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.
Debating the National Defense Strategy
Is the National Defense Strategy actually a strategy? Melanie, Chris, and Zack debate the Biden administration’s recently released National Defense Strategy. Do integrated deterrence, campaign, and enduring advantage add up to more than the sum of their parts? Does the unclassified version of the National Defense Strategy make any hard choices to connect ends and means? Melanie commends those U.S. service members who evacuated thousands of people from Afghanistan. Chris complains about incessant political advertisements ahead of the midterm elections. And Zack thanks his teammates from the Alliance for Securing Democracy.
Assessing the National Security Strategy
Chris, Zack, and Melanie sit down to talk about the recently-released Biden-Harris National Security Strategy. Several months delayed, the document recognizes that the United States is in an intense competition with China and asserts that Washington will look for ways to cooperate with both allies and adversaries on important global challenges such as climate change. Does the NSS assess the threat environment correctly? How will the United States manage both competition and cooperation with adversaries? Is the U.S. doing what it must to “outmaneuver” China during this “decisive decade”?
Chris is bothered that it is hard to have an honest debate about what the United States is doing in Ukraine, Zack discusses the legacy of Ash Carter, and Melanie is appalled that American military pilots have been selling their services to the Chinese military.
Episode Reading: https://warontherocks.com/2022/10/assessing-the-national-security-strategy
Searching for the Elusive Rules-Based Order
Chris, Zack, and special guest host Rachel Hoff of the Ronald Reagan Institute, explore the recent article by Dani Rodrik and Stephen Walt “How to Build a Better Order: Limiting Great Power Rivalry in an Anarchic World." Rodrik and Walt propose a framework — or “meta-regime” — that affirms well-established norms of international behavior (as enshrined in the U.N. Charter, for example), while also preserving space for states to act unilaterally or multilaterally, but ideally in ways that do not increase the risk of conflict. But is it even realistic to speak of a rules-based order? And should we want one? Some Americans chafe at the notion of constraints on U.S. power. And what are the actual prospects for international cooperation at all, given the increasingly competitive nature of the U.S.-China relationship?
Grievances for Joe Biden’s talk of nuclear Armageddon, and toward the Saudis for colluding with the Russians (and others) to raise gas prices – and maybe help Republicans in the mid-term elections. An atta-secretary to Lloyd Austin for his plan to remove the names of violent insurrectionists from U.S. military bases. And, in a first, Zack praises Chris Preble … for convincing the Biden administration to finally release the National Security Strategy. We’re sure that’s what did it.
This episode's reading:
Military Lessons from the War in Ukraine
The Net Assessment crew discusses possible military lessons from the war in Ukraine. It is too early to take away any definitive lessons from the war, but it is possible to start identifying and asking some key questions. Melanie, Chris, and Zack debate recent work by Rob Lee and others about why Russia’s army, air force, and cyber capabilities have proven so ineffective. Chris also asks why the National Security Strategy still isn’t published. Zack suggests the world should encourage and welcome Russian men fleeing conscription. And Melanie commends women in Iran for standing up for their rights.
This episode's reading: warontherocks.com/2022/09/military-lessons-from-the-war-in-ukraine
Galvanizing America's Defense Industrial Policy
This week, Chris, Zack, and Melanie talk about a new report, “Rebuild: Toolkit for a New American Industrial Policy,” from the Center for a New American Security. The United States government has a number of ways to intervene in the economy to advance the national interest. The use of tariffs and the Defense Production Act by the last two administrations, as well as passage of the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act, are measures that some argue will help the United States compete more aggressively with China. Should the United States have an industrial policy? What objectives should an industrial policy serve, and how is that determined? How would such a policy be implemented?
Zack gives a shoutout to the Institute for the Study of War for helping us better understand the war in Ukraine, Chris praises Cornell University Press executive editor Roger Haydon on his retirement, and Melanie suggests a good read on how the United States and Taiwan can best prepare the island for a Chinese invasion.
This episode's reading: https://warontherocks.com/2022/09/galvanizing-americas-defense-industrial-policy
Not Their Plane to Land: Generals Thwarting the Chain of Command?
Chris, Melanie, and Zack discuss Doyle Hodges’ recent article scrutinizing Gen. Mark Milley’s behavior in the waning months of the Trump administration. Journalists have rendered a relatively favorable treatment of Milley’s insubordination, but Hodges questions the long-term implications for civil-military relations. Should senior military officers be expected to follow lawful orders, even if they are morally objectionable? Or is resignation the only proper response when those in uniform cannot faithfully execute an order? And is the problem of civil-military relations unique to the Trump administration or does the Milley case portend a future in which the military’s standing is filtered through the same partisan lenses that inflict our politics across the board? Grievances for two former Pennsylvania judges who sentenced juveniles to for-profit prisons (and got rich), toward India for joining Russia’s military exercises, and to President Joe Biden abusing his authority to relieve student debt. Atta-people to the Ukrainian military for its first major counter-offensive of the war with Russia, to Clayton Forrester and all others behind the decision to re-introduce wolves to Yellowstone National Park, and to all those behind an important essay series exploring the future of airpower.
This episode's reading: https://warontherocks.com/2022/09/not-their-plane-to-land-generals-thwarting-the-chain-of-command
Excellent discussion of critical issues
The Richard Hass interview gave a great perspective on the role of diplomacy in recent times and into the future. Considered thought rather than polemic, being prepared to be critical of the US domestic situation, yet still able to suggest positive options in the approaching challenges. There is wisdom here that is missing in the broader cacophony of both mainstream media and social media.
Thx for giving voice to the more sane and informed voices within the foreign affairs/international relations community. It reminds us that, despite the noise, there are still people who can think in the long term and are uninfluenced by the poisonous nature of partisan politics and the lack of evidence based ideas. Worth subscribing to podcast. The Dr…
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.