I used to think foreign policy was boring, complicated and irrelevant to my life. Then I served for four years as President Obama’s National Security Spokesman. The hours I spent in Situation Room meetings, traveling abroad, and talking with the brilliant men and women who advised President Obama was the most fascinating education I ever had. It was a crash course in foreign policy that taught me two things: anyone can understand these issues, and we all have an obligation to try.
On Pod Save the World, I’ll go behind the scenes with the people responsible for some of the most important foreign policy decisions of our time. We’ll geek out about the most important issues of the day, but talk like normal human beings. That means you’ll also hear cool stories, funny anecdotes and maybe a few F bombs. Episodes will come out every Wednesday.
Tommy sits down with former Defense Secretary Ash Carter to chat about his book “Inside the Five-Sided Box”, and some of the most complex challenges facing our national security community today, including the war in Afghanistan and closing the prison in Guantanamo Bay.
Tommy and Ben talk through Trump's bizarre on again, off again war with Iran. They explain how the targeting process is supposed to work, try to divine the broader strategy, and do some self reflection about the terrible government euphemisms that mask the cost of war. Then a quick update on Saudi Arabia, Jared's rehashed Middle East Peace plan, Beto O'Rourke's "war tax", Bernie Sanders' foreign affairs article, some good news out of Turkey and then wtf is wrong with Boris Johnson? Then, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon joins talks with Tommy about Scottish Independence.
First, Tommy and Ben talk about the rapidly escalating tensions with Iran, some good news for the protestors in Hong Kong, Mohamed Morsi's death in Egypt, a new Secretary of Defense, a trade war update, why Facebook is still being used for incitement, a 2020 update about Mayor Pete and Tulsi Gabbard, and whether Snapchat filters are the future of government press conferences. Then Avril Haines joins to discuss what it was like going from NSC lawyer to Deputy CIA Director and the legal basis (or lack thereof) for war with Iran.
First, Tommy and Ben discuss Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s foreign policy speech and Trump’s ongoing and bizarre coddling of noted relative murderer Kim Jong Un. Then they discuss the brave activists and journalists protesting in Hong Kong and Russia, the tariff fight with Mexico, Venezuela, wonder again why we do business with Saudi Arabia, LGBT pride at the State Department, how a fake Iranian author got published, and how a dead tree is a metaphor for our alliances. Then Sudanese activist Wafa May Elamin joins to discuss the crackdown on protestors in Sudan.
Tommy and Ben Rhodes are joined by former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Danny Russel. They discuss Trump’s trip to the UK, what Bibi Netanyahu’s failure to form a government means for his political future, Jared Kushner’s disastrous interview with Axios and the political influence of Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates. Then they do a deep dive on US-China policy, the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and updates on North Korea, Cuba, India’s elections, Iran and why hiding the USS John S. McCain is actually a real problem.