The Un-Diplomatic Podcast

40 Episodes

By: Van Jackson

Global power politics, for the people. Hosted by Van Jackson, Kate Kizer, and Hunter Marston.

AUKUS, Arms-Racing, and the Dollar Supremacy Debate | Ep. 149
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What Fareed Zakaria doesn't get about the dollar supremacy debate. Why American exceptionalists can't see Asian arms-racing clearly. Why AUKUS is controversial, in Australia, New Zealand, and across Asia. A Rorschach test on the corrosive US-Saudi Arabia relationship. And what the battle against LGBTQ persecution in Uganda says about all of us.

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How Black Americans View Ukraine, Taiwan, and America's Global Role, w/ Chris Shell | Ep. 148

How do African Americans view America's role in the world?  What does it mean when Black Americans say the US should "keep out" of foreign interventions?  What explains Black Republican hawkishness?  What is the Suge Knight theory of national inclusion?  Does Kanye West have anything to do with Democrats losing Black voters, or it Democratic Party hawkishness?  Van sits down to discuss all this and more with Dr. Christopher Shell. 

Report on How Black Americans Feel About the Possible Use of Military Force in Ukraine and Taiwan:

Report on How Do Black...

Movie Night: Bulworth, w/ Colette Shade and Matt Duss | Ep. 147

For the pod's first movie night, Van, Colette Shade, and Matt Duss discuss the 1998 cult political comedy, Bulworth. Did Bulworth presage Bernie Sanders? Where are the Bulworth Democrats today? How did the War on Terror set back the progressive movement 20 years? Why do reactionaries sometimes find hip-hop attractive? What does it say that politicians aren't safe among the people they represent? Could a movie like this be made today? 

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Fearing Atlantic Revolution and the Geopolitical Literacy of Slaves, w/ Samantha Payne | Ep. 146

We're trying to do more to spotlight interesting journal article-based academic research in a non-boring way. So today Van sits down with Dr. Samantha Leigh Payne to talk about her new history on fears of an Atlantic revolution in the Reconstruction Era.  How did the US civil war alter global power politics? What role did the US civil war play in the abolition of slavery elsewhere? What role did slaves themselves play in the revolutionary potential of that post-civil war moment? And what role is their for violence in progressive world making?

Sam's article, "'A General Insurrection i...

Raging Against the Foreign Policy Conversation | Ep. 145

Kate and Hunter are back with Van. What's up with the "Rage Against the War Machine" protests? Is it really antiwar? Working class versus middle class--what's the diff? Cambodia versus economic statecraft. Biden's parochial progressivism. Congressional competency on foreign policy. And the nonsensical, unaccountable, dictator-loving Biden doctrine for the Middle East. Also this episode: a quick primer on racial capitalism!

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Pacific Power Paradox Book Launch Talk at the Institute for Peace and Diplomacy | Ep. 144

Van does battle with voices ranging from John Mearsheimer and Robert Kagan to Joseph Nye and Hillary Clinton in this book launch at the Institute for Peace and Diplomacy for his book, Pacific Power Paradox: American Statecraft and the Fate of the Asian Peace. Must listen! 

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Realism's Imperial Origins Part II, w/ Dr. Matthew Specter | Ep. 143

Part II of Van's interview with Dr. Matthew Specter, discussing his new book, The Atlantic Realists. Was Hans Morgenthau a Leftist? Is great-power competition just offensive realism? Is realism a resource for progressives or cosmopolitans? Tun in to find out!

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Realism's Imperial Origins Part I, w/ Dr. Matthew Specter | Ep. 142

Van's interview with Dr. Matthew Specter discusses his new book, The Atlantic Realists. They get into the diverse understandings of the realist tradition, trace its roots to imperial competition in the 19th century, the bizzare intellectual inspirations the Nazis found in US history, whether realism is useful for progressives and the left, and some surprising history about a cast of characters ranging from Hans Morgenthau to Alfred Thayer Mahan to Carl Schmitt. 

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An Oral History of the Pivot to Asia, and Confronting the National Security State | Ep. 141

What is the real nature of the "China problem?" How did Sino-US detente and collaboration become great-power competition and rivalry? What did Obama's pivot to Asia have to do with all of it? And why did Van end up a critic of the national security state? In this special cross-over episode with the Realignment Podcast, Van goes into all that and more.

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Empathy, Strategy, and Statecraft, w/ Claire Yorke | Ep. 140

What is empathy, and why is it important in making strategy? Why is "strategic empathy" so problematic? Can empathy be institutionalized? How did neoliberals steer empathy wrong? Dr. Claire Yorke sits down with Van to chat about all that and more. 

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Getting Southeast Asia Right, with Elina Noor, Sebastian Strangio, and Evan Laksmana | Ep. 139

Does Southeast Asia matter? How does SE Asia view and respond to great power competition, Russia’s war in Ukraine, and tensions in the Taiwan Strait? And how can the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) work to solve the crisis in Myanmar in 2023 under Indonesia’s chairmanship? With regular co-host Hunter Marston to discuss these issues are special guests Elina Noor (Asia Society Policy Institute, Washington, DC), Evan Laksmana (National University of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy), and friend of the pod Sebastian Strangio (The Diplomat).

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A Better Biden Doctrine, w/ Matt Duss and Stephen Wertheim | Ep. 138

How's Biden doing on foreign policy?  Where is the "Biden doctrine" going wrong?  Matt Duss and Stephen Wertheim--leading voices in progressive foreign policy--come on the pod to hit all the issues with Van and Kate--Ukraine-Russia, a disastrous defense strategy, Iran, Saudi-Yemen war, China, Afghanistan and counter-terrorism, and more. 

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Part II: Star Wars as Anti-Imperialism? The Politics of George Lucas, w/ Daniel Immerwahr | Ep. 137

In Part II of Van's sit-down w/ Professor Daniel Immerwahr (author of How to Hide an Empire), they talk about Daniel's recent chapter about the politics and ideology of George Lucas's Star Wars. Was the Galactic Republic really an empire the entire time? What made Star Wars a Vietnam movie? What's the deal with the Ewok? And what's wrong with Lucas's version of anti-imperialism?

Are We Really Prisoners of Geography?:

Ideology in US Foreign Relations (the volume containing "Galactic Vietnam"):

Part I: Geopolitics is a Racket, w/ Daniel Immerwahr | Ep. 136

Why do geopoliticians blow off climate change and environmental degradation?  Is geography really an insurmountable force?  What do "geopolitical risk consultants" really do?  And what should we make of the fact that geopolitics has its origins in imperialism?  What did Nazis, in particular, see appealing in geopolitics?  Van sits down w/ Professor Daniel Immerwahr (author of How to Hide an Empire) to discuss a new essay in The Guardian long reads section. They also talk about Daniel's recent chapter about the politics and ideology of George Lucas's Star Wars.  

Are We Really Prisoners of Geography?: https://www.thegua...

Red-Baiting, the CIA's War in China, and Repression Politics: Interview w/ John Delury | Ep. 135

What does war and violence abroad do to politics at home?  Why were early Cold War intellectuals obsessed with who "lost China?" And what did the realists of the 1940s and 1950s believe about not just the limits of American power but how US hegemony might be the road to fascism in America?  John Delury sits down with Van to discuss all that and more as part of his new book, Agents of Subversion: The Fate of John T. Downey and the CIA's Covert War in China. 

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Part II: Unsettling Liberal Hegemony with Jeannie Morefield | Ep. 134

In this interview episode, Van sits down with Professor Jeanne Morefield to discuss critiques of liberalism and empire. Why does liberalism seem to always be obsessed with crisis and triumphalism, often at once? What is the shared DNA of Edwardian imperialism, neoconservatism, and liberal internationalism? Why has G. John Ikenberry's theoretical project of liberal hegemony recently pivoted from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Roosevelt as the standard bearer? And isn't liberal hegemony just a ruling class ideology? Lots of controversy on the table. 

Jeanne's latest book: 

Empires without Imperialism book: https://ww...

Part I: Unsettling Liberal Hegemony with Jeannie Morefield | Ep. 133

In this interview episode, Van sits down with Professor Jeanne Morefield to discuss critiques of liberalism and empire. Why does liberalism seem to always be obsessed with crisis and triumphalism, often at once? What is the shared DNA of Edwardian imperialism, neoconservatism, and liberal internationalism? Why has G. John Ikenberry's theoretical project of liberal hegemony recently pivoted from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Roosevelt as the standard bearer? And isn't liberal hegemony just a ruling class ideology? Lots of controversy on the table. 

Jeanne's latest book: 

Empires without Imperialism book: https://ww...

China's Mass Uprisings, Anti-Semitism as Weapon, the Origins of Rivalry, Left v. Right Radicalism | Ep. 132

Van, Kate, and Hunter unpack the mass uprisings in China, situating them in the context of ongoing worker struggles. They probe weaponized anti-semitism. They discuss the origins of Sino-US rivalry and the analytical perils of American exceptionalism. And. bring forth tons of data showing the difference between left and right radicalism. 

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Unipolarity's Nostalgia Trap: Interview w/ David Parsons | Ep. 131

In this episode, Van chats with David Parsons, host of The Nostalgia Trap.  They talk about his upbringing in Ventura, California during the 1990s, why he's obsessed with '90s pop culture and film, the nightmarish state of being a perpetual precarious academic historian, and what got him into the podcast game. They also discuss his fascinating book, Dangerous Grounds: Antiwar Coffeehouses and Military Dissent in the Vietnam Era.

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A Global Economy for the Ruling Class? Interview w/ Adam Dean and Tim Barker | Ep. 130

What is neoliberalism and why did developing democracies embrace labor repression? Why is military Keynesianism both dangerous and unsustainable? What are the causes of inflation right now, and how does monetary policy undermine the Biden presidency? And what happened to the "East Asian model" of economic development? In this political economy episode, Van Jackson sits down with Adam Dean and Tim Barker to talk about all that and more. 

Best of: Peace Intellectuals, Unf**king Rivalries, Russian Kleptocracy, the Trouble with Sanctions | Ep. 129

Where have all the peace intellectuals gone?  How do you make enemies into friends?  What's it like to be mixed-race in national security?  Should we do away with economic sanctions entirely?  Is it easier to shape the world than to shape China?  What's Russia's freaking problem?  

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Whataboutism and the China Debate: A Panel at Australian National University | Ep. 128

In this special one-off episode of the pod, Van Jackson joins a panel hosted at Australian National University's Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, alongside Greg Raymond, Ian Hall, and Yun Jiang. The topic: "Whataboutism" and the China debate.

The great American political scientist Seymour Lipset once said, ‚Äúthey that know only one country, know no countries‚ÄĚ. This panel addresses the issue of comparisons in our political discourse, and in particular ‚Äúwhataboutism‚ÄĚ - the response China critics often make when it is pointed out that other countries have committed egregious actions similar in kind, if not scale, t...

From Imperial Agent to Anti-War Advocate: Interview w/ Lyle Jeremy Rubin | Ep. 127

Lyle Jeremy Rubin joins the podcast to talk about his new memoir "Pain Is Weakness Leaving the Body: A Marine's Unbecoming." Lyle and Van discuss the way that hypocrisy radicalizes people, the trouble with imperialism, the psychosexual insecurities mixed into military life, how personal violence affects foreign policy, the Karate Kid, the paradoxically traumatizing lack of combat on the front lines of war, and much more. 

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Pacific Paranoia, Central Banks are the Opp, Trumping Bush's Fascism, Red-Scare Politics Against Democracy | Ep. 126

Central banks are using inflation to fight a class war. America's Pacific sphere of influence is making it paranoid--what ham-fisted skullduggery in the Marshall Islands reveals. Was George W. Bush more fascist than Trump? Taiwan policy is on militarist auto-pilot--why Chris Murphy is worried. Why red-scare propaganda is bad for democracy.  What about an Un-Diplomatic newsletter (note: this episode was recorded just a few days before Van Jackson launched the Un-Diplomatic newsletter).

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Best of: How the Left Fights the New Global Right: Interview with John Feffer | Ep. 125

This episode is from an original release in January 2022. Dr. Van Jackson sits down with John Feffer, co-director of the Foreign Policy in Focus project at the Institute for Policy Studies.  They talk about John's new book, Right Across the World: The Global Networking of the Far-Right and the Left Response.  They also talk about writing novels and plays as a foreign policy analyst, or doing foreign policy analysis as a playwright.  Remembering the way arms control used to be a reactionary arguments against disarmament.  

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US Pacific Hypocrisy in Guam, Capital Loves Ethnonationalism, Taiwan-sanity, Jiu Jitsu v. IR | Ep. 124

Why self-determination for Guam is better strategy than persisting as an American colony. Why oligarchic concentrations of wealth in the US and China need ethnonationalism...and why that's dangerous. The Atlantic Council scandal. Are we in a new Taiwan Strait crisis? Clarifying the #NotAMarxist thing. And what Brazilian jiu jitsu can and can't do for international relations. 

Contributors: Hunter Marston, Celia McDowall, Gaby Magnuson

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California Radical: Interview w/ Malcolm Harris, Author of Kids These Days and Palo Alto | Ep. 123

In this deliciously radical episode, Dr. Van Jackson sits down with Malcolm Harris, author of Kids These Days: The Making of Millennials, and the forthcoming Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World.  Malcolm explains how political economy made Millennials, what's wrong with thinking of yourself as human capital, the crisis of student debt, and how he moved from anti-war protests to the Occupy Movement.  Malcolm also makes the case the Millennials will either be the first genuine to push American oligarchy off its ledge, or the first generation of true American fascists. Van and Malcolm also ta...

How'd We Get North Korea So Wrong? Guest Lecture with Dr. Andrew Yeo | Ep. 122

In this special episode, Dr. Van Jackson sits down as part of a guest lecture/seminar at the Catholic University of America with Dr. Andrew Yeo (CUA, Brookings Institution).  They talk foremost about how we got North Korea policy so wrong and how to fix it, but in so doing they also talk about best practices of strategy, risk realism, and how Van's background shapes his thinking about war and national security generally.

The Myth of Security versus Human Rights, Taiwan Ambiguity, Realism about Cambodia, the Conservative Foreign Policy Debate | Ep. 121

If you pit human rights against security, you're doing foreign policy wrong.  How to think about LGBTQIA-plus rights and strategy.  Being realistic about China-Cambodia relations.  Why Biden is still ambiguous about Taiwan.  Dissecting what's wrong with the national security "Blob."  The role of a PMC technocracy in a social democratic order.  The importance of libraries to society. 

Peter Beinart v. the Blob:

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What's Good Strategy? Interview w/ Dr. Jeff Meiser | Ep. 120

What's the difference between good strategy and bad strategy? Why is understanding strategy as a theory of success so powerful? What is a framework for good strategy? And how grand is grand strategy? Dr. Van Jackson sits down with Dr. Jeff Meiser (University of Portland) to discuss. They also talk about Richard Rumelt's classic book, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy.

Unrestrained Right and Democrats as the War Party, Military Keynesianism, Putin's Prospect Theory, Dictatorship in the Philippines | Ep. 119

The deep dive on the Philippines presidential election and what it means that they elected Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. Have Democrats become the party of war? Yes, but maybe not for long. Is the right running a restraint foreign policy?  Hell no.  The prospects of a Putin nuclear war.  Why new hip-hop is not as good as the old stuff.  Military Keynesianism is a sucker's bet.  Feminism and intersectional struggles for progressive--what the Handmaid's Tale is good for (and not).

Contributors: Gaby Magnuson, Celia McDowall, Alex Auty, Hunter Marston

When Realists Meet the Left, Peace Is Non-Partisan, Oligarchs Take All, Kamala Harris's Space Boogie | Ep. 118

The realists versus leftists thing, again. Re-imagining international cooperation. Why peace and anti-militarism should be non-partisan. Oligarchs like Elon Musk will be the end of us all.  The curious case of Kamala Harris's restrainer space policy. 

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Red-Brown Alliances Suck, Singapore's Post-American Asia, War as the Enemy of Progress, Military-Climate Change Tradeoff | Ep. 117

What Singapore's Prime Minister has to say about post-primacy Asia. The global peace dividend initiative. War as the enemy of progress. The problem with securitizing the climate crisis. MAGA militarism and the problem of red-brown alliances. Why there is no economic equality without political equality.  

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Environmental Anarchy w/ the Kurt Vonnegut of International Relations: Interview w/ Dr. Mark Beeson | Ep. 116

In this episode of the Un-Diplomatic Podcast, Dr. Van Jackson interviews Dr. Mark Beeson about his new book, Environmental Anarchy: Security in the 21st Century. They talk about doing international relations in an era of climate crisis, Asian security, the promise and perils of Marxist theory, the problem of neoliberalism, progressive alliances with realists, democracy on the back foot, and much more.

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Security Studies in the Utopian '90s, Game Theory v. Nostradamus, Kanye West and the Hustle Culture, Coherent Anti-Imperialism | Ep. 115

What security studies was like in the utopian '90s.  The West's sphere-of-influence reaction to the China-Solomon Islands agreement.  What the Kanye West documentary teaches us about the bygone hustle culture.  That time when The History Channel pitted game theory against Nostradamus, and brought in John Mearsheimer to attack Bruce Bueno De Mesquita.  Why Republicans are lost on Russia-Putin.

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Neoliberal Strategy Kills Asian Security: Big Reveal on the Pacific Power Paradox Book with Asia Society Korea Branch | Ep. 114

In the first ever reveal of his forthcoming book, Pacific Power Paradox: American Statecraft and the Fate of the Asian Peace, Dr. Van Jackson attempts to untangle the politics, economics, security, and strategic statecraft in an Asia-Pacific region experiencing accelerated change. Jackson focused on how regional change can affect U.S. alliance partners such as South Korea while shedding some light on U.S. strategy-making in the Asia-Pacific region. The conversation was moderated by Asia Society Korea Senior Contributor Dr. Mason Richey. 

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Special Roundtable Event: The Closest Presidential Election in South Korean History | Ep. 113

In our first ever roundtable edition of the podcast, Dr. Van Jackson was joined by Korea watchers Dr. John Delury (Yonsei University), Minseon Ku (Ohio State University), and Karl Friedhoff (Chicago Council on Global Affairs) to discuss the closest presidential election in South Korean history, in which conservative Yoon Seok-youl won by a razor-thin margin.  The crew talks about the popular politics of anti-feminism in South Korea, the geopolitics of a conservative victory, and the myths that Beltway Korea watchers had built up about outgoing President Moon Jae-in.

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Oligarchy is Global, Piketty's Socialism vs. China, Mearsheimer's Realism Controversy, OG Wars and Deterrence Success | Ep. 112

Thomas Piketty's answer for fighting China: Democratic socialism! Is grand strategy a theory of national success, or a story? How the national security community fetishized its own paranoia about gray zones and hybrid war. How corporations woke-wash capital. The John Mearsheimer controversy and what it means for realism. Pompeo's Taiwan grift. Favorite Marvel superhero movies.

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Ice Cream Peace Theory, Red-Baiting Down Under, No Lames for President, South Korean Nukes, Russia-Ukraine | Ep. 111

The Australian right's red-baiting flop on China. New Zealand's trucker protests have morphed into a mob.   Dwayne Johnson could actually be the next president because America loves unqualified "cool bros."  How Van has evolved on China rivalry stuff.  Progressives debate Russia-Ukraine.  South Korean nukes.  The limits of Ben & Jerry's theory of peace.  

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Guest Host James Palmer Talks the Russia Debate, Escalation Ladders, China Watching | Ep. 110

With Van out, guest host James Palmer from Foreign Policy magazine joins the pod to talk about whether realists or liberals are more annoying, the debate over Russian invasion, escalation ladder messiness, and China watching. 

Contributors: Hunter Marston, Ciara Mitchell, Alex Auty