The Foreign Affairs Interview

Foreign Affairs invites you to join its editor, Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, as he talks to influential thinkers and policymakers about the forces shaping the world. Whether the topic is the war in Ukraine, the United States’ competition with China, or the future of globalization, Foreign Affairs’ biweekly podcast offers the kind of authoritative commentary and analysis that you can find in the magazine and on the website.

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Episodes

Thursday Aug 04, 2022

The world is facing a series of crises—energy and food shortages, climate change, war in Ukraine—as well as growing anxiety about potential conflict between the United States and China. American diplomacy is central to managing all of these problems. And yet the State Department is chronically underresourced and often sidelined in policy debates, elbowed out by the Defense Department, a behemoth by comparison. Why are American diplomats undervalued—and what is the cost to policymaking? What would it take to strengthen the State Department? And how is U.S. leadership on the world stage affected by problems at home, from threats to democracy and mass shootings to rollbacks in women’s rights and the ongoing struggle for racial justice?  U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield wrestles with these questions every day. Of any senior U.S. official, she spends the most time working with Russian and Chinese counterparts day to day at the UN. She understands what a powerful tool American diplomacy can be—and what it needs to be successful.  We discuss what it’s like to represent the United States at a time of domestic turmoil, how the UN has performed with regard to Ukraine, the prospects for progress in Africa, and why diplomacy is the key to a better relationship with China. You can find transcripts and more episodes of “The Foreign Affairs Interview” at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.

Thursday Jul 21, 2022

The war in Ukraine seems to be entering a transitional phase. Early on, Russia failed in its effort to take Kyiv—so Russian President Vladimir Putin scaled back his ambitions and shifted his military’s efforts to the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. As both sides battle it out there, exhaustion and the ability to replenish supplies, weapons, and manpower are becoming more and more critical. The Russians are trying to advance while the Ukrainians are gearing up for a possible counteroffensive. Will Putin declare victory if Russia is able to seize the entire Donbas? Can Ukraine retake occupied territory now that it has new offensive weapons systems from the United States and the United Kingdom? Will Western resolve and unity hold as the global energy crisis worsens?  Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February, Lawrence Freedman, professor emeritus of war studies at King’s College London, has closely tracked what’s happening on the battlefield. He’s not the only person carefully monitoring the day in, day out fighting, but Freedman happens to be one of the world’s greatest living military historians, making his analysis of the conflict indispensable. His upcoming book is called Command: The Politics of Military Operations from Korea to Ukraine. We discuss the reasons behind the Russian military’s setbacks, whether fears of escalation are misplaced, and what could happen next in the war. You can find transcripts and more episodes of “The Foreign Affairs Interview” at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.

Thursday Jul 07, 2022

The United States is still reeling from the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion. The move makes the United States an outlier among developed countries when it comes to abortion rights, but this rollback in women’s equality is part of a broader trend. Women’s political and economic empowerment is stalling or declining around the world—and the assault on women’s rights coincides with a global democratic recession. Why is women’s equality being rolled back at the same time authoritarianism is on the rise? What is the relationship between sexism and democratic backsliding? And why do authoritarians see fully free, politically active women as a threat?  Erica Chenoweth is one of the world’s foremost experts on the history of civil resistance, mass movements, and political repression. They are the Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at the Harvard Kennedy School and a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and they direct the Nonviolent Action Lab at Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Zoe Marks is a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and a faculty affiliate at the Harvard University Center for African Studies, where she focuses on political violence, gender equality, and social movements in Africa. Their essay “Revenge of the Patriarchs,” featured in the March/April 2022 issue of Foreign Affairs, previews their forthcoming book Rebel XX: Women on the Frontlines of Revolution. Their insights are crucial to understanding what’s happening to women’s rights at this moment in time, both in the United States and across the globe.  We discuss why autocrats fear women, why feminist movements are such a powerful tool against autocracy, and what the assault on reproductive rights in the United States signifies for American democracy.  You can find transcripts and more episodes of “The Foreign Affairs Interview” at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.

Thursday Jun 23, 2022

The global energy market is in a state of upheaval. The war in Ukraine and the resulting sanctions against Russian oil and gas have forced the West, especially Europe, to quickly find new energy sources to keep the lights on and the cars running this summer. In the United States, rising gas prices are pushing President Joe Biden to make a controversial trip to Saudi Arabia to encourage the oil-rich state to increase production. This scramble for quick-fix energy solutions comes as the world is trying to kick its addiction to fossil fuels and reduce the effects of climate change. How will these short-term needs affect the urgent but longer-term transition to clean energy? And could today’s energy market turbulence be a harbinger of challenges to come as the global energy system is remade?  Jason Bordoff is the co-founding dean of the Columbia Climate School and the founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. During the Obama administration, he served as senior director for energy and climate change on the National Security Council. Meghan O’Sullivan is a professor of international affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power. During the George W. Bush administration, she was deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan. Together, they bring years of experience—both inside and outside of government—to the debates around energy, climate, economics, and geopolitics.   We discuss how the war in Ukraine continues to affect the global energy market, Biden’s upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, how governments can meet their energy security needs without decelerating the green transition, and why changes in the global energy system will continue to disrupt geopolitics. You can find transcripts and more episodes of "The Foreign Affairs Interview" at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/foreign-affairs-interview.

Thursday Jun 09, 2022

In the fall of 2021, NATO was trying to find its way. The Biden administration was trying to reestablish U.S. commitment to the transatlantic alliance after President Donald Trump had left it on shaky ground. The chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan didn’t help. U.S. allies felt left in the dark, their concerns barely listened to. At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin was busy amassing troops on Ukraine’s border, causing neighboring countries—and NATO members—to begin to panic. It was against this backdrop that Ambassador Julianne Smith started her new job as the top U.S. diplomat to NATO in November 2021. She worked quickly to rebuild morale and to engage with her European counterparts to plan for a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. She brought years of experience in Washington to the position: during the Obama administration, she served as the acting national security adviser and the deputy national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. Before her post at the White House, she served for three years as the principal director for European and NATO policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon. We discuss how the U.S. government worked to build unity among its European allies in the face of Russian aggression, what it’s been like to be in NATO headquarters in Brussels during this pivotal moment in transatlantic history, and how the war in Ukraine is giving NATO a renewed sense of purpose. You can find transcripts and more episodes of "The Foreign Affairs Interview" at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/foreign-affairs-interview.

Thursday May 26, 2022

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the world has contended with the stakes of the conflict, and what the war means for Russia’s relationship with the West—and beyond. Should Russia still be considered a great power? What in Russia’s past explains the mistakes it’s making today? Will unity in the West outlast the war? What is Russian President Vladimir Putin's ultimate goal in Ukraine, and is it changing?  Featuring Stephen Kotkin (Professor of History and International Affairs at Princeton University and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution). You can find transcripts and more episodes of "The Foreign Affairs Interview" at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/foreign-affairs-interview.

Thursday May 12, 2022

Foreign Affairs invites you to join its editor, Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, as he talks to influential thinkers and policymakers about the forces shaping the world. Whether the topic is the war in Ukraine, the United States’ competition with China, or the future of globalization, Foreign Affairs' biweekly podcast offers the kind of authoritative commentary and analysis that you can find in the magazine and on the website.

Foreign Affairs

Since its founding in 1922, Foreign Affairs has been the leading forum for serious discussion of American foreign policy and global affairs. It is now a multiplatform media organization with a print magazine, a website, a mobile site, various apps and social media feeds, an event business, and more.  Foreign Affairs is published by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a non-profit and nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to improving the understanding of U.S. foreign policy and international affairs through the free exchange of ideas.

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