Hosts Melanie Marlowe 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.
Richard Haass Is Unhappy
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.
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.
Much Ado About AUKUS
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!
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/.
A Tale of Two Biden Doctrines
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/.
Did Anyone Win the ‘Global War on Terror’?
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
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.
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/.
Analysis and contestation
Always look forward to the next episode dropping
So much potential....
This show has a great setup, discusses interesting issues but is consistently let down by its deep-state, elitist tendencies to go on Trump-bashing rants every episode.