Power Problems

By Cato Institute

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Description

Power Problems is a bi-weekly podcast from the Cato Institute. Host John Glaser offers a skeptical take on U.S. foreign policy, and discusses today’s big questions in international security with distinguished guests from across the political spectrum. Podcast Hashtag: #FPPowerProblems.

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Episode Date
How to Avoid a Zero-Sum U.S.-China Relationship
31:19

The increasingly competitive U.S.-China relationship is subject to various perverse incentives and negative feedback loops. Jessica Chen Weiss, Cornell University Professor for China and Asia-Pacific Studies, discusses China’s rise and how to avoid a zero-sum and conflict-prone great power relationship.

Show Notes:



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Sep 20, 2022
What We Get Wrong about Cyber Security
36:14


When Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, many cyber security analysts expected Russia to rely far more heavily on cyber tactics. Marine Corps University distinguished senior fellow Brandon Valeriano discusses the pitfalls of cyber security policy and research. 

 

Show Notes:



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Sep 07, 2022
Afghanistan: One Year After US Withdrawal
46:24

Award winning journalist Peter Beinart discusses the messy U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan one year later and questions the wisdom of entering the war in the first place. He conjectures about why U.S. foreign policy does not seem to evolve much or reflect popular opinion as much as domestic policy.


Show Notes:



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Aug 23, 2022
Poking the Dragon and the Bear
27:04


Defense Priorities fellow Bonnie Kristian discusses the Beijing’s reaction to Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the risks of escalation in America’s Ukraine policy, continued U.S. presence in the Middle East, the overuse of national emergency declarations, and unchecked executive war powers.


Show Notes:

 



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Aug 09, 2022
Ukraine and the Discourse of War
38:00

Author Robert Wright discusses the post-Cold War history of US policies, particularly in Europe, that increased the likelihood of today's ongoing war in Ukraine and the psychological factors influencing the climate of discourse in a time of war. 

 

Show Notes



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Jul 26, 2022
Biden’s Incoherent Iran Policy
38:52

Despite campaign promises to re-enter the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, also known as the JCPOA, President Joe Biden has yet to show the political will required to make progress. Quincy Institute co-founder and executive vice president Trita Parsi discusses why the Biden administration has been slow to act and what the consequences will be.

Show Notes



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Jul 12, 2022
The Transatlantic Divide
38:13

Jeremy Shapiro, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations, discusses the current state of transatlantic relations, how they shifted during the Trump administration, the need for European defense autonomy, the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine, and why US foreign policy has a prioritization problem.

Show Notes



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Jun 28, 2022
Great Powers and Territorial Disputes
56:07

Lyle Goldstein, Director of Asia Engagement at Defense Priorities and visiting professor at Brown University, discusses strategies toward Russia and China in this so-called era of great power competition, with a focus on the territorial disputes each rival has with its neighbors. 



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Jun 14, 2022
Prediction and Judgement: Artificial Intelligence & War
41:21


Georgia Tech associate professor Jon R. Lindsay discusses the role and ethics of AI in war, the risks and dangers in developing military and national security applications, and how AI applications will alter the nature of international conflict. 

 

Notes:



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May 31, 2022
The Dangerous Contradictions in U.S.-Syria Policy
46:37

Joshua Landis, professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma, discusses the civil war in Syria, the fragmentation of the country, the history of US interventions in the conflict, how America's strategy there works against itself, and how best to stabilize and potentially resolve what has become a protracted quagmire.

 

Notes

 



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May 17, 2022
Intelligence, Politics, & National Security Policy
1:00:05

Retired CIA officer Paul R. Pillar discusses the tensions between the intelligence community and policymakers, concerns over domestic abuses of the CIA and NSA, the continuing legacy of post-9/11 policy mistakes, the Russian war in Ukraine, the Biden administration's diplomacy with Iran, and how hyper-partisanship undermines national security policy.

 

Show Notes:



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May 03, 2022
Enemy Images, Foreign & Domestic
45:00


Tulane University associate professor and Cato adjunct scholar Christopher Fettweis discusses political psychology on the international and domestic levels, explains how misperceptions drive conflict, and argues that "enemy images" can be subdued by greater exposure to adversaries and political opponents. 

 

  1. Christopher Fettweis bio
  2. Christopher J. Fettweis, Psychology of a Superpower: Security and Dominance in U.S. Foreign Policy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018). 
  3. Christopher J. Fettweis, “After Trump: Enemies, Partisans, and Recovery,” Political Science Quarterly 136, no. 4 (September 23, 2021).
  4. Christopher J. Fettweis, “After Rome: Lessons in Grand Strategy from Emperor Hadrian,” Survival 60, no. 4 (July 16, 2018): pp. 123-150.




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Apr 19, 2022
National Security and the Image of Public Harmony
47:12


The image of public harmony between elected officials and an entrenched national security bureaucracy collapsed in the Trump years, according to Tufts University professor Michael Glennon. Glennon discusses the massive transfer of power from the Madisonian institutions of government to a behemoth national security bureaucracy, the problems this poses for policymaking, and how our politics have become a fight over prevailing "myth systems." 

 

Show Notes



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Apr 05, 2022
Neutrality for Ukraine?
20:36

The war in Ukraine has prompted calls for armed neutrality as a resolution to the conflict. Audrey Kurth Cronin outlines the history of neutral states and why it is a promising solution in Ukraine.

 

Show Notes:

 



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Mar 22, 2022
The End of the Post-Cold War Era?
32:08

Atlantic Council senior fellow Emma Ashford discusses how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has played out so far, what the broader implications for international security and the global economy will be, and what comes after the conflict for the United States, Europe, Russia, and China.

 



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Mar 08, 2022
Russia, Ukraine, and European Security
50:17


MIT professor Barry Posen joined the show to discuss the crisis in Ukraine, the origins of the conflict, what diplomatic approaches are available, and how US strategy is pushing China and Russia together.

 


  1. Barry R. Posen bio
  2. Barry Posen, “Unleashing the Rhetorical Dogs of War,”Just Security, February 15, 2022.
  3. Barry R. Posen, “A New Transatlantic Division of Labor Could Save Billions Every Year!Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September 7, 2021.
  4. Barry R. Posen,Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014).




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Feb 22, 2022
Too Many Secrets: How to Fix Overclassification
46:24


Should the United States classify as much information as it does? Yale Law School professor Oona A. Hathaway explains how the U.S. government overclassifies information, why incentives generate more secrecy, the threat to democracy this system poses, and what to do about it.




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Feb 08, 2022
Public Choice and U.S. Grand Strategy
58:40

Richard Hanania argues that the existence of a consistent, top-down, overarching U.S. grand strategy is an illusion. Instead of a unitary actor adhering to a coherent strategy over time, the state is subject to a set of concentrated interests that have outsize influence on U.S. foreign policy. 


Show Notes:



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Jan 25, 2022
How to Defuse the Ukraine Crisis
47:19





Quincy Institute Senior Fellow Anatol Lieven discusses the origins of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Russia's strategic perspective, the mistakes of NATO enlargement, and why the Biden administration has options to defuse tensions but is not pursuing them. Post-withdrawal Afghanistan policy and strategic competition with China are also covered. 


  1. Anatol Lieven bio
  2. Anatol Lieven, “Russia Is Right on the Middle East,” Foreign Policy, November 30, 2021.
  3. Anatol Lieven, “Ukrainian Neutrality: A ‘Golden Bridge’ Out of the Current Geopolitical Trap,” Responsible Statecraft, January 3, 2022.




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Jan 11, 2022
Quantum Mind and Social Science
51:01

 What do quantum mechanics have to do with international relations? Ohio State University professor Alexander Wendt lays out a theory of the physical world based on quantum effects and explains how it might inform our approach to social science, including international politics. 

Show Notes



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Dec 28, 2021
Competing for Status?
36:14

The desire for high status drives great powers’ foreign policies. Cambridge University professor Steven Ward discusses how status concerns motivate rising powers like China as well as declining powers like the United States, and how that can produce belligerent policies and exacerbate international tensions.


Show Notes

 

 

 



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Dec 14, 2021
Nuclear Competition and MAD
41:36

Despite the popular Cold War concept of mutually assured destruction (MAD), the United States and Soviet Union engaged in risky, escalatory nuclear competition despite the costs and risks. University of Cincinnati associate professor and Cato adjunct scholar Brendan Rittenhouse Green discusses what drove this competition and explains the role of nuclear arms today, with a focus on the future of U.S.-China nuclear relations.

Show Notes



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Nov 30, 2021
The Erosion of Civil-Military Relations
43:00

Marquette University Associate Professor Risa Brooks discusses civil-military relations in the United States, the role of military leaders and institutions in the making of foreign policy, and what reforms are needed to re-exert civilian primacy over the armed forces. Brooks touches upon concerning episodes, from Obama's Afghanistan surge to Trump's explicit politicization of the military, to suggest the proper norms around civil-military relations have eroded in recent years.

Show Notes



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Nov 16, 2021
Spending Smarter: How to Fix the U.S. Military Budget
34:28

The U.S. military budget is larger than those of the next 11 highest spenders combined. William Hartung, Director of the Arms & Security Program at the Center for International Policy discusses what cuts would make military spending more efficient.


 

  1. William D. Hartung bio
  2.  William D. Hartung, “Profits of War: Corporate Beneficiaries of the Post-9/11 Pentagon Spending Surge,” Watson Institute of Public and International Affairs, September 13, 2021.
  3.  William D. Hartung, “Profiteers of Armageddon: Explaining the Money Behind the Pentagon’s Nuclear Weapon Build Up,” Inkstick Media, October 12, 2021.




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Nov 02, 2021
Oil & Great Power Politics
42:57

Access to oil is so vital that powerful countries can take extraordinary measures to protect themselves from ever being vulnerable to oil coercion. Rosemary A. Kelanic, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Notre Dame University, discusses the recent history of great powers’ quest for oil security and what kind of future military postures the United States and China may take toward the Persian Gulf.

 



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Oct 19, 2021
Bad Friends: America’s Middle East Allies
38:00

President Joe Biden claimed he would defend human rights around the world, but his track record paints a different picture, especially in the Middle East. Quincy Institute senior fellow Annelle Sheline discusses how U.S. policies in the region have protected oppressive leaders while undermining American interests.


Show Notes



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Oct 05, 2021
The Battle of Ideas over America's Role in the World
40:03

Stephen Wertheim is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. He discusses 20 years of failed post-9/11 national security policies, the strategy of global military dominance, and the ongoing the battle of ideas on the U.S. role in the world.


Show Notes:



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Sep 21, 2021
A Distracted Grand Strategy
37:51

U.S. Naval War College professor Peter Dombrowski argues that the most pressing problems Americans face are internal domestic challenges and non-military risks like pandemics and climate change. But national security policy devotes disproportionate time and resources to confronting inflated threats from external actors. He joins the show to discuss the problems with an overly militarized grand strategy that has failed to properly identify or prioritize threats.

 

Show Notes

 



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Sep 07, 2021
Cutting Through the Noise on Afghanistan Withdrawal
38:40

The chaos that accompanied the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan does not negate the wisdom of bringing the war to an end, despite protestations in Washington about U.S. credibility and the "sustainability" of endless war. Benjamin H. Friedman, policy director at Defense Priorities, weighs in. 

 

Show Notes 



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Sep 03, 2021
How to Actually End Endless Wars
43:22

The now-popular "ending endless wars" slogan has generated more political rhetoric than real policy changes. David Sterman, senior policy analyst at New America, helps define the concept of "endless war" as a strategy based on unachievable objectives and offers practical policy solutions for a substantive shift away from the War on Terror. 


Show Notes



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Aug 24, 2021
The "Restraint Coalition" and Strategy toward China
37:25


Boston University’s Joshua Shifrinson weighs in on a new critique of the restraint school in U.S. foreign policy debates and explains why the strategy proposed by some liberal internationalists to confront a rising China - a strategy he terms "neo-primacy" - is bound to fail.

 

Show Notes



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Aug 10, 2021
Foreign Policy Malpractice Since 9/11
50:36

9/11 set the course for U.S. national security policy in the 21st century, often with counterproductive results. Cato Institute senior fellow Justin Logan explains how post-9/11 foreign policy went off the rails and thrust America into disastrous elective wars and wasteful spending sprees. The lack of accountability for those who carried out such failures bodes ill for the future.

 

  1. Justin Logan bio
  2. Justin Logan, “The Case for Withdrawing from the Middle East,” Defense Priorities, September 2020. 
  3. Justin Logan, “Why Wait Five to 10 Years to Leave?” Responsible Statecraft, June 24, 2021.
  4. Jane K. Cramer and A. Trevor Thrall, Why Did the United States Invade Iraq? (London: Routledge, 2012).






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Jul 27, 2021
Afghanistan: An End to the War or a Shift in Tactics?
29:05


 

As the U.S. military withdraws from Afghanistan, the Biden administration is retaining some presence nearby. Tactics are shifting, but U.S. intervention looks far from over. Cato research fellow Sahar Khan discusses the debate over building bases in Pakistan and the role of U.S. security contractors in the so-called Forever War.

 

Show Notes

 




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Jul 13, 2021
Realpolitik and Diplomacy: Are States Rational?
41:08

Many realists assume that national leaders are rational. But are they? University of Southern California professor Brian Rathbun draws on classical realism to argue that realpolitik is a demanding psychological standard that is less prevalent than often assumed. Constructive diplomacy obligates policymakers, therefore, to better account for both their own subjective biases and those of other states.

Show Notes



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Jun 29, 2021
The Limits of Force in Israel-Palestine
54:47

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has erupted again, but the politics in both Israel and the United States on this longstanding issue appear to be undergoing change. Jeremy Pressman, a political scientist at the University of Connecticut and an expert on the conflict, explains the historical context of the recent outbreak in violence, argues the cycle of military force undermines the objectives of both sides, and discusses the current tensions in the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

 

Show Notes



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Jun 15, 2021
America's Oil Myths
1:03:11

One longstanding predicate of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East -- that America's military presence in the Persian Gulf region protects the free flow of oil -- is false. That is according to University of Pennsylvania professor Robert Vitalis, along with a growing academic literature scrutinizing the claim. Because of the global nature of the oil market, even infamous past disruptions, such as the so-called Arab oil embargo of 1973, have not had as significant an effect as commonly believed. This erroneous basis for U.S. strategy, Vitalis explains, also justifies a misguided emphasis on Washington's close relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, among other costly consequences. 




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Jun 01, 2021
Public Opinion & U.S. Foreign Policy
39:36

The renewed debate in Washington over U.S. foreign policy reflects changing attitudes in public opinion. George Mason University professor and Cato Senior Fellow A. Trevor Thrall discusses how generational differences are changing views on U.S. military activism and America's global role. Millennials and younger people generally support international engagement while rejecting excessive military intervention. 

 

Show Notes



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May 18, 2021
Abetting State Violence
39:07

Jessica Trisko Darden joins John Glaser to discuss how U.S. foreign aid tends to support state violence and coercion. Economic and military aid often helps undemocratic regimes secure and sustain their power and carry out human rights abuses. Even aid conditioned on good behavior and respect for democratic norms is highly fungible and often misused in ways that contradict the stated intentions of U.S. policymakers. Dr. Darden discusses the three case studies she details in her book to draw those conclusions.



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May 04, 2021
China's Evolving Strategy
50:20
What are China's international ambitions and how does Beijing seek to achieve them? Johns Hopkins professor Daniel S. Markey joins the show to discuss how the People’s Republic of China has pursued evolving strategies in discrete regions and to explore what strategic options are open to the United States in response.

  1. Daniel S. Markey bio
  2. Daniel S. Markey, China's Western Horizon: Beijing and the New Geopolitics of Eurasia, (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2020).


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Apr 20, 2021
The Negativity Bias
40:14


Dominic Tierney, associate professor at Swarthmore College, explains how the “negativity bias” affects international relations. Negativity bias causes threat inflation, leads policymakers to maintain failing policies out of loss aversion, and produces misconceptions that make conflict more likely. Biden administration policies towards Iran, Afghanistan, and China are discussed, among other issues. 

 

Show Notes

 



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Apr 06, 2021
Fixing US Diplomacy
52:31

Former career diplomat Elizabeth Shackelford recounts how her experiences working for the State Department caused her to grow disillusioned with U.S. diplomatic policy. She emphasizes the advantages of adopting a more diplomatic rather than militarized foreign policy and offers policy prescriptions to help make that transition.

 

Show Notes

 



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Mar 23, 2021
The Stupidity of War
40:36

Why has international war become more uncommon and unpopular since World War II? Sure some states still meddle in others’ civil wars or launch cyber offensives, but overall the world is experiencing an unprecedented era of peace. Some international relations experts claim that U.S. adventurist foreign policy has held off international war. This week’s guest, Ohio State University political scientist and Cato’s own John Mueller, argues against that premise in his new book The Stupidity of War: American Foreign Policy and the Case for Complacency. He says that after two world wars, most people have realized that there are better solutions to disagreements than international war.

 

Show Notes



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Mar 09, 2021
A New Approach in Asia
40:48

Geopolitical changes in East Asia call for new ideas to inform much needed policy reforms. Jessica J. Lee from the Quincy Institute joins John Glaser to discuss how policymakers can approach a rising China, traditional East Asian allies, and a nuclear North Korea.


Show Notes




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Feb 23, 2021
The Search for a Conservative Foreign Policy
33:01

What is the future of conservative foreign policy? The Republican Party is divided on many issues of national security as it searches for a new direction in the post-Trump age. The American Conservative senior editor Daniel Larison joins the show.

Show Notes



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Feb 09, 2021
Domestic Politics and the China Scare
22:48

Is the United States on course for a new Cold War with China? Campbell Craig tells John Glaser that there may be a chance to cooperate and ease tensions with Beijing. They discuss how changes in the U.S. military budget, threat perception, nuclear posturing, alliances, and domestic politics can help the two superpowers avoid a potential standoff.

ShowNotes

  1. Campbell Craig bio:https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/people/view/542163-craig-campbell
  2. Campbell Craig and Fredrik Logevall, America’s Cold War: The Politics of Insecurity, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009).


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Jan 26, 2021
Shining a Light on the SolarWinds Hack
37:38

Did Russia commit a cyber attack or cyber espionage? What is the difference and how does it affect the U.S. response and future of cybersecurity? Cato Institute’s own Brandon Valeriano and Atlantic Council’s Erica Borghard join host John Glaser to discuss the severity of the SolarWinds hack and its implications for the broader cybersecurity political landscape.




1.  Brandon Valeriano bio: https://www.cato.org/people/brandon-valeriano

Erica Borghard bio: https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/expert/erica-borghard/  

 

2.  Sean Lawson and Brandon Valeriano, “The Russian ‘Cyber Peral Harbor’ That Wasn’t,” The American Conservative, December 18, 2020.Benjamin Jensen, Brandon Valeriano, and Mark Montgomery, “The Strategic Implications of SolarWinds,” Lawfare Blog, December 18, 2020.

 

3.  Erica D. Borghard, “The SolarWinds Compromise and the Strategic Challenge of Information and Communications Technology Supply Chain,” Council on Foreign Relations, December 22, 2020.

Erica Borghard and Jacquelyn Schneider, “Russia’s Hack Wasn’t Cyberwarfare. That Complicates US Strategy,” Wired, December 17, 2020.



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Jan 12, 2021
Should America Abandon "Global Leadership"?
33:28


Peter Beinart and host John Glaser discuss the problems of "global leadership" in U.S. foreign policy, why Washington over-spends on the wrong threats, the implications of President-elect Biden's incoming national security team, and how America should approach an increasingly influential China. 

 


 

1. Peter Beinart bio: https://www.gc.cuny.edu/Page-Elements/Academics-Research-Centers-Initiatives/Doctoral-Programs/Political-Science/Faculty-Bios/Peter-Beinart  

 

2. Peter Beinart, Biden Wants America to Leader the World. It Shouldn’t.New York Times, December 2, 2020.

 

3. Peter Beinart, How I Changed My Mind, The Beinart Notebook, December 7, 2020.




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Dec 29, 2020
Liberalizing the Liberal Order?
45:43

After four years of an unpredictable commander-in-chief, it’s time to think about the future of U.S. foreign policy. John and David Hendrickson discuss the Trump to Biden transition, the illiberal nature of the "liberal order," and the impact of domestic politics on foreign policy, among other issues.

 

1.       David C. Hendrickson bio: https://www.coloradocollege.edu/academics/dept/politicalscience/people/profile.html?person=hendrickson_david

 

2. David C. Hendrickson, Republic in Peril: American Empire and the Liberal Tradition, (New York City: Oxford University Press, 2017).



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Dec 15, 2020
Manifest Destiny in the Stars?
36:29

President Donald Trump has shown excitement about the newly created Space Force division of the military. Is it worth the hype? According to Robert Farley, there is still too much unknown to make that call.


 

1.Robert M. Farley bio: https://www.uky.edu/~rmfarl2/

 

2. There is no link yet to his Cato paper referenced as it has yet to be published. It’s a PA titled: Space Force: Ahead of Its Time, or Dreadfully Premature?

 

Also mentioned:

Robert M. Farley and Davida H. Issacs, Patents for Power: Intellectual Property Law and the Diffusion of Military Technology (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2020).

 

Robert M. Farley, Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force (Louisville, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 2014).



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Nov 24, 2020
Trump to Biden: A foreign Policy Shift?
26:58


 

How will President-elect Biden change US foreign policy? John Glaser talks to Emma Ashford of the Atlantic Council about the transition from Trump to Biden, and from host Emma to host John. 

 


 

  1. Emma Ashford Bio https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/expert/emma-ashford/
  2. https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/joe-biden-just-won-the-presidency-what-does-that-mean-for-americas-role-in-the-world/ 




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Nov 17, 2020
Thucydides Again?
28:22


Power transitions are a hot topic in international relations! David Kang and Xinru Ma join Emma Ashford to discuss why we should look outside Europe for insight.


 

  

  1. David Kang Bio: https://dornsife.usc.edu/cf/faculty-and-staff/faculty.cfm?pid=1024445  
  2. Xinru Ma Bio: https://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/people/xinru-ma#:~:text=She%20uses%20game%20theoretical%20models,processing%20methods%20to%20large%2Dscale  
  3. David Kang and Xinru Ma, “Power Transitions: Thucydides Didn’t Live in East Asia,” Washington Quarterly.  





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Nov 03, 2020
On Declinism and American Influence
28:36


Is American influence declining? Emma Ashford talks to Ali Wyne and Gabby Tarini of the Rand Corporation about their new report on America in the world.   


  

  1. Ali Wyne Bio: https://www.ducoexperts.com/users/ali-wyne  
  2. Gabrielle Tarini Bio: https://www.rand.org/about/people/t/tarini_gabrielle.html  
  3. James Dobbins, Gabrielle Tarini, and Ali Wyne, “The Lost Generation in American Foreign Policy,” RAND Corporation.  




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Oct 20, 2020
China, India, and Sovereignty in the Himalayas
31:14


Emma Ashford talks with MIT’s Taylor Fravel about ongoing China-India tensions and what China wants from the world.


 

1.     Taylor Fravel bio: https://polisci.mit.edu/people/m-taylor-fravel

2.     Taylor Fravel, “Why are India and China Skirmishing at their Border?” Washington Post.

3.     Taylor Fravel, “China’s Sovereignty Obsession,” Foreign Affairs. 



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Oct 06, 2020
A Tour of South Asia
28:14

Paul Staniland of the University of Chicago joins Emma Ashford to discuss current events in India, Pakistan, and South Asia. 

Show Notes 

  1. Paul Staniland bio: https://paulstaniland.com/
  2. Paul Staniland, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “Political Violence in South Asia: The Triumph of the State?



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Sep 22, 2020
With Friends Like These
27:15

Donald Trump has taken America’s relationship with Europe from bad to worse. Emma Ashford chats with Rachel Rizzo of the Truman Project about the prospects for transatlantic relations.


1. Rachel Rizzo Bio

2. Tom McTague, "Remember the 90s, Don't Long for a Return," The Atlantic. 

3. Emma Ashford, "Biden Wants to Go Back to a Normal Foreign Policy. That's the Problem," The New York Times. 



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Sep 08, 2020
Power Problems/Pop & Locke Crossover: Dr. Strangelove
55:48

In a special crossover episode, Emma sits down with the hosts of the Pop & Locke podcast and members of the Cato Foreign Policy team to explore how pop culture interacts with nuclear weapons, and why we should stop worrying and learn to love the bomb. 

 



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Aug 25, 2020
After Coronavirus III: Great Powers and COVID
26:58

In the third of our series on the world after the coronavirus, we talk about great power politics and U.S.-China relations, with returning guest Joshua Shifrinson of Boston University. 



1.     Joshua Shifrinson Bio: https://www.bu.edu/pardeeschool/profile/joshua-shifrinson/

2.     Joshua Shifrinson, International Security, “Partnership or Predation? How Rising States Contend With Declining Great Powers.” 

3.     Emma Ashford and Matthew Kroenig, Foreign Policy, “Is This The Beginning of a New Cold War with China?” 



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Aug 11, 2020
After Coronavirus II: The Pandemic and The Defense Budget
29:40
In the second of our series on the world after the coronavirus, we look at the impact on Pentagon spending. Will the coronavirus prompt us to reconsider the defense budget?



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Jul 28, 2020
Trevor's Farewell Episode
31:16
Special episode! As Trevor Thrall prepares to depart the show, our hosts chat about the show’s run and how U.S. foreign policy has changed since we've been on the air. 

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Jul 14, 2020
After Coronavirus I: Can the Global Economy be Saved?
34:37

In the first of a three-part series, Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall explore what international relations might look like after coronavirus. Today’s guest is Dan Drezner, a professor at Tufts University, who joins them to talk about global economic relations. 



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Jun 30, 2020
The Robot Revolution Will Not Be Televised
34:30


Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall chat with Peter Singer of New America about his new novel Burn In, and why fiction can be useful for our understanding of national security policy. 

 



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Jun 16, 2020
Building a Modern Military: The Force Meets Geopolitical Realities
31:51

Eric Gomez and Christopher Preble join Emma Ashford to discuss their new paper, “Building a Modern Military,” and how COVID-19 will change the U.S. military.

 



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Jun 02, 2020
What the World Thinks about America in the Age of COVID-19
34:39

Mark Hannah of the Eurasia Group Foundation joins Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall to talk about how the world views America and American-style democracy in the age of COVID-19. 

 

 




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May 19, 2020
Donald Trump and the Generals
34:01

Alice Hunt Friend of the Center for Strategic and International Studies joins Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall to talk about the increasingly strained relations between civilian and military leaders in the Trump administration. 






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May 05, 2020
COVID-19 and International Security
33:19
Greg Koblentz of George Mason University joins Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall to talk about the international security implications of the coronavirus pandemic.



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Apr 21, 2020
Amer-Exit?
38:59

Dan Nexon of Georgetown University joins Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall to talk about his new book, Exit from Hegemony.

Show Notes:



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Apr 07, 2020
A Strategy for Cyberspace?
32:17
Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall are joined by Brandon Valeriano to discuss the Cyberspace Solarium Commission’s official report.



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Mar 24, 2020
OPEC+ or OPEC-?
40:47

Emma Ashford and John Glaser are joined by political scientist Ellen Wald to discuss how global oil markets interact with U.S. foreign policy.

Show Notes



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Mar 09, 2020
Twitter in the Time of Trump
34:26
Join Trevor Thrall and Emma Ashford as we discuss public engagement in the Trump era with Paul Poast, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.



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Feb 25, 2020
Greeted as Liberators? Regime Change and Reality
24:52
Join Trevor Thrall and Emma Ashford as we discuss the failures and history of regime change with Ben Denison, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Fletcher School at Tufts University.



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Feb 11, 2020
The Future of Progressive Foreign Policy
39:01
Adam Mount, Senior Fellow and the Director of the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists, joins Trevor Thrall and Emma Ashford to discuss the future of progressive foreign policy.



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Jan 28, 2020
Reading Trump’s Trade Tea Leaves
38:00
Dan Ikenson, director of Cato’s Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, joins Trevor Thrall and guest host John Glaser to discuss the economic and foreign policy implications of Trump’s recent trade deals.



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Jan 14, 2020
China’s Authoritarian Turn
35:36
Michael Swaine, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, joins Trevor Thrall and guest host John Glaser to discuss the crisis in Hong Kong, the plight of the Uighurs, and China’s recent authoritarian turn.



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Dec 24, 2019
Maximum Pressure Meets Maximum Resistance: Trump vs. Iran
31:38
Negar Mortazavi, diplomatic correspondent for The Independent, joins Trevor Thrall and guest host John Glaser to discuss the impact of U.S. sanctions on Iran, recent Iranian protests, and the future of the JCPOA.



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Dec 10, 2019
Irregular Channels: Unpacking the Ukraine Affair
0
Jim Goldgeier, former dean of the School of International Service at American University and resident scholar at the Brookings Institution, joins Trevor Thrall and guest host John Glaser to discuss President Trump’s use of irregular channels of foreign policy making in Ukraine.



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Nov 26, 2019
The Quincy Institute Makes a Splash
34:18
Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, joins Trevor Thrall and guest host John Glaser to discuss the launch of Washington D.C.’s newest foreign policy think tank.



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Nov 12, 2019
Misplaced Confidence or Militarized Patriotism? Public Attitudes towards the U.S. Military
47:57
David Burbach from the U.S. Naval War College joins Trevor Thrall and guest host John Glaser to discuss civil‐​military relations and public attitudes towards the military.



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Oct 29, 2019
Fuel to the Fire: How Trump Made America’s Broken Foreign Policy Even Worse
42:36
Christopher Preble and John Glaser join Trevor Thrall to discuss their new book, Fuel to the Fire, which assesses Donald Trump’s foreign policies and makes the case for greater restraint in international affairs.



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Oct 16, 2019
Tests and Temptations: The Nuclear Balance in Asia
39:05
Vipin Narang of the M.I.T. Department of Political Science joins Trevor Thrall and guest host Eric Gomez to discuss nuclear trends and the nuclear balance in Asia.



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Oct 15, 2019
Should We Stay or Should We Go? The U.S. and the Middle East
36:58
Gregory Gause from the Bush School at Texas A&M joins Trevor Thrall and John Glaser to discuss U.S. policy and strategy in the Middle East in the wake of the missile strike on the Saudi oil facilities.



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Oct 08, 2019
The US Defense Industry: Arsenal of Democracy or the Walmarts of War?
40:19
Jonathan Caverley of the Naval War College joins Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall to discuss the defense industry and the arms trade.



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Sep 24, 2019
Dunking on Huntington: Nationalism in U.S. Foreign Policy
36:12
Hilde Restad, a professor of International Relations at Bjorknes College in Oslo, Norway, joins us to discuss Trump’s foreign policy, nationalism, and the view from Europe.



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Sep 10, 2019
The Trade War to End All Trade Wars?
37:01
Matthew Goodman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies joins Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall to discuss Trump’s trade war with China.



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Aug 27, 2019
If I Had a Hammer
36:52
Monica Toft, Professor at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, joins us to discuss the growth in U.S. military interventions and the decline of diplomacy.



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Aug 13, 2019
Power Problems Live! The Kennan Sweepstakes
59:12
In our special live episode of Power Problems, Emma Ashford chats with Heather Hurlburt of New America about ongoing debates on the future of U.S. grand strategy.



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Jul 30, 2019
Nuclear Crossroads II: The Arms Control Serial Killer
39:00
In part two of the focus on America’s Nuclear Crossroads, Emma Ashford and guest host Eric Gomez delve into the future of arms control agreements with Maggie Tennis of the Brookings Institute.



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Jul 15, 2019
Nuclear Crossroads I: America Ad Astra
47:02
Todd Harrison from the Center for Strategic and International Studies joins Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall to discuss the proposed Space Force, war in space, and his chapter in the forthcoming Cato report America’s Nuclear Crossroads.



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Jul 02, 2019
The Arab Winter
43:26
With new protests in Sudan, ongoing conflict in Syria, and continued regional tensions, the legacies of the Arab Spring are everywhere in the Middle East. Peter Mandaville joins us to discuss.



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Jun 18, 2019
America Adrift: Public Opinion and U.S. Foreign Policy
39:44
What kind of foreign policy do Americans want? Not the one they have, apparently. To learn more Emma and Trevor chat with Peter Juul from the Center for American Progress about a new report from the Center for American Progress, “America Adrift: How the U.S. Foreign Policy Debate Misses What Voters Really Want.”



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Jun 04, 2019
Peace, War and Liberty
35:32
American presidents often praise U.S. foreign policy as a force for global freedom and liberty. We chat with Chris Preble about his new book, Peace, War, and Liberty.



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May 21, 2019
Will John Bolton Finally Get His Iran War?
30:45
Arguments about the Iraq War loom large over pretty much every foreign policy debate in Washington. Does the Trump administration have similar intentions towards Iran? Lawrence Wilkerson joins us to discuss.



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May 07, 2019
Insurgent Women
40:56
Women play an increasingly important role as insurgents and rebels in civil conflicts all over the world. But most often their story goes untold and their impact has been poorly understood. Jessica Trisko Darden, co‐​author of Insurgent Women, joins Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall to discuss her new book to discuss.

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Apr 22, 2019
Back to the Future: China, the U.S. and the “New Cold War”
40:21
Pundits seem increasingly undecided whether we’re living in a new Cold War, or simply making a return to the 1930s. Ali Wyne of the RAND corporation joins us to discuss great power competition, the problem of foreign policy by analogy, and what the global order might look like in the future.



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Apr 09, 2019
Enter the Cyber Mercenaries
43:04
The cyber era has amplified the impact of non‐​state actors on international relations. From election meddling to sabotage to espionage, states are using non‐​state actors as proxies to do their dirty work. Tim Maurer from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace joins Trevor Thrall and John Glaser to talk about the rise, reach, and implications of these cyber mercenaries.



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Mar 26, 2019
Failure (to Launch?): Donald Trump in Hanoi
27:31
Donald Trump’s second summit with Kim Jong Un has come and gone, this time in abject failure. Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall are joined by Harry Kazianis of the Center for the National Interest to discuss where U.S.-North Korean relations go from here.



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Mar 12, 2019
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maduro?
37:17

Controversy is growing over the Trump administration’s approach to Venezuela, where the United States has backed opposition leader Juan Guaido in his attempt to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power. Trevor Thrall and Emma Ashford are joined by Venezuela expert Moises Rendon to discuss the situation.

Show Notes:



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Feb 26, 2019
Great Power Competition, Part II
36:54

The Trump administration has emphasized the reemergence of great power competition as the organizing principle for U.S. foreign policy. How will international relations change in an era when new actors are challenging the status quo? In Part II of our great power special, Professor Stacie E. Goddard of Wellesley College joins Trevor Thrall and Emma Ashford to talk about her recent book, When Might Makes Right, about the relationship between rising powers and existing great powers.

Show Notes:



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Feb 12, 2019
Great Power Competition, Part I
30:15
Great Power competition is back. How will international relations change in an era when new actors are challenging the status quo. In Part I of our great power special, Trevor Thrall and Emma Ashford are joined by Joshua Shifrinson, author of Rising Titans, Falling Giants, a book on great power rise and decline.



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Jan 29, 2019
Mr. Trump, Tear Down That Wall
38:24

From trade to immigration, the Trump administration takes a much broader view of national security than prior administrations. Cato Senior Policy Analyst Alex Nowrasteh joins Trevor Thrall and Emma Ashford to talk about the links between immigration and national security.

Show Notes:



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Jan 15, 2019
Holiday Edition: 2018 in Review
37:05

Trevor Thrall and Emma Ashford are joined by Cato colleague Eric Gomez for a discussion of the year in review, and a preview of 2019. From nuclear weapons and North Korea to the U.S.-Saudi relationship, it’s been a wild year.

Show Notes:



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Dec 31, 2018
Nostalgianomics: Trump, Trade, and American Foreign Policy
38:05
Attorney and Cato Institute adjunct scholar Scott Lincicome joins Trevor Thrall and Emma Ashford to discuss the Trump administration’s trade strategy and the role of international trade in U.S. foreign policy.



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Dec 18, 2018
Free Thoughts/Power Problems Crossover: What do Libertarians Believe About Foreign Policy?
42:15
In a special crossover episode, Trevor and Emma sit down with the hosts of the Free Thoughts podcast for a wide‐​ranging discussion of how libertarians view foreign policy.



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Dec 04, 2018
The Future of Liberal Foreign Policy
38:54
In the second half of our election special, Trevor Thrall and Emma Ashford are joined by Jake Sullivan, a former senior advisor to Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, to discuss the future of foreign policy in the Democratic party.

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Nov 20, 2018
The Future of Conservative Foreign Policy
39:54
Bryan McGrath, Deputy Director of the Center for American Seapower at the Hudson Institute, joins Trevor and Emma to discuss the evolution of conservative foreign policy during the Trump era.



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Nov 06, 2018
Scattershot Sanctions: The Trump Administration and the World
41:20
Elizabeth Rosenberg, a sanctions expert at the Center for a New American Security joins Trevor and Emma to discuss the Trump administration’s eclectic approach to sanctions policy, and the impact of looming Iran sanctions.



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Oct 23, 2018
Donald Trump, the Blob, and the Future of U.S. Foreign Policy
39:28
Bonus Episode! Harvard’s Steven Walt joins Emma Ashford and guest host Caroline Dorminey to discuss his new book, The Hell of Good Intentions, and why America’s foreign policy failures helped to elect Donald Trump.



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Oct 18, 2018
So What Did I Miss?
35:20
As Emma Ashford returns to the podcast, she and Trevor Thrall join Cato colleague John Glaser to review the Trump administration’s take on U.S. foreign policy in 2018.



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Oct 09, 2018
Out of Order? Debating the Past and Future of the Liberal International Order
34:29
Patrick Porter joins Sahar Khan and Trevor Thrall to discuss the debate over the past, present, and future of the liberal international order. Porter is a professor of international security and strategy at the University of Birmingham, UK and a Senior Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London. He researches how power and ideas shape U.S. and U.K. defense and foreign policy, and how both shape conflicts both the United States and United Kingdom are involved in.



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Sep 25, 2018
It’s Not Just about the Elephants: Understanding Illegal Wildlife Trafficking
42:58
Vanda Felbab‐​Brown is a senior fellow in the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. She is also the director of the Brookings project “Improving Global Drug Policy: Comparative Perspectives and UNGASS 2016” and co‐​director of “Reconstituting Local Orders.” She is an expert on international and internal conflicts and nontraditional security threats, including insurgency, organized crime, urban violence, and illicit economies.



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Sep 12, 2018
Trump's Iran Policy: Strategy or Strategery?
38:59
Barbara Slavin of the Atlantic Council joins Sahar Khan and Trevor Thrall to discuss developments in Iran and America’s Iran policy.



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Aug 27, 2018
The Complicated Case of the Rohingyas
33:56
C. Christine Fair is a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor in the Peace and Security Studies Program within Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. She joins Sahar Khan and Trevor Thrall to discuss the ongoing Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and its implication on the Trump administration’s policy toward South Asia.



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Aug 07, 2018
Counterterrorism Strategy in the Trump Era - Firm or Faux?
52:03
Jul 24, 2018
Works for Wonks: A Summer Reading List
29:18
Jul 10, 2018
When Terrorists Have Ji-had Enough
40:06
Julie Chernov Hwang from Goucher College joins Trevor Thrall and Sahar Khan to discuss why Indonesian jihadists leave militancy in her new book, Why Terrorists Quit.



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Jun 26, 2018
Statesmanship in the 21st Century
37:40

Bruce Jentleson from Duke University joins Trevor Thrall and Sahar Khan to discuss the importance of statesmanship and his new book, The Peacemakers.

Show notes:



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Jun 12, 2018
To Summit or Not to Summit? Trump and North Korea
54:15
Show description: In a special 2‑part episode, Emma Ashford, Trevor Thrall, and new co‐​host, Sahar Kahn, discuss North Korea and the prospects for a nuclear summit with Cato Policy Analyst Eric Gomez.



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May 29, 2018
The US: Global Force for Good?
40:11
Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall shift from military affairs this week to talk about humanitarian aid with American University’s Jessica Trisko Darden.



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May 17, 2018
It’s (Not) a Thucydides Trap: Rising Powers and Time Horizons
44:59
Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall are joined by David Edelstein of Georgetown University to discuss how great powers respond to rising challengers.



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May 01, 2018
Arms Bizarre: Selling Weapons in the Age of Trump
32:38
Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall are joined by Cato’s own Caroline Dorminey to discuss U.S. arms sales in the Trump era.



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Apr 16, 2018
Out of Africa: A New Front in the War on Terror
44:25
Today Emma Ashford and Trevor Thrall discuss the expansion of the U.S. war on terror into Africa with Bronwyn Bruton from the Atlantic Council.



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Apr 02, 2018
Here Comes the New Russia, Same as the Old Russia
39:15
Vladimir Putin won re‐​election handily, but the future of U.S.-Russia relations is a tougher question. We chat with Matthew Rojanksy of the Woodrow Wilson Center.



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Mar 21, 2018
Yemen: One War or Three?
39:29
We discuss the ongoing war in Yemen and U.S. involvement with Kate Kizer from Win Without War.



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Mar 05, 2018
The Nuclear Posture Review: Pushing All the Wrong Buttons?
42:34
Hans Kristensen from the Federation of American Scientists joins us today to discuss the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review.



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Feb 20, 2018
The Trump Doctrine at One Year
42:24
Kathleen Hicks from CSIS and Hal Brands from Johns Hopkins SAIS join us to talk about Trump’s foreign policy at the one year mark.



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Jan 31, 2018
A Trade Policy Deficit
37:13
Show Notes:



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Jan 10, 2018
Hype and Hype-ability: Threat Inflation in U.S. Foreign Policy
35:58
Show Notes:



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Dec 26, 2017
All I Want for Christmas Is an F-35: Trump, the Generals and the Pentagon
37:44

In a special live recording of the podcast, we explore the President’s relationship with the military, the defense budget, and what the Pentagon wants for Christmas with our guest Aaron Mehta.

Show Notes

  1. Guest Bio: Aaron Mehta
  2. Aaron Mehta, “One hand tied behind your back: Why DoD’s empty policy chair matters.” 
  3. Aaron Mehta, “America’s Nuclear Weapons will cost $1.2 Trillion Over the next 30 Years.
  4. Chris Preble, “Senate Passes a Pentagon Budget, but a BCA Trainwreck Looms.”


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Dec 13, 2017
Power Problems Live Event Announcement
0:44


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Dec 05, 2017
A Syria(s) Problem: Chemical Weapons & International Norms
41:38

Syria’s use of chemical weapons calls into question the utility of international norms. We discuss those norms and how to enforce them with Greg Koblentz.

Show Notes:



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Dec 04, 2017
Middle East Madness
37:03

We chat with Brian Katulis from the Center for American Progress about ongoing chaos in the Middle East, the regional security environment, and the options for America’s future role in the region.

Show Notes



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Nov 13, 2017
Trump and Iran: Deal or No Deal?
41:37

We talk Trump and the future of the Iran nuclear deal with Colin Kahl, former national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.

Show Notes:



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Oct 30, 2017
Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
42:48
Show Notes



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Oct 16, 2017
The Art of the (Nuclear) Deal
30:09
Show Notes:



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Oct 03, 2017
Kim Jong Trump
30:54
Tensions are rising on the Korean peninsula, between North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests and Trump’s inflammatory tweets. We discuss the situation with Joshua Pollack. Show notes:

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Sep 19, 2017
Same Strategy, Different Day
36:20

Today we talk about Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy with Sameer Lalwani. Is there anything new here?

Show notes:



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Sep 14, 2017
It’s All about Those (Military) Bases
29:33
This week we ask John Glaser: why does the U.S. have so many military bases around the world? Show notes:

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Sep 12, 2017
More Power More Problems
35:06

Christopher Preble joins us to discuss what restraint in foreign policy means and what it would look like in practice.

Show notes:



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Sep 11, 2017