47 episodes

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.

Net Assessment War on the Rocks

    • Politics

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.

    Deterring by Denial in Asia

    Deterring by Denial in Asia

    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)

    • 50 min
    Money and Might

    Money and Might

    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

    • 52 min
    COVID-19 and U.S. Global Leadership

    COVID-19 and U.S. Global Leadership

    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"

    • 46 min
    America's Foreign Policy Consensus: Blob's Your Uncle?

    America's Foreign Policy Consensus: Blob's Your Uncle?

    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

    • 51 min
    Sources of American Power

    Sources of American Power

    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

    • 47 min
    Big Trouble in a Little China Strategy?

    Big Trouble in a Little China Strategy?

    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

    • 50 min

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