Episodes


Current Episode

12. “Liberal Values, Material Interests, and the Inconsistencies of U.S. Democracy Promotion”

In this episode, we explore the tension between liberal values and material interests in U.S. foreign policy, as well as examine the inconsistencies of Western-led democracy promotion.

Does the United States truly prioritize democracy promotion in its foreign policy? How does the United States’ definition of democracy influence its democracy promotion efforts abroad? Does the West’s failure to intervene in the current protests in Belarus represent a departure from Wilsonian ideals? Listen to this episode to find out!

Guests:

Arman Grigoryan is an Associate Professor in the Department of International Relations at Lehigh University.

Sarah Sewall is a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center and Executive Vice President for Policy at In-Q-Tel. She previously served as the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights from 2014 to 2017.

International Security Article:

This podcast is based on Arman Grigoryan, “Selective Wilsonianism: Material Interests and the West’s Support for Democracy,”International Security, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Spring 2020), pp. 150–200.

Related Readings:

Originally released on October 9, 2020. 

Click here to access a transcript (PDF) of Episode 12. 


Past Episodes

11. “Rethinking the Norms and Practices of U.S. Civil-Military Relations”

In this episode, we address the current state of civil-military relations in the United States, explore the paradoxes of having an “apolitical” military as envisioned by Samuel Huntington, and contemplate the future of civil-military relations.

Are civil-military relations really in crisis in the United States today? If existing norms are not working, what should the norms and practices of civil-military relations be? What role should retired military officers play in government and public life? How can both civilian and military leaders better prepare for their joint work? Listen to find out!

Guests:

Risa Brooks is the Allis Chalmers Associate Professor of Political Science at Marquette University and a non-resident Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Joseph L. Votel is a retired four-star general in the U.S. Army and previously served as Commander of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command. Votel is currently a non-resident Senior Fellow here at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center and he is also the President and CEO of Business Executives for National Security.

International Security Article:

This podcast is based on Risa Brooks, “Paradoxes of Professionalism: Rethinking Civil-Military Relations in the United States,” International Security, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Spring 2020), pp. 7–44.

Related Readings:

Originally released on August 20, 2020. 

Click here to access a transcript (PDF) of Episode 11. 


10. “Great Power Politics in the Middle East and Arab-
Israeli Conflict—Détente to 2020”

In this episode, we examine the history of great power politics in the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli conflict, with a focus on the period of détente between Washington and Moscow during the Cold War. We then assess major power relations in the region today and possible future trends. 

Why did great power détente fail in the Middle East, and what impact did this failure have on the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israeli-Palestinian peace process? Can lessons from the Cold War period of détente be applied to contemporary politics? What is the current state of great power politics in the region, and how is it likely to change going forward? Listen to find out!

Guests: 

Galen Jackson is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Williams College. 

Aaron David Miller is a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Between 1978 and 2003, Miller served at the State Department as an historian, analyst, negotiator, and advisor to Republican and Democratic secretaries of state, where he helped formulate U.S. policy on the Middle East and the Arab-Israel peace process.

International Security Article: 

This podcast is based on Galen Jackson, “Who Killed Détente? The Superpowers and the Cold War in the Middle East, 1969–77,” International Security, Vol. 44, No. 3 (Winter 2019/20), pp. 129–162. 

Additional Related Readings: 

Originally released on July 24, 2020. 

Click here to access a transcript (PDF) of Episode 10. 


09. “U.S. Electoral Constraints, Military Strategy, and the Iraq War”

In this episode, we examine the U.S. electoral calendar’s impact on military strategy during the Iraq War.

How did U.S. electoral considerations impact military decisions at the presidential level, such as the 2007 surge and the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq? In what ways did these considerations interact with local conditions on the ground and Iraqi domestic politics? Will the current U.S. electoral cycle influence foreign policy decision-making regarding Iraq and the Middle East more broadly? Listen to find out!

Guests:

Andrew Payne is the Hedley Bull Research Fellow in International Relations at the University of Oxford.

Emma Sky is the Director of the Yale World Fellows Program and a Senior Fellow at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. Sky served as the Governate Coordinator of Kirkuk for the Coalition Provisional Authority from 2003 to 2004, as well as an advisor to the Commanding General of U.S. forces in Iraq from 2007 to 2010.

International Security Article:

This podcast is based on Andrew Payne, “Presidents, Politics, and Military Strategy: Electoral Constraints during the Iraq War,”International Security, Vol. 44, No. 3 (Winter 2019/20), pp. 163–203.

Additional Related Readings:

Originally released on June 18, 2020

Click here to access a transcript (PDF) of episode 9.


08. “Chinese Views on Nuclear Escalation”

In this episode, we examine Chinese views on the likelihood of nuclear escalation in the event of a crisis or armed conflict with the United States.

How do Chinese and American views on nuclear use differ? Under what circumstances could nuclear escalation arise? How can both countries avoid inadvertent escalation? Listen to find out!

Guests:

Fiona Cunningham is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the George Washington University.

Admiral Cecil Haney (ret.) previously served as the Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, as well as Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Admiral Haney is currently on the Center for a New American Security Board of Directors.

International Security Article:

This podcast is based on Fiona S. Cunningham and M. Taylor Fravel, “Dangerous Confidence? Chinese Views on Nuclear Escalation,”International Security, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Fall 2019), pp. 61109.

Additional Related Readings:

Originally released on April 15, 2020

Click here to access a transcript (PDF) of episode 8.


07. “The Post-Conflict Politics of Migration and Refugee Return”

In this episode, we examine how refugee return can upset post-conflict stability and lead to renewed conflict at home. While our conversation touches upon numerous cases of conflict-induced migration, our analysis zeroes in on post-conflict Burundi.

How do post-conflict societies respond to refugee return? Under what conditions do tensions between those who stayed and those who left become violent? What can local and international actors do to mitigate the risks of renewed conflict once refugees come home? Listen to find out!

Guests:

Stephanie Schwartz is an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California.

Anne C. Richard served as the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration in the Obama administration (20122017). She is currently an Adjunct Professor at the Walsh School of Foreign Service’s Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University.

International Security Article:

This podcast is based on Stephanie Schwartz, “Home, Again: Refugee Return and Post-Conflict Violence in Burundi,”International Security, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Fall 2019), pp. 110145.

Additional Related Reading:

Originally released on April 8, 2020

Click here to access a transcript (PDF) of episode 7.


06. "Deterring Wartime Atrocities and the Yugoslav Tribunal"

In this episode, we examine how and when international criminal tribunals deter wartime atrocities. Our discussion analyzes the past, present, and future of international criminal tribunals, with specific reference to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and NATO intervention in the Balkans.

Was the international criminal tribunal able to deter wartime atrocities in the former Yugoslavia? How did NATO’s intervention change the calculus of all parties on the ground? What are the implications of the Yugoslav experience for the future of the International Criminal Court and other international criminal tribunals? Listen to find out!

Guests:

Jacqueline R. McAllister is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Kenyon College.

Wesley K. Clark is a retired four-star general in the U.S. Army and was the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO during the Kosovo War. He is currently a Senior Fellow at UCLA’s Burkle Center.

International Security Article:

This episode is based on Jacqueline R. McAllister, “Deterring Wartime Atrocities: Hard Lessons from the Yugoslav Tribunal,”International Security, Vol. 44, No. 3 (Winter 2019/20), pp. 84128.

Additional Related Readings:

Originally released on April 1, 2020

Click here to access a transcript (PDF) of episode 6.


05. “Domestic Politics, Nuclear Choices, and the Iran Deal”

In this episode, we examine when and how domestic politics can influence a state’s nuclear choices and, in particular, when a country’s leaders choose to expand nuclear decision-making to those outside of their inner circle. Our policy discussion focuses on the impact of Iranian and American domestic politics on the past, present, and future of the Iran nuclear deal.

Who are the main factions and decision makers driving the two countries’ respective policies? What is the current state of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)? Given looming elections in both countries, what does the future hold for the Iran deal? Listen to find out!

Guests:

Elizabeth Saunders is an Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and a faculty member in the Security Studies Program. She is also a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution.

Suzanne Maloney is the Interim Vice President and Director of the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, where she focuses on the politics of Iran and the Persian Gulf.

International Security Article:

This episode is based on Elizabeth N. Saunders, “The Domestic Politics of Nuclear Choices — A Review Essay,”International Security, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Fall 2019), pp. 146184.

Additional Related Readings:

Originally released on February 13, 2020

Click here to access a transcript (PDF) of episode 5.


04. “How to Enlarge NATO”

In this episode, we discuss the interesting history and legacy of the debate inside the Clinton Administration on how to enlarge NATO. Twenty-five years ago, supporters of a relatively swift conferral of full NATO membership to a narrow range of countries outmaneuvered proponents of a slower, phased conferral of limited membership to a wide range of states.

What was at stake in this debate and why did “swift conferral” win the day? What were the main drivers, and who were the key decisionmakers? How can the history of NATO enlargement help explain transatlantic politics, conflict in Ukraine, and U.S.-Russia relations today? Listen to find out!

Guests:

Mary Elise Sarotte is the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Distinguished Professor of Historical Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Douglas Lute is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center. Ambassador Lute is also the former U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO from 2013 to 2017, as well as a career Army officer who retired from active duty in 2010 as a lieutenant general after 35 years of service.

International Security Article:

This episode is based on M.E. Sarotte, “How to Enlarge NATO: The Debate inside the Clinton Administration, 1993-95,”International Security, Vol. 44, No. 1 (Summer 2019), pp. 7–41.

Additional Related Readings:

Originally released on January 15, 2020

Click here to access a transcript (PDF) of episode 4.


03. “Debating ‘The End of War’ – Will Liberal Hegemony Lead to Perpetual World Peace?”

International Security author, Michael Mousseau, presents a provocative argument: A powerful liberal global hierarchy is slowly, but systematically, moving the world toward perpetual peace. The conversation is joined by Graham Allison for a spirited debate about the liberal foundations of war and peace.

Is the “end of war” possible? What would such a world look like? What does this mean for increasing tension between the United States and a rising China? Listen to find out!

Guests:

Michael Mousseau is a professor in the School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs at the University of Central Florida.

Graham Allison is the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at Harvard University, and former Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School.

International Security Article:

This episode is based on Michael Mousseau, “The End of War: How a Robust Marketplace and Liberal Hegemony Are Leading to Perpetual World Peace,”International Security, Vol. 44, No. 1 (Summer 2019), pp. 160–196.

Additional Related Readings:

Originally released on December 20, 2019

Click here to access a transcript (PDF) of episode 3.

02. “Chinese Coercion in the South China Sea”

Chinese behavior in the South China Sea is carefully balanced between the need to establish resolve and the economic cost of coercion.

When does Beijing use military force in its maritime disputes? What other types of non-military coercion does China employ in the South China Sea? How has the United States responded to Chinese maritime policy, and how are American policies viewed by its partners in the region? Listen to find out!

Guests:

Ketian Zhang is an Assistant Professor of International Security in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.

Scott Swift is a retired admiral with nearly 40 years of experience in the U.S. Navy. Swift is a former commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet and was previously a Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Security.

Susan Thornton is a retired senior U.S. diplomat with almost 30 years of experience with the U.S. State Department in Eurasia and East Asia. Until July 2018, Thornton was Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State. She is currently a Senior Fellow and Research Scholar at Yale University’s Paul Tsai China Center and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution. 

International Security Article:

This episode is based on Ketian Zhang, “Cautious Bully: Reputation, Resolve, and Beijing’s Use of Coercion in the South China Sea,”International Security, Vol. 44, No. 1 (Summer 2019), pp. 117-159.

Additional Related Readings:

Originally released on November 14, 2019


01. “Weaponized Interdependence – Economic Networks, Sanctions, and State Coercion”

Contrary to traditional arguments that globalization and economic interdependence will lead to increasing international cooperation, this episode discusses how states can weaponize their position in global economic networks to engage in coercion.

How do sanctions work in a globalized world? When do private companies comply with state-imposed sanctions? Will American economic coercion against Russia, China, and Iran backfire? Listen to find out!

Guests:

Abraham Newman is a professor in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and Government Department at Georgetown University. He currently serves as the Director of the Mortara Center for International Studies.

Elizabeth Rosenberg is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Energy, Economics, and Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

International Security Article:

This episode is based on Henry Farrell and Abraham L. Newman, “Weaponized Interdependence: How Global Economic Networks Shape State Coercion,”International Security, Vol. 44, No. 1 (Summer 2019), pp. 42-79.

Additional Related Readings:

Originally released on October 30, 2019

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Hello and welcome to “IS: Off the Page”!

Off the Page is a podcast production of International Security, a quarterly journal edited and sponsored by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School, and published by the MIT Press.

Off the Page brings policymakers, academics, and practitioners into conversation about security issues of global importance. In each episode, we discuss recently-published research in International Security and go beyond each article’s findings to examine ongoing, real-world issues. As such, we’ll be going “off the page” and into the heart of contemporary policy debate.

Each episode is based on a recent International Security publication, featuring the author and 1‑2 guests from the broader policy community.

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A link to the corresponding article for each episode is included below each episode's description.

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