May 10th, 2021
Here’s a riddle for you: Name something Presidents Obama, Trump, and Biden have in common? Here's one answer: None has appeared to understand the theological premises that motivate such groups as al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Islamic State — nor those that drive the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Nor have they had clarity about the thinking of those brave Muslims who oppose such interpretations of Islam.
In this episode, host Cliff May discusses these and related issues with three eminent scholars.
Gilles Kepel has authored more than twenty academic books on contemporary Islam, the Arab World and Muslims in Europe, translated into numerous languages. A tenured Professor at Paris Sciences et Lettres University, his last essay, The Prophet and the Pandemic / From the Middle East to Atmospheric Jihadism, just released in French, has topped the best-seller lists and is currently being translated into English and a half-dozen languages. The excerpt: The Murder of Samuel Paty, is in the spring issue of Liberties Journal.
Bernard Haykel is a professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. His research focuses on the “political and social tensions that arise from questions about religious identity and authority” with a particular emphasis on Islam, history and the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. His books include Saudi Arabia in Transition and Revival and Reform in Islam.
And Reuel Marc Gerecht, a disciple of the late, great Bernard Lewis, is a former Middle Eastern specialist at the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, and currently a senior fellow at FDD.
April 27th, 2021
In the West Bank and Gaza, elections are not frequent occurrences. The last one was in 2006. Hamas, a terrorist organization opposed to a two-state solution and openly committed to Israel’s extermination, won a parliamentary majority. A Palestinian civil war followed.
A year later, Hamas ruled Gaza while the Palestine Liberation Organization held power in the West Bank. Attempts over the years since to reunite the two Palestinian factions have failed.
New elections are now scheduled – more or less. We’re hearing that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbasis now seriously considering a postponement. Till when? Who knows?
To discuss what’s going on and what it may mean for Palestinians, Israelis, the U.S. and other interested parties, host Cliff May is joined by FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer and Matthew Zweig.
April 16th, 2021
In January, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the World Health Organization to fully investigate the possibility that the COVID-19 virus escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan. He cited new U.S. intelligence that raises troubling questions. But China’s rulers have not been forthcoming.
Is the World Health Organization making a serious attempt to get at the truth? If not, what can and should be done? Those are just some of the issues Foreign Podicy host Cliff May explores with Anthony Ruggiero and Craig Singleton.
Anthony is a senior fellow at FDD. He has more than 19 years of government experience in both Republican and Democratic administrations. Most recently he served as Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and National Security Council Senior Director for Counterproliferation and Biodefense.
Craig is an adjunct fellow at FDD. He previously spent more than a decade serving in a series of sensitive national security roles including overseas assignments at the U.S. embassies in Baghdad, Caracas, and Mexico City.
April 9th, 2021
In the Soviet Union, all media were controlled by the state, and foreign correspondents were severely restricted. Those who hoped — and perhaps believed — that freedom of speech and freedom of the press would be guaranteed to the people of post-Soviet Russia have been disappointed.
Not least, the Kremlin has been hostile toward journalists reporting for Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) — media outlets funded by the U.S. government.
To discuss what President Vladimir Putin is doing — and intends to do — to further limit and control reporting from Russia, Foreign Podicy host Cliff May is joined by Jamie Fly and Andrei Shary. Mr. Fly is president and CEO of RFE/RL. He has previously worked at the German Marshall Fund, and served as a senior staffer in the U.S. Congress, the National Security Council staff, and the Defense Department. Mr. Shary is the director of RFE/RL’s Russian Service.
March 19th, 2021
Joby Warrick is a distinguished journalist, a longtime Washington Post national security reporter, and a Pulitzer Prize-winner. His latest book is: “Red Line: The Unraveling of Syria and America’s Race to Destroy the Most Dangerous Arsenal in the World.”
To discuss Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons to mass murder his fellow Syrians, and what the U.S. did – and did not – do about it, he joins David Adesnik, FDD’s Director of Research and senior fellow on Syria, and FDDs president and Foreign Podicy host Cliff May.
February 26th, 2021
With the defeat of the Axis Powers in 1945, the United States emerged as the strongest nation on earth. But rather than emulate hegemons of the past, American leaders envisioned a new and different world order.
Their goal was to organize an "international community," establish "universal human rights," and a growing body of "international law."
This project required new institutions, in particular the United Nations.
Three quarters of a century later, it requires willful blindness not to see that the UN and many other international organizations have become bloated and corrupt bureaucracies, increasingly serving the interests of despots.
To discuss what’s gone wrong and what might be done to prevent the UN and other international organizations from drifting further into the clutches of authoritarians host Clifford D. May is joined by Richard Goldberg, Orde Kittrie, and Emma Reilly.
Rich Goldberg is a Senior Advisor at FDD. Among his many government positions, Rich previously served as the Director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction for the National Security Council, and Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Foreign Policy Adviser to former Mark Kirk, both when Kirk was in the House and then the Senate. Rich is also an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. We thank him for his service.
Also joining is Orde Kittrie. He, too, is a Senior Fellow at FDD as well as a professor of law. He is a leading expert on nonproliferation law and policy, and an expert on international law, particularly as it relates to the Middle East. On lawfare, well, he wrote the book. It’s title: Lawfare: Law as a Weapon of War. Orde served for over a decade in various legal and policy positions at the U.S. State Department. He was a lead US negotiator at the UN for the treaty on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism and participated in drafting several UN Security Council resolutions.
Joining, too, is Emma Reilly who has worked in the field of human rights for almost 20 years. She joined the UN Human Rights Office in 2012. In 2013, she blew the whistle on an exceptional and dangerous policy: UN bureaucrats giving to the Chinese government the names of dissidents, including US citizens, who planned to engage UN human rights mechanisms. The bureaucracy’s response: To not fix the problem and to attempt to fire her instead.
All three join host Cliff May for this episode to discuss what happened and what, if anything, can be done moving forward to combat this high level of corruption.
February 11th, 2021
February 11, 2021 is the forty-second anniversary of the revolution that transformed Iran from a Western-aligned monarchy to an anti-Western Islamist theocracy.
Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, one of America’s leading analysts of contemporary Iran, and the author of a new book: “The Last Shah: America, Iran and the Fall of the Pahlavi Dynasty.”
Reuel Marc Gerecht is a senior fellow at FDD, a former officer in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, and also an expert on Iran — both contemporary and ancient.
Both join host Cliff May to discuss the Revolution.
January 29th, 2021
Starting in 2019, and until the recent change of administration, Peter Berkowitz served as director of Policy Planning at the State Department. That’s the government ideas shop that George Kennan established in 1947.
Dr. Berkowitz was an unusual choice for this job in that his background is scholarly rather than governmental. He holds a doctorate in political science and a law degree, both from Yale University.
He was, and now continues, as the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, where he studies, thinks, and writes about the principles of freedom, the American constitutional tradition, political ideas and ideologies, national security, Middle Eastern politics – pretty much anything he likes.
Having emerged from Foggy Bottom, he joins host Cliff May to discuss his adventures in government and the issues he grappled with while there.
December 22nd, 2020
Marshall Billingslea has worked on a range of significant and difficult national security issues.
He served as Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing at the Treasury Department, president of the international Financial Action Task Force, Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations Policy. He’s also been an Assistant Secretary General at NATO.
Last April, he was appointed Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control with the personal rank of ambassador — a challenging portfolio over the months that have followed.
To find out more, he joins Cliff May and Bradley Bowman, senior director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power, for a discussion on the latest national security issues.
December 2nd, 2020
Robert Gates served as secretary of defense under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He also has served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and he was a member of the National Security Council in four administrations. In all, he worked for eight presidents of both political parties. And he served in uniform, in the US Air Force, something we at Foreign Podicy consider always worthy of note and praise. He’s written a new book: Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World.
Eric Edelman has served in senior positions in the both the State and Defense Departments. He was the US ambassador to Finland and Turkey in the Clinton and Bush administrations. He retired from the Foreign Service as a career minister. He’s now a senior advisor for FDD.
Both join host Cliff May to discuss a range of national security and defense issues.
November 19th, 2020
In theory, the United Nations and other international organizations express the will of something called “the international community,” while enforcing something called the “liberal international rules-based order.”
In practice, the UN and other international organizations now pursue different agendas.
John Bolton served as National Security Advisor under President Trump, as U.S. ambassador to the UN under President George W. Bush, and in senior positions under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
He has long been concerned that the UN and other international organizations are drifting – or being pushed – and what such transformations portend for the United States and other free nations.
Richard Goldberg is a former director on the National Security Council. He also served as a foreign policy advisor in both the House and Senate. He is now a senior advisor at FDD.
Both join Cliff to discuss what’s become of the modern experiment in internationalism.
November 6th, 2020
Natan Sharansky grew up in the Soviet Union where he became an elite mathematician and chess whiz. But he also became a dissident, a human rights activist, and a supporter of Israel’s right to exist – in other words: a Zionist. In 1978, Soviet authorities arrested him, ran him through a kangaroo court, and then sent him to the Gulag. When he was released by Mikhail Gorbachev nine years later, he emigrated to Israel, where he became a politician, and then a communal leader. In tandem with the eminent American historian, Gil Troy, he tells his story in a new book: Never Alone: Prison, Politics, and My People. Both join Foreign Podicy host Cliff May to discuss their book.
October 19th, 2020
Chinese President Xi Jinping sees the United States as the primary adversary and rival of the People’s Republic of China. His intention is to end America’s tenure as global leader, and to begin his nation’s tenure as global ruler. Until recently most people in the West didn’t understand that. Actually, many still do not.
A few scholars are investigating the means by which Xi and the Chinese Communist Party are attempting to realize their ambitions.
Emily de La Bruyere is a senior fellow at FDD focusing on China. She has pioneered novel data collection and analysis tools tailored to Beijing’s strategic and institutional structures. She has extensive Chinese language research and program management experience.
Nathan Picarsic also is a senior fellow at FDD who studies China, in particular Beijing’s impact across key economic and military areas.
They join host Cliff May to discuss the findings in their alarming new report: “Made in Germany, Co-opted by China.”
October 16th, 2020
The U.S. Southern Command, SOUTHCOM, is one of six geographic combatant commands. It’s responsible for planning, operations and security cooperation in Central America, South America, and most of the Caribbean.
It’s a joint command including military and civilian personnel from the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, and several federal agencies. Its mission is to deter aggressors, defeat threats, respond to crises, and work with allied and partner nations to defend the U.S. homeland and America’s national interests.
The SOUTHCOM Commander, Admiral Craig S. Faller, is a Naval Academy graduate who served as Commander of the John C. Stennis Strike Group / Carrier Strike Group 3 in support of Operations New Dawn (in Iraq) and Enduring Freedom (in Afghanistan). He has also served as the Director of Operations (J3) in U.S. Central Command, and as the Chief of Navy Legislative Affairs, which is where he worked with Bradley Bowman, senior director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power (CMPP).
Both join FDD Foreign Podicy host Cliff May for a discussion of the challenges and threats posed by America’s enemies and adversaries in this vital region.
October 2nd, 2020
LTG (Ret.) H.R. McMaster is a soldier, scholar and strategist. A graduate of West Point, he served in the U.S. Army for 34 years, earning a doctorate in history along the way, and retiring as a Lieutenant General. From February 2017 until April 2018, he was President Trump's National Security Advisor. He's currently the Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and he's also the chairman of the advisory board of FDD's Center on Military and Political Power.
He's just published a new book, Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World. He joins Cliff to discuss his time as the U.S. National Security Advisor, his assessment of the latest international security issues ranging from China and Russia to Afghanistan, and his book — including what he hopes the next U.S. administration can gain from it.
September 24th, 2020
On September 22, 1980, Iraq and Iran went to war. The conflict dragged on for eight long years, taking an estimated half million lives. When it was over, both countries and the Middle East had been profoundly changed.
Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert and senior fellow at FDD — also a native Farsi speaker who has been intensively studying the region for years — talks with host Cliff May about this not-so-well-remembered war, and its significant fallout.
For additional background reading, read Behnam's latest article, "Why The Iran-Iraq War Matters For The Success Of Maximum Pressure," here.
September 17th, 2020
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in New York is often a high-profile figure. Think of Nikki Haley, John Bolton, Jeane Kirkpatrick — or, going back further, Adlai Stevenson, Arthur Goldberg, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Andrew Young.
American ambassadors to the United Nations in Geneva – where there also are dozens of UN-affiliated international organizations – tend to be less well-known, but they have important work they can do – if they want to.
Ambassador Andrew Bremberg has been in that job for about a year, and he joins host Cliff May to discuss what he’s seen and done, and what the UN is and isn’t doing. Also contributing to the conversation is Richard Goldberg, a former White House National Security Council official who spent a decade on Capitol Hill overseeing U.S. foreign assistance. Rich now serves as a senior advisor at FDD and leads FDD’s International Organizations Program.
August 26th, 2020
Ambassador Ron Dermer has been Israel’s ambassador to the United States since 2013 – not an uneventful period for Israel, America and the Middle East. Most recently he has been encouraged by the prospect of Israel and the United Arab Emirates normalizing relations, and by President Trump’s decision to “snap back” sanctions on Iran’s hostile rulers. Also on his mind: why Palestinian leaders would be smart to resume negotiations with Israeli leaders (and why they almost certainly won’t), and the threat posed by Hezbollah, the most powerful political and military force in Lebanon, a state suffering multiple crises. Ambassador Dermer discusses these and other issues with Foreign Podicy host Cliff May.
August 14th, 2020
Garry Kasparov is a former world chess champion, a former Russian dissident and democracy leader, and a current human rights activist. He’s founded a new organization, the Renew Democracy Initiative, committed to defending democratic values and freedoms in the U.S. and around the world. He joins host Cliff May for a wide-ranging discussion.
August 6th, 2020
Lebanon is a small country that has long been facing enormous perils. This week, its capital, Beirut, exploded – literally. An enormous, devastating and mysterious blast in the port killed a still-unknown number of people, but reportedly over a hundred, injured thousands more, and caused billions of dollars in property damage.
Lebanon’s strongest political and military faction is Hezbollah, a designated terrorist organization loyal to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The possibility of Hezbollah dragging Lebanon into another war with Israel remains real -- particularly as Hezbollah installs increasingly sophisticated missiles, tens of thousands of them, in Lebanese homes, hospitals, schools and mosques. The missiles are, of course, pointed at Israel.
All this falls within the context of Lebanon’s worsening economic crisis. James Rickards, a well-known writer on economics and geopolitics who serves on the Board of Advisors for FDD’s Center on Economic and Financial Power, has just released a new FDD report on this dire situation, written before the horrific explosion in Beirut.
He — along with Tony Badran, a research fellow at FDD, who was born and raised in Lebanon and has for years studied and written about the Levant — joins FDD Foreign Podicy host Cliff May to discuss the new report, and the very real possibility of Lebanon’s imminent collapse.
June 30th, 2020
In 1972, Nixon went to China, where he met with Communist leader Mao Zedong.
Thanks to that bold diplomatic initiative, the United States and the People’s Republic learned to peacefully co-exist, living happily ever after.
Well, not exactly.
What Nixon called “the week that changed the world” helped China become wealthier and more powerful, but Beijing did not become America’s strategic partner — or a reliable stakeholder — in what we like to think of as the liberal, international, rules-based order.
To discuss what China’s rulers have been doing, are doing, and intend to do, host Cliff May is joined by two scholars new to FDD.
Nathan Picarsic, a senior fellow at FDD, studies Beijing’s military-civil fusion strategy, and its competitive approach to geopolitics.
Emily de La Bruyère, also a senior fellow, has pioneered novel data collection and analysis tools tailored to Beijing’s strategic and institutional structures. She uses primary-source, Chinese-language materials to provide insight on geopolitical, technological, and economic change.
June 3rd, 2020
Israelis are now pondering a hugely consequential decision: Should they change the status of some of the territories under their control, drawing borders that have for more than 70 years remained indeterminate?
The Trump administration appears to have given a green light to such alterations – so long as they’re in line with its peace plan, sometimes called – with either bravado or derision — “The Deal of the Century.”
Joining Foreign Podicy host Cliff May to discuss the multiple factors and variables involved in the Israeli decision are Jonathan Schanzer, FDD’s senior vice president for research who has written extensively on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and other Middle East issues, and John Hannah, senior counselor at FDD, who has worked as a top advisor in both Republican and Democratic administrations.
June 1st, 2020
In recent weeks, the pandemic – the global spread of a deadly virus that originated in China – has dominated the news media, and therefore most of the public’s attention.
Among the important stories that have been marginalized: the on-going conflict in Afghanistan, as well as America’s diplomatic attempts to end that conflict, or at least reduce America’s participation in it.
Discussing these and related issues with host Cliff May are Tom Joscelyn, FDD senior fellow, senior editor of FDD’s Long War Journal, and a regular contributor to The Dispatch; and Bradley Bowman, senior director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power. Brad served more than 15 years as an active duty U.S. Army officer, including time as a company commander, Blackhawk pilot, congressional affairs officer in the Pentagon, and staff officer in Afghanistan.
April 27th, 2020
Richard Goldberg just finished a year on the National Security Council (NSC) where he served as the Director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Now back at FDD as a senior advisor, he’s going to explain to host Cliff May and Foreign Podicy listeners how the NSC operates; its relationship with other government departments; how it makes policies and attempts to have those policies implemented; what it’s doing and what it’s managed to get done during President Trump’s first three years in office.
April 20th, 2020
David Kilcullen is an Australian-American soldier and scholar who served as a top advisor to the U.S. military in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
He also has worked in Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia.
And he’s an advisor to FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power (CMPP).
His new book, The Dragons and the Snakes: How the Rest Learned to Fight the West, looks at the military threats facing America and its allies, including what the dragons — Moscow and Beijing — and the snakes — Tehran, Pyongyang, and non-state jihadi groups – are learning from each other. He suggests the options that need to be considered if free nations are “to evolve and survive the long twilight struggle ahead.”
He discusses these and related national security issues with host Cliff May on episode 54.
April 6th, 2020
To address an increasingly complex and challenging international security environment, the U.S. Army is undertaking a massive restructuring—the likes of which has not been seen for decades.
Objectives range from fielding new and innovative weapons to stay ahead of potential adversaries, to developing new operational concepts and warfighting doctrines.
And the stakes could not be higher. The quality of these efforts will determine nothing less than the outcome of future conflicts and the security of the United States and its allies.
General Joseph Martin is the 37th Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army and is currently the Army’s second highest ranking active duty officer. He has proudly served the United States in uniform for 34 years, deploying to Iraq on numerous occasions and commanding at all levels.
On this special edition of Foreign Podicy, General Martin joins Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power, to discuss Army readiness, modernization, the defense budget, and more.
Since this discussion several weeks ago, the focus has shifted to tackling the coronavirus crisis. But solving these issues facing the U.S. Army remains paramount to U.S. national security.
March 23rd, 2020
In the past — at least in the past as we like to remember it — wars began with declarations and ended with surrenders or negotiated “peace agreements.”
In the real world — most emphatically in the real world of the 21st century — there are wars, and there are wars between wars.
Jacob Nagel, a senior fellow at FDD, served as head of Israel’s National Security Council. Before that, he served in the Israel Defense Forces, rising to the rank of brigadier general.
Bradley Bowman is senior director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power (CMPP). He has served as a national security advisor to members of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees. He was also a U.S. Army officer, “Blackhawk” pilot, and assistant professor at West Point, from which he also graduated.
They join host Clifford D. May to discuss issues of war and peace — and the grey zone in between.
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March 9th, 2020
The deal President Obama cut with Iran's rulers provided them with billions of dollars and a "patient pathway" to the acquisition of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to targets anywhere on the planet.
President Trump withdrew from that deal and, in its place, initiated a "maximum pressure" campaign of economic sanctions intended to change the regime's behavior — if not change the regime itself.
Richard Goldberg, who recently served as a director on the National Security Council (NSC) and is now back at FDD as a senior advisor, joins host Cliff May to discuss what the Trump administration's policies and strategies on Iran have — and have not — achieved so far.
February 24th, 2020
For more than 40 years, George Will has been producing erudite political commentary on a wide range of issues. Currently a regular contributor to The Washington Post and various television news outlets, Mr. Will was once labeled by The Wall Street Journal as "perhaps the most powerful journalist in America."
Many find his arguments persuasive. When they don’t, they likely have to wrack their brains to figure out why not, and what arguments could possibly stand up to his.
He’s recently published “The Conservative Sensibility” — no subtitle — a 538-page reflection on Western political philosophy and tradition, and the specifically American vision of the Founders. He joins Cliff to discuss his book, his career, and the current state of American foreign policy.
February 10th, 2020
The Chinese Communist Party represents a multi-faceted and increasingly formidable threat to the United States and its democratic allies. In this intense competition with Beijing, the U.S. must ensure its war fighters have the most capable and technologically advanced weapons in the world.
If America’s technological superiority is allowed to deteriorate, Beijing may be tempted to undertake aggression that the U.S. could struggle to defeat — aggression that could have been avoided.
To prevent this from happening, the House Armed Services Committee has established a Future of Defense Task Force focused on the U.S. defense innovation base.
On this special edition episode of Foreign Podicy, Bradley Bowman — Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power (CMPP)— is joined by the task force’s co-chair — Congressman Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts — to discuss the goals of the task force, the health of the U.S. defense innovation base, and the growing threat from China.