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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Putin and the People

Thursday Apr 06, 2023

Thursday Apr 06, 2023

Even for an autocrat like Russian President Vladimir Putin, waging war depends on the acceptance—if not the support—of his people. Despite the disastrous start to his invasion of Ukraine, and with Moscow facing battlefield losses and mounting casualties, Russian approval of the war remains remarkably high.
Maria Lipman, a Russian journalist and political scientist who fled her country when the war began, explains why Russian support for the war remains so strong—and what Putin is doing to keep it that way. He “has used the war to clamp down on Russian society, to pull elites even closer to him, and to shore up his domestic position,” Lipman writes in a January essay with Michael Kimmage.  
We discuss the strength of Putin’s regime, how the war in Ukraine has shaped Putin’s relationship with the Russian people, and what outcomes of the war the Russian public would possibly accept.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at

Thursday Mar 23, 2023

The 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq has prompted a wave of reflection on the war: how and why it began, where it went wrong, and how it continues to haunt the Middle East and burden American leadership.
In a recent essay in Foreign Affairs, “What the Neocons Got Wrong,” Max Boot does some of this painful reflection. In 2003, Boot was a prominent neoconservative voice making the case for war. Today, Boot is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of several books, including The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam and The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right. 
In a conversation with Foreign Affairs Executive Editor Justin Vogt, he looks back with regret at the flawed assumptions that shaped his thinking—and considers the troubling lessons for American foreign policy today.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at

Thursday Mar 09, 2023

American politics and foreign policy have become consumed with the challenge from China, and the face of that challenge is Xi Jinping. But many depictions of Xi are stark black and white, portraying Xi as either an all-powerful mastermind carrying out a long-term plot for Chinese domination—or as a leader guilty of self-defeating overreach that has sent China into decline.
For Christopher Johnson, who worked for two decades as a China analyst at the CIA, the truth is in the messy middle. Today, Johnson is president and CEO of China Strategies Group and a senior fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute’s Center for China Analysis. He argues that a better U.S.-China policy requires a more nuanced understanding of Xi and his power.
We discuss what the spy balloon incident revealed about the U.S.-Chinese relationship, how Xi has fared since suddenly lifting China’s strict COVID-19 lockdown measures in the fall, and why Washington seems gripped by “Taiwan invasion hysteria.”
You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at

Bonus: Ukraine, One Year Later

Thursday Mar 02, 2023

Thursday Mar 02, 2023

When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his war in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, he thought his military would quickly take Kyiv and bring down the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That the war has lasted this long is evidence of how wrong Putin was and how much the world underestimated the strength of Ukrainian resistance.
Although Ukraine has heroically defended itself, the conflict has taken an enormous toll. Ukrainian towns have been destroyed, thousands of civilians have died, and the trauma of war crimes haunts survivors. The consequences of Putin’s decision to invade have stretched far beyond Ukraine’s borders, too. The war has disrupted global food and energy markets. It has strengthened some alliances while straining others. A year later, the world is still debating what is at stake in Ukraine—and what it will take to bring this war to an end.  
Foreign Affairs Editor Daniel Kurtz-Phelan spoke with Liana Fix, Michael Kimmage, and Dara Massicot on February 24, 2023, for a special event marking the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at

Thursday Feb 23, 2023

There may be no better example of how domestic dysfunction can hobble global power than the United Kingdom in recent years. Constant political and economic turmoil has reinforced the sense that this once great power is in terminal decline. Brexit, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU in 2016, put the United Kingdom as a whole at odds with Scotland and Northern Ireland, where large majorities voted to stay in Europe. Although Brexit is clearly to blame for many of the United Kingdom’s recent problems, the forces undermining the country’s stability started taking shape long ago.
In a new piece for Foreign Affairs, Irish writer Fintan O’Toole argues that English nationalism, which “was previously buried under British and imperial identities,” is one of the driving forces pulling the United Kingdom apart. Today, the country is “unsure about not just its place in the international order but also whether it can continue to be regarded as a single place.”
We discuss how Brexit continues to haunt British politics, the future of the Scottish independence movement, and how national identity is formed and expressed.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at

Thursday Feb 09, 2023

Last week, a Chinese surveillance balloon floating over the United States set off a political firestorm in Washington. It also offered a glimpse into the secret world of intelligence gathering, where countries are racing to harness new technologies that will help them gain a competitive edge. But these same new technologies are making spycraft, especially the collection of human intelligence, far more challenging. 
To adapt to these changes, Amy Zegart, a Stanford professor and the author of the book "Spies, Lies, and Algorithms," believes the U.S. government should overhaul the way the intelligence community is organized. In a new essay for Foreign Affairs, she argues that a new intelligence agency dedicated to open-source intelligence is needed if the United States is going to keep up. If not, she writes, “a culture of secrecy will continue to strangle the adoption of cutting-edge technical tools from the commercial sector.” 
We discuss how human intelligence collection is becoming more dangerous, what the war in Ukraine has revealed about the intelligence world, and the risks and opportunities of open-source intelligence.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at

A World Between Orders

Thursday Jan 26, 2023

Thursday Jan 26, 2023

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.
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.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at

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

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

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

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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