Lincoln’s Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois," Libertarianism, January, 27, 1838
Chris, Melanie, and Zack end the year with a special episode of Net Assessment where they do a deep dive into their favorite films and television series. They discuss their favorite spy movie, World War II film, a movie that inspired their career, and one that is good for teaching. Chris No Way Out A Bridge Too Far Holland’s Opus Crimson Tide Melanie The Bureau Band of Brothers Law and Order Glory Black Hawk Down Zack Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Saving Private Ryan Clear and Present Danger Thirteen Days Dr. Strangelove
Melanie, Chris, and Zack wrap up 2020 by reviewing developments over the last year and debating what might happen in 2021. They disagree over the wisdom of Lloyd Austin's nomination for secretary of defense, and discuss which of Donald Trump's foreign policy decisions were the best and worst over the last year. Each also highlights their favorite books and articles, and notes profiles in both courage and cowardice. Links Eugene Gholz, Benjamin Friedman, and Enea Gjoza, “Defensive Defense: A Better Way to Protect US Allies in Asia,” Washington Quarterly, Winter 2020. Jim Golby, "Sorry, Gen. Lloyd Austin. A Recently Retired General Should Not Be Secretary of Defense," New York Times, December 7, 2020 Kishore Mahbubani, Has China Won? The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy, (Public Affairs, 2020) Ana Swanson, “With Americans Stuck at Home, Trade with China Roars Back,” New York Times, December 14, 2020 Alex Ward, “The Single Biggest Foreign Policy Decision Joe Biden Faces,” Vox, December 14, 2020 Joe Biden, “Why I Chose Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense,” The Atlantic, December 8, 2020 Australian Government Department of Defense, "2020 Defense Strategic Update and 2020 Force Structure Plan," July 2020
Chris, Zack, and Melanie get together to discuss Joshua Rovner’s recent War on the Rocks article, “Intelligence in the Biden Administration.” Rover argues that President-elect Joe Biden should immediately rebuild relations with the intelligence agencies. How can he go about doing that in difficult political circumstances and after years of them being treated with contempt during the Donald Trump administration? What role does Congress have in ensuring our intelligence agencies are functioning properly? How will Biden use the intelligence community to enhance U.S. security and prosperity? The crew also wonders why, with other national security team members in place, Biden has not yet named a secretary of defense. Finally, Chris surprises us with a promise to make a holiday dessert, Melanie has some praise for those working on vaccines, and Zack gives a shout out to the Bombshell podcast hosts as their amazing show ends. Links Joshua Rovner, "Intelligence in the Biden Administration," War on the Rocks, November 25, 2020 Robert Jervis, "Why Intelligence and Policymakers Clash," Political Science Quarterly, November 02, 2010 Samantha Lee, "Moderna's Groundbreaking Coronavirus Vaccine Was Designed in Just Two Days," Business Insider, November 26, 2020 Rosa Brooks, "It's Time for a Woman to Run the Defense Department," The New York Times, November 30, 2020 Christopher Krebs, "Trump fired me for saying this, but I'll say it again: The election wasn't rigged," The Washington Post, December 1, 2020 Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer, "Pentagon Purges Leading Advisors From Defense Policy Board," Foreign Policy, November 25, 2020 Zack Cooper, "Bad Ideas Series: 'Great Power Competition' Terminology," Center for Strategic and International Studies, December 1, 2020 Brad Stapleton, “The Problem with the Light Footprint: Shifting Tactics in Lieu of Strategy,” Cato Institute Policy Analysis No. 792, June 7, 2016 Paul R. Pillar, “Intelligence, Policy, and the War in Iraq,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006
The crew convenes for the first show after Joe Biden’s election victory to consider how Americans want to engage with the rest of the world, and whether the incoming Biden administration will be able to heal the nation’s wounds while also restoring U.S. global leadership. Does an inward focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, a sluggish economy, and racial tensions necessarily mean that the United States will neglect the wider world? Or can it lead by example, proving that by solving its own problems it can help solve global problems as well? And in our polarized political environment, does it even make sense to talk about “Americans” as a unified whole? Or do differences between Republicans and Democrats, young and old, or rich and poor, prevent U.S. policymakers from crafting and executing a consistent and coherent approach to the world? Grievances abound for Republican elected officials’ collective unwillingness to acknowledge Biden’s victory, and attaboys to the American people for turning out to vote in historic numbers, and to the media for covering the vote-counting carefully and cautiously. And Melanie offers a heartfelt attagirl to her beloved niece Miri who is fighting a serious disease with grace and spirit. (Be warned: It’s a tear-jerker!) Links: Jonathan Monten, Joshua Busby, Joshua D. Kertzer, Dina Smeltz, and Jordan Tama, "Americans Want to Engage the World," Foreign Affairs, November 3, 2020 Dina Smeltz, Ivo H. Daalder, Karl Friedhoff, Craig Kafura, and Brendan Helm, “Divided We Stand: Democrats and Republicans Diverge on US Foreign Policy,” Chicago Council on Global Affairs, September 17, 2020 Mark Hannah and Caroline Gray, "Diplomacy & Restraint the Worldview of American Voters," Eurasia Group Foundation, September 2020 “About Those Polls…,” The Daily, November 12, 2020 Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear, Maggie Astor and Peter Baker, “Republicans Are Split over Whether to Call the Election Over,” New York Times, November 8, 2020 Kaelen Deese, “Hogan Congratulates Biden, Harris on Election Victory: 'Everyone Should Want Our President to Succeed,'” The Hill, November 7, 2020 Christopher Preble, “The Biden Administration Can Both Look Inward and Provide Leadership on the Global Stage,” Atlantic Council, November 9, 2020 Aaron Mehta, "Where President-Elect Joe Biden Stands on National Security Issues," Defense News, November 8, 2020 Elisabeth Braw, "Defense Spending and What We Can Learn from Sweden," On the Cusp Podcast, November 2, 2020 Myhre Syndrome
Bryan McGrath rejoins the Net Assessment team to discuss the U.S. Navy's Battle Force 2045 proposal. Bryan, Melanie, Chris, and Zack agree that the proposed 500 ship force is a fantasy that will not be fully funded. But they express optimism that these plans will provide useful starting points for deeper thinking about the Navy's future force. Chris launches an email etiquette crusade, Zack complains about sexism in defense reporting, Bryan commends the name of the Navy's first guided missile frigate, and Melanie urges everyone to vote. Links "Secretary of Defense Remarks at CSBA on the NDS and Future Defense Modernization Priorities," Department of Defense, October 6, 2020 Megan Eckstein, "SECDEF Esper Calls for 500-Ship Fleet by 2045, With 3 SSNs a Year and Light Carriers Supplementing CVNS," USNI News, October 6, 2020 Bryan McGrath, "Deterring War, Conducting War, Ending War: What Seapower Does," CDR Salamander Blog, August 26, 2020 Bryan McGrath, Twitter, October 16, 20 Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt, "A Trump Victory May Push His Defense Secretary Out an Open Door," New York Times, October 23, 2020 David B. Larter, "S. State Department to Allow Sale of Hundreds of Anti-Ship Missiles to Taiwan Amid Diplomatic Row," Defense News, October 26, 2020 Brandon Valeriano, Twitter, October 18, 2020 Harlan Ullman, “Battle Force 2045 Raises Important Questions,” US Naval Institute Proceedings, October 2020 Ronald O’Rourke, “Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, October 7, 2020 Ronald O’Rourke and Michael Moodie, “S. Role in the World: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, Updated August 26, 2020 Mark Montgomery, "Is Esper's New Plan for the Navy Enough for the Indo-Pacific?", War on the Rocks, October 21, 2020 Emily Oster, "Schools Aren't Super-Spreaders," Atlantic, October 9, 2020 Jay Nordlinger, "Trump and Dictators," National Review, October 20, 2020
Chris, Zack, and Melanie get together to talk about U.S. nuclear policy. Should the United States have a "no first use" policy? If so, would that affect choices our allies and partners, as well as adversaries, might make? Has the volatile presidency of Donald Trump shown that more checks are needed in the nuclear weapons launch process? Chris gives a shout out to those Americans already waiting in long lines to vote, Zack applauds Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley for clearly stating that the military has no place in resolving the outcome of an election, and Melanie is happy to see an increasing number of countries condemning the human rights atrocities in China. Links William J. Perry and Tom Z. Collina, "Who Can We Trust with the Nuclear Button? No One," New York Times, June 22, 2020 Masakatsu Ota, "Japanese Nuclear Policy After Hiroshima, After Abe, and After Nov. 3," War on the Rocks, September 14, 2020 Christianna Silva, " Mark Milley Says The Military Has 'No Role' In Elections," NPR, October 11, 2020 “Emma Ashford and Erica Borghard Join the Atlantic Council,“ Atlantic Council, October 5, 2020 Julia Jones, “Inside the Plot to Kidnap Gov. Whitmer,” CNN, October 11, 2020 Jason Morris, Nick Valencia, Annie Grayer and Marshall Cohen, “Massive Lines Mar Start of In-Person Early Voting in Georgia,” CNN, October 13, 2020
Why is America’s global influence in decline? And what can be done to get it back? In a recent study, the RAND Corporation’s James Dobbins, Gabrielle Tarini, and Ali Wyne, trace the former unipolar power’s struggles to several factors, but point chiefly to "the classic cycle of hubris followed by nemesis." A sequence of "success, overconfidence, overstretch, failure, and retreat," they write, explains how "domestic politics, foreign policy, and external events interacted to diminish American influence." Chris, Melanie, and Zack appreciated the effort, but had some questions. The study’s attempt to score American successes and failures dating back to 1945 falls flat, but the global public’s reactions to these efforts isn’t in dispute: the United States isn’t trusted to solve the world’s problems, and many worry that it is making things worse. What can be done to reinvigorate Americans’ global engagement, and win back the trust of allies and partners? And who will take the lead in getting us back on track? Zack praises FBI director Chris Wray for doing his job, and Chris and Melanie give shout outs to acts of human decency. Links: James Dobbins, Gabrielle Tarini, Ali Wyne, “The Lost Generation in American Foreign Policy,” RAND, September 2020 Dina Smeltz, Ivo H. Daalder, Karl Friedhoff, Craig Kafura, and Brendan Helm, "Divided We Stand," Chicago Council on Global Affairs, September 17, 2020 "US election: Trump Won't Commit to Peaceful Transfer of Power," BBC News, September 24, 2020 Devlin Barrett, "FBI Director Affirms Russia’s Aim to ‘Denigrate’ Biden Ahead of Election," The Washington Post, September 17, 2020 Eliott C. McLaughlin, “Portland Protests Remain Largely Peaceful Until Night Falls and Police are Targeted, Authorities Say,” CNN, September 28, 2020 Ryan Bergeron, “A 72-Year-Old Woman was Quietly Living in a Dilapidated House. Then an Electrician Sparked a Community to Help Her Rebuild,” CNN, September 24, 2020 “Unsung Heroes 2020,” The Atlantic Council Scott Lincicome, "It's Time We Had a Talk about Tariffs," The Dispatch, September 29, 2020
Melanie, Chris, and Zack debate the role of ideology in American foreign policy. Bridge Colby and Robert Kaplan have recently argued that the United States should avoid making the competition with China overly ideological, but Zack suggests that this will be easier said than done. Chris worries about the difficulty of emphasizing ideology when the United States isn't practicing what it preaches. Melanie notes the importance of alliance building for managing foreign threats, which has major implications for the role of ideology. She also talks about a quintessential Net Assessment topic: forestry practices. Links: Elbridge Colby and Robert D. Kaplan, “The Ideology Delusion,” Foreign Affairs, September 4, 2020 Kori Schake, Safe Passage: The Transition from British to American Hegemony (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017) Aaron Friedberg, “Competing with China,” Survival, June 01, 2018 Jessica Chen Weiss, “An Ideological Contest in U.S.-China Relations? Assessing China’s Defense of Autocracy,” SSRN, July 30, 2019 “A Special Conversation with Zack Cooper and Laura Rosenberger,” Biden Institute, September 21, 2020 Fareed Zakaria, “We Need to Prepare for This 'Deeply Worrying' Scenario on Election Day,” CNN, September 13, 2020 Christina Morales and Allyson Waller, “A Gender-Reveal Celebration Is Blamed for a Wildfire. It Isn’t the First Time” New York Times, September 7, 2020 Elizabeth Weil, "They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won't Anybody Listen?" ProPublica, August 28, 2020 Delilah Friedler, "California's Wildfire Policy Totally Backfired. Native Communities Know How to Fix It," Mother Jones, November 2019 Alessio Patalano, "What Is China's Strategy in the Senkaku Islands?", War on the Rocks, September 10, 2020 Aaron Friedberg, "Getting the China Challenge Right," American Interest, January 10, 2019 Stephen Walt, "Everyone Misunderstands the Reason for the US-China Cold War," Foreign Policy, June 30, 2020 Yashar Ali, Tweet, September 13, 2020
Zack, Chris, and Melanie get together to talk about what American foreign policy might look like after Jan. 20, 2021. Would President Joe Biden seek a restoration of Obama administration policies, or will he stake out his own doctrine? What will the economic side of America’s foreign policy look like in a second Trump or first Biden administration? Can America’s relationships with allies survive another Trump term? Would a Biden administration be able to repair partnerships that have suffered damage in the last four years? Where would human rights fit in a Biden agenda? Who might the important players be in each administration? Chris issues a plea for calm and unity, Zack has some kind thoughts for outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Melanie gives an attaboy to Africa for eradicating wild polio. Links David A. Wemer, “Adviser on Biden’s Foreign Policy: Start at Home and Repair Alliances,” Elections 2020, Atlantic Council, August 21, 2020 Emma Ashford, “Biden Wants to Return to a ‘Normal’ Foreign Policy. That’s the Problem,” New York Times, August 25, 2020 Mark Johnson, Annysa Johnson, Talis Shelbourne, “Juxtaposition of Two Videos from Kenosha: A Black Man Gets Shot Seven Times from Behind; A White Teen with a Gun Walks Past Police,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 29, 2020 Susan Eisenhower, “My Grandfather Led by Building Trust among Troops and, Later, the Public,” Dallas Morning News, August 30, 2020 “Should Europe Go its Own Way?” Atlantic Council, September 17, 2020 John Sipher, “Trump Creates His Own ‘Deep State’,” New York Times, September 1, 2020 “An Inside Look at the Department of Defense’s China Military Power Report,” American Enterprise Institute, September 1, 2020 Joe Biden, "Joe Biden Answers Our Foreign Policy Questions," Council on Foreign Relations, August 1, 2019 Akbar Shahid Ahmed, "Democrats are Walking a Fine Line on the Election's Main Foreign Policy Issue: China," Huffington Post, August 22, 2020 Alex Ward, "'America First, but on Steroids': What Trump's Second Term Foreign Policy Might Look Like," Vox, August 26, 2020 Emma Ashford, "Biden Wants to Return to a 'Normal' Foreign Policy. That's the Problem," New York Times, August 25, 2020 Van Jackson, "Biden's China Policy Can't Help but be Incoherent," Foreign Policy, August 13, 2020 Kori Schake, "Biden's Bad Foreign Policy Ideas," The Atlantic, June 7, 2020 “The Future of Grand Strategy in A Post-COVID World,” Institute for Peace and Diplomacy, September 9, 2020 Joe Biden, "Why America Must Lead Again," Foreign Affairs, January 23, 2020
Chris, Melanie, and Zack discuss the renewed debate over the present and future of U.S.-Russian relations. Two competing open letters make the case for or against the status quo, which is increasingly characterized by deep suspicion and rising tension. Is Vladimir Putin to blame? Or do the roots of U.S.-Russian enmity run deeper? Are constructive diplomatic relations impossible so long as Putin is in charge? Or should U.S. policymakers look past Putin’s many offenses in the interest of reducing the risk of conflict? The crew give a special attaboy to Brent Scowcroft, who died earlier this month. Scowcroft was national security advisor to two U.S. presidents and counselor to at least four others. Zack also praises the protesters in Belarus and Melanie gives a special shout out to Polish filmmaker Agniezska Holland for “Mr. Jones,” a film about a young journalist who blew the lid off the Holodomor, the manmade famine in Ukraine which killed millions in the early 1930s. Links Rose Gottemoeller, Thomas Graham, Fiona Hill, et al, “It’s Time to Rethink Our Russia Policy,” POLITICO, August 5, 2020 David J. Kramer, et al, “No, Now Is Not the Time for Another Russia Reset,” POLITICO, August 11, 2020 Lydia Saad, “Majority of Americans Now Consider Russia a Critical Threat,” Gallup, February 27, 2019 Adam Taylor, “More Russians Are Sure of the U.S. Meddling in Their Politics than the Other Way Around, Poll Finds,” Washington Post, February 7, 2018 Frederick Kempe and Jeffrey Lightfoot, “The Legacy Brent Scowcroft Leaves Behind,” Atlantic Council, August 7, 2020 Jacob Heilbrunn, “A Tribute to Brent Scowcroft,” The National Interest, August 7, 2020 Bartholomew Sparrow and Doyle Hodges, “Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security,” Horns of a Dilemma, August 14, 2020 Josh Rudolph and Thomas Morley, "Covert Foreign Money: Financial Loopholes Exploited by Authoritarians to Fund Political Interference in Democracies," Alliance for Securing Democracy, 2020 Scott Neuman, "Belarus Factory Workers Walk Out, Joining Mass Protests Calling for President to Quit," National Public Radio, August 17, 2020 Robert M. Gates, "The Scowcroft Model," Foreign Affairs, August 13, 2020, Elizabeth Rosenberg and Jordan Tama, "Strengthening the Economic Arsenal," Center for a New American Security, December 16, 2019 Ryan Goodman and Asha Rangappa, "How Sen. Ron Johnson's Investigation Became an Enabler of Russian Disinformation: Part I," Just Security, August 11, 2020
Melanie, Chris, and Zack debate Michèle Flournoy’s recent Foreign Affairs article about how to prevent war in Asia by reinforcing deterrence against China. They discuss the importance of senior Democrats placing renewed emphasis on Asia, and ask what this might mean in light of the likely downward pressure on the defense budget. Chris asks whether the strategy is too reliant on U.S. power projection rather than allied anti-access/area denial capabilities. Melanie questions why the United States hasn’t adjusted more quickly to focus on Asia. And Zack notes that some U.S. allies are making important defense strategy shifts, partially prompted by fears of U.S. disengagement. Links Michèle Flournoy, “How to Prevent a War in Asia: The Erosion of American Deterrence Raises the Risk of Chinese Miscalculation,” Foreign Affairs, June 18, 2020 Heather Conley and Kathleen Hicks, “Pentagon action to withdraw from Germany benefits our adversaries,” The Hill, Aug. 4, 2020 Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Martin, and Reid J. Epstein, “Trump Floats an Election Delay, and Republicans Shoot It Down,” The New York Times, July 30, 2020 Eugene Gholz, Benjamin Friedman, and Enea Gjoza, "Defensive Defense: A Better Way to Protect US Allies in Asia," Washington Quarterly, Winter 2020 Steven Erlanger, “Turkish Aggression Is NATO’s ‘Elephant in the Room,’” New York Times, Aug. 3, 2020 Patrick Chevallereau, “The Worm Is in the Fruit: A Rising Strategic Foe Inside NATO,” RUSI, July 31, 2020 Patrick Porter, The False Promise of Liberal Order: Nostalgia, Delusion and the Rise of Trump (Polity, 2020)
The 2017 National Security Strategy states that “economic security is national security.” Chris, Zack, and Melanie get together to discuss how the United States might strengthen and use its economic power in an increasingly competitive and connected world to enhance our national security. They ask if our political leadership is capable of defining goals and assessing means to achieve them, how much the government (taxpayers) should support technological research, and what benefits and risks that might carry. Can we prevent public investments in domestic innovation from being a source of cronyism and inefficiency? What criteria should we use to determine how resources are distributed, and what should we expect in return? Any successful agenda will require domestic and international action. Do we have the political will to make smart reforms to laws and regulations, or will entrenched interests and stale systems stop even incremental changes? How can we manage international partnerships in a way that will promote American prosperity and security? Chris has a grievance for over regulation, Zack applauds David Stilwell for setting forth a new U.S.-South China Sea policy, and Melanie criticizes the administration for its campaign to undermine Dr. Fauci. Links David H. McCormick, Charles E. Luftig, James M. Cunningham, “Economic Might, National Security, and the Future of American Statecraft,” Texas National Security Review, Summer 2020 Elizabeth Rosenberg, Peter E. Harrell, and Ashley Feng, "A New Arsenal for Competition," CNAS, April 24, 2020 Juan Zarate, Treasury's War (New York, PublicAffairs, 2013) Mike Pompeo, "S. Position on Maritime Claims in the South China Sea," U.S. Department of State, July 13, 2020 Michael R. Gordon and Gordon Lubold, "Trump Administration Weighs Troop Cut in South Korea," The Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2020 Zack Cooper, "Five Asia-Related Items to Watch in the National Defense Authorization Act," AEIdeas, July 15, 2020 Chloe Melas, “6-Year Old Wyoming Boy Praised for Saving Sister from Dog Attack,” East Idaho News, July 16, 2020 Michael Shear and Noah Weiland, “Fauci Back at the White House, a Day After Trump Aides Tried to Undermine Him,” New York Times, July 13, 2020 Zack Cooper and Bonnie S. Glaser, “What Options are on the Table in the South China Sea?” War on the Rocks, July 22, 2020
Melanie, Zack, and Chris unpack why the United States has failed to contain the novel coronavirus. Most blame poor leadership in the United States — from the White House to public health officials and down to key figures in the media during the earliest stages of the disease. A more focused effort, sooner, as was implemented in many other developed countries, might have worked. But some see a deeper problem — American exceptionalism, especially an unwillingness to learn from the others’ approaches. If the United States does not turn things around soon, and demonstrate its capacity for solving the pandemic, will U.S. allies and partners be as willing to follow its leadership on a range of other problems? What will be the lasting effects of COVID-19 on the global order, and America’s place in it? Grievances are aired for Tucker Carlson, the House Armed Service Committee, and the Russians — and the Americans who excuse or ignore their behavior. Zack praises the Washington professional football team for its impending name change, and Chris praises the House and Senate Armed Services Committees for planning to do the same for U.S. military bases. Melanie gives a shout out to the Australians for a serious defense strategy and offers warm and heartfelt congratulations to her niece Kaylee for getting accepted to a top medical school — and to her mom (Melanie’s sister) for helping to set up her three daughters for success. Links Jeremy Konyndyk, “Exceptionalism Is Killing Americans: An Insular Political Culture Failed the Test of the Pandemic,” Foreign Affairs, June 8, 2020 Farhad Manjoo, “The World Builds a Wall to Keep America Out,” New York Times, July 1, 2020 Rebecca Kheel, “House Panel Approves $740.5B Defense Policy Bill,” The Hill, July 1, 2020 Jeff Cox, “The Coronavirus Will Cost the Economy Nearly $8 Trillion, Congressional Budget Office Says,” CNBC, July 1, 2020 Rebecca Kheel, “House Armed Services Votes to Make Pentagon Rename Confederate-Named Bases in a Year,” The Hill, July 1, 2020 Sam LaGrone, “Senate Bill to Purge Confederate Names from U.S. Military Could Affect Two Navy Ships,” USNI News, June 12, 2020 “Challenging Convention: Charting a New Course for the New American Engagement Initiative,” Atlantic Council, July 9, 2020 James Fallows, "The Three Weeks that Changed Everything," The Atlantic, June 29, 2020 Stephen Grey, Andrew Macaskill, Ryan McNeill, Steve Stecklow, and Tommy Wilkes, "Into the Fog: How Britain Lost Track of the Coronavirus," Reuters, June 29, 2020 Shalini Ramachandran, Laura Kusisto, and Katie Honan, "How New York's Coronavirus Response Made the Pandemic Worse," Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2020 Chloe Taylor, "Belgium Had the Worst Response to the Coronavirus Crisis among OECD Countries, EIU Says," CNBC, June 17, 2020 Eric A. Feldman, "Did Japan's Lenient Lockdown Conquer the Cornavirus?", The Reg Review, June 10, 2020 William Sposato, "Japan's Halfhearted Coronavirus Measures are Working Anyway," Foreign Policy, May 14, 2020 Lance Williams et al, "California Halted Reserve of Ventilators, Masks, Mobile Hospitals," Reveal News, March 27, 2020 Megan Molteni, "How Masks Went from Don't Wear to Must Have," Wired, July 2, 2020 Paul Krugman, "How America Lost the War on Covid-19," New York Times, July 6, 2020 Kyle Mizokami, "The Air Force Names Its New Jet After the Tuskegee Airmen," Popular Mechanics, September 19, 2019 Charlie Savage, Mujib Mashal, Rukmini Callimachi, Eric Schmitt, and Adam Goldman, "Suspicions of Russian Bounties Were Bolstered by Data on Financial Transfers," New York Times, June 30, 2020 Arizona State University, "The Pandemic Dialogues: Great Power Competition and the Case of China"
The Cato Institute's Emma Ashford joins Melanie and Zack to discuss her recent article on how to "Build a Better Blob." They debate whether the foreign policy community is hostile to non-mainstream thinking, or just to non-experts. Emma outlines why the foreign policy community needs to embrace many forms of diversity (and why we all need to wear face masks). Melanie calls out Michael Pack, the new director of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, for appearing committed to dismantling his own organization. And Zack questions National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien's recent op-ed on withdrawing U.S. troops from Germany. Links Emma Ashford, "Build a Better Blob," Foreign Affairs, May 29, 2020 Susan Glasser, “Trump Takes on the Blob,” Politico Magazine, March/April 2020 Emma Ashford, “Stay Home, Save the World,” Instick, April 13, 2020 Paul Farhi, “After Departure of Voice of America Editors, New Trump-Appointed Overseer Fires Heads of Four Sister Organizations,” Washington Post, June 18, 2020 Will Saletan,Tweet, June 5, 2020 Tom Cotton, "Send in the Troops," New York Times, June 3, 2020 Alan Hawkes, Tweet, June, 22, 2020 Hal Brands, Peter Feaver, and William Inboden, "In Defense of the Blob," Foreign Affairs, April 29, 2020 Robert Jervis "Liberalism, the Blob, and American Foreign Policy: Evidence and Methodology," Security Studies, 2020 Mira Rapp-Hooper, Shields of the Republic (Harvard University Press, 2020) Robert O'Brien, "Why the U.S. Is Moving Troops Out of Germany," Wall Street Journal, June 21, 2020
Chris, Zack, and Melanie get together to talk about former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates’s Foreign Affairs article, “The United States Must Recover the Full Range of Its Power.” Against the backdrop of domestic and worldwide protests spurred by the murder of George Floyd, they ask whether we rely too much on the military to carry out America’s foreign policy goals. If so, why? Are we willing to establish criteria for when force should be used? Is it time to reassess the design of our national security bureaucracies? Do Gates’s calls for stronger American leadership ultimately undermine or enhance his hopes for a more diplomatic foreign policy? The gang also reviews the Netflix original Space Force and Chris gives a shout out to all the high school, college, and other graduates experiencing the big day virtually (including his son!). Finally, Zack congratulates Gen. Charles Brown on his unanimous confirmation as chief of staff of the Air Force and thanks him for sharing his personal experiences with discrimination and challenging us to be better. Links Bob Gates, “The United States Must Recover the Full Range of Its Power,” Foreign Affairs, June 2, 2020 David H. McCormick, Charles E. Luftig, and James M. Cunningham, “Economic Might, National Security, and the Future of American Statecraft,” Texas National Security Review, Summer 2020 Robert Gates, “Landon Lecture,” Kansas State University, November 26, 2007 Emma Ashford, “Build a Better Blob,” Foreign Affairs, May 29, 2020 Edward Fishman, “How to Fix America’s Failing Sanctions Policy,” Lawfare, June 4, 2020 Kaleth O. Wright, Tweet, June 01, 2020 Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., "What I'm Thinking About," June 5, 2020 "CSAF/CMSAF Dialogue on Race," June 4, 2020 "America's Top Brass Break with Donald Trump," The Economist, June 6, 2020 Mike Mullen, "I Cannot Remain Silent," The Atlantic, June 2, 2020 Richard Immerman and Jeffrey Engel, Fourteen Points for the Twenty-First Century: A Renewed Appeal for Cooperative Internationalism, (University Press of Kentucky, 2020) Chris Cioffi, “McConnell Sets Vote for Trump Media Agency Pick, Who Has Ties to Steve Bannon,” Roll Call, June 4, 2020 Colbert King, “Trump’s attack on the VOA reeks of McCarthyism,” Washington Post, April 18, 2020
Chris and Melanie welcome Zack Cooper as the new co-host of Net Assessment. They discuss the White House's new China strategy and debate whether the strategy matches President Trump's own views on U.S.-China relations. Chris points out the hubris of U.S. leaders stating that they "do not exclude China" from America's regional strategy, as if China's regional role is up to U.S. leaders. Zack points out the tension between calling out numerous Communist Party transgressions but accepting that the Party will remain in power indefinitely. Melanie calls out President Trump and expresses skepticism about Bob Zoellick's recent critique of "new cold warriors." Chris praises his Cato Institute colleagues and announces that he will co-directing the New American Engagement Initiative at the Atlantic Council. Links "US Strategic Approach to the People's Republic of China," White House, 2020 Robert B. Zoellick, "The US Doesn't Need a New Cold War," Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2020 "Hong Kong Security Law: Carrie Lam Dismisses Concerns Over Human Rights," BBC, May 26, 2020 Adam Rosenberg, "Republican Governor Wants You To Stop Politicizing Wearing A Damn Mask," Mashable, May 24, 2020 William Ruger, Tweet, May 22, 2020 Alex Isenstadt, “GOP Memo Urges Anti-China Assault Over Coronavirus,” Politico, April 24, 2020 Jon Lee Anderson, “The Coronavirus Hits Brazil Hard, But Jair Bolsonaro Is Unrepentant,” New Yorker, May 22, 2020 “Trump's Brazil Travel Ban Begins Tuesday,” VOA News, May 26, 2020 Yuval Levin,A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream, (Basic Books, 2020) Chris Brose, "The End of America's Military Primacy," Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2020 Ishaan Tharoor, "Is A US-China Cold War Already Underway?", Washington Post, May 15, 2020
Zack Cooper joins Melanie and Chris for a discussion of the post-COVID-19 international order. The struggle in both the United States and China to overcome the economic and health effects of the pandemic have called into question each country’s capacity for leadership. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd doubts that middle-tier powers will be able to fill that gap and deal with global challenges. But other signs suggest productive multilateral approaches, including some that barely involve Washington or Beijing. With the two leading powers increasingly locked in a zero-competition, will other countries demonstrate the continued value of cooperation? Melanie showers praise on country music legend and philanthropist Dolly Parton and throws shade on E.U. diplomats for abetting Chinese misinformation. Chris hopes a failed coup plotter’s 15 minutes of fame are up. And offer a brief remembrance for Jerry Stiller, the immortal voice of “and now, for the airing of grievances….” Links Kevin Rudd, “The Coming Post-COVID Anarchy,” Foreign Affairs, May 6, 2020 “Kevin Rudd on America, China and saving the WHO,” The Economist, April 11, 2020 David Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, "US to Accuse China of Trying to Hack Vaccine Data, As Virus Redirects Cyberattacks" New York Times, May 10, 2020 Jerry Dunleavy, "Crime Against Humanity," Washington Examiner, April 24, 2020 Michael Birnbaum, "Beijing Censors Reference to China's Role in Outbreak in EU-Penned Op-Ed, Putting Bloc on Defensive,” The Age, May 7, 2020 Adam Rawnsley, "Dolly Parton is Backing Research into Promising Covid Treatment," The Daily Beast, May 6, 2020 Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "At Senate Hearing, Government Experts Paint Bleak Picture of the Pandemic," New York Times, May 12, 2020 Su-Lin Tan, "China's Restrictions on Australian Beef, Barley Seen as Retaliation for Support of Coronavirus Investigation," South China Morning Post, May 12, 2020 Damien Cave and Isabella Kwai, “China Is Defensive. The U.S. Is Absent. Can the Rest of the World Fill the Void?” New York Times, May 11, 2020 Peter Keepnews, “Jerry Stiller, Comedian with Enduring Appeal, Is Dead at 92,” New York Times, May 11, 2020 Brendan Rittenhouse Green, Cato Institute Christopher Fettweis, Cato Institute Joshua Rovner, Cato Institute
Chris and Melanie are joined by Zack Cooper of the American Enterprise Institute to discuss Mark Hannah's recent War on the Rocks article "Stop Declaring War on a Virus." They discuss why ubiquitous use of the war metaphor might affect how we deal with the coronavirus pandemic, if America's focus on defense is to blame for our less-than-stellar handling of the health crisis, and how political leaders can use the rhetorical framework of war to rapidly increase government power with little oversight. Chris explains why social distancing (at this point) doesn't violate libertarian principles, Zack denounces China's threat of economic retaliation if Australia continues to push for an investigation into the origins of the pandemic, and Melanie has some praise for the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Links Mark Hannah, "Stop Declaring War on a Virus," War on the Rocks, April 17, 2020 Derrick Bryson Taylor, "Marine Corps Bans Public Display of Confederate Flag," April 23, 2020 Rob Thompson, Tweets, April 1, 2020 Rym Momtaz, "Inside Emmanuel Macron's Coronovirus War," Politico Europe, April 12, 2020 Mary McCord, "Trump's 'LIBERATE MICHIGAN'" Tweets Incite Insurrection. That's Illegal," Washington Post, April 17, 2020, Emily Nussbuam, Tweet, April 26, 2020 Edward Wong, Tweet, April 27, 2020 Aila Slisco, “Leader of North Carolina Protests Against Stay-at-Home Tests Positive for Coronavirus” Newsweek, April 27, 2020 Pam Belluck, “32 Days on a Ventilator: One Covid Patient’s Fight to Breathe Again,” New York Times, April 26, 2020 Mark Hannah and Caroline Gray, "Global Views of American Democracy," Eurasia Group Foundation, April 2020 M. Tang et al., "The State of Southeast Asia: 2020," ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, 2020 Amelia Lucas, “Kegs Are Going Bad As Coronavirus Keeps Restaurants Closed. Boston Beer Has a Solution,” CNBC, April 24, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has severely disrupted the global economy, and its impact is likely to last for many months. But some foresee (and are hoping for) permanent changes to global trade: They want businesses to restructure their supply chains and bring more operations back home, thereby reducing dependence upon foreign workers and potential vulnerability to pressure from foreign governments. Some are even willing to pay companies’ relocation costs. In the post-COVID-19 world, will business leaders reconsider the trade-offs between efficiency and resilience against major supply disruptions? How are governments’ responses to the pandemic likely to influence these decisions? And what are the national security implications? Ben Jensen again joins Chris and Melanie to discuss these and other questions. In the grievances and attaboys portion of the show, the trio showers praise on those men and women working to solve the COVID-19 problem and showing random acts of kindness toward their fellow humans, while throwing shade on those who often seem to be standing in the way. Links Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman, “Will the Coronavirus End Globalization as We Know It?” Foreign Affairs, March 16, 2020 David Henderson, “Liberation From Lockdown Now,” American Institute for Economic Research, April 13, 2020 Justin Amash, Twitter, April 11, 2020 Helen Davidson, “Senior WHO Adviser Appears to Dodge Question on Taiwan’s Covid-19 Response,” Guardian, March 30, 2020 Melanie Conklin, “Chinese Government Asks Wisconsin Senator for a Commendation,” Wisconsin Examiner, April 10, 2020 Michael Birnbaum and Terrence McCoy, “As Leaders Seize Powers to Fight Coronavirus, Fear Grows for Democracy,” Washington Post, April 12, 2020 Jenni Marsh, “Beijing Faces a Diplomatic Crisis after Reports of Mistreatment of Africans in China Causes Outrage,” CNN, April 13, 2020
Chris and Melanie sit down with Mark Cancian of CSIS to discuss the final report of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service. They discuss what public service is, what role the government should play in encouraging it, and how COVID-19 and the response to it might affect what opportunities people see for service. Looking at military service specifically, they consider possible reforms to the Selective Service System and take up the commission's recommendation that women be required to register for the draft. Finally, Chris is making progress on a new book, Mark applauds the president for talking about COVID-19 and risks we may have to learn to deal with, and Melanie is grateful for the spontaneous public service we see from so many people during this difficult time. Links "Most Women Oppose Having to Register for the Draft," Rasmussen Reports, February 10, 2016 Christopher Preble, "Don’t Make Women Register for the Draft. Just End Draft Registration for Everyone," Washington Post, February 5, 2016 “Poll: Include Women in U.S. Military Drafts,” Sachs Media Group, June 21, 2013
Amidst the deepening Coronavirus crisis, Melanie and Chris discuss another type of invisible danger: the threats posed by both state and non-state actors in cyberspace. They’re joined by the Marine Corps University’s Benjamin Jensen, senior research director and lead writer for the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, which issued its report earlier this month. Ben offers an insider’s perspective on how the commission approached its work, and outlines its key findings. What strategies should the United States employ to reduce its vulnerability to cyber threats? And what must the U.S. government and private sector do to implement these strategies? Melanie delivers a heartfelt attagirl to her amazing mom; Ben praises Solarium Commission chairmen Sen. Angus King and Rep. Mike Gallagher; and Chris offers thanks to Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. Links Cyberspace Solarium Commission Report, March 2020, “Tracking the Coronavirus,” “The Ultimate Guide to Oregon Women's Basketball Star Sabrina Ionescu,” ESPN, February 29, 2020 James Fallows, “2020 Time Capsule #2: The Exceptional Dr. Fauci,” The Atlantic, March 13, 2020 Brandon Valeriano and Benjamin Jensen, “The Myth of the Cyber Offense: The Case for Restraint,” Cato, January 15, 2019
The Net Assessment crew is back to discuss Carter Malkasian’s Foreign Affairs article, “How the Good War Went Bad: America’s Slow-Motion Failure in Afghanistan.” In this episode, Melanie and Chris are joined by Chris Brose, head of strategy at Anduril Industries. The trio dissect whether this peace deal is better than any other deal the United States could have struck in the past 18 years of fighting, and how much confidence the United States can have in the agreement. Are there facts on the battlefield that have made this agreement possible or is America just tired of fighting the war in Afghanistan? Also, Chris P. gives an attaboy to Mayor Pete, Chris B. tips his hat to Joe Biden, and Melanie gives a shout out to modern medicine. Links Carter Malkasian, “How the Good War Went Bad: America’s Slow-Motion Failure in Afghanistan,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2020 John Glaser and John Mueller, “Overcoming Inertia: Why It’s Time to End the War in Afghanistan,” Cato, August 13, 2019 Lauren Egan, “Trump Calls Coronavirus Democrats' 'New Hoax,'” NBC News, February 28, 2020 Frank Bruni, “Mayor Pete Flew Sky High,” New York Times, March 1, 2020 Michele Flournoy and Stephen Hadley, "The US Deal with the Taliban is an Important First Step," Washington Post, February 29, 2020 Mark Esper, "This is Our Chance to Bring Troops Home from Afghanistan for Good," Washington Post, February 29, 2020 Ari Levy and Alex Sherman, "Vox Media to Cut Hundreds of Freelance Jobs Ahead of Changes in California Gig Economy Laws," Washington Post, December 16 ,2019 Katy Grimes, "California's AB5 Kills off 40-Year Lake Tahoe Music Festival," California Globe, March 1, 2020 Jeremy Brown, "The Coronavirus is No 1918 Pandemic," Atlantic, March 3, 2020
In this episode, Chris and Melanie are joined by Thomas Spoehr of the Heritage Foundation to talk about President Trump's FY2021 defense budget request: What's good in this budget, what's really bad, and what surprised them the most. Chris presses the issue of hearings on Afghanistan, Melanie recommends a new book on the presidency, and Thomas applauds a celebration of Washington's birthday. Links "President's Budget FY 2021," White House, February 10, 2020 "Defense Budget Overview: Irreversible Implementation of the National Defense Strategy," Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, February 2020 Aaron Mehta, "Here's How Much Money the Pentagon Found through Internal Savings and Where It's Going," Defense News, February 6, 2020 David Larter, "As China Continues Rapid Naval Expansion, the US Navy Begins Stockpiling Ship-Killing Missiles," Defense News, February 11, 2020 Andrew Taylor, "Trump's $4.8 Trillion Budget Proposal Revisits Rejected Cuts," AP News, February 10, 2020 Marcus Weisgerber, "DOD's 2021 Budget Would Trim Arsenal, Shift Funds to Arms Development," Defense One, February 10, 2020 Stephen F. Knott, The Lost Soul of the American Presidency, (University of Kansas Press, 2019) Ashley Townsend, Brendan Thomas-Noone, and Matilda Steward, "Averting Crisis: American Strategy Military Spending, and Collective Defense in the Indo-Pacific," United States Studies Centre, August 19, 2019 Thomas Spoehr, “Why the US Navy Needs At Least 355 Ships,” National Interest, February 11, 2020
Special guest Alice Hunt Friend joins Melanie and Chris for a very timely discussion about the possible repeal of the Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs) that presidents have used to justify a range of military operations since 9/11. A few members of Congress have been pushing to repeal these AUMFs for years, and even some reliably conservative voices now support such a move in the interest of restoring the proper balance between the legislative and executive branches on the critical question of war and peace. But most House and Senate Republicans oppose repeal. Would they change their tune with a Democrat in the White House? Or is there a partisan divide on the president’s war powers, with Republicans more inclined to defer to the chief executive and Democrats more inclined to rein in such power? Alice gives a shout out to SOCOM and throws shade on U.S. policy toward Libya, while Melanie dishes on former SEAL Eddie Gallagher. Chris doesn’t like Sen. Tom Cotton’s comments on China and the coronavirus, but he does like puppies! Links Charles Stimson, "Why Repealing the 1991 and 2002 Iraq War Authorizations Is Sound Policy" Heritage Foundation, January 6, 2020 Kevin Williamson, "Repeal the AUMF," National Review, January 5, 2020 Elaine Luria and Max Rose, “Why We Voted Against the War Powers Resolution,” New York Times, January 11, 2020 Megan Thielking and Lev Facher, “Health Experts Warn China Travel Ban Would Hinder Coronavirus Response,” STAT, January 31, 2020 Adam Taylor, “China’s Coronavirus Has No Links to Weapons Research, Experts Say,” Washington Post, January 29, 2020 Animal Planet’s “Puppy Bowl XVI” Andrew Dyer, "Retired Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher Strikes Back at SEALs Who Testified Against Him," San Diego Union-Tribune, January 28, 2020 Gene Healy and John Glaser, "Repeal, Don't Replace, Trump's War Powers," New York Times, April 17, 2018 Matthew Rosenberg, "Faulty Iowa App was Part of Push to Restore Democrats' Digital Edge," New York Times, February 4, 2020 Noah Rothman, "Iowa in the Age of Mistrust," Commentary, February 4, 2020
Chris Brose of Anduril Industries joins Chris and Melanie to talk about Joseph Nye’s Texas National Security Review article, “What is a Moral Foreign Policy?” Should morality be taken into consideration when making foreign policy? How should we assess whether or not a president’s foreign policy is moral? Does using the language of morality make our foreign policy more or less clear? Do people in other countries view our foreign policy as moral? Should perception matter at home or abroad? Also, Chris Preble gets another opportunity to stick it to Saudi Arabia, Melanie shows some love for history, and Chris Brose recognizes the excellent work of some friends. Links Joseph S. Nye Jr., “What is a Moral Foreign Policy?” Texas National Security Review, November 2019 Joe Heim, "National Archives Exhibit Blurs Images Critical of President Trump," Washington Post, January 17, 2020 Craig Whitlock, "Afghan War Plagued by 'Mendacity' and Lies, Inspector General Tells Congress," Washington Post, January 15, 2020 Barack Obama, Presidential Study Directive 10, White House, August 4, 2011 Rahul Sagar, "Rediscovering Indian Thought: How a Scholar Built a Database of Pre-Independence Magazines," Scroll, November 24, 2019 "War with Iraq Is not in America's National Interest," New York Times, September 26, 2002 Marc Fisher and Steven Zeitchik, “Saudi Crown Prince Implicated in Hack of Jeff Bezos’s Phone, U.N. Report Will Say,” Washington Post, January 21, 2020 Heritage Pride Productions' Elf: The Musical, January 23, 24, and 25th “The Future of Progressive Foreign Policy: 2020 and Beyond,” Cato Policy Forum, January 28th, 5:00 PM "Is War Over?” Cato Policy Forum, February 6th, 12:00 PM
After a long holiday hiatus, Hudson’s Patrick Cronin joins Melanie and Chris in a spirited discussion of U.S. policy toward China. How is this competition like the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and what’s different? What aspects of China’s behavior are most worrisome? What steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of conflict? Or is a clash, even if it is mostly non-military in nature, inevitable? Patrick gives a shout out to the heroic men and women fighting wildfires in Australia, Melanie expresses her appreciation for Ricky Gervais, and Chris offers kudos to the U.S. press corps. Links: Fareed Zakaria, "The New China Scare: Why America Shouldn’t Panic About Its Latest Challenger" Foreign Affairs, January/February 2020 Christopher Preble, “A Useful Corrective to China Fearmongering,” Cato, December 6, 2019 Christopher A. Preble, “NDAA 2020: Congress Neglects Its Responsibility Once Again,” Cato, December 10, 2019 Salvador Rizzo, "Anatomy of a Trump Rally: 67 Percent of Claims Are False or Lacking Evidence," Washington Post, January 7, 2020 “In 1,055 Days, President Trump Has Made 15,413 False or Misleading Claims,” Washington Post, December 10, 2019 Jordan Hoffman, "No One Knows Where Mike Pence Got His Soleimani 'Facts' From," Vanity Fair, January 4, 2020 John Hudson, Josh Dawsey, Shane Harris, and Dan Lemothe, "Killing of Soleimani Follows Long Push From Pompeo For Aggressive Action Against Iran, but Airstrike Brings Serious Risks," Washington Post, January 5, 2020 Richard Fontaine, “Great Power Competition is Washington’s Top Priority, but Not the Public’s,” Foreign Affairs, September 11, 2019 Nils Gilman, “China, Capitalism, and the New Cold War,” American Interest, November 18, 2019 Justin Rohrlich, “A Chinese Tourist Accused of Espionage is the Latest Example of a Growing Threat to US Security,” Quartz, January 5, 2020 Josh Blackman, Tweets, January 6, 2020 Ricky Gervais, 2020 Golden Globes, January 5, 2020 Patrick M. Cronin and Ryan Neuhard, “Total Competition: The China Challenge in the South China Sea,” Center for a New American Security, January 9, 2020 Ann Lee, “The Real Target of the US Assassination of the Iranian Military Leader Qassem Soleimani-China,” South China Morning Post, January 8, 2020 Heritage Pride Productions' “Elf: The Musical,” January 23, 24, and 25th “The Future of Progressive Foreign Policy: 2020 and Beyond,” Cato Policy Forum, January 28, 2020
The Net Assessment crew is back and this week they are breaking down an article written by Brian Stewart in Quillette titled, "Tensions in NATO and the Looming End of Pax Americana." Is NATO worth American attention and money? Why don't the Europeans just get their act together? The crew discusses what threat NATO is designed to counter and whether it should forget about Russia and focus on terrorism. Also, Bryan has a grievance with attorney general Bill Barr, Melanie takes issue with the Danish Atlantic Council, and Chris gives an attaboy to the students at the University of California, Washington Center. Join Melanie, Chris, and Bryan as they dive once more into the breach. Links Brian Stewart, "Tensions in NATO and the Looming End of Pax Americana," Quillette, December 5, 2019 Bret Stephens, "NATO is Full of Freeloaders. But It's How We Defend the Free World," New York Times, December 5, 2019 "Emmanuel Macron in His Own Words," Economist, November 7, 2019 Katie Benner, "Barr and Durham Publicly, Disagree with Horowitz Report on Russian Inquiry," New York Times, December 12, 2019 Ben Werner, "CNO Gilday Releases New, Simplified Command Guidance to Fleet," USNI News, December 4, 2019 Christopher Preble, "Cops of the World No More," CATO, January 30, 2015 Craig Whitlock, “At War with the Truth,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019 James Laporta, "Afghan War Report Enrages Veterans and Gold Star Families: Even as More of Us Died, They Lied," Newsweek, December 9, 2019 Jonah Schepp, "A NATO Summit to End All NATO Summits," New York Magazine, December 5, 2019 Mariel Padilla, "NATO Conference is Canceled after US Ambassador Barred a Trump Critic," New York Times, December 8, 2019 "The Day Will Come," Netflix Orlando Parfitt, "The Day Will Come' Claims Top Prize at Denmark's Robert Awards," Screen Daily, February 6, 2017
Chris, Bryan, and Melanie talk about the Interim Report issued by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence last week. What kinds of expectations should we have about AI being used for national security purposes? What kind of investments should be made in this technology, and where will the money come from? What about concerns that AI developed by American companies or the United States government might be used by authoritarian regimes to violate their citizens' human rights? Can we continue to reap the benefits of research collaboration with people from other countries, particularly China, and still protect national security secrets? Finally, Bryan tells us of his exploits in Italy, Chris gives a heartfelt appreciation to a friend and colleague, and Melanie looks forward to some long-awaited playtime with her nephews. Links National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, Interim Report, November 2019 Jacey Fortin, “Uber C.E.O. Backtracks After Comparing Khashoggi’s Killing to an Accident,” New York Times, November 11, 2019 Andrew Bacevich, “The Berlin Wall Fell and the U.S. learned the Wrong Lessons. It Got Us Donald Trump,” Los Angeles Times, November 8, 2019 Christopher Preble, John Glaser, and A. Trevor Thrall, Fuel to the Fire: How Trump Made America's Broken Foreign Policy Even Worse, (Cato Institute, 2019) Robert Work and Eric Schmidt, "In Search of Ideas: The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Wants You," War on the Rocks, July 18, 2019 Ilanit Chernick, "Holocaust Survivors Reunite with Rescuer at Yad Vashem," November 3, 2019, Jerusalem Post "Holocaust Survivor Reunited with a Baby He Saved During World War II," BBC, November 8, 2019 Gina Kolata, "Vast Dragnet Targets Theft of Biomedical Secrets for China," New York Times, November 4, 2019 Melanie Marlow, Tweets, November 11, 2019 “Puffs,” Heritage Pride Productions, November 14-15-16, and 21-22-23
Melanie, Chris, and guest host Claude Berube discuss the promise and pitfalls of exit strategies. When policymakers plan to embark on foreign wars, should they also prepare a plan for extricating the nation from these wars when they are completed? Is an exit strategy a vital component of strategy? Or do exit strategies create unreasonable expectations of easy victory? Can an exit strategy focus attention on a desired end state, and prevent mission creep? Or are prudent adjustments only possible when policymakers are not shackled to pre-war objectives? Chris congratulates New England Patriots’ coach Bill Bellichick on victory number 300, Melanie blasts Sean Duffy for questioning a decorated U.S. Army officer’s patriotism, and Claude delivers a Net Assessment first -- a heartfelt attadog for his beloved four-legged companion, Reagan. Links David Kampf, "When Are Exit Strategies Viable?" War on the Rocks, October 14, 2019 Adam Wunische, "The Lost Art of Exiting a War," War on the Rocks, October 21, 2019 Devon Clements, "Bill Belichick Becomes 3rd NFL Head Coach Ever to Accumulate 300 Career Wins," Sports Illustrated, October 27, 2019 Christopher Preble, “New Rules for U.S. Military Intervention,” War on the Rocks, September 20, 2016 Richard Fontaine, “The Nonintervention Delusion: What War Is Good For,” Foreign Affairs, November-December 2019 Spencer Ackerman, “Baghdadi Is Dead. The War on Terror Will Create Another,” Daily Beast, October 28, 2019 Doug Bandow and Christopher Preble, “Lost in the Furor Over Syria: Alliances Are a Means, Not an End,” War on the Rocks, October 23, 2019 Ashley Feinberg, "This Sure Looks Like Mitt Romney's Secret Twitter Account," Slate, October 20, 2019 "Sean Duffy on CNN," CNN, October 29, 2019 Aaron Stein, "US Officials Ignored Trump on Syria and We are All Paying the Price," War on the Rocks, October 22, 2019 "The Weinberger Doctrine," Washington Post, November 30, 1984 Jason Whiteley, "No Exit, No Problem," Small Wars Journal, April 21, 2011 James Nolt, "Exit Strategy," World Policy," World Policy, February 23, 2017
Join Chris, Melanie, and Bryan as they dive into Professor Philip Zelikow’s recent article in the Texas National Security Review titled, “To Regain Policy Competence: The Software of American Problem Solving.” Has policymaking gotten worse, or is it a problem with implementation? Or is implementation part of the policymaking process? The gang also discusses whether there is a lack of professionalism in the education and training of future policymakers. This week's episode is a little wonky, but well worth the time. At the end of the show, Bryan gives an attaboy for the first person to complete a marathon in under two hours, while Chris gives a shout out to his wife. Links Philip Zelikow, "To Regain Policy Competence: The Software of American Public Problem-Solving," Texas National Security Review, September 2019 John Glaser, Christopher Preble, A. Trevor Thrall, Fuel to the Fire: How Trump Made America’s Broken Foreign Policy Even Worse (and How We Can Recover) (Cato Institute, 2019) Justin Logan, “Cult of the Irrelevant: National Security Eggheads & Academics,” American Conservative, June 12, 2019 Danielle Pletka, Tweet, October 13, 2019 Justin Logan, Tweet, October 13, 2019 Danielle Pletka, Tweet, October 13, 2019 Krista Preble, LinkedIn Alex Horton, "A Latina Novelist Spoke About White Privilege. Students Burned Her Book in Response," Washington Post, October 11, 2019 Tim Hains, "Beto O'Rourke: Churches That Oppose Same-Sex Marriage Should Lose Tax-Exempt Status," Real Clear Politics, October 11, 2019 Ryan Prior, "Farmers in Idaho Rallied to Harvest a Neighbor's Potatoes as a Deep Freeze Threatened to Ruin Them," CNN, October 11, 2019 Tariq Tahir, "Nobel Peace Prize 2019 – Greta Thunberg Snubbed as Award Given to Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed for Ending 20 Year Eritrea Conflict," Sun, October 11, 2019 Chris Stein, "Nobel Snub No Obstacle in Great Thunberg's Climate Quest," Yahoo News, October 11, 2019 Andrew Keh, "Eliud Kipchoge Breaks Two-Hour Marathon Barrier," New York Times, October 12, 2019 The Bulwark Podcast, "Bryan McGrath on Trump and American Exceptionalism," October 14, 2019