407 episodes

A weekly discussion of national security and foreign policy matters featuring Lawfare senior editors Scott R. Anderson, Quinta Jurecic, and Alan Rozenshtein.
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Rational Security The Lawfare Institute

    • News
    • 4.8 • 1.9K Ratings

A weekly discussion of national security and foreign policy matters featuring Lawfare senior editors Scott R. Anderson, Quinta Jurecic, and Alan Rozenshtein.
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    The “Wickedly Talented Adele Dazeem” Edition

    The “Wickedly Talented Adele Dazeem” Edition

    This week, Alan, Quinta, and Scott were joined for a special episode by the most glamorous of RatSec co-hosts emeritus, Shane Harris, to hand out some Academy Awards for events in national security over the past year.
    The nominees include:
    For “Best Make-Up” (i.e., what was the year’s most memorable apology?):
    The Biden administration’s confession that its balloon bombardment was a bust;Kevin McCarthy’s ongoing Mar-a-Lago mea culpa;Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss’s resignation over her positively wilting economic plan.For “Best Score” (i.e., who came away as the year’s most unexpected winner?):
    Western Europe, whose uncharacteristic balminess helped it weather the winter without Russian energy imports;The F-22, which got its first kill (of a Chinese spy balloon) even as the U.S. military debates whether to discontinue it;China, whose late role in the Saudi-Iran rapprochement allowed it to seize much of the credit.For “Best Supporting Actor” (non-state actor, that is) (i.e., which non-governmental figure had the most oversized role on the national security stage this year?):
    Comic book villain Elon Musk;Manic pixie jury foreperson Emily Kohrs;Tucker Carlson, the only man who has gotten less credible since he stopped wearing a bowtie.For “Best Actor” (i.e., which world leader left their mark on the world stage this past year?): 
    Volodymyr Zelensky, the man who stayed;Vladimir Putin, who seems intent on doubling down on his failing gambit in Ukraine;Xi Jinping, who locked down his control of the Chinese Communist Party—but perhaps not the Chinese people.

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    • 1 hr 11 min
    The “Giving Two Effs” Edition

    The “Giving Two Effs” Edition

    This week, Alan, Quinta, and Scott were joined by Naval Academy professor and cyberlaw expert Jeff "Two Effs" Kosseff to work through the week's big national security news stories, including:
    “Dox Populi.” Florida’s state legislature is the latest of several to propose laws requiring individuals involved in certain online activities to reveal their identities to the state. Are these requirements consistent with the First Amendment? What would they mean for civil society where they apply?“Recommend Forward.” The Biden administration has rolled out what some had previewed as a historic new cyber strategy. But it’s left some experts cold, in part because it seems to hinge on future enactments by a cooperative Congress—something that may not be in the cards. How revolutionary is it really?“Forget It, Jake. It’s the Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.” The House select committee on China held its first hearing last week to much fanfare. How much is it a partisan political exercise? And to what degree might it actually steer U.S. policy on China in a better (or worse) direction?For object lessons, Alan recommended a surprisingly endearing novel about a failing marriage, "Fleishman is in Trouble." On a similar note, Quinta urged listeners to check out Rachel Aviv's portrait of the highly unorthodox marriages of philosopher Agnes Callard. Scott broke from the trend to celebrate Suzy Eddie Izzard's new moniker and remind folks of the brilliance that is her 1999 stand-up special, Dress to Kill. And Jeff endorsed Daisy Alpert Florin's new novel "My Last Innocent Year" as a much needed reflection on, among other things, how the United States handled the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal of the 1990s.

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    • 1 hr 7 min
    The “Key West v. West Bank” Edition

    The “Key West v. West Bank” Edition

    This week, Alan, Quinta, and Scott were joined by favorite guest Lawfare executive editor Natalie Orpett to talk through the week's news, including:
    “Low Confidence Games.” A Department of Energy intelligence report concluded with “low confidence” that COVID-19 may have begun with a lab leak in Wuhan, China, further fracturing views within the U.S. government and giving added fuel to those seeking to put blame for the pandemic on China. What should we make of the report—and the strong reactions to it?“It’s Coming from Inside the Cabinet.” The West Bank and Israel appear to be in the midst of another spiral of violence. Most recently, the shooting of two Israeli settlers by a Palestinian led to a riot through a number of Palestinian towns that killed one resident and damaged hundreds of homes and cars. What explains this surge in violence? And is the new Israeli government headed by Bibi Netanyahu to blame? “Tallanasty.” At the prompting of Gov. Ron DeSantis—likely a leading candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination—Florida’s state legislature is enacting a wave of culture war measures, targeting everything from school libraries to Disney. What does this all mean for democratic governance in Florida? And what could it mean for the country come 2024? For object lessons, Alan endorsed all things Alison Brie, including her newest film, Spin Me Round. Quinta celebrated her favorite carb- and dairy-based holiday, National Khachapuri Day. Scott hearkened back to object lessons of yesteryear to mark the release of two new comedies that have literally been decades in the making: Party Down and A History of the World, Part 2. And Natalie embraced her inner corporate shill to endorse Lawfare's own podcast series, The Aftermath, which is releasing the final episode of its first season soon.

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    • 1 hr 2 min
    The “Not, Like, the Three Greatest Experts at Podcasting” Edition

    The “Not, Like, the Three Greatest Experts at Podcasting” Edition

    This week, Alan, Quinta, and Scott sat through literally hours of oral arguments to prepare to discuss all the national security developments in the news, including:
    “The HIMAR Anniversary.” The war in Ukraine is one year old this week. The Biden administration marked the occasion with a presidential visit to Kyiv and a finding of crimes against humanity, while Vladimir Putin celebrated by moving the Doomsday Clock a bit closer to midnight. What should we make of where the war stands one year in?“We’re Living in a Post-Algorithm World, and I’m a Post-Algorithm Girl.” So said Justice Elena Kagan (more or less), as she and the other members of the Supreme Court heard arguments in Gonzalez v. Google and Twitter v. Taamneh on terrorism liability and the scope of protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act—a case that some argue could break the internet. What did we learn from oral arguments? And what might the ramifications be?“Bold Dominion.” Dominion Voting Systems filed a stunning brief in its defamation lawsuit against Fox News earlier this week, which lays out in 200 detailed pages the extent to which Fox’s executives and on-air personalities knowingly amplified lies about the company’s conduct around the 2020 election. What did we learn about Fox’s culpability? And what would a Dominion win mean moving forward?For object lessons, Alan recommended “Poker Face“ the new star vehicle for elder millennial America’s unlikely sweetheart, Natasha Lyonne. Quinta shared some hyperlocal D.C. gossip about the difficult etiquette surrounding giving stuff away for free on the internet. And Scott shared the ultimate food hack for busy parents who want a little spice and funk in their easy dinners: throw a little kimchi into your Kraft macaroni and cheese. 

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    • 1 hr 11 min
    The “All Blow’d Up” Edition

    The “All Blow’d Up” Edition

    This week, Alan, Quinta, and Scott talked over some of the various natsec stories blowing up headlines, including:
    “The Truth is Up There…And We Shot It Down.” Last week’s controversy over a Chinese spy balloon has blown up, as the United States and Canada have shot down a number of similar unidentified flying objects over their airspace in the past few days. But why is the Biden administration being so close-lipped about what these things are? Is there reason for concern?“Now I Know How Joan of Arc Felt.” Special Counsel Jack Smith appears to be turning up the heat on associates of former President Trump: former Vice President Pence is reportedly invoking both executive privilege and the Speech and Debate Clause to avoid testifying before a grand jury, while Smith is pushing to overcome another witness’s claim of attorney-client privilege on the basis of the crime-fraud exception. What should we make of these moves? What do they tell us about where the investigation is headed? “Oh Nikki, You’re On Time, First in Line, It Blows My Mind.” Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is the first Republican to officially step up and compete against former President Trump for the Republican nomination for president. Why declare now? And what does her candidacy mean for the race? For object lessons, Alan dipped back into his high school literature reading list and endorsed John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.” Quinta recommended the Rolling Stone piece we’ve all been waiting for: a profile of influential right-wing sh*tposter @Catturd2. And Scott urged listeners to check out the band Television’s 1977 classic “Marquee Moon” in honor of its frontman Tom Verlaine, who passed away a few weeks ago.

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    • 1 hr
    The "Are You There, Nena? It's Me, NORAD" Edition

    The "Are You There, Nena? It's Me, NORAD" Edition

    This week, Alan, Quinta, and Scott were joined once again by host emeritus Benjamin Wittes to talk through the week's various freak-outs, including:
    “We Found the 100th Luftballon.” Last week, a Chinese spy balloon floated over the United States, triggering a national freak-out that led to the cancellation of a major high-level summit between U.S. and Chinese leaders. Was this freak-out warranted? What does it tell us about U.S.-China relations?“SotFU.” President Biden delivered his second State of the Union address last night—and it was about as contentious as expected. How did he do? And how should we feel about this most vaunted of national institutions?“ChatOMG.” Over the past several weeks, countless Americans have had the chance to hash it out with ChatGPT, a large language-model artificial intelligence that is open to the public and will either revolutionize or devastate a thousand different human tasks, depending on who you ask. Just how revolutionary is ChatGPT? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?For object lessons, Alan embraced his home state of Minnesota’s annual “name a snow plow” contest and its winner, “Yer a blizzard, Harry.” Quinta lamented the latest fatality resulting from Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter: the end of its free API and the countless useful integrations it helped facilitate. Scott suggested that listeners check out David Romero’s 3D renderings of some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most dramatic but never built designs, and implored Mr. Romero to put Wright’s “Plan for Greater Baghdad” higher on his project list. And Ben saluted the service of the “Little Ass Projector” he’s used in countless special military operations, which he lost in battle earlier this week. 

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    • 1 hr 11 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
1.9K Ratings

1.9K Ratings

Dhbggvjydchjk ,

Incredibly nuanced and thought out takes.

I love this podcast. On a show, they discussed the DOE report of their “low-confidence” assessment that the origins of COVID-19 was a Chinese lab leak. Names escape me, but two hosts argued the virtue of actually knowing/understanding the leak, wile a third played “devils-advocate” for each side. All parities connected to the heart of each argument. Well done, I’m a new subscriber for life!

Beach chik ,

Your doing what??? and McCarthy correction

Ben, Tamara and Shane, Susan in absentia,
You've kept us sane for years, the rational component of your podcast.
Where's the Scotch?

3/16/2023 Update Ok, it's not a total fail, but I changed my rating from a 5 to a 4.

Correction of no consequence: McCarthy was elected Speaker of the House on the 15th vote, not 13th. Has anyone ever had 15 job interviews for the same position by the same employer?

PerryBorenstein ,

2.0 Remains an important podcast

This is an important podcast and is critical for a deep understanding of current events. At times, however, the conversation is so bloodless it feels like a graduate school example of what dialectics is. On the other hand, the titles are too cute and often inscrutable, and the intro is too labored and long. Just be yourself guys and gals. You have big shoes to fill, but nobody is comfortable if they don’t fit.

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