Foreign Podicy

A national security and foreign policy podcast from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

Israelis stay the course

April 29th, 2019

In the Middle East, elections are few, far between and rarely free and fair – except in Israel. After a tight, tough race, Benjamin Netanyahu has again been chosen by Israelis, positioning him to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. FDD senior vice president Jonathan Schanzer was on the ground during the final days of the campaign. He joins host Cliff May to discuss the outcome and what lies ahead for Israel and the Middle East. 

International Orders and Disorders

April 15th, 2019

Yoram Hazony is a political philosopher, president of the Herzl Institute in Jerusalem, and the author—most recently—of a book that’s been stirring controversy: “The Virtue of Nationalism.” He joins host Cliff May to discuss tribalism, nationalism, imperialism, freedom, sovereignty, and globalism.

Israel on the Brink, As Usual

April 1st, 2019

Israeli elections are approaching, President Trump’s envoys are working on a new plan aimed at resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran continue to threaten the Jewish state with annihilation.

To help make sense of these complex challenges, host Cliff May is joined by former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro and FDD Senior Vice President and expert on Palestinian politics Jonathan Schanzer. Prior toserving as U.S. envoy to Israel under President Obama from 2011 to 2017, Ambassador Shapiro worked on both the Hill and the National Security Council. He is currently a distinguished visiting fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

In the Line of Fire: Human Shields

March 18th, 2019

War is always going to be hell, but the laws of war are intended to make armed conflicts a little less hellish.

With that in mind, Congress recently passed—and the president signed—critical new legislation against the use of human shields: putting civilians in the line of fire to protect combatants. But more remains to be done.

To discuss this war crime, host Cliff May is joined by FDD CEO Mark Dubowitz and FDD Senior Fellow Professor Orde Kittrie, who have been working long and hard to counter what Ambassador Nikki Haley told Cliff is “the most cowardly act you can imagine.”


From the episode:
"Get Serious About Human Shields" by Mark Dubowitz and Orde Kittrie in The Wall Street Journal:

"Lawfare: Law as a Weapon of War" by Orde Kittrie (Oxford University Press, 2016:

Cliff's interview with Ambassador Nikki Haley at FDD's National Security Summit (video and transcript):

Mark and Orde speaking at FDD's panel on Capitol Hill "Legal Implications Surrounding the Use of Human Shields" (video):

More from Mark:

More from Orde:

More from Cliff:

Future Wars: a Conversation with H.R. McMaster

March 4th, 2019

H.R. McMaster served as a U.S. Army officer for thirty-four years—including deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan—before retiring as a Lieutenant General in June 2018. He then served as White House national security advisor. Now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, he also chairs the Board of Advisors at FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power.

He joins host Cliff May for a discussion about national security during a challenging and dangerous time—a time when the U.S. is threatened by a motley crew of rivals, adversaries and sworn enemies.

Ireland’s surprise attack on Israel

February 25th, 2019

Anti-Semitism is sometimes called the “the oldest hatred,” and one never knows where it will pop up next. That said, many people have been surprised—as well as disappointed—to see it crop up in Ireland in the form of legislation promoting economic warfare against Israel.

On this special edition of Foreign Podicy, host Clifford D. May reads his Washington Times column on this topic, and then discuss the causes, consequences and context of Ireland’s move with Melanie Phillips—a British journalist, broadcaster and author.

The Islamic State of Iran at 40

February 11th, 2019

Four decades ago, Iran was convulsed by one of the great revolutions of the 20th century. The leader of that revolution: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, would take the title: “supreme leader.” He was to be regarded, literally, as God’s “representative on Earth.” A charismatic, fire-and-brimstone cleric, he preached jihad against America and the West. When he died in 1989, his disciple, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, became the new supreme leader. He has called the Islamic Revolution the “turning point in modern world history.”

His regime now influences Iraq, has military forces propping up the Assad dictatorship in Syria—where more than half a million people have been killed and millions made homeless—controls Lebanon through Hezbollah, backs the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and penetrates Latin America.

Supreme Leader Khamenei also has a nuclear weapons program—perhaps delayed but certainly not ended by the deal President Obama agreed to—as well as a program to develop missiles capable of delivering such weapons to targets anywhere in the world.

To learn more about what lies ahead for the Islamic Republic, host Clifford D. May is joined by FDD Freedom Scholar Michael Ledeen—who has been studying the Islamic Republic since its inception —and FDD Research Fellow and Iran expert Behnam Ben Taleblu.

The Uses of Military Power

January 28th, 2019

The United States has the most powerful military in world history. But after 17 years fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, an American victory is nowhere in sight.

With that and many other threats and challenges in mind, FDD has opened a new Center on Military and Political Power.

CMPP will attempt to promote—on a bipartisan basis—better understanding of the defense strategies, policies and capabilities that can most effectively deter adversaries, and defeat those who cannot be deterred.

CMPP’s board of directors is a veritable ‘who’s who’ of leading national security thinkers—including former White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster (who serves as CMPP chairman) and former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta.

Bradley Bowman, CMPP’s senior director, served as an active-duty U.S. Army officer for more than 15 years, taught as an Assistant Professor at West Point, and most recently worked as a National Security Advisor to members of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees.

He joins host Clifford D. May today to discuss America’s military challenges and how CMPP plans to add value to the urgent debates underway—as well as the urgent debates that need to begin.

Special Edition: Crime Without Punishment

January 14th, 2019

On this special edition of Foreign Podicy, host Clifford D. May reads his latest column for The Washington Times co-authored by FDD senior vice president Toby Dershowitz about Alberto Nisman—the intrepid Argentine prosecutor who spent years revealing the truth behind the worst terrorist attack in his country’s history—and who paid for it with his life when he was found murdered four years ago today.

Toby, who knew Alberto well, talks about him, the evidence he produced, and the choice that Argentines now face: to act on that evidence, or to surrender to terrorists and murderers.

Tunnel Vision: America and Europe’s distorted view of the Middle East

December 31st, 2018

Iran has a plan.

February will be 40 years since Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile to Tehran to lead what he called an Islamic Revolution, and begin forming a government committed to jihad. By the end of 1979, he was supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

What he and his acolytes intend has been stated clearly and with consistency by Iran’s ruling ayatollahs. They intend to destroy their regional enemies, establish a great new empire and dominate the Middle East.

They also intend death to America—that may take longer, but they're not impatient, and they have friends and family to help. In particular, they have Hezbollah, Iran’s Arab, Shia terrorist proxy. Although based in Lebanon, Hezbollah is willing and able to fight beyond Lebanon's borders, for example in Syria and, if they can, on Israeli soil—by digging under Israeli soil.

President Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria can only be seen as a victory for the Islamic Republic, as well as for the Islamic State, which may now have an opportunity to revive and rebuild.

FDD president and Foreign Podicy host Clifford D. May is joined by Tony Badran—FDD research fellow and Hezbollah expert—and Jonathan SchanzerFDD senior vice president for research—to discuss the tunnel vision preventing so many Americans and Europeans from seeing clearly what's really happening in the Middle East.

In Afghanistan, the Substitute for Victory is Defeat

December 3rd, 2018

America’s conflict with the Taliban in Afghanistan, now well into its second decade, is not going well. The U.S. military has called it a “stalemate.” During his farewell speech in early September, General John W. Nicholson Jr., who first oversaw the military effort for President Trump, said: “It is time for this war in Afghanistan to end.” But most wars don’t end – they are won or they are lost.

Has America lost this fight against a jihadi group closely aligned with al Qaeda?

If so, what are the consequences?

To answer these and related questions, FDD president and Foreign Podicy host Clifford D. May is joined by Tom Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and senior editor of FDD’s Long War Journal, and Bill Roggio, also a senior fellow at FDD and editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.



Churchill and the Destiny of the West

November 5th, 2018
Andrew Roberts is one of the world's greatest living historians and biographers. He has written or edited 19 books, which have been translated into 22 languages. His latest, Churchill: Walking With Destiny, is a thousand-page biography.
Professor Roberts is the first biographer granted permission by Queen Elizabeth II to unfettered access to the diaries of her father, King George VI, revealing his personal encounters with Churchill during some of Britain's darkest hours. He joins Clifford D. May,  Foreign Podicy host and FDD president, to discuss the life of the most consequential statesman of the 20th century and his impact on the world of today.

Preserving the Liberal World Order

October 22nd, 2018

Since the end of World War II, we have seen the emergence of a “liberal world order.” By any historical standard, it’s brought us extraordinary peace, prosperity and progress. Though imperfect, it’s preferable to any other option currently available. But unless the U.S. defends it and invests in it, it will die—sooner rather than later. That, in a nutshell, is the argument Robert Kagan makes in his powerful new book: The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World. He joins FDD president and Foreign Podicy host Clifford D. May for a discussion of what human progress in the 21st century requires. 

President Carter’s Foreign Policy—Does a New Book Shed New Light?

October 8th, 2018

Stuart Eizenstat has had a long and extraordinary career. Among the influential positions he’s held: President Jimmy Carter’s chief White House Domestic Policy Advisor, President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to the European Union, and an undersecretary in the departments of Commerce and State. He’s today a leading international lawyer with Covington and Burling in Washington, D.C.

He’s now written “President Carter: The White House Years” – a memoir/history/biography focusing on just four years (1977 to 1981), but eventful years those were.

He joins Kenneth Stein, Professor of Contemporary Middle Eastern History and Founding Director of the Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel; Jonathan Schanzer, FDD’s Senior Vice President for Research; and FDD president and Foreign Podicy Host Clifford D. May to discuss the Carter years and the Carter legacy in foreign policy and national security.IFrame

Episode resources:
President Carter: The White House Years — Stuart Eizenstat; St. Martin's Press
The life, times and foreign policies of Jimmy Carter — Clifford D. May; The Washington Times

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), host of FDD's Foreign Podicy, and the foreign desk columnist for the Washington Times. Follow him on twitter @CliffordDMay. Jonathan Schanzer is senior vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on twitter @JSchanzer.

FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD, and follow Foreign Podicy @Foreign_Podicy.

Islamism and Jihadism: The view of one Muslim — and former CIA analyst

September 24th, 2018

Yaya Fanusie is the director of analysis at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF). He spent seven years as both an economic and counterterrorism analyst in the CIA, where he regularly briefed White House policy makers, U.S. military personnel, and federal law enforcement. In 2009, he spent three months in Afghanistan providing analytic support to senior military officials.

He joins FDD president and Foreign Podicy host Clifford D. May for a discussion of the Long War, terrorism, ideology, religion and other issues.

IFrameEpisode resources:
What it’s like to be a Muslim in the CIA — Yaya J. Fanusie; Vox
How to Neutralize the Violent Jihadist Pull — Yaya J. Fanusie; Muslim Matters
Anwar Al-Awlaki’s American Journey — Clifford D. May; Scripps Howard News Service

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), host of FDD's Foreign Podicy, and the foreign desk columnist for the Washington Times. Follow him on twitter @CliffordDMayYaya J. Fanusie is the director of analysis at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF). Follow him on Twitter @signcurve and follow CSIF @FDD_CSIF.

FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD, and follow Foreign Podicy @Foreign_Podicy.

Extremism and Fragile States

September 11th, 2018

If the attacks of September 11, 2001 were a second Pearl Harbor, where are we in the war that began on that day? Are we winning, losing or stalemated? Last year there were more than 10,000 terrorist attacks worldwide—about five times the number in 2001. So what have we learned—or, more importantly—what do we still need to learn? Are there policies and strategies that ought to be put in place?

Today, on the 17th anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in America's history, U.S. Institute for Peace has released a new report on “protecting America from extremism in fragile states.” To discuss its analysis and recommendations, FDD president and Foreign Podicy host Clifford D. May is joined by Stephen Hadley, former National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush, and now the chair of the U.S. Institute for Peace—a congressionally founded and funded policy institute; Nancy Lindborg, president of the U.S.I.P.; and Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at FDD and a former Middle East specialist in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), host of FDD's Foreign Podicy, and the foreign desk columnist for the Washington Times. Follow him on twitter @CliffordDMay.

FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD, and follow Foreign Podicy @Foreign_Podicy.

A Conversation with Ambassador Nikki Haley

August 28th, 2018
Jeane J. Kirkpatrick was one of the visionaries who helped create the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies soon after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Six years ago, FDD inaugurated an award in honor of the first woman to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations — a statesman who vehemently opposed totalitarianism and resolutely defended American values.
This year, FDD’s Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Statesmanship Award was presented to Ambassador Nikki R. Haley who has brought a precise moral compass and a distinctly American voice to the United Nations. She sat down with FDD president and Foreign Podicy host Clifford D. May to discuss human rights, U.N. reform and other consequential national security issues we face today.
Woman of the world — Clifford D. May; The Washington Times
FDD’s National Security Summit featuring Ambassador Nikki Haley 
Video available here; transcript available here)

The Wars of the Jews

August 20th, 2018

Israel is a tiny country: its land area about a fourth the size of the United Arab Emirates, its population less than that of Tehran—capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Yet Israel is the subject of constant comment and controversy, and is frequently attacked—both kinetically and rhetorically—by its enemies, its adversaries, and too often even by those who should be its allies.
To help make sense of Israel's most recent conflicts and controversies —including over sovereignty of the Golan Heights, the Nation-State law, and the anti-Israeli sentiments expressed by many of the UN's agencies—FDD president and Foreign Podicy host Clifford D. May is joined by Eugene Kontorovich, Director of the Kohelet Policy Forum, an Israeli think tank, and Professor at George Mason University’s Scalia School of Law, whose areas of expertise include constitutional law, federal courts, international law, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

International Law and the Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty in the Golan Heights — Eugene Kontorovich; Written testimony for House Oversight Committee's Subcommittee on National Security (
Get Over It—Israel Is the Jewish State — Eugene Kontorovich; The Wall Street Journal (
Stop funding UN agencies that welcome the PLO — Eugene Kontorovich; New York Post (

The Iranian-Israeli Conflict Within the Syrian Civil War

August 6th, 2018

For seven long years, Syria has been engulfed in civil war. The death toll now exceeds a half million. More than five million refugees have fled abroad, and millions more are internally displaced.

The dynastic dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad almost certainly would have fallen had it not been for the intervention of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, various Iranian-controlled Shia militias, and the Russian military.

Lately, Tehran also has been building a military machine in Syria aimed at Israel. And Israel is responding.

To examine how these conflicts are likely to evolve, FDD president and Foreign Podicy host Clifford D. May is joined by FDD Research Fellow and Levant expert Tony Badran, Security Studies Group Senior Fellow Matt Brodsky, and FDD Senior Vice President for Research Jonathan Schanzer.

Religion and Secularism in Central Asia

July 23rd, 2018

Kazakhstan is one of the ten largest countries in the world, yet most Americans couldn’t find it on a map. Today, the former Soviet Republic is an anti-Islamist, Muslim-majority nation, yet most Americans have no idea we have friends there. To learn more about this distant and intriguing corner of the world, host Clifford D. May is joined by Svante Cornell, Director of the Central Asian Caucasus Institute at the American Foreign Policy Council.

Syria’s World War

July 9th, 2018

Syria has been at war for seven long years. More than a half million people have been killed. More than 11 million – close to half Syria’s pre-war population – have been displaced either internally or as refugees in other countries. 

But Syrians are not the only ones involved in this fight.  The Islamic Republic of Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah – the Iranian regime’s foreign legion – and Russia have helped keep dictator Bashar al-Assad in power. Israel, Turkey and the U.S. also have been playing significant roles.

To discuss the conflict in Syria, where it is heading, what U.S. policy is and where it should be, host Clifford D. May is joined by FDD’s senior counselor John Hannah and director of research David Adesnik.

Turkey’s Election, Erdogan’s Counterrevolution

June 25th, 2018

Not so long ago, Turkey appeared to be the model: a Muslim-majority nation that was becoming free, democratic and prosperous; a NATO ally; a friend of America and Europe.

Today, all of that is very much in doubt. To discuss Turkey’s trajectory in the aftermath of elections that have strengthened the hand of the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, FDD president and Foreign Podicy host Clifford D. May is joined by former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman, FDD senior fellow Aykan Erdemir and FDD research analyst Merve Tahiroglu.

Episode resources:
Erdogan's Re-election Win Gives Him Vastly Expanded Powers in Turkey 
– Carlotta Gall; The New York Times

Turkish Elections: A Win That Cannot Be Stolen 
– Aykan Erdemir; FDD Policy Brief

Erdogan’s Hostage Diplomacy: Why We Need a Transatlantic Response 
– Aykan Erdemir and Eric S. Edelman; The Globalist

Erdogan’s Hostage Diplomacy: Western Nationals in Turkish Prisons 
– Aykan Erdemir and Eric S. Edelman; FDD Research

Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran’s March Across the Middle East

June 11th, 2018

Lebanon and Iraq both recently held elections, which is good news – or is it? Hezbollah, Iran's terrorist foreign legion, is now more firmly in control of Lebanon than ever before. Meanwhile, Iraq still faces many perils, not least from the Islamic Republic of Iran as it pursues its imperialist ambitions in the region.

In episode 14 of Foreign Podicy, host Clifford D. May discusses these developments with Tony Badran, an FDD research fellow born and raised in Lebanon who focuses on the Levant, and Zalmay Khalilzad, born and raised in Afghanistan who served as U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the UN.

Episode resources:

Nothing but Net: Cyber-Enabled Economic Warfare

May 28th, 2018

A peril that may not be on your radar screen: Cyber-Enabled Economic Warfare (CEEW). Computers and the Internet have made our lives easier but they’ve also left us vulnerable to an arsenal of cyber weapons that threaten us as much as terrorists, guns and bombs.

Foreign Podicy host Clifford D. May is joined by Dr. Samantha Ravich, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies as well as a principal investigator for FDD’s Cyber-Enabled Economic Warfare project, to discuss CEEW, and what must be done to combat it.

Episode resources:

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Of Strikes and Strategy: U.S. Policy in Syria

May 21st, 2018

War will always be hell – but the laws of war were meant to make wars at least a little less hellish. In Syria, however, the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad – backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran and by Russia – has many times used prohibited chemical weapons to murder innocent men, women, and children. President Trump has now twice responded with punitive attacks. What has he achieved and what still needs to be done to protect American interests?

Foreign Podicy host Clifford D. May is joined by John Hannah, senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who has served on the national security teams of both democratic and republican administrations, to discuss the ongoing crises and potential ways forward in Syria and the broader region.

Episode Resources:

In the Shadow of the Pyramids: Egypt’s Past Glories and Future Perils

April 23rd, 2018

It’s been eight years since what was called—with more hope than accuracy—the “Arab Spring.” Last month, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi won reelection, surprising no-one since he had no serious competitors. Mr. Sisi may not be a democrat but he does appear to be a reformer, and he’s battling jihadis on Egyptian soil. Should the United States support him, challenge him – or both?

Foreign Podicy host Cliff May discusses these and other issues with Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Samuel Tadros, an expert on Egypt’s history, politics and religions.

Show resources: 

The Future of the Iran Deal

March 26th, 2018

There are three views on the Iran nuclear weapons deal, more formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The first is to insist that it’s the best deal that could have been cut, and that it prevents the Islamic Republic of Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons—at least anytime soon. So, stick with it. A second view holds that the deal is flawed, but it can be fixed and it’s up to America’s European allies to get that job done without delay. The third view claims that the flaws in the deal are fatal, and the deal needs to be terminated.

On this week’s episode of Foreign Podicy we ask, “What’s ahead?” Host Cliff May is joined by FDD Chief Executive Mark Dubowitz, an expert on Iran, sanctions, and the exact details of the 159-page JCPOA, to unravel what the future and fate of the Iran nuclear deal could be.

Show resources: 

Africa’s Jihadist Frontiers

March 12th, 2018

Jihadists in Africa are not just spreading. They’re also learning and innovating.  Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have spawned such groups as Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab south of the Sahara, in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and beyond. A new FDD study shows that the number of jihadist attacks against Western interests in Africa has nearly tripled since the so-called 2011 Arab Spring. Yet, we hear little about these groups and their acts of terrorism in the mainstream media.

Foreign Podicy host, Cliff May, is joined by FDD Senior Fellow Daveed Gartenstein-Ross to discuss these evolving threats and what can be done now to stop – or at least slow – them.

Show resources:

UNRWA’s Palestinian Refugees

February 26th, 2018

The offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is responsible for all the world’s refugees with one exception: Palestinian refugees. They are served by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which designates not only those who fled from the land that became Israel but also their descendants. As a result, the number of Palestinian refugees has risen from hundreds of thousands to millions.

Foreign Podicy host, Cliff May, is joined by FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer and Richard Goldberg to discuss their research on the UN agency, and their recommendations for reforms that could be beneficial to Israelis, Palestinians and American taxpayers.

Show resources:

Russia’s Disinformation Offensive

February 12th, 2018

Using social media, tech platforms and cyber weapons, the Russian government is running a sophisticated campaign to undermine faith in America’s democratic institutions, assist extremists on both the left and right, polarize Americans, and poison policy debates.

Foreign Podicy host, Cliff May, is joined by Jamie Fly and Laura Rosenberger of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., to discuss their research on Russia's campaign to strategically deceive public opinion, and their urgent recommendation that a bipartisan effort be mounted to combat Putin’s disinformation offensive.

Show resources: 

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