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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
Jun 19, 2018

How has our understanding of Russian influence operations evolved since the 2016 election? Just a few days before Trump was elected president, Clint Watts, Andrew Weisburd, and J.M. Berger sounded the alarm in a War on the Rocks article about the Kremlin's efforts to undermine American democracy. Since then, the world has learned a lot more about how Russia influenced the election and, more generally, the continued dangers of influence campaigns and information warfare. Clint's new book, Messing With the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake Newsis an effort to help us think through these issues. He recently spoke with Usha about his efforts to track and understand Russian social media trolling, what studying jihadi terrorists taught him about online propaganda, and what the government, tech companies, and the public can do to deal with this difficult problem.

 

Read the November 2016 War on the Rocks article here: https://warontherocks.com/2016/11/trolling-for-trump-how-russia-is-trying-to-destroy-our-democracy/

 

Order Clint's book here: https://amzn.to/2I4NKbt

Image: powtac/Flickr

 

Jun 14, 2018

Martyn Frampton (@FramptonM) of Queen Mary University, is one of the most talented historians of his generation. He recently sat down with Ryan in Washington to speak about his new book, The Muslim Brotherhood and the West: A History of Enmity and Engagement. Since its founding in Egypt in the 1920s, the Muslim Brotherhood has been animated by hatred for the West, but has also vigorously engaged with Western nations -- especially Britain and America -- in pursuit of its goals. Martyn walks us through this alternatively harrowing and fascinating story. In his telling, the Muslim Brotherhood is the perfect example of a movement that is intensely ideological yet deeply pragmatic and flexible. And the United States and Britain have a habit of getting led into the same cul-de-sacs with the Brotherhood over and over again, hoping -- in Martyn's words -- that they could achieve certain things by engaging with the Brotherhood, only to be left disappointed. This tale does not just have major implications for foreign relations, but also for integrating Muslim communities at home in the West. For you aspiring historians out there, he also discusses the process of writing the book, including learning a new language and conducting archival research on three continents. 

 

 

Jun 7, 2018

Partner cooperation is crucial when it comes to fighting terrorism, but it's also complex. Stephen Tankel, assistant professor at American University -- most importantly -- a senior editor here at War on the Rocks, examines U.S. counterterrorism cooperation in his new book With Us and Against Us: How America's Partners Help and Hinder the War on Terror. He and Ryan chatted about troublesome partners like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, how young academics can be more policy-engaged, and what Stephen drank to celebrate reaching major academic milestones.

 

Be sure to check out Stephen's book: https://amzn.to/2JyufwJ

 

 

Jun 4, 2018

Recently, two enterprising young scholars spearheaded a major conference that ended up being sponsored and hosted by CSIS and the Kissinger Center at SAIS. The topic was the future of force and it will hopefully be the first in a series under a program called the Future of Strategy Forum that aims to feature women doing important work in national and international security. At the end of this day long event, Usha Sahay and Ryan Evans sat down with the people responsible for making it happen -- Sara Plana, Rachel Tecott, Alex Bick, Alice Friend, and Kath Hicks. We had a fascinating conversation about how this conference came to be, the challenges of gender diversity, and -- of course -- the future of force.

 

May 24, 2018

How does America's role in the world look from across the Atlantic? Usha had an illuminating discussion in Paris with three French experts on U.S. foreign policy and European security issues. Among the questions they discussed: How much of an anomaly is Trump? How should France and Europe respond to the Trump administration's 'America First' policy? And how will America's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal (which happened just a day before we recorded this podcast) impact its relationship with Europe and the future of multilateralism? Don't miss this special Parisian edition of the War on the Rocks podcast.  

 

 

May 21, 2018

Pakistan is 70 years old. To make the anniversary, Joshua White of SAIS foolishly asked Ryan Evans to moderate an esteemed panel of experts to discuss Pakistan's role in Asia, its relationships with the great powers, and its future. Have a listen as Sameer Lalwani, Tanvi Madan, Daniel Markey, Olga Oliker, and Rasul Bakhsh Rais share their knowledge and wisdom. 

 

 

May 14, 2018

Three talented scholars join Ryan in this episode to tackle questions about the future of the international order. ​ Conversations about this topic can often be insufferably dry, but this one definitely isn't -- and not just because of the adult beverages being imbibed as the episode unfolded. Join Mira Rapp-Hooper, Rebecca Friedman Lissner, and Stephen Wertheim for a meaty, fascinating, and historically informed jam session on the future of U.S. power and influence. 

May 7, 2018

Ryan dropped in on Michael P. Dempsey late last week in New York City. He is a career intelligence official who served as the acting director of national intelligence. From 2014-2017, he served as the deputy director of national intelligence and President Barack Obama’s primary intelligence briefer. After decades of work in the intelligence community, Dempsey is taking a year out of government at the Council on Foreign Relations. And for the first time in years, he is allowed to speak his mind freely (for the most part) about all sorts of things. Naturally, we had to have him on the War on the Rocks podcast. In this episode, Dempsey starts with the story of his career, from his work as a Latin America analyst all the way up to finalizing the President's Daily Brief and, yes, briefing it to the president of the United States. He also walks us through how to understand negotiations in North Korea as well as the ever-worsening civil war in Syria. 

 

 

Apr 24, 2018

A special dispatch from France: On Friday, April 13, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France launched punitive strikes on Syria following the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons. Managing Editor Usha Sahay spoke with Bruno Tertrais, deputy director of the Foundation for Strategic Research and an expert on French defense policy, about France's perspective on the conflict in Syria, Emmanuel Macron's views on military intervention, and the falling out between France and the United States after the aborted strikes in the summer of 2013. 

 

Read Bruno's new paper on the subject, co-authored with Jeffrey Lewis, "Beyond the Red Line: The United States, France, and Chemical Weapons in the Syrian War, 2013-2018." https://www.frstrategie.org/en/publications/recherches-et-documents/beyond-the-red-line-the-united-states-france-and-chemical-weapons-in-the-syrian-war-2013-2018-06-2018

 

 

Mar 30, 2018

This is Horns of a Dilemma, the podcast partner to that journal, which features the thinkers and leaders resident at the various institutions of the University of Texas and those who stop in to share their wisdom. 

On the latest episode of Horns of a Dilemma, we have Amy Zegart, who was hosted at the University of Texas as a part of the Strauss Center's Brumley Speaker Series. You should know who Amy is already, but if you don’t she is co-director of the Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation and the Davies Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

To call this a talk about cybersecurity would be accurate, but it wouldn’t do this wide-ranging and fascinating episode justice.

 

Mar 14, 2018

Why are so many people at odds over low-yield nuclear weapons? Well, it turns out, this debate touches on a megaton of interesting questions, including how Russia sees its own nuclear arsenal, how it envisions nuclear strategy, how the Kremlin understands the deterrence, and how we might prevent a nuclear war. So if you care about any of those things, you might want to listen in on this fierce debate between Frank Miller - a long-suffering veteran of the Pentagon and nuclear strategy, Dr. Olga Oliker of CSIS and a longtime observer and scholar of Russian nuclear and military doctrine, and Vipin Narang - a professor at MIT and, most importantly, a War on the Rocks senior editor. 

 

Co-hosts Ryan Evans and Usha Sahay did their best to moderate this high-yield debate about low-yield nukes. Get ready for the fallout. 

 

 

Mar 8, 2018

In the second episode of our new podcast series, "Horns of a Dilemma," William Inboden interviews Mark Updegrove, president and chief Executive of the LBJ Foundation, and author of the new book The Last Republicans: Inside the Extraordinary Relationship Between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush (Harper 2017). This new book draws on interviews with both Bush presidents to explore their formative experiences as well as their perspectives on public service, America’s role in the world, Donald Trump, and the transmutation of the Republican Party that has transfixed the United States and turned its politics upside-down. 

 

Mar 2, 2018

This is the first episode of “Horns of a Dilemma,” a new series brought to you by the Texas National Security Review, featuring the leaders and thinkers based at the University of Texas or who stop in to share their wisdom. Fittingly, we are kicking this off with a conversation on leadership, mostly in the national security context. This session is moderated by William Inboden, the director of the Clements Center. The guests are all based at the University of Texas: Adm. (ret.) Bill McRaven, former CIA Director John Brennan, former NSA Director Adm. (ret.) Bobby Inman, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.

Have a listen and don’t forget to subscribe to this new show’s feed!

Feb 19, 2018

Does the future of warfare demand the U.S. military change its standards for everything from fitness to personal appearance? This question opened up a major debate in the electronic pages of War on the Rocks. So Ryan Evans invited the participants in that debate -- Jacqueline Schneider, Mark Cancian, and Crispin Burke -- to join him on the show and work out everything from why military standards exist to what the wars of the future will look like, along with the warriors who fight them.

 

 

Feb 14, 2018

In our latest episode, Usha Sahay and Ryan Evans were joined by Thomas Rid, Michael Sulmeyer, and a mystery guest (ok, ok, it's Corinna Fehst) to talk about cyber-security, election meddling, reports about U.S. intel agencies buying back pilfered hacking tools, going dark, legislatures as the vulnerable soft cyber underbelly of democracies, and the different threats posed by Russia and China.  

Also, "Password1" is not a good password according to our guests. So you should probably change that. 

 

Feb 7, 2018

Two key strategy documents released by the Trump administration signal the United States is finally gearing up for a new era of great power competition. And China is the most daunting competitor on the horizon. Is this the right move? Is the president on board? Are America's allies up for it? What would a war of choice in North Korea do to a Sino-American competition? How can and should America compete politically, economically, and militarily? Was it naive to expect China to become a responsible stakeholder to begin with?

 

To answer these questions and more, Kelly Magsamen of the Center for American Progress and Ely Ratner of the Council on Foreign Relations sat down with Ryan at WOTR HQ with the aid of three kinds of whisk(e)y. Both Kelly and Ely drew on their experiences in the Obama administration, in which they both served in senior capacities. 

  

Dec 19, 2017

Ryan spent a week in France earlier this year and was fortunate to meet with Gérard Biard, the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, the ever-irreverent French satirical magazine that made international headlines almost three years ago when jihadist terrorists attacked their office in Paris. Gérard spoke with Ryan about everything from the impact of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, how the ideal of French secularism contrasts with its American counterpart, the nature of the satire they do better than anyone, and why some people still don’t get it. They discussed why satirizing Islam and other religions when they the political arena is not just fair game, but even important. And they close with Charlie Hebdo’s origins (Did you know the name in part comes from the fact that its predecessor magazine was the first to publish Charlie Brown in France?) and the challenges of satirizing Trump (“What could we write that would be funnier than a tweet from Donald Trump?”).

Special thanks to Iskander Rehman, for doing the translation and voiceover, and Jamie McGuire, the sound engineer who worked with him on it. 

If you're a French speaker and want a version without an English voiceover, then click here, where you can download that as an mp3.

 

Oct 11, 2017

Since Donald Trump began to close in on the Republican nomination for the race for the White House, people have been debating the ethical implications of a Trump administration. And those discussions became more urgent and, in some cases, heated with Trump assuming office this year. Much of the focus has been on the ethics of public service during this presidency. Nine months have not delivered any sort of consensus. Is it ethical to serve this administration? Is it different for political appointees than civil servants? What about members of the military? Does President Trump force any new ethical questions? 

Ryan Evans turned to Pauline Shanks Kaurin and Shannon French, two philosophers who focus on military ethics, to help us parse these questions. 

 

Feb 13, 2017

In this episode, WOTR's Ryan Evans interviews John Bew about the state of the "special relationship" between the United States and the United Kingdom as the presidency of Donald Trump unfolds. How is Prime Minister Theresa May trying to manage British relations with the United States? Is Parliament making it easier or harder for her? What does Brexit mean for British power? Will Britain start to more seriously commit to a higher defense budget? Is the Winston Churchill bust in the White House a useful symbol of the special relationship (spoiler: no)? John tackles these questions and more, ending on a note of optimism on this most resilient of alliances. But that's not all! There's also a dash of Asia in this episode. Ryan called up Van Jackson, the host of Pacific Pundit, about the grand American presidential tradition of ignoring North Korea. About our guests: John Bew is Professor of History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department at King’s College London. He is the author of Realpolitik: A History and, most recently, Clement Attlee: The Man Who Made Modern Britain. John is leading a project on Britain’s place in the world for the think tank Policy Exchange. Van Jackson is a senior editor at War on the Rocks. Van is the author of Rival Reputations: Coercion and Credibility in US-North Korea Relations. He is an associate professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) and an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). The views expressed are his own. Please check out his podcast, Pacific Pundit.

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