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

7 days ago

To hear Western leaders tell it, the outcome of Russia’s war in Ukraine will determine whether the international rules-based order survives. If Russian President Vladimir Putin wins in Ukraine, the laws and norms that are supposed to protect sovereignty will be exposed as useless. But what if that order is already broken, and there is no going back? The international system’s response to recent transnational challenges—whether it’s climate change, conflict, the pandemic, or the global debt crisis—has been deeply inadequate, especially for the “global South.” Much of the world can see that the stakes are high in Ukraine, especially for European security—but does not share the view that the outcome will fundamentally change how the world is governed.
In recent essays for Foreign Affairs, Shivshankar Menon, who served as national security adviser to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from 2010 to 2014, explores the failures of the current world order and examines what could replace it. He has also served as India’s foreign secretary and as the country’s ambassador to Israel, Sri Lanka, China, and Pakistan. He is the author of India and Asian Geopolitics: The Past, Present.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of “The Foreign Affairs Interview” at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.
We discuss what’s at stake in Ukraine, India’s place in a changing world, and what order could emerge from today’s great-power competition.

Thursday Jan 12, 2023

Russia’s mythmaking—about its place in the world and the role Ukraine plays in its history—has made the world a more dangerous place. Russian President Vladimir Putin is the chief storyteller—and his version of events has even warped American thinking about Ukraine. Why didn’t the West react more forcefully in 2014, when Russia first violently took Ukrainian territory? Why is Ukraine’s post-Soviet history so different from Russia’s? And what can Ukrainians teach Americans about democracy? 
Timothy Snyder is an expert on Ukrainian history and began warning about the dangers Russia poses long before Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine last February. He is the Richard C. Levin Professor of History and Global Affairs at Yale University and the author of several books, including Bloodlands, On Tyranny, and The Road to Unfreedom. In September, Snyder traveled to Ukraine and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
We discuss what’s at stake in Ukraine, what a Ukrainian victory might look like, and why using the word “stalemate” to describe the war is misguided.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of “The Foreign Affairs Interview” at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.

What Comes After Globalization?

Thursday Dec 29, 2022

Thursday Dec 29, 2022

In recent years, many of the key assumptions and ideas that guided economic policy for decades have fallen apart. Globalization pushed jobs overseas—and when those jobs were not replaced, the dislocation people felt gave rise to new political movements in the United States and beyond. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and it laid bare how vulnerable global supply chains had become. While it is clear that the old system of neoliberal economic thinking is no longer working, it is far from certain what new ideas will replace the old paradigms.
Rana Foroohar is a business columnist and an associate editor at the Financial Times. She has covered trade and economic policy for years, and in an essay for Foreign Affairs—and a new book, titled Homecoming—she steps back to explain what went wrong and how the fallout is shaping global politics today.
We discuss the failure of neoliberal policies, the importance of manufacturing, and the recent crypto collapse.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of “The Foreign Affairs Interview” at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.

Thursday Dec 15, 2022

The question of what to do about North Korea and its nuclear weapons program has fallen off Washington’s radar. But while the West is preoccupied with the war in Ukraine, competition with China, instability in Iran, and a long list of other foreign policy challenges, Kim Jong Un continues to develop his country’s nuclear capabilities, with a possible seventh nuclear test in the works. What should the Biden administration be doing to prevent this crisis from spinning out of control? 
Sue Mi Terry, a former senior CIA analyst and an official on the National Security Council under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, says it is high time for the administration to get more engaged and better articulate its policy approach—especially as support for a domestic nuclear program intensifies in South Korea. 
We discuss North Korea’s recent weapons-testing spree, whether denuclearization is still a worthy U.S. foreign policy goal, and the stability of Kim’s regime.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of “The Foreign Affairs Interview” at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.

Thursday Dec 01, 2022

Russia has suffered major setbacks on the battlefield in Ukraine, its economy is battered by Western sanctions, and its diplomatic clout has suffered due to President Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion. It is fair to say that Russia is militarily, economically, and geopolitically weaker than it was a year ago—and policymakers in Washington and Europe may be tempted to downgrade the Russian threat as a result. 
But dismissing Russia would be a mistake, argue Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Michael Kofman in the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs. “Russian power and influence may be diminished, but that does not mean Russia will become dramatically less threatening,” they write. “Instead, some aspects of the threat are likely to worsen.” 
In this episode, Kendall-Taylor and Kofman speak with Deputy Editor Kate Brannen as part of Foreign Affairs’ event series. We discuss the state of Russian power, Ukraine’s recent battlefield wins, and how this war might end. 
You can find transcripts and more episodes of “The Foreign Affairs Interview” at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.

Will Iran’s Regime Survive?

Thursday Nov 17, 2022

Thursday Nov 17, 2022

Protests have rocked Iran for nine weeks, despite a violent crackdown by the country’s security services. The demonstrations erupted in mid-September after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, was detained by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly. She was reportedly beaten, fell into a coma, and died days later. The public responded to her death with grief and outrage, and over the last several weeks the protests have evolved into a much broader movement against the country’s leaders. As Iran’s regime grapples with these internal threats to its power, it is sending weapons to Russia to use in Ukraine and continuing to wield its influence around the Middle East.
Earlier this year, Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, argued in Foreign Affairs that Iran’s foreign exploits were coming at great cost at home. “Ultimately,” he wrote, “the Islamic Republic’s grand strategy will be defeated not by the United States or Israel but by the people of Iran, who have paid the highest price for it.”
We discuss whether Iran’s regime will survive this wave of protests, whether reform is possible, and the nature of Iran’s relationship with Russia and China.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of “The Foreign Affairs Interview” at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.

The Decision to Defect

Thursday Nov 17, 2022

Thursday Nov 17, 2022

Boris Bondarev worked as a Russian diplomat for 20 years. On the morning of February 24, when the Russian military started bombing Ukraine, he decided to step down from his post at Russia's permanent mission at the UN in Geneva. After getting his family to safety, he publicly resigned in May, making it clear he was leaving his job in protest of the war. 
In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, he writes about his reasons for publicly resigning—and what he learned after years of watching President Vladimir Putin’s regime up close. “The invasion of Ukraine made it impossible to deny just how brutal and repressive Russia had become,” he writes. 
In this episode, Foreign Affairs Deputy Editor Kate Brannen talks to Bondarev about the Russian military’s vulnerabilities, how his family reacted to his decision to leave, and what happens to Russia after Putin.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of “The Foreign Affairs Interview” at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.

Wednesday Oct 26, 2022

The past six months have marked an especially rocky chapter in the U.S.-Chinese relationship. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s zero-COVID policy has made it difficult to travel around the country and has largely kept foreigners away. In August, Beijing cut off key channels of communication with Washington in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. In the months since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine, China has not condemned Russia’s unprovoked assault, nor has it publicly moved away from its “no limits” partnership with the Kremlin. More recently, new trade restrictions from the Biden administration have dealt a serious blow to the Chinese semiconductor industry. All in all, it has been a tense and unusual time in this fragile but immensely important relationship. 
As the United States’ top diplomat to China, Ambassador Nick Burns has had to navigate the challenges of the last few months, strongly pushing back on China where the Biden administration disagrees with Beijing but also trying to find opportunities where communication, and even cooperation, is possible. He brings enormous experience to the job. Burns previously served at the State Department as undersecretary for political affairs, as ambassador to NATO and to Greece, and as State Department spokesperson. He has also worked on the National Security Council staff on Soviet and Russian affairs. 
We discuss the challenges facing China, how China views American power, and what it’s like to represent the United States in Beijing today.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of “The Foreign Affairs Interview” at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.

Thursday Oct 20, 2022

Over the past 100 years, there have been many declarations in the pages of Foreign Affairs that the world is in a historic transition period. These days, that claim feels especially plausible. The United States’ unipolar moment appears to be ending—but it’s unclear what will replace it. Will China continue to rise? Will the war in Ukraine undo Russia? Will the United States move past the political divisions that are tearing it apart?
As Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, sees it, this is shaping up to be a very dangerous decade. Haass has been a close observer of the forces affecting the world for some time. In addition to serving as the head of CFR for 20 years, Haass has had a long career as a U.S. diplomat, representing the United States and leading negotiations everywhere from Northern Ireland to Afghanistan. From January 2001 to June 2003, Haass was director of policy planning for the Department of State, where he was a principal adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell. He has also served on the National Security Council and in the Defense Department. 
We discuss how traditional geopolitical tensions are once again front and center at the same time that transnational threats, such as climate change and pandemics, demand international cooperation.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of “The Foreign Affairs Interview” at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.

Thursday Oct 06, 2022

As the global balance of power shifts, and in the wake of crises such as the United States’ messy withdrawal from Afghanistan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is an important time to consider the way U.S. foreign policy is made. What are the priorities shaping Washington’s agenda? Can the United States truly restore its leadership on the global stage? And how should the West respond as Russia escalates the war in Ukraine?
Emma Ashford is a keen observer of the foreign policy debate in Washington. A senior fellow at the Stimson Center, she consistently offers some of the most trenchant and thoughtful criticism of U.S. strategy and the forces shaping it. She has warned about the dangers of groupthink in Washington—and has made the case for accepting the limits of what U.S. power can achieve.
We discuss American foreign policy failures, the Biden administration’s handling of the war in Ukraine, and what great-power competition will look like in the years to come.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of “The Foreign Affairs Interview” at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.

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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