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Bombshell

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.
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Bombshell
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Jun 21, 2018

In the most ambitious crossover event since that one time on TGIF, Bombshell joins Rational Security for a very special joint episode.  Radha, Erin, Loren, Shane, and Susan take on our hellscape of a government’s evolving policy on family separation; Radha as a Real Life Economist schools us on the not-so-cleansing fire of the latest trade wars, and, of course we go full blast on Space Force. You knew it was coming. It’s real. And it’s spectacular. 

 

Music by Future Teens

Produced by Tre Hester 

Jun 11, 2018

Radha, Loren, and Erin invite Alex Bell to preview the Singapore Trump-Kim summit, explaining that while there’s more than staring into one another’s eyes for arms control, chemistry is a good start. When we recorded, the G7 had wrapped but not yet crashed and burned into a playground taunt with Canada, so Radha gives a good lesson on tariffs instead of assessing border skirmishes along the Great Lakes. If you’ve been distracted you may have not noticed the absurd amount of Chinese espionage activity as the OPM hacks bear fruit. The show recommends everyone keep an eye on the Pompeo-Bolton tea leaves and how Pompeo’s embrace of State bureaucracy may be hamstrung.  Erin kicks off a new segment, the Soapbox, on Google’s rejection of military AI work and what that means for future advances in military technologies.  Conflicting Civilian casualty reporting, protests in Jordan, and SOF in Somalia are somehow the lesser included events in the crazy three ring goat rodeo of a week. Credit for this week’s title and general approach to life go to Jeffrey Lewis.

 

 

Music by Future Teens 

Produced by Tre Hester 

May 29, 2018

This week we ask Emma Ashford to reveal the mysteries of Trump's Middle East policy. Then Loren, Radha, and Erin dive into the recent trade dramas before pondering whether the summit with North Korea is best understood as a Rom-Com or Telenovela. Colombian elections, change of command in Afghanistan, and the toxic culture within ICE round out the conversation before we escape to the wonders of pop-culture. 

 

 

Music by Future Teens 

Produced by Tre Hester 

Lizzie Plaugic, “Amazon is adapting William Gibson’s The Peripheral into a TV series,” Verge

May 15, 2018

This week the Bombshell crew does something different. After a crazy few days in the national security world, we break down the good, the bad, and the pop-culture remedies. From Spain to Iran, to Iraq and Lebanon, to Niger and back home to the Haspel hearings and aviation mishaps we ask ourselves: what are we doing here? Also, Arnie Hammer discovered Iran-Contra and we rank order our favorite Chrises.

 

 

Music by Future Teens

Produced by Tre Hester 

May 2, 2018

This week on Bombshell, Rebecca Lissner of Penn's Perry World House guest hosts with Radha and Loren to discuss the handshake heard round the world at the DMZ.  The Iran Deal is on the rocks yet again, despite the entreaties of a very affectionate President Macron of France and #squadgoals eye rolls of Chancellor Merkel.  The White House has some personnel wins (Pompeo's confirmation), losses (Dr. Ronny Jackson's trash fire of a VA nomination) and draws (Gina Haspel's confirmation delay).  And the ladies of Bombshell are steadfastly the only people on the planet talking Tina Brown and chick-lit vs. Infinity War.

 

 

Music by Future Teens

Produced by Tre Hester 

Apr 18, 2018

This week on Bombshell, Radha, Erin, and Loren play natsec madlibs with Amanda Sloat, discussing every possible complexity of US-Syria policy during John Bolton's first week.  The neverending potential for a trade war, protests in the run up to the US embassy in Israel's moving day, and Russian expulsions get a lightning round in Keeping Up Foreign Relations.  And for White House mayhem they stick to the other side of the river, checking in on the disturbing trend of aviation mishaps, the anniversary of combat integration of women, and sending troops to the border. And you should all be watching Killing Eve.

 

 

Music by Future Teens 

Produced by Tre Hester 

Apr 2, 2018

Erin, Radha, and Loren make it back to the Show (where we never handle our own luggage), welcoming back all-star guest Kori Schake to talk NSC turnover, civil-military relations, and everything else that's radical in a tubular kind of way.  We break down Kim Jong-Un's super-secret trip to Beijing and note that when the Saudi Crown Prince showed up for his two week tour of America, not all welcomes were warm. Meanwhile, VA Secretary Shulkin is out (sometimes you win), the president's personal doctor is in (sometimes you lose); and DoD tries to square the circle on the transgender ban (sometimes it rains). We substitute basketball for pop-culture, with predictable consequences. Oh, and when you speak of us, speak well. 

 

 

Music by Future Teens

Produced by Tre Hester

Mar 20, 2018

This week, the ladies of Bombshell welcome Lindsey Ford, from the ‎Asia Society Policy Institute, to chat about this spring's Appointment in Helsinki: the US-North Korea presidential summit. Then, they set an Iran Deal death watch and puzzle through what happens when Red Sparrow meets real life in the nerve-agent poisoning of a Russian double agent in the UK.  White House mayhem continues to say "hold my beer" with the firing of Rex Tillerson and what it means for Trump administration Kremlinology.  Finally, the pop culture world is looking up, with the return of Occupied, the digital release of Last Jedi, and much more.

 

 

Produced by Tre Hester

Theme Music by Future Teens 

Mar 6, 2018

This week, the ladies of Bombshell welcome Sarah Margon, Washington Director of Human Rights Watch, to explore a side of the Syria conflict we discuss too little on this show: the human dimension. The ladies wade through three different political maelstroms in Italian elections, President Xi’s quest for immortality, and President Putin’s land of misfit nukes.  Hairstyles, process, and wrongheaded beliefs about trade deficits explain the White House, and Radha plugs spoken word cookbooks (written by spies).

 

 

 

Produced by: Tre Hester

Feb 21, 2018

This week, the Bombshell ladies welcome Lauren Fish of the Center for a New American Security to talk all things FY19 defense budget, including why this big funding increase may not be all that it seems.  While finding future employment for Navy SEALs on the skeleton track, we talk North Korea’s charm offensive, how we and maybe everyone else have totally lost the plot in Syria, and why the Munich Security Conference was the party everyone wanted to bail on.  We offer everything you wanted to know about security clearances and deployability (and then everything you didn’t know you wanted to know).  And oh yeah, Erin’s seen Red Sparrow.

 

 

 

Produced by: Tre Hester

Feb 6, 2018

This week the ladies of Bombshell return to regularly scheduled programming, re-introducing ourselves with our new Bombshell questions including everyone's favorite bars and least favorite books. Next we turn to our old friends Afghanistan and North Korea (wondering if we'll ever get a public debate on either), before wonking out to the Nuclear Posture Review and State of the Union address. Also, if you PT three times per day but don't log it in Strava does it even count, bro? Finally, a dazzling potpourri of pop-culture - even Radha weighs in.

 

Don't forget to send all your process valentines!  Bombshell Online Store

 

David D. Kirkpatrick, “Secret Alliance: Israel Carriers Out Airstrikes in Egypt, With Cairo’s O.K.,” New York Times

Max Fisher, “In Afghanistan’s Unwinnable War, What’s the Best Loss to Hope For?,” New York Times

Mia Bloom, January 27 Twitter status 

Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “Training Quick and Staffing Unfinished, Army Units Brace for Surging Taliban,” New York Times

Steve Inskeep, “U.S. Military Auditor Suggests The Afghan War Is Still At A Stalemate,” NPR

Anna Fifield, “North Koreans have tasted freedom through the markets. Sanctions could put that at risk.,” Washington Post

Victor Cha, “Victor Cha: Giving North Korea a ‘bloody nose’ carries a huge risk to Americans,” Washington Post

David Nakamura, February 1 Twitter status

James Acton, “Command and Control in the Nuclear Posture Review: Right Problem, Wrong Solution,” War on the Rocks

Patrick Tucker, “No, the US Won’t Respond to A Cyber Attack with Nukes,” Defense One

Patrick Tucker, “Strava’s Just the Start: The US Military’s Losing War Against Data Leakage,” Defense One 

 

Produced by: Tre Hester

 

Theme Music: Future Teens – Jennifer Lawrence

Jan 26, 2018

On our first anniversary we couldn’t help but wonder: What's it like to be a man in national security? Kai Ryssdal, Frank Gavin, and Benjamin Wittes join us to discuss.

Theme Song: Future Teens – Jennifer Lawrence
Produced by Tre Hester

Jan 12, 2018
Bombshell returns from a long winter's nap for its first 2018 episode and first test run of a brand new set of Bombshell questions! Christy Abizaid joins us to talk Pakistan and the joys of Austin, TX, and we talk protests in Iran and what happens when South Korea hears that hotline bling.  Yet another White House shuffle could be in the works, and we eagerly anticipate the arrival of a new defense strategy.  Finally, hyperspace ramming and Nazi uncles get the attention you'd expect from us in pop culture.  Bonus: expect news about a Bombshell anniversary party soon!
 
After we recorded, we learned that one of the first friends of the pod, Shawn Brimley, passed away. Shawn will be remembered as a brilliant scholar and great friend and colleague, but he was first and foremost a wonderful husband and dad. You can contribute to an education fund set up for his children.
 
Theme Song: Future Teens – Jennifer Lawrence
Produced by Tre Hester
Image: Sgt. Lucas Hopkins, U.S. Marine Corps
 
Episode Reading:
Dec 19, 2017
Loren, Radha, and Erin traveled to Maxwell AFB for a special live year in review episode at the Air Command and Staff College. Come for their thoughts on the biggest national security stories of the year and stay for an extended Q&A with ACSC students (starting around 39:00). Plus, bonus Star Wars commentary.
Dec 13, 2017
This week Susanna Blume joins to tell us how the sausage is made on Capitol Hill - the defense budget, continuing resolutions, and other congressional hijinks. And Radha returns from maternity leave! Then we wade through the president's Jerusalem announcement and recent Brexit breakthroughs, before dissecting the new National Security Strategy. And of course we discuss Season 2 of "The Crown" - and our new gift guide!
 
Episode Reading:
Nov 29, 2017

This week on Bombshell we talk with Mieke Eoyang about, well, basically everything. We take a rapid fire tour of political dramas in Zimbabwe, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. Stop for a bit to bask in the crazy sunshine of Turkish plots and then return to the United States just to ask: Exactly how many troops do we have overseas? Then just for kicks, we debate what a lawful order for a nuclear first strike would look like. We wrap up with Mieke's Twitter conversation with John Cusack and Erin's dream for a Master and Commander sequel.

Produced by Tre Hester

Theme: Future Teens - Jennifer Lawrence 

Episode Reading

Nov 15, 2017

This week on Bombshell, Quinta Jurecic of Lawfare (and Washington Post!) fame joins us to break down the Mueller investigation, AUMF debate, and whether Mike Flynn is really a character from a Coen Brothers' movie. We also discuss the president's trip to Asia and do our best to understand the drama in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, which is all happening without the benefit of a functioning State Department. Quinta confesses her love of James Comey's Twitter account, while Erin and Loren do their best cosplay courtesy of Rag and Bone.

Theme Song: Future Teens - Jennifer Lawrence
Produced by Tre Hester

Episode Reading:

 
Nov 1, 2017

This week on Bombshell, Alice Hunt Friend joins us to talk all things Africa and civ-mil. We dive into U.S. operations in Niger and the Kenyan elections reboot. Shinzo Abe and Xi Jinping get new mandates while preparing for the president’s big trip to Asia, along with the rest of us. And we all wait for the fallout from the Mueller indictments.

Produced by Tre Hester

Music: Lovira, All Things Considered

Episode Reading:

Oct 18, 2017

This week on Bombshell, special guest Elizabeth Rosenberg explains the art of unmaking the Iran deal and the consequences of the Trump administration's Iran 'strategy.' Foreign relations are keeping us busy with a tinderbox in Kirkuk at the worst possible time, and a new lens on the Pentagon's under-scrutinized advise and assist efforts in Africa that resulted in four soldier's killed in an ambush this month. Mattis and the White House are sending mixed signals on transparency and democratic accountability on the Hill and in the press (what else is new?). Erin, Radha, and Loren are as usual looking out for budget deals, new and potentially harmful MAVNI guidelines, and Trump appointees. And yeah. Us too.

 

Produced by Tre Hester. 

Music: Future Teens-Jennifer Lawrence 

Episode Reading: 

Oct 4, 2017

This week, the Bombshell squad goes shoulder to shoulder into the fray of referenda for the Iraqi Kurds and the Catalans in Spain, alongside a recap of the German general election.  Like many women have before us, we ask "Why Chad?" and explore the merits of the new Trump travel ban. We wonder if it was painful for Secretary Tillerson to get cut off at the knees over North Korea, and contemplate the interagency fun of  the Puerto Rico relief efforts.  Finally, we spend some quality time pondering the existential crises brought on by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's Vietnam documentary on PBS - and also our love of Ross Poldark.

 

Episode Reading:

Producer: Tre Hester, Music: Future Teens - Jennifer Lawrence 

 
Sep 20, 2017

Erin, Radha, and Loren get the band back together and invite Laura Rosenberger to dish about the launch of the Alliance for Security Democracy (her new project aimed at countering Russian efforts to undermine democratic institutions), her love of the Steelers, and our open invitation to military listeners to help us land on a carrier. Then it's Groundhog Day in Keeping of Foreign Relations, with new antics and new histrionics around North Korea and Iran, and White House mayhem heads to New York for the U.N General Assembly. Finally, we look forward to the NDAA and the Red Sparrow movie.

Episode Reading:

Produced by Tre Hester Music: Lovira, All Things Considered

Sep 6, 2017

This week, Bombshell bids farewell to summer with our final distributed ops episode, closing out what has been a nice, quiet August (ha. ha). Afghanistan is, as usual, still a thing, but this time President Trump - or his teleprompter - actually gave us some thoughts on the matter. We lament waking up to a nuclear test in North Korea and the latest chapters in the Kenyan election and China-India border disputes, and drill down on how everything became about readiness and readiness became about everything: the Seventh Fleet, the Army, DACA, you name it. Finally, we give our take on John Kelly's efforts at discipline in the West Wing and the continuing parade of White House departures, as well as views on Back to School reading and "book dates" with your partner.

Readings:

Back to School Reading:

The Alice Network, Kate Quinn

Aug 22, 2017

This week the Bombshell crew preps for the eclipse from opposite corners of the world to ask why we haven't all perished in the Fire and the Fury (alternate title for our next romance novel). Along with North Korea we talk India-China donnybrooks, military 'options' in Venezuela, and are somehow not overwhelmed by all the mayhem emanating from the White House. We go once more with feeling in Afghanistan, ask what Bannon's departure will mean for foreign policy, and debate the Chiefs subtweets on Charlottesville. Loren heads off to Porto, Radha chases the totality, and Erin enjoys the second order effects of good cocktails.

Reading:

 Produced by Tre Hester Music: Lovira, All Things Considered

Aug 8, 2017

This week on Bombshell, we each dial in from parts-unknown to compare our drinking habits to the Queen of England. We also discuss new North Korean sanctions, whether anyone sent flowers to the new Pakistani Prime Minister, and what on earth is happening in Venezuela. White House mayhem is dialed to eleven and we dissect leaks, tweets, and the new sheriff in town. Finally Loren and Radha confess their love of spoilers because they’re obviously insane control freaks.

Episode Reading:

Jul 25, 2017

Susan Hennessey of Lawfare and Rational Security fame joins Radha and Erin to wade through recertifying the Iran deal, social media shenanigans in the Persian Gulf, and whither the new Russia sanctions. Also on tap: all the leaks! and how we forgot about our $1 billion in foreign loans. Radha swoons over a baby hippo and Erin begs Loren to return so we can talk about Jon and Sansa.

Reading:

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