Like most people, Pod Save America cohost Tommy Vietor thought foreign policy was boring and complicated until he got the education of a lifetime working for President Obama’s National Security Council. It was a crash course that taught him two things: anyone can understand these issues, and we all have an obligation to try.
That’s why he started Pod Save the World—a weekly podcast that breaks down international news and foreign policy developments, but doesn’t feel like homework. Each week, he and former deputy national security advisor and co-host Ben Rhodes walk you through the latest developments with a variety of experts and take you behind the scenes of big decisions with the people who were there. Count on hearing stories from the White House Situation Room, funny anecdotes, and maybe a few F bombs along the way. New episodes every Wednesday.
Today’s show is a little different. We skip the update on the spread of the coronavirus itself and instead focus on the impact it’s having on governments and people. For example, 2019 was the year of the protestor, but how do protestors continue if they can’t gather safely or legally? How can we stop leaders from using the coronavirus to consolidate power, stifle the press or jettison privacy protections? And with the news that the virus has temporarily sidelined a US aircraft carrier, how do we refocus defense policy and spending for the future?
Tommy and Ben go through the latest news on the international response to the coronavirus, including nationwide lockdowns in the UK and India and signs of hope in Italy. Then they look at how the virus is impacting US relations with North Korea, how US sanctions are impeding health care workers in Iran and Venezuela, and how authoritarian leaders are using the pandemic to grab more power. They also cover Mike Pompeo’s trip to Afghanistan and how China is trying to turn the coronavirus into a propaganda win.
Tommy and Ben talk about the new normal as the world combats the coronavirus. They cover how South Korea has successfully reduced cases, how the Trump administration was warned about this threat, how a functioning White House should respond, Trump’s war of words with China and much more. In non-coronavirus news, they discuss the possibility of a new Prime Minister in Israel. Then Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy joins to discuss the latest on the COVID-19 relief package in Congress.
Coronavirus update and explanation of why an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia is rocking the global economy. More crackdowns in Saudi Arabia, why Putin might be the Russian President for life, more holes in the US/Taliban troop withdrawal plan, and hopeful progress for abortion rights in Argentina. Then Zarlasht Halaimzai from the Refugee Trauma Initiative joins to offer an Afghan perspective on Trump’s troop withdrawal deal with the Taliban.
Tommy and Ben talk about the fragile peace agreement between the US and the Taliban, the Israeli elections, the escalating fighting between Turkey and Syria, the coronavirus, Iran, Putin’s political weakness and Boris Johnson is having a baby. Then Tommy is joined by Jomana Qaddour from the Syria Relief and Development organization to talk about what people can do to help ease the suffering in north west Syria.