99 episodes

International lawyer Robert Amsterdam and other members from the Amsterdam & Partners LLP team host a wide range of special expert guests to discuss leading international political and business issues.

Departures with Robert Amsterdam Amsterdam & Partners LLP

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 36 Ratings

International lawyer Robert Amsterdam and other members from the Amsterdam & Partners LLP team host a wide range of special expert guests to discuss leading international political and business issues.

    The Future of Taiwan's Silicon Shield

    The Future of Taiwan's Silicon Shield

    It was just three years ago when the Economist magazine ran a cover story on Taiwan, describing it as "the most dangerous place in the world." With intensifying competition with China and deteriorating global security following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, there are many arguments that continue to support that negative outlook. But that's not the vision for CY Huang, a veteran investment banker with FCC Partners and an expert in the semiconductor industry.
    According to Huang, Taiwan benefits from its "Silicon Shield," the principle being that as long as the world needs Taiwan's dominant semiconductor production, Taiwan should be safe from foreign threats - though that level of security is tenuous and dependent on many other factors.
    In this fascinating coversation with Robert Amsterdam, CY shares his perspective on the geopolitics of semiconductor production, how the new era of AI is driving demand for more high-end chips which can only be manufactured in certain locations, and the recent history of the island's relations with the mainland.

    • 28 min
    Understanding the Ukraine War through the Lens of Greek Tragedy

    Understanding the Ukraine War through the Lens of Greek Tragedy

    As the war in Ukraine rages on into its second year, there remains little consensus or understanding of how the conflict could be resolved outside of military outcomes, and a persisting misunderstanding on behalf of the West regarding Ukraine's own internal preexisting social divisions.
    This week we're pleased to have a special guest, Dr. Nicolai Petro, a professor of political science at the University of Rhode Island, whose new book, "The Tragedy of Ukraine: What Classical Greek Tragedy Can Teach Us About Conflict Resolution," tackles these questions with unique literary framing.
    The conflict can not be understood merely on an institutional or rational level, but also must be considered in light of the emotional dimensions, Petro argues. Diving into the texts of Greek tragedies, Petro finds numerous illuminating parables from ancient Athenian society which can serve as frameworks to heal deep social trauma and create more just institutions. In this fascinating conversation with host Robert Amsterdam, Petro explores how he got the idea to approach the war from this perspective, how he responds to recent changes in Ukraine since the outbreak of war, and how the country may endeavor to secure its future.

    • 30 min
    You can't understand the Soviet system without understanding the daily lives of its people

    You can't understand the Soviet system without understanding the daily lives of its people

    From the Russian Revolution of 1917 to the chaotic disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, there is a dazzling and disorienting array of histories. While many books detail the lives and politics of Soviet leaders, Karl Schlögel invites us to better understand the experience of the country through the lives lived by more common Russians, from the depredations of communal apartments, repression, and violence, to the more prosaic aspects of Soviet life - the relics and rituals of museums, the grandeur and intensity of gigantic public works projects.
    In his new book, "The Soviet Century: Archaeology of a Lost World," Schlögel, who is one of Germany's most authoritative historians on Russia, presents a history that is not comprehensive or categorical, but instead personal. In this conversation with Robert Amsterdam, Schlögel discusses his approach to such a vast period with selection of coloful vingettes, taking the reader inside the Soviety experience with extraordinary depth and detail.

    • 36 min
    The enduring legacy of the Great Arab Revolt

    The enduring legacy of the Great Arab Revolt

    There is a strong argument to be made that the root of Palestinian identity can be traced back to the 1936-1939 Great Revolt, which united rival families and communities, melded urban with rural, and joined rich and poor together in a struggle against Zionism and the British Empire.
    This is the starting point in Oren Kessler's exquisitely detailed new book, "Palestine 1936: The Great Revolt and the Roots of the Middle East Conflict," which takes the reader inside the earliest days of Jewish migration from Europe during the interwar period, and raises numerous questions about the key events which continue to shape the modern Middle East conflict today.
    In this conversation with Robert Amsterdam, Kessler approaches the protagonists in this history with great care and empathy, and sheds light on the numerous complexities behind critical "what if" moments, from the Balfour Declaration and the White Paper of 1939. In light of the horrific October 7 attacks and the continuing conflict in Gaza, an interrogation of the historical roots of statehood in the region such as Kessler's book are a revelation and education.

    • 31 min
    When China gave up on its peaceful rise

    When China gave up on its peaceful rise

    Formulated by PRC think tanks in the mid-1990s, China's official slogan of the "peaceful rise" sought to calm Western fears regarding its blossoming economic, military, and political power as the nation resumed an outsized role in global affairs. However the mood did not last long, as in the later years of President Hu Jintao's administration, policies hardened into a more aggressive, militaristic stance, and then was continued by the personalistic regime of President Xi Jinping, as China sought to project power abroad to boost popularity of the regime at home.
    There are few people more qualified to examine this period than Susan Shirk, a professor at the University of California San Diego and the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs. In her latest book, "Overreach: How China Derailed Its Peaceful Rise," Shirk takes apart some of the most common myths and narratives held by observers of China - namely that the "peaceful rise" was a deception instead of an intention, but this was not the case.
    Shirk explores the numerous and complex domestic factors guiding of Chinese foreign policy, while rejecting the premise that all decisions stem from the personal whims of Xi Jinping and his agenda for Chinese primacy. Xi does not enjoy any sort of full control over China, Shirk argues, but sits atop a complex, competing system of institutional imperatives, such as weiquan (sovereignty rights defence) and weiwen (stability maintenance). These imperatives often produce policies at odds with Xi's preferences, and leave China with a government that shouldn't be considered a rational unitary actor.
    In crafting policy responses to China's growing power and influence, Shirk warns against overreacting in ways that weaken the ability of the US to compete. In other words, stay true to the principles of a free and open market democracy.
     
    The state behaves in ways that are not directed by and are sometime at odds with the preferences of the leader, particularly in the areas of , or, broadly, international and domestic security.
     
     She takes a contrary view to those who would locate the source of Beijing’s behaviour purely in terms of Xi Jinping’s mission to centre China on the world stage. Instead, she notes that friction over the same issues analysts now frequently associate with Xi began much earlier than his term. These tensions have worsened under Xi, but they are not merely a product of his leadership. Nor, she argues, is Xi totally in control.

    • 28 min
    The more a Canadian academic learned about China, the less the West wanted to hear

    The more a Canadian academic learned about China, the less the West wanted to hear

    As 2023 draws to a close, it has become increasingly clear that there are profound misunderstandings and misapprehensions running amok in Western media narratives regarding the pecularities of the current state in China. That's precisely why there should be a high level of interest in a book of personal experience, nuanced narrative, and thoughtful observation from a Canadian academic who for a time played a unique role within China's state bureaucracy.
    In 2017, Daniel A. Bell was appointed dean of the School of Political Science and Public Administration at Shandong University—the first foreign dean of a political science faculty in China’s history. The story of his time in this position is enormously illuminating, highlighting both the immense challenges and also the occasional positives, and told with a certain level of humor and empathy often missing from accounts of politically sensitive jobs in the era of Xi Jinping.
    His book, "The Dean of Shandong: Confessions of a Minor Bureaucrat at a Chinese University," is a riotously fun, informative, and eye-opening tour through modern Chinese academia. In his interview with Robert Amsterdam, Bell recounts how if some of his more "constructive" takes on events in China were found to be inconsistent with the predominant narrative, he encountered isolation from Westerners who preferred their current understanding.

    • 27 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
36 Ratings

36 Ratings

caligula blushes ,

Worth It

In 2016 Robert Amsterdam appeared on a panel with David Satter at the Hudson Institute to discuss the 1999 Russian Apartment Bombings and provide analysis about Russia’s relationship with West. Great stuff and he hasn’t let up. Happy to find this podcast.

James.C52 ,

Best Podcast Out There

Bobs ability to consistently land these world class subject matter experts is hugely impressive, and his ability to engage them in esoteric, in-depth discussions makes this the best podcast around. I’m so happy this podcast was recommended to me, as it’s equal parts educational, entertaining and engrossing.

Msupp123 ,

Fantastic politics/iR podcast

This is a great podcast for anyone interested in international affairs. The guest list is impressive - it seems every new IR book that comes out is covered here and the conversations with authors and other guests are always insightful.

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