Jan 31, 2018
How did President Barack Obama leave America's strategic position when he left office? How is President Donald Trump doing so far? What is the role of the historian in sorting through these questions? Hal Brands and Francis Gavin — both of the Kissinger Center at SAIS — join Ryan Evans to debate these questions and many more over beers and through the lens of Hal's new book, American Grand Strategy in the Age of Trump.
Nov 22, 2017
Weeks before Donald Trump took office, Ryan convened a group of professionals from in and around the intelligence community to talk about the incoming president's approach to intel ("He's Just Not That Into You: Trump, Intel, and the American Presidency"). In today's episode, Ryan brought the same group of people together (minus one). Tune in to hear Carmen Medina, Mark Stout, and Mark Zaid chat (over drinks, of course) about how the president has done so far.
Nov 8, 2017
History podcasting mastermind Mike Duncan joined Ryan for a few drinks in Washington for our latest episode. Rome is what brought them together — more specifically his New York Times best-selling book, The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic. The book tells the story of Rome from 146 to 78 BC. In this wide-ranging conversation, they cover the challenges of writing ancient vs. modern history, going from fishmongering to podcasting (and making a living at it!), his show Revolutions, and why those of us living at this particular time in history should be eager to understand what happened to the Roman Republic.
Oct 31, 2017
The bottom line of this episode is this: If you can identify with the experience of coming home from war or you want to better understand that experience, you should see the new film "Thank You For Your Service." When you go, be prepared for something powerful and heartbreaking, but also something necessary. In this episode, we hear from Jason Hall, the writer and director of the film, and Adam Schumann, the Army veteran played in the film by Miles Teller. The movie is based on the book of the same name by David Finkel and it tells the story of members of an Army unit once they’ve come home and left the military, only to do battle with the memories of their combat and the trauma of their experiences.
Oct 23, 2017
The Kurds of Northern Iraq held an independence referendum, Iraqi federal forces seized Kirkuk, and the world wondered if we were on the precipice of another round of what could be described as one long-running Iraqi civil war involving the state, jihadists, tribes, sectarian militias, various Kurdish factions, and - of course - a bevy of outside powers.
We haven't seen a descent into a new round of violence, at least yet. But what does the future hold for Iraq? Can the Kurds and Baghdad come to some sort of agreement? What do we mean when we say "the Kurds" anyway? What does this mean for Iraq and Iraqi nationalism now that the war to take back territory from the self-proclaimed Islamic State is winding its way to an end? What about the Shia militias raised for that fight? What place do they now hold in Iraq?
To help him figure out these questions and more, Ryan Evans invited Rasha al-Aqeedi, Denise Natali, and Doug Ollivant on the show. And of course, there was whisk(e)y.
Oct 2, 2017
Ryan Evans had the pleasure to sit down with Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro, authors of the new book The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World. Remember that treaty you learned about in school that outlawed war after World War I - the Kellogg-Briand Pact? That's right, the one you laughed at.
Well Oona and Scott -- both of Yale Law School -- make a pretty strong argument that it actually worked far better than we all thought. And, in doing so, they make a good case that international relations scholars should take the power of the law more seriously.
Sep 10, 2017
It’s been 16 years since the 9/11 attacks.
We thought a good way to commemorate the anniversary would be to take stock of the terrorist threats facing the United States today and to evaluate how the Trump administration is responding. Guest host Stephen Tankel tackles these issues with an all-star cast of experts, including Victor Asal, Tricia Bacon, Mia Bloom, Dan Byman, Julia Ebner, John Horgan, Gary LaFree, Phil Potter, Jake Shapiro, and Joe Young.
This wide-ranging discussion touches on radicalization, allies in the fight against terrorism, intelligence gathering, the travel ban, Trump's inflammatory religious rhetoric, the relationship between far-right and Islamist violence, and more.
Aug 14, 2017
You've read a bit about our alliance with the Texas National Security Network, brought to you by the University of Texas. Now you get to be a guest at our launch party in DC, where we ate Blue Bell ice cream, drank Shiner Bock (and scotch, of course), and held an awesome panel with the hosts of Bombshell -- Radha Iyengar, Loren DeJonge Schulman, and Erin Simpson -- alongside Jim Goldgeier of American University's School of International Service as well as William Inboden and Paul Miller of the Clements Center at the University of Texas. Ryan Evans tried to keep this rowdy crew in line as they talked about the push and pull between academics and policymakers.
Aug 7, 2017
The War on the Rocks podcast is back with a big episode and an all-star cast. Hal Brands and Alex Bick of SAIS, Will Inboden of the Clements Center at the University of Texas, Kori Schake of the Hoover Institution, Colin Kahl of Georgetown, and Peter Feaver of Duke dish about the U..S. National Security Strategy, a report required by Congress meant to basically lay out how the president views America's role in the world and how he plans to exercise power. And having a bipartisan group of national security leaders around the table, Ryan Evans couldn't resist asking how they all felt the Iran deal was playing out at age two (yes, Ryan misspoke and says it's one year old in the intro - please forgive him).
Mar 9, 2017
"The blob" — an unflattering nickname for the U.S. foreign policy establishment coined by a senior Obama official — gets a bad rap these days. From Obama to Trump, Washington's foreign policy elite are blamed for being too hawkish, relying on tired conventional wisdom, and generally weakening America's foreign policy position. In this episode, two members of the blob (along with a mystery guest) push back...over drinks, of course. Listen to Jim Steinberg, a former Deputy Secretary of the State Dept, and Frank Gavin, the director of the Kissinger Center at SAIS, defend the blob. Their argument? You don't know how good you have it. As a bonus, we also nerd out on George Kennan a bit.
Feb 28, 2017
In this special episode, Ryan Evans sat down with Ben Buchanan of the Belfer Center at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and in front of an audience! Ben and Ryan chatted about his new book with Oxford University Press, The Cybersecurity Dilemma: Hacking, Trust and Fear Between Nations. There were some great questions from members of the audience. Enjoy!
Feb 22, 2017
How has counter-terrorism changed from 9/11 to today over three presidencies? To answer that question, Ryan Evans sat down with two guests with deep perspective on counter-terrorism: Colin Kahl was the national security adviser to Vice President Biden and, earlier in the Obama administration, was the deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East. He is now associate professor in the Security Studies Program at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. Stephen Tankel is an assistant professor in the School of International Service at American University, an adjunct senior fellow at CNAS, and a senior editor at War on the Rocks. He previously served as a senior adviser for Asian and Pacific security affairs at the Department of Defense. Stephen is the author of the forthcoming book, With Us and Against Us: America's Partners in the War on Terror.
Jan 26, 2017
Just an hour before Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, Ryan Evans sat down with Richard Haass in New York at the Council on Foreign Relations. Given the momentous changes that seem to be underway, the topic under discussion was fitting: world order. Richard's new book - A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order - seeks to explain the origins of the current world order, the shifts currently underway, and how the United States should seek to shape the next world order. Ryan and Richard also discussed negotiating approaches to Russia and China and early decisions made by the Trump team. Richard, who served in four presidential administrations, ends by giving career and life advice to people leaving the Obama administration and others who thought they would be serving in a Clinton administration.
Jan 12, 2017
If you follow international affairs, it often feels like you can't go to a lecture or read an article without being told that the world's economic and military center of gravity is shifting from West to East. Michael Auslin takes a different view in his new book, The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World's Most Dynamic Region (Yale University Press, 2017). We sat down at the Tabard Inn in Washington, DC to talk about it. Auslin argues that Asia's golden age is over and the region is likely to be approaching an era of instability when it comes to economies, political systems, demographics, and war. Our conversation ranged broadly from U.S. interests in the region, the state of America's alliances, China's anxieties, and President Obama's missed opportunities. We also preview a new series on "Reclaiming Realism" and I tease a new bi-weekly podcast we have rolling out early next week called Bombshell. Have a listen!
Jan 5, 2017
One thing is clear about President-elect Donald Trump: He is skeptical of the U.S. intelligence community. With the aid of a bottle of bourbon, War on the Rocks assembled a top-notch group of experts to talk about what Trump means for the intelligence community. Our guests in this episode included Carmen Medina - a 32-year veteran of the CIA; David Priess - author of The President's Book of Secrets and a CIA veteran; Mark Stout - a WOTR senior editor, program director at Johns Hopkins, and a veteran of the CIA and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research; and Mark Zaid - a prominent national security attorney and the head of the James Madison Project.
Dec 23, 2016
In this episode of the War on the Rocks podcast, editor-in-chief Ryan Evans sat down with Michael S. Neiberg, author of the new book, The Path to War: How the First World War Created Modern America. Neiberg, an accomplished historian who holds the Chair of War Studies at the U.S. Army War College, covered a range of topics, starting with America and World War I, the Treaty of Versailles, World War II, the use and abuse of historical analogies, doing historical research, and advice for young historians.
Oct 31, 2016
Revelations over emails are going to be roiling this election season to the very end. This is, in no small part, due to a series of targeted hacks and leaks that cyber-security experts and the U.S. intelligence community have attributed to Russia. In this episode, we address this unprecedented Russian-directed information operations campaign targeting the U.S. presidential election and, indeed, the fundamental legitimacy of the American system of government. From email hacks to electronic voting machines, major vulnerabilities have been exposed and could change how we approach national campaigns forever, not just in the United States but in other democracies as well. Think I am overstating it? See what you think by the end of this episode. I gathered together an all-star group of experts to help me figure out exactly how this all happened, including Dmitri Alperovitch of Crowdstrike, Ben Buchanan of the Belfer Center, Shane Harris of The Daily Beast, Susan Hennessey of Brookings and Lawfare, Michael Poznansky of the University of Pittsburgh, and Benjamin Wittes of Brookings and Lawfare (who throws down the gauntlet for Sean Hannity). Have a listen! Ryan Evans is the founder and editor-in-chief of War on the Rocks.
Sep 30, 2016
In an "around the world" edition of our podcast series, Ryan Evans convened a top-notch group to discuss everything from Cuba to the Middle East to Russia to deterrence to China to personnel issues along with a whole range of big issues for the first 100 days of the next administration. Tune in to listen to Elbridge Colby (CNAS), Radha Iyengar (RAND), Will McCants (Brookings), and Bill Rosenau (CNA) talk about some of the world's most pressing issues with the aid of a few drinks. We also briefly remember the respected scholar and international security analyst, Angel Rabasa, who recently passed away. Image: U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret
Sep 23, 2016
In the latest episode of our podcast, editor-in-chief Ryan Evans sat down with Gen. Jim Mattis and Kori Schake of the Hoover Institution to talk about civil-military relations, the subject of their new book Warriors and Citizens: American Views of Our Military. This is the first major study of civil-military relations in years. The conversation also turned to strategy, with Mattis observing that Washington is a "strategy-free environment" and that this is a problem that goes back through two administrations. Next, Ryan sat down with Richard Fontaine, the president of the Center for a New American Security, to discuss his summer in Australia, where he was an Alliance 21 Fellow at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. Fontaine was there to take an up close look at the U.S.-Australian relationship and hard questions related to American strategy in Asia. Have a listen! Image: U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Thor J. Larson
Jul 19, 2016
The Ataturk Cultural Center in Istanbul was closed down during the Gezi Park protests in 2013. This former symbol of Turkey's revered founding father is today adorned with large photos of its current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who successfully defeated an attempted military coup d'etat on Friday evening and Saturday morning. Some of you might have chimed into yesterday's live Google Hangout on Turkey's thwarted coup. For those who didn't and prefer audio to video, we've adapted it into an episode of our podcast series. WOTR's Ryan Evans spoke with Selim Koru of TEPAV in Turkey, Burak Kadercan of the U.S. Naval War College, Aaron Stein of the Atlantic Council, and Joshua Walker of the German Marshall Fund to try to sort through the violent events of last weekend in Turkey and the heated political aftermath. Listen here!
Jul 15, 2016
What big think books on strategy in history should you add to you shelf this summer? Our editor-in-chief, Ryan Evans, sat down with two authors of two of his favorite books this year. First, he spoke to Hal Brands, author of the new book Making the Unipolar Moment: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Rise of the Post-Cold War Order (Cornell). Hal has just taken up a professorship at the Kissinger Center at the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. Next, Ryan sat down with John Bew of the King's College London War Studies Department, author of Realpolitik: A History (Oxford), and interviewed him with the help of Iskander Rehman of the Brookings Institution, who reviewed John's book. (As a teaser for some of our nerdier listeners out there, I tempt Iskander and John into attacking American political science near the end.) Hal's book tells the story of how America understood (and often misunderstood) its own power from the 1970s through the end of the Cold War, taking us through the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush administrations. In Realpolitik, John tells the story of this often misused word from its origins in 19th century Germany all the way through the Obama administration. Both books are sweeping, engaging, original, and readable. Have a listen!
Jun 21, 2016
Is Barack Obama's foreign policy "failing at nearly every turn," as Speaker Paul Ryan and many other Republicans contend? Or has the president actually crafted a wiser, more effective approach to America's place in the world that sets this country up for success? Derek Chollet, a six-year veteran of the Obama administration, takes the latter view in his new book, The Long Game: How Obama Defied Washington and Redefined America's Role in the World (PublicAffairs). Ryan Evans, WOTR's editor-in-chief, sat down with Chollet, currently at the German Marshall Fund, and Richard Fontaine, the president of the Center for a New American Security, for an energetic debate on the legacy that this president will leave behind.
Mar 2, 2016
We’re going to try something a little different with this episode of the podcast, and I think you’re going to like it. If you listened to our last episode, you know our focus was on the Munich Security Conference – a major annual event that hosts heads of state, ministers of foreign affairs and defense, thought leaders, and, this year, whisky-swilling editors like me. In this episode, the focus is Russia, and especially U.S. Russian relations. To do that, we tell a story that starts with Vladimir Putin’s 2007 speech at the Munich Security Conference and ends with Russian Prime Minister Medvedev’s speech at this year’s conference. Between 2007 and 2016, U.S.-Russian relations have gone from bad to good (sort of) to bad again. To tell that story, I conducted interviews in Munich with Richard Fontaine of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Senator John McCain, and Svitlana Zalishchua of the Ukrainian parliament. Back in Washington, I conducted more interviews with Elbridge Colby of CNAS, Matt Rojanksy of the Kennan Institute, and Michael Kofman of CNA and the Kennan Institute. Have a listen and let us know what you think about this new format. This special episode of our podcast series is sponsored by American University’s School of International Service, which prepares graduates for global service in government, nonprofits, and business. Applications for Fall 2016 are still being accepted. Click here for more information on a variety of Master’s programs for mid- and early-career professionals online or on campus. Image: NATO
Feb 16, 2016
The Munich Security Conference brings together leaders from all around the world to discuss defense, foreign policy, and strategy - the bread and butter of War on the Rocks. It has been called the Davos of international security. Our editor-in-chief, Ryan Evans, was privileged to join the U.S congressional delegation to this year's conference. While he was there, he interviewed a number of key leaders and thinkers. This episode of our podcast series is the first of two to come out of these interviews and discussions. They are sponsored by American University's School of International Service. Listen here for Ryan's interviews with Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator David Perdue (R-GA), and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who is now the President of the Asia Society. They discuss the state of the world, American power, Syria, Ukraine, Europe, China, and more, offering diverse opinions and views informed by their decades of experience in politics, diplomacy, and business. This special episode of our podcast series is sponsored by American University's School of International Service, which prepares graduates for global service in government, nonprofits, and business. Applications for Fall 2016 are still being accepted. Click here for more information on a variety of Master's programs for mid- and early-career professionals online or on campus.
Feb 8, 2016
We have a two-parter for you in this episode. First, WOTR's Ryan Evans spoke with Steve Blank of Silicon Valley fame about his new course, "Hacking Defense." The class just launched at Stanford, but Steve has plans to proliferate it around the country. Will this course help change the way we approach national defense? Next, Ryan sat down with Basam Ridha Al Hussaini. Basam works for Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi and was in Washington to talk to U.S. officials about the Popular Mobilization Units, a Iraqi security program that mobilizes armed groups - including sectarian groups responsible for terrible violence during the Iraq War - to fight the Islamic State. While these groups are controversial and - some say - too close to Iran, they have been undeniably important in rolling back the Islamic State. Hear Basam make the case for this program and talk about its future in Iraq, post-Islamic State. Have a listen!