Providence is a journal of Christianity and American foreign policy equipping the American mind to engage the real world.
Episode #61 | America's Withdrawal From Afghanistan (Paul D. Miller)
Providence executive editor Marc LiVecche spoke with contributing editor and Georgetown professor Paul Miller about President Joe Biden's plans to withdraw all remaining US military personnel from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. While opposed to the withdrawal itself, Paul has no illusions about the mistakes made in Afghanistan. At the same time, he is cognizant of the goods that were achieved and laments the risks that a US pullout poses to the ability of those goods to endure. He reflects on the human costs of the war, its impact on US foreign policy, and offers a nuanced vision for how American Christians should think about it.
This podcast originated as a Zoom conversation and has not been edited. Listeners can watch the video and read the transcript here: https://providencemag.com/video/americas-withdrawal-afghanistan-joe-biden/
Here are some of the resources mentioned in the discussion:
"A Christian Declaration on American Foreign Policy" by Paul Miller: https://providencemag.com/2016/09/christian-declaration-american-foreign-policy/
"Fight to Win: A Lesson from the Great War" Marc LiVecche: https://providencemag.com/2020/11/fight-win-lesson-great-war/
Episode #60 | Churchill’s Speech and the Descending Iron Curtain (Joseph Loconte)
On March 5, 1946—75 years ago—Winston Churchill delivered the “Sinews of Peace” at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. The terms “special relationship” to describe US-UK relations and “Iron Curtain” both become household terms after the speech, and some, particularly Russian historians, point to this moment as the official start to the Cold War.
At the time, Churchill was serving as leader of the opposition in Parliament after losing the UK general election in 1945. The world was recovering from the Second World War and ready for peace. Many in the United States and elsewhere were optimistic about future relations with the Soviet Union, an American and British ally just a few months before, and the possible peace that might come from the United Nations, whose Security Council started its first session in London in January 1946. Yet the former and future prime minister delivered a startling message to Americans who were largely unprepared to countenance the prospect of a looming, decades-long conflict against communism after winning the war against fascism. Though the American public was not ready for Churchill’s message, at least some in the US government were. “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” (or “The Long Telegram”) by George F. Kennan, the deputy chief of mission of the United States to the Soviet Union, arrived secretly to the State Department in Washington, DC, in February 1946. In July 1947 under the pseudonym “Mr. X,” Foreign Affairs published this memo describing the need to contain the USSR.
Many Americans disliked and criticized the speech. For instance, Christianity and Crisis editor and founder Reinhold Niebuhr called it “ill-timed and ill-advised” in the only reference his journal made to it in 1946. He and others in the publication were discussing the possibility of US-USSR cooperation or alliance, and how the new United Nations might benefit global order with “world government.” Niebuhr blamed Churchill for unwisely heightening tensions and undermining a “creative solution” to the “atomic bomb problem.” Yet Churchill better understood what the Soviets had already done in Eastern Europe. The problem was not the speech, but the Soviet actions the speech exposed. While many Americans dreamed of an alliance with Moscow and “Uncle Joe” (the friendly image of Joseph Stalin in Western media), they forgot that the Soviet Union had a vote on whether they wanted to be an ally or adversary.
In this episode of the Foreign Policy ProvCast, Joseph Loconte and Mark Melton discuss the “Sinews of Peace,” the post-World War II situation in Eastern Europe, why the American public and media disliked Churchill’s message, what President Harry Truman knew about the speech beforehand, whether or not the future special relationship between the US and UK was obvious in March 1946, and the speech’s legacy.
Loconte also co-wrote an article with Nile Gardiner about the “Sinews of Peace” for National Review, which can be read here: https://www.nationalreview.com/2021/03/churchills-prophetic-warning-an-iron-curtain-has-descended/
Episode #59 - Advent Special | Preview of the Yule Blog (Walter Russell Mead)
In this Advent Special of the Foreign Policy ProvCast, Mark Melton speaks with Walter Russell Mead about his annual Yule Blog series, which begins on Christmas Eve and runs through Epiphany on January 6. Mead explains that he originally created the Yule Blog several years ago because Americans have forgotten so much about the holiday’s religious grounding and message. While the series covers a range of topics over 14 days, Melton and Mead focus on two: first, Mead analyzes the role of Mary in the New Testament and the early church; then he talks about what Jesus’ Jewish identity and love of his people means for Christians’ love of their country and home, and what it means that Jesus was able to reach out to people from other nations while still loving his own. They conclude by offering a message of what Christmas means in a year that the COVID-19 pandemic has scarred. Particularly, Mead explains that this year, when many are celebrating the holiday away from family, the separation should remind us that the heart of the Christmas holiday isn’t about those gatherings or events, but about the birth of Jesus Christ. “So what we’re going to live through this year, is Christmas stripped down to the basics, and that may be a way to get in touch as never before with this eruption of meaning into a dark history.”
To read the Yule Blog over the Twelve Days of Christmas, be sure to visit the website here: https://providencemag.com/category/the-yule-blog/
Walter Russell Mead is a professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College, the Distinguished Scholar in American Strategy and Statesmanship for the Hudson Institute. Global view columnist at the Wall Street Journal.
Mark Melton is the managing editor of Providence.
Episode #58 | Lessons From “The Liberator” (Dark Ops)
In this episode of the Foreign Policy ProvCast, Mark Melton and Marc LiVecche bring back the “Dark Ops,” Providence’s podcast movie reviews. They discuss the Netflix series The Liberator, which came out on Veterans Day last month. It’s an animated series with four episodes and is based on a book by Alex Kershaw. The miniseries tells the story of Felix Sparks and the 157th Infantry Regiment as they campaign in Italy before landing in Provence, France, and then into Germany. In total, Sparks served 511 days in combat, and after World War II became a brigadier general and the ground commander for the Colorado Army Guard. He also served on the Colorado Supreme Court.
Amongst other topics, Melton and LiVecche cover whether the animation helps or hurts the storytelling, how the miniseries covers racism, the history behind the Battle of Aschaffenburg and the Dachau massacre, and what courage looks like. They conclude by explaining why movies and shows about the Second World War are still important.
Episode #57 | Aftermath Of The Azerbaijan – Artsakh War (Robert Nicholson)
Starting on September 27, the war between Azerbaijan and Republic of Artsakh resumed. Also known as Nagorno-Karabakh, Artsakh is a region within Azerbaijan that is predominately Armenian, and since 1994 has been controlled by Armenians. The war ended on November 10 with the Armenians of Artsakh losing most of the territory it had controlled. In this episode, Robert Nicholson of the Philos Project talks with Mark Melton about why this war happened, how Turkey was involved, what the Armenians are losing, what the US government should do next, why the world didn’t help Artsakh, and what may happen to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan now. Melton and Nicholson also cover how this conflict fits into region’s geopolitics and how this all affects the United States. Finally, they discuss what Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may do next, particularly in Cyprus, and what the Biden administration should do more broadly in the Middle East, especially with the Arab–Israeli peace movement.
Episode #56 | From Kenosha to “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (Marc LiVecche & Keith Pavlischek)
In this episode of the ProvCast recorded on September 10, executive editor Marc LiVecche speaks with senior editor Keith Pavlischek about a variety of themes that emerge from an initial discussion of the Kyle Rittenhouse shootings in Kenosha. Topics include vigilantism versus just force, contextual factors—such as provocation—that complicate easy claims about self-defense, and the responsibilities of proper authorities to secure justice. Along the way, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," and American Western films in general, makes a germane segue—and preps the way for future episodes.
Exceptional Discussion and Analysis
As a US military officer and a Catholic Christian, it’s such a joy and blessing to have a pub like Providence present thoughtful foreign policy and national security analysis through the lens of the Christian tradition. Where most policy journals defer to the undefined good of “the national interest” or other abstractions, like “peace” and “prosperity”, Providence is alone in its understanding of world affairs as an extension of the affairs of the individual soul: flawed, wounded, beset by original sin, where earthly justice and peace is worthwhile but certainly incremental, and where final peace can only come through obedient alignment of the will to Jesus Christ.
Fantastic podcast. Thoughtful, qualified engaging speakers. Keep them coming!