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None of the Above

Author: Eurasia Group Foundation

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As the United States confronts an ever-changing set of international challenges, our foreign policy leaders continue to offer the same old answers. But what are the alternatives? In None of the Above, the Eurasia Group Foundation’s Mark Hannah asks leading global thinkers for new answers and new ideas to guide an America increasingly adrift in the world.
42 Episodes
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In just two months, U.S. troops are slated to withdraw from Afghanistan per an agreement with the Taliban. It’s unclear whether President Biden will adhere to the terms of the agreement, or whether he’ll try to extend the withdrawal deadline and keep American troops in Afghanistan. Many are calling on the president to prolong the troop deployment until Afghanistan stabilizes -- or perhaps indefinitely. Others argue the May 1 deadline is the best chance in two decades for the U.S. to finally end America’s longest war. This week, the Eurasia Group Foundation’s Mark Hannah brings you into this debate. Joined by two leading experts, Laurel Miller and Adam Weinstein, Mark explores the stakes of President Biden’s decision to follow through on, attempt to modify, or walk away from, the agreement made during the previous administration.   Laurel Miller is the director of the International Crisis Group's Asia Program. An experienced diplomat, Miller served as deputy and then later as the acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the State Department. Laurel has taught at Georgetown University and was an International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds a JD from the University of the Chicago School of Law. @LaurelMillerICG Adam Weinstein is a research fellow at the Quincy Institute. His research focuses on security and the rule of law in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Adam served as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan in 2012 and is a member of the American Pakistan Foundation's Leadership Council. He holds a JD from Temple University's Beasley School of Law. @AdamNoahWho
President Biden promises to restore and renew America’s commitment to NATO and its European allies. Supporters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization argue Russian aggression compels continued American military engagement on the continent. But is Russia really so threatening and is Europe really so weak? Professor Barry Posen of MIT joins the Eurasia Group Foundation’s Mark Hannah to discuss the future of the alliance and America’s security interests in Europe. They cover Posen’s recent piece for the journal Survival, in which he insists - and demonstrates how - Europe can defend itself.  Barry Posen is the Ford International Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A leading proponent of the realist approach to international relations, Posen is the author of Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy. His work regularly appears in International Security and The American Interest.
As the Biden administration takes shape, many wonder whether it will implement a truly progressive foreign policy agenda. President Biden’s early action to freeze arms sales to Saudi Arabia has given progressives hope. However, several key national security and foreign policy appointments project a more complicated picture. Katrina vanden Heuvel, long-time editor and part owner of The Nation, joins Eurasia Group Foundation’s Mark Hannah to unpack early indications of whether President Biden will follow through on the realistic and humble foreign policy on which he campaigned. If, as the adage goes, “personnel is policy,” what do his cabinet nominees and early appointments tell us about the president’s vision and agenda? Finally, vanden Heuvel explores what might be done to curb some of the interventionist impulses starting to play out among Biden’s inner circle. Katrina vanden Heuvel is Editorial Director and Publisher for The Nation and a weekly columnist for The Washington Post. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and sits on the board of directors for the Institute of Policy Studies. @KatrinaNation  
The so-called war on terror will soon be twenty years old -- and there is no end in sight. The legal basis for this endless war is grounded in two authorizations for the use of military force (AUMFs), passed in 2001 and 2002. AUMFs are designed to keep presidents accountable to Congress, stopping short of formal declarations of war. However, the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs specify no geographic bounds or sunset provisions. They have been interpreted by every president since 2001 to authorize military action anywhere. Congress fails to challenge this expansive interpretation of executive authority. In this episode, host Mark Hannah is joined by Heather Brandon Smith (from the Friends Committee on National Legislation) and Rita Siemion (from Human Rights First), both experts on AUMFs and advocates for their repeal. They discuss the history of these AUMFs, why repealing them is necessary to end America’s endless wars, and the prospects for reform under the Biden administration. Heather Brandon Smith is the legislative director for militarism and human rights at the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington, DC. She teaches law at Georgetown University and was formerly the advocacy counsel for national security at Human Rights First. She holds LL.M.s from the Georgetown University Law Center and the University of New South Wales in Sydney Australia. You can follow Heather on Twitter at @HBrandonSmith. Rita Siemion is the director for national security advocacy at Human Rights First in Washington, DC. She teaches law at the Georgetown University Law Center and American University's Washington College of Law. Formerly Rita was senior counsel at the Constitution Project. She holds an LL.M. in National Security Law from the Georgetown University Law Center. You can follow Rita on Twitter at @ritasiemion.
After the violent riots on Capitol Hill last Wednesday left America’s democratic institutions shaken, foreign policy leaders in Washington grappled with America’s credibility on the world stage. The next day, the Atlantic Council’s Emma Ashford wrote a provocative piece in Foreign Policy arguing, “It’s a sign of how broken U.S. foreign-policy debates are that the primary reaction from many commentators was to worry about America’s moral authority and global leadership.”  Eurasia Group Foundation’s Mark Hannah spoke with Emma about her frustrations with the foreign policy community’s response. Emma argues that America must first shore up its ability to protect democracy at home before trying to promote it abroad. Emma Ashford is a resident senior fellow with the New American Engagement Initiative in the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council and a columnist at Foreign Policy. @EmmaMAshford
As Washington prepares to transition from a Trump to a Biden presidency, how might we expect America’s global role to change in the years ahead? This week, the Eurasia Group Foundation’s Mark Hannah speaks with Inkstick Media’s Laicie Heeley and The Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor to suss out the possible consequences for U.S. foreign policy. From the Middle East to China, this week’s episode explores what’s in store for the future of the international order (such as it is).    Laicie Heeley is the CEO and founder of Inkstick Media and is the host of Inkstick Media and Public Radio International’s national security and foreign policy podcast “Thing That Go Boom!”   Ishaan Tharoor is a columnist on the foreign desk of The Washington Post and authors the Today's WorldView newsletter and column.
Multiple promising vaccines for the coronavirus are nearing FDA approval, and the United States is gearing up for widespread vaccination. While the beginning of the end of the coronavirus crisis is in sight, the effect of the virus on international politics remains less clear.  This week, the Eurasia Group Foundation’s Mark Hannah is joined by defense procurement and national security expert Dr. Eugene Gholz. They discuss what role the military should (and shouldn’t) play in distributing the vaccine and the complicated history of the Defense Production Act. They also explore the geopolitical impact of the coronavirus on the U.S.-China relationship, and its implications for a more restrained U.S. foreign policy.  Dr. Eugene Gholz is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and Adjunct Scholar at CATO’s Defense and Foreign Policy Initiative. From 2010-2012, he served in the Pentagon as Senior Advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy. Gholz co-authored “Come Home, America,” a seminal article making the case for a restrained American foreign policy.
Episode 9: Regime Change

Episode 9: Regime Change

2020-11-2432:321

President-elect Joe Biden sees the world very differently than President Trump. He’s promised to reinvigorate diplomacy, and his approach to a range of pressing national security challenges – from Afghanistan to Iran to China – will likely diverge starkly from that of the current president. Biden has also begun to assemble his foreign policy team. State Department senior staffers and long-time Biden aides Anthony Blinken and Jake Sullivan will reportedly be nominated as Secretary of State and National Security Advisor (respectively), and Pentagon veteran Michelle Flournoy will be Biden's pick for Secretary of Defense.  Who are these people and what does their selection mean for Biden's approach to international relations? Do these choices augur a confrontation between Biden and his progressive critics on foreign policy? Vox national security writer Alex Ward joins host Mark Hannah for a conversation on the last two months of the Trump administration, and the future of American foreign policy under President-elect Biden.   Alex Ward is a staff writer for Vox on international security and defence, and co-host of Vox’s Worldly podcast on international affairs. He formerly was an associate director at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and holds an MA from American University in International Relations. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexWardVox.
In February 2020, the U.S. government and the Taliban signed an agreement with steps to end the war in Afghanistan. With Intra-Afghan talks also underway between the Taliban and the Afghan government, the end to the war is in sight… though it’s not without complications. In recognition of Veterans Day and the election of a new president who will now inherit America’s longest war, Mark Hannah speaks with retired Army general Donald Bolduc and Kabul-based journalist Ali Latifi. What do we know about Joe Biden’s plans for the Afghanistan war, and what challenges does a new administration face in — and possibly pose to — the peace process? General Donald Bolduc served 10 tours in Afghanistan and is a former Green Beret. He was a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire earlier this year. In 2001, he commanded the special forces that the United States inserted into the South of Afghanistan after 9/11. He is a prominent advocate for veterans and mental health. You can follow Don on Twitter @GenDonBolduc. Ali Latifi is a journalist based in Kabul. Born in Kabul, Ali grew up in California before he returned to Afghanistan in 2013 to cover the on-going war. Ali has written extensively on the Taliban’s presence and diplomacy in Doha. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy Magazine, Al Jazeera English, Los Angeles Times, VICE, The New York Times, and CNN. You can follow Ali on Twitter at @alibomaye.
The 2016 U.S. presidential election may have been the most divisive election in modern memory. The aftermath has left the United States in a period of “agonizing reappraisal” over America’s role in the world. Four years later, the United States appears to still be at a crossroads between Donald Trump’s vision of an “America First” foreign policy and Joe Biden’s promised restoration of a “liberal international order.” This week, host Mark Hannah is joined by Margaret Hoover and David Eisenhower, prominent descendants of two American presidents, to discuss what is at stake for foreign policy in next week’s election. Does Donald Trump represent a paradigm shift in American foreign policy? Is the restoration which Joe Biden seeks possible? They also discuss America's relationship with China, a topic which looms large in American foreign policy today. Does China’s emergence as a competitor augur a coming conflict or can we avoid a second cold war? Margaret Hoover is the host of PBS’s “Firing Line,” a conservative political commentator, and a regular contributor for CNN. She is the great-granddaughter of President Herbert Hoover and serves on the board of overseers at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Follow her on Twitter: @MargaretHoover. David Eisenhower is an author, public policy fellow, and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is the Director of the Institute for Public Service. He is also the host of “The Whole Truth with David Eisenhower,” on American Public Television (APT). He is the grandson of President Dwight Eisenhower and the son-in-law of President Richard Nixon.
Historian Stephen Wertheim traces America’s decision for global military dominance back to World War II in a widely anticipated book published this month. Some anticipated Donald Trump would follow through on a campaign promise to end America’s endless wars, and finally break the United States from the globe-spanning role in which it cast itself. But Wertheim points out that President Trump is as conventional in his quest for military dominance as most other presidents before him. This week, host Mark Hannah sits down with Wertheim to discuss the origins of American military supremacy, the upcoming U.S. presidential election, and what it all means for the future of America’s global role. Stephen Wertheim is a historian of American foreign relations and the co-founder and deputy director of research and policy at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. His forthcoming book is Tomorrow, The World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy. You can follow Stephen on Twitter @stephenwertheim. 
Commentators describe the first presidential debate of the 2020 general election as a "hot mess inside a dumpster fire," "a bad reality TV show," and "a complete disaster." What insights on American foreign policy might we – and the rest of the world – draw in its aftermath? In this episode, host Mark Hannah is joined by Doug Wilson, the national security policy advisor for Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s erstwhile presidential campaign. Doug also served in the Obama administration as the former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.   We reflect on the first presidential debate in the context of U.S. national security policy, and on how the politics of American foreign policy is interpreted by America’s friends and foes. Doug discusses his involvement in the Buttigieg campaign, the importance of democratic legitimacy for statecraft, and the most recent survey of American public opinion on foreign policy from the Eurasia Group Foundation's Independent America project
The United States has been mired in endless war for more than a generation. This week, journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept sits down with the Eurasia Group Foundation’s Mark Hannah to discuss the true costs of America’s militarized foreign policy.  Are journalists so used to reporting on the polarization of the American electorate that they miss the close collaboration between Democrats and Republicans in Congress to pursue pro-war policies? Ultimately, Glenn argues, “the policies that both parties endorse, a posture of endless war, of militarism, of aggression, of blind support for Israel, not only are amoral, but are actually contrary to the interest of the American people.” Glenn Greenwald is co-founder of The Intercept. He is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books. Glenn has won numerous awards for his reporting on mass surveillance and human rights abuses against the backdrop of the War on Terror. You can listen to his new show System Update and follow him on Twitter @ggreenwald.
In the wake of protests surrounding the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, America’s institutions are reckoning with their roles in legacies of slavery and racism. The U.S. military is no exception. This week, Bishop Garrison, a U.S. Army veteran and former homeland security and defense official, joins None Of The Above to discuss this reckoning. From the renaming of Army bases named after Confederate figures to the recruitment of veterans by white nationalist organizations and the importance of diversity in the enlisted and officer ranks, Bishop delves into the moral and strategic importance of representation in America’s most vital national security institutions. Bishop Garrison is the director of national security outreach at Human Rights First and is president and co-founder of the Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy. His most recent article is “Challenges to Improving Racial Representation in the Military.” You can follow Bishop on Twitter@BishopGarrison.
The U.S. bombed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 75 years ago this month. Although nuclear weapons haven’t been used in combat since, they continue to proliferate across the globe. This week, two activists from New Mexico explain the lesser known costs of the production of nuclear weapons, from the devastation inflicted on indigenous communities by impact testing and mining around the Los Alamos National Laboratory, to the risks modernization poses to national security. As the U.S. prepares to embark upon a major nuclear modernization program, will the impact on civilians worsen?    Beata Tsosie-Pena is the environmental health and justice program coordinator at Tewa Women United and a Los Alamos National Laboratory downwinder.    Jay Coghlan is the executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico and has worked on nuclear weapons and environmental issues for the past 25 years.
In May 2020, the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor touched off some of the largest protests in U.S. history and shone a spotlight on police militarization. This week, the ACLU's Hina Shamsi explains the connections between brutal police tactics and the ongoing War on Terror, from the Insurrection Act to drone strikes overseas. More than fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned of the interconnected evils of racism and militarism, can America overcome police violence at home and endless war abroad?   Hina Shamsi is the director of the ACLU’s National Security Project and an adjunct lecturer at Columbia Law School. She previously served as senior advisor to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions. You can follow Hina on Twitter @HinaShamsi.
This episode marks the end of the first season of the Eurasia Group Foundation podcast, None Of The Above. We conclude our season with a topic that gets far too little attention in the mainstream media: the history of the U.S. military’s involvement in Somalia, a country deeply mired in terrorism, poverty, and war. Mark sits down with Nairobi-based journalist Amanda Sperber and anthropologist Catherine Besteman to unpack why the United States is waging an unofficial drone war in Somalia and explores the history and human costs of this conflict. They discuss the evolution of Al-Shabaab (an affiliate of Al-Qaeda), civilian casualties from U.S. airstrikes, and how Somalia exemplifies what many consider to be the strategic and moral failings of America’s global war on terror. Have a listen, let us know what you think, and we’ll see you in August when we return for Season 2.   Amanda Sperber is a Nairobi-based award-winning investigative journalist, foreign correspondent, and multimedia storyteller. Her work focuses on East Africa, specifically on Somalia, and the consequences of U.S. drone strikes. She is the author of “Ilhan Omar Demands Answers on Civilian Deaths in Somalia” in The Daily Beast. @hysperbole   Catherine Besteman is Francis F. Bartlett and Ruth K. Bartlett Professor of Anthropology at Colby College in Maine. Her work focuses on U.S. militarism in Somalia. She is the author of The Costs of War in Somalia from Brown University’s Costs of War Project, and the upcoming book Militarized Global Apartheid (2020).   
In February, the Taliban and U.S. government signed a peace deal. The U.S. would draw down its troop presence and persuade the Afghan government to release Taliban prisoners in exchange for a ceasefire. However, since the agreement was signed, the Afghan government’s release of prisoners has stalled and Taliban attacks on Afghan forces have surged. Now, coronavirus spreads from neighboring Iran to the war-torn country just as the prospects for peace dim. How and when will the longest war in American history finally end?    Peter Bergen and Kiana Hayeri weigh in on the U.S.’ inconclusive and four-decade-long involvement in Afghanistan. They discuss whether the war was worth fighting and whether people in Afghanistan are better off today than they were before the U.S. invasion in 2001. What impact has American intervention had, and what new challenges does this country face as the coronavirus spreads across the region and world?    Peter Bergen is vice president at New America, a CNN national security analyst, professor, author, and documentary film producer. His latest film The Longest War is streaming now on Showtime. Twitter: @peterbergencnn   Kiana Hayeri is an Iranian-Canadian photographer, focusing on migration, identity, and sexuality in societies dealing with oppression or conflict. View her latest work “Afghanistan’s Next War” in New York Times Magazine. Instagram: @kianahayeri  
Donald Trump ran his 2016 presidential campaign on ending America’s endless wars. But throughout his presidency, he has increased military deployments in the Middle East and threatened conflicts with Iran, Venezuela, China, and North Korea. And now, he has declared war on the coronavirus. Does this make Trump a hawkish commander-in-chief? Or, has he lived up to his promise to wind down wars and not start new ones? What kind of national security leader is he? This week, Mark Hannah digs into Trump’s foreign policy legacy with Vox reporter Alex Ward. According to Alex, while Trump’s foreign policy record may seem two-sided, there is an abiding ideology. In fact, Alex argues Trump’s foreign policy legacy may even prove to be a political strength in the 2020 presidential election.  Alex Ward is the staff writer for international security and defense at Vox and co-hosts its “Worldly” podcast. He is based in Washington, DC. @AlexWardVox
Since 1997, Hong Kong has been a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. The freedoms China promised the people of this semi-autonomous region are slowly eroding. Throughout the year, Hongkongers have taken to the streets to protest mainland China’s encroaching influence. The protests persist today, even amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. In January, as the coronavirus began its global spread, Mark Hannah traveled to Hong Kong to meet with a leader of the protests, and he returned to speak with another organizer from Hong Kong who is based in New York City. These two young activists offer different views on Hong Kong's political struggle, especially when it comes to the West's role in supporting the pro-democracy movement. What should Hong Kong be seeking, if anything, from the international community? And, does outside support strengthen or undermine the legitimacy of Hong Kong’s movement? Wilfred Chan is a writer, organizer, and courier based in New York City and is a founding member of the internationalist left publication Lausan. @wilfredchan Joshua Wong is a student activist and politician based in Hong Kong who serves as secretary-general of the pro-democracy party Demosistō. @joshuawongcf
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Comments (2)

Kelly Sullivan

witness protection

Feb 15th
Reply

Kelly Sullivan

military isn't necessary!

Feb 15th
Reply
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