Global power politics, for the people. Hosted by Van Jackson.
The Writers' Strike, Global Film, and Entertainment Multipolarity, w/ Kevin Fox | Ep. 168
Have you ever wondered about the political economy of movie-making? Like, why are Hollywood movies globally hegemonic, and why is South Korea its only rival, and why are most foreign countries mere backlots for American studios? What does it have to do with the Netflix-Hulu-Amazon-Disney+ streaming model? Why are the WGA and SAG-AFTRA on strike? What kind of solidarities unite American writers and actors with Korean writers and actors? Some really big questions, and US foreign policy plays a role in answering them, remarkably. I sat down with writer/director/producer/editor Kevin Fox to discuss.
Live Show! China, US Grand Strategy, and the Inequality Problem | Ep. 167
In this live show, I put three propositions on the table—Un-Diplomatic regulars will be at least somewhat familiar with all these themes: 1) Sino-US rivalry is not a struggle for hegemony or domination; 2) US grand strategy is one of primacy, and the requirements of primacy today conflict with the requirements of peace in Asia and the Pacific; 3) The root-cause of our problems with China is inequality—at multiple levels, but especially within China.
Fighting Pentagon Graft, w/ William Hartung and Julia Gledhill
This episode doesn’t just have a theme, it has a thesis. Have you wondered how precisely the Pentagon manages to siphon so much taxpayer money year after year? How the military-industrial-congressional complex functions in practice? Why US primacy is so expensive yet perpetually in crisis? This episode with William Hartung and Julia Gledhill is something of a tutorial for understanding Pentagon bloat and corruption—which are deeply intertwined. US defense strategy has been hot garbage for, well, as long as I’ve been alive. It’s never been well conceived, sets impossible standards that it uses to request evermore funds when it fails to meet them, and heightens the very threats it aims to guard against. As we discuss in this episode, a key cause of this strategic ineptitude is Pentagon graft and the ability to buy its way out of the kinds of tradeoffs that would impose discipline on strategy-making.
Dissident Thinking, Foreign Policy for the Middle Class, and Progressive Fissures Around Militarism | Ep. 165
In this cross-over episode with the Security Dilemma podcast, Van speaks with Patrick Fox and John Allen Gay of the John Quincy Adams Society about a range of issues: dissident thinking and intellectual diversity in foreign policy; how to think about China and deterrence; what’s wrong with a "foreign policy for the middle class”; fissures in the progressive movement on foreign policy; and more!
Part II: Classical Realism Versus International Relations, Interview w/ Jonathan Kirshner | Ep. 164
Part II of my conversation with Jonathan Kirshner about his new book, An Unwritten Future: Realism, Uncertainty, and World Politics. Kirshner explains how classical realists think about the “national interest"; distinctions between realist and progressive political economy; what he doesn’t like about the “Thucydides’ Trap,”; the poverty of offensive realism; and how classical realism understands everything from British appeasement of Hitler to the Vietnam War.
Part I: Classical Realism Versus International Relations, Interview w/ Jonathan Kirshner | Ep. 163
Part I of my two-part conversation with Jonathan Kirshner about his new book, An Unwritten Future: Realism, Uncertainty, and World Politics. Kirshner explains why classical realism is a misunderstood intellectual tradition. We get into: Why realism recruits dead people into their intellectual tradition; what we can learn from Thucydides, and why an armchair understanding of the Peloponnesian War does more harm than good; why realist pessimism is a self-fulfilling prophecy; why international relations has somewhat lost its way; how we should think about the “national interest"; and distinctions between realist and progressive political economy.