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War on the Rocks

Great discussions with security, defense, and foreign policy experts recorded over drinks.
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Now displaying: Category: general
Nov 18, 2019

Ryan sat down for a conversation Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico to talk about an issue that matters a lot to them and should matter a lot to you: war powers. In her contribution to a new roundtable on war powers, Oona Hathaway has a perfect lede: “The U.S. Congress has not approved a use of force since 2002. And yet the United States certainly has not been at peace in the years since.”

Military operations all across the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa are ongoing and expanding. As Hathaway writes elegantly they are all “grounded in capacious readings of Congress’ 2001 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force.” Edward Corwin described the way foreign relations powers are divvied up in the constitution as an “invitation to struggle”. But — as the years since these aging authorizations have demonstrated — it’s not a fair fight, is it?

Don’t miss this episode, which pairs well with the new war powers roundtable in the Texas National Security Review

Nov 11, 2019

What is the proper role of retired general and flag officers in American politics? This is a question that has been debated for a long time, but things have heated up since the 2016 elections due to the prominent role of retired generals in that presidential campaign and in the Trump administration. Even more recently, retired Adm. Bill McRaven penned an op-ed that attracted the attention of many, but especially those who study civil-military relations. The premiere scholarly society focused on civil-military relations was in town over the weekend, so Ryan decided to have a few people over to War on the Rocks headquarters to sort through it all. He was joined by Risa Brooks, Peter Feaver, Jim Golby, and Alice Hunt Friend.

Nov 4, 2019

“Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial ‘we.’” This line, often attributed to Mark Twain (it wasn’t him) speaks to the thorny feelings that writers associate with those who shape their prose. Now that the War on the Rocks editorial team has grown so much, we thought this was a good opportunity for you to get to know our Washington-based editors a bit better: Doyle Hodges, Shane Mason, and Rebecca Zimmerman. This team combines career experience in the U.S. Navy, various think tanks, in the fields and headquarters of Afghanistan, to low-budget music tour vans. If you’re interested in their career trajectories, mentors who made a difference, how to be a civilian in a military dominated environment (or vice versa), the books and plays they love, hard-earned professional lessons, or just better knowing the people who wield the red pen, you’ll enjoy this one.

Oct 27, 2019

President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. special operations forces in advance of a Turkish offensive into northeastern Syria continues to roil the region. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon of the Council on Foreign Relations, Nick Danforth of the German Marshall Fund, and Sam Heller of the International Crisis Group join the show to help us understand why this happened, how it affected people on the ground, and what happens next in this long-running civil war. We also preview a WarCast with Aaron Stein of the Foreign Policy Research Institute on the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

 

Further reading and listening:

Aaron Stein, "U.S. Officials Ignored Trump on Syria and Now We're All Paying the Price"

Sam Heller, "America In Search of an Un-Geneva for Syria"

Nick Danforth, Doug Ollivant, Elizabeth Saunders, and Ryan Evans, "Mayhem and Misadventures in the Middle East"

Aug 7, 2019

Maybe you've already heard about the Marine commandant's new planning guidance. Maybe you haven't. If you care about how strategy at the service level can work at its best, then you should take a close look. This episode digs into how tough questions from Congress, hard-hitting and public writing by servicemembers, and bold thinking by senior leaders all interacted to create an important document that will chart the way ahead for the Marine Corps. 

 

The core of this episode is a conversation with Chris Brose, the former staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the current head of strategy of Anduril Industries. Chris breaks down what's special about this document, what it gets right about the future of warfare and the rise of the defensive, and what the Army, Navy, and Air Force can learn from the Marine Corp's example. We also include a long segment from the last big speech by Gen. Robert Neller, the last commandant of the Marine Corps, which hinted where the service was going to go under Gen. David Berger, his successor. We also feature a clip from a recent episode of "Net Assessment," one of our other podcasts. And, finally, we close with some thoughts from Brose about life in the Senate, moving to the private sector, ethics and autonomy, and what Anduril -- a most interesting company -- is up to.

 

 

Jul 29, 2019

Every summer, the War on the Rocks crew travels to Beaver Creek, Colorado, where the Clements Center hosts its summer seminar -- an intimate gathering for PhD students, senior scholars, former policymakers, and a misanthropic editor and podcast host. In this episode, Alexandra Evans, Jim Goldgeier, Tanvi Madan, Doyle Hodges, and aforementioned misanthrope -- Ryan Evans -- fielded questions on international security from the junior scholars in attendance that they considered oft-ignored or ill-explored.

 

Jun 3, 2019

Ryan caught a flight with Gen. David Goldfein, the chief of the Air Force, who broke down how his service is preparing for a new era of great power competition. What is the Air Force of today doing to get ready? What will the Air Force of the future look like? With support from two bright Air Force officers studying at Maxwell Air Force Base -Lynn Haack and Stephen Bressett- he puts some meat on the bones of "multi-domain operations," where the U.S. military is ending up on Space Force, and how military power can enable and reinforce diplomacy. The chief closes with some kind words about War on the Rocks and the importance of public engagement by Air Force personnel. 

 

May 13, 2019

Almost exactly one year ago, an Air Force colonel using a pseudonym -- 'Ned Stark' -- penned an article for War on the Rocks . This cri de coeur -- a call for major reforms to how the Air Force selects and promotes leaders -- quickly burned across the author's service. It fueled an important debate and even elicited a supportive response and job offer from none other than Gen. David L. Goldfein, the chief of staff of the Air Force. 'Stark' penned more articles for War on the Rocks and the Air Force Times in the year that followed. And now he is choosing to come out into the open and reveal his identity. Listen to his conversation with Ryan Evans on why he chose to join the public debate, the benefits and costs to using a pseudonym, the difficulties of hiding his identity, and the fundamentally important personnel and leadership issues at stake in the U.S. Air Force. Ned also talks about his future, the role of faith in his professional ethics, and what books have most influenced him.

 

Apr 17, 2019

It's time to rejuvenate America's national debate on grand strategy. And that's just what we try to do in this latest episode, which was recorded at the Michael J. Zak lecture series hosted by the Center for a New American Security. The debate got spirited! So who are these fresh voices? If you're an avid War on the Rocks listener and reader, you might already know some of them (because we are the freshest national security publication out there, amirite?): Rebecca Lissner (U.S. Naval War College, yes her opinions are hers and hers alone), Josh Shifrinson (Boston University), Kate Kizer (Win Without War), and Emma Ashford (Cato Institute).

 

 

Mar 18, 2019

Debates over civil-military relations have reached a fever pitch since the 2016 presidential campaign and the beginning of the Trump administration. Many have focused on the top-down questions: What role should retired generals play in our political system? What are the consequences of having so many former military leaders at the upper-most ranks of a presidential administration? Should we be worried about the state of civilian leadership in the Pentagon? But to put those in their right context, it is important to look at civil-military relations from the bottom-up. How are ethics taught to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines? What is the state of the profession of arms? What does it really mean for the American people to honor their troops? In this episode, we tackle many of these questions from the top-down and the bottom-up with a terrific panel of experts: Loren DeJonge Schulman of the Center for a New American Security, Alice Hunt Friend of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Steven Foster of the U.S. Army and one of the contributors to Redefining the Modern Military: The Intersection of Profession and Ethics.

Feb 25, 2019

With the last slivers of Syrian territory being wrested from the grasp of the Islamic State, where does the war against this tenacious terrorist organization go next? To understand where we came and where we are heading, we assembled a fantastic cast of experts that co-hosts Usha Sahay and Ryan Evans did their best to wrangle: Rasha al-Aqeedi of FRPI, Ryan Fishel of the U.S. Air Force, Hassan Hassan of the Tahrir Institute, Haroro Ingram of Program on Extremism at GWU, Brett Reichert of the U.S. Army, and Aaron Stein of FPRI.

 

Our guests in this episode range from people who fought the self-proclaimed Caliphate on the ground and in the air to scholars, think tankers, and analysts.

 

 

Feb 11, 2019

The Middle East is the region that keeps on giving, and taking away. How has the American approach to the use of force evolved in Syria and Iraq? And what is the relationship between U.S. politics and these policies? How is Turkey preparing for the possible withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria? What is Iraq's view of the region's conflicts? Is the Trump administration really taking the fight to Iran somehow? What of other great powers interests? Our guests tackle these questions and many more. We were joined -- over drinks of course -- by Doug Ollivant of New America and Mantid International,* Elizabeth Saunders of Georgetown University, and Nicholas Danforth of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

 

Don't forget to check out the War on the Rocks membership program: https://warontherocks.com/membership

 

*Mantid does business in Iraq

Feb 4, 2019

About a year after the National Defense Strategy was launched, what progress has been made when it comes to America's edge against its great power rivals? And what role do great power partners, like India, have to play?

Over drinks at the Jefferson Hotel's Quill Bar (our old school recording location, as longtime listeners of the show will remember) Elbridge Colby, Tanvi Madan, Roger Zakheim, and Nina Kollars debate these questions and more.

 

Jan 17, 2019

Bad ideas. How much trouble do they cause in national security? How do they disrupt or hinder the protection and advancement of American interests? Where do they come from? How do they gain traction? Our friends at the Center for Strategic and International Studies decided to delve more deeply into these questions and more with their project, “Bad Ideas in National Security.” It features short articles from various thinkers on recently considered and not too obvious bad ideas in the defense and foreign policy space. In this episode of the War on the Rocks podcast, we dig into a selection of them with a stellar panel of experts. Also, Zack Cooper and I continue our self-indulgent feud on the great wargame controversy of 2016, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, listen to our last episode.

You can read all the articles in the “Bad Ideas” series at the CSIS website.

 

Dec 20, 2018

With a new era of great power competition upon us, the U.S. Navy is in the midst of developing its future fleet. The good people up at the U.S. Naval War College are chipping in to help their service figure out the answers to big strategic and operational questions. This episode was recorded on the sidelines of the college's "Bridging the Straits" conference and focuses on the dynamics of maritime competition with the People's Republic of China.  

We have a very special guest host for this episode: Zack Cooper of AEI and a contributing editor at War on the Rocks. Zack was joined by Ketian Zhang, Jonathan Caverely, Michael O'Hara, and Fiona Cunningham. You don't want to miss this!

Nov 27, 2018

What is Xi Jinping’s “revolution” in Chinese politics? How did he amass the power to enact his ambitious agenda? Is he in danger of being toppled? Or is he effectively a dictator for life? In the second episode of “Jaw-Jaw,” Liz Economy of the Council on Foreign Relations and our host Brad Carson discuss the future of China and its powerful leader, Xi Jinping. Please enjoy the newest addition to the War on the Rocks family of podcasts.

You can subscribe to “Jaw-Jaw” by clicking here or simply by searching for it on your podcast app of choice.

If you’d like to read a full-transcript of this episode, click here.

Biographies

Elizabeth Economy is the C.V. Starr senior fellow and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. In June 2018, Dr. Economy was named one of the “10 Names That Matter on China Policy” by Politico MagazineHer most recent book is The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State (2018).

Brad Carson is a professor at the University of Virginia, where he teaches in the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001-2005 and was Undersecretary of the Army and acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness in the Obama Administration. Feel free to write him at brad.carson@warontherocks.com to share any feedback you have.

Links

Nov 13, 2018

What is the future of U.S.-Chinese relations? Will a rising China seek to overturn the U.S.-led international order? What is China doing inside the first island chain? In cyberspace? Orbital space? Is China more like Imperial Germany or is it more like France in the late 19th century? Dean Cheng and Brad Carson explore these questions and many more in the inaugural episode of “Jaw-Jaw,” the newest addition to the War on the Rocks family of podcasts. Dean even recommends some of his favorite books on China – which will be a regular “Jaw-Jaw” feature. You can read the entire transcript of this episode at War on the Rocks. And, more importantly, you can subscribe to the "Jaw-Jaw" feed right here!

Biographies

Dean Cheng is Senior Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center, Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, at the Heritage Foundation. He specializes in China’s military and foreign policy, in particular China’s relationship with its Asian neighbors and with the United States. His most recent book is Cyber Dragon: Inside China’s Information Warfare and Cyber Operations (2016). Cheng is a frequent media commentator on China-related issues.

Brad Carson is a professor at the University of Virginia, where he teaches in the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001-2005 and was Undersecretary of the Army and acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness in the Obama Administration. He welcomes comments at brad.carson@warontherocks.com.

Links

 

Oct 18, 2018

This week’s Net Assessment podcast featured a deep-dive into the Vice President’s early October speech on the competition with China. Largely drowned out by the Kavanaugh SCOTUS controversy, Melanie, Chris, and Bryan give this important speech due consideration, to include administration views on Taiwan, China’s defense buildup, and its growing global influence.  The crew also discussed foreign aid, the F-35, the deficit, the alleged assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, and the resignation of Nikki Haley. All of this while celebrating Melanie’s birthday.

 

Vice President’s Speech

 

Airing of Grievances

 

Attaboys

 

 

Oct 16, 2018

Can two great power publications peacefully co-exist? Or are they fated to clash? And what if you throw nuclear weapons into the mix? Gideon Rose and Ryan Evans, the benevolent editorial autocrats of Foreign Affairs and War on the Rocks seek to answer these questions and more. They dive deep into a new special issue of Foreign Affairs:Do Nuclear Weapons Matter?” The issue features a diverse range of thinkers on nuke – some of whom have also written for WOTR – including Elbridge Colby, John Mueller, Olga Oliker, Scott Sagan, Caitlin Talmadge, and Nina Tannenwald. Gideon and Ryan also dish about editing, dealing with different kinds of authors, and whether wordsmithing drives them to drink. After this display of inter-publication generosity, Ryan demands the unconditional surrender of Foreign Affairs.

 

Oct 4, 2018

What happens when a libertarian, a conservative hawk, and a constitutional powers specialist walk into a podcast studio? 'Net Assessment' happens. Welcome to the hottest new national security podcast hosted by Melanie Marlowe, Christopher Preble, and Bryan McGrath. This is a show about competing visions of America's role in the world. In each episode, they will be discussing a featured article, airing their grievances, and giving attaboys.  In the first episode of this bi-weekly series, our hosts introduce themselves and their hopes for this podcast. They tackle this episode's featured article, Adrian Lewis' "The Ivory Tower and Academic Ignorance of What the Armed Forces Actually Do," published by Task & Purpose. They also discuss the role of American seapower and, of course, Twitter feuds. Don't forget to subscribe to Net Assessment on your podcast app of choice. 

 

Sep 21, 2018

Half a century later, the Vietnam War continues to shape U.S. foreign policy, from its debates over foreign intervention to the institutions of its military. Why does the war remain such a poignant influence, and what lessons have policymakers, scholars, and the public learned (or failed to learn) from America's disastrous campaign in Southeast Asia? WOTR Managing Editor Usha Sahay had the chance to discuss the legacy of Vietnam with an all-star cast in Austin, Texas.

Sep 13, 2018

How should the U.S. military prepare for the conflicts of the future? Military threats in the cyber, digital, and information domains present new training challenges. Synthetic training” seeks to address these obstacles - but what is it, anyway, how does it work in practice, and is the military trying to throw too much new tech at the problem? Managing Editor Usha Sahay discussed the future of military training with three experts in the perfect setting: over cocktails in a seaside mansion-turned-bar in Newport, Rhode Island.

Aug 29, 2018

In this episode, Ryan sat down with Gen. David Goldfein, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force. We had an in-depth, candid conversation about his service's personnel challenges, the selection and education of leaders, as well as strategy, warfighting, and the books that have influenced him. Goldfein also explained why he engaged with the pseudonymous Col. 'Ned Stark' and why it is so important for people in the Air Force to write and publicly engage. Many of the questions I asked came from War on the Rocks members in our members only forum, the War Hall. You can become a member too.

Jul 31, 2018

The War on the Rocks podcast celebrates its 100th episode with a blockbuster group of close friends of the site. The entire episode is an attempt to answer a straightforward, but devilishly complex question: Is a major inter-state war likely in the next several years? Join Ryan Evans as he corrals Kori Schake, Frank Gavin, Colin Kahl, William Inboden, and Hal Brands to sort through the scenarios, opportunities, and possibilities (over drinks, of course). This question and discussion started in the War Hall, our members-only forum that you can sign up for right here

 

Jul 19, 2018

While on a recent visit to Copenhagen, Ryan sat down with his old friend Martin Tamm Anderson. Martin, who recently left the Danish Army, met Ryan in Helmand Province years ago. In the years since, Martin has been busy. After working as a military advisor for the Oscar-nominated film, "A War," he created a new television show with his colleagues at Drive Studios called "The Hidden Face of War" (DR3). In the show, Martin visits active warzones and speaks to people on all sides of the conflict. 

 

In this episode, Martin spoke with Ryan over smørrebrød about his journey from infantryman to television host and the exciting and often dangerous challenges of his new show.

 

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