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The Foreign Affairs Interview
Foreign Affairs invites you to join its editor, Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, as he talks to influential thinkers and policymakers about the forces shaping the world. Whether the topic is the war in Ukraine, the United States’ competition with China, or the future of globalization, Foreign Affairs’ biweekly podcast offers the kind of authoritative commentary and analysis that you can find in the magazine and on the website.
- 40 - Will India Take America’s Side Against China?
Building closer ties with India has become a top priority for U.S. foreign policy. In June, the White House hosted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a lavish state dinner. The thinking is that India will be a key U.S. partner in its competition with China. But is Washington making the wrong assumptions about India? How far do the two countries’ interests diverge when it comes to Beijing? Ashley Tellis has been one of the closest observers and shapers of the U.S.-Indian relationship. He served in senior positions in the U.S. embassy in New Delhi and on the National Security Council under President George W. Bush. Today, he is the Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs and a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In an interview earlier this month, Tellis warned that Washington needs to be more clear-eyed about Indian interests—understanding that they do not always align with those of the United States. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 21 Sep 2023 - 41min
- 39 - How AI Could Upend Geopolitics
Ever since the company OpenAI unveiled ChatGPT last year, there have been constant warnings about the effects of artificial intelligence on just about everything. Ian Bremmer, the founder of the Eurasia Group, and Mustafa Suleyman, founder of the AI companies DeepMind and Inflection AI, highlight what may be the most significant effect in a new essay for Foreign Affairs. They argue that AI will transform power, including the power balance between states and the companies driving the new technology. Policymakers are already behind the curve, they warn, and if they do not catch up soon, it is possible they never will. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 07 Sep 2023 - 47min
- 38 - What the World Risks if It Abandons Globalization
After World War II, an idea took hold: economic interdependence between countries would help prevent war. But lately, faith in this idea has wavered, and terms like “decoupling,” “friend shoring,” and “de-risking” are dominating the debates around trade in Washington and beyond. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general of the World Trade Organization, disagrees with key elements of this new consensus. She thinks that policymakers are misdiagnosing the problems that the world faces, and that they risk setting us on a dangerous course—one that could break the global economy and leave the world both less prosperous and less secure. We discuss why views on global trade have changed so dramatically in recent years, China’s integration into the global trading system, and what would happen if the world fragmented into two trading blocs. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 24 Aug 2023 - 38min
- 37 - The Fault Lines in U.S. Foreign Policy
There’s a near consensus today that U.S. foreign policy has entered a new era. But how to define and navigate this new era is much less clear. Richard Fontaine, the CEO of the Center for a New American Security, has held senior positions across the U.S. government—in the Senate, at the State Department and National Security Council, and as an adviser to John McCain, the Republican senator and presidential candidate. There are few people who can offer as informed and comprehensive a view of U.S. foreign policy, especially at a moment when the United States is rethinking its own strategic objectives and sometimes struggling to find new ways of pursuing them. We discuss the objectives behind the United States’ China policy, democratic backsliding in India, and a potential Republican foreign policy platform. Sources: “Election Interference Demands a Collective Defense” by Richard Fontaine “The Myth of Neutrality” by Richard Fontaine “Washington’s Missing China Strategy” by Richard Fontaine “The Case Against Foreign Policy Solutionism” by Richard Fontaine If you have feedback, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Foreign Affairs Interview is produced by Kate Brannen, Julia Fleming-Dresser, and Molly McAnany; original music by Robin Hilton. Special thanks to Grace Finlayson, Nora Revenaugh, Caitlin Joseph, Asher Ross, Gabrielle Sierra, and Markus Zakaria.Thu, 10 Aug 2023 - 39min
- 36 - How Does the War in Ukraine End?
With the fighting in Ukraine well into its second year, the question of the war’s endgame has become if anything, more complicated. Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s short-lived mutiny has raised doubts about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power. Yet Ukraine’s counteroffensive is not going as well as many had hoped, as Ukrainian forces have yet to make a major breakthrough across heavily defended Russian lines. In this episode, you can listen to a July 17 conversation with Samuel Charap, Fiona Hill, and Andriy Zagorodnyuk, who joined Foreign Affairs editor Daniel Kurtz-Phelan for a live event. Charap is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. Hill is a senior fellow at the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution and the author of There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century. From 2017 to 2019, she was the senior director for Europe and Russia on the U.S. National Security Council. Zagorodnyuk is the former Ukrainian minister of defense and a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council. We discuss what’s happening on the battlefield, the state of Putin’s power, and possible endgames to the war. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 27 Jul 2023 - 33min
- 35 - What Drives Putin and Xi (Part Two)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin loom over geopolitics in a way that few leaders have in decades. Not even Mao and Stalin drove global events the way Xi and Putin do today. Who they are, how they view the world, and what they want are some of the most important and pressing questions in foreign policy and international affairs. Stephen Kotkin and Orville Schell are two of the best scholars to explore these issues. Kotkin is the author of seminal scholarship on Russia, the Soviet Union, and global history, including an acclaimed three-volume biography of Stalin. He is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the Kleinheinz Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Schell is the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society. He is the author of 15 books, ten of them about China. He is also a former professor and dean at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. In part two of our conversation, which we taped on June 16, we discussed how the leaders of China and Russia see the West and how that worldview is reshaping geopolitics. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 13 Jul 2023 - 52min
- 34 - What Drives Putin and Xi (Part One)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin loom over geopolitics in a way that few leaders have in decades. Not even Mao and Stalin drove global events the way Xi and Putin do today. Who they are, how they view the world, and what they want are some of the most important and pressing questions in foreign policy and international affairs. Stephen Kotkin and Orville Schell are two of the best scholars to explore these issues. Kotkin is the author of seminal scholarship on Russia, the Soviet Union, and global history, including an acclaimed three-volume biography of Stalin. He is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the Kleinheinz Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Schell is the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society. He is the author of 15 books, ten of them about China. He is also a former professor and dean at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. In part one of our conversation, we discuss the early lives of Putin and Xi and how history has shaped their worldviews. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Fri, 30 Jun 2023 - 31min
- 33 - What Can History Tell Us About Ukraine’s Future?
Ukraine’s counteroffensive is shaping up to be the biggest military operation in Europe since World War II. As Kyiv works to push back Russian troops, there is a lot of focus on how modern technology including drones and satellite Internet terminals is being deployed. But these new advanced systems aside, the battlefield scenes from Ukraine’s frontlines look like they could be from the western front in 1916. For the historian Margaret MacMillan, the resonance of World War I goes well beyond the images coming out of Ukraine. As she writes in a new essay for Foreign Affairs, the experience of that earlier great war in Europe “should remind us of the dreadful costs of a prolonged and bitter armed conflict.” We discuss how leaders decide to stop fighting, the usefulness of historical analogies, and how the end of one war can lay the groundwork for the next. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 15 Jun 2023 - 40min
- 32 - Why Is Rwanda’s Leader Sowing Chaos in Congo?
After the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Paul Kagame was widely seen as a hero—a rebel leader who came to the rescue of his people and helped stop the killing. Over the last 30 years, the Rwandan president has cultivated this vision of himself, and the West has been eager to believe it. But for Michela Wrong, a journalist who has covered Africa for decades, cracks in this story became too big to ignore. In her most recent book, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad, she investigates the 2014 political murder of a former Rwandan spy chief who fled the country after a falling out with Kagame. Her reporting uncovered the true nature of Kagame’s regime, painting a picture of a dictator who will stop at nothing to silence his critics. Now, in a piece for Foreign Affairs, Wrong reports on Kagame’s meddling in eastern Congo and how his support for the M23 rebel group is risking a broader regional conflict. We discuss her reporting on Kagame, how Rwanda is working to destabilize central Africa today, and why the West is doing so little to stop it. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 01 Jun 2023 - 32min
- 31 - How Does China Want the War in Ukraine to End?
This week, a top Chinese envoy is traveling across Europe, making stops in Ukraine and Russia. Beijing says that the purpose of the trip is to discuss a “political settlement” to the war. But this diplomatic push raises bigger questions not just about China’s attempt to position itself as a peacemaker but also about the growing closeness of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Bonny Lin is a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She previously served in the Pentagon, including as country director for China. Alexander Gabuev is the director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, based in Berlin, where he moved after leaving Moscow at the start of the war. We discuss the relationship between Putin and Xi, how China has responded to the war in Ukraine, and whether China might provide Russia with lethal aid. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 18 May 2023 - 39min
- 30 - Bonus: The West Versus the Rest
Russia’s war in Ukraine has drawn Western allies closer together, but it has not unified the world’s democracies in the way U.S. President Joe Biden might have hoped for when the war began last February. Instead, the last year has highlighted just how differently much of the rest of the world sees not only the war but also the broader global landscape. In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, policymakers and scholars from Africa, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia explored the dangers, as well as the new opportunities, that the war and the broader return of great-power conflict present for their countries and regions. In this episode, you can listen to a May 4 conversation between Tim Murithi, Nirupama Rao, Matias Spektor, and Executive Editor Justin Vogt that was part of the Foreign Affairs’ event series. They discuss the issues most important to their regions, the mounting costs of the Ukraine war, and the impact of sharpening geopolitical tensions. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Mon, 15 May 2023 - 25min
- 29 - How to Avoid a Great-Power War
As the Biden administration continues to provide massive amounts of military and economic support to Ukraine, it also has its eyes on China. What will it take to deter Beijing from attempting to seize Taiwan someday? What is the best strategy to avoid a great-power conflict? How can the United States maintain its technological edge on the battlefield? These are the questions that occupy the Pentagon’s leadership, including U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Before becoming chairman, the president’s top military adviser, he served as chief of staff of the U.S. Army. He has deployed all over the world, including multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. We discuss the battlefield dynamics in Ukraine, how concern over escalation has shaped Western support for Kyiv, and how the United States can avoid a great-power war in the future. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Tue, 02 May 2023 - 32min
- 28 - Immigration Before Automation
There seems to be an unstoppable march toward the automation of work, including the checkout at the supermarket, the seemingly limitless possibilities of ChatGPT, and so much else. What is driving this push toward automation? For one, labor scarcity in developed countries. But Lant Pritchett, a development economist, argues in a new piece for Foreign Affairs that instead of choosing machines over people and funneling resources into job-killing technologies, countries should work to let people move to where they are needed. Pritchett is the research director of Labor Mobility Partnerships, the RISE research director at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, and a former World Bank economist. We discuss why automation is a policy choice rather than an inevitable force and how it is contributing to poverty levels across the globe. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 20 Apr 2023 - 44min
- 27 - Putin and the People
Even for an autocrat like Russian President Vladimir Putin, waging war depends on the acceptance—if not the support—of his people. Despite the disastrous start to his invasion of Ukraine, and with Moscow facing battlefield losses and mounting casualties, Russian approval of the war remains remarkably high. Maria Lipman, a Russian journalist and political scientist who fled her country when the war began, explains why Russian support for the war remains so strong—and what Putin is doing to keep it that way. He “has used the war to clamp down on Russian society, to pull elites even closer to him, and to shore up his domestic position,” Lipman writes in a January essay with Michael Kimmage. We discuss the strength of Putin’s regime, how the war in Ukraine has shaped Putin’s relationship with the Russian people, and what outcomes of the war the Russian public would possibly accept. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 06 Apr 2023 - 37min
- 26 - The Iraq War and the Limits of American Power
The 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq has prompted a wave of reflection on the war: how and why it began, where it went wrong, and how it continues to haunt the Middle East and burden American leadership. In a recent essay in Foreign Affairs, “What the Neocons Got Wrong,” Max Boot does some of this painful reflection. In 2003, Boot was a prominent neoconservative voice making the case for war. Today, Boot is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of several books, including The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam and The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right. In a conversation with Foreign Affairs Executive Editor Justin Vogt, he looks back with regret at the flawed assumptions that shaped his thinking—and considers the troubling lessons for American foreign policy today. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 23 Mar 2023 - 42min
- 25 - How Washington Overestimates Chinese Weakness
American politics and foreign policy have become consumed with the challenge from China, and the face of that challenge is Xi Jinping. But many depictions of Xi are stark black and white, portraying Xi as either an all-powerful mastermind carrying out a long-term plot for Chinese domination—or as a leader guilty of self-defeating overreach that has sent China into decline. For Christopher Johnson, who worked for two decades as a China analyst at the CIA, the truth is in the messy middle. Today, Johnson is president and CEO of China Strategies Group and a senior fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute’s Center for China Analysis. He argues that a better U.S.-China policy requires a more nuanced understanding of Xi and his power. We discuss what the spy balloon incident revealed about the U.S.-Chinese relationship, how Xi has fared since suddenly lifting China’s strict COVID-19 lockdown measures in the fall, and why Washington seems gripped by “Taiwan invasion hysteria.” You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 09 Mar 2023 - 43min
- 24 - Bonus: Ukraine, One Year Later
When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his war in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, he thought his military would quickly take Kyiv and bring down the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That the war has lasted this long is evidence of how wrong Putin was and how much the world underestimated the strength of Ukrainian resistance. Although Ukraine has heroically defended itself, the conflict has taken an enormous toll. Ukrainian towns have been destroyed, thousands of civilians have died, and the trauma of war crimes haunts survivors. The consequences of Putin’s decision to invade have stretched far beyond Ukraine’s borders, too. The war has disrupted global food and energy markets. It has strengthened some alliances while straining others. A year later, the world is still debating what is at stake in Ukraine—and what it will take to bring this war to an end. Foreign Affairs Editor Daniel Kurtz-Phelan spoke with Liana Fix, Michael Kimmage, and Dara Massicot on February 24, 2023, for a special event marking the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 02 Mar 2023 - 33min
- 23 - The United Kingdom’s Existential Crisis
There may be no better example of how domestic dysfunction can hobble global power than the United Kingdom in recent years. Constant political and economic turmoil has reinforced the sense that this once great power is in terminal decline. Brexit, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU in 2016, put the United Kingdom as a whole at odds with Scotland and Northern Ireland, where large majorities voted to stay in Europe. Although Brexit is clearly to blame for many of the United Kingdom’s recent problems, the forces undermining the country’s stability started taking shape long ago. In a new piece for Foreign Affairs, Irish writer Fintan O’Toole argues that English nationalism, which “was previously buried under British and imperial identities,” is one of the driving forces pulling the United Kingdom apart. Today, the country is “unsure about not just its place in the international order but also whether it can continue to be regarded as a single place.” We discuss how Brexit continues to haunt British politics, the future of the Scottish independence movement, and how national identity is formed and expressed. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 23 Feb 2023 - 44min
- 22 - How Technology Is Disrupting the Intelligence World
Last week, a Chinese surveillance balloon floating over the United States set off a political firestorm in Washington. It also offered a glimpse into the secret world of intelligence gathering, where countries are racing to harness new technologies that will help them gain a competitive edge. But these same new technologies are making spycraft, especially the collection of human intelligence, far more challenging. To adapt to these changes, Amy Zegart, a Stanford professor and the author of the book "Spies, Lies, and Algorithms," believes the U.S. government should overhaul the way the intelligence community is organized. In a new essay for Foreign Affairs, she argues that a new intelligence agency dedicated to open-source intelligence is needed if the United States is going to keep up. If not, she writes, “a culture of secrecy will continue to strangle the adoption of cutting-edge technical tools from the commercial sector.” We discuss how human intelligence collection is becoming more dangerous, what the war in Ukraine has revealed about the intelligence world, and the risks and opportunities of open-source intelligence. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 09 Feb 2023 - 36min
- 21 - A World Between Orders
To hear Western leaders tell it, the outcome of Russia’s war in Ukraine will determine whether the international rules-based order survives. If Russian President Vladimir Putin wins in Ukraine, the laws and norms that are supposed to protect sovereignty will be exposed as useless. But what if that order is already broken, and there is no going back? The international system’s response to recent transnational challenges—whether it’s climate change, conflict, the pandemic, or the global debt crisis—has been deeply inadequate, especially for the “global South.” Much of the world can see that the stakes are high in Ukraine, especially for European security—but does not share the view that the outcome will fundamentally change how the world is governed. In recent essays for Foreign Affairs, Shivshankar Menon, who served as national security adviser to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from 2010 to 2014, explores the failures of the current world order and examines what could replace it. He has also served as India’s foreign secretary and as the country’s ambassador to Israel, Sri Lanka, China, and Pakistan. He is the author of India and Asian Geopolitics: The Past, Present. We discuss what’s at stake in Ukraine, India’s place in a changing world, and what order could emerge from today’s great-power competition. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 26 Jan 2023 - 35min
- 20 - How Putin’s Lies Are Driving the War in Ukraine
Russia’s mythmaking—about its place in the world and the role Ukraine plays in its history—has made the world a more dangerous place. Russian President Vladimir Putin is the chief storyteller—and his version of events has even warped American thinking about Ukraine. Why didn’t the West react more forcefully in 2014, when Russia first violently took Ukrainian territory? Why is Ukraine’s post-Soviet history so different from Russia’s? And what can Ukrainians teach Americans about democracy? Timothy Snyder is an expert on Ukrainian history and began warning about the dangers Russia poses long before Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine last February. He is the Richard C. Levin Professor of History and Global Affairs at Yale University and the author of several books, including Bloodlands, On Tyranny, and The Road to Unfreedom. In September, Snyder traveled to Ukraine and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. We discuss what’s at stake in Ukraine, what a Ukrainian victory might look like, and why using the word “stalemate” to describe the war is misguided. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 12 Jan 2023 - 43min
- 19 - What Comes After Globalization?
In recent years, many of the key assumptions and ideas that guided economic policy for decades have fallen apart. Globalization pushed jobs overseas—and when those jobs were not replaced, the dislocation people felt gave rise to new political movements in the United States and beyond. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and it laid bare how vulnerable global supply chains had become. While it is clear that the old system of neoliberal economic thinking is no longer working, it is far from certain what new ideas will replace the old paradigms. Rana Foroohar is a business columnist and an associate editor at the Financial Times. She has covered trade and economic policy for years, and in an essay for Foreign Affairs—and a new book, titled Homecoming—she steps back to explain what went wrong and how the fallout is shaping global politics today. We discuss the failure of neoliberal policies, the importance of manufacturing, and the recent crypto collapse. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 29 Dec 2022 - 43min
- 18 - Is Washington Ignoring the North Korean Nuclear Threat?
The question of what to do about North Korea and its nuclear weapons program has fallen off Washington’s radar. But while the West is preoccupied with the war in Ukraine, competition with China, instability in Iran, and a long list of other foreign policy challenges, Kim Jong Un continues to develop his country’s nuclear capabilities, with a possible seventh nuclear test in the works. What should the Biden administration be doing to prevent this crisis from spinning out of control? Sue Mi Terry, a former senior CIA analyst and an official on the National Security Council under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, says it is high time for the administration to get more engaged and better articulate its policy approach—especially as support for a domestic nuclear program intensifies in South Korea. We discuss North Korea’s recent weapons-testing spree, whether denuclearization is still a worthy U.S. foreign policy goal, and the stability of Kim’s regime. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 15 Dec 2022 - 41min
- 17 - Russia Is Weaker—but Is It Less Threatening?
Russia has suffered major setbacks on the battlefield in Ukraine, its economy is battered by Western sanctions, and its diplomatic clout has suffered due to President Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion. It is fair to say that Russia is militarily, economically, and geopolitically weaker than it was a year ago—and policymakers in Washington and Europe may be tempted to downgrade the Russian threat as a result. But dismissing Russia would be a mistake, argue Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Michael Kofman in the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs. “Russian power and influence may be diminished, but that does not mean Russia will become dramatically less threatening,” they write. “Instead, some aspects of the threat are likely to worsen.” In this episode, Kendall-Taylor and Kofman speak with Deputy Editor Kate Brannen as part of Foreign Affairs’ event series. We discuss the state of Russian power, Ukraine’s recent battlefield wins, and how this war might end. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 01 Dec 2022 - 27min
- 16 - Will Iran’s Regime Survive?
Protests have rocked Iran for nine weeks, despite a violent crackdown by the country’s security services. The demonstrations erupted in mid-September after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, was detained by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly. She was reportedly beaten, fell into a coma, and died days later. The public responded to her death with grief and outrage, and over the last several weeks the protests have evolved into a much broader movement against the country’s leaders. As Iran’s regime grapples with these internal threats to its power, it is sending weapons to Russia to use in Ukraine and continuing to wield its influence around the Middle East. Earlier this year, Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, argued in Foreign Affairs that Iran’s foreign exploits were coming at great cost at home. “Ultimately,” he wrote, “the Islamic Republic’s grand strategy will be defeated not by the United States or Israel but by the people of Iran, who have paid the highest price for it.” We discuss whether Iran’s regime will survive this wave of protests, whether reform is possible, and the nature of Iran’s relationship with Russia and China. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 17 Nov 2022 - 39min
- 15 - The Decision to Defect
Boris Bondarev worked as a Russian diplomat for 20 years. On the morning of February 24, when the Russian military started bombing Ukraine, he decided to step down from his post at Russia's permanent mission at the UN in Geneva. After getting his family to safety, he publicly resigned in May, making it clear he was leaving his job in protest of the war. In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, he writes about his reasons for publicly resigning—and what he learned after years of watching President Vladimir Putin’s regime up close. “The invasion of Ukraine made it impossible to deny just how brutal and repressive Russia had become,” he writes. In this episode, Foreign Affairs Deputy Editor Kate Brannen talks to Bondarev about the Russian military’s vulnerabilities, how his family reacted to his decision to leave, and what happens to Russia after Putin. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 17 Nov 2022 - 33min
- 14 - Alone in Beijing: A View From the Embassy
The past six months have marked an especially rocky chapter in the U.S.-Chinese relationship. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s zero-COVID policy has made it difficult to travel around the country and has largely kept foreigners away. In August, Beijing cut off key channels of communication with Washington in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. In the months since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine, China has not condemned Russia’s unprovoked assault, nor has it publicly moved away from its “no limits” partnership with the Kremlin. More recently, new trade restrictions from the Biden administration have dealt a serious blow to the Chinese semiconductor industry. All in all, it has been a tense and unusual time in this fragile but immensely important relationship. As the United States’ top diplomat to China, Ambassador Nick Burns has had to navigate the challenges of the last few months, strongly pushing back on China where the Biden administration disagrees with Beijing but also trying to find opportunities where communication, and even cooperation, is possible. He brings enormous experience to the job. Burns previously served at the State Department as undersecretary for political affairs, as ambassador to NATO and to Greece, and as State Department spokesperson. He has also worked on the National Security Council staff on Soviet and Russian affairs. We discuss the challenges facing China, how China views American power, and what it’s like to represent the United States in Beijing today. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Wed, 26 Oct 2022 - 45min
- 13 - Why Is Today’s World So Dangerous?
Over the past 100 years, there have been many declarations in the pages of Foreign Affairs that the world is in a historic transition period. These days, that claim feels especially plausible. The United States’ unipolar moment appears to be ending—but it’s unclear what will replace it. Will China continue to rise? Will the war in Ukraine undo Russia? Will the United States move past the political divisions that are tearing it apart? As Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, sees it, this is shaping up to be a very dangerous decade. Haass has been a close observer of the forces affecting the world for some time. In addition to serving as the head of CFR for 20 years, Haass has had a long career as a U.S. diplomat, representing the United States and leading negotiations everywhere from Northern Ireland to Afghanistan. From January 2001 to June 2003, Haass was director of policy planning for the Department of State, where he was a principal adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell. He has also served on the National Security Council and in the Defense Department. We discuss how traditional geopolitical tensions are once again front and center at the same time that transnational threats, such as climate change and pandemics, demand international cooperation. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 20 Oct 2022 - 40min
- 12 - Is U.S. Foreign Policy Trying to Do Too Much?
As the global balance of power shifts, and in the wake of crises such as the United States’ messy withdrawal from Afghanistan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is an important time to consider the way U.S. foreign policy is made. What are the priorities shaping Washington’s agenda? Can the United States truly restore its leadership on the global stage? And how should the West respond as Russia escalates the war in Ukraine? Emma Ashford is a keen observer of the foreign policy debate in Washington. A senior fellow at the Stimson Center, she consistently offers some of the most trenchant and thoughtful criticism of U.S. strategy and the forces shaping it. She has warned about the dangers of groupthink in Washington—and has made the case for accepting the limits of what U.S. power can achieve. We discuss American foreign policy failures, the Biden administration’s handling of the war in Ukraine, and what great-power competition will look like in the years to come. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 06 Oct 2022 - 34min
- 11 - Why Is Putin Escalating the War in Ukraine?
Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking a number of steps to up the ante in Ukraine. This week, Kremlin-backed leaders in Russian-occupied areas in eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans to hold referendums on whether to join Russia. These sham votes would pave the way for Putin to quickly annex the territory, just as he did in Crimea in 2014—meaning that any attack on these lands by Ukrainian forces could be used as a pretext for Putin to escalate actions against Ukraine and the West. In a televised speech on September 21, Putin indicated that’s exactly where he’s headed, announcing a partial mobilization of Russian troops and reminding the world about the country's nuclear arsenal. Why is Putin making these moves now? Is Russia's leader running out of options? And where does his vision of a new Russian empire end? Fiona Hill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has been studying Putin for a long time. During the Trump administration, she served as senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council. And from 2006 to 2009, she served as national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council. We discuss Putin’s escalation, what to make of his nuclear threats, and what Washington's options are during this risky and volatile period. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 22 Sep 2022 - 34min
- 10 - Is the United States Getting China Policy Dangerously Wrong?
In Washington, there is a growing fatalism that a confrontation with China is unavoidable—and perhaps even necessary. What does success look like in a world where the United States is reflexively countering China’s every move? Is catastrophic conflict the only acceptable destination? Jessica Chen Weiss, a professor of China and Asia-Pacific studies at Cornell University, believes today’s debate over how best to deal with China is far too narrow. She recently completed a yearlong post working on the Policy Planning Staff at the State Department. She observed that in policy circles in Washington, debate is often stifled as no one wants to appear “soft” on China. As she writes in the most recent issue of Foreign Affairs, the result is that “the instinct to counter every Chinese initiative, project, and provocation remains predominant, crowding out efforts to revitalize an inclusive international system that would protect U.S. interests and values.” We discuss how U.S.-Chinese relations have become especially fraught, the potential consequences of zero-sum competition, and what the costs are to American democracy. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 15 Sep 2022 - 37min
- 9 - The History That Made the World Today
When Foreign Affairs published its first issue in 1922, the world was still reeling from the aftershocks of World War I. In 2022, the world is once again consumed by crises, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects, and American democracy under attack. How did the events of the last century shape the geopolitical landscape today? And what are the forces that will drive the next? John Lewis Gaddis and Margaret MacMillan, two of the greatest living historians of diplomacy and foreign policy, offer their perspectives on this pivotal moment in world politics. This bonus episode of The Foreign Affairs Interview is brought to you as a part of our centennial event series, marking the 100th anniversary of the magazine. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 01 Sep 2022 - 29min
- 8 - Is China Changing How It Sees the World?
With tensions running high over the Taiwan Strait, and with Chinese President Xi Jinping poised to secure an unprecedented third term in office at the next Chinese Communist Party Congress later this fall, understanding how China sees itself and its role on the global stage has never been more important to managing Washington’s relationship with Beijing—and to avoiding a catastrophic military escalation. What is Xi’s vision for China, and what role does ideology play in his ambitions for the country? How has Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shaped Beijing’s thinking on Taiwan? And what does Washington get wrong about China’s intentions to remake the world order? Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister of Australia, is unique among China watchers: he speaks fluent Mandarin and has personally interacted with Chinese leaders at the highest level. And for years, he’s been closely tracking the internal politics of the CCP and relations between the United States and China. In his latest book, The Avoidable War, Rudd argues that conflict between the two superpowers does not have to be inevitable. We discuss Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei earlier this month, Xi’s shaping of Chinese ideology, and how he sees the world changing around him. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 18 Aug 2022 - 36min
- 7 - Is Diplomacy the Most Undervalued Tool of American Power?
The world is facing a series of crises—energy and food shortages, climate change, war in Ukraine—as well as growing anxiety about potential conflict between the United States and China. American diplomacy is central to managing all of these problems. And yet the State Department is chronically underresourced and often sidelined in policy debates, elbowed out by the Defense Department, a behemoth by comparison. Why are American diplomats undervalued—and what is the cost to policymaking? What would it take to strengthen the State Department? And how is U.S. leadership on the world stage affected by problems at home, from threats to democracy and mass shootings to rollbacks in women’s rights and the ongoing struggle for racial justice? U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield wrestles with these questions every day. Of any senior U.S. official, she spends the most time working with Russian and Chinese counterparts day to day at the UN. She understands what a powerful tool American diplomacy can be—and what it needs to be successful. We discuss what it’s like to represent the United States at a time of domestic turmoil, how the UN has performed with regard to Ukraine, the prospects for progress in Africa, and why diplomacy is the key to a better relationship with China. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 04 Aug 2022 - 26min
- 6 - How Putin’s Flawed Assumptions Doomed Russian Victory in Ukraine
The war in Ukraine seems to be entering a transitional phase. Early on, Russia failed in its effort to take Kyiv—so Russian President Vladimir Putin scaled back his ambitions and shifted his military’s efforts to the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. As both sides battle it out there, exhaustion and the ability to replenish supplies, weapons, and manpower are becoming more and more critical. The Russians are trying to advance while the Ukrainians are gearing up for a possible counteroffensive. Will Putin declare victory if Russia is able to seize the entire Donbas? Can Ukraine retake occupied territory now that it has new offensive weapons systems from the United States and the United Kingdom? Will Western resolve and unity hold as the global energy crisis worsens? Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February, Lawrence Freedman, professor emeritus of war studies at King’s College London, has closely tracked what’s happening on the battlefield. He’s not the only person carefully monitoring the day in, day out fighting, but Freedman happens to be one of the world’s greatest living military historians, making his analysis of the conflict indispensable. His upcoming book is called Command: The Politics of Military Operations from Korea to Ukraine. We discuss the reasons behind the Russian military’s setbacks, whether fears of escalation are misplaced, and what could happen next in the war. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 21 Jul 2022 - 33min
- 5 - Beyond Roe: The Mutually Reinforcing Nature of Misogyny and Autocracy
The United States is still reeling from the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion. The move makes the United States an outlier among developed countries when it comes to abortion rights, but this rollback in women’s equality is part of a broader trend. Women’s political and economic empowerment is stalling or declining around the world—and the assault on women’s rights coincides with a global democratic recession. Why is women’s equality being rolled back at the same time authoritarianism is on the rise? What is the relationship between sexism and democratic backsliding? And why do authoritarians see fully free, politically active women as a threat? Erica Chenoweth is one of the world’s foremost experts on the history of civil resistance, mass movements, and political repression. They are the Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at the Harvard Kennedy School and a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and they direct the Nonviolent Action Lab at Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Zoe Marks is a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and a faculty affiliate at the Harvard University Center for African Studies, where she focuses on political violence, gender equality, and social movements in Africa. Their essay “Revenge of the Patriarchs,” featured in the March/April 2022 issue of Foreign Affairs, previews their forthcoming book Rebel XX: Women on the Frontlines of Revolution. Their insights are crucial to understanding what’s happening to women’s rights at this moment in time, both in the United States and across the globe. We discuss why autocrats fear women, why feminist movements are such a powerful tool against autocracy, and what the assault on reproductive rights in the United States signifies for American democracy. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 07 Jul 2022 - 38min
- 4 - The World’s First Energy Crisis
The global energy market is in a state of upheaval. The war in Ukraine and the resulting sanctions against Russian oil and gas have forced the West, especially Europe, to quickly find new energy sources to keep the lights on and the cars running this summer. In the United States, rising gas prices are pushing President Joe Biden to make a controversial trip to Saudi Arabia to encourage the oil-rich state to increase production. This scramble for quick-fix energy solutions comes as the world is trying to kick its addiction to fossil fuels and reduce the effects of climate change. How will these short-term needs affect the urgent but longer-term transition to clean energy? And could today’s energy market turbulence be a harbinger of challenges to come as the global energy system is remade? Jason Bordoff is the co-founding dean of the Columbia Climate School and the founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. During the Obama administration, he served as senior director for energy and climate change on the National Security Council. Meghan O’Sullivan is a professor of international affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power. During the George W. Bush administration, she was deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan. Together, they bring years of experience—both inside and outside of government—to the debates around energy, climate, economics, and geopolitics. We discuss how the war in Ukraine continues to affect the global energy market, Biden’s upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, how governments can meet their energy security needs without decelerating the green transition, and why changes in the global energy system will continue to disrupt geopolitics. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 23 Jun 2022 - 45min
- 3 - NATO’s New Momentum
In the fall of 2021, NATO was trying to find its way. The Biden administration was trying to reestablish U.S. commitment to the transatlantic alliance after President Donald Trump had left it on shaky ground. The chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan didn’t help. U.S. allies felt left in the dark, their concerns barely listened to. At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin was busy amassing troops on Ukraine’s border, causing neighboring countries—and NATO members—to begin to panic. It was against this backdrop that Ambassador Julianne Smith started her new job as the top U.S. diplomat to NATO in November 2021. She worked quickly to rebuild morale and to engage with her European counterparts to plan for a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. She brought years of experience in Washington to the position: during the Obama administration, she served as the acting national security adviser and the deputy national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. Before her post at the White House, she served for three years as the principal director for European and NATO policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon. We discuss how the U.S. government worked to build unity among its European allies in the face of Russian aggression, what it’s been like to be in NATO headquarters in Brussels during this pivotal moment in transatlantic history, and how the war in Ukraine is giving NATO a renewed sense of purpose. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 09 Jun 2022 - 43min
- 2 - What Putin Got Wrong About Ukraine, Russia, and the West
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the world has contended with the stakes of the conflict, and what the war means for Russia’s relationship with the West—and beyond. Should Russia still be considered a great power? What in Russia’s past explains the mistakes it’s making today? Will unity in the West outlast the war? What is Russian President Vladimir Putin's ultimate goal in Ukraine, and is it changing? Featuring Stephen Kotkin, Professor of History and International Affairs at Princeton University and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/foreign-affairs-interview.Thu, 26 May 2022 - 40min
- 1 - Coming Soon: The Foreign Affairs InterviewThu, 12 May 2022 - 01min
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