This is Bombshell, a bi-weekly podcast coming to you from Washington insiders to dissect today’s foreign policy crises and tomorrow’s security challenges. We’ll talk military strategy, White House mayhem, and the best cocktails known to (wo)man. Brought to you by War on the Rocks.
Then One Foggy Christmas Eve
53:45In the tradition of British dramas, Erin, Loren, and Radha reunite for a special holiday episode. The ladies flip the script, answering a range of questions from the first ever Manniversary guest Kai Ryssdal. They then return to some of their greatest hits including transition process, civ-mil issues, and personnel policy replete with process details and holiday movie analogies. Stay through the end to hear pop culture recommendations and special appearances from many former guests with answers to their favorite Bombshell questions.
One for the Road
59:09For their 100th episode, Erin, Loren and Radha discuss new issues, like the escalating conflict at the Ethiopia-Eritrea border, old issues, like HVT targeting of al-Qaeda leadership, and, of course, continuing trade issues with China. They then turn to a discussion of all the White House mayhem (Ok, not all! No one has that kind of time), including lack of legal authority for Department of Homeland Security leadership to make decisions about DACA, the Defense Department “purge,” and the complicated, not-quite-yet-started transition of the Biden administration. The team ties a bow on this episode with a discussion of holiday movies and other pop culture … and that's a wrap! Links Cara Anna, “Ethiopia’s Tigray Leader Confirms Firing Missiles at Eritrea,” AP News, November 15, 2020 “Ethiopia Tigray Crisis: Rockets Hit Outskirts of Eritrea Capital,” BBC News, November 15, 2020 “Peter Mwai, “Ethiopia’s Tigray Conflict Sparks Spread of Misinformation,” BBC News, November 11, 2020 David Porter, “Judge: DHS Head Didn’t Have Authority to Suspend DACA,” AP News, November 14, 2020
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Anticipation Is Making Me Late
56:26Loren, Erin, and Radha are joined by their most frequent guest (Kori Schake) and a new guest (Katrina Mulligan) to discuss foreign policy issues we'll need to worry about regardless of the election outcome! After a lively discussion, the ladies go over foreign policy issues that have been over-discussed, under-discussed, and the processes that will always be their valentines. They wrap up with pop culture, self-care, and indulgences to help get you through election day and beyond!
40:05Loren, Radha, and Erin reconvene to explore many of Bombshell's greatest hits - Brexit, troop levels in Afghanistan, and arms control. With a dash of ethnic conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh thrown in for flavor. The ladies then drop a Bombshell of their own: this fair podcast will be wrapping up in 2020. It's the final countdown!
53:31Erin, Radha and Loren use COVID-19 as a frame to ask what this crazy time has brought to our attention, what it’s distracted is from, what it’s possibly helped, and how it’s shaped our own skills and interests. And shopping. Links “Covid-19 and No-Deal Brexit Could Cost UK $174 Billion a Year,” Reuters, October 01, 2020 “No-Deal Brexit Risks Violence in Norhtern Ireland, MPs Warn MI5,” The Guardian, October 05, 2020 Todd Lopez, “Covid-19 Response Sparks Efforts to Strengthen Supply Chain,” US Department of Defense, September 29, 2020
When There are Nine
50:37This week, Mira Rapp-Hooper and Rebecca Lissner return to the show to discuss American grand strategy, female partnerships, and their fabulous new book, An Open World: How America Can Win the Contest for Twenty-First Century Order. The ladies then revisit the administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East - with notes on the UAE-Israel accord and Iran sanctions drama. Also, Tiktok! Soothing pop-culture ties a bow on it.
I'm a Loser, Baby
1:00:03Loren, Radha, and Erin invite Camille Stewart, non-resident fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center, to discuss all the cyber threats and how individual behavior uniquely connects with our ability to mitigate or respond to them. In keeping up foreign relations, we provide short updates on Alexei Navalny, Belarus, and Brexit alongside a brief farewell to Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe. We'd like to remind you all that Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq are still a thing, and after all the takes have been shared on Trump's views on service members, we talk about the role of the press in this story.
It's Fun to Stay in the JCPOA
59:33Radha, Erin, and Loren host Nina Jancowicz, disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center and author of How to Lose the Information War, to talk about the ongoing protests in Belarus and what we should read into the alleged poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. In keeping up foreign relations, the ladies explore the latest U.S. attempt to use the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or “Iran nuclear deal”) — an agreement the United States ghosted on — to reinstate sanctions on Iran, and in White House mayhem they assess how the recent Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the 2016 election. Plus, process is our Valentine, but process can be used for evil ends, as we learned about the 2018 process to pursue family separation as an official U.S. policy. Unsurprisingly, we need a lot of pop culture to handle all this news.
Tik Tok Ya Don’t Stop
48:15This week Erin and Radha regroup while Loren takes a much-deserved vacation. They do a quick review on COVID-19 with the good (100 days no new cases in New Zealand), the bad (cases in Brazil, India, and the United States continue to grow), and the ugly (long-term economic consequences in the United States, India, and Brazil). They also dig into the recent explosion and protests in Lebanon and then go deep on the recent executive order impacting TikTok and WeChat. After reminding us that Afghanistan is still a thing, they talk about the lack of accurate and comprehensive briefings for POTUS and the mayhem that ensues, including quotes (and misquotes) by Robert O'brien (yes, he's the national security advisor!). To calm us all down, they then talk about pop culture from baseball movies (The Rookie, Bull Durham) to Arthurian legend-ish TV shows (Cursed). Links Abbie Cheeseman, “Protesters in Beirut, Still Reeling from Massive Explosion, Cash with Police,” NBC News, August 09, 2020 Elian Peltier, “How to Help Lebanon After Beirut Explosion,” New York Times, August 05, 2020 Dennis Wagner and George Petras, “Massive Explosion Rocks Beirut: Before and After Images Show Extensive Damage,” USA Today, August 06, 2020 Nick Perry, “New Zealand Marks 100th Day with No New Reported Cases of Coronavirus,” ABC7NY, August 09, 2020 Derek Hawkins, Marisa Iati, and Jacqueline Dupree, “US Coronavirus Infections Surpass 5 Million,” Washington Post, August 09, 2020 “Coronavirus: Brazil Passes 100,000 Deaths as Outbreak Shows No Sign of Easing,” BBC, August 09, 2020 “Record 64,399 New Covid-19 Cases; 861 Deaths in India,” Times of India, August 09, 2020 Elaine Chen, “Drugmakers Race to Build Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Chains,” Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2020 Michael Crescione, “Europe Sees Rise in Covid-19 After Reopening,” Healthline, August 06, 2020 Swati Bhat, “India to Halt 101 Military Imports in Push for Defense Self-Reliance: Minister,” Reuters, August 09, 2020 Ryan Browne and Jamie Crawford, “Esper Says US Troop Levels in Afghanistan to Go Below 5,000 by End of November,” CNN, August 09, 2020 Brad Heath, “Esper: US Will Cut Troop Levels in Afghanistan to Less Than 5,000,” Reuters, August 08, 2020 Jim Sciutto, “Trump Advisers Hesitated to Give Military Options and Warned Adversaries Over Fears He Might Start a War,” CNN, August 06, 2020 Justine Coleman, “Trump Advisers Were Wary of Talking Military Options Over Fears He’d Accidentally Start War,” The Hill, August 06, 2020 Philip Bump, “Trump Actually Doesn’t Appear to Understand How Bad the Pandemic Is,” Washington Post, August 04, 2020 Geoffrey Gertz, “Why is the Trump Administration Banning TikTok and WeChat?” Brookings, August 07, 2020 Robert Chesney, “Banning TikTok and WeChat: Another Primer,” Lawfare, August 07, 2020 Chaim Gartenberg, “Apple’s Chinese Business Could be Devastated by Trump’s WeChat Ban,” The Verge, August 08, 2020 “Trump Targets WeChat and TikTok, in Sharp Escalation with China,” New York Times, August 06, 2020
Simple Joys of Maidenhood
58:59This week the band is back together with Loren, Radha, and Erin once again all in the same time zone. They dive into Mike Pompeo's China speech, global COVID trends, and the world-famous Missile Technology Control Regime. Also, Congress approved the NDAA, and they have lots of thoughts on DHS "troops" engaging protesters in Portland. Stick around for pop-culture dissection of the Guinevere Deception! Links “Communist China and the Free World’s Future,” US Department of State, July 23, 2020 Thomas Wright, “Pompeo’s Surreal Speech on China,” Atlantic, July 25, 2020 Richard Haass, “What Mike Pompeo Doesn’t Understand about China, Richard Nixon and U.S. Foreign Policy,” Washington Post, July 25, 2020 “The Missile Technology Control Regime at a Glance,” Arms Control Association, July 2017 Aaron Mehta and Valerie Insinna, “Trump Admin Officially Makes It Easier to Export Military Drones,” Defense One, July 25, 2020 Amanda Macias, “Trump Allows Defense Contractors to Sell More Armed Droned to Foreign Militaries,” CNBC, July 24, 2020 Rachel S. Cohen, “House, Senate Approve Defense Authorization Bills,” Air Force Magazine, July 23, 2020 Connor O’Brien, “Senate Clears Bill Removing Confederate Names from Military Bases, Setting Up Clash with Trump,” Politico, July 23, 2020 Jacob Nagel and Mark Dubowitz, “With a Potential Iran-China Deal, Time for Israel to Reassess its Policy,” Newsweek, July 26, 2020 Philip H. Gordon, “Has Trump Driven China and Iran Together?” War on the Rocks, July 21, 2020 Pablo Gutierrez and Sean Clarke, “Coronavirus World Map: Which Countries Have the Most Covid-19 Cases and Deaths?” Guardian, July 28, 2020 Pablo Gutierrez and Ashley Kirk, “Revealed: Data Shows 10 Countries Risking Coronavirus Second Wave as Lockdown Relaxed,” Guardian, June 25, 2020 “Global Coronavirus Cases Surge, Stinging Even Places That Seemed to Have Control,” New York Times, July 23, 2020