32 episodes

Hosts Melanie Marlowe, Bryan McGrath, 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

    • Government

Hosts Melanie Marlowe, Bryan McGrath, 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.

    Is America’s China Strategy Working?

    Is America’s China Strategy Working?

    After a long holiday hiatus, Hudson’s Patrick Cronin joins Melanie and Chris in a spirited discussion of U.S. policy toward China. How is this competition like the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and what’s different? What aspects of China’s behavior are most worrisome? What steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of conflict? Or is a clash, even if it is mostly non-military in nature, inevitable? Patrick gives a shout out to the heroic men and women fighting wildfires in Australia, Melanie expresses her appreciation for Ricky Gervais, and Chris offers kudos to the U.S. press corps.
    Links:
    Fareed Zakaria, "The New China Scare: Why America Shouldn’t Panic About Its Latest Challenger" Foreign Affairs, January/February 2020 Christopher Preble, “A Useful Corrective to China Fearmongering,” Cato, December 6, 2019 Christopher A. Preble, “NDAA 2020: Congress Neglects Its Responsibility Once Again,” Cato, December 10, 2019 Salvador Rizzo, "Anatomy of a Trump Rally: 67 Percent of Claims Are False or Lacking Evidence," Washington Post, January 7, 2020 “In 1,055 Days, President Trump Has Made 15,413 False or Misleading Claims,” Washington Post, December 10, 2019 Jordan Hoffman, "No One Knows Where Mike Pence Got His Soleimani 'Facts' From," Vanity Fair, January 4, 2020 John Hudson, Josh Dawsey, Shane Harris, and Dan Lemothe, "Killing of Soleimani Follows Long Push From Pompeo For Aggressive Action Against Iran, but Airstrike Brings Serious Risks," Washington Post, January 5, 2020 Richard Fontaine, “Great Power Competition is Washington’s Top Priority, but Not the Public’s,” Foreign Affairs, September 11, 2019 Nils Gilman, “China, Capitalism, and the New Cold War,” American Interest, November 18, 2019 Justin Rohrlich, “A Chinese Tourist Accused of Espionage is the Latest Example of a Growing Threat to US Security,” Quartz, January 5, 2020 Josh Blackman, Tweets, January 6, 2020 Ricky Gervais, 2020 Golden Globes, January 5, 2020 Patrick M. Cronin and Ryan Neuhard, “Total Competition: The China Challenge in the South China Sea,” Center for a New American Security, January 9, 2020 Ann Lee, “The Real Target of the US Assassination of the Iranian Military Leader Qassem Soleimani-China,” South China Morning Post, January 8, 2020 Heritage Pride Productions' “Elf: The Musical,” January 23, 24, and 25th “The Future of Progressive Foreign Policy: 2020 and Beyond,” Cato Policy Forum, January 28, 2020

    • 48 min
    The Looming End of Pax Americana?

    The Looming End of Pax Americana?

    The Net Assessment crew is back and this week they are breaking down an article written by Brian Stewart in Quillette titled, "Tensions in NATO and the Looming End of Pax Americana." Is NATO worth American attention and money? Why don't the Europeans just get their act together? The crew discusses what threat NATO is designed to counter and whether it should forget about Russia and focus on terrorism. Also, Bryan has a grievance with attorney general Bill Barr, Melanie takes issue with the Danish Atlantic Council, and Chris gives an attaboy to the students at the University of California, Washington Center. Join Melanie, Chris, and Bryan as they dive once more into the breach.
     
    Links
    Brian Stewart, "Tensions in NATO and the Looming End of Pax Americana," Quillette, December 5, 2019 Bret Stephens, "NATO is Full of Freeloaders. But It's How We Defend the Free World," New York Times, December 5, 2019 "Emmanuel Macron in His Own Words," Economist, November 7, 2019 Katie Benner, "Barr and Durham Publicly, Disagree with Horowitz Report on Russian Inquiry," New York Times, December 12, 2019 Ben Werner, "CNO Gilday Releases New, Simplified Command Guidance to Fleet," USNI News, December 4, 2019 Christopher Preble, "Cops of the World No More," CATO, January 30, 2015 Craig Whitlock, “At War with the Truth,” Washington Post, December 9, 2019 James Laporta, "Afghan War Report Enrages Veterans and Gold Star Families: Even as More of Us Died, They Lied," Newsweek, December 9, 2019 Jonah Schepp, "A NATO Summit to End All NATO Summits," New York Magazine, December 5, 2019 Mariel Padilla, "NATO Conference is Canceled after US Ambassador Barred a Trump Critic," New York Times, December 8, 2019 "The Day Will Come," Netflix Orlando Parfitt, "The Day Will Come' Claims Top Prize at Denmark's Robert Awards," Screen Daily, February 6, 2017

    • 53 min
    Can Bryan Pass the Turing Test?

    Can Bryan Pass the Turing Test?

    Chris, Bryan, and Melanie talk about the Interim Report issued by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence last week. What kinds of expectations should we have about AI being used for national security purposes? What kind of investments should be made in this technology, and where will the money come from? What about concerns that AI developed by American companies or the United States government might be used by authoritarian regimes to violate their citizens' human rights? Can we continue to reap the benefits of research collaboration with people from other countries, particularly China, and still protect national security secrets? Finally, Bryan tells us of his exploits in Italy, Chris gives a heartfelt appreciation to a friend and colleague, and Melanie looks forward to some long-awaited playtime with her nephews.
     
    Links
    National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, Interim Report, November 2019 Jacey Fortin, “Uber C.E.O. Backtracks After Comparing Khashoggi’s Killing to an Accident,” New York Times, November 11, 2019 Andrew Bacevich, “The Berlin Wall Fell and the U.S. learned the Wrong Lessons. It Got Us Donald Trump,” Los Angeles Times, November 8, 2019 Christopher Preble, John Glaser, and A. Trevor Thrall, Fuel to the Fire: How Trump Made America's Broken Foreign Policy Even Worse, (Cato Institute, 2019) Robert Work and Eric Schmidt, "In Search of Ideas: The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Wants You," War on the Rocks, July 18, 2019 Ilanit Chernick, "Holocaust Survivors Reunite with Rescuer at Yad Vashem," November 3, 2019, Jerusalem Post "Holocaust Survivor Reunited with a Baby He Saved During World War II," BBC, November 8, 2019 Gina Kolata, "Vast Dragnet Targets Theft of Biomedical Secrets for China," New York Times, November 4, 2019 Melanie Marlow, Tweets, November 11, 2019 “Puffs,” Heritage Pride Productions, November 14-15-16, and 21-22-23

    • 52 min
    Strategy and Exit Strategies: Essential or Misleading?

    Strategy and Exit Strategies: Essential or Misleading?

    Melanie, Chris, and guest host Claude Berube discuss the promise and pitfalls of exit strategies. When policymakers plan to embark on foreign wars, should they also prepare a plan for extricating the nation from these wars when they are completed? Is an exit strategy a vital component of strategy? Or do exit strategies create unreasonable expectations of easy victory? Can an exit strategy focus attention on a desired end state, and prevent mission creep? Or are prudent adjustments only possible when policymakers are not shackled to pre-war objectives? Chris congratulates New England Patriots’ coach Bill Bellichick on victory number 300, Melanie blasts Sean Duffy for questioning a decorated U.S. Army officer’s patriotism, and Claude delivers a Net Assessment first -- a heartfelt attadog for his beloved four-legged companion, Reagan.
     
    Links
    David Kampf, "When Are Exit Strategies Viable?" War on the Rocks, October 14, 2019 Adam Wunische, "The Lost Art of Exiting a War," War on the Rocks, October 21, 2019 Devon Clements, "Bill Belichick Becomes 3rd NFL Head Coach Ever to Accumulate 300 Career Wins," Sports Illustrated, October 27, 2019 Christopher Preble, “New Rules for U.S. Military Intervention,” War on the Rocks, September 20, 2016 Richard Fontaine, “The Nonintervention Delusion: What War Is Good For,” Foreign Affairs, November-December 2019 Spencer Ackerman, “Baghdadi Is Dead. The War on Terror Will Create Another,” Daily Beast, October 28, 2019 Doug Bandow and Christopher Preble, “Lost in the Furor Over Syria: Alliances Are a Means, Not an End,” War on the Rocks, October 23, 2019 Ashley Feinberg, "This Sure Looks Like Mitt Romney's Secret Twitter Account," Slate, October 20, 2019 "Sean Duffy on CNN," CNN, October 29, 2019 Aaron Stein, "US Officials Ignored Trump on Syria and We are All Paying the Price," War on the Rocks, October 22, 2019 "The Weinberger Doctrine," Washington Post, November 30, 1984 Jason Whiteley, "No Exit, No Problem," Small Wars Journal, April 21, 2011 James Nolt, "Exit Strategy," World Policy," World Policy, February 23, 2017

    • 48 min
    We Just Don’t Make Policy Like We Used To

    We Just Don’t Make Policy Like We Used To

    Join Chris, Melanie, and Bryan as they dive into Professor Philip Zelikow’s recent article in the Texas National Security Review titled, “To Regain Policy Competence: The Software of American Problem Solving.” Has policymaking gotten worse, or is it a problem with implementation? Or is implementation part of the policymaking process? The gang also discusses whether there is a lack of professionalism in the education and training of future policymakers. This week's episode is a little wonky, but well worth the time. 
    At the end of the show, Bryan gives an attaboy for the first person to complete a marathon in under two hours, while Chris gives a shout out to his wife.
     
    Links
    Philip Zelikow, "To Regain Policy Competence: The Software of American Public Problem-Solving," Texas National Security Review, September 2019 John Glaser, Christopher Preble, A. Trevor Thrall, Fuel to the Fire: How Trump Made America’s Broken Foreign Policy Even Worse (and How We Can Recover) (Cato Institute, 2019) Justin Logan, “Cult of the Irrelevant: National Security Eggheads & Academics,” American Conservative, June 12, 2019 Danielle Pletka, Tweet, October 13, 2019 Justin Logan, Tweet, October 13, 2019 Danielle Pletka, Tweet, October 13, 2019 Krista Preble, LinkedIn Alex Horton, "A Latina Novelist Spoke About White Privilege. Students Burned Her Book in Response," Washington Post, October 11, 2019 Tim Hains, "Beto O'Rourke: Churches That Oppose Same-Sex Marriage Should Lose Tax-Exempt Status," Real Clear Politics, October 11, 2019 Ryan Prior, "Farmers in Idaho Rallied to Harvest a Neighbor's Potatoes as a Deep Freeze Threatened to Ruin Them," CNN, October 11, 2019 Tariq Tahir, "Nobel Peace Prize 2019 – Greta Thunberg Snubbed as Award Given to Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed for Ending 20 Year Eritrea Conflict," Sun, October 11, 2019 Chris Stein, "Nobel Snub No Obstacle in Great Thunberg's Climate Quest," Yahoo News, October 11, 2019 Andrew Keh, "Eliud Kipchoge Breaks Two-Hour Marathon Barrier," New York Times, October 12, 2019 The Bulwark Podcast, "Bryan McGrath on Trump and American Exceptionalism," October 14, 2019

    • 55 min
    Syria: A Sad Tale

    Syria: A Sad Tale

    Bryan is celebrating the anniversary of our first episode on a beach, so this week, Chris and Melanie are joined by Tom Karako of CSIS. In this episode they discuss the Syria Study Group Report, which concludes that "the US can still influence the outcome of the Syrian war in a manner that protects US interests." Does America have interests in Syria? If so, can they be managed and protected, particularly with a president who seems uninterested in investing political capital and American resources there? How has the Syrian civil war affected Russia, Iran, and Turkey, and does that matter to America? Finally, is there anything the United States should do about the terrible humanitarian situation, the effects of which have spilled over to other countries?
    Tom tells us about taking his son to his first baseball game (go Nats!), Chris has a birthday wish for a former president, and Melanie both sticks it to and congratulates the press. We can't wait for Bryan to return and give us his review of the Downton Abbey movie!
     
    Links
    "Syria Study Group Final Report," United States Institute of Peace, September 24, 2019 Josh Blackman, "When Is It Acceptable Journalistic Practice to Surface Old Social Media Posts?" Reason, September 27, 2019 Vance Serchuk, "Russia's Middle East Power Play," National Review, September 12, 2019 Michael Singh, Tweet, September 23, 2019 Trevor Thrall, “Resettling Syria’s Refugees Would Be Cheaper Than Widening the War,” Defense One, October 21, 2015 Alex Nowrasteh, “Terrorists by Immigration Status and Nationality: A Risk Analysis, 1975 – 2017,” Cato, May 7, 2019 Kareem Fahim, “In ‘60 Minutes’ Interview, Saudi Crown Prince Denies Ordering Khashoggi Killing,” Washington Post, September 29, 2019 Anna Massoglia, “Saudi Arabia Ramped Up Multi-Million Foreign Influence Operation After Khashoggi’s Death,” Open Secrets, October 2, 2019 Elizabeth Wolfe and Brian Ries, “Jimmy Carter, the Oldest Living Former US President, Is 95 Today,” CNN, October 1, 2019 Reis Thebault and Brittany Shammas, "Amber Guyger, Police Officer Who Shot a Man to Death in His Apartment, Found Guilty of Murder," Washington Post, October 1, 2019 Josh Blackman, "When is It Acceptable Journalistic Practice to 'Surface' Old Social Media Posts?" Reason, September 27, 2019 Jack Detsch, "Congress Aims to Restore Syria Stabilization Aid," Al-Monitor, September 18, 2019 Brett McGurk, "Hard Truths in Syria," Foreign Affairs, May 28, 2019 Eric Schmitt, "US Sees Rising Threat in the West from Qaeda Branch in Syria," New York Times, September 30, 2019 Brittany Shamas, "When Trump's Special Envoy to Ukraine Resigned, a Student Newspaper Beat Everyone to the Story," Washington Post, September 28, 2019 "Timeline: Syria's Eight Years of Fire and Blood," Reuters, March 16, 2019 Keith Pandolfi, "How to Refinish Woodwork," This Old House "Hypersonic," Merriam-Webster Events
    "NATO: The Dangerous Dinosaur," Cato Book Forum, October 18, 2019 "Fuel to the Fire: How Trump Made America’s Broken Foreign Policy Even Worse (and How We Can Recover)," Cato Book Forum, October 21, 2019

    • 53 min

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