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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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Dec 4, 2018

This week Erin, Loren, and Radha read the G20 tea leaves, opine on continued chaos in Afghanistan, and remind you about all the White House mayhem from Saudi politics to a Moscow Trump Tower. Radha gets way too excited about USMCA (pronounced U-Smack-Ah) and all things trade before the ladies round some pop culture.

 

Keeping Up Foreign Relations

Afghanistan

Ukraine


It's Aghast
G20

USMCA

White House Mayhem
Yemen 


New START
Joe Gould, "US lawmakers tangle over nuclear arsenal, Russia treaties," Defense News

L'Affaire Russe

Border

Pop Culture

 
 
Nov 20, 2018

Erin, Radha, and Loren invited Dr. Lindsay Cohn of the U.S. Naval War College to join their posse and explain America's history of employing the military for domestic purposes.  In Keeping Up Foreign Relations, UK Prime Minister Theresa May is still negotiating the terms of her break up with the EU, and new revelations on the tragic killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are giving us a collective heart attack.  A new entrant to White House mayhem, First Lady Melania Trump, flexes her muscle to oust the fifth Deputy National Security Advisor of the Trump administration, and we assess the assessment of the National Defense Strategy commission.  Finally, come what may, we commit to developing a holiday shopping list for you festive needs this season.

 

UPCOMING EVENT: The American Public and the War on Terror https://my.theworldwar.org/2307

(Tue, 4 Dec, Kansas City)

Border Deployment

Keeping up Foreign Relations

Saudi Arabia

White House Mayhem

Pop Culture

Nov 8, 2018

Loren, Erin, and Radha meet up in a special short episode to talk about the election aftermath. What will happen with the change in the house, who is on the Senate armed services committee, and what is oversight anyway?! Plus, a quick discussion on the defense budget and why data and statistics should be a year-round pastime!

 

Music by Future Teens

Produced by Tre Hester 

Oct 23, 2018

This week Tamara Cofman Wittes joins the Bombshell ladies to discuss the fallout of the Khashoggi assassination and the future of US-Saudi relations. We get further bogged down in Afghanistan and try to understand the migrant caravan moving north from Central America. Then Radha tries to cheer us up by explaining the intricacies of the Universal Postal Union. For icing on the cake, we dive deep into the INF treaty and wonder if the Defense Department really being asked to cut its budget.

 

Saudi

Keeping up Foreign Relations

Caravan

Afghanistan

It's Aghast 

White House Mayhem

INF Treaty

Budget

Pop-Culture

 

Music by Future Teens

Produced by Tre Hester

Oct 9, 2018

This week, Loren, Radha, and Erin are reunited to discuss such cheery topics as political assassinations and sexual violence (albeit in the form of Nobel Prizes awarded to combat it). Radha dives deep on NAFTA 2.0, and we work our way through the crazy Chinese hacked hardware story. Rounding out White House Mayhem, John Bolton is back and joins the president and vice president in making blustery foreign policy speeches. And Erin demands answers on Banksy's newest prank.

 

New WOTR podcast: Melanie Marlowe, Bryan McGrath, and Christopher Preble, "Net Assessment," War on the Rocks

 

KUFR

Nobel prize

Trade

WH Mayhem

Pop-Culture


Music by Future Teens

Produced by Tre Hester 

Sep 11, 2018

The Army and Navy Club in Washington, DC, hosted Loren and Radha this week for a live show. Lara Seligman of Foreign Policy and Valerie Insinna of Defense News joined the Bombshell crew to discuss defense journalism in the Trump administration, what it's like to cover a 17 year old war, and the most mayhem of mayhem weeks the White House has had in the last year. To listen to the audience Q&A for this episode, sign up for the War Hall at https://warontherocks.com/subscribe

Sep 4, 2018

Erin, Radha, and Loren head back to school from summer break, with smiling and shining faces. This week they catch up on some extensive Kabul mayhem, covering recent Taliban forays into Afghan-government controlled cities, the state of possible negotiations among both parties, and how this fits into new changes on command at ISAF and CENTCOM.  Revisiting a topic that's come up since the first episode of Bombshell, the ladies check in on U.S. support to the coalition campaign in Yemen and recent USG and Congressional frustrations with civilian casualties in the region - are we any closer to the end of our rope in enabling Saudi operations there or business as usual? And the enormous growth Chinese harassment of Uighurs in Xinjiang combined with the technological prowess of the Chinese surveillance state has a terrible alchemy that other autocratic states may find attractive. Radha continues her trade segment "It's Aghast" and talks through the current shenanigans with Mexico and Canada as well as a rapid rundown of our many trade tax tools! After some White House mayhem where it's clear that process is still our valentine we delight and quibble over the new Jack Ryan series.

 

Keeping up Foreign Relations

Afghanistan 

Yemen

China

It's Aghast

China tariffs

NAFTA

White House Mayhem

Pop Culture

 

Music by Future Teens

Produced by Tre Hester 

Aug 7, 2018

While the ladies of Bombshell will talk with just about anyone, should the U.S. government? Bombshell dives into President Trump's proclivity for theatrical political summits with adversaries, following up on current efforts in Afghanistan, North Korea, and Iran.  Radha introduces a new segment on trade: It's Aghast!  And the National Defense Authorization Act is a 2500 page gold mine of wonky policy fun. 

 

Keeping up Foreign Relations

North Korea

Pakistan Elections

Afghanistan Strategy

It's Aghast

White House Mayhem

NDAA

Space Force

Jul 24, 2018

Alina Polyakova of Brookings joins the Bombshell crew to dive into the fallout from the Helsinki Summit.  Radha furthers our education on tariffs, er trade taxes, as the great trade war of 2018 slouches toward chaos. Meanwhile, Teresa May’s Brexit woes continue as she mucks around with Northern Ireland. And despite Secretary Pompeo’s personal attention, President Trump is catching on to the fact that Singapore did not set up the greatest of deals with North Korea. In White House mayhem Trump’s NSC is trying desperately to stay out of his line of sight as they manage crises he won’t like - like the reemergence of ISIS in Iraq. Plus, Supergirl and puppies, airplane movies, Bombshell books, early gray fudge, and rose all day.

 

 

Music by Future Teens

Produced by Tre Hester 

Jul 11, 2018

This week we do our best impersonation of the Georgetown set recording from 1789 and lamenting the world gone to hell. We break down Pompeo's trip to North Korea, Theresa May's Brexit woes, and the NATO summit which has already been overrun by chaos Muppets. With so much White House mayhem, we focus on Trump's upcoming meeting with Putin, and Radha gets on her soapbox about MAVNI and suitability screenings. Need a pop-culture escape? We suggest Crazy Rich Asians and Sharp Objects.

 

 

Music by Future Teens

Produced by Tre Hester 

Jun 26, 2018

Bombshell goes international! Loren warily crosses the border to visit Stefanie von Hlatky, Stephanie Carvin, and Elaine Bunn for a special Canadian episode at the Kingston Conference on International Security. The ladies give deterrence a playlist and it’s own film series, then dive deeper into what deterrence means to the public and How to Teach Your President About Deterrence. And since deterrence is above all a human interaction, we discuss that elephant in the room: what it means to be a woman in the field.

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
 
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