The Un-Diplomatic Podcast

40 Episodes

By: Van Jackson

The show with undiplomatic takes about the foreign policy scene and how the world really works (but often doesn’t). Hosted by Dr. Van Jackson, a Washington insider turned critic.

Using China to Kill US Democracy, New Zealand's Antiracist China Challenge, The Roosevelt Doctrine Farce, Don't Punch Left on Cuba | Ep. 94
Last Thursday at 1:07 AM

Why Chinese influence in New Zealand is an opportunity to pioneer an anti-CCP and antiracist policy.  Why the Roosevelt Doctrine is really an attempt to save Woodrow Wilson.  Writing about objects too big to write about.  Republicans are using China to kill democracy.  The problem with "punching left" on Cuba. Also this episode: What's wrong with international relations? 

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Pacific Spheres of Influence, Fighting Filipinos, Strategy and the Progressive International | Ep. 93

Guam's anti-militarist plight exposes Sino-US competition as clashing spheres of influence.  How America did the Philippines dirty for a hundred years...and is still.  The promise and perils and the Progressive International's strategy.  Why boomers are hoarding real estate.  And is academia for poor people?  

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Contributors: Hunter Marston, Gaby Magnuson, Alex Auty, Jake Dellow

China Rivalry without Racism? Wu-Tang Solidarity, Narrating Israeli Occupation v. Terrorism, Alliance Reassurance Folly | Ep. 92

Is it possible to push back on China's many forms of aggression without rivalry or racism?  What Wu-Tang teaches us about solidarity and capitalist critique.  Israel's occupying Palestine, so let's talk about terrorism.  Why alliance reassurance rarely makes sense.  

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The War on Critical Race, Socialists Aren't "Very Liberal," New Zealand Bashing, Coming Clean on Quincy, Taiwan Debate | Ep. 91

Why socialists aren't "very liberal."  The far right's war on critical race theory is a bigger deal than you think.  Why everyone loves to throw shade at New Zealand.  The histrionics of the Taiwan debate.  The truth about Van's interview on the Quincy Institute.  North Korea policy is going nowhere.  

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Contributors: Gaby Magnuson, Hunter Marsto...

The Global Pundit Problem, De-Sexyfying UFOs, War-Avoidance Theories, Progressive Talent Pipeline | Ep. 90

Why the Biden administration is performing its rivalry with China.  What the Afghanistan withdrawal decision says about global punditry.  Why UFOs might not be as sexy as Van hopes they are.  Theories for avoiding war.  Winners may write history, but that doesn't make it right.  Creating a talent pool for progressive technocrats.  How to think about the UK/EU jumping into the China-competition game.  Also this episode: Why "Foreign policy for the middle class" is the right goal with the wrong implementation.  

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Who's the DMX of International Relations, Neoliberal Hip-Hop, Xi Jinping's Hype Man | Ep. 89

P. Diddy is an oligarch who was bad for hip-hop...and now he's exploiting BLM.  How Washington pundits became Xi Jinping's hype man.  Why FONOPs are a silly way to send a message.  Favorite feminist movies.  Also this episode: Why is there no DMZ in international relations?  

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Don't Call Yourself a Realist! Progressive Economic Statecraft, The Farce of Offset Strategies, Why NATO Can't Deter Russia | Ep. 88

The Global North owes the Global South progressive economic policies, not aid.  The essential (?) fascism of security clearances.  Why it's wrong to make international-relations paradigms into ideologies.  The tragic history and propagandizing about the third offset strategy--or, the origins of American militarism today.  The China Cold War question.

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Contributors: Hunter Marston, Gaby Magnuson, Ciara Mitchell, Jake Dellow

The Zombie Promise of Cold War Liberalism, Myanmar's Syria Risk, Japan's Taiwan Alliance | Ep. 87

If an "Indo-Pacific strategy" can't cope with the Syria risk in Myanmar, then what good is it? Why the history of Cold War liberalism tells us not to pin domestic renewal on the China threat.  Why Chinese air incursions against Taiwan DO NOT signal invasion.  What's going on in Asian studies at Georgetown.  Japan's role in a Taiwan conflict.  The lost history of the WTO anti-globalization protests.

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Think Tank Infighting, Guam for Dummies, Asia's Not the Indo-Pacific, Ep. 86

Which QAnon congresswoman thinks Guam is a foreign country?  Why Asia is not the Indo-Pacific.  Think tank infighting.  Wasting time before writing.  

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Contributors: Jake Dellow, Ciara Mitchell


Deterrence by Capable Dildos, the Hawaiian Land Grab, China Hawkery, North Korean Defectors | Ep. 85

Why American strategic culture is so obsessed with "capable dildos."  Why native Hawaiians don't want federal recognition to whitewash an illegal land grab.  What it means to declare oneself a "China hawk" and why it matters.  Why North Korean defectors want to go back to North Korea.  Also this episode: Is the US-China rivalry an ideological conflict?

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Taiwan Domino Theory Silliness, Think Tank Disinformation, Japan's Liberal International Order | Ep. 84

What happens when think tankers become tankies.  Alliance domino theory nonsense--why Taiwan is not like the others.  Why Japan's the real leader of Asia's liberal order.  The US doesn't need Saudi Arabia.  

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Contributors: Alex Auty, Jake Dellow, Gaby Magnuson, Pete McKenzie

Does Foreign Policy Have a Career Ceiling? Defense Strategy Dilemma, DC's Patt Mottinger Problem, New Zealand's Australia Problem | Ep. 83

Why Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "white moderate" threat dominates Washington today. The dilemma of militarist thinking about strategy.  New Zealand's beef with Australia.  Southeast Asia wants a more progressive US foreign policy.  Foreign policy's career ceiling problem.

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Contributors: Ciara Mitchell, Gaby Magnuson, Pete McKenzie, Jake Dellow

A Liberal's Anti-China Game, Emily in D.C., Asia's Democracy Divide | Ep. 82

A rope-a-dope strategy for China.  How a liberal plays the anti-China card (for better or worse).  The truth about Asia's Democracy divide.  Why Micronesia gave up on the Pacific Islands Forum.  Also this episode: What would it be like if Netflix's Emily in Paris took place in Washington, D.C.?  

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From Bro Culture to Fascism, Genocidal Democracy in Myanmar, QAnon is NOT Left, South Korean Illiberalism | Ep. 81

The debate about South Korean illiberalism that nobody wants you to hear.  Why bro culture incubates fascism.  The coup in Myanmar is NBD compared to genocide.  QAnon is no friend of the left.  And why hustling is nonpartisan.

Emma Ashford, Kate Kizer, and TX Hammes debating Grand Strategy:

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Contributors: Ciara Mitchell, Gaby Magnuson, Pete McKenzie, Jake Dellow


The Global Far Right is a Protestant Reformation for Idiots, Think Tank Dark Money, Getting Real on The Indo-Pacific Game | Ep. 80

Why the threat of our time is the global far right, and what it has in common with the protestant reformation.  What's wrong and right about the Indo-Pacific and the Quad.  Dark money in think tanks.  Kim Jong Un's authoritarian savvy.  The real meaning of the Third World--or, is Marco Rubio a white supremacist?  Also this episode: Why Trump has changed how we teach international relations.

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Galactic Gaslighting, Futurism v. Moneyballing, Japan's Five-Eyes Controversy, Obama's Drone Reckoning | Ep. 79

Futures studies versus moneyball--the problem with prediction.  A supply-side theory of Obama's drone strike addiction.  Telling lies about a Galactic Federation with aliens.  Should Japan join the Five-Eyes intelligence-sharing partnership?  How to get out of Afghanistan.  Why the Indo-Pacific is too big for a single strategy.  Also this episode: The movies that made Van Jackson and the team.  

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The Asia Tsar Question, McDonald's Peace Theory is Over, The Truth about Liberal IR, Israel's Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone of Death | Ep. 78

Does President Biden need an Asia Tsar?  Why McDonalds peace theory is over.  The truth about liberal international relations theory.  Israel's grass-mowing theory of deterrence.  The difference between Taiwan and China.  Also this episode: What does Denzel Washington's Training Day have to do with Asian security?

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Grand Strategic Farce, How the US Lost Asia, The "Free Chosun" Question, Student Debt Cancellation | Ep. 77

Why is the State Department's Office of Policy Planning so obsessed with George Kennan...and China's ideology?  The untold story of how America lost economic primacy in Asia, and why nobody talks about it now.  What is IR theory good for?  Why cancelling student debt matters.  The non-interview  at Australian National University.  Also this episode: what should we think about the Free Chosun movement against North Korea?  

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China Squeezes Aussies, Kim Jong Un's Biden Surprise, Hawks Who Can't Fight, Hypersonic Missile Hype, | Ep. 76

Australians are getting economically coerced by China but not everyone knows why.  Militarism is bad, but militarists who've never been in a fight are the worst.  What North Korea has in store for Biden in 2021.  A hypersonic missile arms race is coming to Asia, but is anyone paying attention?  And if Trump were throw a coup, how would we know in advance?  Also this episode: Van recommends some reading for budding IR scholars.

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The Fascism Debate, Interviewing at Stanford, Think Tank Corruption, Jonah Ryan's Veep Wisdom | Ep. 75

What it's like to interview at Stanford University (!).  What Veep's Jonah Ryan can teach aspiring Washington technocrats.  On Trumpian fascism.  Why elite think tanks are ripe for corruption.  And what Larry David's "spite store" idea has to do with Trump's lame-duck foreign policy.  Also this episode: What are international-relations theories good for?

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Taiwan is the O.G. China, Stanford's Hoover Controversy, Totalitarian Elon Musk, Milton Friedman and LL Cool J | Ep. 74

What makes Elon Musk a wannabe totalitarian?  A new book on space expansionism paints a dark picture.  Why Taiwan is the O.G. China.  How to fit Milton Friedman and LL Cool J in the same sentence.  Stanford University's Hoover Institution controversy.  And resisting China's civil war narrative.  

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Contributors: Alex Auty, Jake Dellow, Gaby Magnuson

Franz Fanon v. Ice Cube v. 50 Cent, Taiwan's No Pawn, China Fighting in the Pacific Islands, Exit from Hegemony | Ep. 73

What's 50 Cent's beef with Franz Fanon?  And what makes Ice Cube different than 50 Cent?  What to make of China's escalation of wolf-warrior diplomacy.  The progressive debate about American foreign policy--opposing US power or US militarism?  Also this episode--questioning Taiwan's future and how American hegemony ends. 

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Contributors: Jake Dellow, Gaby Magnuson, Pete McKenzie, Ciara...

Washington's War against Peace, Rivalries are Dumb, Real Diversity, Literary Agent Lessons | Ep. 72

How Washington punishes those who support peace.  What real diversity in foreign policy looks like.  Why rivalries make people stupid, especially great-power ones.  Why Vietnam is probably not Asia's next economic "miracle."  And who needs a literary agent?  Depends what you're trying to publish, and where.  

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Contributors: Alex Auty, Pete McKenzie, Gaby Magnuson, Jake Dellow

Judd Apatow Gets China Right, What's the Indo-Pacific Quad? Turkish Empire, Indian Sphere of Influence | Ep. 71

Why does Judd Apatow have a better grasp on the China problem than Washington does?  How should we understand the Indo-Pacific Quad, and what's a "speech-act institution?"  Does Turkey have an imperial foreign policy?  And why is nobody paying attention to India's sphere of influence?  Also this episode: What principles should guide East Asia policy?  The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft takes a decent crack at answering.  

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When the Black Panthers Met Kim Il Sung: Writer's Room with Benjamin Young | Ep. 71

The Black Panther Party's intersection with North Korea is fascinating and surprising.  Van sits down with Dr. Benjamin Young to talk about North Korea's relationship to radical leftist movements, the Black Panther Party, the travails of trying to work in academia, and Ben's upcoming book--Guns, Guerrillas, and the Great Leader.  

What is Good Strategy? Wargaming Hegemony, Black Armed Resistance, Neoliberalism Fakes Its Death, the China Security Dilemma Question | Ep. 70

Black self defense is essential to minimize state violence.  Good strategy isn't infinite.  The war-game might be rigged, but it can still be fun.  Is the China-US relationship a security dilemma, or nah?  Klaus Schwab says neoliberalism is dead, but the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn't exist.  Also this episode: Why is everything breaking and nothing working except for military procurement and missile development?  Corruption!

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The 'Asian Mind,' Biden's Credibility Non-Problem, India Trolls China, Marxist v. Progressive Foreign Policy | Ep. 69

Don't believe the hawks--Biden has no credibility problem in Asia.  India shows China how democracies do trolling better.  The convergences and divergences of Marxist and progressive foreign policy.  The East Asian mind and the Western mind--wut?  Also this episode: Why activists and strategists need to work together toward nuclear disarmament.  

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Star Wars as America's Future, The Truth about Cheney, Korea's Anti-China Left, the US Sphere of Influence | Ep. 68

Van explains how the Galactic Republic in Star Wars fell, and why it's so germane today.  The South Korean Left sees Chinese imperialism more clearly than most Americans.  America's sphere of influence dilemma in the Pacific.  What Vice gets right about Dick Cheney.  Also this episode: Van's philosophy about saying yes to career opportunities large and small.  

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Cobra Kai Cosmopolitans, Taiwan Ambiguity, Japan Watching, and Progressive Foreign Policy | Ep. 67

Why we need to wait before debating whether to defend Taiwan.  How good is the Netflix show Cobra Kai?  Why Martha Nussbaum has evolved about the cosmopolitan tradition.  How much of China's foreign policy is imperial?  And a new poll finds that the people want progressive foreign policy!

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Counter-Imperial Statecraft, China Competition as White Privilege, QAnon, Neocons Return to the Democratic Party | Ep. 66

The racist motivations woven into China rivalry.  Why nobody talks about American colonies hiding in plain sight.  How to manufacture a Cold War with China.  Australia shows the way in counter-imperial statecraft.  Are neocons returning to the Democratic Party?  NeverTrumpers are not anti-fascist heroes.  And how serious a problem is QAnon?  

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How to be a Pundit: Interview with Ankit Panda | Ep. 65 Hustle

In this hustle episode of the pod, Van Jackson sits down with Ankit Panda to talk about writing productivity hacks, how to become a foreign policy pundit, and tips for straddling new media and the think tank world.  They also talk about Ankit's new book, Kim Jong Un and the Bomb. 

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Pentagon Corruption, Money Behind the China Threat Industry, Fighting for a Foreign Policy Career | Ep. 64

The Pentagon's failure of accountability.  Why Democrats are better at diversity but have work to do.  Steve Bannon's arrest highlights the money behind the China threat movement.  And Van's take on Edward Snowden on what Bernie Sanders foreign policy adviser Matt Duss has to say about making a career in Washington.  Also this episode, structural violence explained.  

Debating Sagan v. Waltz 2.0, US Military Coup Question, the Liberal's China Contradictions, Kamala's Foreign Policy | Ep. 63

Proliferation optimism or pessimism?  Van weighs in on the classic Sagan-Waltz debate.  Why liberals are of two minds about China.  And what's wrong with advocating for a military coup in the United States?  A lot!  

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How to Do Think-Tanking, Wargaming Trickery, the Thucydides Crap, Alliance Problems | Ep. 62

How does one get into the think tank game? Van explains. How does one use war-games to manipulate policy? Van explains. Why is our historical imagination limited to Greek and Roman history? Again, Van explains. What happens to the US-South Korea alliance when Trump threatens troop withdrawal?  You get it.  

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VP Susan Rice--Yah or Nah? Progressive Sanctions Imperative, Allies Hedging, Pentagon's Structural Violence | Ep. 61

The good, bad, and ugly of Biden picking Susan Rice for Vice President.  Why progressives need sanctions too, and how a new think tank report sheds light on how it might work.  The Pentagon has militarized the Coronavirus response and yet can't win a war.  And America's closest allies are hedging in reasonable--and dangerous way.  South Korea is the latest.

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Pulling Troops from Korea, Portland Strategy, Pompeo Worse Than Nixon, Progressive-ish Democrats | Ep. 60

The US is going to withdraw troops from South Korea--you heard it here first.  The Democratic Party platform throws a bone to progressives, mostly.  Pompeo rejects Nixon, and shows himself to be worse than him too.  Gestapo come to Portland, and why the mayor needs strategy advice.  Also the this episode: The myth of China strategy, Quislings, and decoupling for real.

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Can Biden FP be Progressive? Kanye the Spoiler, Anti-Fascism for All, Taiwan Insurgents, Unserious GOP| Ep. 59

A foreign policy reckoning is coming for the establishment Democrats in Congress.   Kanye West can't be president, but he can mess it up for Biden.  If China invades Taiwan, the real press it will pay comes during occupation.  Why broad anti-fascist coalitions are good.  

Contributors: Pete McKenzie, Ciara Mitchell, Jake Dellow, Gaby Magnuson

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Writer's Room 1: The Book Project Begins | Ep. 58

As I officially launch a new book project, I'm also launching a new occasional series within The Un-Diplomatic Podcast called Writer's Room.  It's going to track my journey of writing my third book with occasional mini-episodes.  I'll also use the Writer's Room episodes to intermittently check in with other writers working on books to learn about their experiences.  

Unipolar-Moment Hawks, Democrats' Bad Strategy, Aussie Hedging, Kiwi's Strategic Style over Substance | Ep. 57

The Democratic Party's foreign policy is controlled by unipolar-moment hawks.  Australian strategists are making plans for conflict with China without the US.  New Zealand has a China policy that looks awfully janus-faced, but there's method (and risk) to the madness.  And if Democrats' plan to fight Trump is to "win big in November" and nothing else, then the game is already lost.  

Contributors: Pete McKenzie, Gaby Magnuson, Jake Dellow

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GTFO with Anti-Progressive Leftism, Taiwan Nukes, the Military Power Fallacy, the meaning of Kim Jong Un's Restraint | Ep. 56

There's NOTHING progressive about working with the MAGA right.  Why the arguments for US military superiority keep changing but the demand stays the same.  Also this episode: Does Taiwan need nukes?  Why did Kim Jong Un publicly restrain his military from attacking the South?  And what's wrong with imagining Korea as a maritime defense perimeter?

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