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New Books in National Security

Author: Marshall Poe

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Interviews with Scholars of National Security about their New Books
188 Episodes
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From Moscow, the world looks different. It is through understanding how Russia sees the world—and its place in it—that the West can best meet the new Russian challenge to the existing world order. Moscow Rules: What Drives Russia to Confront the West (Chatham House, 2019), by Chatham House Senior Russian expert, Keir Giles provides the sophisticated and curious reader a primer to help explain Putin’s Russia.As per Giles, Russia and the West are like neighbors who never seem able to understand each other. A major reason, this book argues, is that Western leaders tend to think that Russia should act as a “rational” Western nation—even though Russian leaders, Tsars, Commissars and Presidents alike for centuries have thought and acted based on their country’s much different history and traditions. Russia, through Western eyes, is unpredictable and irrational, when in fact its leaders from the Tsars to Putin almost always act in their own very predictable and rational ways. For Western leaders to try to engage with Russia without attempting to understand how Russians look at the world is a recipe for repeated disappointment and frequent crises.Keir Giles, describes how Russian leaders have used consistent doctrinal and strategic approaches to the rest of the world. These approaches may seem deeply alien in the Western world, but understanding them is essential for successful engagement with contemporary Russia. Giles argues that understanding how Moscow’s leaders think and act—not just Vladimir Putin but his predecessors and eventual successors—will help their counterparts in the West develop a less crisis-prone and more productive relationship with Russia.Charles Coutinho has a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for the Journal of Intelligence History and Chatham House’s International Affairs. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to Charlescoutinho@aol.com.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
A popular myth in the American nationalist imaginary is that the country has been on a continued path of progress. Another is that the country’s history has been the self-realization of the principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence. Jay Sexton says these are wrong. In fact, in his new book A Nation Forged by Crisis: A New American History (Basic Books, 2018), he shows how crises and contingency have given the United States its shape, from 1776 to the Civil War through to the Great Depression and world wars of early twentieth century. Some of the most influential changes occurred, Sexton writes, during “contingent moments in which the existence of the nation was up for grabs.”In this impressively concise and provocative book, Sexton places the history of the republic in the broader currents of the international system (“foreign powers,” he writes, are “the most overlooked actors in American history”) and chronicles the crises that have rocked the country into change (the Union’s mobilization during the Civil War, for instance, fueled the growth of Wall Street). The book deserves to be read by historians and non-historians alike.Dexter Fergie is a PhD student of US and global history at Northwestern University. He is currently researching the 20th century geopolitical history of information and communications networks. He can be reached by email at dexter.fergie@u.northwestern.edu or on Twitter @DexterFergie.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Initiated in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, have the reforms of the US intelligence enterprise served their purpose? What have been the results of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and a reorganized FBI? Have they helped to reduce blind spots and redundancies in resources and responsibilities ... and to prevent misuses of intelligence and law enforcement? How did a disaster like the Snowden scandal happen? In Spying: Assessing US Domestic Intelligence Since 9/11 (Lynne Rienner, 2019), Darren Tromblay answers these questions in his thorough, often provocative, assessment of post–9/11 US domestic intelligence activities in the pursuit of national security.Beth Windisch is a national security practitioner. You can tweet her @bethwindisch.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The United States has been the world's dominant power for more than a century. Now many analysts and commentators believe that other countries such as China are rising and the United States is in decline. Is the era of American hegemony over? Is America finished as a superpower?In his superb and learned book, Unrivaled: Why America Will remain the World's Sole Superpower(Cornell University Press, 2018), Michael Beckley, Professor in the Department of Political Science at Tufts University cogently argues that the United States has unique advantages over other nations that, if used wisely, will allow it to remain the world's sole superpower throughout this century. We are not living in a transitional, post-hegemonic, pluralist era. Instead, we are in the midst of what he calls the unipolar era―a period as singular and important as any epoch in modern history. This era, Beckley contends, will endure because the US has a much larger economic and military lead over its closest rival, China, than most people think and the best prospects of any nation to amass wealth and power in the decades ahead.Deeply researched and brilliantly argued, Professor Beckley’s book covers hundreds of years of great power politics and develops new methods for measuring power and predicting the rise and fall of nations. According to Chatham House’s International Affairs, Unrivaled, “is by far the most comprehensive analysis to date on the power dynamics of the international system and clearly debunks the established narrative on US decline”. By documenting long-term trends in the global balance of power and explaining their implications for world politics, the book provides guidance for policymakers, businesspeople, and scholars alike.Charles Coutinho has a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for the Journal of Intelligence History and Chatham House’s International Affairs. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to Charlescoutinho@aol.com.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The past decade has seen a tremendous production of scholarship on American missionary endeavors in the Middle East. In Faithful Encounters: Authorities and American Missionaries in the Ottoman Empire (McGill-Queens University Press, 2018), Emrah Şahin approaches this dynamic field of inquiry from a less-common perspective, that of the Ottoman Empire. Relying on largely untapped official imperial sources emanating from the Sublime Porte, Şahin recounts complaints from local authorities and fraught diplomatic considerations, which Ottoman sultans, ministers, and bureaucrats were forced to grapple with as they sought to maintain control of their Empire. Weaving together compelling stories from Ottoman records, the book describes the Sublime Porte’s efforts to regulate physical space, censor missionary publications, and monitor missionary activities. With engaging anecdotes, Faithful Encounters offers a more complex look at Muslim-Christian relations and America’s engagement with the Ottomans.Emrah Şahin is the director of the Turkish Studies Program at the University of Florida and a lecturer at their Center for European Studies. He earned his PhD in History from McGill University in Canada.Joshua Donovan is a PhD candidate at Columbia University’s Department of History. His dissertation examines national and sectarian identity formation within the Greek Orthodox Christian community in Syria, Lebanon, and the diaspora.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Illiberal China: The Ideological Challenge of the People's Republic of China (Palgrave, 2018) by Daniel Vukovich analyzes the 'intellectual political culture' of post-Tiananmen China in comparison to and in conflict with liberalism inside and outside the P.R.C. It questions how mainland politics and discourses challenge ‘our’ own, chiefly liberal and anti-‘statist’ political frameworks and how can one understand its general refusal of liberalism? Daniel argues that the Party-state poses a challenge to our understandings of politics, globalization, and even progress. To be illiberal is not necessarily to be reactionary and vulgar but to be anti-liberal and to seek alternatives to a degraded liberalism. The book analyses the history of liberalism within China, the forces of the New Left, and some of the sites of struggle such as Wukan and Hong Kong. Today I spoke with Daniel about his new book.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In his book  Peacemakers: American Leadership and the End of Genocide in the Balkans (University of Kentucky Press, 2017), Ambassador James W. Pardew describes the role of the U.S. involvement in ending the wars and genocide in the Balkans.  As a soldier-diplomat, Pardew reminds us of the human nature of diplomacy.  Pardew was the one of the major players in U.S. policy making, leading Balkan task forces. He was also a policy advisor to NATO.  His book reflects the perspective of an experienced soldier who led the peace-making process through his use of compassion when dealing with mass murdering despots.  He refocuses the nature of the dissolution of the Yugoslavia as a humanitarian crisis that could not be settled without dealing with all of the participants.  His work is inspiring in the face of the senseless destruction of 100,000+ dead and thousands more displaced.  He proves that the good guys can win without dropping down to the levels of the tyrants.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
If today’s geopolitical fragmentation and the complexities of a ‘multipolar’ world order have led some to reminisce about the apparent stability of the Cold War era’s two ‘camps’, it should be remembered that things were of course never so straightforward. As Jeremy Friedman shows in Shadow Cold War: The Sino-Soviet Competition for the Third World, the 1960s-1980s Sino-Soviet Split(UNC Press, 2018) generated a much more fractious and divided global situation than today’s nostalgia would imply.Taking ideology seriously as a component of socialist foreign policy, Friedman’s new and compelling analysis shows how deep Moscow and Beijing’s disagreements ran, and argues that the division was based at heart on two quite different revolutionary agendas. Drawing on archives all over the world in multiple languages, Shadow Cold War traces the origins of these agendas in revolutionary experience in each of Russia and China, and reveals how these continued to manifest themselves as Soviet and Chinese interests competed in the developing world in the latter half of the twentieth century. With China in particular now a major player in many of the locations discussed here, this book should be indispensable reading for anyone seeking clarity about how we got to where we are today.Ed Pulford is a postdoctoral researcher at the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, Hokkaido University. His research focuses on friendships and histories between the Chinese, Korean and Russian worlds, and northeast Asian indigenous groups.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The practice of Partition understood as the physical division of territory along ethno-religious lines into separate nation-states is often regarded as a successful political "solution" to ethnic conflict. In their edited volume Partitions: A Transnational History of Twentieth-Century Territorial Separatism (Stanford University Press, 2019), Laura Robson and Arie Dubnov uncover the collective history of the concept of partition and locate its genealogy in the politics of twentieth-century empire and decolonization. Moving beyond the nationalist frameworks that served in the first instance to promote partition as a natural phenomenon, the volume discusses creation of new political entities in the world of the British empire, from the Irish Free State, to the Dominions (later Republics) of India and Pakistan, and Palestine.Yorgos Giannakopoulos is a currently a Junior Research Fellow in Durham University, UK. He is a historian of Modern Britain and Europe. His published research recovers the regional impact of British Intellectuals in Eastern Europe in the age of nationalism and internationalism.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this provocative challenge to United States policy and strategy, former Professor of Strategy & Policy at the US Naval War College, and author or editor of eleven books, Dr. Donald Stoker argues that America endures endless wars because its leaders no longer know how to think about war in strategic terms and he reveals how ideas on limited war and war in general have evolved against the backdrop of American conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. These ideas, he shows, were and are flawed and have undermined America's ability to understand, wage, and win its wars, and to secure peace afterwards. America's leaders he argues have too often taken the nation to war without understanding what they want or valuing victory, leading to the “forever wars” of today in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why America Loses Wars: Limited War and US Strategy from the Korean War to the Present(Cambridge University Press, 2019) dismantles seventy years of misguided thinking and lays the foundations for a new approach to the wars of tomorrow. Why American Loses War is a must read for policy practitioners, serving soldiers and the lay educated public.Charles Coutinho has a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for the Journal of Intelligence History and Chatham House’s International Affairs. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to Charlescoutinho@aol.com.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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