In front of a live audience and with red wine in hand, the War on the Rocks podcast closed out an important conference on civil-military affairs hosted by the Strategic Studies shop over at the School of Advanced International Studies. The guests of this awesome episode include Mara Karlin, Paula Thornhill, Loren DoJonge Shulman, and Nora Bensahel.
Further Reading and Watching:
Paula Thornhill, Demystifying the American Military: Institutions Evolution and Challenges Since 1789 (Naval Institute Press, 2019)
David Barno and Nora Bensahel, Adaptation under Fire: How Militaries Change in Wartime (Oxford University Press, 2020)
Is the U.S. military built and positioned to stop or — if necessary — win the next big war? What should the Navy and Marine Corps of the future look like? What's standing in the way? How can the United States step back from the Middle East and focus on the Pacific? What does The Wire have to teach us about Washington? Why does a member of Congress have a sword, a pull-up bar, and a bottle of Lagavulin 16 in his office? Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and Chris Brose of Anduril Industries join Ryan for a wide-ranging conversation that tackles these questions and more.
Further Reading, Listening, and Watching:
The Trump administration made big news recently — and it wasn’t about impeachment. On Jan. 31, the White House announced that it was cancelling the policy that prohibited using anti-personnel landmines outside the Korean peninsula. The subject has been a fraught issue since the early 1990s, when civil society began to respond to the tragic consequences — particularly in the developing world — of the proliferation of landmines. The Clinton administration was a motivating force behind the Ottawa Convention, which banned the use of anti-personnel landmines worldwide, although it didn’t sign the treaty. The Bush administration argued that developing and deploying “smart mines,” that self-destruct after a period time, was consistent with U.S. national interests and humanitarian concerns. Under President Barack Obama, however, the United States committed to implement all of the elements of the Ottawa Convention except on the Korean peninsula, which poses a unique challenge to American defense planners.
To discuss the issue, Ryan Evans was joined by David E. Johnson of the RAND Corporation, Stephen Pomper of the International Crisis Group and formerly of the Obama administration, Luke O’Brien of War on the Rocks, and Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch.
Many of you have heard of the Doomsday Clock — a decades-old analogue clock meant to symbolize how close we are to nuclear catastrophe. However far we are from midnight, we are told, is how close we are to disaster. More recently, it is also meant to incorporate the risks of catastrophic climate change. It was started by many of the scientists responsible for the creation of the nuclear weapon. And it is, and has always been, run by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The Bulletin just set the clock to 100 seconds to midnight — the closest it’s ever been. On Twitter, Ryan remarked that he didn’t think this exercise added much in the way of value. And so, a debate began. Ryan assembled a group to debate the Doomsday Clock (over Manhattans, appropriately). On one side, Miles Pomper of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and Benjamin H. Friedman of Defense Priorities. On the other, Jon Wolfsthal and Sharon Squassoni, both of whom sit on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board. And Ryan served as an admittedly biased moderator.